I have been thinking about this post for several months now. I try to keep my journal posts as upbeat and positive as I can, but truth is, breast cancer is a HARD journey. A lot of it has been hard. What have been the hardest things about breast cancer? Let’s tell the truth.
In April 2014 after my diagnosis of breast cancer, I started out optimistic, positive, upbeat, and had a Go-For-It attitude. Then bone pain and debilitating fatigue and breathlessness kicked in and knocked the positivity out of me. (for moments of time)
I wanted to write about the hardest thing about breast cancer, but I really cannot pinpoint only just one. If I HAD to choose only one, it would be this. Isolation :
- Isolation and Loneliness. (OK, that is two) People left. Friends left. People stopped talking about what is real. People stopped talking. Yes. Breast cancer has been a very lonely time for me offline. Face to face interactions too few and far between and phone calls, rare. It shocked me, really. I finally decided it was just meant to be. Personal friends and family supports offline, social contact with others, had almost disappeared. It did not help that I live rural in Fanny Bay in the middle of a bunch of oysters and with not much else here. The good news is, that some AMAZING people showed up online with me to create an incredible lifeline of support via social media. These people have been my daily support network and have pulled me through the toughest of times with their love, prayers, wisdom, smarts, and most loyal of presence. I have developed NEW friends that I am setting goals to meet in person, in 2015!
What else has been really hard? (and scary)
I spent the majority of my life engaged in fitness, recreation, health, wellness and sports. I was used to being in good shape and with excellent cardio. The only times that I would have been out of breath would have been if I were jogging, or running or playing sports and it was a natural physiological response to physical activity. I also spent the rest of the time in my life in music, playing woodwind instruments and singing, all of which required excellent use of, and control of the breath. In short, breathing was no problem for me. In fact, I would put myself up there as one who knew a few tricks on how to master the breath for self control, meditation, and to calm oneself in times of stress. Breathing? A snap. It used to be.
- So, for me to be OUT OF BREATH and breathless, from just walking up a flight of stairs, or from throwing a stick in a game of fetch for my dog, or from simply walking along a beach with a slightly sloping shore, or just even walking a gentle and flat forest trail … has been, incredibly hard, frightening and well, all I can keep calling it is … HARD. I wasn’t expecting this at all : OUT. OF. BREATH. Of course my mind raced to “oh, my God the cancer has spread to my lungs” … but medical oncologists regularly checked my lungs (they have been clear) and I had a chest x-ray to make sure all was well. All is well. It has simply been a nasty side effect of the chemotherapy drugs, post-treatment.
Not being able to breathe properly is scary. It just is.
What else has been hard?
- Weak legs walking up stairs. Yes. Losing my fitness level, my physical strength and muscle mass, and being so exhausted, so fatigued, that just getting up one flight of stairs at home took/takes huge effort (right after chemotherapy) … this has been HARD, and I was not expecting it to happen.
So that is it for “HARD” for now.
I have far too much to be grateful for.
I CAN breathe. I WILL get better. This is temporary … breast cancer.
I have a beautiful loving gorgeous dog Teddy who means the world to me. I HAVE had incredible online support. Social media has been good to me. Very very good to me. People have donated money, dog food, cash, a laptop, dog toys and doggie treats, hotel room stays, and on and on.
I have seen KINDNESS rise to the top.
I have been showered with kindness, love, prayers online, and people have been purposefully lifting me up, up, up, UP, to help me get through this breast cancer stuff.
Strangers from the U.S. have picked up the telephone and left me beautiful voicemails that brought tears (good tears) to my eyes and filled my heart with love. I have FELT LOVED. By hundreds. Yes, I said hundreds of people.
Yeah, breast cancer has been HARD.
However, life has been giving me MIRACLES every day. I will focus on that. Thank you very much.
Life is GOOD.