the whipped cream conundrum

"would you like whipped cream with that? hell yeah!"


April 2016

A Step Towards Normalcy

I read a book!  A whole book cover-to-cover! This is probably not a big deal for most of my readers.  But, for me, this is a huge accomplishment.  It is a step towards the normalcy I have been craving over the last year and a half.  All I have wanted is to do things “normal” people do and reading is just one touchstone on my journey to finding my new normal.

Due to treatment, and a slight case of chemobrain, I have been unable to focus for extended periods of time.  My mind is not as sharp as it once was; I have a hard time remembering names and continue to have to write things down to remember them.  I maintain two calendars – one on my phone and one in a planner.  I consider myself far too young to have “senior moments,” but I often do.  The last thing my brain could handle during this most recent period of treatment was reading a book.

As I have been developing my writing skills, I have come to realize that in order to write more, I need to read more.  If I want to write something more than this blog, I have to experience other styles of writing and pick one that works for me. I recently met with a writing coach and she gave me a long list of books to help me develop my voice.  I felt I needed these book and I needed them immediately – thank you Amazon Prime!

After staring at the stack of books that arrived 2 days after I placed the order, I decided to start with  Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed.  I had read Strayed’s book Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail while undergoing treatment for Hodgkins lymphoma in 2012.  I was inspired by her story and could relate it to my own, as I felt I too was hiking a mountain with shoes that didn’t fit!  Reading about someone else’s discomfort helped me come to terms with my own.

So back to the book…it was a nice, easy, entertaining read and the perfect book to read as I reenter the world of words.  I started reading the book about a week ago and couldn’t put it down.  I even abandoned my lifelong habit of watching bad television and, instead sat in the quiet of my living room taking in the words.  Sure, I’d have to go back and reread passages to refresh my memory; I would take out a pen to underline anything I’d like to reference in the future.  The most important thing is that I was doing something that mere months ago I thought was impossible.

A step towards normalcy…it’s as simple as reading a book.  On to the next one…

The End of My Cancercation

Cancercation: n. a period of time a person disconnects from reality to take care of oneself to fight cancer.  A cancercation usually involves a leave from work and one’s job becomes fighting cancer.  During a cancercation, life goes on for everyone else, but, for the patient, time stands still.

My cancercation began about 15 months ago when I was first diagnosed with endometrial cancer.  Unlike other things that end in “cation,” there was no relaxation and restoration. Instead, it was my  “job” to fight cancer. During this time period, I experienced hormone therapy, over 50 radiation treatments, chemotherapy, four surgeries, and a few hospital stays.  My social circle was doctors, nurses, physicians assistants, and radiation techs.  If I were to have a performance review of the past year plus, I’d say I deserve a raise for all the “work” that I have accomplished; I have proven my worth.  However, the real reward for a job well done is remission (I’d also like a week at Canyon Ranch!)!  Needless to say, I am happy my tenure as a cancer patient has come to a close.

Tomorrow marks the end of my 15-month cancercation.  I have reached a point in my recovery where I am ready to return to my job as a teacher.  I am returning to my job with both excitement and trepidation.  I am looking forward to reconnecting with a community that has meant so much to me during my challenging year; this community has always had my back.  I am excited to have meaningful work again.  I’ve missed my colleagues and the students and families with whom I work.  The trepidation comes in when I think about what happened in the 15 months I was away – new students, new faculty, even a new email platform.  I have to rebuild relationships and establish new ones.  I have a lot of catching up to do.

The end of my cancercation does not mark the end of cancer in my life.  The “R” word doesn’t necessarily mean the battle is over.  I’ve been here before … there’s physical, emotional and even financial recovery.  The transition from patient to person can be filled with ups and downs.  During recovery from Hodgkins lymphoma, I struggled with post-traumatic stress, along with anxiety and depression.  For me, I am holding on to hope – something I didn’t have a lot of during my cancercation.

As I end this cancercation, there is so much I am grateful for – my amazing Mom and Dad who were with me every step of the way, my friends who stayed connected with me even though sometimes it was hard for me to stay connected with them, the world-class doctors and nurses and other medical professionals who helped me navigate my treatment,  the people at work who were unwavering in their support and flexibility, the nice lady in the radiation waiting room who comforted me when I was upset … the list is never-ending.

Now it’s time to get back to work!

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