Anger & Acceptance

Anger & Acceptance

This past weekend, almost two years after diagnosis (July 6th, 2016), I was angry. I am angry.

For the first time since my diagnosis, I’m angry at my cancer. I’m angry because I have finally allowed myself to feel that anger. 

Let’s rewind here for a moment:

I spent months after my dense chemo staying as busy as I possibly could. This entailed working full-time as a preschool teacher and working at a restaurant on the weekends. I told myself it was because I enjoyed it. The reality was that I didn’t really want to face the emotions that can follow after chemo…and BOY DID THEY FOLLOW. My dear old friends, depression and anxiety came back with a vengeance. As someone that has suffered with generalized anxiety disorder most of my life, with having dealt with depression in my past, I went back to what I knew best: unhealthy coping skills such as avoidance. I stayed as busy as possible so I that I didn’t have time to think. Plus, by the time I was done with work I was so exhausted that I would go straight to bed.

A few months later I realized the stress was incredibly unhealthy and the exact opposite of what I truly needed. I quit my weekend job and transitioned careers entirely outside of childcare. I miss the kids soooo much, but it didn’t allow for any “me” time.

Fast forward to today:

I’m about three months into my new career, four days from my two year “cancerversary” and the feelings are finally creeping in.

I didn’t allow myself to feel. I didn’t allow myself to time to accept the absolute SH*T that I had to go through. I didn’t allow myself to feel angry for my situation. You know… the situation of having breast cancer in my 20’s.  I viewed it as selfish.  I thought I should only feel gratitude. That’s not the reality of life after cancer.  I am angry. I am wrathful. I am worthy of feeling this way.

I went through breast cancer as a 25/26 year old. I am now 27 and considered “cancer-free” but cancer is still a very big part of my life. Amongst that, I have had to accept my new reality. I’m 27 years old and have the body of a female going through menopause. I don’t menstruate, my hormones are all out of whack, my bones ACHE, I may never be able to have child (that’s a novel in itself) and my metabolism is kaput and I have the added weight to show it.

I had the HEALTHIEST relationship that I’ve ever had with food and body image, ever in my life, the two years leading up to diagnosis. It brought me to tears at one point because I finally felt in control with my disordered eating and thoughts. I found myself thinking about this the past few weeks, quite a lot. It brought angry, resentful, tears to me this time instead. Cancer is shitty. Cancer sucks. Cancer really freaking sucks.

I’m learning to accept my reality and new metabolism. I’m now seeing the dietitian that has known me since I was 16 and the one I met through the cancer center. I’m currently following a meal plan that is typically used for menopausal woman for weight management… But. BUT. I’m NOT allowing my new reality to cause any more negativity with my body. My body has been through the ringer – and it’s time to be accepting and give gratitude to the body that fought like hell for me to be alive today.

I’m angry. I’m really really angry. My life has been drastically changed because of cancer. 

But I plan on using this anger to strive for continued and better health along the way. I refuse to accept the path of self-loathe that it’s trying to take me on.

Here’s to a healthier, determined, me. I am so thankful to be able to feel these feelings, to be alive to do so, and to use this anger as fuel.

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Looking back, moving forward

Looking back, moving forward

Hi loves! Where do I start?

These past few months since surgery have been nothing short of exhausting. Coaching, working, getting back into a “normal” routine… scratch that. My new “normal” is far from what it’s ever been.

I still receive Herceptin infusions every three weeks until August of 2017 and next week I start the T word. For those of you unfamiliar with what I’m referring to, it’s tamoxifen. I’m triple positive, which basically means that my tumor grew from my hormone receptor cells being like “Hey body, grow these cells like it’s your job, overachieve the average and create a tumor!”and here we are ;] Tamoxifen will block the hormone receptors from the hormones in hopes that I don’t grow a tumor the size of a golf ball again. It is expected that I will be taking Tamoxifen for the next ten years. Along with tamoxifen, my oncologist will slowly introduce my body to another drug, Zoladex. Zoladex will make my ovaries “quiet.” Theses drugs can be harsh on the body and if it begins to hinder my quality of life significantly, my oncologist will talk other options. Common side effects include: weight gain, hot flashes (don’t miss you), bone pain, mood swings, amongst other things. Risk of other diseases, such as other cancers can come about from taking these drugs. Lovely thought, huh?

What else?

I’ve gained seven pounds since I was diagnosed… seven pounds doesn’t seem like much to some of you, especially when the whole pharmacy has been through your body the past six months, but to my sweet little messed up head… seven pounds means that I have lost control. I’ve spent most of my 20’s working on a mindset to let go of that mentality.  I’ve had anxiety since I can remember and these eating disordered thoughts weirdly enough, served my mind almost like a safety net. A place where my mind could focus on something and give myself a sense of control. Weight gain in many eating disordered heads means loss of that “control.”  Call me Dr. Jessica because I believe now that I don’t what’s to happen with my future and cancer, my mind is reverting back to these thoughts, a sick and falsely twisted sense of control and right now, my mind thinks I’m losing, that I am weak. So now, I’m faced with this challenge again. A challenge that I didn’t think I would revisit so soon and sudden.

Don’t get me wrong, I am beyond thankful to have found my tumor, to receive treatment, to live in a time where there are pills that help the chance of recurrence, but God I am scared.

Cancer is a bitch, mental illness is a bitch.

Cheers to this new battle I’m about to face! My history tells me that I can beat this and that’s what I will try and focus on ❤

“It took cancer to find my voice and I won’t stay silent” -speaker at the YSC Summit.

 

 

Breast Cancer with a side of baggage. Part one: The Egg Freezing Experience

Breast Cancer with a side of baggage. Part one: The Egg Freezing Experience

When I was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, I was expecting either chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, or all of the above. With my specific type of cancer, chemotherapy before all else is recommended to shrink the tumor first. What I wasn’t expecting was everything else that comes along with the diagnosis. In my mind it basically went like this: “Hey you have cancer and since you’re going through chemotherapy, do you want kids in the future ? There is a big chance you will become infertile after treatment.”

Um… what? I may be 25 but being a college student along with my financial status, I cannot picture having kids of my own for AT LEAST 8-10 years. If I decide to have kids that is. I LOVE kids; I work with them and my career will involve working with kids- just the idea of having my own is way out of the picture currently. WAY*

As a sweet little birdie put it (boyfriend’s mom) freezing my eggs is like a “savings account.” It’ll be there if/when I need it.

So then the egg-freezing process started. Insurance doesn’t cover this because I am not proven to be infertile, nor have tried to get pregnant. Christ no I have not tried to get pregnant. So about 4500 dollars later, I had appointments with the specialists every other day to track my treatment progress. Internal ultrasounds and having my blood drawn every other day is as fun as it sounds; especially when the appointments take place bright and early in Evanston. But hey! At least I found out I’m allergic to one of the medications (Letrozole) It looked a little something like this:

allergicreaction3
Go big or go home amiright?

 

During the time of retrieval,  they retrieved a lot of eggs. After examining each egg, they keep the ‘good’ ones to freeze. Don’t ask me the exact amount because I have chemo brain and I don’t know what the exact number is LOL. Chemo brain is very very real, it can also be frustrating, but sometimes hilarious. Sometimes I can’t form words and stutter like it’s my job. Thanks chemo, or lack of sleep…or both.

Here’s some more baggage and how I saw it in my mind:

“OH P.S  your hair will fall out, this particular regimen of chemo can cause weight gain and can be very hard to lose and we are going to place a portacath in before you can start chemo.” “PS PS- You like dairy? Too bad, limit it to a very minimum.”

… To be continued on part ii of this blog, next week. I initially had the rest posted here, but it was WAY TOO LONG

❤ Until next time

(Here’s a song that I listen to on those tough days. I love allll types of music. For those of you who don’t know me well, I especially love Pretty Lights. Who knows, maybe this song will help you too. Listen here THANKFULLY I GET MY PL FIX IN CHICAGO THIS MONTH)