It's 2 a.m. and my mind is racing. This happens to me from time to time. I'm completely fine, but at the same time, everything is wrong. I realize that makes zero sense, but it's like this: As far as I know, I am healthy (as much as my daily chemo/trial pill allows) and I'm finally beginning to feeling like my old self. Scratch that, I'm feeling like the new and improved version of who I want to become. Why then am I here, letting fear and worry and well, cancer. steal my sleep once more? I think I'm afraid of letting my guard down. These sleepless nights are my mind's way of reminding me to be prepared for the bad stuff that could return. Sigh. So I'm choosing on this sleepless night to reflect on what I've learned this year and how despite the bad stuff, I was able to keep moving forward.
2019 was a tough year for me, but I found myself in some ways living my best life! I never would have anticipated that. To be honest, moving into 2019 I figured being out of active treatment and one clear scan down meant I'd be good to go! In actuality, I started day two of 2019 with another scan in large part due to a weird mass and rash that had appeared on my right breast and that then traveled to my left. I spent six months, yes SIX in crazy pain trying to figure out what was happening inside my body to make everything so damn difficult. Two clear scans in 2019 took away the fear that it was my cancer coming back, but it left a giant question mark as to what was going on with me. Lymphedema and more medicinal side effects kept me grasping for any days where I felt "good". I battled weight gain, hot flashes and the worst hair do ever when I wasn't wearing my wig. Ya'll....I"m so grateful to not be bald anymore, but hair growing in looks cute on a toddler, but a hot mess on a woman my age. Thank goodness for "Journey" (my wig) and the new adventure that I just signed on for today...EXTENSIONS! Yes, my natural hair is finally ready (with a little help) to take me into 2020. I couldn't be more excited. Acupuncture has helped with the hot flashes and a special diet has the old LBs coming off. Even with so much to deal with and setbacks that I never saw coming, I feel like I put myself out there to achieve and experience things that I never would have pre cancer.
It became a "thing" for me this year to travel more than I ever have in one year's time. With a scan every six months, I celebrated an "all clear" with the mentality that I better live it up before the next scan just in case my luck runs out. I know that sounds a little morbid, but it projected me into really living and going after experiences that really made me feel alive. I went to concerts, spas, the desert (twice), cities and the ocean. I started this blog, saw the psychic, became a state leader for a young survivor's group, made changes in my career and formed new friendships. I wouldn't have done all of this without cancer's push. I got the tattoo...yes my first, well actually sixth. Let me clarify....I was the lucky recipient of five radiation tattoos. Yay, Me! When I was in Arizona this summer, I decided after a few cocktails at brunch to get one that would be of my making. So I walked in the Tattoo Parlor in my beach cover up with my gal squad and I went for it. I had this rule that if the artist's name was "Josh" it was meant to be. For any of you out there who watch the TV series "Younger" this will make perfect sense to you. I kid you not, the artist that came to talk to me was actually named Josh...I took that as a sign from the universe. My angel wing is a reminder of what it was like to feel strong, yet broken. To know it's ok to accept help when I can't do it all myself. It's also a reminder for me to lend my wing to someone else when one of their's won't fly. One little (yes, little...I'm a wimp) symbol that has so much meaning and significance for me.
I realized this year that there is more power in my story than I ever would have thought. I also realized the importance of healing and really taking the time to work through the peaks and valleys of your life. I went to therapy for the first time in my life and it has been one of the greatest gifts. I've always been very good at identifying my emotions and finding healthy outlets to deal with them. I've always considered myself an outgoing introvert. I go after situations, relationships and experiences but with so much internal dialogue and over analysis. Such introspection is both a gift and a curse. I realized my cancer experience was just too big for me to deal with on my own. I'm grateful for the gift of a therapist who has reassured me, guided me, inspired me and challenged me. It's been life changing.
Perhaps these sleepless nights are also a gift. A way for me to process what I'm feeling and contemplate what direction to go in next. I guess there is magic to be found when you are all alone and the rest of the world is sleeping. It's nights like these that have helped me come to the realization that I don't want to forget the worst, most traumatic day of my life. I'm just not ready to let it go...I'm not really sure I will ever be. I vividly remember the sights, sounds, smells and I can even feel that lumpy hospital bed of the Intensive Care Unit. There was so much sound, but at the same time everything was silent. It was both incredibly stressful and completely peaceful. The vows and promises I made to myself during the many sleepless hours in the ICU replay over and over in my mind. I't's like today I can hold my hand out right in front of my face, palm up and hold the gift of that memory right out in front of me to savor. I"m holding it out in front of me so that I never forget and I always honor what I promised to myself. So even though 2019 wasn't exactly what I had planned, there were so many gifts and challenges all that made living it a complete joy. I'm really excited for 2020...it has a good ring to it! I want to leave you now with something I came across that is my wish for you and for me. Thank you for hanging in here with me...2 a.m. doesn't feel so lonely tonight. -M
"I hope you live louder.
I hope you laugh more. I hope you sing at the top of your lungs. I hope you drive with the windows down and let the wind rustle through your hair. I hope you hug. I hope you kiss. I hope you surround yourself with people who make you feel alive. I hope you become the type of person that brings good energy wherever you go, and the type of person people want to be around. I hope you speak what's on your mind, that you raise your voice for injustice, that you tell others that you love them, instead of waiting until it is too late. I hope you live louder and shine brighter from this moment on. "