Monthly Archives: September 2016

This past weekend I had the honor of wearing a survivor shirt and walking in the Denver Race for the Cure with my mom and friends. While my mom and I stood in the survivor tent area waiting to meet our group….. I saw her. She was not very far away from me, a little older than I, but she had a fuzzy bald head (like a peach). She was probably a month or so out of treatment. I wasn’t sure, but when I looked at her my heart sunk. She had a stroller of little ones and a man at her side that I assume was her husband. But I just looked at her. While I stared, she carried a smile on her face, held her baby, and continued on as though everything was normal. I thought to myself how difficult it must be, how heartbreaking it must be for her with kids and a husband.

As I stared at her, I began to realize that this must be how others felt when they looked at me. A bit of sympathy, then heartbreak, then gratitude for the life they have. Because that is how she made me feel. Sadness? Sure. Heartbreak? Absolutely. Immense gratitude? It was overwhelming.

Thank you survivor stranger for helping me feel a small bit of how others felt when I was sick.

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If you are like me you have probably never thought about when you would die. To be honest for a long time, I hadn’t either …. that was until I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I remember shortly after I learned that I had breast cancer I began to think to myself “This makes sense why I would get sick now. I have traveled the world, I graduated college, lived on my own, lived in Europe, I have experienced the love of a third world country, I have seen some of the worlds most famous sporting events, I have skied some of the most beautiful mountains, I don’t have children to leave behind, it was just me…. It made sense. It was going to be ok. I had a FULL life so it was time. It only made sense that I would die at 27.”

Repeating this to a friend just yesterday I realize how crazy that sounds. But what I realize now is that in saying that to myself, I was justifying my cancer to make it easier to understand. I wanted anything to make sense as to why I was diagnosed when I was. By reflecting on all that my life had been up to that point, made it easier to embrace my cancer and more improtantly prepare for death.

As the story goes my cancer was caught early and I am still here. For whatever reason death was not the end of my cancer story and for that I am grateful. I have also began to embrace the fact that while my cancer took so much, it gave even more. For the woman who was bald that I saw from afar at the race, I am proud to be a survivor sister who was once bald too. I am even more proud to be alive, with a full head of hair today.  My hope in remembering my second cancerversary tomorrow is to be grateful for the season that was having cancer, and especially for the new season without it.

I found this quote and thought it seemed appropriate so I shared it on my Instagram:

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Life is indeed unpredictable like breast cancer, losing your breasts, fertility treatments, years of abusing my body with an unhealthy relationship with food. But it is also full of new leaves, new hope, more tommorows, lots of tears brought on by joy, little nephews, adventures, friendship and gratitude. I can’t believe it will be two years tomorrow since I was diagnosed. #hope #breastcancer#survivor

Thanks for journeying with me the past two years. Here is to many more years of SURVIVORSHIP!

 

As many of you know my interview about online dating and breast cancer took place with Glamour Magazine and was published in the October issue released this month. I really appreciate all of you who have gone out of your way to purchase and read the article.

In preparation for an interview that is scheduled tomorrow, I spent some time reflecting on my entire story. The most logical thing to do first was to look back at pictures. Makes sense right?

But a strange thing occurred to me as I looked at the photos of my cancer journey…

The photos only tell half the story…

  • They don’t capture the night I was up all night sweating and dealing with insomnia.
  • Or the night I realized it was snowing outside and I stood outside until the night sweats disappeared.
  • They don’t show the evening I ran to my room while my roommates hosted a dinner party and I crawled down on the floor and cried over how much it all hurt.
  • They don’t show you when my parents and I parked the car in an empty parking lot because we had no idea what to do after we had just heard the most devastating of news.
  • They don’t show my head laying on my desk in my cubicle at work as I cried myself through the work day hoping nobody would hear.
  • They don’t show when I laughed at my friends as they painted my nails for me while I was drugged on medicine.
  • Or when I showered for the first time after surgery. Closing my eyes under the water as my drains were held up by a necklace around my neck.
  • There are no photos of the shots I got after each round of chemo, or the visits to the cancer center where I was sat reflecting by myself.
  • Or when my company surprised me during our staff meeting with several thousand dollars and I cried (big tears) in gratitude
  • They have never shown the change in my heart either….
  • Photos don’t capture the devastation on my face as I learned that I only retrieved four eggs when I went to harvest my eggs.
  • They don’t show the countless remedies I tried to minimize my scars (Nerium, oil, scar tape etc.)
  • The bottles of wine I drank in hopes I would feel something different.
  • The time I stood at my grandmother’s funeral bald and all donations were given in my name to Komen.
  • Or the time I took a spin class bald as a cancer patient could be determined to prove my own body wrong.
  • Or the times I cried myself to sleep.
  • Or the hundreds of people that walked through my front door on any given day to bring food, take me on a walk, bring me flowers or simply say hello.

I am not saying this becuase I wish I had photos of these moments becauase honestly they would probably be hard to look at…. The only thing I wish for is to tell the whole story. Grief, devastation and heartbreak are very real emotions that should be granted the same permission as those moments that recieve the limelight and the photos. Let’s be honest some of my most tender moments in my life are the ones that have been full of tears.

May all the moments even those not captured in photos be the most precious of memories that mold you more in the person you are to become. I so believe this to be true.

Below are some photos that I never shared….

 

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