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.

14409535_10210211614351880_5463972444536228885_o

___________________

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:

life-is-unpredictable-it-changes-with-the-seasons

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….

 

img_7158img_7166img_7071img_1604img_1625img_1642img_6573img_6615img_6692

Many of you read a while back that I took up the game of golf. You might be thinking why in the world would you do that? Trust me I sometimes ask myself that too. But my only answer is

It is something I have always said I wanted to do.

It was an idea… planted in my heart, that was a gift after cancer… What happens if there is no time to do the things I want? What if this is it? So I quickly began to imagine all the things I have always wanted to do. Some may call this a bucket list but I wanted to look at more simply. What things in my every day have I always wanted to do? This is where my brain began to compile things……

The first on my list was to learn to play golf. So guess what I did ? I signed up for golf lessons. I smile each time I step on the tee box… then of course focus. I accomplished something I had always wanted to do. I wanted to play golf with my dad and  over Fourth of July I got to do that. Since I started in May, I have played nearly once a week and continue to see improvement. I bought new golf shoes and remember my very first Par. As many of you golfers may know it is one of the most challenging of games, but somehow it keeps me coming back for more. Here is to a lot more fairways hit straight and perfect puts. Oh and I am now on the committee for the 2017 Indian Tree Golf Club Rally for the Cure. (golf and raising money for breast cancer patients). Count me in!

The next thing on my list was to get in my community more. I was unsure how this would play out but it was to simply be open to more opportunities to pour into the community in which I live. Whether that be by being a good neighbor, serving at the Denver Rescue Mission or opening my eyes to see others in need. I must say this has been the most rewarding of all. I look forward to more ways this becomes a reality in my every day.

“Just keep swimming, just keep swimming”…. Those are the words I repeat in my head each time I get in the pool. I have always wanted to be on a “Masters Team”. Masters team, simply means adult swim team. I have wanted this so much that a few years ago I researched all the teams in Denver, attended practice of one and felt intimidated.  Flash forward to a few weeks ago when a friend from the gym urged me to come to the masters practice. She and her husband promised that I would have a good time and despite my pride feeling crushed because I would be slow… that I needed to start somewhere. So I showed up. I have now officially joined the swim team and learned to swallow that pride. I even have a new friend (she is 63 years old) that I try and keep up with. Trust me she is good. In due time I tell myself in due time.

The last thing I will mention was my desire to get into a women’s bible study. The hardest, scariest of all of the above. It demands me to be vulnerable. It requires commitment and it could mean a lot of truth telling. Well I guess I got what I bargained for and some more. This summer I completed my first full bible study (meaning book cover to cover) ever. Trust me I have been in my fair share of bible studies, but always seemed to find an excuse, not enough time for homework and simply half assed it (whoops talking about bible study). I am a work in progress but aren’t we all.

I share all of these things only to ask you one question….

What have you always wanted to do? 

Learn to cook, get up early, call that friend, see that movie, bake that pie, invite them over, learn that sport…. oh the possibilities but seriously….

What have you always wanted to do?

 

 

This post is a catch up on my busy summer of breast cancer events. As some of you may have seen I have the privilege of being selected as one of the 100 Ford Motor Company Models of Courage for this year. While I was unsure what this would entail and what this would mean, I have been quickly thrust into the world of Breast Cancer Survivorship as a result.

Shortly following our opening retreat,  one other Model of Courage, Jenny, and I were asked by Ford Motor Company to accompany them on a PR trip to New York City. As you can imagine I was thrilled and honored. In a three day trip, we met with six different Magazine Publications; Women’s Day, Parents, Good Housekeeping, Health, Marie Claire and Glamour. Crazy? Right?

The meetings were all very similar….. we met for about an hour, had the opportunity to share about the Ford Warriors in Pink Program and my story. Depending on the magazines target audience we would highlight different portions of our breast cancer journey that were relevant. The point of this you might wonder, is to get the Ford Warrior in Pink Program featured either online or in magazine print. All of the meetings took place in different parts of Manhattan at the specific magazine headquarters. My personal favorite was Marie Claire. Not only did we meet with one of the editors but she let me view the famous “Wardrobe Closet”. Think Devil Wears Prada…. a room full of Fall and Winters latest designs, shoes, purses etc. It was just like the movie and a dream!

The entire trip was exhuasting and good in so many ways. I have been contacted by two of the publications for more details  about my breast cancer experience so they can write their stories. Health Magazine completed their article and you can view it here. Last Friday, I was interviewed by an editor at Glamour for an article that they intend to run in Octobers issue of the Magazine. As soon as it is published I will share! The hope is that the additional publications will be writing or doing something … we will just have to wait and see.

Just last week I was honored to join Living Beyond Breast Cancer for Breast Cancer 360: Love, Sex and Relationships Body Acceptance after Diagnosis. Although I was a little nervous I sat alongside other survivors and physicians to share how we have learned to embrace, accept and at times hate our bodies post cancer. The discussion also shared about how to discuss your cancer while dating and some very honest side affects that affect intimacy. You can view the full panel discussion here!  This is the most open and honest I have been in public, not only about dating and intimacy but about my eating disorder past. I am so grateful for the Eating Disorder Center of Denver, that almost three years I came forward to my family and asked for help and my physician. If anyone you know or you are struggling I am more than happy to share with you how I have found freedom and that I believe you can too.

All of these experiences gave me the tremendous honor of sharing and being amongst other survivors which I found very encouraging.

Below are some photos I took in NYC and from last week! Hope you enjoy!

IMG_0088-1
IMG_0087IMG_0081IMG_0079-1IMG_0101IMG_0102

Photos below are from the Living Beyond Breast Cancer event and the gathering afterwards!

IMG_5930IMG_5023IMG_5024