Go Big

In less than a month I’ll begin the last year of my 30s. A year ago, I didn’t think I’d be able to celebrate any more birthdays. It’s not that I was pessimistic about my outcome, I just wanted to stay realistic. I wanted to be able to call off treatments on my own terms and accept my fate while living my best life with what I had left.

Believe it or not, I had a plan. At this point I don’t think I need to share what that plan was, but I was ready. Being diagnosed with stage III cancer forced me to be ready for what was to come. Six months ago, we talked about what I wanted after death. What kind of a memorial service I thought would be fun for those that needed a service. There had to be music. Lots and lots of music. And wine. Lots of that, too. No open caskets, no weird speeches, just stories about great times and fond memories.

I’ve really tried to lead a good life. Especially these last few years. I’ve been able to travel with my husband and vacation with my kids. I’ve seen the beach in the dead of Minnesota winter and I am so grateful for all of it.

Some days I wake up and want to pinch myself. I have no less than 10 appointments coming up and still can’t believe my life.

I’m alive.

I get to wake up and go to a job that I love with people that care about me.

I have my kids who have STOPPED worrying when they hug me that I might get hurt. I get to hear their voices tell me they love me every day.

I have such amazing friends and family who supported me and believed in me…. sometimes it’s a little bit overwhelming.

It feels strange to be worrying about my outward appearance. The scars that I carry tell a story, yes, but they also leave a little bit of a hole in my confidence.

I have one more surgery left before this part of my journey is complete. It’s an easy one in comparison. Just some scar revision and evening things out a little bit. Then I have to decide what to do about these breasts. Right now, they’re a blank canvas. It might be a little too personal, but I don’t know what to do with them. Do I put a beautiful design on them or just go for the 3-D nipple tattooing? I don’t know… I guess I’ll have to figure it out when the time comes.

❀️

There is just something about the view from my childhood home. I look around and feel all the feelings from my younger years, placing myself on this very sidewalk from the photos I’ve looked at over the years.

I remember my teenage years, where I got caught every single time I did something wrong (for real) and all of the insecurities I had during that time. So many insecurities that have recently reappeared.

These past few weeks I’ve spent more time at my childhood home than I have in years. The struggle with transitioning out of cancer mode and figuring out real-life has been difficult, but I’m finding a lot of comfort in cooking with my mom, boating with my dad and spending a lot of alone time around the fire just learning about my new self.

This year I have begun to live my best life. I’m learning so much, forging new friendships, creating new memories and figuring out what I am meant to do.

Tomorrow I start a new chapter. It’s bound to be amazing!

Still So Many Appointments!

Today I see my oncologist for my first blood work and exam after I have completed chemo, radiation and reconstruction. He hasn’t seen my new body or my hair yet.

The appointment started with a bit of difficulty, and we were almost unable to draw blood. 20 minutes, three different people and countless pokes later we had our 4 vials.

I walked the halls again, just as I used to when waiting to hear how healthy my levels were and whether or not I could have my dose of chemotherapy for the day. I honestly can’t imagine how many miles and hours I have aimlessly walked these halls and sat in the waiting room. It’s the usual suspects waiting with me. I guess it should feel good that I am always the youngest in the room ☺️.

There is a certain amount of panic as I wait to hear my results. I’ve requested a PET scan, for my own peace of mind. I believe I’ll have another echocardiogram coming up to try to measure how affected my heart was through the year of treatments that I had? I don’t know.

As I look around the room, I want to weep for all of the people I’m surrounded by. The husbands and wives of the cancer patients that attend every appointment with their partners, the path they will have to endure and the challenges that it brings. The overall curability of the population here with me at the Cancer Center. It was just about one year ago that I was told I have STAGE III METASTATIC CANCER. Stage III. It still absolutely blows my mind. I wonder how many of those around me are in the same shoes or maybe even worse.

Today I am so thankful for so many things, but I’m very happy to be on this side of treatments. I’m thankful to see my reflection changing every day! I don’t have steroid face anymore and my hair is sure coming back with a mind of its own. I see breasts and that sun kissed glow of summer. I see a future that is healthy.

I see myself slowly coming back together after being completely torn apart.

Camping With Cousins

Before cancer, every year I would take my youngest niece and nephew for a few days to spoil them and love them and create memories. Last summer, I couldn’t.

I remember the first time I did it. My husband thought I was crazy. I believe the kids were 2, 3, 4, 5 and 15. I’ve always thrived in chaos and take on way more than I should, but I love every minute of it.

This year we are starting a new tradition. I’m camping sans husband, and now I have a 5, 6, 7 and 8 (and 3/4 πŸ™„) year old. So far, this is my favorite year yet. I’m not sure if it’s the location (I love Collinwood!), the wine (I’ve only had one glass) or the way my mind and heart work after cancer, but this year (so far) is my favorite.

So many memories.

Check, Check, Check-Ups!

I have my Cancer Survivorship appointment in about 10 minutes. This woman is going to teach me how to recognize signs of further cancer invasion/replication, what my next appointments will look like and how often I’ll be back.

This one will be a very long one, but I’ll likely get some answers to all the questions I’ve had over the last couple of months. I have had a headache the last couple of nights, so I’m pretty sure I have brain cancer. I still have a cough from reconstruction, so also, lung cancer.

I wonder if this lady knows what she is in for? 😎