I’ve got GRYT

The past few days have been a whirlwind of AH-MAZING experiences and accomplishments.  My co-presenter and co-author Francesca and I presented our abstract on AYA Perspectives on Fertility Preservation Conversations with Healthcare Providers at the American Psychosocial Oncology Society (APOS) conference in Atlanta, GA on Thursday, February 28th. Plus, I got to meet some young adult cancer “celebrities” in-person.  I’ll get to that in a few moments.

I had no idea what to expect at the APOS conference. I’m new to this side of cancer and research. I felt a tad outside of my element but tried to give the appearance of calm, cool and collected. Francesca and I were the third to present. I confess I was getting more and more nervous waiting for our turn to step up to the podium.

I knew our presentation would be authentic, informative and emotional. I’m beyond thrilled that the audience felt the same. Francesca and I bounced off well with each other. All that rehearsal and mouth warm-ups from my theatre days helped. I felt this surge of energy and focus as soon as it was my turn to speak. We were the only presenters who were asked multiple questions from the audience.

I could see some people moved to tears. It is honestly one of the BEST moments and accomplishments in my cancer experience as a writer, speaker, and advocate for young adult cancer thus far.

I must tell you about the three memorable and outstanding moments aside from being a presenter. I FINALLY got to meet the founder of Lacuna Loft, Mallory, in-person AND Aerial who partners with Lacuna Loft and is the program director for the GRYT Health app. As soon as I saw these two powerhouses, I actually got teary-eyed. I have been talking with them, especially Mallory, for two years! I still can’t believe I got to actually talk to and hug them. Plus, they came to hear my presentation.

Oh, there is more! I also got to meet the CEO and founder of the GRYT Health app, David, who also came to my presentation. I thought I had fully embarrassed myself enough in front of Mallory (in pic below) and Aerial because I was totally fangirl-ing. Nope! I completely lost it meeting David (in pic below), too! He’s also a MAJOR deal in the cancer world, and the nicest guy. I was able to hear David speak about his app and the thought, research, and funding behind it. The love he has for his team is inspiring and beautiful.

I’m super jazzed about the GRYT Health app and wanted to share my knowledge about it with you.  This is a peer-to-peer support app.  You can chat with people privately and in group chats. What I really love about this app is the connections made, especially in the group chats. You see, this app truly engages you with different types of programs offered for cancer survivors. I love how the group chats are moderated, too. The very first one I took part in was with Dr. Michael Stubblefield, Medical Director for Cancer Rehabilitation; National Medical Director for Cancer Rehabilitation
Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation. I was able to get direct access to him and ask questions about my neuropathy. I don’t know of any other cancer app that gives survivors this kind of access to major influencers in the cancer world. They also offer a movie club and writing program, just to name a few. Definitely download it and turn on your notifications to get updates.

It will be difficult to go back to my corporate job in the morning. I felt I was making a real difference and really living my passion the past few days. I long for the day when I can turn this passion in my spare time into a fulltime reality.

Until next time,

Warrior Megsie

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One year BLOGversary

My blog actually turned a year old on the 1st. I’ve taken time to reread every single post I’ve written. What I have discovered is the rawness, anger, and heaviness continues to weigh on me. On the flip side, I’ve felt more love, creativity, passion, excitement, and acceptance than I ever thought possible.  

Going through cancer, while utterly traumatic and painful, has given me a voice I never knew existed. Where does my resilience come from? I’ve been knocked down by so many events in my life, yet I keep standing back up. Sometimes I stumble and other times it takes longer to get back up, but I always do.

Since my last post, I’ve been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis. Am I 42 or 142? At least now I know why my body pain has been so debilitating. I can finally move without crying. I can breathe without wincing.

I haven’t fully processed either diagnosis or what that means for my future and quality of life. It’s a little too much for me to handle at this time.

More than anything, I’m filled with gratitude for the support from ALL of the warriors and friends who read my blog and continue to follow my rocky cancer path thus far. It means the world to know my voice matters and is being heard.

I thank those who don’t try and diagnose me, too. Though my written thoughts can be dark at times, you only get to see one side of me. I still exude a lot of humor and positive light. I have to recharge my batteries more frequently than I used to, but that’s okay.

This quote sums it up best…

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”― Oscar Wilde

Until next time,

Warrior Megsie

Reality Bites

I’ve thought a lot about “my story,” and who will tell it. It’s a tough pill to swallow knowing my family history literally ends with me.

Reality Bites.

It’s overwhelming to think about. Friends tell me I can still be a mother by either adopting or marrying someone with children. There are many issues with these two scenarios, so I’ve highlighted the top three:

  • I’m single and not about to adopt a child when I can barely provide for myself and mounting health needs/issues.
  • The thought of dating is off the table for at least another year or so due to chronic pain, fatigue, and zero sex drive.
  • I don’t even know if I will still be alive in another year or what other illnesses will befall me as long-term side effects keep popping up.

The point is I will NEVER have a human legacy who inherits my long lashes, quirky personality or bubbly laugh.

Reality Bites.

I was looking at old family pictures this morning. Though my mother and I physically do not look-alike, I found two pictures of when we were little, and we have identical facial expressions and seated position. It makes me laugh, yet weep.

Reality Bites.

Life can be very hard; for some more than others.  I’ve often questioned why I have to carry so much weight on my heart and soul. I don’t want to be Hercules or Wonder Woman.

I don’t know where my resilience stems from. There have been more dark moments that I care to fully acknowledge in my life thus far, and also many beautiful, delightful and charming moments.

Reality Bites.

This is not about being clinically depressed. This is about the ups and downs of grief. This is about MY reality. I’m still grieving over what could have been, what my reality is and how difficult thinking of the future and making plans can be at times.

Reality Bites.

There are moments when I think, “What’s the point?” of telling my story. Who really cares?

  • Chronically single
  • Medically barren
  • Breast cancer survivor
  • Only child

A therapist told me to keep posting pictures on social media from my scrapbooks and photo albums that I have so lovingly put together over the years that fully capture the really magical, humorous and exciting moments since childhood.  I was doing just that to make my digital legacy mean something but stopped as life post-cancer became too much again.

Reality Bites.

The only constant in my life is the essence of me remains the same. It’s solid. It’s my core.

  • Cancer couldn’t kill it.
  • Depression can’t kill it.
  • Grief can’t kill it.
  • Pain and fatigue can’t kill it.

There always seems to be a storm brewing, edging its way to the forefront of my mind.  I could really use a season of calmness in my body, heart, and mind.

Reality truly does bite.

Until next time,

Warrior Megsie

 

 

 

 

Survivor’s Envy

I no longer have moments where I can ‘forget’ I had breast cancer. I’ve never bounced back after all my treatments and many surgeries.  My body continues to deteriorate instead of growing stronger. The physical pain continues to increase instead of decrease. The skin issues on my face, neck and chest continue to flare up.

This can’t be my permanent quality of life, can it?

I’m plagued by Survivor’s Guilt but also plagued by Survivor’s Envy. How is that possible?

I see others who I met during the start of my cancer path and see how well they bounced back afterward. I see those starting families, getting better jobs or continuing to kick ass at their current job, dating, getting engaged and married, working out and just looking fabulous.

Am I seeing only what they want others to see? Are they really struggling privately? Is it a show for the masses because social media never shows the whole story?

Then I get mad at myself because I know that other warriors are suffering in many ways post treatment or experiencing recurrence and metastasis, but don’t reveal it on social media.

My reality is I no longer have the strength to mask the physical and emotional pain. My quality of life plain sucks. This isn’t a pity party. I’ve tried to push through the physical pain. I get told to just exercise and will feel better. Well, all that movement is actually causing more inflammation and severe pain. My weight is going back up because the pain has become excruciating to the point of almost debilitating most days. It makes exercising and just moving incredibly hard and painful.

I just want to feel better.

I want to have energy.

I want to not feel envious of those survivors who are truly enjoying life. They’ve been through hell and back, too.

For me, my hell continues. The more intense the pain, the harder it is to manage other life stresses. It has increased my anxiety level to the point where I’m waking up nauseous each morning. My sleep is off cycle again.

I underestimated the effects of being medically induced into menopause, becoming officially barren and zero sex drive. How can I even think about dating when I feel and look like crap?

I’m having a tough time igniting my spark and passion. I’m so worn out from working and dealing with the office nonsense that I can barely write or do what I need to do to press forward.

I feel guilty for being envious of other survivors. I feel like October or PINKtober brings out the Grinch in me.

I want to celebrate my life, but is this really a life when I’m single and can’t date? When the pain is so debilitating that I cry out in agony and only my loving cat Nathan can hear me? When I’m so fatigued that I can barely do the laundry, vacuum and dust or make dinner?

For me, life post cancer has its many ups and downs. It seems these days are more down because the constant pain and fatigue is tearing down my defenses.

I fought so hard to try and not die from this. It’s not all smiles, pink tutus and walks. It’s shocking, stressful, utterly painful and exhausting to pretend I’m okay because I look healthy.

Until next time,

Warrior Megsie