Hi, it is nice to meet you - as you might guess, my name is Lisa and I was the 1 in 8. Today is Valentine's Day and maybe you, too, are the 1 in 8. Maybe you look in the mirror and see a stranger. Maybe you are coming to terms with what this whole plot twist of cancer means to you and your body and your relationships with others. Maybe you already get it, you are already at a point where you can squint a little and look in the mirror and see the you that you used to be.
I want to tell you that I love you. I get you. I know how you feel and probably what you think. I know you are lamenting the fact that you gained too much / lost too much weight. I know you are adjusting to new tits or no tits or 1 new tit or 1 no tit - I know you are trying to find a bra or a t shirt or just about damn anything that will fit you and make you feel like you are whole. I imagine you are thinking about how to ever be intimate again with your husband/boyfriend/girlfriend/wife/tinder hook up...I know you are worried about how your body will "work" now that you have no hormones in your body or just are tired and worn down from the relentless battle you have endured.
I see you. I love you. I know that it is hard right now and that you foresee it will be hard for a long time to come. It is not. Eventually, you adjust. You recognize yourself again. You look in the mirror with your new boobs, your no boobs, your 1 boob, whatever boob situation you got and you love it. You get your confidence back slowly and surely just like your hair comes back (and trust me girl, it will come back). You're going to have to say goodbye to that do it yourself Brazilian that chemo gave you or that red lobster look radiation gave you and be ready for the healing.
Let the healing come - look in the mirror and say to yourself, "I love myself. My body is healing. I am healthy." Do that as much as you need to until you start to believe it. Yes, some things will never ever be the same but they can be better. You are alive, you are here. God willing you are cancer free and will stay that way forever.
I heard recently from my new friend Dana from Anaono that; "that which is cut out of us never is what made us women" and I believe it with all of my heart. Know you are a goddess, that you are beautiful and that you are not what was cut out of you.
Cancer came to fuck you up but you beat it back and taught it a few tricks in the back alley. You are fierce, beautiful and I am here for you if you ever forget it.
So I do not know if I will post this or not - I just am in a bit of an existential crisis, NBD.
I have spent the last decade of my life being a MOM capital letters needed. I did not have any help and I had to keep pretending I did not want to do anything other than be a mom because I felt I HAD to do it. My golden girls kept telling me to stop and to slow down but did I listen NOOO (my-golden-girls.html).
My husband, bless his heart, has struggled with issues (no nothing as cool as addiction <sarcasm>, just garden variety cray cray) and I was the person in charge of everything at home and the children and even taking care of him, too. We went out to lunch recently and once he removed the sharp knives from the table, he told me that he does not want me to work full time because he is not "ready". My mom, who I have written about here a-tale-of-two-novembers.html is often pressuring me to "think of the children" when she, you know, kind of didn't. And to round out the trifecta, my mother in law who is also kind of "anti-working full time" for me.
I get it, it is coming from love and they partly do not want to see me get sick again and also partly know I do a lot for my kids, the house, my husband and whoever else in my family I wind up helping as I am kind of a surrogate mom for everyone in my life... though I am trying to scale that back BIG TIME taking-back-control.html.
I recently had a job interview (one of like a handful I have been called for despite looking hard for a job since September 2017 but like that is a post for another day worth of bitching...) and I was very excited about it. Now for other reasons, I do not think this job is going to work out but still it was a great fantasy to think about having the support, the infrastructure to go back to being "executive" and having the budget to live on and so on and so forth. BIG BUBBLE POPPED though re no support...
So here I stand, in New York City today, Valentine's Day, because I needed a shot in the arse (my Lupron shot to keep my ovaries off) and I am now in an office that I can use for the day on Wall Street, my old haunting grounds - where I worked when I was young and free and focused and driven and wanted to be the CEO of a major company. That seems like another version of Lisa long gone...
This me, (hi!) is very much alive and in flux and also in this weird world of "in between" I believe I am cured but I have no proof of it - it is just something I believe in my heart until I am told otherwise (God willing never). Let's be real, anything can happen over the next 2, 5, 10 or even 20 years but I will not let this bitch of breast cancer fuck me up anymore than it has. I have scars mentally, physically, emotionally but I am ready to bounce them and to keep living to keep trying to do more.... but I am still confused over what that means.
I do know my budget is in shambles and real talk, we are broker than broke. BUT also another real talk confession, we have been this way since I stopped working full time in New York City in 2009. What makes it worse now is that, quite frankly, I do not want to have ANY stress in my life and finances, particularly when they are broken, are stressful.
I also see these women owning it, walking around in their matching bags and shoes and I lust after it, I really do. I wish I could be those women - I am sure of them many are moms, some are also the 1 in 8 who have dealt with breast cancer, but I do not know if that is where I need to be, either.
I am someplace in between (pun intended), I want to assert myself, be kick ass again, make the dollar bills BUT at what cost - what am I willing to give up? My kids just got used to the fact that I won't die (they have no other option but to think this way, too) do I want to uproot them further by going to a full time job and not seeing them except on weekends? I KNOW other people do it and they are amazing and making big and huge trade offs daily (I remember, I did it for 2 years after my daughter was born) but for me particularly, I do not want stress in my life - so which is the most stress? Having to scrimp and save to pay bills or to have the finances on point and instead miss your kids?
I know women can have it all and they can balance but I do not know how to do it or if I want to do it... It is a choice, always a choice. I did not choose to get cancer but I can now choose how my life post cancer will be... Now can you tell me what that should be? Thanks! :) XOXO Li
I had hands down the time of my life last night. It seems crazy because I already had an awesome life changing experience on Sunday and on Monday afternoon - read more about my topless shenanigans here -> why-no-i-am-not-an-exhibitionist-but.html.
I saw through my Instagram lifeline (seriously, if you have breast cancer or support someone who does and you are NOT on Instagram you need to close this blog RIGHT NOW and sign up for Instagram and start by following me @thetimebetweenis and I will hook you up but good!). If you are on Instagram and need a friend, follow me, too.
Ok, are you back now? Thanks for connecting:).
So, I saw on Instagram that there was a BREASTIE event in my city (of New York) through an amazing woman's Instagram page Paige_Previvor (follow her, too, like NOW, please). What is a "breastie" event - it is indescribable. It is finding your tribe, it is finding people who get you across age, across background, across everything.
I attended last night, at 7pm (almost my bed time, yeah I am a wild woman like that), and it changed my life. Honestly. I now have 35+ new best friends (hi breasties!) and I love them all.
It was held at The Little Beet and it was FREE. I had gotten my tickets and then canceled my attendance because hello, I am unemployed right now and broke and Paige reached out to me to say "Why did you cancel?" and I told her (no shame in my game), "I am broke right now, I do not think I can afford the event." and she said, "COME - all of my events are FREE!" and I was like, wow, ok, I can afford free.
My only investment was my red dress that was $15 from Amazon.com because I was not going to my first Galentines event without wearing red and nothing I own fits me because I have to be a skinny bitch to continue to survive (more on that in a future post).
I tend to appear to others as a very extroverted person but in reality I am a mix of extrovert and introvert. Going to a dinner without knowing anyone in real life has in the past been a challenge for me. I assumed I would be older than most of the attendees and I just did not know if I would feel that I fit in. I often do not fit in - I tend to be too much extroverted or too much introverted in social situations and occasionally make faux pas that would make you cringe and cry for me... Hey, it happens.
I walked in last night with low expectations because that is how I roll. I would like to go back in time and bitch slap myself. I had one of the best nights of my life full stop. It was amazing, welcoming and warm. I did not notice too much that some of the girls were young enough to be born by me (hey, I am turning 42 this year) and were stunning like models and should be on the cover of Vogue because all I noticed was how much we were holding each other up and supporting each other and just overall being awesome.
I have so many photos to share and I just want to say that having the opportunity to meet these women and share my story with them (because a bunch of us got the chance to stand up and talk about "whatever we wanted" and I just spoke from my heart and felt so much love for it that I am punch drunk still today from it) and to make what I think will be true in real life friendships. If you are in the New York area or wherever these events are held in other cities, I urge you to leave your social anxiety and fears to the side and come on out, be embraced, be loved, be fondled (maybe) and let your inner goddess flag fly. You are beautiful, you are whole and any decision you have made about your health, your body, your life is the right true one (thanks Ally).
I met so many amazing women last night, but I want to take a moment to also spotlight someone who is a personal hero to me- the founder of AnaOno, Dana - please check out the work she does for the breast cancer community and the metatastic community she is amazing and I was so blessed to meet her and spend time with her - find out more about what she does for breast cancer patients of all stages for undergarments, bathing suits, and more here --> www.anaono.com/ . If you know someone who needs a mastectomy preventative or otherwise and you want to help support them, buy them this - www.anaono.com/products/miena-robe-with-drain-belt. I had just written about how hard it was for me to miss the AnaOno fashion show as so many of my inspirational women that I follow and learn from and then boom, Dana was at this event and I got to meet her anyway!
I could write books about all of the women I met and fell in love with - so fitting it was Galentine's Day. Paige, her mom, Ally, Dana, Tish, and MORE... See photos for more spotlights.
Also, important to note is that for these events, everyone is included - previvors, survivors, BRCA positive, BRCA negative, breast cancer, no breast cancer, cancer, no cancer... well, you get the idea.
This is what I do in the time between...
I am not an exhibitionist. As a teenager, I spent a lot of time in revealing clothing because I was no allowed to go anywhere; for instance, I had a 12am curfew until I left the country at 21 years old and often spent time at people's houses not at the club or anything like that. As I got older, I learned the art of clothing that fits and keeps things covered - I would often, though, show cleavage especially as my weight went up and it seemed those hills would detract / hide my stomach - I write about it here --> complicated-history-of-boobs-a-treatise-by-a-breast-cancer-patient.html.
I am still not an exhibitionist BUT I have done a few photo shoots over the last two days that might make your scratch your head and think otherwise.
On Sunday, an organization called The Magic Hour arranged for my family and I to have a photo session free of charge with Jessica Leigh Photography (www.photographybyjessicaleigh.com/ ). Jessica and I had spoken a few times in advance before the session and I just felt like I knew her in real life before she even showed up at my doorstep with tons of camera equipment and an easy, relaxed smile.
My children gravitated and warmed up to her immediately. She does something called "unscripted life sessions" and these photos are nothing like you see at Sears or Picture People or even other photographers I had worked with in the past. She does not "pose" you instead the photos are the real YOU.
For me, this new me, this pixie haired, one boobed, clinging on with all I got to being cured me is ALL ABOUT THIS. I wanted photos that reflected who we truly are as a family, what we learned from breast cancer and how we are just at home, together and that quiet strength that we all have honed specifically over the last 15 months.
You see, though I was the one diagnosed with cancer, we ALL had cancer. My son who told me he would visit me in the cemetery because "lots of people with cancer die", my daughter who was stoic and happy throughout the whole process until it was over and she let herself be afraid and need comfort, my husband who mustered up all of his strength and love for me even though at times before I was diagnosed we were anything but "love-y". Even the darn dog was effected.
So this past Sunday, Jessica arrived and immediately won every one of us over and got us doing our things - playing board games, cuddling on my bed and just individual action shots of the kids jumping on my bed - of course, what kid doesn't love to jump on their parents' beds!
We then did some individual shots of me that showcased my warrior battle scar from breast cancer. It was powerful and the shots were amazing. I cannot wait to see them! All of them!
Today, I had another photo shoot and this one was way more revealing than anything I have ever done before full stop. I had heard about The Grace Project (the-grace-project.org/) at the beginning of my "public" exposure as a blogger / advocate about breast cancer screenings and sharing my story. I immediately messaged the photographer to volunteer to be photographed. At the time, it seemed like it was a long shot to be asked to get photographed but already I could tell that it would be a powerful statement for me to make as a "young-ish" survivor in training who did not reconstruct for the women out there who feel that without their boob(s) that they are LESS THAN or who tried to reconstruct and had issues with infection or removal or even those who do not want their boobs anyway but still wonder about whether or not they are "beautiful".
I am lucky in that, despite being super dependent on my boobs for most of my life either in wearing low cut tops or using my cleavage to disguise my belly, I really do not miss having a pair of tits. The one is enough for me and if I had my way, I would have opted to take lefty off, too.
I am leaving my prosthetic behind more and more and just acclimating to this new body, this new shape and all that. I was honored when the photographer Charise Isis let me know she would be in New York and I jumped at the chance to be photographed by her. She is a powerhouse of a woman who shares "broken is still beautiful" as a belief system and documents women who have had mastectomies to survive breast cancer. She takes photos representing the women as Greek goddesses and my experience with her today in a penthouse-adjacent apartment near Times Square was a powerful, moving and empowering experience and I cannot wait to share the images with you in a few months when I get them.
So I am going way out of my comfort zone and doing things I never ever thought I would do but I know it is the right thing - I want to normalize this new normal for others who are going through it. Cancer sucks but saying that does not make it all better, it does not make the scars you see and those you can't see disappear. We are all in stages of repair and recovery as we wait in the time between.
To find out more about The Grace Project or to donate to her work at healing breast cancer warriors, click here the-grace-project.org
I spent some time after diagnosis and treatment getting bogged down with what I wanted to do to stay as "healthy" as possible. I put "healthy" in quotes because I do not quite know if I will ever be considered such again - I mean, I am NED (no evidence of disease) but since I had cancer in 2016 and was treated in 2017, I guess I just do not know if I can ever be considered "healthy".
In my mind, though, I am healthy. It is the only way to live.
Here are some of the things I do to keep myself focused and sane.
Re hypnosis - I like the Seth Deborah one but I recently saw the trailer for the Heal Documentary about how the body can "heal" itself and I tried to follow what the guy in the trailer said to envision his spine put back together and then it healed without surgery by creating my own hypnosis script to review every part of my body and envision it cancer free. It was challenging to do and it required me to research how to make a script, learn how to mix two different audio files of the hypnosis and the music in the background and also to create the audio of my speech. I guess it can never hurt to try to do more and more to keep my body healthy and well post cancer. If you are interested in my script, email me at email@example.com.
This is what I do in the time between. ....
As you guys know, I am unemployed and trying to figure out what to do next - which is ironic as I used to run a small business about careers and finding work - I still cannot get over the irony. Check out my blog at thenextstep1234.com/blog as I am offering FREE resume reviews and edits to anyone who also had the cancer plot twist adventure.
When I graduated college, I gave the commencement address and I spoke about how life is like a "choose your own adventure" book and the only real "choice" we had made for ourselves at that point was our college choice (maybe) and major (usually). I spoke about how we had a whole adventure ahead of us almost 20 years ago and never did I ever think my adventure would take me through breast cancer. NEVER.
During my college time, I also got the chance to move to Italy and build amazing friendships that have lasted these 20 years. I had plans after getting my MBA to be the CEO of a large company. I wound up working really hard and moving up many corporate ladders, gaining tons of skills and talents along the way. I honed and used my communication skills to be the only person who would be asked to travel around the world to give presentations and training on all things professional. I became a college adjunct professor on the side to really feel fulfilled as helping those students reminded me of where I was and how far I had gotten.
I never thought I would get married or have kids and bam, one day in December of 2001, I was out with friends, met my soon to be husband and within 11 months we were living together (trust, my father LOVED that -- NOT!) and a few years later, we were married. I kept climbing that ladder but my husband had some health issues and then all of a sudden, we thought we would try to have a kid and 9 months later, my daughter was born. It was like she was there and ready to be born.
I balanced work and motherhood terribly. It was so hard with my husband dealing with issues and not a lot of help at all. At times, I cobbled together help but at the time, my father in law was suffering from pancreatic cancer, my mom worked full time and my dad was busy with his stuff, too. I forced myself to still try to be "Lisa, corporate extraordinaire" when in reality I was scared, postpartum and just a mess.
I also found that although I had met my goals and was making 6+ figures and had the title of Vice President that I did not think it was what I wanted at all. I guess that happens sometimes but for me, it was a big time shock to the system that what I always thought I wanted was not what it was cracked up to be. That big time job that fought to hire me by offering my tons of money was actually not as hands on or meaty as I thought it would be. My waist line was bigger, my heart was at home and I struggled big time.
I thought being a mom was all or nothing. I think about my childhood and how I felt when my mom left the house and it was all too much for me to process how to be a mom and still be me. I did not have the toolset to do that. I had been raised watching my grandma give up her life to care for us, knowing my mom could not handle being a full time mom and living with my dad and I punished myself daily to keep my life out of the equation. I did not care about ME anymore.
Then add in a few miscarriages -one which started when I was at work and my mom constantly trying to help me by telling me to stop working so I could focus on my daughter and boom, I went out on FMLA and never went back.
All of a sudden, I was home and no longer an income generating person - could no longer say I was vice president or get dressed or get out of the house, it seemed. I was depressed and anxious thanks to the huge influx in hormones and my own unhappiness. When I conceived my son, I spent the 9 months with bated breath expecting another loss. He made it here and I calmed down but still never ever thought about what I wanted to do. I did not think I had a choice.
I worked odd jobs, teaching college course, tried to be an entrepreneur and took a disaster job full time right before my diagnosis that I am assuming was part of my path but left me shattered and feeling like less than a human when I tried to do it during chemotherapy and was let go the day after my last chemo.
Now, I sit here and this is all pouring out of me because I am at a crossroads again, my friend. A chance to pick my own adventure, to figure out what that means, what this new future is for me. So long as I am here and healthy, that is awesome but it is just not enough, I think to keep me that way. You see, if I am not "busy" enough, I worry, I think, I consider each pain and figure it is cancer coming to kill me.
I have an enemy in my sites and it is one I must defeat to be here for my kids, my family, my husband and for the good things I want to accomplish still in my life. I know at any time, this enemy can raise up and take a hold on my organs and lead to my death. I DO NOT WANT THAT (who would?).
I am up for a couple of great opportunities but the old insecurities come back - the ones I never had until I tried to be the uber mom the one who did not miss anything, who put my kids first above everything and did not care for myself. I know I cannot be that person anymore as it could very well kill me. But my problem is that I do not know what person I AM. Am I a hard worker still, could I go to work every day (even summers) for full time and maybe miss out on things with my kids?
Will it make them stronger people to see me rocking my career with my new one boobed, pixie haircut and new mentality of how much I matter? I know no one on their death bed have said they wished they worked more but I look back at all of the things I once accomplished and could do and think about and wonder how much I gave up to live up to an expectation that does not really exist.
I think about the bills piling up and the sense of self worth that comes from paying one's own way in this world and how much we have been unable to do that once I stepped out of the workforce. I think about how my kids are growing up and that maybe, just maybe, having a working mom will help them know that life is a precarious balance.
Most of all, I think about how cancer is not welcome here anymore and how I can still be in charge of my life and what I need to do so people can learn from me, with me and through me that life isn't over til it's over.
What do you think?
So I have been diligent and dedicated to doing all that I can to hopefully make my body as inhospitable to cancer as possible. I do know that it does not mean I am in the "clear" and that I am still very close to being that me who had cancer in my body. As fast as time goes, it goes slow, you know?
Last year at this time I had just completed my second of eight chemotherapy treatments. I was lucky in that I was able to "bounce back" and work and avoid infection and basically did all of my chemos on time (except for a 5 day delay to up my platelet count which, at the time, felt like the end of the freaking world but in retrospect was really not a big deal).
I see now as I am super involved with the community of women (and some men) who go through this plot twist that I was super lucky. There are folks who cannot tolerate chemo (like literally their bodies break down and they wind up in the hospital for days) and there are folks who had infections from their surgeries and there are folks who went in for a simple procedure but found out the cancer had spread and a surgery would not be enough to help them...
At the time, of course, I did not know about these other alternate realities as I was so damn busy hiding from my actual reality. Yes, hiding. I did put on my smile and joke and get through the whole soup to nuts of cancer but I did it as though it was a bad dream that I would wake up from ... of course I realize now that it was not a bad dream BUT that it could always be "worse".
Now, I am in "fighting form" down to my high school weight and I deal with people consistently approaching me with that look. That look that says, "Oh, you are dying." And they ask me, "Are you okay? You look really bony." To which I go, "I am fine, thanks. I weigh what I did in high school and no one ever called me bony then so thanks." Then I will hear, "But are you sure you're okay because you are so thin." To which, again, "Thanks - no one ever told me that before as I still have my tummy and my curves (though just one I guess with the other breast gone... but yes I am ok as far as I know."
It never stops really. People just often do not know what to say or do around cancer survivors in training. It happens to me quite a lot and I chose to let it flow off my back now. I take the pitying looks and think about how much instead I pity THEM. They do not know yet that life is for the living. That nothing is worth getting stressed over. That they are beautiful no matter their shape or size. That even if things really suck right now it is nothing compared to dealing with a life threatening illness for themselves of their loved ones (God forbid). They do not have people who love them unconditionally and who they can IG chat with or call at 2am to share the new world, these new words and experiences we know and go through as cancer soon to be survivors.
I want to take a minute and take my hat off to the women I follow, who I have come to know and love, who are trying to do all that they can to take back their lives from this beast called cancer. I was lucky to have had my children before I was diagnosed with cancer. The type of breast cancer I had is one that makes any future children impossible, which at times, even though I am "older" at 41 is something that makes me think about what my 3rd child might have been like if I had been able to have another. I know I probably would not have had another but I had the choice before. Now, I do not.
My body has been in menopause for a year this month. I take a shot to suppress my ovaries every 3 months and I take a daily hormone inhibitor pill. Still, if I am you know with my husband, I have to use another form of protection JUST IN CASE. As my husband looked at me and I fell pregnant in the past (though struggled with some miscarriages), I have to be very careful as I do not want to be in the position where I fall pregnant and it's my life or theirs.
I follow women who were not lucky enough to have had their children already but still want to start a family. I think they are true heroes. It is not easy to plan and grow your family under normal circumstances and to do it after cancer (or the women who were diagnosed during pregnancy) WOW I want to say God bless and good luck to all of you who are out there building your families for the first or third time behind this wall of "cancer patient".
I spent my son's pregnancy worried and stressed after my miscarriages only for fear he would not make it but to worry also about your OWN health and if you can do it without waking the beast is even scarier. Of course, not all breast cancer is the same. Not all people have hormone positive breast cancer, as I do/did. My cancer was fed from ER/PR (estrogen and progesterine).
So this post is to all the soon to be mama's out there who know what it is like to be bald, to lose a boob, to lose their sense of constancy in this life - may your have tons of baby dust, be fertile and have uneventful pregnancies. May you all hear from your daughter as I did recently from mine that, "MOM, the world does not revolve around you and your ONE BOOB!" -- I mean, I had no idea of that until she told me. May you all hear your son say to you, "Mom, you are boring. Dad is more fun." (Yes, it is true but I am also an adult and my husband is a large child - in the best of ways, I love him dearly but he is just a big kid...)
So here is to us - the parents who know what battle scars look like, who know when to get stressed and when to just let it go. We have been to hell and back and we have no clue that once we have teenagers, it is ALL OVER. Can't wait to get there together!
This is what I do in the time between....
Al about how I found my "tribe" through social media and I hope to help you do the same. If you need any help navigating Twitter or Instagram, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, I am offering FREE resume help for other cancer patients to be "work ready" - check out my post on my other blog at www.thenextstep1234.com/blog/how-i-want-to-help-other-cancer-survivors. Thanks!
Some pics from a recent meet up :)
Instagram Stories are fast becoming my favorite thing to do and post - if you are not already following me on Instagram, please do I am @thetimebetweenis.
I have been living on the edge since cancer. I was someone who experienced things on an extreme level for many years. I lived in fear and anxiety. I would imagine myself in a situation and feel such fear that I would not be able to actually even consider being in said situation.
I had a phobia of traffic - of being stuck in traffic or being away from home too long. It was a lot for me to work around but I would force myself to do certain things and force myself NOT to do a lot of things. I definitely was experiencing the world of mental illness. I let me world shrink - it did not happen overnight. One day, I was flying around the world for work and fun and then all of a sudden, I did less and less. I stayed closer and closer to home when I was always meant to fly.
Sharing this is hard. It is embarrassing to think about all of the opportunities I missed, of all of the things I was not comfortable doing. Of how much I was not happy and comfortable in my skin, with my life and now I realize damn, I had it all. I did not have "cancer", I was truly free but in the disease of my own mind so not that free.
Now, I have no such fears. I refuse them, I refute them. I laugh at them. This week alone I have driven myself into the city for two different things. I have been focused on maybe being an entrepreneur again and building something exclusively mine. It is a lot to handle. In the midst, I have had meet ups with folks who I never would have met if not for this big c word.
It is hard to believe that I am still so close to my BD time (before diagnosis). It has only been a year and 2 months since I was diagnosed. In this time I have had to learn quickly how to retrain my brain, how to let go and be me, how to deal with the fear in a constructive way that maybe some day I could die from this disease. Instead, I refute that possibility and instead focus on LIFE on what I can do right now, here, today instead of worrying about my tomorrows.
It is one hell of a way to live and maybe someday I will forgive myself for not living this way BD -- ah, frig it, I already have.
This is what I do in the time between...
There comes a time when even the most people pleasers of people pleasers (me , I am their queen, hi nice to meet you) realize it must stop. That giving and giving to people who don’t appreciate it and would only give once to you no matter who they are must be turned down.
It’s hard. Really hard. I learned though that I need to focus on me, my husband and my kids. I need to stay healthy, in fighting form and I can’t do that when I’m bogged down by other stuff.
Some of that other stuff in addition to people pleasing is the run of the mill fear of dying and not keeping my promises.
I promised myself during chemo last year that I would change my ways. That I wouldn’t be a crazy helicopter nah shirt-mom. I wasn’t in the helicopter, I was like in the children’s shirts and not allowing them to be on their own or with others. I promised I would be more focused on what I need in my life. That I would take risks. That I wouldn’t settle for what I thought was being a “good mom” and putting myself last anymore.
And you know, so far, I am doing it little by little. I have learned to let go and let God in ways I never ever thought I could. I am like chill af now as the young kids might say... I do not get ruffled often. I do not panic anymore. I have a routine and a plan for managing most of these types of issues. As someone who always worried about everything I don’t worry anymore. Occasionally I get scared and spooked but I just roll with it by acknowledging the fear letting it sit with me for a few minutes and then dtmf down after the 5 minute mark.
I listen to a hypnosis by Seth Deborah called “victory over cancer” and it’s a great visualization technique to see my body healing or to help my body heal.
I also do mindfulness meditation, a novena every night before bed and exercise or at least walk 10k steps every day.
I eat well and have found that taking 3ml of melantonin helps me sleep like really sleep... like life before kids sleep. I found post surgery, chemo and being put in immediate menopause almost one year ago meant that sleep was now a challenge a real big challenge. I would lay awake for hours, despite being so tired. I wouldn’t dream much. I would wake up too early and not be able to rest again. I was taking 1-2 .5 milligram anxiety pills (have to check the name) from my oncologist every night to try to get sleep. Now, after a half hour of laying down, I am out cold. I get up at like 330 to pee and then boom right back to sleep til 6.
It’s amazing. I was born tired so getting to rest is huge for me.
This weekend, I worked on doing something really new. Both kids slept out and my husband and I took a surprise drive to Atlantic City w place we spent lots of time at before kids. We had a fancy dinner and also met up with an old friend of mine from grammar and high school!
I got home at 2am friends!!! And woke up at 7am because I had to get to my sons basketball game at 9! I am finding it’s ok to balance the different parts of me. I got some good news about some exciting opportunities for me to maybe just maybe be able to use my writing and social media skills as an income generator - more on that soon.
I volunteered to be part of the planning committee for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk for Staten Island and there’s more to that tooo coming soon! And I’m stepping wayyy out of my comfort zone again soon in February a few times - can’t wait to tell you all about that too!! You got to keep reading ;).
I continue to try to exceed expectations on this new normal. I have so many ideas and plans to help others adjust to this “new normal”. I am here and I plan on making the most out of whatever time I have left and I hope it’s a long ass time- what about you?
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