Love eliminates….

Love eliminates the distance…..

When I went public with the cancer on my Facebook page so many people expressed their condolences. I think that is how I want to refer to it. Cancer is immediately thought of as a death sentence. Prayers and good thoughts were posted on my page. Along with how I should have been eating right and exercising and I wouldn’t have gotten cancer in the first place comments too.  It really opens your eyes to who your real friends are. To who really gets the concept of the diagnosis. It also opens your eyes to the many people who care about you and you had no idea they did. I have been trying to highlight some of the people who have made a difference through all of this. Today it is Chrissy.

I met Chrissy through Zumba and a fellow friend/instructor. I went to a Zumbathon for ALS that she put together and my dear friend Marilee helped with too. I had so much fun. When Marilee introduced me to Chrissy as another instructor she said ‘next fundraiser you will be in with us’. When she organized the fundraiser for the Humane Society she actually remembered me and asked me to lead a song!! This was the best thing that had ever happened to me in the Zumba community. I offered to have the company I work for donate items for the auction. After we chatted for a bit I found out she lived on Fruitvale and that was across the street from where I work. It made it easy for her to pick up the donation items.

Shortly after that her husband was being transferred, to Germany! Argh, I felt we needed more time to friend. She asked for my mailing address and assured me we could still Facebook. She was so good about sending out Christmas cards to the States. I don’t think I would have been that diligent.

When Chrissy learned of my cancer she would message me often to check in on me. When I would post my Cancercize videos she would cheer me on. When I would have hard days she would simply state she missed me.

One day a large box showed up at my door. It was a care package from Germany! It had chocolates, teas, cookies and jam. It must have weight about 30 pounds. Chrissy had taken the time to put a gift together for when I was going through chemotherapy. The teas and cookies were ones for sick stomachs and nausea. Some for sleeping, some for waking up. She took the time to write in English which ones were herbal, which ones were not. She wrapped everything in bubble wrap with such care hoping it would arrive safe.

This gift. So thoughtful, so unexpected, such a surprise. I never thought I was worthy of such an expense. Chrissy thought I was worth every penny of comfort that she could send from a long distance.

I am so thankful that we have technology to keep in touch. Thankful that you can ship hugs in a box. Thankful that Chrissy is in my life if only for a moment. Grateful that she is  in it for a lifetime.

Love eliminates the distance

 

I don’t know who this is….

Something is off.

This week has been a tough week. No reason in particular. It just feels rough, out of sorts, extra long and just plain off.

I know it is me. I know that it is something in me that is off. I can’t place my finger on it. I am starting to believe that it is the medication I am taking to keep the cancer from growing back. At least that is what I am choosing to think.

I ache, all over. I can’t stop crying. My body is not recovering from exercising like it should. I am not even over doing the exercise, so that is not the excuse. I just feel off. I hurt enough to notice it but not enough to stop me from pressing forward. Going to work, working out, being ‘normal’ and to not call the doctor. Just off.

I find it troublesome when something is on the edge of your tongue yet still so elusive you can’t put your finger on it.

Last Christmas we celebrated somberly. I knew about the cancer and at the time I didn’t know what or when treatment was going to happen or by whom.

This year I celebrate Christmas somberly again. Thankful that I am in remission and that I am nearing my one year mark. Thankful that my family is closer and tighter than ever before. Grateful that I can close this chapter of my life.

At least that is the theory. The cold harsh reality is I am still fighting. Fighting to get sleep ( these 4:30 AM wake ups are rough) Fighting to get healthy (ugh, still fighting with the carbs) Fighting to move more (my motivation and endurance are still lacking) Fighting to find the good in every thing and everyone (it is there, I may not have it but I know others do) Fighting to find my new normal (blah I HATE that phrase) Fighting to not let the outside be reflective of my inside (I have changed, I try to hide that)

Things I have learned so far through all of this:

I have many friends. Some that I never knew I had. I also have less friends. One’s I never should have had.

I am way more into my appearance and hair than I ever thought I was. Who knew I had so much vanity? I honestly didn’t.

That no matter how determined and consistent I am, I still lose focus and energy and motivation to keep doing what is right.

That my job is just a job and it no longer brings me joy. I want more. I have also learned that over time doing the same mundane things you lose sight of the goal of wanting more and something different, something better. Changing and doing more was so intense I couldn’t breath or speak. That is gone. Worn away by the everyday. How did I let that happen?

I am different. My body is the biggest give away. My hair is obvious. My weight is even more obvious. All the scars and lack of nipple cements the difference. I am different on the inside too. Most days I am learning who I am now. Who I want to become. What I am made of.

I look at this picture I took yesterday in the bathroom at work. I took it because I was wearing a new lipstick that I bought from my friend and I wanted her to see what it looked like on me. I do not see Renee. I do not know who this person is. I don’t recognize her at all.

I do know that when I look at this picture I will not be her for long. I am going to fight whatever this ‘offness’ is. I am going to keep moving forward. I am going to wear a hat more often. I am going to believe that 2017 is the year of Renee. I am going to believe that there is only going forward, only becoming better, smarter, funnier, prettier and stronger.

I don’t know who this is. I do know that someday I will.

 

 

 

I push..

I push then I wonder why. My body screams move, then it screams stop it hurts, so I stop and my head screams why did you stop? push through, push harder, and all I can think is why, why am I doing this? is it to prove to myself? is it to prove to those who think I can’t? is it because I need validation, a victory, proof? run. NO walk. NO, run. NO, walk! NO, jog!! now even if it hurts, why? this is the battle in my head. who knew that wogging would be so emotional? I didn’t. I knew it was mental and physical but not emotional. It stirs up thoughts of failure, status quo, aging aching bones and muscles. it brings up doubts of can I do anything? or am I okay with just being where I am at? Am I all worked up from my online goals classes? do I have a real purpose? or just a challenge to prove to myself that I am strong enough, and smart enough and have no limits? I get excited because I have goals and a focus and am constatntly trying to reach them. It is exciting. then day to day life settles in and I doubt I can do them. what is the point? why does it matter? does anyone care but me? how can I a type B introvert be a type A confident person? what purpose does it serve? Then I remind myself… I LIKE having a goal, a purpose, a direction. I have never had one before that was so clear and concise. so real that I can taste it. so much more that I can be. No longer a status quo, a day in day out liver, but a doer, a focuser, a liver of life, a goal setter and achiever….. Why? maybe just for me? maybe just for a kick? maybe for someone else? maybe for the accolade? or simple acknowledgement that I am not dumb, lazy or unfocused. I am not sure yet of the why, but I am sure of the want.

Last night I slept without a bra on….

I know this may not seem like much to you. In fact I would venture to guess the majority of people sleep without bras on. I used to be one of those people.

When I had the double mastectomy with reconstruction I came home from the hospital wearing a velcro wrap. It was tight and uncomfortable. It was necessary to wear to keep the swelling down and to make sure my new foobs stayed in place and would look symmetrical. Eventually I was allowed to exchange the wrap for a sports bra. I had to wear the sports bra all the time, including at night.

As time went on and the expanders were filled to the capacity I wanted, I was able to wear my ‘pretty bras’ again during the day. At night the expanders were so uncomfortable and unmovable that I would wear the sports bra or the surgery bra to bed to be a buffer. Laying on my side was tricky and the support of a bra helped.

Because of chemotherapy the exchange surgery had to be postponed for months. MONTHS! I had to wear the hard and awkward expanders for ten months. That meant continuing to sleep in a bra or some sort of supportive garment.

Last night I felt confident enough to sleep without a bra on. I slept on my side, on my back and on the other side. It felt wonderful and honestly I almost felt normal. NORMAL!?!?!?!?! Is that such a thing? I can’t even recall feeling normal, except for those rare occasional moments that last for just a minute or two.

I have a followup appointment this coming week with the plastic surgeon. I think everything looks great, as great as it is can get considering. I am looking forward to her telling me that. And that I will be able to jog again. And that I can wear my pretty bras that I just bought from an online company that specializes in bras for mastectomy and reconstruction patients. They are expensive but very pretty. I want to be as normal as possible, I think the new bras will help. So will the jogging. So will the ‘all is clear and good’ from the doctor.

No bra at night, pretty bras during the day. Who knows, next I might wear jeans again.

 

It was too soon to wear pants….

and other things I have learned this week….

Saturday I went to a work function just to pop in and give some hugs to friends. I put on a pair of jeans and felt pretty comfortable. I liked seeing everyone, did a little shopping and headed home. I did a little housework and rested on my very worn corner of the couch. After some time I realized that the jeans were pushing too much on my abdomen and off they went. It was too soon to wear pants.

Went in for my yearly check up with my primary care physician. I absolutely adore my doctor. She is a breast cancer survivor herself and she is very big into less prescription medicines and more supplements and nutrition for encouraging our bodies to take care of themselves. During our visit she realized she wanted to do more lab work. Oh no, that means her nurse is going to come in and draw blood. I like the nurse, I really do. It is hit or miss with her though. If she is having a good day she can draw blood like a pro, if it is a bad day she tortures you. Today was a bad day, she ran out of gas and had to be picked up so she was late for work. Sure enough she inserted the needle and it hurt, she spun it around because she missed the vein, no blood. So she takes it out and tries a different spot. Same thing, no blood. She switched to a smaller needle so it would be less painful. It was. Still no blood. I am now nearly in tears. She is now freaked out. The only other option is to try to find a vein in my hand. I didn’t want to do it. Neither did she. So I get to drop by tomorrow and try again. Bleh

I drove for the first time today since my surgery. Parking in the garage was tricky. I did alright. It would have been better if my right arm wasn’t feeling like a pin cushion.

This week I have on my schedule; dinner with a friend, painting with a virtual stranger, coffee drop off to say good-bye to a beloved co-worker, apparently more blood draws and my favorite thing, the mini-spa day. It will be  a great way to train my body into understanding it has to go back to work full-time next week.

Speaking of work, I ordered more yoga style leggings today. I will not make the mistake of wearing pants again.

 

 

 

tacos and labels and cupcakes….oh my

I am still in recovery. I will be in recovery for technically two more weeks and change. Reality is recovery is an ongoing lifetime thing, without pain meds to take off the ‘edge’. Thank goodness for exercise, alcohol and love. Not neccesarily in that order.

Why is it when you are diagnosed with cancer the most immediate question people ask is ‘what stage?’ I have learned through all of this stages really don’t matter. Cancer is cancer. It will affect you forever. Yes, stage four is scary because there are only four stages. Technology is amazing because stage four is no longer a guaranteed death sentence. So why do I have to be defined by Stage 2 B? Why do I also have to list myself as ‘Survivor’? When I clearly am a fighter, and will be until death do us part.

Today it is not supposed to rain. The husband and I are going to bundle up and go for a walk around the block. I need this. Even if all I do is make it to the porch. Outside air on my face will be huge. A breath of fresh air, literally. New perspective. My breast are wrapped up so tight that my lungs feel squashed. Hoping outside air will help.

I want to eat. Seriously I want to eat everything. Cupcakes sounds so good right now. Fancy cupcakes with pretty sprinkles. I am craving toast smothered in melted butter. Garlic bread with a side of spaghetti heavy on the Italian sausage light on the pasta. Mostly though I am craving tacos. TACOS. Crispy fried corn shells stuffed with shredded beef and lots of cheese. Rolled tortilla tacos with chicken and beef. Bean tostadas with lots of cheese and sauce with a side of crispy beef tacos. Nachos with lots of ground beef and black olives. Tacos.

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Hubby is taking a much-needed nap right now. He promised to get me tacos when he wakes up. I have the menu pulled up on an adjacent page so I will be ready to place my order. Giving in to the cravings is a battle I am too tired to fight and can easily blame on the recovery from surgery. Take advantage of it while I can. Soon I will have to workout and eat right again…..

until then I will have my tacos and eat them too.

Catching Myself…..

I often catch myself telling people I am tired. It gets old. I feel old when I keep saying it. I get tired of explaining that it isn’t really a tired I can sleep off. I apologize constantly to my husband for being so redundant. He told me I should just start saying exhausted instead. Maybe I should, maybe I shouldn’t. I did decide to Google other words for tired. Here are some of my favorites: weary, worn-out, drained, zonked, dull, boring and routine. I think my absolute favorite is ‘no longer fresh or in good condition’.

I often catch myself crying at work these days. Am I sad? No, it is because I am no longer in good condition.  I had a very hard moment of not remembering. I had to research all my old emails to figure it out. I honestly could not recall taking care of a Canadian shipment but apparently I did. I am glad I still had an email to answer my bosses question. I apologize with tears in my eyes and mutter to myself that this is why I do not feel like I can do my job anymore.

I often catch myself actually looking forward to this next surgery. Mostly because I will get an excused break from work. I know I will be heavily medicated and have to start figuring out how to move again, but I won’t be at work causing chaos or feeling useless. I am almost treating this like a vacation, almost.

I often catch myself being amazed at the strength and skills of my friends. I have a friend flying out early this morning to help with her aunt’s funeral. At the last minute she was told that she will be doing a ‘get together’ luncheon for family. It started as six people and has been bumped up to one hundred people. The moment she lands she will be busy planning, prepping then serving. She is a cancer fighter too. I have no idea how she keeps it all together. I am always impressed by her energy and organization skills and mostly how she just takes it in stride and makes it look easy.

I often catch myself daydreaming. Dreaming of being comfortable in my body again. Dreaming of not having to do a 9-5 job anymore. Dreaming of volunteering more. Dreaming of rest. Dreaming of bread.

I often catch myself talking myself out of the gym. It is too cold. I am too tired. It is too wet outside. Which is a horrible excuse because the gym is indoors. Then I get upset because if I do not workout I have to watch what I eat. I loose five pounds, I celebrate, I find the five pounds. Big sigh. I miss bread.

I often catch myself nesting. I am nesting or prepping for the upcoming surgery. Planning safe things to do while in bed. Having good and healthy foods ready to go so the husband doesn’t have to trouble himself to much. Cleaning house so it is ready for visitors if they want to come over and keep me company. Nesting.

Fears, worries, tears, nests, and bread….yeah that is what is in my head at this moment.

 

Confessions of an out of shape fitness instructor.

 

I have a belly. I have a big belly. I have large and in charge thighs too.Even when I was down to 128 pounds I still had thighs. The thighs rule my closet. The thighs determine what pants/skirt/dress I can wear. The belly determines what shirt/pants I wear.

Funny thing is I am a licensed fitness instructor. Does this mean I am fit? NO. Should it? Probably. Does this mean I have figured out how to eat right? NO. Does it mean I have the tools and knowledge to eat correctly? YES. Do the thighs and belly stop me from moving forward? NO. Does that mean when I get on the scale I don’t cry when I see the number? NO. Does it mean that I know better than to get on the scale? YES.

Tonight I did my Cancercize with Renee B video and wore a crop top. A CROP TOP!! What the hell am I thinking? My belly kept popping out all over the place. I referred to it as my Big Bertha Belly.

Truth is my belly was starting to conform, behave actually. All because I was watching what I eat. What?!?! a fitness instructor admitting that eating right works better and faster than exercise. Sigh, yes it is true BUT you have to keep moving so your body keeps up with the weight loss and you don’t look like a baggy sack of stretchy skin. Besides, working out and moving helps your energy levels and mental stability. Food can’t always do that for you. Bleh it is all about balance. But I digress, we are talking about the belly and thighs….

I often wonder if I am actually doing more harm than good when I do these online workouts with my body shape. My energy levels and strength are lower than I am willing to admit. It is harder to workout and my ten minute Cancercize videos are all I get in on most days. Do I have the right to call myself a fitness instructor with how I look today?

I do you know. I studied and passed the national exams. I went to the training classes and put my time in. I AM a fitness instructor. I AM not perfect. I AM not in the best of shape. I AM trying. I AM a work in progress. I AM what most people are. I do have the right to teach classes and be online and have a Work it Out fitness group. I am real. I am honest. I have bulges. I have low energy. I struggle with a hard workout. I modify all the time. I have food struggles and issues. I have thighs.

Anyway here are some old pictures of me. Hope my friends don’t mind that I shared these. But you can see my thighs and belly in all of them.

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Oh you know, when…….

your husband can’t sleep in the same room as you because you have to turn the loud fan on in the middle of the night.

you have to change your pjs because you sweat so hard they are now wet and cold

your oncologist office forgot about you altogether and when you call they realize it but then turn it into your fault so they are off the hook

you want to beat all your Fitbit friends and find you can barely hit your preset goals of 10,000 steps per day

work is such hostile environment it stresses you out and you have a dozen hot flashes every day there because of it

you can’t quit your job because you need the insurance because of stupid ass cancer and all it’s lovely and hidden side effects

you want to workout more and eat better so on your last day of debauchery you eat a double hamburger on a Krispy Kreme doughnut bun…and that is all you want to eat forever and ever.

you do really well at eating better. no added sugar no bread. then get so stressed out from work and hot flashes (I’ve mentioned them, right?) that you make yourself a personal chocolate cake in a coffee mug and enjoy every warm chocolate flour sugar filled bite

you are craving melted butter on a warm biscuit but have delusions you are still are making good choices (before the chocolate cake idea) so you bake a sweet potato just to have an excuse for eating melted butter

you plan a party then realize how messy and dirty your house really is

you want to stay up late Friday night so you can hang with your friends for bad movie night. Especially when you found out the bad movie is Mighty Morphing Power Rangers.

made plans in your head to hit the treadmill and it turned into watching Hercules on the new channel that just showed up on your t.v.

you really want revenge on your stupid cancer ruined body, yet you give in each time. It truly makes me mad. I am stronger than this. I can work harder than this. I can eat better than this. I can revenge my body and revenge my health!!!! Bleh!

 

 

 

 

My evil plans….(insert maniacal laugh here)

I have plans tonight with my family. It is Star Wars night at the ballpark. My husband is a season ticket holder for the local Class A Short Season Northwest League. He is a lover of the sport and actually enjoys watching farm teams more than most Major League teams.He gets so excited if I show any interest in going with him. It makes him so happy. I like to make him happy. So tonight I am going to the game, my son is joining us too.

Since I am still in recovery mode from my latest surgery my husband has given me very strict rules today: Take lots of naps today!! No walks. No exertion of any kind.

Today I am feeling somewhat better and my apartment is a mess, a mess I tell you. So messy that when my friend Scott came over after we had lunch to see where we live he gave a very disapproving look! He is a bachelor and a better housekeeper than me. It made me a bit ashamed. I just kept making excuses. The sad truth is I hate cleaning house. I have always been bad at it. It has never been a priority to me and even less now that I realize how short life really is. Oh, that disapproving look! It got to me.

So today my evil plan is to clean, clean, clean the house! Also a  possible walk around the park with my neighbor. I just have to wait for the husband to leave for work. Also for the ibuprofen to kick in. BUT I WILL GET REVENGE AGAINST THE DUST!!!! ah ah ah!!

How sad is it that my evil revenge plans are to clean my own home.

I will get rest today. I want to be able to stay awake for a very long game tonight. The Star Wars part won’t start until the game is over and it is dark enough out. Unfortunately living in the Inland Northwest this time of year it really isn’t dark until around 10.

What revenge plans do you have?