My last post was about "Life after cancer being good" and it is! I feel great in most ways! But I am also finding life after cancer to be challenging.
I am very fatigued.....sometimes depressed.....day after day. I can't even get motivated to do the things I NEED to do and the things I normally LOVE to do!
My pictures I post on my blog are pictures of me "living out loud", but I must confess that I am not "living out loud" every day.
My daily life consists of...sleeping until noon and some days not even wanting to get up then. Some days I think I could just stay in bed all day. But, I eventually force myself up. Get my bath, eat dinner, and then sit.
And sit, and sit, and sit....THINKING of the things I need to do but not getting up to do them! No energy...no motivation.....even though the desire is there.
I don't take pictures of my daily life. How interesting would that be to see picture after picture of me sitting on the couch? Or sleeping? lol
The problem with that is that people see a lop-sided view of my life. The fun "living out loud" pictures make it appear that my daily life is like that...when that is the furthest thing from the truth. Because of that, I feel like others think I'm always making "excuses". It makes me feel guilty.
But how can I blame anyone? I have presented that picture to the world. In my efforts to show others that they can survive cancer, I have made it seem like it's just a small bump in the road.
The fact is, like many other conditions people suffer from, the fatigue I deal with is not visible. The depression is not visible. It's usually something I keep to myself.
I honestly FEEL GOOD! No pain, no achiness to speak of, no headaches, nothing but fatigue and depression to bring me down. I'm left wondering why.
Is it the Arimidex that I take to keep away a cancer reoccurence? While it cuts my chances of reoccurence in half, it is not without side affects. I have to take this for at least 5 years....in a few months I will have one year down. And, honestly, I can't complain too much about the side affects. There are many women who find they cannot take this pill at all because of the pain! I do not suffer the pain it can cause. Hot flashes...oh yes! Weakness and fatgue...yes! Mood disturbances....yes! Insomnia...sometimes! Weight gain....maybe. :=( But, look at all of those side affects! I feel fortunate that this is all I am dealing with and that I can actually take this pill!
In these studies, the most common Arimidex side effects included:
- Hot flashes -- in up to 36 percent of people
- Nausea -- up to 20 percent
- Weakness or fatigue -- up to 19 percent
- Mood disturbances -- up to 19 percent
- Headaches -- up to 18 percent
- Arthritis -- up to 17 percent
- Pain -- up to 17 percent
- Joint pain -- up to 15 percent
- Sore throat -- up to 14 percent
- Nausea and vomiting -- up to 13 percent
- Bone pain -- up to 12 percent.
Other common side effects of Arimidex (occurring in 8 to 11 percent of people) included:
- Back pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Accidental injury
- Broken bones
- Insomnia (see Arimidex and Insomnia)
- Swelling or water retention in the arms or legs
- Abdominal pain (stomach pain)
- High cholesterol (see Arimidex and High Cholesterol)
- Weight gain (see Arimidex and Weight Gain)
- Breast pain
- Urinary tract infection (bladder infection or UTI)
- Loss of appetite.
I can't say for sure this is why I'm experiencing this, but considering this falls in the category of "side affects", I figure it is a big possibility of why I feel the way I do.
I also have to consider what my body has been through.....in the past two years, I have had six surgeries, two being pretty major ones. It hasn't even been a year yet since I was done with chemo and have my bilateral masectomy. My last surgery was just in December. And I have continued with procedures in 2012. That's not counting the emotional turmoil I have experienced in the last two years.
So, when I think about this.....I'm wondering if this is all normal. In spite of feeling good, I seem to be having a hard time bouncing back into my life as it was before cancer. I have spoken with a couple of other cancer survivors who told me they struggled with these same things after beating cancer. I guess that makes me feel a little more "normal".
In some areas of my life, I feel better than I did BEFORE my cancer diagnosis! My breathing is better, my sleep is better, my leg pain is better, and I overall feel better!!!!
So, today, I made a conscious decision to FIGHT BACK!!! The cancer didn't take my physical life and I am NOT going to let it take my quality of life away either!
I literally made myself go for a long walk today....I plan to take the car out and figure out how far I walked today! I think walking is so therapeutic, in more ways than one!
When walking, I see things I don't see when I'm driving. I think a lot. I appreciate the journey with God. And it gets my blood pumping and the sun gives me Vitamin D. It's just good for me in so many ways and I am proud of myself for making myself get off of this couch and DO IT!!!!
One big thing I noticed when I walked today was my breathing. It was great!!! Before my cancer I had found that I couldn't even take a deep breathe. And just walking a short distance or up some stairs would leave me breathless. Not today!!! Today I was able to take in deep breathes all through my walk and when my walk ended, I was not very winded at all. This is BIG for me!!! Having cancer caused me to lose weight.....losing weight caused me to get rid of my sleep apnea....and that has resulted in better breathing!
The only pain I felt while walking was my left knee, which really came as no surprise to me. It is the knee that has bothered me for years (no cartilege left). But even it didn't hurt until I was halfway through my walk. Just a few months ago, I couldn't have ever walked this far because of the pain in my buttocks and legs....that was before my injections!
So, in spite of everything, I find myself feeling very thankful. This post isn't about complaining. It is just keeping things "real" and it gives me the chance to explain to my family and friends that while I'm doing good...I still have some challenges.
My six month visit with my oncologist is coming up Thursday. I will be discussing this with him and see if he has any suggestions. I hope he does bloodwork so we can rule anything else out.
Right now, though, I am going to go get ready to go to our local Relay for Life Survivor Dinner! And, I do have to say, that walk did me a world of good.....I feel better! I will just have to make this a daily part of my life. I tried it on the treadmill during the winter, but found it hard to even get to a mile....because it was BORING!!!! I love walking outside...much more interesting!
Until next time, remember that not all things people are suffering are visable to us. I know this experience has made me more empathetic toward others. Go for a walk....it's good for you in more ways than one! And be thankful...always....things can always be worse.