Shortly after my last blog, I had a breakdown. The stress and toll of cancer and treatment caught up with me. In mid-January, I reached a point where I could no longer deal with the stress on my own and confided in some wonderful medical providers to help. I have wanted to tell you this for a while, but struggled (and still struggle) to find the words. It is difficult and overwhelming to admit, to share about it, and to understand – much less try to explain. The breakdown came with a lot of self-shame, guilt and fear. On the opposite end of the spectrum, it came with a lot of faith, hope and love as well. Please bear with me. It is not easy to be so transparent. However, it is real and it is honest. Cancer is hard. Chemo is ugly. And, I am not the person I used to be.
Daily I strain to overcome the limits and damage cancer and chemo has placed on my body and mind, yet grant myself grace to accept those same limits and rest. It is an awkward balance. Every day is different. There are some wonderful highs and some very dark and sad lows. Some days I am able to be around other people and carry on an actual conversation. Other days, I can barely go to the store for a loaf of bread without a tremendous amount of anxiety or a panic attack. Some days I have the energy to do laundry, or drive across town. Other days, I have to take prescription medicine just to stay awake or function. Most days, however, I am somewhere in between the two extremes and learning to navigate and love myself along the way. Peanut butter cups seem to help. What? I have not lost my sense of humor, folks! And, I certainly have not lost my love of peanut butter cups!
Many of you have checked in, asked how I am doing, invited me to lunch, etc. I appreciate your love, friendship and encouragement immensely. I wish I had concrete answers to give. It is challenging to find the words to answer even the simplest of questions at times. And, in those times, I get incredibly anxious and overwhelmed. Please do not let this detour you from reaching out. You may not hear back from me right away, but know that I am so grateful for your thoughtfulness and I will respond or get together as I am able. As a side bar, I want to especially thank my Sunday school class for the prayers, uplifting cards and messages. I miss and love each of you so and look forward to returning to church when I am able. Social interaction is such a hard struggle for me. This is unfamiliar territory and I hope my ability to function in that regard will improve. I have been forcing myself, little by little, to get out and about and pray these baby steps will lead to greater strides in the near future. I am also seeing a counselor to discuss the stress and struggles. She is wonderful and I am thankful our paths have crossed.
My last PET scan was in April. Thankfully, the scan did not indicate any cancer growth. We are rejoicing that the chemo seems to have knocked the cancer down, yet we know it is merely a matter of time until the cancer begins to grow again. We live in the in between. We celebrate and savor the moments we are in, for they are the only ones guaranteed, and, we plan life in 3 months increments between scans. My next PET scan is in July. In the meantime, Todd and I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary next week, and in June, our family of four will embark on a grand road trip together! I am also looking forward to playing golf with my oldest son, Jack and making homemade pizzas with my chef and youngest son, Joseph. I am so very, very grateful for my three guys who do life with me – Todd, Jack, and Joseph. I thank God for giving us the gift of each other. I love you with every ounce of my being.
For those unaware, in early May, I stopped working. I loved my job and particularly my work family, but as I continued to push myself to perform, the mental, emotional, and physical toll become harder to hide and my ability to complete tasks was waning. It is humbling to admit your limits and struggles. It is also scary, particularly from a financial standpoint. I could potentially lose all of my benefits, but Todd and I took this step in faith. Home is where I need to be, and we have peace in this decision. Presently, I am on family medical leave and will soon file for long-term disability and social security disability. However things turn out in the disability regard, we are praying for God‘s will to prevail, and the faith to accept whatever His plan may be. I firmly believe His will is always the best, even when/if it is not what I envisioned. He knows all of our needs and He is an ever-faithful provider. Though I would much rather have stopped working due to retirement or winning the lottery (hey, a girl can dream!) there is no denying that I have hit the jackpot in terms of being able to focus more on my husband and boys. Time with them is such a tremendous blessing and I am thankful for this opportunity in the in between to make lifelong memories and love them well.
Till next time,