Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Baring all today

 Wonderful Wednesday 59 - Free In Bloom pattern by Jess Wariorka as featured by floresita on Feeling Stitchy

First of all, I want to thank all of the readers who have found me here - I know this sparsely populated personal blog will never have the same reach as the lovely multi-person blog I contribute to, Feeling Stitchy, but I am comforted and encouraged all the same by the people who take the time to read my posts here. I did a post on Feeling Stitchy to account for my frequent quietness and absence lately from the blog, you can view it here. In it, I featured a lovely pattern by Jess Wariorka on the DMC site, because I thought it was a lovely way to "unveil my scars" and bare all, so to speak, you can find the free pattern here.

The long and short of it is, I have breast cancer. This is my second time around with hormone-positive (HER2 negative) breast cancer. My first time, in 2015 was relatively easy, in comparison - I had a lumpectomy on my affected breast and since it had not spread to my lymph nodes, and was caught early, all I had to do was 6 weeks of radiation, and no chemotherapy.

In truth, it was a confusing time - I found myself feeling at times, that I had never had "real cancer" because I was constantly reassured by doctors and other cancer survivors alike, that I had the "best cancer", the most curable cancer, a slow growing cancer that was very unlikely to kill me.

I felt like a fake cancer patient, like I didn't have the right to be frightened or worried, and I did my absolute best to plow forward. I was open with my diagnosis, but that backfired on me many times, as people, confronted with the knowledge that I had cancer, had so many intense reactions, and I found myself having to comfort them, and hear their stories of grief and loss, as they inevitably mentioned people they loved who had lost their fight.

As a result, I began to choose more carefully who I would share this information with, as I didn't want to cause distress to others (and by extension, myself). That was the primary reason I chose not to share my diagnosis online - that, and my desire to remain as private as possible.

My second time around, I simply felt it was time to share my diagnosis with you, and I think the turning point came when I began doing research for wig videos on Youtube. I discovered so many brave women, sharing one of the most intense and frightening battles of their lives, with courage, humor and grace. And their bravery and honesty brought me courage. There were so many different kinds of stories, and just as many different kinds of treatments, but the common thread was their positivity and their unselfish desire to do at least one thing to help calm the fears and worries of another person who is also facing this diagnosis.

Another common thread in these videos was the theme of trusting yourself, being persistent with doctors who are not inclined to diagnose you with cancer, knowing your body, and being aware of when it changes. I experienced the same thing, and I am glad I was insistent, as it would have been easy to accept the "all clear" if I hadn't been in touch with the differences in my body. I had numerous checkups with my surgeon and oncologist, and 3 clear mammograms since my last diagnosis. I had to literally point to the lump I found, otherwise the surgeon would not have noticed anything amiss in what looked like scar tissue.

My second time around I am experiencing what is called a recurrence - cancer in the same spot it was in last time, and cancer in 2 lymph nodes. I had a mastectomy on my affected breast a few weeks ago, and next month I will need to start on 6 months of chemotherapy. I won't lie, I am afraid - I have seen at least 1 person in my family go through chemo, and 1 close friend, and I am not looking forward to it. But I am confident that God, who has brought me safely to this point, will bring me safely through it.

So again, I wanted to thank you, however few you may be, the readers of my personal blog for keeping up with me over the years. Your comments and support and interest have meant so much to me. I'll chime in when I can, here or on Feeling Stitchy, do tune in there, if you haven't already.

And I just wanted to say, if you are fighting this fight, or have fought it as well, you are not alone. Sometimes, there are people like me, fighting it right alongside you, and you aren't aware of our presence. In the same way, God stands by you in your fight, although you can't always sense God's presence. My love and hope to all of you, my blog friends!