Blessed by my cancer diagnosis

Blessed by my cancer diagnosis

It’s been a very long time since I’ve updated for many reasons. There has been a lot going on since my last post. After starting a new job I experienced so many unexpected infections and surgeries, 3 surgeries in 3 weeks to be exact. During the entire time I was going through by FAR the absolute most painful time in my life. The pain was so intense and unrelenting that I could barely breath at times. There wasn’t a day I didn’t cry, there wasn’t a night I got more than about a hour of sleep, I was over loading my system with several different medications every 6 hours to make it through each day/night, I could barely eat from the pain, there were a few evenings leaving work that as soon as I closed my car door I absolutely lost it hysterically bawling my eyes out after spending the entire day with a  smile on my face and pushing every limit I’ve ever know to make it. There were a few nights I cried to my husband telling him I couldn’t do it another day more, I couldn’t possibly live one more day in so much pain. Terrifying doesn’t accurately describe my overwhelming pain and desire at that time to just give up. I made it home safely a few nights only because I pulled my dress off and drove topless (very tinted windows of course) because the pressure from any sort of clothing was unbearable. I would schedule appointments around what little time I had to see my plastic surgeon or call the nursing team in tears begging for relief only to be constantly told that the pain was normal. I know now that the pain was absolutely not normal, but I guess how are they to know what each patients pain tolerance is? Mastectomy, expanders, and reconstruction are a very painful process. But, the pain that I experienced was obviously no where near normal. I was suffering everyday from the pain, lack of nutrition from not being able to eat, complete exhaustion from not sleeping, and as much as I jumped up and down crying for someone to help me, I felt like no one was listening. And, to be completely honest they weren’t. 3 surgeries later, I was finally able to experience some relief. Each surgery would come unexpected and I would take only the surgery day off and I would be back to work the next day. Starting a new job when you have cancer is really challenging for all of the normal reasons, but starting a new job and having 3 unexpected surgeries in 3 weeks makes it that more difficult. Going to work after each surgery was exhausting and painful, but each surgery to remove the infection gave me more and more relief. The pain and exhaustion post surgery was nothing compared to the misery I was already experiencing. I don’t have expanders anymore and I am so happy and blessed to have an appetite again, to be able to sleep at night, and be gaining the normalcy of my life back. Everything was going well until I developed a fluid filled bubble on my left incision. I did a round of antibiotics that did not fix the problem. So, I went in to the plastic surgeon where they gave me a lidocaine shot in my chest, used a scalpel and cut open the area, drained the fluid, cleaned out the pocket where the infection was, packed it with gauze, and left it open to heal. Knock on wood but since then, everything has been healing as it should. Shortly after all of these problems, I had my complete hysterectomy where they removed my uterus, cervix, tubes, and ovaries. The reason I needed this was the fact that the pathology of my tumor was hormone receptive which means that the hormones in my body were essentially feeding my cancer. In order to have the best chances of not having a reoccurrence it was best to completely remove any hormone from my body. There was and still is an awful lot of emotion surrounding this surgery. It’s very difficult to be 29 years old and to never ever be able to carry a child again. But, on the other side of that, it is absolutely essential to my life with my husband and boys that I do everything I possibly can to have a long healthy life with them. I took the suggested 6 weeks off after surgery which I am incredibly thankful to have had. By the time of the surgery the past year had really really wore me down more than I could have ever dreamed. The time for my body to heal, to catch up on rest, for my mind to heal, my heart, and my soul. 2 weeks ago I completed my last port chemo, and last week I had my port removed. At my last infusion it was a very surreal feeling. I was so happy and proud that I made it through all of the hell that chemo is, but at the same time, I was sad. I had been going every 3 weeks for the past year to the infusion center and after that day I wouldn’t have to go back. I knew I was going to have a new norm, but it was sad to lose the normal I was used to. My oncologist had been preparing me for a few months for the completion of treatment and the normal emotions and feelings that go with it. your life is chaos organizing each day to fit the hundreds of tests, surgeries, and treatments after your diagnosis. When you complete treatment you feel a little lost, you feel scared that you aren’t doing anything to fight cancer anymore, and terrified it will come back. Each little thing you feel your mind and heart can’t help but fear that it’s cancer. The only thing that you can do is take a deep breath and believe in your heart that your cancer isn’t back and that you are okay. When I was diagnosed all of my genetic testing came back normal and I had no family history which meant I had no answers to why this was happening to me. So, now each day in the back of mind I worry about every little thing I do. What if this caused my cancer? What if that caused my cancer? What if something I am doing will cause my cancer to come back? When all of this started the physical changes were very challenging for me. Now, I sit here with my hair growing back, scars from skin biopsies, lymph node removal scars, no breasts with some really awful scars, skin burns from radiation, the inability to have a full range of motion in my left arm from the damage to my muscles from radiation, and to be completely honest, I feel more secure and beautiful in my own skin now than I ever had before. I am completely confident in the woman I am today. I am nothing but absolutely proud of what my body has overcome and accomplished. I have truly learned the true meaning of beauty and it’s completely opposite of anything I’ve ever known beauty to be. That doesn’t mean I don’t have weak moments where the changes to my body are very challenging to me, because I promise I do.  I have been hurt more by people this past year than ever in my life. I put my whole heart into every relationship in my life including friendships. This past year I’ve learned how few true friends I have, lost a friend that I believed with all my heart was true, and I’ve been very let down by family. I’ve also learned how valuable the true friendships I do have are, I’ve been overwhelmed with gratefulness and happiness at the family that I couldn’t have possibly made it without, found a true and honest beauty in myself, appreciate all of the little things in life, developed a strength and confidence I’ve never imagined, and I wouldn’t change any of it. Cancer is an absolutely terrible thing that I couldn’t list enough bad adjectives to accurately describe, but cancer is also a gift. I know, you think I’m crazy, and that okay. But cancer was a gift to me. I am truly thankful for so much that I have today that I have gained through my diagnosis. Cancer blessed my life.

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