17 1/2 Weeks Post Chemo......Now What?

It's been over two full weeks since I’ve officially finished my active treatments for cancer and oddly enough, I’m not as happy as I thought I would, or should, be for someone in my situation. I’m much more down, frustrated, disappointed, bitter, slightly depressed, and just plain feeling-sorry-for-myself now than I was when I found out I had cancer, went through chemo, went through radiation, etc….to put it mildly, I’m in a serious funk.

Maybe it’s because I have more time on my hands to think and reflect now. For the last 8 months, my days and weeks consisted of doctor appointments, various treatments and tests, blood draws, etc. This may sound strange, but you’re made to feel so special at each and every one of those appointments…like you’re part of some special cancer club. I received endless support, words of encouragement, and outpouring of love and understanding from every nurse, doctor, and technician I came in contact with during this whole ordeal…and without even realizing it, came to rely on it. It’s almost like I had a set of my own personal cheerleaders rooting me on along the way. And now that I’ve been released back to normal life, I realize how much I miss that. And not that I don’t get (and APPRECIATE) that support from loved ones, family, friends…I truly do. Every phone call, text message, card, email, prayer that I still continue to receive has meant the world to me…but I still feel a little lost.

I was monitored so closely for what seemed like forever, so not having that constant TLC anymore has thrown me for a loop. My life has revolved around my cancer since last summer, so I feel like the question “now what?” is a scrolling ticker through my mind every day. It’s been a little bit of a challenge for me to resume normal life again. I was anticipating feeling very excited and relieved when radiation finished. And I’m very happy to be done, but that happiness is over-shadowed.

Resuming normal life has given me time to think about and reflect on this whole ordeal. I’m embarrassed to admit that I feel more sorry-for-myself now than I did when I was going through chemo and radiation. I’ve definitely had more ‘why me’ moments in the last few weeks then I’ve had in the last few months. The reality that my life is forever changed sinks in more and more every day and that’s hard to accept sometimes. Throw in the daily reminders of my lack of hair and fungus looking nails and it becomes really tough not to get depressed.

Fact of the matter is cancer wasn’t part of my master plan for life. Sounds silly to say that but it’s true! I didn’t plan for cancer…and (not that I need to say it, but I’m going to anyways) didn’t WANT cancer….so now dealing with its aftermath has been a real cramp on my style!! I don’t feel as carefree as I once was and I want to be. I don’t have as much fun in life as I used to and I want to have fun again. I don’t see the positive aspects of life as much anymore and I’m tired of being a debbie downer. Simply put, I don’t feel as happy as I used to be and I miss that more than anything. As much as I wish a new pair of shoes, purse, or materialistic purchase would knock me out of my funk, I know that’s not the case this time….I need to be patient. I know time heals all things…and I am lucky because I’m healthy and have time on my side…but I’m ready to be as close to the old Nicole as I can be post-cancer.

End of rant.

From an overall health perspective I feel really good. I feel like my energy levels are back up to where they used to be. My nails are growing in nicely too…despite how nasty I think they are to look at. My nub nail has been a real pisser because I can’t paint my nails and hide the nastiness anymore. Nothing draws more attention than a stump of a nail painted in “Lincoln Park After Dark”!

I’ve got lots of waviness going on in the back of my head…you’ll see in the photos below. I finally have enough hair that I can pull and twist it in my fingers. And if I really wanted to…I probably have long enough hair now to clip in some sort of tiny hair accessory…much like a little girl would do. But I’m 32, not 2, so you won’t see photos posted of me with plastic barrettes in my hair any time soon.

My fat-to-fit challenge is progressing nicely. More so because I’ve been trying to eat a lot healthier and cut out snacks. I wish I could say it’s because I’ve been working out like a mad-woman the last two weeks…but that’d be a lie. I’ve taken a serious fall from the workout train….but will get back on track soon. I wanted to start the crossfit classes I’ve been talking about this week, but have to take two introductory classes first…which are only offered at limited times in the week and don’t work with my schedule this week…so I can’t take those until next Monday and Tuesday. Major bummer! I’ve lost a total of 11 lbs to date. I still have about 7 lbs to go…but I feel really good about where I’m at. I’m finally fitting back into my normal work pants again….and that is a major win!! My work wardrobe has been really drab the last few months because I couldn’t fit my fat ass into anything. And call me crazy, but I feel much more motivated and productive at work when I have a cute outfit on.

Photos from 17 ½ weeks post chemo are below…

www.chiagal.com

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