Tag Archives: warrior

Scars

22 Jul

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This week I started physical therapy on my arm. Remember, it was the neuropathy and lack of sensation in my left arm that actually helped discover my Stage 4 diagnosis. Anyhow, over the past couple of years my left arm has gotten weaker and the prickly/burning feeling has been magnified. I did a nerve conduction test and found out that I have nerve damage to the nerves in my brachial plexus from external beam radiation and it could actually get a little worse over the years. Not fun. Physical therapy was prescribed to help rehab the nerves that are left and somehow strengthen the muscles around those nerves. One of the side effects from this nerve damage is called paresthetica, which is basically persistent itching from damaged and irritated nerves. My arm is always itchy, numb, and tingly, and I now have scratched it so much that I have several little scars running up and around my left arm. It ain’t pretty and honestly, going to physical therapy is a little depressing. It reminds me that I’m sick and because of that illness, I’m damaged. The weather lately has been brutal on my breathing too…all those reminders.img_3895

I have a few scars, one on my neck from the three cancer surgeries, one on my shin from banging my leg into a car door years ago, and now, several scars on my arm from my scratching my ‘prickly nerve damaged’ skin.  ‘Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real.’~ Cormac McCarthy. Every scar serves to remind us of the stories that put them there but also to remind us of what we’ve overcome. I look at the scar on my neck and remember the three surgeries that put it there and how far I’ve come. The scars on my arm remind me of the 7 weeks of radiation that killed my nerves but also killed the cancer for awhile.

What about the scars you don’t see? The ones left by hurt, words, anger, discouragement, do those heal? I think it takes a really long time. I am fully aware of how damaging words and actions can be. When scars heal they change the texture of your skin, but what about the damage of scars on your heart and soul? Hurt always alters something. ‘It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I don’t fully agree. The wounds remain underneath but the scar toughens the exterior. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.’~Rose Kennedy. We are all damaged and scarred to some degree visible or not, and we should remember that when speaking to each other.

For now, I will keep going to physical therapy without getting mad at my body. I will look at all my scars and remember that I am strong.

Today I wear The Lipstick Journey lipstick in Fierce because that’s how I’m feeling 🙂

New Normal

23 Jun

scan day

My three month scan came and went and my lung nodules are still stable! Because of all the insurance craziness leading up to the scan, I wasn’t in a rush to get the results. My cancer has officially been stable for 2 years (next month) so now my scans move to every 6 months. It’s good and it’s bad. Every 3 months was hard but it felt comforting to keep tabs on those tumors, moving to every 6 months? Eh, I’ll try not to panic in between wondering if they’re growing.

I visit cancer centers for my job on a daily basis, ironic huh? Most of the people I speak to don’t even know I have cancer but I’m good with that. This past week I was speaking to a social worker about her role in a patient’s cancer journey and I ended up sharing with her that I myself have Stage 4 cancer. I could see her eyes and demeanor change as she shifted into ‘social worker’ gear. I told her that after this last scan I have felt more at ease knowing that my tumors have had little to no growth over the last two years; ‘still stable’ gave me a boost of hope. I told her that I was now trying to view my cancer as more of a chronic disease. This is my new normal, navigating a ‘normal-ish’ life knowing I have cancer. Yes, it’s weird.

On a podcast this week a cancer survivor said that while going through treatment, people would call her ‘warrior’ and ‘strong’ but she was just doing what she needed to do to survive. She said that integrating back into real life AFTER the tests and treatments was actually more difficult because there was no handbook, no one scheduling a test or bloodwork; she faced mortality and life became more ‘simple’. Simple meaning being grateful, loving others, being kind, appreciating time minus all the b.s. and drama and complaining and stressors that don’t really matter in the end. This is my mind daily, integrating into everyone’s normal daily life but having a more simple mindset because with metastatic cancer nothing is ‘normal’ living anymore. I can’t forget I have several cancerous nodules in my lungs and I can’t pretend that I don’t think they’re ever going to grow. How do I navigate normal and not really normal on a daily? Advice appreciated but I’ll start with grateful. Most of the time I view life as simple like the podcast chick, on occasion I get swept up in the drama but then I remember that life is fleeting.

How long is a long life? In a few months I’ll be turning 50, FIFTY!! I’ve technically lived a long life already. How do I want to live the rest? Warrior strong and not tinged with sadness and cynicism that having cancer can sometimes bring. Simple. Intentional. Grateful.

Today I wear Bare Minerals Gen Nude lipstick in XOX (which is a dusty rose) with The Lipstick Journey lipstick in Promise on top. The lipstick I created has enough pigment to wear alone but the texture is also perfect to layer on top of something you may already have to ‘adjust’ the tones. Putting Promise on top of this lipstick just lifts it up a notch and adds a tiny but of shimmer. Cheers!

 

Getting Older

22 Oct

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I read in a magazine last week that the United States is now the number one country for cosmetic procedures surpassing Brazil. We have become a country obsessed with bettering ourselves from the outside in instead of the inside out. What happened? At a time when we get fired up about politics, race, gender identification, and identity, we have also become #1 in cosmetic procedures…just sounds funny to me. Don’t get me wrong, I just sat in a chair getting my hair colored to cover my grays and I’ve invested a good bit of money in anti-aging creams and serums just to slow it all down. We have so much pressure these days to preserve our youth and appearance it’s crazy. I have a daughter who is a senior in high school and I know that no miracle cream or procedure will help me look even close to her age. I find that as much as we feel young on the inside you don’t really realize your true age until you’re surrounded by young people; teens, 20 somethings,etc…they just speak their own language.

This week I celebrate my birthday and of course this is the week I go back for another scan to see if and how much my tumors have grown. What a strange time it is as I play mental gymnastics with my head and heart. From all my walks with Relay for Life the posters that affected me the most were the ones that said ‘Happy Birthday’ because they reminded me to be grateful for another year of life. Well here I am, getting older and trying to stay grateful despite the current circumstances. It’s not that easy. I’m grateful, I’m sad, I’m anxious, you name it, a plethora of emotions as I anticipate the scan and what the future holds. How quickly with cancer my focus has gone from the desire to hang on to my youth to now longing to be able to grow old. I want to see my youngest graduate high school, I want to be at their weddings, I want to meet my grandkids, I want to be old and gray and retired with my husband by my side; none of us actually has this guarantee do we? Sigh. For now I will gaze at the stars, breathe fresh air, look into the eyes of my loved ones and hug them tight as often as they’ll let me. I will pray for peace in my soul and I will try to focus on being more grateful instead of fearful. I get to celebrate another birthday, what a privilege it is to be alive!img_6922

I want to feel all there is to feel, he thought. Let me feel tired, now, let me feel tired. I mustn’t forget, I’m alive, I know I’m alive, I mustn’t forget it tonight or tomorrow or the day after that.’~R. Bradbury

She worked her toes into the sand, feeling the tiny delicious pain of the friction of tiny chips of silicon against the tender flesh between her toes. That’s life. It hurts, it’s dirty, and it feels very, very good.’~O. Card

In all things give thanks’~ 1Thess 5:18

Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance.’~ James 1:2-3

Today I wear the one lip product in my purse at all times…Dior Addict Lip Glow in pink (which is the original and only color available until recently). It’s a lip balm that’s moisturizing but also brings out the natural pink in your lips. I love it! I chose it because of the name and because it just highlights what you’re already made of. Cheers and glow on!

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