Tomorrow

The days leading up to treatment are bittersweet. Food tastes better, the weather is more appealing, the minutes seem to matter more and the days seem to move too quickly. Yet there is a list of to-dos that haven’t been done and treatment approaches too quickly. The anxiety that I feel is a mixture of “I don’t want to do this again” and “Let’s get it over with!” You can imagine the battle in my head.

I have spent many days in my life waiting for tomorrow. These tend to be happy occasions – Payday is tomorrow! Or – We leave for vacation tomorrow! Or – My birthday is tomorrow! But sometimes they are less exciting– I have a big meeting at work tomorrow. Or – There is a parent / teacher conference tomorrow. Or – I need to schedule an appointment tomorrow.

These tomorrow statements tend to be a point of anticipation. This anticipation can be exciting or sad, thrilling or nerve racking. Having a week of vacation – and an extra week in between treatments – has allowed me to put off the thought of treatment day a bit more than usual. The last day or two, as treatment quickly approaches, my thoughts have continuously returned to Thursday morning, when I will begin my third round of treatment.

The thought of the approaching treatment causes a little anxiety because I don’t know the extent of the side effects and how they are going to affect me this round. The first treatment went easier than expected and the second was harder than I anticipated. Third round could show the compounding effects worse, or it could be better than I imagine.

Tonight, as little man reached up to me so he could sit on my lap at bedtime, I am reminded of why I shouldn’t be concerned about the days ahead. Regardless of the hardships that this treatment causes, or the discomfort following, it is allowing me the opportunity to live a longer life. To eventually be healthier and stronger, so I can continue to raise my son and be around for all of his “firsts”. So that I can dance with him on his wedding day. So that I can be a wife to my incredible husband and cry happy tears when we watch our son graduate college.

So, my friends, remember that as frightened or uneasy you may be about tomorrow…it is helping to build a better future. Tomorrow, I am halfway done with the first 6 treatments.

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You deserve it

When Joe & I were planning our wedding, we couldn’t decide on where we wanted to travel for our honeymoon. We tossed around ideas about traveling to California and staying at a cabin near the vineyards, heading over to the Bahamas and seeing Atlantis, flying across the world to Fiji and even the possibility of exploring Europe. Indecision had a hold on us and we struggled with deciding.

One idea that came up periodically was a cruise. It was not something that we had done before and seemed rather pricey so we went back and forth on the idea a few times. After chatting with a few friends and doing some research, we decided a cruise best suited our taste and decided to book it. We booked the cruise on a Thursday morning, just 3 days before our wedding day. We left the following week on a seven day vacation to the Western Caribbean. We had no previous cruising experience, no cell phone access, and way too many things packed.

Booking so close to our wedding day and having the excitement of the wedding to focus on didn’t allow for a lot of time to look forward to the cruise. The excitement built over a few days but the weeks, or months, of anticipation that typically comes from a vacation wasn’t there. We spent the few days prior to cruising researching what we needed to bring, the best excursions to take and shopping for last minute necessities. The vacation itself was amazing. The week flew by – each day seemed to move faster than the one prior and before we knew it, we were pulling back into port. Memories had been made and we still talk about that cruise as one of our favorite vacations ever, five years later.

We booked this weeks’ vacation in the beginning of January, allowing the opportunity for lots of anticipation and excitement to build. We call it our staycation, where we stay at a timeshare locally. Our first stay at this particular timeshare was in 2013, when we were a family of two. Joe & I have been anxiously awaiting this vacation, knowing the fun that little man would have here.

After I was diagnosed, we debated on whether or not to cancel or reschedule our staycation. The trip fell on a treatment week and we weren’t sure what that meant. We didn’t want to risk a change in my prognosis or issues with scheduling if we made any changes to the treatment plan. After speaking with my oncologist and better understanding the timing, we decided to push back my treatment by a week and keep our staycation. This change wouldn’t impact my prognosis and would allow us to have some much needed family time together.

The last week has been filled with silly laughter from little man, lots of snuggles, time outside together as the weather cools, hearing new babbles that little man has suddenly developed, pool fun, relaxation and even a date night with my dear husband. We have created priceless memories and we had the opportunity to forget about our fight for a brief moment in time.

Knowing the battle that looms ahead made this trip much more needed, much sweeter and even more valuable. It was a chance for us to regroup as a family, rebuilt our strength and enjoy time together to focus on us. It was perfect.

Whether a vacation that you take spontaneously, a staycation that you plan ahead or even a weekend getaway down the road…enjoy the time away. Take the time that you need to center yourself, regain perspective and enjoy your family. You deserve it.

101010!

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My cousin once met us at the beach for a day trip and upon seeing us unload our bag filled with the beach necessities, she smiled and said “You’re beach people, huh?”  We hadn’t thought of ourselves as beach people at the time but we were.  Our bag is packed and ready for the beach at all times, so we can grab and go when able.  After getting engaged, we knew that our wedding would take place on the beach because it is our happy place.

The morning of our wedding, Joe and I both woke up early and separated to begin the wedding festivities.  I joined my big sister and her family on the pool deck, which overlooked the ocean, and watched the sun rise.  The sky slowly filled with incredible variations of pink, orange and red. What began as a sliver rising from the ocean, turned into a large, round sun that shined bright and seemed to cover half of the horizon.  I sat in awe as I marveled in its perfect beauty.

While I sat and watched the sun rise, Joe went surfing.  He paddled out past where the waves crashed and waited for the perfect time.  Sitting amongst the waves, he heard a splash and looked over.  There was a pod of dolphins swimming next to him – one within an arms reach.  They played and splashed and seemed not to notice Joe, though he sat in awe at their perfect beauty.

Our wedding day flew by.  It was filled with love, laughter and happy tears shared with family and friends.  We committed ourselves to a lifetime of love, through sickness and health.  When I think back over what the last 5 years have brought, I see the perfect beauty of it all – the perfect beauty that is us.  We have built a strong, indestructible bond throughout this marriage that continues to strengthen each day.  While we did not anticipate this disease attacking our family, we are strong and will continue to strengthen throughout this fight.  We will beat this, together, and continue in the perfect beauty that is our love.

A little food and a little wine…

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I love food. I love wine. I love food and wine at the same time. During the time following treatment, there isn’t much food that I find appealing and wine isn’t an option. I take a lot of medicine to try and curb the nausea but the food aversions are quite strong. I still have an appetite, which makes eating especially challenging because of how unappealing everything is. I have consistently been able to eat cheese, eggs, crackers and popsicles. Lots and lots of popsicles. Water is a challenge too but I work past it because I know how important water intake is to flush my system.

Today, we spent a few hours at Epcot with Grandma and Grandpa exploring the Food & Wine Festival. Despite the heat, which has been getting cooler and cooler each day, it was such a wonderful day. We visited many countries around the world and shared different appetizer sized plates and small beverages. Since it has been a few weeks since my last treatment, I am able to eat pretty regularly. And I did just that today. I savored many delicious treats.

I’ve been to the Food & Wine Festival before but this visit was a little more precious. Every moment with my family is precious. Seeing Grandma & Grandpa smile while little man dances to the music in Morocco makes my heart smile. Enjoying the fabulous food around the world, knowing there will be a time again in the next week where the thought of food is completely unappealing, makes me grateful for each and every bite while I am able to enjoy it.

While I sip a glass of red tonight, I am savoring the moments of today. The carefree joy of time with family, the ability to relax and the spirit of innocence while my little man met Mickey and Goofy…makes for a memorable and amazing day. Happy Friday, my friends.

The pain of progress

Throughout my life, I have taken up running a few times. I developed a love for running in middle school, thanks to the after school cross country team. I tend to run in spurts, taking it up for a few weeks at a time and then stopping for various reasons – a cold, a vacation or something else in life. Running has always been therapeutic for me. I way to clear my head and think through things going on in my life – whether work or personal.

Whenever I ran, I looked forward to the pain in my muscles as I progressed. I would wake up the day after a run and feel the soreness when I walked, sat down or stood up. I loved it because it made me feel like progress was being made. That progress motivated me to keep going; keep pushing.

Last week, my lymph nodes started hurting. My tumor had hurt after treatment previously but I hadn’t felt my lymph nodes hurt consistently since before I was diagnosed, when they hurt because the cancer was taking them over. Feeling this pain again was scary at first, until I thought – wait, it is working!

At my checkup with the oncologist this week, I shared that my lymph nodes had been hurting pretty consistently and that I thought it was a good sign. My oncologist looked me in the eye and smiled wide.

“We don’t expect anyone to tell us that it hurts. But it is a good sign. It is great news.”

My oncologist could feel the difference in size in my lymph nodes and my tumor and the look on his face said it all. The cancer is dying. I am winning. I wouldn’t be surprised if, after my upcoming treatment, I can’t even feel my tumor anymore.

How awesome is that?!

12 years…

2003

In 2003 Sheryl, one of my very best friends from childhood, wanted to introduce me to a boy she knew from a previous job. She had been asking me to meet him for months and I kept pushing it off and evading the question. We were walking through the mall one day and she asked me again. The conversation went as it typically did, except this time I caved.

Sheryl: “I am telling you, Joe is perfect for you! You will get along great.”

Me: “Yeah, yeah, I know. Maybe next week.”

Sheryl: “Oh come on! Just meet him! I’ll come with you, it’ll be fun!”

Me: “I’m sure he’s great. I’ll think about it.”

Sheryl: “Pppllleeaassseeee???”

Me: (Insert eye roll) “Fine! I’ll meet him. Tonight. That’s it though, if he isn’t available tonight then you can’t ask me again.”

Sheryl immediately whipped out her pink flip phone and made a call, smiling her widest smile. Within a few minutes, we were scheduled to meet up at Joe’s house with a few mutual friends.

That night, 12 years ago today, I met Joe. (And, ironically, his roommate who is also named Joe!) After an awkward introduction to the “Joes”, Sheryl and I sat and chit-chatted while the boys played video games. The night itself was low key but I decided that I did, in fact, want to learn more about Joe. I started hanging out with him more and more and started to get to know him better. He had a great smile, he was kind and he made me laugh. We started dating and, as they say, the rest is history.

When I think back to how this life with Joe all began, it makes me smile. My best friend knew we were perfect for each other, even though we didn’t at the time, and wouldn’t give up on us meeting each other. Who would have thought that night would change both of our lives forever?

How did you meet the love of your life?

Saturday morning blessings

It’s barely 10am and this has been an emotional morning – happy emotions, thankfully! I woke up to an event scheduled by a dear childhood friend. She is hosting a musical event at my parent’s restaurant in my honor this month. The event falls over my next treatment weekend and I already know that the emotional support received that night will help me through those challenging days.

Then my Facebook and Instagram were flooded with the green support that Saturdays offer. It is such a humbling and sweet feeling to see everyone finding unique ways to wear my favorite color!

Today is also the Race for the Cure in Albany, which many friends are participating in, in my honor. I see pictures of these incredible women – survivors – who are strong, motivated and true inspirations. They have been on this journey that I am on and they have beaten this horrible disease. Seeing their smiling faces – and all of the amazing family and friends out their supporting everyone – gives me chills. They are the definition of strength.

While my loves dance to the music of this beautiful Saturday morning in Florida, I await the arrival of two of my closest friends. They are coming over to help me learn fun ways to wrap my head in scarves and are also joining in on the head wrapping fun themselves. Then we are off to the beach on this gorgeous day for some girl time.

I feel so blessed on this incredible Saturday. Make it a wonderful day, my friends!