Tag Archives: Strong

And for my next trick…

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This is it! The last photograph that will ever be taken with my port in the photo ūüôā

And for my next trick ladies and gentleman…I shall make this port disappear!

In about ten minutes I’m heading to the hospital for a quick day procedure/minor surgery. Today my chemotherapy port-a-cath is being removed!!!

Getting it removed is much easier than having it put in place, according to my surgeon. When I called to ask the receptionist if I would need someone to drive me to and from the hospital, she replied “It’s just like going to the dentist and getting novocaine.” They numb the area, make an incision, remove the port and glue me back together. Not quite like going to the dentist but I understand what she meant.

No more port, no more chemotherapy.

When I dropped my four-year-old daughter off at preschool this morning I told her that when I picked her up later, my port would be all gone. We had this conversation yesterday as well but I wanted to reiterate it to her again just to be safe. She smiled at me when I told her this morning. Then she brushed my hair aside and moved my sleeve to the side of my arm, exposing the port. She looked at it for a second then looked back at me, smiled and gave me the biggest hug. Her way of saying “be brave Mommy!” after leaving a kiss on my cheek and telling me she loved me.

I’m ready.

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Check Out My Port! (part 2)

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Between cooking Chicken Marsala (I’m just saying, it’s kind of a big deal. If I could marry my marsala, it would be on like Donkey Kong) and the weather becoming much warmer–I quickly changed into a tank top as the¬†kitchen started¬†heating up tonight.¬†

Looking at my reflection in the bathroom mirror, seeing my bare shoulders in a tank top again, with that protruding triangular shaped mound just sitting there; really got me thinking.¬†My surgeon¬†has given the go ahead for port¬†removal; it’s been in place for 15 months now. I’m already 7 months out from completing treatment…7 months!

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Change is the evolution of life right? But I’ve become attached to my port. It’s just as much a part of me as my hair or skin. What’s it going to feel like when I don’t have a port anymore?¬†¬†What will it be like looking in the mirror to see a fading scar where an obvious prominence used to be? To not have to wear my seatbelt a different way for comfort? For my daughter to say “Mommy, where did your port go?” To not get stared at in public by total strangers who don’t always know what a port even is? To not see my oncology nurses every 6 to 8 weeks for a port flush? To go to the lab for routine blood draws,¬†instead of to the nurses in the infusion suite?

Port removal is a major milestone as a cancer patient.¬†When your oncologist and surgeon are in agreement that it’s time to take out the port, it’s this hopeful intention that you’re going to be healthy long term. It’s their way of saying a patient is in a good place of¬†survivorship.

Having my port removed isn’t just letting go of what was, it’s moving forward into what will be. Living my best life, one day healthier and stronger at a time.

chemo-portCheck out my port!¬†Pretty gross and extremely fascinating at the same time. Especially when you consider that it’s sitting under my skin at this very moment. Having a port is¬†kind of like having a tattoo, you forget that it’s there. Except, unlike a tattoo, I get reminded each time I buckle my driver’s side seat belt, get dressed in front of a mirror or get hugged way too hard. The hugging doesn’t hurt, it just gives you this feeling of “Oh hey I remember that! The chemo thing¬†my surgeon stuck in a blood vessel X amount of months ago.”

Gratitude for Good Health

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(Above: My mutt mutt Bella-Boo)

Almost two weeks ago, I gave my dog a bath.

“And?” You’re probably thinking, “Why the heck does that matter?”

Well, let me walk you through all that en”tails”…pun intended ūüôā

My dog Bella is a sixty-pound, “no way in hell am I getting in that bath tub”, has every possible imaginable allergy under the sun, type of dog. Which means after picking her heavy ass up and placing her into the bath tub, she then has to be shampooed twice. Once with a yummy-tropical-smelling, hypo-allergenic dog-shampoo to get her clean. And once more with a medicated, prescription, dog-shampoo that has to be left in…for twenty minutes. Did I mention that she really really doesn’t like taking a bath?

The last time Bella had her bath, I was still going through chemotherapy treatments. It was exhausting. I could barely find the strength to pick her up twice. In fact, I’m pretty sure I let her jump out of the tub when her bath was over. Picking her up again simply wasn’t happening.

After her first round of shampooing, I was ready to call it a day. It took me just about two hours from start to finish. (That’s a very loooong time!)

But on this particular day (a few weeks ago) I was the victorious, alpha, rescue mom. Just as my¬†soapy hands became full of dog hair, my children reminded me that they too were part of my multi-tasking agenda. I¬†micromanaged my son’s appetite plus my daughter’s sudden need to become Queen Elsa of Arendelle then went back to work on my soapy pup.

I couldn’t help but be overcome with an enormous sense of gratitude. My back didn’t feel sore. ¬†My legs weren’t becoming weak from the constant strain of bending to lather, rinse, repeat. It felt damn good to be accomplishing a normal everyday task without feeling wiped out! Healthy again. My body, while not back to 100 percent, was getting there.

Bella looked up at me, tail between her legs, ears back, eyes begging for release from this tiled prison. I was laughing and smiling the whole time. Being healthy enough to do something so simple was such a blessing. Something that, just a few month ago, would have winded me for sure.

I took it for granted that I would always be healthy. Just like being in an unhealthy relationship can give you new eyes of appreciation and admiration for the healthy one that comes along.

Cancer taught me to give thanks for everyday my heart is pumping. For each day my lungs allow me to breathe. Cancer could have owned me, destroyed my life, taken every precious intangible thing away. It may have been a very cruel teacher at times, with harsh lessons to learn. Without everything I gained because of it, I wouldn’t be the woman I am today.

I’ve lost quite a few people in my life to cancer. I can count on more than one hand how many family members have been afflicted by it. Maybe this was cancers way of repaying that karmic debt. By giving me invaluable knowledge, appreciation for days I may have taken for granted, moments that might have slipped through the cracks of my life–it made up for all the pain it had caused in previous years.

To¬†be a survivor, I know how fortunate I am. Why fate chose to keep me here, I don’t know. I don’t know why so many have to lose their lives to this terrible disease. Why I wasn’t one of them. All I know is that I believe everything happens for a reason. So rather than saying “fuck you” to cancer, all I can say is “thank you.”