You made it. You heard those wonderful words that every cancer patient longs to hear. You are in remission. You passed the biggest test you will probably ever take; and beat the big demon cancer. Now it’s time to celebrate! Hair is coming back, you are starting to feel better and your new normal is coming together. Of course you are still tied to the Doctor with follow-ups, lab work and scans but you are starting to taste the freedom.
The first month after I was told I was in remission was awesome. The chemo fog was lifting and I was really enjoying the rest of my maternity leave. Then the second month came and with that my looming scan was on the horizon. I am not going to lie scan day is awful for me. I am nervous and pretty much feel like I am going to vomit until I get those awesome words. You know the ones that your scan and lab work is good and you are free for another three months.
After two years of remission (yay!) I received another dose of awesomeness. I have now graduated into a six month scan schedule. As long as I am a good girl and get my yearly physical I can do my scans every six months instead of every three. Nice on the anxiety level and the pocket-book.
I may have played down the anxiety regarding scan time. The anxiety starts rearing its ugly head about a month and a half before scan day. There is a lot of me refusing to go to any appointments and coming up with tons of reasons I have cancer again. If you have ever had cancer you know what I am talking about. Your finger can hurt and you think this is it; my cancer is back. In the end I always end up going. Of course I am trying to read the faces of the lab tech and radiology techs. (Like the lab tech knows if my cancer is back by the looks of my blood when it is still in the tube) I am always sure that the radiology tech has seen cancer all over in my body by the look on their face. They are probably just creeped out by me looking at them all of the time but whatever. Then after a couple of hours that creep by like a turtle on its way into town; it is Doctor time. You just know your fate; the cancer is back. Then they come in the room and tell you everything is clear and you wish you would have brought a bottle of champagne and those streamers to celebrate.
Remission is something to celebrate. Not just after a clear scan but everyday. You fought the good fight and you won. You may not know it but us survivors are an example for our fellow fighters still sitting in that recliner getting chemo. They need to be lifted up just like you may have during treatment. So let them know; after surgeries, procedures, chemo, radiation and tons of testing you did it! Now you can call yourself a survivor and they can too. Remission life does have its ups and downs with scary testing and side effects from treatment but you need to enjoy it. Keep fighting through the anxiety and side effects just like you did during treatment. Get out and live life for yourself, your family and everyone out there still fighting. Really no one loses to cancer. Even when angels are taken from us they did not lose. They fought as hard as they could to stay and that is a great accomplishment. Now, if you are in remission enjoy the remission life and get out and live it. Do something you may not have done before treatment or something you have always wanted to do. I feel like I was given a second chance at life and I am going to live it up and have some fun. I encourage everyone to enjoy the remission life 🙂
During the struggles of life it is hard not to give up hope. It is actually very easy to give up; but don’t. Please don’t give up hope. Through all of the infertility, loss and cancer I wanted to give up so many times but I didn’t. And now I get to watch my daughter grow up; which at one time I didn’t think it would be possible.
Today as I gave my daughter a bath watching the foam letters float around; all I could think about was how four years ago I really didn’t think this would be possible. All of the little things that I get to do with her that would have never happened if I would have given up hope.
After we lost our son there was still hope. Hope for peace and hope for another baby. We were lucky to receive both.
When I think back to those dark days of chemo there was hope. Hope to be cured and hope to never have to go through it again. So far it has come true.
Whether you hope, wish, pray or do all three keep on. Whatever anyone tells you keep hoping for the best possible outcome. You may be surprised how truly wonderful that outcome can be 🙂
To me calm is a pretty tall order sometimes. I am a naturally anxious person but since losing my son and being diagnosed with cancer sometimes it is near impossible. Through it all there are some things that I have learned help me take my mind off of things and I would love to share them with you. I know how it feels to be a ball of nerves and you feel like there is nothing you can do but sit in a pool of worry. Even if you have never been diagnosed with something awful, etc. I know anxiety can be very real so feel free to read 🙂
I have worried about some of the silliest things. Especially since being diagnosed with cancer. Every bump, bruise or weird happening with my body I just know I have some kind of cancer. I have had lung, breast and many others in my mind of course. Here are some examples of my “medical findings” One night I was just going about my business brushing my teeth when bam I had blood in my spit. Automatically I knew I had lung cancer. So for about a week I walked around thinking I had this horrible disease. I finally looked it up on the internet and the only thing that didn’t come up was lung cancer. Well, lo and behold I actually had a canker sore in my mouth and that was the source of the bleeding. A week of my life I can’t get back because of a canker sore. Another silly story is when I was convinced I had breast cancer. I had started working out when my chest became so sore. Instead of thinking the obvious I immediately convinced myself I had breast cancer. After agonizing for about a week husband finally said “Do you think just maybe it might be because you are working out and you have been sleeping with Avery on the couch a lot?” At the same time Avery was getting quite a few teeth and the only way I could get her to sleep was having her lay on my chest. Then I would fall asleep and we would lay like that for a while. I know both of these stories sound silly; but to someone who has had a life threatening diagnosis it is not. I put it to people like this “I never thought I would get diagnosed with cancer in the first place; so why wouldn’t I be scared about every bump or bruise?” Then when you add in these frightening lab tests and scans you might as well put a nervous nelly name tag on me. I am so thrilled and lucky to say that I only have my big scan and lab day twice a year now 😀 It was wonderful news to receive when I was told I “graduated” to every six months. It was a great feeling until the other day. All of a sudden the thought of my scan started creeping in. Even though I have until March when I go again it’s already starting. Honestly it gets harder and harder to go to every appointment. I had myself convinced that I was going to quit seeing my oncologist because I couldn’t take the appointments anymore. I know stupid idea. Well, husband convinced me to keep going. Some of it was that I did not feel comfortable with my new oncologist because mine left and I really was sick of dealing with the billing department at the clinic I was going to. Let’s just say over the span of four years they over billed us (a lot) and then still called us harassing us for money. So I switched to a different clinic and I love my new oncologist and the clinic I go to! It does make the appointments easier.
When I was pregnant with both my children I wanted to wrap myself in bubble wrap but after losing my son I wanted to put myself on bed rest with my daughter. I did learn life was much easier to deal with if I actually lived it and enjoyed it. It is hard to enjoy your pregnancy after a loss but you have to try. It isn’t fair to you or your baby to not enjoy it. Once you get into the groove of getting ready for that new bundle of awesomeness it does get better 🙂
You are probably wondering when I am going to start chatting about the calm side of this post. Well you are in luck 😉 Some of these tips may not work for you but you are welcome to try any of them. If there is something that you do that works really well for you let me know I am always up for trying new things!
Try new things! I started exercising and I love it! You don’t have to enter a marathon but a walk (especially in nature) does wonders.
Music, I can’t say enough about it. I pop in those ear buds or turn on my iHome and the stress and worry melts away. Dancing silly with your kids or pets is a must!
Pets! If you have a fur ball that you call your own go grab a snuggle. Even though my fur ball can be a meanie at times he has always been there for me.
Indulge in a little t.v. This may be a bad habit but I would rather do this then be nervous all day. If I get into a really good show whether it be serious or funny I feel better.
Read, Read, Read!! Don’t read medical journals or anything. (Unless they make you feel better) Get into a good book and stay in that world for a little while.
Pick up the phone! Call your bestie, parents, neighbor, sibling or whoever will answer. You need people to help keep your mind from going or keep going to that negative place. If it’s family or a besite they are pretty much legally obligated to talk to you so never feel bad for calling them 😉
I know I said this before but exercising helps me so much. Whether it be a walk, hike or big workout there has never been a time where I still felt icky or worse after a workout. I promise you will feel better! Better yet grab one of those people who are legally obligated to talk to you and drag em with ya.
Get out of the house! I know how it is you really don’t want to be around people when you are anxious but even going for a drive can help.
Do some housework. Once I dive into this mess that I call a home the anxiety floats away in my dust pan or cleaning cloths.
Don’t be afraid to seek help. If you feel that it is totally out of control and you really can’t handle the anxiety call your Doctor and set up an appointment. Seeing a counselor can do wonders and it is nothing to be embarrassed about. My way of thinking is if someone wants to walk a mile in my shoes and think they won’t feel any worry be my guest. There are many avenues you can travel to get the help that you need.
I know I am my own worst enemy when it comes to this. My brain can really do a number on me so if I can find ways to help me through I know you can too.
There are a couple of reasons why I started blogging. First reason is my daughter. Even though I am in remission and everything is going great so far I always have that nagging feeling that my cancer will come back. (Well I guess it can’t “come back” to where it was because those organs are long gone) So now I convince myself that I have a different type of cancer at least once a week. Once you have been told that you might not live or in my case “Some people make it” you have a lot of thoughts spinning around in the ol’ brain. I have always been filled to the brim with anxiety and worry and since my cancer diagnosis I have enough for 200 people. During my third round of chemo a social worker came and asked me if I had a living will and suggested that I do so. I asked her to leave and never saw her again. Everyone that I have talked to has said the third round of chemo is the worst. You feel worse and etc. That was definitely true for me. It was also more stressful. I had the dippy social worker and I also had the billing department at the clinic calling me when I was literally hooked up to the i.v. telling me my insurance wasn’t going to pay for any of my chemo because it wasn’t pre-approved. UGH! Anyway back to my daughter, after I was told I had cancer it really got me thinking what if I am not going to be able to raise my daughter. Scary thought. The solution was to write everything down for her. Tons of things came to mind to write about. Well when I had her I realized I was not going to have time to write a book of advice, stories and feelings. So after thinking and considering for about a year and a half I decided on blogging. I figured then she would be able to go back and look at our life together and maybe get to know me a little better. I do feel better about things now that I have started blogging, I feel like now she will know me a little better if something were to happen to me. She might be a little embarrassed when she gets older but right now we are bff’s and I ❤ that 🙂 So, Avery when you look back at this when you are 16 know that once upon a time you loved to hang out with me and ride in cars with me instead of your friends 😉
Second reason is I truly do want to help people. Whether it’s making them laugh, feel better about their own situation or maybe droppin’ a little knowledge. When you lose a child or have cancer everything goes really fast. You have so many decisions to make in a very short amount of time. All of those decisions are ones you never thought you would have to make. So if my rumblings can help anyone in their decision-making then I have reached one of my goals. I know how nice it is to have help in those critical decision-making moments. I don’t claim to be an expert in anything but I have been put in quite a few tough situations so I can offer a little advice. I also don’t claim to be funny. My so-called humor has gotten me into some trouble in the past. I always have to tell myself “Autumn you are not funny, just shut your mouth” Sometimes it is nice to have someone who you can relate to. So if someone comes across this mess of a blog and they actually feel a little better that would be great!
Third reason is I actually like doing it. I really wasn’t sure if I would; which is evidenced by the length of time it took me to start blogging. I am usually a very fast decision maker. Sometimes too fast. So for me to actually think something through is kinda crazy. Now I wish I would have started sooner. Another thing I have learned in these past three years is that time is very precious. In one second the rug can be yanked out from under you. So if you are thinking about trying something new, do it!! If it doesn’t work, so what at least you tried. If it does work that is awesome!!