I’ve heard 2016 described as a dumpster fire, a train wreck, “the worst thing to ever happen to me”, among other things that would require some censoring. Well, I hope none of the people who came to my wedding lumped it in with “dumpster fire”. I’m really torn when I look back on the year because it’s really divided between BC and AC (before & after cancer). It feels just like yesterday that Nick and I were in Colorado at our favorite place to eat talking about the upcoming year and then drinking champagne in our pajamas in the hotel room as the ball dropped. After that it was wedding planning and then May was right in front of us and our lives changed forever. I was expecting one life changing event in 2016 (my wedding), not two.
As much as it kind of sucks that these two events had to coincide I can honestly say (it’s about to get sappy) that this year has shown me how much I love and appreciate my entire family. When I was looking around the infusion room during chemo yesterday I wanted to take pictures of several families (I didn’t, that would be creepy) because they were just so sweet. One woman was leaned over and asleep on the arm of her husband who was receiving chemo. He read his magazine in silence and in the midst of a chaotic room they looked so peaceful. One mom was asleep while receiving chemo and her two adult daughters sat on either side of her with their heads on her shoulder- both asleep as well. Family has been my rock and has done so much for us. My parents have let us move in for cumulatively over 2 months since June, spread out between weekends for chemo and hospital stays and surgeries. I couldn’t have done any of this without them. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have married into a family as supportive and loving as mine. Their constant reaching out and well wishes have meant so much.
I’m pretty new to this marriage thing (and I’ve probably said this before) but I don’t believe you know how much you love someone and how much someone loves you until you’re physically hurting and you know your partner would do anything in their power to make it stop. I know there will come a day when the tables are turned and when that time comes I will be ready to care for him as he has cared for me. I was telling Nick the other day that I wasn’t looking forward to recovery after surgery because of the fact that I would need so much assistance completing basic tasks like brushing my teeth and showering for a couple of weeks. “I’m embarrassed. Newlyweds aren’t supposed to have to do those things for eachother” I said to him, “But that’s love” he told me.
2016 has also shown us what wonderful people we are surrounded by. Old friends from high school I have had the opportunity to reconnect with, new cancer friends (sorry, there’s not a cuter term) I’ve met over Facebook, our wonderful families, our work family, my amazing team of doctors and surgeons, and our community in Waco. I rack my brain wondering how we know so many cool people and how they still want to hang out with me despite my funky sense of humor and inability to not talk about my dog all the time.
But really, our people are the best people. Nick and I wouldn’t be as sane as we are without the love and support of the people who have reached out and offered anything from favors to an ear when we needed it. This may be the social worker in me, but I feel like I need to say that it’s not easy being a friend to someone with cancer. I can see the discomfort in eyes when people don’t know what to say or don’t know how to react when we’re honest when someone asks “how is it going?” Some people have dropped out over the past 6 months and I don’t blame them. We’ve been left with people who are willing to stick around and are in it for the long haul. If you’re reading this it’s probably you, so thank you.
I’ve learned a lot about family, loyalty, love, and friendship this year but I’ve also learned a lot about strength. I’ve learned that despite what people say, “the mind is stronger than the body”, your body can be stronger than you think. When mentally I had checked out my body continued to fight for my life (it tried to kill me first but forgiveness, right?) My body has been poked, scanned, cut, melon balled, pumped full of poison, and yet here I am, almost on the other side, with nearly no physical signs of this battle. I have more respect for my body and for the ability to do even the most mundane tasks because I have seen what it can do when it’s time to really show up. My body is pretty badass. The next step is gearing up for surgery in March but I find comfort in knowing my strength and resilience. If your body has helped you live a full life this year, you should find comfort and thankfulness in that too.
Thank you, whoever you are, that is is reading this blog. I consider it one of the highlights of my year because of how therapeutic it has been and how much fun I’ve had writing it. The positive feedback I get encourages me to continue (because I swear, after every post I consider deleting the entire thing!) and the comments I get from other people with cancer let me know that I’ve brought comfort or a morbid laugh to someone else who gets it.
Before I end this I would like to talk resolutions. Some of mine are to give more hugs and touch more animals. Exhibit A:
But I have another that is important to me and should be important to you, too. Everyone, please consider making a resolution to perform regular self breast exams this year. Men and women can benefit immensely from early detection. I have found cancer in my breast not once but twice now. Do not wait for your yearly exam or mammogram (young women’s breasts are too dense for scans anyway)!!! I’ve gotten so good at exams that I can multi task and either text or brush my teeth while doing them. True story. So spread the word. Remind your mom, your sister, your friends, your partners… just maybe not your co workers (I won’t pay your bill when you’re sued for sexual harassment).
Here’s what you do-
1. Google self breast exam and watch a video or ask your doctor to show you how to perform a PROPER exam. It’s always a plus to teach your partner what you’re feeling for and what is considered abnormal incase they ever feel something .
2. Set an alarm on your phone. Some people feel them on the first but I personally perform exams every two weeks if not weekly. Why not? Do it in the shower or before bed, whenever you have 5 minutes to dedicate to something.
It’s quick, it’s easy, it could save your life. Please consider this a priority and add it to your list of resolutions this year! Also, when you cheers this year remember to be thankful for all of the good that’s been smushed between the bad and focus on that. I know it’s way easier said than done but we’re all still here aren’t we?
Wedge is choosing to reflect on the positives in 2016 (tennis balls, bones, lots of butts).
Be more like Wedge.
Also- if you ordered a shirt from me and could take a photo wearing it, that would be AWESOME. I would love to make a collage of this as these pictures mean the world to me. You can e-mail, text it, or Facebook it to me. Please indicate if you would NOT like it featured in the blog.