You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Finding hope, strength and courage...

In loving Memory of my dear and adorable niece, Michelle Tendayi Majuru......


The most painful tears are not the ones
that fall from your eyes and cover your face.
They are the ones that fall from your heart
and cover your soul.

-Lessons Learned in Life

Losing you at such a tender age tore a piece of my soul out of my chest. Tears flow unabated when I look at your photos. My heart aches with grief.... Although it is extremely difficult today to see beyond the sorrow, I remain confident that brighter days shall come, as the dark clouds make way for the sun to shine and illuminate in our hearts as we look back to memories that help comfort us tomorrow.  So many wonderful and beautiful memories. Tendayi gave us so much more than she received, no matter what curve balls came her way. She loved us and taught us all that it will always be okay... with her beautiful priceless heartwarming smile. Tendayi was and still is, an incandescent  light, that shines like a diamond in our hearts.

To my dearest sister Charity Majuru and my beautiful niece Dananai Majuru (Mrs Morgan, Mama Zahir-Mudiwa) (By the way, thank you so much for giving us such a beautiful and adorable grandson!)

Grieving can be a long process, so I ask that you be patient with yourselves.  I love you both dearly, more than you will ever know.  There is no day that goes by without me thinking and wishing I was there with you right now for as long as you need me. Be comforted in knowing that Tendayi's spirit continues to live on, smiling down on us. Tendayi's love leaves an indelible imprint in our memories. Our lives were forever changed and greatly enriched by having shared her love with all of us. The pain, the grief will linger but we will continue to find strength and rejoice in treasured memories that will live on. It is those little things that you will remember, particularly, Tendayi 's abundant capacity to love unconditionally and her infectious laughter that will help push away the pain and bring the smiles back again. The truth is, you never get over it, you just try to get through it. It never gets better it just get different every single day. Each day, grief puts on a new face.... Although no amount of words can help ease the loss you bear, I want you to know that, you are close in every thought and every prayer. I love you and I am praying for God to give you strength, the kind of strength that surpasses our own understanding.

Tendayi, you were such a special and unique young woman. I miss you so much. I am so proud to have been able to call you my niece. I love you sooooo much and can't wait to see you again.

All my love
Aunt Dorothee


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The saddest day of my life.....

Today is the saddest day of my life. My very young and vibrant niece Tendai Michelle Majuru suddenly passed away in Boston, Massachusetts. That smile.....priceless.... that is Tendai, always smiling and shining a bright light on everyone.

If you go back in my blogs, I have written about how loving and thoughtful she was.  She would come to visit me from Boston when I was having chemotherapy. She would take time off from work just to be there for me. She would make me laugh and remind me of good old times when she was a little girl growing up. The pain of losing her is so unbearable! The most difficult part is that my sister Charity Majuru lives in England. Just thinking about that distance and imagining how my sister is doing is a major heartbreak. I am praying for strength for Charity and Dananai. God takes the best! Oh God! Why? This is the time I have to ask Why? Why? at such a tender age?  I thought I could say more but I am just at a loss for words. I love you my dearest niece and may your soul rest in peace!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Aaargh... Nervous, surgery coming up......

Now that we are all up to date with whats been going on and most importantly, I have regained my composure.  Allow me to share some more news with ya'll. Remember the problematic inflammation on my jawline cum saliva gland? Well, after treatment for the past two months with antibiotics and painkillers followed by more tests, I was sent back to my oncology surgeon who informed me that I have a cystic mass which will be removed through a surgical procedure. A sample of the affected tissue will be sent to the lab to determine whether it is benign or malignant. I am scheduled for surgery at the end of this week and will keep y'all posted.

We just reminisced about the previous horrible surgical biopsy with Tinashe and we both could not help but feel this inexplicable fear and dread about what is to come. After the cancer journey, there are just certain moments you don't want to re-live. You just want to keep those memories tucked away neatly in a "do not open" filing cabinet. But, who can resist the temptation of opening. I am having flashbacks of that horrible second biopsy before treatment. I can't believe its not getting any easier despite time that has elapsed. Am I feeling scared? Yes! Am I feeling anxious? Absolutely yes!!! One would imagine the time that has elapsed, I should have it together. To add to this are people with good intention of course, who after I express my fears and concerns, keep telling me, "you are going to be fine". Really? I always wonder have you walked my shoes to dismiss my fears and concerns. Please let me express my strong feelings or rant and rave because that is my way of coping.

Did you know that no doctor can guarantee cancer will stay gone forever? I cannot say this enough, every visit to the cancer clinic affects me tremendously because I feel like I am stepping back in time into the time machine.  At times, I feel like a sitting duck just waiting. I can't help wondering will it come back? If it does how would I know? Fear is always lingering about recurrence. But, in the midst all that, my new chapter includes both hope, happiness and fear. I am focussing on things that I can control and allowing researchers to come up with a cure that keeps cancer from coming back after treatment.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Bending at times but not broken.......

Hello hello to y'all! I know its been quite a while since I posted. Forgive me for leaving you on a cliff hanger after all the twists and turns of my life. I was just feeling tired and uninspired. I guess thats a good thing. It means no news to report.  As time goes by, I sure have learnt that life is good when you allow it to flow naturally (easier said than done).  What I mean is being in the moment is not just being grateful for everything. That is kinda like going through life on auto pilot. Be open to whatever is that moment. Cry when you need to - whine when you need to (I do it unashamedly all the time), laugh at yourself afterwards and live abundantly.

I cannot say this enough. Cancer does not end the day of treatment. Its like you are forever sitting there behind the cancer veil waiting in uncertainty while everyone else  is on the other side. The emotional shocks are never ending there are always mountains to climb and potholes to fall in. While you always feel elated and grateful for being given a second chance, the struggle with fear and unavoidable uncertainty is not told often enough. The intensity of feelings of vulnerability and sadness are just unimaginable. Every bump along the way makes you feel like you are  getting sucked into the river of life without a paddle.  You feel like you are in a raging tempest, being tossed out in the raging waters. And as you get along you quickly learn to swim and go with the flow. After the tumbles and turns, I did smile knowing that whatever I am going through, I can handle it. I may not be able to handle it well with finesse or grace but, I will handle it. I am now frantically re-writing my emotional script and erasing old messages because life is rarely constant. Its been said that the only constant in life is change.

Enough of my ramblings.  I wanted to share with y’all that I have been doing well after the seemingly insurmountable obstacles of the past few months. I saw my oncologist last week and everything looks good. Beside needing to lose a few pounds, I am pleased to report that I have been healthy. I cannot wait to reach my two year mark and start calling myself a "cancer survivor". As I stand on the thresh-hold of some kind of victory, I feel excited and rejuvenated about what the future holds for me.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

I was just having a bad day not a bad life.......

Just checking in quickly to let ya'll know I am doing better than when I wrote my last update. Well, what can I say, I was having one of those, "poor me" kind of moment and you all got a little taste of my wonderful melt-downs. After the emotional breakdown,I decided to do a note to myself. A gentle reminder to self, when I feel my body slip away, to remember to walk through this life with grace and determination and top it up with a great sense of humour whenever I can.

Here is my note to Self:

Rule # 1.......Don't panic.
Rule # 2 .....Never give up.
Rule # 3.......Don't forget the first 2 rules.

Well, you see, in the land of "Cancer", family and friends are able to stand along and cheer you on... but they cannot get on that road with you. It is fellow travellers who make the journey less fearful as you listen to their stories and learn from their experiences.

For now, let me say, the dark shadow has passed.  I see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.


Thursday, April 4, 2013

I am an Emotional Wreck...

Phew! Sometimes its hard to keep it together particularly when you don't know whether your health is taking a tumble or a turn. I find myself just needing to take a deep breath in order to get through the day and recognize that better days will come. Since my last post, I continue to struggle with the inflammation on my jaw, my neck and now I have difficulty swallowing. And, yes, because of the pain, I have trouble hearing with the affected side and the dry mouth has become more severe. It appears my situation has progressively gotten worse. My initial reaction when this recurred in February was to shut the thoughts up in some dark corner of my brain where possibilities of repressing memories are high. However, that didn't work at all. The anxiety continues to creep in everyday. And I continue to worry that,"what if the cancer is back?" 

This road my dear friends has been rough and rocky. I cannot fathom going through this again. I do not want to travel down this lonely and desolate path again. But, do I have a choice? Lately, my life has turned into series of more aches and pains. More Doctor visits, more antibiotics, more painkillers and more specialist visits. But, most overwhelming is the confusion and the worry. I now can recite different types of antibiotics with eyes closed. I know the various intensity of prescription pain killers.

So, today I just saw my doctor. I dislike every visit because of the fact that I have to step back in time and relive my cancer all over again.  She dropped a bomb on me when she said, I have to request we do another biopsy again to make sure there is no new tumour growth on my neck. I closed my eyes because I saw myself tumbling down this very dark tunnel head first.  I remembered the excruciating pain of my last biopsy which made me cry like a little baby. I was visibly shaken and felt all these intense emotions. I know I have to pull myself together.  I cannot fathom going through that experience once again. My jaw dropped, I am embarrassed to report that I had an emotional meltdown. I cried, and cried some more when I got to work. As my boss held my hand comforting me, telling me I could take some time off. She cried too! (I love my work mates). A big shout out to my favourite Dr Steve Matlis my colleague who cares so much about my well being. I appreciate you so much! Oh dear, I had a major melt down! LOL! I still chock up every time I think or talk about it. Now, I don't feel like talking about it because it makes me want to cry some more. I feel emotionally numb. 

Well, excuse me, I think right now I just need to take a moment and take that much needed deep breath. I feel like I am on some emotional roller coaster again. Even though I try to remember to appreciate everyday, it is hard to do that with this recurring lump on my neck. At the same time, I feel like all the dark days that I have been through have hardened me. I also fear that all the dark days are most likely to come. I do recognize that this whole journey affects everyone around me, my family and friends as well. I know I dont say this enough, I don't know what I would do or where I would be right now without your support. You give me courage and hope to stay positive and I am forever thankful for that. With that said, let me work on my emotions that have a tendency to drift from the safety and joy of the now to unfounded anxieties and scary memories of the past. Today, I am going to have some Sushi and go for a walk in Chinatown and smile because I know that simply breathing means - anything is possible.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Scared..Scared and more scared lump on my jaw line

I am sorry for the apparent abandoning of my blog. It was not my intention to be so tardy.  I just didn't have much to say or maybe I was just playing avoidance. Aluta Continua! That means "the struggle continues"!(popular Portuguese slogan used to cultivate popular support against colonial presence during the apartheid liberation struggle in my beloved home country Zimbabwe ). Time has gone by surprisingly fast. I cannot believe christmas came and new year just passed and I have not posted in a while. I guess that is what happens when you do not have much to talk about - which is a good thing I guess. Otherwise, Happy belated New Year to y'all! Many thanks to all of you who have kept checking up on me and continue giving me much needed encouragement and support. Thank you for your emails, tweets, phone calls and in person support. After starting a new position in October last year, I felt like I needed a break from thinking about this damn cancer which included writing this blog. 

I have thought about discontinuing this blog, but I remembered that when I was first diagnosed with cancer, I would spend my time reading other people's blogs and most of them just ended abruptly as soon as treatment ended. It bothered me and left me feeling scared and curious and wondering how they were doing. I often wondered whether they were in partial remission like me or stayed in remission or not or whether they died. Just thinking about that scared the crap out of me. So, I decided to keep my blog up and will try updating as often as I can.

Like I said in my previous blogs, life after cancer is not easy. Its pretty hard! One of the biggest struggles is getting people to understand how I feel about all that I have been through - it has not been easy and I realize it will continue to be a challenge. Most people have the attitude that I am done with cancer now and should be able to move on and not think about it anymore. NO! I CANNOT! I do worry constantly and I am anxious about my cancer coming back more-so, now that I have this recent swelling again the size of a marble on my jaw the same spot that ended up being opened up in July last year. The uncertainty is extremely scary and causes me to lay awake at night wondering what if? Then, in the morning I go to work feeling extremely exhausted from lack of sleep and the vicious worry cycle continues.

Sometimes, I feel like I am expected to just forget that I had cancer and move on with my life. Honestly, I dont know how to do that. I am trying but it is extremely hard. From the outside everyone says how great I look and how well I am doing. Even my two lovely Oncologist say I am doing great. But, I feel like saying, "I really dont feel great at all.. Why do I keep getting the same painful swelling on the same spot where I had the biggest tumor. Just because I am not acting like an emotional mess in front of people does not mean that I am doing or feeling great". It feels like there is no end to this whole situation. You dont stop having cancer once treatment is over. Don't get me wrong, I do appreciate that I am feeling much better in comparison to when this journey started. But, the truth, cancer is now part of me. Like many cancer survivors, I continue to grope for a suitable word that makes sense of this new place. Sometimes, I wonder how can I call myself a survivor when I will spend the rest of my life being monitored and tested. What about the scars on my body? Sadly, cancer is part of me now. Its embedded in my life forever and will constantly be in the back of my mind. But, I refuse to let it take over my life. Its funny that everyone tells me how strong I am, which is the most humbling compliment... but, I dont really feel that I have been strong at all. I feel that when life throws you curveballs, you either choose to be positive and get through it the best you can ... or you can let it bring you down in a dark place you dont want to be. I just chose the more positive route.

For the most part, all I want to do is pretend the nightmare never happened. That, I didn't lose months and months of my life to pain, appointments, emergency room visits. Who knows, one day I will have the courage to just reflect and make sense of the whole experience. After all those months of going through what I still consider hell, I have moved on - so I keep thinking until something comes up. The sort of bad news is that last week I started feeling feverish and ended up with a swelling on the same spot that sent me under the blade in July 2012. I just had an aspiration done last week and have been taking antibiotics. All this stuff scares the crap out of me. I am seeing my oncologist next week. Hopefully it will turn out to be nothing serious.

I am not sure if I posted that I am now a clinical social worker at a health centre(same organization). Yeah, that was another move up the ladder. Do I hear an Amen?? I am loving being back to work and feeling great most of the time. But, most of all, maintaining a swag that allows me to pass for healthy. In actual truth, the journey continues. Side effects do remain. Hello dry mouth that keeps me awake to take frequent sips of water during the night and every few minutes during the day. This radiation sure did a number on my glands that I don't know will ever heal soon enough. Physically, I am not back to myself yet. I feel chronic fatigue and shortness of breath. However, I still go to the gym and it does help a lot. Since end of treatment, I started "clean eating" and buying organic produce. While the cancer anxiety is not so much, I still worry about it coming back though it is definitely not in the front of my mind as before. I still live in a body that feels like crap a lot of the time. It has taken me time to really learn how to take care of myself in a new way and live again. My life is forever changed but I am truly enjoying the gift of seeing life from the other side of the coin. Most people will live their entire lives and never get to see it the way that I now do. There are things to be thankful for everyday.

One who lived a nightmare but, still lives!