An Exciting Month…

January 2015 has come to an end and we are quickly already approaching the middle of February. Where does the time go?

I don’t know that I’ll ever really find the answer to that question, butΒ I can say I have accomplished a lot since the year started. I wanted to enter 2015 with the same tenacity I had moving into the big city. I was so excited and felt like I could conquer the world!

This small town girl however was in for a surprise. I struggled so much with the cultural differences when I arrived. As the time went by, the aggressiveness of the city was turning me into an overwhelmed mess. Not to mention only recently I had received news of further studies that needed to be done regarding an area in my left breast. Seriously?

I was starting to think of all the bad things that could result from the stress and the ideas that lingered in my mind and they were starting to eat Β me up inside.

That’s when I decided to reset my thoughts and focus on the goals I wanted to accomplish, and not on the things I disliked around me.

One of my first goals was to run the Miami Half Marathon I had registered for the previous year. The challenge here was that I hadn’t run since the last one in 2014. In fact, The most I ran the entire year was a distance of 1.25 miles and that occurred less than a handful of times. My work hours had been long, but worse was the way my medications were making me feel. I just didn’t have the energy.

It's time to lace up my sneakers and hit the pavement!  <3 <3 <3
It’s time to lace up my sneakers and hit the pavement!

Nevertheless, I wanted to get back into the game and this race was a special one. I know I’ve said that about many others, but this race was the one I ran while undergoing radiation the year prior. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it than and I could do it now.

The race was a beautiful one as always. I ran the first 6 miles feeling sore but great all at the same time. It was after mile 6 that my body broke down and my emotions were at an all time low. I was starting to break down and so many thoughts were running through my mind. “Why are you putting your body through this torture?”, “You didn’t train and weren’t ready for this.”, “You were so much faster last year, look at all those people running by you.”

You know that saying, “You are your own worst enemy”? It was never more true than in that moment. If I had listened to my thoughts, I would have parked myself on the side line to wait for someone to pick me up and bring me to the finish line.

I Finished!!! πŸ˜€

That however was not about to happen my friends! It took a few pep talks but I finished that race with my run/walk combination and it felt amazing!!!! What a great sense of physical accomplishment. πŸ™‚

Could this year get any better???

Yes it can!!!

It was that same week that I was officially turning over my old position as “administrative assistant” and walking into my new one as “assistant property manager” in the building I started working at last September of 2014. This being a completely different career for me felt like the greatest accomplishment. I couldn’t believe how quickly I was able to move up in the company and I was honored to have been given the opportunity to do so.

Yes!!! What an honor. :)
Yes!!! What an honor. πŸ™‚

To make this opportunity even greater, I received news that I had been accepted into the mentorship program I applied for back in October, after working less then 2 months with my company!! I remember reading the beginning of the email and my jaw dropping in excitement. This was such a blessing and was going to be such a great tool to help me grow as an individual in my company. πŸ˜€

All of these blessings have helped keep my mind at ease about the uncertainties that have previously cluttered my mind. Most importantly, I learned that all I have is “Now”. I need to “seize the moment” as they say and make the most of my “now” so that I can get to where I want to be in life.

Planning for the worse has only proven to keep me from doing the things I really want to. It made me less adventurous and taught me to always play it safe. Life isn’t always about walking the straight and narrow though. You’ve got to allow yourself to be creative and follow your heart. It may not always make sense but if you want it, you’ve got to reach out for it. Not matter the diagnoses or the obstacles.

So to all of you out there who think you can’t do it, I have a message for you…

If it’s in your heart, you can do it. πŸ˜‰

Stay tuned…

Elizabeth πŸ™‚

So, what now?

So now that I’ve shared my story, the biggest question lingering in my head is “what now? What else do I write about?” Sure I’ve had new struggles, but I no longer know whats important and useful to share. To be honest, I’m still trying to figure this whole thing out myself. Many people think that once you’ve gotten over “the worse part of the journey”, things are smooth sailing from there on out. Here’s the thing though, “the worst part” is different for us all.

Let’s take me for example. I sailed right through my surgery and radiation like a champ. Even my doctors were worried about the fact that I was “taking it so well”. Later though, when the storm had past, I expected nothing but rainbows to follow. The “worse part of the journey” was over right? Not exactly. Instead of rainbows, a tornado swiped through unexpectedly destroying the very foundation I had been standing on for so long. It was as though every emotion I had suppressed had come bursting out of a secret box buried deep within. I began to ask myself, “Am I really a survivor?” To me the word “survivor” meant it was all over and life would be what it once was. Why wasn’t that happening?

I knew I couldn’t be the only one feeling this way so I decided to write about it. It’s about the only part of my journey that really makes sense to me at the moment. I’ve realized that the life I once lived can no longer exist exactly as it was. No matter how much I try to even think the way I once did, it’s impossible. It’s like buying a delicious ice cream cone with all of your favorite toppings and watching it hit the floor just before you start eating it. You can’t just put it back on the cone and eat it without thinking about the “slow motion” fall you just witnessed. Instead, you learn to appreciate whats left of it and go on your merry way.

Learning to cope with the side effects of my surgery and medications, while remembering how lucky I am to be typing away at my laptop sharing my random thoughts with the world, is my version of “learning to appreciate what is left of it and going on your merry way”. I too am guilty of finding it hard to see the silver lining at times but I promise you, it’s there. It’s just difficult to see when our emotions get the best of us. Just take a moment and remind yourself of your many accomplishments. You will slowly start to realize that there is no way you could accomplish so much and be the same person. In time you will find you are far more amazing, courageous and beautiful…

Stay tuned,
Elizabeth πŸ™‚

Breast Cancer Awareness Month…

It’s that time of year where we all gather around to support the many who have been touched by breast cancer. For me, it’s quickly approaching my one year anniversary since being diagnosed with breast cancer.

Today I made my way to my favorite nail place. I wanted to add a little “pink” into my life as an additional way of spreading awareness. As usual I was greeted with a great big smile at the reception desk and promptly directed to the place I’d spend the next hour relaxing and melting the days worries away.

When it was time to apply my nail color, I watched as the first stroke of color hit my nail and in that instant felt my heart skip a beat. It had been almost a year since I’d worn that color and as a result, I experienced a waterfall of emotions wash over me.Β It was incredible to feel first hand how something so simple could make such a big impact on me.

I managed to keep it together until the young lady finished spoiling me with a much needed manicure. I then walked to the counter and paid for the services rendered. Before making my way out the door, I pulled out a few business cards and shared my blog with the young lady at the counter. After a short conversation we both realized something important. No matter where you go, or who you meet, there is a reason why you were placed in someones path and they in yours. It made me realize the importance of sharing my story and spreading the word about my experience.

Many of you have been great supporters, loyal readers, and have shared my story with others. The words “thank you” will never be able to describe just how grateful I really am to you. I’d also like to thank Venetian Nail Salon for doing their part to spread Β awareness about breast cancer with their “Pink” Saturday’s and special events. It was really nice knowing that a place I enjoy so much, takes a moment to recognize something so important. Denise, Ali and Mary…. Thank you.

Stay tuned,

Elizabeth πŸ™‚

My thoughts on what I’ve learned along the way…

Writing and sharing my journey hasn’t been as easy as I thought it would be. It’s made me relive a lot of moments I’ve learned now I hadn’t dealt with. On the other hand, it’s allowed me to work through those emotions with all of you as my support system, and for that, I’m extremely grateful.

The truth is, no matter how severe it is, cancer is scary, period. I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “breast cancer is such a popular thing now a days and is so much easier to treat, you’ll be fine”. It’s true, there are many treatment options today, however, that doesn’t change the fact that cancer is frightening, and that there is no way of determining if treatment now will guarantee you won’t have it again in the future. Nevertheless, I found myself thinking those very thoughts and even repeating them in conversations with others. I had brainwashed myself to think that my journey wasn’t that big a deal.

If you are currently going through your own cancer journey, please know that you are entitled to feeling however it is that you are feeling. It may be sad, scared, angry, confused or all of the above, and hiding it from the world, or denying those feelings will only make it harder to deal with later. It will also make it hard for those around you to understand your needs. If you come across as though everything is perfect, people will do the same and not offer the assistance you may need. My experience showed me that it wasn’t others that didn’t understand my feelings, it was me that wasn’t being honest about what I expressed to them. Communication is key, and though it doesn’t mean you wont ever deal with a difficult situation, it will keep you from creating unnecessary road blocks along the way.

It doesn’t hurt to be forgiving either. If you do come across a person that has a nonchalant attitude regarding your situation, try not to get to worked up about it. Often times, the response comes from lack of knowledge or the inability to express themselves well. The news will come as a shock to them, and their first reaction may be to say the first positive thing that comes to mind. It may not be what you want to hear but, do your best to put yourself in their shoes and take that opportunity instead to educate them by sharing your experience.

One other very important thing is remembering to do your part. As a cancer patient, it’s easy for us to lose site of the struggles our loved ones are going through because we are thinking of our own. At times it even feels like we are going through the worse parts of the journey alone. Just remember though, fearing the loss of someone you love or watching them suffer is also hard on your loved ones. They too are confused and have no control of the situation. No matter how much they wish they could take your place or make it all better, they can’t, and that can be difficult to cope with. So be patient, communicate and just like they do their best to make things easier for you, try to plan a “time out” for them so that they too can be physically and emotionally balanced.

Lastly, I want to thank you all again for reading and continuing to follow my journey. I don’t have all the answers and still have more to learn but, I’m embracing the changes that come my way and looking forward to sharing them with you in hopes that someone out there will find it helpful… πŸ™‚

Stay tuned,
Elizabeth πŸ™‚

 

 

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 πŸ™‚