Friday, 18 October 2013

End of an Era

Hey All,

This blog has meant a lot to me over the last however many months that it has been up and running. I have been able to express some things through writing that I may not of been able to do in other ways. It has been great to "meet" a lot of people along the way as well.

However, writing can be a two edged sword and I know a lot of the things I write can be difficult to read. Painful probably more accurate. I understand that no one wants to see people in pain or hear how hard things can be. Often times, I understand how many of the things I write can come as a surprise to people as I am usually not overly talkative about difficult subjects. I used writing as a way to get some of these out and "get them off my chest" so to speak. This blog was meant to be a way to find some support, not to make people feel bad, give me sympathy or anything like that.

The purpose of this blog was also never to make people upset, hurt peoples feelings or to paint them in a bad light. I feel like a lot of the time I have to apologize for writing a post sometimes and it was never meant to go that way. You should never have to say sorry for having cancer but I feel like I need to. I am sorry for the pain it caused in peoples lives. This was merely a way to express some of the things I have gone through post cancer treatment and to raise awareness of some of these issues.The people who have been around me during cancer treatment helped me through a lot. I hope that is clear. I am sorry for the fact that some of these blog posts have upset people.

Thank you very much for the people who have been reading this blog, the people who found it helpful and for those who I have met through this. I will keep the page up so people can read it if they choose, and maybe one day I will come back to it. Who knows. I will continue to write articles (a bit more frequently) for the Huff post, but may be tackling more general issues for young adults with cancer, rather than my own.

Anyways, I guess that is it for now. Thanks again everyone. Take care.

Eamonn

Thursday, 17 October 2013

A Hard Look Back

It is tough to deal with looking back at what cancer has done, and how it has altered my life over the past few years. Cancer is something I want to be able to move past, but at the same time it has irreversibly changed many aspects of my life. No matter how much I try to fix or change some things, that really isn't going to matter.

I realize I view myself differently. Pre-cancer, I was very work driven and, although I still work very hard at my job, I don't really know where I want it to go anymore. It is difficult because as I look forward in my career I don't really know where I want that career to go or what I even want that career to be. It is hard to look back and see someone who had so much focus, have little to none anymore.

I used to be a very outgoing person. I used to really like people. I still like people, but I view myself as broken a lot of the time. Why would someone care about me. I had a very random moment today when someone stopped to talk because of my hat (true story) and, I used to be someone who would actually stop and talk for a few minutes. Instead, I said a few pleasantries, didn't really try and kept on my way. It is hard to look back and know I used to be that.

I used to be someone who got excited about things and could carry on through my days very easily. I find it hard to find meaning in the days that I have. I have things I care about, people I care about for sure, but I have no idea how I fit into their lives. I know I am viewed as a damaged person, because, I am. I hate that some of my friendships and relationships used to be so strong and full of life, and not many of those exist today. I still have some, but I feel I have lost some of the "specialness" because of what happened to me. I am so apathetic where I used to be excited. Half of an effort seems like a lot, when I used to give so much. I believe this to be a source of why people (including myself) see me the way they do. Effort is sometimes replaced by apathy.

I had a view of myself before cancer. Life was really really good. Then I got sick. Now, even things that are going well, I struggle with and seem to take a lot of effort. I find it hard to look back and see how happiness came so easily to me before, I didn't have to work hard at these things. I still will, I won't give up because there are people out there I care about a lot. There are people that deserved to be cared about. I have to find a way to convince myself that things will be better, and that way it won't be so hard to look back.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Are You Okay With This?

"Are you okay with this? Letting people know you had cancer I mean..."

This is a sentence I have heard from multiple people resulting from many different types of conversations. I can understand this sentiment. I tried to hide everything I could from basically everyone for a long time with regards to my treatment, side effects, and everything else that went with cancer.

"People can just google this and they might find out you had cancer"

This line I have heard when having discussions on my blog, writing, my fundraising or anything else I really get involved in when Cancer is the main issue. And my cancer at that. When you put your self out there, I always have to think about who might read this.I understand all the issues with coming clean to the world. Some things may work out better, but some things may get worse, and there is risk associated with it.

I completely understand where people are coming from. For some, it is a privacy issue. For others, it can be something that can put strain on a friendship, or relationship that they have. Some people get offended by what you may say or do. And yes, it coming out that you had cancer can have detrimental effects such as losing insurance, or being completely rejected (This I had happen to me recently). Also, places like banks don't particularly like the fact that I had cancer, and won't give me money anymore (too much of a "risk").

Some people don't like to share what happened to them with regards to cancer, and that really is their choice. Some people have a harder time then others giving bad news or hearing bad news, and I understand that. The thing I I don't like about it some of these statements, is that there can be a negative connotation with it. The look in some peoples eyes when they ask "are you sure you want to tell people," for whatever issue, or whatever topic, makes you think something is up. Sometimes, when it comes out "are you okay with this" it makes me feel like I should be ashamed or embarrassed about what happened to me.

Truth is, I had cancer. It sucked. There is no other way to really describe it.It certainly isn't something I am proud of, but it is obviously part of my life. Something that left a huge impact on me, as it has for many others. I try to speak up, put myself out there as best I can with cancer issues, because I am not the only one who was effected by this. I am not alone in this battle, which is hard to remember some days.

The truth is I am not okay with having cancer and I probably never will be. But I am certainly not ashamed of it either. And I will continue to put myself out there, put my story out there, because if someone doesn't like the fact that I had cancer, or if someone is not willing to take a chance on me then that is there problem. It is just another piece of stress I can live without.

I feel putting my story out there, voicing my concerns, my problems, and my successes since I had cancer has, for me, been an overall positive experience. The people I have met, the stories I have heard of what people have and are going through gives me a lot of hope for people. I hear about people who are still fighting, some fighting again and again, and they are all important stories. I hear about great things, like people who many would consider "normal" people raising huge amounts of money for cancer research, setting up websites for support, and generally doing great things because they can.

These people by putting their stories out there (and being able to be seen on Google) gave me strength at times when I didn't have very much because of cancer. I am so happy that these networks were in place when I got sick. That people have made the effort in some many ways in the fight against cancer. So yes, I will always be okay with putting my story out there, and working to raise money for cancer research, because I feel every little bit helps, and I am thankful for everyone who put themselves out there.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Not Knowing the Pain of Others

When I had cancer I knew what I felt. A little too well. I know the pain of chemo. The pain of radiation. And the mental toll that it takes on a person on a daily, if not hourly basis.

Since I had cancer I know the stress of a check up. The thought that things might go back to what happened before. All the things I have worked towards may be going to be taken away again.

What I don't know, or even can be close to understanding is the sacrifices and the toll it took on the people around me. This could be anybody. A friend, a family member, a co-worker, a doctor or nurse that took care of me. I think about this a lot these days.

It is very easy, when I was sick to put my pain first. I couldn't do anything else. I was so sick that I just didn't have the energy or the mental clarity to take care of myself, let alone help anyone with anything. Many days if I got as far as walking a block or two it was a huge success. I was living every moment of every day in intense physical and mental pain. I know what that pain is.

I don't understand how nurses and doctors can separate themselves from their work and the pain that must bring sometimes. I have trouble leaving my work at work some days, and no one is close to being dead there on any given day. I can't even begin to imagine going in and knowing you were going to have to deliver bad news to someone...every single day.

It wasn't until afterwards that I really was capable of seeing what the pain was of the people who took care of me. I knew that they were missing out on things, having to take care of me all the time, putting my needs first, and basically having a 26 year old child to take care of. They had to miss things with their lives. Things that were important. While so many others were out doing fun things, they went to work, surely stressed about what they had to do when the got home, and all the appointments they have to sit through. And for people who physically couldn't be there, I don't know what it was like to be waiting for a phone call. Sometimes with me on the other end telling them what was going on, and sometimes not me because I was too weak or too sick to be able to talk on the phone. 

I know these pains still exist in many of my relationships. Some people are more open about talking. Some are not. I wish I could wave a magic wand a lot of the time and just get rid of it all, or maybe more realistically, say something inspiring to see if that gets rid of it, but I can't or I haven't found the words at least. 

I know the pain is there and there is little I can do about it. It is hard. But at least I will always make myself available. The sacrifices of caregivers, the ones who stay by our sides during cancer, and put them selves second for everything, should never be over looked. I may not understand their pain, but I sure do appreciate them.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

I Thought it Got Easier?

"Things get easier, you will get less stressed with each check up" - Everyone who I talked to who had cancer and is in remission

One of the hardest things I have dealt with since finishing cancer treatment is the growing sense of fear that everything will be taken from me again.

Fear of recurrance is a real issue that cancer patients deal with, and a lot of the time, I really feel like most people don't really understand that too well. I get the fact that most people want to be done with cancer "things" when treatment is over, and honestly the thought of going back is hard in everyone. I see the point of view of both family and care givers that it really took a toll on their lives. It really does take a toll.

However, for me, that toll seems to grow over time. It seems to get harder and harder with each check up. With each three month window life seems to get harder, more complicated, more difficult, and I am struggling to find the proper answers for things, or any "real" solution. 

I struggle more and more with "life" decisions. Where to work, what to do with money, where to live, etc. With every check up, I think "well I had those three months, it was a good ride while it lasted". Don't get me wrong, I am confident in my doctors, I am confident that they did everything possible for me and would do anything for me. I see all the time that these doctors at the cancer agency do their best to save lives. They are real heros. but it doesnt make me any less stressed out. Recurrance is  real, and I see it way too often. It makes me incredibly sad, and somedays, I feel incredibly helpless. I just want to live life and be happy. Make a difference, and continue on my way.

I don't know what to make of it these days. I still can manage to put it aside and go to work, and do my job. Get the bills paid, get things done. But it has gotten harder and harder with each check up. I know life isn't fair. I know, if it was, i wouldn't see children every time I go to the cancer agency. I just wish it actually did get easier. 

Not just for me, but for everyone in my situation.

Friday, 20 September 2013

21 Months

21 Months ago was my last day of radiation therapy.

It completed about a years worth of cancer treatments for Ewings Sarcoma that was in my leg and hip. I don't usually like to acknowledge that it was in my hip too, as it was only a small amount was there, but it was there nonetheless. 

This past week, I had my regular three month check up and it all went fine (thankfully). I have had several of these now and although the stress doesn't go away, this one seemed a little easier. Not because I was less worried about recurrence but more because I was so tired of worrying. I was completely exhausted.

For my next check up, 24 months, things get a little more exciting. This last appointment I had the conversation that was inevitable. The conversation that I knew was coming.

Now that you will be two years out, we need to start checking what damage the chemo drugs may have done.

This was the conversation we had to have. Chemotherapy kills, it is what it is built to do. It is aggressive because it has to be, and I am truly thankful that it is. It extended my life. I would most likely be dead today if this did not exist.

My next check up, is now far more complicated. I will have a full set of tests again, the regulars such as MRI, CT scans and blood work, X-rays and that weird tapping thing doctors do on your chest. However this time I get a little more. Examining areas that were fine before through CT. Something called an Echo Cardiogram which will look to see if the doxyrubicin caused damage to my heart. Seeing if I am tired, a possible cause being Leukemia (cancer cures can cause cancer, a fact I knew too well) and seeing if I am losing feeling in my fingers and toes.

I knew this all was coming, I just wasn't sure when we start to think about these things and it has left me surprisingly calm. I knew this was coming. I did my worrying about these things a long time ago. I have come to accept the inevitability that cancer treatment is very hard on someones body and to fully escape some of these long term effects I would have to be quite lucky.

I still worry about recurrence, I have these concerns too. It honestly has left me quite apathetic about many things in life. But it also motivates me to keep up the fight and keep helping to work towards cures by raising money. I have recently got my new web page almost done (www.conquercancer.ca/goto/eamonn) for this years "Ride to Conquer Cancer". I know, for me, many of these side effects will be unavoidable, however, I am optimistic that working to raise money will keep others from going through what I have/am.

I hope in another 21 months we are better along then we are now.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Some Long Weeks Ahead...

So Fall has begun and things are picking up at the University that I work at as is typical time of year. It really makes me miss the days of hanging around campus and going to classes and all the fun stuff (and stress) that go along with that). 

Lately, I have been pretty stressed with another check up coming up in a few weeks (21 months but who is counting?) and trying to find ways of dealing with all the stress that goes along with it. I have come to find that each check up seems stressful for a different reason, so using coping techniques from the previous time, doesn't really always work that well. I am less stressed about going into work around these times, when I first went back to work, my anxiety would be so bad that I wouldn't be able to do anything at work, but thankfully those days are gone. 

I have been able to accept the fact that these weeks leading up to check ups are very long, and very stressful times. I really am trying my best to manage and focus to get through these instances. It can be personally frustrating that I keep getting worked up, and I know this stress that is a result on me is not only hard on myself, but hard on the people around me. I am always thankful for the things people have done for me when I went through cancer. It wasn't fair to them to have to deal with these things, but then again, it wasn't fair to me either. 

Recently, I have found a good counselor who was really good to talk to and (finally) have some useful advice. I am no pro when it comes to dealing with cancer related stress, I know I have it, but can't do a lot about it (neither can the people around me) because I don't know how to fix things.This new one has been very constructive with giving me ideas and supporting my ideas on how to take care of myself and help get past these challenges. It has been quite refreshing, and I have been very thankful for this opportunity.

The stress has been tough to be honest. It has lead me to really down days, being upset at work, not doing things I enjoy, and not working on my writing (obvious?). The harsh realities as they set in are tough to deal with. Things like home ownership, health and life insurance, family planning, and investing all have become much more complicated due to my health concerns. That's tough because many of these issues are tough enough on their own. I hate being stuck in these situations, and they make the weeks even longer.

I am not quite sure what my next move is. Life is hard and I know I am making it harder for many of the people around me as a result of all these concerns and worries and whatever. I have learned that people don't always get what I go through, and that is fine because I don't get what others go through. But I am trying. I do want these long weeks to not be a recurring problem.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Long Term Effects

There are many long term side effects of cancer treatment and they are different for every patient out there. Many are obvious such as scars and the likes, but many are much less obvious.

For me, I have several long term side effects and things that really, sadly, doesn't let one forget easily.

I have the physical scars as mentioned. I have a ten inch scar on my right leg with a big indent from surgery. Above this, I have an area of extremely smooth and hairless skin from radiation. These long lasting things don't bother me so much, they are easy to hide and keep away from the outside world.

Other things are much less obvious. Chemo sure did a number on my veins and arteries. During chemo I could not extend my arms fully without immense pain as a result of the scaring it did to them. This is healing over time, however I still cannot extend fully without tightness. This is something I deal with all the time. I also really hate getting bloodwork done as well because as a result of these scars, my veins are very tough to poke through. This can make pulling blood to be a painful task.

As a result of  surgery, I can't really run very well, I am not as fast as i used to be (not that I would ever call myself "fast"), and it has given out on me from time to time, with stiffness in my hip from radiation also being a problem. I have no feeling still on the inside of my right leg either.

My blood and bones are still recovering from chemo. I remember quite vividly my doctor telling me it will take about five years for that stuff to get back to normal too.

There are plenty of mental scars too. These things I find to be the worst long lasting side effects. The biggest long term effect of cancer for me, is fear. Fear of recurrence, fear of going back to the chemo ward and reliving all those painful memories and times, and fear of maybe not getting through it next time.there is a lot of guilt too, for the pain I have brought to others. This never seems to go away.

It is enough to wear someone out completely that's for sure, and many days recently I feel worn out to the bone. It isn't great but I am doing what I can to get through it. I know it is tough for everyone around me, and I know it makes me a bit of a burden sometimes (more than sometimes?) so I try my best to deal with it on my own. It can be tough, and although many of these side effects will eventually go away, I am certain they won't go away soon enough.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Distractions

Lately, I have become pretty bad at neglecting the blog. Been overly distracted it seems. Not sure why overall but a few things have cropped up.

It is getting to be three month check up time again. Probably the most common time that I get stressed about cancer things. Waiting to go in for tests and waiting to go in to have my oncologist give me "the news". So far they have all been good news but it is never less stressful for me. I know it is hard on Sara too, which makes me feel a bit bad about. She never signed on for this but has been a trooper and a great supporter. I know how hard it is on her too, and unfair on her, she has been really strong though. Impressive stuff.

I guess this has been highlighted further these days by the fact that I have heard of multiple people that I know or have met or talked to through social media and were in remission, no longer are. It is the biggest fear anyone who has gone through cancer could have. It just goes to highlight the fact that no matter how far along you are, and how much people want you to be "over it" and not worry about cancer, that many of these fears are completely justified by cancer survivors. I understand you don't want them to dominate your life, which I don't think I do, but it is nice to have them acknowledged as a real fear.

This stress has kind of built up over the last while, and I worry about the future and decisions I have made in the past. It has made me distracted, and honestly quite irritable, and this is no ones "fault", just something I have been dealing with. It has lead me to be quite disconnected sometimes, and I know this is not a good thing. I have discussed it with Sara and am looking at some more counseling tomorrow which I really hope will help calm the storm going on in my head.I have said it before, but no one wants to be past this more than me, but I still need time, and still need a little patience. I never really took a lot of time to deal with what happened to me, and it shows up from time to time in a negative way.

One thing is for sure though, I will continue to work away at it. Get these distractions gone, get reconnected with life, and get things back on track in a positive way!

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Lumps, Bumps, Bruises and Being Mentally Tough

One of the hardest thing about being a cancer patient and/or survivor if the bumpyness of the human body. 

What do I mean by this? For most people, every person really, their body is filled with inconsistencies. Your left hand is not exactly like the right, same goes with legs and same goes with everything. Normally this isn't really a concern for most people. But as anyone with cancer will tell you, you get no so excited about this bumpyness sometimes.  It takes a certain level of mental toughness and always being "on" that can be hard to explain and can really wear on a person.

Personally I have had many experiences during and since completion of treatment that I fell into this hole. Many days, I would find some sort of bump or irregularity that leads me to believe that something may be wrong (so far they haven't which is great). I had cancer in my right leg. Lots of surgery, lots of radiation and lots of chemo lead to an odd system going over there. Recently, I poked around and found some oddness on my left leg. Also stressful, it is probably nothing but I don't know that. Things like this are stressful because they have probably been there for ever and when I compare to my right leg, well it doesn't feel the same.

Some days I deal with these lumps or bumps fine. Some days I poke and prod, pretending I know what I am doing, trying to figure out what it is and convince myself that it is all fine. Usually I end up bruising myself and it becoming swollen and painful. Those days I would not say I am particularly mentally tough. It can be made harder and more stressful when you hear about a friend or colleague getting cancer for the first, or second or however many times.

I am happy days where I can just shrug things off but they aren't as common as I would like, and they can make some days harder. Some days I tell myself "well I have a check up in a month I will be fine until then". I have been very good about trying to decide whether or not I need to go see a GP or my oncologist, but it can be tough some days. It is not an easy thing.

I believe almost every cancer patient or survivor goes through something like this. The fact that so many deal with it "gracefully" and can still get through their day, go to school or work, hang out relax, and take care of their families and loved ones is really a testament to how strong and mentally tough cancer survivors and patients are. Obviously, we are not all perfect on every day, but I really believe that with all the added weight on a person that adds, it is truly impressive.

So with every lump and bump I get, it seems for now at least I will continue to bruise myself. And stay as strong as I can.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

A Bit oif Time to Relax and Get Out

Over the last few weeks I have been doing a fair amount of traveling and when I can getting some down time (hence the slowness of getting some of these posts up!) but I have always enjoyed getting out and about and seeing different parts of the world.

Over the last few weeks I have had the opportunity to travel through all three maritime provinces in Canada (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island) and it really has been a lot of fun, and I have had the great experiences of meeting a lot of really great people along the way.

I spent some time in PEI for a job interview, and met a lot of great people, and then went to PEI, NS and NB with my wife Sara celebrating our first wedding anniversary and had a really great time seeing and experiencing a lot of things I haven't really had the opportunity to do or see before.

What does this have to do with cancer you may ask? When I was sick, I simply could not get around. I didn't do much traveling before but I had the unwavering desire to get out of my house. I was very work orientated and would always put travel off for an undetermined later date. I put off seeing the world. I think that was a mistake and something I won't soon give up.

I was able to travel a bit when I was sick. And a bit is not an understatement. My "big trips" were going from Vancouver to Victoria BC (mainly because they were close and there was a regional cancer centre there too, safe destinations in case anything happened!). And although they were great, most of the time I felt trapped because I couldn't do things, couldn't eat, couldn't really experience the area I was going to as you would want to.

I used to find travel stressful, but now, I view it as a major time to relax. Even if I am tired when traveling (which still happens, not 100% from cancer treatments quite yet!) it is nice to get out. I guess that is one thing that I learned when I had cancer. Even when things that used to stress me out come up again, I don't get nearly as stressed out, and travel and getting out is one of those big things.

I think todays post turned in to a bit of a ramble and maybe not the most succinct thing I have ever written. But it was a sunny day, I was sitting on my parents deck. And it was just nice to be able to get out and look back on the last week a little bit, and probably appreciate it a little more than normal.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

How do Cancer Patients Move?

Hey Everyone,

So it has been awhile since I made a post and I want to apologize for that. Things have been pretty busy lately as I have been working hard at finding a new job and moving forward with my career. It has basically dominated my time, but I am finding this morning that I finally have a normal day to day time frame coming together. Always good!

It is a weird spot to be in these days. I am looking at potentially moving from Vancouver and I find it puts me in another unexpected thought process. What do cancer patients do when they have to, or choose to move? It is not a simple process at all. 

I really appreciate the support and the care I have received at the BC Cancer Agency. I credit them with me still being here today. This is not to say that there is not great and amazing care out there in other places, I simply am not familiar with it. It is further complicated by the level of trust patients build up with their medical/oncological team. I trust my doctors with my life. This is not a small bond, and certainly something that is not trivial. We went to war together. They saw me at my worst, they advised me, they gave me the support I needed and they gave their all to help me. Now I am faced with the concerns of not having them there. 

You build personal relationships with your oncologist. When you see them as much as a cancer patient does, it is unavoidable. I am not saying I would ever go out for coffee with my oncologist, or that I even address them by their first name. But they know me. They know who I am. And most importantly, they know what I went through. They know my case.

It is a concern of mine that when I move, I will not have those personal relationships. It will take awhile for a new doctor to learn my case, and learn me (my file is quite large after all!). I also just don't want to get dumped on someone. My oncologist handles my every concern (she is my hero! I don't know how she does it for so many people, and she isn't the only one who does this!) Will I still be as important? Will the resources be there? Will I be able to drive down the street and get an X-ray if I need to? Among other concerns, the list grows and grows. I am sure it will all work out. But yet again, another unexpected thought process in my life thanks to what I went through.

I certainly love to travel. I love to live new places and experience new things. Unfortunately, Cancer patients and Survivors have a few extra concerns with it.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

The Feeling of Isolation

Some days I feel a lot more isolated then when I had cancer. Which is weird because there was many a time when I felt that way too during treatment.

When I was in the hospital it would be easy to feel isolated. I didn't have many visitors. I got very lonely during that time. Didn't get many phone calls either. I felt particularly bad for Sara who had to deal with it too, and also had no visitors for her. She had to leave for work every day and had to leave me there by myself. The feeling of isolation from the world grew. One time I actually was in "isolation" and people couldn't really visit. But that is a bit different in its own right.

When I finished treatment, and got healthier again, I still have that nagging isolated feeling. It is hard to explain to people how you feel and how you hurt in different ways. People don't understand what I went through, even the people that were right there. But that isn't their fault, I am happy none of my close friends have ever had to experience what I have. It does make me feel like some days, many days, I don't have support, even when I do. It is hard to see it some times. Again, this is no fault of the people around me who do want to help and do help, it seems to become not obvious to me.

I felt bad recently as I was complaining about this to a friend, without giving an acknowledgement to the fact that many other people, for many different reasons, feel isolated as well. It gave me a major pause, and it is something I still think about today. For me, I find it hard to trust and I think that is one of the reasons I feel that way. I can't speak for anyone else.

The feeling of isolation is a weird one. I live in one of the biggest cities in Canada and feel like there is no one in it. It has brought me a bit down lately and I have found it a bit hard. But I will continue to push through and keep remembering I am not actually alone.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

What is Important to a Cancer Survivor?

I am writing a post today based around a meeting I had at the cancer agency this week about a new initiative to make a "survivorship" program through the hospital system. This is more meant to be a discussion and not me "telling" people what a cancer survivor needs. I can only speak for myself in that regards! I was really excited to be a part of this and even more excited to hear others input! I will have the opportunity again to discuss this further so any input is welcome!

Finishing cancer treatment means a lot of things to a lot of people. No two people are the same. Depending on what combinations of chemo/radiation/surgery/other things someone gets it can leave you in a variety of places. As such, the agency is attempting to make something that will work for everyone. As such, a variety of topics are needed, for experiences and age groups.

Some of the main topics that we discussed were:

1. Prevention of secondary cancers (not recurring, but preventing new cancers)
2. Checkups, and all the tests that go along with it (GP vs oncologist)
3. What lifestyle changes can we make to help the cancer not coming back.
4. Rejoining the work force.
5. Long term emotional support and counselling
6. Community resources
7. "Other" was the last topic.

(All of these had sub sections of course)

One thing I thought might be important  was to divide it into two main sections of "immediate needs" and "long term" needs. I know from when I finished treatment my immediate concern was to get back into a workable body shape. I had lost basically all my muscle, had no energy and was generally in a really bad state. I wanted to be useful again. A topic that wasn't really covered in too much detail. Long term, a lot of my concerns were emotional after I had gotten used to the physical, it was more dealing with things less scan anxiety, concerns over whether or not cancer would come back. It was more in my mind as opposed to my body.

Another important thing I thought could be helpful would be something like "caregiver survivorship". Cancer certainly takes its toll on the person directly effected, but it can really wear out those who are caregivers as well. I know care givers can be forgotten about in this whole ordeal because they are not sick, but I have seen just how exhausted they get as well. It really does take a physical and mental toll and them as well, and we can't forget about them. The deserve to "feel better" too when it is all done.

I felt rejoining the workforce was really important, and tried to get a section for "employers" and maybe some helpful things to discuss with them. I know when I went back to work, it was the standard "great to have you back, everything is normal again", which we all know now really isn't the case. Having tips for return to work strategies would be great.

We also discussed greater awareness of community resources. It wasn't until after my treatment had completed and a year had gone by that I found out about a young adult support group....three blocks from my house. It would have been great to know about this during everything!

It is hard to sum up everything survivors need, but any input is greatly appreciated. In reality, every hospital has limited resources and only so many things can realistically be covered. It was great to hear that there are more people working towards this goal. So any thoughts or input would be great for my next meeting and I can let you all know how this project moves forward!

Thanks!

Eamonn



Wednesday, 19 June 2013

The Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

Hello Everyone,

As many of you know, this past weekend I, along with 2650 other residents of British Columbia in support of the BC Cancer Foundation. The event this year raised over $10 million for cancer research, bringing the five year total of the event to over $50 million. Truly inspiring stuff, and reason for hope.

Tragically, this years event had a terrible and fatal accident involving a 16 year old cyclist (one article here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2013/06/16/bc-ride-to-conquer-cancer-fatality.html). This was obviously very tragic, and very sad and my condolences go out to the family and the driver of the car. This was a very unfortunate and tragic accident. The ride will continue on next year, and the strength of the family has been amazing. His mother was in the event and released a statement stating she will continue to participate in the event next.

I want to congratulate everyone involved with the event though this year. The money raised is amazing and will make immediate impacts in cancer research projects that will benefit people world wide. I had the honour of participating in the opening ceremonies (I am having some trouble uploading the video....). Not a dry eye in the house, but it does an amazing job of symbolizing why we are here and why we continue to fight. Thank you to all of the organizers, with a special shout out to Byron and Boryana! Life long friends and amazing people!

I am very proud of my team, "Team Phoenix" as we raised almost $28000 and I have already registered the team for next year. This is a team photo about 6 km from the finish line.
 
From L to R: Destry, Eamonn, Jacquie, Jill, Heather, Sara, Shannon, Kurt
It was a long couple of days, but the weather was amazing this year. Last year it poured while this year it was sunny the whole way there over the two days. I was faster this year by more than an hour which was my goal. It was nice to see that I am getting stronger again. I can bike 240 km and feel not horrible afterwards (My legs were very stiff the next day but I still made it to work!). This was such an adventure again this year, over 16 hours on the bike (for me, some of my team mates are much faster!), but we made it. I am proud of the team and what they accomplished.

Here are a few selected photos from the trip (not in any particular order), I will be posting a full photo album in the next couple days, along with some video too. Some of the pics are my team, some random teams, the start line pictures of the crowd is amazing. So many people! I can't wait to do it all again next year!






























Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Here we Go! Riding to Conquer Cancer!

Hey All! A bit of a long one today! I just kind of started writing this morning and it ended up being long!

In just three short days I will be riding my bicycle from Vancouver BC to Seattle WA in support of the BC Cancer Foundation. I can't wait! Thank you to all my readers and to all the people who took the time to read my web page about the ride! (www.conquercancer.ca/goto/eamonnc)

The week leading up to the ride is so much fun. Training has been completed for a few days now, and on things like twitter (#rtcc) things are popping up all over the place! I have been able to see pictures of the ride in Ontario, this week will be BC, and soon enough Quebec and Alberta will be following. Four awesome rides to conquer cancer!

It is an emotional week for sure. I used cycling  as a way to get back into shape after chemo/surgery/radiation, and as a vessel to give back to the people that helped me so much, and continue to monitor me and my health. Most importantly, they continue to help people diagnosed with cancer. Help them fight back.

One of the most interesting (for lack of a better word) parts of the ride is the "cheer stations" along the ride route. These are a few designated areas where people can gather and meet up to cheer on the riders (although there are people in spots all over the ride, it is so awesome to see just random people at the end of their driveways in the middle of farmland Washington out cheering us on!). Last year, I saw a kid with a sign that just said "Thanks! Heading to my last chemo". I nearly had to stop and break down. It was a really hard moment. I know what that kid is going through, I know the excitement of being "done" chemo and everything that comes after it. I don't know what it is to be that little and go through something like that. Tough kid, tough parents for sure. It is a painful reminder of how far we still have to go. 2 in 5 Canadians are diagnosed with cancer, and 1 in 4 die. I read recently it is the number one killer in every province in Canada now. Terrifying to know how close I was to the edge. To take a quote from Sara recently, "These aren't just numbers, these are people. Wives, Husbands, children, parents, friends brothers, sisters."

The total ride distance, 240 km, seems like a long way to go, but it is nothing compared to how far we still have to go in our fight against cancer. When people ask me about the distance, I say it is essentially nothing and I get funny looks a lot of the time. I train, I prepare. You can't do either for a cancer diagnosis. I can take breaks, I can rest, I can re-energize. Things I couldn't do when I had cancer. This distance and the obstacles that come with it are so minor compared to what I went through with cancer. A flat tire in the rain sucks for sure, but I can certainly put it into perspective. I can laugh about how my knees are stiff, my butt is sore, and so are my shoulders. But they will be fine in a few days. I know that. The people in the event are amazing. So helpful, and more importantly so positive in what can only be described as a happy, optimistic yet very somber event. Every person their has been affected by cancer, but they are still smiling. So many stories. We will beat this one day I am confident. So is everyone else.

I am in a very fortunate position. No matter what happens, I have had the last 18 months cancer free, and have been able to get on my bike (some people tell me too soon, but if I didn't I drive myself as hard, I probably would only be doing the ride for the first time this year...). I can do this event, and I will continue to, as long as I am healthy enough to do so. One thing cancer survivors know is how quickly things can change, and I respect that. But nothing will take away my desire to "help out". I am "healthy" outside of the nagging side effects that come along with cancer, but at the end of the day, I know many cancer patients are not as fortunate. Too many people have heard the word "incurable". I will continue to ride for them. 
Team Jerseys for the Ride!

My efforts are for everyone who had to fight, those who are, those who will fight in the future, and those who can't fight anymore.

So thanks again for your support everyone. Together, with our combined efforts we can beat this. We are all in this together,

Sincerely,

Eamonn

PS I will put up pictures I take from the event as it goes along and post them up next week. They will be great! So no blog Sunday, but shortly after it will be up!

Sunday, 9 June 2013

One week to go until The big Ride!

Hey all,

It has been a busy weekend, last weekend of training and all for the big bike ride.

This coming Saturday, myself and 4000 other people will be cycling from Vancouver BC to Seattle WA. Should be exciting! As it seems to rain every year, I have planned accordingly and purchased some solid rain gear. I finished training on Saturday, and have done over 1000 km on my bike this year (by a lot) and am doing the full 240 km to Seattle next weekend. This one is for everyone who had to fight, everyone who still is, and every one who has to fight in the future.

It will be an emotional weekend I am sure. Last year, when I did it for the first time, I was so focused on "Getting there" and getting to the finish line. this year, I had some time to really think about everything going on. I personally raised over $3000 again this year, and I am pretty proud of that. I hope when I participate next year, I will be able to pass $10000 total raised. My team however, raised much more than this. It is really exciting. This week, we passed $26000 raised. Pretty exciting stuff!

I hope the money all goes to good use and really starts making a difference for people. I know I have personally been in equipment (PET-CT scanner) purchase from this ride at the BCCA. A piece of equipment that would not of been there otherwise. Really puts the whole ride into perspective. It is amazing what so many people can do just by a simple thing like getting on a bike.

I am thankful for everyone who donated. It really does make a difference. Research is working, and one day we will get there. Until then, I will keep riding my bike, and keep raising money.

Take care everyone and see you in Seattle!

PS I will still be posting this Wednesday before the ride, but I will be riding on Sunday so no post that day! But the next post will likely have many pictures and things from the ride! So stay tuned! See 4000 people making a difference!

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Good News is Bittersweet

I got great news this week. I am 18 months free of cancer. Truly awesome and I am so very thankful for it. I find it hard to jump for joy so to speak though at moments like this.

Don't get me wrong, I couldn't be happier. I have my health. I am thrilled about that. I went in, my oncologist smiled, gave me the good news and I could have that wonderful moment of not worrying. But the "high" that comes with it only lasts shortly I find. Almost instantly I feel like a jerk because I am in the chemo clinic. There are active patients everywhere and people finding out they have cancer or are waiting on results or whatever. It brings me back to earth in a hurry. Like when you fall off your skis fast. It is so bittersweet. I am happy. I am lucky. Things seem to be going okay so far. But it isn't the story for everyone. It is a hard moment. Why does one person get to do well while others don't. It is an odd moment.

So when I leave, I call home, call my friends, and they all can be relieved too. Some people are great and give me all the time I need to talk about it. Some people just give me the "yeah I knew" and didn't seem too concerned at all. This is also a weird feeling. I am glad they are not bothered but at the same time, kind of mad about it. Why weren't they more concerned? Are they concerned at all? I don't know. I guess I am just a bit jealous that they don't have to worry or choose not to show me that they worry. It seems like leading up to an appointment some people give you all the time in the world, and then once it is over, they cut off communication again. I don't understand it. No worries I guess. I think I am just a bit confused by it all.

The check up results day is such an odd experience and no way to describe it properly I think. At least by me. I am happy to get good news after all the stress of medical tests. I get a few days to not worry. I wait until I get my appointment card in the mail and think about the next one. I think about all the people who haven't been as fortunate as me. It is an emotional day is all. I think about a lot of things, probably too much on these days. But I keep moving forward, as bittersweet as it is.


Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Barely Three Weeks to go before "The Ride"

Sorry for no post on Sunday! Memorial Cup was on and my hometown team the Halifax Mooseheads were in it so I was watching that! And they won so it was great!

Well, it is only three weeks away until the "Ride to Conquer Cancer" is upon us. In just a few weeks, (June 15-16) me and almost 4000 others will be riding their bikes from Vancouver to Seattle as a conclusion to this years fund raising event. Training has been going well, and fund raising has gone better than expected (My web page for it! www.conquercancer.ca/goto/eamonnc). When I started out this year I set a goal for the team I was starting (Team Phoenix, team jerseys come tomorrow! So excited!) to raise $20000 for cancer research. We have already passed that mark by $3000 now and I couldn't be prouder of everyone involved (especially Sara! Man she carried a lot of the work!). This event for me gives me personally a lot of satisfaction and pride in helping out raise money to fight back against cancer. It probably is the most satisfying thing I have ever been a part of. 

The ride itself is great fun. Every person in the event who is a cancer survivor has the option of having a yellow flag attached to their bike. I personally like identifying as a survivor and seeing all the others out there too. I feel it can give people a bit of hope that they can still do great things after cancer. I will never forget when I started training during chemo, I could barely go one km on my bike, now I do 240 km over this weekend. I like knowing that things got better.
Me and my yellow flag 2012

One of my favorite parts is at camp at the end of the first day. Not just because I no longer have to peddle any more for that day, and my butt gets a break from the seat, but because we get to hear the total funds raised. Last year, it was $11.2 million, which suffice to say is a huge number. It has gotten larger each year and I can't wait to see what it gets up to this year!

Me at the finish line 2012
I find it hard to write about the ride sometimes. I really enjoy. It was my goal to be able to do it while I was sick, and I love raising the money each year. It is surely something I will continue with for a long time. I do have fears about not being able to do it. I usually have a check up around the same time. I have x-rays next week. It is just a very emotional time for me.I love it. I am scared to lose it (go back to being sick). I know how much it helps people, and I want to continue to help. I know how much it helped me.

Part of me wonders how "selfish" it makes me to do something like this. I know I got started in this because I got sick. I often tell people the biggest make I have made in my life was waiting until I got sick to get involved with something of this magnitude. I often wonder how much I could of done if I had of started earlier in life with events like this. So I always try to encourage to find an event, whatever the good cause and get involved. Helping people not only makes you feel good, but it makes others feel good too, and in some way, that matters more to me. I don't want people to have to go through what I did.

So I will close just by saying thanks to all the readers out there, and I hope in some small way this blog and my writing helps people. I know it helps me, and without it, and events like "The Ride" I wouldn't of met so many wonderful people out there.

Take care!

Eamonn


Last years team, "Riders for Ryders" at camp!





Wednesday, 22 May 2013

How Much Time do We Spend Waiting?

One of the hardest parts about going through cancer treatment, leading up to it, and for a long time after is all of the waiting a person might do.

We wait for everything. The next scan, the next blood test, the next result, the next pain, the next side effect, the next break down and the next build up. I have waited for the next surgery, the next round of chemo, the side effects that come along, the next day of radiation the next painful and often difficult step, and I waited patiently for it all to be completed.

Personally I know I have a hard time managing the waiting periods. Knowing your life could change in an instance is something any cancer patient or survivor is all too familiar with. I wait patiently until the next check up to hopefully be told everything is okay, and then I get to wait some more before the next one.

If you are anything like me, I feel I have to wait a little longer with things like investing, sometimes work, and family planning. These were things that were very much put on hold when I was sick, and continue in many aspects afterwards as I go through everything that comes after cancer. I used to have a solid plan of when and how I was going to do some of these things, but it becomes a matter of waiting for the right time. When the right time is, that is anybody's guess. Recently, I am waiting on news of an MRI scan and blood work. More waiting.

I find I am becoming better equipped to deal with these waiting periods. I spent a lot of time worrying during these periods, which doesn't help but is sometimes unavoidable. I don't want to spend my life waiting for good news, sometimes paralyzed by it, and then when good news comes, start waiting for the next round of the same.

I have spent too much time waiting, waiting and waiting some more. I hate it. I have worked for a long time to not have to wait anymore. I am confident I will be at a place soon where I can start to take control again and start living life to fullest again. Ironically, I still have to be patient and wait a little longer to fully be there.


Sunday, 19 May 2013

Long Weekends and Bike Riding

I consider myself very lucky these days to have long holiday weekends such as this one to do what I want to do.

This weekend so far I have done two bike rides, one 40 km with many hills and a longer on 80 km with less hills (still more than I thought there was going to be...). I have a lot of time to think about a lot of things when on a ride that long.

Todays ride a couple things really went through my head. The ride was a tough one today. The weather was changing, and there was a really bad head wind for a good portion of it. Head winds are very tough when you have not super strong legs like me (still rebuilding from surgery) they can wear you out so quickly. But at the same time, I was out. I was so appreciative of that. 

Many holiday weekends I had when going through cancer treatment involved on of two things. Either being too sick to leave the house and go anywhere, or being sick enough that I was admitted to the hospital and ended up staying there for several days. Both were miserable. Far worse than any pain or annoyance I get when I am out on the road biking.

I am happy to have these weekends. It motivates me more and more with my bike riding. This week, my cycling team passed $20000 raised for cancer research and I couldn't be more thrilled about it (www.conquercancer.ca/goto/eamonnc). I know this will help to bring some of these long weekends back to others, and I hope my fundraising continues to go well to help more people. I think it is amazing that I can get my long weekend back, raise money for cancer research and make a difference in peoples lives all by simply riding my bike.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Trying to Find Balance

One thing that makes life hard for someone (like me) who had cancer (or any other major illness) is how life becomes so uncertain so fast. Young or old, I think this holds true. 

It becomes a constant struggle I find to balance long term and short term goals, and finding a "balance in your life. Many days I have a hard time with this, more so if I am not feeling great. Work can be stressful, I just want to leave some days, other days it is great. I feel to find a good balance you need a consistent life, something which cancer survivors or patients don't really have.

I think for me, I am still hesitant to make a lot of long term goals. Every three to four months I go in to see the doctor again, and I know first hand how fast things can change. This mentality can sometimes make long term planning at work or at home very stressful. In some cases, short term planning becomes stressful too. For example, I am waiting for MRI results currently. I have two conferences I want to go to for work in the next four weeks. I don't know if I can go, but I have to book soon (basically by Friday) before I have my results. If the tests are fine (which I believe they will be) then no problem. If it isn't then I am out a bunch of money without the ability to work for an extended period of time. Problematic.

Day to day, I do alright. I still work hard every day at my job, but some times my mind can wander a bit, and I have to real it back in. I start to think what would I want to do if I had to go back in again. I really feel I haven't done a good job at "living" and doing the things I said I wanted to do after treatment. I went back to work right away, wish I could of taken time off, but rent needs to get paid! I reached some of my main goals, which was very important and certainly don't want to trivialize that. Getting back into decent shape was a big undertaking and I finally feel like I am making progress with that. Still a ways to go but it is getting there. I still am not sure what I want to do for work, this can lead to frustrations a lot of the time. I am under a lot of pressure to do certain things and act a certain way by the world. I haven't been able to find that balance of what I want to do versus what others want, or need me to do. 

I still feel like the world is watching over me and scrutinizing what I do. I wish I could just go away for a few days and be by myself, but I can't really. I need to be at work, and I need to be at home. I am very envious of people who at least get the opportunity to rediscover themselves or take vacation or whatever after treatment is done. I know it doesn't always go perfectly but at least they have an opportunity. I would love to have some time off to readjust and really find what balance I want in my life.

I don't always know if what I am writing makes much sense. I think today might be one of those days.


Sunday, 12 May 2013

What a Week this has Been

It has been a tough couple of days. 

I had a surprise check up to get my leg looked at where I had surgery. They doctor poked around a bit and told me that the bump in my leg was probably scar tissue. I was elated.

That elation lasted about a day or two before I started worrying again. That wasn't really much of a test, but I know they wouldn't of told me this otherwise based on my past experiences at the cancer agency. I have an MRI on Monday as my regular check ups go so I will know for sure. Again, tons of stress with each one of these. I am not alone in those types of things.

I have a long layover between my scan and meeting with my oncologist. Longer than ever before. Again added stress. What if they call before hand? What if they don't? Why is there such a long lay over this time? Am I not important anymore? Am I fine? Am I a lost cause? All thoughts that I have.Whether real or not, scan time is stress time.

I get so stressed out around checkups and doctors appointments. Even more so when I start poking around my leg and feeling how lumpy it is. I cannot keep track of them all. It is tough. I always poke my leg until it is hurting or bruised when I find these spots. It sucks, but I can't seem to talk myself out of it. It can wear someone pretty thin.

I worry because I am scared of what a bad test result would mean. No one wants a recurrence. I am cancer free and I want to stay that way. I don't want to have to go back to the chemo ward. I don't want to have more surgery. I don't want to die. When I think about these things, it wears me down to the bone.

I am a cancer survivor. It has effected my life greatly. I don't want it to effect it anymore than it has. It hurt so many people in my family. So many friends have felt the pain of it too.

I honestly feel for everyone who has had to go through this. Patient, family, friends and care givers. It truly is hell on a persons body and soul. I am looking forward for these next few weeks to be passed. Then I can relax again.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Scanxiety, so you are back...

"Scanxiety" is no fun. For those of you who don't really know what it is, it is basically the fear of getting medicals tests (scans) and the potential results to follow.

Almost every person I have talked to who went through cancer gets this before their check ups. You may feel good, or not, but going into these tests it makes things, like life just a bit more difficult then you may want.

For me, particularly, my MRI scans really stress me out. Blood work doesn't bother me so much as I know my blood is still not great (you should see the bruise on my hand from just getting one vial of blood drawn on Monday!). These days, I know I have some scar tissue in my leg, I know it is harder than normal skin, and no matter what people say it "looks like" I really need the MRI results to tell me what is going on.

Every three months or so I get an MRI. I go in, lie in a room on a table, get injected with imaging agents, and wait about 45 minutes for the scan to be done on my leg and hip. The process itself isn't so bad, it is the week leading up to, and in many cases, the week after, waiting for results. This whole process leads to phantom symptoms, and unnecessary worry.

So many thoughts run through your head. I have been told if we don't call right away that is good. No emergency. But my mind will wander to maybe they haven't called because there is a big meeting of all my doctors to find out what treatment I need next. Or maybe, the exact opposite, just a quick look at my scans and Oh Eamonn is fine still goes through my oncologists head, I wonder if he is still going to the gym and then she goes back to work.Waiting waiting and more waiting, I am a natural worrier, always have been, and this makes things just harder is all. To be fair, they have always been great to me, I am not blaming the doctors or anything, it is just a stressful time is all.

So I go in this Monday for my next MRI scan, and of course I am concerned. I was in last week to get some parts of my leg inspected and the doctor didn't seem to concerned. That eased my mind for a day or two, but then I think The MRI is the real test. Even though I know I have some of the best oncologists in the world, and they wouldn't send me away with that message if they thought it was bad, it doesn't always do much to make me feel better.

It is enough sometimes to make you break, or feel very close to it. The joy of a clean scan is one of the greatest feelings in the world I have ever felt. The fear of what bad news would mean...I know what it would mean and I don't want to go back there. No one does. But I will continue to focus on the positive and keep thinking happy thoughts as best I can.

So here I am, having another nervous week or two. Another round of scanxiety. But I am hopeful that it will go as the others since I finished treatment.

A whole lot of unnecessary worry.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Food, How I missed it.

One of the hardest parts about having chemo and feeling gross all the time, is it really effects your ability to eat.

I love food. A good meal is probably one of my favorite things around. The problem with when you get chemo (or radiation around your neck/mouth) is it really effects your ability to eat.

A lot of people assume that this is mostly because of nausea.  And for some people that really is true. I had pretty good nausea meds so it wasn't that bad. Only the day I got chemo and the next were particularly bad. It was all the other side effects that I really didn't know about. 

Chemotherapy targets all parts of your body, and all fast reproducing cells. Many of these live in your mouth, next and intestines. This was probably one of the hardest parts for me. My mouth was in pieces because of chemo. I had a badly blistered mouth, and a badly swollen tongue. Many days this made not only eating, but talking nearly impossible, and extremely painful. Similarly, when I could eat, it was often painful as my body processed it (as you can imagine, not an ideal system). I ended up losing quite a bit of weight (as you do) and eating was a necessary chore.

My taste buds were also heavily effected. Food that I liked, I didn't anymore, and many foods were too "harsh" for my system to be able to handle. I really missed food during this time. One of the worst things was I had to give up coffee. Just couldn't deal with it, and to be honest, coffee is one of my favorite things.

Losing your ability to eat is one of the hardest parts I had during chemo. I wanted to eat. Desperately. But it was physically painful. As I mentioned sometimes so painful that I physically couldn't do it, even with pain killers.

Now those days are behind me. And if my luck holds out, I will never have this problem again. I missed food. I love every meal. I love every smell. I love being able to eat. I eat healthy and I love the process of cooking, and enjoying a meal with friends. I won't ever forget that part of my life. I won't take for granted any meal I eat.

I still can't eat everything. Spicy foods aren't great in particular. But hey, I eat what I can, as with all cancer side effects, I let my body tell me what I can do and what I can't do. At the end of the day, I am happy to be alive, and happy to be doing okay. And I will eat to that.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Checkups, Checkups and more Checkups

It seems like they never end. 

Yesterday I went in to see my oncologist (hence the delayed post) because of some lumpyness in my leg where I had surgery to remove a tumor in 2011. So I sometimes get extra concerned and need to get it checked up on in between checkups.

It is basically impossible to keep track of where all the lumps and bumps are I have found, so I called in Monday, got in yesterday, and was told it is scar tissue. It was the "wrong consistency" to be a lymph node tumor. All great news, but really stressful. Unexpected checkups are the scariest I find. I have had a few now. And they don't extend the time that I need to go back for another checkup. So I end up with an extra one. Not a bad thing, just a stressful process.

I also have a checkup coming up in the next two weeks. Blood work, MRI and visiting with the oncologist again. These check ups I find are slightly less stressful, but I still get concerns every time I go in. So more checkups. And although they are technically only every three months, the tests them selves bring me to the hospital more often, a week early for blood work, two for MRIs. More checkups.

Then, as anyone who has had cancer or taken care of one, this is kind of the standard procedure if you will. I don't live in a hospital anymore, but I certainly do depend on it. It still finds a way to bring concerns I don't want and stress into my life. Checkups can rule your schedule. They are necessary for a long time, I get that and I understand that. I appreciate that checkups are they, but they are stressful. People have told me, each checkup gets easier. I have found the opposite. The more I get through, the further away from treatment I am, and the further my life gets along, the more worried I feel about going back "there". 

Checkups are now a part of my life it seems. It will stay that way for awhile and although it adds a lot of stress it is good to hear when things are going well.