LIFE AFTER CANCER

On November 7, 2012 I heard those two words every cancer patient wants to hear “cancer free.” so that’s it. Back to life as it was before. I wish it was that simple. Its as if a huge storm just ravaged through your city. You are alive, but injured and left with wreckage. The storm may be over for others but I live with this every day. I am physically scared and drastically changed from the person I was a year ago. I have 8 surgery scars on my torso alone. My chest looks like some sort of alien creature and my hair is the same length as my husbands. None of these are easy to forget overnight. I’m physically starting to feel like myself again. Each day is different but I can tell I’m improving. I put a smile on my face and continue to hold my head high. Emotionally I am just confused. For me the battle is not over. I take a handful of pills every day. I’m in menopause, taking chemo daily, adjusting to a cancer free diet, and still looking at four more surgeries. Then there is the possibility of not having kids… I’m still not ready to talk about that. As you can see, I’m still wearing that armor. Still have my sword held high.

I was blessed to have so much support through out my treatment. I was constantly surrounded by love. When everyone heard those words “cancer free” they rejoiced and went back to their lives. And then it was quiet. The calls and text got fewer and fewer. The visitors stopped and life goes on. I may be offending some people by writing this but I’m being honest here. The storm is over, the wreckage has been laid, and there are just a few of us left to pick up the pieces. If you have an aunt, a mom, a friend who has been in my shoes please continue to fight for them and help them pick up after the storm. It is hard for me to even say I’m in remission. I sometimes think it would be easier to still be in chemo. Never thought I would say that. I’m sure my other chemo girls would agree with me.

This is a pretty heavy post after my last post on my trip to the Ellen Show. Tomorrow I go back to my surgeon for my final fill. I’m dreading it and the pain I will be in tomorrow night. I’m still hurting from my last fill three weeks ago! Fingers crossed everything will be ok. Enjoy the golden globes :)

Xoxo

Heather

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About georgiajames

Business girl. Designer. Artist. Wife. You can find me in my studio, driving all over town, or at home with my dogs -- always with my phone in hand. Also addicted to blogs, photography, diet coke, and making things happen.
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13 Responses to LIFE AFTER CANCER

  1. John says:

    When the moon hits your eye
    Like a big-a pizza pie
    That’s amore

    When the world seems to shine
    Like you’ve had too much wine

    Keep your chin up, champ. That’s amore~

  2. betty lindstrom says:

    WOW what an amazing post. I will celebrate two years of being breast cancer free this month. I actually had a sister ask me at christmas if my hair was mine or a wig. She sent me cards all throughout chemo but hadnt heard from her in over a year since. Yes I just had another surgery on my breast and I feel that everyone thinks because the treatment is over we are well, both physically and mentally. Well guess what, we are not. Help us put a smile on our face, ask us how we are doing, take us out to eat ( yes,food does taste good again) or a movie…just talk to us about life and hope…we do still need support after all the cancer is really just looking over our shoulder all the time. Don’t live with regrets make that phone call, say hi, how are you doing? Love love this post.

    • georgiajames says:

      Thank you Betty! I have already had so many other survivors send me messages to let me know they feel the same way. I would have no idea unless I was in the position I am in now. Thanks for your comment!

  3. Heather, I love you for sharing your heart and soul. It’s been so long since we’ve talked or seen each other, but I’ve been reading, keeping up with you, and thinking/praying for you daily. I’m not sure why I haven’t reached out to you on a personal level… But I am inspired by your strength and get chills everytime I can share your story with another woman I encounter at the salon. You give myself and so many other people hope and courage. I think of this verse for you..
    And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6

  4. carperblog says:

    Heather, I do understand what you must be feeling, and you have communicated it so well! Sometimes it’s the in between that feels lonely. You are loved no less, and in the process of your journey to live you will probably never know the impact that you have made on others. Really, how many or who you have reached is much bigger than you anyways, so it no longer becomes about what you have done. You were brought in to a place where you HAD to fight fancy, as the passion for it oozed from you effortlessly. Therefore, you will be shown what is next for you as you will continue to reach people with your story. We as artists are always creating and re-inventing, this is what keeps change right there on the tip of our tongue, which can seem scary. My philosophy is that your story changed and opened people’s eyes, but remember your story is not yet over, nor is mine. I look forward to seeing what else you do as you begin to live in this new grid-line. It’s a new day and I am excited and thankful for you. Somedays, when you fell like it gets too quite, you can just take a deep breath and enjoy it. I love you dearly. Your friend, Amy

  5. Eva Nix says:

    Heather-

    I stumbled upon your blog through another breast cancer survivor, Anne Embry. I am 33 and was diagnosed 5.5 years ago at the age of 27. I was the first person in my family to be diagnosed, and then my mom was diagnosed two years later. I did 18 weeks of chemo, and then two days after my wedding started my 33 radiation treatments. I have been on tamoxifen since January of 2008 and will continue to take it for at least another two years from now (7 total or more possibly). I just want to tell you that it is extremely difficult to find the balance after treatment is over. Its like, so now what? Medical staff is not seeing you every week, your hair is too short, and you just feel…strange. It was a very, very tough period of adjustment for me. Yet now, all these years later, people would never in a million years think that I had breast cancer (unless they know what a port scar looks like!) People think that my 2.5 year old twins were natural, when little do they know that they were born via surrogate and were frozen as embryos before I started chemo. What you are doing with Fighting Fancy is amazing and inspiring. We take the cards we are dealt and make the most of them, which is what you are doing. It’s not an easy road, and some days are better than others, but just know that you have and will continue to have an impact on so may lives. -Eva Nix

  6. Pam Frazier says:

    Heather…..thank you for posting those very real emotions…….I’ve never thought of that and just as you have from the second I stumbled onto your blog you are educating me and others step by step about Breast Cancer and the journey before, during, and now after. What you are doing, reaching out to the countless women who are walking the same road you are walking is priceless……and letting the supporters of these women know that we need to keep up the visits and cards and calls long after the “cancer free” stamp has been applied. Thank you for this…..my family is right in the very midst of the battle right now with my sister in law, Pam, as you know and it’s really tough right now….it’s so hard to see her having to go through this….yesterday was a really bad day for her….broke my heart……she did however receive your bag and that was a highlight in her journey…..thank you so much for what you are doing…..much love and hugs….Pam.

  7. Erica says:

    So much truth in what you wrote, honey. I had this idea of when I “finished” treatment that I could put cancer behind me and pretend that it never happened. I think I even said those words a time or two in the beginning. That could not be further from the truth, unfortunately. I, like you, still take chemo pills, along with a handful of others, every day, I am in menopause at the ripe ol age of 34, and am dealing with issues and circumstances that none of my friends do. I wonder, ‘what does is feel like to have a headache and not worry that it’s cancer,’ or any other ache or pain that I now document on a calendar because, as my oncologist says, any issues that that go on for two weeks he wants to check out. There is still not a day that goes by that I don’t think about cancer, even though it’s been 4 years since I first heard the word in relation to me. It’s not necessarily the FIRST thing on my mind every morning, so I guess there is improvement there, but still…
    Anyway, I just wanted to tell you that you are not alone, and it’s completely normal. Keep fighting, girl. We’ve got this. Sending you ((((big hugs)))).
    XOXO
    Mark 5:36

    • georgiajames says:

      Erica, it’s so crazy the bond us chemo girls have. The response from this blog post has been unreal. So many women “cancer free” saying they feel the exact same way. It’s a lifetime change for sure. So happy to have women like you to talk to. Thank you!

  8. simplytrece says:

    I just want you to know that I continue to pray for all on my prayer list, even when in remission. God bless you, Braveheart.

  9. Marti Margrave says:

    Heather, i have to thank you for posting this heartfelt, honest piece. Your analogy is almost perfect. Our home was hit by a landslide…100+ trees and a wall 9 feet deep of mud…during a storm. No, i’m not in Japan or California…i’m smack in the middle of Nashville, TN. It has been dubbed “a 1000 year flood” but we call it The 1000 Year Storm. From May 2, 2010 until Dec. 22, 2012 we were told the house was uninhabitable, finally on that day we were given a building permit, BUT they still said we couldn’t live in the house. (shhhhhh…after house-sitting for 4 sets of amazing friends thru August, we’d moved back in. We couldn’t find a place to rent on our salaries, since house payments and utilities went on…FEMA $$ had stipulations, our home owners paid for the removal on ONE tree that had crashed thru the roof, yada, yada, yada) And, the 100+ trees and the mud were not from our own yard; they were from the landowner up the hill who had bought it thinking he could build 100 condos up there. To say the least, he didn’t give a flip about his trees and his mud and our humble abode.

    We had so much help from friends and from total strangers. A geology professor at Vanderbilt brought her class out this fall, 2 years later, because the scar is still so easily seen and is such an incredible anomaly for mid-continent, 3 teams of Amish carpenters came and re-roofed our house in weather that never got above 20 degrees, a great group of kids from the Jewish student center at NYU spent their spring break here painting, local church groups cleaned the mortar off the 1970s bricks because they couldn’t be matched…the list of help goes on and on. And our gratitude goes on and on and is very deep.

    People still ask “how’s the house coming?” and when they do we say, “Oh, we’ve still got some piddlin’ things to do,” but i want to scream, “Well, thank you for asking…will i ever have baseboards in every room again? Will the driveway always turn into a swamp when it rains? IF we can ever get grass or anything to grown on that jerk’s naked hillside, how will we tend to it? And by the way, why doesn’t HE have to help with that issue? Why us??”

    I think you gave a nearly perfect, heartfelt analogy to wake up those who step up to the plate initially, then seem to *poof*. Comparing cancer to the work to be done in the aftermath of a storm works up to a point, EXCEPT when you’ve gone thru a natural disaster, you only have to be BRAVE until you realize that you’re alive, then you get to say, “It’s just stuff, i’m alive.” The FEARFUL part is over, now it just a bunch of hard work and frustration. Thank you, thank you for reminding me that my dear friends, Sherry and Nan; my precious cousin, Sarah; you, whom i’ve never met; are still striving to be BRAVE, might still be FEARFUL, and, on top of that, STILL have a bunch of hard work and frustration!

    i love your heart…sorry this is so long!
    marti m

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