Life After a Cancer Dx

Life after a C diagnosis.

Sometimes you look out the door and think “Damn, it’s a beautiful day.” And sometimes you look out the door and see a blood draw chair in the ER hallway and think that it seriously resembles the talking chair from Peewee and you begin to question everything.  

Days like that, a general “What the fuck?!” is usually my first question. Next comes “Will I freak out over every ache and pain until my last day on this earth?” And specifically last week- “How will I pick up my kids if I’m in the ER for several more hours?” ” But really what the Fuck is this chest pain?” “Am I having a heart attack?” “I guess I’m in the best place to have a heart attack but really, is this what a heart attack feels like?” “Will this pain ever go away?” “Am I going to freak myself out to the point where I actually end up having a true heart attack?” and finally “Why is all my time-off from work spent in damn hospitals?”

Wait, what? I know- total word vomit. Let me backtrack a sec…

Last fall I was feeling really great- physically, emotionally, mentally and I told my doctor that I was ready to be weaned off of my anxiety/depression medication. I had been on it for about 4 years this round because, let’s be real- not my first depression med rodeo- but I felt confident that I was ready. So we very gradually weaned me and by Christmas time I was completely off. If you read a few posts back, we had a pretty chaotic holiday and by the time we got home, I still felt good so I thought “Yup, I made a good decision.”

But about 3 weeks into January, I felt myself slipping back into hopelessness. I was not ok and I knew it.  So I asked my doctor to put me back on a low dose of my previous med. Shortly after starting up again though, I began to have consistent indigestion and a lingering feeling of something stuck in my throat and chest. Cue all consuming anxiety and fear because after C, indigestion isn’t just indigestion. It opens the mental flood gates to all possible awful things. 

Could it all just be related to being back on the meds? We didn’t know, possibly. Indigestion and heartburn are listed as side effects… but was it likely since I’d spent the last 4 years on it without issues? Again, not sure. Was it stress? Who’s not stressed?! Was it C? Per my onc, she had very low suspicion but per me- it was time to freak the fuck out.

So between my oncologist and my primary care doctor- the tests began. I tried Prilosec first, no help. Then had blood tests and a barium swallow test which showed nothing. A couple of days later I ended up in the ER with what felt like either a pulmonary embolism (like I had while pregnant) or a heart attack. While there I had more blood work, an EKG, and chest X-rays all which showed nothing. And on the following Sunday I had a CT scan which I found out today was – THANKFULLY – clear as well. 

But it all comes back to this, life after a C dx is confusing as fuck. I still don’t have an answer as to what’s causing my chest pressure, indigestion, throat issues but I did get to totally freak out about it possibly being a reoccurrence or metastasis for several weeks. I know- a solid freak out doesn’t help the situation and most likely stress and anxiety are to blame in the first place but it’s hard to maintain a clear head sometimes. Of course, I try to practice what I teach- affirmations, yoga, journaling, exercise, quiet time… but anxiety and fear are stubborn assholes, you know?  

After all the tests, I am grateful for my health and clear scans even if there is not a clear reason as to why I feel this way. I am grateful for a medical team that takes my concerns seriously. And I am forever grateful for a partner who lifts me up when I feel I can’t go on during it all. In my gut, I believe that stress and anxiety are the root of my issues (but I’m a crazy person and needed to have medical tests performed to rule out the shit possibilities) so now it’s time, it’s time to take better care of me… for me.

Annual ABCs of GRATITUDE

It’s that time of year once again- a time of thanks, of gratitude, of…. WAIT- isn’t that everyday?! You’re D A M N R I G H T. Even though some days are more difficult than others, I do strive to take mindful moments throughout and notice what I’m grateful for. Sometimes that consists of jotting things down in my notebook and really contemplating. And sometimes it looks like me crashing in my bed after a shit-hole day and just being grateful I made it through.

When I was diagnosed in 2016, I was inspired… ok, really, I was bored in chemo and just trying to pass the time… to do a spin off of my usual ABC lists I had typically used to help me fall asleep at night… oh, and that one time used to keep my mind busy while large biopsy needles were inserted into my massive prego boobs. So to continue with my thankful and grateful traditions, I’ve put together my annual ABC’s of Gratitude again.

I always find it funny to look back and see what has changed, what’s similar and what is the same… word. for. word. That shit’s pretty weird. See for yourself. I guess new years, same me! 2016 2017 2018

Annnnnd new year, same sweatshirt if you went back the 2016 post

Quick reminder, these are things I am truly grateful for, no matter how big or small they seem. And since it’s my game, I make the rules. Here we go! {In my best Mario Kart voice}

A- Audiobooks From The Library

B- Be Well Yoga for Cancer Recovery & Bubble Baths

C- Community

D- Disney +

E- Edibles

F- Family, Friends & F-Bombs

G- My Mini-Herb Garden

H- Health, Home, & Those Damn Cute Hummingbirds

I- Incense & Intentions

J- Jobs I Truly Enjoy Showing Up To

K- A Sig-O Who Is Incredible In The Kitchen

L- L O V E

M- The Moon & Movie Quotes

N- Notes… Sticky Notes, Note Pads, Phone Notes, Notebooks

O- Other People Sharing Their Stories

P- Pete-Doggy-Dog

Q- Quite Time

R- Rain & Rainbows

S- Safe Spaces & Sweatpants

T- Our Tiny Humans

U- That ‘Vintage’ Episode of Sesame Street With Smokey Robinson Singing To The Letter U

V- Vehicles That Allow Us To Safely Get From Place To Place

W- White Vinegar… What Can I Say, I Really Enjoy Cleaning

X- X-tra Hot Showers

Y- Yoga Practices & My Young C Pals

Z- Zoloft

Wishing you all Happy Thanksgiving! Thank you, Thank you (I just told the kids you HAVE to say thank you twice on Thanksgiving) for reading and for being so rad. I am grateful for ALL of you!

And if you feel like putting it out there, tell me- What are you grateful for? 🍁

T H R E E YEARS!

Today marks 3 years since I got the call confirming what I already knew… And what we all now know.

What I didn’t know at that time was- What would happen to the baby growing inside of me? What would my husband and 1 year old do if something happened to me? How would I choose to handle the news? And I definitely did not comprehend how dramatically my life and outlook on life would change.  

That call obviously shook my world and the world of my family and friends.  And I often wonder if baby Wyatt could feel it too.  But after speaking with my team of doctors, my first concern was addressed.  The baby in my belly would be perfect… and he is. Sometimes a perfect pain in the keister but still perfect.

And thankfully I am still here to witness the great father John is to our little humans. And I get to see Harlon growing up to be an amazing child. AND it turns out, I handled the diagnosis and what followed pretty OK.  Of course, I had and continue to have my shit days.  And my complete shit days.  And my “I’m never leaving my bed because life isn’t fair” shit days. But I try to keep a positive outlook as often as possible (while giving myself permission to throw the occasional pity party). And I remind myself that I get to choose if I walk around miserable and mean or if I want to choose to look at the positives and radiate joy.

This way of thinking is not for everyone, I get that.  And I have never tried to push my views on life onto anyone else.  I mean, we all get to walk our own paths.  But I remember reading a quote by another survivor right after I was diagnosed which said “Breast cancer can change you, but the change can be beautiful”.  I have tried to wholeheartedly embody that idea by looking for the beauty even when it seems to be pure shit surrounding me.

I know I don’t post very often about my story anymore.  But it’s not because I am “all better” or “over it”, but it’s because I am busy living this life I’ve been blessed with, spending my time with the people I love and who spark pure joy in my heart.  This disease has taught me what is important and what is not, where I want to focus my energy and where I can let go.  I am busy with my family, teaching yoga, supporting others who’ve been diagnosed, working on projects… all with the goal to leave the world better and more joyous than I found it and to be the light for others when the darkness tries to consume them.

Truthfully, anxiety still haunts me, as it always has.  And I’m not sure if I’ll ever get past the feeling of ‘running out of time’.  But life continues to be put into perspective and it’s nice to know we are all in this together…

So cheers to many, MANY, M A N Y more years to come!