Wow... it has been a really long time since I've written on my blog. For whatever reason, I just lost my voice for a while. That's the way it goes though. Life throws a few punches and you find yourself needing to hunker down so you can protect yourself. It takes time to find the courage and strength to get back up again and get on with living. The holidays were particularly tough for me this year. I just felt misplaced, pushed aside and discouraged. My new life of having to learn to sit on the sidelines can be a real Debbie Downer for sure. Sometimes what a person needs is a swift kick in the pants. A gentle reminder not to be too ungrateful for what you DO have. After taking some time to reflect on my life I found a way to once again look beyond all of the negativity and find my way back to that place of acceptance. I'm having to find a way to avoid those things that trigger sadness. And, each time it happens, I take notes so that I can be stronger and prepared the next time it happens. It takes a lot of work to stay away from the pull of negativity.
When I think about what women in my situation used to face just a decade ago, it is a quick reminder that I am truly blessed and lucky to still be alive today. Ten years ago women very rarely lived longer than 2-3 years after a stage IV breast cancer diagnosis. It shows you how far we have come in research that I am able to look towards any type of future at all, even if it is going to be shorter than I hoped. That one thing that I've been given is so much more than so many others were given before me and for many others who have more aggressive cancers. Yes, this miracle comes with crappy side effects and a loss of many things I miss. But, the fact that I am sitting here today able to look towards the potential for years ahead of me is not something I will ever take for granted no matter how hard or difficult the journey.
I am still in the process of re-inventing my life. I am saying goodbye to relationships that no longer work. I am saying goodbye to old hobbies that are now becoming quite stressful and difficult to enjoy. I'm saying goodbye to my hiking boots and my clothes and shoes I can no longer wear. I am saying goodbye to the past I can't change and letting go of the future I can't control. My focus is only on today, the present.
To my dismay, I'm saying goodbye to my memory!! Yes, those who deal with me every day know that I have to be reminded constantly of every little thing. Mom will forget!! :) Luckily we are all learning to develop a sense of humor about it... mom gets teased a lot.
I am learning some very important and invaluable life lessons. One of those lessons is that living is accomplished in many different ways. Just because I have many doors closing, that doesn't mean that I can't turn around and find new ones to open. Learning how to live again when I know my life will be cut short no matter what I do, is so much harder than people realize. Especially when the life you were living is no longer within your grasp. Many people give up or fall into despair trying to continue being that person they were. But, an important lesson that I have learned with this diagnosis is acceptance. That person I used to be is in many ways gone. Holding on to what I can no longer have only makes living harder and makes me bitter. I must allow those doors to close and pour all of my energy into new hobbies, new tasks and new goals that allow me to enrich and grow into the new person I need to become to find joy again and to live a full life.
For me, everything I do now revolves around my personal well being and my physical well being. I've had to say goodbye to people who are toxic. I don't have the energy to fight or argue. And, that's not how I want to spend the years I have ahead. I am finally saying goodbye to comfort food, sugar and all those things that are causing me to gain weight due to my lack of mobility. I have to conquer this! I have no choice. I want and need to be able to be active. I have to do whatever I can to ensure that I can enjoy life. Mobility is important and I'm learning that it truly is a full time job to combat this one thing that is keeping the things I could be doing slightly out of reach. I have very little energy for anything else right now. But, that's the way it has to be.
I hate sitting on the sidelines. I like to be involved in things. I don't want to sit and watch other people living their lives while I just watch. But, that is exactly how I have been feeling. But, when I stop to reflect on this, I do realize that I have come to appreciate the beauty that life has to offer from just sitting and watching others play the game of life. One of those beautiful things is that I get to meet many other people that I likely would have never met or known who are also sitting on the sidelines right along with me. And, it's not just people with MBC. The sidelines is a place full of wonderful people of all ages, races, religions. They are the children who aren't old enough to play and the elderly who are too fragile. They are the people with other types of diseases and physical challenges all sitting right there with me. All of us have had to find a way to live despite our inability to participate in those things that aren't within our abilities. It's inspiring to be there with them. These people are the true conquerors in the world. The ones that persevere despite the struggles and hardships. The ones that offer hope to what many would view as hopeless. We empower each other and teach each other what is still valuable and important. We help each other find a way up that treacherous mountain that would otherwise be impossible to climb alone. I value and treasure these relationships and all that they have done to enrich my life.
I have met and lost so many MBC sisters/brothers since my diagnosis almost 2 years ago. Each goodbye is a blow to the heart and hits very close to home. Each loss is a gentle reminder of my own fate. But, as I walk along hand in hand with these men and women I now find myself empowered by their strength. I am definitely inspired by their courage when it comes time to accept that it's finally time to stop fighting and let go. We all dread that moment. None of us wants to leave this earth. But, acceptance of that fate is the only way to be empowered to live. Accepting this fate means closing the door and moving forward.
I am very proud of where I am today. My life is so very hard but I'm finding balance and finding a way out of the muck each time I get stuck. I'm doing this by saying goodbye to the old me and hello to the new person I am becoming.
I am still here and I am going to LIVE... I will continue to live until I can't. I am hopeful that I will face the end of my life when it arrives with grace as so many of my MBC sisters/brothers have already done. I will be thinking of all of them as I power forward and conquer each battle as it comes. I will continue to live for them. It is the only thing I can think of to honor their memory.