Have You Missed Me?

As you might have noticed, I went missing for a while. I started a story and left everyone hanging, right in the middle.

How rude of me, and probably somewhat thoughtless to those who don’t see me outside the words of these posts.  My only excuse, and the real reason I went missing, is that it was hard.

Life became a daily cycle of feeling like crap and not wanting to bring anyone down to where I was. I didn’t want to talk about it, think about it, or put into words how hard it was. It was too close. I needed a break from cancer, so I took it.

Chemo is the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through, in every way you can imagine. I never doubted that I would survive, but I have no idea why I ever felt that way. Maybe I was naive, or in denial, or just plain stupidly stubborn  And it wasn’t bravery or strength, and I’m certainly no hero just for having survived cancer. Braver, stronger women than myself have fought much harder than I ever did and still lost.

I was simply lucky enough to be diagnosed before it had spread.

I wouldn’t wish cancer on my worst enemy, but cancer itself was also never the enemy. It was always just something that happened to me, a bunch of rapidly dividing cells that found a home on my left ovary.

Chemo and I, on the other hand, were never friends, and I cursed him often. He had a job to do, though, and because of that I tried to be as accommodating as possible. I hated chemo. Chemo was scary because I could physically feel, with each treatment, that his poison had the power to kill all of me, and not just the cancer cells.

medicines

Having cancer has been quite an experience, a very humbling one, to say the least. But it’s even more humbling to know that I survived.

Today I sit here on the last day of the year, reflecting on everything that’s transpired this past year, from the first inkling I had on January 4, the day after our wedding, that something wasn’t right, to a trip to the ER, surgery, chemo, and now, recovery.  While I was thinking about all of this, the thought crossed my mind that I should be ready to see 2013 go. Hell, I should be ready to kick it’s sorry ass to the other side of the moon!

But in all actuality I’m kind of sad to see this year end. In some strange way, I’m okay with all that’s happened. It wasn’t all bad.

I married a wonderful guy, one who challenges me everyday to see things in a different way and to be a better person. I logged a lot of good running miles the first five months of the year, and I’m slowly starting to run again.

I got a lot of reading done. It wasn’t always quality reading, but those fluffy novels got me through many hours of post-chemo nausea and fatigue so deep I could barely get out of bed. And I won’t even go into depth on all the hours I spent watching Breaking Bad on my iPad. I credit it for saving my sanity those first two worst chemo treatments.

I got a lot of knitting done, too, and set up an Etsy shop. I rediscovered walking. My taste buds are back, and a good, cheesy pizza is once again heaven on Earth.

I learned that my children have turned into good, kind, caring adults, and that they chose their partners well. I discovered that people you think you barely know can turn out to be nicer than you ever imagined. I realized that people want to help, that almost everyone is kind in their own way.

I got four new hairstyles this year: shorter, even shorter, bald, and now a quarter inch of baby fine fluff with a lot more white hair (or extreme blonde, as I prefer) than before.

That’s me on the right, in case you couldn’t figure it out. Everyone loves to rub my baby soft hair now.

I learned that you can become friends with someone and love them just through their words and emails, and that losing them hurts just as much as losing someone you’ve known your entire life. Friendships, like life, can be forged–and lost–in the blink of an eye.

The words “life is short” became real this year, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I appreciate more now, the so-called little things. Taking a walk outside, running without a watch, playing games with my kids, cooking a meal together, hearing a good song on the radio . . . I could go on and on. I try not to waste those moments.

But there is still a story to be finished, a resolution to be told.

So in 2014 I want to finish the story I started, if only to help other women and their loved ones, and to honor my friend Katie and all the women who didn’t make it. Even though you all know that I’m okay now, please bear with me for the next few months while I write up all the unfinished posts I started. Maybe something I share will help you or someone in your life one day.

So, as I bid adios to 2013, I have to admit it was a good year, if only for this one big reason: I’m still alive.

teal ribbon

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73 comments

  1. fitfor365

    Hey Angela, great to see you again! Reading your post is one of the best parts of 2013 for me. To be honest, I was worried but I’m glad you’re now in recovery!
    Have a great 2014 and look forward to reading your running posts again in the future. 🙂

  2. westerner54

    AND, I just checked out your knitting blog. Totally cool. I’m just learning to knit, but seem to be pretty hopeless at it: your pieces are gorgeous.

  3. runcolbyrun

    Oh Angela. Brilliant post. I JUST THIS MORNING was talking about you, My Blogging Friend, and was wondering how you were doing. In fact, I was worried. And voila! Here you are in my inbox! To 2014! A year filled with blogging, cheese pizza, soft hair and LIFE!!!

    Wonderful hearing from you. 🙂
    Xoxo

    • Mind Margins

      Colby, I have about five posts that you’ve written in my Inbox that I have yet to read and respond to. I don’t want to rush through them. It’s so good to hear from you, too! Happy New Year!

  4. Patti Ross

    Happy New Year! I am eager to hear your half-finished stories–so glad you are back to write them. You may not have been blogging, but you were in our minds and hearts. Here is to a great new year!

  5. Lyle Krahn

    So happy to hear that you made it through the dark parts of the year and good to have you back on the blog. What we are thankful for certainly changes with the situation we are in.

  6. Gunta

    Ahhh… not much to say to this, except that you’ve been missed and it’s great to have you back again! I’m getting this feeling that 2014 is going to be one truly great year. Wishing you and yours all the very best!

  7. Chatter Master

    I did wonder about you but didn’t want to pry. You are alive. And very beautifully alive. I’m glad I have met you and look forward to getting to know you.

    Just so you know….I’m not overly touchy feely so I probably wouldn’t rub your baby soft hair. But I would absolutely LOVE the short “do”. 🙂

    I think our mutual friend would be glad to know of all of the connections that are happening because of her.

    I hope you laugh a plenty today. And every day. Even if your crying at the same time.

    • Mind Margins

      I’ve been declared cancer-free and feel SO alive again! It’s an amazing feeling. Just got home from running/walking 4 miles and am going to a wedding tonight to ring in the New Year. I plan on laughing a lot tonight and the rest of my life! Happy New Year to you, dear Colleen!

  8. monica

    Oh my goodness! I was so happy to see your post come up on my blogroll! Welcome back! This post brought tears to my eyes. You are so eloquent. And, gosh if you don’t look almost bald look beautiful. :o) Again – so happy to see you posting again and happy also that you are sharing your journey as difficult as it is. Big virtual hugs and bottoms up to 2014 and joys and challenges it brings with it.

  9. fahimausa

    I hadn’t known that you came down sick only one day following your marriage!!! What a blow!! Such good news that you’re doing so well, and Happy New Year!!

    • Mind Margins

      I noticed strange symptoms but didn’t have any serious pain until four months later. That’s how fast ovarian cancer can develop and why it’s called the silent killer. Thankfully we still caught it before it was too late.

  10. WordsFallFromMyEyes

    Anyone would be scared of chemo, anyone. I really admire you.

    Wonderful, wonderful strong post.

      • WordsFallFromMyEyes

        Actually, my aunty (Mum’s sister) had cancer and was a nurse, & she chose not to have chemo, and she died in time. I never got to know though, her reasons. Family said “It’s probably because she’s a nurse and has seen so much” but I always wondered.

        You truly are brave. Awesomeness. 🙂

      • Mind Margins

        If she was already at an advanced stage, and knew the chemo wouldn’t cure her anyway, I can understand her decision. If this ever comes back, of course I would do chemo again, but I’m not sure I would do it a third time. It’s all about a good quality end of life. Chemo sucks.

  11. Virginia Deibel

    Angela, your honesty and courage touched many people. Reflection is a helpful exercise. Perhaps it allows us not to understand the “why’s” of the world but the “how to’s” and that we all have resources within us to withstand and learn. Thank you for sharing such a deep and personal experience.

    • Mind Margins

      Thanks, Virginia. Dwelling on the “why’s” gets you nowhere because the answer simply isn’t there. Everyone is just one diagnosis away from cancer. It doesn’t discriminate. I was healthy, very active, and had no risk factors. I did all the things that should have protected me. It just happens.

  12. AndrewGills

    Don’t ever apologize for taking time out to get well. It was not rude. It was what you had to do and that’s all that matters.

    I am glad to read your voice again because I am happy to read you are well again. Keep exploring the post-Cancer world. As one whose partner had cancer (all-be-it an easier experience than yours) I suspect your husband too will enjoy exploring post-Cancer time with you.

    • Mind Margins

      Thanks, Andrew. I think this experience was hardest on my husband. It’s not easy watching someone you love feel so horribly, and have to hold down a full time job and pay the bills at the same time. You have to stay so strong, 24/7.

  13. Grace @ Cultural Life

    I’m very glad to hear you are well. It was wonderful to see your post pop up on my WordPress Reader.

    You are right about trying to appreciate the little things in life. It’s not always easy to do that and sometimes I forget. But my experience of witnessing my mother go through a life-threatening illness and surgery at this time last year gave me a lot of perspective.

    Happy New Year! Let’s raise a glass to new beginnings in 2014.

  14. gtarallo

    I am so glad to see you back and doing well!! Your posts have always been my favorites and I missed them, especially because of what you have been going through. You may not feel brave, but your story will encourage bravery in so many others who fight the battle with cancer. You are indeed an inspiration. I am so glad you had such great support from your family and friends to help you through all of this. I thought of you many days and wondered how you were doing. So glad to see that beautiful smile again!!

  15. aFrankAngle

    Given your willingness to share and your fighting spirit, helping others seems perfect for you. Carry on!!!
    Happy New Year to you and yours.

  16. lynn

    We just found out that our grandmothers breast cancer has returned. Unfortunately she is 90 years old and not in good health so our family has decided not to tell her that it has returned, and to let you know she has dementia real bad and thought to let her live the remainder of her life with any quality it would just be better this way. I have several people from this horrible thing called cancer. I love reading your blogs and they encourage us to fighting for them as well as for those still fighting. God bless all of you

    • Mind Margins

      Thank you for your kind words. Unfortunately, a large part of dealing with cancer is making sure you a good quality end of life, whether you’re 90 or 30. Sorry to hear about your grandmother, but I love that you are taking such good care of her.

  17. Beverly

    In February, I will be a two year survivor of ovarian cancer. I thank my lucky stars to also have caught my cancer early. It is important to keep the focus on looking ahead to get through the crap and live. Life is the ultimate prize. But, it is also important for me to look back and remember my journey. We both know all too well how poor the survival rate is for this particular disease. The ladies that didn’t win their battle shall never be forgotten. Everything you wrote, well, I completely understand and agree with. It is a humbling experience. It takes incredible bravery (or in my case sheer ignorance…lol) to face the fear of the unknown. The ‘little things’ and the lessons learned are a cherished gift. Happy Anniversary to you and your amazing hubby!!! Here’s to health, love and wealth and the time to enjoy them.

    • Mind Margins

      Beverly, there was a lot of ignorance on my part as well, which may have been a blessing in disguise. Sadly, about 90% of the women I tell my story to know almost nothing about ovarian cancer or the symptoms to watch out for. Hopefully telling my story will save someone’s life in the future.

      And congratulations on being a two year survivor. Every single day truly is a blessing now, isn’t it?

      • Beverly

        I almost feel a responsibility to be a voice for those who can no longer speak for themselves. By telling your story you may very well save a life. Your journey may inspire a woman to go get checked and find that it was nothing. You cannot share this information enough. (Some girls at my gym had mammograms because of my story). I have followed a couple of other girls this past year on their ovarian cancer journeys. Unfortunately, none of them survived. You were the only one that made it. Even though I may not have met them in person, I cried each time one passed away. Two were very young…one was 31 and one was 26. Did we make it because we were fitness nuts? Or maybe just a little more intuned to our bodies? Who knows but there’s a reason we survived.

        I appreciate every beautiful sunrise and sunset. I cherish even more kisses from my grandkids and those times when they fall asleep in my arms. I’ll never complain about a bad hair day. Time is so very precious. The list goes on and on. Cancer sucks but I think I’m a better person because of it. Keep on telling your story.

      • Mind Margins

        Wow, thanks for sharing, Beverly. I’m always blown away when I hear that so many others don’t make it. It doesn’t seem real, but unfortunately it is all too real for many, many women. It seems hard for most people to understand, but having cancer was a gift. It’s shown me what’s important in life.

  18. Beverly

    Angela,
    Jen Thompson’s blog was highlighted by the NOCC on their FB page. She chronicled her OC journey very similar to your blog. She passed away in October, 2012. But, her message was powerful. “Live intentionally.” Her friends and family also posted occasionally. Thought you might enjoy her writing style.
    http://www.amistillagirl.com/

  19. MikeW

    Very much! What a wonderful moral booster to see your comment of the other day, and now, to catch up. Your quote, “But it’s even more humbling to know I survived,” is a regenerator quote for me. Celebrating and giving thanks today for this post!

    • Mind Margins

      I meant it. I’ve said it before, but surviving ovarian cancer is like being the only survivor of a plane crash; there are so few of us. A palpable wave of awe and emotion washes over me every time I think about it. Hope you are doing well.

  20. joannevalentinesimson

    Thank you for posting this! I am SO glad to see you back. And I look forward to reading anything you post. I’ve been holding my breath (figuratively, of course) until I saw your “handle” again. And then it was in the midst of the holidays when there was little time to read and respond.
    So glad you’re back and have your wit and good humor with you.

      • joannevalentinesimson

        And I’m really glad that it has all come out well! Don’t worry about reading my last few blog posts. I haven’t done many (about four) since you became ill because I’ve been preoccupied with submitting and proofing galleys for a book that’s finally come out (began it back in ’05). Indeed, I’m paying much less attention to bloggers who blog too frequently; they just don’t seem to have that much to say.

      • Mind Margins

        Oh, I don’t want to miss your posts. I always enjoy reading them. And congrats on your book! Very exciting. I agree with you about blogging too frequently. More than once a week and I can’t keep up.

  21. hollycoffee

    I love your heartfelt blog! I actually feel lucky though that I found it after you got to recovery, because it makes it easier to read the hard parts. I’m so glad you’re winning! 🙂

    • Mind Margins

      Thank you so much. That means a lot to me. I’m so glad it’s all over with. It’s actually hard to go back now and write about it. Not only do I realize that I’ve forgotten so much of what happened–probably because of the effects of chemo–but it seems like such a long time ago. I think that’s a good thing!

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