Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A cheesy gift!

Today is my birthday. And I'm celebrating =)

I know this is going to sound sappy and cheesy ... but it's all true.

This birthday feels like a gift. Like a huge gift.

Last year's birthday felt so different. Don't get me wrong, everyone tried so hard to make last year's birthday special. And they did. But still. Last year on my birthday? I was terrified. I was terrified that it might be my last birthday. I was anxious. My surgery was only 2 days away.

Of course I was also happy and grateful to everyone who reached out and sent me good wishes and helped celebrate my birthday.

And yet.

Last year's birthday was so hard for me.

But this year. This year feels like a huge gift. Like a lovely blessing. It is amazing. I am alive. I get another birthday. Another year. More time. More memories.

And so I'm celebrating. I will go out to dinner and get a pizza puff (at our house tradition dictates that the birthday person gets to pick dinner that night - anything goes. And I decided I wanted pizza puffs!). I will drop my oldest off at softball practice (because apparently my birthday is not in fact a holiday worth canceling things like practices LOL!). Then we will come home. We will eat the cake my 2 daughters baked and decorated for me. We will eat ice cream. And open presents.

But mostly? I'll laugh and smile and love my family. Because just being here today to celebrate? Is gift enough.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Breast Cancer is Not Beautiful

Let me type that again for you. Breast cancer is not beautiful. Read it. Soak it in. And note, I did not say that people with breast cancer are not beautiful, because nothing could be further from the truth. But breast cancer? Any cancer? It's not beautiful.

This has been on my mind for a while. We live in a society where we like to make things pretty. We like stories that are neat and pretty and are happily ever after. We parade breast cancer survivor stories across the tv and talk about how cancer is a gift. And how s/he fought hard and won. And now? S/he'll live happily ever after. The end.

Except for most of us? That's not how it works. Most of us do not think our cancer was a gift. Those who survived? It's not because we were somehow stronger or fought harder than those who didn't. And we don't wake up one day, in remission, and then move on like it never happened.

It's a hard road. If I may be frank, it's a pretty shitty road. And you can paint that road as pink as you want, it doesn't change that it's a hard road to be on. That most of us would do anything to never have to walk on it. And it certainly isn't beautiful.

But while we're busy portraying beautiful pink-land, women are hurting. A few weeks ago I took part in a chat on twitter about metastatic breast cancer. Most people participating didn't even know what metastatic breast cancer was. They didn't know people's stories who are living with metastatic breast cancer. This, this is the dangerous side effect of presenting breast cancer as beautiful. As just a minor detour in someone's life. Because for too many women (and in my mind 1 is too many), their life will end because of breast cancer. They won't go into remission. And as they don't fit the beautiful stories we create around cancer, their voices have been left out of the conversation.

This needs to change. We need to stop making cancer beautiful. We need to share stories - of all women, not just ones that fit into a nice little box. We need to move past awareness. Frankly, I don't know a single person who isn't aware of breast cancer. Awareness isn't enough anymore. We need education and facts and all the voices of breast cancer to be heard.

Want to learn more about metastatic breast cancer and those living with it? Then I encourage you to visit Faces of MBC.

Monday, May 07, 2012

So. Um. Last night

Me, pre-show
So. Where to start? I suppose I should start with this: last night was amazing for me.

I walked into the theater a huge ball of nerves. I walked into that theater full of self-doubt. I walked into that theater feeling completely terrified. I walked into that theater thinking I had no business doing what I was about to do.


I walked out of that theater feeling pretty damn good. I walked out of that theater feeling proud of myself. I walked out of that theater feeling loved and supported. I walked out of that theater feeling absolutely amazing. 

I did it. I got up on that stage. I didn't trip. I didn't freeze up. I read my piece. I remembered to occasionally look up at the audience. In fact, I feel like, for me, I nailed it. (Note: This is not to say that I think I have a future in public speaking or that you can now compare me with greats. But for me? For myself? I nailed it). I just really did it. And it was amazing.

It's hard to describe. But you know when you do something that is absolutely terrifying to you, something you never thought you could do in a million years. And somehow you do it? And you are just so in awe of yourself because you pushed yourself to do that really difficult thing? It was like that.

It's like how I'm terrified of heights. But I sucked it up to go zip-lining in Vegas? And as I was zipping down that line, I felt electrified and terrified but thrilling and exhilarating. And when I got to the end and the guy asked me how it was I just started to ramble that it was super and I was afraid of heights but I loved that zip-lining. And I just finished most of my cancer treatment so I did this to prove to myself I could and I felt great. And he high-fived me and told me his grandma was a cancer survivor and that I was amazing. It was like that last night.

I did it. And it was amazing. (I think I've said that several times already, but really, I did it. And it was amazing. And if I were smarter I'd have a lot of fancy words I could use to say the same thing but make it sound different each time. But I don't. So you're stuck with I did it. And it was amazing.)

Now? I can't imagine not having done it. Isn't it funny how that happens? Yesterday I was positive I shouldn't have done it. And today I'm positive I absolutely should have done it. 

I can't take all the credit though. My fellow cast-mates and directors, were so awesome and supportive. It was no secret I was feeling terrified and anxious about everything. Mostly because I said it over and over. And also, I wear my emotions on my sleeve. You always know how I'm feeling. And they were being awesome and telling me wonderful things pre-show to help me relax and feel better. But? After I spoke. As I walked backstage, there they were. Hugs, high-fives, thumbs-up were given freely and lovingly to me. I can't lie. It was without a doubt my favorite moment of the performance. To think, before the first rehearsal most of these people were strangers to me. And now? I consider them all my friends.

Hubby and I after the show
And we can't forget about the audience, who totally rocked too.  I'm still blown away that there were people who came to the show to support me.

I'm still feeling blown away by the whole thing.

I told my husband on the way home one of my biggest fears heading into the show was that at the end everyone would think She was cute. That was so nice they let her on stage with the big kids. Because my biggest fear was that I did not belong on that stage with my cast mates. But driving home? That fear was gone. I no longer felt like the little kid in the room. Somehow I gained the confidence to know that I did belong up there. And that my dear readers? Is absolutely priceless.

I did it. And it was amazing.

*Both pictures were taken by Tracey 

Sunday, May 06, 2012

So. Um. Today.

Me, welcoming my first daughter into the world
A few months ago I heard from Melisa and Tracey that they were producing Listen To Your Mother (LTYM) in Chicago. Which was great. But I had to make a decision - to be in the show or not. 

Now, I don't do public speaking. Never have. Never thought I would. I barely passed speech class in school. Thinking about people's eyes looking at me? Terrifies me. Sometimes, even when among friends, if I realize everyone's attention is on me, I start to freak out a little. 

But, LTYM was coming. And in what I consider a break in rational thought for me, I decided to go for it. After all, I had kicked cancer's butt, so I could do anything, right? Right? No. Wrong. Treatment for cancer is NOTHING like public speaking. It's like saying, I sailed around the world so I can now fly solo around the world. Um. No. Sailing. Flying. Two completely different skill sets. Seriously? What was I thinking? 

I think I thought that by the time the performance got here, I'd be used to it. And cool. And chill. And a bit nervous, but nothing unmanageable. 

I? Was wrong. I am not used to it. I am on the verge of peeing my pants over anxiety. No, don't worry, I won't really. Because that? Would be even more embarrassing than just freezing on stage. I am terrified I will trip while walking to the mic. I was trying on shoes to wear, and tripped in the store, and immediately took the shoes off and left. Tonight, is not the time for me try new shoes. Especially ones with heels. {That said. I'm ready. Just in case. If I trip, I know what I'll say to defuse the bomb me falling will drop on everyone. Because I like to have a back-up plan like that.}  

Anyway, tonight, I will go on stage. A lot of eyes will be looking at me. And I will talk about how amazing my children are - because they are. That part is easy. 

I will be speaking about it in the context of my cancer though. And that is the part that is terrifying me. It's too new. I don't have enough space. I get emotional about it. I feel vulnerable and like I might as well be naked because that might be easier than sharing. 

I was talking to someone this week about it. Okay, I might have been hyperventilating about it this week and he reminded me of a couple of things. 1. Cancer treatment and public speaking are not the same thing, but during treatment I dug down and found something to get me through it. So too I can today. 2. Melisa and Tracey did not ask for actresses. They did not ask for people who are well versed at public speaking. They did not ask for people who do this for a living. They asked for moms. Moms who are willing to share. And I'm a mom. And I share often on this blog. 

So today, at approximately 7:10 (yes, I've thought about the exact minute I may take the stage) I will stand in front of many eyes, mostly belonging to people who I don't know. And I will tell them how wonderful my children are. And I'm nervous - beyond nervous actually, but I will dig deep and do my best to do it.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012


I have a confession to make to you all. I'm feeling very lost right now. I have no idea what I'm supposed to do next.

I'd like to tell you it's all because of the cancer. It would be the perfect scapegoat, but it would be a lie. I've felt this way for a long time. I do think the cancer has made it worse, made me feel like I don't have time to figure it all out.

You know those people who know exactly what they want to do in life and they go after it and love every second? Or the people who stumble into something and then end of loving it and realizing it's their passion?

Yeah. That's not me. I don't know what my passions are. I don't know what I'm supposed to do with my life.

Right now, I know I am supposed to be mom. But I don't need to be a mom forever. Well, you know what I mean, I will always be a mom and will always be here for my kiddos, but you know the daily things (laundry, cooking, driving to and from, schoolwork, etc) eventually there will be a day when I won't need to do that.

And I don't know what I'm supposed to do then. I have things I like to do ... I like to knit. I like to blog. I like to read. I like to watch tv. (Oh well, I suppose there really isn't a career in watching tv, but that would be nice). I like a lot of things. I really, really like a few things.

I just don't know where to go from here. What my next move should be. I'm still floundering around in the whole getting back to "normal" post cancer. I feel like I was sick and down for so long (and, still not up to 100%). But I'm getting there. And when I think about what's next ... I have NO idea. Not a single one.

I suppose I don't actually need to know what comes next. I should just focus on getting through the now. But sometimes, I feel like I don't know what I should be doing now because I don't know where I want to end up. And so I feel lost. To add to it, I often feel I must be the only person who doesn't know what's next or what my purpose for being on this Earth is.

I hope I find it soon. I'm trying to figure it out. For now, I am going to work on getting my feet firmly planted in today. And start to dream about tomorrow.

What about you? Do you struggle with this? Or do you know where you're headed?

ps - the picture has nothing to do with anything, but I took it a few months ago and just decided to share it. ;-)