This may not be that "deep" but it is what's rolling around in my foggy chemo brain. Pardon the stream of consciousness... I am just going to spill out what's on my mind.
First and foremost, one thing I have learned about breast cancer is that some women beat it and some women don't. It sounds simple but it's not. Some women thrive for 20-plus years and then have a recurrence. Others convert to a vegan lifestyle, practice yoga, run marathons... They do absolutely EVERYTHING they are supposed to do and still end up with metastatic breast cancer.
The harsh and simple truth is, unless a woman was initially diagnosed late and started at Stage IV -- EVERY women out there who is Stage IV started at Stage I or II or III - just like me.
Receiving a diagnosis of Stage I or Stage II is not a guarantee that I will sail through this and not have to deal with this again. There are no guarantees. Yes, my chances are definitely better with early detection and being at Stage II. I would rather have had no lymph node involvement. I would rather have had just a lumpectomy and radiation and skipped the chemo altogether. But that is not how it turned out for me.
Now I am beginning to understand why so many women tell me not to focus on my stage. Stage really means very little.
Surviving and thriving means everything. Living a healthy, balanced life and being happy is what is most important. Being of service, contributing, getting involved and making a difference in someone else's life is important. Being grateful is important.
So what does this all mean? I am not exactly sure but here are some thoughts:
- Get through chemo and rest up over the holidays.
- Get back on green juices.
- Start working out again, slowly, taking babysteps to build up my stamina.
- Eat healthfully but also enjoy eating.
What does this mean for me? I realized I cannot go all the way with a raw, vegan lifestyle. It makes sense to me but I really wouldn't enjoy it. Remember, I want to focus on living a balanced life. Part of that means also enjoying what I eat.
This doesn't mean I am shutting the door on raw, vegan meals. I will make a concerted effort to eliminate more meat from my diet. I can easily eat two vegetarian meals a day. But I still want to enjoy an occasional steak.
This leads me to wine and alcohol in general. I have needed to cut down on my alcohol consumption since before my breast cancer diagnosis. This is a fact. Breast cancer or not, I am working on limiting my alcoholic intake. I am definitely doing better but I have a way to go. Again, moderation and balance while still enjoying my life.
And then there are the things I want to do, the places I want to go. Here is a quick list. I refuse to call it a bucket list. I am not kicking the bucket anytime soon. These are places I have wanted to see and things I have wanted to do for years.
- See Yosemite, Yellowstone, Glacier and Denali National Parks
- Rent a cottage on the coast of Maine for one or two weeks for summer vacation, eats lots of lobster and read lots of books
- Try horseback riding
- Join a yoga studio, develop my own practice and maybe start a yoga studio of my own
- Finish my Masters degree
- Hike as many trails in the Shenandoah National Park as possible and get to know the park system well
- Find a cause for which I am suited for volunteering my time
- Get back in shape so I can plan a hiking trip to the Grand Canyon and stay at the Phantom Ranch
- Take more three-day and four-day weekends to visit my friends and family
- Go on a WindStar Carribean cruise
And that's just the beginning. I know, I need to hit the lottery!