Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The First Day of the Rest of my Life: Going Forwards with a Glance Backwards

Today is the first day of the rest of my life.  I feel blessed to be alive today.  I feel I should do something very profound to celebrate this day.

But I couldn't fall asleep, last night, until sometime after 4:00 a.m., this morning.  And when I finally fell asleep, it was a restless, intermittent sleep.  The trash collection trucks made their way down the street starting at 6:00 a.m. and each time they went by - three separate trucks, one collecting the garbage, one collecting the yard waste, one collecting the recyclables, once going up the street and once going down the street - I woke up.

When I finally woke up at 10:30 a.m., I did so with a headache.   It's a little difficult to do anything very profound when you have a sinus pressure headache.  Of course, one would think I'd know enough to take a Tylenol or something to relieve the headache, but no.  I don't like to take medications unless I have to.  So, I made and drank a cup of tea, checked emails, responded to blog comments, visited other blogs, and, in general, took it easy. 

I had requested today and tomorrow off from work, since I needed to use some vacation days, so I could relax without worrying too much about it. 

And I made jelly:

Orange-Flavored Jelly
I used a different brand of gelatin, so I don't think I should call it jello.  Besides, jelly is what I grew up calling it.  :)  

Throughout the day, today, I thought about my journey so far and the journey yet to come.  The chemo and radiation phases have ended and now starts the long-term phase of the treatment.  Because the type of cancer I have is responsive to hormones (hormone positive), I've been prescribed a type of anti-hormone medication that I'll be on for at least the next 5 years, maybe 10.  Basically, the rest of my life, I think.  There will be side effects from that, including bone and joint pain, I've been told.  I'm already taking calcium supplements to mitigate any impacts on my bone density due to this next phase of the treatment.

In the more immediate future, there is a follow up appointment with the radiation oncologist on September 9, followed by an appointment, later that same morning, with the regular oncologist, which will be when I'll get the OK to start on the anti-hormone treatment.  I am sure there will be regular doctor visits for follow up, but the next major mile-stone on this journey will be my follow up mammogram in six months' time, sometime in February.  That's when I'll know if the treatments to date were successful or if I'll have another mountain to climb. 

In the meantime, today is the first day of the rest of my life.  A new beginning of sorts.  And I was reminded of the fact that, 43 years ago today, on August 30, 1973, my parents (mother and step-father) and I left our country of birth and set off on another journey, which was a new beginning for us.  It was a journey that led us through several countries in Asia (Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, back to Hong Kong, and, eventually, to the United States).  It seems somehow appropriate that I should start this new phase of my life on the anniversary of that former new beginning. I set off now, as I did then, with hope and faith that I will be led to my destination.

In the afternoon, I took a nap in the cool bedroom.  In my dreams, I was back in my childhood home in Sri Lanka, picking ripe jambu and rambutan fruits from the trees in the yard, and I dreamt of my mother, too, who was also there, with me.  I can buy canned rambutan and occasionally, frozen ones, from the Asian stores, here.  But I have never seen jambu in the stores here - the fruits are too fragile for shipping and, while my mother used to preserve them in sugar syrup, I have never seen commercially canned jambu.  My headache finally went away after the nap.

I had egg salad sandwiches for both brunch and tea.  For dinner, I baked two of the frozen battered cod fillets and warmed up some of the leftover macaroni and cheese, with jelly for dessert.  I used the counter-top electric toaster/oven to bake the fish, rather than use the big oven.  The fish is part of the frozen foods gift I received, earlier, from my supervisor. 

In the evening, I video chatted with my daughter.          

Today, I am grateful for:
- The first day of the rest of my life
- Another new beginning
- Having a day of vacation from work
- A relaxed day
- Memories

I am not posting my to do lists, because I really didn't do much and just about everything is getting carried over to tomorrow! 

How was your day, today? 


  1. You are at the top of the mountain. I suggest you breathe in the air and enjoy the view. So much will rush in too soon and this is a big moment. It must feel like it echoes. Sending hugs for your onward journey x

    1. Thank you for the reminder to "live in the moment". Today is all we really have, isn't it? I mustn't let anxiety about the future overshadow the accomplishment and joy of the present.

  2. I'm a nurse and researcher at heart as you know. I believe the more we can understand what's going on, the less diffuse anxiety we'll experience, and the better we can frame our questions to physicians. Self education is very important. Just stay with the reputable sites. I've had to do that with my hypothyroidism treatment because very few doctors, even endocrinologists, understand it very well. Your thyroid affects your whole body and metabolism and the replacement dosage is very tricky. Hypothyroidism is a common problem in our society and often undiagnosed. I was diagnosed at UCLA as part of the new student health screening they did at the time by medical school students and residents. Very, very thorough. Early on, a doctor told me to keep myself very well educated, and I have.
    Here's a good link: http://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/HormoneTherapies.html
    and another:
    I just googled: anti-estrogen medication after breast cancer treatment.
    It will help to get back into your normal routines. Look forward.

    1. Thank you, Marylynn. You are so caring and concerned.

      I really never know just how much information I should reveal in my posts, especially since I didn't start off this blog as a health/dealing with cancer blog. But I have been prescribed an aromatase inhibitor and I have read up on the side effects of the treatments in general and the drug I've been prescribed in particular.

      I already have a couple of preexisting conditions (for which I take prescribed medications) which might be exacerbated by the possible side-effects of the aromatase inhibitor drug I've been prescribed. That causes some anxiety, of course. But, my doctors are already aware of that, and as explained by my medical team, it's all a matter of weighing the pros and cons and going with what seems the best, all things considered. Plus careful on-going monitoring to make sure everything is as it should be.

      I just need to live more fully in this moment and have faith that all will be well in the future. Just take it one day at a time. :)

  3. Congrats on the First day , of the rest of your life. I am so very happy that this phase of your life is over..You have made it up that very long/difficult mountain. My prayer is that , you will have good health, and that the mammogram will be good in Feb.
    You have been a very strong lady, and have encouraged me so much. Hope you have a great couple days off work.. Pamper yourself.. and Dont work.ha

    1. Thank you, Judy. Yes, please, continued prayers for good health will be much appreciated. :)

      Thank you for the reminder to pamper myself and not work! :D I am going to take it easy, today, and just relax.

      Hope you have a blessed day. Stay cool in that heat!

  4. Good luck moving forward, Bless!

    You always mention the most interesting and unusual foods! I looked for canned jackfruit at Publix today since I was there but didn't see it, though, so needless to say they didn't have rambutan either.

    1. Thank you, Nathalie.

      You will have to go to an Asian grocery store for the canned fruits. Regular grocery stores won't have them, not even in their Asian foods aisles.

  5. Bless, so happy to learn you understand and are willing to move forward. It's helpful to journal any symptoms, sinus headache, tummy issues and hyper awareness of any suspect reaction/side effects of meds.

    I have a much anticipated appointment 9/9 with my cardiologist who kept me alive and successfully completed complex surgery last August. I'm hyper frightened about the tests required and their outcome. Poor husband sees my anxiety and does his best to keep the environment 'mellow.' I know intellectually, my fear is disproportionate. Obviously I need new focus.

    1. Hon, I hope that your appointment goes well and the tests and outcomes will be good. I can understand the anxiety. When I received my initial mammogram results saying it was abnormal and later, when I received the diagnosis, the first thing I did was go to my altar and give the worry over to a Higher Power and acknowledge that I was not in control. It helped me to feel calm during this whole experience. Maybe something like that will be helpful for you, too?


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