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Poke poke poke! Getting all of my immunization shots – again.

11:40pm Monday April 27th How I’m feeling: Ok. I’m feeling invincible in some ways, the complete opposite in others. I just got back from dance rehearsal and am about to take a shower. My 4th for the day. I’ve been taking a lot of showers lately and today, I realized why. It’s my place and time of processing thoughts. Really – my only alone time. And I think I’ve been needing it more lately. I think? Perhaps that’s what my gut is telling me. I suppose I’ll find out soon! Today, I had to get a bunch of immunization shots done. And when I mean a bunch – I mean all. All of the shots we’ve received since birth. The stem cell transplant I received last fall, wiped me clear of them. They say that getting a stem cell transplant is like being re-born. And well, it kind of is. In fact, I felt like it shortly after the procedure (it’s kind of tough to describe). And literally, it left me with a clean slate – like a newborn! I hadn’t realized how many shots we’ve all had until I read this: Vaccinations post-ASCT… …and this: IMG_20150420_115726 I’m going on a much needed vacation soon. To sunny Mexico. Normally, I would just go. Maybe I’d check if I had to get any special travel immunization beforehand. Although, Mexico is fairly safe. Really, not much to worry about. And truthfully, this time I figured it wouldn’t be so different. I was wrong. A whole different ball game this time around. You know, I try hard not to think about my cancer. Throughout the year other than my appointments, my lifestyle changes and my medication – my physical, emotional and mental state has not allowed me to forget. But it’s been a while since my last radiation session. It’s been about a month since I’ve been on medication. I’ve been going to the gym. My breath is back. Enough leg hair grows for me to shave it. I have eyebrows to pluck. I have eyelashes to put mascara on. I’m starting to look more like me again – or more so, this new me. I have more colour to my skin. So, it’s been getting a little bit easier to not constantly have it on my mind because having it on my mind is….heavy. And then the past week and a half happened. In preparation for vacation – I saw my doctor to discuss the immunization I had to get. I told her I was travelling and she suggested I double check with my oncology team. I had to report to my oncology team? Really? I’m back to doing that again? It truthfully didn’t occur to me that it would be a good idea to do so. Mostly because I haven’t been at the hospital for about a month now. The last time I had any sort of in-hospital treatment was in February with radiation. So, I didn’t think of it. While it caught me off guard, I listened to my physician. It it wasn’t for her thoroughness, we wouldn’t have caught this cancer as early as we did. So, I am grateful for her being super pre-cautious for me. My oncology team gave me some instructions and few days later (today) I went to a travel health clinic. I was advised to visit this particular travel health clinic from my physician as they have all of the vaccinations available and are very thorough. I have to say, this experience was…different and emotional:

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The first time I had to check one of these boxes. “Cancer”

And this:

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My vaccination record was currently at 0. Nothing. Nada. A clean slate. Also, “Please rate your overall health” I feel great! But where does having cancer place me?

I was at the clinic for a few hours. My brain felt like I was about to explode. It still kind of does. There was so much information to try to process. There is so much more to think about now that I’m a cancer patient and have gone through a bunch of treatments. I received most of my shots today. There are a couple of others I have to go back for (2nd and 3rd shots for some I received today). You’d think getting the needles would be tough. It wasn’t. The needles were a freakin’ piece of cake. Yes, even though my arms got massacred. I used to really hate needles but I’ve had so many (and worse) over the past year, that I barely felt them today. Sure, both of my arms are sore – but meh. I can deal with this. I have gotten through so much more and – then some.

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The back of my left arm. Rows of bandaids. I have some on my right arm as well but this photo was awkward enough to take!

What has helped me fight through all of the physically rough moments – was the strength in my head and my heart. That said, I can no longer think of one physically demanding challenge I’d want to do that I can’t get myself through – now that I’ve had (and continuously have) all of this mental and emotional strength training! Some food for thought: If you’ve been following along via my blog, you’ll notice that most of what I share is not the physical part of all of this. It’s because, really – it’s the easy part. It’s the emotional and mental side that’s the most difficult. Which is interesting, because everybody wants to talk and ask about the things that can be touched, seen and felt. We are all so much more comfortable with things we can visually and physically see. And that’s a big problem. The physical challenges – have really been the easiest parts. More on this next time. I was a part of a Young Adult Cancer discussion – and I have some really interesting insights from it on this to share! P.S. I get asked all the time, what some of things I’ve learned from all of this are. Here are some as I reflect back on the past year.

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