Goodbye 2012, this song is for you:
"Go on now, go, walk out the door, just turn around now
'Cause you're not welcome anymore
Weren't you the one, who tried to hurt me with goodbye?
Did you think I'd crumble? Did you think I'd lay down and die?
Oh, no, not I, I will survive
Oh, as long as I know how to love, I know I'll stay alive
I've got all my life to live, I've got all my love to give
And I'll survive, I will survive, hey, hey"
Jan 1, 2013. The first day of a life changing year. By Dec 31, 2013 my life will be completely different. I have incredible hurdles to accomplish the first 6 months of this year and the last six months I will be accomplishing goals that will ensure I'll live a long, healthy and strong life. Having cancer changes you internally and 50% odds of getting a new cancer means cancer will forever be my life. I don't mean I'm anticipating getting cancer again, in fact I believe the opposite. I am going to everything in my power to make sure I don't get cancer again. That is why cancer will forever be a huge part of my life, even when I'm deemed cancer free. But I first need to get through this cancer before I can start preventing a new cancer.
On January 28, 2013 I will have my last round of chemotherapy, just a few days before my 35th birthday. It is a major accomplishment and probably the end of worst part of all the cancer shenanigans. I will be allowed about a month to let my body recover before they do surgery. I've opted for the least invasive surgery, lumpectomy, and I'm now more heavily considering not having my fallopian tubes removed since the research shows women with BRCA 2 gene mutation are more likely to get ovarian cancer, if they get ovarian cancer, much later in life. When the surgery is all said and done, I'll wait several more weeks before beginning 6 1/2 weeks of daily radiation. Basically I won't be done with my cancer treatment until about June, just in time for my favorite time of the year, summer in Vermont!
Having the BRCA 2 gene mutation is heavy burden to carry, knowing that you have something inside of you that at anytime can manifest into cancer because your body is genetically defective. I have struggled with health concerns throughout my life. I have a heart defect, allergies, asthma and thyroid disease on top of it all. But cancer snaps something inside of you and can trap you inside of a constant state of reflection. You know how people who've had a near death experience tell you that their life flashed before their eyes, having a diagnosis of cancer and then having to go through chemotherapy that can often leave you so exhausted and sick to move from the couch has a similar experience, except it's not a flash. It's a slow repetitive movie about your life playing over and over in your head and then the movie plays into the future "what ifs". What if I get cancer again, what if I have to do chemotherapy again, what if I never marry, what if I never have kids, what if I never find my dream job, what if I die, what if. Well, I can't stand the thought that I don't have control over my own body and i'm taking back the control, no more "what ifs". This year will about accomplishments.
I have done some research on the BRCA 2 mutation, and combined with the information the geneticist gave me, I believe I have basic understanding on how a healthy BRCA 2 works. We are all born with the BRCA 2 gene and that gene is responsible for repairing damaged cells and tumor suppression. Because mine is mutated that means the gene is unable to properly repair damaged cells. So I asked myself, how do cells get damaged anyway? Environmental factors are what I concluded upon. The things around me and the food I put in my body can damage my cells. This put some of the control back into my hands. I can control what goes into my body. I've done a lot of research about food and disease. (if you're interested I suggest watching Forks Over Knives or Food Matters) My research let me to Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida to a total life transformation. They have a lot of experience with cancer patients and helping them get to optimum health. I will attend a 3 week program where they will teach me everything from food to emotional well being. My mother will join me for part of the program so she too can learn and help me implement it, but also since she has MS it will benefit her health as well. It isn't cheap so I am applying for a scholarship with fingers crossed. I know it is a must for me to attend this place and I believe this is my chance to get my life back. It won't be an easy transformation as the diet is quite restrictive and consists of a vegan, most living foods diet. It is going to hard on me and my friends as we tend to bond over things smothered in cheese and ice cream sundaes but when it comes down to saving my life, I am more than motivated to make this happen. I have no choice. My mom and I will either go to Florida in between surgery and radiation or after radiation. I'm hoping we go before radiation in April, but that all depends on how many weeks my doctors will allow me before I start radiation. I'm going to request 2 months where usually they only allow 1 month.
For the second half of the year I made a list of things I want to accomplish to get my life back on track. It was a mix of personal and professional goals. First, I want to turn myself into a runner that I used to be, but way better and this time to run in races. I want to rock climb with my sister and paddle board all day on the lake in the summer. Then I want to connect with people. I want to visit as many of my dearest friends as possible and take a road trip throughout the US, visiting loved ones, while contemplating new places to live. If I can't find a fabulous job in Vermont where I have tons of people I love, then I want to find a fabulous job somewhere else where I have someone I love nearby. Life is too short to spend it in a place without a least one of my favorite people. And if I don't find a fantastic job, then I will apply for grad school and head towards a career in Public Health, but again, I want to go to a school in a place where I already know people. So it looks like I'll be studying for the GRE, which I plan on taking this summer :( . I hate standardized tests. I have a long list of things to accomplish, but I'll save the rest for another day or maybe I'll just keep them to myself :) I hope you all have a fabulous 2013 and fill your year by finding ways to make yourself a healthier and happier person. Life really is too short, stop wasting it.