Thursday, February 4, 2010

Be strong and Carry on

When I first started this blog, I really wanted to share the details of the day to day with cancer. I wanted to remember what it was like and how I felt and how hard it was for me. I guess I wanted to remember what I had overcome and what I had learned from this trial. For the most part, I have been very honest and have shared details-even the not so good ones. I promised to share the good, the bad and the ugly. Thats why im writing this today. Its time I share whats really going on during this time in my life. I will say in advance that im sorry if I offend anyone. Thats not my intent, I just want to be honest with myself and I want to be real with all of you.

It has officially been a year since I found out that my life would be changed forever. I was happy and we were just about to start a new chapter of our lives in owning our own business. We had plans and it was exciting. I hated Utah and everything about it, but I was truly excited. How quickly everything changed. We ripped up the papers, wrapped up loose ends, packed our house and were gone in a matter of days. We didnt even have time to think or feel. Once here, we dealt with what we had to and that occupied our time. Those first months are a blur. I really didnt feel much-or allow myself to. I knew that I had no other option but to be strong and deal with this head on. My husband was having hard times enough for the both of us, and I knew my only path was to be strong and carry on. Chemo and surgery and radiation took up so much of my time that I was always occupied-my mind was always occupied. Now, I have had a lot of time to think and to feel and it has all caught up with me. All the emotion and stress and worries. To say the least, im a mess.
There is a lot that comes with having cancer, it affects EVERY aspect of your life. For me, at the begining, it was such a positive experience. People from all over the place were coming out of the woodwork to say they loved me and were praying for me. I had constant reminders of love and service. I had never seen anything like it. I received cards and gifts and treats and calls and texts. It was such an example that I will never forget. I will never forget what it felt like to be on the receiving end of such service. It was really hard for me to accept this. Call it a pride thing, but I usually like to be on the other end. This was new for me and it was hard to get used to and it was hard to show my gratitude without feeling stupid. I know thats wierd, but I felt like a burden after a few weeks. I felt like it was getting old real fast and I just wanted it to stop. I just tried to get through it without trying to feel much. I took it one chemo treatment at a time and before I knew it, I was done and on to the next step. I really expected to feel a loss of some sort after my mastectomy, but I didnt. I felt fine. It was actually a relief to have them gone. Radiation came next. It was long and boring, but easy. I couldnt wait for that to be done so I could start the reconstruction process. During radiation, my skin started to get red and irritated. I wasnt allowed to wear any sort of bra of prothstesis because it would irritate the skin. My skin was so sensitive that if there was any friction, it could literally rip the skin. I had to be less than flat chested for the next couple of months. To be honest, it didnt really bother me first. I was really good at ignoring my feelings and putting them off, but everywhere I went I was reminded. People would always ask how I was and how I was feeling and what was next. It was constant. I soon started to feel selfconscious of how I looked. I had no hair, no boobs and I had gained alot of weight. All of a sudden, I started to see myself and all those feelings I had been storing away broke free. What the crap had happened to me. I started to not want to go out or to talk to anyone. I felt hidious. Seriously. I even convinced myself that my husband was totally repulsed by me and thats not good for any marriage. My poor husband-its amazing that he's still here =) I started to feel like I was the pity girl. Its all any one would talk about, it seemed no body knew what to say so they just would ask about cancer. I didnt want to be the charity case.

I thought once I started the reconstruction process, alot of this would go away. I really was never the vain type. I never cared so much about clothes or being stylish, but all of a sudden I was painfully aware that I was far from it. I started to withdraw from everything. I didnt want to do anything. I lost interest in things that I used to love. I guess all signs point to depression. Im too strong to be depressed. I have had boughts before, after I had kids, but I always got through it. I would get through this one. And so I did. I realized that I choose to be happy and thats what I needed to do. Once again, be strong and carry on,

Now it was time to start reconstruction. I couldnt wait. I finally had boobs. It was awesome. The first part of this process was pretty easy. It hurt a little, but i was tough. Just right before Christmas, I recieved an injection that was unlike any other pain I have ever felt. I was bawling my eyes out and nothing I did was relieving my pain. To make matters worse, I couldnt get a hold of my Dr to get pain pills. My next appointment wasnt until after new years. Pure hell is all I can say. Since then, ive had to live off of pain pills and muscle relaxers. Ive never been one to take pills. Ive always refused them after babies and when I get a headache, I would rather suffer through it than take anything. Im dumb, I know, but I just had never felt comfortable taking them. I hate pain pills, I hate the way they make me feel. I hate everything about them-except that they are wonderful in relieving my pain. Everyday, I go through the same fight. I put off taking them until im in so much pain that I cant function. Why?? I have no idea. I guess I just think that I can deal with it without help, like everything else.
Being in constant pain does something to a person. It has changed me. Not for the good. Im cranky, mean, withdrawn, tired, no energy. Im back to not wanting to socialize, or go out, or do anything. I have a hard time doing the things im supposed to do as a mom, wife. Im in more pain than I admit to anyone and its hard. All I want to do is climb in bed and pull the covers over my head. But I cant. I have responsibilities and I have to take care of them. The thing about being sick for so long, is that you have used up the "i need help" card. I feel that I have taken advantage of everyone and all the resources. I dont want to be a burden anymore, to anyone. I just want to feel good and be able to do things on my own. Im not in my own house, I dont have my own things, im not in my normal routines, my kids arent the same. Im so wiped out from pills that I cant even get up in the mornings to get my kids off to school. My husband has taken on that responsibility and he does a great job, but thats what a mom does. And I cant get out of bed. Im completly numb inside and out. Chemo did something to my brain-its like it wiped it clean. I feel dumb as a rock. I dont have the energy to be with my kids or do things with them because I dont feel like I can-I cant teach them because I dont know how or what to teach them. Its all a vicious cycle.

So after a year, what have I learned? That its not as easy as I thought at first. That I didnt have to try and be superwoman. That it is what it is and I should have dealt with it head on instead of trying to be what I thought everyone wanted me to be. Its hard dealing with an illness that could potentially kill you. There is always the thought that this could come back and be way more agressive and I would have to do this all over again. All I know right now is that things can only be a bad as you allow them to be. I know that if I focus on this hard time and feel sorry for myself, then im allowing it to win. My cancer may be gone, but its affects are still lingering and will be for quite a while. What do I do now? The only thing I can do...Be strong and Carry on!!

I dont mean to sound so depressing-sorry about that, but I cant even tell you how good I feel now that I have written this all down. I know I am going through this for a reason and when I read this again sometime down the road, I hope to know why and I hope to be able to have learned something great from all this. I know there is a plan and that is why I am able to move on. We all have hard times and this too shall pass.

On boob news, I should only have about 2 fills left to even them out. My radiated side isnt being too cooperative and its just not stretching like we would like it too. Im hoping for the permanent implants to be in by the end of the month. Cross your fingers!!!


Christa Johnson said...

Oh Shelly, I love you so much!!! I cried when I read your entry because so many of the feelings you have felt and are feeling are so close to my heart.... I hate the pain, I hate not being able to get up with the kids in the morning, I am sick of using the "cancer card" etc. My family even had a bit of a "falling out", probably due to all the extra emotions in cancer. My parents and I are on the fritz and that is really hard for me emotionally.
I am soooo glad you hit your one year mark!!! I just found out they are adding two more sessions of chemo, so my last one is now May 3rd-- -dang it!!!
I have started to just be happy for little things, like taking a walk on my good weeks, etc...
I am really, really glad you wrote your true feelings down, that is what this blog is all about!!
Thanks again for this blog!! It makes me feel a bit more "human"!
Again, I love ya!
Christa Johnson

Lisa said...

Don't worry, we all love you!! We hope this final process goes quickly for you. Depression is a hard thing, just say a prayer and he'll help you get through the day. I know what you mean about pills, I'm the same why. They do help you feel comfortable, so your body can heal. Good luck with everything, please let us know if you need anything.

Anonymous said...


I love your blog. You are an amazing woman and Mother. I wish I was closer so I could give you a hug.

Heather (Johnson) Wilson

simplyshye said...

wOW !! AmaZinG poST ! i loVEd reaDing this and learning . Thank You For writing it .
ThinkiNG of You - YouR AmaziNG !!
lotS of loVE -- shye

Rachel Cunningham said...

Dang it. I wish I would have read this BEFORE book club. We could have had some therapy that night. I love your honesty and I am sorry this year has been so hard. I hope it continues to get better!

Kenyon said...

One day your kids are gonna get teary eyed as they talk with the utmost pride about the strenth that their mother has. You may not see that they are proud of you all the time right now, but someday they will be swelling with admiration. Thank you for sharing your personal feelings with others. So many people relate to your feelings in one way or another and because you share them someone will feel like they are not alone. Being honest shows HUGE strength. What you feel as weakness others see as so much strength.

Much love and admiration

Charisse said...

Shelly you always put me in tears by the beauty and truthfulness of your words. Your strength and honesty are so amazing. Thank you for sharing a little bit of what you are experiencing. I love you and we think about you and your family often.

Jacki said...

I have had all these same feelings at some time or another, but for me, it got better -- a combo of counseling, an anti-depressant for a while and lots of time. I think you'll bounce back, too, although I think the "chemo brain" sticks around -- I forget and get foggy and do silly things like put my keys in the fridge all the time. It's been 5 years since my diagnosis. You'll get there, too. I'm sure of it.