Tuesday, December 02, 2008

the day my life changed

I had an echocardiogram today. They are a pretty routine part of my life; I have them every few months to make sure that the Herceptin isn't damaging my heart. So far, so good.

It's kind of boring lying there, so I started to play a little game with myself. When I lay down at the beginning of the test, my resting hear rate had been 65 bpm (beats per minute), when I worried about my results, I noticed that it had shot up to 75 bpm (I could also see on the screen that my heart was whooshing away but I couldn't tell whether it was doing it's job efficiently). I took a few deep breaths and my bpm dropped again. I remembered that I have only bought one Xmas present and my rate went back up into the 70s. Up and down it went (I hope that I didn't affect my results by doing this).

And then it occurred to me that today is December 2nd.

Exactly three years ago, I found the lump in my breast. That day, the world tilted on its axis (I felt it do that as I stood in front of my bedroom closet not quite believing I had this big hard mass on the side of my right breast) and my life was irrevocably changed.

If you had told me at that moment, how the next couple of years would unfold, I never would have believed that life could be as good as it is right now, despite the cancer. Don't get me wrong. If I could choose to have never had cancer, I would.

I hate having cancer, hate being in treatment, hate the restrictions placed on me as a cancer patient and I do still grieve for all I have lost. There are many, many ways, though, that my life has changed for the better since December 2nd, 2005.

Maybe that's why, when I remembered the date, my heart rate didn't budge.

Whoosh! Whoosh!

Cross-posted to Mothers With Cancer.


The Maven said...

I know that this isn't the same thing in so many ways, but what you're describing reminds me a lot of my journey into addiction and recovery. It has fundamentally changed me on so many levels. And, while certainly a struggle on more days than I can count, it has brought me to a place I couldn't possibly be otherwise. I see things differently, I experience them in new ways. I feel more, I care more, I am grateful more for life than I would have been had my life taken a less painful route.

Like I said, it's not quite the same thing. But I get what you're saying in the best way I can. I get that you never pictured yourself where you are now, knowing what you know and having experienced what you have. It's life-altering, but not all of it is bad.

Happy December 2nd. I, for one, am really glad you're here :)

laurie said...

you are right - there are some real similarities. i think that's one of the reason why i am friends with quite a few bloggers who write about addiction and recovery.
and thank you. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Laurie, I'm getting smarter, reading your blog...not just from your wonderful entries but also from those, like The Maven, who made the connection between coming back from addiction and illness...

Happy December 3rd and many many happy times to come!

B in T

nonlineargirl said...

I am constantly impressed by your ability to see the good. I agree that everything we go through changes us, and that change, even when horrible, can have good effects.

Dee said...

Whoosh Whoosh indeed!

I completely get what you're saying. I would never ever wish what I've been through on anyone. It sucks. I'd rather have gone through life blissfully unaware.

I love days when cancer doesn't take center stage - it doesn't happen often, but it does happen.

But at the same time, my life is better than it was a year or more ago.

I've been doing some reading by a philosopher (and somewhat of a theologian) named Thomas Moore. He has written Care of the Soul and Soul Mates. He states (and he draws upon a lot of different philosophical writings) that a certain amount of spiritual and personal and psychological growth occurs when there is suffering. He critiques the western medical model that sees our bodies and minds (and the various states they are in such as depression or sadness) as mechnical engines or tools that should be fixed. His point is that rather than seeing psychological states of sadness or depression or whatever as negative things that need to go way, we should instead see those states as the soul trying to communicate that it needs something and to take care of it and nurture it. He doesn't advocate embracing these "negative" states, but rather recognizing them as part of a growth process. (That's my paraphrasing of his writings - I may have misquoted what he says somewhat - it's my understanding of what he's saying, but other people may understand it differently.)

Going through cancer treatments - especially in metastatic disease - causes a person to do that kind of soul-searching - nurturing of the soul - and by paying attention to it, people become happier and more content with their lives.

I brought him up because he seems to understand how it is that something as life-altering as cancer can also lead to a kind of personal growth. It just resonates with my experience . . .

Glad that remembering the anniversary didn't cause the heart rate to go up - and glad to hear it's still going strong!

Blondie said...

This is beautiful. You are such a trooper. You inspire me. Thank you.

Mom2Amara said...

You inspire me to be a better person with your wit and optimism. Thank you for being you!

Henriette Ivanans said...

Boy, you inspire me and keep me grounded with your strength. Thank you for this entry. I try and find the good; the blessings in every day life, but I know you understand the frustration with chronic, constant illness and tests. I think of you more often than you know!!!!! MUCH love and admiration, Henriette xo