The true balancing act

Sometimes I write an entire post, save it and leave it on my computer. It sits there, untouched until I happen to come across it in my search of something. Today, this happened. I found a post that I called The balancing act. This post was written just two months ago and as I read it, I realized that my thoughts have already shifted ever-so-slightly from the way I felt when I first wrote it. Yes, I still feel a slight pang or a slight worry every time we talk of the future. But with each passing day, despite still undergoing treatment, I feel a little less afraid and a little more secure. It feels good to know that time does actually heal the mind along with the body. No, the future is still not guaranteed, but I am now looking forward to it as if it were, and yet still enjoying the everyday moments in life. That, for me, is the true balancing act.

Here is my prior post, written February 27th:

I read a quote on a blog I follow the other day. It said that writers often write about what they need to hear (sorry, despite searching I can’t locate the post that I read this in). Seems obvious, right? Well, I reread it a few times and it left me thinking quite a bit. This blog began as a way to share my story and yet somehow it also transitioned into a way for me to talk to myself too. So today, I’m going to do just that. I’m going to write about something that is on my mind regularly but that I don’t speak about often. But, it’s something that I need to hear and maybe, just maybe, someone else does too.

I’ve mentioned before that if cancer teaches you nothing is, it is that life is short. Each day is a blessing and needs to be embraced like a long lost friend. I am grateful for the life that I am blessed to have and the family and friends that share it with me.

Have I beaten cancer? – YES!

Is cancer gone from my life forever? …yes?

I tend to be the type of person who overthinks and overanalyzes and questions each decision that I make because I want to ensure that I am truly making the best decision. Now, I have certainly had my fair share of split decisions and regrets but that has taught me to take my time and think through the decision before making it. I weigh the pros and cons of each, sometimes to exhaustion, and decide which choice is the right one. Cancer adds a layer of complexity to my decision making. A layer that I hate having and yet a voice in my head never lets me forget to consider.

This voice often asks me, will you be here?

It’s a question that has no answer and frankly, if it did, I don’t know that I would want to know it. But it’s there. The ever lingering question that has no purpose but to make my heart feel a slight pang and my breath catch a little.

See, the think about this question, is that it has always been there. Every day and every decision that we make, we rely heavily on the fact that tomorrow will be there and the day after that will be too. But it isn’t guaranteed and I probably should have been paying more attention to that fact long before cancer came knocking.

So every decision that I make, big or small, is a balancing act. I weigh my options and once I’ve mostly made up my mind, the little voice pipes up and asks will you be here? This causes my heart rate to rise slightly and break just a little. Then I think rationally through the question. If the answer is no, would I be putting my family in a poor predicament? If the answer is yes, will we be able to enjoy it?

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Team Gina

My visit to the dentist back in August was uneventful in terms of my teeth but subsequently eventful in what occurred afterwards. Soon after that visit, my dental hygienist called me because one of the patients that she saw that day has a local foundation that assists breast cancer warriors. She had mentioned me to the founder of the organization and he had asked that I give him a call to see how he could help me. The thought was incredibly kind and it warmed my heart that she thought of me that day. Since I was starting treatment that week, I didn’t contact him right away but did eventually reach out to introduce myself.

Will is the founder of the Gina McReynolds Foundation and the cause is close to his heart, as he lost his wife to breast cancer when she was about my age. When I first spoke to Will, it felt like I was talking to an old friend. He knew a lot about breast cancer, understood the treatment that I was undergoing and the battle that my family and I were facing.

Fast forward to this month. I had a dentist appointment scheduled for the end of the month but asked to be notified if anything opened up sooner. When the office called me, I had two options but only one that really worked for my new radiation schedule so that’s the one I picked. After having my teeth cleaned, I said good bye to the wonderful ladies in the front office and they replied, using my name and wishing me a great day.

I walked into the waiting room and a man was standing in front of the reception desk. He looked at me, puzzled, and said “Meghan?” I smiled with a puzzled look in return and he introduced himself – it was Will, from Team Gina! I couldn’t believe it – what are the chances? We shook hands and chatted for a moment before his appointment and he invited us to meet the foundation’s board. So last night, we had the pleasure of doing just that.

Joe, Jacob & I spent the evening chatting with the folks that make up the board and getting to know more about them and the organization. They learned all about us, what we enjoy, about our families and more. The evening was full of laughter and lots of fun.

At the end of dinner, they surprised us with a gift from their foundation. It was a thoughtful, kind gift that I will forever hold dear. I cannot wait to begin giving back to this incredible, deserving organization.

It is moments like this in life that, despite my diagnosis, I am reminded that I am truly too blessed to complain. And I’m on the right path in life.

Rough seas

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The last week of treatment and fatigue was beginning to weigh on my mind the last few days. So despite the crazy wind and chance of rain, we ventured to the beach yesterday – my happy place – to enjoy some time together. The ocean was rough with the waves crashing against each other over the sand bar and trying to steal Jacob’s sand pail. Each time the water came closer to where we were standing, Jacob would yell “oohhh, oohhh!” and jump back a little to stay away from it. As soon as the water began to rush back out, he would run towards it again.  It made us laugh and he was having a ball doing it. He could sense the water was rougher than usual, battling amongst itself.

About halfway through the day, another family set up on the beach next to us. The mom stopped over to say hello and we started to chat about life. We joke & laughed and shared stories about our kids for a bit. She eventually joined her family again to help her kids bury her husband in the sand and Jacob fell asleep on my lap. It felt nice, normal.

Despite the rough sea in front of us, the wind blowing heavy and the slight clouds in the sky, we were all able to enjoy the beauty and grace of the day.  It was a wonderful afternoon.

We don’t know what battles others around us may be fighting. A kind word or a simple gesture can go a long way and sometimes it is all a person needs to keep fighting. Spread the love, my friends.

Friday treatment updates

Another Herceptin treatment in the books! Is that the saying? In the books? On the books? Anyway one more down and only 6 left to go. Six. That seemed so far off just a few months ago.

Another radiation treatment is also complete! Today’s treatment was pretty quick. I arrived early, they took me early and the films were fast. I’m still have this painful lump in my chest (esophagus, really) so I stopped over to the doctor’s section to chat with the nurse. I was given a prescription of a concoction the pharmacy has to “combine” and will be available after a few hours. I will then use a syringe to squirt it down my throat to help numb it. I can use a spoon instead but that would numb my entire mouth. So this should be interesting. It’ll only last 15 – 20 minutes at a time but will hopefully help me eat and be a bit more comfortable when combined with the other medicines. We’ll see, I guess. I’m still researching other methods too. It’s incredibly uncomfortable and consistently there so I’m anxious for some relief.

I’m also incredibly thirsty lately. Think vampire-waking-up-from-a-long-stretch-of-sleep thirsty. I average about 70 ounces of water a day, not including other liquids but I’m still incredibly thirsty all the time. Side note, can anyone recommend a vampire movie to watch? I have a weakness for a good vampire movie!

The fatigue is continuing and I’m curious to see how the weekend goes combined with the Herceptin treatment fatigue. While the nurse was administering my Herceptin treatment today, she was talking about fatigue from treatment & radiation and the struggle it presents. “It’s not like a tiredness that you once felt, where you would lie down for a nap and wake up feeling refreshed. It’s an exhaustion that sets in your entire body and you can feel it deep within you. Despite a nap or a good night’s sleep, you wake up just as tired, as if you barely slept at all. Your body needs to rest and it needs to rest a lot. It is healing from everything we’re doing to it. Remember that.”

My chat with her was a nice reminder to take it slow and allow my body the time it needs. It’s often challenging because I want to be normal, active and productive but the fatigue and my body have different plans.

Aside from the busy day of treatment, I feel good. Every day, I am reminded of just how incredibly blessed I am. For that, I continue to be grateful. Happy Friday, friends. May your weekend be filled with love, laughter and fun.

So I have a question

Yesterday after treatment and an appointment, I stopped into a salon and had my eyebrows done. This is something that I normally would have considered inconvenient, especially considering how tired I was, but I was excited. It is the first time that I have needed to have my eyebrows touched up since beginning treatment last August. That means that I have enough hair growing to require it – yay!

While I was there, I asked about eventually getting my hair cut. I’m not quite ready to cut it but I was curious about the length and how long to wait before having it done. It was nice to talk about the future potential hair cut that I will receive. I may need to start pinning some styles on pinterest!

So today, as I sit here receiving my Herceptin dose, I glanced at Joe. He recently cut his hair and, dare I say, I think my hair is almost longer than his. Mine isn’t styled today (or ever, ha!) but I think I might have him beaten in length.

So, friends, what do you think? Whose hair is longer?!

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