Lift Each Other Up!

Women…..can be terrible.  We all know it.  Catty, jealous, mean, and sucky people.  It’s terrible to see….and I think to a point we are all guilty of it.  Whether you admit it or not…..to some degree….we all wish we could have what someone else has.  Have their lives, their successes, their looks, their drive, their everything.  We all look at each other and wish we had it…..and never look at what we do have….the thing other women are seeing in you.

I’m guilty of it.  Why can’t I be prettier, skinnier, more successful, more popular, have a clean house?  I have my faults….and that is what I see first in other people…..they have what I’m lacking.  Some people cannot get past that and want to drag that person down…make them lose so they can feel like a winner.  Women are terrible about that.

They can also be extremely supportive.  When you have people in your circle that love you, they want you to succeed no matter what.  They don’t sit at home wishing they were you….they celebrate by your side!  They cheer and tell the world how awesome you are!  I have been blessed with some AMAZING women in my life…..and today I want to talk about 3 of them that have not only blessed my life, inspired me to try harder.  They have done amazing thing…..truly amazing.  I have to say….they are nothing short of extraordinary.

Jamie

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This woman literally walked in New York Fashion Week!  I’ve known Jamie since the 5th grade.  We’ve known each other most of our lives, our families have somehow been involved over the years, and eventually we moved to the same city, working at the same place.  We weren’t close….but knew each other.  Until the day Jamie called me out of the blue to tell me she had breast cancer.  She knew I had gone through it years before and she needed to reach out to anyone who understood.  Our friendship grew from that day in to something amazing.  She is my sister….we get each other.  We are dorks, and it’s awesome.  She took what life handed her and turned it around.  She started her own company of natural products.  She sells to celebrities.  She puts herself out there with complete vulnerability and helps anyone who needs it. She supports, cheers, and lifts.  She is beautiful inside and out, and you can’t go wrong with her in your corner.  It would be easy to hate her….I mean…look at her!  She’s literally perfect.  Sometimes I feel horrible walking around with her.  But those are the demons getting to you, you know?  She is my best friend, pink sister, dorky partner in crime…..and I’m so extremely lucky to have her.

 

Amanda

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Amanda is a force to be reckoned with.  She is one of the most determined girls I have ever met.  She is quite literally the storm.  She was diagnosed with breast cancer at the same age I was….many years later.  She is like a little sister…..but I would never have wished this life for her.  She has since gone through 4 cancer reoccurances….and is metastatic.  Yet you would never know if you met her today.  She is the strongest person….she does not give up.  She takes care of her girls with energy that I don’t even have, and I’m not in any treatment!  She started a non-profit that brings joy to children going through cancer and life threatening illnesses at children’s hospitals….and was just recognized locally as a pay it forward person of the year.  She always finds a way to help another person, and you will never see her leave the house without looking like a freaking model.  I’m in relatively good health and I can’t find the energy to accomplish what she does…..and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little jealous of that determination! She is truly amazing and my life is better with her in it!

 

Denise

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Denise.  This is a hard one.  The day we lost Denise was the day something awoke in me….a fire that I’m sure she had been trying to start.  She was our local celebrity and champion for everything breast cancer.  She wanted everyone to have support, encouragement, needs met, and every medical option available.  She never slept….she was always putting events together, getting people to support them, and telling the world about them.  She was a strong personality and everyone felt important when she was talking to them.  I wanted to know her for so long….and when we met, it was life changing.  I became involved….she wouldn’t let me sit on the sidelines.  She succeeded in everything she set her mind to and the world is a little darker without her in it.  She is literally one of those woman you don’t want to like.  She had everything….but she welcomed everyone in to her circle.  She is the reason that I have done anything over the last few years….she knew what it was to push people to jump…..and succeed.  I miss her terribly….and I’m thankful for her guidance, encouragement, and friendship.

 

These women all had something in common…..a disease that changed our lives.  We had things all figured out, and cancer came along and shook us up.  It would have been easier to let it take over and make us feel weaker.  We took the opportunity to make ourselves stronger…..but it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our women……and these are just 3 of the amazing women I get to call friend and have seen do amazing things.  It would also be easy for me to sit back and wonder why it’s not me?  Those thoughts do creep in….I really don’t think anyone out there can say it doesn’t happen once in a while…..but I have my own things.  And when I do something….they are there to cheer for me, like I am for them.

We need more of that, don’t we?  Let’s celebrate the things the women in our lives do…build each other up, and be happy.

Katie

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Unchanging Bonds

Yesterday I gathered with a group of people I consider family as we supported our friend at the memorial service for his son.  This is no ordinary group of people…..but co-workers who learned to lean on each other through all the good and bad times in our lives.

I worked for 13 years at the State of Michigan as a case worker.  I processed applications for food assistance, Medicaid, disability, and emergency services.  I handled caseloads much higher than I should have, and I came home most days exhausted and emotionally spent.  13 years of hearing people at their worst.  Most of the time I was yelled at by clients and/or managers.  I was cussed out, threatened, begged, and hardly ever thanked.  It was the best and worst job I ever had….something I had hoped would be my life long career…..but that wasn’t meant to be.

The relationships I made during my time there are still strong.  We are the only people who understand what we went through on a daily basis.  We went through hell together.  We went through milestones together.  We laughed to try to forget how hard the days were.  We saw each other be treated like machines rather than people.  And we always supported each other.  These people became my family.  And even though I’m no longer there, our bond is still that strong.   A place like that changes you, it makes you different, and no one else understands that.

As we all sat together and cried as our friend expressed his love for his only son in front of a crowded church…..I was reminded of our deep bond.  I cried for him and his loss….and I felt that loss.  This was a person I called my work husband.  He is truly an amazing person, someone you can always count on, and it broke my heart to see his pain.  As I hugged him afterwards….many times….it was like no time had passed…..even though a million things have happened since I last saw him.  But people like this…..time doesn’t change how we are together.

Ironically…..today is the anniversary of the day that I started that job.  January 13, 2003.  16 years ago today I started a job that would lead me to people I cannot live without.  No matter the outcome of that job…..I will forever be grateful for that.  And they all feel the same way….we need each other.  Time or distance will never change that bond.

Katie

Love What Matters!

I am beyond thrilled to have my story featured on the Love What Matters website!!!  A chance for my story to be spread further in hopes of reaching anyone who may need to see it!  Check it out!  I’m so excited!!!!

Love What Matters

Katie 🙂

Are You Thankful?

Now….I didn’t ask what you are thankful for…..I was very specific with my question.  Are you actually thankful?

Anyone who has gone through hard times will tell you that it’s not easy to find a reason to be thankful when you are in the moment.  The difficulty you are facing is what consumes your every thought and feeling…..but even in those horrible times, there are reasons to be thankful.

Was I thankful that I went through cancer?  No.  Thankful that I had to go through aggressive treatments that nearly killed me?  No.  Thankful that I’m still living with the effects of cancer treatments today? No.  But I’m here.  And let me tell you, I am thankful for that.  And looking back……I’m thankful for so many other things.

I’m thankful for friends and family that never turned their back on me.  I’m thankful for medical professionals that worked tirelessly to save my life.  I’m thankful that I grew as a person through one of the hardest times of my life.  I’m thankful for the opportunities that have come my way and the friends I have made because of my journey.  I’m thankful.

I know what you are thinking….it’s easy to look back and say you can be thankful, because you are no longer in it.  I know.  You are absolutely right.  We go through horrible awful times….and this post isn’t trying to take away from that.  When we are broken, down, out, defeated, and just done……you don’t want some happy person coming along telling you to count your blessings.  I’ve had those people, and I want to throat punch them.  Everyone gets to have their feelings.  You can sit in them and feel them….but you do have to come out.  That is when you look around you and find at least one thing to be thankful for.  That one thing will keep you going and get you started.

Life is really sucky right now.  Maybe it’s that time of year….or maybe sucky things are just happening all around me right now.  People I love are going through awful things.  People are losing their lives.  People are being diagnosed with diseases that can kill them.  People are facing hardships that can crush them.  I feel it.  I am too.  And it’s so much easier to sink in to my broken heart and stay there.  I’ve been trying every single day to be thankful.  Some days I don’t.  Some days I just can’t.

But I am thankful.  I have a beautiful family, and they are all safe and healthy.  I have food to feed them and a house to keep them in.  I have friends that are like family.  They lift me up when I’m falling.  Right now I have my health, migraines be damned!

I’m no Mary Sunshine….but finding at least one thing to be thankful for while you are going through hell can sometimes give you a glimmer of hope.  And that glimmer is what you go toward to get yourself out of it.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving, where ever you may go.

Katie 🙂

Another year…..

This is something I will always write about…..because it had such a great impact on my life.  Another year will come and go…..without my baby sister.

I’ve talked about her before….we lost her a couple of weeks before her first birthday from meningitis.  It devastated our family.  She would be 29 this year…..and it’s just one of the really weird things that line up for this year…..

I was 10 and in the 5th grade when she passed away 11/9/1990.  I remember the day….it was a half day at school on a Friday.  I was excited to ride the bus home without the high school kids…..we got to sit in the back when they weren’t there.  This year…..my oldest daughter is 10, in the 5th grade, and has a half day this friday, the 9th.  Crazy, eh?  She was also named after my sister, her middle name is Rebecca.  And just a little bit of a stretch….I had Hailey a couple of weeks before I turned 29…..    I can’t help but look at my daughters and the relationship they have with each other.  I’m so extremely thankful I had all girls…..because I missed out on having a sister in my life.  I love seeing them together and knowing they have something so precious.

And at this age……I can look back and see just how many “sisters” I have and had in my life.  They always say that if you can find just a few close friends in your lifetime you have been extremely blessed.  I can say that I’ve had so many amazing women in my life that I can call sister….and even though I still feel heartbroken over the fact I didn’t get to go through life with mine….I’ve had so many women to step in and help fill that void.

So in this anniversary month where I remember my sister, I also count my blessings.  I have 3 beautiful daughters who will get that sister relationship, and I have so many beautiful friends that are like sisters.

Katie 🙂

 

Summer Vacation!!!

I know I’ve been missing…..and it was intentional! I’ve literally not had a summer off since junior high….like most people….and it was amazing!  I was able to spend time with my kids, be lazy, have a garage sale, and finally recuperate my poor brain from all the abuse of the past few years!  I needed this….and I think my family needed me to have this!

I’ll keep this short….no one needs all the details of my amazing summer!  I’ll share some pictures and leave it at that.  School starts for my kids tomorrow and we are all getting back to a routine.  I’ll start up my blogging again…..it’s like my back to school time too!

Katie 🙂

 

Memories….

I was inspired to write this post because of my Facebook memories.  I really love the feature, seeing all the posts over the years without having to search and scroll through endless posts.  This particular one I’ve done several times on the 4th of July, change my profile pic.  It’s an old picture, and I do it more often than not, just because of the theme.  Obviously it’s the picture with my post, but there is a story behind it…..of course!

This picture is from my first Relay for Life as a cancer fighter.  I was going through treatment at the time, and I had joined my oncology office’s relay team….Soles for Souls.  I loved my oncology team, they felt like family.  But this wasn’t my first Relay….it was my 2nd.  My first time was the year before.  My boyfriend at the time, now my husband,  and I were part of our church team.

I made the decision to join the team after meeting a new client to me.  I worked for the state DHS office, and this family came in because they needed extra help.  The mom/wife had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and they were needing more help than their insurance and finances could offer.  For some reason I was very drawn to this family.  I had a heart for many of my clients, but this family really got to me.  I helped them find all the resources they could use and talked often with them about her treatment progress and prognosis.  This was a case I had during my first year on the job, and I had not yet been hardened by the job.  I felt a special connection to the cause that year…..so I took part in the Relay.  Later that year, when I received my own diagnosis……I had the chance to meet with that same family for a routine review.  When I broke the news to them….we all cried together.  It was surreal that I had such a connection to this woman, and then was faced with the same battle.

That next year when I decided to fully participate in Relay….this beloved client had lost her battle.  I was devastated, heartbroken, and terrified.  She was the only client I attended a funeral for……and eventually I lost touch with her family as their needs changed.  I have always had a special place in my heart for her, and I wonder about her family often.

Seeing that picture makes me remember that time and how some people are placed in your life for a reason.  I don’t know if knowing her made me more aware of myself when I discovered my tumor?  Maybe I was more willing to see a doctor for it rather than ignore it because I was too young.  I’m not sure…..but I do know the profound impact she had on me and I’m forever grateful for that.  She was a kind person with a compassionate heart.  She comforted me in the beginning of my journey as hers was coming to an end.

That first year I walked in Relay during the survivor lap…..I didn’t walk alone.  I walked in her memory….and promised myself that I would always support those going through this horrible disease.  It’s an incredible feeling to have walked with so many people that survived cancer….and be with people all remembering those we have lost.

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Rest in peace J.

Katie.