Welcome 2017!

I am not one for resolutions.

I do however give myself something to focus on each year–like a goal for the year.

The last two years of my life have been given to cancer.  In 2015 my goal was to get through all my treatments as best and as positively as I could.  In 2016 my goal was to recover from all my treatments, return to work, and get back to a normal life.

I have decided that 2017 is going to be about me.

I have been giving a lot of thought lately to the hormone therapy.  While I am now on an ovarian suppressant, my oncologist hinted that once I am stable on it he would like me to try a different type of hormone therapy with it.

It would take a lot of very strong and positive convincing for me to go back to taking hormone therapy again.  I felt so terrible while I was taking the hormone therapy even though I tried very hard to convince myself that I was doing ok.  Now that I am free from it’s influence, it is very easy and startling to see how much of an impact it had on every aspect of my life.

While I understand the benefits taking hormone therapy provides to preventing a recurrence of cancer, I also understand that for me, there is no value in extending my life if I am not able to live it.  So without any regrets, I will refuse to return to HT.  I might have a shorter life, but I will live it fully. I will not go back to feeling that bad again.

With the newfound vigor I have discovered, I find myself truly looking forward to the year ahead and focusing on me.  I am going to start my masters degree in a week, I am going to compete in 3, and I am going to keep my energy focused on the things that are important to me.

As far as dance, I decided a couple weeks ago that I want to reset and get back to some basics after this competition.  With my recent reawakening, I have realized that I have lost some of the basic skills I had before I got sick and I need to take the time to redevelop them.  I also want to rebuild my strength, fitness and endurance.

2017 is going to be MY year.

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Tango

Ever have a dance you just can’t seem to get comfortable with?

That’s tango for me–at least tango position.

Ever since my surgery, I just can’t seem to find the right position for tango, I am either too far back or too hunched forward.  There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground–I am either not using my abs enough, or I am using them too much.  On top of that, I continually seem to be turning my left side out too, which loses the connection with Boss.

We did work a lot on tango tonight.  We have a syncopated sequence at the beginning that I tend to get behind on that got ironed out, and then we switched to another line.  As we were working through it, Boss suddenly decided he wanted to add a fallaway whisk and a contra check to the routine, since we have them both in other routines and they go very well.  One of the lines in particular is quite basic so the whisk will up the ante on it a bit.

To fit the contra check in, there had to be some adjustments to a back open promenade that require some quick head changes and rapid movements.  It took a bit of work today, but we seemed to get it to work.  I hope it sticks, but it should.

Back to tango position, it just seems like I never really get settled.  I start out well, and then as I move through the choreography and change from closed to promenade positions it just deteriorates.  I can see more concentrated work on tango position going onto my ‘to do’ list for after the competition. It drives me a little crazy because tango used to be a very consistent dance for me.

We did review the Quickstep today at the start of the lesson and it is coming along.  It took a couple run throughs to get everything working again but it did come together fairly quickly.  For some reason my head, of all things, keeps throwing me off.

I spent an hour working on paso at the gym today, and by the end of it I was able to go through it with music at about half speed 5 times consistently.  There was one spot where I could tell I had the timing wrong, but I reviewed it with Boss when I got to my lesson so I know where the error was.  I did try it at speed a few times, and the first time I did get through it, but every time after that fell apart in the second phrase.  I chalked it up to fatigue and patted myself on the back for getting through it once at speed and consistently at slow speed.  I hope to have medium speed music for the weekend to help bridge the gap and get my mind and feet thinking faster.

One more lesson this year (although I will have a styling session tomorrow).  My guess is it will be a combination of tango and foxtrot, but we will see.

Quickstep

Had a bit of a breakthrough in this dance last night.

For the longest time, everything I did in quickstep seemed heavy, plodding and slow.

Last night, continuing with the plan to work through the standard routines we switched over to quickstep after a review of the waltz.  After working on the first short line, which has it’s own challenges with pivots and heel turns (who decided heel turns were ok in Quickstep!?!?!), we moved on to the second long line, which just never seems to come together for me.

The line isn’t overly complicated, but it does have a lot of quick changes from promenade to closed position and a couple rotations tossed in for good measure.  One of the biggest issues I had with this line was really a lack of confidence that I knew the steps.  Because of that, I had a habit to think of it in chunks consisting of 3 steps at a time and that was making it slow and heavy.

Last night, I had to switch my thinking from the steps to the full sequence–thinking through the whole line from start to finish and just keeping my feet moving.

As soon as I did that suddenly the entire feel of the line got lighter and made more sense as a whole.

I still had some issues forgetting where to change to promenade and over-rotating at points, but overall the entire sequence suddenly got much smoother and more flowing.  Instead of moving more chunky and up and down, the sequence started moving forward because my focus was more forward.

It seems like a small thing, but it made a huge difference, and it also made executing the sequence somehow easier and much less work. It was one of those ultimate ‘aha’ moments.  I can’t wait to try the Quickstep in a bigger hall where we have more room to travel and see how it goes.

I think I get a little paranoid in Quickstep because it is one dance where if I lose control or mess up there is really nothing Boss can do to keep it together and on track just from the momentum and power involved.  Last night though went a long way to building my own confidence in the sequences, and hopefully that will continue the more we work through it.

At the end of the lesson, we did some work on the oversway as Boss wanted to do some work on picture lines and he told me to expect more work on that tonight.  It’s certainly a different focus and interesting to work on.

For myself, this afternoon is going to be some self-practice on Paso Doble.  I am not entirely sure why but I really have a bit of a block on this routine lately.  I want to do it at about half speed, so trying to do it at full speed is not working.  I can’t seem to bridge the gap between the two speeds, but I am hoping to find some music to help.  One of the biggest issues I am having right now is that my mind knows the steps, but my feet do not.  It’s a bit strange as usually I have the opposite problem–my feet know the steps, but my mind thinks too much to get it together.  I did ask Boss if we could try it at speed last night together and it was a disaster.  We didn’t even get to the first highlight before I was so far behind and confused it fell apart.  OY.  The surprising thing that did work was the section where I have 3 spins in a row.  THAT I could do on time, but simple forward and back steps I couldn’t.  At least that tells me if I can get my mind and feet working together it should be possible and work.  Just.need.lots.of.repetition.

Hopefully today will be the day for a Paso breakthrough!

Dance Day

If you’re on vacation, why not dance?

It was a busy but really productive day today in my dance world.

First, I had my styling detail session with Boss, or at least the first session.  We worked through rumba, paso and samba, which are probably the easiest routines for us to work on for styling as a lot of it was either already worked out some, or has a lot of time in hold (paso and samba).  It was really productive though to go through each routine in detail and figure out things like where we connect, where I need to make sure my hands are so we can connect (hard to do an underarm turn if my hand is down!), and to try a little bit of some new things (skirt work!).

Going through the styling details like that also helped cement the routines together and provide some symmetry where we were missing some before.  I finally worked out my shimmy part in samba–I just have to keep my confidence through it!

Later in the day I had a dress fitting for my smooth dress, and it is really coming along well!  It was also Boss’s first time seeing the smooth dress, and he seemed to be pleasantly surprised to like it.  We only had a few details to adjust and sort out, but it is well on it’s way to coming together.  I also got to see all the stones for it, and I got to see some of the stoning progress on my latin dress (which looks So amazing now!).  I am really excited for how all of the dresses are coming together.

In the evening I had a regular lesson, although not at the usual hall due to the holidays.  We spent the lesson working through the waltz routine in little details, fixing the places where I just didn’t seem to keep it together.  We spent the most time on the fallaway and slip pivot to the contra check, and it finally clicked together for me how all those pieces work together and how the contra check is supposed to work.  Because the hall was smaller we were limited to doing small segments at a time, but that worked really well.

It was nice to spend some time on standard today, it’s been a little while as we have been working getting the smooth and latin routines together.  Boss told me today we are making a little bit of a change from what we usually do.  Instead of using the legs to travel, he has me focusing more on using the legs for swing, sway and rotation.  It’s a small change, but I like it a lot.  I feel a little more controlled in moving, and finally I can feel standard starting to take shape beyond just the steps.

We did discover a bit of an anomaly in how I get into position.  I have a habit of stepping too far forward, which puts me too close, but I also tend to lead with my left side forward, which also puts me too far to the left side.  It took a little bit of adjustment and trial and error, but I realized I was doing that because with the loss of sensation through my chest, lower belly and upper thighs, I started using my left hip as my ‘grounding point’ to figure out when I was in position.  Unfortunately, this tends to wrap me too much around Boss’s side, so we were working on finding new ways and a new grounding point and a visual clue to help me out.  What seems to work for now is to make sure I come straight towards Boss, aiming to put the edge of my right side in his centre, and to only take two steps forward (left foot, right foot) and let Boss close the gap if needed from there.  It’s a small change of habit that I am sure I am going to have lots of practice with over the next few lessons.

Boss said today that the intent is to keep working through the standard routines over the lessons this week and I am looking forward to digging into the rest of them some more (waltz is the easiest dance for me to pick up, so the rest should be challenging).

One of the biggest advantages to how I have been feeling lately is that my mind is sharp and focused again and that really showed today.  I can feel all of the information from today processing in my brain and I can tell it’s going to stick.  I have also had more energy lately which is also helping a lot and I am really feeling a lot like my old self.

As I continue to feel better, it amazes me the details that are coming back.  Things that I used to do automatically (like travel, press into the floor, stretch through my whole body) are suddenly coming back–and I didn’t even realize I had stopped doing them.  I just feel so much stronger overall and more connected with myself than I have been in a very long time–and not only in dance.  It’s such a relief.

Even my lessons have been a bit more intense requiring a lot more effort lately and I have been a bit proud of myself for being able to step up.  It seems like it has been a long time since I have had lessons that have been a lot of ‘go go go’ and I am really enjoying that.  I hope that my endurance is also improving.  For the first time in a long time, I feel like I am really preparing for a competition–not just going through the motions.

It’s back to work tomorrow, at least partly, and I have lessons every night the rest of this week, and will have another styling session on Friday.

I keep saying it over and over–but it’s really true now.

I’m Back.

Smooth Viennese

That was the focus of tonight’s lesson.

We got it to a really good point today where we were able to run through it a couple times without any major issues.  We haven’t tried it with the music yet, but I don’t think we are far off from it.

I like smooth Viennese Waltz.  There is just something about it that appeals to me–perhaps it is just the flow of movements at high speed. Perhaps it is this routine too–the choreography has some really neat and unexpected elements that borrow from another dance–and not one you would expect.  No spoilers though 🙂

We also fixed a passage in the tango that needed a little bit of adjusting so it is not quite so rushed and flows a little smoother.  Slowly things are coming together.

I spent an hour at the gym today working through the Paso like I needed to do.  It was good that I did it as I discovered a couple places where no matter how hard I tried, I am just not able to do the choreography in time with the music–not even close.  I mentioned one of the places to Boss and he was able to make a small fix which helps a lot (so I don’t feel like I am chasing after the music), but I haven’t had a chance to mention the other place yet.  I will have to put that into an email for him so I don’t forget.

I was also working through some of my rumba styling and steps in the squash court (the gyms were being used and they are usually an isolated place with a wood floor), and one of the other dancers who also works in the same place I do (and uses the same gym) popped in to ask me if I was practicing rumba (yay–she could tell!!), and was wondering what I was preparing it for.  It’s really funny how small the world is some times.

The other thing I have been working on myself is one section in samba.  The styling for this section is absolutely killing me.  Nothing a do feels ‘right’.  It all seems too contrived or forced.  I think one of the biggest problems though is that I am not comfortable with the steps–not the mechanics of doing them, but just being comfortable in my own skin doing them.  It’s 12 beats of shaking and shimmying on my own and I am trying to get comfortable and confident about it, but I am just not there yet. I just have to keep doing it over and over until I am comfortable–but the problem is I feel self-conscious about it when there is an audience.

My latest ‘mini-project’ is spins.  I am working on just doing them as much as possible to a) build up my dizzy tolerance and b) build up my confidence and strength in them.  Basically, whenever I go into my kitchen I make myself do 10 spins each way.  That’s enough at a time for now, although I am thinking of switching to 20 on one foot per time to push my tolerance more.  I used to be a lot stronger at them and I really want to be again.  Especially in paso I need to get my spins faster and stronger for the choreography to work. Consistency. That is the name of the game right now.

One more lesson this week tomorrow.  I don’t know what Boss has planned, but I hope it will be a review of everything–especially smooth.  It would be good to run through all the routines with the music.

I started my new medication today and so far so good.  We will see what tomorrow brings.  My hormone levels are definitely going down as I am feeling much more calm and clear headed lately and much less emotional.  Thank goodness.

1 month to the competition and all 13 routines seem to be in a good place and coming together.  Next week should also bring an update on my dresses and I am really looking forward to that!  I wasn’t able to do a fitting this week because my dressmaker was sick, but I hope she is feeling a lot better!

It really amazes me the difference in how I feel this week from last.  I am capitalizing on those good feelings as much as I can!

Sinking it in

At this point, a lot of the routines need repetition, repetition, repetition!

We worked on some more details today, first in samba then rumba and ending with a little bit of paso.  I was told we will review smooth tomorrow and go through the smooth Viennese Waltz.

I made a proposal to Boss today which he accepted as a good idea and that was to suggest we take some time, separate from lessons to work through the styling and only the styling for the smooth and latin routines.  The point is to sync our styling together, get rid of any strange things that don’t make sense and make sure that the routines have a strong sense of performance. I want to do it in a focused block for the focus and to ensure nothing gets put aside.  I also don’t really want to put any time limit on it–we do it until we finish.

The biggest problem right now is actually to find time when both of us are available to do it, but the hope is that we will be able to do it over the Christmas break.

The work today in samba was just to clean and work through one small part that just didn’t work well at the last competition.  We got the idea sorted, I just have to work a little bit on the timing for my part.

The work in rumba was focused on establishing and using our connection to execute the steps.  This gives the step a little more ‘snap’ and ‘power’ and contributes the flow of the routine as it works with the hip action.  It also allowed us to clarify the timing in a couple parts and cement the steps in the parts that are newer.  I am very eager to put this routine on the floor.

We didn’t have a lot of time to work in Paso today and I was starting to feel a bit sick near the end of my lesson.  We clarified and fixed a little bit of the timing and choreography so I can start to work through the routine on my own.  I don’t know why, but I find Paso really hard to learn and work on by myself.  It’s the equivalent to the foxtrot in standard–my mind just never seems to want to completely put it together.  Perhaps it is because it is such a strong partnered dance and the frame and strength of the couple is so pivotal to it.

On the health front, I did have my hormone surge yesterday and it was a really rocky and emotional day.  On top of that, I had a terrible time getting to sleep even with medication as my mind was just spinning in twenty different directions.

I also found out yesterday that my medical coverage will not cover the medication that was prescribed by the endocrinologist unless I try another medication first and return to see a dietician.  I am not looking forward to trying the alternate medication as it is known for having terrible gastric side effects, but if I don’t it is like I am condemning myself to being overweight.  I did achieve a small win in that I was allowed to choose the dietician I see and I chose one who specializes in sports nutrition and is a former pro ballet dancer.  I had a brief conversation with her today and already I can tell she will be different from the dieticians I had seen previously.  I will see her early in the new year and I am looking forward to it.

I will start the new medication tomorrow and I really hope it a) works and does what it is supposed to, and b) doesn’t give too bad side effects.

I am looking forward to working through smooth tomorrow.  We have some feedback from the pro who choreographed the routines to incorporate and that should be interesting.

I am already starting to feel better today after the hormone surge of yesterday and I am taking that as a good sign.  I started having some hot flashes in my lessons which made me feel a little nauseous near the end, but my mind is clearing and I am more calm and less agitated.

Fingers crossed everything will continue to improve!

Cleaning

We seemed to have moved into that phase of competition prep.

I like this phase.  It digs into the details and starts cementing things in place.

We started with Samba today because we had to fix the end of the routine so it worked better when looped.  It was small changes, but I like them a lot better than the previous versions.  Mostly it changed the alignment of some of the steps so I am facing out to the audience instead of down line of dance.  I have to work the steps into my feet a little bit, but shouldn’t take too long.

After samba we moved to rumba.  Last week, Boss asked me to figure out a beginning for our routine.  He gave some examples but none of them really resonated with me.  On Saturday, I took some time to play around with some steps and rumba music and figured out a short sequence of about 4 bars that worked. Then I recorded it and sent it to Boss for consideration.  He liked it and today we started by adding steps for him to what I am doing and connecting the two parts together. My first ‘grown up’ rumba beginning–YAY!

Our rumba routine needed some adjusting and lengthening so we worked on sorting and cleaning that.  I am really liking our rumba routine right now.  It still needs some cleaning but once it is together it should look really great on the floor.  There is great flow and connection to it.  I just have to work out a few more styling details for myself, but it gives me some focus for this week.

After rumba we worked on running the new paso routine.  Oh boy. This is taking it’s toll on me.  The new routine is good and I like it, but there are a lot of fast moving parts that I just can’t seem to get into my feet yet.  My head is always about a bar behind it seems and when we do it to speed the first thought that pops in my head is ‘Was paso always this fast???’ Lots of work for me to do on this one, and we won’t be able to work through it further until I get it memorized.

Which brings me to my self-imposed homework for tonight.  I have to write out from memory with the timing my cha cha, rumba, paso, and jive routines (Samba hasn’t changed since the last comp because it was changed dramatically before it and I already wrote it out). I don’t know about you, but the best way for me to memorize a routine is to write it out this way.  I can’t memorize it from watching videos (or even learn it that way), and I can’t memorize from doing it over and over (at least not extended routines).  But once I write it out, I can then visualize it in my head which then transfers to my feet and it all makes sense somehow.  It’s a weird quirk with me–but at least it is one I am aware of!  It doesn’t work for just dance, but almost anything I need to memorize.

On that note, I better get started on writing out my routines!

Turning Point

At least I hope so.

At the risk of jinxing myself, I want to say that in comparison with how I have been feeling the last few months I feel fan-freakin’-tastic.

My head is clear, I have energy, some of my confidence is back and I feel motivated again.  I also slept 8-hours straight 2 nights in a row without waking up.  I can’t even remember the last time that happened.

I really felt it today during competitive rounds practice.  It was a hard practice, but it was hard for all the right reasons.  Boss wouldn’t let me skip dances or stop–even if all I was doing was keeping my legs moving (which happened a bit in Viennese Waltz and Quickstep).  The best thing was that when I wanted to push my limits–my body listened.  It wasn’t happy about it, but it kept going.

For the first time in a long time, I didn’t feel absolutely exhausted at the end of practice, even though I did more than I have done in quite some time.  I even worked some on my spins this evening as regaining my confidence in my spins is one of my short-term goals.

I bought a ‘Turnboard’ this weekend.  I am not sure if you know what that is (you can google it though), but it’s basically a piece of plastic you can stand on and spin.  It helps you keep your balance but it also makes spinning easier due to less friction.

I got it yesterday and already I have discovered a rather significant fact about my body.  When I stand on my right foot and turn right things are pretty good.  I am balanced, I have some speed and I could easily do more than one rotation.  But when I switch legs and turn left it’s like night and day.  I can barely get more than 3/4s of a rotation, my balance is terrible and I am slow.  It’s a huge and unexpected difference, but it certainly tells me what I need to work on more.

I think that has to do with a couple different factors.  My right side is weaker in general from the surgeries and that is my ‘cancer’ side.  But my left side is also bigger–bigger in the chest, and bigger over the hips (enough you can see the difference).  It makes sense that having more on one side would affect my centre of balance.  ‘Centre’ is a bit of a loose term.  I have a feeling my centre is a little ‘off to the right’ to balance it all out.

With my motivation returning, I am starting to find myself understanding more and more how I want to restart in the New Year.  I really want to get back to basics, but also to work on rebuilding my conditioning.  Certainly by the end of practice today I was motivated to not have to work so hard to get through a practice–to work on making it easier on my body.  I just hope my body keeps cooperating and that my energy and motivation remains strong.

I hope this truly is the turning point it appears to be.  I am tired of having to fight so hard to do the things I want to do and until today I really didn’t realize how exhausting it was.

Time will tell, and all I can do is keep taking things one day at a time.

Change of Direction

Unfortunately not in dancing.

Yesterday I saw the endocrinologist. I hope you never had to experience a doctor telling you that she can’t help you, as that is what happened to me yesterday.  She had a look at all my bloodwork, my history, etc. and told me that other than prescribing a medication for weight loss (which may not be covered by my medical plan), there is nothing she could do for the PMDD, high estrogen levels and low progesterone levels that would not put me at high risk for cancer recurrence.

Needless to say, I left her office feeling pretty defeated and like I would be spending 2 weeks of every month for the next 20 or so years being non-functional, depressed, and sick.  On top of that, after almost 2 years of absence, my period returned signalling a clear sign that I am no longer in ‘chemopause’.

The one thing she did tell me was to go speak with my oncologist, which was the next stop I made.  I haven’t seen him in almost 6 months but I was able to sit down with him and explain everything that was going on.  He was concerned about my estrogen levels being so high, especially while taking hormone therapy as that in itself is a risk for recurrence.

I asked him about returning to taking the progesterone supplements I was taking before diagnosis to balance out the high estrogen levels and he said it would be risky.  Then he suggested something that is a rather newly approved treatment for preventing breast cancer that also coincidentally dramatically lowers estrogen levels–ovarian suppression.

Basically, I am injected with a small ‘pellet’ of medication that shuts off my ovaries and puts me into chemical menopause.  It has the same side effects as menopause (hot flashes, body aches, fatigue, increase risk of osteoporosis), which I experienced over the past 2 years already.  There is an option of an injection 1/month or once every 3 months.  The issue is that once I have been injected, I have to live with the side effects until it wears off.

I did some research on the medication (called zoladex) and discovered it has been used to temporarily treat women with PMDD to see if an oopherectomy would solve their problems.  Many of them reported that despite the menopause side effects, the ovarian suppression dramatically changed their lives–for the better.

Everything about it made sense and I am not willing to live only half my life, so I have decided to go for the ‘hail mary’ and try the injection for one month.  I have to increase my calcium supplements, but other than that, my fingers are crossed.  I was injected this morning.  One unexpected bonus is that the pellet is injected into my belly–where I still have no sensation so I couldn’t feel the injection at all.

I was told to expect an estrogen surge over the next couple days which will make me emotional and achy, but that it will subside.  The surge somehow leads the brain to tell the ovaries to shut down.

So far today, I feel good.  I had a couple hot flashes, but not very intense ones and a few moments of feeling light-headed.  One thing I will say is that around 2 pm I felt almost like a wave of calmness come over me and suddenly I did feel better than I have in over a month.  I have had a few more dizzy and light-headed moments since then, but the calmness seems to be staying–and I hope it lasts.

I can honestly say that there were moments today when I felt more like myself than I have in a very long time.  It seems strange to want to be in menopause, but one thing I can say is that even during chemo and after while the hot flashes were at times very difficult to deal with, overall I felt stable and even.  I hope that this medication will have the same effect on me.

Being in menopause will make my weight likely difficult to manage, but it is hard to say.  I lost my most weight while taking progesterone supplements to balance out the estrogen in my system and that is apparently unusual.  If my medical plan does cover the weight loss medication the endocrinologist prescribed I will try it for 3 months to see if it makes a difference. My family doctor is optimistic they will cover it.  Fingers crossed.

If all goes well, I will be injected again in early January (every 28 days for now), just before the competition I am preparing for.  I am hopeful everything will go well and this won’t interfere too much with the competition or my preparations for it.

I am more than ready to feel better. Even my oncologist told me I was due for something to work out for me, and perhaps the ovarian suppression plus the weight loss medication will be a ‘double whammy’ for me that will allow me to get back to being fully myself.

I feel good about the decision to do ovarian suppression, even though it was a hard one.  Looking to the future, if the suppression is effective I will give serious consideration to having my ovaries removed for a more permanent solution.  It is not ideal, but it would free me from the injections and the PMDD, and while it would cause surgical menopause my body would adjust to it just as it would to natural menopause.

The other thing that happened today was that I was referred back to acupuncture to help with the side effects I will feel, especially the joint and bone pain.  It was really effective for me during chemo and radiation and I am hopeful it will help with how I feel overall.

It’s been a crazy week and it certainly has gone in a different direction than what I expected.  There has been dance this week, I have a new paso routine and some modifications to my rumba routine.  One more lesson tomorrow and rounds practice on Sunday.  I will try to write more about dance and my competition prep soon.

Fingers crossed this is truly the beginning of the end of this long journey.  The past couple weeks have been reflective for me so I will write a bit about that.  I do feel like I am coming out of a shell and resetting and I have some very definite ideas for moving forward after my next competition.

Until next time–wish me luck that this ‘hail mary’ will work….with few side effects.

One year Cancer-Free

That was my milestone for yesterday.

It’s been a really crazy year, but it’s done.  It’s uphill from here.  I was told it takes up to 2 years to fully recover from my treatments, so I guess I am officially halfway there.

No, I didn’t get everything done I had hoped to in the last year, but as life kept putting more and more obstacles in my way, I just kept adjusting.  The road to your goals is never a straight line, but full of unexpected twists and turns.

Yesterday turned out to be an unexpectedly busy day.  I received news that once all the paperwork comes through I will be returning to my previous position managing the public relations for the local base and will be working for my old Boss again–at least temporarily until he gets sent to a new position later this year.

I don’t know when the paperwork will come through yet, but ‘any day now’ seems to be the main line I get when I ask what to expect.  I have mixed feelings about returning to a position I have previously done, but I am doing so based on a request specifically for me, and it keeps me in the same location.  It is a job I really enjoyed and I will be overseeing some major transitions in staffing and infrastructure that will certainly keep me busy.

It will be a good place for me to finish healing, and does represent the faith that the senior leadership has in my abilities and that is not something to be taken lightly.

One of the other things I was able to do yesterday was run through and record 3 of the open smooth routines with Boss!  We are sending the videos to the pro who originally choreographed the routines for some general feedback and to see if there are spots she thinks should be adjusted.  It’s great to have gotten the routines to that point where we can run them without stopping even though they are still pretty rough.

My plan for later tonight is to go through the videos and make some notes for myself on styling.  I am glad to actually have reached a point where I find myself thinking about styling more than the steps.

We are going to run the routines tomorrow during the competitive practice to give us an idea of the alignments and spacing in a bigger hall.  I am looking forward to that as I think it’s going to be very interesting.

The other decision I have made recently is to work with a friend of mine on styling in general for smooth and latin. She is a hip hop teacher as well as a coach at a local dance studio that specializes in empowering women through dance (in styles like jazz, modern, burlesque, chair, etc.).  I think the work will be good to help with my confidence.  One of the themes I see a lot in my dancing lately, and especially in my styling is ‘small’. So I need to work on developing (or redeveloping) my confidence to ‘go big or go home’, something my dancing needs a lot of.

I don’t want to jinx myself, but I seem to be turning the corner on the hormones.  I haven’t had a headache for 2 days or been nauseous.  My head cleared yesterday, I feel more calm, more energetic and I am sleeping better.  4 more days till I see the specialist.

My first year cancer-free has been a challenge, but I expected it to be (although perhaps not quite such a big one!).

I want to take a moment though to acknowledge that there is no way I would have been able to get through the past year so strongly without the incredible support I have from friends and family.  There are too many to name and I especially wouldn’t want to leave any out, but I hope they all know who they are and how much there support has made a difference for me.

I am looking forward to what I hope will be an easier 2nd year cancer-free.