Saturday, May 26, 2012


I know several of my recent posts have reflected on where I was a year ago. The comparison between this year and last year is striking. Last may I focused on preparing for a double mastectomy. Today, I participated in the spring lake 5 mile race. A year ago, I never would have found this possible. Today, it was more than possible, it was a reality. 5 miles was no joke! Especially on a morning as hot and humid as today. But I kept thinking to myself that I was able to get through chemo, I could surely keep going. And I did. I reminded myself how blessed i was to physically be able to participate. My health and well being is no longer something I take for granted. With the support of my wonderful and patient sister in law Eileen, I pushed on and made it happen! I sobbed when I crossed the finish line. The thought of what I had been through in the past 12 months, and the knowledge of how far I have come overwhelmed me. Here's the morale of my story today: we Can all overcome adversity an hard times with determination. Sometimes in life all we can do is keep our head up and keep moving forward no matter how daunting the road ahead may seem. Today, I felt the meaning of start strong, finish stronger.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Life's little detours

It's so funny how when we are younger, we think we have life all figured out. At various points, we set a course and assume that we know where we are headed. But as we sail out, inevitably we will hit choppy waters or a bump in the road. And the plans we had get ditched and we need to find a new way. Often, these detours take us to completely unfamiliar roads, which can be just plain frightening, but perhaps all along these roads were part of our fate and we just didn't know it. I guess the point of living life is to see how the story unfolds. If it were all Preplanned, what would be the point of living it? The story would be predictable, safe and potentially boring. Sometimes these detours open doors and push us to reach potentials we didn't know existed within ourselves. I didn't know I had a writer trapped inside of me. I didn't know that I could be an advocate or a source of hoPe and comfort to cancer patients. I just didn't know that was part of me. Now, because of the detour my life has taken, I have found even more of myself that I didn't know existed. So sometimes change is a good thing. And sometimes opportunity finds it was to crash into us when we ignore it. It seems rude, but really sometimes it's all for the best.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sweet Caroline

This post is being brought to you from the gym so excuse any tyPos. while on the rowing machine his morning, sweet Caroline came on my iPhone. As most of you know this song has long held a special place of honor in my family reminding us of my grandma Carrie. It made me think of her and smile. Then it's my eyes got misty, I said a prayer to her to guide me. She had been diagnosed wih high blood pressure and I don't know anyone who was More diligent to taking responsibility for her own health. I still admire that and aspire to it. She walked several miles daily, went to church every day, and avoided sodium like the plague. Gid love he she lived a long full and beautiful life. Grandma, may i take mY responsibilities to my body and spirit as seriously as you did. Miss you and love you

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

God is good

I was blessed with wonderful news yesterday. the scans came back showing no signs of disease in my spine! the back pain has been caused by a couple of bulging discs in my spine... No big deal! I cannot tell you what a relief it was to have a run of the mill health issue rather than something cancer related. It's funny because while on the phone with the doctor's office, and everyone else, the question was what am I going to do about the disc issue. To be honest, I didn't even care. I am fine with the pain as long as it is not a sign of metastatic disease! Who cares... Nothing a little motrin and yoga can't fix...

I pray that God keeps me healthy. As always, I will work like it's up to me, but continue to pray like it is up to him.

I will continue to do whatever the guidelines ask of me. Take my tamoxifen daily, exercise more than 150 minutes per week (which is proving to be easier than I thought), continue to lose weight, keep my alcohol consumption down (although there is a bottle of verdi waiting in the fridge for Steve and I to celebrate). I also will continue my prayerful life.

Onward and Upward! At this moment, I know that my spine is healthy (bulging discs aside). Given that, the sky is the limit.

If you will be joining us on June 3rd at the walk, please do sign up. As this is the first time the CSC is hosting a walk, they are trying to estimate the turn out, and I hope we are light as of today. I am only showing 16 walkers on Angels (although I do know this number will be changing today because I am about to sign up some people who will be joining). I would love for you to share this day with me, but certainly understand that some folks have other commitments that day. No worries. I am hoping this is the first of an awesome annual event.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Prayers please

I have my first set of post treatment scans today. The doc ordered them because I have had some back pain. So today I have a bone scan and a cat scan of my lower back. Please pray that it is nothing cancer related. It's in God's hands at this point.

Friday, May 4, 2012

From where I once was...

I lived a good life prior to May 4th of last year. I was content, ordinary and was cruising along. Life was comfortable, happy. Then came a moment that threw me for a loop. We all know what that was. My world changed with the ringing of the phone, I was slammed violently into a reality that I wanted no part of. But we don't always get a choice. There was nothing I could do but walk the path laid out before me.  

On May 5th, I wrote my very first blog. Before that day, I had no inclination of writing anything. But the words came. They flowed through me like water over rocks in a stream, seemingly random yet rhythmic. They made sense in the given moment, and so I shared them. Words were a gift that came to me as part of the package deal of my illness. I am blessed to have shared my experience and my heart is warmed every time I hear from someone who has been touched by what I have written. As time went on, I found that this gift spread even to people I don't know, especially after my words were printed in Reader's Digest. I have gotten the most amazing response from people. It's so beautiful for me to witness.  

I can't say I am glad that I went through cancer, but I can say I am grateful for the experiences that I have had as a result of it. I have spent quality time with my family. I think it has also helped my family to grow stronger and closer. I feel we collectively have a new appreciation for life and one another. I can say with confidence that the good times are a little sweeter to me. My child's smile is even a little brighter. I have never felt more loved than I did since my diagnosis. It's a rare glimpse that people don't often get. Most people don't often get the opportunity to learn what they mean to others. I have been given that gift, and it's amazing.

It is impossible to go through cancer unaffected. For me, I choose to focus on the upsides.I weathered all of my treatment protocol. I worked through much of it. I have helped others, and I have been published in two magazines.  Today, I am stronger, a bit smarter, a little more appreciative of life and my health, still full of faith, and feeling even more blessed than I was a year ago.

So what will I do to honor this day? I will live my life because I can. I will go to work. I will participate in my company's chili cookoff. I will go walk the boards with my boys (pending any thunderstorms). I will do my best to reclaim my life. I do not know what lies ahead. I do not know if cancer will rear its ugly head again. But for one day, it will not matter. You all recall my first blog post, the one that ended up in Reader's Digest? I stated that one day I would be a cancer survivor. Well guess what? I am one, and I am damn proud!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A prayer request for a young girl battling leukemia...

My cousin Danielle goes to St Joe's in Philly. She reached out to me last night with a prayer request. I hope that I can help by sharing this with you. I am not sure that my blog has quite the following that it did at one time now that I am out of treatment, but I figure if I can get a couple of more people to offer up some prayers, that's always a good thing!

Here's the story: Casey Doolin is a senior at SJU and was diagnosed with Leukemia over spring break, so maybe two months ago, and it apparently was the most treatable kinds. She started treatment 4 days after the diagnosis. She did about a month of chemo and they tested her blood and it showed that there weren't cancer cells, then when they check again two weeks later, 50% of her blood contained the cancer cells. (I think that's the correct explanation...?) She is home now and they want to increase the intensity of the treatment but do fewer treatments, hoping to do better this time.

Her brother is in Danielle's class and was on her spring break Appalachia trip last year and is being tested to see if he is a match for a bone marrow transplant for her. They had a mass for her a month ago at SJU and had a Relay for Life team for her, its amazing the support the school has shown.

Think about it. Most people in their spring semester of their Senior year are thinking about where they will be working or going to grad school. This girl's life was interrupted by cancer! She isn't being robbed of what should be an exciting time in her life. Please pray that she does well with this treatment, and that her brother is a match so she can get a bone marrow transplant. Please keep her family in your prayers as this must be a heart wrenching time for them. Her parents should be preparing to celebrate her graduation, but yet, instead they have to watch her go through treatments. It must be simply heartbreaking.

Life is pretty crazy sometimes. and I pray that it gets better for Casey. Thanks for taking the time to read this and for keeping her close in your thoughts and prayers as she battles her way through leukemia.

The calm before the storm

A year ago today, I was blissfully unaware of the storm that was brewing. I went to work. I figured everything was normal. We went to the park after dinner and I watched Steven run around. Our world was unaffected, our life was happy, I was healthy, at least as far as I knew.

I was vaguely nervous about the mammogram the following day, but truth be told, the thought of actually having breast cancer never really crossed my mind. I was more concerned about having to get my first mammogram. I remember hearing jokes about how painful they were, and that to prep for them, you could lay on the garage floor and slam the garage door down on your boobs. Things like that. I expected I would go, get the test done, and go home. I couldn't fathom what was about to happen.

I guess you could call it the calm before the storm. I guess you could say it was the perfect case of "ignorance is bliss". I guess no one ever expects to be struck by lightning, but it happens. It's been just about a year and I haven't woken up yet, so I guess it is all real. I had often hoped it was just a bad dream. I often longed for the simplicity of the night before my appointment: to live without any major fear, to feel normal and calm. I miss those days.