I am determined to cherish each day of one of my favourite months … December. While I don’t scrapbook much any longer, I want to use Ali Edward’s class to help me refocus on living each day as it comes.
Last year at this time, I was frantically busy raising thousands and thousands of dollars worth of goods for a woman’s shelter in Oshawa. Work was busy, life was busy, and I was going over the speed limit trying to keep up. Or stay ahead of the shockwave. I am not sure which. I was in love with my life yet something unsettling crept around the edges. I don’t know if subconsciously I knew something was up, but I was avoiding it and running away. My temperament and mood swings were uncharacteristic. The anger I had buried years before resurfaced. I hated feeling like I was out of control, so I sought control where I could. I figured it was the season, piled on top of the usual stresses of being a single income family and missing my own Mom who passed away in November 2013.
In one quiet moment in the shower, I thought I felt a lump in my right breast … but I couldn’t find it later. I attributed the lump to hormones or something and completely forgot about it in the chaos of Christmas celebrations and New Year’s Eve, my birthday.
But it was Something. It was 3.5cm of Invasive Ductal Carcinoma … Stage 2A/Grade 3 Triple Negative Breast Cancer.
The lump was perhaps six months old and growing.
December 2016: T’is the season! For snowballs and breast lumps.
January: Discovery and/or Realization that the lump was REAL.
February: Tests, tests, and more tests and a life derailing.
March: Diagnosis … “Lisa, you have cancer.”
April: Chemotherapy and immune system crash forcing me into isolation & hospitalization.
May: Second hospitalization after my immune system crashed.
June: Second chemo drug for 12 weeks.
July: More chemo …
August: Finish chemo and ring the bell!
September: Replace my phone and worry about long term disability.
October: Oh October … broken ankle and radiation!
November: Goodbye Cancer party and ring the radiation bell.
December: Coming this December … followup appointments with my entire healthcare team and trying to live my new normal.
It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. You have no idea – or, perhaps you do – what a wild ride 2017 has been … and it’s not over. Is it ever over? Never has there been such a wide chasm between one year and the next. I went up one side of the mountain and down the other.
But I love fresh starts. New beginnings with a promise of happier endings. I am always the optimist.
It all started right here with my intense desire to authentically tell my story. Some days, I don’t know where the words come from … they just come. I have thought many times that I was absolutely meant to walk this journey.
I spent last night rereading the blog from the start to finish. There were so many moments I might have forgotten if they weren’t recorded in posts. My short term memory loss is profound.
I forgot how good it felt to tell everyone the news. I drew strength from your well wishes, prayers and offers of help.
I forgot how terrified I was … curled up in a fetal position on my bathroom floor just wishing it would all go away. I had no idea how or where I would find the strength.
I even forgot about contemplating suicide.
I forgot how lonely I felt. Everyone’s lives were marching on, except mine.
I forgot how I could hear my own blood flow whoosh through my ears … due to elevated blood pressure from the Red Devil chemo.
I forgot how numb I felt coming out of surgery and visiting the Durham Regional Cancer Centre for the first time. Shit got real.
I didn’t forget how traumatic it was to lose my hair or how much I loved my wigs.
I forgot how sick and tired the first chemo cocktail made me feel. Lying in bed contemplating peeing right there because I was too exhausted to move. But I did … because cleaning it up would have required more energy and stomach than I had.
I almost forgot how I coped with the grief … but I can see all five stages in my writing. Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.
As I read, I relived the birth of the Andrew Diaries. Years ago when we were still together, I realized I wanted to someday write about our escapades. I held on to some of our text messages and the memories. While I know that not everyone is fans of the erotica, it is part of who I am and what I write.
It takes guts to bare everything to the world.
I look back and can see where my blog weaves through fantasy and reality. I leap from one world to the next.
I forgot how I had to draw strength from within. Even while surrounded by friends, there was so much I had to do alone. I don’t know how I got out of bed to drive my son to work and pick him up.
But most of all … I am grateful.
Grateful that God placed this path before me.
Grateful for the people who stood by my side.
And grateful that at least for this December, my greatest fear didn’t arrive … I am still here and made it to another December! I’m not Stage IV
In that post I asked you, dear reader, to do something for me. Do you remember? I asked you to close your eyes and dream of your favourite things to do every season. And do them! I didn’t get to do many of the things I love this summer.
I don’t have a cottage and couldn’t swim with a PICC line.
I never got to the beach.
I didn’t sit around one bonfire.
I couldn’t run on my favourite trails.
I desperately wished I could have gone with the group to Killarney to hike the Crack.
I didn’t get my pro camera out.
I haven’t watched TV all year.
I couldn’t join any teams.
I haven’t had a real vacation in years.
But I still lived a full life, as best as I could fill the frames of my existence. While my leg is still healing and preventing me from enjoying the outdoors I love so much, I do promise to hold each December Day in my hand and honour it.
My blog reminded me to capture keepsakes from any moment we can … photos, conversations, emotions, wishes, words and people.
I want to make my life, my son’s life and every life around me sparkle again. I’ve been procrastinating on taking money out of investments, but I had to in order to pay our bills. So that’s done. I have so much to be thankful for.
Welcome to December!
1: Ladies Who Lunch
2: Finding the perfect evening gown!
3: TEAM Dog Rescue
4: A lazy afternoon up on Sturgeon Lake
5: Dinner & Drinks
6: Christmas shopping
7: Celebration of my Mom … she would have been 95 today.
8: Downtown Christmas
9: Chirstmas Shopping!
18: Geez … I forgot to update this thing!
19: Final cancer checkup of 2017!
20: Cast came off!
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