In September 2014 I went camping with my buds. Company was exceptional. Weather was extraordinary. Food was awesome. My knee held up the entire weekend. So many memories of a terrific times with my best friends.
During that trip, one conversation may have saved my life. Sitting around the campfire, one of my friends mentioned a health issue that she had and thought it was stupid. Many of the girls immediately responded to her itty bitty comment with over the top emotion, "You have to go get that checked out immediately!!!! It is really bad and not something to put off!" At the time I kept my mouth shut and listened. I was having a similar "issue" but didn't want my friends yelling at me so I kept quiet as I tend to do.
What I did do: called my doctor for a quick checkup. It was just before Cynosports. After our visit, the Doc wanted me to have an ultrasound and a few other tests. I tend to put things off anyway so I decided to wait till after Nationals as I didn't want anything to detract from that experience (such a great excuse, wasn't it?). I didn't even call to set up the tests. Figured I'd deal with it later.
Procrastination. Avoidance. Denial.
During the week leading up to Cynosport I started to have some discomfort and felt tired. Considering I was just coming back from my knee issue, I didn't really think much about being tired. I made excuses for myself. My blinders came out and I focused anything but what was staring me in the face.
Procrastination. Avoidance. Denial.
I still had not told anyone (family or friends) of my issue.
I probably would have put off the ultrasound/test longer, but I got scared by a health incident a couple days before Cynosports and I called and made the appointment for the Monday following the games. Even though I was taking action, it was a reluctant action and only as a result of escalation of symptoms rather than me being honest with myself.
Cynosports was a blast and I didn't allow myself to think of anything but the amazing agility event. But, first thing on Monday morning I got myself down to the doctor for the tests she had ordered.
Four days following the ultrasound, I got the call no one wants. I needed to "immediately" see an oncologist. The Doctor was adamant that I get the appointment immediately. She even called me 2 hours later to make sure I had called and got the appointment.
Scared the crap outta me. That one word "oncologist." I know what that means. I can not describe the emotions that ran through my body during and after that call. Fear, anger, regret, frustration. I know how to eat better. I know how to exercise. Why don't I do those things. Mostly I beat myself up over this horrible news. I internalized my anger and blamed myself.
"Why is this happening to me?" was not my question. My question was "Why didn't I do a better job with my personal health!?" It is so easy not to acknowledge the possible (or realistic) results of actions that are detrimental to one's long term existence. Very much like drug addiction, I am addicted to my behavior of short term satisfaction.
Blame. Depression. Self-loathing.
After getting the initial biopsy results, I have this amazing memory of sitting around my kitchen table with family and friends talking about what was going to happen and how we all were going to get through. It was a huge relief to talk about it. The "Big C" effects more than just me. It impacts everyone around me. Fortunately, I have a wonderful family and even more wonderful friends.
Surgery was scheduled for November 12. Expectations were that I would be "out" 4-8 weeks depending on the scope. I was not sure what that meant for me physically. Being the one that needs help scared me to death.
Fear. Self-blame. Depression.
Some of what got me to where I am today is the fact that I do not eat properly. I am addicted to my behavior of eating and am not accountable to myself or anyone else. I eat processed and fast food and love it at the moment....but hate myself and am embarrassed about it later. I give up what I want for the long term by doing what I want today. I understand how to eat properly. I am an intelligent person. Yet, I allow myself to constantly fail.
The Bright Side.
I am so incredibly lucky. I have friends and family that love me despite my inability to stop behavior that results in my not feeling good about myself. They love me despite the fact that I do not lead an authentic life due to my obsession with food. They care about me despite my "secret". My secret that isn't such a secret.
The surgery could not have gone any better and today six days post surgery I feel pretty darn good. It's just one week and I am walking, doing my own chores, and feeling optimistic. I even sent my mom home to San Francisco (imagine my 81 year old mom taking care of me....how lucky am I!). I get the final path report next week, but at this time the news is very good.
I remember years ago when my Mom-in-law was diagnosed with Ovarian cancer. I couldn't understand how she could put off going to the doctor for so long when she was in pain. I remember anger at her for not taking action when she told me how many symptoms she had but refused to go and talk about these symptoms with her doctor.. Procrastination. Avoidance. Denial. The same things that I suffer from. I watched her suffer and eventually pass away and never got over my anger that by not going to the doctor when she first had pain, the cancer got so bad that the options for treatment were limited. I now understand how it happened. My understanding of how I can ignore something and just slowly accept the changes in my body have taught me something. There have been warning signs this past year that I chose to ignore. I also am the person that I was so angry at her for being.
All I can say is take care of yourself. Get in for your screening exams. Communicate when things change. Make sure your doctors have your best interests at heart.
My story continues bursting with optimism and good things to come. I am exceptionally lucky. Now it is my job to accept the good things and focus on living my life rather than living a false inauthentic replica of what I can be.
I know many people have reached out to know what the heck is happening. I want each of you to know that your thoughts are appreciated. Now take those healing thoughts you have for me and please look at yourself and take one step towards a healthier life.