All posts by CoachVicky

Twelve Days to Go

August 14, 2017 is my last treatment.  There are just twelve days to go.

I started writing about our cancer journey August 23, 2016.  Time is near to close this chapter and move forward. I will continue to write about our journey through the end of August.  September I will seek a new focus.

I have deeply appreciated everyone who has followed this blog, commented, and shared.

My intent in writing was to give you my truth, our experiences, openly and honestly.

A couple of items in the near future will be to finish my book about this journey. It is a book of hope.  If you have decided anything about what Richard and I have experienced, I hope you have found this journey to be one of growth and unbelievable commitment to each other.  We are both better in numerous ways as we close year one of our cancer battle.  We won.

I am also working on a list about the “reality of chemotherapy.”  It is a list of what we know now that we wished we had known before.   I want it to be a helpful guide to any other couple or family finding a cancer diagnosis in their lives.  I think it will be helpful to anyone who has a friend battling cancer.

Finally, one of my doctors told me to find a reward.  I am taking a couple of rings my Momma left me and having them reset.

I want to find a reward for Richard also.  What suggestions to do have?

Leaders …      What is in your future?

How concrete are your plans to achieve your future?

-VhS

 

 

Being Content

The title of the recent message series at our church is “Joy Ride.” It is a study through Philipians and the letters Paul wrote from prison.  In prison, he found contentment.  Paul could teach the gospel of Jesus to those that wanted to know why he would go to prison as opposed to stop preaching.

Contentment is a mental or emotional state of happiness and satisfaction.

Despite all that has happened these past 13 months, I am very happy and content.  I have learned what is important and to stay positive.  I simply enjoy living more.  Every day that I awaken is a blessing to me.

Sure, there have been some struggles.  I believe some struggle would be expected when given a cancer diagnosis. When my Oncologist told me I had an 80% – 85% chance for non-recurrence based on the general population with my types of cancers, I struggled with the 15% to 20% chance for recurrence.  It seemed like a high number.

When my genomic test results, based on my specific cancer tissue, gave me a 94.6% chance for non-recurrence, I danced on my shaggy eyelashes!  This result gave me a new reframe. What kicked into my belief system were more positivity and a belief in a better outcome.

I understand why Paul was content.

Leaders … Where do you find contentment?  How happy and satisfied are you in your work?

-VhS

I’m In A Pickle

“Down through the years, I have learned to take nothing for granted and to always remain grateful for blessings presented to you.”  From Julie via an encounter with another person.

Julie was the one who navigated us through the early stages of this cancer journey and continues today to provide loving care.  She has always made time to respond to any inquiry and lend a listening ear.

I think that for most of my life I took too many things for granted.  I took for granted that my Momma would be with me a long time and I could easily get her canning recipes whenever I wanted them.

I failed to pay attention when she canned her summer and fall gardens because I took for granted that there was plenty of time to watch her work.

Well … that didn’t exactly work out.

So now, I am in a pickle and stuck taking baby steps in this learning process of preserving foods from our garden.

I can make refrigerator pickles.  I am not skilled enough for canning yet.  The refrigerator pickles are really good.  Yesterday I made four quarts of garlic dill pickles.

Leaders …

Who and what are you taking for granted?

What is your action plan to change this?

-VhS

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY

Wednesday, 12 July, makes one year of being cancer free.

It is also the one year anniversary of losing my boobs.  Yep, being cancer free came along with their demise.  Funny thing is that I really don’t miss my boobs.  These new ones are pretty awesome and they are cancer free.

It seems like all of this happened a decade ago.  There are days that I have forgotten what it was like not to have this cancer journey.

This anniversary brings the fast track treadmill we’ve been on to somewhat of a close.  There are only two infusion rounds left ending 14 August.  I will follow up with a series of six-month checkups from early 2017 surgeries.  Afterwards, I go into a semiannual and annual maintenance status.

Moreover, I will have my deportation soon!  Deportation means the removal on my chemo port.  The port allows access for my drugs without having to stick an arm vein at each treatment.  I am planning on cleaning the port and using it as a paperweight.

I asked Richard how he wanted to celebrate this anniversary.  He said with prayers of thanks.  I think that is a great way to start the day.

Leaders …  how do you mark anniversaries?  How do you celebrate the end of a project / event?  What are you thankful for and how do you acknowledge that thankfulness?

-VhS

 

 

 

 

Profile Picture Change

I provided my picture and a quote for a www.breastcancer.org campaign. Here is information about breastcancer.org from the website:

“Breastcancer.org is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing the most reliable, complete, and up-to-date information about breast cancer.  Our mission is to help women and their loved ones make sense of the complex medical and personal information about breast health and breast cancer, so they can make the best decisions for their lives.”

This site provides valuable, researched information to us throughout this journey.

A breast cancer woman’s body undergoes many changes.  The scars, though fading, show the surgeries almost like a roadmap. Treatments affect the nails, skin, eyes, hair, and every internal and external part of the body.

For over a year, I have looked in the mirror wondering when I would look like myself again.  I believe if a stranger saw a picture of me pre June 2016 and today, they would not believe I was the same woman.  I do not see who I was.

When asked to provide a picture for the campaign, I finally realized there is no going back to how I used to look.  This now is how I look and the changes I have undertaken will go with me into the future.

The strange thing about this is that I really like my curly silver and black hair. I am happy with the texture and ease of styling.  As Richard reminds me, I get a lot more compliments from strangers on my hair today than I ever did before.  I wish I had thought about this look.  What I struggled with is that I did not see me making the decision for this look; rather, the chemicals made this change.

I changed my profile picture on Facebook.  Overwhelmingly, people poured support and love.  The only person holding me captive to the past was me.

It is past time to accept and move forward.

Leaders…

What are you clinging to in your past that halts your acceptance of where you are today?

How are you holding your followers prisoners to the past?

-VhS

 

 

It’s Independence Day

Funny how numbers and statistics shape my thoughts and reactions.

My Oncologist gave me an 85% opportunity for no cancer recurrence when comparing my cancers to the general public of other breast cancer patients like me.  That was a good number but I always kept the 15% in the back of my mind that cancer could return.

I insisted on genomic testing on the most severe of my cancers’ tissues.  My results reveal that if I completed my five-year treatment plan my opportunity for no cancer recurrence is 94.6%.

A five-year treatment plan comes with side effects.  Many women choose quality of life over the five-year treatment believing the small increased in odds for no recurrence are not worth diminished quality of life issues.  I understand their decisions and respect their decisions.

I have declared my independence from cancer.  At 94.6%, I know I have this beat.  Again, we won.  I feel a difference in my depth of determined commitment to my treatment.

It must have taken a deep, determined level of commitment for those who founded our Country to leave the safety of the lives they knew, board a ship, cross the ocean, and start anew in what would become the United States of America.

Leaders … What is your level of commitment to yourself?  To your values?  To your mission?  To your followers?

Happy Independence Day.  Always remember freedom is not free.  Thousands have given the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we have.

-VhS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEVER THE SAME BUT BETTER

The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal, and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again, but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same, nor would you want to.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

The Kubler-Ross quote is so applicable to our cancer journey.

I believe we are both in a much better place today than we were June 2016.  Physically we are healthier.  Emotionally we are stronger.

I would not want to go back to the life I once had.  It was a great life and I miss what I have lost.  However, I could not go back and try to make that life make sense.  What was important to me then is so differently important to me know.

I savor those few moments after breakfast when Richard and I finish our last bit of coffee.  I love the way he offers another cup. Sometimes we talk and sometimes we just remain in each other’s presence.  A year ago, I would have hustled to clear the table and rushed off to work.  I believe I enjoy life at a better pace today.

I place a much higher value on my friendships today.  I hold more love for the people who have “showed up.”   I have discovered who our true friends are in the love and support they have given freely.

Cancer sucks.  It is a horrid disease that affects the entire family.  This journey is no cakewalk.  There are days that my “suck it up cupcake and keep going” has run out of fuel.  I often wonder why me?  Why us?  Why now?

I do not know the answers to those questions.

What I do know is that I will not let cancer defeat me.  It has changed me and changed us.

We won.

Leaders…

How is your work life balance working for the best outcome?

What work life balance are you teaching your followers?

-VhS

 

 

 

Fractured, Fragile, Fatigued

Often my close friends ask me how I am feeling.  Acquaintances who know politely ask “How are you today?”

I typically have three responses:

Today is a great day!

I am doing well.

I am OK.

Something fundamentally changes a person who has experienced cancer.  I refer to this as the three Fs.

The first F is FRACTURED.  Both the body and mind are broken.  What I once knew as safe and solid are no more.  To heal, I must take those fractured pieces and realign them to a new meaning.  For my mind, I focus on what this journey teaches me.  For my body, I focus on how to improve it.

The second F is FRAGILE. I remain vulnerable to infection due to my low blood counts.  I focus on sanitary conditions in all my encounters.  My body is damaged from the chemotherapy.  I focus on cut-short nails to avoid nail lift (the nails lifts off the nail bed).  I focus on quality products to deal with damaged skin and hair.

The third F is FATIGUED.  My friend from high school, Chantal, told me I would be tired like I have never experienced tired.  She was right.  I still complete most everything I did before this journey; it just takes longer and requires help from others.  My medical team shares that by December I should experience an improved change in my energy levels.

I share this with you so that you might better understand what a cancer journey is like.  Fractured, fragile, and fatigued all have silver linings.  The three Fs have taught me:

Better care physically for my body.

Better care nutritionally for my body.

Better care emotionally for me.

Leaders … What is damaged in your organization that you must nurture for a better outcome?

Who, of your followers, needs care?

-VhS

Fillers and Other Stuff In Life

I joined a Fit to Fight Program at our local YMCA.  It is geared to cancer patients. The program helps cancer patients use fitness to address the side effects of cancer treatments and improve quality of life. Exercise, although difficult at times, greatly reduces cancer-related fatigue as well as helps confront many chemo-related side effects.

I have kept a rigorous exercise program from the day of diagnosis.  I believe that my exercise program has improved my quality of life while on this journey.

Here is an article on this subject: http:/www.nbcnews.com/health/cancer/exercise-best-cure-fatigue-caused-cancer-study-n728241?cid=eml_onsite

(If the link is not live, simply paste into your browser.)

I met three other cancer patients in the Fit to Fight Program.  We chatted for a few minutes, each sharing a little of our history.  I was STUNNED at our vocabulary.  We tossed around medical, clinical, and treatment words that a year I ago I would have never used, much less know how to pronounce.

One word that has become very important to me lately is “fillers.”  It appears that drug manufacturers’ “fillers” in generic drugs vary from one manufacturer to another and may be the culprit causing particular side effects.  I requested a manufacturer change to one of my oral drugs that I will take for five to ten years.  The pharmacist I spoke with was very understanding and made the change immediately.  She did ask what my plan was should the side effects from my requested change manufacturer be worse than what I am experiencing now.  I replied my general plan during this cancer journey has been “suck it up, cupcake.”

Leaders … What are the “fillers” in your life that may be causing less than optimum side effects?

Are your regularly scheduled meetings a useless filler of time, or are your meetings producing the outcomes you want?

Are your performance reviews a filler just to meet an organizational HR requirement, or are your performance reviews developing your people to their fullest extent?

What are the other less than optimum fillers you must challenge?

-VhS

I Can See Clearly Now … Not!

I had a conversation with my friend, Ashley, about how the mind controls the body.  We shared how that believing something is a limitation makes it a limitation.  Until we challenge that limitation, we are unsure if the limitation is true or not.

My husband, Richard, when on active duty, was working in psychotronics and put forth the idea to use collective minds to alter the trajectory of missiles.  Unfortunately, that idea did not go very far and he got the WTF Award.  His idea does, however, raise the question of what if we could use our minds in more powerful ways?

Yesterday after a nice swim and visit to the garden, we were sitting on the deck.  I saw what I believed to be a dead white and grey baby rabbit under one of the deck’s benches.  I have seen a couple of large rabbits in the yard and believe we have a nest in our bamboo.  I have not seen the nest but I believe we have one.

One of the benefits of my chemo treatment has been improved eyesight.  This common side effect may or may not remain with me.  Most days, I can see without my glasses or contacts and I only use them for driving.  Yesterday, I was not seeing clearly.

The baby dead rabbit was a knotted piece of cloth that Richard used to clean the hot tub.  Even after he told me what it was, I still saw the baby rabbit.  I saw its grey ears and perky nose as it lay on its side.  Richard reminded me that if it were any type of animal our three dogs, nestled with us on the deck, would have alerted to the animal.

Oh the power of the mind!

Leaders … How cloudy is your vision?

Are you clearly seeing your impact on your followers?

Are you clearly seeing the potential of your followers?

-VhS