I am amazed at how much my body has changed in the last month. I have hair on my head, eyebrows and eyelashes, and have even begun the unpleasant task of shaving once again. I no longer look like a pale version of myself. I actually look like a real person! It’s not disconcerting to look in the mirror any longer.
Of course, now that chemo is over and I’m in remission my doctors required me to make changes. Sometimes, though, they are in conflict with each other. My oncologist has strict dietary requirements for me. Absolutely no artificial sweeteners of any kind, no soy (to the extent possible) and hormone free dairy and meat. After pricing organic meat, I decided that becoming an ovo-lacto vegetarian looks pretty good. I have been buying organic eggs for a year now and with the exception of cheese (which is just way too expensive for me to buy completely organic), I have been pretty successful. Fortunately, my oldest son has never been much of a carnivore so he’s good with the changes. My hubby is a vegetable lover, but has requested meat on the weekends to meet his carnivorous needs. My youngest is the pickiest eater on Earth so it doesn’t really matter what we do as long as he can eat a fish stick, hot dog or pizza.
Yesterday, my vascular surgeon started me on Coumadin and started weaning me off my shots I was taking to thin my blood (yippee!). However, leafy greens have to be limited when you take Coumadin. Now I LOVE spinach, lettuce and Swiss chard. Limiting me to two servings a day is tough since I eat salad almost every day. While she has said that she will tweak my meds to meet my diet, a vegetarian diet makes it harder to manage Coumadin. Thus my dilemma. I am hoping that I am one of those people that their body just adapts to the Coumadin quickly and I can get on with life.
Then there’s the whole weight loss thing. My mom once told me that losing weight after menopause is hard, VERY HARD. Now I know that my mom is nearly always right, and this time is no exception. My hope is that a plant based diet will make it a bit easier to lose. And I joined sparkpeople to help me on my journey. As my neuropathy in my feet levels out, I am hoping that I can exercise more to boost my metabolism. So my oncologist tells me to lose weight and if the other symptoms of menopause get too bad, he’ll consider putting me on progesterone, which has the side effect of weight gain. I wish this guy would make up his mind. You can’t have it both ways.
I’ve changed how I look at things. Things I used to sweat don’t phase me much anymore. Yes, I still worry about my family and paying the bills, but if the laundry doesn’t get done or if I don’t get the dishwasher unloaded before 9AM, it’s just not a big deal. I take more time to do things I enjoy. I have developed a real love/hate relationship with my computer. It’s how I earn a living, but I realize what a time waster it can be. I try to journal more, write more articles and hope to continue this blog. They seem more beneficial to life in general than playing games on Facebook.
The biggest change I’ve noticed is how I face life. Remission is, by far, so much harder than having cancer. When you have cancer, you see the enemy and feel like crap because you are actively fighting it. When you’re in remission, you find that you begin to dread those labs and scans even though they are much less frequent. The Beast lurks in the background waiting for its chance to strike again. The oncologist tells you to live your life, but the life you had is gone. You have this new life and cancer will always be a part of it. This is tough for people who have never had cancer to “get” and that’s okay. I’m thankful for everyday that I don’t have cancer. I’m thankful for every night I get to kiss my boys goodnight, for every hug from my husband, for every phone call from my family, for every hug from a friend, for morning I wake up. I’m content with my life. I was always discontented before. I still don’t know what God has in store for me, but it’s good and that’s enough.
I like being content. That doesn’t mean that the boys don’t drive me nuts, that John and I don’t argue, or that I agree with everything everyone tells me, I don’t. But I am content with what I have right now. And that’s a huge change, and definitely one I can live with.