As we headed down for the Race for the Cure in Detroit on Saturday, we were all reminiscing about last years event. How hot it was, how fatigued I felt, and how lightheaded and nauseous I became during the opening ceremonies. I think I had just finished my third round of chemo and I wanted to surprise my friends by showing up to support them at the race. In all honesty, I probably had no business being there. I didn't say much but secretly I felt pretty awful and now that I look back on it, I have a greater understanding of how bad I truly felt. Knowing that I would be present for the opening ceremonies, and actually be able to participate in the walk this year, felt pretty amazing. I know it sounds cheesy, but it's so true....what a difference a year makes!
Our team arrived bright and early at Comerica Park because our local ABC news affiliate wanted to interview our team before the opening ceremonies started. Normally, I hold it together pretty well during those sorts of things, but I got a little choked up when I was discussing how special it was to be able to fully participate this year. You can check out the clip from WXYZ Channel 7's broadcast here.... make sure you click on the video showing our purple shirts.
I was asked to be part of the Survivor Honor Guard during the opening ceremonies. A group of survivors were picked to carry flags indicating how many years of survivorship they have. We gathered together for the opening ceremonies until they called us up and had us gather on stage. I am going to be honest - that part of the morning was extremely difficult for me and once I realized how it was making me feel, I instantly wished I wasn't a part of it. Although I put on a happy face, inside I was feeling incredibly alone and sad. Wouldn't know it from this smile I flashed for my team, would you?
It might sound crazy to say that I felt alone in a sea of thousands of breast cancer survivors, but that's exactly how I felt. I should have stayed with my team during the opening ceremonies. I should have held Mike's hand and been surrounded by my friends and family that know my personal struggle. Instead, I found myself surrounded by women that were cheering, smiling and celebrating the fact that they beat this disease. Sure, some had tears and I know it's a very emotional experience for any cancer survivor. But for me, my tears were entirely different. My tears represented the fact that I will live with this disease until my dying day - and when that day comes, it will likely be due to this cancer. My tears represented the fact that no matter how hard I try, how much I alter my lifestyle, how many books I read or prayers I recite, I cannot just "beat this" like so many other women have. My tears represented the women I have come to know and lost due to this disease - the women who were stage IV just like me. My tears represented letting go of so many of my hopes and dreams and trying with every fiber of my being to live in the moment because that is all that is promised to me.
Please don't get me wrong, I am grateful to be here. I know I have so many reasons to celebrate, and that is what I tried to focus on. But at the same time, I felt like an imposter - like a total fake. I felt like I didn't deserve to stand with all of those women on stage and have everyone clap for us that we "beat" breast cancer. I felt lonely and isolated and couldn't help but overhear all the women around me talking about when their treatments ended.....will my treatment ever end?
I stood on that stage while everyone sang and danced and I just wanted to scream out and say, "what about all of the women that have died!" I know this event can't be all doom and gloom but I think the women that have lost their lives to breast cancer deserve more than one brief moment of silence. Many of the women around me didn't even stop talking during that time and I couldn't help but feel angry and disrespected - knowing one day that moment of silence might be for me too.
I think it's just been a lot lately - a lot of interviews, a lot of breast cancer related events - and it just becomes overwhelming. I feel as though I am in a constant state of emotional turmoil over whether or not to participate in all of this. On one hand, I want to generate more awareness for metastatic disease and for young adults with cancer, and I desperately want to change the way funds are allocated in the breast cancer world. We all know what a pink ribbon means - we have enough awareness about that. I want to see more money go towards research and I want to advocate for that. But, at what point do I need to just live my life? Every single event, fundraiser, or interview puts this disease right back in my face when I work so hard to try to forget about it. I know it's a huge part of me but I don't want it to define who I am.
I think Saturday was just my tipping point and I need to step back and take a breather for a little while. Thankfully, I am returning to work next week! Yikes- sorta scary but great at the same time. I am so grateful that I am able to start (very) part time and see how it goes. TRP is being so flexible and accommodating and I am grateful for it. I am looking forward to having a piece of my "old life" back and hopefully this will make me feel a little bit more "normal" again.
We spent the rest of our Memorial Day weekend with family and friends. It was so nice to relax in Jeff's pool, work in the yard, and have friends over for a BBQ.
These two were having quite the field day with their recent discoveries of chocolate covered pretzels ♥
I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend too!
A huge thank you to my loving friends and family that came out on Saturday for the Race for the Cure - and a big thanks to Nichole for organizing all the shirt orders and picking up all our packets! Thank you so much, friend. I am so grateful to have all of you in my life....and grateful you will walk in the pouring rain with me. ;) Love you guys!
Oh, and for those of you that didn't catch my interview with Alicia Smith from WXYZ Channel 7 news from last week, you can find it here. I think you have to click on the third video that is shown. As weird as it is to see yourself on tv and hear your own voice, I think they did a nice job with the piece.
Have a great rest of your week!
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