You Are Not Alone, My Journey
Wanderlust means youthful dreams to me…….traveling without consequence, no specific destination just wherever you end up, is where you should be. As a child you imagine your life to be so grandiose, you will visit distant lands, become accustomed to many cultures and will be always on the path of greatness.
As an adult sometimes you can make this actually come true, and then in one softly spoken minute all your dreams and desires can come crashing down on you in complete horror. This happens to so many, and no matter how many stories I read or have been told in confidence, or have lived through, I still tear up even today. I am going to wear my heart on my sleeve now and share my journey. Yes I am making that crossover between sl and rl which is terrible to some, but even though we know each other as avatars, we are all real people behind them yes? We make them who they are, and trust me as terrified as I was to hit the publish button on this post, I think I am strong enough to deal with whatever may come from it.
As a young girl I lost my mother to a brain aneurysm before my teens, my wonderful grandparents became my care givers. I slid into my mums spot in their lives, as they moved solidly in to close ranks around me. When I was sixteen my grandfather was diagnosed with Colon Cancer, within a year it had spread and we lost him. Five years later my rock, my stronger than strong grandmother was diagnosed with Liver Cancer. I was at home and helped care for both until the end. My uncle helped out tremendously with my grandmother as I quickly became a solid mess. Losing her was something I didn’t handle well. She was my rock, she was a complete spitfire, she herself would say she is full of piss and vinegar so you better get used to it. She was a fighter.
I was married just before she died and she walked me down the aisle, I will never forget how proud she was of me, she danced all evening and stayed to the end. Simply put, she was my hero. I was then and even now sometimes a total mess and miss her dearly.
Life happened in the mean time and I tried my hardest to live by her motto of ‘Don’t tell me I can’t because I can, and don’t tell me not to, because I will’ Just a few years ago my small family moved to a new city, within weeks I was sick, I went through a multitude of medical testing. I poofed out as if I had an allergic reaction, however there wasn’t a doctor around that could figure out why my throat closed up and I looked like a human pincushion, which landed me in the ER multiple times each week. Things started to go wrong, I had developed cataracts at age 40, then my gallbladder needed to be taken out. These are all things as you get older most will go through, but it was like lighting a match in a book of matches, one thing directly after another. I lost most of my hair, I gained weight and then lost it just as fast. Then I woke up one day just over a year ago and everything had stopped, no more hives that covered my entire body, no more epipen’s, steroids or reactine or any of the other medication that every doctor was trying on me. It was definitely the calm before the storm……….
I was given the all clear from every one of my specialists. What a happy day! A month later I was having regular testing done for my yearly physical. I was having a mammogram and chest x-ray done. That is the day my whole life changed again, as I watched all the other women leaving, I had been told to stay. I knew life had come full circle in that one moment and would not be the same again, ever.
In that one moment I started to cry and it seemed I couldn’t stop. I thought of my son, my wonderful child who needed his mum still. I flashed back to my early life, and felt so lost. I hadn’t even left the building and I had already started planning my own demise. Thankfully I had some of the most wonderful technicians and doctors on hand. they took my hand explained what they saw, showed me on the screen. Even though I was listening to everything they said my tears kept flowing. In hindsight I couldn’t have asked for better help. But the moment I heard they had found a lump, my whole world turned upside down.
The weeks after the biopsy seemed to drag on ever so slowly, I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Breast Cancer. I had made the decision to have a lumpectomy. I know I walked through those first weeks on auto pilot. I couldn’t read, blog, even log into second life or go to the grocery store without ending up in tears. I spent a lot of time in bed staring sightlessly at the ceiling awaiting the end.
The day of my operation I was numb. I was in hyperventilation mode as I was wheeled into the theater. My specialist looked at me and said ‘You can do this’ as I was being put under. I woke up and came home that day and something just clicked inside of me. No more tears……no more thoughts of why me. I unfortunately had gone through some advanced stages with both my grandparents and was literally scared to death. As I waited for my pathology results of the tissue and lymph nodes collected, I received a preliminary and was called at home and told that things did not look good, be prepared for a lymphoma diagnosis. I was finally ready to fight everything they hit me with. I was called in a week later and told that after further testing they found out that all my lymph nodes were in reactive status, I was reacting to an allergen unknown, but thankfully no lymphoma. I was scheduled for 6 weeks of radiation. Everyday my husband drove me to the Cancer Clinic for my treatment, which took it’s toll mentally as well as physically. On the last day of treatment they have you ring a bell so you can be congratulated by others for making it through. I rang that little sucker like nobody’s business.
My story doesn’t end there unfortunately, exactly fifteen minutes after I rang that bell I found out that my mass was hormone produced. I had taken the pill since I was nine years old, due to heavy periods, and I had to stop them immediately. Which put me right back to spending two weeks in bed each month at those times. I am also taking a pill to help ward off the return of the cancer, which can also cause cancer in the nether regions. So at forty-three years of age I made the frightening & equally hard decision to have a complete hysterectomy. That was three months ago and being forced into menopause although scary at first, at least is allowing me to live a more normal life. Hot flashes in the middle of the night be damned………………..
But am I dying? Not just yet I’m not. Since the day of my surgery I have fought, yes it took me a bit longer than most to do so. I have gained knowledge and read everything I possibly could. I joined some fantastic groups and met some amazing women that have gone through breast cancer not just once, but many times over. I have helped and was helped by many who have had the same feelings of helplessness, anger and despair. I learned that even if cancer takes that feeling of security and control that you may never have return in quite the same way, you must fight at all costs. You become a survivor. But the most important lesson was I was not alone, there are so many others that are going through the same, let them in! You need people to talk to, even here in sl there are survivors that can ease the emotional side of things. I have the most amazing second life friend, also a survivor, that I barely knew at the time, she single-handedly pulled me through my very first weekend, as I was diagnosed on a Friday. I love her dearly and couldn’t imagine my sl or rl without her now. Most importantly I learned how to live with cancer, that crazy misconception that I had that was certain demise, is now no longer a threat for me, being detected early enough made all the difference. Early detection is imperative!
I applied to be a blogger for the wonderful Fashion for Life Event, all proceeds going to The American Cancer Society, which opens on June 7th and runs until June 20th. I have been to this event in the past, last year I was in the throes of radiation and didn’t get to visit, but this year I will be there. So I will do my best to show you some of the fantastic fashion being showcased, so you can support and shop til you drop at the same time. There will be ten full sim’s, so I am sure that this will be a fashion event that everyone will enjoy. Wanderlust has a whole new meaning to me these days and I am happy to share it with all my amazing readers! I am very excited and I hope to see you all there ❤ The Fashion for Life Blog is amazing place to start in the meantime.
‘Don’t tell me I can’t because I can, and don’t tell me not to, because I will survive!’ yes, I have added the last word to my strong and wise grandmothers adage, but something tells me she would totally approve.
……….and I will definitely see you soonish.