This is What I know, by Cowgirl Amy

Thanks to Amy, guest blogger and 2010 Cowgirls vs. Cancer scholarship recipient. She will blog here monthly on her journey through breast cancer treatment.

As I am wrapping up chemo, I have been doing a lot of reflecting about this first leg of my treatment and worrying about the next one. I’m not sure if I am more emotional because I have learned so much more since I’ve began treatment, or if it is because of the treatment itself; but I am sure that I am going to be very happy to see this period end.

When I started chemo I think I was still in shock. That’s probably part of the plan. If I had too much time to dwell on it, I may have wanted to opt out of it. Too much knowledge is scary. I can really psyche myself out with the side effects of the things that are currently being infused into my body; how they affect my organs, my bones, and the risks of other cancers.

I’ve heard of people who don’t do the chemo or the radiation and I must admit I’m a little in awe of them and their decision. I question where they channeled their bravery, while admittedly wondering if they ever second guessed their own decisions. Honestly, if I didn’t feel like my life directly impacted young children and a husband, I probably would not do the chemo. However, at this stage in life that decision seemed selfish.

And who knows what I would choose if I had a re-occurrence. The reality is that it is impossible to say what decisions I would make, unless I was accounting for every factor in my immediate life. So I am following the plan verbatim…and praying for the best possible results.

I’ve been lamenting Amy BC (before cancer), throwing my own private pity parties. Looking back at my year in photos, I still have a hard time believing how cancer has changed my life. Or more precisely, chemo. Cancer is the main culprit…it has had a tremendous emotional impact. But chemo has pulled the rug out from under me. It’s made me foggy, dizzy, weak and paranoid. The other day at Target, I pulled out my drivers license to back up my credit card purchase. I noticed the cashier evaluating the long haired blonde girl in the picture vs. the scarf-wrapped lady in front of her. “Yep, that’s me.” Paranoid.

My next step is surgery, and I’m guessing that will be more of an emotional hit. I understand that it will be painful for a few days. The idea of having drains again is very frustrating because it feels so limiting. It’s hard not to be angry when thinking of having to deal with it all, realizing that the aches and pains will continue long after the mastectomy. But mostly, I’m sad that I am going to lose a part of myself; that something so personal will be taken from me. It is a hard concept to wrap my head around. On top of that, I had someone mention to me how cool it would be to get a free boob job. I’m just not there with feeling like that’s a benefit.

So I’m writing again to help myself reach that stage of acceptance and try to understand that it is a reality that I can’t control. Even as I write that I get emotional…I’m obviously not there yet. But I do feel so grateful for the writing outlet. It’s really saved me a ton of money on shrink fees 🙂

On a more positive note, I will celebrating Christmas this year knowing that I am finished with chemo. The littlest things this season are very meaningful. In the December issue of Oprah, she wrote in her column This is what I know: The best gift anyone can give, I believe, is the gift of sharing themselves. Every day I question why I got cancer, if I’m making all the right decisions, and what my next steps will look like. I still question the everyday mothering decisions that I make. There are so many things that I do not know for sure. At the same time, my family has experienced an amazing amount of support and my kids have never skipped a beat because of that support. So I continue to feel blessed, loved, energized, grateful and yes, happy.

I am happy. This is what I know.