Another friend!?

I recently learned that a friend who is only 33 was just diagnosed with endometrial cancer. I truly feel for her and it saddened me to hear this. I do know how it feels to get such a devastating diagnosis. It brought back a lot of memories and brought up a lot of emotion. I felt her frustration when she was waiting for her appointment (2 weeks) after the diagnosis. 2 weeks of nothing but waiting and left to imagine anything and everything!! Torture. It made me very thankful to the surgeon who expedited all of my tests and got things going immediately. I will be sending him a thank you email/card just something to let him know how grateful I am. He was wonderful. 

She called me after I returned from a weekend away for my cousins wedding. She never calls, usually texts. So I knew it wasn’t good … I just didn’t think it was that. We talked for a long while. I was glad to be able to answer any questions and support her. Not the thing you want to bond over but I’m sure we will be closer after this. My heart went out to her as I really do know what it feels like. 

I think it’s crazy that the incidence of cancer is on the rise and more and more young women seem to be getting this horrible diagnosis!! My thoughts are that it’s the food we eat, the environment and our lifestyles. So much of what we put into our body is processed and void of nutrients. Our society also deems our busy and stressful lifestyles as a badge of success. No sleep, food on the go and consistent stress. None of that is good. No time to exercise or just relax and clear our minds. Our immune system weakened by a lack of sleep, too much stress and not enough nutrient dense foods. I don’t think it’s one thing but the above in some combination that causes things to go sideways. 

I’ve started living healthier … Eating better, sleeping well with minimal to no stress in my day to day life. This seems to be the more expensive lifestyle. I am very fortunate to be able to do this while not working as I’m still recovering. Tentatively returning to work in a couple of months. Have to make sure I can maintain this once I start working again. 

My friend was pretty healthy overall. She did have a lot of stress in her life though. I check in with her frequently to see how she’s doing, I think about her often and she’s in my prayers. SIGH … 

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Running – Just Do It!

During the rehab program through Toronto Rehab UHN I had worked up to a 45 min walk jog from a 30 min walk. This was about 6-8 months ago. I continued after that, mind you not as consistently as I would have liked but nonetheless I tried to stick with it. I had issues with my foot so had to switch to the elliptical which I hated. So did it until I felt I could jog again. The weather started to finally get a little better in May and I started jogging outside. Loved it!! I was doing a walk/jog at 2:1 intervals. Jogging for me is a stress reliever and it mentally strengthens me, it always has. Not to mention the physical benefits are amazing! This is something I started doing over 20 years ago and always loved it! 

About 8 weeks ago I went out for my walk jog as usual and as soon as I started the first jogging interval my knees were in so much pain?! I had to stop and walk but I struggled through the next 30 minutes with the jogging part being very slow and light. I came home completely distraught. What was happening??? I know tamoxifen causes joint pain and I’ve had it since I started the medication 18 months ago but it was never this bad. I called my oncologist but we weren’t able to connect. I finally spoke to her a few weeks later when I actually had my 3 month appointment. There isn’t a whole lot she was able to do. She did say that I could try the Glucosamine … which I’ve been taking. It usually takes a few weeks to see any improvement. 

I’m not sure how or why but a couple of weeks ago the joint pain seemed a bit better?! I decided to try the walk/jog and was able to do 30 mins no problem. I was sooo happy!!! I’ve been able to continue. So grateful for that.  It’s great exercise and mentally it helps me quite a bit. There are days I don’t feel like it but I tell myself to stop thinking and JUST DO IT! Afterwards I always feel amazing! 😊

Do What You Love!!

It’s common for a person who has had a life threatening experience to think about their mortality and reflect on their life … past, present and future. I thought about all the mistakes I made, all the things I wish I had done differently and all the things I haven’t done that I want to do. I guess that’s usually what happens. I then consciously made an effort to think about my accomplishments, the good things I have done and the things in my life that have made me happy. It’s funny how that came second. I guess it’s because there’s still time to do all the things I want to do but haven’t done yet. There’s time but I’ve realized that we never really know how much time so there’s almost a sense of urgency. Or at least not wanting to put things off. 

Thinking about how to make it happen. I’ve already started but it feels like there isn’t enough time. Regardless I’m going to do things one day at a time. I’ve started painting again and also traveling more. Both of those things are so relaxing and rejuvenating!! Very emotionally and mentally therapeutic. Big stress relievers! I’ve eliminated most of the stress in my life and learned to manage any little stressors. 🙂 

Then there’s my career. I’m a creative person/designer at heart and that’s what will make me truly happy. I’ve been talking about this for years but when you have a mortgage and yours is the only income you’re living on, making a drastic career change where your income will initially drop doesn’t always work. I think I can now financially manage the initial decrease in income. So I have to figure something out and just make that change. Set a timeline, some goals and make it happen! 

I want to enjoy my life. I don’t want to spend 60 hours a week working or being so exhausted that I have no time for anything else. And most importantly I need to still have time to live a healthy lifestyle. Eating healthy, getting enough sleep and exercising all takes time lol. 

While taking care of my health first I want to spend my work hours doing something I’m passionate about!! I don’t have to make millions doing it just enough to be comfortable and travel of course 😊.

Life is short, do what you Love!! 

Exhausted …

I haven’t written in awhile … mainly because I’ve been busy and by the time I sit down and relax at the end of the day my brain just wants to turn off. I often think “how am I going to manage working full time when I’m so busy while not working?!” I guess I’ll figure it out when the time comes. 

After coming back from Spain I’ve been working out more. Hoping that it will help me lose some weight but no such luck. Losing weight was never so difficult! I have to remember that there are several factors at play here and it’s not because I’m not making an effort. It seems that each time I go away I gain a few pounds … It’s easy, I’m on vacation and eat whatever I want including dessert! Yummmm! And in Spain the food was soooo good. Let’s remember I’ve been away 4 times in the past year. If I gained a few pounds each time that would be right around 15 pounds. There you have it … the 15 pounds I’ve gained. In the past if I gained a few pounds, I’d lose it soon after. The losing part doesn’t seem to be happening. Nothing is balancing out. 

I started going to the gym and doing classes. It was a little challenging at first but I’m already seeing improvements. I am a teeny bit stronger than before :). I’ve been exercising 2-4 times a week and since June 1st I’ve been focusing more on eating clean. I will continue and see what happens by the end of the month. I’m not expecting to see the weight just drop since I know with me everything right now is slow. If I see even the slightest improvement I’ll be happy. I just need to know that something is happening. 

Did I mention that the joint pain in my knees has gotten worse! It’s bad enough that I’m trying to recover and also lose weight but now the joint pain is impeding my ability to exercise. I cannot do certain things, it’s too painful. So once again, I feel like I’m 80. Every time I make progress there is something else pushing me back. All of this is getting to me. I’ve been super sensitive and emotional since the joint pain worsened. Oh and in case you aren’t aware the joint pain is due to the Tamoxifen. The hot flashes have subsided and have been replaced with more joint pain. I’ll take the hot flashes, at least I just have to strip down to my tank top and I’m good. 

I’ve also been busy looking for a condo. The condo hunt is not going well. There are a lot of condos in my neighbourhood, where I’d like to stay but the nicer ones don’t come up often. That has also been a bit frustrating. If I had not hesitated and put in an offer quicker for my current place (the one I’m renting) I could have avoided the whole condo search and moving again. Moving is a pain in the ass! I’ve already moved twice in the last two years. I feel so unsettled right now. All of this is exhausting. 

Hoping that I find something soon so I can at least put that to bed. Fingers crossed. 

Beautiful Barcelona

   

  

 I’m in Barcelona. Got here yesterday evening. Was exhausted since I didn’t sleep much on the overnight flight. Woke up late and had to change rooms due to a bathroom issue. Anyways once everything was sorted out I finally went across the street for lunch to Elsa Y Fred. Sitting here and enjoying the food and atmosphere I forgot that I had Breast cancer and am still recovering. I don’t mean forgot for a minute, it just hasn’t been on my mind!! I think that means I need more trips out of North America. I’m not saying I think about it all the time but it’s not something I forget about especially since I’m not back to work yet. At home there are things constantly reminding me because I have Lymphedema and still working on the frozen shoulder. Those things should be resolved in a few months but it’s something that is there right now that I have to go to physiotherapy for and do exercises for every single day. 
Barcelona is a beautiful city! I’ve barely seen it yet but just the little I’ve seen is so lovely. 6 more days in Spain. 😊

Take a Day or Two

After having a bit of a meltdown on Sunday from worrying about the Cancer coming back, I’m finally feeling better. Still getting over the flu but not as bad as Sunday. Although I do feel irritable and moody. It’s PMS without my period! I still get sensitive and emotional depending on what’s going on that day, that week … That moment. There are certain times that nothing bothers me and I’m relaxed and carefree, then other times I’m so sensitive and irritable. Maybe it’s certain things that bother me. Things like rudeness, selfishness, and mean nasty unkind people. I’m also bothered by people being insensitive towards me not having kids or being married. Gotta work on that though because I cannot control other people. I have to find a way to not let it bother me too much. I’m sure it will get better in time. It already has. A year ago I was a mess. It was a process accepting that I would never have children but I’m pretty much there. I still have my moments but hopefully they will become more infrequent as time goes on. 

The other thing I still sometimes struggle with is my Ex. Not struggling with getting over him, that didn’t take any time at all. It’s more that for some reason I’m still angry. Is it because I got no closure? Maybe because he lied so pathologically and hurt my parents. Or could it be that I feel that indirectly, he had me so stressed out that I didn’t pay attention to my health. Probably all of the above along with me being angry with myself for staying with him for the wrong reasons. Staying in a toxic relationship all because I wanted to have a baby. UGHHH! I really really need to LET IT GO. I’m trying and am really not sure why I’m having such a hard time but I do have to let it go somehow. AND I WILL 😉

I read something recently stating that there is a breast cancer-stress connection. Of course more research needs to be done but I do believe there is a link. Not so much a direct correlation in terms of stress directly causing Breast Cancer but I do think and have read that stress weakens the immune system, causes cortisol to be released which is bad when consistently in the body for an extended period of time, and when we are stressed we generally don’t sleep well or take care of ourselves in terms of eating and exercise. I know I don’t. No way in hell I am ever letting that happen again! My LIFE is way too important! All the things we stress and worry about, are so not worth it. We spend time feeling miserable instead of being happy and enjoying life. Of course there will be moments but let it be a moment. Give yourself an hour or two if you’re bothered or a day or two if something is more upsetting, then after that LET IT GO AND MOVE ON. Life will be much brighter! 

Maybe I needed to write in order to help me let go. Do whatever you need to do. Yoga, meditate, write, talk, run, paint, SHOP 🙂 … Whatever it is you need. 

Like NIKE says – Just do it! 

ONE YEAR Since Treatment! ALL IS GOOD!!!

March 20th was exactly one year since I completed treatment. It brought up a lot of emotions … gratitude and happiness but also sadness, and anxiety. I’m so very grateful to be alive and in remission. I recently had a CT which came out clear. I was relieved and overjoyed the day I got my results but soon after my brain started thinking too much. Maybe it was because my Mom told me about her friend’s daughter whose cancer has come back 2 years later. It wasn’t breast cancer but still it makes me think too much. How did that happen? What was her initial diagnosis and prognosis? What was the treatment she received? All of this so that I can tell myself it was different from my situation and I will survive another 20 years! Right now I am only thinking as far as August where I will be 2 years from diagnosis. With each year the chance of recurrence goes down but with breast cancer it can come back at any time. Making it through 5 years doesn’t mean that you are cured, like some other cancers. Great.

I also read again that women who exercised had a higher 10 year survival rate. I’ve started to exercise a little more but to do 3-5 hours a week is not easy when you are not 100%. I still have fatigue and I get sick every month which puts me out of commission for 7-10 days. UGH! Recovering has been slow but I am getting my energy back. I notice an increase in energy every 3 months or so. I now sleep 9.5 hours on average and 7 hours feels like I’ve slept for 4. Oh well, that’s still better than before!The fatigue is difficult for people to understand. It’s an overwhelming exhaustion that hits you like a wave. At least that’s how it is for me. I can make it through the day now but usually can’t do too much in the evening. If I have evening plans I have to nap or rest in the afternoon. My days usually have to be planned. I also have to cook earlier in the day otherwise it doesn’t happen. Thank God for my Mother!!

The thought of going back to work makes me nervous. Not because of work itself but because I don’t know how I am going to manage getting enough sleep, exercising 3-5hrs/week and preparing meals and eating healthy, all while working full time. Maybe I can request working 4 days as my permanent schedule. I would also then only get 80% of my salary but if I can manage on that then maybe it’s worth it. Going back to work is 6 months away at this point so I will evaluate how I am feeling in about 4 months.

Making it to ONE YEAR post treatment is a victory and I am going to think positive, focus on living healthy and getting to my next milestone of 2 YEARS since diagnosis. That will be August 6, 2015.