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!! ...like 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!