As I reflect on this last year, I realize many people are over it, meaning they are ready for the bright new year that 2017 will bring. They are ready for positive change, new beginnings and a fresh perspective. While I am also ready for 2017, I am not closing the chapter on 2016 in sadness or anger.
This past year has brought a lot. I had a double mastectomy with 21 (21!!!) lymph nodes removed, I had expanders put in place of the breasts that once fed my son, I experienced radiation- twice, I had brain surgery, herceptin every three weeks from January until July, two new chemo pills that equate to about 686 pills yet well over $25k, 4 injections totaling over $28k, I had a few colds but many stomach aches, Jacob had pneumonia once and a cold twice and Joe had a sinus infection. We have traveled to 6 separate cancer centers across the east coast and Texas, met with countless nurses and doctors throughout the year, and the list goes on…I am sure this is just the beginning of what this year has brought in terms of medication, treatment and, well, cancer.
Yet I can’t help but think about what else 2016 gave me. I made a few dozen Love Jars trying to brighten someone’s day, worked fulltime between my surgery and radiation, bought a new-used vehicle (for the first time in 8 years) to celebrate being “cancer free”, made sure each cancer visit was filled with some sort of adventure, I’ve had 2 paint parties that were filled with endless laughter, was blessed by Team Gina – who not only gifted my family my medical deductible and a weekend away but also new friendships that I didn’t know I NEEDED in my life, a fundraiser in New York to help pay the insane cancer costs, more new and priceless friendships that formed by a simple hello, an unexpected (free!) weekend cruise getaway that my husband and I needed more than we realized, a first ever sisters weekend, a trip to Savannah to meet my baby sister, my baby sister’s WEDDING – and a wonderful visit with family and friends, wonderful inlaws, my best friends wedding!, a few hundred blog posts, probably a million pictures and enough belly laughs for me to have a 6 pack (not happening).
This year also brought dozens of new words for Jacob, a hundred or so walks, a new bedtime routine that includes my bed, a new food change for me, countless sunsets mixed with a few late nights where little man was up until it was “too dark”, snuggles that are worth their weight in gold, 2 clothes sizes changed for Jacob and he went through a lot of shoes as his tootsies grew. He had his first haircut and another one recently, he met Mickey, Minnie, Pluto & Goofy, he picked out pumpkins and his very own Christmas tree, we have said a lot of prayers, talked to the stars while pointing out the moon, went on boat trips around the intracoastal, fished a whole lot, visited my happy place (never enough!), and giggled…oh, how we giggled.
We have read hundreds of books and visited the book fair, learned to count to 17 (and 10 in Spanish!), we have sung the alphabet song more times than I can count, done tons of arts & crafts, rode his strider bike, he is no longer afraid of his four wheeler, looked forward to his advent calendar all month and celebrated each holiday.
I haven’t read nearly enough books but discovered a love of audio books to take over the trip to work. I didn’t write nearly as much as I wanted but took a leap of faith and attended a writing seminar – and learned so much.
I imagine that this just barely scratches the service of what this year has brought. I began the year by celebrating my cancer free future but quickly learned that the cancer has taken up permanent residence. The emotional toll of that sentence is hard to process and yet I refuse to let it take over. This year has brought a lot of BIG events and change but it’s the little moments, the day to day life, that I focus on most. Our daily routine and snuggles sessions are what I look forward to most.
There are no words to describe the gratitude that I have for each & every day. I am glad to do the mundane things that I once hated – laundry, dishes, etc. These things mean that I feel well enough to do the day-to-day tasks.
I don’t know what 2017 will bring but I hope it brings stability, wellness and inspiration. I hope it is filled with belly laughs, endless snuggles and priceless memories. I plan to travel as much as I can and see parts of this world that have only filled my dreams. I intend to make memories with my family and friends. I want to experience new things and embrace the moments that make life so wonderful.
What has 2016 brought you? What plans do you have for 2017 to be new and different?