Now that I have completed my chemo and my cancer is in remission, I am doing my best to pick up the pieces and get on with my life … but every time I do, I get a stark reminder that I am not the same. I can’t just jump in and do things like I did before I had breast cancer and went through chemo. Each time I try to do something like I used to, I am faced with another setback and it just frustrates me all over again.
I have been feeling so blue lately and decided I needed to do things for me. These things would make me feel better not only physically, but would also stimulate my mind and be a way to alleviate stress – keeping me busy so I don’t have to sit around and think about how lonely and sad I really am.
I have begun reading books again, writing in my journal, meal planning and trying new recipes and I even joined a gym, but I prefer to walk outside in my neighborhood, so when the weather permits I take a ~2 mile walk with Pretty.
It has been making me feel really good … until it doesn’t. I’ve been having pain in my heels for the past several months, I attributed it to being sedentary for so long and all the weight I gained. But the pain began spreading up my legs from my heels and it was keeping me up and night and making it hard to walk. Finally, after a couple weeks of restless nights, I consulted a foot and ankle doctor and it turns out I have plantar fasciitis in both feet, which is what is causing the pain. So I got one of my feet wrapped, the other with a day splint, I have to use night time splints on both feet, take a prescription for pain/inflammation, and do certain stretches. The good news is after only a few days, my heels/legs don’t hurt as bad, bad news is I’ve had to take a few days off from walking so my feet/legs can begin to heal.
I asked the doctor how I managed to get plantar fasciitis in both feet and he said that sometimes because the chemo is poison, it just breaks down your body, and if there was even the tiniest inflammation before the chemo then the chemo would probably make it that much worse. Which adds up, because the pain started around June, which coincides with when I began chemo. It’s been painful, but I really just figured as soon as I lost some weight and began exercising it’d fix itself.
In addition, I have this weird stomach bug that won’t go away. I call them “phantom stomachaches;” they’re not quite as bad as the sickness I had during my chemo, but they’re pretty horrible and I can’t stop using the bathroom. Ugh! These things pop up once every few weeks or so. I’ve been dealing with a stomachache now for 3 days. It’s slowly getting better, but it needs to hurry up and go away. Christmas is coming and I want to enjoy it … I need at least one thing nice in 2016.
I still have not had a period since a random two-day period right after my first chemo treatment. I do have an appointment with my OB/GYN in early February so I will talk to her about it. Not to “self-diagnose,” but I did some research on this topic and it says that chemo MAY/CAN cause some women to go into early menopause, which may or may not be temporary. Considering some of the other side effects I had during chemo, this is not outside of the realm of possibility. But before I go blaming chemo for this, I want to hear what my OB/GYN has to say. I have enough stuff to blame on chemo!
I don’t know what I expected … but I surely didn’t expect all of this.
It’s like every time I want to stand up and say – I made it! I’m a survivor … let’s never speak of this deadly disease again –something else wrong pops up and it’s usually linked back to the chemo in some way. I have been done with chemo for 2 ½ months … yet, I am still having issues from it.
When you first get diagnosed with breast cancer (or any cancer, for that matter) your whole life changes and honestly, the only thing that you’re thinking about is surviving. You assume that once you have beaten the cancer and are in remission that things will automatically go back to the way they were before. You’re just all of a sudden transformed back into the same person you were. That couldn’t be further from the truth as I continue to learn daily.
I reflect often about my past. I’ve been thinking lately about how great my life was at this time last year. I was with my family celebrating the holidays, I had just bought a brand new car, Aiden and Pretty were good, I own a home, loved my job, was working out consistently, my self-confidence was at an all-time high and I was just so blessed and my life was so wonderful … then a few weeks later my life was turned completely upside down.
When I decided to have the bilateral mastectomy, I was supposed to get reconstruction at the same time. Which I did. However, my body attacked the expanders and after several trips to the ER, my surgeon’s office, being re-admitted into the hospital and extra surgeries, I had the expanders removed.
Now, I am done with chemo and still flat chested with scars across my chest that I have to see every time I look in the mirror. I am mad. These are not some motivating battle scars that remind me of my fight … these are scars that remind me of my pain, my sickness, my complications, how my life has forever been changed. I don’t want to see them. I want my reconstruction done … and I don’t want to have upcoming surgeries looming over my head.
Since the expanders didn’t work we have to look at other surgical options which are more invasive and require a longer recovery time and I have to wait until my body recovers from the chemo before I’ll be well enough to have the reconstruction surgery. So it would be late spring/early summer before I would be able to have the surgery. I lost ALL of summer 2016, and with the amount of issues my body likes to have when doing anything medical-related, I don’t want to risk losing summer 2017.
Then it will be football season and I enjoy being team mom, but even if I decide not to volunteer next season (which would be extremely unlikely, considering I volunteered for the position this past season with all the sickness from chemo), I still need to be able to watch and support Aiden at practice and his games. It’s very important to me to be there for him. Then, by the time the season ends, it will be about time for the holidays and I don’t want to be down and out for the holidays, so I will most likely end up waiting until January of 2018 until I get my reconstruction done … and I am mad.
I didn’t sign up for all this. I don’t want to get cancer again and given my family history, triple negative, invasive, aggressive breast cancer, and BRCA positive results, the bilateral mastectomy was the smartest option. But I am still a young(ish) woman who just turned 36. Going almost two years with no breasts is devastating. I don’t want to look on the bright side, because from my vantage point, there is no bright side – everything looks so bleek.
I feel unattractive. I have no chest at all, I wear my prosthetic breasts but I feel like a fraud with my fake boobs and my wig. I have put on weight, I am in pain from one thing or another, and it’s hard for me to walk due to my back issues and plantar fasciitis. Everyone wants companionship, but as I try to recover, I feel like that too, is something else that cancer has taken from me.
I want to put all of this behind me and find my new normal.