Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dearest Me,

Well, it seems you are in a place you never expected to be. A recurring theme for you, I know. How can it be you are so sick when you feel so well? You do realize how sick you are, right? Me thinks you may be living in a land where sickness is not an option...where sunshine and roses are the order of the day. Not that I'm judging you. It's what has seen you through so far. In fact, it's what I like most about you... your ability to block out the negative in order to remain positive... your refusal to take this lying down. But I think we've reached the point where it's time to be honest. Time to look at the ugly and accept it in all its ugliness. Time to wake up and smell the pungent aroma of this nasty thing called cancer. Time to realize you are on a that starts with a "c" and ends with pretty scary stuff. Don't be afraid. Acceptance is a good thing. Recognizing the severity of your situation will validate the rough stuff ahead. All the changes about to occur are necessary for survival. And you are a survivor...I won't let you be anything less.

You are moving right along. Depending on how you count it, you are almost through the first leg of your journey. When measured by time, you are only a little more than half way through chemo but it feels as if you are much further along...thirteen of sixteen treatments are behind you. Chemo is close to being a thing of the past. You've weathered it well. Now that you are nearing the end and looking ahead to what will come next, I can sense the panic rising. Take a deep breath and let's talk it out.

Surgery. The day you walk into the hospital the you you've always known but leave something far different. I will not lie. It is going to be challenging. Knowing what will be taken from won't be easy. You will cry. You must allow yourself to mourn. Fear, doubt and disgust will rush to the surface. You won't want to look at yourself. Yet you must. This will be the beginning of a new you. What you do, how you react, where you let it take you will be a choice. I've been listening to the cries of your heart. I know your greatest fear is that you will not be able to accept the changes. That you will in some way revert to the "old you" that never felt adequate. The you that believed you were always less than. But you must remember that was the "old you". The you that didn't understand the peace that comes with self-acceptance. The you that was always looking outward for affirmation rather than looking within. The you that worried about the opinions of others. That girl is no more. She grew up. She learned how to live. She found peace. She found happiness. She finally realized that while she would always value the opinion of others, she valued her opinion of herself more. That is who you are. That is who you worked so hard to become. That is who you will always be.

Today is the day to begin the healing process of your tomorrow. No need to wait until the "ugly" is staring you in the face. Your body is strong and will most likely heal quickly. Your mind is equally strong. Embrace the fact you truly love yourself. You understand what it means to accept your strengths and your weaknesses. You know you fall far short of perfect and you realize that is perfectly okay. Believe in yourself. Refuse to listen to self-doubt and negativity. Focus on the fact that you have come so far. Rely on your faith and keep your eyes always upward. For if you do, you will be just fine.

With all the self love I can give,

Friday, December 3, 2010

In Search of My Big Girl Panties

This week has left me figuratively digging deep in drawer after drawer, flailing about in an imaginary sea of not-quite-right undershorts, as I look for my freshest pair of big girl bloomers. Round two of chemo has begun and it is definitely time to "put my big girl panties on and just deal with it".

Heading into this week I was a bit anxious. The unknown does that to me. I suppose it does it to everyone. Feeling I had "mastered" the routine of round one's weekly treatments, I was apprehensive about the changes coming with round two. I knew the drugs I would receive would be heavy hitters and my physicians, as well as "K", had done a terrific job of educating me on what to expect. But you never really know how bad it will be until you have experienced it first hand.

Today marks day 5 in this 21 day cycle. Five days of almost constant nausea. Three days spent in a comatose state. Two days of bone pain. Neuropathy from round one has the nerves in my fingers on high alert. The slightest touch can create the feeling of a not-so-pleasant electrical current running up my arm. To complicate matters, the drugs given to alleviate the side effects of chemo have side effects of their own...the worst being severe dizziness.

That's the bad news. The good news is this. The nausea is tolerable. While I've spent many precious moments cozying up to the porcelain throne, I have yet to toss my cookies. Three days of abundant sleep have cured any and all feelings of exhaustion carried over from round one's incessant insomnia. The bone pain is also tolerable. Colder temperatures aggravate the issue but pain relievers do a good job of counteracting the problem. The issue of neuropathy is what it is. Fortunately, it will eventually go away and I see marked improvement each day. The dizziness? Well, the only up side to it is pure, unadulterated comedy. Everyone, including me, is having a grand time watching as I stumble into one thing after another. What can I say? You gotta laugh when you can.

So there it is. My record of the beginning of this half of chemotherapy. It isn't a picnic and it definitely ain't no party. But I can certainly deal. My search was successful and I'm armed with my big girl underpants. By the way, I bypassed the thong and bikini versions and went straight for the granny panty variety. I figured I could use all the help I could get.