It’s only Tuesday?!

I hear Adele’s voice in the background … Love her! Oh crap it’s my alarm! It’s 6:45am, I need to get up, get ready and get to work. Maybe I need to change that song to something less soothing in the morning. Shower, change, hair, makeup, mini breakfast (otherwise I feel horrible) and 8am I’m out the door! Catch the train downtown and 30 minutes later I’m at Union station. I then walk for 15 minutes in the underground PATH with tons of other people, and am in the office just after 9am. The ‘month before diagnosis’ routine … Hit snooze several times, finally get up at around 8am, rush and get ready, leave at 8:45 on an empty stomach. Hop on the subway and get into the office by 9:30. Funny how things have changed for the better! 

Monday I worked from home so I got up at 8:30, made my tea and logged on. It was a steady work day, not too busy but busy enough. I worked 8 hours and logged off. All good. Now comes Day 2 of my first full time week. I am helping with a project that my boss is working on. It’s been going okay but I’m not able to work as fast as before. I’ve been away for over 2 years and I still have issues with my memory and concentration. I get an email from my boss saying he needs part of this by the end of the day. Wait, what?! Now I’m scrambling trying to work as fast as I can, but not too fast as I don’t want to make any mistakes! I’m looking at 10,000 rows of data, data that needs to be amalgamated, cleaned up, manipulated and then put into a prettier format where the data that needs to be seen is seen. Formulas, pivot tables, analysis, all of it feels overwhelming as my mental acuity is not 100% right now and let’s not forget that I haven’t done any of this stuff in soooo long. Who’s gonna remember?! Needless to say I didn’t get everything done by 5pm so I stayed until 6:30pm. My back, neck and shoulder (surgery side) are now in a lot of pain, pain that started when I returned to work, pain that has me back in physiotherapy and has my body saying “why are you doing this to me?? I’ve been through so much trauma already and I’m still recovering. You were helping me heal and I was getting stronger but today you went too far. Remember I am still not 100%. I am not ready for this, I need more time. We made it through today but I’m not sure how much more of this I can take.” Walking to union station I thought, “I’m exhausted and now the pain is shooting down my arm. When will this week be over, is it Friday yet? Omg it’s only Tuesday!!! Ugh.”

Wednesday and Thursday, were more of the same. It’s now 7pm and I’m on my way home. Fortunately I drove to work today. I should not be leaving the office this late, especially my first full week!! Next thing I know I’m in tears. I don’t know what happened. I guess the feeling of frustration, exhaustion, pain and stress became too much. I was so on edge that the littlest disappointment at the end of the day pushed me over that invisible cliff. I took a deep breath, put on my music and felt a little better by the time I got to my Mom’s. Thank God for my mother, she can drive me a little crazy but I love her and don’t know what I would do without her right now. She still cooks most nights for herself, my dad, my baby brother and now ME. Days I’m in the office, I’m way too exhausted to do anything when I get home so I usually go straight to my parents house. Today after dinner I was in so much pain that my mom gave me short massage. Felt a little better and shortly after I went home. I’m so exhausted, all I can do at this point is change into my PJs and watch a little tv before bed. Lying on the sofa I can’t seem get comfortable. Now I’m also having pain in my lower back and abdomen. The pain is getting so bad it’s almost debilitating. Wtf is going on?! I need to take some Advil and go to bed. Thank god tomorrow is Friday!!

Back to the Concrete Jungle

During my 18 months of post treatment recovery, I’ve made a significant effort in trying to get my eating, sleeping and exercise on track. These things are important for everyone but for someone who’s been through breast cancer (or any cancer) they are paramount. After my first full time week back at work, my self care has gone to hell! 

After being off for 2 years and 2 months, I decided to return to work mid October, Wednesday October 14th to be exact. That was after the (Canadian) Thanksgiving long weekend. My case manager wanted me back the first week of October because my oncologist had said the month of October. I explained that I had a couple of appointments at the hospital that week so it only made logical sense that the week after would be better. The Disability group does not care and would like to see you back at work yesterday!! They agreed to let me start 1 week later but left my ‘return to full time’ start date the same which was November 30th. So now instead of being on a modified schedule for 8 weeks, it would be 7. I agreed thinking that I could easily extend that if necessary. Big mistake! Note to self – always remember to err on the side of more time, not less. 

The first month back was fine. It was actually great to be back and have some sense of normalcy again. Being home all the time can get depressing and frustrating. I was working 2-3 days a week and they were shorter days. After a few weeks I went up to 3 full days which was okay because I still had Tues/Thurs off. This gave me time to catch up on sleep, workout and do my groceries etc. I was feeling good, feeling healthy and definitely not stressed. This was giving me a chance to slowly adjust to working again. The other part that is a huge adjustment is the actual work I am doing. After being away from it for over 2 years, there is a lot I don’t remember! Along with that is the fact that my memory and focus are not 100%. It’s beyond frustrating so I have to keep reminding myself that it will simply take time and to be patient with myself. 

At this point I was a few weeks away from my full time start date. I went to my doctor and physiotherapist as I had been having back pain since returning to work. Any pain after breast cancer (or any cancer) is scary because you start to worry that maybe the cancer is back. So even though we were pretty sure it wasn’t I had to have a back X-ray to be 100% sure … After a couple of stressful days of waiting the results came back clear. SIGH. RELIEF. Well now we have confirmed that the back pain was due to sitting and working on a computer all day. My body has been through a lot and it is going to take longer than 7 weeks to physically adjust. I got a letter from both my doctor and physiotherapist stating that I should stay on a 3-4 day schedule for an additional month. Because I didn’t provide clinical notes, treatment plan or diagnostics they didn’t approve my extension. Really?! Didn’t know that my case manager was a medical professional who would know what was best for me. Ugh! 

I could have gone back to physiotherapist and gotten the detail she wanted but it was now the end of November already. I thought I’ll have to end up doing a full time week anyways because the approval process takes at least 1 week. By that time it will be a couple of weeks before Christmas and then the last 2 weeks are short weeks anyways … not to mention that I’d like to get my full pay again. I figured I could manage, told myself ‘I can do this, it will be fine’. WRONG! Enter the week from hell!!

Going Through Withdrawal

  
I’ve been back for about 2 weeks now and I am still missing the food, the beautiful views, the architecture and the different people I was around everyday. It feels really weird to be home by myself. I’ll be in social settings at times but a lot of my time is spent on my own, especially since I have not yet returned to work (back to work in 9 days). Adding to that is the fact that I’ve been to 3 weddings in the last 6 weeks! Just a reminder that I am and have been single for over 2 years now. 

While I was away things were relaxed, happy and just about enjoying life, which I guess is the case on any vacation. Now that I am back I’m trying to prepare for going back to work but also I’ve had several appointments as its my 6 month follow up time. I had a mammogram and an MRI. Mammogram came out clear and hopefully the MRI will too. I guess waiting for the test results and having to be at the hospital so much is also causing a little bit of stress, making me want to be back in a stress free (mental vacation) state. 

Over the weekend, I was out with my younger brother and his friends for a birthday and while it was fun, it highlighted again the fact that I’m 40 and single (they’re all late 20s to early 30s) and a couple of them are already married. Then one of them (girl of course) says “when are the rest of these guys gonna get married, they’re getting old.” Mind you, part of it is because she’s married and within their close circle of friends, her husband is the only married one so she’s always the only female and she really wants another wife to hang with in the group. I get that, but seriously to say that to me?! If they’re old at 30/31 then I’m ancient!! Was again in a situation like that last night. My mom had a get together for the newlyweds of the wedding we went to last week, who are 10+ yrs younger me. The new bride and her sister in law kept talking about their husbands and how messy they are and adjusting to being married. That could have been part of the conversation, but it didn’t need to be the conversation for the entire night! I actually think it should have been a private conversation, not the one at a party to celebrate your marriage!! Immaturity or cultural?! I think part of it is cultural, it’s just how most (not all) Indian women think. So again it was not an enjoyable conversation. While in Firenze (Florence) and out with my cousin, her husband and their friends, there was no talk like that. Even though they were all 10+ years younger, nothing was said that reminded me I was older, I truly just had a good time! We even decided that I was 31 haha. I came home that night feeling great!

I’m definitely done with these family friend situations for awhile. Missing being away … Mi manchi Italia! I want my next vacation fix! 

Relax Rejuvenate Recharge

  
I am in London!! Got here yesterday and so far just spent time with cousins. Went out for dinner, talking and catching up, which has been great! Cancer is not on my mind. So nice to mentally have that break!  
I did share the events of the last 2 years with one of my cousins but not the other. I want to tell the other cousin but she’s very close with her mom and I don’t want the whole family to know. Funny though because with the cousin I didn’t tell, we shared a lot of personal stuff. Things that actually made me feel closer to her. I am actually looking forward to spending more time with her in the next few days. The cousin I did tell is quite a big younger and now I am wondering if I should have told her … I’m naturally a very open person and I sometimes share too much. I told her something that saddened me about a cousin I didn’t get to see today. I didn’t need to tell her that, she wasn’t going to make it any better. So don’t know why I told her. I think it’s my natural desire to share. I really need to start keeping more to myself. I’m an open person but I think being too open isn’t a good thing. I trust her and telling her was fine but sometimes I feel that I unnecessarily say too much … Oversharing again!

This vacation is going to give me time to relax, enjoy myself and rejuvenate before going back to work in October. I think we underestimate the power a trip and time away can have. Being in a different environment is fantastic! Meeting new people and seeing new and interesting places is enlightening. Experiencing a different culture, the food, the energy, the art and architecture is amazing! I think it definitely is therapeutic after such a life altering experience. It really will help me recharge and hopefully feel a little closer to my normal self. 

Tomorrow off to see Wimbledon area and Notting Hill. 😊

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 … 

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! 😊