So…it has been two weeks since I’ve posted. And, guess what? It wasn’t because I “disappeared” again. It is because I’ve been really busy living!
Apprehensively, I approached my third round of chemo knowing full well that each round’s side effects were going to be progressively worse. Turns out I should really stop assuming things. This round was by far the easiest yet. I think this had to do with several factors. After round two was so terrible I made a commitment to do three things everyday; one productive, fun, and physical. Having a focus to move each day helped me to not let the fog that comes consume me. By Wednesday, the haze felt lighter and each task was easier to accomplish.
Having a degree in nutrition, it didn’t really take a brainstorm to realize the foods I have been eating weren’t helping matters. Of course, there was counseling with a dietitian when we first began this process. And, of course, all that went straight out the window when reality set in. Food is a constant battle. Between dead taste buds and constant nausea, I was eating whatever I thought I could stomach. Most of the foods were falling into a category of things I would never dream of eating before all this started, especially on a daily basis. It was plain and simple. Eat better. Feel better.
There was one more thing that made a world of difference. It sank in today as I watched my husband make a speech. He was saying goodbye to yet another leadership position and a group of people he respects and loves (in his own alpha male macho man way, of course). He said, “You take care of family. You take care of family, first and foremost, and everything else will fall in line”. I can say this is true because I saw it happen last week.
The day of chemotherapy, my mom, grandmother and cousin arrived to cheer this girl up. I can tell you I held off the side effects a lot longer than I’ve been able to in the past. I could feel the fight to cherish those moment. The following week, my mom helped me keep up on those pesky goals I had set up for myself. And, achieve we did. I was feeling “alive” for a better lack of words when she departed Friday, a few hours shy of our friends’ arrival from Colorado. I’ll say it again and again. The military does not create friends. It turns your friends into family. I could not have been more blessed with the people taking care of me last round. To them it may have seemed like visiting but for me… they were definitely renewing my spirit and nurturing that motivation I’ve been desperately clinging too. Everything just fell into place.
I am more hopeful than I have been in a long time. The next round of chemo doesn’t seem to hold the threat that seemed to hover over the previous rounds. Better still, my guests have given me a gift. They may not have said it but I could see the relief. My visitors were thinking they were going to walk into the house and see a different version of me. A sick, weak Ashley who was struggling through but painting on a brave face. I keep telling people “I’m not sick. I just have cancer”. Through their eyes, I know I really am still just me. I’m not trying to fool anyone. I wish I could see you all so you could see it too. Maybe then you’d know… Cancer ain’t got nothing on me! How’s that for some motivation?