Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Fear and Courage are Sometimes Hard to Differentiate.


March 2006 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Over the next six months I underwent surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments. I lost my hair and my appetite.

At the end of the six months I fought back with butterfly flutters to regain the woman I had lost.

The first time I went back into the ocean to go body boarding, I felt like an old woman. I was afraid of medium size waves. I wheezed and my quads burned just from paddling out. I stayed on the inside, afraid.

I missed my fearlessness.

The first time after treatment that I walked the bike path near my home, my husband came with me. The path is beautiful, yet isolated. The four miles that I used to walk in 45 minutes took me an hour and a half. I had to stop and catch my breath along the way. Beads of cold perspiration lined my upper lip. My hands trembled.

I missed my strength.

As I was recovering, I had a huge reaction to the Tamoxophin. I did not realize this, as I thought that the fact that I felt like crap had everything to do with the cancer treatments. I suffered from constipation, depression, insomnia, and lethargy. One morning I woke up with a vertigo that listed me to the side and had one side of my face numb.

I missed being regular and felt like a relic for being preoccupied with my bowel movements.

March 2009 I went to have my three year diagnostic mammogram. I had long since recovered my strength and my regularity. I was probably never going to be completely fearless again, but I was OK.

The mamo became an ultrasound. The ultrasound became an ultrasound guided needle biopsy.....


The biopsy came back fine.

But, for a minute there, I remembered every bit of what it felt like to be diagnosed with cancer. The crossroads had been exposed.

And I was given a reprieve.

My Spring Break last week found me back for my yearly diagnostic mammogram.

I was holding my breath while I sat there in that robe, pretending to read that magazine. I trembled and started inside every time a staff member came around the corner and there was a part of me that dreaded the words, "the radiologist sees something suspicious and would like to do an ultrasound."

But I was told I could go.

And the phone call Monday said everything looked fine and I was good for another year.

I make four years of being a survivor this week.

It's been a bit of a year. I am earning my stripes.

One day at a time.

Yea. Me.

For more spins on "me," head on over to Sprite's Keeper.

48 comments:

Brian Miller said...

thanks for the recap...i cant imagine waiting there...glad you are alright and with each step my hope is a little of that strength and fearlessness returns...

Beth said...

You are such an inspiration! You've been through so much yet you keep such a positive attitude. I truly appreciate your open spirit. You never know who you might touch by just sharing your story.

Beth said...

You are such an inspiration! You've been through so much yet you keep such a positive attitude. I truly appreciate your open spirit. You never know who you might touch by just sharing your story.

Kristan said...

{hug} You've earned a million stripes! You're a tiger! (Or a zebra, if you prefer.)

sherri said...

That is wonderful, inspiring and amazing news. I am thrilled for you. May you hoof it to the beach to bodyboard and celebrate ASAP!
xo, s

Jack said...

I will be waiting in a similar seat in mid August; holding my breath, trembling and panic stricken...

Your story is so, so very inspiring! You are a survivor {hugs} to you.

Michele said...

Yea you is right. You go girl.

darsden said...

WoW, I could feel my heart skip a beat for you. Praise the Lord for being able to walk out with all the very well earned stripes! Continued prayers and blessings for you. Thank you for sharing as personal as it is...WE all need to hear it and read it honey..Kudos

LucyCooper said...

Thanks for sharing this. I love reading survivor stories.

I went to a conference last week for work and some of the research that's taking place here in Arkansas (don't laugh) in so awesome and exciting! Check this out:

http://www.tears4life.com/

The research and progress are exciting. You and your fellow survivors are the inspiration!

idgtm said...

This makes me very happy! :))

Jeff D'Antonio said...

No words. Just a virtual hug, and another click on the pink ribbon in your sidebar.

Sprite's Keeper said...

Yours is the first Spin to make me cry in a while. I am so happy for you and wish you nothing but negatives in the best sense of the word for the rest of your life. Yay for 4 years! Here's to fifty more! You're linked!

kendrasue said...

Congratulations on your 4th year of being a survivor! Too many people do not have that and you are living your life! Yay you! Keep living!

Irish Gumbo said...

To courage, and another year, my dear *clink*

Lady Ren said...

To many more- In Polish the 'cheers' expression is "to a hundred years"- for you.

Maureen@IslandRoar said...

OMG, my heart skipped a little beat there when you paused. Thank goodness everything is fine! 4 years; I'm soooo happy for you!
I can't imagine how hard you fought to recover your strength. We all like to think we'd respond with such grace and determination, but you know you DID!!

Joanie M said...

Oh Pseudo, that's wonderful news!! You had me a little scared fro you there for a minute, but I'm glad everything turned out well! Continued good health, my friend!

A couple from work, a bartender and a server got married last Friday and they are in Hawaii on their honeymoon!

Twenty Four At Heart said...

Congratulations!
Oh how I want to give you a giant HUG!
: )

ds said...

I was holding my breath for a minute there. so so glad that all is well. Keep up your strength, your humor, your body boarding.
Congratulations!!!!

janeywan said...

Congratulations on a clean bill of health. Women that survive cancer are remarkable. It would be so scary! Living is scary enough some days.

Be well!

mo.stoneskin said...

I can't imagine the waiting and perhaps the thoughts that flow through your mind, but I'm very glad you got the all clear again.

Christy said...

Is it appropriate to say congratulations on your four year mark? If not, my apologies! But I'm so happy for you. My mom and grandmothers are survivors too and my husband is a breast cancer researcher - his lab is devoted to curing this disease in our lifetime. Along with lots of labs around the world, of course. I hope you never hear those scary words again, and am sending you lots of positive thoughts this week! Big hugs!!!

otin said...

That was a great glimpse into what you have gone through emotionally. I think that I have always looked at it from a more physical sense. I am glad that all news is positive!

only a movie said...

Making me a little weepy, Pseudo. Thank you for sharing your brave story. xoxo

Wild Child said...

Life changes us in many ways. I'm glad to have your wisdom. Breast cancer is always at the back of my mind as I've had two family members with it. I fear for my mother and myself and my daughter. It's not there all the time, but every once in a while it sneaks into my brain.

Then there are the other things that I thought I was fearless about. Now I'm not so sure, when I have a whole family that I also have to consider, I cannot be cavalier.

starrlife said...

If you weren't scared you'd be crazy! I'm so grateful that you are still here and hope you are so for many many years to come!

Cristin said...

Why did this make me cry?

Hugs Pseudo...

Ginny Marie said...

Congratulations!! Here's to FOUR YEARS! You go, girl!

Being a cancer survivor (for me, anyway) means that every test, every doctor's appointment, brings a higher blood pressure and tension headaches. Even after 14 years! (Oh, and I hated tamoxifen, too! I stuck with it for 5 years. Blech.)

Jan said...

Congratulations, my friend.

You are probably one of the strongest and most courageous people I've met while blogging, and I am SO glad to know you.

The Good Cook said...

Congratulations on your four year anniversary - Cheers to many, many more!

Linda said...

Yea you!

Jess said...

BIG high five for that!!! Wonderful news to hear! Keep on!

sitting on the mood swing at the playground said...

Congratulations on celebrating four years--here's to many, many more!

Midlife Jobhunter said...

I'm so glad for you. My mom - two bouts of breast cancer - talks of the tension in the room while women sit in their paper blouses, awaiting the verdict of going home or further study. So glad you got to go home right away. Congrats on the 4 years!

Mama Badger said...

Have a drink tonight on me. Woo hoo for 4 years.

Fearless or not, you're a hero.

My name is PJ. said...

I'd say you deserve a marching band and a huge fireworks display, kiddo!

I held my breath as I read your post. I've seen others fight the fight and I have nothing but the utmost respect for you. I'm so proud of how far you've come back and I'm inspired by your positive attitude.

I'm so happy your 4 years healthy!!! Wooooooo Hooooooo!

My name is PJ. said...

I'd say you deserve a marching band and a huge fireworks display, kiddo!

I held my breath as I read your post. I've seen others fight the fight and I have nothing but the utmost respect for you. I'm so proud of how far you've come back and I'm inspired by your positive attitude.

I'm so happy your 4 years healthy!!! Wooooooo Hooooooo!

TechnoBabe said...

You are a true survivor. One more year. Big sigh.

Jason, as himself said...

I held my breath the entire time I was reading this post. I am so happy that you're clear!

This year I am walking in the Susan G. Komen For the Cure 3-day walk in San Diego.

The more survivors I hear about, the more hopeful I become.

Heather said...

I know the you must have felt. I feel it each time I take my bf to get her check up.

Last year she was still feeling pain in her booby and all tests were run. It came back fine but they up'ed her check up time from a year to six months.

August will be her 5yr mark since being diagnosed!

I am so glad you are still a surviver!!

WhisperingWriter said...

What an amazing story.

You are definately an inspiration.

Mrsbear said...

I'm so so relieved for you. Many more years of good news, of strength, and fearlessness. :)

hillgrandmom said...

All the very, very best to you. I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like to go for these check-ups.

Erin@TheLocalsLoveIt said...

Oh Pseudo, I am so delighted for you and am in awe of your strength. Great post.

Just B said...

yea you!!! I could feel the tension of sitting on the faux leather table in the faded cotton robe last week. What did you do when you left the doctors?

you are an inspriation and so much more.

CaJoh said...

Way to be a survivor! So glad that you shared not only your journey, but also your struggles along the way. No path is perfect, but at least you have completed this leg and are ready to face the next leg of the race.

Patty O. said...

Wow, what an amazing post. I love the title because it is so true. Sometimes having courage has everything to do with being afraid, which is why the courage is necessary in the first place. Thanks for sharing this beautiful post.

Casey said...

Oh Pseudo, that's such great news. I've got goosebumps over here. Yay, you!