Tuesday, August 11, 2015

survivedat: fear of recurrence

Tonight I had the blessed opportunity to go to my SurviveDat meeting at Cancer Services.  After having to miss the past couple meetings due to my M.D.Anderson trips, it was all I could do to get my butt there.  You know how it is:  "it's raining, I don't want to do anything today" or "I kind of feel like crap I want to stay home".  You have to fight all of these feelings and make yourself do stuff (at least I do these days).  It's stuff I look forward to every month but gosh darnit if it isn't raining every month on that day.

I am one happy person.  I am so glad I went.  When I tell you these are some of the strongest and most amazing women I know, I am not exaggerating.  Everyone is so supportive of one another.  I think at least four of us felt like crap but all of us were led there tonight.  Nothing was going to stop us.  Not Alyssa's radiation burns and pain.  Not Bertina's sinus headache and pressure.  Not my feeling of all around cruddiness. Not Christy's recent chemo treatment.  Not Cynara's recent hospital stay after being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.  Walker and all she was there.  That really says something about this group. 

We are like family.  Sure, we would rather not be in this club at all.  We would rather not have cancer.  We would rather not be dealing with what each of us has gone threw but we can't change it, we let it empower us.  

There was a guest with us tonight, an oncologist, there to answer any questions we may have and the topic was "fear of recurrence".

Three of us don't have to worry about that anymore.  We have metastatic breast cancer and we had fears at one point but they have been faced, or in Cynara's case, are being faced.  It really says a lot that all three of us showed up for this meeting when it was a topic we don't have to deal with anymore.  At least I thought so.  

What it did do was give me flashbacks to when I was first diagnosed and my fear that it would return in the other breast and my absolute panic attacks about the subject.  In all honesty, I respect these women.  I lived in fear those few months before I got diagnosed again.  I tried to knock it out of my brain, to give it up to the Lord, to believe in His divine healing.  I tried, I tried, I tried.  I wasn't as strong as these ladies are.  They all talked about how they cope and I could see that none of them felt the way I felt nine, ten years ago.  

If I would have been asked this question in this support group back then I would have cried.  I would have let it all out and just boo hoo'd.  I'm telling you, these girls are strong.  They already have the peace that took me a couple years to develop.  I was strong and fierce on the outside, but on the inside I was a basketcase.  At home I stayed in tears when it was just me.  Anytime I could find alone time I cried.  I cried and I cried and I cried.  In the shower.  In the car.  In the kitchen.  Spending time with Madisyn and reading her favorite book "Mommy's Head Tickles".  I couldn't make it through the first page without crying.  I hid this side of me from everyone but my mom and Madisyn.  At first.  

Over the years I have learned to cry on other peoples shoulders.  My sister, for example, my best friend at the time, These are tears for other reasons.  But still tears that were falling.  

Dealing with the fear of recurrence can be a crippling ride.  If you aren't careful you can let it take over your life.  I can't say enough about therapy and anxiety medication.  Plus prayer.  Prayer is very powerful, but sometimes prayer needs a little help from modern medicine.  At least for me, I did.  Anxiety medication has been a Godsend and I fully believe God sent us doctors and scientist to do their work to complement His.  So be aware of your feelings, or your loved one's feelings, your friend, or family member.  They may need your help in recognizing that they need help.



Sunday, August 9, 2015

Kelli's Kloset

Today I would like to take the opportunity to share a resource that I learned about a couple weeks ago.  It's called Kelli's Kloset.  This has become a resource that means a lot to me.

The story of how it got started goes like this:

Kelli Richmond, while going through cancer treatment, was having to buy clothes left and right because of the way her body changed during each different treatment she was taking.  One day, at the doctor's office, she noticed a lady with her skirt pinned up with a safety pin.  It was at that moment she realized how lucky she was to be able to be in a situation, where she didn't have to worry about finances and was able to buy clothes when her body changed.  She vowed that she would open a non profit organization that gave cancer patients free clothes.  Kelli didn't live long enough to see her dream come true but her family took her dream and ran with it.  The doors opened June 7, 2014.

They even have something called the $1000 monthly birthday wish, where one ovarian cancer patient is gifted with $1000.  What an amazing organization.  The monthly birthday wish may not include breast cancer but I'm sure you know someone going through ovarian cancer that could sign up.  Here's the link to the birthday wishes, Kelli's Kloset.

This resource means a lot to me for a couple of reasons.  No, I didn't know Kelli personally, but an ample amount of my friends did and when she died it was felt all around this community.  My heart broke for this family and for all of her friends.  Some I was very close with, and I saw the pain when she passed.

Another reason is because this is the best idea ever.  This girl right here (me), weight has fluctuated a good 80 pounds since I was diagnosed.  Depending on my treatment I may gain weight (which is where I am at right now) or I may lose weight.  It goes up and down like a yo yo and I appreciate this organization so much.  I wish Kelli could still be here to see her dream come true and see the lives she is changing.

Lastly I want to say thank you, Kelli.  You amaze me, even from the grave.  Also, thank you to her family for making this dream come true, and for all the volunteers that make it happen.

Kelli's Kloset is open Wednesday's and Fridays 10-4 and Saturdays 10-2.
It is located at:
4560 North Blvd
Baton Rouge, LA