I have been looking forward to December 31st for so long because I couldn’t wait to put the hardest year of my life behind me. I woke up to one of facebook’s shared memories of photos from past New years Eves. Before I knew it, I was overcome with emotion and found it impossible to hold back the tears. Looking back at photos of our annual low key New Years Eve party with our best friends the Keasts and our girls, I realized just how clueless I was about what was about to smack me…. really all of us in the face. My mind was instantly flooded with memories of receiving the terrifying news, cold exam rooms, painful procedures, the wedge it put in our marriage for the first few months, the surgeries, infections, passing out at every turn, hospital stays, daily IV infusions, being sicker then I have ever been before, losing my hair, brows, and lashes, constantly seeing fear and sadness in the eyes of my closest friends and family, loosing parts of my body that I used to hold sacred and most of all, coming to terms with the constant fear that cancer was going to leave my baby girl without a mommy and my husband without a wife. But then something pretty special happened. I started receiving texts from my closest friends and family, and from people that have come into my life this year that I never would have met if it hadn’t been for my cancer diagnosis. Everyone was of course joining me in saying goodbye to 2015 and wishing me joy and good health in 2016, but to my surprise they were also thanking me for what knowing me during this journey has brought to their lives.
Hearing that I was able to add to the lives of those who have treated me over the past year and those who have walked this journey with me, filled my heart with love, gratitude, and appreciation. That’s when I realized something pretty amazing about breast cancer. Although this nasty decease brings even the strongest women to their knees and tests every once of faith you have in your body, it also brings many gifts and blessings to your life as well. Having cancer allowed me to let my guard down for the first time ever and truly open my heart to my family, my friends, and all of you, it has deepened my relationship my husband, my parents, my siblings, and friends new and old. It has mended broken bridges and brought both sides of our families back together. It has given me the gift of knowing how much I am loved and watching a community of supporters rally around me to support me during the hardest days of my life. It has brought so many amazing people into my life that I never would have met including current and past physicians and nurses that I now feel blessed to call friends, and it has brought many amazing women who are or have walked this same path into my life as well. Being faced with cancer has shown me just how strong and determined I can be. It has taught me patience and the importance of rest. It has helped me to appreciate even the smallest things in life, and most of all it has helped me to grow into the person I believe I was always meant to be. To quote a thought I wrote down early on in my treatment… “Having cancer put the thought of dying in my mind, yet taught me how to live at the same time. I would never wish cancer on anyone, but I do very much wish I could package up all of the amazing life perceptive it has given to me and give it to all of you. I know this is going to sound almost crazy, but I really do not think I would take this year or any of my experiences with the dreaded “C” word back if I could. I am so very thankful for the many positive gifts cancer has brought me.
I was up most the night last night going through photos of this past year and reading amazing posts from all of you when I came a crossed the interview that I did with Fox 17 on the day that I found out I would need both chemo and radiation treatments. I said something in that interview that I still feel and hope will come true. I said “I would like for 2015 to be the bad year, and for good things to come in 2016 and most of all I do not plan on going anywhere anytime soon. I made a promise to myself and to my family early on. I promised that I was going to open myself up and let this journey lead me down whatever path I was meant to walk. I believe I have and I am still holding true to that promise and I really do hope that this experience continues to bless and bring purpose to my life.
I am looking forward to the many blessings that 2016 has in store for me. My goal is to use all of my experiences from this past year for something good and it is my hope that with the closing of my 2015 chapter, another door will open for me in the coming year. I have never been good at New Years Resolutions, but I do hope that 2016 takes my combined career loves of Advertising/art direction and photography into a more purposeful and meaningful direction.
It was amazing to spend last night with my best Friend Sarah, my husband, and some new friends, and our families. Sarah was with me when I got the news and she was by my side every step along the way so having there with me as I said goodbye to 2015 was quite meaningful. As a new tradition we added our hopes for 2016 to sticky notes and placed them on the refrigerator. I first noted that I would take my life back in 2016 but after being push to come up with a something fun I was reminded of what started my passion to share years ago. My journey with Breast Cancer started almost 6 years ago when I worked to help my dear friend Vicki share her own journey with Breast Cancer. She is an amazingly inspirational and motivating person so after seeing an ad on the Ellen Show to call in if you would like to share your journey with cancer, she decided to make a go at getting her story out there. Although we fell short in our efforts to get Vicki on the show that October, we have both continued to find joy in following our favorite program. In fact, during my hardest days this past year, the Ellen show was the only show that I could watch and actually laugh at.. So for a fun goal for 2016 I hope to bring both of our journeys full circle and actually attend a live taping of the Ellen Degeneres show with my dear heart friend Vicki.
I wish you all a very Happy New Year! Blessings to all of you who have surrounded me with support, hope and love this year.