I have reached two milestones this week.
The first, and most important to me, is that as of this week, it has been one year since I was diagnosed, for the second time, with breast cancer.
And because this one was such an aggressive cancer, I feel very fortunate that I have reached this point.
The second milestone is that it has now been six months since my surgery where they removed both of my breasts, most of my left pectoral, and my ovaries.
Sometimes it seems like it was only yesterday and other times it seems like it was years ago, but the truth of the matter is, it has been only six months.
Much has happened in that time. I have worked very hard trying to get my body back in shape. And it hasn’t been easy.
Having the triple surgery on this poor old body that has been through so much in the past three years, has been a struggle. The human body was not made to be radiated, poisoned, anethesthetized and cut open. At least, I don’t think it was.
But I have had so much love and support from both family and friends, as well as some exceptional people that live in our valley.
I have done physiotherapy with Ruth to help me gain movement and strength in both my arms and chest area; I have received very beneficial services from the best massage therapist there is – Deanna; and from the lady with the magic hands – Julie. All of these treatments have been so liberating for me and my body.
And recently I have joined a stretch and strengthen fitness class with a group of wonderful women. I am so motivated by these classes. So much so that as I am in Kelowna writing this column, I have just gotten back from the gym.
I travelled to Kelowna to have a six-month post-surgery checkup with my surgeon, and an appointment with my oncologist.
The chances of me getting breast cancer the first time were less than 1%. For me to get it a second time, in the same breast, after having received radiation there, well the chances were astronomical. As a result, I am considered to be extreme high risk for reoccurence. To lessen the chances of that happening, I have to take meds for the next five years.
Unfortunately, my body does not like these meds, and I have been living with a lot of pain in my bones. It kinda feels like I have cement in all my bones, and it feels like I think it would if someone was to take a baseball bat to the bottom of my feet.
We have tried switching medication, but unfortunately, it has only lessened the symptons, not alleviated them.
My only choice, was to go off the meds and take my chances. But on this trip, I learned that if I was to get cancer again, they would not be able to cure it. They could treat it, but not cure it. So my choice has been made – I take the meds and live with the pain. I have already made up my mind that I will not get cancer again, but this is a bit of added insurance.
Unfortunately, I have gained over 25 pounds in the last six months, due in part to inactivity, but mostly caused by the meds.
So, I look for the silver linings, and there are a lot of them, with the two most important ones being . . .
I have had extra time to spend with my wonderful grandchildren. This is a blessing indeed, as they are what gives me life.
I have experienced the never-ending love from my family, and have learned who my good friends are. I have also learned that I had many friends that I did not even know.
And then there are the physical things.
I have yet to have to shave my armpits, and probably will not have to, ever again. Wahoo!
I have the longest eyelashes that I have ever had, and I have curls. And when I say curls, I mean curls. I have never even had a natural wave to my hair, and now I have a full head of thick, curly hair.
I am still happily accepting hugs from people, so if you see the new me with the curly top and long eyelashes . . . feel free to hug.