I haven’t posted a blog in the last couple of weeks, things have been a little crazy with my current treatment regimen, my blood counts haven’t been where they need to be so I have unfortunately had to miss treatments and adjust; adding to that a bout of the flu, which certainly did not help my cause. I tried on the weeks my counts were low to negotiate, lets face it I wasn’t winning over my oncologist, but I tried. In the bigger picture I knew I couldn’t have treatment and why but I was mad, angry and feeling frustrated. I was worried about missing anything, thinking the cancer maybe be spreading or areas getting worse. I was looking forward to a vacation we had planned and had everything planned around treatments, aiming for my off week, but yet again cancer reared its ugly face and was throwing me off course.
A week of rest and relaxation, some sun and the ocean air was just what I needed. A break from the metastatic breast cancer, or at least try to take a break was my goal. For one week, stop thinking about it, which seems impossible; for even just a day pretend that I didn’t have cancer. I often think about how my life would be if I didn’t have cancer, where would I be, what would be different; there are so many things cancer has taught me, I had vowed to continue to live my life the way I had thought it would be but the reality is cancer does take away some of those dreams. So for a week, I wanted to relax, enjoy life “without cancer” as best I could. Maybe that sounds crazy to some, but for me a break makes sense. Naturally for all of us our bodies require rest and relaxation, time to recover when we are fighting something like cancer that is infringing on our lives. The sometimes vicious and unpleasing cycle of tests, treatments, appointments, medications, battling with insurance are all exhausting; fighting cancer feels like a full-time job. And add to that work, family, or anything else and it all becomes tiresome, with that stress and fatigue are guaranteed. When we are stressed and fatigued naturally our immune systems are lowered leaving us vulnerable to illness, and as a cancer patient going through treatment we already have weakened immune systems.
I found it a challenge at times during vacation not to think about cancer; there are reminders daily whether its pain or looking in the mirror and being reminded of chemotherapies side effects. I often wonder what Matt thinks, or anyone; losing my hair and knowing how permanent it was this time was difficult. But I felt empowered not to let that bother me, I threw on a ball cap or just rocked my baldness on the beach, I remind myself my hair does not define me, nor do I let it. I did bring “Anne” and did flaunt her as well; she survived her first vacation (note to self she does not travel well in a suitcase). One of many of my wonderful memories of the trip was a morning run watching the sunrise and taking in the ocean air. I felt strong, ran every step stomping out cancer; followed by a walk with Laura, enjoying the beach, but for even the thirty minutes or so we walked it wasn’t about cancer; very little mention of it; just conversation, even silence and just enjoying the beach. Even just talking with Matt about anything but cancer as well as my family that visited.
Enjoying the days with everyone making a lifetime of memories; relaxing with Matt and not talking about cancer several times throughout the day was just what I needed. Prior to the trip some of the harsh realities of living with MBC were starting to take their toll on us; missing chemo treatments, blood counts not cooperating the way I would like or needed them to be, scan results that were difficult to see, and a whole new treatment regimen were wearing both of us down. So for once, even just for a few days I tried to forget about all of it the best I could. It was a chance to rest, relax and recharge to keep fighting; the week felt great, tired by the end of the days but the combination of feeling fatigued from treatments and soaking up the sun during the day it was a different tired from the “new normal.”