it has been so long since my last blog post, and to be honest, i am a bit ashamed. i wanted to be so diligent about posting, and that just hasn’t been the case. as 2017 comes to an end, i wanted to cumulate it with some thoughts, and i am hoping the positive nature i intend comes out in my writing.
the past three hundred and sixty five days have not been the best for me and my family. in fact, they have been some of the toughest, saddest, scariest days of my life. this past year my last living grandparent – my mom’s mom – went to heaven (positive: she is with the love of her life and no longer in pain). it was harder than i thought it would be to watch my mom in so much emotional pain, and to close the grandparent chapter in my own life; it was, in a sense, the end of an era.
on mother’s day, i lifted something wrong and experienced back pain unlike any pain – it was, at times, worse than i remember childbirth being. we use our backs for everything, and i was unable to do anything for myself… putting a lot of burden on my parents and husband (who was traveling 4 days a week, every week). i couldn’t lift my toddler, shower, walk, sleep, etc. i had a bulging disc pushing on my sciatic nerve causing constant spasming.. hell.
the week before thanksgiving, i had a dermatologist appointment to a have a suspicious mole looked at on my right breast.. i had been putting it off out of fear; i knew it was a bad mole – it was changing shape, it was black in some areas.. it was textbook “get that looked at.”
my doctor removed it, along with a few other moles and said that i probably wouldn’t hear back until after thanksgiving. the night before thanksgiving, mike was at the hardware store, i was making our toddler dinner, and i got a phone call… without knowing who it was, my heart sank. my dermatologist said, “i’m so sorry lauren.. you have skin cancer, melanoma to be exact.”
because of the holiday and weekend, we had to wait to get ahold of the plastic surgeon oncologist she referred me to. and let me tell you, that felt like years. i am the most impatient person on the face of the earth, but God is teaching me patience through all of this. upon talking to the amazing surgeon, we found out i needed a large section of my breast removed (to make sure all the cancer was removed) and we needed to do a lymph node biopsy to make sure the cancer had not traveled to my lymph nodes. our surgeon said he was about 80% certain that we caught the melanoma early enough, that it hadn’t spread. this doctor is an incredible man.. he was so concerned about making my 7-8 inch scar as perfect as he could; i was concerned about watching my daughter get married in twenty five years.
on surgery day, i was on edge, but more calm than i thought i’d be. i was going to be in surgery for an hour or two, and have an incision on my breast, and in my armpit – where he would be taking out a lymph node to biopsy. surgery went well, the pain was bad but manageable, and the doctor informed us he ended up taking three lymph nodes because of the closeness of two and some doctor talk i won’t bore you with. we were supposed to get the biopsy results two days later – to know if there was cancer in my lymph nodes, and there came that dang patience again! the lab was behind, and two days ended up turning into three and another phone call i wish i could remove from my memory. “i’m sorry but two of your nodes had cancer in them.. just cells, though, which makes me very hopeful.”
i am thirty years old and i have stage three cancer. but it doesn’t define me. i am remaining positive and hopeful. and being hopeful will kick this cancer’s butt.
my new years resolution coming out of 2016 was to smile at strangers more, and to thank veterans or current soldiers; to be more kind. both of my grandpas served in wwII, my father-in-law served in vietnam, and my mother-in-law was in the navy. smiling at strangers and saying “thank you” is so simple, and can change someone’s whole day. and do you know what? people smile back… they smile BIG. and veterans have stories, and soldiers genuinely appreciate it. the magnitude of my simple resolution was making me feel fulfilled and bringing tiny happiness to people i didn’t know.
throughout my not-so-fab 2017, the kindness i have received from people blew my mind.. and continues to do so. the magnitude of the kindness, love and support has hit me harder than the magnitude of being thirty with cancer… and that’s no bull. i’ve done my fair share of crying: scared, sad, or tears of pain… but i’ve cried waaaay more tears of happiness; being touched and overwhelmed by love. when i first found out about my cancer diagnosis, i was going to keep it to close friends and family. but, in life, we get through tough times as a community; friends, social media buddies, family, loved ones, people you haven’t seen in years but are praying for you or sending you hugs and healing thoughts.
i don’t know what 2018 will bring, but i do know that i am going to fight like hell for my health, i’m going to keep showing gratitude for people who risk(ed) their lives for mine, i’m going to smile at strangers, i’m going to buy random cups of coffee for someone i’ve never seen before, i’m going to love my tiny trio with all of me, i’m going to spend as much time with family and friends, i’m going to wear sunscreen, and i’m going to continue to have faith and thank GOD for each and every day.