Night time used to be my favorite part of the day. The time when Mike and I would cozy up in bed together and I would half jokingly, but half seriously, prod him to tell me his "hopes and dreams" for the future. In a particularly funny voice, I would say it the same way every time, "Sooo....what are your hopes and dreams?" He would always laugh and roll his eyes at me and it became a silly game we would often play. But all joking aside, I loved those conversations about our dreams for the future....where would we want to live, what trips were we going to take, what did we want to name our kids. Mike has always had this incredible way of simply living in the moment and being completely content with that. While I have always been a planner and a dreamer. Not to say I wasn't content with where we were in that moment, but I loved dreaming of the future and what our life would look like. It's one of the most difficult things that cancer has taken from me.
I am grateful that after almost five years of living with this disease, I have learned how to plan and dream again. But it's simply not the same. I have to add little disclaimers to my hopes and dreams now when Mike and I talk about them...."If I make it to 40, let's do _______", or "let's go on that trip next year...if my scans are okay." Have you ever seen "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"? When I think and dream about the future, it's like a scene from that movie with these incredibly beautiful landscapes, bright and vivid colors....and then all of a sudden it's as if my dream balloon pops and I am struck in the face with the reality of living with an unpredictable disease, and my dreams turn to black and white, void of all the magic in that colorful fantasy world. No matter how hard I try, I cannot dream with the same reckless abandon that I once could.
Of course every situation has two sides to the story and I like to believe there is always a silver lining to be found. Over these last few years, I have come to appreciate living in the moment more than I ever did before. I have learned that I can still have dreams of the future, but instead of 10 or 20 years down the road, I talk to Mike about my dreams for next year and what we want our life to look like. I suppose it's all about learning how to handle the cards that are dealt to you. It reminds me of one of my very favorite quotes....
I am so grateful that many of my hopes and dreams have come to fruition over the last few years. And even more recently, a big one was a family vacation we all took to Mexico the day after Christmas. The older I get, the more I realize that we really don't need much to be happy in this life. All of the material possessions just don't do it for me anymore. I have the hardest time trying to give my family ideas for gifts for Christmas or birthdays. All we really need is to be surrounded by those we love and share experiences that bring us joy and memories we can hold onto.
I was so happy when my family agreed with me last year that rather than exchanging gifts for Christmas, we should take a family trip together. I don't think I had been on a vacation with my brother since I was in the 7th or 8th grade! We all left for Mexico the day after Christmas and not only celebrated the holiday there together, but Mike and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary and we all rang in another new year! I am so grateful for this time together and it was a week I will cherish forever.
I have been feeling really well overall. Just dealing with some fatigue that seems to be worse lately and some aches and pains that truthfully probably have more to due with aging and having a physically demanding job. Can't blame everything on cancer I guess. ;) I am scheduled for another round of scans on Monday, March 13th and will get the results that Thursday, on St. Patrick's Day. I am taking that as a good omen for this Irish girl! And hey, if the results aren't good, at least I can drown my sorrows in some green beer, right?! :) Please keep us in your prayers at that time in particular, because I am still enjoying a very good quality of life on these current meds and truthfully, I am fearful that treatments down the road might not be so kind.
I am going to try to make more of an effort to keep up with the blog. Not only to share what has been going on with me, but also because it is a cathartic experience and I think it's important I make it a priority for myself. There are times when I am feeling down that it really helps me sort through my feelings, or look back on all I have been through in order to help give myself a little pep talk to keep on truckin'. I am also grateful it has served as a time capsule of sorts since this journey began and I want to make sure I contine that. I can't believe I only posted twice last year so hopefully I will take some time to document some of the great things that happened, like throwing out the first pitch at the Tigers Game! It was a pretty amazing experience!
So, now here I sit during my new favorite time of the day...the very early morning (of Saturday or Sunday in particular), before the sun rises. If I haven't run myself ragged the day before, I am able to crawl out of bed when Gracie wakes me at 6:00am. The house is dark, as is the entire neighborhood. After feeding the dogs, I start the fireplace and sit with a cup of coffee on the couch. This is the one time of the day where I allow myself to bask in the quiet, in the stillness that surrounds me, and be alone with my thoughts. It is in this time of the day that I enjoy the gift of another sunrise, another day full of hope and possibilities...and that in itself is enough...a dream that has already come true.
ps - Happy Valentine's Day to all of you...just an extra excuse to tell those you love just how much you appreciate them. Nothing better than that. So with that said, I hope you know how much I genuinely appreciate all of you who continue to be amazing friends and devoted family and those who keep us in our prayers even if you have never met us. Sending you lots of love today!
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!
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