Posts Tagged ‘diagnosis’

The following is a guest blog written by my dear cousin Tara, because she knew I just couldn’t tonight. Thank you, T…

A year ago, exactly, Amy asked me to guest blog on AmysAmerica.com. She asked me to write for her the day that she had her surgery, knowing she wouldn’t be up to it that night. I felt a wash of things. Honored she would ask me to write here, a place where she shares her own thoughts, advises, and inspires so many people. Terrified, that something would go wrong in surgery, that it would be worse than we feared. Angry, that at 38 and 39, somehow our lives had taken this unbelievably wrong turn and the girls that grew up pretending to be happy, secure (wealthy… famous…fabulous) adults, found ourselves a little off course, a little scared, and facing challenges we wouldn’t have even known to imagine.

Well, we did it. You did it, Amy. You not only survived the year – a LONG year of surgery and treatments – you did it with courage, with style, with grace, and not just a little tenacity and fervor. 

I woke up and texted Amy this morning: That no matter what happened today, it had to be better than last year. And then, finally, a new month, new us, the more organized, more empowered, don’t f*** with us versions. 

And we laughed. 

And tonight when she texted on her way home from a long day at work, to go home to do more work, to get up to get in early for another long day tomorrow (Because that’s what she does. Well. And loves it), I offered to write again. Not, at the time, realizing that it had been exactly a year ago that I did so. And it just felt right. Because that’s what you do for the people you love, right? You step in, you take a little something off their full plate, anything to share the burden. 

A few weeks ago, I ran the marathon (almost). And I had a bunch of amazing family and friends either there in person or in spirit. And in frustration, adrenaline, and maybe some post-run dopamine influence, I signed up to run the NJ marathon this weekend. I just did it. And when I told Amy, she didn’t ask why, she didn’t tell me I was crazy, she simply asked “want me to book the hotel room?” And I cried (because I’m still pretty emotional over the whole marathon disaster) and texted back “really??? you want to come to NJ” and she wrote “(rolling my eyes) do you really think I’d let you finish your first marathon without being there?” (yeah, I’m crying now, too.)

I guess my long-winded, one year out, post surgery anniversary blog point is this. Things happen every day that we couldn’t have imagined a year before, a day before, an hour before, even. Terrible, horrific things, beautiful, mind-blowing, life-affirming things. We just don’t know. And that’s a lot of chaos and uncertainty. But with luck, you find a few people to ride the crazy roller coaster with and make the best of the worst and better of the best times with. I count myself incredibly fortunate to have some of the best. You at the forefront, Amy Lee. 

I am so very, deeply, to the core, thankful that this chapter is ending. That a new one starts now, that every day you remind me to take the lessons from the past and then file it away, plan for the remarkable things we have yet to achieve, but live in the present and be thankful in this moment.  

Here’s to May 1.

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I haven’t posted in a while for several reasons: We were away; I was sick, including while we were in Florida; it’s been crazy busy at work both before I left and since I got back. But I guess the real reason is I haven’t known what to say. Or I should say, I don’t like what I’ve been feeling and hate being negative.

I’ve been having a really hard time with this anniversary. Last Thursday was one year from the day I found the first lump, and this Wednesday is the anniversary of the diagnosis. And I have just been living with this heavy dread, constantly fighting off tears, and in this just dark place. I hate to be that way. I slept till noon yesterday, and only woke up because Nick kissed my forehead to tell me he had great deli sandwiches in the living room. So I moved to the couch, had a few bites, and vegged back out. The only reason I got up at all was because we had a Running for Rare Diseases fundraiser and I try to never miss those. So I rallied for a few hours, but then went home and crashed again.

I woke up in the same funk. It’s been like living that time over and over – only this time it’s actually been worse, because I know the outcome. Last year I was out drinking and having a merry time with my cousin on St. Patrick’s Day, not thinking that the biopsy would actually come back cancer. This year I moped around the apartment. Let me tell you, the emotional scars are so much worse than the physical ones… I’m dwelling and I despise that. So I’m done. I can’t do this until Wednesday or I’ll go crazy.

So what? So what if it’s the anniversary? So what if it was a hell year? So what if my life is completely different? So what if it will never really be over? What is crying over it actually going to do? Nothing. I have to stop thinking about the past and focus on the future. Or at least start living in the present again. I may not really like everything about my current reality, but at least I’m here. I lived through it. I made it through surgery and chemo and radiation. And I’m recovering. My hair is growing back – strangers no longer see me and know I had cancer. In a few months I can have my implant surgery. Eventually I’ll feel like a normal girl again.

It could be so much worse. I am lucky. I know that. Blessed. And I am thankful, so thankful… Speaking of thankful, thanks to all who joined me in Florida last week – even those I only got to see for a few minutes! Nick, Tara, Kevin, Mike, Steve, Kelli, Hudson, Holden, Shannon, Jack, Julian, Janie, Monique, Dad, Maggie, Mom, Mark, Jake and Kacie (and congratulations on your engagement!!!)… it really was a great, relaxing time. And now I’ve done the requisite celebrating and can move on.

I’m going to do my best this week to stay focused on the future, and leave the past behind me. An anniversary is just another day. It is not happening all over again, so no need to keep reliving every moment over and over again in my head. What’s done is done and I have come a long way from then. No more mourning who I was – time to get back to getting comfortable with and accepting the new me. She’s not that bad, and hey, with a little time and attention, I can make her that much better…

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I am ready. It’s time to celebrate! I know, I know, I put up such a fuss just a few short months ago, so anti-celebrating anything. But not only is the 2011/2012 two-part hell year over, but so is 38! I turned 39 on February 9 and I feel like I have a new lease on life – and hopefully it’s a long one!

Of course, 38 couldn’t let go without a fight, so my birthday weekend featured a blizzard and not a lot of downtime, as there was much to do for work – I went from a utility where I had storm duty, to a biomanufacturing plant that must stay running 24/7, regardless of the weather. Snow days never mean much to me! Luckily, the governor lifted the driving ban my birthday afternoon, so a few of us braved the roads and went to dinner to officially mark the occasion. Thanks to Kevin and Tara for trekking and joining Nick and I!

The rest of the month was mainly a blur: lots of snow and sickness, I’m afraid. I’m not a huge fan of the white stuff, and it dumped more than what I consider our fair share on New England this month. And I caught a bad cold/sore throat that has lingered for three weeks now and just won’t let go. I was actually really looking forward to running what I thought was going to be my first (almost) 5k back on Rare Disease Day (see last blog post), but with still having a sore throat and barely running at all this month, I didn’t think it would be smart – especially with next week…

Oh, what’s next week, you ask? Why, the continuation of my celebration! In sunny Florida – Walt Disney World, to be exact! Several of my family and friends are joining us for a few days to celebrate so many things: It being 2013. Turning 39. The end of treatment (other than tamoxifen). And, it just happens to fall almost exactly a year from when I found the first lump. Happy Anniversary to me. So I’m going to take some time out, head south to the warmth, bask in the sunshine, enjoy some family and friend time, reflect on a tough year successfully concluded and focus on my fabulous future! I am so thankful for everyone in my life, and that I HAVE a life. I don’t want to take any of it for granted, and I want to not only appreciate it, but truly enjoy it, and the people who make it worth living! Cheers to you all!!!


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