Last night as I sat down to see what was new with my Facebook friends I whooped it up when I saw my friend, Shelley, hit her five year no cancer goal. I’ve known Shelley for what feels like forever. She’s the little sister of my junior high, high school, matron of honor, etc.
partner in crime friend, Cathy. Two memories of Shelley from back in the day: 1. She could recite pretty much all of 16 Candles; and 2. She could do the entire “Thriller” dance.
I know exactly how she felt yesterday. You get breast cancer, you have surgery and go through treatment, you slowly get better and each time you have an oncology appointment you come away happy to know you’re not showing any evidence of disease. And then you hit that five year mark and your chances of recurrence or metastasis dramatically drop. You can see many more wedding anniversaries and children’s milestones far into your future. And, even though you hadn’t really been worried about it, you’re relieved and excited and happy and feel like celebrating. I’m pretty sure champagne was involved on the West Coast last night.
My heart soared.
As I continued to peruse the statuses I came upon one from a Mothers with Cancer associate. That’s when I found out another one of our writers, Judy, had been admitted to hospice. Judy was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer in December of 2007 and determined in remission the following year. Nearly two years later, November of 2010, she was found to have a recurrence and she fought it with everything in her. And there was a lot in her! A lot of faith, a lot of courage, a lot of strength and she wrote about her experience with so much raw vulnerability and authenticity that you couldn’t help but know, admire and love her. She also wrote about the fear and the pain and the sadness and her desire to be a mom to her young son and a wife to her loving husband.
My soaring heart plummeted.
This morning I found out that she passed away last night. I never met this woman in person and yet I feel such a strong connection to the women of Mothers with Cancer. Every time we lose one it’s like losing a part of myself and I daresay it’s the same with the other contributors. She leaves behind a devoted husband and a 10-year-old son – probably the biggest fear of a Mother with Cancer.
My heart now feels deflated.
The Citizen also posted a short video to their web site:
(update: I couldn’t figure out how to embed the video on WordPress but you can watch it on my blog, Not Just About Cancer.)
Thanks so much to all the team members (including those who who were not able to attend the walk/run) and to everyone who donated. Special thanks to Andrea (who is the real woman wearing the pinnie in the Citizen photos) for holding my hand through the surreal filming of the video and to our honorary team members, Tim (picked up the team kits and t-shirts) Ian (took photos and custody of our stuff while we walked and Lee (stepped up with kid distraction when it was very much needed).
May we all be healthy and able to do it next year. And may there soon come a time when the Run for the Cure is a thing of the past.
In memory of Sarah and Rebecca.”
My friend Rebecca died this week. She was all of 37 years old (if I’ve done the math right) and she had metastatic breast cancer. She was also one of the funniest people in my online community. She was also generous, straigtforward and honest. My heart goes out to her friends and family – the people she loved, wrote about and who knew her best.
Rebecca left strict instructions that we were to shed no tears after her passing (I’m afraid I’ve let her down on that front but I’ve been doing my best) and that, instead of a funeral she wanted a celebration of her life. I’d love to join the party and to hear the stories that those closest to her would be bound to share. Because Rebecca took her fun seriously.
I won’t be able to attend the celebration (Rebecca lived in Cape Cod) but I would like to do something. And I need your help.
1. In the next week or so, please go out and do something fun. Do anything at all, as long as it makes you happy. If you need inspiration, Rebecca loved dogs (especially her pit bull, Diezel), cooking, eating out (her restaurant reviews were among my favourite blog posts), her scooter, her little car, road trips, NASCAR, kick boxing, books, funny movies and music. If none of these things appeal to you, please go out and do your own thing. If you like, bring someone with you to join in the fun.
2. Let me know. You can leave me a comment on this blog, at Not Just About Cancer or send me an email (laurie dot kingston at gmail dot com) or message me on Twitter (I’m @lauriek). Just a few words to let me know what fun thing you did in Rebecca’s memory. I’ll compile a list and make sure that it gets to her family.
That’s it. It already makes me feel happier, thinking that there will be a little more joy in the world this week. I think Rebecca would approve.
Instead of once again writing about the Little Pink Houses of Hope beach retreat week — since I already did that at This Post Was Brought to You By the Letter R — I’m going to give you a look into the week via my FaceBook posts. I won’t have the photos posted here, but you can get an idea of our days at Kure Beach by reading the posts.
The only thing I would say is that prior to the week, my only concern was that I had it so hyped up in my mind that there was no way it could have reached my expectations. My concern was needless; it not only reached, but it exceeded, my expectations. What a special week. I miss it, I miss all my LPHOH buddies from that week. A LOT.
May 15, 4:22 p.m.:
Live stronger. Laugh harder. Love deeper.
Little Pink Houses of Hope motto
May 16, 5:02 a.m.:
Yes, I’m up, way too early. I think I’m just utterly psyched for this week. I’ll try to go back to sleep, but not before I say: I could get used to this. 🙂
May 16, 8:53 a.m.:
I am changing, less and less asleep. Made of different stuff than when I began. ~ Brooke Fraser, “Shadowfeet”
May 16, 11:15 a.m.:
Two words: egg toss. 🙂
May 16, 8:33 p.m.:
Jeanine Patten-Coble and her husband Terry Coble rock. I’m just sayin’. ♥
May 16, 9:13 p.m.
Tonight I will dream of eggs that have names, children (and adults) running and playing, CatchPhrase (?), balconies, amazing volunteers, Melissa’s cool prayers, and beautiful, strong women and their loving, supportive men. It’s been a good day y’all, and we continue to be blessed. God’s grace is abundant here at Kure Beach, NC.
May 17, 7:38 a.m.
Kate’s Pancake House in Carolina Beach is AWESOME! They donated breakfasts for all of the families, YAY!
May 17, 8:03 a.m.
Energy Boy: Mama Mia? Me: Yes, EB? EB: I’m so thankful. Me: For what? EB: For everything. Me: Oh, that’s so nice, EB. *heart melts and bursts with pride*
May 17, 5:49 p.m.
Judy is right now enjoying a boat cruise with the group. Taking pictures now on my camera; those will be uploaded and posted when I get home. Still having a wonderful time, making great new friends, and loving life. 🙂
May 17, 8:55 p.m.
I am tired (but a good tired). I am grateful. I am nourished, body and soul. I am relaxed. I am loved. I am blessed.
May 18, 1:49 p.m.
Energy Boy is a natural at stand-up paddle-boarding. Me? Not so much (to put it mildly). But, I TRIED, and that’s the important thing.
May 18, 8:32 p.m.
I love the brightly colored houses here. EB says it’s like “being in a crayon box.” My favorite is lime green, EB’s is orange, and Absent Minded Professor doesn’t have a favorite.
May 18, 8:36 p.m.
Tonight was Date Night. All the couples got a free dinner at a wonderful seafood restaurant in Carolina Beach (big shout-out to Michael’s Seafood Restaurant) and the amazing volunteers watched the kids. Big Fun.
May 19, 3:08 a.m.
Restless. Steroids? The excitement of the week? My *ouch* dagnab shoulder that I hurt yesterday? Dunno, but will try to get back to sleep after I step outside onto the (unlocked) balcony and look at the sky. There is always time for that here.
May 19, 7:32 a.m.
Today we’re going to Fort Fisher State Park. A professional photographer will be there to take pictures of each family/couple, then we’ll have fun on the beach and then we’ll have a picnic there. More later. 🙂 [big shout-out here to Sara-Anne Photography. Absolutely beautiful photos, kick-butt photographer. Love her!]
May 19, 3:52 p.m.
Energy Boy went jetskiing today with Tim, Bobby, and Rayne. Thanks so much for taking him and taking such good care of him!
May 19, 9:08 p.m.
Another awesome day comes to an end. Tomorrow is the last day of the retreat then we head home on Sat. Boo — can’t I take all my new friends home with me? :). On the bright side, I’ll never forget this week and the kindness of so many people. Also, I will carry each retreat participant and volunteer in my heart forever. Love you all. ♥
May 20, 7:51 a.m.
Back at Kate’s Pancake House before the activities with the group. YUMMY!
May 20, 8:01 a.m.
Yesterday morning Energy Boy made up a song: “I’m a happy little kid . . . because I have a happy little life.” My heart melted. 🙂 & ♥
May 20, 4:03 p.m.
My new hat says, “Not all who wander are lost.” Phew!, that’s a good thing for me. 😉
May 20, 4:29 p.m.
This afternoon, Absent Minded Professor, Energy Boy and I went to the aquarium. Wonderful. Tonight we’ll have a grill-out with retreat friends (that’s participants and volunteers) and some kind of special send-off for those of us who are participants. *sigh* I’ll be sad to leave. It’s been SUCH a fantastic week.
May 20, 9:16 p.m.
God’s hand has been in this Little Pink Houses of Hope beach retreat week from start to finish. What a great week, what amazing friends we’ve made. We said our good-byes, but it’s not good-bye forever. It can’t be with people who have touched your heart and soul in an indescribable way. My heart is full-to-bursting; I thank the good Lord for this week and these wonderful people. ♥ ♥
May 21, 6:31 a.m.
Sad to leave such amazing peeps, but still happy. Happy to have been here for this incredible week, happy to have spent quality time with my family, happy to have meet such amazing, wonderful, life-long friends. Happy to have such beautiful memories and happy to be a part of the Little Pink family. Happy . . . and blessed beyond measure. Thank you, Little Pink.
May 21, 9:46 a.m.
Every day holds the possibility of miracles. ~ church sign
May 21, 10:08 a.m.
Ahh, my stoic Norwegian side was out last night. Now I’m wistful and sad, yet so very uplifted by the week — if that makes any sense at all. *sigh* I miss all the LPHOH Kure Beach folks oodles and oodles.
May 21, 8:31 p.m.
1. Home again, home again. 2. My church small group is AWESOME! We came home to new flowers in the flower beds, small ditches that AMP’s car had made filled in and covered with gravel, EB’s room cleaned, the living room cleaned . . . and I know I’m forgetting things. 3. And someone — don’t know yet who — has fixed our falling-apart bathtub. That could be my brother-in-law since he was talking about how he could do it if we were gone long enough. I’ll find out soon enough. 4. This is all amazing after an amazing trip. I feel extremely loved.
May 22, 9:18 a.m.
And we discovered that EB’s bed is new. His old one is outside waiting to be put in trash or whatever. I am . . . . OVERWHELMED. As Frank says, the blessings keep coming. Wow, just wow.
May 22, 3:40 p.m.
1. I was so overwhelmed with emotion (in a good way) from this past week at Kure Beach and from what people did for us when we were gone that I got all verklempt during communion at church and tears were streaming down my cheeks. Good tears, tears of gratitude. Life is good, God is great. 2. I had something else, but it’s gone. Heh. Such is the life of a woman with Chemo Brain.
May 22, 6:08 p.m.
Judy needs to blog . . . . but is still processing . . . . .
May 24, 9:03 a.m.
I’m starting to blog about my week with Little Pink Houses of Hope. Words can never fully describe such an amazing week, but I’ll try to at least come close. 🙂
That brings you a day-by-day (and usually more often) account of our trip. I still can’t completely describe how wonderful it was . . . but that gives you an idea. Lurved it, just LURVED it.
Cross-posted to Just Enjoy Him.
slightly abridged version of post on my personal blog by Jenny (jaydub26)
This was actually supposed to be the first of two companion pieces ‘Feeling the fear’ is the other one. I had started to write this when I got the news from twitter about Sarah. I no longer was in the right frame of mind to continue writing this post and wrote and posted ‘Feeling the fear’ instead.
As you know I’ve been feeling a little sentimental and weepy lately.
I feel loved.
Even when fear and darker thoughts crowd my mind, that is what pulls me through it. I am loved by my family, OH supports me in everything I do, and my girls show they love me every single day. Often it is not spoken but on Mother’s Day when MD put as her FB status ‘ I love you, Mum xox’ it made me feel really good. Not all 23 yr olds have that relationship with their mother (and/or are willing to admit it to ‘the world’ on FB) Likewise OD writes about me on her blog and I can feel the love there as well. Even YD ends every phone call with ‘Love you’.
Through this journey with “Gertrude”, I have felt loved by my wider circle of family and friends and I think deeper and more meaningful relationships/friendships have developed because of it.
“And I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter,
“And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying.”
Are some of the lyrics from the Tim McGraw song I mentioned in ‘Feeling the fear’ and I think they have been true for me.
I even feel loved and supported by my University classmates. While I have made some very close friends there as well there is also an underlying general message of support from all my classmates. One of them randomly proclaims ” I love you, Jenny” and others show their support and caring in lots of other ways. They are empathetic enough to know that we don’t talk about ‘Gertrude’ at Uni unless I bring it up, but show they care all the same without being overly sympathetic as I pointed out in this post.
I have a few older school or church youth group friends from my teenage years like ‘the MRD’, R and K who let me know they are thinking of me and holding me close to their hearts. (And this is 30 years since we were in high school)
I know everyday people love me, which for half my life I believed that not that many people would, if I let them see the real me. Blogging has allowed me to show who I really am and I now know I am loved for being exactly who I am, warts and all.
Love and support has also come in the shape of the internet, other IBCers and other Breast Cancer survivors that I am friends with through the IBC mailing list, our IBC facebook group, other Breast Cancer bloggers, Facebook and twitter users. Through all these avenues we become real friends as close as any real life support group as we share such intense shared experiences.
As Shelli of “The Dirty Pink Underbelly” blog wrote as a comment on ‘Feeling the Fear’ on “Get Out Gertrude” “:-“I wonder if it brings me permanently down, further and further down, as my search for support has turned to seeing friends die. ” We run the risk, especially amongst those of us that are metastatic, of seeing these friends die.
But as Judy of “Just Enjoy Him” commented, when I crossposted the same post to “Mothers with Cancer” , about the loss of Sarah to our community:- “I am so very sad about Sarah’s death. Just so so sad. But I’m glad she was in my (online) life for the time that she was”.
I totally agree with Judy. I would rather have these women in my life for a short time than not at all. Having IBC and/or metastatic cancer can be a lonely experience, even if you are surrounded by friends and family that love you, because of the enormity of your situation, and that these other women understand.