Well it has been a little while I know. Life has been dare I say more normal and really busy. I have kept meaning to write a post for months now but just never got to it. So of course I have lots to say now that I have finally sat down to do this.
First off, I had my two year scans three weeks ago. I got the all clear!! Everything looked normal and I remain cancer free. Two years is where the odds of reoccurrence drop a lot more significantly and after five years with the type of cancer I had the odds are very very low. I am doing way better than I was leading up to my appointment. Knowing that this two year milestone was a big one, really triggered my anxiety. I had finally gotten to a good place at being able to manage my anxiety, I've been back at work for about six months now like that's how good I was doing. It was kind of like I forgot I still needed to manage my symptoms and honestly I ignored a lot of the warning signs that I was on a bad path. I went through a pretty bad breakdown that included my first panic attack and was on a downward spiral for a few months. I was having trouble being present with Clara and I just didn't care about anything or anyone for some time. I had taken a bit of a break from therapy because I had been feeling so good. Once I realized the things that were happening were my anxiety rearing its ugly head again, I started to do the things I needed to get it back in check and manage it to the best of my ability up until the appointment.
Its really easy to forgot you have a mental illness. I know that sounds stupid, and maybe it is but sometimes I just don't want to deal with this anymore. Its so frustrating, having cancer wasn't enough it had to give me severe anxiety too. Anxiety that I will have to live with for the rest of my life. Yes, it may get better and more manageable as time goes on but when I started to feel so good and finally felt like the person I was meant to be and the mom I wanted to be; that's when it hit again. The hardest part of dealing with anxiety though it the lack of understanding. If you don't have to manage a mental illness you really have no clue how to help me. That isn't your fault and I don't blame anyone who doesn't get it. It is really hard to explain it to someone. I've done my best with Ryan and he does all he can to understand or at least accept what I need and help me the best he can. We are at a place where I can tell him I don't feel well and he knows I need some space or some help with Clara or things around the house. I know he doesn't fully get it but the effort to understand and to listen is all I really need. The months leading up to my appointment were really hard and I was so scared that the cancer would be back, not that I had any reason to think anything had changed, I just had it in my head that things couldn't stay good forever. I'm working on that now and after getting the all clear, I'm feel a lot more in control of my thoughts now.
As I've mentioned, I'm back at work! It felt really good going back. I had to return to a different role but I think it was a good transition back into work and a good way to learn all the changes that happened in the two and a half years I was off. As of two weeks ago I moved back into the position I had before I went on mat leave. Going back to what I love has really made it feel like I'm back to where I was supposed to be. I made it through all the changes and challenges that came after cancer and I am back where I would have been if I had never had cancer. It has felt really good and it has also been so good actually using my brain again! Don't get me wrong I have had my challenges in shifting from so much time with Clara to working fulltime but I am making the adjustments and feeling like I have a little bit of a grip on this working mom thing now. I've had to work really hard at controlling my anxiety at work and there have for sure been times where it has gotten the best of me but it is slowly getting better. I miss my time with Clara of course but I think I have been able to come even further on my journey by going back to work and going back to my more normal life.
I'm still struggling a bit with life after cancer though even with all this good. There are days that are really bad and all I can think about is all that I went through. Sometimes I'm in total awe of what I've done and how far I have come, but sometimes I'm still really sad. I'm sad about the things I felt like I didn't get to enjoy in having a baby. Yet, I'm so happy to be here now and see this amazing little person form right in front of me. Clara has a speech delay and I know I'm not to blame for it but sometimes it feels like if I had been able to be more present when she was small maybe she wouldn't be so far behind. Maybe that isn't true at all but it comes across my mind often. The worst part though that I still feel after cancer is the loneliness. This is something I didn't really understand how to explain until just a few weeks ago after therapy. My therapist asked me if I was still having trouble with the lack of support after cancer which is a huge change from being in treatment and having everyone there to help but once you are cancer free they all kind of move on. Yes, I'm not sick anymore but no I'm not better. She then asked me if it was a lonely feeling. That was such an eye opening moment. Lonely, lonely was what I was feeling. Not that I'm alone or I don't have Ryan's support or anything like that but everyone kind of moves on without you. Guess what, its not over for me. Sure it has been two years but it is still a big part of my days. It is still a lot for me to deal with. It is so much to process and it has taken so much work after the fact but no one talks about that or asks about it. It really is lonely. I'm kind of at a place where I just have to bring it up myself but that too feels awkward. Even writing this, it is so hard to really explain it. I'm not angry with anyone and I know I have talked about this in past blogs but it hasn't gone away. I still struggle to get support or get people to understand how I am now and how my anxiety affects my life. I think that's a big part of why I wanted to write something now, I needed to share that and feel like maybe it will give someone the nudge to ask the questions they want to ask. I'm okay talking about what I went through. It feels good to talk about it and be asked about it and acknowledge that it all happened.
I'm sure I have lots more to say but maybe I should save it for another post, maybe a little sooner than a year from now though. I am getting there though, every day I get a little closer to having my life back and a little further away from cancer. Mommy is finally on a better path for you, Clara.