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Archive for October, 2013

“All you can change is yourself, but sometimes that changes everything.” – Anonymous

The past two weeks I’ve been beat up, beat down, sucked in, worn out, and had more extreme highs and lows than a rollercoaster  – definitely felt the whiplash. Worst of all, it did such a job on my self-worth that I didn’t even feel like or recognize myself. I felt helpless and lost. (And dumb and unattractive and naïve and…) And I just went with all of it. Let it happen. I was at the mercy of the people and circumstances around me. And I was seriously worried that I’d never be me again – I didn’t know how to get the strong, independent, positive woman back.

“Time heals what reason cannot.” – Anonymous

I know it was not a very long time (although it felt like years) but somehow, I’ve snapped back. I feel like me again. I don’t know if it was time, telling my story (see below), the tattoo (also below), the Red Sox going to the World Series (woo hoo!!!) or what, but somehow this morning I woke up for the first time like “I’ve got this.” I can take my life back. And I’m going to.

“When writing the story of your life, don’t let anyone else hold the pen.” -Harley Davidson

I love that quote! It’s so true. Take control. Be you. Don’t let anyone else dictate your happiness, make you feel like you’re not good enough or think that there is anything you can’t do. (And don’t ever try to ‘fix’ someone else’s life – especially if they don’t want to be helped.) I used to know (and live by) that, and now I’m going to again. To be honest, I’m a little ticked off that this happened during the month of pink, when there were so many events with such great people, but then again, maybe it was keeping busy and doing all the events and seeing everyone that helped me snap back so quickly?

This has been a whirlwind of a Breast Cancer month:

  • Started at the end of September with the Komen walk, followed by the incredible Runway for Recovery event, and then the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides for Breast Cancer walk – all of which I already blogged about.
  • Last weekend the fun continued in Providence at the Gloria Gemma Flames of Hope run/walk. Alicia pulled together a team, including her fellow Rhode Island Charity pageant queens, their families and my friend Abby. In addition to all of us walking in the 5k, Alicia even ran the Pink Pump Palooza 50 yard dash in heels!
  • Friday mom joined me for Dana-Farber’s Breast Cancer in Young Women Forum. Because of how I’ve been feeling, I couldn’t even focus or make myself really think through what I was going to say until that morning. I’ve been in such a fog, I really didn’t want to do anything except what I had to. Luckily, I knew I had to do this, so that morning, mom and I left early, went to Dunkin Donuts and thought for a few minutes over tea. Then I told her, “Ok, I’ve got it. The most important thing is to have 1-3 main points. Here’s mine: You’ll hear lots of stories today – that’s the best part of days like today. But the most important thing to remember is it’s all about you. Everyone is different. Some things work for one person, but not another. You are unique: do what’s right for you.” And then, thinking through my story and all that happened since March 2012, I came to my second point: “It doesn’t matter if you’re married, single, have children or live alone – surround yourself with people who love you, who make you happy. That’s what got me through – all the incredibly loving and supportive people I’m so lucky to have in my life. And let them help you – it will help them through it, too.” (See, Tina, I do listen sometimes…) And the talk – and the day – went well… and I started to feel a little more like me…

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  • Friday night, while not breast cancer-related, I went to Salem with friends from our running team, to experience some of the haunted happenings. I know that just spending time with these friends who inspire me with their marathon runs and overall kindness and determination in life helped me feel more like me again…

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  • And finally, Saturday night was one of my favorite nights of the year: the Nashua Harley-Davidson Fashion Show and Live Auction Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Benefit. As you’ll see in the pictures below, Nick, Alicia, Vic and I all had a blast! Robin Dixon, of Nashua Harley-Davidson, is such an amazing supporter of the American Cancer Society and makes the event even bigger and better each year! In addition to winning things in the raffle and auction (and losing a few things like my TV, darn it!), we had fun with people asking to wear Alicia’s crown, the great food and… my first tattoo! Not only did I do one, but Nick also got a pink ribbon – his with wings…

So I’m not sure what actually did it, but somehow, thank God, I am me again. I love my life, am so blessed by all the fabulous people in it, and I will not let myself get lost so easily ever again.

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Just found this quote and it couldn’t be more perfect, so just had to add it:

If you only walk on sunny days you’ll never reach your destination.
—  Paulo Coelho

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When I woke up this morning to another gloomy, drizzly Sunday, I wondered if many would turn up to the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides for Breast Cancer walk at the DCR Hatch Shell – or if those I was planning to walk with would decide their couch and TV were more inviting than walking five miles in the rain. (I was truly tempted myself…) And surprised I was! I’ve never done this walk before so am not sure how it really compares to normal, but throngs of people – thousands – filled the Esplanade. And among them was the great team I walked with: The Elisa Squad, for my friend Gina’s mom, a 20 year survivor. Gina’s mom and many of their family walked with us, as did work friends Shay and Naama, Shay’s boyfriend and Naama’s mom – also a cancer survivor. And among our group we had three dogs who stole the show every time we passed a cheering spot! Between the company and the cheering crowds, we barely noticed the rain…photo (7)

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Sometimes I do want to run away. Run away from what happened. Run away from hospitals. Run away from doctors. Run away from tamoxifen. Run away from the rocks on my chest. Run away from cancer. Run away from reality. But last night, instead of running away from their challenges, history and loss, more than 30 strong, brave women and men walked – strutted, danced, skipped down – the runway to celebrate life.

Runway for Recovery is an amazing event that I never knew about until some of my Genzyme friends, Liza and Jamie, asked me if I wanted to help out at the event. It’s an incredible benefit for families who have lost mothers to Breast Cancer, that I understand has grown over the last seven years from a small local fashion show in the suburbs to the amazing professional gala at the posh Revere Hotel on Stuart Street in Boston.

I loved just being there – helping people check in, buy raffle tickets, work the silent auction – lots of great busy, distracting stuff. Then the lights went down… and while it was incredibly well done, with lots of upbeat music and huge energy throughout the room, I cried as the words appeared on the screen describing the models – survivors, children, mothers, grandchildren – and then the pictures of them and their loved ones.

Some things are just so close to home. My biggest fear when I was diagnosed was never dying. It was leaving Nick alone. I’ve said so many times how thankful I am for every day God has given me with him, and I didn’t (don’t) want that to end – no matter how much I say sometimes that I’m going to strangle him! So more than anything this evening of celebrating survivors and honoring those we’ve lost reminded me of how incredibly thankful I am that I did that self check that night, caught it early, and still get to be here with Nick, and all my family and friends. Why would I ever run away???

 

Genzyme volunteers ready for the night to begin!

Genzyme volunteers ready for the night to begin!

 

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Nope, not those tattoos yet – they come a few months after the implant surgery, which is now (finally!) scheduled for Wednesday, December 11. But Dr. H gave me clearance to get my first real tattoo (I’m not counting the six radiation tattoo dots), so long as it’s at least a month before the surgery. So on October 19, at the Nashua Harley-Davidson Fashion Show and Live Auction Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Benefit, I will get my first tattoo! (See? I told you it will be a fun event! You should come and witness it!)

So now I have less than a month to make the final decision: where??? Last weekend I went and bought little pink ribbon temporary tattoos to try them out. I think I’ve narrowed it down to my ankle – although initially I said I didn’t want it anywhere that others could see it, unless I wanted them to – or the upper left corner of my chest, like just under where a tank top or bra strap starts. Decisions, decisions! I guess I will experiment and see what makes me happy…

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