Well, it has been a while since my last blog post. Partially because I wasn’t up for writing it – partially because I needed to feel like I had updates and news to share. So just to keep everyone in the loop…
My mom and I traveled to Texas to MD Anderson Cancer Hospital. To say we were disappointed would be an understatement. They prepared me for staying 3-5 days – which meant organizing my friends and family to help with childcare, dog walking, etc. – organizing flights and hotels – and of course just a ton of anxiety heading down there. When we arrived – we flew out on the first flight that morning. We dropped our bags at our hotel and went straight there. There were people SMOKING everywhere outside… All I could think about is – HOW ARE THESE PEOPLE SMOKING OUTSIDE OF A CANCER HOSPITAL??!! We finally got called – and of course in the sarcoma unit, a man not much older than me wheeled by with an above the knee amp. I didn’t really prepare myself for seeing that – and I freaked out. I went into panic mode and just cried. We finally got taken back. They made me tell my story 4 times to 6 different people and then told me they agreed with my doctor and “I am going to just thrive in a prosthetic!” I am not even kidding when I say they didn’t even look at my foot. All of that and that’s what you have to say to me?? Don’t get me wrong – I totally and completely expected to hear that they agreed with the pathology and eliminating my foot was the best course of action…but I expected them to examine me – run tests – talk trials – SOMETHING…Honestly – they could have read my charts – charged me a copay and not made me travel. They left the room – I looked at my amazing mom – I cried really hard – and said LET’S GET OUT OF HERE. So we did. We grabbed our bags at the hotel, changed our flights and came home at midnight that same evening. I cried for about 36 hours straight – I was exhausted – I was drained – and just really, really sad.
I have had other radiologists and doctors review my files for other opinions as well – not because I don’t trust my doctor – he is incredible – but when you make a decision to eliminate a limb to save your life – you need to hear it from other professionals that it’s the best and only option.
So I actually have figured out what my biggest struggle is with this whole process. You see – if this was anywhere else in my body – I would have scheduled surgery ASAP and had the cancer taken out and moved on. But because it’s a limb…it’s my foot…it’s something I depend on to move physically daily. I have had a hard time accepting the fact that I have cancer, and the focus (MY focus) has been on losing my foot. Isn’t it weird when you KNOW you have a disease – but you don’t accept it? I could say it a million times. I have cancer. I have cancer. I have cancer. It just doesn’t seem real. Now telling you I have to lose my foot because of it – for some reason that is so much harder for me. Cancer is mean. Cancer is ugly. But it won’t be the end of me. And neither will losing a limb. So get ready to see a lot of inspirational pics of me getting my butt off the couch and teaching myself to walk and run again. Because you KNOW I can’t be sedentary. And I am going to use this to help anyone and everyone I can. Whether it’s someone who just needs motivation to get moving – or someone fighting a scary disease. I am going to use this to help someone else who is struggling and I WILL BE CANCER FREE.
So as I have said in previous posts – my support is through the roof. Two of my friends who own and work at Pure Barre where I sometimes take classes arranged a benefit in my honor to raise money to help with my medical bills – and to have a fun night out. They kept it light – they had the men doing the class the women usually do (and it was hilarious and amazing all at the same time). Then one of my friends’ families catered food and they had beer and wine for us as well. It was a great night! A lot of my favorite people were there to work out and support me. I love to work out. I am a better person when I can. So planning an event around a class was perfect for me. A few of us went out for drinks after and had a great time. I have so many people checking in with me daily, weekly, etc – I can literally feel the love. I am so grateful to have such an amazing support system. Friends who make me laugh – still share their happy things going on with me (because I thrive off of others being happy) – allow me to cry and complain when I need to. I know my best friend is already coordinating a dinner schedule for my family that she is working on. My family helping in every way possible. Everyone in my life has literally been amazing and incredible.
KEEP ON MOVING
So I am trying to keep on moving and build my strength before this surgery. While I work out a good amount (prior to all of this crap) – I don’t have a ton of upper body strength and core strength so those have been my main focuses. I am working with a trainer who has really been helping me with those goals – I even ran with my puppy Hazel yesterday because it was a GORGEOUS day and while I haven’t been “cleared” to run – I don’t have a lot of pain and let’s be honest, I am losing this foot soon anyways so what is the worst that can happen? It felt SO GOOD to get out there and just RUN. I even got to jump with my kids at a trampoline park yesterday. I am over my pity party of sitting on the couch and want to be as active as I can over the next few weeks.
So while there is no way to ever prepare for this life changing event – I have had a TON of doctors’ appointments over the last several weeks to get me ready for this change. Some of them have been hard – and honestly some have been amazing. One person I met with is head of post op therapy (helping to schedule my PT, specialists, etc). He was AMAZING! I literally walked into his appointment with tears streaming down my face and I walked out feeling confident and smiling. He told me there would be no limitations to what I can do because I get to keep my knee. He told me that I am going to surprise myself at how fast I will be back at my routine and that I will still do all of the things I want to do. He also changed my mindset of feeling like I am becoming disabled – to being the same old me, just doing things a new way.
I finally broke down and ordered a bench for my shower (which was really hard) – but of course you know I wasn’t going to pick anything “medical” looking. So I ordered a pretty teak bench that looks like it would be in a spa setting. And bonus? I can still reach the shelves that are built-in to the wall sitting down! Seriously – I was so excited over that – Miles (my husband) probably thought I was crazy. It really felt like a win (FINALLY). I also ordered a left pedal for my car – as I am going to have to learn to drive with my left foot. This hasn’t been installed yet but I am hoping to get everything set in the next week so I can practice driving BEFORE my surgery to help give myself some independence after and have one less struggle when I am feeling at my lowest.
I also met with an integrative medicine doctor that offers help through different types of therapy that are not medicinal. While I think the massage therapy will definitely help me – the offering to have a ceremony to say goodbye to my foot was NOT something I was going to take up. No offense to anyone who would benefit from that – but definitely not me or my style.
THE BIG DAY
So when is my surgery date and what does my recovery look like? March 12 is the big day. It was hard as hell to set that appointment. But a friend of mine (who happens to be one of the most positive people I know) sent me a really uplifting message that day. And it gave me the courage to finally just book it and be done with it. I hope he knows how much his message helped me take that step (no pun intended). I’ll be in the hospital for 2-5 days and then I will head home. I have a 7 week schedule so far to have help between my mom and other family, and I will start PT at home. After a few weeks, I’ll be able to do PT at a facility not far from home.
So being a stay at home working mom – it has always been the kids and myself. Sure, my mom comes or other family on occasion to visit for the day and we do things together where I take a little step back – but never have I had “help” with them. This was super hard for me to accept. But sometimes – when you think things are so hard that they will never work out and you will never be okay with it – you find a silver lining. We ended up hiring a friend of a friend to help with the kids 5 days a week when I start my surgery. She is amazing and our family already adores her – she has started part-time with us this month and will be more full-time starting March. She is so nice and so patient with them – and in getting to know her – we have put together a plan of how I can be a part of their day and she can take the lead while I am healing. We seriously couldn’t have found a better fit. So that alone takes so much off my shoulders to know we have good help and such a kind and loving person helping with my two favorite small people.
THE NEXT 2 WEEKS
So for now – I am trying to stay busy. To celebrate my husband’s birthday next week, to play with my kids, to exercise, to spend time with my family and friends, and to enjoy LIFE as much as possible before my world gets turned upside down for a while. 2018 has NOT been my year so far, but as my cousin texted me – this setback will only provide fuel for a major comeback. And I am ready to get this show on the road to recovery (mentally and physically) and get ME back. I know its coming, baby steps (or hops). <3