Thursday, December 27, 2012

One year ago...

As I lay here tonight contemplating sleep, I am acutely aware that a year ago tomorrow I had my biopsy done. A lot can happen in a year, eh?
A year ago I was pretty much on top of the world. I had lost a lot of weight, physically I felt fantastic. I was wearing a size 12 for the first time in probably 15 years. I was working out a lot lifting weights & doing intense cardio. I had a silly little lump in my groin that we thought we were being ridiculously over cautious having biopsied.
I remember going to the diabetes clinic for the fine needle aspiration in the morning on Dec 28, 2011. Strange place to do it I thought. They had a little closet in the back with a sweet young pathologist & her assistant. I recall being annoyed because she told me not to work out the day of the procedure. Funny I didn't give it another thought when I left there last December 28th. Figured that was the end of it.
We all know what happened next. Physically I've been pretty much a train wreck since then! Surgery, chemo, weight gain, radiation, inactivity, another surgery, low blood counts, transfusions, etc. those things have left me physically not what I was in many ways.
I can see now that I haven't allowed myself to "grieve" the loss of some of my physical attributes or to really accept that there are some likely permanent physical affects of this journey. I think now, just over 3 months cancer free, I am only just beginning to gain some of this perspective. I didn't understand why I couldn't just go back to what I used to do - diet, exercise, lifestyle. As i tried to force myself into it, i failed repeatedly to have the willpower & discipline I was used to. I've thought for the last 3 months that something was wrong with me, I was somehow inferior for not just getting right back on the wagon.
People said I need to give myself time. I smiled and nodded while thinking to myself, "whatever - time is for everybody else. I don't need time I need discipline".
I was wrong. I have needed time. I'm just now finding the ability to be nice to myself, to go a day without feeling ugly or fat or lazy, to get dressed without nearly breaking down in tears, to look at a picture of myself without feeling sick. I think I still need more time. I don't know how long but I have to trust that I will know when I'm ready to get back at it.
In the meantime I think I will take that advice (finally) to be patient with myself, to celebrate being alive & healthy (even if its not a size 12 healthy). I will exercise because it feels good not because I'm on some self imposed rigorous road march. I will eat foods that are healthy & will keep my body on its recovery path but not obsess over occasional treats or over indulgences.

My friend who has bad one hell of a medical year said it so eloquently in an email this week. She saiD even with all she & her husband have suffered thru, they would still rather be themselves than anybody else. Just stop & think about that comment. It's insightful & meaningful on so many levels.

And it's pretty much how I'm feeling tonight. I wouldn't trade what I've learned this year for anything in the world. Did it suck? Hell yes the vast majority of this year has sucked beyond all description. But I would much rather be the me I am today than the me I was 12 months ago. What I have surrendered physically has been replaced with so much more. Here's a list of things I've gained this year (notice pounds are not on the list!!)...
-I had no idea so many people cared about us
-I've reconnected with friends from years ago & my girls have had the chance to see the beauty & strength of adult friendships
-I've learned to rely on others & ask for help
-I've almost learned my limits - to know when I have to rest
-I've watched my beautiful family rally around me & give me strength & encouragement that words could not ever describe
-I've experienced such amazing support, understanding & patience from the incredible people & company I work with & for
-I've gained some compassion for others, an innate sense that you never know what another person is going thru
-I've gained an acceptance that not everybody knows how to help, what to say, or how to care & that all of those things are okay
-I've learned that what really matters as we navigate life are relationships. Things that interfere with relationships have to be reconciled & moved out of the way so that people can care for people. Life is too short not to do this.

I could go on and on but you get the idea. At thanksgiving I said I was thankful for cancer. And I mean it.

I'm sure glad it's Dec 28, 2012 tomorrow not 2011. But I am also sure glad I'm who I am today. I'm a better person than I was a year ago.

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