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.
I distinctly remember the moment when I realized that my group of girlfriends and I were unique. It was back at Miami University during my undergrad years and it dawned on me what a special bond I had with my best girlfriends from home. During my freshman year of college, I had pictures of my Beauts plastered all over my tiny dorm room walls. I remember so many people making comments to me like, "you still talk to your friends from high school?", or "I couldn't wait to get out of my hometown and get away from people I went to high school with!" Throughout my college years, I discovered that many of my Miami friends kept in less and less touch with their friends from home, while my friendship with my Beauts remained as strong as ever. Sure, maybe I didn't get the chance to see all of them as much, but it didn't matter - because we could go months without a visit and then once we saw each other, we could pick right back up where we left off. It has been 11 years since we graduated high school and I am so proud to say that my Beauts are still some of my very best friends. We have been there for each other through thick and thin and I am so grateful to have them in my life!
Seven of us, plus one baby Beaut, were able to get together for a girls weekend getaway up to Nanc & Bob's place on beautiful Sage Lake. It was a perfect relaxing weekend with my girls - filled with sunshine, swimming, laughter, and lots and lots of food! I love you guys so much and I am so blessed by the amazing friendships I share with each of you. Jen, Kel & Chels - we missed you lots and I plan on photoshopping you into the pics! ;)
Nanc & Bob - thank you so much for letting us invade the cottage for the weekend! We had a fabulous time and your lake definitely "sparkled" for us!
Trying to get a little color on that bald head of mine :)
Gorgeous sunset over Sage Lake
After arriving back home Sunday, my mom picked me up about 10 minutes later in order to head out to Aretee' Day Spa for the fundraiser that Diana organized. What an incredible job Diana did putting this together! My mom and I were treated to mini mani's and pedi's and massages - it was wonderful. I am sorry that I missed seeing most of you there earlier in the day, but thank you to everyone that came out to support us. A huge thank you to Diana, the Aretee' Day Spa, and all of the therapists and technicians that donated their time and amazing services!
I am so excited to head out to Ann Arbor on Saturday to cheer on my amazing friend Kyle as she bikes 30 miles for the Susan G. Komen Ride For A Cure. Kyle has been one of the most supportive and thoughtful friends throughout this entire journey, and cheering her on is the least I can do to say thank you. I am so proud of you, Kiki and I know you will do great! For anyone that wants to come support Kyle, please click here for more information, including a map of the route. The 30 mile ride starts at 11am at Forsythe Middle School located at 1655 Newport Rd, Ann Arbor, 48103.
Our last fundraiser for the 3 Day walk is this Friday at Royal Oak High School. Come join us at 7pm to workout, have fun, and raise some money so we can reach our $30,000 goal! We are almost there! All fitness levels welcome and if you are worried about making it through the entire workout - just come hang out with me on the sidelines!
I can't believe that the 3 Day is already next week! I am so excited for it but I will admit that I am a little nervous at the same time because I know it will be a very emotional weekend for me. I am so grateful to my wonderful friends that have decided to participate in this event and to all of you that want to come out that weekend to not only support them, but support me as well. I have put together a schedule of events for the weekend and would love to get the chance to cheer on the walkers with as many family and friends as possible. I apologize in advance if the small print is difficult to read - I had to fit it on one page. Feel free to email me if you would like me to send you this info in a word document.
Lots and lots of fun happenings coming up in the next couple of weeks - not to mention the fact that Brinley, Andy and baby Andrew get here next Wednesday! Then my wonderful college friends and sorority sisters, Melanie, Amanda and Liz will all be here for the 3 Day as well. I can't wait to see everyone soon!
My blog to keep you all