Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Here We Go - Again

Wahoo - school has started! Yesterday was my first day of classes at UVU. I'm teaching 2 writing courses, and I am happy happy happy. I love teaching -

This week begins the year of anniversaries. This week is the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival, and a year ago this Thursday is when I found the lump in my left breast, which has led me to keep this blog and this odd and awesome journey.

It seems to me that most of the breast cancer blogs I'm reading end with these first anniversaries. I'm starving for stories about moving forward and the bumps and dips that are a part of that journey. So, I'm going to keep writing, keep writing through the healing, through the discovering, through this mess called "figuring out what's next."

I promise this is no Ground Hog Day journey - I am learning, and I plan on never passing this way again. Lessons learned being delivered as "we" journey onward.

PS - I assembled my bag for yesterday's classes, Monday evening. Guess what? I had not touched anything since setting that bag aside last September. Seeing last year's course material was eerie, maybe just a touch of a Ground Hog Day moment.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Post re-Treat

Going on our retreat this August has given Scott and me a chance to be us, a chance to rest, and a chance to emerge a little healthier with a fresh perspective.

We traveled from Orem to Reno, NV, to Weaverville, CA, to Eureka, through the Redwoods to Fort Bragg, CA, back north through the Redwoods, on to Crescent City, CA, then into Oregon, wandering up the coast to Newport, then over to Corvallis, through Bend, back into Idaho, and finally, home again, home again, jiggity jig.

This pause allowed us to step away from the hustle and bustle of our lifes. How lovely to be away from computers, traffic, work, people, and be just us. Scott and I seldom, as I'm sure parents understand, have time to be a couple. And we like each other, and we like spending time together, especially when it doesn't involve doctors' visits! Wandering the beautiful forests, seeing ginormous trees, walking the beaches and gathering sand dollars and rocks, and sitting next to each other watching people and enjoying great food was invigorating and healing.

I'm not going to use the "re" words, so - we are fresh, anew, emerging with plans - a future involving forward motion. What a treat!

Many thanks to David - Fort Bragg, Audrey Ann - Corvallis, Uncle and Amy - Homedale, and Kristee, Blanca, and Dad and Mom for their generosity.


Monday, August 26, 2013

Normal - The Unknown

My wrists have been aching so much lately. I'm sorry I haven't written, so much to say, so little wrist action. But - what I want to share is important enough to push through the pain.

I'm a volunteer with Living Beyond Breast Cancer's Helpline. I've posted about my wonderful time in PA training for this role.  Two of today's calls were from women wanting to know how to move forward. Both are facing anniversaries. Is what they're feeling "Normal"?

First off I reassured them that anything they're feeling is normal - fear, anxiety, fatigue, loss - status-quo. But we know there is no normal. Hell, I am not, we are not, repeat, are not, the same. I didn't want cancer to happen - I liked me, but I'm changed, forever.

What you may see on the outside is the Ronda you are accustomed to seeing. I even changed my hair color back to pre-cancer color, so I would feel, at least to some little bit, normal, me. You may see I've put on some pounds, but you most likely won't see any other affects from cancer.

Even if I stripped naked, you wouldn't see many differences, except for a bundle of scars.

But if you could strip me down to my soul, you would see I've changed. So please, don't ask when I'm going to be normal again (I've asked God this many times), because I won't be. I'm defining "normal" as I put one foot in front of the other. Do ask how I'm feeling, ask about my journey, ask how I'm handling moving forward, ask how you can support me. And if my answers are, "I have no idea," then smile with me, give me a hug, and life goes on. And - don't expect me to talk about this for hours - or listen for hours. My attention span is at about 5 minutes. Hopefully that will change as my endurance for conversation increases. 

"Normal" is going to take awhile, and I haven't been down this road before. And just like cancer - well, here I go, or here I continue. Normal is going to mean figuring out me every day, as I improve, as I grow, as I heal. Be patient with me, tell me I look good, but don't talk about before - I'm also still mourning. Healing and mourning, and moving forward. Still traveling in the Unknown.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Smelling the Rain

Not sure why I'm writing today - because my wrists and arm are aching terribly, I'm tired as I can possibly be, and it's a dreary weather-day, but - life is good. I have wrists and arms to ache, I know what tired feels like because I've been alert, and I can dance in the rain or stay warm under a blanket and smell and listen to the rain. I can choose.

2 weeks in Northern California and Southern Oregon beaches was the respite Scott and I needed. I was going to reflect on this vacation today, but instead, I'm going to take a nap. I'm choosing!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


"My body knows how to heal."
I'm learning it's all about trusting myself and the community of healers who surround me. Heal, my body understands the language of rejuvenation. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

In Perspective

I attended a retreat in Park City about 6 weeks ago for women who have breast cancer. The 8 women spent most of our time (2 days) talking about ourselves, meditating, talking about moving forward, and receiving massages and facials and delicious meals, during this time. The goal of this retreat was to pamper us and send us home refreshed, relaxed, reinvigorated. And it did. I came home with some answers to some of my reflections, and a little anxiety.

The anxiety, as I've expressed before, is the "What do I do with what this experience?" And - how soon, where, when, with whom.

July has been quite the month for me as I've tried to "be" and heal while also trying to figure out my next steps in life's journey.

Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend a training in Philadelphia. The training was for 22 cancer survivors/thrivers, hand-picked, who will assist on a helpline for women (and their families) who have breast cancer. Living Beyond Breast Cancer's (LBBC), mission statement is:  LBBC empowers all women affected by breast cancer to live as long as possible with the best quality of life."

The 22 of us were pampered, dined, taught, and validated. All of the women had to be in the recovery mode, not still in treatment, and we have committed to 2 years of service. The training was phenomenal, given by a woman who is a survivor and  a top-notch trainer. We learned the in's and out's of a helpline, how to listen, and how to offer care and knowledge, and how to support those who call. My first opportunity at the helpline will be Aug. 6. I'm looking forward to it.

As much as I loved the Park City retreat, this LBBC training got me out of myself - giving me the opportunity to share what I've learned, get my story away from me and let my experiences silently help others.

Nice to be getting outside of me. Time to get outside of me. Yeah, time to draw from my experiences, while I'm still healing, and begin to help others heal. Feels good.

 Me and my roommate/quickly-turned-friend, Sherri (4yrs metastatic bc), exploring Phil.

Taking some time off this month - a vacation, getting syllabus for 2 UVU classes prepared (hallelujah, I am so excited to get back in the classroom), enjoying my days.