It has been a little over two months since I have written. I have been busy finishing my treatment, working and enjoying life. I will try to catch up on all the wonderful things I have been able to participate in due to my survivorship.
First, I completed my radiation therapy. What started as a dark and lonely journey ended with new friendships and joy. I met many new people along the way and I pray for them everyday. Some were patients and some were staff, but they became part of my daily routine. Fatigue crept back in around week three. No one really knows why fatigue happens, but I believe it has a lot to do with fighting for a parking spot, walking to the building, getting undressed then re-dressed and back out to the parking deck…every day. Fatigue also tends to be worse for patients that have had chemotherapy in addition to the radiation. I continue to experience fatigue in the late afternoon. This past week my lab work showed my vitamin D levels are still very low so they have changed my dosage and frequency of taking my pills in an effort to help.
I went back to work part-time. The fatigue keeps me from going all day. I feel the best in the mornings, so I come in early and then go home to rest in the afternoon. I am thankful for the people I work with and their patience in my recovery from chemo and radiation.
I have been given many amazing opportunities to participate in events to celebrate survivors and bring awareness to breast cancer. One of my favorite was participating in the pre-race activities at the Dollar General 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. I went with my sister-in-law, also a survivor, my hubby and his brother. We had the best time and laughed a lot. I haven’t laughed so much in a long time.
I also enjoyed watching my kids perform during the marching band season. They did amazing and then ended the season winning first place in every category, plus grand champions in their overall class. The highlight was walking my daughter across the field for senior night and watching my son take the drum major stand for warm ups one Friday night. Those were two items I had on my list of reasons to win this battle against cancer and to experience with my kids. The feelings of blessing and joy were overwhelming.
I was offered an opportunity early in my diagnosis to chronicle my journey from diagnosis through surgery, chemo and radiation in a series of articles for the local newspaper. At the time, it just felt like too much to balance between doctor appointments, chemo, surgery and the physical weakness. But, at the end of my radiation, I was given the chance to speak with a report to help bring awareness to early detection and breast cancer survivorship. I honestly thought it would be a short column buried in the back section of the newspaper. However, when the paper was published, the article ran front page. As you may recall, I am the last one to want attention, but the article was great. It highlighted the personal side of breast cancer and brought awareness to the importance of early detection and self breast examines.
This Friday I will celebrate my 40th birthday. This is so special to me because I started this year not knowing if I would live to see my birthday. I can’t tell you how great it feels to make it to another birthday. I had planned to have a grand party…I even had the venue reserved and invitations ready to print. But, as I have learned this year, you have to be flexible. There were some things that my kids wanted to do later in the school year that required a large financial commitment. I could not ask them to sacrifice this great opportunity so that I could have a party. Instead, I will spend the weekend with my family in one of my favorite places…the mountains.
I spent today with a great friend as she received treatment. She sat in the exact chair where I sat during my last chemo. The very same chair where my husband spoke these words in faith: “You will never sit in that chair, ever again”. I vowed never to return. I have prayed for God to use me to help other women walking this same path. It was bittersweet to sit across from that same chair and watch a beautiful, sweet friend follow her journey. But, I spoke to her the words my husband spoke to me. I pray God will continue to be faithful to her as He has been to me. I pray that through all my trials and experience, she found some kind of comfort and strength.
I continue to pray that God will keep His hand of healing on my body. I pray He will use me to help others and give me opportunities to bring awareness to early detection. Please keep me, my family and my sister-friends in prayer. I am forever grateful for your prayers and support during this year of challenge, growth and miracles. Thank you for taking this journey with me.
Continuing to Pray and Believe!