Category Archives: Cancer

Give it to God …

We hear this a lot – ‘Give it to God’. But this story brought it home for me and gives me a too real perspective. Life is short.

The below link will take you to a blog post by the country duo, Joey & Rory.

Excerpt: “We came home, Not to die. But to live.To bask in the glory of the beautiful life He’s blessed us with, and try not to question why we can’t have more of it together. And why He is allowing this to happen. So we don’t have forever. We’ve got right now.”

http://thislifeilive.com/enough/

Be inspired. Pray for all – since we are going through something. Live your life to the fullest … with grace in our steps, hope in our hearts.

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Living with Cancer

Today … was like coming home, after a long trip. That’s what true friendships and love are …. it’s like coming home. I was finally able to meet up with some friends today and it was a good day. Good days have been far and few in between this winter.

I find myself trying so hard to be strong. Sometimes, I feel so alone, going through cancer, trying not to be a burden to anyone … but then you let your guard down and realize who truly has your back.

I try to put a big smile on my face but at times, all I want to do is curl up and die. Just give up. But then I find myself lucky enough to spend a couple of hours surrounded by friends and my smile is genuine. I still want to curl up, but not die. Lately, I have been too weak for much. But today was a good day. A day of genuine connection. I felt a part of something. And sometimes, that is all we need. Today was a day of hope and hugs.

People ask me on the bad days what chemo is like, how I am feeling – and although I consider myself articulate, I have a really difficult time explaining it. It’s difficult to describe the forest from the trees, right? Chemotherapy side effects are worse than cancer, that’s for sure. With cancer, most of the time you’d hardly know it if some doctor didn’t tell you. I mean, I was pretty hard up by the time they found it in me, but sometimes cancer can go all the way to stage IV and you’d never know it.

Chemo, on the other hand, you can never forget that. Not for a second. There’s no ignoring chemotherapy. It invades every cell by the end of it. You spend months marinating in a stew of toxic wastes that are out to kill you. And I don’t think that’s overly-dramatic. You try it sometime and see if I’m not right. The exhaustion, the pain, the numbness, the forgetfulness, the vague feelings, the full yet empty stomach, the nausea… so many things, feelings. The exhaustion never totally leaves me, and I can’t stand very long, and today was not really different, except that I felt okay, accepted, no one made me feel bad. I got to sit like a statue and was surrounded by good friends… making new memories. Embracing life…with grace in my step and hope in my heart. Not giving up – on people, nor myself.


Just venting…

Life. Life sometimes really sucks. Period.

Being a divorced, single, childless woman in my 40s battling cancer yet again is just a sad state to find myself in…again.

Divorced Female, Going Bald, Undergoing Chemo and Radiation, Going Through Menopause, Weight Fluctuations, Mood swings…

Oh yeah, isn’t that the first profile you would click on if you were searching for the love of your life or even just a new ‘friend’ online? Dating in itself – or, I should say, finding someone to date – is never easy. Finding someone when you happen to be bald, going through chemo and/or making daily trips to the hospital for chemotherapy and radiation makes it a zillion times more complicated. Trust me, I know. I have tried it. I am not sure why I have tried it but I did. Logically, I knew it was not the best idea. But heck, I guess I am bored, optimistic, stupid?!

Going through cancer treatment can be really tough for a single woman. You may not have a friend or family member who can be there for you like a partner. You may also worry about how a current or future partner will react when they find out you’ve had cancer.

Perhaps the most private scar left by cancer is the damage done to your view of yourself. My self-image is completely distorted at times. I constantly find myself worried if I can ever catch up, keep up or even get going on most days. I wonder how active I can be and even how long I will live. If I ever even allow myself to think about remarrying one day, I obsess about if I should ever involve a partner in such an uncertain future.

In the past, concerns about having children also affected my relationships. I became infertile many years ago with my first bout of cancer. So alone I am.

I have been single most of my life. And I live by this quote by prixie: “Single is not a status. It is a word that describes a person who is strong enough to live and enjoy life without depending on others.”

Yes I am scared. Tired of not having someone special around. But the reality is I am my own person, and if I can’t enjoy being single, how can I enjoy being with someone else?

The most difficult thing for me about going through cancer yet again is doing it single, alone. In the past, I had a much larger, strong support network so I was hardly ever alone. But now I find myself more alone. At a time when closeness is so much more important, I feel so utterly singularly alone. During this time, my treatment, I am trying so hard to be brave and not complain too much. But staying quiet and calm, doesn’t prevent me from being lonely sometimes and longing for someone to hold me at night and whisper that everything is going to be alright. Or even just to take me to dinner, make me laugh, smile and forget about cancer for a little while, make me feel desirable. I have friends who take pity on me and take me out for dinner, and make me laugh but its just sadly not quite the same thing. Sometimes I just so desperately want to ignore the cancer.

Nearly everyone I encounter who has or has had cancer – friends, people at the hospital, family, people in books and on TV – were either married or in a serious relationship when they were diagnosed; or children with caring parents. Not me. I am in the very vulnerable single state and not having someone to hold my hand every step of the way, makes me wistful, if not angry sometimes. But instead of just being jealous of others in relationships with supportive loving partners, feeling sorry for myself, I keep trying online dating. It makes me feel somewhat normal.

Within minutes of posting a new photo online, I had e-mails from men ready to shower me with attention. Of course, most weren’t exactly my type, but you need to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince, right?! lol

I guess I am lucky somewhat … I have had some really interesting email exchanges, but alas have not found the man of my dreams during treatment. Still, dating during treatment restores my self-confidence, reassures me that I am still attractive, and distracts me enough moments at a time. The way I see it, is that everyone is unique and carries baggage of some kind and this is only one part of me, I guess. Just tired today of carrying all this baggage. Tired of my hand dangling alone.

So yes … Life. Life sometimes really sucks. Period.


Me….Screaming….

So many people take so much for granted. I think sometimes life is so unfair. People have parents, brothers and loves and take them for granted – I wonder do they realize what they have. I think too the price we pay for loving so much is an immense pain when we suffer loss because I don’t just hurt like normal people – I hurt so much more- I can’t let them go and in many ways I refuse to let them go. Cancer may haunt me, but I will be damned if I will let it define me…I am trying so hard each and every day not to let my health define me nor change my life drastically. I sometimes lose that battle. I struggle to regain some normalcy. Many people just don’t get me nor can understand my choices. And that is okay. I get it. And that is all that should matter. I sadly don’t think many people realize how words can affect other people.

Words can be so brutal. Sometimes I just feel lost, helpless. I try so hard to just smile through all. I just wish more people could think before speaking, writing. We all should guard our words better. Words once spoken, can’t be unspoken. We just can’t take them back. Even if it was a joke, even if you were being curious; your words can be hurtful, brutal and may stay with the other person forever. It’s better to be silent than to be an idiot. For the most part, I believe that people don’t mean to be cruel, they just don’t fully comprehend all.

I have been sickly since I was born. So I have tried really hard to not take my health nor the days of my life for granted. I sadly see so many people who just think they are invincible. Some of my friends eat right, they exercise, and they still think disease or accidents can’t reach their lives. I just want to scream sometimes. I just want to yell, “don’t take your health for granted….don’t put things off…tomorrow may never get here…”.

Sigh….tired. Tomorrow will be a long day for my family. So many doctors, so little time. Aye, so I wasn’t blessed with good health. I have teeth that I’m lucky are still (mostly) there. I have hair that I’m lucky hasn’t all fallen out. I have a body that has been beaten and broken many times over by something I’ll never fully understand. And for a time, I really thought that was all there was. But, I’m a fighter and have decided early on that this wasn’t how my story will end.

Me….screaming…appreciate, don’t take the little things for granted…Live each day…live deliciously!

pray


Heaven has another angel…

Came across this poem below and really needed it today. We lost yet another family member, my first cousin, Germancito, after a very long battle with Cancer. He put up a good fight, but God has decided to relieve him of his pain and suffering. It was time for German to join God as one of his angels in heaven. My heart breaks for my aunt, Rosa, his siblings and for his 2 beautiful children. I pray that God gives my family the strength to deal with this immense loss. This was a man that I admired, he was, and always will be such an inspiration to me, his strength was incredible. Rest in peace. Life is so fragile. I wish more people, especially in my immediate family, could see and appreciate how short life truly is and take time to care about others, show more compassion. I feel at times, I care too much, I hurt too deep, but my heart is ever expanding and always forgiving. The sun shines yet again as God took another angel into heaven.

The loss of a love one is so hard to face,
you just want to hide,
go somewhere and escape!
But death is something,
we all must go through,
I know it’s hard,
when it’s someone you loved and knew.

Just know now,
he is in a better place,
no more hurt or pain shall he face.
It seems unfair and yes this is true,
but he is in Heaven now
watching over me and you!

God has called him home to rest!!
And he’s being well taken care of
Because God knows best!

“Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.” ― Leo Tolstoy


Prayers answered….♥

A few weeks ago, I went to Central Park Women’s Imaging Center for my annual mammogram. They called me a week later informing me I needed to come back immediately for another mammogram, more breast imaging tests and an ultrasound because they had found a suspicious dense mass in my right breast. So I went back Friday for another mammo. The ultrasound tech reassured me she couldn’t find anything.

Last week was a long, all consuming one, where of course, I panicked. I asked everyone to pray! Today, I learned God has spared me once again. I heard the most wonderful words, “ok you can go, all clear. See you next year for your yearly mammo”….

I audibly sighed and wanted to hug those women. I called my Ob-Gyn to see what she had to say. She was reassuring as well. I’ll never forget the date….the heartache, the relief, the joy….so many emotions in one short week. No biopsy needed was music to my ears.

I participate every year in the breast cancer walk, but this year, it will take on extra special meaning and focus. I cannot stress enough the importance of getting a yearly exam. Time is of the essence! I have lost an aunt, too young, to breast cancer many years ago.

The waiting was the worst part. Feeling alone. You start to think about horrible possibilities. I have to admit, I was scared; convinced that my luck had run out. That I had somehow failed. God has spared me so many times that I didn’t believe I would be lucky again. I have lived most of my life sick, performing under the radar.

No more. This is a new year, a new chance at getting it right. I still can’t stop selfishly smiling, praying and crying – all at the same time. I am convinced that God has a plan for me that I haven’t quite figured out.

Telling my friends also helped relieve the stress of worrying about whether I had cancer again. My friends are truly my pillars of strength. Writing here helps tremendously. So a big thank to you to those who read and follow my journey here…thank you for prayers. Just thank you. Tonight I am a big pile of grateful mush.

Praying that many out there are as fortunate as me…getting another chance…life is short. My faith won’t waver. My hope won’t die.

prayer


Do I dare pray for another chance at life?

I find myself at an all-time low. Snow falls all around me outside, tears inside me. Last week I reached a small positive milestone, I was able to walk, in the ice and snow, and managed to keep my anxiety low, not falling, slipping nor breaking any bones since marking my one year anniversary of getting hit by a car. But this past weekend, brought me much heartache…a man I was dating verbally and physically assaulted me. I am mad at myself for allowing myself to be treated poorly and tolerating these selfish, insecure people in my life.

I am sure we have all heard the saying, “Never let someone be your priority, while you remain their option” – but how many actually follow this sage advice?! I know I have not…but I am working on it…

It’s no secret I have a weakness — I see people better than they really are or better than they see themselves. My expectations and trust of people always gets the best of me because I place them high on top of the totem pole instead of leaving room for their faults and issues so, when they do something that goes against what I think of them; I always, always end up being disappointed and in tears. When getting involved in a romantic relationship this kind of thinking has always lead to my own personal heartbreak because I chose to make a man my priority when he only considers me his option.

No more. And just when I thought things could not possibly get any worse…I find myself lost…yet again. I got worse news from my doctor…heard those dreaded words, “you need a biopsy”. Seriously! I am trying to process…words replaying in my head….dense breast tissue, spot compression, need for additional projections, sonogram, ultrasound exam, aggressive cells…biopsy…I don’t know how I will survive the wait in between more tests.

I had my mammogram in December then I was told because it showed dense breast cancer tissue, which I was assured then, was common – I had to have more tests done. So, after getting the insurance company to agree to move forward, I endured more tests – different breast imaging tests. And today was more tests results day. Yes, another dark day!

The past couple of months, I have been accused of being negative. I just rationalized that I was a realist. I always believed I was a glass half full, turn lemons into lemonade kind of gal. Ha! Fast realizing that I am not so much an optimist as I am a pessimist with the largest worry gene. When the sun is shining bright, I carry an umbrella, anticipating rain; when the phone rings after 10pm, I envision twisted metal, heart attacks, start to mentally plan a funeral. Truth be told, I have never been the overly effusive, perky, upbeat cheerleader type. But I still thought I was a positive person, adapting well to change. Not afraid to be impulsive and take risks. I am admittedly not the type to in denial of every dark emotion I have had. I have had my inner demons of sadness make me doubt God at times, especially when I was younger. But I believe in God, and I place my faith in Him, and I pray, hope, and believe that things happen for a reason. Sometimes God wants us to trust Him through hell so that He can give us strength to see better days. And I am beginning to think I am like a cat with nine lives and then some…

Right now I am just channeling darkness….what can I say – I have dark hair, dark eyes…I am dark. So, I guess being an intellectual and a cynic, I have trouble admitting this but I have to believe this latest bad news will somehow turn out well.

I do volunteer work at Memorial Sloan-Kettering so I tend to keep up with research. I know all too well the statistics. I have just, once again, joined the growing ranks of cancer survivors who are confronting second, new malignancies—not a recurrence or spread of their original disease. Sometimes, the new cancer is an aftereffect of powerful radiation or chemotherapy treatments. Other times, genetic or familial risks play a role. And sometimes, lifestyle—diet or exposure to toxins—is to blame. The numbers are surging: An astonishing one in six people with a new cancer diagnosis had previously been diagnosed with a different cancer. Yup! That would be me. I always knew the risks, early on. We all need to know that many chemotherapy drugs are themselves cancer-causing agents. The chemo that’s eliminating a first cancer may cause another later; while targeting the DNA of cancer cells, the drugs also affect normal cells. I am proof of that.

Years after my leukemia fight, I was cautioned that I would most likely have complications from experimental treatments. And the past few years, I have had many tumors removed. For many cancer patients, radiation treatment controls tumor growth, decreases recurrences, and improves survival. Like chemotherapy, though, radiation itself is a cancer risk. As patients live longer after treatment, the possibility of a radiation-induced tumor rises. So, I tend to live my life with eyes wide open – even so, I am thrown for a loop. I knew, on an intellectual level, I am a high risk, and considering my health history, today should not have come as such a surprise. But it has. I cannot emphasize to other cancer survivors and patients how important it is to be brave, face facts and act fast…I know I will.

Considering I am such a worry wart, you would think I would be more prepared to handle today’s news. Learning that worrying does NOT prepare you for disaster. Learning that nothing prepares you. The worst has found me again, and you know what? I will have to deal with it … keeping hope in my soul…grace in my step…love in my heart. ♥

So the last couple of weeks, especially the past ninety-six hours, I am trying to remain hopeful, thinking about how different things can happen, be quite insightful, humbling and puts things into perspective.

Sending out a special request to all who read this, pray…for me, for you…for all.

“Life is short. Kiss slowly, laugh insanely, love truly and forgive quickly” ― Paulo Coelho


Sleepless nights, restless days…ramblings…

You can either choose to FEEL your life, DIE a slow death…or STOP, breathe slowly….FEEL and LET GO…I chose…I did.

Life continues to prove to me that in order to fully find yourself…we  sometimes need to lose our way.  I still can’t believe that two months ago I was talking marriage to a man who was so wrong for me for the long term and only a month ago, I was thinking of quitting my job, moving, etc.   Today – this moment –  I am in such a different place.

I have been home bound for more than three weeks because of my accident.  And now with this winter storm, I am even more tired, going mad from cabin fever.  I feel like screaming.

Really being stuck – literally – shows us who are friends are, and who are fair weather friends are.

Thank goodness for real friends, caring people, thoughtful people…just when I want to give up, they throw me a lifeline.

I’m going to smile like nothing is wrong, talk like everything is perfect, act like it’s all a dream, and pretend like it’s not hurting me.  The pain I feel now is more tangible due to my broken bones, not my broken spirit.
Acting…

Oh well, it’s another year. Last year was a year of hopes, dreams, looking for love, looking for work, triumphs, hours on the phone with Cablevision, but I survived yet another cancer scare, Hockey lockout, American Airlines pilot near strike, AMR’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, losing keys, two pairs of glasses…. But everything is possible at any age.

I will continue to live my funny life….safety challenged and all…♥

Live through this, and you won’t look back…

 


Can Something Good Come From This?

Wow!  I have been busy…between working, dating, volunteering…I am surprised I have found time for sleeping.  But I am happy…happier than I have been for months.  I am so looking forward to my volunteer work with the Ronald McDonald House this coming Thursday.  We have gathered a good team.  I know the impact will be great.  Knowing that even for a second, I can help make a child smile is so rewarding.   Personally, many of you know that I myself have lived with cancer so it means more to me to be a volunteer.  Throughout the years, I have found many ways to give back.  I have loved each and every moment of the many fundraising events that I’ve volunteered at, and making lifetime friends along the way!
I’ve grown very passionate about the work so many provide, such as the Ronald McDonald House and how they lend support to children and their families living with this cancer.   So I am going to remain forever optimistic and hopeful.  I am going to maintain my enthusiasm and get a kick out of putting smiles on children’s faces, and continue to reap the rewards of being a volunteer.

And as much as I want to fall in love again, I have been soooo dreading dating again.   But being out in groups with my support group and my volunteering teams, has introduced me to many like-minded people.  I am truly enjoying spending my time with quality people who know how to give of themselves.  For now, just taking it slow.  Meeting in groups is key.   So volunteering may even help me find my next true love.  Who knew?!

What I am learning is that cancer can take a lot of things but that it could also help me and others realize many more important things.  Cancer gave me focus and determination – to live what life was given to me to the fullest.  It has helped to make me deeper and wider and more impassioned than those who have not had to experience the harsher sides of life.  I learned that the unexpected gift of cancer is an intense appreciation for life.  I found compassion for others where there had been none before, I found strength I didn’t know I had…and I would not trade my experiences for anything. 

No one would volunteer to have cancer. Even though it may seem impossible to imagine at the beginning, most people find the strength to deal with cancer when they or a member of their family become ill.  I see it every day!  Most people cope with the challenges cancer brings one day at a time and come out okay in the end.  Overall, most children’s cancer survivors have a good quality of life and sense of well-being.   Also, after getting through such a challenging experience, many people look back on it and feel that they underwent some positive personal changes as a result of having cancer.  Here’s to continual hope…

It is easy to think of the negative things that come with cancer:  having to be in the hospital, missing out on school, work and social activities with friends, feeling too sick or tired to enjoy life, worrying about the future. During treatment, the time is often spent managing these negative or unpleasant things.  After treatment, looking back on these experiences can challenge the way people and their families think about themselves and their world. Many people begin to see positive changes in themselves as a result of surviving the cancer experience. They feel stronger. Parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, and friends may also experience positive changes as a result of someone close to them having cancer. For example, some people say the cancer experience helped them focus on what really matters in life. They say they appreciate life more, have deeper personal relationships with family and friends, and find a stronger sense of spirituality. Others report increased confidence in their ability to handle difficult situations, and more certainty about their priorities; they feel more confident and have new interests and goals. Some people experience a desire to “give back” to others and work to help current and future cancer patients. These people might get involved in organizations like Ronald McDonald’s House that provide resources to cancer patients and families.

So here I am…on my journey to give back…find my way…hoping…♥


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