Today is Thanksgiving. I love this time of year; the colours of the leaves, the warm days and the cool nights…sweater weather, cozy blankets, homemade soup, comfort food…the change from summer to autumn. With every season, every month, every day I give thanks. When you are diagnosed with cancer, no matter what the “odds are”, you come face to face with your own mortality. And its fuc#ing scary! I AM one of the lucky ones. Despite having now been through four surgeries and a myriad of complications and side effects, I am a survivor. And that my friends is a badge I am thankful for and proudly wear!
Last week, I underwent an endoscopy, which is a procedure that while sedated, thankfully so, a camera was inserted down my throat into my stomach. Biopsies were taken of my stomach lining and I am waiting for those results. What WAS discovered is there is some damage to my stomach from all the meds I have had to take and unbeknownst to me, I have a hiatal hernia. This occurs when the upper part of your stomach bulges through the large muscle, your diaphragm, that separates your chest and abdomen. This can cause severe pain, nausea, heartburn, shortness of breath, vomiting and difficulty swallowing. This hernia is most likely the cause of all the stomach issues I have had of late. It is something that I will have to live with, as there is no “cure” , only maintenance so it doesn’t worsen. To help keep the hernia from getting worse and to keep me from feeling so sick, I am supposed to avoid…all citrus fruits and juices, chocolate, fried foods, garlic, onion, spicy food, peppermint, spearmint, tomato-based foods such as spaghetti sauce, pizza, chili, salsa, plus all dairy products, oil, butter, coffee, tea, carbonated drinks….and….and this is the worst one….alcohol! FUN WOW!!!!! Everything in moderation….right!?
I now know more about the stomach, diaphragm and esophagus then I needed or wanted to know. In fact, since my cancer diagnosis I have had to read, research, explore and experience more medical information and procedures than I ever imagined possible. I could probably be a contestant on a medical game show and win big money! Hmm? Is there such a thing? I could really use the cash.
Tomorrow I see my reconstructive surgeon to have the last of the bandages removed and to ensure that my sutures are healing well. Although, still very swollen, the large bulge under my arm that he surgically removed two weeks ago is now down to a puffy looking strip rather than the baseball sized mass it once was. And I am VERY thankful for that!
Although I still have a long journey ahead…with a few pit stops along the way, I truly am a VERY lucky person. I see just how bad things are for so many others, every time I step foot in the cancer centre. I see patients and their families so worn out from the ravages of cancer that there is no light left in their eyes. It is heart breaking. So, even though I still am fighting through a lot of crap, I give thanks every day that I haven’t lost that light. Has it been hard? Sure as hell has…but I am here and I am going to be ok. Maybe not today…but someday soon. SO without sounding too corny….take a minute today, Thanksgiving, and think about ALL you have to be thankful for. I certainly do; not just today, but every day since I heard the words, “you have cancer.”
President of As You Like It Marketing & Communications Inc. Award winning speaker and author. Breast cancer fighter and blogger. I’m sharing my journey…the good, the bad and the ugly. Hoping to help anyone else that has been touched by breast cancer be it you or someone you know or love.