It’s been a year since I decided to post on Facebook that I was a cancer survivor. Sharing that news has really allowed me to come very far with everything I went through and everything my family went through almost two years ago. In January, it will be two years since my diagnosis. I am not constantly reminded that I am cancer survivor and it doesn’t come into my head as much anymore. Mostly because I am distracted with a toddler running around and that fact that I am living a pretty amazing life right now.
This past year I managed to accomplish a lot. Putting yourself out there, being raw with your feelings is a major obstacle to accomplish. I’ve always been more of a private person so sharing with everyone what I had gone through on Facebook was a huge step. Then I continued to share by writing this blog. Opening up about the challenges I was constantly facing. In addition to sharing my feelings I started running, competing in my first race and doing another 5k a couple months later. I organized a Dragon Boat Team for the Lake Champlain Dragon Boat Festival, with my team fundraising $7200 for local cancer survivors. I also spoke a couple times to other cancer survivors sharing my story with all of them.
I feel like I am finally free of my cancer diagnosis. I know it won’t be gone forever but I also know I’ve made huge strides with it. I can now openly talk to anyone whether your a stranger or a family member or friend about my diagnosis and my treatment. A cancer diagnosis will never leave you but I can say for myself it does get better.
It’s been awhile since I last wrote, mostly because I haven’t had the need to write. My past with cancer doesn’t come up very often anymore and mostly I know how to handle it when it does. I don’t imagine it will ever go away and there are still some days where I find there are challenges. We are often reminded how important life is and how we should really value the time we have. I appreciate the life I have and I love every minute I get to spend with my daughter. I am often reminded how fortunate I am that I was diagnosed as stage one. Many people are not that fortunate in life and so my daughter is often referred to as a “miracle” or a “blessing.” I mean she really did save my life! I am so grateful everyday for that.
So I’ve been up to a lot lately, I spend six weeks coaching middle school field hockey. Nothing like coaching roughly 25 girls everyday. It was great to be outside and do something fun after I got out of work. Thankfully it didn’t take too much time away from spending it with my daughter. I am back to playing ice hockey in a men’s league one day a week after taking the Summer off. We’ve stayed super busy with spending time with family and friends.
Last night I made the finishing touches to my daughters Halloween costume. I love this time of the year. Its all about family and friends and all that we have to be thankful for.
My Dragon Boat Team to date has fundraised $4918 towards the Lake Champlain Dragon Boat Festival. This means the world to me! Not only are my friends and family making donations but twenty of them are paddling and collecting donations themselves. Each paddler paid a $35 entry fee, bought a Soaring On t-shirt for $15 and promised to fundraise a minimum of $50. So many of them have surpassed that.
One of the things that has really touched me over the last couple months and continues to touch me is how my family and friends have shared my story in their own perspectives. This means so much to me and really touches my heart every time I read one.
I will be paddling with my friend and college teammate, Gabrielle, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2016 at the age of 29 with a 5 week old daughter. Fortunately, early diagnosis and treatment were successful and Gabby’s one year scans have come back cancer free! However, the journey was not and is not easy, and Gabby is still benefiting from organizations providing ongoing support to cancer survivors.
Gabby and Aaron became friends while at St. Michael’s College. Gabby was diagnosed with cancer at the time of the birth of her daughter about a year and a half ago. They are doing great! Many of us have been deeply affected in our families by cancer. I hope you may be able to help with any donation at all in their honor as well.
For me and my family this is an important cause, because we are extremely grateful for the support Gabrielle received this year after being diagnosed with cancer. 100% of the money stays in Vermont to support cancer survivors like Gabrielle.
I have had the honor of being asked to paddle on a Dragon Boat Team. I am paddling on a team called “Soaring On”. This team was put together by a client of mine who is a very young Ovarian Cancer Survivor. This is very dear to my heart as not only is she a great client but AMAZING person, wife and a mother of a 1 year old.
It makes me realize how much my life touches others around me. My family and friends have been a great support to me. There are also so many of you who have donated to my cause as well. You have no idea how much this really means to me. To me it feels great to be giving back to organizations that helped me recover from a cancer diagnosis and continue to help me.
Thank you to my teammates for all of your hard work in making this possible. Thank you to everyone who has helped us reach to reach our fundraising goals. I am looking foward to race day in a couple of weeks.
If you’re interested in donating to support our Dragon Boat Team, donations can be made via this link: Gabrielle’s Dragon Boat Festival Fundraising Page.
I follow Today Parent on Facebook and an article came through my news feed last night that I felt like I had to read. It was titled, “What Happens When Someone Tells You That You Have Cancer“. My story isn’t that different than the one in that article. It’s not something that I will forget. I was a Mom and that was coming first. I couldn’t just go home and cry my eyes out and curl in a ball. I had to go home and take care of newborn child. I even had my daughter with me when I found out the news. My husband, daughter and I went home following the news from the doctor. She still needed to eat, her diaper changed and rocked.
Then I called my Mom and I told her that she needed to come over right away. I didn’t tell her over the phone but I imagine a lot was racing through her head, but I am sure “cancer” wasn’t something that she was thinking of. We told her what the doctor said and asked her to share the news with my Dad and Brother. I couldn’t bare sharing that news in person with them. It was hard enough having to tell my Mom something like this. I just kept picturing my daughter telling me that same news and how devastated I would’ve been. My Mom she was amazing though she held it together, she was my Mom and did everything I needed her to do as my Mom. We then made the trip to my in-laws to tell them the news. We stood in their kitchen, I was holding my daughter in my arms. I began by saying remember when the doctors were talking about the cyst they found during the c-section, well it came back as cancer. Sharing news like is never easy I will never forget those moments of watching you turn someones life upside down. I wish I was done having to tell people at that moment about the diagnosis but then you realize how many people are part of your life. There were still friends and colleagues that I needed to tell.
We went back home and this time I just slept and I slept. My husband took care of our daughter and I just slept. By sleeping I could dream of amazing things. I wasn’t having to deal with the reality that I had cancer and that I didn’t know how bad it could possibly be. Being awake was horrible to me, sleeping was what made everything better. However, I still needed to get up for night feedings for my daughter.
Thankfully the next morning at 8am my doctor gave me reassuring news that they had good margins from when my doctor removed the cyst from my ovary during the c-section. That night I had my scans done and by the following morning I knew that there was no cancer in me. I am thankful for my amazing doctors who worked on their day off and constantly reassured me everything was okay. I was fortunate enough that I only had to live two days thinking cancer was in me. I am thankful for the quick turnaround the hospital did in getting my insurance approved and my scans processed the same day. I know not everyone is so fortunate but I am very thankful for all the hard work that everyone put in for me that day. I know it goes beyond the doctors, I know it goes to the schedulers, the admin clerks, the processors, the technicians, the insurance claimers, who all worked very hard in a short period of time for me and my family. I am extremely thankful to all of you!
As we approach Mother’s Day this weekend I am reminded of two very important things. One that I am very thankful to have my Daughter and two how thankful I am here today with her.
I am also reminded that not everyone is as lucky as I am. It reminds me of any earlier post I made and the quote I shared. We are all fighting battles and we all need support from one another. It doesn’t matter how big or how small your battle might seem. It’s a battle that we are all facing. So remember to be kind, smile, say please and thank you. Tell a friend you’re thinking of them, send a card and send some love. We are all fighting different battles through our lives and its really important to be there for people along the way.
We all have a lot to be thankful in our lives. Cherish the moments you get to spend with your love ones. Remember that there are family and friends out there that might not be so lucky.
To anyone out there know that you’re not alone we all fighting different battles. They might be different battles, but they are all important no matter how big or small they might be.
To all my friends and family out there know I am always thinking of all of you. You’ve been there for me so much and I will continue to be there for all of you.
Just have to get through the work day and I officially start my vacation. An entire week and half off of working spending time with my daughter and husband. It’s the perfect Christmas gift! I couldn’t be more excited to just spend time with my family. The next four days are just packed full with family events. Nothing is better than having the opportunity to see all of my family. It’s so great to have all of our family around and be able to see them. This vacation is much needed and I would even be fine spending it in my pajamas around the house.
So my message to everyone is to not to rush the holidays. They can be stressful and exhausting. Focus on one day at time and enjoy being in the moment. It will be over before you know it. Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year and I am looking forward to my daughter waking up Christmas morning and seeing that Santa came and visited our home.
Merry Christmas to you and your family!