Sunday, May 4, 2014

Started out with the end of the water challenge, but had cancer on my mind

This post was going to start out with how excited I am to have finished my 100-day water challenge.  Here's the post I put on my Facebook page this morning.

Back in January, I got involved in a "Drink Your Water Challenge" thanks to xxx. It was 5 days of drinking half your body weight in ounces of water every day. It was so good for me that I turned it into a 100-day water challenge, which I have now completed. Over these last several months, I have turned a hatred of drinking water into a habit. I'm not perfect every day, but it has been such a major turnaround. In this time, I have hardly had any diet soda, started exercising every day and dropped nearly 30 pounds as of today. Does it all have to do with the water challenge? All I know for sure is that it got me on my way. If you took up the challenge, too, I'd love to hear how you're doing. Now that I'm done, I'll still continue drinking my water because I've now come to love it.

I am so glad to have made this very important change in my life.  It's really helping me now as I lose weight and even more so when the time comes for my weight loss surgery.  Now something else has come up for me that I need to write about.

As I have shared on here before, I had cancer a couple of years ago.  This month marks two years, maybe three, since I was diagnosed with melanoma.  The difficult part with that type of cancer is that many people don't take it as seriously because it's "just" skin cancer.  The first thing most people would ask me when they found I had it was how much time I spent out in the sun when I was a kid.  The problem with that is that melanoma is the deadliest type of skin cancer and happens even when people don't spend a crazy amount of time in the sun.  Of course I felt judged, wondering if I caused this myself.  Melanoma continues to grow and, if not removed in time, it will kill you.  My surgeon was the first one to really help me understand how serious it was.  What appeared like a good-sized mole on the outside was actually embedded far into my body and required a very long and deep incision to remove it. No amount of food I could binge on would ever take that fact away.

Up to that point, I had never had a surgery where I was put under anesthesia, let alone been cut open out of necessity.  The reason I'm bringing this up now was that I was watching a movie called 50/50 tonight.  I think it came out about a year ago with Joseph Gordan-Levitt and Seth Rogan.  It's the story of two friends, the cancer diagnosis of one and walking through the journey towards health together.  It was the first time I had watched a movie about cancer since I had it.  Oh my gosh, it was such an emotional thing to watch.  They did a great job with the movie, but watching it helped me realize all that not only I went through, but also my family and friends.  My mother cried in the waiting room while I was being operated on.  My dad came in from Utah to take care of me while we waited to hear back from the surgeon to find out if it had spread or not.  I had 30 staples in my back and I was in great pain (at the bottom of this post is what my back looks like from the surgery, but I'm warning you before you scroll down just in case scars flip you out).  I had so many friends praying for my healing.

In the middle of all of this was me.

I had moments of sinking to my knees in tears.  I remember taking a shower one day before I had the operation and I just went to the corner in the shower and cried while the water continued to spray on me.  For the most part, I was numb and was going through the motions.  I did what I needed to get done.  It wasn't until I watched this movie and remembered my same moments that paralleled the character that I understood what a blessing it is that I'm still here.  Really, in retrospect, the overeating with food is just stupid.  I didn't have a situation that brought this on necessarily.  It's just that I do have those moments where I see a particular food and I want to eat it.  And for what?  Pardon my language, but I had fucking cancer.  Cancer.  The very idea of going to food to solve some problem is just asinine in comparison.  I'm not minimizing the fight we all have with it, not at all.  It's just the fears I have over not being successful with the surgery because I'm afraid that I'll still overeat is nowhere in the same ballpark as the fear of dying I had with cancer.  I don't have to fear not being successful because I'm doing everything I'm supposed to be doing.  In those moments of doubts, I can embrace whatever feelings are behind that and know that I can still keep moving forward.  I have such an amazing support system of family and friends, as well as all of you reading this.  I have a great therapist that helps me get to the heart of the fears and, especially, God who is always by my side holding my hand.

Wow, this was a pretty deep post.  I'm so grateful to be cancer-free as I write this.  Below is the picture of my back.  The long scar goes from the bottom of my shoulder blade all the way down to my waist.  The little circle above it was when we did another biopsy because there was a suspicion that it had spread.  I've actually had four such biopsies after having the original surgery.  Not serious my ass!  Okay, enough of my potty mouth for tonight :-)


Caitlin R said...

Oh sweetie. I just want to give you a big hug. Thank you for being so brave to share this experience here. I can only really say that you have touched me deeply.

Well done on the water challenge and on everything you have achieved in those 100 days since starting. You have made such amazing progress and changes for better health. Be proud! :-)

happyinca said...

Wow, Kathy, you are so brave, and also really processing this serious experience so that wisdom and strength have been heightened. Hugs to you sweetie, and nice job on the water challenge!

Connie O said...

It would never occur to me to trivialize melanoma as "just" skin cancer, but maybe that's because I've known several people who have had it, and I know how dangerous it is. I'm sure when people ask about how much time you spent in the sun, they don't mean to be judgmental. They know it's one of the risk factors and are curious if that's the reason behind yours.

I am sure it was (and is) a terrifying experience, especially having to undergo that surgery! You are doing great work at processing and understanding what you went through, and what you are going through now.

Anonymous said...

I posted something last night from my iPad but lost the whole thing ... so I'll start over tonight. Weird that you posted about melanoma since it has been on my mind a bunch lately as well - probably since I have heard about two very serious cases in the past few days, people that were not as "lucky" as we were to have caught ours early enough. I'm about due to go get screened again and it always brings those memories back. All we can do is stay on top of it - but I totally get the fear.

Kathy said...

Thanks everyone for your sweet messages. I don't sit in the cancer bubble all the time, but there are times when it just blows my mind that I lived through that (glad you're keeping on top of your check-ups Martha!). I'm grateful that I can share such personal things here because it always helps me remember the food does not solve anything except dealing with a physical hunger and that's all.

Diane Fit to the Finish said...

Wow Kathy - you are a brave woman to come through that with a good attitude and an appreciation for life. My neighbor had a melanoma on her ear and it was extremely challenging and very serious. I'm glad you are doing well.

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