As of today, I only have 9 days left of radiation! What a challenge it has been to get to this point. In previous months, as I struggled each day, sometimes not knowing how I got through the day, I was counting down to the start of radiation. Looking forward to an “easier step” and having a little “break from the hard stuff”. To my surprise, radiation is not any easier than receiving my diagnosis, neo-adjuvant chemo, or the Bi lateral mastectomy. Radiation is just a different kind of hard. Each day, Monday- Friday for 25 sessions, I get up and head to radiation. Up early to get the kiddos and family ready for the day, drop the boys off at daycare when they open to make it to Sky Ridge by 7:15am. In the beginning, I experienced a surprising amount of muscle pain from having my arms above my head each day for an extended amount of time post mastectomy. Today, it is much easier on my muscles. Right now what I experience is burning skin, heat rashes, and a whole new fatigue. Sunday nights I still dread the start of another week of radiation, but happily get ready and head in with a smile of my face for the simple fact that I am thankful for the ability to fight this cancer. The blessing of the great care I have received from all of the physicians that are a part of my care each day.
There has been as of late a whole new set of struggles I was not anticipating. I mean, I had already made it through the hard stuff right? Wrong. The hard stuff for me, had not even started. When things “slowed down” I was hit hard in the gut, heart, and soul with the raw emotions I had up to this point not had the opportunity to feel. When you receive the phone call that changes your entire life, and the kind voice at the other end tells you that you have cancer you seem to fall into a fast paced time warp. Each day blends in with the next, you somehow get out of bed, and go through all of the motions of the day, and make it to every appointment, but when your head hits the pillow that night you don’t remember much of the day. You have no choice but to fight and “just do it”. So that is exactly what you do. My current and biggest struggle now is feeling the emotions that are a part of this. Someone asked me the other day “have you even grieved your diagnosis”? I was not sure how to answer the question, and I didn’t. I cried instead. There are so many emotions that I working through it’s hard to put them into words. Anger, grief, sadness, confusion, and fear are only some of what I am feeling.
I’ve been very proud of myself to push through each hard day and not miss a single day of work. To work 8 hours a day from my chemo chair, to show up dressed up with a smile when I was in so much pain and all I wanted to do was curl up and cry. I’ve learned recently that pushing through and continuing to work was nothing more than a personal feat. Last Friday was my last day at work. I broke down and chose me, and my health. Although it has been very scary and challenging, I know with complete confidence I did the right thing. Right now, what is truly most important is my health. I needed to remove myself and allow myself to heal. Physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. It has been very surprising to me how difficult it has been to not be working and focusing completely on my well-being. Our jobs do not make us who we are. They are simply what we do. During this time while I will be healing, I will be learning a lot of life lessons I will carry with me all the days of my life. The best way for me to explain how I am feeling at this time, is un-comfortable. I have always been a very dedicated and hard worker, working more than full time, and at many time having more than one job. Now, I get to focus all of me on getting better and healing. It’s scary and un easy, but I owe myself, and my family to ability for me to completely heal. I will do just that, heal. After I get through the remainder of this year, I will find another job. We all day it, but I truly mean it, a job is just a job. This is part of my plan, and the job I get following this will be exactly where I am meant to be.
The next steps in my medical treatment begin tomorrow. We have always known that part of my treatment plan is having my ovaries removed. What we were not expecting was to have a total hysterectomy. In recent appointments it has been brought to our attention that with the suppression of my immune system, I am now at risk for cervical cancer. 2 weeks ago I had an abnormal pap. Tomorrow, I will have a colposcopy to determine the extent of the abnormality. There are certain types of abnormality or cancer that have clinically proven worse to remove than treat. After the colpo results come in, we will schedule my hysterectomy and ovary removal so long as it is a safe option. If not, we may need to travel down another treatment path before surgery. This was not something we were prepared for, and I’ve been very emotional about this. I try not to think of all the “what if’s” but this continues to challenge me. I have also been working through the emotions surrounding the hysterectomy. As I have mentioned previously, having a baby was never our plan. But being told at 29 years old that you will never have another baby is a hard pill to swallow. At 29, I should still have plenty of time to change my mind. To decide when I’m 35 that we want just one more baby. I have this overwhelming sense of pain, and hurt about this. On top of those feelings, I cannot help but feel as though I will not be a whole woman anymore. As women, we are supposed to have children. I will no longer be able to. I also feel as though I am failing my husband. He doesn’t “want” a baby, and we love our family, but if he ever woke up one day and decided he wanted to have a child of his own, I could never give that to him. This completely rips me apart in ways I cannot explain. For years I watched patients who struggled with infertility and hurt for them. As I could only imagine the pain they felt. This pain has become my own. Even though I know our family if perfect in every way imaginable, that my husband could never be disappointed in me, this is still a very real emotion I am struggling with at this time.
There have been an endless number of blessings that have been brought to light in my journey so far. Personal growth, my marriage, our family, friendships, and my faith. Sometimes when the sky is gray, rain falls fiercely, lightening flashed, and thunder rolls, it’s hard to see the beauty the rain brings. I’m slowly developing a new kind of vision to see the world in. Clearer than 20/20, and driven by faith. Each hard path I’ve been down, has led to the most beautiful things in my life. Although I may walk the path with muddy boots, I always come out in the most beautiful places.