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  • Heather Love

Update: It's been a while....

I keep procrastinating writing this post for some reason, and the time keeps passing, and it gets harder and harder to start it....and now it feels like I have too much to say, and yet somehow, at the same time, not enough to say.

After my last post, when I received the glorious news about being in remission, I felt an overwhelming urge to live life to the fullest and not miss anything. I was so thankful to be alive that I wanted to get back to exercising immediately and take care of this body that took such good care of me. I went back to Orange Theory Fitness and started connecting with friends. Rick and I even took a short celebratory drive to Paso Robles wine country. We had an incredible few days to spend together drinking fantastic wine and being grateful to be on the other side of cancer, together and stronger than ever.

In addition, the whole crew of us (Rick, his two boys, and me and mine) went to Sonoma to escape and celebrate friendship with Rick's closest college friends and their families. A good time was had by all!

Seeger started 8th grade, Greer began 6th grade, and I started back to teaching in mid-August. It has been an adjustment to return to work full-time while still undergoing treatment. I continue to take a daily pill to starve my body of the hormones that my cancer loves and thrives from. In addition, I go in every three months for an injection of another hormone-blocking drug. It comes in the form of what looks like a grain of rice. It is injected just under the skin on my abdomen and gradually dissolves over three months. In addition, I receive an IV infusion of a drug that helps counteract the loss of bone density that the daily hormone blocker causes. The IV medication only takes a couple of hours, which is less than chemo, so I am thankful for that. The medications do cause some unpleasant side effects but it's nothing I can handle after what I have been through to be in remission. I'll do anything to keep me here.

Everyone close to me has received their Covid vaccines, which makes me thrilled. Greer is anxiously awaiting to turn 12 or have the age limit reduced to receive his too. I qualified for the Covid booster vaccine and received that shortly after returning to work which is terrific news since I work at an elementary school filled with littles that couldn't receive the vaccine even if they wanted to.

Although I like knowing that I could rock a pixie haircut if I wanted to, it had been emotionally very hard for me, and I had trouble putting my finger on exactly why that could be. I finally realized that it was because having a pixie wasn't my choice. I didn't go to the hairdresser and decide to chop my hair. My hair was the aftermath of a long, awful road fighting for my life. I finally "won," got the news of remission, and was left stuck with a daily, ever-present reminder of cancer, and all I really wanted to do was move forward. With the help of some friends, I found an incredible woman in Los Angeles that specializes in extensions for post-chemo patients. It was a scary decision to make (considering I never even wore a wing consistently), but I went ahead and did it! It took a little getting used to, but I now have longer hair and feel more like myself. The extensions will stay in for the next year and will get me past the awkward grow-out stage. Once the extensions are removed, my actual hair will be bob-length. Until then, I can swim, exercise, wash, blow-dry, curl or do anything I would typically have done with my hair (although this hair is undoubtedly thicker than my natural hair). Here it is---the before and the afters.....what do you think?!

Last week I had a meeting with my oncologist, and things are looking good. I am feeling incredibly anxious that cancer will come back while at the same time also realizing that treatments, appointments, scans, and procedures will be an ongoing and ever-present part of my life for the foreseeable future. That feels overwhelming at times, and hard to wrap my brain around the fact that I will spend my life always looking over my shoulder on some level. I spent my life growing up watching my dad go in for cancer check-ups every few months and learning to hold my breath, almost anticipating that the day would come when there was bad news and cancer had returned. Amazingly, my dad lived far past his life expectancy, and cancer, in the end, wasn't what took his life. However, I feel sad that Seeger and Greer will, on some level, have a similar experience as I did growing up, collectively holding our breath, praying that this isn't the time we hear that cancer has returned every time I go into the oncologist.

Overall, cancer has changed me. My perspective has changed. Cancer has a way of making everything come into focus, and I know clearly who and what matters most to me. My priorities are changing. I am working to make myself (and my innermost circle of people) as much of a priority as I make others. This shift will be a learning curve for me work-wise in particular, as I am used to working long hours and being available at all times for parents and fellow teachers. I will work to create a better, more sustainable work/life balance as my health and my life matter too much to me, and I genuinely want to live a long, long time to come.

If you made it to the end of this post, congrats! It was a long one, I know. I will make an effort to be better at updating and sharing more as I go. Thanks for being there for me.



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