Friday, October 26, 2012

6 Months? Yea, Right!

“You have about six months without a viable treatment option”.  I heard these words close to 15 years ago  - and again this week.   I turns out the “non-event” tumor that the Doctors found on my bladder is, indeed, quite the event.  It has permeated the interior wall of the bladder and has made itself at home.   Under “normal” circumstances, the specialists would schedule surgery to remove the tumor, and possibly part of the bladder, and call it a day.  However, it’s not very safe for me to have surgery that involves general anesthesia.   The last time we tried that, I had a heart attack and I’m not really up to doing that again! 

So, we’re trapped at this crossroads of what the specialist sees as the best course of action, what the cardiologist sees as a VERY bad idea, and what my Doctor deems appropriate (or not) for me.  If we play “status quo”, the most likely scenario is bladder failure and gestation and spreading of the cancer.    Pair that with the other organs that have gone on strike, and it’s just a matter of time. 

However, my Doctor is a bit more stubborn than that.  “This is NOT an option” she told the specialists “so get off your asses and FIND something that will work.”   Have I mentioned how much I adore my primary Oncologist?  She has an extensive knowledge of the medical field, “friends in high places”, and the most amazing will to help me survive – and more importantly - LIVE.   Actually, the whole scene was quite entertaining to witness.  Picture this; a very petite man (i.e., the specialist that gave me the 6 months) sitting in a chair.  All prim and proper with his glasses and his spotless white coat.  Being very matter of fact – which I very much appreciate – about the current situation.  He stated all the facts and summed up everything  very well.  “If we can’t do surgery to remove the cancer, it’s going to get aggressive and start spreading.  If we can’t complete a cycle or two of chemotherapy or radiation because your system can’t process it, there is no stopping it.  Therefore, without a viable treatment option, you’ll live about 6 months.  I highly suggest you looking into End of Life options including extensive pain management and Hospice.”   He’s a great doctor and he’s doing exactly what he should be doing. 

Enter:  My Doctor.  She’s 6’5’’ and has a very strong voice.  She strides over to him and leans over him – towering over him so his neck is craned way back.  She speaks so loudly that I’m pretty sure people in Arkansas heard her.   “That is NOT an option.  She hasn’t fought this hard, for this long just for YOU to come in and say “sorry I refuse to think out of the box so buy a f@%King casket .  *yes, those are her words exactly*        You’d better get on the damn phone with EVERYONE you know and get this figured out or you’re going to face something you’ve never wanted to deal with.” 

I sat back and just smirked – this isn’t the first time I’ve seen my Doctor do this.  When she was done, she turned around to me and just smiled.  My first response was “Bloodview – 6pm Friday or Saturday night.  PLEASE. .. let me put you in a set.”   I’ve been trying to get her to come up and act for years now, still no luck. L

Needless to say, it’s been quite a rough week for me.  I have total faith in my Doctor and her team to get me through just about anything.  However, the fact of the matter is, the body can only take so much, and eventually it’s not going to want to work anymore.  I don’t foresee that happening anytime soon – I have too much yet to do. 

When I was first diagnosed, nearly 15 years ago, I told myself I had one goal.  To see my little girl graduate from High School.  That goal is what kept me going through the treatments, the hair loss, the weight loss – and gain – and loss – and gain, the pain and everything else.  I saw her graduate and am continuing to witness her grow into a mature, responsible, incredible young woman. 

I have a new goal – and that’s to be there when she gets married.  It may not happen for many, many years; and that’s fine with me.  She’s happy and healthy and gives me something to live for every single day.  This new goal is set and I WILL see it through.  When Sami finds that perfect person that she wants to spend the rest of her life with; I want to be there for the dress fittings, the cake tastings, and the tears during the ceremony.  I want to watch her toss her bouquet, dance with her Husband, and celebrate with her family and friends.  I will be there when they drive away to start their new life together.  And who knows, maybe in the mean time; I’ll find my own piece of happiness with someone?

So, listen up kittens.  Life is shorter than you expect; it goes quicker than you realize.  We can all be taken at any given time – so don’t waste it on hate.  Don’t waste your life on sorrow, regret, or unhappiness.  Live your life like it’s your last day; showing the people in your life how much you love them, and what they mean to you.  Experience joy and share it with others.  Make the world a better place by striving to be a happy and positive force in the world.  Then, when your end of days arrives, you will leave with zero regrets.  Trust me, I know.  

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Forgiveness and Moving On

Hi again, kittens.  

So, the other day I posted a blog about my Very Emotional Weekend and I ended up in quite a few interesting conversations about it.  All in all, the conversations were very good, most of them helping people understand where I was, and how I was dealing with everything.  During these conversations, there seemed to be a common question asked by quite a few different people "How in the world did you forgive THAT?" 

My answer is simple; forgiveness is essential to happiness.  If you continue to hold in negative feelings towards a person or a situation, you can never find true happiness.  Granted, forgiveness is not always easy -  sometimes it feels down-right impossible.  I say to you this, beloved readers, NOTHING is impossible (except maybe slamming a revolving door or forcing your Husband to birth your next child).  All kidding aside, you know exactly what I'm saying. Forgiving even the most difficult things, the largest betrayals, the deepest pain, is possible.  You just have to WANT to do it.  

You may asking yourself - or me - "Shouldn't the person you are trying to forgive need to WANT to be forgiven?  Shouldn't they admit what they did was wrong before you forgive them?"  My answer to that is NO.  Forgiving someone for something they have done is a personal choice -- it is a choice for YOU, not for them.  This choice that you are making is because you are ready to forgive the person for what they have done and move forward with your life.  There are times when the person may not understand how or why they hurt you; but their mindset doesn't matter.  Yours does.  When we don't forgive someone, we can never move forward from what they did.  That person - or their act - is holding you back from your happiness; and it will continue to do that until you forgive them.

Yes, some things are easier to forgive then others.  A friend says something that hurts your feelings or embarrasses you in public; you give it a few hours and you forgive them. Never to be brought up again (or at least it SHOULDN'T be - that's a topic for another blog).  Some things are much more difficult to forgive and take much more time.  A cheating spouse, a beloved friend who steals from you, even a violent crime can be forgiven with the right time and the right mind set.  

I won't tell you I know everything about all betrayals or how you're feeling about any particular thing you may have experienced.  I can, however, tell you that I've done my fair share of forgiving  - for the small things and the big things.  The fact of the matter is, I try not to blog about things that I don't have a personal experience about, because I don't want you to think I'm just "lip service" or trying to convince you to do something that's not actually possible.  

When I was in High School, I was the victim of a very violent sexual assault by the brother of a close friend of mine.  I won't get into all the details (you don't really need to hear them) but I will tell you that it involved a weapon and a lot of details that are not welcome in my mind anymore.  There was absolutely NO 'creepy' factor to this guy -- zero warning signs that something like this would happen.  I had been left alone with him more than once in a semi-social setting, and never had an inclination of what he was capable of.  Then one evening after two and a half hours of hell, my life was changed forever.  

I'll admit that for the longest time, I was pretty screwed up about what happened.  Many of my relationships suffered; mostly because for the longest time, nobody knew what happened to me. All they knew is that I was very distant and had a really hard time trusting anyone.  So, very few people really wanted to be around me.  A couple of my true friends stuck around, and thanks to a VERY amazing friend; I finally told my parents.  I don't think I ever properly thanked him for caring so much as to ensure I got the help I needed.  So thank you, Terry.  You saved me more than you realize.  

It took me a LONG time to forgive the person who did this to me.  I went through a lot of anger, grief, denial, and hardship before I realized the only way I would be able to move forward and find happiness again was to forgive him.  I'll be honest, I thought my therapist at the time was utterly insane when she told me that I needed to forgive him.  I considered not even going back to her and finding someone that would accept me holding on to my anger and hatred towards this person.  Then she reminded me of a very simple thing.  "What he did to you is not going to change.  The past is what it is.  How much of it you allow to be in your present is your choice.  His motivations, his current mindset, or the fact that he doesn't care what he did does not matter to you.  What matters is how YOU cope with it."  

After a few sexual assault courses and a few courses on self defense I realized that he and what he did to me does not control who I am.  Nor does it define who I am or what kind of Partner I would make for the right person.  It's in the past, and after many years of self-destructive behavior, awful relationships, and a LOT of soul searching; I finally forgave him.  I moved past what he did to me, and came to terms with it.  I learned a lot about myself and about what it takes to overcome difficult obstacles.  Strange, when I look back on it now, it doesn't seem so big.  The mountains I have faced since then are so much bigger, so much more important.  Life and death in so many cases.  In a way, I guess that first episode was "practice" for dealing with devastating things.  

I've learned from my past, but I don't allow it to live in my present.  I look forward to what (probably short) future I have; whether it's alone or with someone.  I live to the fullest and find something to smile about every day - even when I need help finding my smile.  I'm slow to trust, but quick to show people I love them.  I don't invest easily, but when I do, it's all the way.  I love those who allow it, and accept love from those who give it.   None of these things would be possible if I still held onto this thing in my past.  I would still be angry, hurt, and even more distant that I am now.  

So, kittens.  If you don't take anything else from this; please remember that YOUR personal happiness is what matters.  Don't allow someone who has hurt you to continue to do so; it's not worth it.  Forgive them, move forward, and ALWAYS remember that you're loved.  


Monday, October 15, 2012

Life is Ever Evolving -- and so are we

This weekend, Saturday especially, was a really rough weekend for me.  We won't get into the physical reasons -- they are a moot point sometimes.  Emotionally -- things were just ... rough.

If you would have told me 5 years ago that I wouldn't have been doing what I had planned on Saturday; I would have told you that you were absolutely insane.  That there is nothing that would ever get in the way of this day, and that I would FINALLY have it right.

Yeah, right.  Life happens.  Shit happens.  People lie, betray and sometimes cheat.  People change, and grow apart -- and sometimes they are forced apart.  Even when they love each other completely, and even when THAT part change.  Sometimes it just doesn't work.

For me, Saturday was filled with memories and quite a bit of sadness - even when I tried to over come myself -- I just found myself remembering another time; what feels like a lifetime ago.  I remember love, and happiness and attentiveness.  To be completely honest, I miss it.  And I miss him - on a level that I know I'll never get back.  I also know I'll never get that level back by his (and another's) actions -- and by my decision.

We are still very good friends, even though our lifestyles demand us to see very little of each other.  We talk on a regular basis, Skype when we can, and once in a while I actually get to see him in person.  OK, technically HIS lifestyle demands that; but once in a while I have a social life too.  He's in a very happy, stable, amazing relationship with someone who loves and respects him, and whom he trusts and loves as well.  That is what helps me when I'm feeling a bit sorry for myself... he's happier than he's ever been (and quite possibly happier than I could have made him).   I couldn't be more thrilled for him.

So, yea, I just wanted to share with you where I was this weekend.  I've healed and moved on, as has he.  We talked yesterday (Sunday) and realized that neither of us were expecting the lack of Saturday's activity to be as difficult as it was.

Life is about change, challenge, and perseverance   Sometimes you have to push physically, sometimes mentally, and sometimes, you just have to get over a mountain of emotions.  Whatever your challenge, the best thing you can do is remember that it's not an obstacle you have to overcome alone.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Grab Life By the Horns

Hey Kittens!  Yesterday, I stared at this page for about 20 minutes and had a whole lot to say, and no clue how to say it.  Today, I started out pretty much the same, though I finally received the inspiration I was looking for.

As I deal with yet another round of medical "news" I've been getting a whole lot of friends that are trying to help.  I realize that people mean the best, and only want me to be "ok" but the fact of the matter is; there is no OK for me.  And sometimes when they insist on "helping" it only makes things worse.  You see, when we find out that someone we love or care for is sick, we do what we think is right for them.  Most of the time, that includes "you need to start resting more"  "Stop working the haunt, it's too much for your body"  "You need to keep in mind that the harder you work, the less energy you have to heal yourself."  

Well, all of that is fine, if you're willing to lay down and start dying.  I'm not quite there yet.   Yes, there are days when I wonder why I insist on fighting what's turning out to be a losing battle, but most days I realize I'm here for purpose.  I'm here to Inspire others to live a life worth living, to show love and respect to others, and above all to LIVE a life.  Not just survive it.

As I was messaging a friend this morning, I received the following in my chat box "don't spend so much time trying to stay alive that you never get to live".   It's perfect for my situation, and I couldn't thank him enough for saying it to me.  He was sure to tell me that it wasn't original to him, and that he remembers seeing it somewhere before.  However, that's not the point.  The fact of the matter is, he remembered it in JUST the right time to remind me that no matter what's going on... living life is more than just staying alive.

During this most recent round of medical drama, I've gotten a whole lot of people telling me what I should and shouldn't be doing.  "You're not still acting at Bloodview are you?"  "You should be working from home"  "You need to take time off work."  "Do NOT plan on making dinner, I'll bring something over".  And on and on the list goes.  They are well intended and amazing friends of mine, but I don't think they realize that acting at Bloodview, working (even going into the office), and trying to keep my own house clean and myself fed are not a part of surviving.  They are a part of living.  Living and surviving are not the the same thing.

In my opinion, as harsh as it can be, surviving means staying alive as long as you can to ensure the people in your life have enough time to cope with what is imminent.  Living, on the other hand, means doing the things you enjoy, pushing yourself to the limits, and getting the most out of every moment you have.  When you're like me and you spend 40 hours a week at work (ok, it's usually closer to 45), and upwards of 20 hours a week at the hospital... you want whatever time you have left in the week to be worth living.  The haunt does that for me .. as does making meals (especially for others), and - gasp - even cleaning my house.

Yes, I push myself to the very limits.  Sometimes that causes a rift between myself and my Doctors, but that's our issue to deal with.  There are times that pushing myself makes me need a day or two of bedrest, or more time at the Doctors.  You know what?  It's worth it.  Because without it, all I am is someone laying around waiting for that final sleep.  Not acceptable for me.

I live to LIVE, not to survive.  Some days may be better than others, and sometimes I break down in the dark and quiet and feel sorry for myself.  Sometimes I wish someone would lie to me and tell me that it's all going to be OK.  Somedays I just want someone to lean on that will be strong enough to understand and soft enough to cry with me.  Someone that I don't have to turn around and counsel in return.   However, most days I take life by the horns and get the very most out of it.

Oh Fates, how you amuse me.  As I'm writing this, a song pops up on my playlist.  Tim McGraw is currently singing "Live Like You Were Dying".  If you're not familiar with this song it's about a gentleman who is diagnosed with cancer in his early 40s.  His friend (the singer of the song) asks what he does when he finds out that this might be the end.  His response is simple: skydiving, climbing the Rockies  bull riding, and a list of other things he's always wanted to do.  He truly lives like he's dying.

Do you?  Do you live your life like this could be your last year, your last month, your last day?  Do you show the people in your life what they mean to you (notice I said show, not tell. ACTIONS are what matter, Kittens)?  Do you take life by the horns and ride it for the whole 8 seconds?  Do you stop for a moment, breathe, and relax knowing that you have love in your life, laughter in your heart, and light in your soul?   If not, then maybe it's time for you to stop, step back, and re-evaluate how you are living your life.

Remember, it's not about the number of moments we breath, but by how many moments take our breath away.

Much love Kittens.

Be at peace with yourself and you will be at peace with the world.