Sunday, November 27, 2011

scars are sexy

family holiday photo
 Happy be-lated turkey day!  I was fortunate enough to be able to spend it with family, and I remember it!!!! Last year I was assed out from chemo and can't recall what I did.  We started the day off with Scott running the Turkey Trot (which is a Greenaway-Barkley tradition).  Then we had my mom, sisters, Nick (Kristi's amazing fiance) and Austin (the sister's wonderful roomate) at our house.  We eat the "meal" for lunch because inevitably Scott has to work, which he did.  We eat in plenty of time for him to load his plate full and then relax a bit before he heads off to work.  Then we get to spend all day together lounging around. 

My last post was on Thursday the 17th before I headed off to my physical therapy appointment.  On my way to my appointment I was in a car accident.  It wasn't my fault, and my CRV is totaled! The guy may not have insurance so we are meeting with a lawyer on Tuesday to get our things in order. I don't know how much I can say, all of the lawyer business is over my head. But what it comes down to is that I am back to the beginning, plus some, when it comes to physical therapy. I worked so hard to be able to move my shoulder and it is back to where I started, and now my left shoulder is there too.  My entire back is sore, I have trouble turning my neck, I can't sleep and am in an enormous amount of pain and all of it is very frustrating.  I feel like I was pushed back so I thought I would make a list of things I am thankful is hard for me to remember them when I feel defeated.

I am thankful for...
1. Family, my family is above average when it comes to support and friendship, there were times when we were younger (and I was a complete bitch) that my sisters and I didn't get along. In fact, I was a miserable person who just couldn't figure out what I needed and I took it out on my sisters, thankfully I grew up and grew up better.  Now, my sisters are my best friends, hands down. I don't know if I could function without them in my world. They both hold a very special place in my heart. My mom is a champion. She is the woman I want to be when I grow up. She is my world, and many times my compass.  During my bitchy years, she stuck through it and here we are, 10 years later, and she is my best friend. I talk to her daily, if not more.

2.Additions to family: We all know that Scott is pure joy, he is my rock and he puts up with not only my crazy, but he loves me for who I am sans nipples and all.  He fits in the Greenaway family perfect! Nick, my sister Kristi's fiance, is the same. He fits into our family as if he was there all along.  I am so thankful for the men in our lives, the additions to our family. My dad would be proud.

3. Friends, near and far.  It is hard for me when some of the closest people to me live the farthest...(big shout out to Tasia, Brooke, my Goddard lovelies). My new world is a crazy place and I am so thankful to have friends that can anchor me and support me. I would list you all, but it would be too long! Cancer took my breasts, but it gave me a network of support and opened friendships that I didn't even know where there. I am so thankful to each of you, for the strength you gave me, and continue to give me.

4. Women. Whether you have experienced breast cancer or not, you still have breasts. We are our best advocates. I am thankful that women can create a circle of trust and of spoken word where you feel lifted and transformed. I am thankful for the additions of love that women bring to me.  There is something undeniable about a group of women, listening to each other, sharing their stories, raw, full of emotion--it's transformative.  I am thankful that women fight, that we take breast cancer head on and challenge it.  I am thankful to the surivors who read my blog and share my blog.  I am thankful to be a survivor, a fighter, now I am a woman who now wants to support other women taking on breast cancer. 

5. I am thankful to have a new perspective.  I am someone completely different than I was prior to being diagnosed, both physically and mentally. My priorities have changed, and with that comes readjusting the supports I have around me. I have reevaluated many things, and am still working on that. I have a to-do list that could wrap around the world, and I know that it needs to be focused to something much more tangible at some point, but until then, I will continue to dream.  I am still struggling to take care of myself, making the time is extremely difficult. Mentally I am still blocked in many places, but I am working on it.  I find my strength sometimes gets overshadowed by my past experiences and the pressure I put on myself to be "who I was", but to be honest, I would settle for 1/3rd.

6. I am thankful for escape: creativity. I love to write, but I also love to do other crafty stuff, but I haven't let myself do it yet. I am not sure what is stopping me, but on a regular basis I get this urge to paint. I want to paint all about my experience I want to have a gallery show!!! I want women to be able to feel what I experienced when they look at them, I want it to raise awareness and being a conversation. I want people to see them and do a breast exam. I want to touch a new community with awareness.  I want to paint and write all day and have no other worries.  But there is crap in the way....I can't seem to clear it out. I want to paint, maybe I should look into getting supplies.

7. Lucy: my adorable basset child, she is my sounding board and my foot warmer.  At currently she is our child and my mom's grandchild, our spoiled rotten, hound smelling, child.  She keeps me company when days are tough and is always happy to cuddle.  During treatment I was told to stay away from her because dogs carry germs, etc... but I think she slept on the bed with me everyday--she is lazy and loves it when I am too.  She is a great diversion from tears.

8. Stretch marks & scars: They are my battle wounds, they remind me of what I went through in a very physical sense. They will eventually just be small reminders of my past (when the reality of what I went through slowly fades to the background). They are part of my body, part of this body, this incredible body that fought to live, that almost died to live.  I have went from 220lbs (my highest during treatment, bloaty and full of steroids, I couldn't even put my Crocs on) to 165lbs, but I still have the stretch marks and I still don't have nipples, my breasts still have 3 inch scars across them and my nipples are yet to be found. Scars are sexy.

9. Love: pure honest love that comes from friendships, relationships of all sorts, from a small town where I grew up (Okanogan), love that is so raw you give everything you can to someone in need. Where you put your self aside, and reach out to help. Love that doesn't fade. Love that doesn't have requirements or competition. Love that doesn't know selfishness or measure.

10. I am thankful to just be.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

If my small toe had a nail, I would hammer it away.

When life makes me tired by 9:45 am, all I can do is work with my diet coke addiction and power through.

It beings in my small toe, the toe that's nail is so small I put a dollop of nail polish on it so it resembles an appropriate appendage.

It dwells there and spreads its way up to my feet, my feet that hold up this body, my feet that have walked my parents driveway, callused and tough, my feet who took me to doctors appointments, surgeries, chemo and radiation, my feet who lost all feeling and still fight for the right to feel.

It spreads like wildfire up to my ankles--where it burns alongside the snuffed out nerve endings, a friendly reminder of therapies.

Shooting up my legs, which ached and broke during treatment, a seemingly never ending pain, like a star across a dark sky, making its to my behind, puckered with cellulite that shows the weight of breast cancer--large with indignation and missed opportunities.

To my belly which bares the stretch marks of skittles and midnight feedings, of steroids and chemo, of pain and fear.

Next my breasts are once again invaded--like an army of ants, everywhere is taken over, it itches and burns, the memories of trauma. My scars are soothed with the dull heartache, a false sense of protection is provided by the absence of my breasts......replacements left empty, yet to be occupied...

travels then... to my heart--and for a brief moment in time, my heart stops..........and then surges to push the tears from my eyes.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Creative Healing

A self portrait
Life changing? If you make it. I attended a one day workshop by Liz Lamoreux ( a few weeks ago. If you keep updated on my blog, you may remember that she came and spoke at one of the doula meetings I attend, and she opened up the poetry side of writing for me, which has been shut for a very long time.  This workshop was such a freeing and sacred experience. There is something about a circle of women, all there wanting something, searching for something, coming together being facilitated by someone with so much wisdom and  I went in with an open heart and left with a full heart, and hope.

I was able to weave some things together that I didn't realize would make a tapestry. We took photos on a walking meditation, something about that was so freeing. There was no "right" photo, or making sure that everyones eyes were open, it was just nature and my feet and my view of the world I was in, right then, at that moment. It was beautiful. 

one of the photos I took on the walking meditation

This poem came from a writing prompt from the workshop

"this body knows....":

This body knows whispers of faces accidentally emerged in the center of its being with no invitation.
This body knows a secret silhouette wedged between unknowing and freedom.
This body knows things that would turn your stomach.
This body speaks of a prison that holds quiet innocence pounced on by foreign invaders.
This body knows the emptiness of the human womb, the sting of a hornet straight to the heart.
This body, this vessel, will carry secrets to the grave.
This body is compromised, full of commotion and regret.
This body perceives pain as a threat to vitality, this body is a patchwork display of intrusion and illustration.
This body whispers softly into the night prayers of forgiveness and hate.
This body is wedged between martyrdom and death.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

one of those days

Sometimes it just feels better to lay in bed all day, sure there is no productivity, you probably kill brain cells from watching endless amounts of instant Netflix, and you would rather read something glossy than a hardback. You cry through boxes of Kleenex and maybe vomit a little. These are rough days. The emotions are on a rollercoaster that you are pretty sure you are too short to ride. And for me, the best part? When I wake up the next day “better and refreshed” I am plagued with diarrhea from my emotions getting out of hand the day before…a real one-two punch from my body.

When I signed up for treatment I didn’t realize how much my life would change. How I would rethink everything and everyone in my life with a balance scale. How much energy does it take? What do I get in return? I don’t want an ulcer, I don’t need comparisons and exasperation. I need encouragement, strength, and love. I want to be engulfed in things that make my heart sing, surrounded by people who hold my hand and don’t squeeze too tight. So on those days where I wake up and start my day, just to end up back in the safety of my bedroom that I dislike so much, where I escape only to get coffee or a diet coke, when I bring Lucy on the bed to relax in luxury all day while I sob next to her, when I am too overwhelmed to sit on the couch or to start a fire, so I barricaded us in the bedroom with a heater, wrapping myself in a blanket to wander into the kitchen to fill up my water, when I am watching American Gangster through blurry eyes, my nose so raw I bypass the Kleenex and use one of Scott’s t-shirts, when I have used the TV remote so much that the fucking batteries die and I do a house-hunt of any electronics to scavenger so I don’t have to get out of bed to change the channel, when I spill a cup of hot tea on the ground next to the bed and use my snotty t-shirt as a makeshift towel. When I cry so much that I hate myself for allowing the self-loathing.

When I wish it happened to anyone but me, why me? Why us? Why my family? Why now do I have to rethink and rework everything? Why can’t I be one of the people who float through life on a cloud? Where nothing goes wrong, and their bad day is probably one of the best I would have had in awhile! Things happen for a reason, I guess I have worked some of those out, but not enough to tip the scale in my favor. While I sit on the sea of flannel sheets and pillows I wonder what people would say. Everyone asks how I am doing, they look at me and I physically look better, little do they know the minefield in my head. On those bad days I feel guilty for not having a good day. I am alive (but that isn’t enough). I look at Lucy and wonder if I should just come to terms that she is going to be our child and that maybe our lives are going to shape up much differently than we ever thought. I don’t get the mail because I don’t want to see the bills that we can’t pay. The insurance company that paid our claims over a year ago, that has now decided they won’t. Those days I try to get lost in anything but the reality of my life. Those days I can see and understand how people can get lost in an addiction to something that lets them let go of their reality. On those days I struggle just to be.

On those days the pain gets worse, everything is amplified, I don’t want to shower because it hurts to raise my arm. Those days the nerve medication isn’t enough, my whole body aches as if the flu has taken over. When I get anxious I get nauseous and those days they are hand-in-hand. Those days I don’t want to answer the phone when Scott calls to check-in, those days it breaks my heart to tell my mom that I am having a bad day and I don’t feel like talking (when we talk daily for a long time) when I can hear it in her voice that she is worried about me. When I lie to Scott and say I am fine and that I have been doing stuff, when in reality I don’t want to open the bedroom door. Those days when the anxiety is so bad I turn off my computer, just so that I don’t feel that I need to blog about what I am feeling. Those days when I hold so much anger in,  my throat hurts and my muscles and jaw are sore. Those days where it feels like my world is collapsing and there isn’t enough prayer or positive thoughts in the world to lift it up. Those days make it hard for me to want to wake up the next day, for me to try and start another day off with a smile.

Yesterday, was one of those days.