Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Bringing it back...

Knock, knock, knock...is this thing on?

My last post, as you see below was almost two years ago.  Is that a good or bad thing?  Well, I can tell you that it has been a good thing.  With all of the social media out there today, it is easy for every person to know every last little thing about you.  People love to air their dirty laundry - whether it is for the attention or just because they have no sensor.  But sometimes, in order to figure yourself out, you need to shut your mouth and open your mind!

If you have read my blog - thank you, you have been through it all with me.  If you haven't, let me give you the "Reader's Digest" version...

In 2008 I started the trip to hell when I went in for PAO surgery on my right hip (read life changing, major surgery).  I had complications from that and finished up the final surgery in the summer of 2009.  Just five short months after my final surgery I went in for surgery to remove a nodule on my thyroid.  Five days out from that surgery, December 15, 2009 I was diagnosed with cancer - Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.  So from January 2010 until May 2010 I underwent chemo and radiation.  My next Pet Scan showed that I had "hot spots", meaning the cancer wasn't necessarily gone.  In March of 2011 the doctors decided to operate again and remove the rest of the cancer.  On March 25th, 2011 I was declared to be in remission and have been since!!  Not a year later my husband of 11 years came to me and said he didn't love me anymore, stating that between all of the surgeries and the cancer, he couldn't do it anymore and that he had fallen in love with someone else.

So why do I start this blog back up and "air my dirty laundry" now? Simple (at least to me) - if I can help just one person, just let one person know that some of the crap that they have had to deal with after cancer will get better - then it will make everything I went through worth it.  If I can tell one person that went through a divorce that "you did everything you could, I promise you will be happier" - then it is worth it.

I am coming up on my 3rd "birthday".  Next week I will celebrate three years of remission.  And I will do it happier and more at peace then I ever have.

So if you wish...stick around...there will be talks of
1.  Dating after the big "C" and the big "D"
2.  Nutrition
3.  Exercise
4.  Life without a thyroid and all it produces
5. And my journey as I look into Ayurveda Medicine

Monday, June 25, 2012

When Surviving Becomes Living...

This post has been in my head for a while, but I haven’t known where to start.  Today as I type this I am learning how to not only be a survivor of cancer, but also a survivor of divorce.  But more importantly I am learning to LIVE and not just survive.

As I mentioned in my post on April 27th – D had moved out and divorce was on the horizon.  Well that horizon came on May 23rd – as D filed for divorce.  Devastated could not even begin to describe how I felt – even know I had a feeling since February that this would be inevitable I had still held hope.  The certified papers only confirmed what I had thought was my worst fear.  Fast forward one month and I can honestly say I am in a much better place than I was in February from May.

I am not like most cancer survivors…well really, I am not like most people; you see I was married at 19.  While I wanted that, it didn’t give me the opportunity to ever be on my own.  I moved from my parent’s house into the apartment that I would share with my husband.  While we shared the chores like cleaning and laundry I am finding there were some things that I just never learned.  One of my weaknesses is that I don’t really know how to cook.  Well, let me rephrase that…if you want your meat done at one time, your veggies done at another, and another side done later on…well then I am an excellent cook.  This has probably been my most challenging feat on my own.  I am staying in the house that we purchased – while it is nice to have something constant in my world of change right now, this has brought along its own set of challenges.  My family and friends have been so supportive in helping me out; you know when I have a straight up breakdown at 9:30 at night because I can’t get the garage door to go down and my father comes down to help me get it down for the night until the cable can be repaired; followed by my Aunt and Cousin to pick up the pieces of me.  Now don’t get me wrong, I have never shied away from home repairs…but there are just some things that are beyond my knowledge.  I am learning that it is OK to ask for help and that people won’t think you are weak.

June 7th was my turning point, when I finally came back out of my shell.  I woke up that morning extremely sad; sad that I was going to Special Olympics Summer Games in Penn State alone (well not really alone, let me explain).  My assistant coach and I had a falling out during the off season of tennis and he decided not to return for this season.  So instead D said he will help me coach.  This was a relief because I would be taking a male athlete up to the summer games and it is a lot easier when there is a male coach to go along.  About two weeks before the games, D decided that he could not go.  So when I woke up on June 7th, I felt completely alone.  But something happened between my house and the IU building where I was meeting my athlete to pick him up…I started to come back to life.  On my way to pick up my athlete I yelled at myself (hey don’t judge – sometimes we all need to do this).  I told myself that this weekend was NOT about ME, it was about my athlete and all of the other athletes that earned the right to go to games.  I told myself that it was time to put the big girl panties on and suck it up and deal.  And so I did.  When my athlete got in the car I asked him what music he liked…to which he responded enthusiastically… “Praise and worship”.  My jaw hit the floor.  I thought to myself, ‘this is going to be a long hour and half drive to State College’, for two reasons; one, I never really got in to that type of music and two, my faith has definitely been pushed to the limits lately and while I want to get it back, I am just not there yet.  At any rate I scanned the radio for such a station and found one.  Now, while my faith has been in question, I always have and always will believe that everything happens for a reason.  For the rest of the drive I listened to the words of the music and continued to give myself the pep talk I needed to face the world as Renee – single. 

When we arrived at Penn State, I was mentally prepared to take on the weekend.  And take it on I did.  Here is the thing about Special Olympics Athletes – they have a way of making you feel good.  The happiness that exudes is overwhelming and you have no choice but to feel that way as well.  Shannon and Kay (the directors of Area M) had arranged for me to have a chaperon for my athlete; so I no longer had to worry about getting him up and ready for competition.  We all had a blast that weekend and truthfully, I didn’t want it to end.  It is amazing to me how when we are not looking for something and we think all is over and done – things change.

So since June 7th I have changed my outlook on life – not just as a cancer survivor or a “divorcee” – but as a person in general.  I am no longer “surviving” my life, I am living it.  I am continuing my therapy in helping me overcome the fear of the cancer, but at least now I am doing something to help with the therapy rather than counteract it.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Sorry can not even begin...

To all of my friends and family,

First off I know this is not normally a way to apologize, but this seemed like the right way to reach everyone. 

Sorry - what type of word is Sorry...does it really mean anything anymore?  Well I can tell you that in my case, sorry comes from my heart. Although I am not even sure "sorry" can really cut it.  For the last year I have went through an emotional roller coaster (see previous post).  And in this time I have managed to strain and even ruin valuable friendships and relationships.  The words that came out of my mouth were poisonous and hurtful.  My head was so full of hatred.  Hatred towards the cancer and the shit that I had just endured; but this hatred didn't get directed towards that, instead it came out as mean to the ones I loved the most.  I alienated some of those close to me and clung way too hard to others.  When you cling to one person and alienate the rest - it tends to send the clung to person running.  I mean - how would you feel if one person relied solely on you to be their everything - you would feel overwhelmed. 

As I get a chance to talk to each of you individually, I will apologize for the things I said to you personally.  But I just needed everyone to know how truly sorry I am for how I have been this last year.  To tell you the truth, I don't blame some of you for not liking me - I don't like me for how I have been.

But, moving forward - this is my vow to each and everyone of you...you will start to see the Renee that you are all use to - the positive and happy Renee.  Because truthfully, that is who I am.  I have always seen the positive in everything and unfortunately, I had a hard time doing that with the cancer.  I feel as though all of the health issues I have had has sucked that person out - but now I am starting to realize that it was just buried - deep. 

I know this may seem like a lot to ask, but I am asking each and every one of you to please give me a second chance.  Please let me show you that the person you all knew and loved is coming back.  Please open your hearts and let me back in - I promise I won't make the same mistake twice.

With the deepest love and regret for how I have been.


Friday, April 27, 2012

1 Year After Remission

So – it’s been a while.  I realize that I have been very quiet on my blog.  I tried to convince myself and everyone around me that I was doing well since my remission report on March 25th, 2011.  I have a confession…I AM NOT!!!  I won’t go into all the details and will try to sum up the last year and few months below.  From here on out this blog will be my outlet for dealing with life after cancer – I hope that it will help others going through the same emotional battle dealing with the aftermath as well as help my family and friends understand just a glimpse of what I go through every day.

March 25th, 2011 – I got the remission report!  I can’t even tell you how excited I was, my husband was, and everyone else who is in our lives.  We celebrated – drinks and dinner with so many people.  I drank my 12 year old Jameson that D & I had purchased on our trip to Ireland.  Life was great…for a little while. 

June 2011 – My Aunt, Cousin, and mom all helped D throw me a 30th birthday party.  I can’t even express how much this meant to me.  It was so wonderful to have everyone there.  See, here is the thing that non-cancer people don’t realize…when a person is battling cancer, if they are as lucky as me, they have so many people around them at all times.  Honestly, there wasn’t a weekend that there weren’t people at our house and there wasn’t a day that my phone didn’t have numerous phone calls and text messages coming in.  But then when the remission report came, these things slowed drastically.  And it is no one’s fault; I was healthy again and no one had to worry anymore…life goes on.  The truth was, I wasn’t fine…the cancer spots may have been gone, but they left more than the scars on my body…they left a huge scar on my mental state.  The week before my 30th birthday I mentally broke down…and D can tell you, it wasn’t pretty.  I lay on the kitchen floor and just cried and cried and told D that I was broken.  This was a Sunday – that Monday I called my chemo nurse and asked her if they could recommend a therapist who deals with this type of thing.  She did and I started seeing him on Wednesday. 
I was down, down deep.  The therapist and I talked about everything.  At the time I was jobless, so that didn’t help anything because I was at home with too much time to think.  At the same time of all of these emotions with me, I was in a perpetual fight with my best friend and his girlfriend.  I couldn’t wrap my head around why her and I didn’t get along and I let it eat away at me…so much so, that my therapy sessions that were to be about my fears of living after cancer became sessions on how to mend the situation.  Needless to say, this didn’t help anything.

August 2011 – I finally got a job!!!  I thought “I am cured – I have a purpose and self-worth again”; not to mention the fact that I didn’t want to start a new job and have to take time off for therapy sessions…so I stopped.
September 2011 – January 2012 – Life went on.  I was busy at work.  D and I were entertaining a lot, visiting friends, going to games, etc.  In this time, I could feel something was wrong inside of me.  I thought that it was just inside of me and I wasn’t projecting it.  I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I knew I was “off”.  I chalked a lot of it up to the fact that I lost my best friend…I had driven a wedge so far between us because his girlfriend and I couldn’t get along, that all contact stopped.  D had mentioned a couple times that he thought that I was so negative…I thought he meant about that particular situation, but hind sight 20/20, he was trying to tell me that the feelings I was having inside were coming out. 
In this time all I could talk about was buying a new car, buying a bigger house, and getting the new diamond setting for my engagement ring.  I was so focused on these things…I thought they would make it all better.  Now, after many therapy sessions, I have learned that this is “normal”.  After people survive cancer, they want to speed through life.  And it is true – I always thought that I had a lifetime to get that bigger house, buy that nicer car, etc…but once I got cancer and survived, all I wanted to do was fast forward and shove 40 years of a future into the present.  I don’t think I have to tell anyone, the stress that this can cause with a couple.  Now, not only did my caregiver have to be there to try and pick up the pieces of me left over from cancer, but now I was asking him to provide things we just financially weren’t ready to take on. 

February 2012 – February 12th to be exact.  This day will have forever have changed my life.  I knew that I had been having a lot of emotional difficulties with dealing with life after cancer…and so blindly I leaned on my husband as my rock, my one true, my support.  Now, I know that some of you will say “well yeah, that is what spouses are for”, and I will agree with you to a certain extent.  However, in the condition I have been in, I also should have been going to a therapist and my husband shouldn’t have been bottling everything up inside, however, it happened and we are here.  Doug had been acting a little strange since his birthday in November, but had become stranger in the week leading up to 2/12/12.  On that Sunday I sat down with him and asked him what was going on.  And that is when it happened – my world crumbled.  He told me that he wasn’t sure about a lot of things in his life anymore and that I was one of them.  He wasn’t sure if he loved me anymore.  I cried, I screamed, I just couldn’t deal.  On Valentine’s Day – a day when most couples show their love for one another – we started individual counseling.  And our world hasn’t been the same since.

March – present – So as I write this, I am alone.  Our once 1200 square foot house has become a hollow mansion.  My husband and I are separated and divorce seems to be on the horizons.  I am an empty shell of myself.  Every day I cry.  I didn’t know that the human body could produce that many tears.  I want so bad to save my marriage, but I truly think I broke it so badly. 
For the people who know us – this news will be quite a shock.  Believe me, I am still in shock.  And some may ask why I write about this.  I have thought long and hard about it, but if my little blog about how people deal with cancer and life after cancer can help at least one person seek help before it is too late – then it will be all worth it.  I don’t intend to go into all of the intricacies and personal conversations that have happened; that would not be fair.  But I feel it is important that others going through what I am going through don’t feel as alone as I do.
I am so tired – tired of fighting.  For thirty years I have struggled with health issue after health issue…and now this mental health issue is too much.  I feel like I am letting everyone who knows me that I am letting them down by admitting all of this, but I just can’t do it anymore.  I am not the strong survivor that everyone thought I was and for that I am sorry.  At this point I don’t know if I will ever be Renee again, but I want to try.  And like I said – hopefully I will be able to help at least one other cancer survivor going through this feel as though they are not alone.  I may not post everyday – but I hope to post enough to be helpful.
And for my friends and family reading this, please don’t feel sorry for me – I did this, I let my thoughts get to me and sought help deep into feeling this way.  I am truly sorry to let everyone down, but this is my life today and I need to learn how to cope.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Free at last!!!!!!!

March 25th, 2011 - another very important date for the memory banks...the day a weight was lifted off my shoulders!!  I AM IN REMISSION!!!!  Yes - you read that right!!!  Finally - after a very long year and a half, the doctors have safely announced that I am in REMISSION!!!

When I was walking out of the room at the doctor's today my chemo nurse, Renee (small world) - gave a big hug and congratulated me...I started to cry - not because I am sad, but because I am just so happy.  I have never been the happy crying type - but apparently today I became the type.  Dr. Gareis said "She's crying..." and Renee told her that it was just tears of joy.

I had already had plans to meet with the "Ladies who Lunch" for a tea party for the little girls today.  When I announced the news - my cousin, Nicole ran to her garage and came back with a cake that had the word "Survivor" written on it!  Craziness!!  It is amazing to me that I have this many wonderful people in my life.  I want to thank all of you for all of your kind words, love, and support!!  Even when there were days where I just was out of sorts - I could always count on one of you to say or do something that in your eyes was nothing but in mine was tremendous!!! 

The nurses at the doctors are setting up for me to have my Medi-Port removed.  Next week I will get the call on when that will happen.  And that will officially end this crazy chapter of my life.  And let me tell you - I am very ready to go on to the next chapter!!!  As I am sure D is as well.  I can only imagine the stress that this has had on him as well.  I could not have asked for a more awesome husband though - he has truly been my rock through everything!!

There are many more thank yous to be handed out - just not today...I need to go put on my "Survivor" shirt, drink my 12 year old Jameson that I got in Ireland just for this occasion, and celebrate!!!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Surgeon Appointment

Just a quick update...

I was able to get in to see the surgeon today (thank you to whomever canceled their appointment that made this possible).  I will be going Monday, March 14th to have my left thyroid removed.  I have never been more excited for a surgery...as I am really hoping that this will end this chapter in the cancer battle.  This weekend I will be shopping for jello and broth.

Friday, March 4, 2011

3/3/11 PET Scan

Well - the PET Scan results are in...the 12 year old Jameson I had planned on drinking when I heard the "R" word will have to age a little more. 

Unfortunately - the "hot spot" on my left thyroid that has been lighting up and they have been monitoring decided to change a little.  There is an increased activity level since the last scan.  Apparently so much so that my hem-onc would like me to call on Monday to see the surgeon.  She would not venture anything past me seeing the surgeon; which means I don't know anything else past that.  I don't know if the surgery will remove everything or if I will need any type of treatment after surgery.  Right now everything is a blur.  

Sorry to leave everyone with that news.  I will post more once I know.  Thank you so much to everyone who has been praying, thinking good thoughts, etc...I have never felt like I was worthy enough to have the love and support I do have - it has been amazing.

The plan for the weekend is to do some house renovations and keep my mind off of it.