Thursday, August 19, 2021

A Decade

Does this thing still work? Do people still read blogs? 

God knows people are still being diagnosed with cancer. 

I know it has been a minute. There was (is) a pandemic. We had a toddler, now preschooler. I started a business. I wasn't sure our marriage would survive, and I'm only being a little facetious. We had to work through some things while a 3yo, albeit a cute one, threw herself at us with the force of a small bull, dumped over her full cereal bowls, dropped chicken nuggets in our drinks, bit her brother (but promised not to cut him because she "likes him"), and screamed with a volume that should put her in the running for starring in horror movies soon. 

She's adorable, really. But it has not been an easy 17 months, and I say that as someone who has been through a bit.

How have you all been? I've missed you. 

So why now? Why show up this Thursday afternoon in the middle of August to say hi? 

This morning, I was skimming through a text chain amongst some mom friends of mine just after I dropped Noelle off at preschool. One mom's 3rd-grader is being bullied about her weight. In third grade. Her freaking weight, you guys. 

This message from another friend in the group had my eyes burning and tears on my cheeks before I'd even left the school grounds: 

"Being a girl is hard and I wish younger girls learned earlier to lift each other instead of tearing each other down, it makes for such a better existence." 

I thought of how grateful I am for my college friends who cut off their hair to surprise me with a wig when I started my second course of chemo. How much I appreciate other moms who will tell me when my kid is out of line or doing something that should make us all proud, women who join me whether I need a glass of wine or a long walk in the morning, and who show up for each other week after week because it takes a village. I can't imagine my life without my village of women.

I would not have gotten through the last decade without them. The ones who sent me notes to say, "You should talk to my cousin who was diagnosed while pregnant," or "Cancer is the worst club with the best people," or "I love you. One moment at a time. Just breathe." 

Breathe. Because you can today, and sometimes shit goes haywire and breathing isn't easy. Or your friend's lungs fill up with cancer-riddled fluid and breathing is nearly impossible.

Today marks TEN YEARS since I was diagnosed. A decade since I drove the two miles home from the radiologist's office in a fog of fear, like the hands of the grim reaper himself were wrapped around my throat and closing off my air supply. I came home to my infant son and my husband, who was standing in our small kitchen. I told him that I had cancer. "I don't fucking believe we're having this conversation." And I felt disappointed, devastated, crushed at having to share that news with him of all people because he'd lost his dad to pancreatic cancer two years earlier. 

Time is a bittersweet pill. I celebrate being here. As I've rocked her at night, I have probably asked my daughter a hundred times, "How are you here?" The miracle of it astounds me. My husband jokes she is the only egg that could have survived. She is tenacious, feisty, combative, defiant, and 110% sure of herself. 

How am I here? I didn't think I would be. And I grieve. My heart still hurts for my friends who are gone. Brigid. Renee. April. Emily. Andrea. Holly. Adrienne. Beth. Colleen. Katherine. Jody. Cristin. Carolyn. Michele. Sarah. Mandi. Anna. Chiara. Rebecca. Roberta. Joanna. Too many to name.

So here's what I've learned in the last ten years. People are mostly good, and mostly want to help. I still believe that, even if we've seen a lot of selfishness the last year. Women are badasses, and I feel lucky to be one and have the opportunity to raise one. You have to be your own best advocate. Our medical system is in disarray, and doesn't work well for those who need it most. Stand up for yourself, and speak up when something doesn't feel right. Even when it's scary. Especially when it's scary. Sometimes you have to be as loud as a 3-year-old to get what you need in this world. 

I think this is a good stopping point for my blog. Ten is a nice round number. Please keep in touch. Find me on Facebook or Instagram or even Twitter occasionally. Send me a text or email. I love you all, and you have sustained me in my darkest hours. I mean it.

Who knows? Maybe I'll finally finish that book of mine. 



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