The Power of a Friend

If you’re anything like me, you’ve had friends come and go. For whatever reason you can feel extraordinarily close to people at periods of your life, and at other times they feel like strangers. Throughout it all, we maintain a caring for the people we have called “friends” whether we feel a closeness in the immediate term or not.

I’ve never really had trouble making friends. I’m outgoing. I like to get involved in things. I’m confident and, I’ve been told, easy to talk to. Yet, there have been periods of time in my life when I feel rather alone. It could be because I’m fiercely independent, or, more simply, it could just be the normal tide of life. Either way, feeling alone never feels good. We need other people. To remind us all of the good in us and, sometimes, the parts of us that could use a little refining.

I’ve always appreciated my friends who are most candid…who will say anything and tell you like it is. I tend to me analytical and my friends who can tell me “you need to get out of your head” are friends that have weathered those tides of life and who have ended up in my inner circle (whether they want to be there or not). There have been many phases of my life that have been challenging for me, and therefore challenging times to be my friend.

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Today is THE day

Today is the day my life changed forever. On this day, I was forced to start thinking of my life in two parts: My life before breast cancer, and my life after breast cancer.

Today is the day that I lost faith in my body and became prematurely and acutely aware of my mortality. Today is the day I wondered if I’d ever get married, start a family, or live to be 45. Today is the day I received THAT phone call and sat alone knowing that the conversations that would follow with my family and friends would change my life, and theirs, forever.

In the years closer to my diagnosis I approached this day with fear and anxiety. Each year I would strive to reach this date so that I would be reminded that I made it one more year. I would cautiously regain faith in my body knowing that trust could be taken away again any day.

As I’ve gotten further from my diagnosis, I approach this day less with fear and more with a feeling of peace and gratitude. I find myself reflecting and appreciating where my life has taken me since that day.  And little by little, I realize that fear has become only a whisper in the back of my mind.

Yes, today is THE day. The anniversary of what felt like the worst day of my life. But that was 12 years ago. And with everything I felt like I lost on that day, today I realize there’s so much more that I’ve gained.

I lost my innocence, but I gained perspective. I lost faith in my body, but learned what it feels like to trust myself. I lost the naive notion of thinking I could control things, but found freedom in learning how to allow life to unfold at its own pace. I lost my drive to work countless hours at a job I only mildly liked, but was given the gift of passion and the joy of knowing what it feels like to live life with a purpose.

Yes, today is THE day. And today I realize that perhaps 12 years ago was, in fact, the best day of my life.

High 5 to that!

Five years ago today I gave birth to little Eli James. He arrived during a major ice storm here in Pennsylvania, so the drive to the hospital while in labor felt like an eternity, and actually it really was.  But at around 3:50pm he arrived, after a fairly short labor and no complications. You see, Eli was that little baby I wasn't sure I’d ever have. After receiving my breast cancer diagnosis at age 33 thoughts about my future and all of my dreams were put on hold. 

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Seriously, I'm gonna throw a sippy cup!

Yesterday, while getting my 3 and 4 year old ready for day care, I stopped to listen to a segment on Good Morning America about updates to breast cancer screening guidelines released by the US Preventative Task Force (USPTF). First, I’d like to thank Steve Jobs for making that moment even possible because both of my boys were happily playing on their iPads which allowed me to actually attend to this segment vs. run interference on an impending spilled sippy cup or being subjected to whiny Caillou. For for that Steve…I’m eternally grateful.

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