Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Break Is Over

Mike and I have returned from our much needed quick 4 night post-treatment holiday and it was FAN-FRICKING-TASTIC! We had a great time in a land of happiness and I can honestly say it was just what we needed. For our peace and sanity, this was the right decision to get away.

It was truly the first time since January that cancer didn't pop up in my thoughts every half hour. For the first time this year I felt 'normal'. I didn't feel like a person who had had cancer. I melded in with all the other happy vacationers. I wasn't constantly reminded of what I have been through and I was able to put a large portion of my nagging fears and negative thoughts on the shelf. (Well, for the most part anyway.)

The scary thoughts crept in still. Just not as frequently. Not every 20 minutes. We had so many fun distractions to keep our minds occupied that I think I could count on one hand each day how many times cancer came up in my head. On a few occasions it was only because I saw someone wearing a ridiculous "Protect Your Hooters" t-shirt (If only it was that easy)... I also was reminded when I saw a bottle of Chardonnay with a pink label and ribbon on it... 50% of the proceeds were going towards breast cancer research (hmmm... If only alcohol wasn't a contributor to breast cancer)

Thankfully, I didn't let those little re-reminders get me down. I rolled my eyes at them and moved on. Even when the little mind-gremlins tried to get me to feel sad or down when I began feeling recurring spine pains and body aches I kindly told the thoughts to F off and allow me some space to enjoy life for a few days. To find some joy and to have pure FUN (for ONCE! Finally!)

I had initially felt guilty about this mini trip. I didn't know if we could justify it. But now I know how much I really did need this. And for frick sake... I totally deserved it. Both of us did. Mikey had a blast and we were really able to enjoy each other's company for REAL. It was just so nice to feel like just an average normal couple on a holiday together. For the first time in SO long. I hadn't felt this free and happy since the mini break we took when Mike proposed back in March.

No, I didn't have any cancer related meltdowns on this holiday. I didn't cry in fear. I didn't sulk. I didn't have any anxiety attacks. I didn't get super down or depressed and curl up in a sad heap. I had a few tears on one occasion only because I was so happy and I felt so lucky to be where I was in that moment. I felt freedom for the first time in a long time. I felt alive and free and it was amazing.

If only I could bathe in these feelings forever and never let them go... If only it was that easy.

Being back at home reminds me of cancer all over again. It is hard to escape here. The reality of the situation kicked in almost right away and I have been forced to deal with things related to my diagnosis.  It's hard to hide from it all here. Too many things can't be ignored. Appointments to go to. Appointments to make. Procedures to prep for. Calls to return. Emails to get back to. Studies to do. Release forms to sign. Peeling skin to tend to. Cancer books to read and have returned. Side effect lists to review. And pills to take...

Yep, I started taking Tamoxifen upon my return. I took my first anti-estrogen pill last night right before bed. My first of 1,825 little white pills.

Who knows how I will fair on it. Who knows if I will commit to taking it for the full 5 years. Who knows what side-effects I will have. Who knows if I will be able to handle it. Who knows if I will benefit.

The list of some of the possible side-effects are scary as hell. Just as it was difficult to go through with chemo and radiation, making the decision to take Tamoxifen was equally as tough. (So many difficult decisions to make this year!)

As for what could happen on this anti-cancer estrogen blocking drug... I am told from doctors and other women that hot flashes, weight loss or gain and possible mood issues might be what I can expect. Those are the more common side effects that are noticed very soon after taking it. Skin rashes, depression, insomnia, nausea, headaches, hair thinning, muscles / joint pains, fatigue and body swelling are among the list as well.

The worst case scenarios are what I am trying not to think of...  They rarely occur... but can happen. It is (just like with chemo and rads) out right absolutely terrifying and hard to get out of my mind. The list includes: High blood pressure... cataracts... blood clots... stroke... and AGAIN another cancer. Endometrial cancer specifically (and more other 'fun' much less life-threatening vaginal issues are listed as well of)


As if we need anymore bodily upsets and worries after what we have already been through! It sometimes feels like there really is NO break. Even when you physically go away and take one, you are forced to still deal with SO MUCH endless cancer crap!

And this will continue on unfortunately... the anxiety reappears... the sadness is hard to ignore... the fears are still in the forefront and I struggle with finding ways to distract myself back here at the home base. How do you forget when it's all up in your face and you are forced to deal with it all the time?

More tests coming up to rule out other issues (and cancer) are just around the corner and with that I have a hard time basking in the glow of our latest break from all of this cancer nonsense.

But I will try so very hard to find that happy place once again. I know it's there. It's just a matter of being able to push through the thick haze of cancer recovery bullshit and finding those joyful distractions. One day at a time. One moment at a time even...

Now, I'm gonna go do something ridiculous to ignite a forced pick-me-up happy mood!! attempt to spin Abber on the hardwood floor in circles while singing Disney songs loudly, followed by a 5 minute session of cat bounce.

Yep, I'm officially crazy!


  1. Thanks for following me on Twitter (I don't tweet much about cancer though).

    I haven't read much of your blog yet but just wanted to say, I started tamoxifen about four months ago, and I also get zoladex injections for two years which ensure I am in chemical menopause, and I am FINE on them. I was really scared and had read that menopausal symptoms would be worse for someone as young as me (30), and my gynaecologist also prepared me for quite bad side effects.

    To start with, I had very odd dreams and didn't sleep well. Now I have some mild hot flushes - I feel them, but no one else can tell - and am sometimes somewhat tired. But nothing else. Really. I honestly feel it is no big deal to keep taking the tablets.

    Every person is different, but quite naturally, people who really struggle with the side effects tend to spend more time posting about them on the internet, so I hope this gives you a bit of hope ;-)

    1. Thanks for the info Lillie... I am on Twitter but don't really understand it... it always makes suggestions on ppl to follow, that's how I found you I think. I mostly just observe and 'like' the occasional tweet.

      I have been noticing hot flashes so far and a bit more tired then usual at odd times in the day... already only a few days I am surprised to be noticing changes already. I think on Zoladex I'd notice it much more since I really suffered on that stuff. It made me crazy hot all the time. I am glad to hear you are doing well on both.

      Yes, everyone is different... thank you for sharing your experience with it. All the best to you. xo

  2. Girlie I'm so glad you had such a good time! Please do not feel guilty about it.. you guys totally deserved it! The stuff we have to put up with isn't normal.. you deserve a break from it! I'm so happy for you it was a good one!

    I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you so that the side effects won't be too bad! I agree with what Lillie said, that the stories we read on the internet are usually the ones of people who struggle with their treatment. If you're doing fine, out there living your life, who write/blog about it on websites right?! But you are going to find that happy place again! It's a tough road, it's not something you get over in a day. But like someone once posted on my blog "You will find a new normal". I'm here for you!

    Oh and I wanted to thank you for the advice you posted on my blog. I'll definitely keep it in mind.. water water water! ;) I already am using Oxazepam (related to the Ativan family I think?!) ever since being diagnosed. It does calm me down a bit.

    I had to clean my bunnies' cage this morning and instead I listened to The Doors and danced with Lola through the room. So I don't think you're crazy. Or maybe we're both crazy ;)

    1. Thanks Ciel! We really needed the time off. I am so glad we did it. We created so many great happy memories. I could never regret doing it and know now how much we really did need and deserve it.

      Indeed we will find our new normal... I know time will help heal too. There are just so many stages in this whole process. So many changes along the way.

      Im glad I could offer up some tips for you this week's first treatment. Good you have some kind of anti-anxiety too as backup. It really does take the edge off if you end up losing your shit. Whenever I felt a fainting episode coming on or a panic attack I would just nod to the nurse to hook me up with the little life saving chill pill. So grateful for that.

      Love that you were dancin with Lola! At least we can be crazies together hehe ;)

      Good luck this week! xo

  3. You and Mike really deserved to get away. Love you two.

  4. YIPPPEEEEEE!!!! YOu are smiling I can see it through your blog. Thanks for that energy. Be happy and feel the breaths you take because you are not just living but you are ALIVE!!!!

    1. I am still smiling quite a bit about it! It was so good for the soul!!!!!!

      Hugs sista! xo

  5. So glad to hear you had a great trip. I struggled with a similar decision, my husband and I had booked a trip for our anniversary and then I got diagnosed. Almost canceled the trip but SO glad we went right before my treatment started. I'm already trying to plan a trip for when treatment ends :)

    Best of luck with the pills, curious to hear how it goes for you as I'll be facing the same struggles in a few months.

    Bask in that happiness as best as you can - we deserve it!

    1. Hi Jill! Thanks so much... we really were glad to go. Its so good you guys still went on your trip as well. It is important to escape from all of this and take a cancer-vacay. You totally have to plan a treatment ending holiday! But dont do it too soon after... you will need time to recover. Hugs to you xo