Monday, July 2, 2012

Please Follow Me to My New Blog

I have started a new blog here:

I will continue to write about cancer survivorship, my new "normal," and getting on with life.

Please update your bookmarks and continue to follow me there.

Thank you!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I Need to Pace Myself

Here I am -- post-cancer treatments and post-surgery. I have my life back and I have hair. But there is one small problem. I need to pace myself.

I find myself wanting to do it all and right now. I want to power through every project at work just to show everyone that I'm back. I want to visit friends, attend art festivals, re-start my Masters degree program, take a romantic vacation and join a yoga studio. And let's not forget about working out, eating right and losing some weight.

Perhaps I am too greedy because my life has been essentially on hold for the past 12 months. I missed all those things last year while I was hooked up to an IV and feeling rather lousy. I need to get over this impatient, greedy phase and slow down because I am getting a little stressed and overwhelmed. The last thing I want to do is invite cancer back into my body. No thank you!

I really need to step back and keep reminding myself that small, consistent changes can lead to big results. I don't need to take on more than I can reasonably handle. And I don't need to do it all today.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Recovering Nicely

No matter how it's done, a hysterectomy is major surgery. And while I chose the da Vinci robotic procedure which boasts minimal down time and pain, believe me when I say there is still plenty of down time and pain. I started to feel pretty good one week post op so I got online to work from home. Big mistake.

My abdomen swelled up and my incisions started oozing. Not good. I decided to lay down and take the rest of the week off. That was the right thing to do. Now I am almost three weeks post op and feeling much, much better. I still need to listen to my body and lay down to rest when I need to.

I have my follow up appointment on June 5. My plan is to ease back into work, start walking about 20 to 30 minutes per day which my nurse said will help alleviate my swelling and just take it easy. I am a bit anxious to get this all behind me but I have to keep reminding myself what my body has been through this past year. I have been through a lot and I will not heal overnight.

I am doing well with my goal of getting outside to soak up some sun every day. So far our weather has been fantastic so I have been able to get out in the yard and "supervise" my husband's landscaping efforts. Our backyard has been the beneficiary of all my time off and also my husband's willingness to plant lots of new shrubs and perennials.

I have also lost about 4 lbs. since my surgery. I think this is just simple bloat going away. Whatever it is, I will take it.

Happy Saturday!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

What A Difference A Year Makes

One year ago today I wasn't feeling it. I had zero energy. I had trouble sleeping. And I absolutely could not lose 10 lbs. no matter what I tried. So I started this blog with a simple goal: improve my health by making gradual changes and hold myself accountable by documenting my progress.

Just a couple of weeks later, I felt a lump in my right breast... you know the rest of the story.

To recognize the one year anniversary of my blog, I could write a post that reflects on all the biopsies, surgeries, and unpleasant chemo and radiation therapy. But who wants to read that garbage? It's old and tired. I prefer to focus on the future and what I want to accomplish over the next 12 months.

First on my agenda is my "Thank You Project." I want to take the month of May to personally thank everyone who offered their prayers, support and encouragement to me and my family. The list is long. My project could take more than one month to complete. But I would love to hit my one year "cancer-versary" on June 2 knowing that I thanked everyone who came to my emotional rescue.

Second, I will start making healthy lifestyle changes today. Two things I know about change:
  • Small changes are easier for me to make. Over time, consistent small changes add up to big results.
  • I find it is much easier for me to add healthy habits to my life than to eliminate unhealthy habits cold turkey. Eventually, the healthy habits will crowd out the unhealthy habits.
My healthy addition for May is to get at least 15 minutes of sunshine every day. My goal (weather permitting) is to sit outside, breathe deeply and let the sun deliver some much needed vitamin D to my body. How easy is that?!

What a difference a year makes.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Next Up: Total Hysterectomy

Sorry for the delay in posting here on my blog. I have been very busy getting back to "normal." (More on that in a moment...)

Tomorrow I will undergo a complete hysterectomy. It is the last big hurdle of my cancer treatment. Children have never been in my life "game plan" so it's the big H for me. Normally the doctor would remove just my ovaries but because I have a large uterine fibroid (which was there pre-diagnosis), the doctor decided it was best to just take out everything.

My doctor will be using the daVinci robotic device which is supposed to dramatically reduce post-surgical pain and make recovery just a bit faster.

TIMEOUT: I just Googled "daVinci robotic hysterectomy" because I wanted to share some basic information with you. Unfortunately, I found this graphic video on YouTube - a complete hysterectomy by a San Francisco gynocologist all set to Bach's Orchestral Suite #3.

DO NOT WATCH this video if you are having a hysterectomy, think you might want to have a hysterectomy or would simply like to enjoy a barbeque ever again. Good Lord.

Gag! I wish I hadn't seen this video. It's going to be a while before I can watch chicken sizzling on the grill and not think of what will (has) been done to my lady parts. Geez. Doctors do have a whacked out sense of what's appropriate sometimes. I guess this guy is proud of his technique and sutures.

Anyway - here is the toned-down, sugar-coated information about the daVinci hysterectomy.

So... back to normal...

For me, this past year has been anything but normal. Cancer, lumpectomy, six rounds of chemo, no hair, no sex (or very little), massive weight gain (hello 30 lbs.), 33 radiation treatments every day for six and half weeks, etc. The list goes on and on and on.

This hysterectomy is the only thing that's standing between me and getting my life back. I don't want a "new normal." I want my "old normal." The doctor is giving me six weeks to recuperate from surgery. For six weeks, I need to really take it easy.

But after six weeks, I'm taking my life back.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

No More Scarves, No More Wig

I think one of the hardest parts of my own breast cancer experience was having to wear scarves, hats and a horrible wig. I didn't like losing my hair (who does?) but covering my head was worse. Whatever I wore was hot, itchy, too tight or all of the above. And then trying to coordinate scarves with my outfit was always a challenge.

But not anymore. I have been "scarf-less" and "wig-less" for about two months now. And it feels GREAT!

Happy Easter Weekend

The weather here in Virginia is nothing short of spectacular this weekend. Bright blue skies, lots of sunshine, temperatures in the upper 60's... It is perfection.

I spent the better part of yesterday planting flowers in our yard. I love gardening. Let me re-phrase that... I love planting flowers and shrubs and doing all the fun decorative stuff in my yard. I do not like mowing the lawn or weeding. My husband handles that part of it. He bakes the cake. I just ice it. hehe!

Summer flowers and new azaleas going into the back corner of our yard.

Enjoying the afternoon on the porch