Saturday, September 17, 2011

Get It Together

Yesterday, I went to get my usual coffee at Dunkin Donuts, when the usual girl that waits on me commented: "You look good these days, is everything okay now?"

"Yes." I replied. It's been three and a half years since I was diagnosed. So far, so good."

As I walked back to my car I remember the days I would go in there feeling self conscious of the handkerchief wrapped around my head topped off with a straw fedora (which is sitting in my closet all beat up) and dangling earrings. I was aware I looked like some kind of train wreck, what with the pale face and no lashes too, but what could I do?

Then there was the time I walked into a grocery store one weekend wearing just a paisley handkerchief tied around my held. A number of people looked my way and stared a moment longer than normal and I knew, that they knew,  I was in the midst of battling cancer. It was hard to take those pitiful looks because during my entire 51-year old life I had never so much as had a stitch to a bleeding wound.

And yet now that I look back, the entire period of looking weird lasted all of eight months. Right after treatment was done, I kind of missed the flood of get-well cards, the eagerness of how everyone wanted to help me out, and the free ride my company gave me regarding sales performance. Yup, going through cancer treatment wasn't all bad.

Then again, I realize not all cancer survivors are blessed with a one-shot treatment. When Dr. Ott found seeds of cancerous cells scattered throughout my right breast a year later after my initial diagnosis, she told me if she hadn't removed it, I would probably have had to go through one more round of chemo and radiation again down the pike. All things considered, my brush with cancer was just a bump in the road.

What I struggle with now is getting my life more under control. I do give myself credit for becoming a better friend, a better sister and a better daughter. I put people that matter first, and I believe my priorities are in order. But these shortcomings I have keep glaring back at me straight in the face. I wrestle with my ability to manage money when I overlook an overdue bill. Conquering clutter that threatens to overrun my house is a constant challenge. I try to keep it contained--in one room. When my mother visited last summer, she threatened to report me to one of those organizational experts from the reality show, Hoarders because of my chaotic bedroom. Now that was humiliating. All I can say is, I'm trying.  I grab a brown trash bag and pick through piles once a week and do a Goodwill run. It helps.

I am happy to report I've embraced my Hope Study exercise regime. After almost eight weeks of consistent weight training and walking, I can definitely feel the difference. And for what its worth, I look better. I love my toned arms. I know that's not enough to completely improve my health. I guess I'm a work in progress.

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