C A N C E R
Two years ago I was diagnosed with stage 3, Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Lymphoma is a blood cancer and spreads throughout the whole lymphatic system. I completed 3 PET scans, 2 surgeries, 1 mammogram, numerous CT & EKG scans, a sh*t ton of blood work, weekly visits to the hospital for PICC line flushes and dress changes, prescription medication, and 12 A.B.V.D. chemotherapy sessions every 2 weeks for 8 months.
High on life
When I reached my last chemo session I couldn't be happier and more excited to get back to "normal" life. I waited 1 month for my CT scan to confirm I was in the clear before I went out looking for work. I was determined to "live each day to it's fullest." I began setting goals for myself not letting cancer limit me. I started to run, hike and swim. Getting back into fitness right away was important to me. I booked a flight to Thailand because I had always wanted to go there since I was 15 years old. I went by myself and ended up meeting some pretty cool people from all around the world. I was constanlty chasing one "high" in life after the other. This doens't sound like such a terrible thing. It was all quite amazing, life changing, and fun....BUT there was one thing I failed to let myself do. I failed to heal. I didn't let my body have any time to recover from the hell of chemotherapy and cancer. I ignored my emotional health. I bottled up all my fears from cancer, hoping that they would stay in. I didn't talk about it with anyone. I was scared and felt insecure and judged if I were to talk about it. I feared that people will find me ungrateful for complaining about life after cancer. I felt guilty for even having those thoughts when I was lucky enough to have survived. After cancer is a time when we need our people the most. There is very little support from medical teams that are targeted for cancer survivors. As medicine continues to advance, we are seeing more and more cancer fighters surviving (which is great!!) but nobody knows how to help them cope with the anxiety, guilt, fear, and stress of processing eveything that they just went through.
2 years later
I've been 2 years cancer free and its been 2 years of neglecting my body. The past 3 weeks I have been reminded of what it's like to go through hell again. I developed a functional neurological disorder. I have seizures every day. They are non-epileptic seizures so your typical epileptic presciption pills won't help my case. "One" seizure lasts anywhere from 10-20 seconds, and I can have anywhere from 3-20 at a time. That 'episode' can average up to 3x a day.
After cancer I developed a few other illnesses I didn't have before cancer. I was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic ovarian syndrome). I have cysts on both my ovaries. I also have Fibrocystic breast disease. I have many cysts in both breasts and armpits, which makes it extremely hard to defferentiate breast cancer or fibrocystic cysts. I am now asthmatic. One of the chemotherapy drugs called 'bleomycin' harmed my lungs. It's known for lung toxicity but that side effect out weighs dying from cancer. (They all do). I've been diagnosed with a form of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) .... that one makes sense. Going through cancer feels pretty much like going to war, but with your own body.
H E A L I N G
Since these seizures arrived, It has been a wake up call for me. My body is screaming for help and healing. I am going to focus on healing my body emotionally, spiritually, and physically. I am going to breathe and meditate through my anxiety. I am going to work on not holding my feelings inside. I am going work on becoming more vulnerable. I am going to share my story to heal myself and to help heal others. That is my goal. My next 'high" in life is to heal myself and hopefully help others in the process.
Thank you for reading. For more of my posts you can follow my healing journey on both Instagram & Facebook. @LifeafterLymphoma_