When Will My Energy Return after Cancer Treatment?

“When will I get my energy back?” is one of the most asked questions I receive.   If you are in the middle of chemo, you know what little energy you have. Many people tell me they have 10% to 20% of their old energy during Chemo.  That was my experience as well.  No matter how far out you are from Chemo, you NEVER forget those no energy days.   For those of you who have never been through chemotherapy, the best way I can describe the huge energy drain is imagine how you feel after 12 hours in the hot sun at an amusement park as you are walking to your car in the evening – totally drained.   This goes on for an endless amount of time. And no matter how much you sleep, the energy does  not return.

Since you never forget how it feels to have 10% energy, I am certainly more careful how I expend energy now.  No longer do I run to the grocery or dollar store on a whim.  I think about it first to determine if it is a necessity.  During chemo, I had to do without.    Never do I enter a grocery store now without remembering when I did not have enough energy to make it to the back of the grocery store.  I could only buy produce, canned goods, and frozen foods because they were in the front of the store.  If I went to the back of the store, I did not have enough energy to make it out to my car and drive home.

So when will you get your energy back?  My experience is, it depends.  Sometimes women who are in their 70s sometimes gain their energy faster than women in their 30s.  There is no rhyme nor reason.

My pivotal energy-changing moments came at the 13 month post-chemo mark and just recently at the 2 year post-chemo mile marker!    The 2 year post chemo energy boost surprised me!  I wasn’t looking for it or expecting it.  Only when I was out trimming trees at 6 am one morning, able to garden longer than I have in 3 years, and then able to watch my niece’s 4-year-old and 2-year-old did I realize, “WOW, I have more energy!”

Even if you are more than 2 years out from Chemo and feel like you still do not have any energy, one day it may just appear!   Recently, I was talking with Lisa, my neighbor who is a Stage 4 Lymphoma Survivor.  She said it was almost 5 years before her energy returned.  A 25-year-old Ewings Sarcoma Cancer Survivor told me it took her 3 years to start having more energy.

Don’t give up hope for that energy to return.  And always protect what energy you do have as it is such a great gift!  Use it wisely!  And I have found these things have really helped me:

1)  Take a good multiple vitamin.  When I began taking Nature’s Way ALIVE vitamins (I buy mine through Amazon), I had a HUGE increase in energy!  It was amazing to me and that is why I recommend them!

2)  No matter how tired you are, take a walk.  It really helps even though often you don’t feel like you can even start the walk!  If it is difficult for you to walk outside, I recommend Leslie Sansone’s DVDs where you walk inside your home!

3)  Try to go to bed early to just rest, not necessarily sleep.  I’m not a napper.  I only took two naps during chemo and radiation!  But I did go into bed early and read or watched television.  Being in the prone position helped me gain energy!

Be sure to check out my online store at http://www.hellocourage.com

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An Honor Bestowed Upon Me by Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure

Out of the blue I got a telephone call last week informing me that I was chosen for a great honor.  Every year the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Northwest Ohio selects a breast cancer survivor as their “In Celebration Of” honoree and a person who died from breast cancer as their “In Memory Of” honoree for the Toledo, Ohio race.   This year Komen Northwest Ohio chose me for the “In Celebration Of” honoree.   They said that I was “chosen from many worthy candidates based on your courageous fight against breast cancer and the way with which you inspire those around you every day.”

This is the Survivor Parade that I participated in the last two years.  Each year post-treatment that I have walked in it, I cry from all the emotions and gratitude I feel.  This year, I will be leading the Survivor Parade and all of these amazing women!

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My friend, Anita Conley, and my Aunt Marian Gladieux, nominated me.  Anita asked for my permission to nominate me in early Spring.  Honestly, I was extremely touched she wanted to do it and took the time to do it, but it never even occurred to me that I would be the person selected.  And my Aunt Marian never told me of her nomination.  So I was totally surprised!

Quietly and one-on-one,  I do “my breast cancer work” on my laptop from my home office or couch,  all times of the day or night.  Being publicly recognized is a little overwhelming!  However, I am deeply honored to participate as it will allow me to get the word out on everything I have learned in my own breast cancer journey, my mom’s new breast cancer journey, and all that you, my readers and friends, have taught me!    It is a great opportunity to have a greater voice to tell women “get your mammograms” “do  self-exams” and give them the statistics why.   Plus, it will allow me to give those recently diagnosed more hope and encouragement.

The Toledo, Ohio  the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure is Sunday, September 28, 2014.  Here you can find a Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure near you:    http://ww5.komen.org/findarace.aspx

 

 

 

 

 

My Mom Has Breast Cancer. . .and Why Elderly Women Need Mammograms

My 80 year old mom (who is more like a 50 year old energy wise) was diagnosed with Breast Cancer during last week.   It has been quite the emotional roller coaster ride for our entire family.   We all felt overwhelmed by the thoughts “Here we go again!”  But today I have good news to report as breast cancer goes.

After spending all day at the University of Michigan meeting with surgeons, radiologists, oncology, etc., mom got great news.  Her cancer is Grade 1, very slow growing, a small 1.5 cm tumor, no lymph nodes, no chemo, 90% estrogen positive, and most likely no radiation, however, they won’t know that for sure until after surgery.  She will have a wire-guided Lumpectomy in about 3 weeks with no drains.  Mom was so relieved about that as she helped me with my drains and hated them!   The surgeon indicated it was miraculous mom ever found the lump.

Mom’s parents lived into their 90s, aunts that lived to be 97, and no cancer ever in generations of  family members on her paternal and maternal sides.    Mom has eaten a healthy diet, been extremely active, and weighs within 10 pounds of her weight when she was in her 20s!  If my mom got it, anyone is at risk.  Well, we know that, but this makes it more clear to me!

The genetics counselor thinks it is rather a fluke that both of us got breast cancer, but it sure makes me wonder about environmental factors.  I had far more reason to have breast cancer as my dad’s side of the family has cancer everywhere.  But mom, they have no idea.

Here is what I can pass on to you that I have learned thus far.

1.  Breast cancer odds greatly increase with age.  As the nurse navigator conveyed to us, breast cancer amps up with age.  She said that so many women feel like once they have reached 65 or 70, they quit having mammograms as they feel their odds go down.  That is WRONG information.  Some older women will tell you they don’t want to look for anything.  Relay to them how early stage breast cancer is far easier to deal with than later stage!  Know your facts and make every attempt to get the elderly women in your life to get their mammograms!  

2.  Be sure to be extra nice and appreciative to your Oncologist!  You never know when you may need them again!   Send them and their staff cards of thanks and appreciation, take simple gifts into their office like candy or cookies or vegetables, or whatever!  It is meaningful to them.   I made one call to my Oncologist, and he and his staff bent over backwards to help my mom.  Make yourself memorable in a positive way to your Oncologist and his or her staff.

3.  Remind your moms, grandmothers, aunts and older women in your life (well, younger ones too) to do regular breast exams.  Show them how and what to do.   My mom accompanied me to my last Oncology checkup in April.  On the drive back home, I casually asked my mom if she was doing regular breast self-exams.  She said she was not and had not done one in awhile.  Later that week, she did one, and found an area of change in her breast which caused her alarm.  That is what got her to the doctor!   There was a lump underneath that breast change!  Thank God she found it when she did!

4.  One of the most difficult things about breast cancer is having to figure out what to do.  Now that we have been through it, we know.  That makes the journey much easier to help someone else.  If you are emotionally up to it, reach out and help someone else just starting the journey.  Your input will be invaluable to them.

That is what I’ve learned thus far!  Thanks for letting me share!   I appreciate all of my readers so much!   Love to you all!

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Check out my new Sun Hat Collection at http://www.hellocourage.com !  You don’t have to be bald to wear these, but you can be!

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