Friday, October 28, 2011

The Road that Lead to Healing

I started out detailing my journey to the 3-Day for you all, but I scratched it and decided to tell you about how the 3-Day changed my life.

I know some of you are thinking, 'Really, how can your life change in 3 days?'


In 3 days, you can go from finding a lump to hearing the words YOU HAVE CANCER! 

As most, if not all of you know, I was chosen to be one of 8 survivors to carry a flag into Survivor's Circle during both opening and closing ceremonies.

I didn't realize how profoundly that task would affect me.

I got to opening ceremonies and went to the wall that everyone signs with either a 'remembrance' or an 'in honor of' or just a 'good luck' tag.

Mine simply said, 'Love & Miss you Aunt Steph'.

It was the beginning of my journey into the 3-Day just like saying 'Goodbye' to her last year was the beginning of my year-long journey into treatment.

As I carried my flag on stage, held hands with fellow survivors and looked out into a crowd of my peers, I was overcome with raw emotions that left me in a state of reflection of the life I knew before cancer was a part of it.

I was in awe of the 2400 other walkers who came to this event with the attitude that 'a cancer patient can't quit treatment just because it hurts and I won't quit walking just because it hurts'.  The general population needs to take a few lessons on life from these selfless people.

Each painful step was a reflection of the physical pain I endured last year during the trunk procedure, the mastectomy, the fills, exchange procedure, physical therapy, and radiation. 

I learned a valuable lesson in that no matter how intense the pain gets, when you pass a cheering section (your support system)...the pain somehow, magically disappears for a little while.  You get a reality check in that you are never alone; there is always someone there who understands and will cheer you on when life gets tough.

We touched each arrow we passed along the route as a symbol to say, 'We're one step closer to a world without breast cancer.'

As I walked into Turner Field with my team...I can honestly say, I had the most magnificent, truly kind-hearted, and loving group of friends by my side that anyone could ever hope for.

Allie and I somehow limped into closing ceremonies holding each other up, and the minute the walkers took off their shoes to salute the survivors....the pain vanished. 

We carried our flags into Survivors Circle one last time, and as the Victory Flag 'A World Without Breast Cancer' was raised, we looked at each other through tears and Allie shook her head to say, 'We Did It!'

And in that moment, I felt a sense of peace like I haven't felt in the entire past year of my life.  I knew I was exactly where God had intended me to be!

You can view the rest of my photo album here:

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sunday Letters

Dear Big A,

I've been emotional this week while thinking about writing this post. Almost four years ago you asked me a difficult question. It was just a simple question to you but it was one that made me question where I stood as your step-mom, and the lengths I'd go through for you to make sure you ALWAYS know you are loved the same as your sisters. When I married your daddy I didn't just promise to love him forever.... I promised to love and honor my commitment as a parent figure in your life too. I hope you always know that your opinion of my involvement in your life, and your expectations of me matter more to me than anyone else's. If you ask me to be a part of your school day because that's something I do for your sisters, I will be. I was very lucky to have Grandma Richardson to show me that step-parents can love unconditionally. My hope is that if you ever become a step-parent that you love those kids with everything you've got and always, ALWAYS treat them like the gifts they are. I love you sweet boy and I thank God every day that he brought you into my life five years ago.

Dear Kinsey,

You've had to grow up much faster than you should have because of me being sick last year, and I'm so incredibly proud of you for how beautifully you've handled it all. You're such a big help to me. And your teachers keep telling me how big of a help you are to them. In fact, I got a phone call from your teacher last week and he told me he wishes all of his students were just like you! I couldn't be more proud! I love you so much.

Dear Ava,

I love all the time I've gotten to spend with you at school this year. It brings me such joy to see you excelling and bringing home so many Whiskers awards for your exceptional behavior. Your laugh lights up my world. It's so infectious. I hope you never lose your ability to see this life through such pure lenses. I love you sweet cheeks!

Dear Breanna,

It's been a long week for the two of us. I hate when any of my babies are sick but it's especially hard on me when it's you. You've been through so much in your short life. You're one of the bravest people I've ever known, and yet I know you don't understand that because it just comes naturally to you. It's the only way of life that you have ever known. You give me strength that I didn't know I had until I had you. I'm so glad you're finally feeling better. I love you baby girl! Love, Mommy