Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Milestones...

I think most of us are familiar with the word milestone, especially those of us with children.  As new parents we anxiously await for our children to conquer the next big thing.  Smiling, rolling over, eating solids, crawling, walking, and talking are all tasks we check off our mental list of our childrens' achievements.  Some of us panic if our child is at the latter end of development, others are perfectly content if their child is a late bloomer.  Regardless, I think it goes without saying that we all want our children to become the best versions of themselves.   

"Life isn't a matter of milestones, but of moments."


As a survivor of the Big C, I've noticed that there is a process in the healing after being diagnosed and treated for cancer. And, like children reaching their milestones, all of us survivors do not walk through this journey in the same manner. 

I often become frustrated with myself because it seems I should be reaching "milestones" sooner, that I should be able to bounce back to the same person I was B.C. (before cancer).  The truth is, I will never be the same and although I know this to be true, it's often hard to walk this unfamiliar path.  

Throughout my treatments, when I would visit any doctor's office, I would take someone with me.   I soon learned that the anxiety that would take over my body could be lessened just by having someone with me, even when that person did not say a word.  

It's been 2 1/2 years since the Big C invasion, and the doctor's visits are fewer.  There is more time in between and more time for me to feel like a "normal" person once again.  I'm slowly finding my new normal and doing my best to enjoy my life without the constant worry about what's to come.  

I reached a milestone the other day when I went for a follow up at my radiation oncologist's office by myself.  I anticipated that the visit would be quick and without any surprises, so I braved the task on my own.  Although the visit was routine and all was well, I did end up waiting for 45 minutes, 35 of those minutes was in a hospital gown in the office.  After 25 of those minutes, the lump in my throat got a little too big for my own handling...I texted my BFF while in the midst of taking deep cleansing breaths and telling myself that all was well.  Sending pictures of myself in the ugly johnny helped to calm my anxieties and within a few minutes, the doctor had come in.  She performed a thorough exam and said everything looked great, well "lovely" was actually the word she used.  

It's when ordinary people rise above the expectations and seize the opportunity that milestones truly are reached.


Admittedly, I was a bit disappointed with myself that I couldn't handle the visit completely on my own, but then I realized how blessed I am to have an enormous support system and they're (literally) available right at my fingertips.  

There are some things I know I am not ready to conquer on my own just yet.  So later today, when I head to my annual mammogram appointment, I'll take my mom with me.  Just knowing she is there will help me to get through it without increasing the anxiety level to a point where I can't handle it.  

One thing (among the many) the Big C has taught me is that it's ok to ask for help and to lean on others.  I prefer to be independent and do things on my own. But sometimes reaching those "milestones" is a heck of a lot easier when someone is right my side.

And another thing I've learned is that hospital gowns are drab and boring and really should be made in more cheerful, bright colors.

My path has not been determined. I shall have more experiences and pass many more milestones.

UPDATE:  My mammogram was normal...it was a good day!