Well, a delayed "Happy New Year" seems to be in order. It's been a couple months since my last post and as I revisited my last entry, I am once again reminded of the roller coaster of emotions this disease is. But I suppose that's just life for all of us. It ebbs and flows, oscillating between the good times and the tougher times.
The new year started off perfectly while Mike and I continued our road trip throughout California. It was truly a trip of a lifetime and I am so incredibly grateful we decided to check this off our bucket list. We arrived in San Francisco the day after Christmas and explored for a few days before venturing through Carmel and Monterrey on our way to Big Sur. After a few phenomenal days there, we made our way down to Santa Barbara for some relaxing and wine tasting, then Pasadena for the Rose Bowl (pinch me!) and finally to San Diego for a few days! We couldn't believe that each day seemed to be even better than the last and that we packed a lifetime of memories into 9 days. It was incredible!
Here are a few of my favorite images I was able to capture with Canon 5D Mark iii ...
And since I didn't take my "big girl camera" into the Rose Bowl with me, here are a few iphone shots I caught during that incredible day!
The week after we returned home from California, my mom celebrated her retirement. Although I was so happy she was able to do this, it also meant that she would basically be moving down to Columbus to help care for my Aunt Bev. Since that time, my aunt has endured a lot. She has seemed to suffered complication after complication due to her ovarian cancer and has been in and out of the hospital since. She was recently stable enough to start chemo again but was once again hospitalized on Monday. Please keep her in your prayers so that she can get through this time and become healthy and strong once again.
As if all of that wasn't hard enough, my mom also suddenly lost one of her best friends of nearly 40 years. You might remember me talking about John & Paul and our visit to their vacation home in Florida here. Losing John was so tragic and unexpected - it sent all of us who loved him reeling. His funeral service in Michigan was just last Monday and was beautiful and heart breaking all at the same time.
Then just last Saturday, I attended yet another funeral service. This time it was for a dear, sweet friend who was part of my support group at Karmanos. My friend, Susan was kind, compassionate and courageous. She started her battle with metastatic breast cancer about a year before I did and we had come to be friends once I started our young women's group. The celebration of her life was beautiful, but of course it was especially difficult knowing she died from complications of the disease that I also live with. My heart breaks for her wonderful husband and children.
So the first couple of months of 2014 have definitely been trying at times, and reminders of how precious and fragile life is.
Despite all of that, I have been feeling really well - aside from being freezing cold all the time in this polar vortex. Thank God for the occasional hot flash, right?! I have really been enjoying work lately and have been treating a great group of patients, spending lots of time with family & friends, and enjoying the occasional lazy Sunday with Mike and Wrig just hibernating by the fire. I'm also grateful that I have been feeling stronger mentally and emotionally lately, especially so I can try to support others going through similar experiences. I can't tell you how often I receive emails, phone calls or facebook messages asking me to reach out to women who are newly diagnosed, or someone who has recently become metastatic. Or how often I receive emails from women who have somehow come across this blog and can relate and want to connect. Although I often feel guilty that I can't stay in close touch with everyone I hear from, I am grateful that I can try to be of some support to others as they experience a similar journey. However, with that gift, comes a price. I have lost more good friends than any 31 year old should ever have to experience, and each time I hear of another survivor going through a hard time - a treatment failing, a disturbing scan, or new side effects with negative impacts on quality of life - it is heart wrenching. After losing Genevieve, Lorri and Jen last year, it made me question whether or not I even wanted to reach out and become close with other women because it is so hard when I lose them. But, there is no way I could ever really do that. I would never turn my back on someone that needed a shoulder to lean or someone to talk to while they travel this road. And I would never want someone to treat me that way either - to give up on me during my hour of need because it was "too hard". I have had a few people pull away from me after my diagnosis and it just hurts. I tried not to take it personally and realize it was just that they didn't know how to cope with what I was going through - but it's painful none the less. I am really grateful for a close group of friends that I have who are all young women in their 30's living with metastatic breast cancer. I am grateful for their love, guidance and the support we all give to each other on what sometimes is a daily basis. Please always continue to show your love and support to someone who is ill or struggling, or who might seem fine but deals with chronic illness - you might never know what a positive impact that can have on them.
I hope everyone is surviving the longest, coldest winter EVER! I know all of us around here in Michigan are definitely ready for it to be over. I am so excited we are almost to March, which means that spring will be around the corner. I can't wait to open windows, see green grass and enjoy my beautiful backyard.
Thanks for all the love and support. Thank you to those of you who I may have never met but come across the blog somehow and reach out. I wish I could respond to every comment and message. Each one means so much.
I'll post an update again after I see Dr. F on March 13 - which will hopefully be a pretty uneventful visit.
My blog to keep you all