Night Swinging

My kids.

They are little warriors.

Sometimes I forget how hard this journey has been on them.  They are young, and we were able to keep the scary stuff on the top shelf.  I don’t think they ever truly understood how serious my battle was, but they did see me benched – while the other moms played.  They did see me bald, and broken.  They heard me cry in the shower.  Their momma was weak, and weary.  And that had to be so hard for them.

They would always come bubbling in the door from their activities to find me in different shades of consciousness on the couch.  The days surrounding chemo were the worst.  They didn’t understand why my head was down on the dinner table.

I made the most of my good days, and would slowly walk them to the park.  I tried to take them to do special things whenever I found a burst of energy.  Alex and I painted pottery.  Andy and I built a bear.  We made star wars cookies, and painted with water colors.  I did my best.

They never really seemed stressed, or sad.  But every once in awhile one of them would say something that knocked the wind from my sails.

“Why are you so lazy?”

“All the other mommies have hair.”

“Why can’t YOU go with us?”

This Friday evening I was putting my tennis shoes on to go for a run and Alex started begging to go with me.  I finally said yes.  As we ran down our street, he said: “I can’t stop smiling.  I can’t get the smile off of my face.  I am so excited to run with you.”

There we were.  Eleven months post cancer diagnosis.  Running together.  My legs sore, my lungs burning, my fake boobs barely bouncing, and my spirit soaring.  He had to stop several times to walk.  He had to ask ME to stop.  It was only a mile.  But it was magic.  And as we passed the park by our house I asked him to swing with me in the dark.  We pumped our legs and stared up at the moon.  He was giggling, and I was just there.  Just right there in that beautiful moment.  Looking out at the trees preparing to shed their leaves.

Life once again at the edge of change.

My kids.  They are little warriors.  They have survived this, too.

Get to Second Base with Yourself

breast cancer awareness month

It is breast cancer awareness month.  I see reminders everywhere.  Pink signs, bracelets, commercials.  Pink jerseys, t-shirts, shoes, earrings.  I even saw pink construction hats.

For me, the pink makes me feel a lump in my throat.  I am glad there is awareness, but it is a constant reminder of what I have been through, and what I am still fighting.

I am 36.  Many of my friends do not do self breast exams.  They think they are too young.  Or they think they have to do them a certain day of the month, and they forget which day.  Here is what I have to say:

Get to second base with yourself.  Every time you shower.  Soap up those hands and feel yourself up.  It might save your life.

It saved mine.

I was always confused about what day of the month to do my self exam.

My general doctor mentioned at my check up last year that she advises her patients to just notice their breasts every time they shower.  If anything feels strange, or different, or makes you take a second feel — get it checked out.

Don’t rationalize.  Don’t ignore.  Don’t forget.

Every time you shower.  Just notice your breasts.

I made an appointment.  Nurse practitioner said she thought it felt like a cyst.  Said I could wait 3-6 months and just look out for changes.  I had that feeling, that nagging feeling.  So I said, “no”. I asked to get an ultrasound.  So glad I did.

Feel yourself up, and listen to your body.

Please. Please. Please.

It has been 11 months since I got that life-changing news.  On some days it felt like walking through fire.  On some days it felt like sinking to the bottom of the ocean.  On some days it felt like sadness, and sickness might melt away my light.  But I am so grateful.  Grateful that I caught it early.  Grateful that I pushed for further tests.  Grateful that I’m going to be okay.

Don’t put yourself last.  Take time to care for yourself.

Please. Please. Please.

No excuses.

Get to second base with yourself.

Prayer

FullSizeRender(1)Prayer.

When I was a fraction of myself.  When the anchor of cancer pulled me so far underwater I was sure I would never reach the surface again.  When I felt the ache of hopelessness.

There was always this unbreakable thread that kept me just shy of the bottom.

And each prayer you sent me, each thought, and well wish.  Each time you said my name, or squeezed your eyes closed and sent me love, or read my words and ached with me for just a moment.  Each time you extended your energy in my direction, or folded your fingers together, or kneeled down at your place of worship.  Each time.  Every. Single. Time.

It mattered.

It moved me.

Those prayers.  That energy.  Those connections.  They were balloons.  And I held on to each one.  And they lifted me.

Are you a believer?  Do you believe? Can you see what can’t be seen?

Can you picture those balloons carrying me into Spring?

After my first round of chemo, I wrote this:

I kept thinking about a retreat I attended in college.  A nun asked us to lay down on the floor in a way that represented our relationship to prayer, and God.  It was a strange request, but I remember laying down on my back with my arms spread wide open, and my eyes closed.  I felt vulnerable, but safe.  I felt open, and free.  If I had to do the same thing right now- I would chose the fetal position.  Because I feel scared, and hesitant.

Here I am, nine months later, and my arms are open again.  There were days when I could barely crawl.  Days where I would stumble to the couch and barely move.  And tonight as I was walking in the cool, early fall air– I noticed them.  My arms.  They are open.  My fists are not clenched.  I am ready to run.

Thank you.  Thank you for those balloons.  Even the tiniest ones mattered.  They swirled together and lifted me up.