Welcome Back Freedom – So Nice To See You Again

I love fireworks. Always have, always will. They are not only beautiful and inspiring, but they bring back great memories of summers with my family and at camp.

The last three years I haven’t watched fireworks on July 4th. Since my breast cancer diagnosis in 2012, I was either too tired from my mastectomy and chemo, too tired from radiation or it was too hot for me to be outside to watch fireworks.

But this year was different.

I’ve been staying up later these days – actually able to stay awake until 10.30 p.m. That’s a major accomplishment for me. For the first two years after treatment finished, I could barely stay awake until 9 p.m. So 10.30 p.m. is huge! Small victories, right?

This year was also perfect weather to watch fireworks. It was a beautiful night with temperatures in the 70s. Couldn’t ask for better weather in July.

So I took a walk down to the Washington monument, which is about a mile and a half from my home. That’s another thing I couldn’t do in the last three years – walk for three miles at 9 p.m. I used to get tired after about 20 minutes of walking at night. It feels great to have more energy and stamina.

Over the last three years, it has felt like cancer robbed me of so much in my life – my body changed (not in a good way), my mind got slower and foggier (thanks chemobrain), my energy levels dropped, my insecurities about my future went to new heights…the list goes on.

But this July 4th, it felt like I regained some of my freedom. A freedom to live my life how I used to – going where I wanted, when I wanted, how I wanted. It’s amazing to be able to do that again.

And I’m sure there will be other nights where I’m too tired to do anything or its too hot to be outside, but for right now, I’m enjoying this new found freedom. I often wondered if this day would ever come. So nice that it has.

Fireworks Fireworks

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Tired and Impatient

I’m a very patient person…when it comes to other people. When it comes to myself…not so much.

Labor Day weekend – less than two weeks ago – I went to New York for a weekend with my mom and sister. It was a great weekend, but I sure am tired from it – still, two weeks later. It’s so frustrating.

During my breast cancer treatment, many doctors kept telling me that exhaustion was one of the top three side effects from both chemo and radiation. I get that. They pumped my body with toxic drugs and high levels of radiation, so I should be tired. During treatment, I came home after work and took a nap, woke up for dinner, then went to sleep for 10 hours. I was sleeping about 12 hours a day. I was fine with that. I’m a really good sleeper. And that’s what my body needed to survive.

But now it’s almost nine months since I’ve been done with treatment. People tell me that it takes a year to get back to 100% of your regular energy level. So I’m trying to be patient as I still have three more months until my one year mark. But it sure is hard to wait for that time to come around.

I want to go back to doing all my normal stuff – strenuous exercise, going out at night with friends, spending the day out and about, walking around museums – but my body just isn’t there yet. I know, I know…I’ve been through a lot, both in body and mind. I should cut myself a break and be patient. But that’s easier said than done.

The last two weeks I could barely make it through an eight hour day of work. By the time I got home and made dinner, I was ready for bed. And that’s after spending the weekend sleeping in late, taking lots of naps during the day and going to bed early. And that wasn’t enough. I’m still tired.

I’m hoping this weekend will be my final weekend of resting so I’m not exhausted. I’ll again sleep in, take a nap and go to bed early. Hopefully that’ll help get me to the point of just being a little tired, rather than completely exhausted.

I know what you’re going to say…you have to listen to your body and it just needs more time to recover. But why does it have to take so long?