Sunday, October 12, 2014

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

I am feeling rather retrospective this month, looking back over the past five years. Parents aging, passing, changes in lifestyle, health issues, relationship changes, getting older. 

I love blogging about DIY's, gardening, sewing, vignettes, thrifting, computers, family occasions, whatever seems to be reasonable and non invasive of family privacy topics for posting. I love joining in with Linky Parties. I love reading blogs and commenting. I have found many good online blogging friends.

As many of you do when writing your posts I see my posts as a journal of a moment in time for myself.

2013 was life changing for me.

In January 2013 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Two operations, chemotherapy and radiation followed. A year ago October my hair was starting to return, it was a 1/4 inch long. I wore a scarf (from May to November) and when I no longer needed them I returned all the scarves to the Cancer Clinic (washed/pressed) grateful for their loan and very grateful to no longer need them. Being bald felt quite different from having hair. I was very sensitive to breezes, sun and cold. When I finally had hair that could move in the breezes I was thrilled.

October 27, 2013, first day without a scarf in public, Fort Langley Fraser River Park. First day of feeling brave.

September 5, 2013 I was finished with chemo (last one July 15) and radiation (finished Sept. 5). Over the next months energy returned slowly with a few set backs. Right arm was numb from elbow up, sort of like a frozen jaw before a filling. I concentrated on eating nutritionally, putting my life back together in a different way, working on reclaiming myself. I haven't returned to taking my long walks, lack of confidence in making it back home. I'm ok when I have a walking buddy but that is seldom.

This October 2014 my hair is around 6 inches long, somewhat wispy, curly at first and then reverting to my normal straight. I clip it back and have a mini curly ponytail. I know I need a hair cut but feel very reluctant to based on memories of having no hair. 

Selfie September 25/14

Most of the feeling has returned to my right arm. I have had several mammograms over the past year+ and a few ultrasounds for double checking (that causes some scary stress especially the first time when one has no idea why or what for). Medication continues (4 years to go) with weight gain one of the many not so pleasant side effects. 

I do somewhat obsess about hair but that is just the way it was for me. I became jealous of people with hair, eyebrows, eyelashes for many many months, not rational I know but that is how I felt. Perhaps it was something to focus on rather than obsessing about chemotherapy and radiation treatments (yes I did obsess about them) but once I knew what was happening and how my body reacted I switched my efforts to eating, drinking enough water, keeping the body system working, getting up and around and regaining independence. 

2013 was a year of being self centred, self focused. I put supports in place in advance of chemo to cover my mall work, my yard and house work and caring for my DGS. I did what I could and carried on. I kept my health problems very private from most of my family and friends (likely not the best idea).

I have reclaimed some of my past activities and I have noticed that I have drawn back from many of my old responsibilities since my diagnosis. I had to learn to say no. I had to learn to stop and rest. I was always the boss, fixer, do'er, caregiver. I now conserve my energy for what I must do and celebrate what I can do.

Cancer does change one's life. Ladies, please have a mammogram once a year. Be aware. Self check monthly. Have your Doctor check during your yearly checkup. Gents pay attention to changes to yourself too. Go to your Doctor if you think you have a problem starting. Go for a yearly checkup too.

Prayers for John and Judy as John continues his battle with his cancer (update, John went in peace). Prayers for Ken's family as they learn to continue on without him.


  1. Hi Joy - what a moving post! You have conquered so many obstacles in such a short time. God bless you! I have learned that John is my first priority and with that I have to say no to a lot of things I usually do. But, I have no regrets and know that I am doing exactly what I m suppose to be doing. The lord has blessed us for so many years and in so many ways. I am very grateful for his love and are and I know it I'll continue - just like your story.


  2. I just started following you this summer and was not aware of your history. After reading your post I went back and looked at your picture. What a beautiful face. I can see that your are still frightened, but such strength and resolution! Thank you for sharing and God bless you.

  3. Hi Joy ... loved reading your story. I feel so proud of you and what you have faced and conquered. May your life be full of Blessings forever.
    Audrey Z. @ Timeless Treasures

  4. Thanks for the post and your honest reporting. I'm glad your hair is coming back and I like your photo with your camera. Praying for continued health and progress for you. Positive thoughts! Nance

  5. Beautiful post Joy. Thanks for sharing. I think your hair looks lovely now, just as it is. I'm behind on my blog reading/commenting. Been too wrapped up in myself since my rediagnosis and treatment starting. Will try to do better. Just cut drastically back on work hours to allow for easier treatment scheduling.


Thanks for visiting. I read and appreciate all your comments. Joy

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