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Day Twenty Four….#31daysoflove

24 Oct

24For my #31daysoflove I will be wearing pink and posting a picture of what I am wearing. Today is the best selfie I could pull off because Kevin is traveling. I will also be tagging several breast cancer survivor friends and saying a few words about each of them. I would like you to see, what I see, about these women.

Cheryl Lecroy – she is ALWAYS smiling – and I mean always. I met Cheryl through Wind River Cancer Retreats and she knows everything about healthy eating – and I mean everything! The poor woman wants to have an intervention on my life and my eating habits, but I think she knows it’s just too late. She wants to make healthy shakes, I ask her for Twizzler shakes, she wants to juice all healthy foods, and I want her to make Twinkie juice…I have to admit though, she has opened my eyes to the fact that the juices she makes really do taste terrific and they are so healthy – now if she just lived with me….

Virginia Knight – I met Virginia two days after my bilateral mastectomy, in the hospital – when I was very sick. She is a Reach to Recovery volunteer and she came in to give me info about the American Cancer Society and she was a happy, healthy, smiling survivor. She gave me more than info about ACS – she gave me hope. When I began coordinating the Reach program I got to know Virginia and she is just a precious lady. She has been part of Reach for many years and I am very thankful for her!

Joy McGlohon – I met Joy years before either one of us was diagnosed with breast cancer. Then I was diagnosed and she prayed for me …not too long after I was diagnosed, Joy was diagnosed. Our circle of friends was shocked, of course, but we were in the hospital, on the same day, at the same time, having two different types of surgery…she was beginning her fight with breast cancer – and I was finishing mine. She is an extremely faithful woman and she seems to have put breast cancer behind her and is moving forward and loving life. I admire her!

 

How many more survivors can I post about each day? Wait and see…

Celebration of Life…

23 Oct

It is still beyond my mental grasp to imagine my life without Michelle in it. I keep wondering how she is or wondering why I haven’t heard from her, and then I remember. Her Celebration of Life Service yesterday was awesome. The church was packed and there were many people from all walks and timeframes of Michelle’s life there. I met her friends from other towns, from elementary school, from college; from her whole life before cancer. It’s funny when you meet someone who has or has had cancer and you just get to know them from that point forward. Then you see pictures of them pre-cancer, sometimes they are thinner, sometimes heavier, different hair, different body shape, sometimes they look like different people than the one “you know”.

I sat and watched the video that the girls made of Michelle for the service and I watched her life unfold in front of me….pre-Laura & Michelle. It’s was amazing because a big part of our friendship focused on cancer – either hers or someone else’s…I guess because she never stepped out of the breast cancer arena. She was fighting breast cancer from the moment I met her in September 2012 until the day I said my goodbye…the day before stepped into heaven.

Her ceremony was awesome. It truly speaks volumes about someone, the people who come, the words that are said, the scriptures that were chosen, and the tears that were shed. My friend Ev told me tonight that being at her service yesterday made her realize that she missed out on not knowing Michelle better. She knew her – but not a lot, and now it’s too late. We are all so busy working and running 100 mph – are we spending time with friends? Real time, getting to know them and finding out who they are and what they believe? I am trying to do this more and more all of the time – and I love that part of my life, but are you trying to do that also? Or are you busy working – always working?

I am sad that I cannot see Michelle anymore – I am sad because I cannot call her and joke with her and goof off…but I am so very thankful and so grateful for the time we had together. She always made fun of what I was doing in the breast cancer community and poked fun at me for whatever notoriety I was getting – but it was all in fun. That girl cried at every speech she heard me give, she always encouraged me to keep going, and she always told me she was proud of me – no matter how hard she was laughing. Me n Michelle

We had many many good times together as well as some hard times – but that’s what made us “US”..the good, the bad, the happy, the sad…I wanted all of that with Michelle. When her breast cancer spread and I knew, deep in my heart, we had a problem, but it didn’t make me want to put space between us. I was in it for the long haul with her because that’s who we were. One weekend she and I took a break from each other and the cancer news. It was when her cancer went into her brain and I was leaving that evening to help my daughter decorate her nursery. Michelle told me to go to Anderson, to not think about the scans we saw earlier that day, to not call or text her for the whole weekend…to just go be with my daughter in peace. That’s what Michelle wanted and that’s what I did. I will never forget that cancer free weekend – it was a gift. That’s the type of girl Michelle was…and I really really miss her. I wish she could meet my new granddaughter. I wanted more time. But I am truly grateful for the lessons she taught me and the strength she had while fighting this battle. She never gave up – not for a moment – and that was her gift to all of us.

Day Twenty Three….#31daysoflove

22 Oct

For my #31daysoflove I will be wearing pink and posting a picture of what I am wearing. I will also be tagging several breast cancer survivor friends and saying a few words about each of them. I would like you to see, what I see, about these women.

Heidi Ohl – she is a new friend and one I have not been able to spend very much time with – but what I know of her, is just precious. She is part of our tnbc group and is in the middle of treatment and having migraine headaches. Terrible migraines. She is such a great girl and I look forward to getting to know her even better once these migraines get under control.

Phyllis Rea – she worked at a company that did work with my husband’s company and we were going through treatment around the same time. We texted and emailed often tracking each other’s progress and then we were so lucky to make the time to have dinner. We got along so great and had such a wonderful time together…and then life interrupted and I haven’t seen her since. Phyllis doesn’t attend breast cancer events (not the ones I am at anyway) and she seems to have moved forward and put breast cancer in her rear view mirror – and for that I say “good for you girl!”…there are some days I wish I had done that, but way more many days that I know I am exactly where I need to be.

Ginny Higgins – I met Ginny through a mutual friend and we emailed and talked on the phone – but have never met because Ginny lives in NY. Ginny is a very precious breast cancer survivor that was going through breast cancer right after I went through it and she has been strong and positive and sweet and thoughtful. We don’t speak or email much anymore because I think she has also put breast cancer in her rear view mirror and moved on with her life – and I love this! I miss talking to her though (hint hint Ginny)….

Day 23

See, I have the coolest survivor friends all over the place!

Day Twenty Two…#31daysoflove

22 Oct

For my #31daysoflove I will be wearing pink and posting a picture of what I am wearing. I will also be tagging several breast cancer survivor friends and saying a few words about each of them. I would like you to see, what I see, about these women.

Lissa Tipple – I met Lissa after her battle with breast cancer and after mine. She attends our tnbc group and she is just precious. She is always supportive, caring, and open….not only with me but with other survivors in our group. She is always so grateful for the group and the educational discussions we bring to the group – and that keeps me going! Thanks Lissa – you don’t know it, but you inspire me to keep going…..

Sherry Wentzel – I met Sherry in the midst of her chemo treatments. She is almost through with her reconstruction surgery and I am excited that she is nearing the end of this phase in her treatment path. She is always checking in on some of our other survivors and I love that about her! She has a great attitude and you know me, I adore survivors who are reaching out to other survivors to lend a hand…even when they are in treatment themselves.

Melanie Davis – I have known Melanie for quite a while because we serve together on the committee for Making Strides and have for a few years. She is one of my beacons of hope at my tnbc meetings because she is eleven years out and I love hearing that, seeing her, and having our other members see that – ELEVEN YEARS!! She is a sweetheart too!

Day 22

See how easy it is to be me and love these woman??

 

 

Day Twenty One….#31daysoflove

21 Oct

For my #31daysoflove I will be wearing pink and posting a picture of what I am wearing. I will also be tagging several breast cancer survivor friends and saying a few words about each of them. I would like you to see, what I see, about these women.

Cynthia Fewell – I met Cynthia a few years ago through Making Strides and she has always been a shining light with a big smile on her face! I don’t know her well, but she has always been ready and willing to help other survivors and she has always been very encouraging to me. One of the coolest things I had happen when I had my surgery a month ago involved Cynthia and she doesn’t even know it. My Breast Navigator handed me the “bag of goodies” before my surgery and in it was a decorated “tool belt” to help hold drains after breast surgery. She said “you do know Cynthia Fewell right?”….of course I do! And thank you Cynthia for making some of these breast surgery inconveniences just a little bit easier to handle.

Tracey Crean – she is part of our TNBC group and I immediately bonded with her when I met her. A smiling happy girl who is always ready to encourage our other members along and always ready to help out whenever she is needed. She is open about her surgeries and always willing to talk to anyone with questions. Another silver lining in this breast cancer arena!

Virginia Stern – first thing to say is I MISS THIS GIRL! Virginia is a very cool woman – funny, witty, smart, and very sweet. Virginia was a great member/supporter of our TNBC group and all of a sudden, she moved. I was not prepared, didn’t get to say goodbye, and now we are just FB friends. I really miss her. A lot. I envy her lakeside photos that she posts every day and I miss the crap out of this girl!

Day 21

How could I not love these women?!

 

My Heart Is Breaking Today…

20 Oct

I am not sure I have ever been through such an emotional time as I have been for the past few weeks. I can write this now, and let it out, because permanent change has come into my life, and the lives of many, and there is nothing left to shelter from the truth.

As you may know I had a tough time after my second reconstruction surgery on September 15. I went into the surgery exhausted from working lots of hours on our fundraiser and then we wrapped that up Saturday September 13. We ran errands all day Sunday getting ready for me to be out of commission for a week or two, and Monday morning we were at the hospital by 5 am. The surgery was longer than expected and I was very very sick for days after because I think I had a reaction to the anesthesia. After a few days of being out of it I checked my text messages and there were many on there from my close friend Michelle. I assumed someone was updating everyone so I took another oxy, rolled over and went back to sleep. I was pretty out of it but finally Michelle and I were able to talk on Sunday. I was excited to talk to her, after all, I hadn’t seen her since the art show the week before. She was anxious about an appointment she had the next day with a neuro doctor to find out what was going on with her brain mets. After not hearing anything from her Monday late afternoon I called her cell and her brother answered. Michelle had been admitted to the hospital for all kinds of tests and the whirlwind began. I wasn’t allowed into the hospital because I had those stupid drains, which were open wounds, and I couldn’t risk getting an infection. NO HOSPITALS my doctors said. No way. So another week or two went by and I finally got to see Michelle at her house. There was a dramatic decline in her health since I last saw her – but she was as cute as always, but fuzzy thinking and sort of dozy. I saw her again, maybe twice after that, but I was really feeling the loss of not being able to text her, call her, speak to her, and joke with her on a daily basis like before. It had been before my surgery since we did that and I was beginning to feel, and process, the beginning of my loss of Michelle. I texted her often and her girls, or her friend Kristie, read her my texts. It just wasn’t the same but I went on hoping and praying for a miracle for Michelle, all the while, preparing for my first grand baby to be born. Morgan was getting more uncomfortable by the day and my schedule was extremely hectic getting ready for our Primax Pink Warriors and the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk. To say I was being pulled in a thousand different directions is an understatement. I was trying to emotionally balance Michelle sliding away from me and watching her health decline, and staying happy and positive – hoping and praying for a safe delivery for Morgan and a healthy baby. A brand new life and losing a close friend ….a very hard thing to balance day-to-day. Each day my mind would look at both situations and ask myself if today was “the day”…each night I went to bed happy for the new life coming and very sad for my friend leaving;  a constant teeter-todder of emotions. Then came the text I was waiting for – Morgan was in labor. It was last Saturday morning early. I showered and hopped in the car – ready to go and meet my granddaughter. I texted Michelle’s daughter on the way and I got back a very happy text from her. Michelle had been wide-eyed, awake, alert, and coherent all morning. I asked if I could talk to her and my phone rang. My eyes filled with tears as Michelle and I had a very clear, great conversation about everything. My old Michelle was back! I was hoping this was the miracle I had been praying for. It happens you know.  But, I also knew in the back of my mind that some people rally often before their bodies give out and they fade away. This is something I also feared. I was flying down the highway – talking to Michelle – crying – thinking I knew where I was going – and I missed my exit. But I didn’t know it yet. The road that I was used to ending where I thought it ended, had been extended. Michelle and I continued talking and I was describing the beautiful rainbow I saw in front of my car. I think we both knew this was the last time we would speak because we both cried on and off – cried for the happiness of a new baby, cried for the loss her children would be facing, cried for the change our friendship would soon take, and cried because stupid cancer was taking her life away from her and taking her away from me and everyone else. I was on my way to experience one of the greatest things a Mom can experience, the birth of a grand baby, and we both were well aware that she might not ever experience that with her girls. What a thief cancer is. What a rotten horrible thief.  We ended our conversation with “I love you” as we always do and we hung up. I began sobbing and a few minutes later I realized I had missed my turn and ended up going 35 minutes out of my way. One way.  Then I really began to cry…..life and death….I was so afraid I was going to miss the birth of my grand baby. I got myself back on the right road and began to really fear that being  late was going to make me miss a monumental event in our lives.

I wasn’t late to the birth of the baby – thank God….and Michelle was able to see text pictures of the baby for the first few days Haley was with us. I am so honored that she could share in this happiness – even from a distance.

So, we had our walk Saturday October 18 and dedicated it to Michelle – that is a whole different blog post coming, and Sunday I went to say my final goodbyes to Michelle. When we pulled into the driveway (I didn’t tell them I was coming because they said I didn’t need to), Chloe said she was glad I was there and that her Mom needed to see me. I went inside and got to spend some one on one time with Michelle. These are precious moments that I will treasure until I see her again. I just love this girl so much. She has always been the hardest fighting cancer kicking woman I know. Test result after test result – her attitude remained clear and focused, she was going to see Chloe and Cami graduate from high school. (Chloe is 14 and Cami is 16 – and cute as buttons). Michelle fought her entire breast cancer battle with her eyes focused on God and His promises. She wouldn’t allow us to wallow in fear or sadness when her tests came back scary or negative. She wouldn’t allow us to feel bad for her and there were many times she accepted help – but she didn’t accept help easily. She is truly the strongest woman I know. I got to hug on her girls Sunday and I have told them over the last week or so how much their Mom loves them. She loves them with every single part of her being. And I know that the thought of leaving them is what kept her fight going. She wanted to see grandbabies, high school graduations, college graduations, more proms, weddings, engagements, and memories. She just wanted more time with her girls….that is all she ever wanted.

Michelle passed away this morning, quietly, surrounded by her family.

I am back to the balancing act of life and heaven….survivor guilt and memories….missing a friend so much that my heart actually hurts. I am not going to say that Michelle earned her pink angel wings or those corny things like that. Losing your life to breast cancer is not a pink and fuzzy wing winning option. It is a brutal fight with devastating results. But, I know in my heart that Michelle’s faith in God has carried her right up to Heaven to be where she belongs and I also know we will see her again someday. I love and miss you already Michelle….the world was a better place with you in it and my heart is breaking from the loss of your friendship and your smile – and the heartache I have for your girls takes my breath away. I will continue to pray for your Mom and Dad, your brother and his family, and your girls….every single day. Thank you dear friend for all you have brought into our lives – things will never be the same without you.

 

 

Day Twenty….#31daysoflove

20 Oct

Day 20For my #31daysoflove I will be wearing pink and posting a picture of what I am wearing. I will also be tagging several breast cancer survivor friends and saying a few words about each of them. I would like you to see, what I see, about these women.

Sandy O’Keefe – I met Sandy at what else? Reach to Recovery training! She is a little ball of fire and is open, honest, and loving. She is a professional mastectomy fitter so her heart is definitely in the breast cancer arena, but she doesn’t do that for a living. She is one of the women who is always there ready to help out, talk to a patient, fill in at the hospital or support me when needed. She is terrific! She is great to be around and just all over a pleasure.

Lori Bourscheid – I have never met Lori in person but we share a very special friend in common. I have been watching Lori fight on with her metastatic breast cancer and she is amazing. She doesn’t let this cancer stuff, or chemo, get her down – she just keeps right on fighting. She and her husband are building a new house and she is so positive and so full of life that even being “just facebook” friends doesn’t diminish the positive vibes this girl gives out. She is amazing!

Roberta Johnson – Roberta was a Reach to Recovery volunteer when I began coordinating the program. Her breast cancer story is amazing (and I have not asked her if I could share it – so I won’t) but it is really truly amazing. She is a business owner and a dear friend and she is always willing to take a new breast cancer patient to mentor. She loves her breast cancer patients and is a true shining light to all around her. I love this woman.

Keep reading on for more breast cancer survivor love…

 

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