Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Dreams do come true!

Where to start?  Tears are so close to the surface thinking of all that I've gone through to get to this point.  I've had readers email me the last few weeks that have nudged me to break my blogging silence for a quick check in.  Writing my book brought me such pain, and such heartache that I had to stop.  My cancer therapist and a teacher, helped me let go of my goal to power through and write it.  PTSD was causing me such sadness that I had to let go of my usual M.O. of soldering through.  

My pain and deep depression that was triggered was around the loss of my fertility, my deep desire to be a Mother. I am happy to write and say, I am now a Mother!! A breastfeeding Mother (on the Left)
To the sweetest, giggly, kind spirited baby.  I am over the moon.  I have found the love of my life in her, and her Father.  

Healing takes time.  My book will take time.  I needed to be a Mother, to find a place of joy, to write it.  There is Hope in the Cancer Journey.  We all find it at different times.  Mine was found as my newborn was brought to my chest for the first time.  In my reclaimed body.  In my reclaimed life.    

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Gentle with myself

This business of healing after treatment, has taken me a very long time.  I'm not the most patient person in the world, and I really have had to find the love for myself in allowing myself to be patient; with me, with my process, and with the wisdom of my body.
Over a year ago, I started the process of labeling my blog and devoted myself to writing my book.  As I relived what I went through during treatment, I found myself further and further in a place of depression that began to scare me.  Reaching out to my cancer therapist, I realized that I was reactivating PTSD and that I needed to be gentle with myself.
I asked her, feeling broken and finally at rock bottom with my depression, "can you please give me something to help me not feel this way anymore."  I have always been a person that did not believe in this.  I have always been a person that has fought to learn about myself and grow, and be happy.  But I simply could not find that happiness anymore.  She replied, "I could give you something, but that is not going to take away what is causing this unhappiness, Heather.  What is making you unhappy?"
Tears started flowing, and I had to share with her how angry I was and the despair I had around the loss of my fertility, and how much cancer had taken from me.  I was living a life, that I had not thought I was choosing to fight for so many years ago, when I decided to take chemo.  I naively chose a life full of the dreams I had, once had.
I shared with her that I didn't want to be an angry person, and refused to allow myself to be angry.  I left there understanding, that that is exactly what I needed to do. Once, I allowed myself to be angry, and to feel the anger, the depression lifted.
A year and a half later, I am married to the most loving, caring, supportive man I have ever met.  I am not ready to write about our journey with fertility yet, but want to say it has been full of mourning and loss, and I hope soon, joy and the family I have always yearned to have.
My book, remains in process as I need to be gentle with reliving the horror of treatment.  I now understand why so many cancer survivors I know, move on and do not think about what they went through.  I often think about how I do not want cancer to define who I am, but at the same time cancer has defined the life I get to lead and live and in truth, it has defined me.  I am a Cancer Survivor who still finds myself, wrapping my arms around me, holding myself, soothing my inner child, and saying, "Yes, you did go through all of that.  You did make it.  I don't know how long I have on this planet, but right now, Heather.  You made it."

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Reconstructing and Running..

Just a little update to let you know that my blog is going to be undergoing a few changes. I'm adding lables so that you all if wanting to read posts on Triple Negative, for example, or posts for Hope, can just click on that word and it'll bring you to my posts on that subject. Please bare with me while I slump them together.Life is full of LIFE right now. I am back in school, working towards my goal of committing my life to young people with cancer, and to help support their families/friends as well. I'm working on my book still. There is much resistance to throwing myself at it full bore. Mainly, the nightmares that come with it, are real. The book is one of Hope and inspiration and I've decided to leave all the gory details here and if folks reading the book want to, they may visit the blog and read all the truth. This is a lot of sharing, and for those that need and desire information or someone to relate to you can now check out posts that are particular to what you seek. Most everyone will not have such a difficult time with treatment as I did. With that being said, my blog is full of inspiration and love for myself, as I learn to love myself more as I face the fight of my life. Please, feel free to email me if you need support or simply want to say hello.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Rugs of Hair

Years ago, I met a woman that lived on the Eastside, in Bellevue actually that sold beautiful rugs. I asked her if she would be willing to trade massage for one. Quickly, she and I hit it off and we spent the next few years, every week, trading. I have a bazillion rugs now that are housed at various friends homes and are also strewn about my cabin.
She was a young mother of two teenage kids. Michelle was in her early forties. I met her just as she had finished Breast Cancer treatment, her hair was a delightful pixie cut, and she was in the process of getting implants. I learned a lot while I worked on her, all-the-while thinking OF COURSE, I would never be dealing with Cancer. That was about eight years ago now.
I admired that she loved to go out dancing, and rage at various local shows till the wee hours. I watched her fall in love with a man that loved her despite her being without breasts & during the process of getting breasts. I loved her spunk. She was a wonderful mother, her sense of “Napoleon Dynamite” humor with her kids, and… and…SHOOT! I totally thought she had Health in her future!!
Finally, I got my fill of rugs and ended our trades. I got married, and life went along the road of the living. Well…we all know how my story goes and that I entered her side of the Club I didn’t want to belong to.
The past couple of weeks, I have been driving past her neck of the woods for the first time in years and I thought, I should go by her house and say hello. I tossed that idea around for a few weeks, feeling it sink deep into the bottom of my belly. Feeling the undeniable, “I wonder if her cancer came back? I wonder if she is alive? I wonder if she is married to that nice man?” Well, this week I decided to take a left off the road I travel on, and make my way up to her house.
I got a little lost, I couldn’t remember exactly. When I was a little girl, my Mother taught me to get around and remember directions by landmarks…by trees and such. That helped guide me to her house as I saw a familiar Rhododendron and I took that right. As I pulled into her driveway I noticed a “Baby Girl” balloon outside the door. I thought, Jez…did she just have another baby?
I didn’t have to knock because a nice man opened the door and I introduced myself as I asked if Michelle was still here. He said he had bought the house a year and a half ago and that he was (I knew it was coming) sorry to be the one to give me the bad news, but that Michelle had not made it. I looked up into the stairwell and saw that his families photos had replaced Michelle’s families. I thanked him, and as I walked away, I said, “Looks like you have a lot of life to be celebrating in there. Enjoy.” I walked away with a newborns cry and a somber mood.
I drove away and cried, and spoke to her, and remembered her. The past few days I have been thinking about her and realized that I did much of the “coming back to life post treatment” that she had. I rarely missed a night of dancing in the city and had a summer of the most fun I have ever had as an adult. I partied (in a good way) like it was 1999!!! (I’m a Prince fan, what can I say)..
For some reason the length of her hair when I last got to work on her stuck with me. I’ve been mulling and processing in my head how sad I am that I never got to sit and have that cup of tea with her. I never got to shock the heck out of her and tell her I got sick too! I never got to ask her to go dancing with me! Why did she not make it? Where are her kids now? This is my next step is to track them down. The Seattle area is small, and I know enough people that once I start the “did you know”, to my friends I will find her kids or her parents.
Tears are pretty full this past week. If I slow down and just look, they come. This morning, as I was massaging I looked in the mirror and saw that my hair is now the longest its been since I was diagnosed in ’08. Its shoulder length now! Wow! I cocked my head from side to side, and watched it sway back and forth. I still enjoy my new treat of swirling my hair when I am in bad traffic. I never was a twirler before cancer, but it’s a sweet and fun way of connecting in with my ego, my girly side, and celebrating having hair.
I thought today, Wow! At each stage of length bald, fuzz, chemo curls with pixie, at ear length, and now at shoulder length I was healing in drastically different ways. One of the hardest parts of writing this particular book for me is processing all that I went through in one fell swoop. It takes me months to process from a full weeks worth of work and I then start to compile thoughts through that healing, and then go back to paper and write more. Hhhmmmm…Yes, I am still healing. I feel incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to do all this personal growth and am excited to some day share it.
People want to know when I will be done with the book? These folks are not writers, as the published writers in my life, all laugh when I talk to them about how I REALLY feel like answering this question. I have no idea when it will be done. It’s not just a fun book to write, you know. It’s a beautiful piece of artwork that is in the process of healing my heart as I birth it. It will take some time.
Well…Michelle, I am so sorry you didn’t make it babe. You were amazing. I am so very sorry and bummed I didn’t get to drink tea with you. Ugh. Belly cries and sadness.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Enough Talk

Well, here I am just finishing 2 years and 22 days of being done with treatment and I still find myself processing what I went through. In fact, I have been reclaiming my New life, My New Normal, and incorporating all that I learned into this new life. But I have yet sat in the pain. I have yet stopped and looked over the crevice. I have been whooping it up and recalibrating. Both were incredibly normal and “right “ things to do for a young woman.
The longer I chose to not sit in a yogic lotus posture, the longer I chose to not sit with the pain that was in my stomach churning and whirling, the longer the snake grew up my spin and has cluttered my mind, my thoughts, my dreams, and now has made this life that I so hummingbirdly love a messy, at times wound driven chaos of superficial thumb sucking fun.
I thought removing myself from city living and moving to an island would do the trick. Oh, the tricks we play on ourselves when we are just crying wolf. How long do we choose to run before we actually walk our walk and know thyself?
As I sit here in my cozy cabin, with a fire that needs to be stoked, and large spring Pacific NW raindrops falling on the roof, with the impending thunder that I can feel needing to break me free from all of my fallacies….
It’s very easy to judge the way I've chosen to “reintegrate”. Whether I was running from the work I needed to do or not, who knows. Who’s to say the work of being and enjoying wasn’t work in and of it self. But, I do know that I need to be alone, or if a man is in my life, make sure he is a King and one that lovingly, respectfully, and honorably can give me the time, and space to heal, and who will love me through that. So, here I am folks. I have been all talk up to this point.

Here I am. Yes, the chapters are etched out, and scribbled and scrawled in a wee bit. The real work will come first in a calm, mindful, sitting position. With Me, Myself, and my Pain. No one deserves to be told what I was told, those words, and those simple words: heather you do have cancer. That shock, the utter despair, I am going to call forth and move forth. I’m ready to sit in the sadness of what was my reality because I am finally strong enough to believe, almost believe that it was a WAS and I am Safe to again Live.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Bloating can be...

Summer is in full swing, and I literally have been home just a few days here and there over the past few months. I went on a motorcycle tour of Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, and Croatia..with my new man. Life is so fun. I catch myself playing with my hair and I can actually almost pull it back into the tiniest of ponytails now. This makes me smile secretly to myself. What I found out at my doctors visit last week is this. My ticker is awesome the swelling is not from that. Which leaves it to, Chemo and/or hormones. It is common for a few years following chemo to experience what I am experiencing. They do not know why, but really that is now okay with me. It seems that that is the answer to so many of the crazy things that have happened to my body. "Heather, we have no idea why, but we do know, its chemo induced." Okay, I can live with that. My numbers all seem to be in the awesome range. I'm off, into the sea of living life and enjoying every moment of it.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

379 Posts...

You know, its really hard to stop writing here. So, today, as I sit for my latest three month appointment in a room of folks with varying hair lengths and varying levels of anxiety (both partners and loved ones and patients) I sit waiting for my name to be called. I really try to let the scared feelings of "what if its back" stay out of my mind. I am pretty much a believer in my "cancer free" status, even though I have not been told I am yet by my doctor. I haven't been declared NED. Maybe I should ask him today if I am. Or when I get to be. I am here for a few things and a few of them have been driving me crazy. One that started when I ran my 18 miler, my body started retaining water and has slowly kept this up. Last check up I was the heaviest ever in my life, and even my doc was shocked once he saw my numbers..I have been traveling a bit and airplanes are a nightmare for me. For some reason the retention stays for weeks, and does not go away without water tabs. Then I lose about 5-7 pounds in one night, and still my legs are full of fluid. I can feel it, its uncomfortable to say the least, and I want an answer. No more, well...that's just what happened because of chemo. I want to find someone to explain to me, why and how, and then I can rest. Because in this unknown is where the scared, "is it back" feelings go. I start worrying that there is undetected cancer somewhere causing the retention. My latest vacations have been really almost unbearable with this. I swell, and secretly worry a lot. I finally am talking about it. Okay, now I am back in the little room. The room where I've sat with D, and was initially told all about my cancer, the room that I sat processing all the icky stuff that happened to me, the room that I sit cancer free? No one knows that for sure, that is why I still have to come back here every three months..I wonder when I get to graduate to every six months. There is a question about that..that is why he didn't graduate me yet. hhmmm...so I guess my fretting is okay, and maybe its okay to talk to the loves in my life about it.
There is a sense of...I have worried them all so much and talked to them what feels like to me, till they are all cancer blue in the face, and I just don't want to worry any of them. Its been easier to just talk to my cancer therapist about it (she's very concerned and is the reason I sit here today) and just let everyone go back to living their little lives. My life has gone back to a near normal. But it hasn't arrived yet to my New Normal. I am still figuring it all out.
The other thing we are keeping an eye on are my hormone levels. They were very, very, very low six months ago..low as in there is no way you will come out of menopause...but miracles do happen. To starting my moon, and the numbers coming up ever so slightly to my Onc saying, "maybe you are just doing a sporadic sloughing, and still kid...don't get your hopes up." To, know this past month, I've had two moons, and I think last time I was a little nutty. Maybe. I have NEVER in my life gotten nutty with hormones, but maybe my body just got inundated with them and my counts are way up. I am trying to not get hopeful, and excited about this. We will see. What I do know, is that I am living life to the freaking fullest. There has not been one missed opportunity to have fun. I have started opening my heart and falling in love with a dear tender soul, and that feels good and scary and beautiful.
Life is full. Excited to have my Onc walk in and give him a hug. I can feel the tears already.