Monday, November 23, 2015

Taming Fear

Hi is Monday:) Kinda loving being back to blogging and seeing everyone again. Popping over to other blogs and seeing what is up with you all! :) So today I am gonna tackle a big one for me..fear. There is not much about cancer that does not scream fear. From the first mention of the big C it is well...terror.

When I was in my early twenties my Mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Like many of her generation (born in 1923) avoiding the whole thing was common. Sadly it also lead to much later diagnoses and poor results. Mom had a large tumor that had spread to, and beyond her lymph nodes. I walked through chemo and radiation with her.. hair loss and complications from treatments. A few years of calm before she it came back with a vengeance. She struggled with it for several years before succumbing to liver cancer in the end. We lost her in 1987.  I was 27 years old and very pregnant with my daughter Kate. I found out about cancer very early in life. I felt that fear early on as I watched my Mom struggle to cope and survive. was a secondary terror.. a secondary fear. Her's was primary. Something I think is very hard to truly comprehend unless you have been there and fought that beast.
That said..for many years after that I was obsessed with when women were dying of cancer. I looked at the obituaries daily to see when women had passed away from cancer. I know..that was just weird! It shaped my eating habits and my social ones as well. I was not a drinker or smoker. I tried to eat well and exercise. I read books on how to avoid it and breastfed my kids. I was always aware of the possibility of it striking my body. I eventually quit reading the obits..tried to work on what I could to avoid getting it and had my cancer screenings and mammos. The fear was there..just well..not exactly real. Fuzzy..

After I insisted on my lump being excises..right away..and then insisted on a biopsy also..there it was..cancer. I received the phone call from my GP...she needed to see me. No she didn't..I didn't have to even go in to know. It was like some horrid TV show really. I walked in the front door and the receptionist looked up and with tears in her eyes said...I am so sorry Sarah! OMG!!! This is where the real fear starts. Then it is a whirlwind of crazy appointments, impossible decisions would you like to keep all of your boob..part..both are the insane statistics. Truth be told, it was good that I recorded those first few meetings..cause I didn't remember much. The color of my socks..the carpet ( yup I took this picture)..his voice..that screamed to my empathic ear.."she is not gonna survive this". Then comes the..your tumor is large..aggressive and very uncommon. Well..hello..its me..nothing is ever common LOL~Deep fear.

So the hard part here is this...yes, you fear for your life..that you will lose it..or spend years dealing with this beast. But the big least for me was leaving my kids behind. Nonni was ten at the time and Fox 15. My wonderful older daughters were just beginning their adult lives and needed me too. I was absolutely not ready to exit stage left. I was determined to battle this beast and win. But the fear and terror you feel as a parent is well..overwhelming. Trying to wrap my head around it was crushing. So I fought..and I won this one. Let's hope I have scared it away for good. That leads to the other part of this..the after part. As one lucky enough to have an after part...

Cancer is not like other diseases ..your more likely to know the cause. Like diabetes..there is generally something to be done about often know why you have it. But many cancers like breast cancer are sneaky beasts. You have no clue really what exactly it was that set off your system to allow it. So you think about it..a lot. Was it the medication I was I ate..water  I swam in..stress that I was dealing goes on and on. So the fear now is..what the hell gave me this and how do I avoid it again! So you are constantly feeling the need to analyze everything. It is exhausting, terrifying..and anxiety creating madness. At some point you have to just scream STOP! That is what I struggle with daily.. making my way back to a life that is not fear driven. I mentioned post traumatic growth in one of the last couple posts..that is what I am working on. Moving beyond the post traumatic stress that cancer creates and into post traumatic growth.

I have always been a.."there is a silver lining in everything" kinda gal. So this week I am stepping away from the stress, being present, and stepping onto the path of growth. Am I still scared..yuppers. Do I still breakdown and cry when Disney kills off another mama..oh geesh yes. But I know without a shadow of a doubt..there is something in all this terror and fear that I will be asked to use to help someone else. So I am looking for things that light my path, meditating, and pointing my great big sword at fear, and saying...ENOUGH! It's time to move forward and leave some of this fear behind!

Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!  I am very happy to be here again this year~ Thank you for popping by!

Namaste All

Monday, November 16, 2015

Winner Winner..Mermaid Swimmer..

Ok so today I am talking more about my daughter and less about me. 'Cause will understand.

Last August Nonni (11) came to me with a contest she had found online. She had long wanted a mermaid tail, you know the kind you can actually swim in! was having a Mermaid Mania contest and tails were the prizes! She was all in! She brought me the rules and what she had to do. To be honest I was working like a mad woman and this contest was pretty complicated and time consuming. But she was so excited how could I resist. So we entered the week long contest and I became not just an assistant but, video taker, sand tail maker, photographer and general advice giver. That said..Nonni was adamant that she create and do each days task her own way. She did not want changes to her essay or ideas.  She is a bit like her Mama..driven and stubborn LOL. She was required to do five a day. Write and essay, draw a picture of herself as a mermaid, do a video, a service to the environment project, a photo shoot and a poster about her favorite part of it all. Turns out..we had a wonderful time making great memories!

We had a particularly fun time with her photo shoot and video. As we were not one of the lucky families to already own a tail..we had to create one for Nonni. Thankfully we live were beach and sand is plentiful! Sandtail it was! It was so very fun, lots of giggles later we had a huge sand tail, photos and a fun video.

Each day one lucky girl won a tail for that days project..each day it was not Nonni. On day two Nonni came in to say she had just seen a stunning double rainbow and it was a sign..she was going to win! Come the end of the week she had not won a daily prize..still confident we waited for the results of the of the grand prize. This prize included..a tail and matching swimsuit for Nonni, and one for five of her friends.  A bag of fun treats for her too! A ride in a limo for her and her friends to a delightful pool party! All this filmed by the wonderful Fin fun crew. Did I mention..Fin Fun is in Idaho LOL?

So..when Nonni came out to tell us she had won the whole kit and caboodle..we thought she was joking around. She was not!! She was over the moon..excited...beside herself. And...SO WERE WE!!
They called..yuppers amazingly wonderful folks and we decided that the week before her birthday would be perfect! So last Saturday we had our amazing party! We had such fun..even the Mama's got to swim with them..soooooo fun!! She had a blast, the crew were delightful and well..Nonni has never felt so special. We had a wonderful time treating five lovely daughter's of my coworkers to tails. Lets just fun! Thank you Trina, Kelsee, Tanner, Steve, Caitlyn and the rest of the amazing crew! You made us feel so wonderful! You made Nonni a memory we will never forget!

Now..before I close here is the hard part I need to write about today..cause well the rest was just a joyful piece of cake! I want to tell you why this amazing young woman so deserved this treat! Why it meant the world to me that she receive it. Here goes...

While I was receiving chemotherapy for five months, there were several days a week that I was too sick to move. We were homeschooling, k12ing fortunately so she was home with me daily. Thankfully no puking, but too sick to do much other than stumble to the bathroom and back. Nothing much was able to keep my attention. I was just trying to get through it. Now understand..I received help from many folks and have very strong feelings about how this all went down..I will address this in the next post. My kids and family were amazing and several very dear friends, but this is about Nonni. Every day she made sure I was comfortable and warm, she made sure that I had bits to eat every hour on those horrid days, as food in my stomach helped keep the nausea down. She loved on and cared for me, made sure I was safe and to be honest there is no way I could have gotten through it all without her loving care. Yup my young, sweet hearted daughter did all that, every day. She held me when I cried..when I was scared and loved me back to happy .She was my rock and held the strength that I would be just fine in the end.  For one so young, who didn't deserve to deal with all of that, but did so with such amazing I think she deserved this amazing prize??..yes I do. Do I know that someone else did also?..yes I do. Because the computer randomly chose her not once out of thousands of entrants ..but twice. Yup..twice! So this blog post is dedicated to my amazingly wonderful daughter Nonni! Whom I adore! Thank you sweetie for being my rock! Every single wonderful moment of that party was well deserved! I love you! a sobby wreck now. In part two of this post I will talk about it more. Hugs all and thank you again for joining me! So glad to be back!
Namaste xoxoxoxo

Monday, November 9, 2015

Survivor Confusion...over

Those of you who know me here..know, I tend to put it out there the way I see it..or feel it so to speak. I have found over the years of blogging that others often can relate. I am kinda hoping that that is the case with this post. I am a bit nervous about putting this one out there. But last week I said I needed to get through this part of after cancer stuff and that I would let fly with truth of it. So here I go....

Many years ago I lived in Scottsdale, Arizona. It was sunny and hot..and sunny and a little less hot. Basically a golfers, swimmers..summer lovers paradise. Unfortunately..I am a cold weather..fall,  winter, early spring kinda gal.  There is an unspoken social pressure in places like Arizona to always be busy outside doing something. Being inside hiding and knitting is well..frowned upon a bit. I find this to be a metaphor for cancer survivors.. for myself and so many fortunate others.
You survived cancer, you should be: happy, joyful, relaxed, doing new things, out playing, forget about stressful stuff, screw work, live your life to the fullest, get out there in the sunshine and play metaphoric golf.

Now, don't get me wrong..I completely agree with all of that. Except well..there is still the need to provide food for my family, pay bills and be a responsible adult. I don't have the luxury of being cared for. I am guessing many cancer survivors are in the same boat. That and the massive anxiety that the whole process has left me with.  Despite the miracle of being amazingly and delightfully here, we still have life to deal with.  So, in my head all that sounds well...whiney!! Like I need to serve up a whopping plate of cheese and crackers to go along with all that whine. I hate that! The badass part of myself screams..put your big girl panties on and deal already. My muse..well..

"Uhm..Sarah...yup have your attention..been there, done this right? The badass, strong woman who takes it all on and keeps everyone's head above she tried to drown herself. Remember that..all the stress that brought you to you knees? Yup time to find a new way to fly! A more gentle way to fly hon."

The problem is..I am completely at a loss as to how to do this. I meditate, I knit, I read, I watch movies..not enough artwork of late..that has to change. I am working way to much and sleeping poorly. Life here on this island is stressful in ways that I have not really talked about, and is truly putting undo pressure on me. Things have to change. I am struggling to find balance. If you know me..that makes me crazy, the lack of balance.

Ok so what is my point here? Those of us who have survived this nasty beast, cancer, are well aware that we are under social pressure to be delightful happy all the time, eating perfectly, and enjoying our life to the fullest on a daily basis. Believe me that is exactly what we want to be doing. We are keenly, and beautifully gifted with the knowledge cancer survivorship gives us..we know what death looks like now. Not that fuzzy kinda is real,  and cold, and mind awakening. We get that now. The struggle is in the balance between that new and beautiful knowledge and having to live life. So this week...that is what I am wrestling to become the new me who takes good care of herself and manages to keep the family afloat at the same time.

I am working towards looking a bit more like this....and feeling more like well..a relaxed, unwound kinda me! Deep I go!

Thank you for popping by..would love any input, thoughts or ideas!
Namaste all, Sarah :)

Monday, November 2, 2015

The New Me......Kinda Sorta...

I know...I have been gone from my blog for almost a year...I have been well...hiding I guess. Recovering, regrouping... reinventing myself. Dealing with the aftermath of a battle with one tells you about the after part really. Your so busy fighting to stay alive, that is where the focus is. Then suddenly your cut loose and you feel a bit lost and well...terrified. After months of constant care and folks hovering over you (in a good way), your out there suddenly alone. There is this huge part of you that is so relieved, and feeling hugely blessed that you made it through the battle alive!! Oh yes I am!! But the part they don't tell you about is the post traumatic stress part.

So, for the last year I have been hiding..way out here on this Caribbean island. 'Cause I did a geographic in hopes of regrouping, and running away from and to the familiar. At least that is what it seems to me. When I finished up chemo, I went back to work, got back to things, quit wearing pink, quit wearing that horrid wig, headed back to being me. Funny thing ..that woman was gone. That woman who wrote this blog for years with strength, joy and that Let Fly attitude. I lost her..she was gone. Left behind was a weak, beaten down, scared, terrified warrior woman who had lost all her armor and was down on her knees. My delightful Muse..stood by waiting patiently, hand on my shoulder.

For many months I just focused on right now..this day..this week..this month. Little by little my Muse gently reached out to me...
"Sarah..its time."
"Uhm..nope not ready yet. I need more time to ignore it all." Then I would sob for a bit.

After my diagnosis in January 2014 the most difficult time of my day was that moment I woke up. My mind went right wonderful new day..what are we gonna do? To...Omg I have cancer..what am I gonna do? It was depressing and terrifying. Over the last year I have woken to my Muse saying..
"Sarah..its time to deal a little bit..just a little..come on girl!" And I would sob some more.

So folks here I am.. finally dealing. Ready for some post traumatic growth. Still sobbing, but excited too. I was thinking blogging a bit might help me along..and well...I was hoping you guys might too.

Namaste all xoxoxo