What a crazy, busy, wonderful couple of weeks it has been. Between the Johnson's visit, 3 Day festivities, our friend Zak coming to visit, celebrating Mike's birthday, a family reunion and an extremely packed schedule for Meg Malley Photography - things have been super busy!
We had such a good time having Brinley, Andy and Andrew here for a week. It is always so great to see them and to be able to spend so much time together. Mike and Andy are like partners in crime and always have a great time when they are together, and of course, Brin and I never have moments without lots of laughs and tons to talk about. It was so amazing to see how much little Andrew has changed since I visited them in Florida in February. He is a total cuddle bug who gives great hugs and kisses. He loves to pretend to cook, and carries his pots and pans everywhere he goes. He is active, smart, and full of smiles. The week flew by too fast and of course I miss them already, but I am so grateful that they were able to come visit. I love you guys!
And then there was the Susan G. Komen 3 Day For A Cure....how do you even summarize this event? You truly need to experience it in order to appreciate how moving and special it is. I am so grateful that five of my wonderful friends (Brinley, Nikki, Becca, Chanell, and Janine) dedicated so much of their time and energy to training, fundraising, and completing this 60 mile, 3 day challenge.
There has been quite a bit of controversy and drama with the Komen organization this year. On top of that, after my diagnosis, I learned that many women in the metastatic breast cancer community feel very upset with Komen due to the way that funds are dispersed, and the disparity regarding dollars allocated to metastatic research. Although I may dedicate an entire post to my feelings on these issues at some point, today is not that day. What I do want to share is that despite what anyone may say, I am grateful for what the Komen organization has done to raise awareness for this disease, and even if it's only one cent put towards metastatic research- I am grateful for it because every little bit helps.
What I feel most proud about regarding the 3 Day event this year is that my friends know how I feel, they know what is important to me, and they went above and beyond to spread my message about metastatic breast cancer awareness throughout this 3 Day event. I often feel lost in the "celebration" at breast cancer events. I am not the same type of "survivor". Breast cancer is not in my rearview window. It's not in the past and it's not something that will ever be behind me. I live and breath it every day and often times I don't feel quite as celebratory as many of the women at these events that have beat their disease because they were fortunate enough to be diagnosed early. So, what did my friends do? They spread the word about metastatic disease everywhere along their 60 mile journey. They brought it out of the shadows even though it's not the perfect success story. They talked about it, displayed the words "Metastatic breast cancer" proudly on their tents and signs, and they raised awareness for the fact that thousands of women continue to live with this disease each and every day and that we have not been truly successful until a cure has been found for all of us! Not just those diagnosed early.
Team Meghan Malley Rally got robbed in the tent decorating competition. They should have won with their awesome Olympic themed decor...."Going for gold for Metastatic Cancer"....I loved it!
I was so proud of each of them (and all the other walkers!) and loved chasing them around and cheering them on all weekend long. They were amazing!
A huge thank you to the friends and family that came out to our cheering station on Saturday. It was so nice to see you there, supporting the walkers, and supporting me by your presence. The MVP of the day goes to Momma Jan - best cheerleader around...hands down! Thank you Mom and Doug for all you did that day- I appreciate it more than you know. Love you!
And a special, HAPPY 30TH BIRTHDAY to Becca Boo!!!! She celebrated the big 3-0 while walking all day long for this cause. What a great friend that is!
I am exhausted just looking back on the pictures from that weekend. :) What an emotional 3 days it is and I can't thank everyone enough for being part of it. Whether you walked, cheered, donated, or kept the walkers in your thoughts and prayers that weekend - thank you so very much!
After the Johnson fam left last Wednesday, our friend Zak came into town and we celebrated Mike's birthday, which was Saturday. It was a great weekend filled with lots of friends and family. HAPPY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my very best friend and the most incredible person I know. I am so very honored to be your wife and I look forward to celebrating many more birthday's with you in the future. Love you so much!
Well, it has been 7 weeks since I received my great scan results and I was really hoping to make it until the next scans in January before I had to deal with any new speed bumps, medically speaking. Unfortunately, that is not the case. I have been noticing some changes with my left breast over the past few weeks - swelling, changes in shape, warm to the touch. I have learned by now that I need to trust my instincts about my own body so I got in to see my plastic surgeon, Dr M. as soon as I could.
I saw him this morning and he is concerned. He doesn't know exactly what is going on and the cause of the swelling could be from a few different sources. To spare you all the details, many of which I am still trying to understand, this could be as minor as some blood accumulation due to some trauma that I wasn't aware of, all the way to something very serious such as a type of lymphoma that (VERY) rarely occurs after receiving breast implants. Needless to say, I am very worried. I don't want any complications. I don't want more surgery. I was finally starting to feel "normal" for awhile. I picked up more hours at the clinic and Meg Malley Photography is booming and keeping me so incredibly busy! I head to the hospital tomorrow for an ultrasound and needle aspiration of the fluid that is accumulating in the left side of my chest and breast. I will then have to wait for awhile until the results come back from the lab telling us what this is. I am praying that it will only require some simple intervention, such as Dr. M draining the fluid. I will be sure to keep you posted. Please keep me in your prayers that this is nothing serious and that life can continue as "normal".
Hope everyone is doing well and enjoys a wonderful Labor Day weekend. We are headed up to Torch Lake with our friends and I can't wait for some R & R!
How do you find the balance? Isn't that the age old question. Whether it applies to a stay at home mom trying to find time for her own passions, a hard working dad trying to make enough time for his family, or a cancer patient trying to live her life to the fullest...without burning herself out but also trying to pack a life time of plans into each day since she knows her time is likely going to be cut short. How much time do I dedicate to advocating for this disease and spreading awareness, while also just trying to live as normal of a life as possible. Finding the balance is something I struggle with each and every day.
I have felt a little more overwhelmed than normal lately, and I am trying my best to not let it consume me, and to try to scale things down a bit. But, it's so hard when in the back of your mind is this constant voice whispering, "you better do this now, you don't know how much time you have," or "you really should go on that trip because this might be the last one you have," or "take as many pictures as you can of your friends since there will be a time when you won't be able to see them much - when you will be sick and can't hang out with them, and you will want these memories recorded."
I often wonder if these haunting voices will ever leave my thoughts. Will there ever be a time when I don't have a twinge of sadness or fear living in the recesses of my mind, lurking in the shadows, reminding me of the sad reality of my disease.
I am not sure if those feelings will ever really leave me, but I am grateful to now know that they aren't as powerful as they once were. I spent this past weekend up north with 8 of my best friends from high school (and two of their little babes), and once again, it was such a blast to spend so much time with my Beauts. Last year's girls weekend was great too but I distinctly remember how emotional I was and how much I was hurting inside, while at the same time smiling and laughing with my girls. I felt so devastated at the thought of losing my friends because of this disease. I thought that would be my last girls weekend. I was heartbroken to think that I wouldn't see their children grow up and that all of the plans we all had to grow into old ladies together would never become a reality for me. I didn't want to be a downer and share this with them, so I remember having a good, hard cry with my mom when I got home that Sunday.
Although those thoughts haven't completely escaped me, and although there were times this weekend where I looked around at their beautiful faces and felt a deep sadness that I may not have as much time with them as I always thought, I am grateful that the blanket of grief wasn't as heavy this time. I have great hopes that there will be many girls weekends in my future and that I will have many more amazing times with the best friends anyone could ask for.
(In our defense...this was our only group pic and it was first thing in the morning before Beth & Kel had to hit the road. Excuse the pj's, bed head, and under eye bags that required all of us wear sunglasses...even Alice! haha! Miss Mae was taking a little nap so she didn't make it in the group shot)
I apologize if the thoughts and feelings I share with you are not always happy, upbeat and positive. But, I have felt a distinct shift in my mindset since last year. Sure, I shared my feelings a year ago but I think I often put on a happy face without even knowing it. Now that I have had more time to adjust to living with this illness, and my treatment has significantly calmed down, it has allowed me to see things in a different light, and I feel like I would be doing a disservice to not share how I really feel - the true struggles, the highs and lows of what my life is really like. I am naturally a happy and optimistic person but as we all know, life is not always like that and there are hard times too. Although I never intended on it, this blog has crossed paths with many people, many of which are women just like me, living with chronic disease, and if even one thing I share can help them realize they are not alone in their feelings, then it is worth it for me to reveal myself so freely. Not every survivor story is one of success, cures, and a happy ending. But this is real life, and it's my life. And all I can do it try to share it to help myself cope, and hopefully help someone else that is walking this road with me.
Speaking of "walking this road with me"...the Susan G. Komen 3 Day For A Cure is THIS WEEKEND! I am so grateful that my wonderful friends, Brinley, Becca, Nikki, Janine and Chanell are participating this year as part of Team Meghan Malley Rally. (And a special shout out to Stacy and Nancy for completing the 3 Day in Chicago last weekend! woohoo!) They are walking again this year to not only raise money for this cause, but to help spread awareness that this disease does affect young women, and that we need more research and funding for treatments and a CURE for metastatic (stage IV) disease.
The Opening Ceremony is this Friday, August 17 at 6:30am at Oakland Mall in Troy. The walkers will walk over 20 miles on Friday through Troy, Clawson and Farmington. They will continue their walking all day on Saturday as they walk through the Plymouth/Northville area and they will end at the Closing Ceremony in Dearborn at the Ford World Headquarters with the ceremony beginning at 5pm after the walkers have completed 60 miles!
If you came out to support the walkers last year, you know what an incredible event and experience this is. I would really love for you to come out and support Team Meghan Malley Rally again this year. I am once again hosting a cheering station on Saturday where we will have a tent with snacks, music and cold paper towels for the walkers to put on their necks. The route has changed slightly this year so our new location for the cheering station is at the Rusty Bucket in Northville from 11am - 3:30pm. If you can make it, try to wear your Team Meghan Malley Rally t-shirts from last year to show your support to our incredible walkers and if you would like to help out by coming early to set up, staying after to tear down, or volunteer to bring food or supplies (like ice and paper towels for the walkers to soak and put on their necks), please let me know and I will tell you what we need. The Rusty Bucket is located at 5 Mile and Sheldon in Northville - a map/directions can be found here. Please stop by to not only support our team, but all of the walkers that dedicate so much time and energy to this cause - many of whom are survivors themselves. We had an amazing turnout last year and I know it meant so much to all of the walkers, and especially to Team Meghan Malley Rally.
For more general spectator information from the 3 Day site, click here.
Just a little reminder of all the fun we had at the cheering station last year.....
With the 3 Day rolling around, that means that my dear friend, Brinley and her wonderful family are coming to visit from West Palm Beach, Florida! Brinley, Andy and Andrew arrive this Wednesday and are staying for a full week. I cannot wait to see them! Brinley and her entire family have been such a huge source of love and support since day 1 and I am so grateful to have all of them in my life. I haven't seem them since Andrew's first birthday celebration weekend in February and I am so excited to have an entire week to spend with them!
I hope to see many of you on Saturday and if you can't make it, please keep the walkers in your thoughts and prayers for a successful, injury free event that not only raises lots of money but helps further educate countless women and men so fewer lives continue to be lost to this disease. Also feel free to leave them encouraging thoughts and messages on our Facebook pages as we post from the event this weekend.
My blog to keep you all