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 :)
Exactly one year ago today, my life was forever changed. It's incredible to think of how a few small words can turn your life upside down and transform your entire world in an instant. Although a year ago I knew I had a battle ahead of me, I never could have dreamed it would become such a daunting one, with such a dire diagnosis. In so many ways, it still feels surreal.
I spent some quiet time alone last night, reflecting on everything that has happened throughout this past year. I re-read all 108 comments written on my very first post on this blog. The love and outpouring of support was overwhelming then - and it still is today. The first paragraph I wrote on that first blog entry says it best...
"I guess I should start off by saying that I am so incredibly blessed to have so many people in my life that love me so much! I have a truly AMAZING husband that is the absolute love of my life (please excuse the cheesy, lovey-dovey stuff- I can't help myself sometimes), a mother and step-father that are the best, and a brother that has put up with me for 29 years and loves me anyways. (Yep, turned the big 2-9 on Monday and then found out about the big "C word" 2 days later...happy birthday, huh?!) In addition to these wonderful people, I have the most loving aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws, and grandmother ever!...and my friends...let me tell you, I have the most incredible and supportive friends ever!"
Those words hold even more truth today. I am beyond blessed to have the most incredible support network of family, friends, and even complete strangers. I truly have no idea how anyone gets through times like this without that. I have made it through these last 365 days because of your support, your love, and your prayers.
For 365 days, I have known that I am living with cancer.
For 365 days, I have looked at the world differently.
For 365 days, I have lived with first hand knowledge that life is a precious gift.
And for 365 days, I have endured more physically, mentally and emotionally than I ever thought I would in this lifetime...
3 bone scans
1 MUGA heart scan
3 CT scans
1 port surgically implanted in my chest
1 shaved head
Many lost eyelashes and eyebrows
15 rounds & more than 60 hours of chemotherapy
1 terrifying loss of consciousness
28 radiation treatments
Hundreds of trips to Karmanos
1 car ride spent vomiting
1 night in the hospital
3 annoying surgical drains
2 tissue expanders
Seemingly endless amount of days awaiting test results
Thousands of tears
1 bout of the flu
Too many days of nausea
Many, many needle pokes and blood draws
210 days of Tamoxifen
6 painful injections of Zoladex with a 14 gauge needle
5 injections of Xgeva to strengthen my bones
2 shut down ovaries
22 pills every single day
Ridiculous amount of hot flashes
Countless appointments with my medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, breast surgeon, plastic surgeon, PM & R doc, occupational therapist, nurses, genetic counselors, and support groups
I have prayed, meditated, juiced and blended my fruits & veggies, practiced yoga, tried reiki, been massaged, began a gratitude journal, learned deep breathing techniques, became a member of 2 support groups and started a third. I have attended fundraisers, spoke to high schoolers, and travelled to conferences. I have made new friends, reached out, and shared my story to try to help others.
I have learned how to let go of stress, accept help from others, and learned how to say "no". I have learned how to take even better care of myself, how to truly relax, and how to live in the moment. I have learned to have more patience, to not sweat the small stuff, and to let go of the things which I cannot control.
I have slept a lot, celebrated a lot, and even travelled a lot.
I have laughed and cried, laughed and cried...and cried some more.
I've revised my hopes and dreams - but haven't stopped hoping and dreaming.
I've prayed, promised, bargained...and maybe even begged.
I've figured out what my true priorities are in life.
I smile and laugh every day. I tell my husband, "I love you" every day. I talk to my mom at least 5 times every day. I talk to at least one friend every day. I cuddle my pup every day. I try to eat well and care for my body every day. I thank God every day.
I don't take anything for granted.
I appreciate the small things in life.
I count my blessings.
I've been reminded of how many people love and care about me.
Reminded of what an incredible caregiver and best friend my husband is.
Reminded of how lucky I am to have an amazing mom.
Reminded that I am not the one in charge.
Reminded of my faith in God.
I've been reminded that each and every day is a blessing...all 365 of them - whether they were filled with injections, infusions, and tears - or smiles, laughter and joy....they were 365 huge blessings and I am grateful for every single one of them.
Thank you to every one of you reading this for your love and support over these past twelve months. There are no words to adequately thank you all but please know that your comments, notes, calls, texts, meals, and visits have made a huge impact in my life and have helped lift my spirits each and every day. I look forward to another 365 days of blessings...and many, many more years beyond that!
ps. Happy, happy birthday to my wonderful step-dad, Douggie. ;) Thank you so much for all you have done for us this year. We are so blessed to have you in our lives!
It seems appropriate that I leave you with some images from my garden on this special day. Last year at this time, I included an image of a tiny tulip popping up in my flower bed. Spring has sprung even earlier this year and my flowers are looking great already. It's only fitting that my birthday and this milestone anniversary occur during the first week of spring...a time of re-birth, growth and renewal.
My blog to keep you all