Tag: support groups

Happy Last Year

Cancer. It is something ugly that I dealt with in 2014. But that was then and this is now.

When the big C hit me in January 2014, there was still a Happy New Year Balloon dancing around the house, all cheery and colorful. When I bought it for the kids, it was with the belief and hope the new year would be an even better year than the one before. When that ball drops at midnight and you kiss your loved ones  while clinking your glasses, you never think that maybe the new year won’t be that awesome and happy. You want it to be a great one, better than the last.  But you just don’t know. I remember when I was diagnosed just staring at that damn balloon thinking how ironic it was because happy new year turned into crappy new year for me. I wanted to take a kitchen knife to that thing several times, but I just couldn’t do it. Call me superstitious.

It was a rough 2014, no doubt about it. But that year came and went, and I spent that NYE with my husband, kids and close friends in one of my favorite places, Disney. I always forget about things at Disney and I was so happy to see 2014 go. So when the fireworks started going off at midnight, I was thrilled to usher in 2015.

2015 was a pretty good year. I finished my treatments, and saw some new places. First time visiting Las Vegas (now I am hooked), Colorado, Seattle and to finish it off, went on a cruise to the Cayman islands and spent Christmas at Disney with my parents. I hoped 2016 would even be better, and it was.

I had a lot of quality family time–my husband, kids and I went to Vegas, Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon. We then went on another cruise and back to Disney, this time staying in a childhood favorite hotel of mine The Contemporary. It always makes me happy to see my kids at Disney enjoying themselves so much while remembering my childhood there. Nothing compares. I also celebrated my birthday with old friends and new ones watching Duran Duran perform in VEGAS. (I told you I am hooked!). That concert had me on my feet the entire time, I was even jumping up and down for many songs. I don’t dance like that, but there was something about seeing them and the music and what I had been through that just got me. I cried, sang, laughed, screamed like a teenager. The only thought I had about cancer was that I was so lucky to be there enjoying myself and that it was behind me.

One memory about 2016 that stands out is one that I firmly believe was arranged by a higher power.

Let me start this by saying that Duran Duran has  not only gotten me through my cancer, but life in general. I am working on a book that goes into more depth on how their music has been my therapy, but lets just say that some of my darkest hours have been made better by simply hearing one of their songs. As I wrote in a previous post, the song “What Happens Tomorrow” got me through the darkest time after my diagnosis. I hadn’t listened to the radio in my car for about a week, I would just drive around numb in silence. One morning, I was really scared and asked for some sort of sign that I would get through it. I decided on the way to work that morning to turn on the radio for some noise in the car, and what came on blew me away. “What Happens Tomorrow” was just what I needed and I know someone from above was giving me the sign I begged for.

So, fast forward to September 2016. I had just gone through my second and last surgery for reconstruction (my 4th surgery since diagnosis) and Duran were playing at a small venue downtown. My husband got me really good seats and my friend Tina came down to see them with me. Side note: Tina is also a survivor, we met through an online support group and have become really close–proof that something amazing can come out of something horrible. When we met, we quickly learned that we both love Duran Duran so we always said we were going to see them together when they toured, never thinking it would be twice!

The concert was amazing, though I didn’t have quite the energy I had in Vegas because of my surgery. But that couldn’t stop me and I didn’t sit down,  determined to keep going for my guys and show them the love they deserve.

Tina and I joked that maybe we would run into them downtown after the show, but never really thought it was possible and it never happened. The next day, Tina went back home and I went back to work after my surgery leave. A coworker and I were scheduled to go to lunch, but I tried to cancel, telling her we should just stay in the office and not venture out. It was too hot to walk around, and I was really tired from the surgery and the concert. She insisted, saying that she wanted to treat me for my birthday since we never celebrated. After several minutes of going back and forth on it, I gave in. We went to one of her favorite downtown restaurants in her favorite hotel. Before going to eat, she showed me around the hotel, pointing out the history and the beauty. What happened next blew me away.

While heading over to the restaurant, we turned the corner and right in front of me was John Taylor. I stopped dead in my tracks and looked at my coworker, not even believing what was happening. She knew how much I loved Duran and that I had been at the show the night before, so she put two and two together and realized that I was standing in front of one of them. I was speechless and borderline crying. Then Roger walked over from the concierge desk joining our little circle. This was too much–I had met John a couple of years ago, but he was behind a desk signing books and there were a lot of people in line, so it was rushed and not as personal. This was like magic. They were on their way out, so had we not walked around or if we arrived at that spot just a few minutes later, I would have never seen them. I couldn’t even relay how I felt to them and why I was so emotional. I wish I could have told them what their music has done for me and how it got me through. But I couldn’t utter much at all. John could see the emotion on my face and actually consoled me, he must have known the impact they made on me by my reaction. This meant so much to me– they were really nice about the whole thing, confirming my devotion to this band.

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When I went back to work the next day, I couldn’t help but share my story with others. I told one person how the song came on that day giving me hope, and then how I ran into them at the hotel. She said that my guardian angel closed the loop for me–that I was given that song for hope and then arranged that meeting to signify the end of my surgery and cancer journey. It made so much sense and I truly believe that is what happened that day.

So 2016 was a great year. I am yet another year out from cancer, and I have memories I will never forget. I am going to spend the final hours of 2016 cherishing these memories.

I will admit tonight won’t be the easiest night–Duran Duran are playing in MD and my fellow Duranie Tina will be there ringing in the new year with them. I tried to make the trip work, but decided that it was too much to try to go. Now I regret it. I wish I could ring in 2017 with Tina and Duran Duran, but I will have to just live through her posts. Now I know how she felt when I met them after she headed home. I have heard they are adding dates in Texas in March, so I will hold onto that. I have to see them again, I’m kind of addicted.

Happy Last Year!

This song sums it up for me. Enjoy!

 

 

I won!

Let me start by saying that I never win anything. I’ve entered countless raffles, sweepstakes, bought lottery tickets, entered my name into various drawings. Nothing. I don’t gamble much for this very reason. I can’t stand to see my money disappear.

One day I was in one of my favorite beauty supply stores, and upon checkout I was asked if I would add some money to my bill for a donation. I will do this occasionally if it’s a cause I believe in. Like the American Heart Association–I think of my uncle who had a heart transplant. Or St. Jude’s–I think of my own kids and how lucky I am they are healthy. So when they said they were raising money for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, I didn’t hesitate. I guess when I donated, they had me fill out a card to enter a raffle for a prize. I don’t even remember doing this–I probably didn’t give it much thought since I NEVER WIN.

Now granted, this prize is not a million dollars, nor is it a week long trip to a five-star hotel in a tropical destination. But I am just as excited about it. It’s just a tote bag with some beauty products in it. I won’t have to buy much for a while, I’ve got everything from perfume to lipsticks. Shampoo to moisturizers. I’m pretty psyched!

When I went in to claim my prize, the girl working there thanked me for my donation to breast cancer. I had forgotten about filling out the card  and the donation until she mentioned this. I replied, “Breast cancer? That’s why I won this? Well it’s pretty amazing that I won THIS prize because I’m actually a survivor.” She put her hand to her mouth looking emotional and said that it was meant to be.

Lately I have been worrying about the metastis thing. I’ve had some neck pain that is nagging me and of course I think it’s cancer. I hate that for the rest of my life, I will feel this way. When the call came in that I won a prize, the neck pain took a backseat to my cheer. As soon as I got it home, I felt like a kid on Christmas opening their stocking, going through all of my little treasures, pulling out this and that, opening the packages see what was inside.  It helped me forget about the stupid neck pain. I believe it was God’s way of telling me to stop worrying so much. It was just the diversion I needed.

This is how I feel about cancer and metastisis , from one of my all time favorite Duran Duran songs:
I walk out into the sun
I try to find a new day
But the whole place
It just screams in my eyes
Where are you now?
Cuz I don’t want to meet you
I think I’d die–
I think I’d laugh at you–
I think I’d cry–
What am I supposed to do,
Follow you?

 

 

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Just be.

image This past weekend, I had the pleasure of being with 4 amazing women from my support group “The Chemo Sabes”. Cancer made us sisters. But love and laughter makes us friends.

Thinking of how people come into your life and how things happen is quite mind-blowing. It is hard for me to believe that these women were not in my life at all BC (Before Cancer). 3 years ago I did not know them, but I feel like I’ve known them forever. They are part of the reason that I would not change a thing about what’s happened to me.

People meet in all kinds of ways, in all types of situations. At work. At the gym. Through their kids. At school. And during chemo. We’ve been through hell and back and thanks to technology, we got through that hell together. Say what you will about the evils of Facebook, but without it we would not have this bond and friendship. The Sabe Sisters (we dumped the chemo from our name when we were finished with treatment) span the country-and the globe. From Seattle to Pennsylvania. From Hawaii to New Zealand. And with Facebook we were able to be with each other at all hours, day and night. When I was on the couch, so sick that I couldn’t really do anything other than go to the bathroom, they were there, always ready to comment on a gripe. Some of us had it worse than others, but we all had our ailments. From battered nails to bloody noses. Stomach pain to bad skin. I could always count on chatting with someone that could relate.

A little over 2 and a half years ago we were all in that fragile state, watching the outside world go by while ours was on hold, but we had each other. When I was so depressed that I couldn’t enjoy good food or going on fun trips, I knew that my sisters were out there too, feeling the same way. While you don’t wish this on anyone, it does help to know you aren’t alone. It is amazing that many of us are still close, and have formed true lifelong friendships. We went from gagging on water on our couches to sipping Chardonnay on the deck watching the sun set over the water. From sitting in the chemo chair while the medicine flowed into our bodies to sitting around the breakfast table with our mugs of coffee, watching the sun come up and chatting about how Jan is about to embark on something exciting in her career and about Anita’s recent trip to Australia. From being in bed early feeling sapped from treatment to looking at the moonlight reflect on the water on a party barge singing RESPECT at the top of our lungs into the night. We aren’t dwelling on our cancer, we are celebrating the “gifts” it gave us. I can say that now that I am out of it.

Sure, we talk about the nasty c. That’s what brought us together. No one gets it like us. We know more about each other than most people know. Intimate details of the worst times of our lives. So yeah it does come up. And that’s okay. But it is no longer the only topic of our conversations.

Thinking about my weekend I can’t help but smile at the highlights:

Tina and I sharing a guest bedroom with 2 twin beds, watching old Duran Duran DVDs and feeling like we were back in high school, talking into the night. I feel like we have been friends since high school and we’ve only known each other for a couple of years. We were meant to meet for sure.

And just watching Anita dancing in her seat and singing to the music and having a GOOD TIME. Not drunk on wine but high on life.

And hearing Jan talk about the passion she has about her job and the work she does now and hopes to do in the future as she prepares to run for office. And “meeting” her precious children on Facetime.

And seeing Susan in her element at the lake–I got a glimpse of how much she thoroughly enjoys life all the time with her family and friends. We should all live like that!

I sat back and soaked it all in.

We are living our lives again.

I hope that one day more of our sisters can get together with us at these gatherings. They are truly inspiring. I still haven’t met all of the girls, but I hope to one day. It’s funny when you finally meet a Sabe that you only knew online. You just feel  like you are hugging a friend you haven’t seen in a long time.

I am happy to say the sun is shining. Again.