Oh, so many things are on my mind lately and I'm sifting through what is blog-worthy today. :) Recovery from Round #4 has continued to go well and although I had a minor crash of exhaustion after the excitement of last weekend, I have still been pleasantly surprised at how my body has handled chemo this time around. I continue to battle the fatigue on a daily basis and try not to let it frustrate me too much. There are so many other little changes that have been going on with my body as these toxins circulate through my bloodstream - things you never realize or think about unless you have experienced it yourself. Since beginning chemo, I have either had a constant runny nose or the complete opposite with such a dry nose that it is painful. Sometimes, one side is runny, and the other is dry simultaneously - kleenex in one hand, nasal spray in the other - so weird! The chemo causes some odd changes throughout the nasal cavity I guess. I also get frequent headaches behind my right eye every few days. I experience some unusual visual disturbances at times, such as not being able to focus my vision properly or feeling a sense of strain on my eyes after looking at the computer for even a few minutes. I have also been dealing with quite a bit of back pain and stiffness when I wake up in the morning - to the point that I am nervous to even move because it feels like my back is going to break. A few weeks ago I started to experience some numbness throughout a few of my fingers, my skin has become incredibly dry on my hands and feet, and the ridiculous amount of bruises I seem to acquire take a lifetime to heal. On top of all of that, chemo also causes an increased sensitivity to the sun (as if I didn't have this problem already - red haired & freckled...hello?!), so I have to constantly drench myself in sunscreen and give up any hopes for even a minor tan this summer. Oh, the joys of chemo! None of these things are a huge deal or enough to keep me down, I just wanted to share that to give a little insight into the fact that there is more to chemo than nausea and fatigue. Those of us going through it often have an array of side effects and you just never know what you are going to get. Kind of like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates. ;)
Last Wednesday, we celebrated Mike's Uncle Johnny's life at his funeral service and burial. It was a very nice service and although the circumstances weren't ideal, it was nice to see all of Mike's family. Unfortunately, coming from a pretty big family as well as marrying into a big family means that I have attended a lot of funerals in my twenty-nine years. But, this time it was very different. Sitting in the pew next to Mike at the gorgeous Shrine of the Little Flower Church, I was reminded of our amazing wedding day in that very same place - the absolute happiest day of my life. At the same time, I couldn't help but think about my own death and how one day, my own funeral will take place in that very church. I by no means consider myself dying, but when you are diagnosed with Stage IV cancer and told there is no cure for what you have, it is nearly impossible to not let these thoughts creep into your mind. I knew attending a funeral would be difficult for me, and it definitely was. It just hits a little too close to home right now and I couldn't help but think of what that day will be like and how it will possibly arrive decades earlier than I ever thought.
I wish I could tell you I didn't think about these things. But truth be told, I think about it way more than I would like. Facing your own death is such an overwhelming, all consuming feeling - it feels like a tidal wave of grief and sadness, where despite your best efforts, you can't seem to find the surface to catch your breath. It is something that I have obviously never come close to experiencing before and a feeling that I can't even put properly into words. It gives you an entire new outlook on life - what's important and what's not - and how to cherish the time you are given. I think we all assume we are automatically given a lifetime of 80+ years on this Earth. The truth is, nothing is promised to any of us and a long life is not guaranteed to anyone.
There are times when I still can't fully wrap my head around what is happening. And if I have made it three days without crying, I consider it a success. I am truly not afraid of death, but the thought of leaving Mike, my mom and the rest of my loved ones before I am ready, just breaks my heart. However, I do my best on a daily basis to use the time I am given to live my best life, to tell the ones I love how I feel about them, and to fully appreciate every blessing that is given to me. That is all I can do, because the alternative is to curl up in bed and never climb out - which has never been, nor will it ever become an option for me.
Sorry for such deep and heavy thoughts today but these are things that I think about a lot. I have shared some pretty difficult, intense and emotional conversations with Mike, my mom, and some of my closest friends and I always end up feeling better after releasing these thoughts to others. It's incredible how isolating this can feel sometimes because not many people can say they know how you feel, but that's all the more reason why I am so grateful for all of you. Your love and support truly gets me through those tough times and you have no idea how much that means to me.
I also want to send a quick shout out to Kara for putting together a great Yin Yoga fundraiser last Friday. It was a fun time and thanks to all of you that were able to be there. I also want to thank our friend, Karen Hiatt for hosting a fabulous Lia Sophia jewelry party fundraiser at her beautiful home on Sunday. We had such a nice time and I can't thank you enough for doing this for me. Mike and I truly have the most incredible friends and family!
We have an action packed week ahead including the Rosie O'Grady's fundraiser tomorrow that Stacy put together. See the poster from a few posts ago for details. It should be a great time & hope to see some of you locals there! I have an appointment with my surgeon, Dr. B on Wednesday to start the ball rolling with that process, getting many questions answered, and learning as much as I can about what my double mastectomy will entail. On Thursday, I start my first of twelve rounds of Taxol and then we are immediately packing up the car and heading down to Nashville for our good friend Joe's wedding. Although I am not super excited for the 9 hour car ride, I am very much looking forward to exploring Nashville for the first time, spending a weekend with some of our best friends, and of course, celebrating Joe & Lauren's big day with them! We are again keeping our fingers crossed that chemo treats me well, especially since we will be even farther from home this time!
I hope all of you are doing well and enjoying your summer so far! You guys blow me away with all of your kind words and support. I am thankful for it each and every day. Have a wonderful week ahead, don't sweat the small stuff, and live it up! :) Looking forward to sharing some pics from Nashville next week!
Spending a Saturday morning at the Royal Oak Farmer's Market is one of my favorite things to do. This Saturday, I loaded up on all of my flowers now that I am finally feeling well enough to get out in my garden. Yay! Here are some images I captured from the market this weekend...
My single, absolute favorite flower - the gorgeous peonies which now have a home on my kitchen table!
There was a cute little petting zoo set up across the street at the Royal Oak Public Library for the kiddo's...
My blog to keep you all