I did not know much about cancer, or the side effects of treatment before I myself was diagnosed. I expected I would feel sick often, my hair would fall out and I would likely not be able to taste properly or at all. What I did not consider, until the very moment it became my reality is that chemotherapy would wreak havoc on my gastrointestinal system. If we stop to think about it, it makes perfect sense. All of that toxic liquid is being pumped into our veins and like anything else, it’s gotta come out one way or the other!
Join me for more on my cancer recovery and why it is so important to self-advocate.
I felt guilty for doing what was natural to me all too often; sharing. I heard it often enough that it became part of my internal dialogue. I started scolding myself for sharing, questioning everything I said to my friends, and at times even felt shame for sharing. At some point over the years, I decided to give myself grace and settled into the type of comfort only people who genuinely know and love themselves can understand. After my diagnosis, I began noticing how people reacted to my honesty. It is no surprise that people are uncomfortable with talking about ‘the big C’. I am acutely aware of this, as I used to be one of those people. I also recognized that people just do not like the feeling of experiencing someone else’s negative feelings. It’s never pleasant and many people default to fixers. Still, I had this driving need to honor myself, to speak my truth, and, maybe most importantly in this case, to raise awareness of an illness I never even knew existed until I was sitting in front of a doctor telling me I had it.
It was three years ago, right this very moment, I sat on the side of my bed, covered in bruises, blood vessels bursting, hemorrhaging, on the phone with TeleHealth to ask them if they thought I should go to work or not. I intended on going. I had already missed a full week in the office for the muscle I had locked in my hip days before. I didn’t want to miss anymore time at work.
It was easy to pass it off as not a big deal. Like I was being a big baby. I should just suck it up because duty calls.
I allowed the emotions to visit me because it’s healthy to remember from where and how far you’ve come. Not only to pat myself on the back for my progress but also as continued motivation.
I only stayed there for a very short while; a few minutes at best. It’s not healthy to stay there any longer. It’s in the past and serves no great purpose. Instead, I began thinking about what it took to break the anxiety. Not only learning the lessons of how to be healthier mentally but also to begin putting those lessons into practice.
One of the things I promised myself was I would never lead my life with fear again.
If anyone had suggested, even two years ago, that one day I would stand on a stage talking to 500 women in a cat onesie about my cancer journey, I would have suggested they seek therapy! Yet, on January 18, 2019 that’s exactly what I did. I had the great privilege of guest speaking atContinue reading “Our Sisters In Pink Fundraiser”
As I mentioned in my last article, Cancerversary Turmoil, it’s been a very emotional couple of weeks for me…I’m realizing for my family, people who are very close to me and even some who aren’t always so close too. Christmas now takes on a very different meaning for us all. On Christmas day last year,Continue reading “How Complacency Almost Cost Me My Life”
According to an article written by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information, nearly 30% of people diagnosed with Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia die either prior to treatment beginning, within the first 3 days of treatment, proceeding the first 3 days of treatment or in the moderate to high risk group. What it boils down to is, the time from onset to mortality is very short and the symptoms of leukemia can be chalked up to anything from overexertion in day to day life to the flu. Before you know it, it has advanced beyond the point of a body’s ability to handle the treatment or protect itself anymore. I am within the high risk group and can’t help but wonder if my (former) family doctor had taken my concern seriously the first time I called how that would have changed what I had to go through to get well again. Highlighting the urgent need for us, as patients, to advocate for ourselves.
Thanks for joining me! Please let me introduce myself! My name is Michelle. This is a photo of me before my life fell apart. Then, I would have continued my introduction by saying, ‘I am a full time career woman and a proud mother’. I likely would have boasted about the hard work I’ve done throughout my 15 year career in the financial industry. How I’ve built a respectable reputation as a hard working, passionate professional. Through no fault of any employer, what I wouldn’t have told you about is the stress, anxiety, and my inability to maintain a healthy work/life balance. I’ve simply always put too much pressure on myself and in hindsight, am certain I suffered from some sort of anxiety disorder. This is a photo of me now.