Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Good-bye 2014, Hello 2015

It is the last day of 2014.  It has been an interesting year for me - one of incredibly good news, and yet also one of transition.  In some ways, I think it is as difficult to stand at the precipice of death as it is to stand safely a few steps back.   The view has changed, which has required an adjustment in not only thinking, but also in being.  Before I was dizzy, looking down at that long drop in front of me. Now I am steadier, looking out at the trees and hills with the horizon beyond. I face the knowledge that an earthquake could send me over at any time, but it is my choice whether I look down or up.  I am choosing up.

And so I am going to plan for improvement in this coming year.  In 2015, I hope to regain some health, strength and energy, whether the end goal is to live life or to prepare for new chemo. Beginning in January, I will be taking a 4 month long exercise class for cancer patients.  It is twice a week, 2 hours at a time, and I had to sign a contract stating I would show up. I will get personal training by somebody who understands that my body has been flayed from breastbone to waist, that my chest muscles have a foreign object in them, that inside my arm is a tube which is threaded through the veins that lead directly to my heart.  The person who will take my hand and lead me back to strength understands what years of chemotherapy can do, and will teach me to be in my body again rather than trying to pretend it isn't there.   I am eager to see if four months can turn back the clock a few years. I know that if I had to live the past few years all over again, starting from where I am now - I wouldn't have made it.

When I think back on my days of health and all that I could do before my diagnosis, I feel like that was an entirely different person. Getting up, going to work,  grocery shopping, driving children, cooking meals, the normal chores of day-to-day life have seemed beyond me.  Pain is my companion and weakness drags me down and sleep takes over everything.  Nobody would see me and say "Oh, she's sick" and yet I feel inside like an old woman, sick, every movement causing discomfort, not strong enough to do normal things.  It is time to change that while I can.   I look forward to regaining strength and muscle mass and feeling like my body is functioning again.   Heck, I might even be able to open my own prescription bottle!  (Do I dare to dream I can toss the bottles away?)

I've already started doing my part, as requested by my trainer, by eating slightly better.  I do have food aversions, and I was living on a few hundred calories a day. He told me my body cannot recover without fuel, which of course I knew.  So I now eat an egg and piece of toast in the morning.  When I start to work out, I'll add a smoothie and some protein powder.  I do feel a little better just adding an egg before I start my day.

I will be speaking at SXSW 2015, and am hoping to find a way to fund other metastatic cancer patients who want to attend.   It seems to me like the people who should be there are those who actually have a stake in this disease.  Look for more on that in the future.

Another goal is to work on methods to keep track of things.  My memory is unlikely to get better so I need to figure out a way around it.  For example:  I sent some Christmas cards, but I have no idea to whom.  I did some, got distracted, and by the time I wanted to do more, I couldn't remember who'd I'd sent them to.  I should have kept a list.  I am supposed to return calls, mail things, respond to people, and I have no idea if I have or not.  I've had to become passive, waiting and hoping people will contact me and remind me.  This is very unlike the real me so I need to figure it out.  Other people can rely on their memories - not me.

I really want to be a better friend.  So many people have been so kind to me, and it is rude to not get a response or thank you or something stating that they have meant something to me, and yet that is exactly what I do. My short and medium and even long term memory have serious gaps, and I really must learn a way to overcome it.  I can't remember if I sent somebody the card I'd thought about, the thanks I'd wanted to do.  It's as if my thinking "I need to send Koryn a card" turned into action into my brain, and I can no longer tell what's real and what was not and if it was done or not.  I thought about it, so it might have happened.   So even if I have to write everything I do down, it's a habit I must get into.

My last goal is to write an ebook.  I'd like to do that by SXSW so I can actually have a reason for being there.  I also want to gear it to metastatic patients, to give them some tips, ideas and things I've learned along the way.  I had a fabulous idea for how I wanted to structure it, but I no longer remember.  See goal above.

Mainly, I hope that everybody reading this is able to fulfill their own goals for the coming year. For those with cancer, I hope that the year is not filled with too much pain or sickness and your treatments are tolerable.  For those whose treatment has ended successfully, I wish them a worry-free future.  Remember, whatever is going to happen will happen.  All you can do is enjoy the day you are given, so try not to live in a place of worry.   For family, friends, and caregivers of cancer patients, I wish you strength.  It is not easy to watch somebody you love suffer but please remember that you must take care of yourself too.  I hope that acceptance and peace becomes part of each and every one of your lives.

If you have any goals for living with cancer, living past cancer, or living with a cancer patient, I'd love to hear them.

Have a happy, healthy 2015.  Thank you for reading me all these years, I'm truly honored by that.


  1. Hi Ann, I'm so happy that you have got a trainer and a plan in place. I'm sorry about your memory issues. I have major memory issues, and I find it helpful to carry around a small notebook and put every task -- no matter how small -- on a list each day. It really helps, and when I cross items off, it makes me feel like I've accomplished something.

    Hoping you have a healthy, wonderful 2015.

  2. What a wonderfully frank yet positive post - thank you. It's fascinating to read how such a long period of treatment has affected you, your brain and your body. I wish you all the best for 2015 - it sounds like a great plan to improve your diet and start exercising - good luck with it all. I will keep reading :-)


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