In the Spring of 2017 I learned that it's ok to take a chemo holiday and to stop all cancer related medication's, to give my body a break and to start fresh with another one in July (that didn't work either). I've learned to adjust to new medication side effects, while becoming more grateful that I can function on a normal work day, because of few medication side effect from oral chemo/antiestrogen treatments. (My new treatment, Tamoxifen; let's hope this one works.)
I shed more tears in 2017 than any other as I lost 4 dear friend's from complications due to this disease which still has no preventative test, making for those diagnosed in late stages, little chances for an extended life. I miss these ladies fiercely and feel a huge void in my life, especially my friend and co-worker Kendra. Not a day goes by, that she doesn't enter my thoughts.
Due to a short 3 weeks on a parp inhibitor (that made me crazy sick and made me miss a week in Sydney) in 2017 I kicked my twice a week Circle K coke zero habit and decreased my sugar intake secondary to one of the medication's I'm taking now! But I'm not going to lie, I also discovered Andy's frozen custard down the street, that I can buy by the half gallon and pare with frozen raspberries!
Unfortunately in 2017 I lost most of my muscle mass given a pretty steady resting heart rate of 165 and some major shortness of breath with any exertion. I also became severely anemic and developed some awful lower extremity edema. Thankfully this has mostly all improved thanks to a few units of blood and a kidney stint, although we are watching this ever so closely.
During the last 2 months of 2017 I learned to adjust to having a ureteral/kidney stint which is most uncomfortable, but at least it will give me more time without having a tube in my back or having to remove the kidney all-together. I've learned to adjust pain medication's when the tumor on your left kidney grows bigger and starts making you feel like you've been kicked in the flank.
2017 brought me new friendship's, some of whom fight the same fight I do, who understand exactly what it's like to live with a scary disease that can potentially take your life whenever it wants to. I developed some of these strong and wonderful friendships', as well as cancer survivor skill's by attending 2 different OVC survivor camps. This allowed me to mingle with other strong, resilient women, some who have lived with this disease for many years, some who've been in remission for many years or just a few, but also those who were newly diagnosed.
2017 taught me about hope as I listen to my family and friends pray for me. It's most humbling to hear a niece or nephew pray that Auntie Terah will have strength in the same prayer they are saying while blessing the food. I learned even more, that no matter what you do and no matter what your job is or what your life looks like, we've all been so uniquely and strategically placed where we are in our communities, in our homes and in our families for a reason.
I want to be kinder in 2018, with a child like love to all I interact with. It is in being kind and having charity that we truly serve our Savior. I want to be more like Him, to learn more about Him; to look for ways to serve other and to bring happiness and joy despite the negativity that surrounds this world, for this is what He taught and what he would do.
And when I'm home in 2018 I will continue to hug my nieces and nephews fiercely when they walk in and out of my parent's door. And I will keep asking them to stop growing, they are getting too tall. Oh, what I would give to freeze time. My nieces and nephews are so perfect and at the perfect ages right now (10-nb). I will keep loving their drawings and cute letters telling me they love me all the way around the moon and I will treasure the cuddles and laughter we will share. If there is one thing I hope to leave these little ones it is to have courage in the face of fear and uncertainty and to have a firm, unwavering testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and a faith in our Heavenly Father's love for us His children.
In 2018 I'm hoping to develop exceeding faith in the plan that Heavenly Father has layed out for me. I will continue to pray that His will, will become my will if they are different. And I will for sure work on this goal of letting my faith be bigger than my fear. (I found this and had to buy it this week).
I still have hope that there will be a medication that will shrink and stop my tumor growth so that I will have more time to grow my character and spirituality, to make more memories with my family and friends and to see more of the beautiful world that has been created for me to enjoy. And if the road is a bit bumpy, I'll for sure shed tears of sadness and pain, but I'll also try my best to face the adversity I've been given the best that only I know how.
In 2018 I hope to develop more friendships, forgive and be forgiven, laugh a lot more and cry less. I hope to gain back at least some of that muscle I lost, hike more mountains, take more walks and ride more bikes (or just take more spin classes.) I want to enjoy every moment I can in my backyard come 2 weeks when I have a backyard makeover, while I swing on a swing with a book in my hand.