Denial is a great thing?

 

This photoshoot took place ten days ago.

 

Here I am

 

Let’s start with body image.

You will see the different shots through this article.

I am going to share my thoughts with you today.

I’m talking about all the times I’ve stayed away from a social media post that deals with breast cancer. Are they all sharing the whole story or the entire truth?

When first diagnosed in 2016, I had not been personally involved in or sat beside anyone else dealing with this disease.

I believe that if you haven’t experienced it, you will remain naive.

I believe this works in our journey of life.

October cannot serve as a pink profit capitalization. The five-year survival rate after a stage four breast cancer diagnosis is 22 percent.

The color pink is not a cure.

Breast cancer is one of the most funded cancers in the world. However, more research must move forward, metastatic breast cancer, spreading to another part of the body.

We are losing too many loved ones from a breast cancer diagnosis in 2020.

Let’s not subject ourselves to pinkwashing and forgetting the reality that breast cancer presents.

and now

Another short rant from me

I believe we should always work on ourselves.

If you have experienced this as a late-stage or metastatic patient, I know you understand and have experienced this.

You learn to bite your tongue.

Suppose I am asked specifically about this.  I will share what I have learned.

But

If I had a dollar each time I hear from an earlier stage breast cancer patient or their family member mentions.

“I was in stage 1-2 ” It has been five years. My cancer illness is complete.

I pray these people are one hundred percent correct.

There is a percentage out there that cancer will return to their body at some time and place. The more years you stay cancer-free; yes, the better the rate and your chances that this doesn’t happen.

Those first five years are frightening.

You hit that five-year mark, and you haven’t had a recurrence, and that is a huge deal.

Positive and realistic is what I pray we all can be.

Please don’t ruin your life by obsessing about cancer.

We always need to be working on ourselves.

This is how I feel about being a stage four patient.

She said it so well.

Oliva Newton-John

“You know what? I don’t know what my time is, but I need to enjoy my life. So, I’m going to eat a cookie if I want it. And I’m going to have a cup of tea if I want it. And if I want to have a little bit of wine, I’m gonna do that. Because of the joy of life and everyday living has to be a part of that healing process as well.”

And Scene

September 2015 Less than a year before mbc diagnosis

How do you stay in the moment and stay present and not let it consume you and worry you?

Why me?

“Why me?” has never been a part of it

I have never felt victimized.

Shortly after my diagnosis in 2016, I was internally asking myself—this question.

“Why not.”

Maybe I needed to create a reason to make it ok for myself.

I’ve told so many of you through the years.

You choose to.

I keep the following this close to my heart.

Cancer isn’t necessarily a death sentence

Compassion and empathy for others is a healing force

Gratitude is the best medicine

feelitonthefirst 2018

The Prognosis

The percentage of people who pass away because of metastatic breast cancer is very high. If I were to focus and obsess on those numbers, I most likely would not have surpassed what the doctors told me in 2016.

Yes, it does cross my mind. Specifically, when I get reminded that I have tumors growing in my brain or repeat PET scans due.

So I sit there, and I feel it. I get scared and emotional. I’ve learned to work through these emotions and, most importantly, move forward.

I focus on finding peace in every moment.

I search for the positive and the intention behind my thoughts and actions.

As well as others.

I dream of the future.

I affirm what that future looks like.

May 2019 – a year before dexamethasone. I thought I was overweight and out of shape. Fat has always been my own body image. zzz

I do my best not to think about it all often. It is easiest to explain this by simply stating I don’t obsess.

I work on keeping my mind and heart at peace.

And the metastatic breast cancer path that I have chosen.

When I write my thoughts and experience with you, they are raw and fresh on my mind.

This is my perfect place to process and work on my mind and attitude.

Sending well wishes and health to us all.

 

Hakuna Mata

 

 

Going in for surgery on your brain during a lockdown – on the one hand, yes, I am so very grateful to be having the treatment. On the other hand, I was scared, terrified.

 

After the past three months, I have been slowly starting edge my way back into the wild.

 

At times,  I am nervous and scared going into these repeat scans.

Today I will have a repeat MRI to check on the progress and swelling of my brain.

I will also have a full PET scan on my body. It has been six months since the last.

 

From my original diagnosis in 2016, I have been considered a stage four metastatic breast cancer patient having cancer in several areas of my body.

 

After my original chemo treatment and continued medication, my body scan has shown no change. NEAD (no evidence of active disease).

 

Yes, a feat on its own. And a reason to celebrate as a triple-positive breast cancer patient Herceptin has worked for me.

 

If you know me well, I hesitate to talk about this subject, let alone write about it and throwing it out in the universe.

 

Maybe you are out of the loop.

 

I had a craniotomy on June 3, 2020, to remove one growing tumor.

 

Honestly, the shit show scares me more than ever while awaiting scan results.

I feel that I am in “the” right place, both physically and mentally.

 

But I can’t stay in a safe bubble forever.

 

It is time once again and take the plunge and face the reality of metastatic breast cancer.

 

Scanxiety doesn’t serve me, so I’m once again releasing that energy.

 

It is a day to day and scan to scan learning.

 

I am accepting whatever will eventually show up again. Because the truth is that is what happens with metastatic disease.

 

Metastatic breast cancer remains without a cure. Many patients live beyond their diagnosis as I have and will continue for many years.

 

I am not able to control what is in my body.

But I can choose and control how I feel about it.

I will continue to serve myself and my heart.

I will not obsess about what I can not control.

Don’t worry, just be happy.

 

There are two sides

Processed with VSCO with fn16 preset

 

 

So often, I hear, “you look great.” It is such a double-edged sword.

 

I do not want to be defined by my disease.

 

We all live through our lives with not being just one thing.

 

Everyone has two sides, but both sides make up who you are. 

You can allow both sides to have a place in your life.

 

I’ve chosen to use the traumas as lessons to help or aid in becoming a better version of myself.

 

Cancer treatment and weight gain

 

Yes. Weight gain does take place during cancer treatment. Pharmaceutical treatment is always one of the culprits. Add other issues during a world panromantic. How many comfort foods have you prepared and enjoyed since March?

 

I’ve stopped baking the treats and fattening meals.  Yes, I eat it.  I just make sure I am making less fattening choices.

 

As I notice the looks or stares from people who have no idea why I am sporting a mohawk and scar on my head, I admit its best for my thoughts to quickly move forward.

 

It makes me giggle a little when I remember my “moon face” and the COVID mask that I wear.

 

No wonder it is both kids and adults.

 

If you haven’t had this experience, let me explain a bit more about a cancer patient’s appearance like mine.

 

Facial swelling, also often referred to as moon face, sometimes occurs while taking steroids like dexamethasone. It is one of the common side effects of prednisone.  A moon face is a medical sign when a rounded appearance on the sides of your face.

 

I will add that the swelling is also in my neck.

 

You may have heard of steroid rage.  

 

No, I am not experiencing anything like it.

 

I will mention, the internal buffer that I have had regarding my thoughts and words disappeared—my poor sweet husband. Of course, Steve is the safest person in my life, and the first person my buffer comes off with.   

 

Honestly, I like this version of myself. Because I have so much to learn from myself during my natural outbursts’.

 

When asking Steve about the situation, he was getting in trouble all the time. That was my red flag for sure.

 

Honestly, at about week two of my “naughty.” Lack of a better word. I at least knew to “stay in my lane” and tone things down. My experience was similar to a bad case of PMS.  

 

I am so grateful to recognize these “types” of things in myself. I know I am blessed to deal with things, learn from them, and grow.

 

Brain surgery and radiation.

 

June 3, 2020, one operative tumor was removed craniotomy.

 

I completed five-pointed radiation zaps on the two nonoperative tumors in early August and scheduled with one day in-between each.

 

Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) is a non-surgical radiation therapy used to treat functional abnormalities and small tumors of the brain. It can deliver precisely-targeted radiation in fewer high-dose treatments than traditional therapy, which can help preserve healthy tissue.

 

What I’ve learned physically and emotionally during the last five months of my MBC journey.

 

I still quickly forget that I have a terminal disease.

 

Having brain surgery and brain radiation is similar to having a brain injury.

You adjust as you heal.  

 

I was reminded again how healthy my body and mind are.  

 

Dexamethasone 

 

The struggle is real, and the face is affected. “moon face.”

 

Lessons learned from brain swelling.

 

The steroid dexamethasone was introduced to me in February 2020. It has been such an experience to go through this challenging COVID year.  

 

Laughing in hindsight, I can see the humor in my experience.

 

Steve and I learned a lot during the last several months while I have been emotionally and mentally affected while it has been necessary to have this steroid in my body.

 

It is the goal to not have any brain swelling from the invasive cancer treatment.  

 

At this time, I still have swelling and additional issues if we don’t treat it. 

 

My “normal” internal buffer that I have had regarding my thoughts and words tend to disappear while taking this steroid. My poor sweet husband. I must remember to be extra patient with him in this situation. Of course, he is the safest person in my life, and so the first person that my buffer comes off with. Honestly, I like this version of myself. I learn so much from myself during my not so buffered experience of my thoughts and mind.

When asking Steve about the situation, he was getting in trouble all the time. That was my red flag for sure.

Honestly, week two of my “naughty.” Lack of a better word. I at least knew to “stay in my lane” and tone things down. My experience was similar to a bad case of PMS. And Steve brought this to my attention.

I am so grateful to recognize these “types” of things in myself. I know I am blessed to deal with things, learn from them, and grow.

Dexamethasone has helped me find my true self during a very mentally tricky time.

 

As of today, moon-face and weight gain are such a part of my life.

Every day I am more accepting of this side effect. 

It is necessary for many cancer patients just like me.

Beyond Frustration

When I am frustrated with life, my negative talk, meaning the voice in my head that can be self-deprecating, is yelling at me.

Can you relate?

Frustration can lead to growth.

Each day I work on remembering that we grow through life.

It all depends on perspective.

I admit there are moments that I am cursing under my breath, and I regress.

I did have one of those days recently and found myself pissed off at the world.

I was so uncomfortable in that mood, and it took several hours for me to come to the understanding of what exactly had set me off.

It was a typical day for Steve and me. We were driving through town, noticing the new building and changes that were taking place right under our noses and so quickly.

I noticed I was getting aggravated, and I had no idea why. I didn’t like the gloomy outlook that I was sitting in.

As I contemplated my mood and explored my feelings, I began to see a glimpse of the cause.

I wasn’t sure if it was something I wanted to share or could speak out loud. I was vulnerable and was worried that I would share my dark cloud by discussing it.

Later that evening, when we were talking about trivial things, I got my nerve up.

I told Steve how I ended up so angry and wasn’t sure why.

In hindsight, it is so easy for me to see the “why.”

Those emotional, scary cancer thoughts had snuck up on me once again.

You might know the thoughts.

The thoughts that show up most often as you contemplate another test.

‘Will I be here when”?

My outlook on life has changed over the years.

My perspective began to evolve before my diagnosis, and thank goodness it had.

And that is how I deal with frustration.

I examine it while crossing my fingers that, in the end, I will grow from it.

I’ve learned to give myself grace.

And that in its self is growth.

Boost of Confidence

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How do you see yourself?

How confident are you?

I love connecting with people and hearing their stories.

I recently read “In Pieces” by Sally Fields.

Ok, in all honesty, I listened to it on @Audible.

You most likely are familiar with this famous actress, and this is her memoir.

I’m not going to give you the juicy details, but I do highly recommend you check it out.

I understood myself a little better while connecting with Sally through her own experience in life.

Our own story as a child can and will innocently create the perspective we have of who we are.

How I viewed or thought of myself was developed from the following,

Unwanted because I was placed for adoption

Not Loveable because I was a mistake.

Deformed and lucky to be adopted into a family that can afford orthodontia.

Because I am too short, it must be the reason he cheated.

Crazy, yes, but I had decided it was true.

Then at 45 years old, I learned that there was not an ounce of truth to any of these beliefs I’d developed over the years.

I’ve been grateful every day since because before that day because up until that day, I did not know who I was.

Long story short, you can move past your self-doubt and limiting beliefs. And you can become a more confident individual.

……………………..

Having a rough day? Don’t worry, most of us do!

I am and will always be a work in progress and there are moments that I forget who I am.  And I do realize that I am not the only person who struggles with my self-confidence.

I’ve listed a few things that often help me.

Remind yourself that it will pass and give yourself a mood-boosting time out.

Are you a Grey’s Anatomy fan?

Have a Meredith and Christina Yang dance party.

Think about Wonder Woman. What is your power pose?

Stand up straight, roll your shoulders back, and lift your chin.

Remember, every day is a new day.

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