Friday, April 29, 2016

What's in it for me?

Well, it's been almost a month since the launch of the #NotJustSkinCancer video, and it has reached over 53 000 people on YouTube so far, with additional media coverage on radio, TV and in print. The intensity of the campaign is going to move on across Canada, with opportunities for other melanoma survivors to share their stories, and other audiences to be reached.  I will happily continue to watch it all from the comfort of my home.  

I have enjoyed being part of it, and I appreciate the amount of opportunity it has afforded my writing goals.  Everyone involved in this project has been wonderful, and I am grateful to have been able to share in it.  

I have also appreciated the other benefits I have received from working on this initiative:
  • hopefully helping others to feel less "alone" than I did upon melanoma diagnosis
  • education & advocacy; I'm not out of the woods, and my daughters are now at risk of a melanoma heredity, so I want to do everything I can to make sure there are treatments if and when we need them in the future (I never claimed this volunteer effort wasn't also for self-preservation!)
  • being a good example for my kiddos: taking action about something I believe in ~ making lemonade out of my lemons
  • for my writing career: I finally know what I want to be when I grow up!
And last but certainly not least:
  • to see what I really can do ie. energy level, concentration, stamina
I have mentioned plenty of times how I feel that I am not the same person I used to be, especially physically speaking: my mobility is hampered, my leg is damaged, cancer/treatment weight gain plagues me, and I am struggling with the side effects of Reverse T3 hypo-AND-hyper-thyroidism.  
Add chemo brain on top of it all and based on my experience, I am not (yet?) fit to manage a cash office and payroll process for a large group of people who depend on me for accuracy, efficiency, resourcefulness, and quick-thinking.  

The kind of effort I have been putting into the #NotJustSkinCancer campaign is reminiscent of my professional work experience... conference calls, writing projects, statistics, a bit of commuting, public-speaking, organizing, committing to being specific places at specific times.  

I have accomplished a bunch of those items, but at a slow pace and usually from the privacy of home.  I could nap when I needed to, I didn't have to worry about wardrobe or mascara, or keeping a happy face when discouraged, anxious, or tired. 

I have enjoyed testing out my strength and steadiness, both mentally and physically.  Overall I have met most of the goals of my small part of the #NotJustSkinCancer campaign, but not without cost.  I am exhausted.  And I don't think I have really done that much Mental energy spent mostly?
It's strange, some days I have the energy of an ENTP Gemini Fire Dragon LOL  but then I am more like a hibernating (cranky) bear for a few days.  It is in line with my roller coaster experience with this disease from the start, but it is frustrating to be still living it every day.   And not to worry A, or anybody, it's okay, it's not irreparable exhaustion, it will be fine. 

I am motivated to keep pushing myself for this cause, for the reasons mentioned above but also for my peace of mind.  I am getting to know my "new self," figuring out whatever it means to say "new normal."  If I can again start running around customer servicing and being intelligent then by all means I will.  And I consider advocating for melanoma awareness a great way to test the waters.

The next few weeks still bring work in the melanoma awareness category for me, as May is Melanoma Awareness month here in North America(ish).  This weekend the girls and I will be in Toronto again for Melanoma Monday, on behalf of Save Your Skin Foundation, at the Become a Skin Checker event hosted by LaRoche-Posay.  

I will be sharing my story to help bring awareness to the importance of skin health and routine checking of skin for moles or irregularities that could prevent a late-stage diagnosis of skin cancer.  

My personal transition from #NotJustSkinCancer to #BecomeASkinChecker is an easy one, as it is all very close to my heart.  

After a couple of cool projects for Melanoma-Awareness-May I will be exploring a volunteer opportunity offered to me by The Cancer Society, participating in a very cool event in the Fall, right here in our southern Georgian Bay neighbourhood!  More to come on that... I can't talk about it just yet.  :-)  

In the meantime of course family life continues, and Sunnybrook appointments loom.  May and June always bring chaos but this year seems to be exorbitant: end of school year, projects to tidy up, 4 birthdays to celebrate, summer jobs to find for 2 teenagers, 3-day trip to Ottawa for their entire Grade 8 class, and... drumroll please... Grade 8 GRADUATION.  Buckle up folks, I'm gonna be a wreck.!!


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