Thursday, October 31, 2013

Struggling


I've been struggling.

Maybe you've noticed that I have been MIA for a few weeks now.  It's because I've been struggling.

Struggling with the hand I've been dealt recently. Struggling with what to say about it here on this blog. Struggling to find enough desire TO blog. This entire month has just been one big struggle after another. And instead of celebrating the end of a crappy month, I’m filled with trepidation for the one that lies ahead.

(Disclaimer: It’s a long story and it isn't about glitter and pretty paper. The decision to ultimately tell my story here was a difficult one. If you choose to stop reading now, I'll understand. I get it. If you continue on, however, thank you for taking the time and for sticking with me while I get it all out.)

Earlier this month, I mentioned surgery on my head. Let’s start there, shall we? After a little “scabby area” on my scalp turned out to be skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma), I was scheduled for surgery to remove it on September 30. Going in, we were expecting a two-hour procedure to remove a quarter-sized spot. When the surgeon emerged from the operating room FOUR hours later, he explained to my husband that the cancer was the size of a pancake, but he was able to remove all of it and with some tricky maneuvering and hundreds of stitches, was able to piece me back together.

I was sent home that same day to begin my recovery - in a fog, totally nauseous, head completely bandaged, with pain meds clutched in my fist. Fun times. While the first 48 hours truly sucked, each passing day became a bit more bearable. The constant pain has given way to occasional, quickly passing stabs of pain and an odd sensation of a tight/pulling/stretched-to-the-max feeling across the left side of my head.

If my story stopped there, I would be pretty happy. In fact, I’d be ecstatic.

But my story does not stop there.

Leading up to the surgery, I went about the business of getting some routine check-ups crossed off my list. You know the drill – those routine “girl” appointments we do (or are supposed to do) every year. ONE of them hadn't turned out to be as “routine” as usual. ONE of them had started to raise some flags and require a follow-up. Or three.

Bright and early, the very day after my head surgery, I received a call confirming one of my worst fears: breast cancer.

Thud.

I can’t tell you how hard it is to say those words. To admit this thing is real and not just a drug-induced dream nightmare.

And isn't it ironic that the news came on October 1st, kicking off breast cancer awareness month. The month long barrage campaign has been a constant reminder during the few moments I could shut it out of my brain.

In the following weeks, instead of resting and healing, my days have been filled with new doctors, more tests, poking, prodding, and yet another surgery – this time a bi-lateral lumpectomy. What started out as [finding] one tumor, turned into two tumors (one on each side), and most recently we learned a lymph node tested positive, meaning it had already started to spread.

As it stands now, the anticipated treatment plan (which wasn't that drastic) is up in the air. Things that were off the table are now back on the table. Our premature relief has been replaced with complete uncertainty while we await the results of a very specialized test that will guide our decisions about a course of action.

Meanwhile, I’m still recovering from the trauma my body endured over an 18-day time span. My body isn't as young as it used to be and it’s letting me know big time. Ouch.

Oh, and one more thing. We will be moving (again) in late December. Planning and preparing for a move across the state while all this is going on? CRAZY. That pretty much sums up how I feel about the subject. But, we don't really have a choice, so it is what it is.

Thank goodness for incredibly supportive, generous, and helpful friends (and an awesome husband holding my hand every step of the way). We will get through all of this. Somehow.

Going Forward
I've managed a few stamping/crafting sessions and hope to get some projects posted soon. Between doctor visits, treatments, and packing up an entire house, I just don’t know how often I’ll be posting over the next several months. That really bugs me, but I know there will be limitations and something has to give. I honestly don’t know if anyone has even noticed my absence or not, so maybe it’s no big deal anyway.

Hello? Anyone out there??  (tap. tap. this thing on?)

What I won’t be doing is turning this blog into a “cancer blog”. With no offense meant to those who choose to write about their experience in-depth on a regular basis, that isn’t me. It was hard enough to get up the nerve to write this one post. If asked, I will provide updates occasionally; otherwise, I’ll keep it devoted to my beloved papercrafting and post if and when I can.

If you are still reading (omg!), thank you for allowing me to address the elephant in the room and move on. The long silence here has felt like a big cloud hanging overhead that I needed to clear up. There are enough clouds already without adding one more.







Let's go shopping!
Click below to shop online for Stampin' Up! products




 Please share your questions and comments below.
I read every single comment and try my best to provide a timely response.

Got friends? 
Click the icons below to share on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and Google +1

18 comments:

  1. Dear Gayle, I am so sorry for all the uncertainty and pain you have been through. Please know that I will pray for you and your family. I have enjoyed your blog and hope that your move will go smoothly. God bless!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am so sorry to read what you are going through. I hope your treatment goes smoothly and successfully. It is great you have such a supportive network around you to lean on when you need to.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks very much, Karren. I have some amazing friends - so grateful. xo

      Delete
  3. Gayle, I am a big fan of your creations, and have the utmost respect for you openly sharing your story in your little patch of blogland. We crafters don't just care about the stamping, and the pretty cards, but the people behind them. Please do share, when and if you feel you can. What an uncertain and mind-blowing time it is for you. Bless your husband, and friends, for the help they are giving you; events like this are a wake-up call for all of us, as to what's really important in life! Hang in there, stay strong, and know that you are being thought of. xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Christine! Thank you so much for all your kind words (& thoughts). I am touched. xo

      Delete
  4. I for one do care to hear when something so overwhelming is going on! I wish all the best for you and will say prayers for you. Iam happy to hear you have a good support system - that makes all the difference in the world. I love your papercraft creations and hope you have time for yourself, but please don't worry about posting them! Hope all goes better than could be expected and that your move is uneventful!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I am so very sorry to hear about all that you've been dealing with lately. I can't even begin to imagine how difficult it must be. Please know that you and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers, Heather. xo

      Delete
  6. Gayle, I am so sorry to hear about everything you have been through. That is a lot to deal with in a short amount of time and I can only imagine how overwhelming it must be. Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. I am so glad you have a wonderful support system in your family and friends.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you very much, Kathi. Overwhelmed is a word we've used a lot recently. xo

      Delete
  7. Gayle! I am so sorry that you are having to face so many trials at the same time. I do hope that there is some clear path ahead with treatment and plans. It is hard 'not knowing' ... and I am sure this is adding to your dark time. I will be praying that you will be able to cope with all you have to face ... and that you might be able to smile through the rain ... maybe some days will be better than others! How wonderful that you have a loving & supportive hubby & helpful friends around you. Sending hugs & prayers that you will overcome. I always find it comforting to pray. God has everything in his hands! Will be popping by here ... but don't feel pressure to post! That is the least of your worries. But ... if you feel like 'venting' ... you shouldn't be worried about sharing it with your blog friends! They also care! Whatever helps ... you do that! :) xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Andrea, thank you SO MUCH for your thoughtful comments. I'm reminded often of a saying that "without clouds and rain, there are no rainbows". A little cheesy, but true! xoxo

      Delete
  8. Gayle, I am so sorry for what you've been facing. I'm glad you made this post and hope that it helps you to know a lot of people are praying for you. I was recently laid off from a job I had for 12 years and you've helped me put things into perspective to know what you're dealing with makes unemployment feel very minor. Uncertainty is never a good feeling and I hope that sharing here has helped you if even a little to relieve that. Praying for you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Paula, Thanks so much for your kind words. Oddly enough, we actually went through the same thing as you just a month prior to the medical issues. Once we figured out our "plan B", things started to get really crazy. I'm a firm believer that things happen for a reason - sometimes it becomes clear what the reason is right away and sometimes it takes a little longer. Best wishes to you during your own uncertain time. xo

      Delete
  9. Gail, I don't know you, in fact this is the first time I've ever been to your blog... brought here through Pinterest. I just wanted you to know that I'm sending prayers your way. It takes real strength to publicly journal what you are going through. You are AMAZING and you can beat this!

    ReplyDelete

Thank you SO MUCH for commenting! I read every single one and try my best to respond back. xoxo