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.

Birthday Breasties!

39 years ago my partner in crime, life, and all things breast cancer was born.  It took us years to truly find each other, even though our lives have been intertwined through it all.  Our dads grew up together…..and it’s always funny to me that I’m sure at some point her dad arrested mine….very likely happened…..and that is a story for some other blog.  We ended up in grade school together, somehow ended up working together at the same place for years.  For a long time that was it….just being in the same places at the same time, but never really interacting.  We knew each other, we were friendly…..but that was about it.  Until one day in 2012.

I remember it well….I had a newborn and was at my daughter’s preschool Christmas party.  I got a phone call from a number I wasn’t familiar with.  Something told me to answer it anyway.  It was Jamie…..and she was calling to tell me she had just been diagnosed with breast cancer.  And it shook me.  People were coming to me throughout the years about concerns they had, family members or friends who were possibly facing it, but this one really got to me.  And people knew that I was very open about hearing from anyone who had questions or concerns.  And she knew to call me…..and it started something that just cannot be stopped.  We grew closer as she fought, had ups and downs, and now is at my side in a battle to rid the world of this evil disease.

The way we are now makes me wonder how on earth we didn’t truly find each other earlier  We are both dorks….the weirdest people you’ll meet.  We are silly, crazy, and laugh at everything.  We both faced a horrible disease and used our experience to reach other people.  At that time in December 2012 she needed me…..but I didn’t realize I needed her too.  She’s challenged me to be the person I am now.  She has taken me WAY out of my comfort zone and I’m truly grateful for her influence in my life.

But it’s more than that…..we are true friends and sisters.  I don’t know how many times we talk in a day, but sometimes it doesn’t seem like enough times.  We get each other, understand what we are both going through in life after cancer.  Not many people understand it, and I’m so thankful I have someone in my life that does, that I can call a friend.

A breast friend.  Breastie.  BFF.  Pink sister.  We’ve said them all…..and on her birthday…..I’m just so thankful she’s here living life with me.  No matter what we do.  Crazy conversations,  roaming through stores, laughing on the phone, going to galas, supporting each other, and just being there.  I’m so freaking blessed.

And now I’m going to share something I never thought I would.  This is a true example of her pulling me out of my comfort zone.  She has no fear, and I’m getting there.  Everyone has seen her picture….the one with her painted chest.  Not many people know that I was there that day but my current job prevented me from sharing it.  And I also looked horrible….no matter what she says 😉  I was painted by the amazing Jenni Bush and my pictures were taken by the talented Olivia Kohler.  And the pic is small….baby steps…..but this is a glimpse of the shenanigans we get in to together. The other pictures are mostly selfies….and we take a lot.  One thing we learned together….we can’t have enough pictures together ❤

Happy Birthday my breastie bff Jamie!!!  I’m proud and honored to be your friend….and so very thankful to have you in my life 🙂

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Katie 🙂

Another Year!!

Today is my birthday!  Feel free to send me all kinds of birthday greetings 🙂  I’ve always loved birthdays….they are usually terrible for me, but I still love them.

I have even more reason to celebrate every year….even though I love to lie about my age….I’m extremely grateful to be here to celebrate each year that I get.  I know how close I came to not being able to celebrate this age, and how many people don’t get the chance.  I’m so grateful, and thankful, and blessed.  Each and every year is my best birthday gift.

I’ve got a little side by side thing here….a picture of me celebrating my birthday during chemo….and one of me more recently.  Yes….I did pick a really good after picture of me…but we have filters now….so why not use them?

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Even at this time during my treatment, I didn’t realize how bad I was…..and I’m glad I didn’t.  I had a lot of hope and determination to make it to my next birthday….and my next….and my next.  I’m thankful for every day I have….and the chance to celebrate my….ahem……39th birthday.  Ugh.  Just kidding….but if you ask my kids, they will probably tell you I’m 29 😉

Happy Birthday to me!!

Katie 🙂

What I Didn’t Tell You….

I have been blessed with a husband who has supported me through all of my cancer crap. He stayed with me when I was diagnosed, took care of me when I went through treatment, didn’t make fun of me when I was bald, accepted that I was changed, and loved me no matter what.  I couldn’t have gone through this all alone.  When many people would walk away, he jumped in to the crazy and never looked back.  But…..there were many things I thought of during all of this that I never told him.  My fears and insecurities.  These are some…..

I almost gave him an out.  Even though he promised to stay with me, I feared that this would just ruin his life. He was young….he didn’t need to deal with something so big.  Many nights when I couldn’t sleep I thought long and hard about this.  I loved him….but I wondered if I was wasting his life.

I thought about saying no when he proposed.  I’m still amazed that he did….it was the ultimate promise to be with me through it all….and starting with the sickness part! But I wondered if he was only doing it out of pity? Did he really know what a lifetime commitment to me meant with all the cancer stuff involved?  Again…..was he going to be wasting his life dealing with a woman who was losing so much and didn’t feel much like a woman anymore?

I was terrified he would be devastated if we couldn’t have kids. My treatment put me in to early menopause and it was never a guarantee that we could have kids.  Was this a deal breaker? Should I just let him go so he can find someone who could give him children? It was something we both desperately wanted…and it broke my heart if we couldn’t.

Life hasn’t been easy.  There have been many lows…..but also so many highs!  I’m so extremely blessed to have my husband by my side.  He has literally picked me up and walked me through some awful times.  He’s been so patient, understanding, and just plain awesome.  But he never knew my fears, and if he did, he’d probably tell me I’m crazy.  Which I am….but that’s another post for another day 😉

I’m so thankful to have him……and I try to push my fears aside, because I still have them. They creep up and fill me with worry and sadness.  But he’s still here….and I’m blessed.

Katie 🙂