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.
- the power or ability to return to the original form, position,etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity.
- 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.