Creepers and Stalkers and Trolls, Oh My!

troll-1916370_960_720.jpgWriting today is mostly therapeutic and I apologize in advance for my anxious thoughts. You see, I’m on a clinical trial for metastatic melanoma and due up for my next visit at Dana Farber Cancer Institute. I’ve done well to get on with life, take breaks as needed, and think like my pre-cancer self.

Without Exception

Today the thoughts creep in, a bit more than the usual cancer stuff. It’s always there, the c-word stuff, but I believe I’m exceptional! Exceptional at keeping thoughts at bay, exceptional at ignoring thoughts, and exceptionally exceptional at creating an aura of life is good. Other cancer patients can relate to this!

Three months without my melanoma team, free to push myself through fatigue heavy days and achy joint night. Samplings of joy, love, and life finely sift through my new colander of life. Every moment is rich, alive, and mine for the living.

Whither Shall I Wander?

Prisoner in my own mind, my desire to stay in-the-now wanders down the path of next up. Next up means scans, tests, appointments with oncologists, dermatologists, and the infusion staff. These thoughts are like stalkers in my mind, no longer allowing me the freedom to be.

Plans for the trip to Dana Farber unfold, questions to be asked are written in THE notebook, the medical backpack is unpacked and repacked. Stalker thoughts are unavoidable and while this is not the travel adventure we anticipate, having the blue print in place becomes the norm.

Lost in Thought

Inching closer to the big medical day, it’s more of a challenge to ensure that my health information is current, that all pieces are in place. Racing toward a date that I’d rather avoid, troll-like nasties invade my head space. Ugly, worrisome thoughts greedily take up residence, regardless of how I attempt to evict them.

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Stay the course!

Feelings of balance and ideas of inspiration are mislaid; moments of hope are obscured as medical melee overrules. The unknown of the next medical segment may leave us feeling lost and filled with fear. Forsake those feelings as best you can as solace comes from love and understanding.

In The Know

The best cancer tip I can offer is that being organized helps. It may not sound like much but a medical backpack, a notebook, a caregiver…any or all provide cancer support. Know your schedule and print it. You will learn how to find all the offices, labs, and treatment areas; though it sounds odd, there is comfort in having a routine for your cancer trips.

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Words of encouragement found on my fridge magnet from Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

Days and hours leading up to your next appointments may be fraught with worry. Organize ahead of your appointments, shoo away thoughts of the unknown to make room for thoughts of courage. #braverthanyoubelieve  #melanomatheskin #melanoma #cancer

We can-cervive,

Janis

May You Be Ready for June, July…

“May, more than any other month of the year, wants us to feel alive” -Fennel Hudson

May is also melanoma and skin cancer awareness month, a great time of year to build awareness and to change lifelong habits of sun worship.  I’ve focused my writing this past month on inspiration, courage, and hope.  I’ve shared tips for cancer patients, caregivers, and interested by-standers. And whoa, the month is gone like that, my favorite!

May Day, May Day

A month for renewal, lovely lilacs, and those darn four-o’clock in the morning birds, May brings us a splendor of sensory delight in New England.  While May is the month that targets melanoma education, every month needs to be about sun safety.  If it’s January and you are out for a ski, be prepared.  April and a seemingly overcast day, the sun’s rays are burrowing through the clouds (and potentially your skin).  November, with the sun distancing itself, still offering powerful cancer causing light.

 

May You Be Open to Change

Summer we are more habitual with our sun screen and shade seeking; make #sunsmarts a year round routine.  As a librarian, passionate about early literacy, I always encourage families to make reading at least a twice daily habit, “kinda like brushing your teeth”.  Make skin care rote year round, too; get your groove on, keep sun safety simple, and enjoy!

Okay, I am a word nerd and you’ll recognize my fervency for language, books, and expression throughout my blog. The online dictionary, Merriam-Webster.com, defines the word may as “having the ability to” and  also means having possibility. Think MAY as we jump to June! Give yourself the upturn of May year round!

#melanoma #melanomatheskinwerein #melanomamonth

We can-cer vive!

Janis

Two Heads Are Better Than One

So Cliché

and so true!  Learning you have cancer may put you in a tailspin. My post, “In An Instance”, shares how that one moment changes your life forever.  Not the way you anticipate your life to go, but hey, we all have our challenges.  With all the change in my life, I’ve had the education of a lifetime, literally. Having a go-to person for all the medical melee is essential. And remember, your caregiver’s life has been rocked forever, as well.

Do you have someone to take you to appointments, surgeries, scans, etc? This is a critical part of your healthcare.  Learning about my melanoma was tough, but easier to deal with in the comfort of my own home, my own life.  I thought I was also ready for the medical world. Ensconced in the ‘idea” of cancer, I was ready to deal, or so I believed.

Going to appointments, with the wealth of information and limited options, threw me for a curve.  A great listener by nature, I now found myself half-hearing. A family member had said that a support person is essential as somehow the patient mind checks out.  He was so right with this!  Our minds protect us when trying to process any trauma or difficult information.  Instant processing doesn’t happen for most of us, and so we catch some of the medical conversation, not all.  At times, I feel as though I am an object being discussed while I observe from above….crazy, right?  It might just be my way to try to have some objectivity.

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Janus- The two headed God of beginnings and passages

Location, Location, Location

Having someone with you is critical to your whole health plan.  Don’t consider this an extra to your cancer care; you need to have someone help you.  For one example of the challenges (and minor in the whole scheme of things), with two people you are able to navigate actual physical challenges such as finding your medical facility, planning your day, acquiring wheel chairs, local parking, and actual location of your scans, doctors, etc.

Finding your way may sound easy or tough, but when you add that layer of cancer angst, everyday things become more challenging.  Two people can each use their strengths to pull a full day of cancer related appointments.  This is not where we want to be but figure out what works best for you and appreciate that support.  Finding our way has so many layers!

Get It Together

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Photo by Fancycrave on Pexels.com

At my last CT scan, I overheard a gentleman on his phone, saying he came by himself to the hospital as it is too hard for his elderly father to bring him to Boston. He was there alone, nervous, and scared. All too often, cancer patients have no one to support them. Find resources that work for you!

Help is out there, and Dana Farber Cancer Institute is one example of Patient Navigator support.  Cancer patients have so much to contend with and these health care professionals are there to provide services and inspiration.  Whether flying solo,  needing travel information, needing language translators, or wanting additional support, consider these options as part of your plan.  All cancer facilities have options for navigators, social services, counselors, and more. “Together” has many faces and please find the services that make your cancer journey easier.

What support do you have in place? What is working well for you?  I’d love to hear from you! And a HUGE thank you to all of you in support and caregiver roles. Hope lives through you! #melanoma #melanomatheskinwerein #cancersupport

We Can-Cer vive!

Janis