i kicked it’s ass…


This post has been a long time coming. Up until now I did not think I could honestly write it. I never felt like “i kicked it’s ass”.

To those of you who don’t know and even for those of you who did; I will say it OUT LOUD…I had breast cancer and I survived.  Now just to warn you this post may not be politically correct and I may not say all the right things but this is what I lived and how I survived.

Survival from breast cancer is not just about the diagnosis, the surgery and the radiation. It is about so much more. Or it was for me! The year that it took for me to get through diagnosis, surgery and subsequent treatment was fast paced, task driven and all consuming. I felt like the proverbial hamster on the wheel. Always going but it  sometimes felt like I was getting nowhere. I was diagnosed in January/early February of 2011. Followed by many, many appointments to determine if it was benign or malignant; which was never even determined prior to surgery. Surgery was a double mastectomy with immediate same day reconstruction. An eight hour surgery that left me bruised and battered for many weeks after. Then the diagnosis that it was a very large tumour that rested much to close to my left lung so then 25 treatments of radiation once my surgery sites settled down a little and had healed. Once radiation was done I was exhausted. But I told everyone that I was feeling great and was very excited about heading back to work in a few short months. Having to go back to work felt like things were returning to normal. I returned to work in late November of 2011; with graduated hours and back to full time hours by mid-December. I craved normalcy. Mentally, I craved it on an hourly basis. Constantly thinking that returning to work and daily life would help me forget or bury what had happened over the last year. And it worked in the short term. Getting back to work and getting back to school life with the kids and getting back to cooking daily meals and getting back to cleaning all the time. Trying to make time for social events and trying to make time for family and trying to make time for scrapbooking and trying to make time for romantic time with may husband. Sounds busy right? It was! But no where in there did you see making time for me to heal. I just wanted to forget. I wanted not to worry every morning about that ache or pain that wasn’t there yesterday. What did it mean. Was I going to be sick again. Was there another cancer growing somewhere else that was just waiting to invade my body and brain. I looked as though things were normal but I was living in chaos in my own head. Constantly struggling with Madness!

Well, as you can well imagine, things started to get a little funky around here. The shell that I was working so hard to maintain was starting to break and crack. There were somedays I felt absolutely crazed in my own head. Not to the point that I ever felt like I wanted to check out, but certainly days when I did not want to get out of bed on my days off so that I could lie there and think about absolutely nothing. I did not want to function in the one place where I felt safe, my own home.

My family started to sense things were going awry as well. Everyone was walking on eggshells around me. I did not make life very nice to the three people who meant the most to me in my life. Richard, my sweet hubby, tried on several occasions to direct me towards getting some help. He had suggested a counsellor that I could talk too. But yet again, I persisted in showing the world that I was great and things were moving along well. While the struggle was progressively getting worse at home.

As I sit here writing this post, with silent tears flowing over my cheeks, I remember this time with a sense of humbleness. I wanted so badly for things to be the way they were but knew that they never would be again. I don’t have a real “light bulb moment” that led me to getting some help. It was a combination of exhaustion of keeping up the facade and the outside world was starting to notice that I was not myself. My family was exhausted as well; keeping up with my moods.

I made an appointment to see my physician. I was dreading this talk with my physician. I do have the best family physician. He is so wonderful. I walked into his office asking for help and thought I would be all brave and show my bravado. He looked at me and immediately knew that something was wrong. He asked “What is wrong?” And the flood gates opened. I could hardly breath in that moment. I couldn’t get the words out. I knew in that moment that I had hit rock bottom and I had been keeping so much in for soooo…..long!

All the emotions of nearly two years of pent up emotions came out in that 45 minute visit. It clearly came out that I was suffering from a Depression so deep that he was amazed I had not come to him sooner. He was very worried for me and we went through many treatment options. I did not want to take meds. I wanted help dealing with these issues by delving into them and helping me understand what was going on in my head. For someone or something to teach me tools on how to deal with these problems. I wanted to try some natural methods before resorting to medications. That afternoon I left his office totally exhausted. I have never felt so tired in my entire life. To let it all go and releasing it out into the world felt so good. I knew I had made the right choice. I will admit that I was a little skeptical about “Behaviour Modification Therapy” but I opened my mind and decided that clearly anything was better than living how I had been living the past year. I started taking vitamins that were natural mood boosters. I also started to be honest with myself and with family and friends. I told them my story and shared with them the struggle that I had been through. The funny thing is that a lot of the people I spoke with already knew what I was going through. They shared with me how worried they had been for me and were so delighted that I was getting help.

Counselling was absolutely fabulous. My counsellor was a soft spoken, non-judgemental individual who promised me a “safe place” where I could share all of my emotions and not be judged. She taught me so much about myself. The biggest thing was to be vulnerable. For many months I thought that my strength was showing in my need to show everyone how I was moving on from Cancer. Now, I knew that strength was showing my weakness and dealing with it. Not hiding from it! To be vulnerable to the disease, the treatments and then the recovery. I always have believed that the good Lord only gives you what he believes you can handle. I did not  believe that I had this much resilience, strength and graciousness. I have learned so much about myself this past 2 1/2 years. I allow myself to be vulnerable, to live in a moment, not always trying to control a moment.

So where am I today? It is not to say that there are days that I worry a little about whether Cancer is done with me. but my days are happier, more understanding and peaceful. I think that is the bigger word. PEACE! I feel peace now. I am able to live a life, fulfilled in the moment and happy to be alive. My husband and I are good. My kids and I are good. Those three people give me such joy! They held me up when I was feeling so down and I will never forget that. My friends and family are the best! And my co-workers are understanding souls who always keep it real!

I must say that this last four months have been great! I look forward to many more days with family and friends. Now, when someone asks me how I am I can say

” I KICKED IT’S ASS”

This post is dedicated to Mom, Dad, Sheri, Janet, Jessica A. and especially Julie S. who gave me the courage to write the final chapter in my Cancer Story.

To Richard, Simon and Jared; no one loves you like I do.

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Comments

  1. You Rock, girl. Wonderful post that I felt honoured to read. xo

  2. You did it! You kick ass! You’re always stronger then you know. Xoxo

  3. Kim McArthur says:

    Oh Judy! What an incredibly courageous journey you are on. I have also learned we often don’t know our own strength and capabilities. So glad you are feeling stronger and are kicking ass!!!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Judy, you wrote a beautiful post! I can just see you trying to make sure everyone thought you were alright. Smiling and joking, caring for everyone else and making sure you were not disappointing anyone including yourself!! I’m so happy you are feeling better! You are special!

  5. Judy, a friend sent me this blog as I am going through cancer treatment right now with comments like “you are so strong” ” how do you do it” etc. My biggest fear is that when all the “stuff” is done, surgery, chemo etc, I will not take the time to do the emotional healing. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • Oh Kelly…I send you much strength and prayers. The feeling that you experience during treatment will be far different than what you will feel after treatment. Please save yourself some time to reflect during the process and not let it pass you by without feeling the moments. Find yourself time to be real and not let those comments carry you away. Often times they say them because they don’t know what else to say! My heart goes out to you during your treatment and I really do wish you all the best. God speed your recovery…physically and mentally!!!

  6. Hi Judy
    This was beautifully written and I found so much of myself in it. Although I did not have cancer I have been suffering from depression for over a year now. I also kept this hidden from everyone laughing and joking on the outside while crying on the inside. But one special friend saw through it all and helped me more than she will ever know. She was always there for me day or night and this is something that will never forget. As with you I saw my family doctor in January who saw immediately how much I had gone down over the last year and sent me to a therapist. I am now getting better but still have lots of hard days where that pity party calls me. But these days are becoming farther and farther apart. Thank you for sharing your story. You are a special lady and I so admire your strength.

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