After getting over the initial shock of my diagnosis, I found that the next couple weeks truly were an emotional roller coaster. Throughout my life, I have experienced emotional ups and downs, but never before have I experienced such a drastic range of emotions in such a short period of time. Some days I wake up feeling great. On those days, I am able to focus on the logic of the situation, the treatment details and the thing I need to do that day. I run through the appointments, the paperwork and the to do lists. I talk to friends and get excited about upcoming non-cancer events, weddings, births, and birthdays. Other days, I wake up and feel like I am drowning in a deep dark pit of cancer despair. On those days, the weight of the situation feels like too much to handle and fear takes over. On those days, my tears are free falling and simple problems like refilling a prescription feel insurmountable.
What I am coming to see is that all of those emotions are valid and they are all part of the process. It’s ok to be sad, it’s ok to be angry and it’s definitely ok to be happy. It might sound strange to include happiness on that list, but sometimes I find myself feeling guilty for being happy. That emotion feels so out of place right now. Those happy moments are the ones to embrace though. When you’re going through your day and you forget you have cancer, that is the best feeling in the world. If only I could live in those moments everyday.
The other night I was thinking about blog post ideas and I knew I wanted to write about the things in my life that are bringing me joy during this rough time. The song “Ain’t No Sunshine” came to mind, which I love, and I decided to go with the idea of finding your sunshine. Throughout any challenge, there are things, people and events that can lift us up, inspire us and brighten our days. For me, finding my sunshine has helped keep me positive and pull me out when I begin to fall back into that pit of cancer despair. For each person that sunshine can be different and it may take time to figure our what yours will be.
Here are some of the things that bring me sunshine…
My Husband: My husband has been my first source of inspiration. I always knew he was a good egg, that’s why I married him, but ever since I received my diagnosis, he has really become my rock emotionally physically and mentally. He forces me to keep going when I don’t want to, he makes me feel beautiful when I don’t see my own beauty and he is constantly striving to figure out how he can better support me through this experience. He has stepped up to the plate and has shown me that he is an even more amazing man than I ever realized. I am telling you, you have to find your person and hold on tight.
Sophie: For those of you that don’t know Sophie, you are missing out. I had to include a few pictures for your viewing pleasure. She is too cute for words and she brings us so much joy. Her snuggles and puppy kisses can always cheer me up during a hard day.
Friends & Socializing: Another source of joy for me has been my friends and my social life. I have always been a social butterfly and an extrovert. Lately, my social plans have begun to hold more value for me. Having some kind of plan, whether it is lunch with friends or a trip to the grocery store, keeps me accountable during my day and prevents me from focusing too much on the fear and the unknown. Socializing also helps me maintain some sense of normalcy. On those days when I am feeling down, the fact that I have a plan or somewhere to be, helps me get out of bed, and gives me a reason to pull myself together. After surgery, having my friends come by my hospital room was really great. It was that uplifting social interaction that gave me the strength and the positivity I needed to fight through the pain and discomfort of my recovery. If you’re like me and you get energy from social interaction find small ways to let people into your life during your treatment. If you are more of an introvert, make sure you tell those around you that you need space. The amazing thing about people is that they truly will respect your desires, if you tell them what you want. Mac and I have been very upfront about what we need and what is helpful to us. This has helped us get more of what we need and those around us who want to help, know exactly how to do so.
Beauty: I am the ultimate girlie girl and I love everything fashion and beauty related. Hair products, new makeup, shopping for clothes, and anything pink make me so happy. I love the creative artistic side of the beauty world. As I have been adjusting to the cancer news and what that journey means for me both physically and emotion, beauty has continued to bring me enjoyment and confidence. Spending a little more time getting ready, has given me a that extra boost I need to get through a tough day. When I feel good about the way I look, I feel more comfortable and confident. At a time when I feel so unsure and uncomfortable about so many things, including my body, this added confidence goes a long way. A good hairdo and little makeup can make you feel a little better while you spend hours in a hospital gown, and you never know when your hairstyle might help you make a new friend**.
** I started wear my hair in a sock bun about 3 years ago. I have become known for it in a way. It’s my go to style for bad hair days. That nifty sock bun starts more conversations than you would ever imagine. The first day I was UNC for all my initial testing, a doctor stopped to compliment me on my sock bun as she rushed by in the Mammography waiting room. After many hours of waiting, multiple appointments and lots of begging, I was back in the same waiting room trying to get my biopsy scheduled for the same day. I was anxious to get the biopsy done before I left for Mexico in 3 days. Finally they took pity on me and the receptionist informed me that the doctor would do the biopsy if I was willing to wait another couple of hours. Thirty minutes later the doctor emerged to call me back and what do you know, it was the same woman who complimented me earlier in the day. Before going back for the procedure, we bonded over our earlier interaction and our love for beauty and fashion. It may seem insignificant, but that interaction helped alleviate some of my fear and made me feel more comfortable with the stranger inserting a huge needle into my breast. Dr. Jordan ended up being my point of contact for the next few weeks. She gave me her personal cell phone and kept up with me until I got my official diagnosis and was set up with my surgeon and oncologist. I will always be thankful for that connection.
Maybe the things that lift me up, mean nothing to you, but I hope each of you can take a moment to figure out what your sunshine will be. It will be those things that you cherish the most that will get you through the hardest days.