Thursday, June 23, 2016

Finding small victories in the year of yuck...

This past Wednesday marked one entire year since I received the dreaded phone call that changed things...forever.

This year has been filled with enough yuck to fill an entire book, with some chapters titled Whole Brain Radiation, Nausea, Xeloda, Blood Tests, Supplements, Side Effects, Pain, Exhaustion, More Radiation and Scans. I've also realized it is filled with more than yuck as well, and that part may have even more substance. Those chapters could be titled Hope, Faith, Loved Beyond Measure, Strength, Family, Vitamin C, Better Veins, One Day at a Time, Small Steps, Support, Still Here, Blessed and Growth.

Looking back on the year, I have experienced so many emotions, and to say it's been hard is an understatement. Some days I struggled to know how to get through. 

But, hard things can teach us so much if we're willing to learn. I have become better at accepting help and even asking for it when I can't do it all myself.  I don't have to do this alone and why do I even need to when I am surrounded by such a support system? I learned that I have been blessed by so many people who are  willing to step in, encourage and truly love me. I'm am loved and supported and treated with immense kindness from people in my life. I have learned the true meaning of strength and know that sometimes it means breaking down and relying on others to hold me up. 

I've also learned that the more layers that are peeled off, the more I realize the blessings in the everyday, ordinary and mundane. I'm more in tune to the small daily victories I experience, like being able to go for a walk, watch my children play soccer, make a meal for my family, weed my garden, paint my front door and mop the kitchen floor.

"Nothing will ever go away, until it teaches us what we need to know."
-Pema Chodron




I continue to do my best to be patient with myself. If I wake up in the morning with nausea and exhaustion it doesn't equal a bad day, it merely indicates a rough morning that could likely get better. My new life consists of moments, some big, but most small victories I have learned to recognize in the everyday. 




"I've learned that I still have a lot to learn."

Finding small victories in the year of yuck...

This past Wednesday marked one entire year since I received the dreaded phone call that changed things...forever.

This year has been filled with enough yuck to fill an entire book, with some chapters titled Whole Brain Radiation, Nausea, Xeloda, Blood Tests, Supplements, Side Effects, Pain, Exhaustion, More Radiation and Scans. I've also realized it is filled with more than yuck as well, and that part may have even more substance. Those chapters could be titled Hope, Faith, Loved Beyond Measure, Strength, Family, Vitamin C, Better Veins, One Day at a Time, Small Steps, Support, Blessed and Growth.

Looking back on the year, I have experienced so many emotions, and to say it's been hard is an understatement. Some days I struggled to know how to get through. 

But, hard things can teach us so much if we're willing to learn. I have become better at accepting help and even asking for it when I can't do it all myself.  I don't have to do this alone and why do I even need to when I am surrounded by such a support system? I learned that I have been blessed by so many people who are  willing to step in, encourage and truly love me. I'm am loved and supported and treated with immense kindness from people in my life. I have learned the true meaning of strength and know that sometimes it means breaking down and relying on others to hold me up. 

I've also learned that the more layers that are peeled off, the more I realize the blessings in the everyday, ordinary and mundane. I'm more in tune to the small daily victories I experience, like being able to go for a walk, watch my children play soccer, make a meal for my family, weed my garden, paint my front door and mop the kitchen floor.




I continue to do my best to be patient with myself. If I wake up in the morning with nausea and exhaustion it doesn't equal a bad day, it merely indicates a rough morning that could likely get better. My new life consists of moments, some big, but most small victories I have learned to recognize in the everyday. 





Finding small victories in the year of yuck...

This past Wednesday marked one entire year since I received the dreaded phone call that changed things...forever.

This year has been filled with enough yuck to fill an entire book, with some chapters titled Whole Brain Radiation, Nausea, Xeloda, Blood Tests, Supplements, Side Effects, Pain, Exhaustion, More Radiation and Scans. I've also realized it is filled with more than yuck as well and that part may have even more substance. Those chapters could be titled Hope, Faith, Loved Beyond Measure, Strength, Family, Vitamin C, Better Veins, One Day at a Time, Small Steps, Support, Blessed and Growth.

Looking back on the year, I have experienced so many emotions, and to say it's been hard is an understatement. Some days I struggled to know how to get through. 

But, hard things can teach us so much if we're willing to learn. I have become better at accepting help and even asking for it when I can't do it all myself.  I don't have to do this alone and why do I even need to when I am surrounded by such a support system? I learned that I have been blessed by so many people who are  willing to step in, encourage and truly love me. I'm am loved and supported and treated with immense kindness from people in my life. I have learned the true meaning of strength and know that sometimes it means breaking down and relying on others to hold me up. 

I've also learned that the more layers that are peeled off, the more I realize the blessings in the everyday, ordinary and mundane. I'm more in tune to the small daily victories I experience, like being able to go for a walk, watch my children play soccer, make a meal for my family, weed my garden, paint my front door and mop the kitchen floor.




I continue to do my best to be patient with myself. If I wake up in the morning with nausea and exhaustion it doesn't equal a bad day, it merely indicates a rough morning that could likely get better. My new life consists of moments, some big, but most small victories I have learned to recognize in the everyday. 




One year...

This past Wednesday marked one entire year since I received the dreaded phone call that changed things...forever.

This year has been filled with enough yuck to fill an entire book, with some chapters titled Whole Brain Radiation, Nausea, Xeloda, Blood Tests, Supplements, Side Effects, Pain, Exhaustion, More Radiation and Scans. I've also realized it is filled with more than yuck as well and that part may have even more substance. Those chapters could be titled Hope, Faith, Loved Beyond Measure, Strength, Family, Vitamin C, Better Veins, One Day at a Time, Small Steps, Support, Blessed and Growth.

Looking back on the year, I have experienced so many emotions, and to say it's been hard is an understatement. Some days I struggled to know how to get through. I have learned to accept help and even ask for it when I can't do it myself because it's ok not to be able to do things alone sometimes. I learned that I have been blessed by so many people who are  willing to step in, encourage and truly love me. I'm am loved and supported and treated with immense kindness from people in my life. 

I've also learned that the more layers that are peeled off, the more I realize the blessings in the everyday, ordinary and mundane. I'm more in tune to the small daily victories I experience, like being able to go for a walk, watch my children play soccer, make a meal for my family, weed my garden, paint my front door and mop the kitchen floor.




I continue to do my best to be patient with myself. If I wake up in the morning with nausea and exhaustion it doesn't equal a bad day, it merely indicates a rough morning that could likely get better. My new life consists of moments, some big, but most are small victories I recognize in the everyday. 


Saturday, June 11, 2016

June...

Ever since I was a little girl, I knew two things for sure, that I wanted to be a mom and a teacher. My brothers were my first students in the basement of our home. I created lessons and took great joy in correcting their work. My desires never changed, I went to college for teaching and became a special education teacher and have been for over twenty two years. Several years after becoming a teacher, I became a momma. 

Although the role I have valued most has certainly been as a mom, it cannot be denied that I also have a passion for teaching, especially in the area of special education. I find great joy in figuring out how students  best learn and helping them to discover just how capable they are as learners.

I took time off from teaching when my children were born and when I was diagnosed with the Big C both times. Since last June, I have taken a leave of absence from a job that I loved. Although I've ignored the fact that I would ultimately have to leave my job, it is now a year later, and it's time for me to face the music. Metastatic Breast Cancer allows no plans, as things seem to change constantly. Because of the uncertainty of MBC and how it has taken over my life, there is really no other option for me right now. It makes me angry that the Big C has caused this, but more than that, it makes me sad to know I have to leave one of the things I love most. It is hard for me to close this chapter of my life and even though I really have no idea what will happen in the future, I know that for now, I have to stop teaching. I'm truly hoping that someday this chapter will have to be edited and reopened, but for now, this is my reality. It's not easy for me to leave something that seemed to be one of my purposes in life, but apparently there is something more out there for me. Right now, I'm still in the process of figuring out just what that is.

In the meantime, I will be a momma to my two children and I will focus on other things I enjoy, such as crafting and photography. 

This has been a hard transition to go from teacher to full-time Big C patient, but we all know now that I can do hard things.







"The less routine the more life."


Amos Bronson Alcott

Friday, June 3, 2016

Extra strength binoculars

I think I went to write a blog post over at least a dozen times during the past couple of months. I apologize for never actually completing one.  Let's just say I hit a rough patch for quite some time.  Good news:  my super strength binoculars are finally helping me to see some light at the end of this long, dark, tunnel. 

A quick summary of this nonsense is that I started with some pain that quickly intensified, brought me to visit the hospital for multiple days and ultimately resulted in a crash course in pain management and radiation treatments to my pelvis, hip and spine, the suspected causes of the intense pain. I've struggled with pain, nausea, fatigue, leg wonkiness and various emotional states. I'm still on high doses of pain meds, and nearing the end of the radiation, but it seems things are starting to progress in a good way. And what have I learned through all this? Listen to my body: I know it best. And even though this really sucks and is super difficult, I am doing it. Metastatic Breast Cancer is ugly and seems to morph itself into many states. This state really brought out some ugly in me and left me feeling so defeated on many days. I needed lots of shoves and scrapes off the floor to keep me going. Thankfully I have those who love me and are very willing to step right in and do the encouraging when really all I seem to be feeling is discouraged. I'm so grateful to have so many who believe in me, especially when it's a struggle to be patient and believe in myself. 

Meanwhile, life goes on...literally. 

"Have patience. All things are difficult before they become 
easy.
-Saadi
I know it's a short one, but it's complete. I hope to keep it going. Thanks for hanging in there with me. xo

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Fighting the fog...

I guess it's time to check in since it's been almost a month. Yesterday we returned from a 10 day vacation to Orlando and now I have a case of the post vacation blues. The lack of sleep and eating right has caught up with me. I need a vacation from my vacation. A dear friend says she calls vacations like the one we just had trips and she's right. We had a fun-filled but very exhausting trip! It was far from a restful vacation.

I've definitely learned that when I keep busy I feel better. I have to fight through the exhaustion and nausea and carry on. Eventually the fog seems to clear. Today, I succumbed to the fog though and gave myself permission to go back to bed for a bit. 

"Sometimes we need the fog to remind ourselves that all of life is not black and white."
-Jonathan Lockwood Huie

On our trip, I had a few other revelations:

1. My children NEVER stop talking...EVER! Their brains keep them very busy. They also bicker a lot, but truly are the best of friends. We love them bunches even through the incessant talking.

2. My stamina is not the same, but I can keep moving and keep up with everyone else. I recently got a Fitbit as part of a study and walked between 10,000+ and 18,000+ steps per day. 

3. I need to eat small amounts of food every hour and this keeps me feeling my best.

4. I need to drink a lot of water, especially in the heat.

5. I'm pretty much completely heat intolerant these days.

6. My hair is not going to grow in anymore. I now have permanent bald spots on my head as a result of the whole brain radiation. I'd prefer to have hair and occasionally have hair envy, but I'm ok with it...less shampoo and maintenance. This Saturday, my friend Lauren will be cutting what I do have very short to tame the nest mess. It's only hair.

7. Disney is magical and made me forget (for short times) just how crappy the Big C is.

8. My family takes good care of me and I feel loved more than I ever have in my life. 

9. We should go away every week. We came back to a cleaned up yard, newly painted trim, bags of groceries, and gifts and cards in the mail...we are blessed beyond measure.

We spent the first part of our vacation with my Soul Sister and her family at Universal and then we spent several days in Disney. There were so many memories made and these are just a few.









































My personal favorite.
Little Miss taking a peek.

I was full of anxiety before our trip. I worried about how I would feel, what I would eat, if I could keep up. Overall, I feel like I did it. I accomplished things I wasn't completely sure I could and I had fun doing it. 

Now I just have to fight this post vacation fog, rise up and carry on.

"It's kind of fun to do the impossible."
-Walt Disney


PS These are only some of the pictures, I'll save the rest for another post.