McKenzie’s Story

Site created on May 24, 2019

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Newest Update

Journal entry by McKenzie Dudley

Hey friends! As promised last month, I’m getting a little update out into the world following my check-up last week. This was a local appointment with no blood work or any other pre-work, just the standard visit with the doc and a bit of a physical. Everything looks good, so it didn’t take long!

One of the things we did during the time was go over the results of a mammogram I had back in July here in town. One thing I’m learning this far into things is what a mind trip it can be to revisit places I’ve done cancer. So, going back for a mammogram in the place where I first heard, “This could be cancer,” tempted me to fear we would be back at square one, even with no symptoms or reason to believe things were off. Thankfully I have a mom that threw humor into the situation and reminded me I only have to endure imaging on one side now. Ha. Thanks, mom! Anyway, everything looked good on the mammogram, so no need to fear.

Despite a quick and easy appointment, I still left the Cancer Center with tears streaming down my face. That's curious, huh? I sure thought so, but I suppose I'm still processing the trauma of what we went through battling cancer. So, walking into the Cancer Center that day, the smell of antiseptic and all the hospital 'things,' brought  memories of seemingly endless visits but also the comfort of knowing my nurses and knowing the next right step. There's been some turnover in the cancer department, so I didn't see any familiar faces and I didn't like that. The next step right now is living life...but with all the new things cancer has brought, like a dumb lymphatic arm and the lack of a breast, it sometimes seems like the next step is a million miles off.

As I was walking out of the Center, I stopped to study the faces of the new nursing staff on photos in the hall, and there was a picture and the funeral bulletin for the nurse the Cancer Center lost while I was doing chemo. The 2nd anniversary of Carrie's passing was on Sunday, and my heart still feels like it was unfair to lose someone I met because of my battle. I had to make a quick exit then, as tears had begun running down my face, and I don't cry, darn it!

I drove myself to my next appointment, counseling. Man, was that perfect timing! On the way, I had to take some extra time at a stop sign to get myself under control, because as it turns out, bawling your eyes out and eating a banana can lead to some minor choking. A girl can be hungry and sad at the same time but probably should not eat, cry and drive at the same time.

There was temporary panic on my counselor's face when I showed up all red-faced and told her that cancer sucked, since she knew I was coming from a check-up. Oops. It was really good to process things through with her. I need to give myself grace to feel the things that still come up-and understand that they're a normal part of my heart healing process. It's okay to be angry at what took place, but I can't live there. We talked about ways to turn that around with gratitude for what I do have...for the fact that I'm living. Most days, that's easy. With a new school year (and holy stressful on that between Covid and new curriculum on the docket) and being extra tired though, my evenings have been super hard, so we talked through some management ideas for that.

I listened to a podcast recently with a college football coach who lives by the mantra, 'Finish the drill.' So in a team situation, you do your job in practice and on the field/court/wherever. And in life, well, you finish the drills needed. My drill right now is taking care of my lymphatic arm. I tried quitting PT or at least not going once weekly, but my arm measurements  say it's not getting better, so back I go to PT. Sigh. I also have to be better at my home exercises. I hate them. I hate my arm. But I'm alive, so I'll finish the drill.

Don't you dare think I'm going to end this on a bleh note, oh no. We can't do that. So, here are some exciting things! We had to get a new faucet in our kitchen and I love the replacement. It has this awesome spray feature that is amazing at getting gunk off of dishes. Mom, I know that the dishwasher is supposed to get the gunk, but it's totally satisfying to spray the crap out of stuff and see the clean dishes as a result! And then, Shaun and I have a HUGE surprise coming up for our girls. Their Christmas present is arriving early-next weekend to be exact-and I. CAN'T. WAIT. to tell them and bring it home. It's going to be life-changing for us, and I think probably therapy and healing for all of us after the last couple years, too. Woot woot!

Finish the drill, friends. And then love well and laugh often!


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