Friday, February 25th marked a full year of remission. I’m sure some people consider themselves to be in remission as soon as they have surgery and the cancer is removed from their body…but to me, remission started as soon as my last cancer treatment ended…which was Friday, February 25th, 2011 at approximately 4:30pm. I celebrated by immediately getting on a flight out to Denver, CO to visit my brother and go on a ski trip with my family.
A lot of people probably wander what a first year of remission looks like. Does it involve a complete overhaul of your life (i.e. food, exercise regimen, etc.)? Does it include a period of personal and spiritual reflection? Does it include a period of letting loose and living life a little more on the wild side? For me personally, I think you could say it was probably all of the above…to some level.
The last year has been one of the absolute best years of my life….full of so many good memories that I’ll cherish forever. Don’t get me wrong, I struggled at times dealing with the aftermath of cancer and all of the internal questioning that goes along with that, but the good definitely out-weighed the bad…100 times over!
So what exactly does a year of remission look like…..
March 2011: I spent two weeks in Denver, CO visiting my brother and Beth. My parents flew out and we made a long weekend trip to Breckenridge to get a few days of skiing in. My finger nails officially started falling out, but on the flip side, my hair was finally starting to fill in a little. And after discovering that my ski pants fit more like spandex, I decided I really needed to start getting myself back into shape.
April 2011: I picked up my first bottle of Tamoxifen. I emphasize the “picked up” because that was all I truly did in April. I didn’t actually start taking the pills until a few months later. April also marked a change in my attitude for the better. March was a rough month and I really was feeling sorry for myself. But as the saying goes…“time heals all wounds”…and in this situation, that was definitely the case.
May 2011: Aside from entering my 33rd year of life and trying out various new hair products and supplements, I made my catwalk debut at the 24 Hours of Booty “Jeans and Jewels” charity event. It was a lot of fun, and a great way to help raise money for a fantastic organization. May also brought my 6 month mark of finishing chemo!!!
June 2011: Here’s where the “letting loose and living life on the wild side” from above comes into play. I went to Las Vegas for a long weekend with some of my best girlfriends for a celebratory trip of kicking cancer in donkey’s butt. It was such a good trip…and I can’t wait for VC take 2 this summer! I finally starting taking my Tamoxifen pills (for the first time) and I passed the one year mark of my cancer diagnosis.
July 2011: Huge milestone in that I finally stopped wearing my wigs! What a great day that was…to finally be free of the stress of wearing a wig (will it fall off? can people tell?). I put those things on their Styrofoam heads and never looked back! July also was the turning point where I started running consistently. I had a fantastic new running partner who pushed me and kept me motivated. I participated in a little challenge with some work people in conjunction with the Tour de France, and 100 miles over the course of the month!
August 2011: August was definitely a euphoric month and endorphins were running high! I was at a very happy place in my life and was feeling very grateful for the blessings I had….including my curly hair. I decided I was ready to knock something off my bucket list, and officially committed to running a marathon! And I’m embarrassed to admit that August also brought my defeat to Tamoxifen. I was having such terrible side effects at this point, that I stopped taking it until I have another consultation with my oncologist.
September 2011: I took my first ever back-country camping trip and fortunately made it back alive! The whole experience was a lot of fun (probably because of the great company) and I’d actually consider going again. I also had my first post chemo haircut this month. I thought I would panic and totally freak out on the chair, but I got through sans an emotional breakdown.
October 2011: Hall of Fame month! I was up in Michigan for a long weekend for my Hall of Fame induction…and gave what is destined to become one of the best acceptance speeches of all time :) And I FINALLY started taking my Tamoxifen pills again.
November 2011: November marked a full year of having completed chemo. I celebrated by running the Thunder Road half marathon…and meeting my goal of breaking 1:50:00 by finishing at 1:49:43!! A time that was good enough to qualify me for a starting corral in the upcoming 2012 Chicago Marathon
December 2011: Definitely a bittersweet month. After months of training, I completed my very first marathon. It felt great to do something I’d thought about for so many years, but was always afraid to commit to…and I’m actually looking forward to me next one! And in less than happy news, after an incredibly tough year, my sweet friend Keasha lost her battle with lung cancer
January 2012: I started what was only meant to be a week or two hiatus from running and unfortunately lasted MUCH longer (something I’m hating myself for now as I’m trying to get back into running shape). I’d been running so much in preparation for my marathon…and really needed a break from it. My hair was finally long enough to retire my beloved headbands. Those things were a staple in my hair routine for a solid 5 months. I finally took the plunge and donated all of my wigs to charity. Fingers crossed I’ll never need them again!! January also marked my first ski trip of 2012! I spent 3 days skiing out in Park City, UT and had an awesome time!!
February 2012: February was the worst month to date since I started my blog….I only made one measly post. I can’t think of a single reason why, other than life’s just been busy! I spent a weekend in the mountains of North Caroline, was in NYC for a bachelorette party, and then spent a week skiing in Crested Butte. Not a lot of time left to blog when you’re out living life and having fun!!
And if you want to actually see what a year looks like….check out the video montage I made below:
Phew, recapping all of that makes me realize how fortunate and blessed I really am. I have so much to be thankful for, and not a day goes by that I don’t remember that.
The weekly photos are going to start coming on a bi-weekly basis from now on. Much to my dismay, my hair is not growing fast enough to actually see a difference from week to week anymore
Photos from 67 weeks post chemo are below…