Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Unexpected

I've decided something.

Cancer isn't a death sentence, it's a living sentence. It's an opportunity to live your life to the fullest in the midst of your own mortality. 

Only I can decide how to live my life, not cancer.

I wrote that on my Facebook page last month.

The unexpected happens. Finding out I had cancer at 28 was completely unexpected and made me realize how quickly life could change, but it's made me realize that no matter how hard I tried to control it, I couldn't. I could, however, control how I handled it. 

The past few months have been a test. It hasn't been easy, in fact, it still isn't easy. I don't know that it ever will be. I learn new things every day. I learn about my friendships, my family, myself, and the world around me. Hence my utter lack of motivation with my blog. I have been busy having many life lessons and trying to handle them. Some good, some bad and all unexpected.

The changing of the leaves wasn't the only thing the Fall brought. It brought a change all around me. My hair had started growing back in from the first rounds of Taxotere and I looked normal. But, looking normal and feeling normal are two completely different things. As September turned to October is when the changes began. The change around me, the way others treated me, the way I felt, the way I looked was different. I handled the change as best as I could. And as October went on, the LemonAid the CURE stands had me out and about 2 to 3 times a week. I noticed myself becoming sicker and sicker, until I stretched myself out so thin that I could not physically move from my couch. The LemonAID the CURE stands were beyond my expectation, raising $5,000- $2,000 over my original goal; but I couldn't bounce back from the cold. I noticed it was becoming harder to do. My weakened immune system left me sick every other week, and chemo became harder to recover from each week. I gained weight every week, my hair was becoming thin yet again, and I was now looking at what becomes of a person on chemotherapy for nearly 11 months straight. But, in true Kate fashion- you didn't know, 'cause I don't complain, never have been much of a complainer.

Then, the really, really, really unexpected happened. The results of my scans showed stable mets in my liver and bones, and no evidence of disease in my breasts! I asked the doctor to repeat it two more times. I couldn't believe it! I cried. I never thought I would ever hear those words. As long as my scans were stable in February, January would be my last chemotherapies and surgery looked to be in my future. A feat we never thought we'd make it to.

Sharing the great news, and yet feeling so incredibly ill was an unequal balance for me. Everyone assumed I was fine. They started expecting things from me. They became angry when I could not complete their bidding. They expected me to feel good since I looked good. Not that I expected to be treated special, but I did expect to be treated a little bit more like someone in active treatment for Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer and less like a perfectly normal and healthy individual. But, everyone just, forgot I guess. I don't have a very good explanation for it. The expectations people had for me made me withdrawn and irate at times. I don't think I expected to see those closest to me start to abandon me. I expected for them to be more understanding. But, maybe I should not have had expectations of others. Such is life . . .

And that's okay. It's okay to me now. I know now how to handle the unexpected. I have only one battle to fight right now, and that is my life. I have made the decision to survive using courage, humor and grace. I am the Queen of my own life, and the choices to be made are mine. What cancer has done to rearrange my life sucks, but I am going to live my life to the fullest: with or without cancer, with or without certain friends, with or without certain family, with or without knowing if I'll be here in 5 years. I will not let anything control how I choose to handle the unexpected except for me.

PS- I shaved my head . . . again. Why? Well, it was massively falling out and because I may not be able to control my cancer- but I will control how to handle it.


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