I wasn’t diagnosed until I had emergency surgery on August 8, 2013. I became ill on the August 6th, luckily my gynaecologist was on call and sent me to a gynae-cancer specialist who has actually seen appendiceal cancer three times before that, so he knew what to look for and do. I had a six-hour surgery and four rounds of chemotherapy.
It is not in my nature to reveal all of the everyday trials and tribulations to every person I meet. I do believe that this has been the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, and to try and remain calm, cool and collected in the face of such an obstacle, has been exhausting, to say the least.
Putting on your happy face every day to those you love, trying not to worry them, has been exhausting. Sorting through all the medical mumbo jumbo has been exhausting. Trying to spare everyone’s feelings, when you just want to run down the street screaming, and listening to other people’s opinions, judgements, advice and just plain gossip about this whole ordeal has been exhausting.
I have had my good days and bad days, and I have learned a lot about myself and others. My wish for all of you is that you never have to go through any of this, yourself. However if you do, I have some things to tell you, and in doing so, may help in your own journey of the world of cancer. It does become your whole world.
You are diagnosed, operated on, recover, begin treatments, recover, end treatments, recover, and then begin to recover, only to have setbacks all along the way, try to explain it, still recovering, more tests, poked, prodded, recover, repeat, over and over again. All of this is going on while you are still trying to live your life! Clean your house, take care of your pets, be a grandmother, mother, sister, daughter, friend and make plans not too far in your future, as to not disappoint yourself, while recovering. It is freaking exhausting!
I have tried to handle all of this, still be a normal person, etc, while living with this disease, that may or may not progress. You wait in between test results, in my case about every three months, then hit a speed bump, have to return every month to monitor said speed bump, and remember to eat right, try to move around more, monitor your pain and keep your chin up! Ha! It is exhausting!
So, here’s a few tips that I have learned.
Rest. Whenever you feel tired, your body needs to heal, and our bodies have a miraculous way of healing themselves, but you have to give it the opportunity to heal.
Stay ahead of your pain. Of all the things I was told during my ordeal, that was probably the best advice I ever got. You are the best judge of how you feel, and if you have pain, which I do, keep it under control. You are not a superhero, and frankly you are the only one that can judge your pain level. No one hands out prizes for the person who can hold out in pain the longest! Take the meds, believe me when I tell you, your doctors do not want you in pain, you don’t want to have pain. My doctors have been wonderful about allowing me to manage my pain, and I stay ahead of it, because once your pain is at the unbearable point, it is harder to get it under control.
Drink plenty of fluids. By fluids I mean water. Lots of water. Staying hydrated is very important. I never go anywhere without taking water with me and I mean every time you go somewhere, take your water.
Change your diet. Immediately. I still indulge, but I stopped eating meat and most dairy from the beginning. Lots of fruits and vegetables.
Stop stressing. Stress can kill you. Don’t let others stress you out. I have become very protective of my emotions. Stay away from people that stress you out. Stay in touch with people that love you, show you that love, and have your genuine interests at heart. Believe me when I tell you, you will find out who those people are immediately. Weed out the bad ones and surround yourself with the good ones. Sorry to tell you but that includes family. Clean your emotional house. If someone makes you feel bad about yourself, cannot talk to you that will serve your best interest, let them go. You have cancer, you don’t need the stress. Let them fight their battles without you!
Stay positive. Having a positive attitude will help you heal, help you endure, even when the prognosis is grim. I have battled a lot with other issues that my cancer has caused, but stay positive. I always look at the bright side, because it beats the alternative.
Find someone to listen to you without judgement. Someone that will let you cry, yell, and vent. A cancer diagnosis is hard on everyone around you, but don’t forget, YOU are the one who is sick. Everyone needs an outlet for frustration, the unfairness of it all, etc… find someone who will listen.
Research your illness and find others who have what you have. My cancer is very rare, but I found a group of like diagnosed persons and I read their posts and pay attention to their problems they have experienced. Education is the key because doctors don’t know everything. A group situation can help calm you down and quiet those demons, and you can learn a lot from others that have the same dx as you.
I’m sure there are other things I have learned, believe me when I tell you, I was as unprepared for this as anyone could be and I’m still here, still fighting, still living.
With all of this, I am happy to announce that I am once again NED, no evidence of disease. I had a clear scan, haven’t had a clear scan since last August, my blood work is excellent. I have some kidney issues, which was caused by scar tissue, that I am dealing with. I have a stent replaced every three months to remedy that.
I have two wonderful daughters that have stood by my side through all of this, and it hasn’t been easy for them I know. I have a grandson that is the most precious thing on earth to me, and fills my world with love. I have my close friends, and you know who you are, that have kept my spirits up, and have made this journey with me, every step of the way. I have my Jeff, who has walked this entire journey with me and has supported my every decision, dried almost every tear and keeps me going every day, with his kindness, his steadfastness, and his love.
Live your life, we only get one. Make memories, lots of them and tell the people you love that you love them. Signing off here now.
Becky posted this in our support group and we were so inspired by her words that we had to share them, don’t you agree?