Thursday, April 16, 2020

My Why’s


Why it matters to me 


I have thought long and hard about how to write this, and I finally feel like I have captured my truth.


I have noticed a trend that tears my heart up...people seeing issues in the world that don’t directly effect them so they easily write it off as “not my problem.”


Or people saying they didn’t cause the problem, so “not my problem.”


Or people who have found success believing they did it ALL on their own without help from anyone.


Or now with the virus... I feel like so many people who are healthy don’t see the need to stay home because after all, they are healthy and believe that they don’t “deserve” to be treated like they are part of the problem.


But here is how I look at these outlooks of “not my problem” or “you should have made better life choices” or “sorry for you” mentalities... I look at these thoughts in reference to my life...the fact that I am still f-ing alive because so many people used their lives on bigger things than themselves.


I look at all the doctors in my life. They wanted better for the collective...they all had/have a desire to do something for humanity...they put in YEARS of their lives to be able to save my life.


I look at the 26 year old stranger who donated his bone marrow to me. He had nothing to gain from him donating his bone marrow to me. He didn’t/doesn’t know me, didn’t know that at the time I was a 36 year old mom of an 8 year old. He knew none of that yet still signed up for the process that included daily injections for 5 days of filgrastim (increases the number of blood forming cells) then one day of donation and up to 7 days of recovery. ALL of this...without knowing me but to save my life.


I look at the medication that I have needed to help me heal, help my body fight cancer, help my mind find peace from anxiety and depression...all the effort that went into figuring out the formulas for all of it.


I look at when my mom went back to school when I was in 6th grade and how we used food stamps for 2 years to make ends meet. How the help we needed was provided to us without questions...without judgment...without making us feel guilty.


I look at all the people who take time to teach others their crafts without the expectations of payment...they teach because they truly want to better others with what they know.


I look at it all with a soft heart knowing that I would not be where I am at without help from others.


I want to ask you a favor...next time you see someone who needs help (maybe someone on the street asking for a dollar or someone needing a little more explanation to understand what you are trying to explain) I want to ask you before judging their current situation, to instead remember a time when you needed help and that help was given to you.


I want to ask you to walk down from your ivory tower and realize all the hands that helped build said ivory tower.


These are my why’s...my why’s of why I will always try to help others...because without the help from others I would not be where I am at today.




Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Permission to call me out

A long time ago, my husband and I gave each other permission to call each other out...


We can call each other out on our own BS.


Some of the things we call each other on is hard to both be the caller of or the receiver of...seeing your sh*t is hard BUT necessary.


These past few days I have been letting anxiety clench me in it’s jaws...yes, I realize I am being dramatic.


But after some self-reflection journaling, meditation, a talk about the monsters in my closet with my husband, and taking a hard look at what I am or am not doing to contribute to the anxiety or the soothing of it, I have decided that I am done rolling around in my mind...rolling around in my self pity...rolling around in the 500 yards of sh*t because I have already crawled through miles of sh*t and deep down I know what I need to do to get through this.


I am going to stop dwelling in what was because what was isn’t what is and the more I try to hold on to what was, the more strife I am causing myself. 


I am going to stop dwelling in what sucks about whatever situation I am dwelling in because I realize that by dwelling in the suck, I am adding fuel to the fire instead of dumping water on it to put it out.


I am going to practice more of what I preach with not beating myself up because something isn’t 100% correct or easy and acknowledge that me showing up and doing something...anything is way more than simply sitting back and running  scenarios through my mind.


Today has already been SO MUCH BETTER simply because I made the decision to shift my focus...shifted from looking at what was wrong/annoying/hard/lost to intentionally looking for where the light is leaking through and finding cool shapes in the shadows.


I hope you can find something fun in the shadows too.

Monday, December 16, 2019

“Angel Wishes” - new artwork


“Angel Wishes” -1







“Angel Wishes” -2


I created this series, “Angel Wishes” to enfuse your space full of sparkly energy.


I envision these pieces of art hanging like Angels on your wall sprinkling down Love & Light to you.


I used many, MANY layers of acrylic paint to build up the layers of texture on the canvas, along with a variety of different brushes and application techniques to add even more depth and texture.


The piece is then sealed with a satin finish.



“Angel Wishes”

20x20 inches

$444 (S&H INCLUED)


If you have additional questions or would like a few more pictures, please let me know.

ReneeInCancerLand@gmail.com




Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Goodbye Sam

I went to a remembrance ceremony for my friend Sam.


I don’t exactly remember when I first met Sam, but I know it was at a BCRA Stage 4 group meeting. We grew closer over this past year after losing another friend from our group when we leaned on each other.


She was a spunky lady who was not afraid to tell it how it is...probably why we got alone so well!


She was prepared for her passing and put together her service - which was so lovely.


“The end of a life is the sum of the Love that was lived in it. Being here for all the moments of Love has blessed me beyond measure.” Sam wrote.


I think this sums up life beautifully - it is truly all about Love - the Love we give and receive, the Love God has for each and every one of us. 


Sam also wrote, “Please don’t think or say I lost the battle or war. I am a Cancer Lifer! I didn’t choose this but I tried hard to stay longer. I live, I died, I still Loved - and I found Love stronger than ever.” 


I absolutely love this and want to share it with you - you don’t have to have metastatic breast cancer to truly know how freaking precious and wonderful Life truly is.


To you my friend.


I will see you up there one day.


Love you

Monday, September 30, 2019

“Oh, but not me”

“Oh, but not me”


I was 30 years old when I was told, “I’m sorry, but you have breast cancer.”


It is crazy how fast a few new facts being thrown at you can completely derail you from your path.


That day in September, 2008, the facts told to me were:

I had triple negative, grade 3, Stage 1 breast cancer.


I clung to what I thought I knew as facts...I was young, I caught it early...all should be good to go after it was all said and done.


I made it through chemo, surgery & radiation just as planned...just as the facts had be presented to me...keep your head down, push through the hard & all will be back to normal.


But there was a problem with my facts...I didn’t pay attention to ALL the facts about breast cancer because I thought, “NOT ME!”


I thought those statistics didn’t apply to me...HA! If we could actually just ignore what we don’t want to know and make the facts go away!?!? Sorry to burst your bubble, but it doesn’t work that way...believe me, I tried to hide from the facts for a long time.


But when the breast cancer metastasized to my lungs & bones, the fact that 30% of breast cancer comes back at Metastatic Breast Cancer hit me hard.


When I lost my first breast cancer friend, the fact about the average survival rate is a mere 30 MONTHS after diagnosis hit me harder.


When I ended up in the ER due to a seizure caused by a growth in my brain, is when I realized that fact about breast cancer moving to the brain was indeed true.


When I kept losing friends to Metastatic Breast Cancer, the fact that more than 115 people in the US alone die daily from MBC cut me deeper with each and every friend’s funeral I attended. 


For some reason, I am beating the facts...I am beating the odds of the facts. I don’t know fore sure why me, but I believe it has something to do with the trial I was able to be in for my second line of treatment for MBC. It is this reason I am so passionate about funding for research...it is research that is going to change the playing field for MBC.


Because of this, I beg of you one thing...please know where your donation dollars go. I get it, it is exciting and fun to be a part of a big event, but PLEASE know what those big events fund...here is a hint...it isn’t much research at all...if any.


The facts are the facts; 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer. Of those 1 in 8, 30% are diagnosed with Metastatic Breast Cancer. 40,000 Americans die EVERY YEAR from MBC. 


Those stats haven’t changed at all over the past 20 years. 


We are all aware about breast cancer. 


Can you please help me spread the facts...we need more research if we ever expect these statistics to change. Because the truth is...pretending it can’t happen to you or a loved one is not going to stop it from happening.





Saturday, September 7, 2019

7 years later

7 years


I sometimes forget all the crazy that has happened here in Cancerland over my 11 years as a resident here...like that it was 7 years ago today that I had my first brain surgery due a tumor in my brain caused by Metastatic Breast Cancer. (YES - Metastatic breast cancer can/does grow in other parts of the body.)

7 years.

7 years.

It has to sink in with me too.

Eric took me to the ER because I lost control of my right foot while Ian and I were out running errands. My foot was heavy & wasn’t responding to my brain telling it to do stuff.

After a quick MRI, I remember the ER doctor’s eyes when he came in to tell us what was going on. His eyes were kind & filled with sadness. As he was telling us I that I had a large tumor about the size of a tennis ball in my brain, I crumbled in Eric’s arms. We sat there and listened to him telling us the tumor was most likely  caused by breast cancer that moved to my brain. 

This was a TOTAL SHOCK to me being as I had conveniently buried my head in the sand from the facts of MBC...that it can spread to the brain. 

Fast forward to 3 days from the ER visit.

I remember waking up from that surgery so scared & uncertain about everything.

I remember laying the hospital room alone (between family & friends I didn’t have much alone time) so this break from outside noise & chaos was a welcomed break. 

I vividly remember having a conversation with Jesus in my hospital room. He pulled up a chair close to my bed and He sat with me & listened to me.  

I told Him I was scared. 

I told Him I was pissed off at Him.

I told Him how unfair all this sh*t was. 

I asked Him why me. 

I cried my eyes out begging for my life to continue on here on earth. 

I remember Him clasping my hands & engulfing me in His white light...not like I was about to die white light, but the most calming & peaceful serenity feelings filled my heart & soul. 

Then He was gone.

I have never told anyone about this...not sure why. 

I guess I didn’t want any follow up questions about it - like did He say I was going to be fine? Was I going to die? Am I going crazy? What did it mean?

I didn’t and still don’t have answers to all those questions.

But here I am...7 years later.

In these past 7 years I have learned so much, but I think most important lesson I have learned is to absolutely 100% to keep going. 

Keep putting one foot in front of the other - even when you have NO idea where it is you are going, you MUST keep going. 

Even if you are taking steps backwards. 

Even if you are marching in place. 

Even if you trip over your feet.

YOU HAVE TO KEEP GOING.   


 

Monday, August 12, 2019

The fall

The Fall


About 10 weeks ago, I fell.


Hard.


I was at the Domain taking something back, and I didn’t have my walking stick with me because I was feeling great, confident - ready to take on the world.


I had to step up a curb to get to where I was going. I stepped up with my left foot & brought my right foot up and didn’t clear the curb.


Down I went.


My right knee hit the ground first, then my right hand which jacked up my shoulder.


I quickly got myself up, went to do the errand I was there for then went to my car and cried. 


I was crying for may reasons. One... because it flipping hurt, but more so I was crying because I was shaken up...bad.


Not being steady on my feet is still something I really struggle with...even before the fall.


Because of this, I still physically struggle on a daily basis. 


Stairs - I can sidestep up stairs leading with my left foot but it takes a BIG mental and physical toll on me. 


Uneven ground - I can’t walk on uneven ground without help...either my walking stick or a hand to hold.


Driving - I drive with 2 feet. I can’t get my right foot from the gas to break quickly. 


Bending over - just something about the thought of me toppling over gives my anxiety. I can semi squat, but I don’t feel comfortable bending over.


I didn’t realize how much the fear from the fall was still effecting me until a few weeks ago when I was at therapy. 


When I told her that I had fallen, I burst into tears.


It just reiterates the facts of my current life...facts I sometimes try to forget...but they are the facts.


And I don’t want to sound unappreciative of the HUGE facts...I am still alive & doing great. But I am also not going to lie and say I don’t miss the physical things I used to be able to do. 


I was starting to feel a little more steady, but I still pretty apprehensive. 


And after meeting with my new brain oncologist last week, she suggested I go back to PT to regain confidence. So, next week I will be starting PT again. Which I am honestly looking forward to.