So I Did This Little Thing – Living Out Loud 2018

 

So I did this little thing last night…okay, maybe it wasn’t so little.  And maybe I got to wear another fancy dress – that’s twice in 2 months!

Meri and Kim were there in full force to support me, along with several of my “Mommas”!

Over the summer, my neighbor and friend, Susan, asked me if I’d be interested in speaking at St. Louis Ovarian Cancer Awareness’s Spring event, Living Out Loud.  Without hesitation, I said told her absolutely!  And then it hit me, what in the world would I talk about…what did I have to say that someone else before me didn’t already cover, what could I say that would make a difference?  The summer and fall would pass, then the holidays, then the start of 2018 and I knew I wanted to get this whole thing mapped out in my head and spent some time thinking back things I’d been through, things people had said, things that might make a difference, and it was then that it hit me…I knew what I wanted to say, that might hopefully stick with the audience and maybe light a fire under them…

click here to watch the full message

I took the stage last night (click here), and used the microphone to not only briefly share my story and hit on the key things that are ovarian cancer, which most people do not know, but to hopefully inspire one person in the room to make the changes necessary to be in the best possible shape they can be.   Reminding them that although I don’t look like the typical person 10 months post-chemo, I am still effected by all of it and I push myself harder because of it.  That we should try to all be in the best possible shape we can be  in, in order to keep from having to walk over the threshold into an oncologist’s office, to minimize recurrences and elevate stress – this includes choosing wisely when fueling our bodies and getting the necessary amount of fitness activities each week.

Many people have told me how proud they are of me for stepping up to the mic, and several of you have even thanked me.  To all of them, I don’t do this for the thanks or for you to be proud of me, I do it for the women who have come before me and lost their battles, I do it for my friends whose battles with ovarian cancer are unrelenting, and for those who have yet to be diagnosed.  We have a voice for a reason, we should never be afraid to use it, no matter the circumstances.  Is it difficult?  Sometimes, because I actually have to think about everything that I’ve been through, still go through, and what is ahead of me.  Depends on the day.

The most difficult part is that because the outcome for those diagnosed with ovarian cancer is pretty grave, many people sitting in the room have lost a  family member or friend to this deadly disease.  I think hardest one last night was a mother who came up to me and thanked me for speaking, because her daughter, who I’m guessing was younger than I am, had lost her battle with ovarian cancer – that is when the reality of what could have been/or could be, hits home. (if you’re the mother who came up to me last night, I plan on reaching out to you – we’re now friends on FB, so be on the lookout for my name popping up in your inbox)

The event was a success though – so many good things came from the night!  While we celebrated those who are doing great things, we also honored those that we have lost, and are all striving to give women diagnosed in the future a fighting chance.

If you’re in the STL area and watch a morning show while getting ready in the morning – make sure the one you pick on Tuesday (if not everyday!), is KSDK, Rene Knott, myself and Dr. Andrea Hagemann did a piece together!  It will be featured sometime in the 6am hour.  Thank you Rene for all that you’ve done over the last week, we couldn’t do a lot of this without your help as well!

What is Pedal the Cause – Great Question!

You’re going to see a LOT of things related to Pedal the Cause over the next 5 months – so what is it, why is it important to me, and how does it work?  Hold on tight, here we go!

 

 

What is Pedal the Cause? Pedal the Cause provides critical funding to Siteman Cancer Center  (where I am treated) and Siteman Kids at Children’s Hospital through an annual cycling challenge (y’all, it’s legit, not a gimme!).  Donations “seed” best-in-breed ideas at both facilities to allow the cultivation of proof of concept and critical data. These seeded projects often turn into groundbreaking results that lead to new treatments and cures, prevention, and early detection diagnostics. Since 2010, participants have raised more than $19 million, funding more than 101 cancer research projects.

What is my involvement? This year, I am co-captaining the hospital’s Gyn-Oc team, Teal on Wheels, with my oncologist, Dr. Andrea Hagemann.  Why, might you ask?  Because we both feel it’s important.  Because we both want to see more people being active, living their best lives, in order to prevent them from having to walk across the threshold into the office of an oncologist.  While raising these dollars are critical to aid Siteman Cancer Center in world class research and care, it’s as important for communities to adapt a health lifestyle, along with sharing all that is ovarian cancer.

What started as a patient-doctor relationship has developed into something more – I’ve stepped up to the challenge and we’re teaming up for the best year ever!

How far are you riding? I’m a Century Rider, 100 miles.  NO, you do not have to ride 100 miles, I’ve kinda got something to prove – giving ovca the big middle finger, if you will.

So, if I don’t have to ride 100 miles, what are the other distances I can ride? Lots of options: 10miles, 18 miles, 37 miles, 50 miles, 67 miles, and 100 miles.  Don’t have a bike, but love to spin – PERFECT!  There will be tents on site the day of the event for you to spin in for 1-2 hours – I have a couple ladies coming in to join me, let me know if you’d like as well!

Is this a family friendly event?  Ab-So-Freakin-Lutely! Olivia and Jaxson will be riding in the Kid’s Challenge on Saturday!  Come join them!!! ALL ARE WELCOME!

Now to the good stuff – what are the dates, how do I sign up and what are the fundraising requirements?  The ride will take place on September 30th, with activities on the 29th as well.  Click here to join our team – there are lots of ways to be involved – if you don’t ride, we need volunteers and virtual riders as well!  There are minimum, achievable fundraising amounts, and fun incentives to really push yourself – ANYONE can earn a yellow jersey, no matter how you’re participating!

My SUPER snazzy YELLOW Socks!!!

What if I can’t make it and want to donate? PERFECT!  Every dollar raised goes directly to both cancer centers, for ALL forms of cancer research, not just ovarian.  Click here to donate! Currently I’m committed to a Yellow Jersey, raising $2500, I will be switching that up here shortly, once I hit that goal.

Will you have other fundraising opportunities for this event?  YES!  We are in the planning stages, but will soon have a list of things you can join us for to not only raise funds, but to learn more about ovarian cancer, the current research, and health and wellness opportunities.  As soon as they are finalized I’ll have them posted on this site – this weekend the Pedal the Cause tab will become active on this site.

How will my donation benefit me/my family/friends if we don’t live in the St. Louis area?  GREAT question! Siteman Cancer Center is an international leader in cancer treatment, research, prevention and education – they partner with numerous cancer centers, sharing findings, treatment options and plans.  So, although you may not be being treated at the Center itself, you may be benefiting from the studies they are conducting outside of the STL area.  We can ALL benefit from the monies raised!

I’ve got other questions/I want to join you: PERFECT!! Email me, it’s the best way to get in touch with me – kickovariancancer@gmail.com – I’ll try to respond in a timely manner, but am being pulled in several directions at the moment, so it may not be instantaneous.

 

This is something important to me, it’s important to many, unfortunately.  Even if you’re not directly effected by cancer yourself, chances are someone around you has been.  And what better of a way to raise funds for cancer than by doing so through something that could help prevent cancer from ever happening to you – a fitness related activity, like cycling.  Although we have goals set for this year, it’s not all about the money – it’s about bring awareness to all gynecological cancers, helping kickstart/maintain a health lifestyle, and so much more.

COME JOIN US!!!  Click Here

DONATE!!!  Click Here

Sometimes All You Can Do is Say “I Love You” and “I’m Here…Always”

I’ve written before about the whole people being so worried about what to say, and saying the right thing…when in all honesty, all one needs to say is something, anything.  And sometimes I feel like I should have the right words – I mean I’ve been through this, right??  I should know what to say in crappy situations – cancer, death, or other similar circumstances – but I don’t, and it frustrates me.

The end of this past week has been trying for two of my friends – both of whom there’s is nothing I can do to make the situations better.  Both sent me messages to which a four letter word flew out of my mouth when I read the messages, followed by my head resting in my hands and me staring at my phone…what the heck do I say back to this??  C’mon, you should know what to say in situations like this.  But I don’t…it’s times like this, I see how it may have been challenging to figure out what to say to me last year.

So what did I do??  Simple, what it came down to in both situations (different, yet similar) was me saying I was sorry, acknowledging that there was nothing I could do or say to make things better, if I could change things or say something to make it different, I would.  But I can’t, I can’t fix this, I can’t waive a magic wand and change things – trust me, if I could, I’d be sprinkling fairy dust EVERYWHERE.  I told them both I loved them and am here for them, no matter what, always…sometimes, I think that’s all you really need to hear. Let’s be honest, something is better than nothing…nothing is the worst.  

I never wanted someone to come in and fix things for me – they weren’t fixable.   I needed to learn how to manage everything that was happening to me on my own, I still do.  I just wanted to people to walk along side me, so I didn’t feel like I was doing this alone – and some did, and others didn’t…because they wanted to fix it, and they couldn’t. Sometimes your roll is to simply listen and not try and make things better – I’m learning this isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do, especially when you have a “fixer” mentality.  And sometimes all the person needs to hear is “I love you” and “I’m here for you…always.” Sometimes they just need to know you are there for them, should they want to talk.

Chemo Brain – You ALMOST Broke Me…

At first glance, the photo above looks like that of any ordinary person who arrived at the airport a little early and was killing time…but what you don’t know, is that person in the photo was barely holding it together, hardly able to breathe, on the verge of breakdown; holding it together by a string, with tears streaming down her face in an airport food court, while my friend on the phone was telling me this was no big deal..but to me, it was a HUGE deal…it meant that things were different….it meant that my chemo brain, had won…for the first time…

I’m prefacing this with “NO, I DO NOT WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT, I’M FINE…”, so please don’t bring it up, even if you’re reading this and think it’s a good idea…I’m merely sharing because other women out there need to know that they’re not the only ones who have things like this happen to them.

I’m struggling with transposing things – numbers, dates, times.  I struggle with reading a calendar.  I see things and register a different date and time in my head, even though it clearly states what time I need to  be some place.  Last week I was in Kansas City for work for most of the week, the children were with their dad on spring break.  Everything had gone swimmingly, but I was tired, had an unexpected personal thing come up that I spent three days going back and forth on, and I wasn’t fully focused where I needed to be…it became evident just how much the tired and not 100% being focused effected me when I approached the Southwest ticket counter, looked down at my phone to hand it to the ticket agent and saw that it said “now boarding”…not possible, I was an hour ahead of time, I had plenty of time. She saw the panic come across my face – unfortunately, when panic mode sets in, I can’t think and I freeze.  “Ma’am, let me take a look I’m sure….” and then “oh my, it’s okay, they just completed boarding, we can get you on the next flight, no charge.”  I couldn’t tell her what to do, I was supposed to be somewhere, I don’t miss flights, I fly ALL the FREAKING TIME…I DON’T MISS FLIGHTS…EVER….but I did…

How does that happen??  Not because I was lazy, not because I wasn’t paying attention, I’d checked the flight 2 times…I guess I should have done my regular three though. The issue is this, when given two sets of numbers, side-by-side, I read them differently than you do, unless I’m clearly thinking, and I wasn’t. I completely bypassed the time I was to have left KC and only focused on the later of the two times, the one stating what time we landed, and I planned everything around that.  It’s not the first time this has happened with something, although it’s the only time it’s happened with a flight.  The only time I’ve had to go and sit in a corner and assess what was actually happening, before I could tell the ticket agent what I wanted to do. After a few moments, still on the verge of tears, I walked back up and told her to go ahead and book me on the next flight…then I headed to the food court, just so I could find a proper chair to sit in, so I could call my friend, in hopes of having her talk me off the ledge…only problem was, it was crowded.

So although the photo looks innocent, it wasn’t.  The empty pizza box was that of someone who wouldn’t normally eat a whole CPK pizza.  The soda, is that of someone who’s trying her damndest to steer clear of soda.  And the book, was me trying to distract myself from thinking about what had transpired.  The onlookers at KCI’s Southwest food court, probably thought I was a crazy girl crying because I’d just said goodbye to some dude she wouldn’t see for sometime to come (nope, I’ve done that, while I watched them walk away…without them knowing)…I was merely a woman, morning the loss of what used to be, trying to figure out how in the hell this happened to me, how this was now potentially my new normal. It’s a tough pill to swallow, it’s hard to explain to someone that they cannot rock my world with flipping text messages, or this is what happens.  I’m trying with all of my being to do what I need to do, head down, plowing through life, and the smallest of things can completely knock me off of my axis.

For those of you who poo-poo chemo brain to something of the likes of “pregnancy brain”, it’s not the same…it’s real, it’s hard to manage, and it’s frustrating as all hell.  I can’t control when it hits me, and with what force.  Most of the time it’s because of stress and tiredness, most of the time I can manage it…most of the time I’m okay…but chemo brain, you won this past week.  You put me back in my place, reminded me I don’t have a grasp on this whole life after, and that I need to let things go and not let people have the effect that I allow for them to.  Unfortunately the drugs I was given hit the hardest when it comes to things like this…unfortunately I don’t quite have this thing all figured out.  And for those of you going through the same thing…I’m just like you.

For those of you who’ve see me the past couple of days since that and had no clue this happened…It did, I’m angry, and I’m moving on…please don’t talk to me about it.  I didn’t go back to the office because I didn’t want anyone to know…if I didn’t call to tell you about it, I don’t want to talk about it.

AND, for those of you wondering how often this gets in my way with the children…the answer is NEVER.  No matter what may be going on, I am 210% focused on what needs to be done with them, it takes all of my focus some days so we all end up in the right places, at the right times, without any disruptions.  But when it comes to Olivia and Jaxson, I NEVER FORGET, they are my FIRST PRIORITY.  Their lives have been rocked enough, I do EVERYTHING possible so they feel this whole thing is behind us, although it’s more present than any of us want to admit.

I’m not superwoman…and this superwoman, broke this past week…I’m still angry about the whole thing, although I know why it may have happened, I let myself focus on things that didn’t need my focus, I know better…now it’s back to notes, reminders and figure out a way around all of this in order to keep things like this from happening again…

You Don’t Grow In Your Comfort Zone – I’ve Jumped Across The Line This Week

I think the say goes something like “you don’t grow inside your comfort zone” with something prefacing or posting the saying.  Before all of this, all of this awful ovarian cancer stuff, I stuck to a square box.  I wasn’t necessarily comfortable there, but I was able to “control” what was happening around me…or so I thought.  Since all of that, I’ve been pressing it and lately, I’ve been jumping out like a crazy person waving my arms around. Let’s just say I’ve become really good at being uncomfortable – I might not like it, but I’m mastering it!

Today was FULL of outside of my comfort zone type of things – let’s be honest, this entire week has been, and it’s about to become more of a regular occurrence.  But let’s focus on today. What happened today you might ask???  Two things – I had my first group in-person wellness event AND I had my first virtual group meeting.  Two things I led. Two things I put together. Two things that were so far out of the person I’d become used to – I stay inside the lines, this isn’t me…but guess what, you don’t grow inside the lines.  you’ll never find out what you’re fully capable of.  Why do we stay in these boxes??? Because we’re scared and/or afraid of failing, that’s why.

This afternoon we had a Basics Yoga Class at Blue Bird Yoga – it’s the studio I’ve been going to for around a year now.  The place I go to relax, stretch things out and have a little “me” time.  I had no idea who was coming, how many to expect, or would it just be me and my little family, so my anxiety level was high – what if no one wanted to do this??  Well, 20 of us did, and we had fun, despite the lovely pouring snow STL decided to have today!

What’s it look to have 15 Survivors on a virtual group meeting together?!?! THIS!

This evening, I did another thing that I am NOT trained in, that I have NO idea how to handle, BUT it is something I think we need in not only the ovarian cancer community, but the gynecological cancer community, and virtual group meeting session, if you will.  I had a list of things I wanted to achieve for Kick Ovarian Cancer this year – the main thing being a community feel for those effected by ovarian cancer.  One of those components was group meetings where we could share things, find commonalities and hopefully help each other through something that isn’t necessarily the easiest.  Some of us are still fighting the fight, others of us are out…but this whole life after thing, it’s not easy…NONE of this is easy.  I was a nervous wreck, but I was hopeful, hopeful that it would help someone along the way, hopeful that the ladies would want to do this again.

What I’ve found through both of these things is that if you don’t ask, you’ll never know what can happen.  Had I not asked Ellen and Sarah if hosting a wellness event at the studio was something they’d consider, the answer would have always been “no”.  Had I not put a post on Instagram and Facebook about participating in a group meeting, no one would have ever shown. Sure, I could have put the message out there and no one could have commented or messaged me…but that didn’t end up being the case. We had a nice sized group for the first time, have a plan in place and hope to be able to move forward in a month from now with another meeting!

You see, if we stay inside the lines, in the little box that we create that is nice and comfortable, BUT NOT GREAT, we’re not really doing ourselves any favors…we’re comfortable, but we’re not growing.  You’re staying in the same place you were, you may not be living to your fullest potential…and more than likely, it’s going to become boring.  We look just like everything else.  I don’t post all of these things for a pat on the back, or an “atta girl!” …I post them so that you can see BIG things, things outside of those black lines we’re all taught to live within (trust me, until 14 months ago, I was living right smack dab in the middle of those lines), are possible.  They’re not only possible, but great things can come from them..you just have to take that step, that so-called leap of faith and believe in yourself.  And maybe it won’t go great, it won’t every time…but maybe it will go okay or well, and sometimes that’s the goal…can’t knock it out of the park every time!

 

What Happened On This Day 1 Year Ago – The Day I Chose To Shave My Hair Off d

Today started like any other day…nothing special, until I saw the Facebook “one year ago today”…thanks for the reminder!  To be honest, I’d been thinking about it early last week, but completely forgot this morning.

Last year, on March 4th, I chose to shave my hair off – it was my choice, it was the one thing I wanted to have a say in.  I didn’t want to hop in the shower one day and have clumps of hair in my hands…I’ll be honest, I would have lost it, it would have been too much to handle.  I also had it resemble a party, so it was easier for Olivia and Jaxson – they would be the two main people to shave my head, with my “niece” Lilly-bug stepping in at one point.  This way, it wasn’t as scary for them and let’s be honest, it wasn’t as scary for me.  I don’t think I could have stood in the bathroom with clippers – I’d have been crying too hard.

As you can see, I wasn’t nearly as brave as I appeared…I was merely doing what needed to be done, in a way that was best for not only myself, but the children as well.

I also did this – one last family photo that looked like we were “normal”.  Sure, you could see my port, I was only 5 weeks post-surgery, and I was very thin – if you look really closely at my eyes, you can tell something wasn’t right.  And the poor girl that did my hair at the Breeze Blow Dry Bar that day was sooo good…I felt terrible for her, my hair was coming out in clumps.  But I wanted one more photo of all of us together, with hair, without the “scars” from what was to come…and little did we know, one year later it wouldn’t just be me growing my hair back, my Dad would be too.

 

Jaxson may have been way too excited about this whole thing – I’m not sure he knew what to think though when he realized all of my hair was gone a few days later.

As luck would have it, the next morning when I got in the shower…almost all of my hair fell out – body hair, hair on my head, all of it.  At that point in time whomever was at my house with me would stay in my bedroom while I showered in case something were to happen; I screamed for my friend Kim and I’m pretty sure she thought something had happened that was worse than my hair falling out.  I wasn’t panicking, I was more shocked I’d just beat all of this to the punch.  If I’d have waited any longer, there wouldn’t have been much to shave off.  How many days post my first round of chemo was it??  13 days…almost exactly what they told me it would be.

However you decide to let your hair go, do it for you…not because this is what everyone else is doing.  And guess what, a year later, it’s going to be much better!

The Weekend That Was Scottsdale!

Yep, we got all kinds of fancy this weekend in the Southwest, supporting Colleen’s Dream, and of course, Brittany!  I’ve had a difficult time finding the words to express all that was this weekend, for many reasons.  Maybe it’s because I’m tired, maybe it’s because it was overwhelming, or maybe because things were different this time when I flew into PHX…I haven’t quite been able to put my finger on it, but I thought I’d go ahead and try…sometimes when I start to type it gets a little easier.

In case you can’t tell – we’re pretty excited to be together, and it’s 8am!

So many wonderful things happened this weekend, the first being that the three of us were back together again, which in and of itself is more than worth it, oh, and we let the boys come this time too 😉 !  Not knowing how we all would feel, but being the Type A personality that I am, I did a bit of research to see what we could do, if we thought we had enough time to do everything.  We ended up deciding on one hike, Camelback and spent the remainder of our free time hanging out, low-key, eating and taking in the Scottsdale area – ummm, if you live in Scottsdale or the surrounding areas, consider yourself lucky…your restaurants are top notch AND there are so many healthy/organic options that we’re missing!

All three of us (Mandi, Brittany and myself) had been looking forward to the gala, because let’s be honest, there aren’t many times we get all dolled up.  Shoot, I can’t remember the last time I purchased a formal dress, it was fun!  All three of us had a bit of anxiety about the whole thing for one reason or another as well – one of us was speaking, all of us were going to an event that leaves it a bit difficult to pretend our situation isn’t what it is, there’s really no turning a blind-eye when you’re in a room of 650 people supporting an organization whose sole focus is ovarian cancer.  Let’s just say that I was a wee bit sweaty (there you have it folks, I sweat when I get nervous/anxious), and when you’re in an off the shoulder, cap-sleeved dress, there’s really no hiding it when hugging someone!

For those of you reading this (the majority), who were unable to attend the event in person, I have the video of Brittany speaking posted on my FB pages, both personal and Kick Ovarian Cancer’s.  I couldn’t have been more proud of my friend, she did something very brave, very outside of her comfort zone, very well – she was honest, raw, and poised.  Mandi and I had both read her speech prior and were aware of what she was going to say, and what was to come, but I soon found that didn’t make it any easier to hear the words spoken.  You see, for someone who rarely sheds a tear in front of people (we all do it, we keep it behind closed doors, so you don’t see us), when they breakdown, you breakdown.  And hearing the words “chemo will only buy me time…not cure this disease…”, it’s reality hitting you smack dab in the face (Brittany is currently participating in a trial treatment program, which we hope will turn this whole thing around).  If you were sitting anywhere near our table of 12, all you heard were sniffles, ruffling for tissues or the cloth napkin.  Deep down, I think we all wanted to be strong for her, but sometimes that’s just not possible.  Brittany represented all women effected by ovarian cancer better than anyone could have, and what was to follow, was simply amazing.

The remainder of the night went like this.  The live auction raised some major funds, the fund a need portion left all of us in a state of shock – for a type of cancer that we feel like gets the back burner most of the time, the people in the room raised their paddles for us…to the tune of $280,000 — yes, you read that correctly.  The live auction and fund a need raised $280,000 – enough money to fund the remaining amount needed for 10 women to start a trial with tgen, focusing on an extremely aggressive form of ovarian cancer that most often affects girls and young women (SMARCA4 gene mutation).  We also laughed, danced, made silly videos and took some serious photos – just like everyone else at the event.  Here’s the thing, I think we actually showed everyone in the room what you think an ovarian cancer survivor should look like, isn’t necessarily the case – as you can see in the photo, and this isn’t all of us young ones at the event.

And the next day, we put on our regular attire – athleisure, as many call it – and made our way to the top of Camelback!  Why do we do these things – why not?!?  Nothing’s stopping us from living, nothing’s holding us back from doing things everyone should be doing – we’re all purposefully living this one life we’ve been given.  Hmmm, think about that for a second, are you doing the same??  If not, what’s your excuse, why aren’t you, and what can you change to make sure you’re not missing out on things that could be setting you free, making you more alive?

All but two of the ladies pictured are ovarian cancer survivors…the other two lost their mother 5 years ago this past weekend to the deadly disease.

A huge thank you to the Drury and Cundiff families for all that you do to support research for ovarian cancer treatments and early detection testing.  THANK YOU to all of you in the room raising your paddles on Saturday evening – I personally know two women who hope to qualify for this trial, we’ve got our fingers crossed they do.  THANK YOU to those of you who are spreading awareness every day on behalf of those of who are fighting/surviving/thriving through this thing called ovarian cancer – it’s hard, it’s not fun, and it’s time for more of us to have a fighting chance!

Do The Things That Set Your Soul On Fire – I Have A Few!

Do The Things That Set Your Soul On Fire — And Don’t Settle For Anything Less!

I’m sure by now you’ve noticed one of these things for me is skiing – ask me how long it had been since I skied and you’d be shocked! By the smile on my face, you can tell it’s where I’m happy, although sometimes the cold gets to me – when my hands get too cold, it’s like needles, it wasn’t like that before, I’m hoping it improves with time.   I made mention when I was leaving in January to someone that I needed to figure out how to go skiing once a month during snow season – she agreed. Why, because I was happy, I was a little more “me” and I forgot.

My others, well that’s simple – hiking, the house down south, and really anywhere with a beach. I’ll be hitting all of these spots in the next three months – some of them multiple times. Does this make me tired, sometimes. But I’ll tell you time and time again, these are things I enjoy doing, the things I WANT to do, the things that SET MY SOUL ON FIRE and make me forget. Truth is…I’m not ready to sit with my thoughts about all of this, I’m not sure when I will be. You see, the last 3 years of my life, cancer aside, have been quite trying, to say the least.

This past weekend I was able to take the children with me to do one of my favorite things, skiing, with the help of my parents (another thing I didn’t see myself doing, doing this whole thing solo!). I still remember the ski trips we took as a family growing up, and I wanted that for them too. I was so nervous about how it would go – what if they didn’t enjoy it as much as I did, what if they never wanted to go again, what if they were still too young??? All of my fears were erased after day one – both of them couldn’t have been more excited to tell me how their day went. Both of them LOVED skiing and Olivia, well…this may be one of her happy places too, she excelled like no other at this activity and was bummed when the day was over! J-man, I think he got a little tuckered out by day 3, but he said he’s ready to go back next year!

Find what sets your soul on fire, it doesn’t have to be an activity – a solid glass of wine, a good book and a spot outside will do the trick too – and hang on tight to it. Make time to do these things – don’t settle for things you think you should be doing, not the things you want to be doing. I did this for far too long – take it from someone who knows what NOT to do – LOL!

I’ll be honest, STL isn’t my happy place. Too many things have happened here – it is where I need to be at this time though, so I do what’s needed to carve out time to spend doing the things I love, which is why I’m on the go quite frequently. Don’t let temporary things set you back – it’s not permanent, things will change, and in the meantime, figure out a way to make it work – settling for anything less than a rip roaring fire, isn’t doing your time here on earth any justice. You only have one life, spend it doing the things that make you, you.

Hitting the skies again Friday to meet up with some of my girls (okay, guys…I’m excited to see you too – LOL!) in the Southwest – Phoenix/Scottsdale, I’m coming for ya! Where will you find me, on the hiking trail (my type A personality has a list with details on each for us to decide on – I forewarned everyone!), possibly sipping a glass of wine (or two) at a local watering hole, grabbing a bite around town, and getting all dolled up for Colleen’s Dream’s Gala on Saturday night (y’all it’s like we’re going to prom!). So excited to see my girl Brittany up on stage, sharing her story, she’s going to kill it!

I Think I Need To Clarify Something – I’m NOT Super Woman

A few weeks ago a fellow survivor friend reached out to me because she was having a moment, like we all do, and she needed help – she didn’t feel inspirational, commented that most days she sat in the bathroom and cried , and so forth.  She had a speaking engagement quickly approaching and had no idea what to say.  It didn’t take me long to write back and got the wheels spinning in my head – wait, do the survivors/women/people who follow me not think that I feel the same way?!?

Let’s get one thing straight – I’m FAR from being Super Woman, NO WHERE CLOSE!  I’m holding it together by a string most days, just like you.

I’ll be honest, I don’t feel inspirational, strong, or anything else people may think of me – I’m merely a girl who when faced with a HUGE challenge, did what I’d hope anyone in my position would do, fight.   Why don’t I feel any of those things…because I’m not any of those things, I’m just like any of you reading this…I chose to not let something as stupid as cancer defeat me, win, or take control of my life.  I didn’t/don’t  have another choice, it’s my life we we’re dealing with.

And some days, you’ll find me in the bathroom, on the floor or in the shower, crying as well – it’s the place no one can hear me, if the kids are home or people are here, it’s cold, dark, and quiet.  I am just like all of you  reading this who are fighters/survivors/thrivers – the bathroom is my favorite place too, followed closely by the car, with my head on the steering wheel, parked in my garage.

I’m no more inspirational than anyone else, the way I live my life is a little bit more public than yours might be, but that’s really it. The word “inspirational” makes me extremely uncomfortable.  Now, I hope that because of me, someone didn’t give up, no matter what their “hard thing” may be, and they pushed through and hopefully pay it forward.  I guess you could say the only thing I want people to see, is that hard things can be done – over and over again.  That life after cancer can somewhat resemble what it looked like before.  That you can still do the things you once did, differently, but you can do them.  I struggle through most things I do, but I get it done, and that’s the part I want people to see.   Who wants easy???  Easy is more comfortable, but it’s usually not as fulfilling as choosing the more difficult option – trust me, it’s worth it.

Wanna know exactly what I said to my friend – I told her we all spend many days sitting on the bathroom floor.  That she has a lot of things to say, but what about her story does she really want people to hear – being “inspiring” isn’t always the goal, sometimes it’s about being brutally honest about all that ovarian cancer is, incorporate the positives with the ugly truth of it all.  That this is hard, that things need to change for more women to have a fighting chance.  I told my friend that none of us are really great at standing behind the microphone, but she was going to kill it.  And ya wanna know what?!?  That was exactly the advice she needed – she killed it!  I smiled the entire way through hearing her speech, because I was so proud of her – she took something difficult and flawlessly nailed it!

Things scare me, just like they scare you – I don’t sleep much, I’m always on the go because it’s my way of coping at the moment – it means I don’t have time to think – I push myself when it comes to a lot of things, because I can.  And yes, I cry A LOT…this shit is hard people!  (sorry, not sorry!) No one should ever have to do this – and everyone out there fighting/surviving/thriving, I take my hat off to you, and I’m cheering you along the way!  I’m just like you…I’m not Super Woman….I’m merely someone choosing to do hard things with a smile on my face, because I can, not because I’m a super hero.

January, I’m Not Your Biggest Fan…But Thank You For This…

It’s February!!! Which means I made it through January, not exactly my most favorite month.  January is my diagnosis month, the time I spent a good chunk of the month in the hospital.  And now, as luck would have it, the month I have checkups, scans and blood work – all things, which can make one come unglued.

Despite all of this…January gave me a couple of things that made me smile – time with my friends, doing things I love.Had you asked me a few months ago how I thought this month would go – I’d have told you to look for me in the corner of my bedroom, more than likely crying and angry.  Did that happen once??  NOPE.

Jen, Peggy and myself after a day of snowfall
Too much fun on day 1 with Jamie!
Blast from the past – Tash!!

My diagnosis day will always be my diagnosis day, but this year, I gave it a big finger (ya know which one I’m talking about)…and took to the slopes.  Some of my girlfriends joined me, and they made sure we were always laughing, smiling, had a drink in hand after the chairlifts shutdown, and I forgot about all of it….even if it was just for a little while.  You see, I came back to the reality of things – scans, tests and doctor’s appointments (precautionary CT scan tomorrow morning, then I’m done until April, fingers crossed).  BUT, for 4 whole days, I got to do something “normal”.  Something that resembled the old me…and when I say “old me”, I’m talking years ago.

Mandi & Brittany – hiking it up on the ranch!

Fast forward to the last weekend of the month – ya know, the one where you have to wait after all the testing is done, until after the weekend when you see the doctor (ummm…3 days feels like 3 months) – I headed south to hang with my Texas girls!  We all needed to see each other, and I got to meet Stephanie!!! The reason I HATE January so much, is the reason you see us together.  Cancer united us, but cancer doesn’t define one of us.  I always get asked, “well what’d y’all do??”, like we sit around and talk about cancer the entire time, or we don’t do normal people things.  My response this time – we did what all Texans do, went to the ranch, drank champagne, shot a couple rounds on the 22 and hiked and had Mexican food, duh! – teasing!

Meet Stephanie (@derailingmydiagnosis – follow her if you don’t already!)

Seriously though, we did all those things, and yes, we talked about cancer.  Although none of our stories are the same, none of us have the same diagnosis, we can each relate to the other in ways that our friends and families can’t.  And sometimes, that alone is enough…sometimes, it’s nice to talk, have someone nod their head, and not have tears in their eyes or a sad look on their face.  I can talk, freely, Mandi, Brittany and Stephanie, can talk freely, and it’s nice. But let’s get one thing straight…it is a part of us, but cancer is not all that there is to us.

January, I will probably always have a love hate relationship with you – you are the month that changed life as I knew it.  But I learned this year, that I have a choice in how I function throughout the month – I could have been a total B, done nothing and everyone would have understood, it would have been allowed.  Instead, I decided to challenge myself and see if I couldn’t turn a crappy month into something that I could have fun with — and although I succeeded, there were still a bunch of tears.  Without the 19th of January, I wouldn’t have had a fire lit underneath me, I wouldn’t have done things this month with people that make me smile, I wouldn’t have met Mandi or Brittany or Stephanie. So January, I’m not your biggest fan, and I probably never will be…but thank you, thank you for making me do the things I enjoy with people I love.

Here’s your challenge – what is your “January”?  How can you take that “thing” and no longer make it a day you dread, a day that makes you sad, a day that you want to forget, and change it into a positive???   (ummm, trust me, I still want to forget that day exists, I’m just learning to manage how I address it. I’m not a master at this…I’m a work in progress)