When I first typed the blog I had in mind I was focusing on things I wish I would have known before my journey with breast cancer started. It was a list of 10 things and I'll still list them here but with a different spin. After I typed it I read the story of the woman who was mauled by a chimp and how she received a full face transplant. Then I read a story of yet another missing young college student. Then I read...well you get the picture. There is pain and suffering everywhere but I'm not minimizing mine or anyone else's. I'm just acknowledging that fact. I felt grateful that my journey, as hard as it's been and surely will be, is paved with friends and family that love me and will support me. So here's the list I originally typed followed by the positive affect on my life.
1) Cancer sucks. I don't just mean it's horrible, nasty, invasive, life-changing and deplorable. I mean it really sucks big time. There is no good that can come of it.
The truth: Yes, cancer does suck. Yes it is nasty. But there is good. I have made some incredible friends. I have family that will support me no matter what - that "in sickness and in health" phrase is being hardily adhered to. I have been told I am inspiration by people I never thought would think I was anything.
2) Be prepared to be in pain. Not run of the mill pain. I mean nagging, constant, activity-killing pain. You hurt when you pee. You hurt when you brush your hair. You hurt walking to your car.
The truth: Yes, there is nagging, constant pain that keeps me from doing much of anything. But I have learned that I don't have to be the end all be all for everyone. I have learned I can take care of myself and miraculously food gets cooked and clothes get washed.
3) Cancer will take a lifetime away from you even if it doesn't outright kill you. Period. No matter what.
The truth: Yes it will take a lifetime. But you will get life in return. Not from cancer. But from somewhere deep inside you will find that the floor can be dirty while you spend time with your kids. You find that takeout is ok so you don't have to do dishes.
4) Cancer victimizes you. No matter how strong you are or how many degrees of a black belt. You will be a victim and it will take something from you. It will win at least one battle even if you win the war.
The truth: Yes you do become a victim. Acknowledge that. Be ok with that. Then fight back. I could wallow in my self pity or I could hold my head up and move on. It's hard. It's really hard. I cry a lot - victims often do. But when you look it in the eye and take that punch and block what it's giving.....not amount of anything can match that feeling.
5) There is no normal for the foreseeable future.
The truth: Yes there is no normal. But what's normal? Isn't it overrated? Is there anything so pressing that you can't take several months to just live and breathe? Yes, things may have to wait but there are Level 4 instructor testings at least twice a year. And Disney ain't going anywhere.
6) Cancer will require you to give up things. Some for a while. Others forever. Be prepared to give up daily activities that used to bring some pleasure.
The truth: Yes, you will have to give up things. Things like vanity. Pride. Self-reliance. The Super-Woman costume.
7) You will be angry. You will cuss like a sailor. You will hate how you look and feel.
The truth: Yes you will be angry. But what is wrong with being angry about something as bad as cancer? If you were ok with it you might also be ok with a mugger shooting you down in the street. Be angry. Say what you feel. And be ok with not being ok. Time will heal.
8) You will need counseling. I knew there was counseling available but little ole me didn't think I would need it. You think you will be ok because all you want is to be cured of cancer. Take the boobs. Take the organs. Take a leg. At least I'll live, right?
The truth: You really do need counseling. No one should have to try and sort through all those feelings alone. My truth - I had built in counselors called hubby, daughters, Mom and Dad, friends and wavemasters.
9) You will need physical therapy. Cancer and treatments make your body look, feel and function differently. You will never again be like you were before.
The truth: All true. But while cancer tries to kill and unfortunately succeeds all too often, survival rates are rising and research shows those people lead happier, healthier lives after cancer than before and those around them do too.
10) Cancer sucks.
The truth: It really does.
My journey is just beginning. I live with the reality every day that my life is not the same as it was before. I've given up so much. And it will take a lot to gain back all that I've lost. But that fight is worth fighting and winning. I have a feeling the hard part is still ahead. Surgery was hard. Recovery is hard. I could hide away in my pain and self pity, but in reality I can't do that forever. Part of me wants to. Part of me wants to fight. Part of me believes the truths I've written and I'm betting on the ninja in me.