January 23, 2012

Check-up time and a new oncologist...

It is time to travel back to Texas to meet with my Ayurvedic practitioner, Sharon Kapp at www.houston-yoga-ayurveda.com.  It has been 90 days since relocating from Texas, back to Oregon; travel arrangements are nearly finalized for a quick trip to Houston.  I am filled with excitement to visit with Sharon, learn how I am progressing, and consider treatment adjustments.  While in Texas, I hope to connect with sons, I miss them terribly! 

At the urging of my PA (physician assistant) Jodee Rundall, I agreed to meet with a new oncologist, though I continued to question why in the world I agreed to walk into yet another doctor’s office.  Nevertheless, I thought I would have a couple months to get used to the idea until I received a call from Dr. Kenyon’s (oncologist) office to schedule my appointment less than a week later!  I was so resistant to seeing an oncologist, especially one that resides in the same office as Dr. McGregor, the oncologist that spoke to me in an incredible distasteful and mocking tone during a telephone call in December.  Nonetheless, I reminded myself that nothing happens by accident and there is a reason I am meeting with this doctor, I simply did not have clarity as to why.  Armed with a positive attitude, I met my new oncologist.  The appointment was outstanding!  The doctor and his nurse practitioner were very respectful of my choices, agreed to monitor my blood work, schedule ultrasound mammograms, along with providing guidance as needed.  Additionally, Dr. Kenyon has added an additional tumor marker test that will assist in monitoring the success of my treatment.  I plan to repeat my blood work next week and am hopeful my tumor markers will remain within normal range.

On Thursday I began another six-day liver/gallbladder cleanse.  Staying close to the bathroom was necessary in the beginning however, things seem to have stabilized.  I am bracing myself for day six, and then the real movement fun begins!  In the not too distant future, I plan to outline in detail my treatment strategies, how they work, and why I have chosen each treatment.

The peaks and valleys of this journey remain plentiful.  At moments it is challenging to stay in the positive zone; not allowing my mind to wonder into the “what if” zone.  Living in the present and not overthinking or worrying about the future brings me peace.  Admittedly, the reality of my health status, at times, causes me to stumble; it is unsettling.  For now, I seek to live while I am alive.  
Live big.  
Love freely.  
Laugh often.

Today, I am hopeful~

January 12, 2012

Knock, knock; guess who?

On Monday, I was leaving an appointment with Jennifer Christy, my massage angel, driving home when I began experiencing a bathroom emergency.  I thought to myself, why did I fail to ask Jennifer if I could use her bathroom, I mean I had already downed two large cups of tea.  It is not as though I was in a rush as I was busy cleaning the seat of my pants after noticing it was adorned with spots of brown around my body’s evacuation site.  I apparently sat in something of the brown persuasion. Good grief!  Back to the story, as I refocus … I barely made it to a public bathroom before urinating all over myself.  Relief at last, followed by the discovery of a long forgotten visitor … Auntie Flow!  Holy wow, I know.  This is simply too good to be true!  I did it; I reversed menopause and am back on track; my body is finding balance and normalcy. No more menopause, no more night sweats no more hot flashes!  This is welcome news and comes on the heels of retiring my church-lady fan from my purse a couple short weeks ago.  Awe, the little things culminate into something glorious and life altering!  Nice to see you again Auntie Flow~   

Earlier in the week, I had the opportunity to connect with a new friend, Shawna Troncale; she too seeks to find balance.  In May of 2011, she was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer; she is 35 years of age and has three children under the age of 11.  Shawna keeps a blog as well www.lovingonshawna.com.  Being so young and facing a serious diagnosis, as we both are, leaves you feeling alone sometimes.  How refreshing it is, to connect with another woman who is traveling the same journey as I.  She understands firsthand the range of emotions I feel and is living similar experiences.  I expressed to her that we are in this together!  Shawna is a strong and inspirational individual; please send good thoughts and prayers her direction as she seeks to find peace with her diagnosis and treatment options that will serve her best.  

One of the most beautiful gifts you can give an individual facing a serious health diagnosis is to support them in every decision they make to save their life, without judgment or commentary.  No one wants to live more than the directly impacted person does!  Daily, I make an effort to not take on the identity of my diagnosis.  My diagnosis is not who I am as a person; it does not define me.  I will not make cancer the center of my identity; it is simply a life experience.  Nor do I fancy the term “cancer survivor”; to me it puts cancer at the center of one’s life; it is as though a microphone and spotlight blanket the cancer diagnosis.  It is critical for me to live by my belief especially when there is uncertainty brewing in my mind.  

Last week, I awoke in the early morning hours and was not feeling well, I felt as though I was having a panic attack of sorts and my stomach was not well.  I believe this to be a physical manifestation of what was going on in my head.  What I quickly realized is that I need to remind myself that I am safe, I am loved, and I am at peace. This has become my daily mantra I repeat multiple times throughout the day, especially as I am drifting into sweet slumber.  Living in the present is huge and keeps me grounded.  Trust – I must trust that I am making the right choices and decisions for my body, mind, and soul.  Love – I must love myself just as I am.  This is all a part of embracing and holding close to – Strength, Hope, Courage.

Today, I am hopeful~

January 2, 2012

I figured it out and it begins with…

Tis time "for giving" back the pain to the circumstances where it was created, reframe, let the wounds heal and "for getting" back your power to express your authentic, love-created self. BE YOU...you are the only one who may. What a wonderful you, you are! (Borrowed FB posting)

After reading the above words in a Face Book posting, I put pen to paper and began processing residual childhood hurt weighing heavy on my heart for far too many years.  As I authored a letter to my parents, I quickly realized this was not a letter for them it was for me.  Clarity swiftly and unexpectedly arrived as I wrote the following words.

…I too felt that in these moments you considered what life would be like if Amy was living or if the two of us could change places.  I felt, as though I was less than and there was nothing I could do that would ever be good enough.  For the first time in my life, at this very moment, I realize that I have been living in the shadows of a sister I never knew who lived on this earth for only a short moment in time.  The idea of her life; how it [life] may have manifested itself if she were living.  I felt, as though I was a constant reminder of the baby girl that was lost and for this reason, I was now an outsider.
I felt as though:
1. I was a reminder of a child that was lost
2. I was resented
3. I was an outsider
4. I was not liked or loved
5. I was less than
6. I was never going to be good enough
7. I was not worthy
“Amy was so special that God called her back home to be with him” (parents stated). I thought, if this was the case, where did this leave me, was I not special.  I was surely being punished!  

This was one of the biggest reflective realizations of my life; it may have taken many years but at last, I understood.  I was very young when my sister passed away; I believe I was around six or seven years of age.  The words my parents used to explain her passing were meant to comfort however; my filter received the message much different, especially because I was the only living girl in the family.  For all these years, I never really understood why I never felt good enough and my self-confidence lacked sorely.  How could I possibly believe I was a special girl if special girls go to live with God?  Understanding what cultivated my pain has allowed me to release the hurt and let go of these wounds after many years.  Last evening I felt lighter and free.

Many years ago, I acknowledged that my parenting ideology differs from theirs [parents].  There is always a reason behind ones’ behavior – people do well if they can – it was a challenging time for my parents in the early days.  I have long taken issue with, what I see as my parents overuse and misguided use of corporal punishment; it makes me physically ill, to this day, to hear a child being spanked.  I firmly believe that if they had to do it all over again, they would make different choices however; spanking would remain present yet more appropriate.  Equally, I do not much fancy avoidance; acting as though there is not an issue when clearly there is an issue needing attention.  This works for some individuals, not for me.  It is what it is.  The end.  

Today, after many years of estrangement, I visited my parents.  We had a lovely exchange of pleasantries; I did not feel as though I was less then or not worthy.  I was confident and secure.  I had to chuckle, prior to my departure,  my mother hastened my boys over to her Christmas tree to point out a photo ornament that I do not much fancy of me as a child.   With a giggle, I turned to my father and remarked that it is good to know that some things never change; at least she [mother] is consistent. I then thought to myself that each relationship is unique and different and this is okay.
Living in the present, is a beautiful gift I have given to myself.  It allows me to see today, in large part unfettered by the past or the future.  It is time to resolve, dissolve, and let go of childhood hurt.  January 1, 2012 was the day that this happened for me.  Since my cancer diagnosis, July 7, 2011, I embarked on a journey of self-discovery and have made peace and found clarity in abundance.  I feel lighter now.  My breath flows easier.  I am at peace.  

                                                    Grandma LeGall
As a child, my closest relationship was with my Grandma and Grandpa LeGall; they understood me and loved me where I was at, no matter what.  I visited my Grandma LeGall today; she resides in an Alzheimer’s assisted living facility.  I am thankful that she remembers me, even with my post chemotherapy hair, or lack thereof.  I am thankful that she is always in a delightful mood when I see her; her smile is magical.  When I am close to her, I feel her love and somehow feel the love of my grandfather, whom has passed, when in her presence.  She was excited to learn that I have relocated back to Oregon and we will be able to spend time together on a regular basis.  She gently asked me why my hair was so short and I told her that I have breast cancer and lost my hair after going through chemotherapy.  She looked into my eyes and smiled deeply at me.  In that moment, her eyes did the talking and I received her message.  We embraced as I departed; I whispered in her ear “I love you”, she whispered back “I love you”.  Her embrace comforted me; there is nothing better than a hug from grandma! 

Today, I am hopeful~