Good and bad stuff

Good: 

1. It is spring, the weather is warming up, I plan to start running again (today!), and of course walking is much more pleasant!

2.  I’ve been going to fit-boxing once a week, and really enjoying it. I’ve actually been doing that instead of yoga, because I love the Wednesday night fit-box class and I don’t really like the Wednesday night yoga class I was attending (great teacher, but the class just isn’t very challenging for me. Which was OK when I was just getting back into yoga but now I need more if I’m going to go). I love Monday night’s yoga class, but I can’t go right now because of a schedule conflict, but that will end in May and I think yoga on Mondays, boxing on Wednesdays, and my own workouts (combination of cardio, and strength training) the rest of the week will be perfect! 

Bad: 

1. It is spring. Even though there are a lot of good things about spring, I still hate spring. I was reading an article yesterday about reverse seasonal affective disorder and I wonder if that’s an issue for me. I always have a hard time in March, April and early May. Physically I tend to get tired and headache-y easily and also tend to get sick more easily this time of year. Emotionally I tend to be overly sensitive, easily hurt, and tearful. Somewhat depressed…not to the point that I can’t function or anything like that…but just to the point that I notice I feel less happy. I think some of it is because my husband works so much more this time of year so there is a lot more pressure on me at home (which adds to work pressure as well, as I have to make sure I am not stuck working late, which is hard in my job), as the kids get older that gets easier however I still have the same emotional response to this time of year. 

2. This may be related to number 1 but I don’t think so, because it’s actually been happening for a long time. The people I’ve considered my closest friends over the last few years don’t seem like close friends anymore, and it’s pretty clear that it’s not going to improve-the details aren’t important I will just say that it’s clear that a close friendship is not a priority anymore. That is fine, people and relationships change. I still have some close friends…but not as many as I would like, and although I don’t need to be the most popular girl around, I am a super social person and like to know there are people I can reach out to to go for coffee or do something with our families. My circle has gotten smaller and I don’t know how to make it bigger again.

3. Iv’e been struggling a lot with insomnia since my surgery. This is not uncommon but I’m not sure what to do about it. Ativan helps me sleep however it is habit-forming so I don’t like to take it every night. Melatonin used to help but it doesn’t seem to anymore, and it gives me such crazy dreams that even if I do sleep it is not restful. My oncologist has offered me an antidepressant that sometimes helps with hot flashes off label, but hot flashes are not my problem and when I looked at the potential side effects (insomnia is a very common one, also headaches!!!) I decided not to take it. I have been going to acupuncture and although I have noticed it is improving some other issues, my sleep has not improved. I’m starting to look at some supplements but I have to be careful, because there are supplements breast cancer survivors are supposed to avoid! I’m also trying meditation and mindfulness, and thinking back to the cognitive behavioral techniques I learned years ago. Hopefully some of the techniques I am using will start working better soon and I will be getting better sleep, but in the meantime it’s very frustrating! It’s also a painful and sad reminder that even though it seems like the cancer is “over”, it is still hurting me and I don’t get my life back (yet). 

Spring is sorta on the way

Spring, like me, is two steps forward one step back. 

I’m working on my spring wardrobe, trying to add some lightness and colour while staying warm. 

One thing I’m appreciating is looser pants, a fun and cool change from my typical skinny jeans, jeggings and leggings. Worn with short boots and a spot of skin is on trend:

I’m also enjoying wearing dusty rose, which I consider the new cream:

 

I also continue to work on upping my eyeshadow game with more colour: 

Life after cancer 

These days whenever I see people they tell me how amazing I look, but they can’t believe I had cancer, chemo, etc. I don’t know if I would use the word amazing to describe myself, but I do think I look healthy and “normal”. I’m glad to hear that everybody else thinks I look so great!

People ask how I feel, I think they assume I’m going to say that I feel great too.

I definitely have days where I feel great. Where everything goes the way it is supposed to and I can almost forgot that I am a cancer survivor, and a pretty recent one at that. 

Other days I feel sad and scared and angry. Particularly when something happens that reminds me that I’m not the way I was before…like I fall asleep at 8pm, or cannot sleep at all (or more likely can barely hold my head up at 8 PM, however go to bed at 10 and do not fall or stay asleep for hours), or try to go for a run, or something happens to remind me of my work accommodations. 

I also worry about it coming back. I’m not constantly anxious about it but in the back of my head the fear is always there and I have never really felt like I was done with breast cancer. I don’t know, I think part of the reason is because I’m pretty young, I’m only 43…I’ve got a lot of years ahead of me and it’s hard to imagine they will all be cancer free. I’m in some groups for young women with cancer, I am among the older women in these groups and I can’t imagine what it’s like for those that are in their 20s and 30s. 

I have already had two recurrence  scares; one when I had a call back after my mammogram, another when I found a lump in my left breast. That was only a few weeks ago, and I had to go for an ultrasound and mammogram before they ruled it benign. Not even a year from finishing my treatment and already two scares! It’s awful to think that this is what’s ahead of me, when I let myself. 

For the most part though, I am pretty happy. I’m trying to get back to myself. I go to the gym, go for walks (and throw in some running intervals), even though I still have accommodations at work I am still working full-time, I have fun with friends and fun with my kids and my husband. I really try to enjoy my life as much as I can. If the cancer comes back I will be glad I did so, and if it doesn’t nobody ever regrets making the most of their life!

Still got it (back)

Three years ago I went to my niece’s Bat Mitzvah wearing a dress I had bought at Honey, it was the first (and last!) thing I had ever bought at this boutique and I was so proud to be able to fit into it! I think that night was was the most beautiful I had ever felt as an adult!

I worked my butt off to look awesome in the dress, and within a few weeks afterwards I was pretty sure I would never wear it again. Not that I ever gained back a ton of weight, but I had to be at my absolute slimmest to wear this dress… especially because I absolutely refuse to wear spanx!

February 2014

3 weeks ago I was invited to a Bar Mitzvah, I tried on all my more recently bought dresses and none of them fit quite right, I didn’t even bother trying this one on because I knew it wouldn’t fit, it literally has not fit since the one day I wore it in February 2014!

3 weeks ago (beginning of March) coincided with when I decided that I really had to get back to myself, I was recovered from surgery and done cancer treatment, and it was time to stop being lazy and stop making excuses and just go for it. I started weight training again, I started upping my cardfio with spinning and throwing some running intervals into my walks, and last week I started going to fit boxing classes. I also started paying closer attention to my diet…not changing it in any huge ways but just keeping a closer eye on the little indulgences that I have a little too freely sometimes (and don’t always track on myfitnesspal! Like the dark chocolate on my supervisors desk!). 

It has been a long time since one of my exercise charts has had anything but walking and very occasional yoga or strength

In three weeks I lost about 4 pounds, which is completely reasonable! I can also see and feel my body getting tighter and fitter. 

But even more so, this happened last night: 

March 2017

I decided to try on the dress yesterday morning, pretty sure it wouldn’t even zip up. Not only did it zip up, but it fit! Not quite as flatteringly as it had been three years ago, but well enough to wear it.

I’m so proud and excited to be back at at this size and weight, not only because of how it looks (because really, I don’t look drastically different 4 pounds heavier) because of how it feels! I feel so much better about myself, more confident and like I have met a goal.

Also, it is very important for me to be a healthy BMI, because it reduces my risk of a cancer recurrence. Although I know that I look like I am a healthy weight already, I am actually still 4 pounds heavier than a healthy BMI! That’s right I’m still 4 pounds overweight! Hopefully I can lose those last 4 pounds, but even if I can’t, if I can maintain this than I am closer to a healthy BMI that I have been in about three years (for the most part, I’m pretty sure there’s a few times I’ve gotten down there for a couple weeks), and that’s wonderful! 

Hopefully, everything I’ve been through in the last year, my newfound motivation to be my best healthiest self, both because that’s how I want to enjoy my life and because reducing my risk of recurrence is right up at the top of my priority list, will help me to get down to my goal, or at the very least actually stay where I am for a significant amount of time!

By the way, this is not beating myself up. I lost about 50 pounds in 2010, and have kept all of it off except for the last 5-10 pounds that come and go, so I know that I’ve already done well…but learning how to get off (and KEEP off) those last 10 pounds would be a huge accomplishment for me! Physically and emotionally. So, I’ve got my new life goal: To always be able to fit into the Honey dress. 

For those that didn’t know me then, here’s a picture of me back in late 2009, before I lost any weight: 

It’s hard to believe this was ever me

Here is a pretty neat article about my weight loss!