What a Difference a Year Makes

Photo taken two months before I learned I had stage three ovarian cancer.

A little over a year ago I was embracing turning 70. The only care I had in the world was how I would handle aging as I began a new decade. Little did I know that a few months later I’d be fighting for my life.

Of course now I realize how shallow it was to be concerned and consumed with the aging process when I should have been incredibly grateful for every day I was given, and for the many blessings I have been granted over the years.

I’ve always been a reasonably appreciative person, but it took cancer to truly see how oblivious I was about what really matters. Before cancer I usually woke up happy, but clueless. I’m fortunate that I’m a pretty positive person, however now I realize that I stressed about the silliest stuff. I worried that my hair wasn’t perfect, or that I had put on a few pounds, or if I shopped too much. Yes, I wanted to change the world for the better, and I fought for countless causes. But, I took my own life for granted.

And then one day life throws you a curve ball! You are told you have a deadly disease and if you don’t treat it with extreme measures you’ll die in a matter of months. Suddenly, everything but survival seems trivial. And the people in your immediate family become even more special to you than you ever imagined. You want to drink in each essence so you can cling to it for as long as humanly possible.

I remember asking my oncologist what happens if I don’t do chemo, and he gave me the cold hard facts. So… I chose to live and never looked back. Chemotherapy is not something I’d wish on anyone. Frankly, it’s miserable. But, it’s also quite miraculous in how it shrinks tumors. And my doctor’s brilliant surgeon hands were indeed magical in the way he removed multiple tumors and organs. I was very lucky to find such an amazing oncologist/surgeon. The stars were aligned when I discovered him.

After surgery he was surprised when I said it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. But, who knows what kind of pain medication he had me on. When I returned home from the hospital about five days later, I became fully aware that the pain was pretty intense and yet I was just happy to be alive and able to walk a bit so none of that mattered. And so I slowly healed and a few weeks later I began chemotherapy once again. My cancer numbers didn’t go down as quickly as the doctor had hoped and I had more blasts of chemo than most people. But I survived.

I admit, I did cry when my hair fell out, along with all my eyebrows and eyelashes too. However, I embraced the new me and drew on some brows so I didn’t look quite so much like an alien. Lol

In my mind I was still just Lesley, not cancer girl, and I suppose I thought I looked much better and healthier than I actually did. I say this because when my son or my sister would take me to the infusion center, I’d often have to sit on a bench as they’d go get the car and drive around to pick me up. There would always be someone who’d walk by, take one look at me, and say something like, “I’ll pray for you.” Often times people would stare and then start to cry. So, I suppose I was pretty scary or pathetic looking.

My doctor had me on a special protein drink for a while because I became painfully thin from so much vomiting. Months and months later I got back to a normal weight when my medication changed and I could eat food again. Thank goodness!

I still have a long journey ahead of me, but on this road, I’ve learned to appreciate EVERYTHING! Yes, everything!

I knew my sons loved me, but I had no idea just how much. I am overwhelmed with how incredible they have been during my cancer battle. I knew I had a great sister, but didn’t realize that she’d be there to hold my head up when I couldn’t keep my food down. And I knew I had some wonderful friends in my life but I had no clue how amazingly thoughtful they were and how the local people helped and visited, and how the rest called, wrote me, showered me with presents, and kept telling me the most positive, kind words to push me forward and keep my spirits up. I learned that I’m truly the luckiest girl in the world.

I really am. I have no idea how long this battle will endure, but I’m ready to take it on. I have no choice. I love living! And I love all the people around me.

I’ve attached some photos of some of my journey this past year…

27 thoughts on “What a Difference a Year Makes

  1. amleta

    MAny greetings and best wishes from Italy to you and to your family 🤗🤗🤗 my name is Amleta and I’m an italian artist. Peace and Love 🌷🌼🌻🌺🌹🏵🌸

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Not sure how I got here – I’m thinking LA’s blog. So am now following. But wanted to ask permission to send your face mask photo to a few personal friends in an email.
    In September while driving the back roads of Michigan amidst forests of T.Rump signs firmly planted everywhere, there was this one enclave of rural homes, clustered together with a professionally printed sentiment on their sign(s) of choice:
    “Dump the Turd
    November 3rd”
    So when I saw this…well, you get it!
    No problem what you decide, BTW just let me know please.

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    1. Hi Laura. I recognize you name from LA’s blog. Lol
      Yes, I have a friend who has a store on Etsy and he makes masks. He sent me that one and it became my Facebook profile pic for a while. It was a great addition to the chemo caps I had to wear. Thanks so much for stopping by. Sure send the picture anywhere.

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  3. When I saw your face pop up as I scrolled through reader I called out “Lesley!” So wonderful to see you back…..and to read your words of inspiration and strength.
    Look forward to seeing more of that face and reading more of your words. Your west coast sister…..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. Its great to hear from you. I’d like to start writing regularly again. I’ll soon be on a new form of treatment so I’m hoping I won’t be too out of it and can still be focused enough to put my thoughts down. I’ve missed being on WordPress and reading some wonderful posts by people I adore, and writing some pieces of my own again. So lovely to hear from you. Xo

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  4. You’re an incredible writer and I loved this post. You are so strong and humble. You are one of my heroes. Look forward to a distance visit to give you your rocking mask. Love you lots! 💕💕💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Ruth, thank you so much. That means a lot to me coming from you! YOU are one of my heroes! You have always been true to yourself and to your convictions. And you have the kindest heart. I love that about you. I’m not that strong but I am trying. Some days I think I’m getting better at it, other days not so much lol.
      I can’t wait to get that super cool mask from the rock and roll hall of fame! I’m so excited.
      Love you lots too. You’ve been such a great friend during my treatment. Your support, your visits, and your phone calls have meant more to me than you can ever know. Love you dear friend. Xo 😻😻😻

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  5. “I still have a long journey ahead of me”–that’s the thought to always hold onto. Love and that kind of belief–any doctor will tell you–are the greatest healers of all. And I love your “Flush the turd” mask. Right on!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Amy. I do believe a positive attitude does help. My friend, Mike made the mask. He has a shop on Etsy called DesignedbyMichael . He knew I would love the mask and he surprised me and sent one to me. I posted myself in it and made it my profile pic. So, he sends me masks now and I take a pic in them and post. He swears his sales go up when I do that. He’s a great guy, and an old high school buddy.
      I do believe a positive attitude really does help. Thanks for stopping by. ❤️✌️

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    1. Thank you Jackie. I appreciate your kind words. The funny thing is that I don’t feel very brave. I’m scared a lot. But the bottom line is I’m not ready to die yet. I love my sons, my grandchildren are my world, and I have so much to do to continue to fight for women’s rights, a healthier environment, literacy etc. so I can’t give up. With each set back I’ve had a few days of crying and then I just seem to move forward. As long as my doctor keeps giving me treatment options then I’ll do whatever I need to do. The alternative isn’t an option at this point. My mom had one or two sessions of chemo and then said no more. She was in her mid 70’s at the time. I’m not at that place yet. Right now I have good days in between the crummy days and one good day makes me forget about the bad ones. I love being alive so I’ll keep on fighting while I can. It’s survival not bravery. I’ve met so many courageous women along the way. We all do what we have to do. You would too. And we try to smile and laugh along the way. Thank you For stopping by. Xo

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  6. I’m so thrilled to have you back with us Lesley!!! Loved the message on your face mask!!!
    You will love what I’ve posted today on The Poet’s Corner and My Blog and over the last two weeks – search in the search box – charles robert lindholm
    LAH
    xoxo
    😘💕💖🌹😁

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! What a lovely thing to say! BTW, make sure you and your daughter wear pearls on Election Day in honor of RBG. My friends and I are posting photos of ourselves on Facebook and Twitter wearing our Pearls and showing we voted in the spirit of RUTH! ❤️💪

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh I love that! Your daughter is terrific!! If you took a picture you must share. I so would have dressed up as her for Halloween if I were still in the classroom. If I can ever get WordPress to work right I’m going to change my profile pic to me in pearls in honor of Ruth! ✌️❤️

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  7. Dear Lesley, you keep that positive spirit up and you will win. “ I love life” is the magic formula, how can life through that away.
    It is sad to hear how much you gone through but also amazing to through your words hear about all the love wrapped around you.

    Bless and beat those last cells. ❤️.

    Miriam

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Jane. I’m still trying to maneuver my way through this newer version of WordPress. I didn’t mean to post quite so many photos but I couldn’t figure out how to delete some or how to edit my piece lol.
      But I felt I needed to tell a little of my story. I will write about the amazingly strong women I met along the way in the future.

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