It’s been a very long time since I’ve posted. Too long. Maybe that’s a good thing; I’m not sure. But I haven’t forgotten why I started this blog. I will explain a little below exactly what I mean by it maybe being a good thing that I haven’t had much to post about personally, but there still is so much to share & to learn from out there so I will try to be diligent at getting more posts up.
I’m going to make a confession on here as to how and why this all started (besides the obvious & the family friend that inspired me joining Be The Match). I only really revealed this to one friend at the time & I even emailed myself this to prove it in case it came true. About 4 years ago or so I started to become obsessed with cancer. Weird, right? Who becomes obsessed with cancer? That’s so not normal. But I couldn’t help but be drawn into stories on the news and on social media about this beautiful little girl who had cancer and that inspirational young man who had cancer and the tragic story of some other strong & independent, single mother who may not be there to take care of her children. It seemed that everywhere I looked I saw cancer. I don’t mean that I’d see someone in a crowd with their pale skin & scarf on their head & bare eyebrows & “saw cancer.” I can honestly say I have never, ever, ever looked at someone fighting it and saw cancer. I see people; not cancer. But what I mean, is that everywhere I turned I’d be drawn into another story. I couldn’t stop myself from reading it or from watching the video. It was right around the time of My Sister’s Keeper coming out too. That one I couldn’t watch right away though. Took me months to actually sit down & watch it. So I read every story, every article, watched every video & learned as much as I could. But with each story I read & each video I watched & everything I learned about cancer as a whole, I couldn’t help but feel that this unhealthy obsession had meaning behind it. I felt that cancer was coming. I wasn’t sure if it would be me or someone around me but it was looming and always there. I began taking everything in for the purpose of knowledge that I may need sooner than later in my own life. I didn’t vocalize this because I figured everyone would think I was nuts. One friend whom I told encouraged me to think the opposite to not attract any negativity into my life. It wasn’t a negative thought process; it was one of trying to learn as much as I could because I felt I had to.
Around the same time is when I learned of a family friend, more like an extension of family really, who had leukemia as a child who was now in his young 30s with a wife & a son & a beautiful baby daughter on the way who had a recurrence as an adult. This drew me in to trying to figure out how I could help. How could I do something? What could I do? This is what led me to join Be The Match to become a bone marrow donor. If I could do nothing else monetarily or in the form of curing cancer, which I’m no doctor or researcher, I could at least to this.
I won’t rehash the story… as you can read it all in the rest of the blog… but that was not the end of my cancer obsession. I joined the registry and actually was a match to a patient within a year. This is SO RARE to match someone ever but right after signing up it just felt like this was meant to be. I even got so involved with this process & starting this blog that I ended up as a social media volunteer for Be The Match and was even flown out to Chicago to do a video interview for the packets & videos that current donors receive to educate themselves on the process they are about to take part in.
I asked my mother if she could come & she turned me down. I wasn’t sure why she wouldn’t want in on a free hotel & quick overnight in Chicago so I went alone. No worries though I entertained myself & it was an enjoyable trip. I remember calling her after the interview & saying it’s so hard to answer why I did it because I just felt like I had to. I couldn’t put that into words. After all, cancer hadn’t touched our lives really I told her. [Yes, my grandmother had cancer in the end, but that’s not what took my grandma & at that age the % chance is very high for some form of cancer. Yes, my uncle had cancer, but again that’s not what took him either. And in both these cases I didn’t see the cancer or the struggle so it didn’t touch me. The extended family that inspired me is my cousins’ cousin on the other side of their family. Andy & I had been at so many family parties together in our youth, but I hadn’t seen him in years & years & didn’t see or experience his struggle first hand. His story did pain me as I saw it through the cousins’ eyes & it devastated me to think about losing a cousin. So many parts of Andy’s story hit close to home but it still hadn’t reached out & touched my everyday life at that point.] My poor mother sat on the other end of the phone just agreeing with an “uh huh” when I said, “Do you know what I mean?” I don’t know what was going through her mind at that point because either the day before or that actual day she was finding out her biopsy results that she in fact had breast cancer. I returned home from that Chicago trip & stopped by their house with some of Chicago’s famous Garrett’s Popcorn for them & I’ll never forget that feeling when my mom sat me down at the dining room table. She said she had to tell me something & before she could get it out of her mouth, in my mind I knew she was about to tell me she has cancer. I just felt it. Everything I had done up to that day made sense to me. In a split second I knew. Sure enough she told me right then & there she had breast cancer. My heart sank, my stomach turned but in my brain it was like a light bulb went off. THIS is what I’ve been preparing for. THAT is why I needed all the knowledge I had attained over the last year. This was the cancer I felt coming.
Mom is okay now. A double mastectomy later & some hormone blockers for a few more years but she’s cancer free. But the reason I say that fewer posts from me is a good thing is because my “obsession” with cancer has diminished. I still read all the stories & watch all the videos because they are inspiring & heartwarming & heartbreaking at times too. I see the beautiful faces of the beautiful people who continue to touch my life through this obsession but I don’t see cancer like I did before. So, if my posts have gone down that is why. Sadly though, even though cancer has exited my immediate life, it still remains in this world & touches so many other lives & our efforts & awareness need to continue. I don’t need to learn so much any more but I still need to share what I have learned with others. So more posts again it is! I just wanted to explain myself before moving forward. Thanks! (end rant)