breast cancer, life, Uncategorized

Lines and Shapes

quotes-about-living-life-tattoos
From morefamousquotes.com No infringement intended

It’s National Tattoo Day. I’m not sure why that’s a thing. Once upon a time, I swore I’d never have a tattoo. To confess, I used to side eye tattoos. Then, I got cancer, understood the fragility and brevity of life, lived with pity stares, developed a new attitude, and decided to live for myself. Now,I have 5 tattoos, much to my mother’s chagrin (sorry, mom, I love you, but I’m still getting more tattoos).

I began getting inked after my one year cancerversary. I chose a phoenix on my ankle for my first tattoo, not because of my Harry Potter obsession, but because phoenix rise from the ashes, and let’s face it, cancer is a fire. Residing on my right wrist is my second tattoo, a healing symbol with a compass embedded into it as a reminder that healing takes time and when it’s hard, look north. My third and fourth tattoos are 3D areola tattoos done by Marie Sena, an incredibly kind, compassionate, and talented tattoo artist, one of the markedly few tattoos artists in the US who specializes in these kind of unique tattoos. My fifth tattoo, also done by Marie Sena, is a sternum piece, an homage to Adam and our kids -a bouquet of flowers, a rose for Aidan, an aster for Samantha, and a daffodil for Adam -their birth month flowers. In September, Marie will do my sixth tattoo to celebrate what gets me through the dark times in my life besides family -my love of reading and Harry Potter. It’s a custom piece of books and owls, of Felix Felicis and Hogwarts.

I’ve been asked that age-old question, “What about when you get old…don’t you think you’ll regret them?”

No. I don’t. It’s one of the ways I cope with cancer, and let’s face it, if I live to be “old,” I want to have these reminders of what life threw at me.

Advertisements
breast cancer, family, life, teaching, Uncategorized

Dumpster Fire

Dumpster Fire Bitmoji

Picture courtesy of Bitmoji. No infringement intended.

Merriam-Webster added dumpster fire to the dictionary in 2018. “An utterly calamitous or mismanaged situation or occurrence : disaster” is the definition.

My personal life was a dumpster fire for the 2017-2018 school year.

My father’s deteriorating health and the stress it put on my mother was unspeakably hard. My father is completely bedridden at this point. My mom is a teacher as well. Throughout the year, she woke between 4:00-4:30 am to tend to my dad, got to her school between 6:00 and 6:15 am so she had an hour to herself to prepare for her day before students arrived at 7:15. She worked until nearly 4:00 pm most days. At home, she tended my dad, assisted with his physical therapy, and did everything he needed until she fell asleep only to start all over again. While she worked, my sister tended my dad. She cooked and cleaned. She answered his questions and summons. She dealt with medical issues. The two of them are on 24/7. It is stressful and hard. I can’t make it easier for them except to take them out to eat or shop when I can.┬áMy mom and my sister are the real MVPs.

My marriage nearly came apart at the seams. I won’t talk about specifics, but let me say this and emphasize how much I mean this, no one is more surprised than me that my marriage survived this school year. The problems and challenges A and I faced this year were honestly harder than the challenges we faced during the 2015-2016 school year when I spent that entire school year in treatment for breast cancer. There were more times than I care to remember where the phrase “Get it together or you have to go,” was spoken. Things between us were worse than anyone, including our family (until now…SURPRISE!), truly knew. I’m not sure anyone except one of my best friends knew things were bad, and even she didn’t really know how bad until I told her two weeks ago. On that end, things are better. A and I have been together since I was 17. It’ll be 23 years this November. We decided we were worth fighting for, that our marriage did not survive cancer to succumb now, that S and AJ needed to us to be us. It’s not been easy to repair the damage done, but we are. We’re trying. It’s hard. But, we’re tough, and we love each other. Stress is a hell of a thing, though, on a marriage.

I struggled with a depressive episode that took me to rock bottom, to a darkness I didn’t know existed. So many friends have been so surprised by my admission that throughout winter and spring I fought depression. I guess it was easy to hide from them because, to be honest, my social life was nonexistent throughout the winter and spring. Truly, I didn’t do anything with anyone except go over to a friend’s house once to see her and her new baby. No one invited me to do anything with them, and I didn’t invite anyone to do anything. If anyone had invited me, I would’ve declined. I would’ve found a reason not to go out with my friends. I didn’t want anyone to know how depressed I was or how close my marriage was to the edge or to discuss the state of my dad’s health. I stayed to myself, and people let me. I let me.

I had a cancer reoccurence scare in the midst of all of this. My lower back hurt for weeks. It was unrelenting. Thankfully, MRIs showed a deteriorating disc and arthritis. Still, that scare added stress and added something else for me to hide, to keep to myself, because the last thing I wanted was questions and pity. I told no one, not even family. Only A. I didn’t want them to worry. My mom and sister had enough on their hands. So, I stayed silent.

Stress upon stress upon stress upon stress.

The perfect storm of calamity.

Last week, my sister told me it’s time for A and I to catch a break. She said we deserve a break. I’m not sure that’s fair. Everyone deserves a break, but I know where she’s coming from because it’s been three years of hell for us.

My mom is a believer in threes. Deaths come in threes. Good things come in threes. Bad things come in threes. She told me since we’d had three bad years with three calamitous events, it’s time to hope for the good. And, we’ve had some good since this summer began. We’ve had some really good news throughout June. My June check up with my radiation oncologist was so normal he released me from further check ups. My June check up with Dr. O, my breast cancer oncologist, was blessedly normal, and I received my second infusion of Zometa. Dr. O took me to task for gaining some weight. I deserved it, and I’m working on it. I saw her a week ago. I’ve lost two pounds already. It’s not much, but it’s a start. A starts a new job week after next. He’s excited. It’s an extraordinary opportunity for him. I’m thrilled for him. It’s the answer to prayers and pleas. That’s three…three good things. A says there’s no reason to expect for anything more than for the good to continue.┬áMaybe he’s right. I want him to be. But, I’m a pessimist. I told him I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. He rolled his eyes at me and told me to stop.

I posted on Twitter tonight that I’d never felt the dumpster fire bitmoji harder than I did today after reflecting on the school year and realizing how much my dumpster fire of a personal life affected my professional life. I posted that the only thing I can really do is what the bitmoji does -walk away from the dumpster fire. I can’t change what happened. I can learn from it. I can try harder. I can acknowledge how hard the last nine months of my life has been and commit to doing what I can do to ensure it doesn’t happen again. I can’t stop everything that happened -some of it is out of my hands. I can look forward to a clean slate, a new start.

That’s what I can do right now.