Sunday, September 30, 2012

Be Real Time

That was the theme of this past Friday. I had my first appointment with my counsellor through the Tom Baker Cancer Centre. He has his resident with him so I get to have two people analyze me throughout this process, but they are both really nice so it can't be a bad thing. Having extra professional help is always welcome ;)

It took every bit of strength in me to walk into that building but once I met them it was pretty easy going. It was mostly just a background of what I've been through up to this point, what state of mind I'm in now about it all and then we were done. I wasn't sure what to expect but he put my mind at ease when he said that he deals strictly with patients who have head and neck cancer, so he was familiar with my endocrinologist and knows my surgeon really well. (haha, MY surgeon...that's a strange thing to say...) He was also familiar with all of the parts of my neck that they had to disect and take out and the seriousness of my calcium deficiency after the first surgery, even all about the numbness I now have in my shoulder and neck...and they mentioned my upcoming birthday too so that was another plus for them..hahaha

Anyways, the first step has been taken and I am very glad I have started this journey. He validated everything I have been feeling and made me realize that even though I am still here, I have still been very traumatized by it all. He said that I have something called "Survivor's guilt" since I don't feel like I have a right to complain or be upset about my experience since many others don't have the luxury of being around 4 years after their cancer diagnosis. The words "Intense Psychotherapy" were mentioned so it's probably a good thing I'm there chatting with them...!!! I might also have to talk to my cancer doctor about my dose of Synthroid since he said that sometimes if the dose isn't right (regardless if my bloodwork comes back "within the right levels") it can mimic depression...pretty much to a T...hmmmmm, interesting...

I had a very, very emotional and real day and I was exhausted when it finally came to an end...but it's needed.

I go back this Friday for another hour and take the next step...chatting away, chatting through it all!! I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

First time for everything!

As I sit here and reflect on what I have been going through the past little bit, I came to the realization that for the FIRST time in my life I actually feel in control of my eating and exercise!!! I used to listen to people say "oh, exercise is just a part of my routine"...BLAHHHH!! I didn't buy it! Quite a few years ago I used to run on a regular basis...but I didn't enjoy it! Not like the people I used to run with in the run clubs...they seriously enjoyed every single step. I was so not that person. Every step was work...hard work! Every km felt like FOREVER!! Then if I didn't see the results pretty much instantly I gave up. What was the point in doing something you hated to do and not get what I wanted out of it??

A few months ago I was sent a letter from a doctor that was conducting a study on young cancer survivors and the effect exercise has on their recovery, state of mind and if it has anything to do with recurrence. I chose to become part of the study and have to fill out a questionnaire every couple months that evaluates my exercise levels on a daily basis and state of mind and how I am dealing with everything (working on that ;). At work we also decided to join the Global Corporate Challenge and strap on pedometers and record our daily steps every single day for a few months. It really did seem like the perfect time to get serious about getting healthy!

I'm not quite sure what changed in me to give me the motivation this time around (because we ALL know that I've been down this road many times before)...maybe it was finally just saying to myself that I CAN be as healthy and active as I truly want and need to be...not just being "OK" with how I look and feel...maybe it was my amazing support system around me, especially the lovely ladies I work with. They have been my rocks lately...each one has given me the strength and courage to achieve very individual things and I am so extremely thankful for them. Perhaps it was the fact that every time I think it's a good idea to fill my face with an entire bag of chips it makes me feel horrible...not just the guilt, but it actually makes me feel ill and that is not a fabulous feeling! It definitely doesn't mean that I don't eat junk at all...let's get real! But I do know how to limit the amount I do eat.

It was probably a combination of all of the above but I am FINALLY at the point where I look forward to my runs at lunch (almost crave them) and I just can't wait to get out there. If I ever do have those days where I "don't have the time" my friend Colleen is on me convincing me to just get out there and do it because I will feel like a million bucks when it's over...and she's always right...every single time! I enjoy the company, the fresh air, the atmosphere, love it all!

I have managed to slowly become one of those people who has just made exercise a part of my day...every day! I never thought I would get there but I'm ecstatic that I am finally happy with how I feel and how I'm starting to look...the next challenge is to NOT focus solely on the number on the scale but the actual inches I am losing and the muscle I am building. But the temptation to look at the number each morning is a hard habit to break...but progress is progress my friends!

Thanks for stopping by :)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Call...

This afternoon I received a call from one of the psychologists that works with the Tom Baker Cancer Centre. The first question was "so why do you want to talk to someone now" (since it's been a few years)?? I followed that up with a "well, I was diagnosed when I was pregant with my third baby..." which is when he stopped and said "no need to explain further, we need to talk". I then told him that I kept putting if off because I thought it would just get better with time and it would be easier to deal with. But now that I think about it, trying to force it away from my mind is actually making it control me even a very negative way. I keep telling myself that because I am still alive after cancer I don't have the right to complain or be upset...and that I should just be thankful and feel blessed for every day I am given at this point...but I think before I get to that point I have to actually DEAL with the fact that I had cancer. I figured since I made it THROUGH cancer that it meant that I had dealt with it...I now realize that I have been kidding myself.

The appointment is this Friday, September 28th at 3:00 p.m. I am scared to relive it all, and I'm having serious anxiety about it not helping, but excited at the same time. I NEED to take this step and trust the experts to help me. I am tired my friends...tired of being sad...tired of being angry....tired of not enjoying life...tired of waiting for the ball to drop...tired of not wanting to deal...tired of every day being a struggle...tired of being TIRED!

I will keep you all posted on this new stage of my journey...thanks for your support as always :)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Weekend away = great R&R...and retail therapy

This weekend our kids went away with their fabulous Auntie, Uncle and Gramma camping so Mike and I decided last minute to hit Great Falls for some time away just the two of us...and of course some shopping ;)

When life gets ridiculously busy it's so easy to disconnect from the relationships that you may take for granted (not intentionally of course) and become consumed with everyday tasks and duties. It was nice to get away with my hubby so we could just have some US time for a change....and for a non-shopper, he did REALLY well!! So proud of him. We had a great time, and so did the kids so it was a win win weekend!!

I did manage to score a new sports bra so I am SET for running at work this week! Can't wait! I haven't enjoyed running regularly in a very very long time so I'm pretty stoked! It also helps that I have a fabulous friend at work to run with...she keeps me in line and keeps me doing my pushups ;)

Friday, September 21, 2012

HUGE step for me

Wow, I can't believe it's been almost 4 months since my last round of blabbing...but here we go again!!

Over the past few months I have been struggling with a lot of things, most of which I have already discussed here with you such as depression, anger and a plethora of other emotions, but lately I have also been noticing that I am pretty much hating the world. I have been sticking close to very few friends and hiding away from many, many others that I used to spend a great deal of time with. It has been easier in my mind to become a hermit and avoid than to actually deal with people or situations around me.

This approach has actually backfired for me as it is affecting my ability to be a great Mom, Wife, Auntie, Sister, Daughter and Friend. All of these roles I am extremely proud of, but don't really seem to have the energy or zest for them like I used to...this is a very scary situation to be in. I have become resentful, angry, jealous of happy people because it is what I desperately want to be but don't know how to get there anymore.

If you recall I did see my doctor about some of these things but didn't follow up and AVOIDED what I knew I REALLY needed to do...and that would be taking advantage of the counselling services that they offer cancer patients at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre.

I got this from their website and I have pretty much every single issue they are describing:

Counselling can help you:
Cope with reactions to cancer
  • Anger at having the disease
  • Depression
  • Fear of cancer
  • Changes to your body
  • Anxiety about treatment
  • Fear of cancer coming back
  • Anger at not getting clear answers
  • Loss of control
  • Feeling of guilt
  • Wondering if life will ever seem normal again
  • Grief or sadness
Address family issues
  • Relationship or family counselling
  • How the family can be supportive
  • Changes in roles within your family
  • Talking with children
Confront practical issues
  • Reorganize finances
  • Plan how to raise issues with your doctor
  • Plan how to talk to your employer and co-workers
  • Solve transportation/ accommodation problems
  • Obtain information
Explore personal issues
  • Assess relationships, career, or leisure pursuits
  • Clarify values, goals and priorities
  • Make the most of your life
Sounds like a pretty great service right?? Why has it taken me 4 years since my diagnosis to finally pull my head out of my rear end?? Because addressing the above SCARES the crap out of me...more than you could imagine. Reliving all of these emotions is something that I was hoping I would never have to do again, but I also need to acknowledge how much cancer changed EVERY aspect of my life and tell myself that even after 4 years, I AM NOT OKAY!! I was hoping it would get better over time, but it has gotten worse to the point where I don't like being around very many people. Being social used to make me really happy and now I have to talk myself into going to gatherings and convincing myself to have a good time....this is exhausting and I am tired of hating the world around me...

I have taken steps to get myself out of my funk. I am running again with some fabulous people at work, and doing exercises at home daily before bed. Eating better has improved things also, and I am finally starting to feel good about myself on the outside, but it's the inside that needs serious work now.

Today I called the cancer centre and gave them some information. They are now going to draw up a referral and my counsellor will call me to set up an appointment...time to get my life back! Time to be happy again and not resent people around me!

Thanks for continuing to be an amazing support group for me.