Cards

I never throw out cards people send me. I put them in a basket on a bookcase. Well its my daughters new favorite thing to pull them out. So as I picked them up and put them away I found myself sitting on the floor reading them one by one. It started with thank you cards, birthday cards, bridal shower, leatherette cards and then I stumbled across the cards I had received from friends when I was going through my diagnosis and treatment. They were cards of inspiration and love. They were from family and friends near and far. I remember receiving them in the mail and the impact they had made on me. Now they mean so much more. It showed me the love my family and friends showed me. Who knew sending a simple card could mean so much to someone. Well it does. The few minutes at the store, followed by the few minutes writing in it and the cost of the stamp is so minimal to you but so great to the person receiving them. They mean so much the day you receive them but now they found new light and bring happiness and love to me. So when you have a second send a family member or friend a card. Its a little piece of love you area sending them.

Posting my "cancer" story on Facebook

Sharing my story on Facebook this time of the year was about all I have to be thankful for this year. I am not posting it looking for sympathy or attention. My hope is by posting this it will help someone else who might be fighting a battle. I also hope it will allow all of us to sit down and enjoy this time of the year. The time where we get to spend with our family and friends. Be thankful for this time. It can be difficult and easy to be caught up with everything and not sit back and enjoy it. I am thankful that in a few days I will get to see all my family and watch them smile, laugh and stuff their face with delicious food. So I ask you this year to slow life down, and appreciate the time you get to spend with each other. You never know when you might get that phone call and your life will be turned upside down. 
Happy Thanksgiving to my family and friends, I love you!!
Image result for we never know who might be fighting a battle we know nothing about

My "Cancer" Story

My story starts before I received my diagnosis. It was Wednesday, December 9th, 2015. The doctor called me to tell me that they wanted me to come to the hospital, it was time to start labor. They wanted to start inducing me. I arrived with my husband at 1 pm that day. They started softening the cervix. We went through two doses of this. At around 10 pm that night the doctor came in and said that they were going to send me home; there were not enough beds in the hospital and that they needed room. Fifteen minutes later the doctor walked back in because my daughter heart rate had dropped. They need to keep me overnight and monitor us. The next day Thursday, December 10th they started inducing me with pitocin around noon. At 4:30 pm the doctor came in to break my water but wasn’t successful. Around 8 pm she was successful. At 10:30 pm I asked for an epidural, around midnight the doctor came in and administered the epidural. I reacted to the epidural with the itches and still managed to feel my contractions. This continued through the night. Around 9 am Friday, December 11th the doctor came in and explained to my husband and I that they needed to get me in for an emergency c-section. They said that I was preeclamptic and that my kidneys had started to go into kidney failure. They began preparing for my c-section. Around 1 pm I was rolled into the OR with my husband by my side. It wasn’t too much longer that my daughter was born at 1:57 pm.

During my c-section I remember the doctor was talking about how she found a cyst on my ovary. She didn’t think it was anything but that she was still going to send it to pathology. That moment right there saved my life….

Six weeks later on Tuesday, January 19th I received a voicemail from my doctor asking for me to come in the following day as they had made an appointment to discuss the pathology results. I missed the call that day because I was changing my daughters diaper. On Wednesday, January 20th my husband, daughter and I went to the doctors to hear the results. I never thought in a million years that the word “cancer” would be coming out of her mouth. She told me what she knew and that was it was called ovarian angiosarcorma and that it was very rare and aggressive cancer. She had schedule an appointment for me the following morning with an oncologist. Thursday, January 21st I went to my first doctors appointment. He gave me reassuring news that they thought based on the pathology test they didn’t think it had spread. Next step was getting a cat scan, that night I went back to the hospital and had my cat scan. On Friday, January 22nd I got the best news, there were no signs of cancer in me!

It wasn’t done there. The doctors still felt it was necessary to remove one of my ovaries and biopsy my lymph nodes to be safe. On Monday, February 15th I went to the hospital for outpatient surgery. My surgery went smoothly and everything came back negative and it took me about a week to recover from that surgery.

My battle has never ended since then. My story will always be part of me and now I deal with emotional part of being diagnosed with cancer.

A time to be thankful

Thanksgiving is approaching and last night we sat down as a family and ate a mini Thanksgiving meal. We made turkey breasts, stuffing, mashed potatoes, carrots, gravy and a pumpkin pie. We sat down as a family at the kitchen table enjoying this dinner. My daughter sat in her high chair and ate the very same meal we ate. It was a great moment. Sitting there with my husband and daughter. Those are the moments I love and appreciate. It was a quiet and simple night. Even our dog participate sitting patiently next to our daughters high chair hoping she would feed him.

We have a lot to be thankful for this time of the year. This year especially. We’ve had a rough but amazing year. That’s the hard part it has been a rough year but at the same time it was our daughters first year. I wouldn’t change that for one bit. I got to see her grow this past year. From rolling over, crawling, standing, walking, waving bye-bye, giving kisses. I wouldn’t want to miss that for the world!

As we all head into Thanksgiving, we need appreciate all the little things around us. The time we get to spend with our family and friends. The memories we will create and remember for years to come. I look forward to sitting down with our huge families and enjoying their company and all the excitement life brings!

Being Me Again

I’ve been working so hard these last 10 months to be me again, but I realized this past weekend that on the outside I am me again. I’ve lost all my pregnancy weight and then some, I am back to playing hockey, I’ve got my career and I live a very simple and normal life. However, the reality is that I am not me again, I will never be me again. I am different person. 
This past weekend I joined many of my college friends downtown for dinner and drinks to celebrate the Women’s Ice Hockey Alumni Weekend. As I sat there and listened to them talk about their lives and talk about the drama of their friendships, I realized that my life is completely different. I can’t relate to them anymore. My life has changed. I live a very simple life with very little drama in my life. I surround myself by my close friends and family. I wouldn’t change that by any means.

Finding out who this new me I imagine will be easy and difficult at times. I am sure on the outside to everyone I will seem like me but inside I feel like I am different person. I look a life differently, I am extremely grateful for the time I get to spend with my family and friends. Especially for the time with my daughter.

Yes, there are times that I get caught up in the chaos of life. I actually welcome those moments. The moment where I am just a normal Mom are the ones I am grateful for. My daughter is such a blessing she keeps make me smile regardless of how I feel on the inside. She distracts me from the realities of life sometimes.

So as I head into today, I am going to smile because its a great day. I have a lot to be happy about. Time to go order myself a new dress!

Invisibility

February 15th, 2016, that was the day where they removed one of my ovaries. Although I still have one of my ovaries it feels like a piece of me has been missing. Its not something anyone can see, my cancer diagnosis is an invisible scar. One hidden behind my shirt, but behind that shirt when I get dressed I see those scars. Those scars are a blessing but also reality that my life changed on January 20th, 2016.
When someone looks at me there is no way they can tell what I’ve been going through these past ten months. My cancer is invisible to the human eye. Its a blessing and its also frustrating. How do you bring up your diagnosis in a conversation? It’s not easy and then you sit there and debate when is the right moment to drop news like this. There is never a right time. It also feels like you’re holding onto a large amount of weight.
I can hide behind it too. Once I say it aloud then everyone will know about it. Right now its not very public knowledge. There are friends out there that don’t know about my diagnosis. They don’t know what my husband, family and I have been going through. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I imagine it will eventually come out but when? How do I do that?
This video is something I’ve been relating a lot too lately. I think it describes my story very well as its very similar.

University of Vermont Medical Center Health & Cancer Conference Speech

October 7th, 2016
Hi Everyone! My name is Gabrielle and I am 30 years old. This story started ten months ago.
On December 11th, 2015 my life changed and it was one of the best days of my life. On that day my daughter was born. It was the happiest day for my husband and I. What we didn’t know at the time was that on that day a miracle happened to us in more ways than one.
Our daughter was born via emergency c-section after having complications during delivery. During the c-section a cyst was found on my ovary. It wasn’t until six weeks later that we got that dreadful call from the doctor asking for us to come in. To be honest I had completely forgotten about it, the doctors said it didn’t look like cancer and at the time and we were so caught up with our newborn daughter. So on January 21st we got the news that the cyst was cancer and that it was diagnosed as Ovarian Angiosarcoma. They told us that it was very rare and aggressive cancer and that they had an appointment for me the following morning at the University of Vermont Medical Center.
A lot goes through your mind when you hear something like that. I was a new mom holding a six week old baby in my arms. I had just gone from the highest moment in my life to one of the worst. My life had completely turned upside down and it wasn’t about me anymore it was all about her. My head began racing I was envisioning her crawling, walking, to her saying “Momma”, to her prom and wedding day.
The emotions weren’t going away, what came next was one of the hardest things I had to do. I had to share the news with my parents and family. It wasn’t just about the diagnosis, we suddenly needed help; we had a 6 week old baby at home. Asking for help doesn’t come naturally for me.  So began to me the dreadful process of asking for help and telling the people who are really important to me that our lives were about to change. I say “our” because this diagnosis wasn’t just about me it was about the people that surround me, their lives were changing too.
When my brother found out about my diagnosis he said the best thing to me and that was there was “hope.” I had never thought about life that way that way and he was right. The word “hope” means so much. We get a diagnosis like this and the first thing that comes to your mind is what if I don’t beat this. However, life was giving me the opportunity. We don’t like talking about dying. When I was younger I always thought if I was going to die, that I would want it to be quick. When you become a Mom that changes you want more than anything to be there for your child.
Once again after two days of doctor’s appointments and scans my emotions were at another level, I got the best news; there were no signs of cancer from the scans. My doctor still felt that it was necessary to remove one of my ovaries. Three weeks later I went in for surgery, I was in and out in one day. My family and friends all showed up and helped. They rallied behind us and pitched in from cleaning our house, doing our laundry, delivering food and taking care of our daugther. The most challenging thing emotionally at the time for me was that I couldn’t hold my daughter for about a week. It was difficult for her and it was difficult for me. Now I realize that it was minimal. At the time it felt like the hardest thing emotionally. She wanted her Mommy and I couldn’t be there. Just this past week she said “Mumma” for the first time it was the most amazing thing to hear. I cherish and enjoy every minute I spend with her, being a Mom has been the greatest gift of all. One day I will share my story with her and everything we went through as a family. I will share with her how she saved my life. How being her Mom is the greatest thing I could ever imagine.
After the surgery everyone’s life went back to normal except for me or at least that’s what it seemed like to me. We didn’t need the help we needed and I was cancer free. However as the patient there is one last step that you personally have to deal with and that is the emotional part of it. I had to accept that yes I was now part of a group that nobody wants to be part of. I went back to work after a 15 week maternity leave. To my co-workers they just thought I was on maternity leave, only a few people at work knew what had happened. On my first day of work I needed to share what had happened to me. I sat in the conference room in front of all my co-workers and explained them that what my family and I had been going through for the past month. The problem was at the time I didn’t want to talk about what I went through and I made it clear to my colleagues, friends and family. On the outside my life went right back to normal but inside it didn’t feel that way. My family and friends couldn’t relate to the feelings I felt. I had gone through a rollercoaster in a matter of one month. The things that went through my head are, “will it come back?”, “Where did it come from?”, “Do I need to be concerned about my daughter or my husband?”, “How do I live with the unknowns?’ “How did this happen?”, “Did it happen because I was pregnant?”
The reality is that I really needed to talk out loud about my diagnosis and what I went through in order to recover from it. Cancer doesn’t just affect us physically it hits us emotionally too. I was able to find the support I needed to get through this. I still rely on my husband and my family to help me recover on this stage of my journey. You can’t do it alone and it’s okay to ask people to help you.
You can look at me today and never know what I went through. This cancer never changed me me on the outside, it really just affected me on the inside. I have challenges that I will continue to have to face. I still have fears for my future, I worry about having more children, and I worry about scans. I have to live with the fact that many of my questions will not have answers to them and that is okay.
The reality is that it will never go away, I will live with this diagnosis and these unknowns everyday for the rest of my life and I am okay with that.