Winding Down

by | Apr 26, 2023 | Musings

Exactly one year ago today, I swallowed my first chemo pill and went to my first radiation treatment.

Five weeks later, on June 6, 2022, I rang the bell at the radiation oncology clinic at Froedtert. By that point, almost all of the hair, on the top of my head, was out and I looked like Mr. Filch from Harry Potter.  It’s sometimes hard for me to believe it’s been a year since radiation and the start of chemo.  I remember thinking back then, “I’m going to spend my entire 55th year on this earth, taking chemo.” Yet, here I am, on my 10th of 12 cycles! Only 2 to go after this one!!!

I looked back at my caring bridge and didn’t even post on that day! But in thinking back, it was a pretty chaotic time.  It was mere days before 4/26/22 that I switched oncologists and wouldn’t change anything about that!

I don’t have much else to post today, other than to say I’ve made major dietary changes in my life that have completely changed how I feel.  The day after Easter, Monday, April 10, I gave up sugar, meat, and all processed food.  I watched a documentary on Netflix called The Game Changers and for the first time in my life, I was convinced to give up meat.  It’s not for any reason, other than my health.  I’ve had the worst joint and muscle pain for more than a year, but it’s gotten particularly bad since my surgery.  I suspect it’s due to my pre-existing underlying left labral hip tear, tendinosis, and the left-side neglect I experienced following surgery.  There are definitely other factors that play into this, one being a middle-aged menopausal woman.  NO ONE tells you that when you are past the childbearing years, you become sore and achy! I know that the massive amounts of chocolate and sugar I was consuming weren’t helping either.

I am happy to report that with my physical therapy, and vegetarian/sugar-free lifestyle, I’m feeling much less sore and achy.  However, this will be my first time on chemo since changing my diet. So the real test will be on day 5 of this cycle.

It’s also been brought to my attention by a few family members, that my personality has changed.  This was a hard thing to hear.  My son Jack told me that I’m blunter since my surgery.  That I say insensitive things that I wouldn’t have said previously.  John confirmed this as well.  I’ll admit, it was very hard to hear this,  as in my mind, I thought, if anything, I was becoming a much better communicator.  It’s just another reminder of what cancer has taken away from me.  I’m not sitting around feeling sorry for myself at all, but I am bothered that I didn’t realize this change on my own.  It makes me wonder what else I’m missing.

I recently told a friend who’s battling cancer, that healing isn’t linear.  There are days when we make great progress and days when we take a few steps back.  Days where mentally we can do anything and days where it all comes crashing down.

There’s a great paragraph in the book Between Two Kingdoms about the “principles of being”….the line that threads through our past,  present, and future. I have my idea of Pre-brain cancer Julie, currently going through treatment Julie, and who I’ll be during what I’m now afraid will be a daunting recovery back into the world, Julie.  Suleika writes, “Maybe the challenge is to locate the thread that strings these selves together.” For me, it’s a very emotional process.  I am coming to terms with the fact that in two months, I will have completed over a year of treatment, and there’s no guideline on what I’m supposed to do next.  John and I went through this after his cancer treatment.  Once you’re done with focusing on just surviving, it’s hard to navigate back into your prior life.  It’s impossible really, because anyone who’s been treated for cancer will likely say you’re changed forever.

There’s much much more I feel like writing about on this subject, but I’ll save it for my next post.

Unless there are some major changes to my health or updates I need or want to share, I most likely won’t be updating until the end of May at my penultimate chemo cycle.

There is just one last thing….If you aren’t doing anything on Sunday, June 4th, please join me for the Strain the Brain race.  This race was started by a Froedtert physician who had a glioblastoma.  He’s still living, 15 to 16 years later which is almost unheard of.  All of the money goes to brain cancer research.  I’ll be doing the 1-mile survivor walk.  But in reality, John may be pushing me in a transport chair (smaller than a wheelchair).  But I’m going to give it my best shot!  Please consider coming down and joining me.  I’ve attached the link so you can see the details.  I wasn’t able to go last year because I was still in radiation.  June 4th is also my and John’s 24th wedding anniversary! So anyone who comes down for the event is welcome to join us after for a small celebration.  The link for the race is below

Until then ….. xoxoxoxoxo

About Me

In February 2022, I was diagnosed with brain cancer and it changed my whole life perspective. This blog is dedicated to my Journey through cancer diagnosis, recovery, and finding the humor in life.