Friday, October 9, 2015

Cancer-versary III

Today marks my three year Cancerversary. On this day, I try to make it a point to pause and reflect on how my life has changed. And celebrate my diagnosis as a turning point to living the dream. 

I know that I haven't been blogging much. When I sat down to write this, I scrolled through my "draft" posts and noticed that I had many things I intended to say this year...but just never got around to hitting "publish." I know that I really should go back and finish all of them, since this is mostly a way for me to remember everything that I've been through. Lord knows I won't really remember anything on my own (thanks, chemo brain! You are the gift that keeps on giving).

So, I thought I would give you a brief update on where I am at...

In the "life is too short" category, I accepted a new job at a school...drum roll Hawaii. And moved on a moment's notice. All by myself, since no one else in the family could up and leave with two days prep. (But never fear, they will be following me this year). It's been interesting to be the family trailblazer. There are so many posts I could write about this experience. Maybe that'll be my new blog. But I will say that one of the things that I'm discovering is that having to find a new oncologist/cancer center (for follow-ups/labs/scans) was something I didn't give nearly enough consideration to. I'm already not the biggest fan of health care here. Again, a post for another day.

Oh, there was that skin cancer that was found (on my face) in May and surgery that was needed to remove it. 27 stitches later or something crazy like that. YIKES! See what I mean about all these updates I never posted?  

Teenage boy graduated on time in June. Which I'm monumentally proud of. Depression is a constant struggle, but he's made it through this major milestone.

Teenage daughter is enjoying her last year of middle school. She made Relay for Life her birthday party. It was an incredible experience, for all of us. We plan on making that happen each year! She looks forward to moving to Hawaii some days...and some days she doesn't want to go at all. She's a teenage girl, what else do you expect.

We're selling the house that Keith built for us all those years ago when the girl child was a baby. It was the "dream house." But, stopped being the dream. I haven't wanted to live there since I finished treatments. It was the house I was sick in, and I just couldn't live there any more. We decided to live small and follow our new dreams. Or rather, follow the dreams we've always had and then put on hold when "life" got in the way. We thought downsizing was going to be a process that took a year or two. Ha, ha, ha. Best laid plans and all that. 

How will I be celebrating the day? On an adventure with Keith and the teen boy, who have come this week to visit me in Hawaii. I love their zest for life and adventure...and how they force me to follow them (up to a point...I'm not quite as crazy as they are). "Geez mom, we've got this. You can do it." And I love their smiles. And how they make me laugh. As I'm typing this, teen boy and I are watching TV and laughing. At the same jokes. And making our own. Because we are so much alike. And as long as the day also includes cupcakes and shave ice, life will be perfect!

When I read the post from my first cancerversary, I realize that I will just keep posting that every year, because I still mean all of those words, and everyone still asks what it was like to get THAT phone call. 

I'm not sure that there is anything I would add to the "advice" at the end of the post. Except maybe "Wear Sunscreen." I still believe it all. If you aren't doing something that you love, with the people that you love, in a place that you love, WHY THE HELL NOT?! You should be happy! 

There is something to celebrate about every day...find it.

Forget the bucket list. Do the things that you've been meaning to do now! Start checking them off. Nike was on to something with their "Just Do It" slogan. I follow @MonsterandSea on Instagram (who's family has also been affected by cancer), and the motto is #gobecauseyoucan. I know that they intend that to apply to stand up paddleboarding, but it really applies to life. 



And to that I add my own: #BECAUSEWHYNOT

And now, as promised, my post from 10/9/13: 

One year ago today I was sitting at my desk after school when my cell phone rang. It was my husband, telling me the doctor had called the house looking for me but wouldn't leave a message. (I didn't tell him at that moment, but that was actually the point that I knew it was bad news. When the doctor is trying to track you down IMMEDIATELY, it's really not a good thing). What felt like 5 seconds later, the surgeon was calling me with the news: cancer. And everything else she said after that word was, "blah, blah, blah...cancer...blah, blah, blah, surgery...blah, blah, blah." Seriously, it really was like the Charlie Brown teacher talking. You DO NOT hear anything after the "C" word.

I hung up the phone, sat at my desk for a moment, and then went home. Where I spent maybe 10 minutes trying to decide if I was going to tell Keith before or after he got into his GIANT truck and drove to referee a high school soccer game. I should've been nicer, but misery loves company, so I told him. And that was the beginning of our crazy cancer journey.  

I am still dealing with it every day and really not in the frame of mind to wax poetic about my thoughts.

But I have learned a lot in the last year: about myself, friends, family, what is important, what is NOT important...the list goes on. 

What I want to say most importantly today is that I have learned that life's too short my friends. It really is. And you should be LIVING the fullest...everyday. Always. 

Be happy. 

Say I love you. 

Be thankful. 

Don't take anything for granted. 

Do what you love. 

Don't wait for "someday." 

Oh, and eat dessert first.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

In Which I Try Not To Get Angry

This news post filled my Facebook feed yesterday. (Click here).

And made me ANGRY!

Some complete jackass scams his co-workers out of their sick leave by faking cancer.

Okay, there are stories all the time about people who fake cancer. For the attention, the sympathy, the money, I'm not sure what their mental issue is (and clearly they have many), but it always gets me riled up. Even the gal that's been stealing my blog posts and passing them off as her own is apparently faking having cancer and using my words to tell people how "she's" feeling.

Seriously folks, if you want attention, you can have my cancer. Feel free...even for a day. I dare you. 

But this story touched a nerve. And made me especially angry. Because I don't know where I'd be without a shared sick leave option.

I was SO blessed to have amazing coworkers who donated sick leave so that I could stay home throughout treatments, concentrate on getting healthy, and not have to worry about getting a paycheck or losing my insurance. These amazing people made it possible for me to stay home for the equivalent of one entire school year (split up over two years). One of these amazing people simply told me, "however much you need, it's yours. Don't even hesitate to ask." I cry every time I think of the generosity of this man, and all those that were so willing to donate sick leave to me. Large amounts or small, it didn't even matter (in fact, the district would never tell me who donated what, so they were really doing it simply out of the goodness of their heart, not to get recognition).

Because, when you get sick, there's a lot of people that want to help but they don't really know what to do. And if they have sick leave they can donate, it feels like a tangible, concrete action that they can show support, to contribute to the cause, to relieve even a small amount of stress. It's no small thing that they do. I mean, what if, god forbid, they get sick and need that leave some day? 

I will never be able to repay these people for the gift that they gave me. I strongly believe that being able to stay home and not stress about rushing back to work contributed to the success of my recovery. I could never say "thank you" enough for what they did.
And then you have this jackass who takes advantage of people who are so willing to help. GRRRR! 

I sure hope you get what's coming to you dude. You suck.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Dem Bones

Today I got the first infusion to counterbalance the osteoporosis caused by Anastrozole. 

There was the option to get a one hour infusion or a quick shot. It shouldn't be surprising to anyone to learn that the costs associated with each option were VASTLY different. And that it took WEEKS of conversations with various people to get them to tell me which one would be cheaper for ME on the bottom line. No one seemed to get why knowing these details would drive my decision. Turns out the shot was going to cost me about $4,000 each time, while the infusion was going to be $1,700ish. 

Infusion it is!

The bonus? I got to spend the day in my favorite infusion center, chatting with my favorite nurses and "favorite pharmacy gal." It was like Old Home Week.

The downside? This infusion SUCKS. And it makes me feel like I'm having chemo all over again.

Now that I know this information, I will schedule this infusion better next that I don't have to go back to work the next day. And so that I don't ruin my weekend.

48 hours from start to finish of feeling crappy and then it's gone. 

Good to know.