Paying It Forward
The most amazing thing happened to me this week! I was the recipient of not one, but TWO free cups of coffee at my local, favorite coffee shop (shoutout to Bellissimo!), thanks to two someones who wanted to do a Pay It Forward. The instant joy it brought to my face made my usual coconut milk cappuccino with cinnamon sprinkles feel like the warmest, most endearing hug in a cup. I have no clue who bought my coffee, either time, but thank you. From someone whose spirits are often quite easily lifted by a kind smile or a much needed laugh, this gesture made me feel loved...and so lucky. Gratitude overflowing. That's kind of been the theme of the last four weeks. I'm just so happy, relieved to have had some good news and so grateful to be living this life, my life, here with all of you. Just ask my youngest son this past weekend at his First Holy Communion. The tears that streamed down my face during mass were that of pride, but also gratitude. I'm so grateful, blessed and overjoyed to have made it to another important milestone for my children. Thank you, God....so much. And thank you to me, Mia Rose, for not giving up.
It's the moment you've all been waiting for after months of living in the shadows, I'm finally enjoying rays of beautiful light! It's been a pretty good moment in time for me!!! Dare I say, I feel like a part of me is finally coming back to life. Four weeks ago today, I received my most recent scan results. They were, well, SPECTACULAR!!! Clear scans all around. No evidence of cancer in my body. The scar tissue around my left, newly reconstructed breast was obvious, as was the scarring on my L5 vertebrae where my most recent radiation treatment was targeted. The biggest and most life changing news from this round of scans, was that I've now finally made it a whole year of "cancer free" since hearing the words "Stage 4 Cancer" last winter. Those of you who frequent my blog know that it's been a pretty tough time and I've been desperately wishing and praying for some peace and reassurance that I might stand a chance at beating this. I've been doing all the things....taking my meds, dealing with grueling side effects, balancing work/life/cancer and constantly reflecting on 'why me'...what this all means...and where to go from here. I guess I still don't have all of the answers, but I do have a little more hope now than I have had for quite some time. That for me, is pretty bloody fantastic. I had a good heart to heart with Dr. J (my incredible oncologist) and he helped me to realize that all things considered, I'm in a really good place. What would it take for me to see that? Two years of clear scans? five? ten? And at that point, will I have let worry and anxiety consume my precious time here on this earth? The grueling, yet life saving schedule of monthly checkups, infusions, meds, every 3 month scans will continue, but there does still lie a choice within all of this which I am in charge of making. I have a team of people keeping a very close eye on me....why not use this precious time I have to LIVE and find some peace and let them tell me when there is something to worry about? Perhaps the kind of peace I've been pushing away because I'm afraid of not ever being able to receive it is, in fact, possible. Maybe I don't have to sit here and wait for the other shoe to drop. I have zero control over what may or may not happen in my future. I do have control over how I choose to show up today. It's 100% not as easy as you think, because the trauma that cancer has caused for me is quite significant and runs pretty deep. The physical and emotional scars are there, as is the need to just keep going, no matter how tired I often am. The fight, pure will and determination I have within me to not waste this life that I have knows no bounds. The triggers and reminders of what I'm dealing with will be there not just daily, but every minute of every day. I am stronger than cancer, though. I am. I know it. I also met with my plastic surgeon who is very happy with my healing! Can you believe that my last reconstructive surgery was almost sixteen months ago and I'm STILL healing? As it turns out, another surgery will likely be in my future, but we both decided that a little time for me to just feel good again and hopefully reach some goals that I've set for myself will put me in a better position to face yet another surgery. This is something I want everyone in the world to know....just like cancer, breast reconstruction isn't a one and done kind of operation. This too, is not a sprint. It is a marathon. And lucky me, I have the dream team looking out for me and helping me to endure the race and hopefully feel whole once again...soon. 🤞🏻 I've been pretty low and literally put through the wringer these past 5 and a half years. With that being said, I'm really ready and I think deserving, for luck to finally be on my side. Well, luck and the world's best oncology team! 🙏🏻
For those of you who happen to watch the TV series "A Million Little Things", you might be surprised to know that I actually watch it, too. I mean, it's a great show! But some parts of it hit pretty close to home, not in the best way. It premiered the same year (2018) that I was going through my initial rounds of treatment. It's like we've grown up together, cancer speaking. Two of the characters in that show met at a breast cancer support group. Gary and Maggie developed a friendship and life long love affair that I have found myself following as well as their respective cancer battles. The ups, downs and content that these characters brought to mainstream TV often leave me in tears, sometimes in rage for not going deep enough into the issues, but inevitably invested into their overall wellbeing. As this show is preparing for their final ever episode, I've witnessed Maggie go into remission, have a serious recurrence and now by all definitions be a cancer thriver. Life outlook is looking pretty great for her. Not to give too much away, but Gary was thriving in remission for most of the show and now has Metastatic Breast Cancer that will ultimately result in his untimely death. It's triggering, it's scary...it's real life. I watched this week's second to last episode last night, the night before my oncology appointments. Why do I do this to myself? Needless to say, I didn't sleep well last night. The 'what ifs' literally paralyze me from time to time. In a million years, I didn't think I'd be this far into this whole cancer gig. It was supposed to go so differently. I've come way too close to being a Gary. I really, really, please God....want to be a Maggie.
In closing and in the spirit of paying it forward, I'm really excited to share with you that I'm spending this weekend advocating for LBBC (Living Beyond Breast Cancer). Their annual Metastatic Breast Cancer Conference is happening in the physical world in Philadelphia, as well as in the virtual world. I couldn't make Philly work this weekend, so I'm setting up shop with fellow survivors in the virtual world. We all hear the same speakers and will connect with one another just as they are in person! I'm hosting break out sessions for Newly Diagnosed Metastatic Breast Cancer Survivors, as well as, for Young Women facing MBC. I did this similar task last year and it was life changing. I'm so excited (and a little nervous) to jump in and do what I'm so passionate about...helping others and creating meaningful connections in the world of MBC. I was personally asked to be the chat host for Sunday's Keynote Address: 'Shared Voices: Learning from Each Other'. Like those cups of coffee that filled my tank this week, I hope I can help just one person feel heard, seen, loved, valued and most importantly....Not Alone. If I do that, I have succeeded.
Keep On Killing it! So much love, light and perhaps the perfect cup of love (coffee 😉 ) I wish for you all.-M
How to Feel Better:
Watch the sunrise. Get outside. Connect with people who light you up. Laugh. Meditate. Raise the value of all we consume (food, drink, media & conversations). Read. Move. Swim in the ocean/river. Breathwork. Help Someone. Plant flowers. Forgive. Do anything fun, creative or spontaneous. Learn. Create healthy boundaries. Forgive ourselves. Dance. Know that other people's negativity/fear is not ours. Tidy up. Not everyone will agree with us or like us & that's ok. Challenges bring learning-we don't grow when we're comfortable. Cultivate less judgment more compassion. Focus on all that we are grateful for. Remember, we are far greater than we realize. Trust. Love. Look for the good & your people. We've got this. -@the. sattva. life
by When In Romse
(as heard in ABCs Million Little Things 💜)