*peeks head in*

*sheepishly waves*

Is anyone still out there?

I have been meaning to write this blog post for months now. When I took my blogging hiatus, I had no idea how long it would last. Checking in with an update has been on my to-do list since the last time I hit “publish,” but I didn’t want my return to feel forced. Thus I waited until I felt ready to put some things into words. So here I lay in bed with my little Buster Pie curled next to me, staring at the WordPress screen once again.

First, let’s talk about my health.

I haven’t had any scans or oncology appointments since the last time we spoke, so as far as I know, the cancer is still gone. I do have a scan in June so let’s cross our fingers everything will be fine by then! That 98% survival rate you hear so often with Hodgkin’s is only after five years of being cancer-free. There is a much higher chance of recurrence during that first five-year window following treatment. So that is something I worry about with basically every waking second. I think it’s starting to give me wrinkles.

I wish I could say I am feeling wonderful and grabbing life by the horns, but well, some chemo side effects are still with me four months later, and they still suck.

First, there is chemo brain. Sometimes I feel like it’s worse than it was while actually on chemo, but perhaps it’s just more noticeable because I have to use my brain more being out in the real world. Not only am I generally confused and have difficulty communicating, but I seem to be losing chunks of time. Large periods of my life completely disappear into the abyss that is now my malfunctioning brain. I used to be so sharp! Now I rely on my iPhone alerts and endless lists to get me through the day. On the bright side, I have finally turned into that incredibly organized woman I’ve always wanted to be. Unfortunately out of necessity.

Fatigue! Oh what an enigma chemo fatigue can be. My energy levels are indeed coming back, but I am having a hard time judging exactly when my new found energy will run out. I’m just going along, doing my thing, and then CRASH. While I do have more energy these days, when the fatigue hits, it’s still mighty crippling. I feel like there’s no predicting it, so I just keep chugging along and take time outs when I need to.

Hair. It is growing so slowly! I thought by now I’d have a cute little Michelle Williams pixie cut but it’s still a borderline buzz cut. I gave up the wig a couple weeks ago because I finally got to the point where having the wig on my head at all hours was worse than looking like a boy in lipstick. I hate the way my hair looks and generally don’t look in the mirror much or pose for pictures anymore. I have no desire to remember ever looking like this, and thanks to chemo brain, I probably won’t.

Apart from chemo side effects and worrying about cancer all the time, life is good. I love being back at work and knowing I have something to do every day. I moved into a HOUSE! A cute little two bedroom, 1-1/2 storey rental house slightly off the beaten path. It’s the perfect home for me, Buster, and my sister. Decorating the house has been a nice distraction during this period of life. It is probably the girliest house you have ever seen.

I have done a complete 180 with my eating habits since finishing chemo. I am trying really hard to eat the best I can to help keep me healthy, which means less adventures in the kitchen. No more trays of sweets or rich foods made with packaged products. Trying to do the ‘au naturel’ thing, which has also translated into all other products I use, including makeup and cleaning products. Except I haven’t given up beer and whiskey. A girl’s gotta have some fun too.

Finally, I am going to Colorado next week!! I leave for the Blend Retreat on Thursday and I am both terrified and ridiculously excited. Travelling alone with chemo brain is a little disconcerting, and I’m scared I won’t be able to keep up with the rest of the gang. But it’s all worth it to be in the mountains with friends.

Soooo… does this mean a comeback? I am still not sure. To be perfectly honest, it is really hard to come back to this blog when there is so much of my history in it. In some ways, it is almost creepy how the cancer car wreck happened on the internet for the whole world to see. At this juncture, I am very ready to move forward from both my cancer self, and my pre-cancer self. And coming back to write here is just not in line with that. So we shall see. A new blog may be in order. I really want to start writing again, but felt the need to test the waters first. Dip my toes in to see how cold the water is. It may take my body some time to adjust, so thank you for bearing with me on the sidelines! I appreciate it more than you know.

Buster moonlights as my copy editor.

P.S. I am still avoiding my inbox and not answering emails. Sorry I’m not sorry.

Posted on April 28, 2012, in Cancer. Bookmark the permalink. 65 Comments.

  1. While I miss your writing, I am glad you stayed on Facebook/Twitter so that I could still (creepily) get updates and know you’re okay. Plus, as you know, Buster pictures make my day every freaking time.

    But I’m glad for the longer version of how things are going. I understand why you would want to avoid this blog and the history it contains, but I also think it served as a great support for so many other people going through a similar situation. Whether your accept it or not, you were/are an inspiration to a lot of people. However, I think a new blog for the new phase in your life would be exciting. Turn the page without burning the book from the past.

    My feeling has always been that blogging is never about attention or stats or numbers. It’s about conversation and connections. When you feel like striking up another conversation with everyone else out there, you know you have a bunch of people willing to listen and share in your new adventures, whatever they may be ;)

  2. I can sympathize. Being ‘normal’ is hard to come back to when one has a debilitating illness that strikes them. It takes time, which can be exaspeating and frustrating.

  3. So good to read you’re back :) Love your blog and missed it. I think a new blog might be just the ticket but I’m selfishly thinking of myself and my desire to read a blog from you, any blog!

    Be kind to yourself, you’ve been through hell and back and a few scars (chemo brain, etc.) might be expected.


  4. What about someday starting a new blog? Fresh start?

    Glad you gave us all an update. I think taking time to heal and recover is important and I loved the photos you posted on twitter of your new house! Great paint colors. :)

  5. We are right here always! You are so wonderful…

  6. Your favorite sick kid

    My memory loss from meds will be my justification to my mom for a new iPhone. I swear to God this tumour is surviving by consuming my memories Thanks for the idea darling. For now I will have to carry my moleskin planner with me at all times.

    My advice to you about dipping your toes back into the writing pool would be a journal. I started out blogging about the raw emotions about being sick, and then found it was too overwhelming to know that just anyone could read it. By keeping a physical journal that I can keep to myself or share with friends and family when needed, I keep my privacy and retain the ability to open up to others when I feel the need to reach out and help them understand.

  7. I echo what Abby wrote (except the (creepy (-: ) Facebook and Twitter part. It’s good to know you are doing well and moving forward, and hooray for working, and for a girly house, even if they’re accompanied by chemo brain and a buzz-cut hairstyle.

    “Sorry I’m not sorry” reminds me of Katy Widrick, which reminds me of the clever Baby Widrick announcement, which makes me smile.

    Buster is so cute!

    Have a great time at Blend, and safe travels.

  8. So this is crazy cheesy, but you’ll know what’s right. You just…will. But still thanks for the update! I’m sad I won’t be at the retreat, but my anxiety kicked in about it since I don’t blog anymore and so I didn’t buy tickets. (Well that and I didn’t have the funds). Love you friend! For reals.

  9. One year and one month out of my own Hodgkin treatment, I offer you this: patience and huge doses of self-compassion are the only thing that help. :) This period of recovery is as, or perhaps more, profound than everything that came before. Wishing you all good things!

  10. Great to hear from you again! Glad you’re doing what is best for you (even if the rest of us miss you)! Have a fabulous time in Colorado and when and if you start another b log, you already have your fan base! Billions of hugs!


  11. Glad to hear you are doing OK. Trust someone who has been through it, your chemo brain will continue to improve, my memory and ability to concentrate took about 3 years to recover, almost completely (but so frustrating!)…take it slow and rest your brain..chemo also tends to mess up your sleep for quite a while .. .this too will pass…energy level will improve over time …exercise helps and be sure to eat enough protien….you need to rebuild your muscles
    too…hang in there…you’ve won the war but the battle isn’t over for a while yet..keep up your fighting spirit and you will triumph over the chemo side effects too….

  12. Eydie Phillips/Ehrhardt

    I looked forward everyday to reading your Blog. Missed you but do understand. Honey, you are an inspiration to all of us. Love ya, Eydie

  13. So glad to see you’re doing okay, take all the time you need! Look at how much Buster has grown :)

  14. Even if you don’t come back full-swing, it was nice to read an update from you! Despite the chemo brain and slow hair growth, it sounds like you have some very positive things in your life right now: good food, work, a fun new home and, of course, Buster. Have a great time in Colorado!

  15. Agree with Cait above..it’s nice to read an update even if you’re not “back.” Guess what? You don’t have to decide if you want to quit or be back, now or ever…just do what you want to do at the time. We’ll all be here when/if you want to come back…and still waiting in the wings for updates until then :) I’m just happy I can keep up with you on Instagram. Gotta get my Buster fix <3

  16. Glad to hear you’re doing well – I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you in June :)

  17. Happy to hear from you!

    It sounds like you have a lot going on (physically/mentally) so I don’t blame you for stepping away from blog land. I’m definitely looking forward to meeting you at Blend! Safe travels.

  18. thank you so much for this. I loved hearing from you. Just wish i could meet you at blend. I’m so sad about that. Please drink som beer and whiskey for me. Hugs friend and welcome back. Sitll thinking and praying for you!

  19. I was excited to see you in my inbox.
    Buster looks much more mature since I saw him last, still adorable but wiser somehow. I love your bedspread and pillow. Your little girly house sounds great.
    Have a wonderful safe trip.

  20. Happy to see a blog from you, hear you’re doing well, and see a photo of Buster!
    Post some pics of your house on here if you feel up to it; it sounds wonderful!

  21. Love this update! And I get to hug your chemo brain next Thursday!
    Hugging a brain…hmm..

  22. Glad to hear a report on your life. Have a wonderful time in Colorado! I would love to meet you in person someday.

  23. Thank you for the update! I was literally just thinking about you, welcome back! I will continue to pray for your 100% recovery!

  24. I’m glad you felt up to posting. I’ll see you at the BLEND retreat! :)

  25. “I hate the way my hair looks and generally don’t look in the mirror much or pose for pictures anymore. I have no desire to remember ever looking like this, and thanks to chemo brain, I probably won’t.” …I love that- so funny. I know that I will meet you in person some day, some how. Even if it’s not at Blend. I know that you will have a blast once the initial jitters subside :-) …Love you my friend.

  26. I’m starting my law school finals so this comment will be short and sweet. I cannot put into words my excitement at seeing your blog name pop up in my reader. Especially after your guest post on Janetha’s blog last week. I was craving some Susan and am happy to hear from you. I hope that your chemo brain continues to heal – you’re always in my prayers.

    Nicole G

  27. So glad to hear from you Susan. i was just thinking of you the other day.

  28. A perfect update–man I do miss your rambles :) Don’t worry, I have chemo brain and I’ve never even had chemo. Lists are gooood. There is not much to say, only because I get to cuddle with you in LESS THAN A WEEK! so. freaking. stoked.

  29. Still here, still reading your lovely posts. Glad to hear things get better everyday. Your house sounds so cute too!!! Can’t wait til I have four walls of my own…oh and a roof too! That part is quite essential as well :)

  30. Thank you so much for updating us on your life & progress & just all that comes with it! I think you need to do what is right for you now & whatever that right is, well, I think you will feel it. Heck, who am I to say but I hope just doing whatever comes to you & feels like it is it – well, I know all your friends & family & blog friends will be happy for you!

    Buster is adorable as always!!!

    Congrats on moving out to your own little place!

  31. Glad to hear from you and see Buster helping you out :D Thinking of you.

  32. Thanks for the update! The hiatus is understandable, and just remember that your writing is appreciated – do what you need to do and your readers will follow. Take care.

  33. My mom is shocked how slowly her hair is growing back in, it took her a year to grow a cute pixie cut. Thanks so much for checking back in Susan. A new blog is a good idea, I remember the Trying for a Tri, now The Great Balancing Act and the future??? Who knows but I will always read and enjoy your great writing.

  34. I’m so happy you had a follow up post. Glad you are coping as best as you can. You have been inspirational & i really am glad to habe heard your story. Best of luck with whatever you choose to do in your new life.

  35. Sounds like you have lots of fun things going on. I’m happy for you!
    New blog=fresh start. Great idea

  36. maybe a new blog would be great :)

  37. Hooray! The personability and clarity of your writing is always so welcome to read.
    Of course just write when/what you choose. ;>

    p.s. Love the p.s.! Lol.

  38. So good to get a pop-in from you. I saw the (1) light up on my Google Reader, and it felt like Christmas morning!

  39. Focus on you, friend. So, so, so glad you’ve been doing that and will continue to do that. I would love to hear more from you in this blog “life” or the next incarnation of that blog life if you wind up going that route. Just so ya know. :)

  40. welcome back! I love reading your update here and congrats on the house move! So exciting, and I bet you are loving it. As for your return to blogging, if you do decide, perhaps a new blog ‘home’ is in order…I sort of felt the same way with my old blog. It was so focused on my separation and divorce and while I love the history of it, after I hit the 2 year mark post-divorce, I was feeling the need to start anew, with a slightly new twist. And it was a great decision! Look forward to whatever you decide :) XO

  41. I am glad to hear that you are doing ok and are starting to heal emotionally (as well as physically) and move on with your life! A change may be just what you need to start writing again, if that is something that would make you happy. And Buster is as cute as always :)

  42. Good to see you back!!! I have checked your blog periodically since 2/18 and was pleasantly surprised to see your post today. I have ‘kept up’ with you on Instagram and Draw Something but it was good to read a post about how things are going for you right now. Hang in there and take care of yourself!!!

  43. girlwiththeredhair.com

    I love seeing your Buster pictures on instagram – he is SO cute! And I also love the photos of your new place, it’s great. So glad to hear you’re doing pretty well. XO

  44. I’m glad you’re well. I’ve missed your blog, but I can appreciate the need for you to take time for yourself. Do what feels right, ease back into writing but know your readers would love for you to make it a routine.

  45. aww I am really glad you popped in. we miss you !

  46. It’s so good to hear from you! And I agree with the above poster who said “you will just know what to ” regarding returning to blogging, starting a new one, or taking a longer break. I’m just glad to hear from you and all fingers crossed for June.

  47. Hello back, based on the number of comments already, I’d say that you were missed. I don’t have chemo brain but I do have middle aged, mother of six, menopausal brain…so I believe I can relate some ;) Keep on truckin and pop in once in awhile.

  48. I’m so glad you posted. I think of you often and wish you well. Plus I love pictures of your dog.
    Take care of yourself and do what’s best for you.

  49. We’ve missed you!!! So glad you’ve taken the past few months to really focus on you. And my opinion? Go for a new blog for the “new you”! If it’s painful coming back here and seeing “cancer car wreck”, then start fresh if you still want to write. :) (Otherwise, your readers don’t see your health and what you’ve been through as a “cancer car wreck that happened on the internet for the whole world to see”…girl, you needed support! You had people all over the world praying for your recovery! :) It’s a beautiful thing to see you cancer-free.

  50. you still have people wanting to read if you are wanting to write! no pressure though. blogging should always be enjoyable. sometimes it might feel like a job, but it should never feel like a chore.

    i want pictures of the girly house! i once had a raspberry pink painted kitchen. my girlfriend and i loved the color…i can’t picture any guy tolerating it though. it was uber feminine :)

  51. Glad to see an update from you!!!!

  52. Cancer is something that happened to you not who you are, perhaps it has impacted your routines and changed your perspectives but ultimately you were created for a purpose with unique gifts, talents and abilities.Embrace life and the relationships around you seek out truth about God and about you.

  53. So glad to hear you are doing ok! I hope you continue to gain energy and that in time the brain fog clears! Have a great time in Colorado!

  54. I was so happy to see a post up today! :) I completely respect your need to take a few huge steps back, but I’ve missed your writing. So exciting about the house- I hope you’ll post some pics at some point!

  55. Glad to hear you are doing relatively well :) I’d love to see pictures of your new place and all the decorating you’ve been doing. But really, do what makes you happy as far as blogging goes!

  56. It’s really good to see you back…I checked back occasionally since your last post.
    I think a new blog is a great idea–a new start to match YOUR new start! I would love to see more photos of Buster and your house, and perhaps it would be nice to have your readers cheering you on as you return to full health.
    Anyway, I am glad you might be back.

  57. It’s interesting that you mention some of the lingering side effects. For me, I also think some of them are worse now than when I was going through treatment. Chemo brain for sure has thrown me for a loop – if I don’t write something down, I can’t remember it. The fatigue is pretty strong, as well as some neuropathy in my hands and feet. Annoying, but nothing I can’t live with. Hope you continue to see a reduction in side effects and have a fantastic time in Colorado!!

  58. I’m so glad I randomly clicked on your blog today! Yay for an update!

    I’m sorry the chemo side effects are still plaguing you. With my uncle they lasted for around a year. He would say that overall things were better, but some things, like his memory, were worse than during treatment. Eventually it phased out. I like the idea of a new blog, but I hope you keep this one as well. You are no doubt a different person than you were before cancer, and a new forum to express yourself makes a lot of sense.

    I hope you continue to write if you feel inclined to!

  59. Dutchgirlsam

    Hey you! I was pleseantly surprised to find out you wrote a post, and that you’re handling life quite well given the nasty (ex)cancer thing. Been there too, it’s a strange period. For me, now, a year later there still isn’t something like ‘normal/ as before’, but life becomes more of your own every step of the way. I wish you the best, finding out what’s right for you! Give Buster a big hug from The Netherlands :)

  60. Just catching up now!
    First of all, I saw you in pictures at Blend, and you look your usual gorgeous self, Susan:)
    I hope this means a comeback! I miss ya! But if not I’ll just continue to catch ya Instagram and Twitter ;)

  61. I’m happy that you moved in with your sister, you’re focusing on healthy eating and living, and you are doing well. I will be sending you positive thoughts for your scan in June. (I have one in June, too!) I hope the side effects continue to lessen until you are back to feeling normal. I love this blog and I would love to see you return here, but if you feel like starting fresh, I will absolutely follow you to a new blog! I’m glad you’re taking the time you need to rest and figure out if you want to keep blogging. I sure hope you do- but more than that, I hope you regain balance in your life. Just do what you need to do, and if you have to quit blogging, don’t feel guilty!

  62. Elizabeth Joubert

    Writing a new blog sounds like a perfect idea! :) I am SO happy for you for never giving up hope, no matter how tough your situation was. You are one very courageous woman, and I am a big fan of that. Imagine what we could all accomplish if we all shared your sense of accomplishment!

    In the meantime, enjoy your house, your dog, your work and all the positive things in your life.. :) I would love to see pics of your home decor. :)

    Take care!!!!

  63. Best of luck with everything! And welcome back-ish!

  64. Your dog is adorable. I want a dog now!

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