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.
I knew the fall would be busy, but boy is it giving me a good run for my money. We have had a lot going on over here at the Malley household but there are no complaints here. We are just busy living our hectic lives that we enjoyed before cancer barged in. The fall photography season continues to be booming and I am so grateful that within my first year of becoming an official business, I couldn't be busier! I apologize to my friends whom I haven't been able to spend as much time with lately, but starting this business is really a passion of mine and I am so grateful for the chance to do it -and to feel well enough to do it! A huge thank you to all of the clients that have trusted in me, while I continue to learn and grow. You can check out my most recent work here on Facebook or on my blog.
I am also gearing up to add more hours at The Recovery Project, and I am really looking forward to that. I am so blessed to love my job as a physical therapist and to work at a place that is so completely supportive in every way. I was really worried about returning to work earlier this summer. I was worried if it would totally exhaust me - which it did in the beginning. Would it cause my back to hurt? Would I feel like my physical limitations hindered me as a therapist? Would I remember everything I worked so hard to learn for 7 1/2 years of college? ....The great news is that although I may need to brush up on some skills that I haven't used in awhile, it feels really good to be serving my patients again. I love interacting with my patients and co-workers (who are awesome, I might add!) and it feels even better to be using that good ole' left brain again. :) I am beyond grateful to be feeling well enough to be able to increase my hours again next month (once I am all healed up from surgery), and grateful to have employers that allow me to make this transition at my own pace.
There always seems to be so much I want to catch you all up on but lately the thought of that alone, makes me feel tired which then deters me from updating the blog at all. I promise I will eventually get around to sharing some pretty big things that have happened recently, such as my dinner with Nancy Brinker and my trip to Chicago for the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network National Conference.
Another wonderful event that recently took place was the 18th Annual Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute Heroes of Breast Cancer Awards. I have been treated at Karmanos ever since I was diagnosed and I have nothing but exceptional things to say about everyone I have worked with there. It is truly an incredible place and I am so thankful that I can receive the highest level of care so close to home. I was completely blown away a few months ago when I received a phone call notifying me that I was being honored with the Community Service Award at this years Heroes of Breast Cancer Awards. It was so unexpected and so meaningful to me on so many levels - but mostly because I have always said that although I would never wish this disease upon anyone, if I can at least turn it into something positive, then it's not for nothing. Then all the pain and heartache are at least worth it in some way to help a greater good. Although I never set out to be recognized in any way, I am extremely humbled that I was.
Karmanos hosted a beautiful evening at the Max M. Fisher Music Center in Detroit on October 30 and I was able to invite my family to attend along with me. There were over 200 people in attendance (including my oncologist and the oncology social worker that I started our support group with) and it couldn't have been a nicer evening. There were ten awards given that evening to various people and organizations and I was so surprised to even be among them. It was a night filled with smiles and meeting new people, feeling hopeful about the incredible research that Dr. Lum is doing with metastatic breast cancer that earned him the Scientific Distinction Award, but also a night with moments of sorrow and tears as a strong and heartbroken mother accepted an award on her daughter's behalf after she passed away earlier this year from this disease.
What touched me the most about the entire evening was an anonymous quote from a member of the support group I helped create at Karmanos. I was holding it together pretty well as they were introducing me but after that quote was read, I struggled to maintain my composure as I walked on the stage to give my acceptance speech. It was her words that meant the most because the women in my support group truly mean the world to me. I like to think that creating that group has helped, and will continue to help many women that travel this road, but truly it was a selfish endeavor as well - because every time I meet with them, I feel better. I feel more hopeful. I feel uplifted. I feel grateful, and happy, and blessed. And most importantly, I never feel alone. As I said in my speech that night, I am so humbled to have received this award, since it truly belongs to all of the young women in our group that have given so much back to me - and for them, I am eternally grateful.
You can read more about all of the Heroes of Breast Cancer here.
Surgery is in 11 days! I'm getting a little nervous but trusting that all will go well. Thanks for keeping me in your prayers.
I guess once I had a taste of the sweet freedom after surgery, there was no keeping me down any longer. Ever since the nausea and soreness settled down, it seems like life has returned to it's usual hectic pace. No complaints here though - that's the kind of life that feels most 'normal' to me anyway. And I will always be grateful to be busy since that is a true indication that I am feeling good!
A belated Happy Mother's Day to all of you amazing mommas out there! I was able to spend that day hosting brunch for the fam over at our house and then heading out to GG's to celebrate with her, my aunts, uncles, and cousins. There aren't many things I can say about my incredible Momma that I haven't already gushed about in previous posts. All I know is that I would be lost without her, and Mike and I are beyond grateful to have her in our lives and help support us through all of the ups and downs of the past year, in particular. She deserves much more recognition than one special day allows! We love you Momma! ♥
I am also so grateful to have some other pretty amazing women in my life too...especially my grandma GG, and my Godmother, my Aunt Carol. Happy Mother's Day to you both, too! Love you!
Last Monday, I had my first follow up appointment with Dr. M since surgery on May 4th. He was pleased with how everything looks and how I have been feeling. Of course, I had to badger him and ask if I can please get back to working out and doing everything around the house that I want to do. He gave me the green light to go back to the gym but I am not able to do anything with my arms for another 4 weeks - no lifting weights, no pushing, no pulling, no picking up friends babies....oops, might have cheated on that last one a few times! ;) It is driving me nuts to not be able to do what I want, but I am trying my best to be a good little patient and make sure that everything heals just as it is intended to.
Last Wednesday, I had the privilege of being invited onto the field at Comerica Park during the national anthem and first pitch at the Tigers Game. It was such a neat experience to join other breast cancer survivors as the Tigers honored us with their "Going To Bat Against Breast Cancer" game. I met up with some of my YSC friends there as well. We wore the shirts that the YSC team is wearing for the Race for the Cure - it's pretty astounding to see the ages of our diagnoses on our shirts!
I was able to capture a picture of myself on the scoreboard of me taking a picture of the scoreboard! ha-sounds confusing, I know. Can you see where I circled myself in the pic below?
Wednesday night at Comerica was a blast! Then first thing Thursday morning, I headed to Karmanos for my monthly injections into my abdomen. In addition to that, I was asked to participate in an interview with our local ABC news affiliate, WXYZ Channel 7. The super sweet and lovely anchor, Alicia Smith, interviewed me. She wanted to know my story and what I have been through, about why I wanted to help start a young women's support group, and why I participate in the Race for the Cure and what it means to me to have others support me there as well. It was a fun morning and one more way that I am trying to help raise awareness for young adults faced with cancer. I haven't heard when it will air but it's going to be sometime this week before the race on Saturday morning. Channel 7 will be interviewing me again live at the race with my entire team there with me!
Here I am with Alicia Smith, who couldn't have been any nicer and made me feel much more relaxed on camera.
The rest of the week and weekend was filled with many Kettering baseball games, a trip to Eastern Market for flower day, and spending time with two of my favorite munchkins - Emma and Alice. Luckily for me, I have some pretty cute models to practice my photography skills with. :)
I also wanted to mention that a group of my wonderful friends are at it again this year and have formed their "Meghan Malley Rally" team for the 3 Day For A Cure event in August. I am so proud of them and honored that they want to dedicate their time and energy to this cause in my name. They are not only focused on supporting me, but on helping to generate more awareness for metastatic breast cancer and the importance for further research to help find a CURE!
Their fundraising efforts are underway and if you like to bowl, and love to support a great cause, we have an event for you! Check out the flyer for more details and click here to visit their team page to either join our team or donate! I am not an official participant, but I will be out there attempting 10 miles each day, so come join us August 17-19!
Keep your eyes out for me on Channel 7 news this week and come join us Saturday morning at the Detroit Race for the Cure! It is a wonderful event! Hope everyone is having a great week and have a fun Memorial Day weekend!
ps. - I would like to give a very special thank you to Dr. Schenden and his staff at Schenden's Medical Day Spa. Last week I was completely blown away by a letter that Dr. Schenden wrote me. He told me that some of his staff have been following the blog and have been touched by my story. Dr. Schenden mentioned that they knew one of the "30 before 30" items I wasn't able to cross off my list yet was to get a massage for Mike. Well, Dr. Schenden so graciously sent us two gift certificates for spa services at his medical day spa! One for Mike, and one gift certificate for me too! It was so unexpected and I am so grateful. People often do not realize the impact that one little note, or one kind gesture can have. I was brought to tears by this act of kindness and I am truly so thankful that such compassionate and thoughtful people are out there in the world doing things to help brighten someone else's day. Thank you so much to Dr. Schenden and his staff - It truly meant so much to us!
My blog to keep you all