I truly do not know what the hell I was thinking to "challenge" myself to blog every day this breast cancer awareness month - my first as someone who has/had breast cancer.
Today is the eve of the last day, I guess and tomorrow is Old Hallow's Eve (?) right? So maybe there is some symmetry to this stupid idea of mine.
When I say "stupid" it is with a smile - I love to write but as I am working on this daily blog post, I am also working on my first novel i-am-writing.html and looking for a new job when-god-closes-a-door-he-opens-a-window.html oh and I went away on my own for the first time in over a decade to focus on ME being-a-woman-or-how-a-local-charitable-organization-marys-place-by-the-sea-has-boots-on-the-ground-toes-in-the-sand-helping-women-cancer-patients.html.
I recognize that my words help others - my website unique visitors count shows me that on a daily basis and the folks who do reach out to me solidify that what I am doing "matters" or "helps" the other 1 in 8 women who are facing a diagnosis of breast cancer,
As I write this, 67 people have been on my blog TODAY and 1495 this week. Words have power and sharing my story helps me manage it and deal with it. I will not lie, though - as much as I smile and focus on today, there are fears. Fears that my cancer will come back, fear that it will become terminal (by spreading to other organs or metastasizing). Last night, when I returned from my weekend away at Mary's Place by the Sea, I felt thrumming with emotions. I had uncovered so many things about me and how I feel and what I feel that it was like too much - sensory overload. I had tears coming and part of it was from the fear - the fear that I will die before my time.
I want to tell you it is easy to move past these fears but it is not. However, once you realize that YOU are still HERE you have to shake it off (in the words of the immortal Taylor Swift). I let those fears and tears fall, then I said, "Pray, hope and don't worry!" because that is my mantra, it is what works for me. The truth is, no one knows what the future brings and I say this to myself over and over again. It just hit me hard in the gut, though, that I would have cancer. That I would be in a situation where I was truly, honestly "sick" after really being one of the healthiest people I know.
Why was I so healthy way back when - because I did listen to my body. When I was tired or run down, I stayed home and did not put on my low cut shirts and go out to flirt and party. When I felt icky, I missed a day from work and rested in bed. I was born old - I say this all the time and it's true. Even this weekend with my new friends at Mary's Place by the Sea, at dinner I was like, "Whoa, it's 8:15pm, I got to go to bed!" Everyone made fun of me (in a sweet way but I can take it, I have been teased about this stuff for years!) and I was one of the first (and youngest) ones to get to bed.
I experienced so many emotions this weekend but no fear until I got home - I let it hit me that of the other guests with breast cancer, mine was the most advanced stage AND I was the youngest. Statistically speaking, this is sobering. As 1/3 of breast cancer patients wind up with stage 4, I allowed the fear in to think wow, it would be me in this situation. I pray and hope and not worry about it because if I give in to the fear, then I am already dead, right.
So, I experienced my emotions and then I let them go. I cannot harbor them. I must be who I am - I am the person who smiles and laughs in life's hardships. I am the person who gets up every morning and when my feet hit the ground the Devil goes "Oh shit, she's up! RUN!" I am strong, I am healthy (all things considered) and I will take my cancer and deal with it because that is what I do.
I will love more and be nicer to my husband and I will never forget the lesson that I must make time for me and my life and to be present in it and enjoy the people who are in it who love me (and I love them).
And all things considered, I will focus on the good. The good is that my cancer WAS caught, I was still considered "early stage" and that I can do what I need to do and the rest, is not up to me. It is up to something else - I keep following my doctor's advice and LIVE each day because that is all any of us could do.
But seriously, fuck cancer and fuck 31 day blogging challenges. This is what I do and think in the time between.
Being a Woman or How a Local Charitable Organization (Mary's Place by the Sea) Has Boots on the Ground (Toes in the Sand) Helping Women Cancer Patients
By default, as a woman or a caregiver (male or female) we put ourselves last. We focus on the needs of others, just it is in our DNA for some of us. From a young age, I helped care for my brothers and then that caring extended to my husband, our children and our family.
This caring is done in many ways - the way I (try to) keep my house, the laundry, the cooking, the bill paying, the budgeting, etc etc we just do these things some of us all of it, some of us some of it. It adds up, though.
When I got sick, I was down but not out. There were still things I HAD to do and things I WANTED to do and sometimes, I could barely do them but I did my best. I finally learned the meaning of the word, "help" and "yes".
Mary's Place by the Sea came to be because a woman got the flu. She got the flu and she felt terrible and as she laid on the couch, there was still something to be done, someone to care for, something to do other than rest and recuperate. I was told this is where the beginning of Mary's Place by the Sea came about - this woman thought to herself, something like, "Man, I only have the flu and I cannot catch a break - what do women with long-term illnesses do? Where do they go to recover and recuperate?"
From this thought, Mary's Place by the Sea came into existence. This retreat home is absolutely free of charge for any women who have experienced cancer within the last 6+ months. That is right - it is FREE. You get a room - your OWN room with a bathroom and activities and breakfast and lunch (which were out of this world delicious). You also get company and pampered with activities all done by volunteers. There is no religious requirement; most if not all of the activities can include religion or not - there is no pressure either way.
The home is full with love and attention in every square foot of it. The place was full of women who, like myself, got the plot twist of cancer in our lives. The place was also full of volunteers, women there to make sure we did not get up to serve ourselves or think about anything. Activities were held for us with time in between to just escape to our amazing looking rooms to sit and rest.
I did that a lot. I love my family, my responsibilities, my children, my home, yes, even my husband. However, having a place that for 3 days / 2 nights, I could just be ME - Lisa- without anyone asking me for anything or anyone depending on my for anything was just about the most amazing thing I have ever experienced in my life. To be surrounded by love of these new friends, both guests and volunteers, I have made who I feel will be in my life forever.
I only learned of this place due to a friend who had battled the beast twice. When we first planned and submitted a request to go to Mary's Place, I was hesitant I would even have the balls to get there. I wrote a little about my qualms here - living-no-enjoying-life-my-upcoming-trip-to-marys-place-by-the-sea.html. Obviously, I got over it and went in no small part because one of the women at Mary's Place saw my blog post and called me to say, "You need this, come on down!"
I am so glad I did. You can not imagine the restorative effect of great company, amazing food, rest and relaxation and of course the sea. I came home today and wanted to wait to write this post from my bed at home - but took a while to get things situated and stop helping everyone around me...
Mary's Place by the Sea is a charitable organization and the events and services they provide to women like me are priceless but if you could and you have some extra money, please consider supporting this charity. The benefits can be seen in the smiling pics I will place below of me and my new best friends.
Cancer sucks, help make it suck less.
This is what I do in the time between.
The Time Between Is, INC is a 501(c)(3) corporation - help us reach our goals of launching #balanceaftercancer
Search the blog here: