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 :)
What more could a girl ask for in one weekend....spending a ton of time with family and friends visiting from out of town, meeting a true inspiration in my life, supporting a wonderful local charity.....oh, and having my picture on the cover of the Detroit Free Press newspaper! Yeah, that's right...the cover!
First things first...a few months ago, I discovered the lovely Kris Carr was coming to speak in Rochester Hills. I couldn't believe it and my immediate thought was, "I don't care what I have going on, I have got to be there!" Some of you may be thinking, "That is so cool", and others may be thinking, "Who the heck is Kris Carr?" Well, for those of you that don't have the pleasure of knowing who Kris is, I will be happy to tell you a little about her. Kris is a New York Times best-selling author and a self proclaimed "Wellness Warrior". She also happens to be living with Stage IV cancer and has been kicking it's butt for the past nine years. I had a vague recollection of her TLC documentary entitled, "Crazy Sexy Cancer", which followed the beginning of her journey with the disease, but didn't know very much about her until after I was diagnosed. My friend, Nikki bought me Kris' book, "Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips" and from the instant I started reading, I felt like she was speaking directly to me. Kris was 31 years old when she was diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer and was told she had no more than ten years to live. Everything she wrote about completely resonated with me - all of the unique issues that a young woman faces while battling this disease, especially one without a cure. I could identify with everything Kris wrote about and I knew right away that she was going to be a huge inspiration for me. After reading that book, I then read her "Crazy Sexy Diet Book", and became involved in her online community. Kris' website, Crazy Sexy Life is filled with a lot of health and wellness information and her online community, My Crazy Sexy Life is an amazing place to connect with thousands of other cancer survivors. There are over 200 different online support groups at My Crazy Sexy Life and my discovery of the metastatic breast cancer group has been an absolute Godsend for me.
I am so grateful that I have so much support from the incredible community of breast cancer survivors. And I am also thankful to belong to support groups specifically for young adults, but "meeting" my online friends of the metastatic breast cancer group has filled a huge void for me. The most difficult aspects of this disease for me are those that deal with coming to grips with a Stage IV diagnosis - wrapping my head around living my entire life with cancer, and living with the fear that this disease will take me away from those I love well before I am ready - those are issues that others just can't understand. No matter how well intentioned someone is, whether they are a cancer survivor or not, there are aspects of my life that only these women, and others dealing with metastatic disease can truly understand. Having this support group of amazing, positive, and optimistic women has been a huge comfort to me and ultimately, I have Kris Carr to thank for that.
I have always been dumbfounded when watching people (usually teenagers) lose their minds when meeting a celebrity - like the girls that would scream, cry, and pass out at a Michael Jackson concert just because they were in his presence. Well, although there was no screaming or passing out, I did become extremely emotional upon meeting Kris. I tried to choke back tears as she signed my two books, but soon they were streaming down my face as I desperately tried to quickly explain to her what a huge impact she has had in my life. It was like an out of body experience, where I sat back and watched myself thinking, "get ahold of yourself - you are acting like a crazy fool!" - but something came over me and I was so overwhelmed with emotion. Not because I was meeting someone that is considered a "celebrity" in some circles, but because this person has truly made a huge positive impact in my life. To me, Kris represents inspiration, motivation, optimism, positivity, self-advocacy, and most of all, she represents HOPE. And that means everything to me.
If you or anyone you know could benefit from a tremendous resource in the battle against cancer, please direct them to Kris' books or website. It is a wealth of information and support, not only for those of us with cancer, but for anyone that is seeking a physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthier life. To watch a quick video to learn more about the fabulous Kris Carr, please click here.
Kris was in Michigan as the keynote speaker for The Pink Fund. This luncheon was a fundraiser for this great organization which raises money to help financially support women while they battle breast cancer. To learn more about The Pink Fund, click here.
After a wonderful afternoon at The Pink Fund luncheon with Momma Jan, I headed to the Callaghan Family Picnic for the remainder of the day. I am so extremely blessed that I absolutely adore Mike's family and love spending time with them. I have been a part of the their family for nearly 13 years now and they have always treated me as one of their own. I love Mike's aunts, uncles, and cousins as if they are my blood relatives and I had a fabulous time with them Saturday afternoon, Saturday night watching the Tigers game, and on Sunday at our house while a group of us cheered on the Lions and the Tigers!
I woke up on Sunday morning at 7:30am to the sound of my phone ringing. It was Julie, one of my very best friends, and upon answering I realized she was crying. She was crying tears of joy and pride as she saw the Detroit Free Press article featuring yours truly. I was so touched and immediately so excited to get my hands on a copy. Mike immediately headed out to the store and hurried back home with a huge stack of newspapers. I couldn't believe it when I saw my face on the actual cover of the paper! And then to see a full page picture of my mug on the cover of the Health + Food section! I was blown away. After I turned the page I saw the wonderful article by Patricia Montemurri and a huge spread of information honoring Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I honestly did not realize what a huge feature this was going to be and I was completely shocked.
Just "a few" of the papers Mike bought...he's a proud hubby and went a little overboard
Cover of the Health + Food section
Two page spread inside the Health + Food section along with a lot of other great information regarding types of breast cancer, how to complete self breast exams, mammograms, and other helpful screening information.
The main article is also featured on the Detroit Free Press website, and you can read it here. Thank you so much to all of our family and friends that contacted us to share their excitement with us on Sunday. The happiness for me is not seeing my name or picture in the paper (if you know me, you know I pick apart every picture of myself anyways), but it is in the thought that perhaps this article can help just one other person. Perhaps it can lead someone to early detection to save themselves from going through this, or maybe it can help someone that has been diagnosed realize that life goes on, and that although the journey is a difficult one, it can also be amazingly fulfilling and meaningful.
ps. I planned on completing this post last night, but late in the afternoon I received an amazing text message. A friend of mine from high school, Kevin, texted Mike and I to ask if we wanted tickets to the Tigers playoff game against the New York Yankees! Um, hello...of course we did!!! If you don't know us personally then you might not know what huge baseball fans we are - Mike in particular. Kevin has a friend on the Yankees (Chris Dickerson) and he hooked us up with his tickets in the Yankees family section! In one word- AMAZING! We were 26 rows behind home plate with an incredible view of all of the action. We were just a few rows behind Jeter's parents & Granderson's parents, one section over from former Detroit Red Wings, Chris Osgood and Kris Draper and Detroit Red Wing, Mike Commodore was sitting in the seat immediately behind me. It was nuts! But the best part was cheering on the Tigers as they scored another victory over the Yankees! Thank you so much to Kevin (and Chris Dickerson) for the fabulous tickets!
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