3 Year Mark!! (and some revised lessons)

Well what an emotional roller coaster this month has already been!!! For the past two years, this time of year always brings back vivid memories of 2009. All these dates are so ingrained in my head and I wish they would just escape my memory like so many other memories have. My friends and family all know that I have THE WORST memory. But some things, I will never forget. But this blog post is not all about breast cancer. In fact, my New Years resolution was to put breast cancer behind me and I am trying my hardest to do so.

Friday Feb 13th, 2009 – A long-awaited positive pregnant test, after YEARS of trying!!!! I had just landed from a two-week business trip from Brussels. I took a pregnancy test when I got home. The same kind I had taken hundreds of times over the past 3-4 years prior. A PLUS sign!!!! Dan was outside running. I was inside by the dining room window, peeking through the blinds, waiting for him to run up the driveway so I could tell him the great news. I was shaking. We shared the news immediately with our families, friends, co-workers. I wasn’t as much into facebook back then but I’m sure I would’ve posted a status update if I was. Most people wait until they’re through the first trimester. All I needed was the faintest + sign to announce it to the world. I don’t hold back very much.

The pregnancy didn’t last long though – only a couple of weeks. Not even long enough for them to induce any kind of procedure or pill. The doctor just checked my hormone levels, thought they seemed low and told me to come back in a few days. They tested them again a couple days later, nonchalantly called to say they dropped even more and I could cancel my ultrasound appt. That was their way of telling me I miscarried. They tried to console me by telling me how common it was for first pregnancies. I guess they forgot about the piles of medical records in my file, showing how long we had attempted and everything we went through to get to that point.

Skip past that emotional time to March 10, the Dr. Oz show, then March 17, my mammogram and ultrasound (not the kind to look for a baby). 12 biopsies occurred that day. Verbal diagnosis right on the spot. Pathology results confirmed on March 24 (my official “survivor” day as they call it). March 25, I turned 31. April 1, I started chemo. April 15, lost my hair. June 20, Nina’s wedding – walked down the aisle in front of 300 people in a WIG!! At least I had sympathy-forgiveness for getting so drunk at the wedding (I needed the confidence boost to able to stand in front of all those people and share my toast – in a wig – did I mention I was wearing a wig?!). July 15, my sixth and last chemo. August, surgery and the start of our adoption home study. October, 33 radiation treatments. November, just days after my last radiation (if I recall, it’s all getting fuzzy at this point) – we get the call about Aidan! November 21, we meet the Little Scrumptious for the first time. Come full circle, to Aidan’s official/legal adoption day – March 24. So March 24 marks my diagnosis (aka survivor day), and the day Aidan was legally our son (after passing all our social services visits). Talk about coming full circle!

I immediately realized all the infertility treatments, all the cancer crap, and so many other events brought us to becoming Aidan’s parents. I lectured all the lessons about finding the bright side in things, living and enjoying life, everything happens for a reason, not to dwell on things, blah blah blah. I’ve heard the same thing from so many cancer survivors. But I sit here today, reminded again about those lessons but I have a slightly different outlook now. We almost lost our dog Shelby this week. We have 5 animals, a 2 year old, and 2 full-time jobs now. We often complain about the animals and stress of the hectic daily routine. When I had cancer, I looked at everyone else and thought their worries nowhere near compared. I thought you’re having a bad hair day? Try being bald. I thought, you’re complaining of a cold or being tired? Try feeling like you’ve had every sickness in your entire life accumulated into one week and being sick with it all at the same time. I thought, you’re 80 and dying? Be thankful you’re not 30! I compared my suffering to others and thought everything else was trivial in comparison. But I take that all back now. I do get annoyed in traffic. I don’t like having bad hair days. I think it’s just as scary and sad to lose someone who has lived all their years compared to just 30. You’re allowed to be annoyed. You’re allowed to be sad. You’re allowed to pout. You don’t have to be happy all the time. That’s life. Life isn’t about always being happy and living every moment to the fullest and finding the bright side in everything. Some things just don’t have bright sides – or it just takes some time to find them and you have to go through the rough times to see them. I’ve changed my outlook to acknowledge that living life to its fullest means living each moment for what it is. Good or bad. Happy or sad.

Shelby went into liver failure this past week and I immediately thought back to an earlier prayer where I asked God to alleviate some of the stress imposed by our pets. After about $2,500 of tests and hospital vet bills, we were told a $3,000 exploratory surgery was our only option to find the cause for what was making our poor little Shelby so sick – but the procedure was costly and wasn’t a guarantee. They said they may come to a point in the surgery where they’d call and advise not waking her up. They said it could go the other way and find something fixable and she comes home. But we just didn’t know. I cried all week (mostly when alone or driving – but also in front of a couple of co-workers – I’m not normally a public crier). We didn’t think twice and opted for the surgery. I needed to know we did everything we could. I couldn’t lose Shelby. When I went to visit her the night before her surgery, I gave her a hug, shed some tears, whispered in her ear that I loved her, and prayed to God for her recovery. He answered my earlier prayers – I just didn’t see His answer until now. She came out of surgery and is doing great, We brought her home on Sunday and she is sitting at my feet as I write this post. I know God healed her. His advice or the lesson I took from this – I need to enjoy the good, and the bad. That is life. For every lick and moment of cuddle time, there will be a poop pile or bark complaint from a neighbor. For every gracious welcome at the door or cute picture that makes me smile, there will be a throw up pile or ruined corner of a new Pottery Barn pillow. That’s life. Enjoy it. Live it. All of it. It’s a cheesy analogy, I know, but that is my current outlook on life, which seems to change every year now. Maybe next year, I’ll have a new revelation. 😉 Not that you probably care, but if you’ve read this far, maybe you do.

Some other exciting news for today – we found out Nina (my sister) is having twin boys (due in August)! This was also the month Dan’s dad passed away last year. I see him in Dan every day and am thankful for that. He was a great man who truly knew how to live life.

LIFE……lots of ups………but also some downs. Try to enjoy or find the blessing in all of them. If you can’t, live through them the best you can and wait for the next blessing to come your way.

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7 Responses to “3 Year Mark!! (and some revised lessons)”

  1. Laura Renegar Says:

    I love this post. It shows how much you have changed in the past three years. You are an amazing inspiration to me and many others and it is a joy to watch your life unfold, from your battle, to your baby, to now being a full fledged Mommy – cancer free. You are lucky that you have a baby at home, a boat load of animals (stress and all) – and a loving husband. You are very blessed my friend. Very blessed.

  2. Carol Says:

    Loved your post!!

  3. Nina Hinson Says:

    This was a great post, maybe one of my favorites!!!! I love you so much, and am so proud to have you as a big sister!! 🙂

  4. Huanita Says:

    Love you Danielle!! So glad that we became neighbors and friends.

  5. Laura Renegar Says:

    Reblogged this on laurarenegar and commented:
    This is a great post from my friend Danielle….a synoposis of looking back..and the fact that life does still go on – cancer or no cancer…hard time or no hard times…and the reflection of hard times for my buddy Danielle.

  6. Wendi Ross Says:

    This is a great blog. I loved reading all your pages…I cried and I laughed.
    I wish you the best!

  7. Gourija S Menon Says:

    Thanks for the update Danielle, so happy for you. I appreciate your posts as they reflect the thoughts and feelings I have about being a survivor, your posts help me a lot.


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