Category Archives: Thoughts

A Year Ago Today 


How beautiful is this? That is the inside of the Sydney Opera House, and that is where I was yesterday evening. Arriving in Australia I met up with my mom’s best friend Barbara who lives here. As she was taking me on a tour of the Sydney Harbour she asked if we shall go see what is playing in the opera house while I am still in Sydney. 

“Oh right!” I admitted. I know the name of this magnificent building, and I love music, but for some reason I never put two and two together that I should actually try and go see something while I am here! There was a symphony playing on the Wednesday night so we bought tickets and I instantly got butterflies. 

Walking up the steps and heading into the theatre I felt like I was in the movie. 

Is this really happening? Am I here in Australia about to go watch a symphony at the Sydney Opera House? 

We sat down and just as the conductor positioned himself, Barbara grabbed my arm and said, “You are inside the Sydney Opera House!” 

I instantly could feel the tears begin to rise. I turned away quickly and watched the first half of the first piece behind a wall of tears. I could not believe I was here. I kept talking myself down so I was sure to not let one fall, as then I would have to wipe it away and explain myself. 

I would have never dreamt I would be sitting here a year ago.

That thought kept playing over and over in my head. 

Arriving back at the apartment I popped onto Facebook at saw this: 


How poetic. A year ago to the day, I had visited with my doctors to discover I was in for a world of shit that upcoming summer. A year ago to the day I thought my future was becoming more of a blur. A year ago to the day I was confused and upset and was probably hiding under a blanket. 

And now I’m here, in Australia, at the Sydney Opera House. Mind blown. 

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Distractions

If you are a frequent reader of my blog you may have noticed I do not write as often as I used to. There’s a reason for it. Now that I am not only working on myself physically but also mentally, I have been trying to find healthy distractions to keep my mind occupied. These range from walking the dog, visiting value village, among other things. I’m not saying writing in my blog isn’t healthy, but it does force me to reflect on my life. Most days I would rather try not to focus on my current life situation. I still haven’t stopped crying at least once a day, but the tears are becoming less and less. I started seeing my therapist again so that has also helped immensely. She is helping me to become more social again. I always retreat in my cocoon for a bit after surgery, but this time it has lasted longer. I have developed trust issues with friends since that big blow out in the Spring with one of them. I’ve developed this idea in my mind that if I don’t hear from them, then so be it. I used to be the one who would make sure to always maintain those connections, but that old me seems to have fallen at the waist-side. This is what I am working on. I have to try and believe that not everyone is a bad person and I should stay connected. It will take some time, but I’m willing to take those baby steps. As for this blog, I’m not quitting don’t worry! I still have so much I would like to say and share – it just may take a little longer for me to do so.

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Flip Flop

Do you want to know how I know my brain is fucked up right now? I just had a great day in Toronto. It started because I had to go to the hospital for a blood test, but even that didn’t bother me. After, I went shopping with my now sister-in-law and got a sweet new pair of jeans. I haven’t purchased jeans in 3 years. I have been reluctant to do so, since when I am sick I live in sweat pants and leggings. But today I said, fuck it, I am buying some nice ass fucking denim. We had a nice lunch together, I saw her new place and just chilled. Here are some important points to note:

1 – The whole purpose of this trip to the city was for blood work

2 – Every time I tried on pants I had to make sure they didn’t rub on my scar

3 – My short hair was air-dried and not in the best shape because it’s hard to style myself

4 – I had to buy a shirt in a medium instead of a small just because the bumps on my stomach showed

Even after thinking and talking about all of those things, none of it bothered me. I was out, surrounded by good company and I was feeling great. On the drive home there were some great tunes on the radio and I was car dancing and reflecting on my lovely day. What happened next? Tears. Here are some important points to note:

1 – The whole purpose of this trip to the city was for blood work

2 – Every time I tried on pants I had to make sure they didn’t rub on my scar

3 – My short hair was air-dried and not in the best shape because it’s hard to style myself

4 – I had to buy a shirt in a medium instead of a small just because the bumps on my stomach showed

It’s funny how none of those things even bothered me at the time. They came in my mind and just as quickly left it because that is just normal life for me now. But as soon as I am alone and its quiet, my stupid brain doesn’t shut off and just likes to put emphasis on all the bad parts. Thank goodness my therapy sessions start up again next month.

Best Friend

What is a friend? Or the difference between a friend, and a good friend, or even a best friend? So close to you they are like family. How should this relationship be? During my experiences I have seen many people jump in and out of each category of friend. Some seem to understand it all at first, and then slowly fall away. There are certain ones however. Ones that know that some days you might be a little more emotional. Some days you might be extra distant. This many go on for weeks – barely any communication with one another. But that doesn’t matter to them. They are able to put their ego aside and have empathy. They are your voice when you are not able to speak. They display true friendship even when you are unable to witness it. THESE people are what it means to be a true friend. I hope everyone can find it within themselves to be this person every day. To think of others before themselves. To have understanding and compassion. It’s really not hard. 

Unraveled

These past two and a half years have been go, go, go. My day to day focus was usually about preparing for something coming up. Whether it was a surgery, chemo, whatever. I’ve always been told by others that they are surprised how well I am able to hold it together. They weren’t wrong, for the most part I did have it all together. Now I just feel completely unraveled. It is almost like being sick was in a way, easier, because it was physical. I had a focus, where now I don’t. Everyday I have a fist full of sand that is just leaking out of every crack and I am just struggling to keep it all intact. It feels like an impossible task. 

I have learned along the way to fake it pretty well. So I’m not sure most would even think anything is wrong. In a social setting I can handle myself and can speak and act as if everything is just fine and dandy. Inside however, I feel black and cold. Every day I feel alone and trapped in this hole that I can’t get out of. People can say they understand, but when it comes down to it, they don’t. All the depressed thoughts have been pushed aside week and week because I have had bigger things to focus on. Now everyday each little thought pops out of its hiding spot and adds to the pile of shit in my head. 

The wedding is just a few weeks away and I am trying my hardest to pull it together. I thought the planning of it would take my mind off of everything else, but in fact it makes it worse. Every little detail and stress makes me want to pull more and more away. 

I’m sure it won’t be like this forever. But just a day of it feels like an eternity. 

Unknown

Since I have been home from the hospital, I have gone through my usual routine of being a hermit – or so I thought. Usually after any of my surgeries, I spend a lot of my time recovering quietly. Sure, I will go out the odd time, but always try not to make those times too social. I am never interested in talking to anyone – I just enjoy the peace and quiet. So this time I have been the same way, except I should be starting to turn the corner by now. I have been in a “funk” emotionally for the past few weeks and could not figure out what was wrong. At first I thought it was the recovery process, and then I thought maybe it is the stress of the wedding. Both of those do play a part in the way I am feeling, but they still were not enough. Yesterday I finally broke down and figured it out. I’m entering into a world of unknown. I have been here before, last summer to be exact. I had a successful surgery and entered into the “monitor” stage, only to find out after my first scan that everything was back. So this time I do not have the same delusions in my head that maybe, just maybe, I have finally beat this cancer shit. After my post op this week I just am left to sit around until October when I will have my next scan. It weighs so heavy on my mind.

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Summer 2016

Things to look forward to:

Brand new kitchen, powder room, front door, flooring, coat closet, wall paint, light fixtures, screen door

– Main floor makeover

– 30th birthday 

– Summer weather

– Jack & Jill

– Best friends wedding

– Wedding shower

– WEDDING (September 10th by the way)
Things I dread:

– Every day and night spent in the hospital

– Pain

– Not being able to sleep comfortably

– Missing the pup for 2-3 months

– Sleeping alone for 2-3 months

– Pain

– Chemo

– Losing my hair just before the wedding

– Gaining weight from steriods just before the wedding

– Being bald and fat in all of my wedding pictures

– Pain

– Unable to walk the dog until the Fall

– Feeling alone

– Not being able to drive 

– Pain
 

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Beachside 

Two years ago today I announced my diagnosis with cancer. What a different week this has been than compared to that of 2014. Crying everyday, in and out of doctors offices – but this past week I have been relaxing beachside in Jamaica. I know my doctors never thought I would be sitting here today – myself, not so sure. 

Now that this life has become my constant, I can begin to reflect back on the innocence I once had. I was so scared but confident I would kick cancer in the butt. I had a lot of anger and would sometimes take that out on people close to me. Some of those people understood that my mind was so fucked up I couldn’t control it – and they stuck around. For that I am forever grateful. Others were not as strong. When you enter into the “chronic disease” category, the life around you shifts. Some people rally behind you and say things like “Don’t worry, I am in your corner.” But as the days and weeks turn into years, some of them slowly take off their gloves and step out of the ring. They too are exhausted from supporting the constant fight. It is very difficult for me to watch people one by one drop their gloves, but I am starting to come to peace with it. I too am exhausted fighting, but I don’t have the option to back out. I must keep going. Round after round I await for the judges to announce their victor, but it never seems to happen. So I wipe my brow, pick up my gloves, and get back in the ring. 

As I reach the end of my vacation, the reality of what is to come starts to set in. Tuesday I will have another scan to determine how my summer will be. There is no “winning” option, so I am not sure what to hope for. The fighter in me says surgery. Cut and conquer. Surgery will hopefully buy me some time for a much needed break from treatment. Just once I would like to have an appointment where they say, “Your scan is clear. See you in three months.” 

The warm breeze blowing across my body right now reminds me to take the time to appreciate what is in front of me today. Maybe three month breaks are not in my future – but today I am happy. Today I feel strong. So today I will enjoy my last day here and try not to worry about what is to come. 

  

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Scan Day

I’m usually not nervous for my scans, probably because I have never had a clear one for a significant amount of time yet. Today’s scan is a little worrisome. If there are any additional growths – they will be calling off my surgeries. I know I won’t be any worse off than I thought I was in the Fall, but now I have started “hoping” again. What am I dreaming about when I lay in bed at night? Going back to work. I know, I sound like a crazy person, but I can’t tell you how much I miss working. I think it is because I am such a goal oriented person. I had so many things I wanted to accomplish in the workforce. I set goals for myself of where I would be at this point in my life – and it is really hard to give those things up. If I am able to go back in the Fall, it will be like starting at square one. I am hoping that I will be able to pick things back up at a rapid rate, but who really knows? I have no idea the greater effects all of the drugs and stress has had on my brain. If you look up the term “chemo brain” it is real. It is something that gets referred to and joked about all the time amongst the cancer community. I am not sure we can fully blame chemo for all of our issues, I feel like the stress from everything that has gone on plays a major role in our depleting brain functions. Unfortunatly at this point it is kind of out of my control. I just have to hope for the best – as I do with everything – and continue on with my day. Listen to me – I am stressing about the effects stress has on myself. Kind of a contradiction. 

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Selfish

I find it disgusting that there are people in this world who care about themselves more than anybody else. I hear it far too often in my different cancer networks – friends or family members lashing out at the person who has the disease. They selfishly make something out of nothing and get mad at the person because they are not listening to “their feelings”. What these idiots tend to forget is just how sick we are. Now you probably can’t imagine what it is like to be in our shoes, so picture this – If your parent passed away, would you welcome nonsense arguements into your life? Could you even imagine in that initial week a friend sitting you down and saying, “I’m mad at you for this, that and the other and you need to listen to my feelings.” Yep – just as ridiculous as that sounds it happens in the cancer world ALL THE TIME. You may be thinking – but Jamie, you didn’t get diagnosed this week, it has been almost two years. True. But two years for a stage 4 cancer patient is like 2 minutes. I still have cancer living in me. It is still eating away at my organs. I still have a short life expectancy. I still have to endure endless abouts of chemotherapy and surgeries and scans. 

I am heading into another hard summer having to undergo and then recover from two major surgeries. The last thing I need in my life right now is any sort of stress or drama. So that is why it should be of no surprise, that when something insignificant comes to my attention, I am quick to respond with “What is the point of this? There are bigger things in life to worry about. Let’s just move past it.” This is when people show their true colours.

“Well these are MY feelings. Why do you not want to listen what I have to say? You are a bad friend.”

Excuse me? Because I do not want to entertain something that was already put to bed long ago I am the one in the wrong? Are you fucking kidding me? 

Now, let me be clear – cancer is not a “get out of jail free” card. If someone you know who has cancer does something to upset you, speak to them about it if you really feel strongly about the matter. But before you take that step, really look at the situation. Does this really matter? Out of everything in your life – is this something to really focus on or be upset about? 

If you are truly upset then approach it something like this, “I am upset because of ______ . I will be over it tomorrow but in this moment today I am upset. Do not stress this won’t affect our friendship, but I needed to be honest with you.” That is a calm approach and you are letting the person know it is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but you just wanted to bring it to their attention. In that moment I am sure the person will want to talk it out.

What I think is hard is that cancer is not always a quick disease that leads to death. It lingers and builds over time. So it is easy for others to not forget completely, but maybe forget about just how horrible the reality of the situation is. I never forget. I am reminded every day just how shitty this is. I may not talk about it, I may laugh and act positive – but deep inside I am truly sad. My life expectancy changes with every scan. I live 3 months at a time. Do you know what that feels like? I hope you don’t and never do. 

Your life matters to me. Your feelings and thoughts matter to me. But for once maybe stop thinking about your own feelings. I’ll trade you. I would much rather be upset over a small bump in the road than have my midsection cut open.