And just like that, the 2019 chapter is closed. Much like everyone else, I’m reflecting on the past year and *woof* has it been a year.
Ringing in the New Year means I’m officially 22 days away from my next set of scans (but who’s counting). I’m working really hard to try not to apply more pressure than necessary to these set of scans. With treatment ending mid-October, this will be the first set without active treatment. That statement alone sort of comes with its own set of insecurities and worry. Added pressure layers on when friends and family ask me when my next scans are as if they’re also wondering if the cancer will still be gone. While I think I’m doing a good job of not getting stuck in a state of anxiety, I’ve had a couple of moments recently that freaked me out more than I anticipated.
Without going into too much detail, a week before Christmas I was severely constipated. This was, well, very different for me. Because I was so asymptomatic when I was diagnosed, the only real baseline I have is what’s “normal” for me. It’s a constant battle of being hyper-aware of my body and yet not creating problems that aren’t really there. As much as I was crying because of how uncomfortable and painful everything was, I was also legitimately hysterical because I thought something was wrong. I was laying on the bathroom floor (sans pants) in tears for longer than I care to admit – how’s that for a visual?! I just felt “different” and historically “different” meant bad. I did all the “right things” – messaged my doctor, called my mom (well, actually made Dan call her for me), and took some medicine. But situations like this sure make it difficult to keep the fear away.
To combat some of these negative, scary moments, I’ve been working with my therapist to document all the great things I’m doing. I’m using it as a way to focus on the positive and encourage myself to keep going. I always knew I was hard on myself, but I’ve really come to realize (with the help of my therapist) that I’m not giving myself nearly enough credit. I consider myself a pretty compassionate person, but I really lack that same sense of compassion for myself. So in the spirit of giving myself a little credit and it being a new year, I thought I’d reflect on 2019 and some things I’ve accomplished.
• F*CKING BEAT CANCER! Obviously this makes the top of my list (no surprise there) but I’m headed into 2020 cancer-free and couldn’t be more thrilled about it.
• Maintained a full-time job and hit my EIGHT YEAR anniversary at Defero. Holy smokes I can’t believe I started as an intern 8 years ago…
• Spent my 30th birthday with my some of besties at the happiest place on Earth: Disneyland!
• Traveled to Colorado for the first time and explored new places with my favorite adventure partner (Dan).
• Tried some new things like throwing axes and going shooting. And also learned I have terrible aim.
• Joined a new Flyball team and enjoyed getting Zazu back into the sport after some time off.
• Started swimming again and remembered how good it feels to be in the water. Swimming with Dad has made it even better!
• Stayed out of the hospital!! After a tumultuous end to 2018, and spending most of 2019 in active treatment, I managed to not spend any more nights at the Mayo Hotel (Hospital).
• Celebrated the shit out of one of my best friends and had the privilege of witnessing her marry her best friend!
• Focused on my mental health and started therapy.
• Colored way too many bad words coloring pages and enjoyed every second of it.
• Took on a couple house projects, one of which included installing new floors – something I had been wanting to do since I bought my place 3 years ago.
• Joined a young-adults with cancer support group that meets at Mayo once a month and have met so many wonderful cancer survivors.
• Became a proud member of the Cleveland DAWG pound. Yes, I’m the only non-Clevelander fan of the Browns, but it’s been fun to join Dan in cheering on his hometown football team.
• Started this blog that’s allowed me to stumble upon other Cancer survivors and Melanoma Warriors all over the world. Thanks for making me not feel so alone!
• Spent oh so much time with my family, Dan and my friends – the most important people in my life!
One thing I’ve really realized this year is just how wonderful my support system is. I’m fortunate enough to be surrounded by such amazing people. My family, my boyfriend, my friends, my employer, everyone really showed up this year – for both the tough times and the copious amounts of celebrating. Cause, well, #NED.
So cheers to another year on this planet and continuing to be more present in 2020. I quite literally survived 2019 😉 and that feels great. You know what they (cancer patients) all say, “New Year, New Deductible!”