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.
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