Monday, August 10, 2009

The Tough Girl's Guide to Life After Cancer

I was 37 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. What I thought was going to be ‘a little cancer’ turned into being quite an ordeal. No one can really prepare you for the experience. It’s like trying to explain colors to a blind person. They might ‘think ‘they have an idea, but you don’t really ‘get it’ until you ‘get it’.

I knew from the beginning of my diagnosis if I was going to get through this, I needed to get my *inner tough girl* on. The ‘Inner Tough Girl ‘blog became my form of therapy.

The Tough Girl’s Guide To Life After Cancer

Many moons ago people would ask what I ultimately wanted to do with my life- I would respond "I want to build something that will outlast me." Meaning,I wanted to change and impact people in a way that would make the world a better place. I had no idea the plan that was to unfold - as most of us rarely do. Besides bring two beautiful people into the world, The " Life After Cancer" events are my contribution to the world.

The other day,I was in the grocery and heard some ladies talking about their chemo treatments. I realized there were 5 of us in the produce section and 3 of us had undergone chemotherapy . It was time to do something about my dream -it was time to make a leap of faith even though I felt it was "too big" for me. As fate would have it, once I made this decision, all kinds of help stepped up to the plate and volunteered for this project. There was no turning back.

In the beginning of my treatment, my ‘tough girl’ was like a cheerleader. Rah! Rah! Save the world- Sack that c-a-n-c-e-r . Then it was like a broody teenager- pissed off most of the time, annoyed and emotional. Then something shifted and I was ready to step up to be the person I was intended to be – Confident and happy with who I have become.

I realized there is a lot of support for women initially diagnosed and going through treatments, surgery etc. but not too much about what happens after the cancer is gone and the treatments are over. I understand there are a lot of people who go on with their former life- a life before cancer-but for me, cancer deeply impacted my life and my relationships. Nothing is the same and to be quite honest. . . I had a tough time dealing with this reality.

People would say "Oh, well you are so young, you will recover fast!" and yep - that's true - but being young and recovering from cancer creates a whole host of physical problems. Yeah, I AM young and I would like my sex life back - I AM young and I did not plan on having debilitating arthritis and fatigue for my 'younger years'. I AM young and did not plan on having to worry about bone density at my age or my teeth falling out for crying out loud. Yes, I will admit - I feel a little robbed of my youth. Whatever-I try not to think about it too much.

A friend recently passed on this quote to me about faith:
When you come to the edge of all the light you have, and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing one of two things will happen: There will be something solid to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly.

It's my time to fly ...

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