That's right, folks....the breakfast menu for tomorrow morning is a whopping serving size of barium sulfate! Woohoo! Just how everyone wants to start off their Monday morning, right?
In case you aren't following my late night, exhausted attempt at humor...this means I am getting my next round of scans done first thing at the morning tomorrow. I will head to the hospital with Mike around 7:30am and we will likely be there until mid-afternoon getting a few different tests and bloodwork done. Downside - it's a long and exhausting day. Upside - Mike took the day off to go with me so at least I get an entire day with him by my side. We have both been so ridiculously busy lately that I am really looking forward to spending the day together, even if it means sitting in the lovely Nuclear Medicine Department all morning.
If you have some prayers, good mojo or healing thoughts you could send my way, I would sincerely appreciate it! It truly does ease the "scanxiety" knowing you are all cheering me on and sending positive thoughts into the atmosphere.
I have lots of updates it seems, especially about all of the hard work I have been doing to promote MBC and young survivors at the Komen Detroit Race for the Cure this year! It is late and I have to get to bed, but I promise to update soon. If I don't get a chance this week since it's going to be a nutty one again, please at least spread the word to anyone who is local, to please register for the Komen Detroit Race for the Cure this year and come see what we have been doing - especially for those women who are metastatic. Here is a little sneak peek at one of the great things we have in store for race participants.
Please join us next Saturday at Chene Park in Detroit or make a donation to "Team Malley Rally" here.
Thanks again for your thoughts and prayers. Won't see Dr. F until a week from Thursday for my results. Waiting is soooo....fun. (insert sarcasm here)
And because I can't possibly have a post without sharing some pics...here are some quick iphone shots of the fun we had together on Mother's Day while cheering on the Tigers!
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.
It's often quite overwhelming and daunting to think about how much can go on in the span of a couple weeks....how many emotions I go through...how many highs and lows there are...and how my the status of my health can change.
The past few weeks have been nothing short of exhausting and overwhelming. There are times when I want to share with you all what has been going on but I don't even know where to start, and it makes me feel exhausted just thinking about trying to catch everyone up to speed. I apologize for that because I know you are all waiting for updates and want to know how things are going. Prior to my last post about the loss of my uncle, I was prepared to tell you about my trip to Vegas for my friend Nikki's wedding. It was great to see my old college roomies and have a few days of R & R - although I actually got a little extra time than I bargained for since I accidentally booked my flight home on the wrong day. :) So, I got a little extra fun in the sun and enjoyed not only the warm desert air and sunshine, but laughs with friends, good food, a great Cirque du Soleil show and even won a few bucks! I am grateful for feeling well enough to travel and spend time with friends!
After I got home from Las Vegas, it was back to full blown busy mode with 2 or 3 photo sessions each week, an amazing acoustic Ben Harper concert in Ann Arbor with Mike, doctors appointments & my monthly injections, support group meetings, and a fun fall baking day with girlfriends.
The past week or two so has been an especially difficult one for me. Of course, it all stems from the loss of my Uncle Kevin and all of the emotions that brings. Then last Wednesday, Mike and I were invited to an impromptu small dinner with Ambassador Nancy Brinker - the founder and CEO of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization. My local Komen affiliate has been wonderful about listening to my concerns regarding how isolated the metastatic breast cancer community often feels in the midst of all the Komen events and fundraisers. I will write a more in depth post on this another time but the meeting was my opportunity to voice my concerns and opinions to Ambassador Brinker herself - and that's exactly what I did. I would say that dinner went well but it was the start of another emotional few days for me involving a lot of talk about cancer, cancer, cancer.
The following day, Mike and I left straight from work to be with my family in Grand Rapids as we prepared to lay my Uncle Kevin to rest. Thursday night and Friday were spent remembering what an amazing guy he was and what a great impact he had on so many people. As I said before, these things are even more difficult for me now that I am living with this disease. It makes me wonder - what songs will be at my service? Who will speak? Is this how my family will be talking about me? I am thankful that Mike lets me be free to talk about whatever I need to, at any time. So, as we left Grand Rapids and drove to Chicago, we talked a little bit about my funeral. No, I am not dying - and I don't plan on heading that way for a very long time. But the reality of this disease forces us to discuss these things sometimes. And contrary to what you may think, it actually makes me feel better to talk about it. It doesn't help when someone says, "don't talk about that" or "that's not going to happen". Let us talk about it because the thoughts go on in our minds anyways and if we are free to discuss it, it lifts some of that weight off of our shoulders. ("Our", as in those of us living with metastatic breast cancer and other incurable diseases.)
We arrived to Chicago on Friday night and I was looking forward to just relaxing with our good friends Beth & Ben - and that's just what we did. We were not only in Chicago to visit our friends, but we went so that I could attend the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network's Annual Conference. Although, it was great to meet up with some of my friends living with MBC, the conference was difficult for me emotionally. I think I will talk about it more in my next post, but let's just say I was hoping to feel encouraged, uplifted and empowered and instead, I left feeling emotionally exhausted, frustrated and very sad.
First thing on Monday morning, I found myself back in my plastic surgeon's office. Haven't had the chance to tell you guys, but the swelling in my left breast returned a few weeks ago. I know Dr. M told me that if the swelling ever came back, surgery was inevitable. Well, after discussing the issue once again, asking more questions, and shedding a few tears - I left my appointment with surgery on the books, as well as a decreased sense of confidence that this will be the last of these problems. Of course, I trust Dr. M very much, but there is just no telling what will happen after he opens me back up. He will be removing the mesh tissue that we think is causing all of the problems. He will also remove the implant and replace it with a new one. Not only am I worried about the usual side effects from surgery - infection, pain, and the fatigue that it brings over me - but I am worried about what will happen once that mesh is removed. I obviously needed that mesh the first time around because my skin wasn't strong enough to support the implant on it's own. I am now praying that somehow I will be able to successfully support the implant without the mesh, because if I cannot, it means more complications and more surgeries down the road.
I know that this is nothing major in the scheme of things and that things could be WAY worse. I get that -believe me, I do. But, for the first time last week, I finally hit a point where I just didn't want to try to find the silver lining. I didn't want to have a pity party, but I just wanted to be able to feel sad and discouraged and know that it was justified to feel that way for a little bit. I began to question many of my decisions. Did I do the right thing by having the left breast removed? Should I have just dealt with the mastectomy and foregone the reconstruction? Am I causing my body more harm than good in the long run by going through all of these surgeries and procedures? Once I let myself ask these questions, express these emotions, and work through my feelings, I felt better and could get on with my day.
So, surgery is now scheduled for November 20th - if I told you a later date, that's because there was an earlier opening so they are getting me in a little sooner. Please pray that everything goes very well and that my body can sustain this reconstruction without the mesh, and without further surgeries and complications.
Thanks for your constant love and prayers.
What a crazy, busy, wonderful couple of weeks it has been. Between the Johnson's visit, 3 Day festivities, our friend Zak coming to visit, celebrating Mike's birthday, a family reunion and an extremely packed schedule for Meg Malley Photography - things have been super busy!
We had such a good time having Brinley, Andy and Andrew here for a week. It is always so great to see them and to be able to spend so much time together. Mike and Andy are like partners in crime and always have a great time when they are together, and of course, Brin and I never have moments without lots of laughs and tons to talk about. It was so amazing to see how much little Andrew has changed since I visited them in Florida in February. He is a total cuddle bug who gives great hugs and kisses. He loves to pretend to cook, and carries his pots and pans everywhere he goes. He is active, smart, and full of smiles. The week flew by too fast and of course I miss them already, but I am so grateful that they were able to come visit. I love you guys!
And then there was the Susan G. Komen 3 Day For A Cure....how do you even summarize this event? You truly need to experience it in order to appreciate how moving and special it is. I am so grateful that five of my wonderful friends (Brinley, Nikki, Becca, Chanell, and Janine) dedicated so much of their time and energy to training, fundraising, and completing this 60 mile, 3 day challenge.
There has been quite a bit of controversy and drama with the Komen organization this year. On top of that, after my diagnosis, I learned that many women in the metastatic breast cancer community feel very upset with Komen due to the way that funds are dispersed, and the disparity regarding dollars allocated to metastatic research. Although I may dedicate an entire post to my feelings on these issues at some point, today is not that day. What I do want to share is that despite what anyone may say, I am grateful for what the Komen organization has done to raise awareness for this disease, and even if it's only one cent put towards metastatic research- I am grateful for it because every little bit helps.
What I feel most proud about regarding the 3 Day event this year is that my friends know how I feel, they know what is important to me, and they went above and beyond to spread my message about metastatic breast cancer awareness throughout this 3 Day event. I often feel lost in the "celebration" at breast cancer events. I am not the same type of "survivor". Breast cancer is not in my rearview window. It's not in the past and it's not something that will ever be behind me. I live and breath it every day and often times I don't feel quite as celebratory as many of the women at these events that have beat their disease because they were fortunate enough to be diagnosed early. So, what did my friends do? They spread the word about metastatic disease everywhere along their 60 mile journey. They brought it out of the shadows even though it's not the perfect success story. They talked about it, displayed the words "Metastatic breast cancer" proudly on their tents and signs, and they raised awareness for the fact that thousands of women continue to live with this disease each and every day and that we have not been truly successful until a cure has been found for all of us! Not just those diagnosed early.
Team Meghan Malley Rally got robbed in the tent decorating competition. They should have won with their awesome Olympic themed decor...."Going for gold for Metastatic Cancer"....I loved it!
I was so proud of each of them (and all the other walkers!) and loved chasing them around and cheering them on all weekend long. They were amazing!
A huge thank you to the friends and family that came out to our cheering station on Saturday. It was so nice to see you there, supporting the walkers, and supporting me by your presence. The MVP of the day goes to Momma Jan - best cheerleader around...hands down! Thank you Mom and Doug for all you did that day- I appreciate it more than you know. Love you!
And a special, HAPPY 30TH BIRTHDAY to Becca Boo!!!! She celebrated the big 3-0 while walking all day long for this cause. What a great friend that is!
I am exhausted just looking back on the pictures from that weekend. :) What an emotional 3 days it is and I can't thank everyone enough for being part of it. Whether you walked, cheered, donated, or kept the walkers in your thoughts and prayers that weekend - thank you so very much!
After the Johnson fam left last Wednesday, our friend Zak came into town and we celebrated Mike's birthday, which was Saturday. It was a great weekend filled with lots of friends and family. HAPPY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my very best friend and the most incredible person I know. I am so very honored to be your wife and I look forward to celebrating many more birthday's with you in the future. Love you so much!
Well, it has been 7 weeks since I received my great scan results and I was really hoping to make it until the next scans in January before I had to deal with any new speed bumps, medically speaking. Unfortunately, that is not the case. I have been noticing some changes with my left breast over the past few weeks - swelling, changes in shape, warm to the touch. I have learned by now that I need to trust my instincts about my own body so I got in to see my plastic surgeon, Dr M. as soon as I could.
I saw him this morning and he is concerned. He doesn't know exactly what is going on and the cause of the swelling could be from a few different sources. To spare you all the details, many of which I am still trying to understand, this could be as minor as some blood accumulation due to some trauma that I wasn't aware of, all the way to something very serious such as a type of lymphoma that (VERY) rarely occurs after receiving breast implants. Needless to say, I am very worried. I don't want any complications. I don't want more surgery. I was finally starting to feel "normal" for awhile. I picked up more hours at the clinic and Meg Malley Photography is booming and keeping me so incredibly busy! I head to the hospital tomorrow for an ultrasound and needle aspiration of the fluid that is accumulating in the left side of my chest and breast. I will then have to wait for awhile until the results come back from the lab telling us what this is. I am praying that it will only require some simple intervention, such as Dr. M draining the fluid. I will be sure to keep you posted. Please keep me in your prayers that this is nothing serious and that life can continue as "normal".
Hope everyone is doing well and enjoys a wonderful Labor Day weekend. We are headed up to Torch Lake with our friends and I can't wait for some R & R!
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.
Over the past year or so, this has become one of my favorite quotes...."Gratitude turns what we have into enough." I will be the first to admit that it's not always easy to live by, but I try my best to remind myself of this mantra as often as possible - especially during those toughest times.
If you would have told me a year and a half ago that I would soon be diagnosed with cancer, then find out that it was the most aggressive and advanced stage, learn that I cannot have children, and all the other emotional and physical obstacles that have come along....I would never have believed you if you told me I would reach a day where I would be grateful to hear the words "stable disease"...but I truly am.
I will never forget the shock I felt during my first meeting with Dr. F, when he explained there was a stage of breast cancer that was no longer curable. I didn't understand - couldn't comprehend it - and didn't even worry about it too much since I figured there was no way that could apply to me. Well, fast forward to today and here I am living this seemingly entirely new life and I find myself grateful for stable, stage IV cancer. It's just crazy how much your life can change- how much you can adjust to, and what your definition of "good news" can become.
Although I will always have hard days and there will always be aspects of my life that are difficult, I am so thankful that I am able to have the outlook that I do. I attribute a lot of that to your prayers. I really do believe that through your prayers and well wishes, God has helped me learn how to cope with this life and how to continue to see my blessings and be grateful for them, amidst the pain and heartbreak that comes along with living with this diagnosis.
Since my last post when we received our great news from my scans, life has continued along at our usual busy pace. I have had a jam packed schedule of photography clients and I am loving growing this business. Mike and I just spent the weekend in Chicago visiting some of my best friends and it was a blast, as always.
This upcoming weekend is the Susan G. Komen Ride for the Cure in Ann Arbor and I will be there cheering on Doug and Kyle as they bike 30 miles to raise awareness and funds for this cause. This is a great event and my dear friend Kyle is still trying to reach her fundraising goal, so please consider donating whatever you can to her efforts. Please click here to donate!
Also, please consider supporting the "Meghan Malley Rally" 3 Day team. They are working hard to raise the necessary funds required to participate in this event in just a couple of weeks. They are participating in this event on August 17 -19th in order to help spread awareness that this disease does impact young women, and also to help generate awareness for metastatic disease and the critical importance of research in order to help find a cure. I would sincerely appreciate any donation you are able to make so that my friends can participate and further advocate for the issues that mean so much to me, and to each of them. Every dollar does make a difference! Please click here to visit the team page and click on any team members name to donate to that person specifically.
As if I haven't asked for enough already...I have one more request. Our good friend's little 3 year old daughter was diagnosed with Wilms Tumor (a type of kidney cancer) just a couple weeks ago. They have since found out that the cancer is Stage IV and has spread to her lungs, vena cava and is approaching her heart. Sweet little Cecylia has a long road ahead of her as she just began chemo in the hopes to shrink the cancer enough to have surgery to remove her kidney. This will then be followed by a heavy course of radiation treatments. Our friends are optimistic and very hopeful that this treatment will be effective for their baby girl, but of course this is a terrifying time for them. Mike and I have been so blown away by the outpouring of love and prayers for us and we are confident in the fact that it has made a positive impact on my health. So, I figured I would ask for all of you to add Cecylia to your prayers because I just know it will help. Please specifically pray that she stops coming down with fevers that repeatedly land her in the hospital. Please pray she is able to heal in the comfort of her own home with her parents and 2 year old sister, and that she becomes stronger each and every day so that her body is best equipped to battle this cancer.
Thank you so much! I hope everyone has a great week ahead.
I am being 100% truthful when I say that there has not been one moment throughout these last 15 1/2 months where I have asked, "why me?". I have never said, "this isn't fair", or had a huge pity party for myself. I have had my fair share of sad (okay, even devastated) moments, or times where I felt a little angry, frustrated or discouraged but I have never let it suck me down that big black hole of despair for very long. I have held tight to the faith that God has a plan for me, and although I may never understand it, He is watching over me and wants the best for me. I have spent more time working on my relationship with God since the day I was diagnosed. We had a little heart to heart where I said, "Hey, remember me?! I could really use your help right about now!"
There have been many "coincidences" along this road which I now don't believe were coincidences at all. There have been people that have been brought into my life for very specific purposes at seemingly the exact perfect time I needed them. There have been so many scary and stressful moments where I have been shocked at the sense of calm and peace that I felt come over me. It is in these times especially, that I know God is with me.
Although I was raised in the Catholic church, I found myself distanced from it the older I became. What always seemed to cause me frustration and confusion, and ultimately my lack of participation within the church, was the question of, "if we have an all knowing and all loving God, how does he let such bad things happen to such good people?". I have struggled with this thought since I was a little girl and it has always been a huge source of internal turmoil for me.
I am truly thankful for a few very special friends that help me work through these thoughts, and who share with me their thoughts and beliefs which have helped me understand that God does truly want whats best for me. He is not punishing me through this cancer. But, bad things do happen - and that is just life. I have been finding more peace lately by putting my trust in God and I am sincerely grateful for that.
With that said, it doesn't mean that my faith doesn't waiver. Traveling this road ultimately leads to many moments where it is hard to have faith, where it is hard to remember that God is with me, and where it is a challenge to focus on my blessings. The past week or so has been an true example of this.
Aside from having my scans completed last week and knowing those results are looming over my head, there have been a few other things going on in my personal life that even on their own would be devastating and difficult to get through - let alone all combined at the same time, on top of everything else we have already been dealing with. I had a few days of deep sadness, frustration, and confusion as to why so much could possibly be piled onto our plates right now. Why have I been through so much already at just 30 years old - more than many people go through in a long lifetime? These thoughts led to an impromptu pity party where I was the guest of honor. But, ultimately I needed to throw that party. I needed to let myself break down, release the tears and cries, and with that, release my worries, frustrations and fears to God.
I have come to truly detest the saying, "God doesn't give us more than we can handle" - I just don't believe that. I believe so many of us go through times where it is too much to handle, and that's when we need to rely on Him.
As the dust has settled over the last few days, the clouds of that deep sadness have lifted a bit, but I know I am headed straight into another potential storm on Thursday. I am praying (more like begging) for good news. I could really use a break right now - I need it more than ever.
Thank you for your continued prayers and words of encouragement. That is what helps me get through these difficult times. And thank you to those of you that have prayed for my Aunt Helen. She was taken off life support on Friday but is continuing to hold on. I am asking for prayers that she is able to let go, give her body the rest it deserves, and return to her family in Heaven who await her.
I will post on Thursday after my appointment with hopefully nothing but great news!
***REMINDER - There are TONS of great fundraising events happening to benefit the 3 Day team as they each try to raise at least $2,300 for the Susan G. Komen 3 Day For the Cure. Please check out the details and attend if you are able!
First up, Zumba this Friday night....
THIS WEEKEND - HUGE Garage Sale at Becca's house. Lots of great stuff - not your average garage sale finds! Please visit 367 East Saratoga Street in Ferndale from 8-3pm on Saturday and Sunday.
Next Thursday, July 19th - Fundraiser at Rosie O'Grady's in downtown Ferndale. Please join us starting at 6pm for all you can eat pizza and salad buffet out on the front patio for just $15. There will also be a silent auction and 50/50 raffle. Please pass this invite along to all your friends and family - it will be a great time!
The following week, come join us for some yoga!.....
We are also continuing to sell the adorable kids apparel as well! Please contact me for orders or you can place an order directly from Brinley's website at
http://littleonesforacure.blogspot.com. The onesies are available in 12, 18 and 24 months (special order at no additional cost, 3, 6 or 9 months) and the t's are available in 2T, 3T and 4T sizes.
If you would rather make a donation directly to the 3 Day team, please visit the link here.
and pick a team member to donate to. Thank you for your support!
Last but not least, my dear friend Kyle is once again participating in the 30 mile Ride For the Cure in Ann Arbor on August 4th. Please consider helping her reach her goal by donating here.
I have to start off by giving a huge, "Thank You!" to all of you that have helped rally around us and boost my spirits lately. Since I shared the last blog post, I have received so many thoughtful cards, messages, and calls from friends and family. I can't tell you how much that means to Mike and I - and how it does truly help us remember how many people are praying for us and how many of you want to help us in any way you can. I truly, truly appreciate it so much and don't know what I would do without the incredible support system that we are so blessed to have!
We have been so busy lately trying to juggle my work schedule, many photography gigs, Mike's strength and conditioning camps that he is running, taking care of the pup and the house, managing medical billing errors and paperwork, maintaining our healthy diets, getting enough sleep, and trying to make time to just relax and enjoy the summer with friends and family. I really make an effort to try my best to not stress about things like I used to. So what if the house is a little messy - or if my laundry has piled up to the ceiling - or if I fell behind on my paperwork at the clinic. Who cares! None of it is the end of the world and all that important in the scheme of things. I know that when I feel stressed or overwhelmed, I carry it throughout my entire body. My shoulders and upper traps feel tense and painful, my back aches, my stomach is upset, and I get a headache. Not only do I feel bad physically and mentally when I am stressed, but there are many, many published studies that document the damaging effects that stress can have on a body that is already fighting cancer - especially a hormonally driven cancer, such as mine. High levels of cortisol (the hormone that sky rockets when your body is stressed) leads to such problems as impaired cognitive performance, suppressed thyroid function, blood sugar imbalances such as hyperglycemia, decreased bone density, decreased muscle tissue, higher blood pressure, and lowered immunity and inflammatory responses in the body --which we all know are two huge things that I need to avoid in order to stay healthy. So bottom line is, we all need to let go of the stress. It's so harmful to our bodies and our spirits.
Speaking of letting go of the stress, I was so grateful that we had a little mini vacation last weekend and spent a few days up north in Traverse City. It was so relaxing and fun - and the farthest thing from stressful. Interestingly enough, I experienced no back pain! We were there to celebrate our friend Erin's wedding (which was beautiful!), and it was also nice to have some extra time to just enjoy each other and our friends, and to explore a part of the state that we absolutely love!
A few more fun pics I captured via Instagram on my phone...
This weekend we will be celebrating my cousin Devon's wedding and I am looking forward to some fun family time! Next week brings my scans which of course is always an anxiety ridden time but I am trying my best to not get myself too worked up about it. We would especially appreciate your continued prayers during that time.
If I could also make one more prayer request - my Aunt Helen suffered a terrible accident on Monday of this week. She is now in a coma after having half of her skull removed due to severe swelling and bleeding in her brain. The doctors said that it was too late but she is a fighter and still hanging on. Please keep her and my family in your prayers. Thank you very much!
I also wanted to share a few quick notes about the 3 Day for the Cure which is coming up on August 17! My friends have organized a few fundraisers that I wanted to tell you all about. There will be a Zumba fundraiser at Royal Oak High School on Friday, July 13. If you were there last year, you know how much fun this is!
The team will also be hosting a garage sale at Becca's house on Saturday, July 14 and Sunday, July 15 from 8am-3pm. We will be selling all sorts of good stuff - including great furniture and gently worn clothes. All proceeds will go directly to the 3 Day team's fundraising efforts. Becca's address is 367 East Saratoga, in Ferndale.
We are also selling some great items for the kiddos in honor of breast cancer awareness. There are onesies, t-shirts, and bibs available with all proceeds going towards the 3 Day as well. Shirts and onesies are $15 and bibs are $10. Many sizes available. Comment below with your contact info or message me if you are interested in placing an order.
Hope everyone is having a great week!
Do you ever sit back and take a minute to reflect on exactly where you are in your life? Not in the sense of a geographical location, but where you are spiritually, psychologically, emotionally. How did you end up there? What events throughout your life led to this exact moment? Where would you be if you chose the other path when you came upon the fork in the road?
We have all ended up exactly where we are based on a series of choices - and those choices have likely been influenced by a number of different people and circumstances throughout our lives. I think one major point of this crazy thing called life, is to learn from those choices - to reflect on where they led you - and to decide if that is a path you should continue to travel down, or perhaps it is time to venture out and try something new.
Are you truly happy in this moment? If not, what can you do about it? Are there steps you can take to actively participate in the direction your life is heading? Or are you willing to sit back and watch it all unfold without attempting to change the angle of your sails and steer yourself towards what brings you joy in this world?
The only way that I have found to live with true happiness while facing this disease, is to try to turn it into something positive. To try to somehow make a difference - to educate, to support, to befriend, to create awareness, to speak out. If I simply sat back and wallowed in self-pity about this hand that's been dealt to me, I would be miserable. What good would that do for anyone? For me, Mike, my family, and my friends - it would suck everyone down into a deep, dark hole. Instead, I have tried to do what I can to turn this situation around and make something good come from it.
I am grateful that New Balance and Chris Pearson, the director of the Mid-Michigan affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure gave me the opportunity to share my story last Sunday at the Race for the Cure in Lansing. I nervously stood on the steps leading up to the State Capital building and awaited my introduction. Just moments prior, I almost lost it as the opening ceremonies began and young dancers performed in front of the crowd. As I watched my mom and saw the tears stream down her face, I was reminded of how hard this is for everyone. But, I knew it was important that I take this opportunity to share my experience and try to make some kind of positive impact.
As Mike and I walked up to the podium, I felt a wave of nervousness wash over me. But after bobbling the first few words of my speech, I took a breath and simply spoke from the heart. I shared my story and emphasized what I believe to be the most important aspects of my journey - that it is a myth that young women are not affected by breast cancer, and that there needs to be more research and awareness for metastatic disease because no one dies from breast cancer unless they become metastatic. Research investigating why cancer cells metastasize and how to stop this from happening are the only ways we will actually find a true cure!
Thankfully, I was able to get through my entire speech without breaking down. That was one of my goals because once those flood gates open, good luck getting them closed for awhile! I want to thank Mike for literally and figuratively always standing right by my side, no matter what. There is no one I would rather travel down this road with than you! Thank you to my family and friends that came out to support me and to all of you that sent me well wishes and good luck vibes from afar. I am so thankful that I have received such amazing feedback from this - especially from my friends in the metastatic breast cancer community. I truly wanted to represent them well and speak on behalf of every single one of them.
If you would like to see my speech, please click on the link below. Looks like I can cross this one of my bucket list..."Share your story in front of 5,000 people!"
Here are a few pics from the day that Kyle captured...
I don't know what made Mike happier - listening to me speak or meeting MSU's football coach, Mark Dantonio and hearing him mention me in his speech to the crowd.
I love all of you guys - thank you so much for coming! Sorry we missed Aunt Erin, Mary, Melis, Brad and Payton in our group pic.
Well, tomorrow at 6:30am we are due to check in at the hospital for my next scheduled surgery - never a dull moment around here I guess. :) My surgery will begin at 8am and will last a couple of hours, followed by a couple of hours in recovery before I am able to head home. This is (hopefully) the last major step in my reconstruction process. Tomorrow, Dr. M will open up my scars from the double mastectomy and he will proceed to remove the tissue expanders and replace them with implants. He will then make some fine-tuning adjustments to ensure a proper fit, size and shape. Dr. M has informed me that I will likely be sore and down and out for a few days. I will have strict restrictions to avoid any lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling for 2 weeks at a minimum, and no returning to work for at least 4 weeks. Thankfully, momma nurse Jan and Mike will be here all weekend and into next week making sure that I am doing just fine. I am expecting surgery to go smoothly and that I will have an uneventful and speedy recovery.
I would greatly appreciate all of your thoughts and prayers as I head into surgery tomorrow - not just for me but for my family as they anxiously await the outcome, and for my medical team that will be taking care of me. Thank you all so much for your enduring support and we will be sure to update you soon once I am out of surgery.
I am not even sure where to begin...this past weekend was one of the most incredible, emotional and inspirational experiences of my life. I have spent the last couple of days pondering how to write about the Susan G. Komen 3 Day For The Cure, and I have finally realized that there is just no possible way to put into words everything that this weekend entailed and how much it impacted me. As much as I may try, I could never accurately describe the emotions I felt during this weekend, and during the Opening Ceremony in particular- surrounded by my 9 friends of Team Meghan Malley Rally, Mom & Doug, Mike and Kyle - watching those left behind carry flags for their wives, mothers, daughters and friends that they lost - witnessing the incredibly strong & fierce survivors raise their joined hands in an act of victory and celebration - and starting the 60 mile journey together after a tearful team huddle. To be honest, the Opening Ceremony was more difficult and more emotional than I expected it to be - definitely the hardest part of the weekend to get through. It was extremely tough for me to stand in the midst of hundreds of women and men walking in memory of a loved one and wondering if one day my friends would be walking in my memory, rather than in my honor as a survivor. Although the start of this amazing weekend was quite overwhelming, it was also filled with encouragement, optimism and hope.
9 friends, 3 days, 60 miles, 1 goal...to find a cure for breast cancer!
A group of incredible survivors surrounding the memorial flag honoring all of those that have lost their fight
The most adorable member of Team Meghan Malley Rally - hands down! :)
The girls were flexing those muscles to show off their new pink ribbon "tatoos" during Friday's lunch break
The girls kicked Day 1's booty! After starting the walk together, Mike, Andy, Andrew and I then met the team for lunch and cheered them on as they started the second half of the day. They completed the day in great spirits, full of energy and inspiration. Brin stayed with us at night to take care of Andrew instead of camping, so it was wonderful to hear her stories from the first day - all of the fabulous people they met, the community of cheerleaders they encountered, and the walkers that asked to hear the story of who she was walking for.
On Saturday, we headed out to Plymouth to host a cheering station at the Plymouth Cultural Center. We cheered on the amazing 3 Day walkers from 10:30 to 2:30pm and were joined by so many of our family and friends! It was so incredible to have all of you join us on Saturday, and I can't tell you enough how much that meant to me - to not only have you support me, but support all of the women and men that are fighting for a cure!
Team Meghan Malley Rally looking as strong as ever during Saturday's lunch break!
Many members of my old RIM gang...so thankful to have worked with such amazing people and that I am able to call all of them my friends
My beautiful & incredibly supportive sorority sisters - love you girls!
My biggest cheerleader! ♥
Taking part in that cheering station was truly an unforgettable experience. You would never believe how many people saw our t-shirts and said, "Oh I know Meghan, her team told me all about her!", or "How is Meghan doing?", "I am praying for Meghan". When people saw that I was standing right there, they proceeded to give me huge hugs, ask how I was doing, tell me to keep fighting, and let me know I am forever in their prayers. It was amazing to hear complete strangers tell me they read my blog or that they have heard about me from someone else they know. They knew all about me, my story, my diagnosis, my treatment schedule...it was amazing. I felt like I had a million people wrapping their arms around me in love and prayer and it was a feeling I will hold onto for the rest of my life. It was a truly special day!
My fierce walker warriors were still going strong after 40 miles but they were definitely starting to have some aches, pains, and a few blisters pop up by the end of Saturday's walk. But they didn't complain. They continued to share with me the love and support offered by other participants of the 3 Day, the other survivors they met, and the overwhelming emotions they all felt throughout the day along their journey.
The start of the last leg of their journey was accompanied by some light rain but that never even dampened their spirits. I met them for lunch on Sunday with the hopes to boost their spirits and give them some inspiration for the final few miles. I expected to find my friends exhausted and possibly in pain, definitely in need of a pep talk. They didn't even come close to needing it - they were filled with excitement, pride, and joy and ready to tackle those last few miles! I was totally amazed and couldn't wait to meet them at the finish line.
We arrived at the Ford Motor Company World Headquarters on Sunday afternoon to celebrate the completion of this amazing 3 day, 60 mile journey. Team Meghan Malley Rally were total rockstars and finished this incredible feat in one piece, only a few blisters here and there, and wearing smiles from ear to ear! I couldn't have been more proud to have my name displayed across their shirts.
I was also so touched to see more family and friends come down to the Closing Ceremony to be there with us. Everything always seems so much better when you are surrounded by so many family and friends and I can't say thank you enough for that! The Closing Ceremony was also an emotional one but I was very happy to also feel like it was celebratory and inspirational. I was so proud of my girls for taking part in this and Mike and I were totally inspired to participate in the 3 Day in one way or another from here on out!
After the beautiful Closing Ceremony, we all headed over to Mom & Doug's house where we were joined by many, many more family and friends! It was so wonderful to walk out the back door and see the deck and yard filled with all of our loved ones. It was a perfect way to end this amazing weekend!
A group of great friends and some of my favorite ladies!
My sweet little buddy, Andrew. I had the best week snuggling this adorable guy...and how great is his bib that his momma, Brinley made! I love it!
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart to each and every one of you that in one way or another contributed to this incredible cause and unforgettable weekend! Thank you for your donations, your cheerleading, your hugs, your well wishes, your time.....the list goes on and on. I hope that I have thanked each of you personally when I have seen you, but if I haven't, please know how grateful I am for your support and the support you have shown Mike, Mom, Doug, Jeff and the rest of my family.
I can never thank the amazing Meghan Malley Rally 3 Day team enough for everything they did for me this summer...Brinley, Kara, Becca, Lindsay, Nancy, Stacy, Melanie, Amanda and Nikki. Your incredible efforts raised over $30,000 to find a cure for breast cancer!!! Through all the fundraising events and the actual 3 Day weekend, you guys have made me feel so loved and appreciated all at the same time making me smile, laugh and forget about this terrible disease for awhile. For that, I am grateful! You were total warriors during this event and I can't wait to walk 60 miles with you in the future!
An extra special thank you to those wonderful family and friends that traveled this past weekend to be here to support us. Brinley, Andy and Andrew came all the way from Jensen Beach, Florida - Melanie and Ben from Cleveland - Amanda, Nick, Liz, Nancy, Chelsea, Beth, Ben, Joe and Lauren from Chicago - Aunt Clare, Beth and Brigetta from North Carolina - Jenny from Grand Rapids. I hope I am not forgetting anyone. The fact that you guys took time out of your busy lives to physically be here to give us hugs and show your support, seriously meant so much to Mike and I! We are so incredibly blessed to have all of you as our family and friends.
Another special thank you to my mom's incredible friends, Barb and Roni for working their tails off in the kitchen all night on Sunday so that my mom could enjoy herself at the party and not stress about all the behind the scenes stuff. Your support of my mom means more to me than you will ever know - thank you so very much!
Lastly, thank you to my AMAZING momma, Jan and my stepdad, Doug for all of their love, support and hard work this past weekend. For spending all weekend supporting the 3 Day team and other walkers, and for opening up their home to host TONS of our friends and family on Sunday. You guys are the best and we would be lost without you.
The Susan G. Komen 3 Day For The Cure slogan couldn't touch any closer to home for me..."Everyone deserves a lifetime". I believe I not only deserve a lifetime but I have promised myself and Mike that I will go to the ends of the Earth to make sure I achieve that. I am so thankful for this incredible event which has provided me an extra dose of inspiration, motivation, and encouragement. Thank you so much to all of you for giving me hope! As my beautiful Godmother, Aunt Carol shared with me, "If you have faith, you have hope and if you have hope, you have everything!" ♥
Well, there are so many other things that have happened over the past week or so that I want to share...updates from my oncologist, meeting with my plastic surgeon, upcoming tests, meeting other young women with breast cancer, the Johnson's week long visit, and so much more! Check back frequently over the next couple of weeks because we have a lot going on that I want to keep everyone up to date about.
I am off to get some more rest - haven't quite caught up from all the busy festivities over the past week! Have a great weekend everyone.
ps. SAVE THE DATE: My fabulous friend, Patty has been planning an incredible benefit concert for us which will take place on SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 25 at The Berkley Front in downtown Berkley from 4-10pm. The event will showcase some amazing local bands, there will be a silent auction and all sorts of other great things. Many more details to come but mark your calendars now! Please contact Patty Labella at 248-752-3104 or email@example.com if you have any items or services to donate for the silent auction or would like to help out in any other way. Check back to the blog soon for more updates!
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