This time last year I was celebrating the end of chemo – although I wasn’t completely certain that the chemo was done.
When I look back, I think about how optimistic I was about my recovery. I anticipated a week of worsening symptoms from chemo and then things magically getting better. I expected that my neuropathy would improve dramatically and quickly. I expected to be strong by the time I went into my first surgery.
I wish I could say that this last year has been easier than the chemo itself. Truthfully, recovering from surgery has been a challenge. More of a challenge is the neuropathy – which isn’t better. I am still experiencing bouts of worsening pain and days where there is little or no pain. I still have significant neuropathy in my lower legs and feet – especially the peripheral touch. This turned out to be a good thing the other day when they needed to do an IV in my leg – it was much less painful than an IV in the arm.
I am just now starting to get back to myself again – but struggling with so many other health issues, some of which are unrelated to the cancer, but made worse by the compromises in my body caused by the cancer treatments.
One area where there is not enough research is into the various issues that women face after the type of reconstruction I had. Every time I change into my swim suit, I am grateful for my reconstructive choice. However, sleep apnea and now lymphedema have been associated with the reconstruction. Since these conditions may or may not have developed anyways, they cannot directly be attributed to the reconstruction – however, it would still be interesting to know if there is an increased risk.
From a mental health standpoint, I am in a much better place now. The worst of it was the first six months after surgery. I’m now nine months post cancer surgery. My mental health made huge leaps when I was finally about to say I am cancer free.
From an academic standpoint, I’m likely going to be back into the PhD program in January. I’ll be doing some form of study related to blogging, pathography (illness narratives), and the impact they have on people who read blogs. I’m excited to be able to be loop in some of my work as an ePatient blogger into my scholarly pursuits. I am finding that I have my foot in many different communities, and this is causing time constraints. I cannot do nearly as much as I used to, but also, in order to do something well, I need to prioritize it and let a few other things drop. I just haven’t decided what those things will be.
And with that thought, I shall sign off for today. November is writing month – with a whole bunch of different spin offs of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), I’m having trouble deciding which ones I want to participate in – and which ones I’ll need to let go in order to get all the other things on my to do list done!