Resilience

My last Radiation treatment is a week from today.  Wow. Absolutely remarkable that nearly 8 months have passed since my FBC diagnosis.

Radiation finishing is not to say that everything related to FBC is over.  Far from it.

Soon, I will be starting on the drug Tamoxifen which will last for 5 years (more on that in another post).  Additionally, in about 6 months (after I’ve healed from radiation – yes, it takes that long), I will have another surgery to exchange my breast expanders for breast implants.

On another totally random note, the thought of that surgery in my future reminds me that I’m still getting my mind around the word “breast”. When mine were surgically removed last year, I started calling the new appendages on my chest “lady lumps”.  Though these appendages look like breasts (when I’m in clothes), they are far from the real deal. I guess that I will also have some work to do in reexamining my body image after this, Ahem, body image disturbance.

Healing is also on my agenda. This is no small undertaking. Healing, I know, will take a tremendous amount of emotional and physical effort and focus. For example, I still can’t feel any of my fingers or toes (persistent peripheral neuropathy courtesy of the chemotherapy Taxol) and my insomnia is so bad that I have black Birkin Bags under my eyes (at least they are great bags!).

Re-entry in to daily personal and professional life is also coming and I don’t yet know what either will look like.

This “To Do List” is seemingly growing by the minute…

As I am strolling in San Francisco (actually, climbing the hills of San Francisco is a better image), the word Resilience keeps popping into my mind.

 

Dictionary.com defines Resilience as:
  1. the power or ability to return to the original form, position,etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity.
  2. ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity,or the like; buoyancy.

Well, no wonder this word keeps percolating in my mind.  DUH!

Resilience seems to me to be the ability to withstand and rebound from crises and adversity (health or otherwise) unharmed or even better for the experience. I’ve heard people refer to cancer as a “gift” – this is something that I will NOT, under any circumstances, do. However, I’m hoping to somehow incorporate the growth encountered and lessons learned into my life as I move forward.

Resilience is, I believe, part nature and part nurture.

I know that my own resilience is rooted in a tenacity of spirit—a determination to embrace all that makes life worth living even in the face of overwhelming odds (the essence of a Silver Lining).

I also believe that resilience can be cultivated. Courage and patience can be developed, not without work, but it can be done (don’t I know it?!?). People can (& do!) learn how to survive in and thrive after incredibly, sometimes unimaginably, challenging circumstances. Every single day.

In my years as both an adult and pediatric hospice nurse, I saw families demonstrate resilience through action-oriented behaviors aimed to reduce stress, obtain resources, find hope and manage tension in the face of painful crises. The resiliency exemplified (often by the most unlikely of patients and their families) was beautiful to witness and incredibly inspiring.

Resilience, like Silver Linings, can be found wherever and whenever you need them.

Life only demands from you the strength you possess.

-Dag Hammarskjold

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. Kristen says

    I just want you to know I find your blog very comforting. I am suffering from post Taxol neuropathy and sometimes I feel like it's the most annoying part of it all. I'm week 2 in my 6 weeks of radiation treatment. The light is at the end of the tunnel for treatments but will the neuropath remain? Reading posts from other readers that it does get better is so helpful. Thank you all for sharing your stories!

  2. says

    Yay! So glad your radiation is almost over. You're almost at the finish line. One note of caution – when I started Tamoxifen, I became exceedingly emotional and would start crying all the time for no reason (I knew it was the Tamoxifen the day I opened a drawer and saw a baby picture of my now 13 year old son and burst into tears for no reason. For about 15 minutes). I then did more research on line and found out it's very common. BUT, it stopped after about 5-6 weeks. Hope your neuropathy clears up, mine is almost all gone 10 months after my last chemo. You're almost at the Finish line.

  3. Susan says

    Tamoxifen. I participated in the study that showed tamoxifen helped reduce the incidence of recurring breast cancer in the secod breast. It was unblinded before the 5 years of the study was over because the results were so dramatic. At that point I discovered I was taking tamoxifen, not the placebo.

  4. Robyn says

    Hollye,
    You are reaching the finish line!!!! You have shown such resilience in your ability to show courage, grace, gratitude, appreciation, strength, dignity, and optimism throughout this battle with FBC. You are a real model for all of us.
    Thank you for showing us what resilient looks like…..

  5. says

    Wow! I can't believe I've "known" you 8 months already! I'm sure some days these 8 months must have felt like 8 years to you! I continue to remember you every night before I sleep and will continue to for a long long time to come!

    The word Amazing is used quite often with reference to you Miss Hollye and I do believe it is correct.

    So happy you are on the countdown for this leg of the healing!

    Sending you Texas Sunshine!
    Diana

  6. Meika says

    Another definition: The ability to stand up to challenges, work through them step by step, and bounce back stronger than you were before. You embody all of these things and so much more!

  7. Kim says

    Wow! Resilience – you've got it Hollye & have said it beautifully. Although the emotional healing was/is a long road for me, I can see a transformation taking place within & affecting those closest to me. I'm most definitely still a work in progress. Aren't we all? It's just that cancer places that tranformational journey directly in one's face and the choice is to either lead, follow or get out of the way – to quote you!!

    A gift? I agree, the harshness of it leaves me unable to give it this label!! A SL – the progress made has not been without the love & support of family, friends, the integrated health community and more. I'm learning to reach out more and to go within – deepening and stretching myself further than I ever knew was possible. I'm just beginning to feel grateful for the cancer journey. Just barely on my good days.

    Not only are YOU practicing resilience Hollye (& you're still in the middle of it all!!), but also helping all of US along the way!!! Amazing. Thank you for leading! Only one more week to go! Yay! That must feel very good!!!
    Kim