If you know me well, you know that I love lists. I don't just love lists, I L-O-V-E lists! Ever since I can remember, I have been writing myself "to-do lists." I find them all over the place - in my planner, on my nightstand, desk drawers, purses, car, work. Whenever I see cute notepads of paper, I buy them up in bulk and get excited at the thought of filling them up with lists. It's a sickness, I know. I have always had lists for everything - grocery shopping, house projects, reports to do at work, phone calls and emails to return...it goes on and on. I love staying organized and more than that, I love the satisfaction of striking that big, bold line through an item on my list once I have accomplished it!
A few weeks before my 29th birthday, I started a list on the first page of a blank, pink covered journal entitled, "30 Before 30." I then spent some time thinking of all the things I wanted to accomplish this year before I turned thirty years old. I started compiling my list, eventually taking a break at #13 to further think through what was important enough to include. Well, you all know what happened next. I purposely waited until the day after my birthday to have a biopsy, and the day after that I was diagnosed with "the big C" - two days after my 29th birthday, which was March 21.
That very same pink journal quickly become my right hand man on this new journey my life has taken. The pages are now filled with doctor's names, appointment times, family history information, logs of my weight and vital signs, blood test reports, questions for my doctors...all sorts of words and verbiage that I never dreamed would become part of my daily conversations. Once in awhile, I flip back to that first page of the journal and I get a quick reminder of the vastly different life I led just a few short months ago. I had no clue then how quickly my life, and that list, would change forever. How my priorities, my wishes, my hopes and dreams would immediately take on an entirely new meaning.
I have experienced a lot of dark moments over the past 3 1/2 months - but I have come through each one of them with a renewed sense of how wonderful and precious life is. It has made me realize that there is no reason why I can't continue to set goals that I would like to accomplish throughout this year - and the many years to come! I don't need to always focus 100% of my attention on this disease. I want to live my life, and enjoy my life like I always did. So, I have revisited that first page in the pink journal and decided to pick up where I left off. I am hoping that by putting this out there in cyberspace for all of you to read, it will help me hold myself accountable to complete each of my goals! Feel free to ask me on March 21, 2012 how I did! :)
My first list initiated in early March 2011, was entitled, "30 Before 30- Wishes, hopes, dreams, desires, goals for the next year...in no particular order." Well, here goes...
"The New & Improved 30 before 30"
Starting with my previous list from early March...
1. Get Pregnant! Start a family with my amazing husband!
This is a really tough one for us...we don't know what God has in store for us in regards to the family we so desperately want. We continue to pray that we may have a family one day, but until then, we will have to leave it in His hands.
2. Run another 10K
I have to revise this one, as I am no longer allowed to run due to risk of compression fractures in my spine. Revised goal: Return to exercising at least 3 times per week, including yoga, biking, walking and swimming.
3. Participate in at least 4 fundraisers
Shouldn't have a problem meeting this goal now, huh?! Go Team Malley Rally!
4. Perfect Mom's homemade chex mix, all by myself!
5. Master my off-camera flash
6. Visit at least 3 new cities
7. Photograph my first newborn session
8. Try tempeh
Completed! Thanks to the Waterford Kettering staff member that made us some yummy tempeh a month or so ago!
9. Finally order wedding album (yes, I am ashamed to admit that I still haven't done this - 3 1/2 years later! eek!)
So embarrassed to admit this one! Mom, I PROMISE I will get it done
10. Send a hand written letter to one friend each month
Can I count thank you notes? If so, I am set! :)
11. Complete my Ireland/London scrapbook
Another long overdue project!
12. Post to the Meg Malley Photography blog at least every other week
I have had to put Meg Malley Photography on the back burner for right now. So, I have revised this goal to make sure I post at least one blog entry per week on this very blog you are reading. :)
13.....update as of 3.23.2011...One and only goal...BEAT CANCER THIS YEAR!!!
Now that I have a greater understanding of the exact enemy I am fighting, I realize that although I may not officially "beat" cancer by my 30th birthday, I will take any and all necessary steps to hear my doctors tell me, "There is no current evidence of disease". That's the medical lingo that I am most praying to hear one day! ....this is where my list stopped and has remained unfinished since the day of my diagnosis. Time to pick up where I left off.....
14. Reach out to at least 5 other young women diagnosed with cancer...especially those
with advanced stage disease, such as myself.
So far I have met (either in person or through email), three other women under the age of 35 with advanced stage breast cancer, and I have another friend with a different type of cancer that is also stage IV. It has been a wonderful experience to get to know other women in a similar position to me! I am grateful to have them to turn to for support throughout the journey down this difficult road.
15. Try to attend at least one conference uniting young cancer survivors, such as the
"Annual Conference for Young Women Affected by Breast Cancer" or the "OMG!
Cancer Summit for Young Adults."
Depending on my treatment schedule, I am not sure if I will be able to travel to these conferences, but I would love to opportunity to do so one day!
16. Read at least 2 non-cancer related books each month
17. Continue to learn and grow as a photographer - attend at least one workshop
18. Begin a daily gratitude journal
I think about this in my head each day, but would like to put it in writing to help me remember all of my blessings when I may be having a hard time seeing them
19. Take extra time to tell others "thank you" - especially family, friends, doctors,
nurses, medical assistants & receptionists
20. Plan a vacation with my family
21. Buy one of the vintage cameras I have been eyeing for months on Etsy
22. Volunteer my time with a local charity
23. Learn more about my Adobe Lightroom photo editing program that I purchased
over a year ago and have barely touched
24. Finally print, matte, and hang some of my own photography in my home It's sort of ridiculous that aside from a couple 4x6 prints in my kitchen, I don't have any of my own photography displayed in my home. I can't wait to put up some images from our trip to Ireland!
25. Plant peonies, my favorite flower, in my garden this fall
26. Finally print some of my favorite personal photos from the past few years and organize them in albums
I used to take great pride in all of my chronologically ordered photo albums filled with pictures. I think the digital age has gotten the best of all of us and now our images reside on our computers. I have lots of cute albums to fill up!
27. Reach out to the metro Detroit chapter of the Young Survivor Coalition and attend one of their meetings - a nationwide organization dedicated to young women facing breast cancer
28. Walk the first mile of the Susan G. Komen 3 Day For a Cure with my awesome friends of "Team Meghan Malley Rally"...and attempt to find them to cross the finish line together at mile 60!
I will be out there all weekend to cheer you guys on - but sadly, I don't want to commit to attempting more than 1 mile increments of walking. This ole' body poops out pretty quickly these days! ;)
29. Treat my incredible, selfless husband to a long overdue massage at an amazing spa in order to thank him for the near nightly back massages he never complains about giving me when my back hurts
30. Have a wonderful celebration for my 30th birthday and one year anniversary as a cancer survivor!
There you have it, ladies and gents! I can't wait to start tackling all this fun stuff and crossing things off my list. I'll save some other goodies such as, "travel to Italy", or "buy our dream house", for next years list. :)
Although I will have a "few" other obstacles to tackle before my 30th birthday (another 9 rounds of chemo, start hormone therapy, make it through a double mastectomy, begin the reconstruction process, and complete 30 radiation treatments!), I think it's important to remember to mix in some time for the things that truly make me happy, and that make me feel a little bit more like myself through all of this. I know that the words "breast cancer" will forever be a part of me, but just that - a "part" of me. Those words do not define who I am or how I have to live my life. I am grateful for the amazing community of survivors that I have now joined, but I will not let my entire life revolve around this disease.
Well, gotta run...I have 30 things I need to get done in the next few months - better get started! :) As always, thank you for being such an amazing support group for Mike and I. Thanks for the blog comments, cards, calls and meals! We are so grateful to have all of you in our lives.
ps. A huge thank you to Kara for putting together a wonderful "Girls Night Out" fundraiser Friday night at her home. Thank you to all of the great friends and family that came out to shop and support the 3 Day team - and to the awesome vendors that donated a portion of their earnings. It was a great success and lots of fun - so much fun that I sadly forgot to bust out the camera and take come pics! If anyone couldn't make it but would like to check out products or place an order from Tastefully Simple, Lia Sophia, Mary Kay, Miche, Premier Designs, Thirty-One or Mio Dio Collection, please feel free to email Kara at firstname.lastname@example.org - all orders will need to be placed by Wednesday, June 13.
I am so thankful my Aunt Carol captured this great image of GG and me from 4th of July weekend. The one problem with being the family photographer is that you never end up in any of the pictures. :) I'm grateful to have this picture of us - I love it!
My blog to keep you all