You are… who’s affected your life… Who has caused your passion?

660a97bac5c9ccb943924757ba0610c0 I ‘ve just been thinking real recently about what causes passion in different people? Did your mother/father/child succumb to cancer of some sort? Did you lose a loved one because of another deadly disease? Who and what has impacted your life? Sadly, because we love… sometimes, we become passionate about things we’ve never have imagined.

Recently, one of my all time favorite country singers… Toby Keith, http://www.tobykeith.com had a veteran of war on his stage that brought him to his knees in tears…  { Video of Toby Keith Giving Tribute to 93 year old man }Toby’s father was a veteran of war and so it’s something that is near and dear to his heart. His music, his legacy… will be known for his patriotism, but it’s his father who caused this passion to stir in him.

Another friend of mine who lost her son tragically and unexpectedly, is passionate about being an organ donor because her son saved many lives from her loss. She is passionate about this, because it’s affected her life in some way.

I have another friend Ann Marie Otis from Stupid Dumb Breast Cancer http://www.stupiddumbbreastcancer.com/ who went through numerous surgeries, and treatments for breast cancer, a 3 year survivor. She has dedicated her life to educating and supporting women with breast cancer. Recently, someone told her that she needed to “get over it”…. and it caused a stir, especially in me…. because it’s IMPOSSIBLE to get over it. 2 years later and my life is still affected and it’s not over yet….

My friend Cindy of Cindy’s Hope Chest, http://cindyshopechest.org/ a 7 year cancer survivor…. she struggles from severe lymph edema and although she struggles, she supports and donates to women who are going through cancer treatments and beyond. She goes above and beyond to help women, just like myself…. with whatever they need. Her passion has arisen in her, due to her struggle.

Just like PTSD affects prisoners of war, just like veterans of war are warriors…. just like people on the front line having to fight, warriors of cancer are no different…. and we have battle scars and are affected long term from this disease with PTSD, no different than a veteran of war. I’m not comparing…. I’m just sayin’….. we are warriors too! This is a devastating and destructive disease.

Until something has affected your life…. if your child died from a drunk driver, your passion becomes MADD. My friend Lance Dyer had a son that he lost to Synthetic Marijuana and now his passion is educating people and he is on fire to legalize the banning of these destructive man made poisons….

Well, it’s no different, when your life has been touched by cancer. Whether someone you love had had it, is still battling or you’ve watched them crumble before your eyes to their demise….. It creates an awareness, like never before…. it creates a passion to fight for the people you love/d. It makes you eager to raise money and walk in causes supporting breast cancer.

My boss’ sister in law… a liver cancer survivor of 4 years, was recently diagnosed with metastatic cancer all throughout her body…. She just had scans in January, cancer markers in May…. No Evidence of Disease (NED). And here she is…. fighting once again. You never know when the disease will strike again and it’s on it’s own time table…. it doesn’t show up until it’s ready…. per my oncologist. It’s not there one month and the next month it’s huge….. how does this happen?

I know too many people, good friends battling metastatic stage IV cancer. Incurable. It’s a shame….

My point is…. I’m not saying I support or participate in any of these same passions…. but we are all affected differently. It changes your life….one thing… can make a huge impact on your life…. It makes you think differently, it makes your priorities different…. it’s a game changer. It’s makes you passionate about things you may have never of even thought of before….

So, to tell someone that they need to “give it a rest”……. Mr. or Mrs. Grumpy Pants ….. until your life has been affected from something devastating… when you’ve watched your son, wife, daughter or someone you love battle from this deadly disease, you have no right to speak on this matter….. No right! Just allow those affected to gravel, mourn, complain, heal, fight, and function…. in their own way! It’s not your battle and be glad it is not! Because it sucks!!!

Some days I’m half tempted to show my battle scars…. I’ve been through… what 5 surgeries now? 6 rounds and 4 months of chemo, 34 radiation treatments, infection after infection…. oh my lord in heaven, 100 and counting doctor’s appointments? I don’t even know how many…. that’s just a guess….

Oh and can we talk about the worry? Please, don’t one more person tell me… “you’ve got this”…. because, no I really don’t…. rogue cancer cells exist in my body… they were in 7 of 12 of my lymph nodes…. we PRAY radiation and chemo got them all… but you know as well as I do, stage 3…. and 7/12 nodes affected… 3 with extracapsular activity….. there are NO guarantees. My doctor has abruptly told me so…. My type of cancer returns…..

It has made me think differently…. what’s important? 1. My faith 2. My family. I have to work, I have to function, I have no other choice…. Some days I’m so tired and I just honestly don’t feel well… but, you have to go on…. Another surgery? You just push through it…. it’s just a part of life.

I just got to thinking…. I’d love to hear from others…. what’s caused your passion?! Who impacted your life in such a way…. that it’s been a life changer for you!?

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It’s Me… Lopsided Lucy

Welp… I lost an implant. I’m now completely off balance. Completely lopsided… and I’m struggling with it. It’s hard to dress. It’s hard to look at…  I’d rather have no implants. I’d rather be completely flat chested. I will undergo the Diep Flap procedure once I’m healed… so it’s not a forever thing. But, if that doesn’t work. Both implants are coming out.

It’s not like I was ever attached to my boobs. But, you don’t realize how much your boobs make a differnce in what you wear. Filling out a shirt…. I know big boobed women, get it and flat chested women get it…. it’s just a struggle. It’s a game changer. But, how do you dress when you’re lopsided? I can’t wear a prosthesis just yet?

Today, I sat and looked in my closet…. and wondered, stripes? No pattern? I wonder what will look best? I tried 3 different tops on and none of them look right.

And, then I said… screw it. I’m wearing a tank top. If people look at me….. Oh well. And, that’s where I’m at…. It’s a recent issue. I’ve just decided not to talk about everything. I don’t know what’s gotten into me… I’m just being more guarded. Whoever said this was an easy battle….. screw you! It’s been a long, exhausting and tumultous road…. that honestly never seems to end. No evidence of disease, doesn’t mean that the other issues go away….

People say…. Oh, it doesn’t look that bad…. maybe it doesn’t. But to me…. It sure does. I find myself using my arms to protect myself, or my hands….

So, this is me…. lopsided lucy.

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Confessions of a Cancer Survivor

I had a recent visit with my Integrative Oncologist… and she made some mild changes in my protocol… During this appointment and some things that led up to this appointment… an rift with my husband…. some conversations with friends…. I’ve had an epiphany…

When I was diagnosed, I know a large part of me was repressed… I was forced to put everything behind, everything I’d worked for… everything I loved… and just focus on getting better. I’m almost at 2 years, this upcoming November from my initial diagnosis. Due to many factors, we made decisions to not only help me to heal physcially… but also emotionally.

I feel like I’ve been treading water, maybe in a bit of a funk.. maybe a minor slump…. whatever you want to call it… I’ve been functioning, but I don’t know if I’ve been truly living. I’ve been lying in wait…. waiting for my next recurrence. My oncologist warned me of my statistics…. I’ve seen friends I’ve come to know and looked up to… die. I’ve been afraid to dream, I’ve been afraid to make plans….. My passions have been stifled. My focus….. surviving. I have children!!!! I work because I have to…. I need benefits more than ever. I need to make a level of income that was close to if not more than what I made before because we have  both outstanding debts from photography and other debts incurred during my illness(es).

I sat in my onocologists office and I said…. I’m tired!!!! She said “you have been through a HELL of A LOT… it’s no wonder”…

When you have cancer, unless you’ve had cancer…. you cannot understand how it affects you. People say this or that, you are so strong… etc… I don’t feel strong. I think I went into pure survival mode…

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately… (my radio isn’t working in my car)…. lol and maybe it’s a good thing. I reflect, I pray…. Some days, I do not feel strong. I know I am… because I look back on what I’ve accomplished… and I didn’t complain. I may have had individual symptoms… that were bothersome, but surgeries, illness…. more illness…. and another upcoming surgery… I haven’t complained. I just barrell through it…. like a football player trying to make a touchdown… I just keep on plugging along. And, another issue I have…. is asthma… which I haven’t talked much about, but… I wake up probably 2 nights a week having coughing fits.. my walking is harder… I have to push myself. I have inhalers everywhere… I have to take one on my walks with me… it just stinks. It’s just another thing, I really didn’t need on top of the other stuff…

I love deeply…. and I love so much that I want everyone to be happy…. and sometimes I sacrifice my own feelings and loves and wants and desires…. to keep peace, to keep everyone else happy. Sometimes, I feel that although I sacrifice so much, respect is lost for me…. for not speaking my mind. And, this has to stop. My family and loved ones need to know what I want. How I feel… What’s important to me…… Beyond, surviving….. I want to live. I want to live a life fulfilled…. and I deserve to be respected. By my children, by my husband, by my friends, by my employer….. I give 110% of myself…. typically. But, lately…. again, I feel I’ve been just surviving.

This has to stop. The worry, the constant worry about my health…. I’m giving it over to my God, to handle… I can’t change the outcome… I can’t stop the cancer from growing should it grow… I will continue to live my life as healthy as I can…. but, I have to live. My integrative oncologist, a cancer survivor herself said……. she has a cookie, a burger, she will eat gluten….. “every once in awhile”…. as long as the majority of my diet is good… it will not hurt me to have a glass of wine or a piece of cake…. it’s ok!!!!

I don’t think my family or even my friends realize…. how much I worry… I talk about it some… and I try not to think about it,  but… I bury it. I bury a lot…. and that is not healthy either. The things emotionally that hurt me… the things that worry me, so many things.

I have become so much stronger through this process… but this is another area that I will just have to keep working on and my family and friends need to understand that for my health…. I HAVE to get these things out.

I haven’t even been blogging…. blogging was something I thoroughly enjoyed during my journey. I got to the point where I felt like…. I’m tired of listening to myself, I’m sure others are equally as tired of hearing about it. They don’t want to hear about cancer anymore… they just want to see me triumph. And, I have…

1 year, 9 months… I’m a survivor. No evidence of disease. I’ve come to sorts… if something happens to me and I am re-riddled with cancer again.. I will deal with it then and I will fight, equally as hard…

Photography…. I AM AN ARTIST…. I’ve caught myself saying… I was a photographer. No, I AM a photographer…I will ALWAYS be a photographer…. I may not have gear, but…. I am and always will be a photographer. If I do say so myself… I am good at it!!!!  I’ve dared to dream lately… I doubt I will ever be a wedding photographer again. Honestly, I despise the industry… I despise everything fake about it… I’ve learned so much and my circle is ever so small and I’m just FINE with that!!! I do have lymphedema and issues with both of my shoulders and long days would not work well for my body… BUT… I will have a studio again and I will focus on… boudoir and portrait shoots…. and, I will put in force my “sunshine project”… in which I will have survivors like myself who while they are battling… have beautiful photos of themselves taken… It may not be in 6 months, it may not even happen in 1 year…. it may not be for 3 years…. but at some point, I will make this happen…. I have to! It’s time to live again… Although I love my boss(es), my work family and I do pretty ok selling furniture…. I need to get to what drives my soul.

Respect…. respect is earned.  If I’ve wallowed in my pity of cancer despair…. I apologize. I don’t feel like I have… but if I have… those who love me, would know best. I know they love me and respect me for my fight, but now I need them to love me and respect me for my ability to move on….

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Cancer is scary. It turns your entire universe upside down and it leaves you with your wind knocked out of you… In SO many ways. Financially and emotionally…. it can leave you destitute. A former shell of the person I knew, someone unrecognizable.

I feel like I’ve been in a time warp…. I feel like some things have been on fast forward and some things have been slow motion…. where has the time gone? Again, I’ve been just suriving. How did I lose that zest and zeal for life? I feel like I’ve been a terrible friend… I’ve been just honestly, so incredibly tired…. working and family… it’s all I can do sometimes. The life balance is certainly out of whack and somehow that needs to improve… I didn’t fight this hard to not spend time with my family…. Time will only make it clear how I move foward… and a restructure of everything. I don’t have all the answers…. Things seem to always work out. Somehow, everything I need is provided.

So, dare if I do….. it’s time to start making some life plans…. It’s time.

I still have much healing to do…. another surgery coming up to repair some things that haven’t healed…. I won’t even bore you…. just part of the process…

Thank you to all who have continued to read my blog…. I promise from this point forward… to blog more, to speak my mind, to let it all out…. and let this be my outlet. And…. bring you more sunshine.

It’s Me Sunshine….

Signed Your Boobs…… (remember to check em’)

**Disclaimer… I eat gluten free because I choose to, I’m not celiac….