The Cancer-Life Balance: Or To Wear Cute Shoes Or Not Wear Cute Shoes

Started by anonymous, April 02, 2015
7 replies for this topic
anonymous

N/A
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Posted on
April 02, 2015
It has been established that I love shoes, especially cute shoes. So it was cute shoes that were my down fall today.  

This morning, I put on my fashionable shoes, and walked sassily towards work. And when I say sassily, I mean I was working it, headphones on, fun socks showing, open sweater blowing in the wind behind me, as I sped down the rain-slicked sidewalk. But then I met the handicap ramp at the curb. Apparently, the tread on the handicap ramp was too much for my cutely dressed feet. Down I went, hands out, knees hitting pavement, ego falling flat. Yes, folks, the days of cute shoes for me just might be over. And that makes me angry. Real angry.

It makes me angry because I am so tired of this whole cancer thing. I am tired of giving things up. I am tired of cancer. I am tired of treatments. I am tired of doctors. I am tired of the cancerous interruptions to my life. I am tired of living with the fear of possible pain and too-soon death.

So I struggle to live my life in spite of the cancer and manage what I call the cancer-life balance. Do I give up the cute shoes or do I just make sure there's a wall or other possible support nearby every time I wear those shoes?

Do I go to the gym and power through the fatigue or do I take the nap my chemo-tired body is begging for?

Do I meet the air conditioner repair man or do I go in for that blood test my doctor seems to think is so dang important she wants me to come in during the only time the A/C guy can schedule me?

It's a balance, at some points literally. I have no choice but to respect the cancer, but at the same time I want to live my gee golly willikers life.

So, when I make those cancer-life balance decisions, I base them on whether the choice will kill me or not.

And my bar for making those decisions is pretty darn high.

The other night, someone noted my MedicAlert bracelet and asked why I wore it.  Not wanting to go into the whole metastatic breast cancer story, I replied simply, "I'm on a blood thinner." 

"Why are you on a blood thinner?" he probed. 

"I have a blood clot," I replied. The surprise and concern on his face was instant, and he expressed the gravity of the situation.

"That's serious," he said. What he didn't know was that to me a blood clot was merely a blip in my medical nightmare. The night my oncologist told me of the clot found during a regular scan, my first thought was that maybe the clot would kill me instead of the cancer. I was not concerned about the clot. I was far more afraid of the cancer. After that call, I strolled to the subway, and admitted myself to the ER for an ultrasound. The blood clot never scared me. It still doesn't scare me.

So there is my bar for will it kill me or not.  I have stage 4 cancer, dammit. Ain't much else worse than that. And with that criteria in mind I ask the questions of cancer-life balance.

The blood test measuring my likely chemo-induced lowered platelets and elevated liver readings? Will waiting two days so that I can keep that appointment with the repair man kill me?  Very unlikely. I might be a bit nauseous, a bit tired, but it won't kill me. But not getting the air conditioning fixed, and having to sleep through hotter than hell weather might. The blood test waits.

The cute shoes? Will they kill me if I wear them? Maybe, if I trip and fall on to the subway tracks, and an oncoming train hits me. Huh. Being hit by a train might be worse than cancer. And broken bones are never fun. Time for a compromise. Keep cute shoes at work and wear the practical shoes for the walk to work.

Go to the gym? This one has some regular-life resistance mixed in.  Even on a good day, I am very willing to skip exercise for a nap.  But in the name of maintaining my mobility and flexibility in the midst of all the chemicals aimed at my body, I do need to exercise.  The compromise? If I am not too fatigued, I will go to the gym. And once in awhile, I skip the gym, and instead eat a donut, just like a regular person.

Stop my blood thinner for a few days so I can get a tattoo that will cover my mastectomy scar? How likely is it that part of the clot will break off and cause a stroke during that two-day period? Not likely. And, frankly, if it does, we've already gone over the idea that a blood clot may lead to a less painful death than the cancer. Plus, the 1-inch wide scar on my breast is a significant notch in my belt of depression. Decision? Stop the blood thinner temporarily and get the tattoo (it is gorgeous, by the way, and looking in the mirror is no longer quite as sad).

Is this fun? No. It is not fun at all. But it's not like I have a choice. So here I am, making the cancer-life balance choices, because, damnit, I want to keep living my life.  Cancer, blood clot, doctors be damned. So if you need me, I'll be living with my latest cancer-life balance choice. I'll be in my office, foot elevated, ankle wrapped in ice, and I'll be wearing my very cute shoes.
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Susan Fariss

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
April 02, 2015
It has been established that I love shoes, especially cute shoes. So it was cute shoes that were my down fall today.  

This morning, I put on my fashionable shoes, and walked sassily towards work. And when I say sassily, I mean I was working it, headphones on, fun socks showing, open sweater blowing in the wind behind me, as I sped down the rain-slicked sidewalk. But then I met the handicap ramp at the curb. Apparently, the tread on the handicap ramp was too much for my cutely dressed feet. Down I went, hands out, knees hitting pavement, ego falling flat. Yes, folks, the days of cute shoes for me just might be over. And that makes me angry. Real angry.

It makes me angry because I am so tired of this whole cancer thing. I am tired of giving things up. I am tired of cancer. I am tired of treatments. I am tired of doctors. I am tired of the cancerous interruptions to my life. I am tired of living with the fear of possible pain and too-soon death.

So I struggle to live my life in spite of the cancer and manage what I call the cancer-life balance. Do I give up the cute shoes or do I just make sure there's a wall or other possible support nearby every time I wear those shoes?

Do I go to the gym and power through the fatigue or do I take the nap my chemo-tired body is begging for?

Do I meet the air conditioner repair man or do I go in for that blood test my doctor seems to think is so dang important she wants me to come in during the only time the A/C guy can schedule me?

It's a balance, at some points literally. I have no choice but to respect the cancer, but at the same time I want to live my gee golly willikers life.

So, when I make those cancer-life balance decisions, I base them on whether the choice will kill me or not.

And my bar for making those decisions is pretty darn high.

The other night, someone noted my MedicAlert bracelet and asked why I wore it.  Not wanting to go into the whole metastatic breast cancer story, I replied simply, "I'm on a blood thinner." 

"Why are you on a blood thinner?" he probed. 

"I have a blood clot," I replied. The surprise and concern on his face was instant, and he expressed the gravity of the situation.

"That's serious," he said. What he didn't know was that to me a blood clot was merely a blip in my medical nightmare. The night my oncologist told me of the clot found during a regular scan, my first thought was that maybe the clot would kill me instead of the cancer. I was not concerned about the clot. I was far more afraid of the cancer. After that call, I strolled to the subway, and admitted myself to the ER for an ultrasound. The blood clot never scared me. It still doesn't scare me.

So there is my bar for will it kill me or not.  I have stage 4 cancer, dammit. Ain't much else worse than that. And with that criteria in mind I ask the questions of cancer-life balance.

The blood test measuring my likely chemo-induced lowered platelets and elevated liver readings? Will waiting two days so that I can keep that appointment with the repair man kill me?  Very unlikely. I might be a bit nauseous, a bit tired, but it won't kill me. But not getting the air conditioning fixed, and having to sleep through hotter than hell weather might. The blood test waits.

The cute shoes? Will they kill me if I wear them? Maybe, if I trip and fall on to the subway tracks, and an oncoming train hits me. Huh. Being hit by a train might be worse than cancer. And broken bones are never fun. Time for a compromise. Keep cute shoes at work and wear the practical shoes for the walk to work.

Go to the gym? This one has some regular-life resistance mixed in.  Even on a good day, I am very willing to skip exercise for a nap.  But in the name of maintaining my mobility and flexibility in the midst of all the chemicals aimed at my body, I do need to exercise.  The compromise? If I am not too fatigued, I will go to the gym. And once in awhile, I skip the gym, and instead eat a donut, just like a regular person.

Stop my blood thinner for a few days so I can get a tattoo that will cover my mastectomy scar? How likely is it that part of the clot will break off and cause a stroke during that two-day period? Not likely. And, frankly, if it does, we've already gone over the idea that a blood clot may lead to a less painful death than the cancer. Plus, the 1-inch wide scar on my breast is a significant notch in my belt of depression. Decision? Stop the blood thinner temporarily and get the tattoo (it is gorgeous, by the way, and looking in the mirror is no longer quite as sad).

Is this fun? No. It is not fun at all. But it's not like I have a choice. So here I am, making the cancer-life balance choices, because, damnit, I want to keep living my life.  Cancer, blood clot, doctors be damned. So if you need me, I'll be living with my latest cancer-life balance choice. I'll be in my office, foot elevated, ankle wrapped in ice, and I'll be wearing my very cute shoes.
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angie

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
April 09, 2015
I don't, want to really discuss anything, I just wanted to say thank you for this article. It is hard to discuss this balance with people so it's great to have another person I can relate too. God bless, Angie
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JElaineJ

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
April 09, 2015
I'm a cute shoes freak, too. Just wanted to say that I can pretty much wear anything because I can no longer feel my toes - thank you, Xeloda! But realistically, I'm so grateful for the Xeloda and everything else they threw at me, because I'm in my 10th year with NED. I was diagnosed stage 4 in 2005. It's weird, when you're this far away from the trauma of diagnosis. You literally don't think about it, unless you have blood work or scans scheduled. Blood work doesn't phase me, but about a month before a scan, I still get progressively freaked out. I'm writing this because there really is no way to prepare for what I'm going through. Can the cancer come back? Statistically, there's no doubt it will. But one thing I've learned in life is, we are not statistics and none of us fits exactly into the curve. My oncologist says there are more of us than you might think. That makes sense: we're glued to the horror stories, and people who don't make that cut are left out of the picture. It's a picture I hope to stay out of forever. My plan is to die of anything other than cancer. In the meantime, I keep my appointments, I exercise, I eat better than I used to. We all make our deals with cancer. If it comes back because in addition to being a shoe freak, I'm a sugar junkie -- well, so be it. As you say, it's a balance.
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Susan Fariss

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
April 09, 2015
Yeah, it is a constant debate. But cookies make it all better. :-)
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pingpong

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
April 09, 2015
Thank you for posting this article. Yes, I agreed, it's all about balance and decision making. I'm too living my life as "normally" as it can be in between cancer, keeping up with my full time job, daily exercises, maintain a healthy diet, keep the garden in check, and most important, be happy. I take my medication everyday as I do with my hypertension, cholesterol and diabetic. All of them will not go away exactly and so is cancer. But as long as I keep them all in check, I WILL live.
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Elaine2

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
April 10, 2015
Love your article! Thanks for reminding me of the importance of humor in our whole journey. I'm a survivor and a researchy-type person, and have seen the value of approaching all of life with humor. Kudos to you, Susan. March forward in those cute shoes!
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Bert

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
April 11, 2015
Keep wearing the cute shoes! Just be careful of those ramps. They're hard to navigate with sensible shoes. I love shoes. When I look good, I feel good. No one wants to go out looking like a "cancer patient". So many people have told me how good I looked after I started treatments that I began to think I must not have looked so good before I got cancer. Go figure! I know they mean that I don't look like someone going through treatment. And when I look in the mirror, I don't want to look like that either. So we dress up, use the makeup, wig, etc. and go out with a smile on our face. And we do feel better. (P.S. If you haven't tried the Amer. Cancer Soc. Look Good Feel Good program, call about it. It's free and fun.)
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penquinhead

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
April 23, 2015
Godspeed Susan, godspeed.
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