The Good Old Days Are Now!

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m obsessed with The Office.  This scene is from the finale and it gets me every time.  It’s so true…..we always look to the past and wish we could go back.

This past month has been one that reminds me of how important it is to live in the moment…to realize what you have before it’s in the past.  Turning 40 was a big deal.  I had mixed emotions about it…..it feels old but I’m also so grateful to have reached this age! I’ve seen levels of support from people that just amazes me, and makes me feel so extremely blessed.  I was surrounded by so much love at the surprise party my husband and close friends put together to celebrate my birthday.  I mean really…..seeing all the people there that mean so much to me and knowing they feel the same…..it was just overwhelming!  And being a finalist in a contest and seeing all my friends and family voting like crazy….just wow!  WOW!!!!

I’ve always been a person who tends to live in the past.  Remembering things that happened, wondering what life would be like if I had changed something.  Wishing I could go back and relive something.  Feeling nostalgic over music or items.  But I watched this episode of The Office recently, and heard this song on the radio that really put this on my heart:

Sometimes we focus too much on the past or the future.  We don’t live enough in the moment….but I’ve been sitting here lately just feeling every day how amazing life is.  And how blessed I am….  Life can be so amazing if we change our focus!

Thank you again to every single person who has been there for me.  I have laughed and loved more this year than I thought was possible! I have several circles in my life….and love each one so much!

 

Katie 🙂

Celebrating Another Year

Sitting here in the final hour of my 40th birthday…..I’m just so extremely grateful.  This was not an age I was overly excited about…..it seemed like such an old age when I was younger…..an age I thought would take forever to reach…..yet hear I am.  I thought I would dread it….each day getting closer.  But I’m ok…..and this is why.

I shouldn’t be here.  Plain and simple.  I had an aggressive horrible disease that almost killed me.  Almost 16 years ago.  It’s just crazy to think that I really was so close to dying…looking back on it now.  I fought so damn hard, and today…..I get to celebrate another birthday.

I can’t complain about my age, there are people who never make it here.  I’m so thankful for this amazing day.  40.  Yikes!!!  It’s still crazy to think……but it’s such a wonderful age!

This was the best one yet.  My incredible husband and amazing friends have been lying to me for weeks…..and pulled off an epic surprise birthday party! I’m telling you….it’s not easy to pull one over on me, and they did it!  I have never felt so loved.

 

This room was filled!!!!! Overwhelmed doesn’t even begin to describe it!  Life long friends.  Family.  People I met because of cancer…..and after.  I’m such a blessed person…..and so very thankful I’m here to celebrate another year!!!  And as a dear friend told me today….40 is a gift!

Katie 🙂

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 🙂

Those Same Old Feelings….

I was sitting at my daughter’s soccer game a couple of weeks ago, enjoying the cooler air and the kids running up and down the field.  This is my favorite time of year…..I enjoy just about everything about it.  As I was watching though….a familiar smell caught my attention.  It was cologne, one of the dads was wearing.  I was immediately taken back to the time of my cancer treatment….in the fall of 2003.  My husband wore the same cologne…..and now the smell makes me sick.  And even though I love the fall…..sometimes the feel of fall brings on all the ways I felt during that time.

I remember the way the leaves would dance across the road as I drove to my treatments.  I remember the feel of the cool crisp air as I would walk in to the office.  I remember the smells of the chemicals and treatments around me as I sat in my recliner receiving poisons in to my body.  I remember the dark and moody clouds on Saturday mornings when I had to be driven back to get my Neulasta shot.  I remember feeling sick as death as my fiance would get ready to leave for work….and put on that cologne.  All of those smells, sights, and feelings bring it all back.  It makes me sad that I can’t just enjoy this time of year.  I don’t feel it every day, but there are times when the memories hit me and I can close my eyes and be back there!

Every.   Single   Year.  No matter what, or how long it’s been…….it always comes back.  I’m thankful to be out of it…..but those feelings will always linger.  It hangs over my head.  I can’t walk in to any medical facility without getting a touch of upset stomach and flashbacks.  I will still enjoy my hats and sweaters, coffee on the beach, and beautiful fall colors…..and I will reflect on all I’ve been through that has made me who I am now.

 

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.