Response to “My Living Advocacy List”

Standard

Response to “My Living Advocacy List” written 1/3/19

I can’t believe another year has passed us by!  I can say that 2018 was filled with a ton of opportunities for me and I couldn’t be more thankful for them.  This morning, I came across my “Living Advocacy List” blog post from last year and smiled.  I decided it was the perfect time to reflect on those goals in hopes of making new ones for this year.

Goal 1: Make the Cervivor Presence Known on Social Media

This was hands down one of the easiest ways to advocate over the course of the year.  We had so many campaigns as a community.  We were successful because of the social media platforms and the incredible support we received from all of YOU.  Thank you SO much!  Let’s continue the momentum!  Like, share, and comment on our social media posts.  Every interaction matters!

Goal 2: Discuss HPV More

I have seen more discussion about HPV over this past year.  Maybe it’s because I’m paying attention.  Are you?  We have several fantastic and credible partners in our discussions on HPV.  Twitter chats are a common way to jump in and ask those questions you may want to know.  No question is a “dumb” question.  Educating yourself is SO important!  If you have any questions but don’t want to ask them online, send me a message and I’ll be happy to answer them!

Goal 3: Increase my Community Connections with Knowledge

This has been such a fun way to make connections!  I moved to Winterset, Iowa in April of 2017.  We all know how scary a new place of residence can be but there is nothing out there quite like Winterset.  The town is welcoming and community oriented.  I was and am still working as a dental assistant and I’ve been able to get to know hundreds of people through that.  I also started attending community chamber coffee “chats” to get to know some other community members.

At one of the chamber coffee chats, I introduced myself to Debra Field who is the committee leader of the Madison County Bras for the Cause chapter.  I didn’t know just how important this connection would truly be to me.  Since joining the committee, we have built numerous friendships, I’ve been able to help educate women on cervical cancer, and we’ve become a stronger voice in the community together.  [Thank you, ladies!]

I have made several professional connections by speaking on survivor panels.  These connections have led me to resources and more opportunities through Des Moines University, The American Cancer Society, The Iowa Cancer Consortium, The Iowa Department of Public Health, The University of Iowa, John Stoddard Cancer Center, The Iowa Clinic, Mercy Hospital, and many more!  I look forward to continuously build and grow these professional relationships in 2019.

Goal 4: Reach Out to Parents and Children

This is something that I am still working on.  I do a lot of my own story telling on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter in hopes that it will reach my friends who are parents.  I was given the opportunity to complete my undergraduate internship as a social worker through the Madison County Memorial Hospital.  I’m thankful for this opportunity because it showed me the need for different resources within our community.

One of my competencies I wanted to accomplish was to bring in more resources and make an A to Z guide for the hospital to reference.  One item I brought in was the literature for the HPV vaccination program through the Iowa Department of Public Health.  I was hired as an employee back in August and I’m looking forward to working with the hospital to educate and provide the best care for our patients.  This literature incorporation was just one small step in educating parents and their children on cancer prevention.  I know I have a lot more work to do in 2019.  (I have a few ideas).

Goal 5: LOBBY!

This was probably one of, if not the top priority of my advocacy in 2018.  I’ve always wanted to lobby in some way.  I did choose the social work career after all!  Cervivor granted me this opportunity in February of 2018.  I traveled to Washington D.C. and lobbied at Capitol Hill (What?!).

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force’s final screening recommendations did not include HPV co-testing.  We knew that this would put even more women at risk so we spoke up.  I had my biases going into the process.  I felt like I wasn’t going to be heard BUT it ended up being the complete opposite.  It was a fantastic way to learn how it all works and see all of the moving parts that are included in Congress’s every day duties.  It was amazing to see the number of young professionals starting their careers there too!

We had an incredible group of Cervivors that used their voices that day and we made progress in our efforts.  My district Representative, David Young, offered to take the lead on our initiative after listening to our “ask” and a small portion of my story.  The final guidelines were released in August which included HPV co-testing!  I look forward to more lobbying in the future!

Goal 6: Perfect my Story

I don’t have a lot to say regarding this goal except that I have built my confidence up over the last couple of years due to the support from my friends, family, coworkers, the Cervivor community, and even some complete strangers.  I am in a good place in my healing process and I will continue to tell my story to make an impact.  You never know who may be listening!

Goal 7: Write More

I wish I would have done more of this over the past year.  I started out strong with the help of my friend, Erica Frazier Stum.  She started a creative writing group for those of us who were interested.  I enjoyed the ones I completed and even bought a new journal for it.  I set it on the back-burner due to graduate school and how much writing is incorporated in our assignments.  I am making a promise to myself to use writing as self-care in the new year.  It is something I enjoy doing and it helps me release emotions (some I don’t even know are there until I put the pen to the paper or my fingers to my keyboard).

Goal 8: Talk About HPV and Cervical Cancer Treatment Side Effects

I think everyone was shocked to hear just how many side effects I was dealing with when I laid it all out on the table this summer.  I will not stop talking about these issues because they are what I deal with on a daily basis and they can be prevented!  I have experienced some improvements thanks to the help of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.  They gave me the diagnoses, education, and proper tools to aid these symptoms.

People don’t realize that cervical cancer isn’t just a bunch of abnormal cells on a Pap test.  (In fact, those aren’t always cancerous either).  Cervical cancer advances just like any other cancer and cancer alone has physical, emotional, and mental barriers that can take years to heal from.

We still have so much work left to do, stay tuned…

 

Advertisements

When Life Hands You Lemons…

Standard

You’re supposed to make lemonade, right?!  That’s how the saying goes so…what if you don’t know how to?  What if you’re unsure of what recipe to make?  What if you’re just too goddamn tired?!  Tired?…Yes!  That’s exactly what I became after begging for help on some newly surfaced side effects.  I felt alone, I felt scared that “it” was back, I felt tired.

I went back up to Mayo at the end of June because I was sitting and spinning my wheels otherwise.  I’m beyond relieved to know how much they care about their patients getting better!

What prompted me to light the fire under my tush?  The months of May and June I started experiencing a heaviness in my right leg.  I noticed it was swelling and I didn’t understand why.  Then I remembered other ladies I know going through lymphedema.  I knew it had to be that or a blood clot but I figured I would be in a lot more pain with a clot.

image3

The Mayo Clinic performed an ultrasound (pictured above) on both legs and ruled out the blood clot.  The next visit would be a consultation with a physical therapist.  Throughout those two months, I documented my swelling and was able to show the physical therapist.  She confirmed it was lymphedema and the newest accessory to my wardrobe would be a compression garment.  Here’s what it looks like and how I put it on every morning:

image7

One side effect I have dealt with nearly my whole life is my stomach.  If you know me, you know I don’t shy away from talking about it.  I love to talk shop about poo.  One might say I have a sick sense of humor.  Sure!  I wouldn’t be me with out it!

When I was a senior in high school I had enough and was referred to a specialist.  From there I was gifted a colonoscopy resulting in a microscopic colitis diagnosis (during prom week mind you).  I’ve gone through years of discomfort and trying to wean out certain foods.  I was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2015 and again in 2016.  I experienced external and internal radiation during the first diagnosis.  This treatment pushed my stomach over the edge and I’ve had one hell of a time trying to regain the semi-confidence I once had.

The verdict after meeting with a new specialist was my original diagnosis is highly unlikely and I must get a new colonoscopy done.  I will also undergo an esophageal scope to make sure I don’t have acid reflux.

stacks-image-8d1caba.jpg

Another side effect I have been pushing away for nearly two years is the fact that I am considered menopausal.  Chemotherapy and radiation pushed me into menopause when I was 24 years old.  I no longer have my fertility and I no longer have a monthly cycle.

I was never fully educated on what that could do to my body and when I met with the Women’s Center at the Mayo Clinic, I had a  rude awakening.  I was told I needed to be on estrogen (the patch pictured below) and progesterone in order to keep my body healthy.

image6

I felt stumped knowing that all I have been told since I stopped treatment was to use a dilator (pictured below: Soul Source) to keep my vaginal canal from closing.  My tissue down there has been radiated to all get out so estrogen cream and a moisturizer was in order too.  Once the tissue is healthy I get to see a pelvic floor therapist to help me regain my muscle strength not only in my pelvic floor but to help with my rectal muscles that have been effected by radiation too.

SV-LARGE-SET-w-pouch2-450x450_large

Upon finding out about my menopausal status, I had a bone density scan that resulted in an osteoporosis diagnosis.  I am only 27 years old!  How can I have osteoporosis?!  I guess I’ll find out when I see the Endocrinologist!

image4

And lastly,  I was sooooo tired of getting my port flushed every 6 weeks after I was told I could have it out a year ago.  It was one of the first items I wanted to check off of my post treatment list!  I became fond of Priscilla during treatment as she saved my arms and veins from being blown out but it was just time for her to go.  Here’s a picture from my second round of cancer:

12993595_1553425251618625_5442003184517616965_n

I had her removed on 7/12/18 and got to say #GoodbyePriscilla.  That surgery experience confirmed I was in the right place.  The team was so compassionate and good-hearted.  They loved the fact we had a name to call the port.

I am now 1 week post-op and I’m healing up nicely!  I have a nice green hue to my bruise and a pretty wicked looking scar that will get better with time.  I think those are ALL of the updates, at least until I go to the August appointments!

 

Shout Out!!!

Standard

Guys!!!!!!!!!

I had to get on here and brag about my new clothes.  I ordered two tanks and a pair of socks from my friend, Erica, who started Living Life with Cancer with her son, Wylee.  I cannot express enough how much I adore these guys as they put their heart and soul into everything they do.  They live their life with purpose as all people should!  (Their passion shines through).

If you get the opportunity, order their book.  It’s good for kids of all ages!  While you’re there… check out the full shop!  There are so many great designs and styles!

IMG_0439

BUT…. that’s not all!  Erica and Wylee are open to custom designs (they did one for me).  You all may know by now how obsessed I am with donuts.  It makes sense!  The very thing that tried to kill me (my lovely cervix) happens to look like a donut.  Look at this adorable tank:

IMG_0438

They even designed these adorable MATCHING SOCKS! Whaaaaat?!

IMG_0440

Aren’t they sweet?!  The products are high quality.  The designs are great!  The tanks are soft and comfy.  I can’t get over how nice everything is!

Check them out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/livinglifewithcancertoday or check out their website at Living Life With Cancer.

Can’t wait to see you at CancerCon, my friend!

Bucket List

Standard

I’ve had a Bucket List on my Pinterest boards for awhile now.  It’s time that I put them down in writing so I can keep track and focus on what I want to accomplish.

::The Small Things::

::Things I could probably do, soon::

  • Get my Masters in Social Work.
  • Go to a drive in movie.
  • Stomp grapes.
  • Make someone less fortunate smile at Christmas.
  • Pay for a stranger’s groceries.
  • Leave a note in a library book.
  • Send a message in a bottle.
  • Watch a meteor shower (I always fall asleep too early).
  • Learn sign language.
  • Write a song.
  • Write a book.
  • Learn self-defense.
  • Become more flexible (yoga starts up again).
  • Learn to tango (or any other dance).
  • Tie messages to balloons and set them free!

::Slightly Larger Things::

::You know, some that may take some time::

  • Get tickets to go see Ellen OR Jimmy Fallon. 😉
  • Ride in a hot air balloon, helicopter, and go sky diving.
  • Go zip-lining.
  • Go sailing and/or parasailing.
  • Ride in a horse and carriage.
  • Ride a double decker bus.
  • Ride in a limo (sounds really funny, but I want to at least once in my life).
  • Eat at Hell’s Kitchen.
  • Eat at places featured on Diners, Drive ins, and Dives.
  • Own a classic car
  • Name a star.

::For My Love & I::

::When I find you, of course!::

  • Slow dance in the rain.
  • Kiss at the top of the ferris wheel (I know, super cheesy…but I like it).
  • Go on a breakfast date.
  • Go on a star gazing date.
  • Have a romantic balcony or rooftop dinner.
  • Adopt a child.
  • Grow old with you. (Awe, I know!) 🙂

::Travels::

::Go somewhere new at least once a year::

  • Travel first class (once).
  • See the Northern Lights.
  • Visit Niagara Falls.
  • See the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
  • Go to Italy (eat lots of pasta and drink plenty of wine).
  • Spend a night in a tree house.
  • Visit Australia.
  • Go to France (eat macarons).
  • See the Grand Canyon.
  • Explore a castle.
  • Visit Canada (especially where my ancestors were).
  • Ride a gondola.
  • Go to Hawaii (and learn how to surf).
  • Try to visit ALL 50 states!
  • Visit Amsterdam.
  • Visit Denmark.
  • Go on a mission trip.
  • Visit where my family originated in Ireland.
  • Visit Scotland too.
  • Go to Germany.

To My Young Self…

Standard

Dear Younger Self,

As Alanis put it, “isn’t it ironic?”  Do you remember being around 14 or 15, arguing with your mom that you were never going to get the Gardasil vaccine?  You were scared because you heard the rumors about how it hurt and somehow you just knew you were NEVER going to get that cancer.

Did you know that the Gardasil vaccine would have prevented you against strands 6, 11, 16, and 18.  It didn’t mean much to you then but it sure does now.  Strands 16 and 18 happen to be precancerous and cancerous cells while strands 6 and 11 are the only known cause for genital warts.  Did you hear that they improved the Gardasil vaccine (now called Gardasil 9) to cover more known HPV strands?

You graduated college in 2011 as as dental assistant and went out into the work world.  You got your first “big girl” job and stayed with it for 5 years.  You started disliking it and found a new passion but, in order to succeed in this role you’d have to go back to school.  You were 24 and were considered a nontraditional student.

Along with school, you started to go out and try new things.  It was then you met and fell in love with a boy.  You were on top of the world!  Things were really starting to heat up but there was something kind of odd.  Your annual Pap arrived and you were given results a few weeks later.  Your first abnormal Pap, ever!

Back to Planned Parenthood you went.  You had been going there since you were 14, remember?  You’ve never had the best luck in the gyno department.  Periods always seemed so bad, maybe this was just another symptom?  You underwent a colposcopy to remove those dreaded precancerous cells.  You weren’t as concerned going in because basically all of your friends had been through something similar and they were fine now.  The pain you endured during that procedure was far more than unusual.  Don’t you remember the look on the provider’s face? How could you forget it?

A referral was handed to you, gynecologic oncologist?  You were definitely a busy bee between working full-time and school full-time.  You managed to squeak by in your evening class (thankfully the instructor was so understanding).  After that visit with the oncologist you found out you had cervical cancer. Yep, the ‘C’ word….shit.

Regardless of your situation, you remained focused and in the end, I think it saved you.  You insisted on continuing a routine to remain as normal as possible.  It worked!  You excelled in school.

It happened again about a year later.  Metastatic disease rocked your world.  How in the hell did you end up with cancer, again?  You were really hard on yourself, trust me.  Once again, you took school as a distraction and used it to your benefit.  You were accepted into the University of Iowa’s School of Social Work and you haven’t given up once.

If cancer taught you anything, my dear, it would be that you are unstoppable in anything you want to achieve.  I’m thrilled to see how it has changed you for the good.  How it makes you advocate for others.  Because of school, you have had several opportunities presented to you.  You handle anything life throws your way with grace and with ease.

Keep up the good work!

Love Always,

Me

Decisions, Decisions….

Standard

A couple of years ago I made the decision to go back to school.  I was miserable at my current job and couldn’t see the light of what a new job could be like.  I felt like I was in a huge rut!  I went back to DMACC to finish up the correct associates degree in order to become a social worker.

I started therapy in 2014 with Paul, a licensed social worker.  He was able to provide me with a little insight as to why I was feeling a certain way.  He helped me understand myself a little more and I found a need to give back.  Mental illness was on my radar!  I remember his words, “The best social workers aren’t trained, they’ve lived it.”

I finished the Fall term at DMACC and had started a second term when I was diagnosed with cancer.  I wasn’t going to give up because I was passionate.  I would not fail in life or in school.  I continued to take classes full-time and work as much as I could handle.  After the treatment was finished I was happy that I could focus just on school once again.

I went in for a scan after being told I was in remission in August.  I was super nervous but determined that I was going to be clear.  Unfortunately, I got the news that I had spots in my lungs and they wanted to do a biopsy.  More tests, more hospital, more stress.  I wasn’t happy (as you could imagine).

I went in for the CT-needle guided biopsy and had an unfortunate experience with the surgeon and team.  They didn’t get enough of the spots and what they did get was contaminated.  I was also being watched to see if they had created a pneumothorax (otherwise known as a collapsed lung).  If something weird was going to happen, it was going to happen to me.

During this process, a nurse wheeled my gurney to get a radiograph of my chest.  One machine wasn’t working so she made me walk across the hall to another room.  I was a little shocked as I had just completed surgery not long before that.  I remember holding onto the radiograph plate and waking up on the floor with about three people looking down at me.  I had passed out and I was going to bruise pretty easily from the impact.

I was the lucky contestant for a collapsed lung and the surgeon’s bedside manner made me want to strangle him.  In went a chest tube to ensure my lung would inflate again.  I spoke with the nurses and they got me through.  I just wanted to go home.

Later on I had a patient coordinator talking to me about redoing the biopsy with the same surgeon.  I gave them a big “hell no” and told them to get me the best surgeon they have if I have to go back under.  They looked a little stunned but they listened.  I went back a couple of weeks later for an endoscopy biopsy.  (He was excellent and I didn’t have any problems).

I told them I would not want my results until I came back from my trip to New Orleans so the doctors were okay with it.  My appointment was on February 19, 2016.  My dad and I were sitting there making awkward jokes to fill the silence until the doctor came in.  He looked at me and his eyes darted away quickly.  We both knew that this wasn’t going to go how we wanted it to.  It was cancer, again.

At this time, I was at DMACC still and was in classes I couldn’t afford to mess up.  I refused to drop out.  My math instructor was very understanding and I was able to keep up.  I can’t thank him enough for having the patience to work with me.  I went to the Mayo Clinic for a second opinion because of all the bad past experiences with my other provider.  I’m glad I did.  I have the sinking feeling that I wouldn’t be here with you all today.

Treatments were once every three weeks, sometimes they were drawn out longer depending on my neutrophils.  I made it through my classes and even passed an online statistics course (just barely).  The next item on my list was to apply to the University of Iowa School of Social Work.  I was accepted later on! (Hurrah!!!)

I went in for a scan after three treatments with Mayo.  It was June 9, 2016.  I was nervous and I was expecting the worse…we would get results the following day.  Mom and Steven tried keeping my spirits up as they knew my mind was elsewhere, scared to death.  We went in the next day, when the nurse walked in she could tell I was a nervous wreck.  She said, “Morgan, I don’t know how this happened…” I looked up at here and with a blank stare, thinking…oh shit, here it goes.

June 10, 2016 I was told I was NED (No Evidence of Disease).  She told me the scan was completely clear as if it had never happened.  I looked at Mom and Steven.  I could see the relief but there was a catch.  I was going to have to complete three more cycles of treatment to ensure they got ALL of the cancer cells. (Drats!!!)

I was looking so forward to starting school in the fall at the University of Iowa so I powered through as best as I could.  August 12 rolled around and it was my last chemo!  Mom and I made a little sign and I got a big congrats from the nurses.  They even gave me a “Celebrate Life” pin in my precious teal color.  I felt happy but exhausted.

Classes started and I just knew I had chosen the correct field.   I was at home and felt like my cohort was family.  Learning came easy and I was able to erase some negativity out of my life.  September was a busy month and I was looking forward to participating in a couple of cancer related walks but my body had different plans for me.  I ended up hospitalized for five days due to an intestinal blockage.  They threatened me with surgery if I didn’t poop.  My neutrophils and platelet counts were way too low to do that…luckily that B.M. came at a good time.

Where things got easier in school, they got harder for me at work.  I had to make a choice to either continue school or continue working but I couldn’t do both because of how much time it demanded from my schedule.  Unfortunately, it took me longer to recover than any of us wanted.  It got frustrating!

October rolled around and I gave my notice.  It was time for a change.  I took a much-needed trip to Seattle to see my godfather and I’m glad I did.  It was refreshing and just what I needed to reset.  I got the job offer from the new place but I decided I wasn’t going to officially start until December.  I wanted just a little more time to heal.

I’m going into my second year as a Bachelor in Social Work and I’m serving on the National Association of Social Worker’s board as the BSW representative.  I had a moment of reflection today thinking of how far I’ve come and how validated I feel for making the transition to social work.

I am an advocate for social justice and I am an advocate for education.  I advocate for who needs it and I get to advocate for me (and several other women like me, too).  I found social work AND Cervivor at the right times.

Life is kind of funny sometimes.  You always end up where you’re supposed to.

Embrace it.

Xoxo,

Morgan

 

Aftermath

Standard

Lately I’ve become quite frustrated with myself.  Every day it seems like I find something else to try and process through from my past.  Some days I just can’t take it.  Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever feel like I have my shit together.  I’m not drowning, I’m not wishing it all away…I’m simply trying to embrace it and work through it.  There’s absolutely no reason to worry about me.  Why not?

Well we’ll talk about the culprit: I spent two years trying to beat cancer.  Cancer was trying to take everything away from me.  My body rebelled and disobeyed me.  How do you process something like that?  I did everything I could to stay healthy including diet and some exercise but it didn’t matter.  I still ended up with cancer, twice.

You want to know something I learned?  It. Wasn’t. My. Fault.  I can’t tell you enough about the emotional release I experienced when I heard those words at Cervivor School Florida.  Dr. Phillip Castle had the whole room in tears.  People often forget our psychological needs when facing such a difficult disease.  I still remember coming home after having chemotherapy and spending days just laying in bed.  My only form of communication was in the form of texts, Netflix, and the awful nightmares I was faced with.  Half of the time I wasn’t sure if I was in a dream land or if what I was experiencing was reality.  It really messed with my head.

After treatment, I got stronger but I kept ignoring things.  New Years Day was a day I stepped forward and I grew personally.  Even when I was sick I was too concerned about others.  I couldn’t just focus on myself.  I constantly felt worried or guilty that I was being a bad girlfriend, friend, daughter, sister, etc.  I know that I wasn’t, now.

I wanted so desperately to have a normal life.  All of my friends were either getting engaged, married, or announcing their pregnancies and here I was just trying to survive.  I still don’t feel like I completely fit in.  Some of you reading this will get it, some of you will probably think I’m being a little dramatic…it could be a mixture of both, I guess.

I still want a normal life but what I need to realize is what normal means to me now.  I’m unable to have my own children biologically and people say “Well, there’s always adoption.  You always wanted to adopt!”  You’re right, I did.  I knew I wanted to at a young age.  I wanted to take someone off the street rather than put another on.  I guess a woman never gets over the feeling of having that life source being taken away.

I mean, isn’t that what makes us a woman?  The ability to conceive, carry, and birth a child?  I only got a taste of what the birthing sensation feels like because of my internal radiation treatments in the hospital.  The nurses so kindly told me that right before they pulled out the tungsten and ring they surgically placed earlier.  Did I mention I didn’t get pain medication during this since my oncologist failed to give the orders?

That was one hell of a (excuse my language) mind fuck.

And I guess, before I decide on children, I should probably consider a partner in crime to spend the rest of my life with, right?  I want to be able to have a normal relationship, someone to call my best friend, and someone who can handle me the way I am.  It seems like whenever I’m faced with this opportunity that I shut it down just as quickly.  Yeah, I’m scared.  I have a lot to work out in this area still.  Maybe I’m just not ready yet and I have to convince myself that it’s okay to wait.

What concerns me is most people want intimacy in a certain way and I can’t provide that right now.  I am working through barriers both physically and emotionally.  Frankly, my body has been through a trauma and I’m still dealing with it.  My heart and my brain are craving an intimacy in conversation and relationship building.  I crave trustworthiness and the feeling of being protected by someone.  I crave someone who I can be my authentic self with, not someone I notice myself changing for.  I will have that someday but for now I’m focusing on myself.

Along with the radiation damage to my lady bits, I’ve developed body image issues.  I didn’t realize this was happening until I had a chance to study Oncology Social Work this summer.  I was reading a section on young adult cancer survivors and how they may perceive themselves during and after treatment.  There was a part that stood out to be the most, it mentioned a young man joking around about how he was the “old man” of the group and how he couldn’t keep up with his friends the way he used to.  I don’t know how many times I’ve used the “old woman” excuse, but it’s been a lot.  I’m constantly fatigued from damn near everything and my bones constantly ache from treatment.  I can get out of breath just by walking to the bathroom.  It’ll get better eventually.  It’s just frustrating not being able to be the old me energy-wise.

I have also caught myself saying negative things about my body and they have manifested in my brain causing low self-esteem…again.  I look back at pictures of me going through treatment during the first round where I lost weight but not much else and my stomach sinks a little.  Then, I look at my second round where the effects were much more devastating and I see when my strength was held high and I see where I was ready to give up completely.  I felt like a skeleton for nearly two years.  I’ve struggled to gain the weight back and I was about tired of hearing the “Oh, I’ll give you some of my fat” nearly every day.

I know I’m skinny and I’m admitting that I’m struggling.  I love food but strangely enough, food doesn’t love me.  Having an autoimmune disease before cancer (microscopic colitis) and then experiencing radiation in the pelvic region has left me with far more digestive issues than I care to deal with.  There is a silver lining in all of this though, I actually felt like a normal human being after I met a fellow Cervivor sister who was experiencing the same thing.  Our stories are goosebump worthy in similarities.

What people fail to realize is when we come out of treatment we are NEVER the same people we were before treatment.  We can’t just flip that switch and return to that person.  We don’t just “get over it.”  Trauma changes us.  Those experiences good or bad, change us.  Sometimes we outgrow the very people we loved so much before.  We all have bad days, some are worse than others and our good days can still be bad, we’re just managing.  We’re doing the best we can.