Identity Theft

When I was diagnosed with cancer, I was fortunate enough to get short term disability and didn’t have to work during my chemo and surgeries (thank you, Impact Broward!).  I was out of work for 6 months and remember vividly the first few weeks after I went back.  I was lost.  Completely lost.  I felt so out of place and utterly useless.  I couldn’t wait for my next doctor’s appointment because that’s where I felt most comfortable those days.  A waiting room was more home to me than my own home.  I had become Sonia, the breast cancer patient, and nothing else.  When I looked in the mirror, I didn’t see myself anymore, having lost my long hair and eyebrows to chemo.  My diet had  changed – after being a vegetarian for 21 years, I had to start eating meat for protein because I could no longer have any soy products (I had estrogen positive cancer).  I felt I had lost my place in my household as a parent as well,  because my partner had taken over total care and discipline of our girls.  When I tried to step back into a parenting role, I felt ineffective and weak.  Finally, any romantic feelings for my partner were dulled by the trauma to my body and the meds I had to take.  My identity had been stolen and I wasn’t sure how to get it back.  They say that after you finish treatment,  you have to find your “new normal”.  Well, nothing felt normal in my life.  And it didn’t for a very long time.  But, eventually, with time, love and support, things did shift back to normal – or the new normal.  Now, I think of myself as Sonia the mom, the partner, the daughter, the friend, the social worker,  the writer.  Oh yeah, and a former breast cancer patient. 

This is my blog on Zometa

zometa close up

 

I decided to try something new today and blog while I’m getting treatment.  Not that easy, considering I have to use my left hand because my right one is a little occupied.  I’m getting my twice a year infusion of Zometa,  which helps fight the bone loss I get from my post-cancer meds.  It also reduces the chances of a recurrence.  So, here I sit, feet up in a recliner,  trying to eke out a few sentences.

 

zometa feet up 1

It’s always bittersweet returning to my Oncologist’s office and sitting in the chemo room.  It’s a room that’s full of memories for me – good and bad.  Inevitably, I run into someone I know from my time of chemotherapy, and it’s  good to see them and catch up.  I meet new people too, at the beginnings of their treatment and with a mixture of hope and sadness in their eyes.  I try to talk with them and tell them they’re in good hands and to have faith.  That’s one of the parts I like – getting to talk to the women and families in the chemo room.

One of the bitter parts of  today was finding out that my Doctor had lost her father – but the sweetest part about today was my partner showing up unexpectedly to sit with me and hold my hand during treatment.

 

So, now my infusion is done.

zometa thumbs up

And I leave wearing my red badge of courage.

 

 

 

Life without Parole

I can still remember – vividly – standing in a small room with my partner, surrounded by images of my ultrasounds and mammograms.  It was almost futuristic, with computers and screens covering every part of the darkened room.  I remember looking at those screens and seeing multiple tumors and spots – I was stunned and absolutely terrified. The Radiologist said, “5 years ago, this could have been a death sentence.”  Whoa, what?!  I wanted to scream.  He went on to explain that there had been many advances in the treatment of breast cancer recently and I had a good shot at being ok. Well, after hearing “death sentence”, pretty much everything else he said went in one ear and out the other at warp speed. Thankfully, a year later, my treatment was successful and I was granted a pardon.  My death sentence was commuted to Life, albeit, Life without Parole.  I say that because I will always be somewhat of a prisoner.  I’m still within that crucial 5 year timeframe when the chances of a recurrence are greatest, and, I won’t lie, I think about it every day.  Even though I try to keep a positive attitude and not let the fear rule me, I will be fearful of a recurrence for the rest of my life.  But, I’ve learned that a little fear can actually be a good thing.  It can be a motivator.  Whenever I start to get complacent about exercising, eating healthy, or just taking good care of myself, I think of that day in the dark room and my fear whispers to me, “never forget.”  My fear gets me to the gym and it gets me to take my meds.  It gets me to my follow up appointments and to eat things like maca root and chia seeds.  I’m trying to make fear my new friend.  So, although I may never fully escape my sentence of Life without Parole, I’ve decided to accept that and really focus on the Life part. Because, that’s what we all should really be afraid of – missing out on making the most of Life and the second chances we are given. That, my friends, would be the real death sentence.

WordCamp Tampa 2016

September 10-11, 2016

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