Monday, May 30, 2011

March 10th, 2010 - What is a survivor

March 10th 2010 marked my 1 year since my diagnosis of Breast Cancer.  Sometimes it feels like this last year has been so long yet most times it's hard to believe how much we have accomplished in this last year.  They say you are a survivor from the day you are diagnosed with cancer.  I have to admit tho I am still confused by this concept.   For me, since I am still in chemo until August, I have a hard time saying I am a survivor.  I am ok with saying I have been battling breast cancer for 1 year but have I really survived if I am still in treatment?  What about when my chemo is complete.  There is no 1 guarantee test that says OK you are 100% cancer free.  For most people you wait it out.  You go through life hoping that any pain or sickness isn't serious and you celebrate the milestones at 2 years, 5 years, 10 years...   Will only after 5 years and no cancer has returned then will I be a survivor?  Can you only survive an event that has a specific beginning and end date or time?  Such as a war or a tornado?
But what about those who know there is no cure for their cancer.  They will be in and out of treatments for the rest of their hopefully long lives.  Are they not cancer survivors?  Let's go to the expert..  Mr. Webster.
1.  To remain alive or in existence.
~This definition sounds so depressing to me.  To remain alive? We all remain alive and are in existence.  I would hope I am living more than to just exist.

 2. To carry on despite hardships or trauma; persevere:
~ to persevere -  hang in there  - while this is better than the first definition it still does not reflect the importance of a cancer survivor. 

How do you define a survivor?  

To me it is a combination of both.   I would hope when one looks at me as a survivor, either today, in August or in 5 years from now they not only see that I persevered through my 18 months of cancer treatments but that I lived!  I enjoy life.  I participate in life.  I laugh with my family.  I make memories with my friends.  I kiss my husband.  I get on the floor and get silly with my daughter.   It is in these moments that I am a survivor.  These moments where I feel alive!  And I love the feeling!

Words from a popular Nicki Minaj song...  

I fly with the stars in the skies
I am no longer trying to survive
I believe that life is a prize
But to live doesn't mean you're alive


I wish that I could have this moment 4 life, 4 life, 4 life
Cause In this moment, i just feel so alive, alive, alive

1 year ago I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. While this year had its struggles, we made it! And we have Emelia in our life! I celebrate being a 1 year breast cancer survivor with all of you and because of all of you! Thank you for all your love and support! xoxoxo

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Burn Baby Burn

Since I haven't written in a while, I'll write a few post from the last couple of months.    In February I went to Framingham for radiation.   It was every morning around 7am for 33 days.  There was no way I was driving to Boston ever day for 33 days in a row.. especially in the snow and commuting  hours.   Dana-Farber recommended Framingham Cancer center for radiation.   7 minutes from my house!   The first day I was so nervous - I knew it wouldn't physically hurt but I also knew something was beaming down right at my heart.   I laid on this table with my arms in some awkward position above my head  and my head turned to the side. The head position was the most uncomfortable part physically - especially when the first week or two it took about 30 minutes.  
I cried.  But not from the pain.   I have come to realize anytime I do something for the first time - cancer related - I will probably cry.   To me it was another reminder that I have breast cancer and that  it is serious.    I have gotten so used to chemo - every 3 weeks stop in to Boston, see my nurse, get hooked up, play on laptop, leave.  Felt almost like just a typical doctors visit..  almost forgetting that I am getting some strong drug injected into my body to kill my cells.  I think it's a good thing to get comfortable and forget the details for this anyways!   So being my first day at radiation I was reminded that yes you have cancer and you are still being treated.  And I cried.  But days went by and the action became repetitive and took less time and the tears were replaced with quick small talk with the nurse and off to work!  
My skin handled radiation pretty well I think.  I would put lotion on every night..  a lot of lotion.. so much that my shirt would stick to my chest wall.    And soon you could see my tan!  a Big square tan area where my breast used to be.    (it's still slightly tan today)  Towards the end of treatments my skin did begin to peal - just like any bad sunburn - and the raw skin was exposed.  I had to stop treatment for a couple days to let it heal so that it wouldn't blister or form puss.  Again lots more lotion..  now the thick aquaphor.    After a few days off I resumed treatment and before you know it 33 treatments were over!   Another cancer step complete!