Wednesday, July 22, 2009

An Anniversary!

Tomorrow is an anniversary. And anniversaries are all about celebrating, right? Well, that's exactly what I'm doing!

One year ago I got the news...

That terrible, dreaded phrase no one EVER wants to hear...

The big "C" word...

Yes, one year ago I was told I had breast cancer. So many emotions swirled through my head...

'I'm too young; I'm only 40!' 'I don't want to die!' 'I can't believe this is happening!' 'I'm so scared!' Those were just a FEW of the thoughts running around that I tried to chase away.

Like it or not, I started on a journey that day. One I certainly didn't sign up for but had to go on anyway - ready or not. Cancer doesn't care if your house is clean or you've got a vacation planned! LOL

Today, I can celebrate. Today, I can reflect back on this last year and see just how far I've come. The journey hasn't been easy. It's been filled with pain, sickness, sadness, tears, anger, frustration...but also with a whole lot of these things - love, support, kindness, encouragement, thoughtfulness, help, laughter, joys.

I MADE IT THROUGH! Through surgeries and chemotherapy and losing my hair, my eyelashes, my eyebrows. Through feeling like a freak without all of those things. Through wigs and bandanas. Through pain so bad I felt like I couldn't take another minute more. Through radiation treatments.

And NOW I'm on the other side...

Eyebrows, eyelashes, HAIR! All treatments...DONE! I'm ALIVE! I feel WONDERFUL! It's amazing! I'm so thankful. God brought me through!

Some of you know this and some of you don't. My mom died of breast cancer that had metastasized to her bones; she was only 49 years old. She had been an oncology nurse for about 23 years. Two of my mom's sisters and a niece are breast cancer survivors. One of my dad's sisters is a breast cancer survivor. I was well acquainted with breast cancer long before my own diagnosis.

Can I tell you something about how you can be supportive to someone dealing with cancer?

JUST BE THERE. You don't have to say a bunch of flowery words. Don't make the cliche' statements like 'Everything happens for a reason' or stuff like that. (Doesn't help. Not one bit. In fact, it just made me want to avoid the people who said it. Just bein' real.)

ASK what you can do that will help the most. That could be anything practical like making meals, helping with kids or cleaning house, etc. Or it could be driving to doctor's appointments/treatments. Just depends on the individual.

DO CALL OR SEND CARDS. Just to know I was being thought of and prayed for...that was huge for me! Really think about that...doesn't take much to sign a card, add a stamp and send it. Or picking up the phone to say you're thinking of that person. Yet it means so much!

THERE *IS* A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PITY AND CONCERN! Try to be as genuine as you can. Even if you don't know what to say, then just say that. Being honest is always better. I never wanted people feeling sorry for me. I could tell sincere concern and just plain 'ole pity.

I've been so blessed in so many ways through my journey. Like I said, it hasn't been easy. I've had to make the decision every single day to stay positive, find the GOOD in the situation. Sometimes that's really hard but it's there; you just have to search for it. I've faced much of this with quite a sense of humor...that has made it easier. Sometimes what else can you do? You're either gonna cry or laugh - comes down to a choice between the two!

There's a very easy way you can help. Look on my sidebar and click on the Breast Cancer Site link. That simple click will help to fund a mammogram for a woman who otherwise would not be able to have one done. We all know early detection saves lives. I am living proof that it does!

Be diligent about doing a monthly self breast exam. *YOU* know your own body and if something is not right. DO NOT put off going to see the doctor! I found the lump on my own, not through an exam by the doctor or a mammogram.

If there is anything I do to help someone out, please don't hesitate to send me an e-mail. (Address is listed on my sidebar.) I'm not an expert; I just know what I've gone through and I'm very open about my cancer experience...

Just wanted to add a bit more to this post. My friend Beth @ Aunties With Advice reminded me of something I'd shared right after my cancer diagnosis. Our daughter Tess, who was 12 years old at the time, wrote a very lovely poem. It touched my heart so deeply and I was so proud of her for sharing her feelings and fears. Tess has been a wonderful support to me throughout this last year. She helped shave my head when my hair started falling out and we decided to make a party of it! I am very blessed to have such awesome support from a wonderful family and from all of you, my blogging friends...THANKS!!!

I want it all fake,
I wish it wasn't real.
Everything inside me;
It's just the way I feel.
Can't it just go away?
Can't it just be fake?
Just some cruel joke,
Just a big mistake.
Making everyone scared.
I think it's all fake.
But it isn't at all.
We're all doing our best, not to see my family fall.
Dear God, oh please -
Let her be healed.
She's my mom.
And I love her.
I don't know what I would ever do without her.

~Tess...August 2008


  1. Michelle - congratulations to you! I remember when I read your post after you found out and feeling like I couldn't do anything because I really didn't even know you! But I kept reading and posting comments hoping that, as you said, even people just thinking and sending positive thoughts can help! And just so you know, I just had my yearly mammogram yesterday. Keep up the positive thoughts!

  2. Michelle,

    You are incredible! Kudos my dear friend! I remmeber reading that precious poem your 12 year old daughter, Tess wrote and tears streamed down my face.
    It was precious and had brought back so many memories of when my own sister was diagnosed with brain cancer at age 39, with four kids at home.
    Your journey has been courageously fought! Thank You for sharing it ALL with us.
    We all love you, who have prayed for you, this past year. I don't think you can help love another person when you are constantly praying for them.
    I am so happy this year is behind you and wish you so much luck in the coming year as you finish the fight!
    Now, let us All continue the fight for your daughters and women everywhere as this horrid desease continues to destroy too many lives.

    YAHOO for Hair, eyelashes and eyebrows! :-)

    Lots of love,
    ~♥ Beth

  3. That was suppose to say, I don't think you can help, BUT love another person when you are praying for them. :)

    I truly need grammar and spell ck!

  4. It's been a long year..I'm so glad you are
    doing so well.
    fondly, Deena

  5. Congrats on your overcome and conquer! Cancer is never something anyone wants to face. I have a neice that just barely turned 2 and was diagnosed with it. Prayers do help.

  6. You have a powerful story to tell and good for you that you are open about it!

  7. Congratulations Michelle!

    Wishing you all the best in the coming years.

  8. Wow girl, I was moved to tears, especially after reading the poem. I'm so thankful that you are cancer free and living an awesome life. YES!! I'm saying a prayer for many more amazing years ahead. Thanks so much for the advice on how to better be there for our loved ones dealing with cancer. I really appreciated all of it. Hope you have a great night. Congrats on one year!!!!!!!

  9. Simply this....I love you and I am so grateful you are my friend.....
    you are so real and so down to earth.....God has big plans for you and your testimony!


  10. Hi Michelle,

    It was so nice of you to stop by my blog and leave such a nice message.
    I just read your post, and it was just what I needed to hear.
    I've been feeling so awkward about how to talk to my sister about having ovarian cancer...I just don't know...I'm so afraid of saying something stupid and upsetting her, and thats the last thing that I want to do.
    I really appreciated your candor on your own experience, it was very helpful for me!

    I hope you'll come back and visit me again! It was so nice to meet you, and I'm so glad you are doing well now!

    Take care,

  11. Hello Michelle,

    I don't remember how I happened onto your blog last year but I am thankful that I did. I have cried as you shaved your head and went through the treatments. I cried when I read your posts about a great milestone in your life, your son graduating highschool. I cry because I have been through it or lets say I am still in it. I was diagnosed with stage IV endometrial cancer at age 46 two years ago. It is a very long story but I never had any classic symptoms at all. I was told "you are two young and not overweight" I would be shocked if this is cancer by the doctor. Anyway, to make a long story short yes, I did have cancer that had spread to my liver, lungs and other places in my body. At the time, my son was 16 and my daughter 13. Due to GOD and a wonderful doctor I am alive today and was able to see my son graduate highschool in May. Now, I have a new goal to make it to my daughters highschool graduation. I am still undergoing chemotherapy treatment. I have been in treatment for over two years. I still pray for complete healing. I am so happy that you are finished with our treatment!! If it is not to much to ask, Would you please pray for me and my family? As you know exactly what I am going through and we have many things in common. I feel so very blessed just to be typing this comment to you. I have prayed for you many times. I wish you a very long and healthy life with your wonderful and beautiful faimily.

    Much love to you,
    Shelli in Oklahoma

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  13. Dear Shelli,

    Thanks so very much for the beautiful comment you left. I am so sorry for what you're walking through right now. It would certainly be my honor to pray for you & your family. If you don't mind, please send me an e-mail so we can talk further. I would love to get to know you! Looking forward to hearing from you :)


  14. Michelle,
    Thank you so much for sharing you story of courage and triumph! I truly appreciate your suggestions on how to be a supportive friend. I never feel that I have the words and often have no idea what to do or say!
    Your daughter's poem is so touching and heartfelt, a touching masterpiece that I am sure that you will always treasure!

  15. Michelle...thank you for sharing your heart with us. What an incredibly heartfelt & touching post! I am amazed by your strength and courage and your lust for life. I am so glad that you are well and happy! What blessing.


  16. thanks for all you honest words and for sharing tess's poem!


I appreciate each and every single one of you who stops by for a visit...thank you! Please leave me a comment...I really love hearing from you :)