Back to Work

I’ve been feeling a lot better BUT I failed to realize that it’s relative. I’ve been feeling a lot better than I did a couple of months ago when treatment ended. Overall I’m feeling ok but there’s still quite a bit of fatigue and some joint pain. The neuropathy has gotten better! Woo hoo!

Mid April my case manager from work called and asked when she thought I’d be ready to return to work. Since I’m home most of the time, I didn’t realize how fatigued I’d be if I was actually doing a few hours of work, so I said a month and a half. This was also me thinking that I could work 12 hours a week for 2-3 months. WRONG! She went ahead and put together a standard return to work plan. This plan was very aggressive and once I had some time to think about it, I realized it was way too much for me right now. I also started doing a bit more doing the day to see how my energy level was through the day, end of day and day after. After doing that I was able to see how completely exhausted I’d get after a couple of hours. Realistically I may be able to work 2 days a week for the first month. I also didn’t take into account that I’m moving next week. Going back to work at the same time that I’m moving back into my own place is probably not a good idea. Being on my own in itself is going to be tiring for the first little while. My mom is close by but it will still be more taxing on me, doing more on my own. I also have to make sure I have time to prepare my meals and continue to eat healthy, along with stretching and exercise. Those things are my priority. Financially I’m fine so there’s no reason to rush back.

My oncologist will sign off on whatever I say I am comfortable with (I hope). HR is very aggressive and I need to make sure I assert myself and let them know if I’m not comfortable with their plan. I’m only 2 months out of treatment.

Right now I’m waiting for my oncologist to get back to me. I emailed her and asked her to OK deferring my return a few weeks due to my move. Hopefully she will agree and sign off.

The past 10 months have made me realize what’s important … My health, living and enjoying my life, being happy and the people I love. That also means spending my time doing things I enjoy. I don’t hate my job but I don’t love it. If it’s going to affect me in a negative way then I’ll have to leave. Right now it’s just the feeling of HR pushing me back to work before I’m ready.

We will see what oncologist says tomorrow …

Be Your Own Beautiful!

I haven’t bought any new clothes since last summer. Of course it was because I was dealing with breast cancer and going through treatment. I barely had a life so who cares what I wore. Comfort was most important and when you have no eyebrows or eyelashes and feel like hell, you really don’t care what your outfit looks like. Although I have friends that would say I still looked quite stylish during chemo haha.

Now that I’m slowly on my way back I’ve been putting more effort into my attire. I even did my nails last week and got a pedicure the week before. Pampering yourself definitely makes you feel better!

Today I had a few errands to do along with an appointment at the hospital. It was an appointment with the social worker to assess how I’m doing overall. She also provided tons of information on different workshops, programs and info sessions. Was very helpful. I went casual, comfy and cute! So I put on a pear of black leggings with a striped loose fitting top and a short trench with a hood. Oh and can’t forget the Hunters (the boots). Yes there was some rain this afternoon. Now remember none of these items are new but they’re fun and still work. Right now my style is fun and comfortable. I’ll transition back into heels soon 😉

The first pic is what I looked like last August when I was diagnosed. Wow! I look like I’ve aged in these last 10 months!! That’s what happens when:
ME pre-cancer +7 pounds – eyelashes – eyebrows – hair – left breast = ME now after breast cancer
Oh well. Being healthy and alive is the focus, not being perfect. Which we should never aspire to anyways. Imperfections make us interesting and individuals. I read a quote earlier today … BE YOUR OWN BEAUTIFUL! Love it!

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It’s About Me

It’s the Victoria Day long weekend here in Canada. My niece came over Thursday night. Seeing her is always nice. She’s 3 so still very innocent and loving. It cheers me up and makes me smile when I see her. She was here the entire weekend! 🙂

Thursday during the day I went to a painting workshop at the hospital. Art for Cancer in conjunction with the Survivor Clinic at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. It was great!! We used acrylic on a canvas and then got to take our painting home. I loved it and have signed up for the next workshop in June. It was very therapeutic and relaxing. There was also a short meditation. It was for any skill level from someone who’s never painted to the artist. I would recommend any sort of art therapy to anyone at any stage of breast cancer treatment.

Saturday morning we drove to Buffalo for my baby brothers convocation. He completed his PhD in physical therapy. So proud of him. It was a really good day!

Sunday went to a friends place for her birthday lunch. She along with a couple of other friends were unaware of what I was going through as I didn’t share with them until recently. Once treatment was done and I was emotionally feeling a little stronger I was going to share but they happened to find out through my blog before I could tell them. Now I do get that they may have felt a little hurt that I didn’t share but it was about me, not them. I was faced with the possibility of death and treatment is so brutal that I really was just trying to get through each day. I had the support I needed and most of the time didn’t feel like talking. In this situation my feelings should be respected. I did tell a few friends, the friends who were closest to me but beyond that I didn’t. One of the friends I didn’t tell had a baby at the end of August. That would have been too difficult for me to handle at that time. Not only that, having a newborn, that would have been her priority. So what was the point of telling her if it was only going to make me feel bad and she would not have been able to give me the support I needed. I also only told people who continued to ask how I was doing from time to time even though they didn’t know the details of what was going on. So even some of my closest friends didn’t find out until October. They were fine with the fact that I shared when I was ready. I wasn’t going to share with anyone who did not continue to stay in touch regardless of whether they knew or not.

I read an article by a singer who had gone through breast cancer. She told a friend and that friend had such an emotional reaction that she said in her article do not tell your friends. I do think sharing with the friends who are going to have a dramatic reaction is not helpful because then you are trying to tell them that you’re going to be ok and comforting them, when really that’s what you need from them.

In the end it’s about you and what’s best for you in terms of getting through this and surviving. Once you have the support you need, you can choose whether to share or not. Talking was really quite exhausting at that time. It’s worse when someone knows and they expect you to talk to them because if you really don’t feel like it, they may not understand. That actually did happen to me because the person was just not good at communicating via text. He was hurt and that was not my intention at all. It was frustrating for me to have him not get that it wasn’t personal but I just didn’t have the physical or emotional energy to talk most of the time. He was also dealing with some things at the time. We are good now. It’s hard to explain to someone who has not been through this or some sort of major health issue. It’s also exhausting to have to explain. I know someone who only shared with his girlfriend and maybe a friend but his immediate family didn’t even know. Wow! He probably figured what’s the point. I don’t know, everyone deals with things differently.

Writing was my main outlet. You write when you feel like it and stop when you feel like it. There’s also no instant response to deal with. I would tell anyone going through this to write even if it’s in a journal. I would also say that you share with who YOU want to share with and when YOU feel ready to share. It’s about YOU, not anyone else. All you can do is hope that you’re feelings are respected and that people understand. And if they don’t then oh well because it’s not your job to manage their emotions while struggling to manage your own and fighting for your life.

Mother’s Day

Today was Mother’s Day and my brother and his wife came over with the kids. I love spending time with my nieces so it was a good day overall. However I did have moments of sadness and feelings of exclusion. I knew that would happen and had mentally prepared myself but that doesn’t make it easy. I’ve accepted that I won’t be having my own biological children but getting here was a difficult process and there are still moments of sadness. More so when I’m around people with children and I’m the only one who isn’t a mother. I’m still reeling from everything so I know it’ll get easier as time goes on. It will get better.

Cancer has had an everlasting impact in so many ways. Not only will I not be having my own children but I basically lost 10 months of my life. I don’t know what I would have done without my mom during these last 10 months.

She has been my saving grace, the person who took care of me each and every day. I’m so grateful that she was and still is healthy enough to take care of me. She’s 65 years old and at times ran herself ragged because she was still working and doing everything for me. She did take days off during certain weeks but taking care of someone going through cancer treatment is a job in itself. Let’s not forget the emotional toll it took on her. SIGH. She held me when I cried, she was positive and reassuring when I was scared, she told me I was still beautiful and very brave when I was worn down, she stayed with me in my room when I felt alone, she fed and bathed me when I couldn’t do those things myself, she encouraged me to draw, crochet and just be creative when I felt lost, and she celebrated with a party & cake a few times when treatment was done!!

Thinking about what my mom had to go through still makes me cry. A parent should never have to see their child suffering like that. I have a better relationship with her and a new found respect and appreciation for her. Her idiosyncrasies (that used to drive me a little crazy at times) don’t even bother me anymore. Have I just gotten used to them after living here for the last 10 months or have I just relaxed about things that aren’t in my control and learned to not let those things affect me? I think (and hope) that it’s the latter. I have to remember that she’s not perfect, she’s human like everyone else. She’s my mother and she loves me.

Happy Mother’s Day!

New Hair, New Start!

I forgot to mention my CT results came out normal, everything looks clear. The only thing is that there is no way to know for sure but as far as they can see the cancer is gone!!! I’m going to think positive and do whatever I need to, to stay healthy and alive!

It’s a new beginning. Better and more colourful than before! I am moving into a new place, bought a new car and re-shaved my head for new post-treatment hair. New hair new start! Yes I like nice things but the things that are truly important are not tangible. I’ve become a little more patient, a little kinder, and a little more loving or at least I’m trying to be. I think it’s also important and beneficial to remember that we are all different and to not expect everyone to think and do things the way you would. I hope to be a better person and I think when you go through something like this, that can very naturally happen.

This was a wake up call, a reminder that life is precious and each day should be celebrated and not taken for granted. We take so many things for granted. We’re human and it’s very easy for that to happen. Appreciating all the things we have makes life richer, and brings more peace and happiness. At the end of each day I am thankful that I’m alive and getting healthier. Everything else now seems secondary and I’ve promised myself to never let anything take away my joy. It’s normal (and healthy) to have moments of sadness, anger, stress or any other unhappy emotion but it shouldn’t take over and last for a long period of time. Otherwise, that’s time spent in that negative space instead of time spent being happy and enjoying life. I’ve also learned to not be annoyed with the things that aren’t in my control. Because I have no control over those things, being bothered isn’t gonna change them and is only affecting ME in a negative way. That one was hard for me at times haha.

None of us are perfect but I’ve made myself some promises that I will try my best to keep. One of which is gratitude for all that I have, most importantly MY LIFE.

#gratitude