Thursday, December 4, 2014

Just A Dream...

Another bad dream.

"It came back".

I'm breathing heavy. The panic and adrenaline coursing through my body as I hear the words in my head. Instant thoughts of the kids, of Isaac and my family. Instant thoughts of what things were like the two times before. And instant thoughts of absolute terror and thinking 'oh my God, can I do this a third time' and will I die? Is my body strong enough? Am I mentally strong enough?

Then all of a sudden I'm blinking my eyes open trying to adjust to the dim lighting in the room. I'm realizing I'm in my own bed. I hear the familiar sound of the fan. I hear one of the kids talking in their sleep. I take a deep breath and tell myself it was just a dream. Right?

I'm healthy. I'm happy. I feel as though I have been coping much better and moving forward. So, what is this? Is this anxiety? Is this paranoia? Is this post-traumatic stress. Is this normal? Whatever it is, I just want it gone. I want to forget the fear. I want to just have one full day of not thinking about it or being reminded of it. Is it too much to ask?

I need to breathe deeply. I need to repeat it was just a dream because the reality is just too much to bare and just will not be.

It was just a dream. Only a stupid, stupid dream.


Sunday, November 30, 2014

My 4th re-Birthday


Tonight around 11:40, it will officially be 4 years since my stem-cell transplant. Four years of many battles. Four years of many highs. Four years of some lows. Four years of hope. Four years of rejuvenation. Fours years of self-discovery. Four years of adapting and embracing this 'new normal'.

So much can happen in 4 years. So much can happen in a year and, wow, has a lot changed. And a lot of it has been in my favor. The past couple of months are always hard, emotionally and mentally. And even though things have been pretty good, those memories are always there, some more fresh than others. Some more damaging and some more healing. It's all a juggling of emotions. But when it all comes down to it, it comes to feeling alive, regardless of the emotions, positive or negative. It means I'm still here. I'm still living. I'm still breathing. I'm alive. Living for today and looking forward to tomorrow.

It's my re-Birth, with a newer, healthier self.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Cleansing of Tears



It's 5 am. Woke myself up crying. The fear is creeping back in. The memories all come flooding in so quickly, I can't even stop the flood of tears from streaming down my cheeks.

It's all too much at once. So many emotions. So many thoughts. Feelings of triumph. Feelings of victory. Feelings of the unknown and feelings of the known. Which is scarier? The unknown? Or the known? Knowing what once was. Knowing the fear, the loss, the pain. Knowing that the reaper was close by. Seeing the stress and turmoil my family was going through. Feeling so alone yet surrounded by the people who cared the most.

The floodgates have opened yet again. The uncontrollable tears. The uncontrollable thoughts. Tears of fear. Tears of relief. Tears of loss. Tears of pain. Tears of gratefulness. Tears of hope. Tears of cleansing. Cleansing the mind, body and soul.

Image source:
http://analaurasam.deviantart.com/art/wallpaper-tears-are-word-the-heart-cant-say-385388985

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Feeling...


This is the month. The month where I was given a chance to live again. In a medical sense, the month where I was reborn. My body's marrow was wiped out and completely destroyed to prepare for the arrival of newer, healthier, cancer-fighting cells.

And as I lay here, in the comfort of my own bed, I reflect on the past few years. I think of the journey I have gone through and the various emotions I've gone through, sometimes all in one day. Sometimes I react emotionally without thinking of who I may be hurting and other times I feel so much love and compassion, it moves me to tears.

So as I lie here thinking mostly of those moments  of reacting so strong emotionally to something that I realize some of the reason. It makes me feel so alive and human. And it's a reminder of how thankful I am to be given the chance again to just be here.

Being 'alive' means feeling. And feeling those emotions means reacting to your environment or a particular incident that triggers something inside of you good or bad. Sometimes it means reacting too quickly and feeling remorse and even embarassment for those reactions. But it also means being human.

I wouldn't change a thing, other than the unintentional hurt I may have caused someone.

I am just thankful to be here. I am thankful for the people in my life, family and friends, who have been a tremendous support through all of the high and lows. I'm thankful for those tender moments with my children and husband. I'm thankful for my closest and dearest friends who put up with my quirky ways, lapses in memory and for their patience in allowing me to work through mentally and process the battle a I've been through and the emotional trauma it's left in its wake.

And I'm Thankful to just 'be'. To be alive. To think and to feel. And to be human.





Wednesday, October 29, 2014

It's Not An Army of One


My mind has been going crazy with the thoughts and memories of my cancer journey. There are days where my emotions are all over the place. I can go from laughing one minute, to breaking down in tears, the next minute.

For some reason while on my way to work, my thoughts turn to thinking about my experience with cancer and often I end up in tears before pulling into work. This morning was one of those mornings. As I'm getting closer to work, I'm trying to compose myself so noone can tell I have been crying. I was crying because I was struck by a realization I had about my fight or what I thought had been 'my' fight. It turns out that all this time I had been thinking I was the only one fighting. That cancer is a battle that you have to fight alone. But actually I had an army behind me who silently waited and allowed me to battle through what I needed to on my own. And when I became weak, or when I wanted to give up, they were by my side helping me fight every step of the way. It's not to say that during that time I didn't feel people's support, I did. I just didn't think of it as an army, a team, backing me up and giving me the strength I needed to battle on.

Cancer is not just one person's battle. It's a battle that involves the family and friends of the person diagnosed with cancer.




Monday, October 27, 2014

It's That Time of Year Again...


It's that time of year again. The time for anxiety. The time of reliving when I had to choose Life or Death. It's that time of year that reminds me of my strength and determination I didn't know I had. It's that time of year, where I am reminded of the biggest battle that I may ever had to face.

I didn't have time to be afraid. I didn't have time to overthink and try and process what would be happening. All I knew was that I had to fight. I had to win. There was no other way. This was it. Either I could choose to live or I could choose to die. I cleared my mind from all that was spoken to me to prepare me for the stem-cell transplant. I choose not to remember the possible life-threatening side effects. I withdrew from everyone and everything and protected myself by an invisible shield from the world around me. I couldn't lose focus. I had a battle to fight and conquer.

Even though I was surrounded by loved ones, family and friends, I was very alone. I had to be. Because if I allowed people to get close, I could lose my focus. There were so many overwhelming emotions and thoughts that I had to push back and keep from becoming front and center.

So now, it's that time of year where my emotions are a bit unstable. One moment I could be laughing and the next, I could be crying from a memory or a reminder of where I've been and what I went through.

This is November, the time of year, to share with others, what we are thankful for. So therefore I am thankful to be given another chance at Life and I don't intend on wasting it.


Image source:
http://blog.luggagebase.com/1374/news/todays-traveling-trends-november-2013

Monday, October 20, 2014

My Heart...


It sustains life. It's the hardest working muscle in the human body.

Sometimes it aches. Sometimes it breaks. Sometimes it cries.

But the one thing that will never change is how much it is filled with love.

So I'm posting 'my heart' and sharing it with all of you, hoping to spread being positive and sharing the love with family and friends, near and far. May your heart be filled with so much love and happiness that when any negativity approaches it, it drowns it out with its goodness.



Thursday, September 4, 2014

Back To Work



Well, its been almost two weeks since returning to work.  It's a different job from my previous one but it's still in the social work field. It feels like a fresh start, a new beginning. And I have to say I have been so happy waking up each day knowing that I am waking up to a career that I am genuinely going to enjoy!!!

The atmosphere in the office is so friendly and happy. It's so contagious and it's so nice to be greeted with a sincere smile. Everyone has been so welcoming and supportive that it doesn't make me dread going in. I actually am looking forward to each new day and what it offers.

One of the greatest things about my office environment are my co-workers/colleagues. They have made it such a friendly, welcoming atmosphere, which made returning back to work so less stressful. I honestly didn't know how my mind and body were going to acclimate to returning back to full-time work.  I know one factor is my love for what I will be doing and secondly, it's definitely the environment. My co-workers/colleagues are professional and respectful individuals who I enjoy seeing every day. 

It's a scary thing to be out of the workforce for three or fours years.  And knowing that at some point you need to return to work.  Having cancer doesn't have to all be negative, you can always find a positive even in the most dismal place.  I never was fully aware of the strengths within me and the battles that I would have to face due to cancer.  It has prepared me to fight for survival, whether it's regarding me physically or mentally. I feel as though if I could beat cancer and survive the complications and hardships of chemo and stem-cell transplant, that there isn't anything that I can't accomplish or be successful at. 

I feel so alive. I feel so happy. I feel a sense of completeness. This is a new beginning, a new journey and my 'new normal' that I am embracing fully!!!



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Seeing the Light



I'm so happy and I'm not even sure if I will be able to put into words the gratitude I feel right now. I think about how difficult Life can be. And those difficulties can be singular or a plethora of  things with varying degrees of burden or stress. Obviously my most major Life altering ordeal came in the form of leukemia, relapse and stem-cell transplant. And once I conquered that Life hurdle, I needed time for my body to heal which resulted in resigning from my job after 12 years of dedicated service. And even though I knew it was the right thing to do, it was very difficult.

It was difficult because I no longer was a financial contributor to my family.  I felt I was more of a financial burden to my husband even though he never made me feel that way. And with those thoughts and feelings, it pulled me into a small state of depression. I felt as though my worth was questionable. I even questioned whether being alive was worth it because had I died, my husband wouldn't have to worry about supporting another person that comes with so much 'health baggage'. That 'baggage' including many ongoing doctor visits which involved travel expenses and sometimes, lodging. It included many varying medications that at times were quite costly. And it also included the physical stress of making sure all in his family were taken care of. And he did this all without complaint. He is an amazing man who through some of the most major stress of our lives, took care of his family.

So while in this small state of depression which I was fully aware I was in and chose not to mention my knowledge of this to anyone, I carried on each day. Each day I felt unfulfilled. I didn't exactly know what it was that made me feel this way. I knew it was something but I couldn't identify the source of this unfullfillment. I thought it was due to my temporary health setbacks, like my GVHD symptoms, but knew those were only minor in the broad scheme of things. I thought it was fear of moving forward and the possibility of relapse. But not until recently did I learn that that feeling of unfullfillment was regarding my lack of employment, my career.

There is something about having a job, a career, a sense of purpose and a sense of earning the money that you bring to your home. There is a sense of knowing your able to take care of yourself, your husband and children. And I for a long time, since my diagnosis which was a little over 5 years ago, I didn't feel that.

But now I'm pleased to say, I have it back!!! Yesterday, I received a phone call I've been waiting a week for and was offered a great opportunity at helping others in need. This couldn't be more ideal for the humanitarian in me. I will be in a management role similar to the one I had before my diagnosis but different as to the role I play in assisting others in need.

This is a clean slate. It's a new beginning. And I'm so looking forward to this new chapter in my life. I feel I have a purpose again. A purpose of being a professional, a purpose of being a financial contributor to my family and assuring that my husband and children will also be taken care of. Now my husband and I are a team. We're both taking care of each other and our children.

And now looking back through these past few years, that even when I thought I lost all 'hope' in whatever trial was thrown my way, somehow, I kept moving forward and battling through. The warrior in me is just as alive now as she was through my battle with cancer. My point is to never give up, regardless of how dark your days may be, dark never last forever. There is a light and I'm finally beginning to see the light.





Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Life at the Beach


Ever since I can remember, I have always loved the beach and always looked forward to our yearly summer vacations. The best things I remember were the early morning walks along the waters edge, while the waves were lapping and teasing your feet as if it's begging or daring you to enter the water. There was always a peacefuless to those mornings. You could wander and for miles without even realizing it because you were so deep in thought for so many different reasons. For me, it was always about calmness, peacefullness, and serenity.

And now it's still all those things but more. And the 'more' I'm speaking of is my life post Cancer and stem-cell transplant.  I look at those earlier days and think things were a little easier. Sure I still had to contend with the humidity and the havoc it wrecked on my hair. I still had to lather up in sunscreen to protect myself from the rays of the sun. But now even though I'm still battling those same issues, it all on a different level. It seems I have more restrictions. I've learned that life with wigs is not so easy as I thought it would be. I had the naive notion that it would be like Jane Jetson from 'The Jetsons' where I would put the wig on, whether it be real or synthetic, and go on my merry way looking perfectly made with every hair in place. Boy, how wrong was I.  The ocean elements wreck havoc on synthetic wigs. It's like the kiss of death to a synthetic wig and as for real hair wigs, it's not much better. No matter how much I style it, it just like your normal head of hair and has a mind of its own. But where most people can throw it up in a ponytail or clip it etc, you are very limited as to the styles you can do with your wig. I thought it would be easy to throw on a ball cap but because of the amount of hair, it's difficult to tuck behind your ears without the risk of your ears sticking out and making yourseg look like an elf. Or you could just let it hang as is with the hat and risk walking around looking like the lost relative of 'Cousin Itt' from the Addams Family.

So what about going wigless??? If I were someone who hasn't been through cancer and hair loss, I would probably think the same thing.  But when you've spent months and even years without any hair due to being ill, the last thing you want to do is go through it again when your somewhat healthy. I've had enough walking around feeling like a freak-factor with people staring and even whispering.

It's still all a learning experience and truly, I'm still new at this so-called 'new normal'. I'm optimistic that I will get it figured out. It's just going to take some time and patience, and for any one who knows me, my patience is very limited. But i will try my hardest to stay positive because I've been through one of life's most difficult battles, and even though I carry many scars, both mentally and physically,  I am thankful of its success and this new journey.




Saturday, July 26, 2014

A Chance Encounter



I surprised myself today.  I've been carrying a lot of anger and I even admit, hate, for a year now. And I encountered the source of those extreme negative emotions today.  I was surprised by my own reaction. I thought that if this encounter ever occurred, whether planned or by accident, I didn't think that I would react as a mature, rational human being.  But I did.  I even spoke a few words.  It felt awkward, strange and uncomfortable but no matter my past negative feelings, I just could not be anything other than smile and be civil.

This 'thing' I will call it has been a constant daily battle. It has been a source of heartache for me and those closest to me. It has even affected my children, to a point where I never really could give an explanation that they could understand, of why things became the way they are now.

I experienced many emotions, from shock, to nervousness, to sadness, and even loss, of what could have been.  But never once, did I feel that anger or hate.  And that surprised me the most because I have been carrying these feelings for the past year.

So this is a new self-discovery.  You can never predict how your going to react to a certain situation.  You can process and think about it all you want.  You can come up with numerous scenarios in your mind. But you can never truly prepare.  You just need to look at the 'good' inside yourself and hold your head high and know you did the right thing. It's an amazing feeling of calm and peacefulness and those toxic feelings have all but been washed away.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Moods & Anxieties


I posted the same posts on a few Leukemia/BMT pages on Facebook regarding mood changes (I.e going from being happy to easily becoming angry or highly agitated or irritable) and even touching upon isues regarding social anxiety.  I can't believe the overwhelming responses I received about these issues and how common they are.

I'm very aware that these issues are not just related to cancer. But I refer to these issues as a result of the cancer experience and how much emotionally some of us are affected once the treatments are over and while we're in remission.  Some survivors/warriors identified it as 'post-traumatic stress disorder' (PTSD), others refer to it as 'normal' and part of the journey post-cancer.

Whatever the reason or label, it's a part of our reality and we are not so abnormal in our thoughts and anxieties, especially in our social relationships and how we respond to others in those relationships.

We are not alone, many of us share a common experience (Cancer) with common emotions, thoughts and reactions.  And all of us are just trying to cope and heal, so we can move forward in our journey to our 'new normal'.

Image source: http://www.osteoarthritisblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/mood.jpg











Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Past, Present, & Future: Searching for Peace


The above quote couldn't be more accurate. My daily life consists of all three happening simultaneously, although, it's more fear and anxiety than peace.  Cancer is so much more than a disease. Cancer not only affects your body physically with its attempt at ending it's life, but the psychological damage it leaves in its wake is just as damaging, if not, at times, worse.

Tomorrow will mark the five year anniversary of my initial diagnosis (June 25, 2009).  As I sit here today, I'm still in just as much fear as I was that day.  When will it get better, when will this fear go away???

I try to give myself positive pep talks each day when I wake up. Even when I'm nauseous and tired or my eyes feel as though sand has been thrown in them, or I'm up against a limitation after the transplant that I try to search for the good, so I can maintain a balance.  But sometimes the 'fear', outweighs it all and the scales I'm trying to balance collapses.

No one knows this, until now, not even my husband, but almost daily I'm subjected to tears, whether it's a limitation from my stem-cell transplant,  or an event that triggers a memory of what once was or could eventually be.  Many times my crying episodes are in solitude (in the car, the shower, or even in bed in the middle of the night). Usually it's my mind going a mile a minute and I mourn so many thoughts and feelings or losses due to cancer.

Some assume that when the cancer is gone, it's back to living normally. I truly believe this is so far from the truth.  I came to the realization in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep that 'fear' has taken ahold of my life.  I'm afraid to 'live'. I'm afraid that once I allow myself that happiness and joy of living that it will be ripped from me again. I'm beginning to see the consequences of my relapse and the psychological damage it has left.

I've been to counseling,  I've been to support groups, I've spoken to other survivors, warriors, etc. but I still haven't learned a way to cope with all that has changed or has been lost.  I wish there was a magic wand to take all the pain and fear away. What may work for someone else may not work for another.  I want my 'peace' in the living world. All I can do is hold onto my 'hope' that through this journey I will find the 'peace' I'm looking for and finally be able to 'live'.




Image source: http://definingwonderland.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/past-quote.jpg

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Brain Fog, Chemo Brain...What is it???



Well, I've noticed many times this new year that my issues with 'chemo brain' have gotten worse.  But I've also noticed that the severity of it varies daily.

For example, I had been removing laundry from the washer and placing it in a basket so that I could place it in the dryer.  Please note that my washer & dryer are not side by side due to our house being very old (built in the 1890's) and the outlets are not near each other.  So due to the location of the washer and dryer, I needed to place the wet laundry in the basket so that I could easily transfer it to the dryer, which leads me to my chemo brain moment. After I placed the laundry in the basket, I added a dirty load to the washer and added the soap and fabric softner, chose the cycle of wash and water temp and started the new load of dirty wash.  Then I went upstairs to start a new chore in the house. After sometime, I heard a few beeps notifying me that my laundry was done.  So upon arrival, I went to the dryer and noticed there was no laundry in there. I had completely forgotten to add the wet laundry to the dryer.  I stood there wondering how could I forget something like that and how could I forget that I forgot about it.  I had gone to the dryer to fold and hang the clothes and I just stood there absolutely in a fog. This has been happening a lot lately. 

I am finding myself just standing or sitting somewhere mentally searching for some form of recollection of a specific incidence or attempting to recall a piece of conversation or even the amount of an item that I wrote a check out for and I can't remember!!!

Someone could tell me something and even after 5 minutes, I can't fully recall the details of the conversation, it's like I lost a moment or two in time that I can't remember.

Is this normal??? Are thsee bouts of chemo brain worse some days than others???
 
Thankfully, I visit my oncologist tomorrow and I will be able to discuss these concerns with him.  I just wanted to put it out there for others to read (and before I probably forgot) hoping to have some feedback from anyone else with similar issues after  chemotherapy.

The list could go on and as to the things that I forget and I'll save that for my doctor.  But if this is common, then I'll just have to figure out how to adjust to this 'new normal' of intermittent lapses in memory and hoping that this brain fog, forgetfulness,  lapses in memory will be 'forgotten' and a thing of the past.

Image source: http://maryhardy.com/?p=1891

Sunday, June 1, 2014

National Cancer Surviors Day 2014



Image Sources:

http://anasebrahem.wordpress.com/2013/06/09/how-do-you-see-the-morning-today/

http://www.hmh.net/HMHWebsite/NewsDetail.aspx?NewsID=199

http://marcusaureliusquotes.blogspot.com/2013/08/when-you-arise-in-morning-marcus_12.html?m=1

Friday, May 23, 2014

#FeelAlive



Lately I have been beginning to look at the brighter sides of where I am today. Many of my posts speak of the trials that I have encountered since my diagnosis and stem-cell transplant.  And while I still want to keep it real, I also want to express my joy with Life. 

Recently, and quite fortunately, I was able to receive a free real-hair wig.  It has uplifted my self-confidence and has made me feel more normal.  I know the saying 'bald is beautiful', but it's not as easy for some to embrace. Especially someone like me who has always struggled with weight and a poor body self-image. 

Somedays, I feel like shouting how happy I'm here to be alive. I want to laugh daily. I want to be my geeky, book nerdy, techie self. And if anyone has issue with my quirky ways, then so be it. I love who I am. I love all those odd ball things about me because that is 'me'.

I'm embracing the newer things about me.  When faced with your own mortality, your outlook and perspective definitely changes.  And those changes affect how you approach Life.

Well, I'm approaching Life by the  #feelalive motto!!!   I hope many of you will do the same.  Don't be ashamed of who you are...Live, Laugh, Love, Feel Alive and Embrace Life!!!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Why, Why, Why?!?!



Ok, don't ask me why and don't even offer a lecture about the stupid thing I did tonight.  First, let me say that I have made it known for some time about losing my sense of smell which had also affected my taste, or lack of. I have been relating it to the numerous head colds I had over the winter. Now however, I'm not so sure.

Let me also say that since my stem-cell transplant, I would experience an occasional 'cigarette burning' smell in my nose. It didn't happen often and I just thought I had been around or walked by someone that had been smoking.  But recently, I have been experiencing this so-called 'cigarette' phantom smell for a few weeks and there has been no way, in that time, I have been exposed to cigarettes.

So, now you ask what stupid thing I did!?!? Well, I can say I 'Google'd' it. Ugh!!!!! Why would I do such a thing? It always seems to be said that you should never Google a health ailment or oddity because it could scare the holy shit out of you.  Well, guess what??? The shit has been scared out of me.  Basically, there are two occurrences of this phantom 'cigarette' smell.  One is parosmia: smelling something foul when nothing is around to actually be causing the odor and could be related to common hyposmia which is the common absence of smells.

The other causing factor is the one that has sent my anxiety into orbit. It stated that if someone begins to experience a more steady existence of this phantom 'cigarette' smell it could be cause for a much more serious concern in relation to a tumor of the brain or the olfactory nerves.

So, needless to say I'm freaking out.  Thankfully, I have already seen an ENT Specialist in Pittsburgh and already have an appointment for a CT Scan the first week in June.  I'm really hoping and praying that it isn't anything severe.   I know that you shouldn't stress about the unknown.  But when those gut instincts of 'knowing' something isn't right has proven to be true, which was to be my initial leukemia diagnosis and my relapse,  I tend to believe this could be a pattern and the diagnosis not so promising.

So now I'm going to be a wreck and asking those closest to me, to yet again, have some patience.  And I'm just plain ol' scared.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Pandora's Box


"We open this huge Pandora's box (of late effects of transplant)...."the leukemia may be gone, the patient has survived, but how do we get them back to normalcy? That is the challenge." 
- Madan Jagasia, director of Outpatient Transplant Program and chief for Hematology and Stem Berm Transplant at Vanderbilt Ingram

"Opening Pandora's Box"
http://www.vanderbilt.edu/magazines/momentum/2012/06/opening-pandoras-box/

After a rough start to the new year (2014) I have noticed an increase in complications with my health. I'm trying to learn and understand are these just normal occurrences, are they related to cancer, the chemotherapy treatments and stem-cell transplant or is it all a combination?

This article speaks to many truths post transplant. I referenced the above quote from the article because it really gets to the heart of the matter. But there is one thing about that quote that I begin to question - "how do we get them back to normalcy"?

I'm not sure anything can get us back to normalcy. The transplant community uses the term your 'new normal' for life after transplant. Dry eyes, blurred/double vision, lung issues, GI tract issues, tingling sensations in limbs, dry skin, mouth and nose, lack of energy and possible neurological damage to list a few is to be my 'new normal'? And I'm just going to have to accept this? I wish it were that easy.

It's all a complete mind f#ck. Each experience is personal to the person that has fought this battle. No two experiences are alike. Sure, we may have similar experiences and share common side effects but over all you still feel so alone in a community with a shared experience.

Where do we go from here? How can we learn to accept these complications whether they occur daily, or frequently or just occasionally?

It feels as though it has been one health issue after another. Feeling misunderstood, that I need to be thankful that my cancer is gone and look forward to the positive light. I really wish it were that easy, especially when everyday there is something that makes you feel like shit, or you can't catch a breath or even be able visually focus on something.

I know this is sounding like a 'poor me' thing but so what if it is.  Why can't I say or think it? Is it really that wrong to say or think? Maybe if I allow myself that 'poor me' thinking, I can allow myself to recognize my weaknesses and begin to feed and build them into strengths.

I'm hoping for more answers next week. And I'm just trying to find my way with this 'new normal'. It isn't easy but I know, at some point, I will get there. Because if anything I have learned about myself, I don't give up and it will be a fight to the end.

Image source: http://i.livescience.com/images/i/000/049/809/original/pandoras-box.jpg

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Out Sick Again



It has been awhile since my last blog. I haven't had the energy or even the thoughts to put into the blog. I have been battling with congestion and a persistent cough for a little over a month. The congestion is so bad that I have no sense of taste and no sense of smell which has interfered with my appetite. My cough becomes so persistent that at times I lose my breath and become lightheaded, with many bouts of vertigo.  Sometimes I'm coughing so hard my eyes water and my ribs ache.  And most recently,to add on top of all this, I'm 100% pure exhausted. I become so tired I have a hard time keeping my eyes open and many times I'm out of breath.  I can't even climb the stairs without trying to catch my breath.

I'm on my second round of antibiotics. This round of antibiotics is completely different from the dosage I had a couple of weeks ago. I'm ready for warmer weather with the hopes of less sickness.  So far, 2014 has been a difficult year on my health.  I'm becoming very down and very frustrated.  And I'm just sick of being 'sick'.

Is this going to be my 'new normal'? Since my stem-cell transplant, my winters have been full of cold and flu. However, this year seems to have hit the hardest. I don't remember being this sick all of the time. I'm truly hoping and praying this is the worst of it and better are days ahead.

Image source:
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-_gImMJNTkJ8/TVWOVqSyPbI/AAAAAAAAA4g/i3IfWkdxF_E/s1600/out-sick.jpg

Monday, March 10, 2014

What is Your Truth?



Some people live their life (their truth) based on the perceptions others. Some people believe in themselves and live their truth regardless of what others think. Some people are more loud with their truth while some others tend to be more quiet.

I have been enlightened on the truths of another. It has reinforced what I have already recognized within them. And the little bits of doubt that, at times, I allowed my mind to twist into something to make it worse than it actually was, has made those doubts all but disappear.

Discovering my own truth is just another part of this new journey post-cancer. I feel rejuvenated and more confident. It has made me look at myself and has me questioning "have I been honest with my own truths" What are my weaknesses? What are my strengths? What is my passion? How can I turn my fears into motivations to become the person I want to be, in both my personal and professional life?

This is another step in my journey of 'embracing my new normal'.  I have had some ups and I have had some many downs and I have been trying to make sense of it all. As each day passes, something new occurs that opens my eyes to the truth of the situation, or to the truth of an individual.  I want my truth to be seen from every angle.  The truth of the happy times and the sad times, the truth of my strengths and the truth of my weaknesses.  No one can tell you whether your truth is right or wrong. As long as you believe in yourself and embrace all aspects of your truth, only then can you be at peace with yourself.

Image source:  http://seekretreat.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/truth.jpg

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Simple Assignment


My daughter recently had her tonsils and adnoids removed. While at home recovering, my husband and I asked the school to send her schoolwork home so she wouldn't get too far behind. One of her assignments involved reading this short chapter book and answering questions related to the story.

I wasn't aware of this story, nor did I know that this was a true story until I began reading it with her. I never had a clue that I would become so emotional to the point where I had to stop to compose myself. Finally, I told my daughter that I couldn't continue. This was one reading assignment that I wouldn't be able to complete.

"Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes" is about a Japanese girl who was two years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on August 6, 1945.  Due to the affects of the atom bomb, Sadako developed leukemia. The book went on to describe Sadako's reaction and her family's reaction to her leukemia diagnosis.  It continues to explain the days in the hospital and the things she did and the emotions she felt and the physical pains and discomforts she faced.

Needless to say, it was just too much for me to bear and I was unable to continue to read. All of the emotions that were mentioned in the book were so closely related to how I felt while I was in the hospital. It was just so unexpected. Emotionally, I thought that I was dealing with things much better. But obviously, that isn't the case.

There are days and even weeks that can go by and, emotionally, I'm doing well. Other days something occurs and it triggers an emotion so powerful that I break down in tears. I felt bad when I broke down in front of my daughter. I want to show her that I'm stronger than that. But instead I felt like a failure.The story spoke too many truths and I realized I still haven't fully coped well with what I've been through.

This has been another reality check, in relation to my leukemia diagnosis and treatments. It has made me more aware of how delicate my emotions are regarding that period of time in my life. I can't allow myself to think of my emotional breakdowns as weakness, but as a part of the healing process.

I'm still healing emotionally, mentally and physically. I will think of those tears as a way of cleansing those difficult days and washing away all the negative emotions from that time in my life. And I'm hopeful that there will be a time when it will be a distant memory.


Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/1/13/Sadako_and_the_thousand_paper_cranes_00.jpg

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Putting the Pieces Back Together



It's been awhile since I have posted anything. It has been a rough beginning to the new year. I have been reluctant to blog anything because lately my blogs haven't been all that positive. I hate to always be the "Debbie Downer".  I'm not asking for sympathy or for anyone to feel sorry for me.  I'm also aware that I'm not the only one in this world that is suffering from something.  I know there are others who are going through things that are much worse. But this is my way of coping and processing this 'new normal'.  I'm trying to remain strong so that I can become a better, healthier self.

As I stated earlier, my beginning to 2014 has been a rough one. In mid-January, I was hospitalized for shingles, which were excruciatingly painful and possible GVHD of the GI tract (nausea/vomiting).  I was quarantined to my room for a week.  It was definitely not a place I wanted to be. My experience was quite different than the previous years' hospitalizations while I was being treated for leukemia. I was on a different wing of the floor and the nursing staff was not familiar with taking care of stem-cell transplant patients which resulted with me becoming very stressed and put me in a slightly depressive state of mind.  Thank goodness it was only a week!

Things didn't improve upon my discharge and return home.  I ended up that weekend with the cold/flu with more nausea/vomiting.  I felt like I couldn't catch a break.  Thankfully, I have wonderful friends who I work for and babysit for, who allowed me the rest of the month off to recuperate.  Even though I had the rest of the month to recuperate, being the end of February now, I still do not feel 100%.

I currently have a head cold and a persistent cough that will not go away.  I've come to the realization since my treatments and stem-cell transplant, that this has become my 'new normal'.  My winters especially have remained consistent with the head cold/congestion and cough which depletes my energy reserves.  The lack of energy may have to do with the sleepless nights where I'm unable to breathe or I'm coughing so persistently I can't catch my breath.  Some nights I wake from a sound sleep because I'm coughing so hard.

I'm at a loss.  I have been hoping and praying that each new year will be the year that the tiredness, the ongoing colds/coughs, the lack of energy etc. will become less and less.  I know that even the most healthiest person gets a touch of the common cold/flu and has those days where they are worn out.  But my experience has remained consistent.  After three years, I have recognized the pattern and have come to the conclusion that my body still isn't strong enough.  It's not strong enough to ward off the common cold/flu.  It's not strong enough to handle a daily exercise regimen.  Any time I attempt something physical my body gives out.

I'm trying to comprehend all of this.  I'm trying to understand why after three years I shouldn't be more energized or more strong and healthy?  What is keeping my body from progressing?  The longest I have gone without some form of ailment, complication or side effect from the transplant has been at least two weeks, and this has occurred maybe 2 or three times since my transplant in 2010.

The cancer may no longer exist.  But just because it doesn't exist and its been three years since the stem-cell transplant, doesn't mean I'm all okay.  I continue to face battles daily.  Battles that are related, in one way or another, to cancer and the stem-cell transplant.  I'm not sure where I go from here or how to change things and make them better.  I try very hard to remain optimistic but even the most optimistic person has those days of feeling hopeless.  I just need to find a daily mantra to keep me motivated and keep holding my head high as I continue on this journey post cancer and post stem-cell transplant.

Image source: http://media-cache-cd0.pinimg.com/236x/9e/bb/6d/9ebb6da9fe107a5f10c2a9aef8d62faa.jpg

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Battles




Many things in Life are a battle and the mind can either offer you the strength to get through it or it can interfere and allow you to think of quitting.

Currently, this is where am at.  Every day each one of us fights a battle.  Those battles can be small or they can be big.  Our mind allows us to win those battles, big or small, and our mind also can succumb to the weakness and lose that battle.

At the moment I'm feeling very weak.  Emotionally, I'm on edge and physically, I feel as though my body is deteriorating.  I'm on edge emotionally because of the many physical battles I'm facing right now.  I'm not sure what is actually going on.  If it's stress related due to the hustle and bustle of the holidays or if its something else going on.  I question the stress because of knowing of a little warrior princess who was experiencing many symptoms over the holidays that led to her diagnosis and relapses.  Thank God all her blood results are normal and she is being monitored closely.  This leads me to my current status.  Over the holidays, which includes Thanksgiving to after New Year's, I have been experiencing some 'gvhd' symptoms that I haven't experienced in awhile.  I have been having nauseous mornings and I have been feeling run down and extremely tired.  I continue to battle with 'gvhd' of the eyes, especially in the evenings.  My eyes become so dry and sensitive that I have to turn off most lights or put them on the lowest setting while wearing sunglasses.  I can say this really is not fun.

I attempted again another workout regimen and yet again I hit another wall.  This time it only took a week.  I have sharp pain shooting through my lower back.  It's becoming so uncomfortable that its beginning to keep me up at night.

Thankfully, I have my oncologist appointment next week.  I'm hoping for positive results and solutions.

Image source: http://www.apnazilla.com/now-if-your-going-to-win-any-battle-famous-quotes/20875