Let’s get real…

Dec 08, 2021

I had a setback today. Perhaps I will look at it as, instead of a “setback,” a setup for what is for my highest and greatest good…

I need to start Occupational Therapy all over again—I was able to do more exercises immediately after my bilateral mastectomy surgery in December 2020 than I am now, in December 2021. In fact, I’m starting this part of my journey out with learning to breathe again, a body repositioning exercise (laying on a rolled-up towel and breathing), and a basic resistance and upper-body strengthening exercise (where I use the sides of a doorway to press into and readjust my posture). In many ways, this breaks my heart—and spirit—a lot at this present moment. I’ve muscled-through activity (work, social events, moving, walking, household chores) and been able to accomplish being at my best, in limited spurts. I’ve had great teams of people help me perform daily tasks—and larger tasks like moving—so I could focus on healing sleep, treatments, navigating medical appointments, and also keeping my retail shop open while I’m in treatment. Despite how “rosy” it may appear on the outside, despite how much positive thinking I do to muscle past the limitations my body has, the hard truth is the times that are “rosy” require a lot of preparation and a lot of recovery. When I look at my abilities and how they’ve changed, here are a few: opening cans of food is hard, opening velcro is hard…so is putting on certain shoes, lifting laundry out of the washer, putting away clothing in the closet, cutting up vegetables, walking the dog, buttoning shirts…I have the range of motion if I really work at it, but it’s not without pain or fatigue. I was really honest today at my OT appointment—with myself most of all—and I gave the true picture of how I exist over 95% of the time since my diagnosis. I’ve wanted to be strong for everyone, most of all myself, because if I can do what I need to, my career stays intact, my healing process is more efficient, and I can move on from this “blip” on the radar of my life…I’ve mostly been fooling myself and I’m pretty sure all of the people that care for me and help me with tasks and work see it or sense it. Why on Earth do I think I’m Super Woman? The statistic says that 50 percent of women are either fired from their jobs or stop working in the first 6 months of breast cancer treatments. I’ve always refused to be a statistic, no matter what situation tried to—or did—make me one. This inner-drive to get better, be better, learn to be patient with my body, with my emotions, with how my body and mind reacts to treatment, is what made me have to face myself in the mirror and to be honest, and to voice out loud what is really going on behind closed doors instead of painting a picture of what I personally think is an image of strength.

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