Year-end recap! Ready to ring in the New Year!!!
It’s hard to believe this holiday season is already coming to an end. It really is the most wonderful time of the year...the warm glow of Christmas lights, fires, family time, traditions—new and old, sharing stories of those who are no longer with us, music, giving, laughing, the magic. I LOVE it all.
This was the first December in two years I felt well enough to participate in all of the festivities and could really soak in all of the moments. I took lots of pictures, but shared very few on social media. This was new for me, but it allowed to me to be present with my family and grateful for everything, some of which I used to take for granted.
However, I’d be lying if I said this month...this year, really, was absolutely perfect. Though 2017 brought me health and life, the struggle to really live it to the fullest was very real. I began getting lupron injections monthly and taking arimidex daily in January to eliminate the estrogen in my body. Because my cancer was estrogen fed, that is how reoccurrence could happen. This brought about a number of side effects including achy joints, weight gain, and medical menopause (which is its own animal).
And then in June, I had my final surgery to exchange my expanders for implants. Unfortunately, my skin had changed a lot from radiation, so the plastic surgeon suggested taking a flap of skin from my back, along with tissue and my latissimus muscle, and moving it to the front to create a more natural looking breast. That left me with another scar in the middle of back, starting at my spine and ending at my side, as well as an oval shape scar under my left “breast”.
By August, I was healing nicely and ready to embark on a new adventure. I applied to and interviewed for many jobs...writing, editing, publishing, advisory. And then one day, a few friends suggested interviewing for an interventionist position, back in Perry Township where my teaching career began. I was very hesitant. I said I would NEVER go back to teaching?! But something in my gut said, ‘you should go’. And boy am I glad I did. I started that position near the end of August and I absolutely LOVE it! I have met so many amazing people, get to build relationships with kids, and feel totally appreciated by my colleagues and administrators! Not to mention, it’s been so very helpful to have another income again and this year, Caylee and I have had the same schedule!
Between August and November we had a couple of scares, unknown lumps and bumps, but all turned out to be nothing serious, so we continue on. As you can imagine, anxiety is often high and emotions are always all over the place. I am extremely grateful for my life and want to live it to the fullest, but that fear is always there. And even though I’m beginning to look like me again from your view...the scars, the missing parts, the aches, the pains, the sadness, the anger—it’s all still there.
Cancer (and open heart surgery) doesn’t just leave those scars on your body. My entire world (my marriage, being a mom, relationships with family and friends) has been rocked to its core. Two years of standing strong, remaining fearless, staying faithful, trusting in God, and relying on family and friends. And here I am...feeling grateful, but guilty; with a zest for life, yet exhausted; faithful, though still fearful in many ways.
My friend, Sarah, always chooses a “word for the year”. And I wanted to end this post sharing mine with you. This year, my word will be ‘nourish’, which means “to provide with the food or other substances necessary for growth, health, and good condition.” After all of the sickness, all of the toxins pumped into my body, all of the unwanted emotions, anxiety, guilt, etc. I’ve decided this is the year to nourish my mind, body, spirit, and soul. To become a healthier, happier, more relaxed me!
“An empty lantern provides no light. Self care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly.” ~Piper Larson
To start, I need to let go of the guilt I feel for everything that has been given to me and my family, as well as the sacrifices many of you had to make over the past two years. There is no way I can ever repay you, not enough thank you’s to express my gratitude. But I want you to know that none of it went unrecognized, all of it was appreciated, and your love/friendship/fellowship means so much to me.
In 2018, I’m going to take each day as it comes and enjoy each moment as it is—good or bad. I’m going to stop making “to-do” lists and start making “un-do” lists. I’m going to love on those that love me, take on adventures when I can, and stop trying to figure it all out. I’m letting go of: feeling like I need to make up for lost time—guilt; resentment that this happened; anger towards those who don’t understand the entire process, including recovery. And I’m replacing it with: hope, peace, love, and joy. I’m going to take time for me: practice yoga, eat smartly, read, write, enjoy quiet time, learn how to use my new camera, listen to records on my record player, breathe in fresh air, pray. I want to grow stronger in my faith, closer to my husband, and celebrate my daughter.
Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!!! Let’s let 2018 be our best year yet!