Weekend Scenery

This weekend was the first good weekend I’ve had in a long while…

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Somewhere after treatment #6 three and a half weeks ago, I started to run out of steam. The physical, mental, and emotional aspects of the treatments and having cancer started to get to me. Rightfully so I think, as this is a journey with a lot of peaks and valleys. With that said though, I think it’s important to climb my way out of those valleys.

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A lot of my feeling good is just a combination of side effects and coincidences. First and foremost, the weather has been great. We’ve lucked out with a beautiful autumn in this area, and getting outside and moving my body is the best therapy I can think of.

On top of that, my lungs are feeling great. I didn’t realize how miserable I was gasping for air and coughing until I got some relief. At first I was really, really bummed to learn that the chemo poisoned my lungs. But the symptom relief has made me hopeful the damages won’t be forever, and that I won’t have to be on these steroids long enough for any major side effects to take place.

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One thing about feeling crappy all the time is that I’m stuck inside the house all the time. But this weekend I was able to get out of the house and it was so good for the soul! Excursions included an impromptu lunch at the neighbourhood diner, brunch with the fam, a scenic drive through back roads…

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There was apple picking with my sister!

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We gathered quite a bit, most of which I think is destined to become apple butter…

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I took care of the apple crisp right away, obviously.

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Not to mention, a surprise visit with some of my favourite people (my best friend’s mother, who I call my ‘second mom’). She snapped a future Christmas card photo of Buster and I.

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Apart from feeling good physically this weekend, I feel like I turned a corner emotionally. I wrote two posts last week that stimulated discussion and really got me thinking.

This past year has not been a good one for me. Before my cancer diagnosis in June, I had already been out of commission from getting reconstructive surgery on my arm. I haven’t been in good physical health since before 2011. Being unwell for such a prolonged period of time really started to get to me. As I expressed last week, I am ready for this cancer and broken arm thing to be OVER so I can just move on with my life already.

But in writing this out last week, I started to realize that it was not good to compare the life I have now to the one I had before. To compare the body I have now to the one I had before. The comments and e-mails I got from people only helped grow that seed further.

Something clicked with me this weekend, and I realized that I am never going to be the person who I was in 2010, or 2009, etc, etc. Instead it’s time I start coping with the fact that I am a person living with a disease. For so long I was scared of embracing my cancer because 1) I wanted an identity outside of my disease, and 2) I didn’t want to welcome the cancer into my body in any way.

However, I think the idea that I can just ditch my cancer to curb is what makes me feel like I am standing still until it’s gone. Instead, I am a young woman living and loving life with a disease. I do not have to wait until the disease is gone to do those things. The peaks and valleys that come with cancer don’t just exist for the duration of treatment, but will exist for the duration of my life. I realize that I should just embrace and expect it, rather than think things will ever go back to being “normal.”

The person I used to be was pretty rad, but the new me, the future me, will be just as great. Believe it or not, now that I’ve started accepting my illness as part of who I am, I feel more like myself again. Best of all however, this weekend I felt like I started moving forward again. But this time I am not moving towards any finish line, this time I’m just enjoying the scenery of the ride.

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Posted on October 24, 2011, in Cancer, Lessons Learned. Bookmark the permalink. 40 Comments.

  1. The you now, the ‘future’ you WILL be great. And she will be strong and have unbelievable perspective. (well, you already have that now!). Any huge life hurdle that anyone can get through DOES change you, but always – ALWAYS – for the better. (and ps, sounds like a great weekend…LOVE apples off the tree!)

  2. Great post! :)

    I’m glad you had a great weekend!!! And buster is too cute :)

  3. Beautifully written. I kind of felt the same way after I had Henry. I had really bad postpartum depression, and I think alot of it had to do with the fact that I was clinging to my former life so much. I just wanted to be the same me, but with a kid. It doesn’t work out that way. I had a change of heart and started embracing the new me and my new life. That doesn’t mean it’s easy – just that you aren’t grasping at something that will never be.

    • It’s funny too, because like I mentioned, when I’m not trying to be the “old me” and just being who I am in the moment, I feel more like myself than ever before. Change is just extra hard to cope with sometimes, especially the BIG life changes like having children or getting sick.

  4. I’m so glad you were able to enjoy your weekend! You look great picking apples and that picture with Buster is adorable! :)

    I think a good bit of growing up is being able to accept the inevitable changes in how you define yourself. It’s even harder when the changes are not voluntary.

  5. Wow. You are inspiring in so many ways and this post is truly wonderful. Thank you (and your puppy is absolutely adorable.)

  6. Hi Susan I am glad to see that you enjoyed your weekend….I had a hard weekend emotionally, now that I hit the 6th treatment I am struggling because I dont know how I am going to do this another 6 times. I am also struggling because the future seems so foggy to me right now. I am the kinda person that needs to have a plan to move forward and I cant seem to come up with the mental plan for the next 3 months or there after…. I guess I just have to deal with my own hills and valleys as they come up…thank you for your post and kudos to you cus you look great!

    • Ohman, I sooooo get where you’re coming from after hitting treatment #6. All I can say is that the feelings are temporary! This whole journey continues to be an up and down of emotions, so just trust that when you’re down you’ll be up again soon enough xoxo

  7. The past is your foundation and it is a good strong one–but you don’t want to live in the basement. Live in the present and keep building for the future.

  8. I didn’t know you before, but I can see that NOW you’re definitely rad. Super duper rad.

  9. thats right, you are a whole new person! One with a new profound strength and compassion. I admire your heart and the words you wrote in those last two posts. It brings about a lot relief to express that and then start over, am I right?
    Glad you got out this weekend, looks perfect!

  10. I’m glad you are feeling better and was able to get out of the house. Cute pics. Buster blends in with the beautiful leaves. =)

  11. Wonderful post. When you wrote about being ready for this cancer and broken arm thing to be over “so I can just move on with my life…”, I thought, “she is moving on with her life, and all therein.” This has been a suckish year, but I KNOW you’ll look back and find gratitude for all you learned and soldiered through. And it won’t be a new you but rather a more evolved, compassionate and wise same you.

  12. Susan,
    Did you ever consider that even if you did not injure your arm or have cancer, your life, view of yourself, emotional, and physical abilities would change and develop over time. Life really is a journey. Everyone has peaks and valleys that change their perspective on life, their emotional stability, level of compassion, and their physical abilities. Through life experiences we contiue to mature, hopefully in positive ways as you are expressing right now. Whenever I feel like my life is in a horrendous place I think about the many others who are experiencing worse tradgedies than mine and try to find things to be thankful for. You are a strong and RESILENT young woman with a long life ahead of you. I know it is hard to imagine now but this experience, while certainly unwelcome and “sucky” will pass and will no longer control your life or even be in your daily thoughts. You are doing GREAT! Keep your eye on the prize..this too shall pass.

    • Yes, that’s why I like writing about the “lessons” as I learn them, because you don’t need to have cancer to understand them or live through them! Cancer just has a way of making you learn them all at once ;)

  13. What a great perspective to have! I’m sure many people in your position put their lives on hold until they’re better which I suspect doesn’t actually help them to become better.

  14. Hi Susan,

    I’ve been reading your blog for the past few months, and this is my first comment. I just wanted to say that I think your blog has been very inspirationa,l and that you’ve done an amazing job of keeping positive through the most difficult situations. My boyfriend was diagnosed with cancer when he was 24 – a cancer that he was told at first was incurable, but after the hospital flew in a specialist from out of the country and they did an experimental surgery, he has since been cancer free. I wasn’t in his life at the time (we didn’t meet until 5 or 6 years later), but reading your blog helps me see not only that life doesn’t end after a cancer diagnosis, especially at such a young age, but also that a positive, forward-looking outlook is so very important. Thank you for being such an inspiration!

    ~Lisa

    http://msmarvelproject.blog.com

  15. I’m glad you are feeling better! I think its great that you have come to the realization your life doesn’t (and shouldn’t!) be put on hold because of an illness.

  16. Loooooooooove Buster!

  17. I’m so glad you’ve hurdled that emotional block! My dad always says to me, “you have to fill your valleys and cut your peaks and you’ll always be fulfilled”. I think enjoying the scenery along this journey is a great way to do that. :) Oh, and that burger looks fantastic- is that an onion ring in the middle?

    • You know it!! I try not to put many veggies on my burgers seeing as I’m not trying to build a salad on a bun, but the onion ring couldn’t be resisted ;) Love your dad’s quote.

  18. Andrew van Geest

    I’m glad you are progressing so well,Susan. It looks like you had alot of fun picking apples with your sister. That apple crumble looks incredible.

  19. Awwww Susan – love this post. You are a new and improved Susan now – wiser and more ready to take your place in this world. Can’t wait to see the result. Sending good wishes from Leslieville your way!
    Trish

  20. What a wonderful, uplifting post. You are amazing! LOVE the photos of the leaves and the sky, and love the one of you and Buster more. Buster has a look of ‘ok, you can take my picture, but if you try to post it on facebook…”

  21. Once again, you amaze me with your poise and grace and strength throughout this “thing.” You are absolutely right to live your life, and to learn to love it right now, despite this disease you’re battling. Mentally, it’ll help you cope, but physically, you’ll feel stronger knowing you’re not battling “what you were before” as hard as that is to think about or even say aloud to yourself. I continue to send you good thoughts, love, hugs, prayers. You are so strong.

  22. Want to go back is natural but acceptance o the present and where to go from here is more important. Understanding what the new balancing act…the new healthy…the best Susan is from here is so important. You will surprise yourself what you can do when you stop wanting to be what you “were” and start imagining what you “can be.”

  23. Great message! I often compare myself to who I was one, two, three years ago and I too need to come to that realization.

    You look absolutely radiant in all of those photos!

  24. Love this post! Not only do you have gorgeous pics and it sounds like a great weekend, but I love the realization that you just have to be you now. Not try to be who you were in the past.

  25. as always, you have an amazing outlook – everything you said rings so true to me. you ARE more than your disease, but at the same time there’s no way a life experience like this doesn’t change who you are forever – and like you said, shape you into an even more amazing person! oh, and my heart just melts every time i see little buster. he is a CUTIE!! and the picture of the two of you is great :)

  26. susan love your attitude and outlook during all of this. you truly are an amazing person, and will continue to grow and be more amazing. i think you are so right about not comparing ourselves to a older version. each year presents itself with a new challenge, therefore we change and grow too with that challenge.

    love the photo of Buster and you!

  27. SO happy you had a great weekend! I love the pic of Buster and the leaves :)

  28. I love, love, love this post. I struggle with this all the time too – why can’t the cancer stuff and the heart stuff and all this other health stuff just be over with already! But really, I have no idea what could happen in the future and who says that THIS time isn’t the best time of my life? In some ways it is…so I’ve also been really trying to stay who I am right now and stop comparing my body, my weight, my whatever to what it once was. I like thinking that I’m just going to get better with age anyway ;)

  29. Seriously awesome post! I have been reading your blog since before your triathlon, and you were rad then, you were rad when you lived in T-dot, and you are the most rad now. Your future will be even more rad, because you are learning and growing and becoming even more wise. Life is hard but incredible and worth every bit of pain and struggle. Especially when you have such an incredible family and friends like yourself. And I can’t forget Archie, Buster and your other creatures. Animals help A LOT.
    Love the beautiful photo of Buster and the leaves and you picking the apples. What great lighting.

  30. ok. so I spent thirty minutes trying to figure out how to write what I want to say without sounding….stupid. I really like reading your blog. “really like reading your blog” doesn’t communicate what I want to say. I don’t know if words can. A few weeks after I started reading your blog, someone I care about found out they had cancer. They had to go through the ups and downs of “maybe it’s not this, it’s that” too many times, and reading your blog….helped me through the process. i sent his brother (whom i talked to regularly) your blog. he likes it too. I loved your post about “how to act around someone that has cancer”. I love the honestly how up front you are on your not great days. but most of all, I love reading the posts about your dog, your perogy making, or whatever other randomness. life goes on in spite of the hand that you were (unfortunately) dealt. I’m sad that the person I know (or anyone) has to go through cancer. But when I read your blog, it makes me hopeful for my loved one’s future. Reading your blog makes me hopeful for your future too.

  31. I have the same problem in general. I always think “I use to be able to do X’ and ‘I used to wear this size’ or weigh this much, or be able to run 50 miles a week. I used to be better. But I have to stop comparing myself to then, because this is me now, and that was then. And if I want to be better, then I have to work with what I have now. It’s a hard thing at times.

  32. Always amazing! You really make us think! I love the future Xmas card!

  33. you’re soo insightful, wise, amazing. and you’re right… comparing is no good.

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