Cancer Vacation

I’ve realized that I haven’t written in a while and that’s a good thing…because that means I’ve been busy living.  My doctor gave me strict orders for the month of November and that was to go on a cancer vacation…so I did!  The month kicked off with the One Way Run.  My childhood friend Jill Burden organized a 5k run that spanned across 25 cities where people gathered and moved their healthy bodies in my honor.  We raised over $8,000 in T-shirt donations for women walking this same path without health insurance.  I was so overcome with emotion when we pulled up for the Carpinteria leg of the run and couldn’t believe how many people showed up.  I felt so humbled and grateful.  I felt so small,yet mighty.  I felt so supported and loved.  We gathered everyone together and I read a speech before the run.  I slowly turned into a puddle and mopped myself up along the way to get through it.  I ran as much as I could along the bluffs and the ocean.  I was beaming and so happy.   It took me a while, and I was the last one to finish the run.  To my surprise, when I rounded the corner at the finish, there was a line of people on either side of the path all cheering and clapping.  I started laughing and crying at the same time. This has only happened to me two other times in my life…when River and Seaenah were born.  I ran through the high five tunnel of friends and held out both of my hands touching everyone on either side.  It is one of the favorite memories of my life.  I felt surrounded in love.  I felt like my victory was shared with everyone else, and we were all in it together.  It was an enormous exclamation mark of joy put on the closing chapter of chemo.

A few days later was my 35th birthday.  I was still on a high from the run so additional celebration felt like overflowing abundance.  My heart swelled.  Mark and I celebrated a fun day together and that evening we gathered as a family.  Mark handed me a box and by the ribbon I knew who it was from.  My favorite jeweler name Suzan Zaheidi (  Through the years I have slowly collected her hand crafted work and I treasure each piece. I opened the box and it was a necklace. From the first glance I fell in love with the mixing of pearls, chain, and engraved metal.  Then I looked closer and realized each piece said something. The necklace was telling the story of the last 5 months.  It started with a charm that said on both sides, ‘7/15. Forever changed’.  This flowed into an etched large pearl that read ‘Cancer, you’ve picked the wrong momma’…I then realized these were my words from my blog.  I continued running  my hand down the chain…a circle with the words ‘One Way’…three links symbolizing my great grandma, my grandma, and my mom who have also walked this journey.  A charm that says ‘Life happens for you’.  A penguin with the words ‘abundant love’.  The words ‘Castle’ and ‘Cliff’ on either side of a pearl.  A cross for my faith with the words ‘Perseverance’ and ‘Gratitude’…then the ending clasp.  On this there is an engraved picture of a pretzel with the words below saying “Tell us a story” with an engraved “R” and “S” charm attached to it.  I started to cry.  The week we found out I had cancer; my first thought was how will I tell the girls? I dreaded that conversation with them so we called a family physiologist to learn how we should handle this.  Mark and I wrote up a script to follow as a guideline in communicating this heavy topic to a 2 and 4 year old.  We both got through the script without tears telling them that I had breast cancer, what was going to change, and what was going to stay the same.  River listened intently…wide eyed and all ears.  Seaenah rolled around on the floor loving on her blanket.  When I was done talking, River asked “Why do you have breast pretzels?”  Good question.  Suzan captured this difficult moment in the necklace.  A pearl hangs from this charm with the word “Hope” engraved on it.  That's exactly what I have when it comes to beating this for myself and my family…hope.  This was a gift of all gifts.  Suzan took my story and made me a wearable badge of honor. 
That night I sat with the girls on my lap as we put another candle on my birthday cake. I closed my eyes tight, and wished like I’ve never wished before.  Everything simple holds such profound beauty for me now.  The dam has been broken and gratitude overflows.  The girls and I stared at the lit candles, took a big deep breath… and together blew them out setting that wish free.

My cancer vacation has come to a close.  Time for phase two of this journey.  This Thursday I will have surgery to remove all of the cancer. That gives me piece of mind beyond belief.  When you find out you have cancer, you mourn the person you were before that news. You also mourn the person in the future that didn’t get to exist.  You mourn your life unlived without cancer.  We had a bunch of friends over for Thanksgiving this year.  My friend showed me a picture of my family last year at Thanksgiving.  I looked at it and started to well up….so blissfully clueless.  So carefree with insignificant worries and problems.  So uncomplicated without the thought of my mortality.  So simple.  I missed her.  I missed that family in the picture. 
Here I am one year later and I’m learning to accept what is.  I’ve come to understand that cancer is my teacher on this spin around the sun.  I called my mom yesterday as I mentally prepared for surgery.   She has walked this path so her insight is truth for me. In a moment of vulnerable honesty wondering if I would be prepared for Thursday, I choked up and asked “Mom, am I going to be okay?”  She replied, “Honey, you can feel scared and brave at the same time”.  That’s exactly how I feel. 
My prayer is for the doctors to get it all.  Every single last cell.  Get all of it so I can live a long healthy cancer free life.  So I can see my kids graduate, get married, and become a grandma. That's my prayer.   I believe every thought becomes an arrow of intention.  My arrow points in one direction. One Way.  Onward through this next chapter.  xo

No comments

Post a Comment

© One Way