6 Month Follow Up

Daaaaang, it’s been a while. THANKFULLY – because that means there hasn’t been anything to report.

I had my 6 month oncology follow up this last Thursday. As my oncologist walked in, I could see her smiling behind the mask and glasses and could hear her joyful tone as she said hello and announced ‘This is the year!’ Yes, this is the year- as August will mark 5 years since my diagnosis, a major milestone for my type of cancer!

The appointment went really well, her excitement was contagious. My physical exam proved to look and feel good, my weight has stopped fluctuating, and {for once} I didn’t have a million paranoid questions to shoot off. She ran extensive blood work and all was normal except for high cholesterol (damnit) which means I really need to start monitoring what I’m eating. Turns out tortillas and butter are not the healthiest of meals, who knew 😜

As she left the room, we snapped a pic. Afterwards, I laughed commenting on why I called out smile underneath the massive face masks and her answer was perf: “Smile behind the mask, you can see the joy in the eyes!” 😍

Another New Normal

Last night, while cleaning up the kitchen after what felt like our 1,789th home cooked meal of the quarantine, I managed to Captain America myself in the forehead with a massive pot lid while putting it away in a high cupboard. Oh, what exactly is Captain America’ing? It’s when something shaped like Cap’s shield goes hurling through the air only to take down the bad guy. I was the bad guy. Maybe it was the Universe telling me to stop being such a massive bitch over little things. Maybe not. Whatever it was, I tasted blood- you know what I’m talking about- that weird smell/taste thing that happens when you get hit in the face… and I was screaming.

So, there I was, sobbing like a child and immediately started dropping F bombs and hollering for John. My initial thought was “if this needs stitches, fuck it- I am not going to the hospital”. My second thought was “I am so grateful for a partner who does 99% of the cooking and clean up after meals otherwise, how many more times would this happen to me?!”

John finally managed to calm me down and set me up with an ice pack while he finished putting one kid in time out and bathing the other. This “break” gave me time to think…. What the hell is this global “New Normal” {NN} we are about to enter? Deep right? It may have been the head trauma. Or it may have been the fact that those were the first real tears I remember crying for a VERY LONG TIME and I was allowing my emotions leak out. Either way- I have no answers. My guess is it will be like every other NN I’ve cannonballed into- live and learn, try to make the best educated decisions and try to be kind to myself and others as we wade through shit together for a while.

And as we head back out into the world to how things ‘were before’, I’m reminded of those cannonballs mentioned above: Like how I felt after my mom died- I had no clue how life would go on without her. It went on differently, but it went on. Or after my dad died- still life continued- differently, but continued. Or after my C diagnosis- I honestly questioned IF it would go on but HEY {thankfully}, I’m still here. Or after choosing to remain flat in a world which repeatedly told me I would ‘feel less of a woman without breasts’. Guess what- it went on. #FlatAsFuck. My life continues on, just differently from NN to NN.

After all of these plot twists, I always felt I was re-entering a world where I was expected to be back to “normal”. But what the fuck does that even mean?! And here we go again- but this time, there is a huge difference. We are all going to be navigating a NN- TOGETHER. There will for sure be emotions that come up now and down the line. And I mean, like, waaaay down the line. Trust me- it happens. Like how sometimes I see a pregnant woman and instantly feel a wave of pent up emotions consume me… Another post for another day… And what will we do with all of these feelings we have accumulated? How will be process them? Will we process them? Or shove them to the back burner to deal with at a later time? AKA during a total mental breakdown at probably the most inopportune time?

I don’t know. What I do know is that I tend to live most of my life in a constant state of anxiety. {Not just during quarantine but BC (before Covid + before cancer) too} And most likely, this won’t change in the NN. So my transition will include sitting with my feelings and giving myself time to process what I can and remembering to breathe. But, as if a fucking pandemic wasn’t enough for my already well developed anxiety, the pressure I’ve been feeling to make “good use” of my quarantine-time might make my transition to a NN a bit more complex. I mean, does anyone else feel like they need to emerge from their chrysalis with rock hard abs, a banging booty, a business plan, and Pinterest worthy recipes and kid crafts. SURPRISE- NOT HAPPENING OVER HERE. But I have definitely felt the push to “be a better me”. [eye roll]

So, while working from home and trying to keep my kids’ brains from turning into mush- I have been focusing on:


Reflection– Processing I feel, how I’ve been feeling, how I’ve acted, how I’ve helped, what can I do.

Healing– This one’s a doozy but working through the hard stuff and giving myself space helps.

Prioritizing– What/Who REALLY needs my attention in the moment.

If abs, booty, business plans and Pinterest skills are your thing and a way for you to harness anxiety and give you a sense of control, YES! Do those things! And try continue to do those things as they are probably a form of self care (as long as they make you happy and fill your cup). And because we all have different ways to fill our cups.

And if anything, I hope that majority of us come out of quarantine remembering to give ourselves and others a break and to BE KIND. None of this is easy and I truly think that most people are doing the best they can.

Be kind, Be patient, Do good

Attempting to ease the puffiness from my sobs. That cut looks tiny, but DAMN it hurts.

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.