Saturday, September 10, 2011

Cancer was the best thing that ever happened to me!

Well since I am sure you have all read the title of this now of course I need to explain. After having a conversation with Julia about this today I decided I want to share it with you all.

As many of you who have been around me recently have probably notice I am a different person since having Lymphoma, but don't worry that is a good thing!!

The entire cancer experience is no picnic that you must all understand however there has always been this thought or saying that it takes some thing drastic to change your life and that is exactly what Lymphoma has done for me!

I have never been a "healthy" person, I have always wanted to be but never really made the time or really cared enough about me to fulfill that desire. Since the time I was diagnosed until about mid May I had managed to gain 30+ lbs then what I was at during the beginning stages of my diagnosis. I know you would think having this awful disease you would loose weight but that is not the case. So as I stated in my new years "bucket list" I wanted to find and stick to an exercise program. I think I have successfully accomplished that. But let me back track a little bit.

So I believe that everything happens for a reason, having said that I have decided that if I had the chance to go back I would do it all again for the sole reason that having lymphoma has had such a positive turn to my life. But because everything happens for a reason I start to think about the events that occurred in finding the lymphoma and you wonder well what if Dr. Langman sent me to a different hospital other than MGH for treatment? What if it wasn't lymphoma? What if I had gotten a different lymphoma oncologist than Dr. Barnes? Even what if Dr. Barnes hadn't said to me "It's treatable, it's curable and that's what we're going to do?" I honestly believe that one statement set the precedent to how everything that happened after that went. So see it all does happen for a reason. I also wonder what if Elizabeth never sent me the e-mail about the cancer transitions program at MGH? Because that whole 6 week experience was an inspiration as well. There are so many things that just fell into place that confirms my belief!

So the cancer transitions program was 6 weeks and we had different sessions each week. 1.) Exercise -Wonderful to learn easy things to do at home that will help bring your strength back and help with fatigue. 2.) Nutrition - The balanced plate is an amazing concept. I love it, it's not a diet because you can have whatever you want just moderation! 3.) Mental health - who doesn't need some help with every once in while? but they taught helpful ways to relieve stress and anxiety! 4.) Medical follow up - great tips on ways to utilize your time with your doctor for follow ups as well as learning about the survivor-ship clinic and how to get involved with that stuff! 5.) Get to know you - There was a whole session on getting to know everyone and sort of more about getting to know yourself and then 6.) Was a where are you now - meaning you looked back on the 6 weeks and talked about where you were when you started and where you are now. That was amazing for me! The whole experience was inspirational because it made me realize that I am the only one who can change what happens in my life. I decided I was joining a gym, which I have done and I am averaging between 4-5 days a week of actually going which I think is great. I have adapted some of eating habits to the balanced plate and that seems to be helping cause I have lost 27lbs in about 16 weeks which is a huge change and I am happy with that!!!

The other part of my life that has changed will sound a little off putting but I think this is a the biggest part. I have changed my mental outlook about things. My new moto is I just don't care. Don't get me wrong I care about everyone important in my life but other than that I really could careless. I don't let the little things bother me especially things that I can't change! And let me tell you I am a happier better person because of it!!!

So all in all cancer was the best thing that ever happened me. I am taking better care of myself and I feel fantastic!! So go live your life as if you had cancer cause life is too short!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Reflections Are Sometimes Necessary

So I have recently been given the opportunity to help someone who is the same exact position I was in this time last year. I was contacted by a woman whos husband is a little older than myself and was recently diagnosed with the exact same lymphoma with the mutation and all. But that isn't even the biggest thing he is getting the same treatment, at the same hospital (they live close to boston) by the same doctor and the exact same first treatment date. I have been helping them through everything and I am glad I have been able to share my experience and help them see a positive outcome to this terrible disease.

So that little back story leads into why I am writing this blog. This coming Friday is my 9 month post treatment check up with my oncologist. It is also a time when my new friend will be having his first 5 day stay at the hospital for his second round of treatment and I am going to visit him while I am there. I had told his wife that I have a lot of books and materials that I got after treatment that would have been more helpful during treatment that I would be more than happy to bring to them. so I decided that I would start getting everything together for them. As I started to do this I looked around the room and decided it was time to take down all the cards and everything from last summer.
while I was taking them down I of course had to read them. And I just found myself smiling, it strikes me as odd that it takes something like a serious illness for you to find out just exactly what you mean to the people in your life. I found cards from friends, family, co-teachers and children in the classes. Aside from cards I have a beaded necklace, mylar balloons, ornaments. I even found a karaoke slip from a friend that had writen a request to sing the chemo song for me. I also found calendar pages (they had daily calendars hanging int the hospital rooms) that some of my friends that had come to visit me wrote me messages on them so that when the nurses changed the days in the morning I had a new message from them. Just as an FYI September 29th is National Alyson Day for those of you who didn't know that. 

As I was going through things I realized that I am truely loved by many people and that says a lot about the kind of person I have made sure to become. I appriciate everything everyone has done for me so please don't anyone take offense to what comes next. As I was taking the cards down there was one card that I decided was my favorite and if you look at there really is nothing special about it.

All it says is congratulations. However this card is from all the nurses on Phillips 21 at MGH. The reason I decided it was my favorite is that although these people really had no idea who I was and even though they managed to touch my life that I some how managed to touch their as well. It made me feel better that even through all that I went through I was still able to continue to be the real me. I am not sure if this is something they do for other patients but I certainly appreciated and will never forget them. They even got me a gift and made sure it was purple cause they knew that was my favorite color.

I am not exactly sure where I was going with this. I think I was just taken aback while looking at everything at how well it all turned out. I am glad that I was finally able to put all that stuff away and that I am able to help someone else who is having to go through the same situation!