About Me...

My photo
In a nut shell : I'm a wife, a full time working mom, a teacher, a Star Wars geek, comic book nerd, Disney enthusiast, hockey Mom, a decade long breast cancer survivor, and oh let's not forget such a happy, sassy, southern mess!

Monday, April 30, 2007

My Thoughts Today


My Aurgument with Cancer's Inner Demons!

What can I say? The last 15 months have been a blur. I can't lie, it has been a long hard road. One that is still being trod. One that will more than likely be beneath my feet for the rest of my life. A much longer road than I thought it would be or ever expected it to turn into. I live each day wishing it was the last day I had to wake up knowing "cancer" was apart of my existence. And I know that there are days, all of us wish we didn't have to think about it, hear about it or read about it. But it is my reality and for all of those that have made the choice to walk this road with me, I cannot even begin to express the depths of my love, gratitude and the bond that we are forging together. Those who have trod this path, no matter the course and type of cancer, know exactly what I mean. I admire your strength in the midst of your battle and I look up to you for your courage and tenacity for life in the midst of the odds against you. I thank you for being the example to me!

I am struggling right now. I feel in-between hope and loss. I know I shouldn't complain, but my body is so weak right now and I am just really struggling to keep coming up for air. All I want to do is stay in bed and sleep. My body is so drained and my stomach is still on the edge. I want to eat, but then when I do, my stomach is not happy with me. This hysterectomy has really beaten me up and shoved me down. My body was just not ready for this major undertaking just yet I suppose. Don't fret, I will get back up again, but for the moment I have had my feet completely taken out from under me. I really NEED this wound to heal and stop oozing. That alone would make me feel so much better. My blood sugars are not too high, but they are somewhat elevated. So I know this infection is not under control yet. And I am working on my third bottle of pain killers. I hate that! I am not one to generally finish one bottle,and here I am starting on bottle number three! I want to be well, and on the go again right now. But I can't, my body won't let me. Soon, hopefully really soon though I hope.

Recovery and healing, they go hand and hand, physically, mentally and emotionally. Often as you travel this road your body buckles and many more times it soars. Three steps forward for every five steps backwards. No, you may not be traveling very far or too quickly for that matter, and honestly you may feel as if you are in S-L-O-W--M-O-T-I-O-N, but all the same you are in motion and that is a very good thing, right? I have to say honestly that for me life has just been very trying this year. Character building at times and maybe at other times a bit more on the demolition side of things in regard to personal growth and traits. I believe that I have grown as a person, as a woman, as mother, as wife, as sister and hopefully as a friend. So I hope that as I am pruned through this process, I do not bring ya'll down to the depths with me when I have those hard days. This fight is just grueling, and I have those days when I am simply tired from all the uncertainty. There are times I feel it all around me, closing in from all sides. Not only have I been fighting my own personal cancer beast, but I have seen two other precious lives go on before me, and I fear for several others holding on by threads in the wings. I see it all around me and yes, there are times, it scares me. After, coming so close to death 17 days ago, I feel as if the Reaper is out in full force, working overtime. Ever feel just on the edge of something? On the edge of a battle that you cannot avoid, just waiting for it to begin? It's a helpless feeling, that turns your stomach, causes your heart to race and your head to pound. That's how I feel right now. Kinda how I felt in between the time I found my lump and had the breast biopsy done. Just kinda waiting for the world to fall. I just really hate cancer!

Over the last 15 months there have been many times that I have just wanted to throw in the towel and lay in bed and not get up to face the world around me. But you can't do that, and you realize that there are so many others depending upon you to get up, fight, and not roll around in your own misery. So you get up. No matter the pain, no matter the reason for your discomfort and you move forward. Even when you are scolded for not making better progress or not being upbeat enough. There are those moments when you think to yourself, "Pardon me for not smiling as I dance the Tango with death, would you like to step in for me, I could use the break?"

I have to tell you chemo is a horrible monster. It's this ugly poison, meant to save your life being shot into your body to attack and shut down the cancer that is biding for your mere existence. It is intended to kill. And it does kill! It goes after every part of you, not necessarily just the cancer. It strips away everything physically that makes you, well you! You are just sort of along for the ride. Part of the mad scientists experiment. You eventually stop worrying about what your nails look like, or trying to make yourself look human anymore. You just accept the fact that you have become Frankenstein! All the while it is slowly killing so many parts of you. Everyday it surges through your body, it takes a part of your life, apart of who you were, and reshapes your life into something else. A life you have no control over, a life that you would have never chosen.



When I step back and take a good look around me I see my children suffering beyond what their little minds can bear. They cry themselves to sleep, or they can't sleep at all and go to school on just a few hours of sleep. They can't eat, focus, or relax. They are afraid of everything. How do you take that fear away? Especially after they have seen the Reaper enter your hospital room to steal Mommy's life away? How do you comfort them when they see you, their mother, caretaker, story teller, encourager, their protector from the world, and their "take all my worries and fears away Mommy" meeting death around every corner? They see it. They know it. They are living it 24/7. What am I to do about their worries? Joshua and Micah are only 10 and 8 years old. They are living through this with me.They see and know how their lives have stopped, been put on hold, while their friends are moving on, and the rest of the world is still turning. They have been a year and a half with this already. They were only 9 and 6, in just third and first grade when this all began to change their lives. My heart breaks in more pieces than can be glued back together when I think of how this cancer has affected them. How it will shape them, mold them and affect them for the rest of their lives. There are times I curse myself, wondering what I could have done differently. Yet I know, that is an impossible question. The beast comes for it's intended without warning. You have no choice in this scenario. It is what it is, a strategy game played out day to day, and the ultimate victory, if you are lucky, is life. As for my precious boys, we have them in counseling right now. Joshua is on meds for focusing, and they are both taking something to help them sleep. We are doing all we can to get them moving forward, but they are children, not grown adults. They do not have the tools mentally to face the fact that Mommy has cancer.






Cancer is such a horrible word. It cuts you so deep that all goes numb inside of you and then as a cruel twist, the pain comes searing right through you like a hot blade! It cuts deep into all you ever were and thought you would be. This thing, the "it," they call breast cancer is a beast. A beast with long stretching tentacles reaching out, wrapping itself not only around your life, but the lives of everyone else within close proximity of your world. There are times the beast gets a death grip, a strangling hold on you, and then there are other times when you feel confident as if you and those warriors you call family and friends are battling right beside you, keeping the beast at bay, throwing every rock, stabbing it with pitchforks, hitting it right between the eyes by any means necessary and simply whipping "it's" butt.

This beast takes hold and strips you of all your femininity and grace. Everything that made you feel like a woman and all that made you whole is gone. First goes the breast. You now have a huge scar across your chest. What once was a breast, what once gave your children life is empty, void of anything beautiful, anything yours. It is now a lump, just skin, sitting there lifeless. Even with cosmetic surgery the scar will always be there. Like a stretch mark long after you have had a baby, except this scar is not a reminder of life, but of death. They cut away what once made you whole and threw it away like trash. They took everything, every part of it, down to the chest lining. The mussels that once enabled you to open a door are gone. You no longer have the strength to move things around because they are gone and will never return. Then they place a port in the remaining breast, and suddenly you have this new thing sticking out of you, and a nice new scar that is forever a reminder of the chemo. Then the chemo starts. At first you think, I can do this. It's not as bad as I have heard. Then the poison kicks in and you feel as if death itself has taken control of your body. Every part of your body hurts, just to touch it. You can't eat, you can't sleep, you can't move. Yet somehow you do. The emotional pain is enough to make your body hurt, but then you have the physical pain of the chemo and you just want to go to sleep and not move.

Once the chemo has started to make it's way through your body, you feel the mental, emotional and physical pain of loosing your hair all over your body. It feels as if someone has poured acid all over your scalp, as if someone has taken an ax to your scalp and removed it without pain killers! So then you steady yourself for the next 9-12 months of having to live without hair. You prepare yourself for the wigs, then you move onto scarves and finally to bandanas. You actually get excited when Walmart has new bandanas in stock! You decided it's not so bad not having to shave, and then you loose your eyebrows and eyelashes. Suddenly you are violated all over again by the poison! You suddenly feel venerable all over again. You look into the mirror and you have no face, no expression. Your face has swollen beyond recognition and your eyes disappear into this new you. Of course everyone tells you how good you look, but deep inside you know the monster that you have become. People treat you different. To some, you are the creature from the black lagoon or worse. People can pity you, they can ignore you or they can really enable you to survive the beasts grip by walking beside you. You see the stares, the looks. You see the pain in your children's eyes, the hurt spelled out all over their faces and you are helpless to do anything about it. It is devastating.

So you keep reminding yourself that you are still among the living and that is far more important than your physical features. You realize that your husband still loves and desires you. That he sees the real you, the you that he fell in love with 11 years ago. That seems to help you get up and smile at him every morning. Yet you long to be whole. To look beautiful for him, to shine again, and not to feel so useless. Cancer is a lifelong struggle. It does not just affect you, it affects everyone around you. It affects family relationships, friendships you thought would never waver. Even when you are better, you are always fighting the beast. It is your beast now. It can be tamed on some days, but it is still wild and unpredictable and can attack at any given moment.



Truth is this, I am on the road to recovery and healing. I have had some good news and some bad. I am positive and I am strong. But I am still struggling day to day. I still have pain and I still feel apart of me is MIA, missing in action, somewhere. I plan to be around for another 50 years, if the Grim will keep his distance. I take nothing for granted. I do take stock in my present and I do not, will not, take this day, this hour, this moment for granted. I know very well that I could not be here to experience another year of changing seasons, as much as I know I may be here to celebrate 60 more years. As much as I know this. so does my husband, my children and my parents. They live with this knowledge every day right along side of me. Life is precious. Today is a time to remember how far we have come and yes, we have come far indeed. It is a time to be grateful for the wonderful things, precious moments we have been given and for the beautiful family and friends we now have surrounding us. It is a season to rejoice in, to acknowledge the time we have here and now, and to be thankful for each morning we are given to rise and greet a new day.


I appreciate each of you more than I can ever express. I am grateful for the kindness I have been shown and for the beauty I have been given here in J-Land, in each post and in each of you. I have been taught many lessons this year from taking life a day at a time, to standing up for myself. Just know that no matter what the future holds, I hold each of you all close to my heart.

Christina

Living Life One day at a Time with Love, Hope, Laughter and Humor

6 comments:

  1. I do hope you are on antibiotics for your weeping wound Christina? Water is the elixer too. Wash all the poisnous chemical out quickly. Drink plenty of it.
    One day at a time is a good maxim to have.  I used that one too.
    When folks said to me during my chemotherapy 'I couldn't cope like you are doing'.  I anwered.."If God gives me two feet to put on the floor each day when I waken up then I am blessed and can then make the most of that day".  I always imagined someone else worse off than myself and felt much better for that vision.(Not the fact that they were ill mind you! ) At least I was not completely bed ridden.  I could go to bed when I was overwhelemed with fatigue, and that is so not like tiredness...is it?  Its the difference in the journey between Australia and Britain. Those two feelings are that far apart.  There is no comparison.  Breathless ness comes when you try to talk or walk from one chair to another and yet meals have to be made shopping has to be done, homes have to be cleaned and in your case children to be looked after.  My husband doesn't drive so I had to drive myself for chemo when I felt up to it.  I drove 120 mile round trip at weekends to return from my radiotherapy.  But I look back and I think....no cancer....I am strong and can take all that you can send my way.  Attitude my friend goes a long long way to healing.  Keep your Spirits up and rest every moment you can find without feeling guilty. It prepares you for the next onslaught until you reach the final winning post. And you will!  God Bless.   Jeanie

    ReplyDelete
  2. When my Aunt Judy had cancer...for her daughters 14th birthday she wanted to have it at a amusement park....Judy was pretty weak but insisted on being able to share in her daughters birthday...I decided to take a vacation day to go along(as i knew i wouldn't have the opportunity to share in many more memories with her such as this)  =(  
    We spent most of the day in the waterpark... She couldn't be in direct sunlight because of the chemo/radiation...and it was a bright beautiful sunny day... all the tables with canopy's were taken.... she carried an umbrella with her.... not wanting to use it one bit, all she could say was people are already staring at me with my bandana...if i hold an umbrella over me on a sunny day they will look at me like i am nuts.... it broke my heart!!!
    I said Judy....Open the umbrella, if i have to i will hold it for you... you must think about your health...if they stare then so be it ~ apparently they have never dealt with a family member or loved one facing a Cancer Journey... I wanted to cry so bad but choked back my tears for her sake... she opened the umbrella...and of course some stared.... I kept my eyes open for a table with a canopy to become available...and we finally got one...and you could tell she felt so much more at ease....not standing out in the crowd...or so she thought. That was the last birthday she spent with her daughter...and I am so glad I was able to share in those memories with her... I miss her sooooo much ~ sorry my comment is a downer... She has been on my mind alot lately.  
    Keep your head held high Christine... never give up hope!
    Very touching entry...thank you for being so open and honest with us about your feelings facing your fears....you are helping many many people!  
    Love and Hugs,
     Terri

    ReplyDelete
  3. Christina...I think that you are very brave to fight this Beast! and for you to come here and tell about the true way it is, will help thousands of women to know the how and what of it...
    God bless You.
    love ya,
    carlene

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Christina, I am Terri's mom. I have been reading your journal since the day you posted your first entry. I don't comment in journals often in fear of not being able to come up with the right words. As a caregiver to my lil sis through her cancer journey I find your words to be so inspirational, you leave me in aww with each entry. I have seen and felt how cancer sucks life out of each person involved. I believe you are helping so many, myself included, who may one day face this demon in their lifetime. Thank you for sharing such a devastating part of your life with us, if it helps one person you have accomplished much.
    Love
    Debbie

    ReplyDelete
  5. Not sure exactly how I found you, but glad I did.  Sending prayers and strength your way.  It's a battle but I see you have the will and courage to beat it.
    d

    ReplyDelete
  6. Your an inspiration dear one!!! Life even in health should never be taken for granted. Each day given to us by creator is a gift. As are friends , you are a gift to me sharing your life, your pain and sorrow and your happiness and family with me.
    You bring me tears and smiles and make my heart ache for you with this fight you have before you. I will forever be thankful for the chance that I discovered your journal, for this friendship. Keep your head up dear one, I'm still here keeping you in my prayers on the smoke. (Hugs) Indigo

    ReplyDelete

Please leave your comments and share your thoughts.