2017 Reflection

When I started my blog in November, I was seething with rage, frustration, fear, grief and fatigue. The only way to release all this “stuff” was to write it out. I am very raw, which is why I mainly write about my feelings rather than talk it out because I know it can be tough to comprehend and often verbalize because I get so worked up.

As I reflect on 2017, I am overwhelmed by a myriad of feelings. I didn’t expect to be so overcome with grief. My medical team did not prepare me for that. I went into 2017 knowing I had to get the hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo oophorectomy. My body just did not tolerate any of the post breast cancer treatment for pre-menopausal women. After experimenting with Tamoxifen, Evista and the one Lupron shot, my body couldn’t take anymore. The side effects were so horrible and painful, plus working full-time with no rest. It’s bad enough I lost half of my left breast and look like a railroad track with scars. Now I have to lose ALL the body parts that make me a woman and feel like a woman, too?!

It continues to be a struggle to accept that I no longer have a uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes or ovaries. I still get phantom PMS pains and daily lower back pain on my left side. It’s so strange how my body continues to be so sensitive to everything on the left side since that was the cancer side. I’ve been medically induced into menopause since 2/15/17. It’s such a strange feeling. It’s just constant chaos in my body.

I think about getting that dream job in April and having to resign a few months later because the side effects from the Arimidex were so severe that it affected my cognitive thinking. How can such a tiny pill cause that much damage? Then again, my medical team had no idea my body would have such severe reactions to it either. Through continuous research, I now understand that my medical team has treated me like an invasive ductal patient and not an invasive lobular patient. We need more funding for research and better post treatment options for invasive lobular but that’s to be discussed in a separate post.

I had intended this year to be all about rest, celebrating milestones and going on a real vacation. It turned out to be more stressful than I ever imagined professionally, financially, physically, mentally and emotionally.

Here it is the final week of 2017, and I am in a completely different mindset.

My anger seems to have flowed out of my mind the past few days. I say that is a huge step in the healing process. I am finally in a place where I am learning to accept all the physical changes, especially the chemo induced peripheral neuropathy in my hands and feet and this curly hair. There aren’t clear coping skills to handle such dramatic and intense physical change like this. I fully recognize that I suffer from PTSD from my active and post treatment. I never thought PTSD would become part of my vocabulary.

I come back to grieving because it can take me to a dark place mentally and emotionally. There is not a magic pill to relieve grief. So, I am learning to be self-compassionate, meditating and keeping my faith. It’s not just grieving over loss of body parts and physical changes. It’s also that loss of dreams, feeling limited, fear of recurrence and questions about my legacy.

Yet, I am reminded of all the good that happened this year and filled with amazing gratitude. I found an amazing church home at All Saints Catholic Church in Dunwoody, GA. I’m using my God given talent as a volunteer lector and singer in the women’s choir. I’m a mentor to two teens. I’ve actually met some fellow warriors I connected online with in person. I’m standing up for myself with family and working on creating my own support system. I got to see friends I haven’t seen since high school. I made it back to my hometown Macon, GA to see The Nutcracker, which I performed in back in the early 90’s. I let myself be vulnerable and asked for help. Most of all, I continue get out of bed each day. Even though I battle that constant cloud of fatigue, grief and fear, I still have that determination and resilience. The essence of me is not lost.

So as I approach 2018, I am reminded of the song “I Grieve” by Peter Gabriel from the City of Angels movie soundtrack. I have pasted the lyrics below. Like the song says, “life carries on.”

Hugs,

Warrior Megsie

Lyrics

It was only one hour ago
It was all so different then
Nothing yet has really sunk in
Looks like it always did
This flesh and bone
Is just the way that we are tied in
But there’s no one home
I grieve, for you
You leave, me
So hard to move on
Still loving what’s gone
They say life carries on
Carries on and on and on and on

The news that truly shocks
Is the empty, empty page
While the final rattle rocks
It’s empty, empty cage
And I can’t handle this
I grieve, for you
You leave, me
Let it out and move on
Missing what’s gone
They say life carries on
They say life carries on and on and on

Life carries on in the people I meet
In everyone that’s out on the street
In all the dogs and cats
In the flies and rats
In the rot and the rust
In the ashes and the dust
Life carries on and on and on and on
Life carries on and on and on
Life carries on and on and on and on
Life carries on and on and on
Just the car that we ride in
The home we reside in
The face that we hide in
The way we are tied in
As life carries on and on and on and on
Life carries on and on and on

Did I dream this belief
Or did I believe this dream?
Now I will find relief
I grieve

Songwriters: Peter Gabriel

I Grieve lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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6 thoughts on “2017 Reflection

  1. I understand feeling like you’re not a woman. At 29 after my 3rd miscarriage I had a hysteromy; I have no children. Now 10 years later I had a double mastectomy and im still debating reconstruction surgery. I look in the mirror and sometimes say “who is this dude”. I still grieve the babies that didn’t make it and cry sometimes when I see babies and I still don’t go to baby showers but instead of always crying, I rarely cry, I’ve learned to push past the pain. Now this whole cancer thing is something new to be sad about, I don’t think I was really angry about the Cancer but I was mad at God for a long time after my hysteromy. I do have a strong support system which has helped through the dark times. I’m just waiting on God to show me why I had to go thru all of this, still waiting on a rainbow. All this pain can’t be for nothing, right? I now know I’m stronger than I thought and im ready for whatever comes next.

    I grieved what the younger me dreamed of but I think I’ve gone through the stages of grieve several times and honestly I don’t think the pain will ever go away, I’ve just learned how to not let it take me to a VERY dark place.

    Writing has always been my go to when I needed to express my sadness and anger.
    Thank you for sharing your journey, know that there are others out their going through it too and praying for those going through lives super storm. I’m praying for you and “this too shall pass”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Ayanna. I can feel your pain. I get so upset when people tell me to “just adopt.” Then I realize they don’t fully understand my grief. The loss of never having a child who looks like me or inherits my talents, still being single, etc. I agree in the grief and pain will never fully go away. I’m just relieved my anger is gone…and that’s one of the stages of grief. I literally take things day-by-day or even 15 minutes at a time on some days. Sending you hugs and beams of comfort.

      Like

  2. I love this entry!!!! I haven’t read rest of your blog yet, but this entry describes where I’m at . I went through my chemo, Blazed a Trail for a cousin of mine(long story short , cancer runs in my family & she was diagnosed 6 months after me) . We are part of each others support system . The anger part is a daily problem for both of us. She just had surgery for an infection due to her double mastectomy, I’ve got 2 ovarian cyst. We try to keep each other bubbly, happy, all those things. But you just have those moments where you are angry or blue. Where you wanna know, why !! Who said I wanted to board this Cancer Train??!!

    Liked by 1 person

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