Paws & Recovery…

There are moments when no amount of words could ever express the way you feel. This was often an issue for me while going through my journey. In fact, many of those moments lead to frustration. I would often find myself creating distance from everyone so that I wouldn’t even have to make an attempt to explain what it was I was feeling. I just needed my emotions to run their course in hopes of finding the answers later.

There is one little guy however that I found comfort spending my time with. He wouldn’t try to hard to make me happy, or ask me to break down in detail why I felt the way I did emotionally. Well to be honest, it’s because he couldn’t speak. That however, shouldn’t take away from the importance he’s played in my journey.

The little guy I’m referring to is my toy Chihuahua Chico. “Agh”, you must have thought out loud. “Now I get why he couldn’t speak”. Though I must say, if he did, that would certainly have been a very interesting topic to be blogging about. ๐Ÿ™‚

Because of Chico, I now realize how much better my recovery had been. What do pets have to do with recovery? Well, in the midst of all the craziness that occurred in my life once I was diagnosed with breast cancer, there was only one thing that kept me focused on “the now” and provided me with the non-stop “unconditional love” I needed. That one thing was my little boy Chico. He’s been the perfect therapy for me. He made me laugh with the silly things he did and kept me warm when I just needed to be comforted.

I’ve had Chico for 6 years now and consider myself lucky to have had him. For those who don’t already have a 4 legged child at home, I highly recommend it. You do need to be sure however, that you can make time for them, give them a good and safe home, and have the financial ability to take care of them. A great option is to adopt. I know its cute to have a little puppy, but there are 2 very big advantages of adopting an older dog.

#1. They have often times already been potty trained. You’d be surprised how time consuming all of that can be.

#2. The most important advantage point, you are providing a great home for your new addition.

As the time passes you will both become inseparable, the best of friends, and have helped each other live a more fulfilling life. There is truly no greater gift. If adoption isn’t something you can commit to, you can always visit or volunteer at a pet shelter if your health permits. This works well for anyone unable to take on the responsibility of a pet, and you will find that it still helps you emotionally as well as the pets you interact with. Visiting a friend who has a pet can also do wonders.

Regardless of your decision, I give K9 therapy a two thumbs up. I know I couldn’t have done it without my little guy…

Stay tuned,
Elizabeth ๐Ÿ™‚

Wanting what we can’t have…

I spent a lot of time within the next several days thinking about everything I had discussed with my doctors. I thought I would be able to start my treatments right away and that soon enough I’d be on my way to a new city but, that wasn’t the case at all. I still needed to have more tests done and, I was also scheduled to consult another physician for a second opinion. This wasn’t going to be the fast, black and white process I wanted it to be. Actually, I was pretty naive in thinking it would, but hey, a girl can dream can’t she?

While processing my thoughts, one topic in particular did continue to cross my mind, no matter how hard I tried to let it go. Thinking about it made me laugh because it was a perfect example of how we as human beings have a tendency to want the things we can’t always have. Why is that? Why do we say we don’t want something but quickly change our minds when we are told we can’t have it anyway? If you haven’t guess it already, the topic I was referring to was the possibility of not having my own children.

Sure, at one time in my life I wanted to but, as I got older, it really didn’t matter if I had my own or chose to adopt. In fact, I had always wanted to adopt, even if I did have my own. There is nothing more gratifying to me then knowing I could provide a great home to a child that needs one but, for some reason, it was indeed starting to bother me.

It wasn’t that my opinion about adoption had changed. It was more the fact that I liked knowing I didn’t give birth to my own children because it was my decision and not because I just couldn’t. Again, I felt as though I had lost control over something that was my choice to make.

Each time I talked about it, I became more frustrated. Cancer, and the preventative treatments that followed it, had taken over my life again. To make things more difficult, the universe was reminding me of children every moment it could. Everywhere I went, couples were either getting ready to have a baby or just did. Even worse, was listening to people complain about having them at all. I mean, I’m not a parent but. I can imagine that having children has it’s challenges. It’s a huge responsibility and I give lots a credit to the many mom and dad’s I know that make it look so easy. Still, it upset me to see how some people took it for granted. They were so bitter and viewed it as more of a burden then a gift, not even stopping to consider what it would be like if they couldn’t have them at all.

I tried hard not to be judgmental but at times it proved to be very difficult. I just wanted so badly to help them see the beauty in what they had. I suffered with this for some time until I woke up one day and once again stopped feeling bad for myself. “That’s it!”, I thought, “I had already decided to adopt if I still wanted to have children one day so, in your face cancer!” Besides, who was I to assume people didn’t actually view their children as a gift. Perhaps they too were having a moment of weakness.

Then just like that, instead of taking ten steps backwards, I was taking a giant leap forward. There was absolutely no reason for me to feel bad because I wasn’t being forced to take an alternative route. I had made that choice long before cancer affected my life. It was time to break free from these emotional chains and continue to move forward. I had big dreams and I wasn’t about to let anything get in the way of my accomplishing them…

Stay tuned,

Elizabeth ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

The second addition to ” My Oncology Team”…

Today I was scheduled to meet with the radiation oncologist. This time, since it was so close to work, I booked the appointment late in the afternoon. When I walked in, the office was very quiet and there were two very cheerful young ladies sitting behind the front desk. After signing in, I was given a stack of forms to complete. “There goes another tree with my name on it”, I thought to myself.ย I quickly filled them out and returned them to one of the girls behind the desk.

I don’t recall waiting very long before the nurse called my name and lead me into an exam room. This office was very different from the last. There were no windows in the exam room I was in and it was lightly decorated. It didn’t feel as cozy or welcoming but, I later found out that it was due to them relocating to a much nicer facility. In any event, I wasn’t aware of that at the time so I became a little nervous, not knowing what to expect. Was the lack of decor suppose to resemble my new doctors personality? I knew she was a female based on the name but I hadn’t heard anything more about her. Was she going to be cold and dry? Well, I was about to find out.

As my brain was trying to connect the pieces of the puzzle, I heard a gentle knock on the door and in came the doctor with a huge smile on her face. She instantly lit up the room and gave it the makeover it needed. She introduced herself and with just a few words I felt an instant connection. I could sense that she was a very kind and compassionate person.

After a little game of “let’s get to know each other” she asked me to change into a gown so that she could take a look at my incision. I was still healing well which was great news because I was ready to start treatment as soon as I was cleared to do so. I wanted to make sure that there wasn’t even one cell that could do me harm left behind.

She explained I needed to give my wound a little more time to heal and since I was also going to Moffitt for a second opinion, she recommended I wait to see what form of treatment they suggested before going any further. If chemotherapy was needed, I would have to wait till I finished the chemo before I could move forward with radiation.

She also wanted me to schedule an appointment to see a genetics counselor so that they could test me for the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 gene. The fact that I was so young and with no known family history of breast cancer was starting to raise suspicion. If indeed I was positive for either gene, I wanted to do anything I could to prevent someone else in my family from going through the same thing I was. I had a younger sister and two nieces to think about.ย With a positive gene, the recommendation is to have a double mastectomy and hysterectomy as your risk of breast and cervical cancer are much higher. This was important information to pass on and it would be selfish of me to keep it to myself.

My doctor asked me how I felt about the possibility of not having my own children, should that be the case in the future, and I remember thinking, “with all of the kids in the world that need a good home, why on earth would I want to risk passing on a faulty gene to my offspring”? I had always been happy with the idea of adoption. In fact on a more recent note, prior to my diagnoses, I had decided that it was the best option because I didn’t want to be pressed for time by my “biological clock”. It was hard enough with society wondering why at 31 I wasn’t already married with children.

The truth is, I wanted to experience life more without the responsibility of having a child. I didn’t want to conform to societies belief that at my age I should already have children when I knew I wasn’t ready to give up certain freedoms that came with not having them. Who made up that silly rule anyway and when did it become so taboo to decide not to have children?ย I don’t think my doctor was to convinced but, she listen to my reasoning, gave me a smile and reassured me I was going to get through this.ย I was very happy to have her on my team.

Once I left the office I immediately called the genetics counselor to schedule my appointment. I would soon be on my way to Moffitt and I wanted to get as much as I could done before arriving. Little by little I was checking off items on my to do list and slowly I was able to see the light at the end of the tunnel…

Stay tuned,
Elizabeth ๐Ÿ™‚