Saturday, December 31, 2011


Today, we are on the brink of a New Year, a new start, and a new view from a place we have not been before. Last year, January 6th, 2011 I finished my last chemotherapy. This year, January 4th, I will be finishing my reconstruction and emerging with a look back on cancer rather than standing in the middle of it or anticipating more treatment. I’ve found that this process has made it hard to see the forest but for the trees.

Looking back on the 2011 makes me cringe a little. I started this year with a bald head, lethargic, and generally uncomfortable. Mid-year, I was suffering from third-degree radiation burns and oozing skin, and I ended the year with my first reconstruction surgery and my port removal.  This year has been cancer to me, and I’m happy to leave it behind. For 2012, I plan to continue to seek some clinical trials and lifestyle changes that will ensure that I’m still here to celebrate the end of 2012, 2013, 2014 and so on; but for the most part I want to leave cancer in the rearview mirror. There are days now (which I never thought would come) where I don’t think about the fact that I have cancer (as you can see though, I haven’t quite transitioned to the past tense “had cancer”).  One of my many resolutions for the new year is to stop dwelling on what was. That’s gone now (pending a good biopsy result next week). Instead, I need to plan for my future and enjoy my present. Many times over the past year and a half I’ve thought about withdrawing my retirement and taking a backpacking trip through Europe (sounds nice doesn’t it?). Something about retirement feels so unrealistic to me at this point. Diagnosed at 27 with lymph involvement….changes of making it to 65? Probably not that likely. But, I’m going to hang my hat on the fact that I WILL live to retirement. So, PERS, keep earning good interest rates because I’m going to need that money when I finally quit the workforce J. This new year, cancer is going to change to the past tense and I’m going to live my life as I would have without cancer – with a few small differences: I know now how important exercise is to health, I also know how important it is to watch what you eat (and not just watching it move from the fork to your mouth), I know how much reducing stress can reduce inflammation in the body, and I know how phytoestrogens in the environment, our cookware, and even our cosmetics can have a huge effect on the amount of estrogen in a person’s body. I know that alcohol is a huge risk factor for my survival and how important moderation will be. I’m moving into 2012 more aware of what I consume and how I take care of myself. And armed with this knowledge and a plan for the future, I fully anticipate showing off my permanently perky breasts to all the women I end up with at the nursing home. Sorry ladies….these won’t sag J

Shane and I have also resolved to try to get to see all of our friends more. We have become homebodies over the past few years, through treatment and trying to keep ourselves a float. We plan to see everyone more often in the New Year! Thank you for all of your love and support that has helped us fight to this point. Please keep my in prayers and good thoughts (or meditations, or whatever it is that you do) that my surgery and biopsy go well on Wednesday and that Shane is able to stand me through another week of recovery!

Much love to our amazing friends, family, and fellow survivors!
Happy New Year!

Heather & Shane

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