Have you ever felt like you’re at a loss of words, yet filled with emotion? This week as I prepare to stand by the side of one of my best friends as she says “I do,” I also prepare to stand by another as she mourns the loss of her mother. My heart is full and broken all at once. Yet, I believe GOD is mysterious and this week I’ll be celebrating the love between a man and a woman, and honoring the love between a mother and a daughter. I will be celebrating the beginning of a beautiful life together and honoring an incredible life lived. Moments like this make me grateful to be here to stand by their side, and blessed to have had them to stand by mine. Its weeks like this that remind me to be humble, and to cherish every waking moment.
So I’m an optimist, in case you haven’t figured that out yet, and it’s very much my style of writing and the vision I have for this blog. With that said, I do want to make it clear that it wasn’t always easy. When I went into surgery, I thought I had made it through all the hard stuff, the multiple blood tests, iron transfusions, endoscopy and colonoscopy. I was ready to cross the finish line into a happy-go-lucky, cancer-free zone. Boy, was I in for a harsh awakening. I crossed the finish line, yet the road to recovery was just beginning. When the body undergoes surgery and is consumed by general anesthesia, it takes time to recover. My estimated recovery time was two weeks. It was the longest two weeks of my life, or at least that’s how it felt. As I’ve mentioned before, my surgery was very close to my vocal chords, I didn’t experience any permanent damage, but I barely had a voice post surgery. Which doesn’t help when you have a very loud Brazilian family. I had to text or clap whenever I needed them to bring me something, obviously they didn’t believe in giving me a bell.
Like most things in life, the first step to recovery is accepting that you need help. You need help for the simplest things, like getting up, lying down or taking a shower. You experience weight gain because you aren’t as active as your body is used to. You have to try to keep yourself distracted by watching movies, reading books, or going for walks when you are physically strong enough. Although the recovery time lasted only two weeks, it was difficult not to feel as if the world was moving on without you. Everyone still has work, school and a social life to attend to, but it’s important to stay mentally focused with reminders that you’ll be back to that soon. For me, my age at the time (27) was the hardest part, because remember I made the decision to keep my diagnosis and surgery extremely private, and you learn that every decision in life has its ups and downs.
There were days when I felt sad, lonely and sometimes even angry — not to mention the “bipolar” mood swings. I would literally go from balling my eyes out to laughing hysterically just moments apart. (Cancer patients come up with some cruel jokes) My mom would say “Culpa do tiroide!” which translates to “It’s the thyroid’s fault!” and we would just laugh. It’s important to find things to laugh at because it takes time to completely feel like yourself again.
You know, I share these awful experiences, but in reality when I think back to the day I came home from surgery, I think of the get-well-soon cards, flowers and box of sweets my friends sent me. I think of the multiple phone calls and text messages that kept me sane, especially those who gave me juicy gossip and allowed me to live vicariously through them. I think of those who visited me and told me I looked great despite the reality that I was going through a life-altering experience. I think of my friend who thought my surgery was at her hospital and was willing to change her whole schedule just to be my nurse on the day of my operation. I think of another friend who was in pharmacy school at the time and got bombarded by my questions about synthyroid. Oh, and the “Pharmacist,” this guy I was kind of talking to at the time. Yeah, he was in pharmacy school, and bless his soul because I asked him a billion questions as well. I know … SUPER awkward.
My leave of absence ended up being extended to three weeks. It was the longest three weeks of my life, I would of told you then. Three out of the 52 weeks in a year. Three weeks of recovery that allowed me to go back to work stronger. Three weeks of unconditional love and support from family and friends that I will forever be grateful for. The thing is, those moments of pain and suffering seem like they last a lifetime, but the moments of happiness and bliss seem to go by in a blink of an eye. So treasure what you have and do the things you love, because time will go by either way and before you know it, it’s gone!
Sour. Sweet. Gone.
- Strength- To all my Sour Patch Kids that stood by me and continue to stand by me through it all, I Love You!
- Confidence- In GOD
- Perseverance- Its only three out of 52 weeks in a year