I just got back from spending a wonderful weekend in my hometown of El Paso to see family and friends. This trip had originally already been planned since the summer, before learning of my diagnosis for my Grantie’s 80th birthday party and I would stop at nothing to make it.
Well, the monday before the trip came and what do you know, I got sick as a DOG. This would also be the same week as my infamous “fork day” breakdown (see previous post). It seemed as everything was working against me, which is usually the kind of thing that happens to me. Fever, chills, lost my voice, port pain, but nothing and I mean NOTHING was going to stop me from giving my Grantie a great big birthday hug so I sucked it up, and got to packing only 30 minutes before I had to be at the airport – this is a feat in and of itself as I am known for bringing an obscene amount of luggage for just a weekend trip.
On the flight it felt like my head was going to explode, I had major congestion and every cough made it feel like I was going to undo my port stitches, I was miserable, but all I could think about was seeing my family. Without getting too morbid sometimes you can’t help but wonder if it might be the “last time” that you see someone, so I was all too eager to get all of my quality time in. Let’s not sugar coat it, anything really can happen in this process and part of being able to handle everything is to really plan and prepare for anything as best as you can.
Remember I said I was stubborn? I wasn’t joking. When I originally had the first sign of a cough, my husband insisted that I go to the doctor, and I just kept saying, who? He doesn’t ever think that’s funny, but it’s how I get away with things around here (I’ll use it while I can!). Well, I absolutely regretted not listening to going to a clinic to at least get an antibiotic because I really got my ass kicked during that trip.
During those 3 short days I attended a birthday dinner, got a haircut, got in some “day drinking” with my best friend at our favorite college hangout, hiked a mountain, AND attended a really special “breast cancer party” that my family threw me that felt like a much needed pep rally. Now typically a healthy me could swing this and then some, but respiratory-infected me was really struggling on the inside.
The reason I want to bring all of that up is because I didn’t let myself “be sick”. Trust me, this was NO cake walk, but I forced myself. I put on makeup everyday, got dressed, and put a big smile on EVERY day that I was home. Not only because I didn’t want to worry my family but because you know that cheesy saying “fake it till you make it”? It works.
I was struggling every day that I was home to put on face and be “ok”, but at the end of it all, I told myself, if this all doesn’t work out would I have rather sat in bed crying all day or spent my days with family and friends enjoying myself with margaritas? I chose the latter.
Since diagnosis I have…
Participated in Paddle for Puppies, a 5 mile kayaking voyage for charity to raise funds for puppies that get parvo, just a week after my biopsy with an injured left boob. Strut Your Mutt, a wonderful dog walk that raises funds and awareness for homeless pets, the day after my microblading appointment. Race for the Cure, I’m sure we have all heard of this one, two days after my port surgery. Hiked Mount Cristo Rey, a beautiful 4 mile mountain trail in Sunland Park, New Mexico that adorns a beautiful nine foot limestone statue of christ, mid-respiratory infection. It was my first time making that trek and was a truly was a rewarding and overwhelming experience, and stayed up sipping margaritas till 3 AM hanging out with family that I haven’t seen in over 20 years.
Staying so busy has been the only thing that has kept me going. I initially started with making a list of everything I needed to buy for chemo treatments, I say that almost jokingly because I think I went a little overboard as I do with many things, but I felt I better be as prepared as possible (I’ll be sharing what things I actually felt were helpful during treatments in a later post). But no matter what the task was, shopping, cleaning, outfit planning, researching, doctors visits, whatever. I didn’t let myself stop, but that one day that I needed to let it out. It’s important to let it out, but give yourself that one day, and after that, you pick yourself up and tell yourself that was your rock bottom and everything else is up from there. I promise, if you tell yourself that, that’s exactly what the universe will give you. The mind is an incredibly powerful thing and I am convinced that the only way that I will actually beat this thing is to believe that I will be ok, and that by this time next year I will be celebrating a holiday season cancer free without chemo.
The point is, stay BUSY. Busy means distraction. Busy means OK.
Sure, if you are tired that day by all means rest, your feet, but not your mind. Keep thinking of the next thing to keep you busy and the next thing to look forward to.
Be strong, stay busy, believe you can.
A photo of my Grantie at her birthday dinner, this smile made it ALL worth it!