Is There Life After Cancer?
As strange as it may sound, my life has been enriched by cancer in so many ways. Things that used to be important are not, and in the same vein, things that once were not, now are. My Christian self has changed for the better. I can be grateful that God has brought me through this and asked me to experience it (not that I want to do it again, mind you). Sadly, I've discovered that I am a much better Christian when I am suffering in abject misery; this is not a very flattering thing to realize about yourself but whether I like to admit it or not it's true.
I have met some truly amazing people on this journey, and it is my biggest hope that reading this will help another patient somewhere. Anywhere. Even if it's only one person, I want you to know that there really is life after cancer; and sometimes it's even better than the one you had before.
Cancer Radically Alters People's Perspective
It doesn't take too many days sporting an "Uncle Fester" before you develop a whole new attitude about your hair. You will learn to appreciate those "bad hair days" (or ANY hair days, for that matter).
My biggest change since my own folicular based attitude adjustment? Biblically speaking I've opted to let my "splendor" show; I'm not coloring my hair anymore. Hey I'm so tickled my hair didn't come out of a box this morning, WHO CARES what color it is??? ;o)
A Note to The Newly Diagnosed - The 1-2-3's of managing that mania of medical information
The absolute best analogy I've ever heard used to describe the initial phase of a cancer diagnosis was, "It's like drinking water from a fire hose". The diagnosis alone is staggering, but the deluge of information that follows said diagnosis can be completely overwhelming (I know I certainly learned far more medical terminology than I EVER wanted to know, and that was only the first five minutes after I got my diagnosis :o) Here are a couple of suggestions to help you keep it straight...
ONE - Get a notebook to keep all of your information in one place (I entertained myself by decorating mine with some bling in a pink ribbon design on the spine).
TWO - A simple business card holder made for notebooks is perfect for keeping track of the plethora of business cards you will wind up with (oncologist, surgeon, treatment center, etc.)
THREE - Make some tabs to keep your information separate and make it easy to find.
All of these items were found in the school supply section of a local store (well, except the bling - I took a detour down the craft aisle :o)
Take someone with you to your appointments if you can to take notes - OR - keep notebook paper handy to take your own notes (you may think you'll remember it all, but chances are you won't). I also keep a small binder clip attached to the front of my notebook to hold my next appointment reminder and keep a list of my meds tucked behind my driver's license in my wallet (just in case :o)
The best way to combat chemo-brain? Write it ALL down so you can read it all back (for yourself or to your doctor)
Do I have to have a mammogram right at 40? Does it matter?
YES! Earlier, than that if you have a strong family history. Consider this: I had a less than 1% chance of having cancer (healthy, exercised daily, not overweight, yadda-yadda-yadda) and guess what? I was diagnosed with cancer my FIRST mammogram (at age 40).
So get 'em squashed ladies!
At times the cure can seem worse than the disease...
WooHoo! An awesome new organization...
Giving patients "One less thing to worry about"
Fighting cancer is difficult enough, but living with it is even tougher - and that's where the Cleaning for A Reason Foundation steps in. This newly formed nonprofit offers free professional housecleaning, and maid services to improve the lives of women undergoing treatment for cancer - any type of cancer.
Visit Cleaning for a Reason
A superbig thank you to Ann, for positing this marvelous information on her blog: Snap Edit Scrap
A Note to Family and Friends
Being Supportive: What can you do?
It is hard sometimes to know exactly what to do when someone close to you has been diagnosed with a devastating illness, particularly cancer. Treatments are tailored to each patient and everyone responds differently. While it's almost impossible to fully understand the physical, mental, and emotional impact of cancer and treatment (unless you've been there yourself), you CAN be empathetic.
Remember that it can be hard for people to ask for help; particularly when they are used to being able to do for themselves (I had a terrible time with that one!) Below are some ideas on how to help someone going through treatment, (be sure to factor in age, lifestyle, and personality :o)
♥ MEALS ♥ - Fix some "heat and eat" food for the patient and their family; ask them what they feel like eating (and they may not be sure - chemo can alter your taste buds drastically!) I couldn't eat chocolate during treatment; it tasted terrible (and how awful is that?) Suggest some comfort foods like mashed potatoes or macaroni & cheese. Don't use a lot of salt or spices when you prepare it; some of the medications can cause bloating and mouth sores which salt and spices will only make worse. Be sure to put it in something disposable so they won't have to worry about washing the dishes afterward; you could even fix up a little tote and include plastic flatware, fun paper plates, napkins and even a pretty little plant or some flowers in a vase (but please note that anything scented can be dicey if they are even a little nauseous).
♥ ERRANDS ♥ - Offer to do some shopping for them or give them a ride to the store (sometimes just a little extra help can go a long way :o) Drop them off and pick them up at the door and offer to help unpack any groceries.
♥ CLEANING ♥ - Pitch in with a group (unless you're independently wealthy) and hire someone to come and clean during treatment. Unfortunately, housework is usually the first casualty in the "new war", and it can add to a patient's depression and frustration to watch things rapidly pile up when they simply don't have the energy to deal with it.
♥ KIDS ♥ - Offer to help with the kids. Take them to a movie or out for an activity and give the patient time to rest (and some peace and quiet). Kids (of all ages) seem to have a built in sensor; I noticed that on the days I felt my absolute worst were the same days my teenager's attitude was at its obnoxious best. Keep in mind that this is very hard for the children too; Mom's world isn't the only one cancer turned upside down.
♥ DISTRACT ♥ - Arrange some girl time; get a selection of movies you know she'd like to watch and just hang out. Find someone to take the kids; or, if there are two TVs in the house (and they can behave) bring them a movie of their own to watch in another room. Offer to do some laundry while you're sitting there (even if you only fold one load, it's one less that she has to do later :o)
Cancer and treatment is a grueling experience; sometimes it's hard enough to just "exist". Tremulous emotions, forgetfulness and jumbled thoughts are very common with cancer and treatment - it pretty much messes up EVERYTHING - so just remember to be patient with your patient...(after all, it could have been you).
A few of my favorite distractions - Captivating comedies for chemo patients
After prayerful consideration, this was my daughter's response to my cancer diagnosis: - She decided to donate a full foot of her hair to Locks of Love (Isn't t
Some Pink Places to Visit... - Handy links for information, understanding and more
- SHOP: Visit my Etsy Shop
Wysiwigs is an acronym for "What you see is what I've got - smile :o) and is a play on the geekspeak "wysiwyg" (it was irresistible). This allows for a variety of creative benders - which is just another way of saying my creative monster is STILL com
- SHARE: I've started a cancer blog...
It has been 1 year, 9 months and 13 days since the bottom dropped out of my life. Even though I've finished treatment and passed my "one year from date of diagnosis" survivor mark, I don't feel back to normal. Actually I'm not sure we ever quite get
- SMILE: Visit our Taya's Lens on Squidoo
Because sometimes you need a little extra help to brighten your day, I've made a lens with some of my favorite baby pictures of our little Filly, Taya. Visit her lens to spend "a day" in her life. ;o) P.S. She's not so "little" anymore!
- RECONSTRUCTION: Center for Restorative Breast Surgery - Welcome
A dedicated resource for women seeking the most advanced methods of breast reconstruction. This is where I had my reconstruction done - they're awesome!
- INFO: Susan G. Komen for the Cure
Learn the latest on diagnosis and treatment, risk factors and screening and more. We are the world's largest and most progressive grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists...
- INFO: Breast Cancer Treatment Information and Pictures
Your lifeline to the best medical information about breast cancer. News articles are continually updated with reviews and commentary from our breastcancer.org experts
- INFO: Beyond the Shock Video
A step by step guide to understanding the diagnosis of breast cancer. Understanding breast cancer and how to live with and fight it is one of the biggest steps you can take on your road to wellness...
- SHOP WIGS: from the Paula Young Catalog
Nation's leading choice for quality synthetic and human hair wigs and hairpieces for nearly three decades. Priced very affordably - I got my hair there :o)
- SHOP HATS: Handmade Chemo Hats for Cancer Patients
CJ Hats specializes in hats that provide full head coverage for women experiencing hair loss due to cancer, chemotherapy, alopecia, or pregnancy. Also caters to women seeking modest headwear. Great source for gifts to give to cancer patients. Mariann
- HOW TO HELP: Click to Support
This site helps to support free Mammograms for women; just click on the link and you've helped them do it! They also offer a daily email reminder for those of you *cough* that are a just a tad forgetful...
- Cancer Stinks : Raising Cancer Awareness
This Cafe Press Shop is where I found the photo of the cute little dog wearing the cancer T-Shirt (I thought it only fair to add their shop link here :o) Shop for: Cancer Awareness Ribbon Products to promote cancer awareness or Cancer Sucks, Breast,