Giving Thanks

Beautiful NYC skyline as seen from the Chrysler Building.
Photo credit: Elizabeth Luquis

Wow!  It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything.  Don’t worry, nothing is wrong.  I haven’t been in the hospital.  No new health concerns.  All is good actually.  I’ve been feeling more like my old self.  Enjoying life.  Feeling grateful.  I can’t pinpoint what has changed (if anything) but the cloak of depression is lifting.

Tomorrow is American Thanksgiving and I realize I have much to be grateful for.

I am grateful for my most recent trip to NYC.  Appreciative of the fact that I’m able to travel back and forth for treatment.  Thankful for the kind and caring family I have there who never get tired of my visits.  Grateful for the time by myself.  To regroup.  Reconnect.  And remember who I was before cancer…  Before I was a mother…  Before I left the Big Apple…

I am grateful that my plastic surgeon wants to hold off on doing my next (and final) surgery.  He says it’s best for me to complete the recommended 6 months on blood thinners before we stop them to do another procedure.  To do otherwise would be tempting fate and putting me at risk for yet another (potentially fatal) blood clot.  Fine by me.  I’m happy to have more time to strengthen & fortify my body before undergoing surgery again.  Happy for the time to explore the suggestions of my naturopath.  Happy to have a few months free to just live life.

I am grateful for my oncologist Dr. K who continues to work with me instead of against me.  Although uncertain about my choice to forgo hormonal therapy (he wants me to start taking Arimedex) Dr. K recognizes that I am not making my decisions blindly.  And he admits that he doesn’t have all the answers and may learn a thing or two from me.  And I appreciate his approach of taking things slowly.  After months of not taking Herceptin we’ve agreed to start again, but slowly – Going back to the weekly dose instead of doing three times that amount every 3 weeks.  So I am set to start my Herceptin infusion again next week.

I am grateful for my husband who always has my back.  Our path has not been an easy one.  Yet, together we seem to be able to ride out the storms.  Our foundation is solid.  His love unwavering.  Our connection deep.  We’re still able to find the humour in life.  Always asking each other, “Are we having fun yet?”  Accepting each other for who we are – the good and the bad.  Looking forward to many, many more years together.

I am grateful for my beautiful daughter who keep me on my toes.  Keeps me laughing.  Helps me stay centered in the moment.  Forces me to cultivate patience and forgiveness.  Allows me to see the world through a different set of eyes.  And reminds me what true unconditional love feels like.

I am grateful for the never ending support of those around me.  First & foremost from my family and close friends…  But also from my little suburban Ohio community…  From the ladies in my young women with breast cancer support group…  From those in the blogging world…  From complete and total strangers…  Those who know me, know how fiercely independent I am.  But there is NO WAY I can fight this battle alone.  Having this support means the world to me.

Of course I am grateful for the basic necessities of life as well…  Our home.  The food in the fridge.  The car with enough gas to get where I need to go.  The clothes that keep me warm.  The freedom to come and go as I please.  Having spent a good chunk of time over the last few years essentially homeless, rotating from house to house, and living below the poverty level, I will never take these things for granted.

And I am grateful that right now I feel good.  I am exercising again.  Regaining strength in my left side.  Not experiencing pain anywhere else in my body.  I can walk.  I can sleep through the night.  I can think clearly.  All the other minor problems I can deal with.

With Thanksgiving upon us the time is ripe for taking a few moments to give thanks.  What are you thankful for?

Peace and love,  – T

My new writing space – In the bedroom closet! The only space I could find in our forever guest filled home that offered some peace and quiet and privacy. :-)

Enjoying beautiful moments in nature with Miss M and the ‘in-laws’.

Time to Pull Myself Out of Sadness

A happy day – Grandpa is the special guest for music class at Miss M’s preschool.

The last couple of months have been a real struggle for me.

The surgery.  The recovery.  The changes to my everyday routines.  The change of the seasons.  Missing life in NYC.  Not loving life in Ohio.  The blood clot in my lung.  More hospital stays.  More medications & doctors visits.  One highly emotional and unruly toddler.  The lack of energy.  The low level depression that takes up too much space in my head & makes me not want to do much of anything (including write).  The never ending medical research.  The complicated medical decisions.  The difficult acknowledging of painful repressed feelings in therapy.  The demands of being a cancer patient, a mother, and a wife.

And the resistance to accepting that all of this is my new normal.

The ladies from my dad’s online support group recently expressed concern because they hadn’t seen a post from me in nearly 2 weeks.  Was everything OK?  Technically, yes.  Life goes on.  I’m breathing.  I’m alive.

But emotionally, psychologically, I feel smothered.  Blanketed by lethargy.  Trapped in a muddy mess.  Sad.  Frustrated.  Angry.  Despite all that I have, I find myself jealous of what others have.  I want to be carefree.  I want my worries to be about day-to-day crap and not about life or death crap.  I want simple decisions to be the focus of my day.  Like what to make for dinner.  Or what to wear.  Not decisions about side effects, medications, and potentially life threatening aches & pains.

I’m so frustrated with this confusing dance of treatment and consequences.  It seems each step I take towards getting rid of the cancer brings with it a big bag of unwanted complications.  Trying to chart the best path requires hours and hours of research, reading, and consulting with a host of healthcare professionals of varying specialties.

Right now I’m in the midst of deciding what to do about my breasts…  Should I move forward with breast reconstruction knowing there is always the possibility of complication, infection, or illness that would require further surgeries?  If I do, should I go with the silicone implant recommended by my plastic surgeon even though I’ve been hearing one too many horror stories about silicone implants being linked to autoimmune disorders and other sicknesses?   Should I push to have my other breast removed as a precautionary measure even though my surgeon is not recommending it and the insurance company doesn’t want to pay for it?  Or just have the other breast reduced and lifted which is a much easier surgery?  Does having a double mastectomy improve outcomes with metastatic disease?  If the cancer really wants to come back, won’t it come back regardless of whether there is a breast there or not?

Last week I made a quick 24 hour trip to NYC to meet with my plastic surgeon (where I was joined by my amazing and loving Auntie L who drove down from Massachusetts just to be with me and be my second set of ears at the appointment.  Thank you Auntie!!!).  I expressed my concerns to my plastic surgeon and he reassured me that the decisions were mine to make.  He told me I had already gone through the toughest part by having the expander put in.  We discussed my options.  He answered my questions.  And in the end, I decided to get a small amount (60 ccs) of saline injected into my expander.

The reality is that yes, I want boobs.  But I don’t want life threatening complications or numerous corrective surgeries.

My thinking right now is that I might-as-well move forward with the reconstruction – But keep my new breasts very small (in case we need to remove them or the implants), choose saline over silicone implants (for safety reasons), and be prepared to remove the implant immediately if there are concerns.

As I make my way through the new normal that is my life, I keep trying to find healthy ways to deal with the confusion, stress, and sadness (ways that don’t involve eating rows of cookies or being mean to loved ones).  Instead, I’m talking through stuff in therapy, carving out time for walks in nature & meditation sessions, trying to be truly in the moment with Miss M and appreciative of our time together and my time here on earth.

I’ve been allowing the sadness and feeling the depression.  Now I want to pull myself out.

Baby steps.  Just gotta take baby steps.  One step at a time.  Keep moving forward.  And trust that eventually I will pull myself out and make it to a better place.

Peace and love to all.  – T

Bowling fun with our best buds

Enjoying a beautiful fall day with Miss M

Blood Clots, Hospital Stays & New Medications

It’s been one hell of a week.

Last Thursday I was scheduled to fly to NYC to meet with my plastic surgeon to receive the second injection of fluid to expand my left breast tissue in preparation for my implant.  Instead, I ended up in the hospital in Ohio with a blood clot to the lung (otherwise known as a pulmonary embolism).  Scary shit!

In the days leading up to my hospitalization I’d been feeling pretty crappy, but I just chalked it up to the cold I was fighting and side effects from the Herceptin.  But things got worse.  All of a sudden I was out of breath just reading bedtime stories to Miss M.  I couldn’t lay down on my back to go to sleep.  It hurt like hell to take a deep breath.  I has a persistent scratchy cough.  I knew something was wrong.

Rather than take a “wait and see” approach and risk something horrible happening on my flight to NYC, we went to the local after hours clinic to get it checked out.  The doctor there said my lungs sounded OK but feared it may be a blood clot so he sent us to the emergency room.  After a bunch of tests, some blood work, and a very painful CT scan it was confirmed that yes, there was indeed a blood clot in my lung.  Luckily, it was small and we caught it early.  Immediately I was put on blood thinners and admitted to the hospital where I stayed for the next 3 days.

Of course I never imagined I would be at risk for blood clots.  I exercise daily.  I don’t smoke (anymore).  I’m not overweight or sedentary.  You never think these things will happen to you – until they do.  But apparently I have many of the risk factors for developing blood clots; a history of cancer, an intravenous port in my chest, and recent surgery immediately followed by an extremely long drive from NYC to Ohio.  So there ya go.

The good news (other than the obvious fact that I’m alive) is that my oncologist Dr. K is taking me off both the Herceptin and Tamoxifen.  Which is great, because I was just about to tell him that I no longer wanted to take the Tamoxifen anyway.

The bad news is that I now have a whole new host of minor health issues to worry about.  I will be taking blood thinners daily for the next 6 months (maybe longer).  The new meds don’t seem to have any seriously scary side effects but they do cause me to bruise all the time and put me at danger for excessive bleeding.  I have to be über careful not to fall, get cut, or hurt in any way.  Even a strong bump or whack against a heavy object (or attack by a energetic 3 year old??) can cause major internal bleeding that I may not even be aware of.  If I was cautious before because of my surgery scars, now I feel like I should be wearing a protective suit everywhere I go.

We also discovered two other potentially scary health issues from my time in the hospital…   Neither of which are confirmed but are to be monitored and re-tested in the months to come.

One, was a small spot on my liver that showed up on my CT scan.  It may be cancer.  It may be nothing at all.  When I did my CT scan at the hospital I was in a ton of pain and couldn’t lie down properly, stay still, or hold my breath when they wanted me to.  So the entire scan may not be accurate.  Regardless, we need to follow up on that with an MRI.  But I can’t do an MRI right now because of the expander that is in my breast.  Apparently it has some metal in it that interferes with the MRI.  So we’ll have to wait a few months until I get my implant in and do the follow-up scan.  They did check my liver functioning while I was in the hospital and said it looked great.  So for now, I’m just gonna assume all is well with my liver.

The other potential health issue is that my blood work was slightly elevated for an autoimmune disorder – Lupus Anticoagulant Syndrome – which causes thickening of the blood (and subsequently puts you at risk for blood clots).  To be clear, this doesn’t mean that I have Lupus.  They are two separate issues.  And we won’t even know if I actually have LA until we do another blood test (that must be taken months after the first test).  Plus, it seems lupus anticoagulants are often found in people taking antibiotics (of which I’ve been taking a lot lately), those who have cancer, inflammation, or infections.  So I’m hoping it is just related to my recent surgery and will be gone by the time we test again.

Despite all these health issues, I’m still feeling pretty good.  The blood thinners have taken away the pain and allowed me to breath easy again.  My energy is good.  My appetite is fine.  I’m healing from the mastectomy and gaining increased range of motion and strength in my left arm and chest every day.

Dr. K says I should be able to go to NY next week to meet with my plastic surgeon.  So that’s the plan for now.  But I haven’t booked my ticket just yet.

I am realizing (yet again) that I can never truly predict what will happen from day to day.  Any minute a new issue may arise.  And I am having a difficult time adjusting and accepting this new normal.  Because even though I may have long stretches of time where I’m ‘cancer free’, the reality is that metastatic disease often brings with it endless treatments and medications with endless complications and side effects and endless scans and tests to monitor it all.  My health is no longer something I can take for granted.  I can no longer just booze it up, eat whatever I want, and abuse my body like other people can.  I have to pay attention to every ache, every pain, any slight change in my body.  I have to be vigilant in my self-care and self-love.  I have to be informed about treatments, medications, and procedures and constantly weigh the benefits against the risks.

This is not an easy journey.  I’m pissed that this is my new normal.  I’m sad that I can’t just live my life in blissful ignorance.  I’m still trying to figure out the lesson breast cancer has come to teach me.  And still have many days where I just feel sorry for myself, and for my husband, daughter, family, and friends.

But I will never give up.  And I will never stop fighting.  I will not let cancer ruin my life.

Love to all.  – T

Welcome to Breast Cancer Awareness Month

As we enter into Breast Cancer Awareness Month I find myself conflicted about how breast cancer is portrayed.  How commercialized and kitschy it’s all become.  How the media and corporate America seem to be using breast cancer to boost profits.  I feel like corporations play to our emotions and use our pain to their benefit.  To benefit their bottom line.

Excuse me while I climb up on my soapbox for a moment…

Last week I watched the Canadian independent documentary Pink Ribbons, Inc. which tackles these issues brilliantly.  I highly recommend all those impacted by breast cancer to watch it.

Everywhere you look this month someone is selling something that is supposedly benefiting me and my fellow breast cancer warriors.  But so many of the products they’re pushing are full of ingredients that actually cause cancer – cosmetics with parabens, unhealthy fast food, personal care products riddled with chemicals like BPA, yogurt made with milk containing hormones and excessive amounts of sugar.  The hypocrisy infuriates me.

Then there is the question of where all this money goes.  How often do we just blindly hand over our hard earned money, assuming it is being spent fairly and honestly.  Not taking the time to read the fine print, ask questions, or demand to know what exactly our money will be spent on.  The generic answers most commonly heard are that the money is used for research, prevention, and finding a cure.  But how can we find a cure when we don’t even know what causes breast cancer?  More than half of breast cancer patients do not have any of the risk factors.  Only a small percentage are genetically based.  So what caused the rest of our cancers?  Is anyone looking into that?

The majority of research money seems to go towards creating things that can be sold – whether it be a new drug or a regular mammogram.  Why not spend money to research things like how lifestyle factors like diet, exercise, and stress contribute to cancer growth or recurrence.  Or why the number of women with breast cancer continues to rise.  Or how all the toxic chemicals we take in on a daily basis are wrecking havoc in our bodies.  But who would make money from that?  Not the pharmaceutical companies who currently control the majority of cancer research.

The other thing I take issue with is the cheery and uplifting pink washing that blankets breast cancer awareness.  Breast cancer is not all smiles and upbeat female bonding.  It is painful.  It is devastating.  It is emotional and ugly.  It rips apart families.  Destroys lives.  And it is not pretty.  If we are going to take a true look at breast cancer we need to see it from all sides.  The good AND the bad.

So this October, as you are confronted with the endless array of consumer products claiming to support breast cancer awareness take a step back, read the fine print, ask questions, make informed decisions.  Feel good knowing that you took the time to understand who and what your money is supporting.

For more ways to support the cause and links to some of the best breast cancer blogs out there, check out this post on the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network by blogger Holly Raby.

Together we can make a difference.

Peace.  – T

The Waiting Game

Splashing in puddles & dancing in the rain with Miss M

Tomorrow I find out the results of my most recent set of scans.  The results determine a whole host of things – most importantly whether or not surgery is still an option.  As long as the cancer has not grown or spread since my last scan in April I’m good to go for the mastectomy.

Friday marked the end of this round of tests and scans (5 in all) and since then I’ve just been trying not to get caught in the “scanxiety” trap.

On top of all my breast cancer exams, my dermatologist also removed a suspicious mole from my head at my appointment on Friday.  So now I’m waiting on the results of that biopsy too.  Of course the potential for having skin cancer (yet again) seems minor in comparison to having stage 4 breast cancer.  If it can’t kill me – then who cares?!??  Basal cell carcinoma I laugh at you!  I’ve got bigger fish to fry.

So what am I doing to stave off all the ‘scanxiety’?  Just trying to be in the moment.  Trying to have fun…  Spending time with my girlfriends…  Dancing in the rain with Miss M…  Going on mini retreats with hubby…  Making time for the people I love…  Reading books for pleasure (instead of just books about cancer)…  Watching trashy reality TV…  Going for rides on hubby’s new motorcycle…  Trying to be in the here & now and not allow my mind to wander to the place of “what if”.

One thing I’ve noticed lately is that by taking care of myself again – making fun a priority, meditating, listening to my heart, honoring my spirit, communing with nature, working on my mental mess – I’m finding important lessons everywhere I look.  For the longest time I couldn’t see these lessons.  I was too caught up in the stress of my life, getting through the day, being there for everyone else and not taking the time to step back, pause, and see what was all around me.  Now I see the lessons everywhere…   In my everyday tasks… In the trees and the sky…  Even in the shows I watch on TV (yes, even the trashy ones! :-).

This past weekend hubby and I went to Harmony Farm for a couples massage & mini-retreat to celebrate our 9 year anniversary.  While there I took a walk through the beautiful brick & stone labyrinth they have on site.  As I slowly made my way along the path to the center of the labyrinth I noticed how each time I looked too far ahead I lost my balance and went off the path.  I realized the key to staying centered was to just focus on what was right in front of me.  And I realized how that was a metaphor for life.  When I try to look too far ahead into the future it gets me nowhere.  To stay balanced I must remain in the moment and focus on today (and maybe tomorrow) but not much further than that.

In my own path to healing I am reminded again and again just how important it is to be still.  To quiet the mind.  To leave space for the lessons to appear.  And try not to look too far ahead.

Peace.  -T

Receiving the lesson from the labyrinth at Harmony Farm

Miss M trying out the new motorcycle

Let The Scans Begin!

Tomorrow commences the scanning ritual I must now endure every 4 months for the rest of my life.  Except this time around I’ve got some extra scans thrown in for my surgery prep.  It’s so freakin’ time consuming.

My schedule tomorrow includes a 10am injection (for my afternoon bone scan), an 11am psychotherapy appointment (in another town), a 1pm bone scan, and then a routine EKG and chest x-ray.  Insane!

The week continues with an MRI and PET scan.  Plus, I have an appointment to visit my dermatologist for my 6-month check-in to make sure the VERY early stage melanoma I had surgery done on in 2008 does not come back.

On top of this, I’m trying to coordinate all the details and paperwork for my upcoming surgery on September 13th in NYC…  Filling out medical forms…  Fedexing scan reports…  Obtaining biopsy samples…  Coordinating temporary housing referrals…  Booking flights…  Figuring out logistics…  Getting blood-work done…  It’s never ending.

I don’t even know how I’m feeling about the surgery itself.  I haven’t had the time to just sit and think about what it’ll be like.  Or maybe I’m purposefully trying to NOT think about what it will be like.  How scary this is.  How much pain I’m going to be in.  How incapacitated I’ll be.

Instead, I just keep focusing on the here & now.  What I have to get done in the next 24 hrs.  The fun moments and memories that are constantly evolving around me.  The beauty in the sunset.  The beauty of my daughter.  The beauty of nature.  The beauty in celebrating my 9 year wedding anniversary.  The beauty of being back home in Ohio and sleeping in my own bed, next to my husband.

It’s so much more fun to think about the beauty that’s all around me in the present moment than to think about the pain and stress of my upcoming surgery.

At my last reiki appointment with Renee she brought me the tarot card of Power or Strength (Renee pulls a new card from her tarot deck each week to give to her clients as a spiritual check-in and reminder of where you’re at).  Reading the power card refocused my energy and reminded me to continue on my path.  It spoke to my unlimited power as a spiritual being and how keeping my body, mind, soul, and spirit balanced can help me overcome any obstacle in life.

As long as I do my best to stay balanced – take care of myself, relax, have fun, eat well, exercise, meditate – I can deal with everything else.  It’s only when I’m not attending to my basic needs and internal balance that I get off kilter, feel stressed, have all sorts of pains, and get overly anxious about everything.

But now when I feel myself veering off course and reaching my tipping point, the new Terri makes a conscious effort to re-balance as quickly as possible.  It’s not easy.  But I’m trying.

Maybe it’s time we all take a step back and assess how balanced we truly are and try to realign ourselves before we get so unbalanced that we topple over.

As I go through the next few weeks, I know that remaining balanced is key.  I also know that through my connection to ‘The Universe’ I have the power to make it through anything.  We all do.

Peace.  – T

Beauty is Everywhere

What a week. Full of emotion and memory making.

It’s been such a joy to reconnect with everyone here in the Pacific Northwest. To collect and give hugs. Catch up on life. Say thank you. Even in my short time living on Bowen Island, I managed to forge some pretty terrific friendships. And it feels great to be back again, picking up right where we left off. The Bowen community is truly a special one. One I feel privileged to be a part of.

Bowen also feels good on a physical level. My body is relaxed here. My soul is comforted. Nature surrounds you wherever you go. The salt air… The ebb & flow of the waves… The glorious mountains… Walking through the rainforest… Listening to the birds… I don’t need to set aside time for meditation while I’m here, life on Bowen feels like one never ending meditation session. Aaahhhh….

But this week also brought with it some serious emotional upheavals. Including the loss of yet another young mother to cancer – Vancouver resident, and friend, Charline Leith.

Charline was only 45. She was a wife. A mom to two beautiful boys. A sister. A beloved friend. And so much more. And she was taken way too soon. Her brother wrote a beautiful piece about Charline for her obituary that speaks to the feisty, fun, and caring soul that she was.

I attended her memorial service at the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club – along with 300 other people! The celebration of her life was beautiful, and emotional. Charline and I were both diagnosed with stage 4 cancer at the same time (her’s a recurrence of ovarian cancer, mine an initial diagnosis of breast cancer). And to see her go only 9 months later was really hard to swallow. Even though we were never close friends, I felt connected to her because we both were in the same ‘late stage cancer club’ together… We both have young kids… She read my blog… Auntie Cole kept us informed about each others’ ups and downs in our respective cancer journeys…

But I was unsure about going to the service. I had some definite survivors guilt going on. Would people be upset to see me there? To see me living after Charline was gone?

Losing Charline was also a reminder that my cancer could also roar to life again, ravage my body, and take me away.

Interestingly enough the radio show I did for CBC on this topic – living with the fear of death – is set to air tomorrow night. The series is hosted by Christy Ann Conlin who is a beautiful soul and a skillful interviewer. Check it out online at the CBC Fear Itself Website.

If you’re in Canada you can listen to the show on CBC radio one at 7:30pm on Monday August 13th and again at 9:30am on Thursday August 16th (I assume all times are Eastern Daylight Time). For those of you not in Canada, you can listen online at this link after the show has aired tomorrow.

People often ask how I continue to stay positive while living with metastatic breast cancer and the ever lurking fear of death that accompanies it… What I’m finding is that the world is full of positive people living and thriving despite debilitating diseases, heart wrenching upsets, and unfortunate circumstances. I’m not exactly sure how we do it. We just do it.

Tomorrow is not guaranteed, so I am making a conscious effort to make the most out of each and every day… To notice the beauty that is everywhere around me… And to appreciate the hell out of it :-)

Peace. – T

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Pulling It Together

Miss M and I have arrived.

After a hellish flight from Dayton to Vancouver (including a 6 hour layover at Chicago’s O’Hare airport and an arrival time of 2am into Vancouver – 5am Ohio time – thank God Auntie ‘Cole was there to pick us up) we are now happily settled at Grandpa’s house on Bowen Island. Miss M and I are overjoyed to be spending time with some of our favorite people… The sun is shining (a rarity around these parts)… The air smells delicious… The birds are chirping… The views of the ocean and mountains are breathtakingly beautiful. It feels good to be back.

The latest news on the cancer front, is that my most recent echocardiogram showed a decrease in my heart functioning (from 60-65% down to 50-55%). Any lower than that and I may want to consider discontinuing the Herceptin. But for now my oncologist Dr. K says not to worry – So i’m trying not to. Apparently my base level when I was first diagnosed was close to the level I’m at now. Guess I have to bump up the cardio and interval training a bit. If anyone has thoughts about how to keep my ticker healthy please send ’em my way.

Dr. K also mentioned that if, after surgery, I remain tumor free for the next few sets of scans we may be able to stop with the Herceptin anyway. Although metastatic patients are often on Herceptin indefinitely, earlier stage breast cancer patients usually take the drug for just one year post-surgery. Apparently, now that I have responded so well to treatment, I could possibly be treated in a similar fashion. Sounds good to me!

The other news is that I have a date for my breast surgery: Thursday September 13th – at Lenox Hill Hospital in NYC.

Between now and then I have to do a ton of things to prep for the surgery, including a PET scan, bone scan, MRI, EKG, complete physical, and extensive blood work. All of which will be done in Ohio when I get back from my trip to Vancouver at the end of the month.

Plus I still have to coordinate all the logistics – travel plans, care schedules, Hubby’s paperwork to request medical leave, recovery aftercare… But I continue to trust that the details will work themselves out. That the Universe (and my mom) will help me pull it all together.

And as I contemplate all these details, I am once again reminded of just how amazing my support team is. As I prepare for the next chapter in my breast cancer journey I am so appreciative and grateful for the people in my life that continue to help me (and Miss M and Hubby) through it all. I know that a big part of why I am still alive today and feeling healthy is because of your support. Thank you!!!

I also understand that support is a two-way street. Even if someone wants to give support the other person must be willing to receive it. And having breast cancer has definitely challenged me to let go of a lot of unhealthy behaviours – One of the biggest being my ability to ask for help and openly receive it. But also to not try to do it all by myself… To speak my mind… And say ‘No’ to the things that bring me down instead of lifting me up.

I encourage us all to take stock of our lives and the energies that surround us on a day-to-day basis. To work on letting go and distancing ourselves from the “haters”, the negativity, the people and things that drain us and bring us down instead of lifting us up and contributing to our ability to be the best and most authentic person we can be.

It’s an ongoing task but one I am committed to making. And I thank you all for supporting me on this journey of self-discovery.

Peace. – Terri

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A Sigh Of Relief

After a bit of a rough week I am feeling a lot better today. Mostly because I found out the aches and pains i’ve been feeling are likely side effects from the Herceptin i’m taking.

While I was killing time at Penn Station yesterday, waiting for the Long Island Railroad, I googled Herceptin side effects and found people complaining about the following:

– Sore ribs, backs, and bones … Check.
– Weak fingernails and cracking skin … Check.
– Random headaches … Check.
– Feeling tired all the time … Check.
– Brain fog and memory problems … Check.
– Nausea and dizzy spells … Check.

Before my google search I just assumed all the symptoms meant the cancer was coming back, growing, and spreading. And I was definitely starting to freak out. But now my mind is at ease (for the moment at least). And oddly enough the pains seem to have dramatically lessened since I found all this out.

And, as always, it feels fantastic to be back in NY. Being here does wonders for me as well.

Despite a nearly 9 hour journey to get here, Miss M and I remained upbeat through it all… The delayed flights… The long waits… Transferring from cars to buses to planes to trains… I swear Miss M is the best travel buddy ever.

I noticed that I too, was handling things better than usual. The old me would have been stressing about timing each connection perfectly, anticipating Miss M’s every need, and trying to get to the end destination as quick as possible. But the new me just went with the flow. Made decisions as I went along. Arrived at the train station and boarded the next available train instead of stressing over the fact that we had just missed the previous one by 2 minutes.

As I said in therapy last week, I am keenly aware of my patterns and self-defeating behaviours, now my challenge is to accept the curveballs life throws at me and make different choices. Turn my patterns upside-down. Interrupt the self-defeating actions before they take over.

Each day offers a new challenge. And while I certainly have my bad days, I remain determined not to let life’s challenges take me down.

Right now, I am focused on the magnificence of summer in NY… Spending time with family and friends… And getting ready for my surgeon appointments (that are now confirmed for Monday and Tuesday next week).

I really am one lucky lady.

Peace. – T