2 weeks completed, now it’s time for another amazing vacation ;) …

It was only about 2 weeks ago, that I was blogging about how my first week at my new job going. Since then, so much has occurred. My first 2 weeks at the gynecology office had gone really well. My coworkers were great and it felt amazing to be in the workforce again. However, traveling was proving to be a little tougher than I had anticipated it would be. I was finding myself spending anywhere from 2-3 hours of my day, driving to and from work. I didn’t think it would be such an issue considering I had traveled long distances before for work, but it was really starting to wear me down. Luckily, I had planned a vacation prior to starting my new job and it would serve as a good break for me to recuperate.

It was August 16th, when we hopped on a plan heading to San Francisco, California. I was super excited to embark on another new journey. This time I was doing a spiritual retreat in Mount Shasta. I honestly didn’t think much of it at first. I just knew we would be hiking, meditating, and doing some yoga. That alone was a great vacation in my book.

Our flight from Ft Lauderdale, Florida to San Francisco, California was 6 hours long, and Mount Shasta was a good 5 hours away from San Francisco.

And we've arrived to San Francisco!! :D
And we’ve arrived to San Francisco!! 😀
Time to hit the road and make our way to Mt Shasta :)
Time to hit the road and make our way to Mt Shasta 🙂

For the record, I would recommend arriving in Sacramento or Redding, California instead. It will easily cut the drive time in half. If you don’t have that option, plan to stay the night in San Francisco and drive up the next morning. You’ll be happy you did.

Upon arriving at the lovely Mt Shasta Bed & Breakfast, we checked in, I placed my bags on the room floor and passed out like a baby after a heavy meal.

The next day, I showered up and made my way to the dining room where breakfast was served daily to all of the house guests. There, we slowly began to meet some of the individuals that were also partaking in the spiritual retreat. They were all very sweet and pleasant to talk with. Each with a unique background and wealth of information. As much as I enjoy being a social butterfly and talking to others, I found myself happily listening to each conversation, eager to learn more about the people I would be spending the next 7 days with.

Later that morning, we explored the town a bit and decided to rent some mountain bikes. The sun was out and there was a cool breeze in the air. With the view of the beautiful mountains surrounding us, it was hard to deny myself the desire to ride again. We mounted our bikes and cruised through the city and eventually made our way to lake siskiyou. It was so beautiful to see a big lake surrounded by such a majestic mountain. When I took a closer look, I could see the locals swimming and canoeing, while others played fetch with theirs dogs. In that moment, I began to feel grounded again. The fast pace of the city was drowned out by the nature all around me. I could have stayed there all day, only we had to return the bikes to the store and make our way back to the bed & breakfast for our first group meeting.

Lake Siskiyou :)
Lake Siskiyou 🙂
Me+My bike+lake siskiyou= awesomeness!!! :D
Me+My bike+lake siskiyou= awesomeness!!! 😀

Andrew, our group leader, and his partner in crime Lauren, welcomed us and gathered us into a circle. One by one, we were asked to introduce ourselves and express to the group why we were there. In other words, what did we expect to get from the retreat. I was honestly looking forward to some time off. However, when it was my turn to speak, the most natural explanation to leave my mouth was, “Since being diagnosed with breast cancer, I’ve wanted to stress less about the little things in life and focus more on living my life and my true purpose”. I can’t recall if I worded it just so, but it’s pretty close to what I remember saying. I don’t even know where the words came from. I hadn’t met any of these people before, and here I was, sharing such a personal experience without flinching a muscle. I have blogged about it, yes, but never have I spoken to such a large group of people about it. In that moment I knew that this “vacation” was going to provide me with more than just time to meditate, hike, and do yoga. I was going to continue my growth in a way I had been longing to for some time and I look forward to sharing my experience with you all…

Stay tuned,
Elizabeth 🙂

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. 🙂

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 🙂

Elizabeth here checking in for surgery…

The day of my surgery had finally arrived. There were still so many questions to be answered but, the one thing I knew for certain is that I was going to leave home that morning with a cancerous tumor and come back without it.

My mom and my partner accompanied me to have my lymphoscintigraphy scan done prior to checking in at the hospital. I’d say I was pretty calm when we arrived but, once they called my name, I began to recall the steps of the procedure and became very nervous. It would be similar to the biopsy I had done only there were more injections and they didn’t really contain a numbing agent. I felt every single one. The worse one was the one right by my nipple. I’m glad I was strapped down because I might have knocked the technician and doctor out with just one swing!

The injections did finally came to an end and with my partner by my side the scans began. My mom was later brought in as well and it wasn’t long before they both just sat there laughing. I finally asked, “why are you laughing?”, and they both replied, “we’ve never seen someone go through something like this and yet have so much to talk about. You won’t stop talking.” I admit I’m a bit of a chatter box but, that day I was non stop like the energizer bunny. I suppose my nerves had gotten to me and instead of crying I was talking to anyone who would listen. Personally I think they enjoyed the entertainment as a lack of humor would have made the whole experience very boring.

It didn’t take to much longer before the scans were done and I was on my way to the hospital. My stepdad worked in the OR so he was already there. My dad had come straight from work and arrived moments before I did. The gang was all here and now we just had to wait for my name to be called.

We weren’t in the waiting room long before someone arrived to get me. I was so nervous that to tell you the truth I couldn’t even remember if it was a male or female. In that moment all that was running through my mind was, “when will I see my family again? Will it be before or after surgery?” It was such a quick goodbye. Fortunately, I was brought into a private room and only minutes later a nurse was already in there giving me my gown with matching socks and a bag for my belongings. She informed me that once I had changed and she had prepped my IV along with a few other things she had to do, my family would be allowed to come in.

With that being said, I changed as quickly as I could and once she was done my family was brought into my room. It was great to see them again. Even my boss stopped in to see how I was doing. Of course this later became the joke of the century. You see, I was completely calm before my boss showed up but thanks to today’s technology, everyone was alerted of my increased heart rate when he walked in the room. How embarrassing! It’s not that I had a crush on him, it was more the respect I have for him as a doctor. My partner refers to it as a professional crush and says it’s completely normal when you look up to someone so much. Nevertheless, it was still something I was teased about for months to come.

I had so many loving people around me and it was extremely comforting. The surgery was delayed by several hours and within that time there were videos made, pictures taken, jokes told and a whole lot of silliness going on. Finally, it was time to say goodbye to everyone. As they rolled me away on my bed I waived and gave them all a big smile. I dare to say in that moment I was even excited. Till this day I can’t figure out exactly why but, I can tell you it was short lived.

There I was, being transferred from one bed to the next and strapped down to the surgery table. The lights were shining so bright and the room was so cold. I was so nervous and it was then, while talking to one of the sweetest nurses I now have the pleasure of knowing, that I broke down into tears. It was as if all of the built up fear was pouring out of me all at once. She did her best to calm me down by reminding me that I was in good hands and that she had made a promise to my step dad to take good care of me. Between breathes I tried finding comfort in those words as they placed a mask over my mouth but, before I knew it, the anesthesia had kicked in and I was fast asleep…

Stay tuned,
Elizabeth 🙂

**** Note to reader ****

I’ve attached a short video clip of me taken prior to my surgery. It will give you a good idea of what my nervous chatter and building an image of fearlessness looked like. Enjoy! 🙂