Thursday, October 10, 2013

If you want to survive

Guess which breast cancer survivor happens to be upon her 1 year cancerfreeaversary today?!

Yep, that's right... this Anj!!

In my head, that's when I started to consider myself a survivor. Odd truly, but my logic is that I had now survived cancer, as in, it is no longer living inside me. Therefore, I became a survivor. I think if I'm honest though, a cancer survivor is born the moment they decide to fight their disease.

So I was looking at today and thinking, "Woo! I'm a 1 year cancer survivor!". And it hit me. I'm more of a 1 and 1/2+ year survivor. But enough of that! I'm rambling and splitting hairs. Haha

In the moments before my bilateral mastectomy (I was petrified).

What I do know is I am over the moon to be where I am today versus a year ago. I was probably just waking up at this time from my delayed, lengthy surgery. That anesthesia was not kind to me. My recollection of that evening is hazy but I do recall it being one of the worst of my life.

Everything gets better with time, so although I remember that much, I remind myself that it was a small price to pay. My heart will forever be overflowing with gratitude to all the medical staff who made my surgery successful, along with the nurses who took care of me post surgery and everyone who was there to show their support for me that day.

Especially Jason. He was nothing but the epitome of what a loving, gentle, caring husband should and could be at that time. He made sure I had everything and then some the entire time I was recovering. He would timely fetch my meds for me, bathed me, cooked, did all the housework, did everything I couldn't do aside from that (which was a lot), made sure I was as comfortable as could be 24/7, chauffeured me, soothed me, etc. etc. etc...

But my most favorite exemplary moment of his patient/loving caretaking, silly as it may seem, occurred when I was sick to death of wearing the deep vein thrombosis prevention stockings for days on end after my surgery. He was given the okay to take them off for me. My legs were really itchy, so he scratched them for me and then tenderly massaged baby powder on them for me. You gotta reeeeaaally love someone to rub their sweaty, prickly, unwashed-in-a-hospital-bed-for-days' leggies without hesitation. And my fella did! ^_~ haha

In seriousness, he's wonderful and it's frequently overlooked how much the caretaker is effected by the disease. It may not be that they are going through it, but in reality, they are. It's just not physically happening to them. In some ways I feel that may even be harder. For me, I would be excellent at taking care of my hubby if the situation were reversed, but it would be terrible for ME. I would very likely collapse in on myself due to worry over him. 

I'm much braver handling stuff that happens to me because, y'know... it's just me. So whatever. No big deal. Lol! It's like that thing where people say you can hurt them, but don't hurt blankety-blank. I'm totally like that. You can insult me, but if you hurt anyone I love then it's so much worse than it could ever be happening directly to me.

Getting back on track, my husband is a huge blessing in my life. It hasn't been easy, this brush with the terrible C, but God has seen us through everything and shall continue to. And if we can conquer and come out on the other side of this together, we can do just about damn near anything. I lurve you, Beeyah!

Anywaaay, I say it before and I say it again: God is good. A year later and I'm still here. A small yet steep challenge that any cancer patient can appreciate. I take no credit though. It was all by my Lord's mercy that I'm still around to tell my tale. ;)

October 10th also happens to be my Mom's birthday! And she selflessly spent the day in the hospital waiting room last year, so I was happy to be able to celebrate both meanings for this day to be celebrated with her and my Dad!

We dorkily went to a crappy pumpkin patch today and then some "old world" village place in Huntington Beach. Had some amazing German food and beer there to celebrate. It was fun and I always enjoy the weird little adventures my parents and I have. I kind of love them both. A LOT. :)

As for new news, my foobies are continuing to heal nicely. As they settle, I am seeing some rippling in my skin around the implants though. Must be why I'll need that bit of "sculpting" my doc had mentioned before. Of course I have to be patient as that won't happen 'til my next appointment later this month.

I have officially thrown in the towel on being able to participate in the Komen 3-Day. :(  I'm terribly disappointed in myself, but I didn't put enough effort into raising the funds I needed to. Logically, I don't think I'd be physically prepared for it anyway. We'll try another year, I'm sure.

We are, however, doing the Race for the Cure in San Diego again this year! It was a most grand experience last year and I'm thrilled to be doing it once again. I don't expect any of you reading this to donate since I've already hit you up for our 3-day stuff, but if any of you are feeling generous for a good cause: click me for our team page!

I try my best to remain positive. Like. ALWAYS.

Some days I find I have less energy for maintaining the positivity needed to keep me upbeat. Self image, naturally, is on my list of things that I beat myself up over. Ironically, it does come after the annoyance I have with my post-cancer-treatment body; the easy onset fatigue, my inability to sleep through to night, random mini hot flashes, etc. etc.

Oh guys, I know they're really nothing since these little vexations are in trade for being given back my life. I do know this. It's never far from my mind. I know each breath is borrowed... but I do feel it's important that I address the realness of my survival. All aspects of it. That would include the dark moments as well. So please bear with me when I do.

There's a sadness that comes over me if I spend too much time in front of the mirror. My breasts, while they are a vast improvement over the expanders, do not look the way I envisioned. I don't know what miracle I was expecting. They're not real breasts. They're not MY breasts. So that can't look or feel the way they did.

The missing nipple on my right is probably the toughest for me, odd as that may seem. It's not like I need it. Even if Jason and I decide to have a baby down the road, the breastfeeding card is off the table completely, so it's not necessary. I guess it's just further demonstration that I am missing part of what makes me a woman on the outside. Sort of a slap to the ego.

I never thought these would be issues I would have ever needed to worry myself with. Especially not this early in my life, if ever. My self-image issues run deep. They always have. I have never considered myself a pretty girl. Even when I was in shape, it wasn't enough. This is only an extension.

At least I'm plenty confident in the kind of person I am. I know who I am and I'm proud to be who I am. That's my one redeemer when I'm down on how I look.  And I suppose it's a decent redeemer because I am awesome and stuff. Or so I tells myself! 

And that'll do me for now, guys! Thank you for reading to those of you doing so! :) 

May you all have a most blessed and super fantastic weekend.

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness" Colossians 2:6-7