What a beautiful Easter Sunday it was today!
I think it might finally be safe to say that spring has officially arrived. Thank goodness for that. When the sun is shining and I can feel the warmth on my face, it immediately boosts my spirits.
As I sat in church this morning and celebrated this holy day, I also couldn't help but reflect on how grateful I was to even be there. Three years ago, I laid in bed for days - including Easter Sunday because of how awful I felt after my very first round of chemotherapy. Sometimes it seems like yesterday - and other times it seems like another lifetime.
Last month I celebrated my 32nd birthday and two days later, I celebrated my 3rd cancerversary. It's always a very emotional time for me - full of reflection, gratitude and heartache. I can't believe all I have endured - physically & emotionally - and although it's rare for me to ever give myself a pat on the back, I will say that I am so proud of myself for all I have been able to get through. Some days are harder than others - but I have managed to get through each and every one of them. Here is what I shared on facebook on March 23rd.
"Three years ago today, my world was changed forever after receiving news of what felt like a death sentence. These past few years haven't been easy but I can truly say that I have experienced more joy and happiness than I ever thought would be possible again. I've learned to never give up hope and to make a difference with my life. "Life is too short" sounds like a cliche until circumstances force you to realize how true it really is. So make it count!
Thank you to my incredible family & friends for being there for me every step of the way. And to my amazing husband, Mike...thank you for never leaving my side- through the good and the bad. I couldn't do this without you and I thank God for you every day.
Thank you so much for all of the birthday love! I am truly grateful to be celebrating another year and growing older...a privilege denied to many."
The day before my birthday, I also had an appointment with Dr. F. We discussed a lot of different things, primarily related to a few different side effects I have been experiencing from my treatments. Nothing major - but of course it ended up in scheduling something like 10 appointments in the next 12 weeks. Ugh! I have had some drama since with a hematologist regarding my platelet count, but I'll fill you all in on that another time.
We also ended up scheduling my next round of scans, which will be Monday, June 2. I will then get my results on Thursday, June 12. So, start firing up those prayers. :)
I have lots of other updates including great improvements I am helping make at the Detroit Race for the Cure this year to recognize women with metastatic breast cancer and young women facing breast cancer, information about this year's Ride for the Cure, as well as information I am hoping to share after attending the Living Beyond Breast Cancer's Annual Conference for Women Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer which will take place next weekend in Philadelphia.
I will definitely try to update more soon. For now, thank you so much for your constant love, support and prayers. I am truly grateful and blessed to never walk this road alone.
This is definitely the longest I have ever gone without updating the blog. I'm sorry for worrying some of you. I started hearing more and more comments like, "I hope everything is okay - you haven't updated your blog in awhile." Rest assured that you can take it as a good thing and it just means that I have been busy living my life and trying my best to not think about cancer...although there isn't a day that goes by that I escape it. The past month or so has been a full one - we celebrated my birthday (and 2nd Cancerversary!!!), Mike started his busy baseball season, photography sessions are picking up, and....we bought a house! Woohooo! We closed on our house the second week in April and we are very excited about it. Mike and his best friend, Justin have already gutted a ton of the house. We have started some major renovations and can't wait to see it all come together. We will continue living at my Mom and Doug's house until most of the remodeling is complete. It is an exciting time for us and we are so grateful to have found a home in our favorite area - where we have more space, less noise, and are surrounded by deer and all sorts of beautiful wildlife....all while being only 20 minutes from my Mom, 10 minutes from the Karmanos satellite I am treated it, and even closer to work. I'll keep you all posted on our renovation process (which has become a part time job!) - you know I will document it all with my trusty camera. :)
I continue to feel pretty good and I couldn't be more grateful for that. My hot flashes have been a real annoyance lately and I have been dealing with sleep disturbances for quite awhile now. I know that insomnia is extremely common with cancer patients and although I don't think I truly have insomnia, I can't remember the last time I have been able to sleep through the night. My back has been feeling good and I am so grateful to be able to work and exercise with minimal pain - although it always does remind me when I start to over do it and need to rest.
I saw my oncologist, Dr. F on my birthday and he was pleased with how I am doing. He agreed with my thoughts that we should just stay the course with my current treatment as long as it's working. I continue on my oral meds as well as my monthly injections into my abdomen. Dr. F even went as far as to say that I don't need to see him for 12 weeks (instead of 8), and that I could even bump my scans back to every 9 months instead of 6! Although I love the idea that I don't need to see him for 12 weeks, I am not quite ready to push the scans back to every 9 months. The thought of that just really scares me right now so we are going to stick with the 6 month schedule. I have friends scanned every 3 months and it's terrifying to me how much has changed with their disease in that short time, so I don't want to go too long between my tests. I am just happy to be doing well enough for him to even suggest that. And to think that I don't have to see him for 12 weeks when there used to be a time that I saw him every single week - it just makes me very happy, relieved and grateful. My next round of scans is scheduled for June 5 and then I will get the results on June 13 when I see Dr. F next. Of course, I always appreciate extra prayers around scan time, so thanks in advance for that. :)
I also want to extend thanks to all of you that offered words of encouragement and prayers for my dear friend, Jeanne' that I wrote about in my last post and for all of my Mets Babes. Little did I know that while I was actually writing that last post, Jeanne' had passed away. I found out the next morning - on my birthday. It was a very difficult time for many of us - to say the least, but I am grateful to know she is in a better place, and finally able to rest her tired body.
I hope everyone is doing well. Thank you for your continued love and support.
ps-Team Meghan Malley Rally is once again participating in the Detroit Race for the Cure. Please come join us on May 18th (even if you don't officially register). More info can be found here... http://www.active.com/donate/detroitRFTC13/2013MMalley
Some quick snapshots of all of our happenings lately....you can also find my "picture a day" challenge over on Instagram - follow me @megmalley to see what I am up to, including more house updates!
Some sneak peeks of the new house projects....
It's hard to believe another year has passed. Another year of holidays spent with family, late night laughs with girlfriends, and curling up in bed with Mike and the pup. Another year of blessings. Another year filled with so much gratitude. Truly - I am grateful.
But, as much as I want to feel excited for my birthday (which is tomorrow), and relieved to reach another cancerversary (on the 23rd), I am just struck with deep sadness right now. This has been a brutal few days for what we refer to as our group of "Mets Babes". My incredibly strong, brave and supportive friends that live with metastatic breast cancer just like I do. I met a great group of them on a forum through Kris Carr's online community. Coming into contact with these women online was the first time since my diagnosis that I felt like someone else truly "got it". I had finally found other women that knew what life with stage IV breast cancer was like. Sure they knew all about the physical effects, but more so, they knew about the emotional and psychological damage this disease can take on your spirit and heart.
One of the first women that reached out to me was Jeanne'. She quickly became a shining light for me - a beacon of hope - a trusted friend - and an invaluable source of support and strength. She would check on me all the time and write me messages to keep my spirits up and remind me how strong I was. She let me confide in her all of my deepest feelings about my wish to become a mother and she shared in my sorrow since she herself had been trying to adopt when she was diagnosed. Although I never met her in person, Jeanne' had become a fast friend and one I cherished very much.
I found out early Tuesday morning that Jeanne' had taken a sudden turn for the worse and is now facing her final days on this Earth. Her body is shutting down and failing her. I have been heartbroken ever since I heard the news. On top of that, two of my other dear friends have had progressions this week after being in remission for quite awhile. It has been a bad week for us, Mets Babes. I am not only devastated for Jeanne' and her family, but also sad for my friends that face a recurrence of their disease. And on top of all of that, I am terrified for myself. I am so scared because this all hits so close to home. How is it possible that my friend that appeared so vibrant and alive just a couple weeks ago, is now facing the end of her life? It terrifies me at how fast this can happen - how fast our lives can change. Am I looking into a crystal ball at what is going to happen to me? The reality is that I am one appointment away from not being "fine". From bad news- from new treatments - from more chemo - from crappy side effects - from a decreased quality of life.
I don't live in fear - I really don't. But how can I not be completely rattled when this is happening to my friends? How can I not be angry, frustrated, heartbroken and devastated by this? It is not normal to be 30 years old and have so many friends die.
So as I approach my birthday and the second anniversary of my diagnosis, I will try my best to remain hopeful, optimistic and grateful. But, I will have a heavy heart for dear Jeanne' and for all of my other mets babes that continue to travel this road along with me.
"Aging is a privilege denied to many." I am truly grateful for another year - and I so desperately want many, many more!
ps - Even as I type this I feel guilty about not being super upbeat and positive. But, I hope you - my friends and family, and even those that I haven't met but know me through my words - can understand that I need this blog to be a place where I can be true to me. A place where I can be true to my authentic thoughts and feelings - whether good or bad. I am grateful for this life and it is a beautiful one. But, it is a very difficult life too. And I need to give myself permission to share that here - in my little piece of cyberspace. Thank you for all of the love and understanding.
Been so busy lately that I haven't picked up my camera as much as I would like. So here is my life in Instagram pics :)
Sorry for a bit of a hiatus...life sure has been busy around here lately. The past two weeks have been jam packed with plans. Mike threw me a wonderful 3oth birthday party on the 24th and we had the best time! It is always so much fun when we are able to get so many of our family members and friends together at one time. Thank you so much to my loving husband for planning everything, and thank you to all of you that were able to come out and celebrate with us!
The fun continued when we traveled to Chicago last weekend. Our main reason for the visit was actually a medical appointment at the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Care. We spent almost 7 hours at the Block Center and I will definitely fill you all in on that very soon. After spending all day Friday at our appointment, we spent that night and the rest of the weekend with our many friends that live in the city. As always, we had a great time in Chicago and can't wait to visit again soon!
This past Thursday was Opening Day for the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park! For those of you that aren't from the D, you may not know what a huge deal this is. Basically, the entire city turns into one huge party. You may remember from this post, that I went to Opening Day for the first time last year when my big bro asked me to go with him. I remember that it was just a few days after I got my port placed in my chest, and Jeff was being so protective in the bar before the game - making sure that no one would bump into me since I was so sore. It's crazy to think of all that has happened since then.
Mike and I were so excited that we not only got tickets to the game (thanks Uncle Ed!), but that we were going with Mike's cousins, Brian and Diana - who we adore. Mike and I are really close with Brian and Diana and we always have the best time together. It worked out perfect that Diana was visiting from NYC, and Mike had the day off for spring break.
We met up before the game with Jeff and some other friends at Coaches Corner before heading to the game to cheer the Tigers on for their first win of the season. It was such a fun day!
I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter Sunday with your families. I will never forget my Easter last year. I spent the day in bed, suffering from a great deal of fatigue and extremely low blood pressure after my very first round of chemo. The night before, all of my wonderful Beauts came over with dinner, made me laugh, and physically tucked me into my bed that night. I am so grateful for how far I have come since then. I am grateful that I will spend Easter with my family - not in my bed - and that I have enough energy to enjoy every moment of the day. Happy Easter!
ps. - I have been asked to be the Team New Balance Honorary Survivor at this years Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Lansing, Michigan. The Mid-Michigan Komen affiliate is doing wonderful things for the greater Lansing community and I am happy to be a part of their event. My hope in taking part in this is that by sharing my story to hundreds (maybe thousands!) of people when I take the stage at the opening ceremonies, I will help bring about increased awareness about the risks for younger women, and especially educate others on metastatic breast cancer. If you would like to join us on April 29th at the State Capital, please click here to become a member of our team or to make a donation to this cause. To learn more about the great work of the Mid-Michigan Komen affiliate, and to see yours truly in their video, click on this link.
Hola amigos! Well, Mexico was just what the doctor ordered. We had perfect weather - in the mid 80's and sunny every day, we had a beautiful beach, a fun pool, and great company...what more can you ask for?! I met my Mom and Doug in Playa del Carmen on the afternoon of the 7th and later that night we were joined by my friends, Emily and Lindsay who flew in from Chicago. We all stayed until the 13th, and as always, vacation just flew by way too fast. I have had a lot of great trips lately but they were packed with plans and didn't leave much time for relaxation. This trip was nothing but relaxing and it was just perfect. We woke up around 7am, worked out, went to breakfast, laid out at the beach or pool all day, went to a nice dinner, maybe had a drink (or two or three!), then off to bed early so we could repeat it all the next day. I even got a little tan on this pale Irish skin! Thank you so much Mom & Doug for this incredible birthday gift!
A view of part of our gorgeous resort...
This was the view at the end of our hallway in the hotel...paradise!
We survived a wild afternoon of snorkeling in huge waves, guided by men that spoke no English, and avoiding a poor guy puking in our boat!
I couldn't believe the weather here in the mitten when we got home! It was beautiful - and has stayed beautiful. It sure made coming home from Mexico much easier. This past week and weekend, we have been outside as much as possible. Mike has been super busy with baseball try-outs and this weather has been perfect for it. We had a great St. Patty's Day spent with friends and a little family time too. This upcoming week is a super busy one - and a pretty special one too.
Aside from having a lot of great plans with different friends this week, an appointment with my plastic surgeon to prep for my next surgery, my two monthly injections, and a support group meeting...it's also my 30th birthday on Wednesday and Friday is not only Doug's birthday but it marks the big 1 year cancerversary! Then on Saturday, Mike has planned a bday party for me at one of the local watering holes. It's going to a busy and emotional week for me, I am sure!
My mom has always made birthdays a big deal in our family, but this one is definitely extra special - and I have a feeling each birthday from here on out will be a pretty big cause for celebration. Although a lot of my friends have had a tough time coming to grips with turning 30, I couldn't be happier. I am so grateful for every day, every month, and every year. I am grateful to be celebrating my 30th birthday this week and I pray I am able to celebrate many, many more. It reminds me of a quote shared with me by a friend...."Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many". -Unknown.
Friday marks one full year of this official cancer journey. I just can't believe it's been a year. In some ways it's just flown by in the blink of an eye - and in other ways, it feels like I have been traveling this road for eternity. It's daunting to think of how much my life has changed since this time last year. I am not sure how to process everything I am feeling about this milestone - it is a mixture of gratitude and joy for all the support we have received and for how well I am doing - but mixed in there is a deep sadness and grief over the tremendous losses I have suffered this year, the dreams I had that will no longer be, and the life I thought I had ahead of me. I am sure I will be thinking a lot about this all week and will share more reflections on Friday. All in all, my life is abundantly blessed and when I blow out those birthday candles, my wish will simply be to continue to live a life full of happiness, health and the love I feel surrounded by every day!
My blog to keep you all