I always said that this blog was intended to give people insight into what it’s like to have breast cancer in your early 30s.
Well, it’s been just over a year since I started chemo and about six months since I finished all my treatment. And while I haven’t written a post in quite some time, life has certainly been carrying on. Getting back to (new) normal.
The medical appointments have lessened, although they are ongoing. I actually don’t mind the appointments though, because they give me some comfort. There is constant uneasiness about random aches and pains and about the fact that my body is just so different now. January and February were months of scans, mammograms and ultrasounds. All clear, thank God. And then there’s my lymph-y arm and chest wall, both of which are a source of constant attention, vigilance (and physio sessions!). And then there’s that small surgery that’s coming up in just two weeks, eek.
One of the things I have struggled most with post cancer is my lymph-y arm. When it’s bad it aches and is a little swollen. Lots of massage, physio, stretching and wearing a compression garment helps, but I hate it. For me it’s just a constant reminder of how much cancer has changed my life forever. I don’t begrudge it, but it does sometimes annoy me. I have occasional flip outs – like last week when I lost my shit because I wanted to go to Melbourne for a concert but didn’t want to come back completely exhausted just 10 days out from surgery. There are so many constant reminders that will be with me forever. Hopefully forever means until I’m old and grey (not just feeling old and grey).
In and around all the medical stuff and health management, life has just carried on. A big part of life continuing has been returning to work. I don’t want to labour over what’s that been like. Needless to say, it hasn’t been as easy as perhaps I would have thought. Patience, a virtue of which I have traditionally had very little, has been required. Working part time is, however, a saviour. All I’d say to anyone that’s on hormone blockers and has had an entirely successful return to work is, well done. While I am more than happy to be on exemestane and zoladex and while I’m so glad that I have a hormone treatment available to me, let me just tell you ladies, appreciate your oestrogen. It does far more for your body than you might imagine. Far more.
Other than wellness and work, there has been plenty of time for fun. Adele (ah-mazing!), a weekend in Margaret River, I turned 33. Another year alive, tick. Blessing. Then there was the second diner en blenc, which was a great event. So lovely to have my sisters and brother in law attend this year, too. And last month we celebrated Easter. It’s a big deal in the Orthodox church and I really love the traditions that go with Easter. So I feel pretty fortunate to have had the time to go to Church, bake, cook and spend time with family. My little sister’s birthday, lots of walks and as always a healthy amount of time in the kitchen.
I don’t think that this time a year ago I quite understood the path that lay ahead of me. I have had so many people tell me that everything would change, everything would be different and treatment would probably take two years to wrap up. I didn’t quite believe any of it. But here I am 15 months post diagnosis and I have to eat some humble pie. Life is so different now. The way I socialise, how much I need to sleep, how I can work, my ability to be spontaneous and jet off at the drop of a hat, my diet, my physical ability. It’s all different. Sometimes I’m overwhelmed by it all, to be honest. But most of the time there’s a moment in the day when I am overwhelmingly grateful to be able to live this somewhat weird new normal life.
I’m looking forward to getting part 1 of my reconstruction out of the way. Nerves are at an all time high, but I have great faith in my surgeons and I’m looking forward to what adventures await post surgery. All I feel like doing right now is getting on a plane and having a whole lot of fun. Better start planning that next holiday…