32 Weeks Post Chemo - One Year Anniversary!
By chiagal on August 24, 2011
Saturday marked a full year from my breast cancer diagnosis. It still seems like yesterday I was sitting at my desk at work when I got the phone call. And yes, I was called at work and told over the phone that I had cancer. Not sure I ever really put much thought into how I would want to find out I had cancer before that day….but I am pretty sure receiving a phone call at work wouldn’t be at the top of the list!
Thinking back to that day, the thing I remember most was the overwhelming sense of fear I had. Fear of not really knowing what my diagnosis meant. Fear of having a something inside of my body that could kill me. Fear of chemotherapy and all the other treatments I was sure to have to undergo. Fear of losing my hair (yes, that was one of the first things running through my mind). Fear of the unknown. And an overpowering fear of dying.
I initially thought I had been handed a death sentence…..that my future was being stripped away from me and that I didn’t have a say in the matter. That’s the scariest thing about cancer. You find out you have it, and it takes some time to fully understand and know what your diagnosis means. The first few weeks you assume the worst…and then as time progresses, you learn more about your specific situation and your doctor’s develop a treatment plan. For me personally, once I had my plan and knew what the next few months would hold I was able to wrap my head around things more. The sense of feeling helpless and like you have no control subsided a lot.
I’m asked how cancer has changed me quite a bit…and I think I always say the same thing in response. It may sound crazy, but cancer has really been a blessing in disguise of sorts for me.
I’m much more outspoken then I used to be. And while that may not always be a positive, for me it was. I bit my tongue a lot before and didn’t speak my mind very freely for fear of upsetting people. So in the end, I was the one who would continuously be disappointed or frustrated because I couldn’t say what I wanted or needed. And not that I spew random demands out of my mouth now, I’ve just realized and accepted that it’s ok to vocalize what I want even if it means I anger, upset, disappoint someone else. They’ll get over it eventually right?!
I’m a more confident person. This sounds very superficial, but the majority of my self-confidence came from the way I looked before cancer. By no means am I claiming to be Heidi Klum, but my confidence was always boosted by being athletic / in shape and feeling pretty. When you pack on 20 lbs and lose all your hair, that doesn’t work so well anymore. I had to learn how to feel good about myself at any shape and size and realize that I have a lot more to offer outside of looks. Turns out I have a pretty good personality!!
I’m overall just a happier person. I realized that it’s ok to put myself and my own happiness first…which goes hand in hand with speaking more freely. I don’t (at least the majority of the time anyways) sweat the small stuff anymore. I used to be so stressed out about every little aspect of my life. Don’t get me wrong, I still do stress out at times, I’ve just realized a lot of things that felt like they were the end of the world before….really aren’t that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. Life is way too short and fragile to be unhappy!
Summed up, I’m in a much better, healthier, and happier place then I was. And while life has thrown me some crazy curveballs over the last year, I’ve grown from each of them and am very thankful to be where I am today….alive!!
It’s been a really busy and exciting last two weeks. I went on a post-cancer celebration trip with a few girlfriends two weekends ago….hence my lack of blog last week. Vegas is really hard to recover from!! I didn’t feel “normal” again until probably 3 days later! I’ll write more about my Vegas trip next week….after I decide how much of what happened in Vegas will stay in Vegas! ;)
I also had my first post cancer mammogram a week and a half ago. I didn’t think I’d get my results that day, but I did and everything looked clean! I was surprised at how painful the mammogram was on my cancer side. Granted, I don’t compress my boobs on a regular basis, but I don’t really have any pain in that boob anymore….not even when I exercise, so I was expecting it to be just the typical state of uncomfortable. I was definitely wrong!
And probably the most exciting news is that I was notified last week that I was selected to be inducted into my college’s athletic Hall of Fame! I believe there is only one other gymnast who’s been picked…so I feel really honored. I don’t know much about it yet, other than the induction will take place this fall…I think half time at a football game…so I’ll be heading back to campus again for the first time in years!!
I meet with my surgeon today for the first time since my post surgery check-up. He’ll check and see how I’m healing since 4 months have passed from completing radiation. I think I’m at the point where I could see a plastic surgeon now…if I so choose…to make my boob look normal again. Not that it looks completely abnormal, in all honesty you can’t really tell that it looks any different unless I’m naked, but I’d still like to get it fixed for me!
I’m posting both last week and this week’s photos below. Here are photo’s from 31 weeks post cancer…..
And now photos from 32 weeks post chemo…