Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Promise Kept; A Promise Broken

When you have cancer, you make a lot of promises.   It mainly happens in the middle-of-the-night when you have insomnia and are lying quietly, alone with so many thoughts going through your head.  These were the times I hated the most.  And it was during those times that I would make silent promises about how I’m going to be a better person.  And one of the things I would promise, is that if I lived through treatment and ever become a “cancer survivor” that I would be a healthier person.  Because after going through all that effort to survive, I should try to make sure I am here a while to enjoy it.
After treatment, I gave myself a little leeway.  I knew I wanted to get healthy, but I also wanted to enjoy freedom for a while.   After so many months of not being able to taste food and during a short time not even really being able to eat – I let myself eat what I wanted.  I particularly enjoyed the holiday season with all the cookies and wonderful meals!
I knew that once the holidays were over, I was ready to make a change.  I want and need to be healthy.  More than ever, I want to live.  And that drive to survive is powerful.  It changes you.  I’ve dieted a hundred times, and I can’t say that survival was ever my motivation for weight loss.  I wanted to look better and  I hated the way I was treated as an overweight person.  But it was never about survival the way it is now.   My hope is that the cancer won’t come back and that losing weight will just be about living well.  But if the cancer does come back, being healthy can only improve my chances.
Robbie and I started the first weekend after New Years.  And in all honesty, it feels great so far.   I’m using a website to track calories and exercise.  It really does come down to calories in, calories out.  There are many different programs out there, and I’m sure lots of them work.  But I want something that is long lasting and easy to manage.  I’m down about 12 pounds and feeling good.  I’m managing my calories well – planning around indulgences that are going to be a part of life (i.e., a dinner out on the weekend or meals on the road when traveling).  Last weekend we went out to one of our favorite restaurants and I looked forward to it all day.  But I was smart and prepared.  I ate very low-calorie meals and avoided snacks to enjoy our evening.  And surprisingly, I couldn’t even finish the food on my plate that evening because I’m finally starting to get used to eating less.
Cancer, maybe you’ll save my life.  Wouldn’t that be grand? 
P.S.  I know I said I was going to stop the blog.  This is the promise I’m breaking.  I was finding that I was in a series of mostly negative posts that were all about trying to mentally recover from the whole experience.  I have turned a page and may occasionally post again since I have a better outlook and am accomplishing some goals related to cancer recovery. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Paranoia or Perceptive?

When I was diagnosed with cancer, it was hard not to be angry at myself. I had symptoms that I ignored for months. And once I found out what I had, I couldn’t believe that I had let it all go on for that long.

I think a promise that all we cancer survivors make, is that we will never do that again. Ever. So now, every little ache or pain is analyzed and googled, and crossed-referenced with symptoms of lymphoma or even other types of cancers.

For the last few weeks I have had a pain in my arm that I’m 99% sure is from pulling a heavy backpack from the back seat of my car into the front seat, yet I’ve checked to see if arm pain can be a cancer symptom. FYI, it is probably not.

So this week’s ailment is a lump in my right armpit. It could be a swollen lymphnode caused by a bacterial or viral infection. It might be an infected hair follicle. Or an even sillier answer is that it could be a pimple under the skin. But it could also be the dreaded cancer. My subconscious tells me to wait it out – that it will probably disappear a few days from now. But the last time I trusted myself; I had cancer for months and didn’t do anything about it.

So today, I broke down and called for an appointment with the oncologist. I will see him tomorrow. And I hope he laughs at me for my silliness and bills me an outrageous amount for the unnecessary visit. I don’t want him to tell me that I’ve been very perceptive and smart. Those are the last words I want to hear. Isn’t that a rarity?

So here is hoping that he laughs in my face.

Just a brief update - it was a "clogged sweat gland."  Woohoo!  Never thought I would toast a clogged sweat gland, but that is exactly what we did!  I told the Doctor that I felt silly and paranoid, and she said not to feel silly, that I earned the right to be paranoid when I was told I had cancer.