Monday, October 28, 2013

Day 513 of 1825

I received a nice email from someone who had read my blog and thanked me for sharing my experience. She said it made her feel less alone on this journey we call breast cancer treatment. Her email really meant a lot to me and prompted me to update my blog.

So how are YOU doing? I hope all is well on your side of the universe, wherever you happen to be.

As for me, life goes on but certainly not without its challenges. My greatest challenge is trying overcome my fear and anxiety about recurrence. I feel as though I am always waiting for the other shoe to drop. That's not a good feeling.

I asked a friend who went through breast cancer treatment before I did how she overcomes this nagging fear. She said that she just reminds herself that she didn't go through the surgery, the chemo and the radiation so that she could live her days in fear. No -- she went through all that CRAP so she wouldn't have to live her days in fear. Makes sense to me. And I continually have to remind myself of this fact all the time.

I also have another friend who said she would repeat to herself: "I don't have cancer today. I don't have cancer today." Because unless you get the diagnosis from your doctor, today is a perfectly HEALTHY day.

Those are two techniques I use quite often. Sometimes they work. Sometimes they don't.

I am currently on a schedule of getting my mammogram once a year again like a "normal" woman. haha! And my oncology visits have been cut back from four times a year to twice a year. I was supposed to have my mammogram this month but couldn't get in on time. So it's a little delayed. That has me nervous - of course. Why didn't I do a better job of scheduling it in advance? Geez! My next oncology appointment is in December.

I guess my biggest challenge right now (besides the fear and anxiety), is the toll my treatment has taken on my body. By that I mean weight gain. I gained about 30 lbs. during my treatment and following my hysterectomy in April 2012. I feel like a whale. The hot flashes suck, too. But compared to cancer, I am not complaining.

I have decided that one of the best ways for me to fight my fear and anxiety is to develop some sense of control over my situation. For those of us who have been down this path, we know that we cannot control very much in life. But there are some steps we can take to help us feel more in control and I am referring to lifestyle changes. Mainly diet, exercise and some kind of spiritual or meditative practice.

Here is what I know for sure:

  • I know that eating sugar is bad for me. Cancer loves sugar.
  • I know that drinking alcohol is bad for me. Women have a 35% higher incidence of recurrence when they drink alcohol, even just one glass of wine a day.
  • I know that being overweight is also bad for me. Fat cells produce estrogen and my cancer fed on estrogen. Leaner women have a lower incidence of recurrence.
  • I know that being sedentary is bad for me. Women who regularly work out and get their heart rates up in their target zone have much better survival rates than those who are sedentary.

Armed with all this knowledge, you would think that I would have given up the sugary treats, stopped drinking wine, started eating healthier and smaller portions and started working up a sweat every day.

But I haven't. And I cannot tell you why.

I feel guilty about almost everything I eat or drink. It's too sugary, it's too much, I shouldn't be drinking this glass of wine... blah, blah, blah.

Every time I get on the scale or have to buy a larger size, I chastise myself for not losing the chemo weight. I know that women who are overweight are at risk for recurrence not to mention the fact that my love life is suffering (that's another story!). Just lose this damn weight already!

So while I feel a certain sense of accomplishment for having made it through my treatment, I am still not where I want to be. I kept telling myself during my treatment that I just wanted to be healthy. I wanted my life back. I guess I still do.