Welcome to my world

I am a wife, a mom, a daughter, a sister and a friend.
I've learned that who you have in your life matters more than what you have.
Thank you for stepping in to my world!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Kicking cancer's ass - day 1271

Survivor's Guilt.

Survivor guilt is a mental condition that occurs when a person perceives themselves to have done wrong by surviving a traumatic event when others did not.

We all know the statistics.  One in eight women will get breast cancer in their lifetime.  My best friend, my best friend's mom, my sister-in-law, my mother-in-law, me..... that's more than one in eight for me.  Scary, huh?  My mother-in-law and my BFF's mom have both passed away.  My BFF, my sis-in-law, me?  We're all doing good.  Alive and well.  What's the difference?  How does fate decide who gets a pass?  

You're probably thinking age is a factor.  And maybe you're partly right.  Someone in their 60s or 70s is not going to be as strong or as healthy as someone half their age, so maybe their body can't fight cancer as well.  But you know what?  Cancer doesn't always discriminate.  Or only pick on the old, frail and weak.

For three years I've belonged to a support group for breast cancer survivors - Ciao Bellas.  My lovely friend D invited me when I was just starting my journey, and I'm forever grateful for the support I've received from these wonderful ladies.  My lovely Bellas were dealt a tough hand this week.  We lost not one but two of our friends.  Lorie was 42 years old.  Vanessa was only 32.  

I never got the chance to meet either of them in person, but I got to know them through other women who did.  Every Bella has been in the same trenches at one time or another.  Some are thriving years after diagnosis.  Some are just beginning their fight.  We all have the same goal - to live.  To know that not one but two young ladies, younger than me, were taken way too soon by the same disease I'm surviving is a big blow.  

I know people die from cancer every day.  It's why the words "you have cancer" are so terrifying.  It may not be the automatic death sentence it used to be, but it can be.  For Lorie, and for Vanessa, it was.  My heart aches for their families... for the people who loved these women.  Vanessa has an eight year old little girl.  Can you imagine?  I look at my daughter, just two years older than that, and my heart freezes in fear.  

I don't think I necessarily have survivor guilt.  It's not a contest.  We are all in it to win.  Nobody loses when someone wins the fight against cancer (except cancer!).  But I won't lie and say I don't ask "why her and not me" when something like this happens.  It could very easily be me.  I know many, many breast cancer survivors.  That is amazing.  And wonderful.  But the fact that there are people connected to me who did not survive is a crushing blow.  And it reignites the fear that is always lurking.

The best way I know to pay tribute to the amazing women who were taken too soon is to embrace my survivorship.  Cherish every day.  Count my blessings.  Take care of myself.  Appreciate life.  Know that each day is a gift. 

And pray for the ones who loved those we've lost.
To Lorie, and to Vanessa.....God bless you, Bellas.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Kicking cancer's ass - day 1265

For the past 17 years, this man has been my friend, my shoulder to cry on, my partner in crime, my rock, my love.

My Valentine.

Happy  Valentine's Day.  I love you forever.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Kicking cancer's ass - day 1264

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day - the day to celebrate love.

I have more reasons than most to celebrate.  Did you know when you Google "breast cancer and marriage", some of the first pages that come up are titled "First comes breast cancer, then comes divorce"?  That's sad. There are a lot of life-changing events that take a toll on marriage:  children, jobs, moving, death, and yes - cancer.

My greatest hope is that every woman facing this dark journey has an amazing support system.  That could be mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, children or friends.  For me, it was all of those (well, except the sister part), which makes me a lucky lady.  I'm even more lucky that I've been surrounded by, covered with and lifted up by the love of an amazing man.

There is nothing easy or fun about breast cancer.  Bottom line - a cancer diagnosis means you are in a fight for your life.  Even now, three and a half years later, I'm still fighting.  Even though treatments and surgeries are in my rearview mirror (and hopefully will stay there!), I'm still fighting through it.  Chemo, radiation, hormone therapy, more surgeries than you can count on one hand...it all takes a toll.   

The best medicine in the world, for me, is having a husband who doesn't bat an eye at any of it.  I know this hasn't been easy for him.  But through 1264 days of living with a breast cancer diagnosis, he has always made it all about me.  Even though his burden has been just as heavy, he has never once let me feel it.  He has shouldered all of my troubles as well as his own, without complaint, since d-day.

Fifteen and a half years ago, Hubby said those vows to me.  Back then I was young and healthy.  I was the one who teased him about getting older and having to take all kinds of medicine.  Little did we know that a bride ten years his junior would get breast cancer at age 40.  Suddenly HE was the healthy one having to take care of me.  My part of the medicine cabinet rivals his now.  We have an ongoing argument about which one of us is more exhausted, or who is in more pain.  It's a weird bonding thing I guess..... but you know what?  On this, the eve of our 17th Valentine's Day together, after everything we've been through as husband and wife, I'm blessed that we still have the bond that we do.

Having cancer changes a person.  I'm not the same as I was before August 1, 2013.  I hate that for me.  I'm older and wiser, but not so sweet or innocent.  My body is different... and scarred.  I've had to find a strength I didn't think I had.  I've had to find a way to live with fear.  I've had to find a way to love the new me.   Loving someone with cancer changes a person.   I'm not the same person Hubby fell in love with.  I hate that for him.  He didn't ask for this, he didn't sign on for this, and he doesn't deserve it.  But he has never once let on that he feels that way.  He continues to love me better than anyone - day by day, month by month, year by year.  

I am blessed.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Kicking cancer's ass - day 1256

Some random insomniac blogging tidbits....

I don't need a special day to talk about cancer.... I do that every day!  ha ha
But today, February 4, is World Cancer Day.  (www.worldcancerday.org/)

From that web site:

A truly global event taking place every year on 4 February, World Cancer Day unites the world’s population in the fight against cancer.
It aims to save millions of preventable deaths each year by raising awareness and education about the disease, pressing governments and individuals across the world to take action. 

I realize I should have posted about this BEFORE the end of the day, but better late than never.  In my opinion, anything, anything at all these days, that includes uniting the world's population AND a fight against cancer is a spectacular idea.


I had a long, busy day today.  I was wiped out when I got home at 7:30pm.  WIPED OUT.
It is now 11:42pm.  Wiped out is gone and wide awake took its place.  Sigh.

According to my Fitbit, my sleep average was 4.35 hours/night this week.  Pathetic.  I like sleep.  No, I love sleep! It's not that I don't want to sleep, or I'm too sick, stressed, depressed or anxious to sleep.  I just can't.  I go to bed and I'm wide awake.   I wake up a lot during the night, and not just the toss and turn kind of waking.  I'm talking about get out of bed to go to the bathroom, or go to the kitchen to get a drink and make a detour to check email/facebook/weather kind of waking.  

My friend S says I'm like a baby whose internal clock is backwards.  That's exactly it.  I have my days and nights mixed up.  


K had a friend spend the night last night.  Her friend's name is the same as K's.  Their last names both start with a B.  It's a little confusing.  And a little amusing to have to use your child's last name in your own house.  They were in the same preschool class years ago.  Now they are in the same fifth grade class.  K's friend K is a sweet, easygoing girl.  I'm pleased as punch.

Tomorrow is Super Bowl Sunday.  Not only are my Cowboys not in the big game (despite getting my hopes up by kicking ass all season), but the Patriots are in the big game.  Again.  Tom Brady is cute and all, but good God, can't they just go away?


I have another friend S who never fails to make me smile.  She sent me a FIVE POUND BAG of gummy bears for my birthday.  And not only does she indulge my obsession, but she shares it.  Haribo fans unite!

I miss her every single day.  She was my bring me food when I'm sick friend.  My walking buddy friend.  My help me out at the softball fields at 2am during a tournament friend.  My come over just to hang out and talk friend.  Then she moved.  Far away.  So now she's my late night texting conversations friend.  And my Vegas roommate friend.  I'm very grateful for modern technology that allows me to keep in touch - frequently at all hours - with friends like S.  But man, life is NOT the same without her here.

Monday my son starts driver's ed.  Say WHAT?  I knew I had a teenager, but driver's ed??  That's for, like, people that can drive!  When did I get old enough to have a kid that drives?  I guess the whole high school thing didn't really sink in yet.

Thanks for keeping me company.  If you see him, send the sandman my way.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Kicking cancer's ass - day 1254

What does my birthday February 2, 1973 mean?
Your birthday numbers 2, 2 and 1973 reveal that your Life Path number is 6. It represents justice, nurturing and responsibility. You possess great compassion and seek to be of service to others.

What else?
This.... all of this.

The realest one you will ever meet....How cool is that?

Even in this day and age of incredible medical advancements and unbelievable technology, I doubt there is a person alive who has heard the words "you have cancer" and didn't immediately think, for one fleeting moment, that they were going to die.  I knew I had cancer the minute I felt the lump.  And I knew it was going to be bad.  It wasn't easy, and it's still an every day fight, and will be for the rest of my life... but I did survive, and I earned the right to wear a crown.  A pink, sparkly one.

"Birthdays have become a symbol. They epitomize opportunity, growth, and life. They represent hope, gratitude, and blessings. Each morning I wake up to see another day… to create new memories… to enjoy my friends and family… to follow my passions… I am blessed. "
(from the blog:  Derailing my Diagnosis)

My good friend K, another cancer survivor, calls our post-diagnosis birthdays "Bonus Birthdays."  When I turned 40, I felt great.  I was in terrific shape, I was busy and happy and in love with life.  When I turned 41, I felt awful.  I was bald, pale, weak, and a month post-op from having my breasts removed.  When I turned 42, I was extremely anemic thanks to treatment and having undergone seven surgeries in less than two years, to the point where I had to revisit the chemo room for iron infusions.  Talk about flashbacks.

Now.... I am 44.  I am busy with work and home, a husband and kids.  I do laundry and pay bills, cook dinner and text my friends.  I finally enjoy reading again and hope to get back out on the golf course this year.  I am a part-time bookkeeper, a full time wife, a proud band parent, my daughter's biggest fan, and an overworked yet underpaid softball league VP.

Celebrating another year of this crazy busy life, for me, is definitely a bonus.  And what's a bonus birthday without cake?  There are so many pretty ones that I would love to appreciate for a second and then dive right in.  But I think this one might just be my favorite:

It's simple.  It's small (so I don't have to share).  It quietly sends a statement in its own beautiful, understated way.  It's truly deserving of a bonus birthday celebration.  I want to savor it.

And while I'm enjoying that pretty little cake, remember this:

Damn straight.