Over 2 1/2 years ago I was diagnosed with terminal stage III appendix cancer. Given my age of 31 at the time, my amazing medical team and I chose very aggressive treatment plan. Over the span of just under a year my body went through some very extreme changes. 8 rounds of IV and oral chemo, 3 minor surgeries and one major HIPEC surgery. Thankfully all essential organs were clear of cancer but a lot of surrounding tissue had to be removed due to invasion. Uterus, ovaries, gallbladder, parts of small and large bowel, part of pelvic wall and many layers of the abdominal lining called the peritoneum we also removed.
Much love, celebrating and support was given and received throughout that extremely challenging time. I had a job, a purpose...fight that cancer, get through the treatments so I would be able to be there for my then 3 year old daughter as she grows up.
Now fast forward nearly 2 years later. I just celebrated a 2 years clear CT scan. Definitely reason to celebrate! I am struggling however with figuring out how to function in this busy world. The exact ideas and images I've had of myself as a person, mother and wife are not possible now and I have been struggling to figure out what and how I can do the things I was to do. Like many people who deal with chronic conditions my health and function fluctuate significantly. Sometimes it seems like for no reason. I do get frustrated and annoyed with the whole situation at times. As well, I feel frustrated that I feel frustrated and guilty that I'm not just happy to be alive! I'm learning to be easier on myself, pacing, meditation, asking for help and more PACING.
I'm working on figuring out and accepting the new normal. Over the past 6 months or so eating has become more of an issue. Occasionally I am experiencing major debilitating abdominal pain. There are no test indicating it is cancer regrowth which is fantastic. My wonderful caring Doctor feels as though I am having problems with adhesion (scar tissue) which leaves me prone to bowel obstructions. I am now on a no insoluble fiber diet which seems to be helping but isn't a magical solution. Now don't get me wrong I know I am by far not the first person to have these sorts of struggles. I am a Registered Nurse and I now understand those patients who came in with failure to thrive. It is hard work to find food you can eat and consume enough of it when you aren't feeling well.
The past weekend I overdid it...but there were some pretty awesome outcomes of my work! We hosted my daughter's 6th birthday party. I have been planning and pacing the party prep for the big day but of course a day with 8 children proved to be pretty exhausting! Some people would wonder why on earth I would be putting the effort into a party. The answer is simple, I love it. I am a handy, crafty person. Nothing makes me happier than seeing my creations enjoyed. I just need to figure out how to balance what I can/should do vs what i want to do.
I'm on this new journey, to figure out how to function with this new body of mine and how to thrive with the new normal!