It has been a while since my last blog post and there is so much to discuss. From particularly sick summers to new job adventures, I am once again fully immersed in Lung Cancer.
One of the last posts I worked on I discussed taking a break. I was exhausted, and to be quite honest very sad. Some of my close survivors friends unfortunately passed before their time and it took its toll on me. I needed to wrap my head around what was happening, and that if I continued being an advocate this was one of the side effects. Its easier said than done, but I’m ready to jump back in feet first.
To add to the weight of losing some friends, I also had some health problems of my own. For the first time in 4 years the New York City summer really tried to take me down. Multiple weeks of humidity in the 98-100% with heat index reaching 103 degree was enough for me to barely make it my 30 minute commute each way. Thankfully these weather difficulties passed as the seasons changed, but I ran into a new wave of health problems. I was diagnosed with Vasovagal Syncope after a few fainting spells thats scared the pants of all my friends and family. Turns out my low blood pressure is not always the sign of extra good health and my body was having a tough time regulating. Thankfully I have an amazing set of doctors who put me on the path to healing, but the mental side effects from these few weeks were scarring. I had to take a few days out of work to run around to all of my doctors appointments and tests, each time feeling major PTSD from my past. For the first time in four years my nerves were taking over. I was second guessing how I felt each morning when I woke up. If that was back pain, or my brain was playing tricks on me. I’d lie awake at night just trying to convince myself that if I didn’t sleep I would make myself more sick, which would start a lovely vicious cycle of fear of being sick, and fear of making myself more sick. The walk from the 6 train over to NYU Langone Hospital made my heart drop to the pit of my stomach. The thought of my usual routine of a bagel and bacon after my tests make me so nauseous I actually succumbed to the stress and hurled all over 1st Avenue and 31st street. That wasn’t my proudest moment. I felt like I was in an alternative universe and my stress and anxiety consumed me. This was a first for me. I have always had stressful moments, but I had always been able to handle them. This was the first time that I truly, really was not. I leaned on my boyfriend, family and friends for support, and without that I don’t know what would have happened. The unbelievable relief of receiving clean scans, clean blood work, a semi clean Echocardiogram (they can’t get a good reading because Betsy, my lung, is in the way), and clean EKGs made me sob uncontrollably for about 3 days. I was so thankful to the universe, and vowed to TRY to not let my stress control me the next time I need to have a little more attention from my doctors than usual.
The outcome of this rocky summer has been incredibly positive. For years I have spoken at walks, conferences, galas, and done news and radio interviews about my story and Lung Cancer advocacy, and I have decided to start to make this my full time work. If you get a moment please take a look at my new website www.amandakouri.com , and please consider using me for any functions you may need a speaker for.
I has been a strange few months, but just like everything else in my life the silver lining has lasted longer than the clouds. I will continue to work each day to see a world where no one dies of Lung Cancer. And I will work each day to make sure I stay as happy and healthy as possible. I lead a one-derful (get it, get it?!) life, and I hope to encourage others to do the same.