I don't claim to have it all figured out, or to feel at peace with what has happened over the past seven months of my life, but I also refuse to let it control me. I said early on that I live by my father's words that when you wake up in the morning and your feet hit the floor you make a choice how you want your day to go. It takes just as much effort to be negative as it does to be positive … I choose to invest my time wisely.
This past week served as a turning point for me. While I experienced a heavy heart being contacted by four young women who are embarking on my same journey, I felt intense vitality and vibrancy through the happiness of my friends. One of my closest friends, Marisa, gave birth to her son, Brady Patrick Shea on Wednesday. As I received the minute-by-minute updates throughout her labor I trembled with anticipation, prayed for her and Brady's safety and my heart soared with the purest of loves. Once the news came that Brady had made his grand entrance, I felt elated and rejuvenated.
My friend Kandi, who is also fighting breast cancer, made it through her mastectomy on Friday with clean margins. She is cancer free and I am so incredibly thankful. She and I both conquered chemotherapy, surgery … and now cancer. She is such an amazingly strong woman and I am blessed to know her.
At a concert Saturday night I danced with my best friend's two-year-old daughter, Hadley. At the end of the evening she reached up for me to carry her. Walking to the car I spun her around singing the lyrics to Tommy Tutone '8675309 Jenny' that was being sung by the '80s cover band, The Reflex. She looked up and pointed to the sky saying 'plane.' I told her that they were stars and they were far away. She repeated the word, 'stars' over and over. In that moment, I was completely present and treasured every step I took down that gravel path with Hadley perched on my hip.
I find these days that I allow myself to get lost in the moment and am much more present when with my friends and family. Every minute counts. This weekend I organized a family outing to see 'The Lion King' at the Kennedy Center. Doctors appointments, surgeries, treatment sessions and medicated comas stole family time from us these past seven months. It was time to finally create a new memory of our family being together … one that was positive. As I looked down the row at the Opera House and watched their expressions I knew this would serve as the new memory of togetherness.
It's just my luck that as I start to get myself together psychologically, my body starts to fail me. I now have radiation poisoning on my chest. Basically, it is a severe form of sun poisoning/burn, but, according to my radiological oncologist, my skin is not red enough yet. My skin is pinkish red and I have broken out in a rash that is EXTREMELY itchy. (And wouldn't you know that scratching the rash makes it itch more.) Supposedly, this is all normal. I have completed 12 days of radiation and have 16 more to go. My radiological oncologist cut back my treatment from 30 to 28 days. I will continue treatment the way I have been until Sept. 12, then Sept. 15-17 they will increase treatment by 25 percent and focus it just on the center of my chest. I am counting down the days, keeping my mind healthy and taking lots of Benadryl. Ahh so itchy!!!