What 31 Looks Like

I am going to warn you now I have a serious case of verbal diarrhea. There is going to be little to no structure with this post…

Those of you who know me well, are aware I had a bit of an “issue” with the idea of turning 30 last year. (Those of you over 40, stop rolling your eyes.) I don’t know what it was about it, I just kept repeating it in my head over and over again…I’m going to be 30…So this went on for months and then I decided: Screw it! I am going to throw a party. So that’s what I did.  I rented a hall, invited all my friends and made it a “Roaring Twenties” theme. Clever or dumb? I thought it was clever. For the most part everyone dressed up and had a great time. I turned 30 May 20 of last year and literally the next day I thought: Meh. So what. I was over it just like that.

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So with all of that said, 31 was also: Meh. Okay, I’m 31.

So what does 31 look like? I find myself reflecting on where I am versus where I thought I would be at 31. Here is what I would have pictured 10 years ago: Married, 3 kids, Accountant (or Interior Designer, which is just a pipe dream it seems, but it’s actually a passion…), making decent money, owning a nice piece of property where my kids can run around…etc. You get the idea.

I have watched my parents go through a divorce, watch my Mom battle MS AND fight off cancer – this is real life. Life is precious, our time here is short and can be snatched away in the blink of an eye. I lost a friend a week ago. She passed away from Cystic Fibrosis at the age of 31. She was given 3-5 years to live about a year-and-a-half ago and never made it that far. She cherished every moment and lived life to the fullest, or tried to at least. How would you live your life if you were given a an approximate estimation of when you would die? Would you live it the same or differently? Quit your job? Spend all of your money? Travel? She did none of these things. She just…lived. I really don’t know what I would do.

I am not going to predict where I will be 10 years down the road because I really have no idea. Life is a mystery and ultimately we write our own story but the universe plays a huge part in that, I believe. You never know what will come knocking at your door. Strength is my motto these days. Live one day at a time. The past is the past and your future is dependent on what you choose your now to be.

That’s all for now guys.

H.

 

Hope

I have backspaced the first sentence of this post at least ten times. Struggling to find the perfect  right way to begin…

My Mom was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer about a year ago. Those of you who have been following me along, know that she also battles Multiple Sclerosis. I will never forget when she called me to tell me the news, that they had found a lump, and it was cancer. My first reaction: “Are you f****** kidding me?!” As if she hadn’t been through enough… What stage? How bad is this? Is it curable? Will you need a mastectomy? Will  you need chemotherapy? What is the prognosis? All questions we didn’t have answers to.

I remember going to her first appointment to meet with the surgeon and watching my Mom process the information. Trying to hold myself together to be strong for her, but falling apart as I watched her fall apart. Helpless. That’s how I felt.

Everything moved fairly quickly, and she was scheduled for a lumpectomy in June. Ultimately it was her decision as to whether she wanted a lumpectomy or a mastectomy, and the surgeon was confident that her prognosis would be the same if she chose to have the lumpectomy.

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She was such a trooper and my sisters and I were so proud of her.

Soon after, we received the results from the lumpectomy and the news wasn’t what we were hoping for. They had found a second lump during the surgery and the samples taken from nearby lymph nodes revealed the cancer had spread. This meant she would require both chemotherapy and radiation. This was sort of a worst case scenario in a sense. The doctors ,including the oncologist didn’t know how chemotherapy would affect her MS or how her MS would impact the chemotherapy. The oncologist actually said she had never come across a patient requiring chemotherapy who also had active MS. My reaction to this, yet again, “Are you f****** kidding me?!” So we just wing it, cross our fingers and hope for the best? This is what I wanted to shout at the oncologist as she told my Mom this, but I bit my tongue and listened to what she DID know.

My Mom started chemotherapy in September. Over the course of six months, she would receive two different types of chemotherapy. The first: AC (doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide), would be once every three weeks and the second: Paclitaxel, once a week. She lost her hair almost immediately. I think that was harder than she thought it would be. She told me she wanted to shave it, she didn’t want to see it fall out in clumps anymore. That night I went and bought a buzzer and went and shaved her head myself. To this day I am glad I did this for her.

The chemo was hard on her. She was quite ill, extremely exhausted, and her immune system was severely compromised. She didn’t leave the house for six months, unless it was to go to the hospital. Even something as simple as me bringing the kids by for a visit was limited, as the winter months brought many illnesses our way. Even the common cold could pose a real danger to her.

After six long months, she finally rang the bell at the cancer centre, signifying she had received her last chemotherapy treatment. I will never forget that sound…

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She started her radiation almost immediately and we knew she was in the home stretch. All scans came back clear indicating the cancer was gone and she was in remission. We all breathed a HUGE sigh of relief.

Last Friday, my Mom completed her last session of radiation (the treatment lasted 6 weeks, 5 days a week). I cannot begin to imagine the relief she felt walking out of the hospital that day. A fight that lasted almost a year, and a fight that will last a lifetime.

A hero is defined as “a person admired for courage”. My Mom is my hero. There is no stronger person than her, and I have never been more proud of her, than I am today.

To all of those out there fighting the battle, stay strong and never give up hope, you’re not alone.

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H. xo