Category Archives: Blog Entries

Colonoscopies are no pain in the @$$…especially if they save your life!

 

Today, I underwent my third colonoscopy since December of 2013 – when the first one determined it was cancer causing me to be sick, underweight and plagued by exhaustion. One year after that, I went in for a second colonoscopy (post Stage III Colon Cancer, post-treatment) which deemed me to have a clean bill of health. No cancer. No polyps. Ready to rock and roll into remission!

Today’s colonoscopy was seven months overdue. Life had become quite busy between being a Mom, moving, setting new goals and being fully present for the holidays.

Finally in February, I called the GI (gastrointestinal) specialist’s office. I hadn’t realized they needed to see me in the office, first, before the procedure could be scheduled. It would be another month before I was seen in the office. My insurance company had changed my policy but hadn’t sent out new cards yet. I did have a copy of my group number and everything I needed to schedule the appointment. Unfortunately, the office required a copy of the actual card since my current medical insurance provider now specified which hospital the procedure could be performed at. After waiting another two weeks for new insurance cards to come in, I was scheduled my colonoscopy.

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No matter how many blood draws or colonoscopies or check-ins I have, there is always a certain level of anxiety beforehand. What if the cancer-cell-indicator blood test says cancer cells are present? What if they find something during the colonoscopy? What if the doctor finds a lump or palpates an internal blockage of some kind? It’s easy to start feeling batshit crazy when pondering the “what-if’s” of oncology screenings and check-ins.

My rock-star Mama accompanied me today, as she always has for any hospital visit I’ve had during my cancer journey. She’s puts up with my anxiety-prone irritability, not knowing if I’ll be myself or stressed or numb, wonderfully well. In spite of the mood swings, she stays by my side, knowing it’s only temporary. When it’s over, I almost always go back to being her “little pumpkin.”

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While we were waiting for the nurses to wheel my hospital gurney away into the procedure room, I could hear music playing overhead in speakers on the ceiling. Colbie Caillat, Never gonna let you down was playing. A quick stream of tears ran down my cheeks. Emms.

Last year I sent that song to my soul sister, Emmylou, telling her it was our friendship one hundred percent. We have the kind of friendship where (quite literally) everywhere we go – people think we’re either sisters or romantic partners. We’re that close, that connected and always have been since the day we met.

When that song came on I felt her presence with me, even though she was probably painting an extraordinary mural somewhere or off to the gym in her current home of Mother England. I saw her there by my bed side, laughing with me and holding my hand. In that moment, I knew everything would be okay.

Immediately after that song played, Tale as old as time from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast came on. It was my favorite Disney tale as a child and still is to this day. Hearing that song brought back childhood memories of  Belle gliding across a frozen ice rink during Disney on Ice. I remembered the “magic mirror” my Mom bought for me as a souvenir. When you pushed a little button, the mirror face lit up and made the kind of noise that made me say “whooooaaaaaa!” everytime.

I thought about my daughter, Izzy. How awestruck she was after I took her to see the Broadway musical version of Beauty and the Beast at our local university. How she tells me, “Mommy, you’re just like Belle because you kind-of look like her and you like to read and you’re like a little weird.” To which I always tell her, “Mommy has worked very hard to be a little weird and since you’re my daughter, that makes you my little weirdo!”

As I wiped tears from my eyes, I thought of my son Dominic. His bright yellow and green, rainbow-loom bracelet adorned my wrist. I thought about him hand-pulling every rubber band through to make it. How superficially upset (but secretly happy) he would be to see me wearing his bracelet. Even though he’s at a sleepover and Izzy is with her amazing Aunty Kimmy, I needed to feel they were with me somehow. And I did.

Two blown intravenous lines and one moment of waking up mid-procedure later – it was time to go home. I overheard Dr. S tell my mom she found three polyps, removed them and sent them out for biopsies. Other than that, I was given a clean bill of health. Because of my colon cancer history, and Dr. S finding polyps, I’ll have to have another colonoscopy in three years rather than the five I was hoping for. But if it saves my life and removes any chance of my body developing cancer again, I’m certainly not complaining.

As soon as the polyp biopsy results come in, I’ll be certain to update everyone!

Thank you for reading, for sending prayers and love and support. It may take a village to raise a child, but it takes community to combat cancer. Sending big love to you all!

~Amber xoxo

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Book Launch Par-yay!

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This past Sunday was the first official book launch party for my new book; The Gift of Cancer: A journey of transformation through faith, family and gratitude.

During the course of my initial diagnosis, treatment and surgeries – I kept a personal journal, kept friends and family updated on Facebook and published blog posts here on WordPress. I’ve spent the last four months compiling all of those entries into a 200-page book. (now, proudly available on Amazon.com)

Writing this book was healing on so many levels. Being surrounded by friends and family while sharing some of the most intimate, vulnerable moments of my life was beyond therapeutic. I know I’m one of the “lucky” ones, I was given a second chance at life. The opportunity to be here today, alive, to write this book is a blessing in itself.

My hope is it will inspire those going through it to keep fighting. Or that reading this book will help oncologists and doctors practice more compassion with their patients, understanding we are all so very different. I believe anyone serving as support to a cancer patient or cancer family can benefit from reading this book. While every cancer is different and every person a unique individual; there are certain things we all battle when facing this disease. The Gift of Cancer offers insight into that sacred, vulnerable world.

 

In Honor of Fitness Friday…

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When you’re open to meeting new people, you never know what random conversations with strangers can lead to…

After moving to a new town, it quickly became apparent that I needed a new gym closer to home. As much as I loved the local Planet Fitness, it’s million dollar face lift and all the new equipment that came with it – commuting an hour each way daily was exhausting.

When I found “The Club;” ten minutes from home complete with a sauna, olympic size swimming pool, jacuzzi, basketball court, affordable membership with childcare, a shit ton of classes and FREE WEIGHT Olympic bars, it was such a blessing!

(If you’ve ever gone from Planet Fitness to a “real gym,” you understand and appreciate the importance of having an actual squat rack with Olympic training bars)

For seven or eight months, while training in the weight room of the new gym, I’d sneak peripheral peaks through glass windows into the adjoining basketball court – at the class training there twice a week.

The women and men who trained displayed some of the craziest feats of strength and endurance/conditioning I had ever seen. They flipped tires, ran ladder drills and made box jumps looks easy. I couldn’t help but marvel at their strength and unity.

You know that scene in the latest Wonder Woman movie where young Diana watches the other Amazons train, desperately longing to join them? Yeah, that was me every time I watched this class.

I wanted to be part of THAT.

But fear infiltrated my Warrior heart like an undetectable poison.

I’m afraid to try something new…

What if I don’t fit in?

What if I’m not strong enough or can’t keep up?

I’m afraid of joining a class on my own…

This went on for months.

Then, through what I can only describe as divine intervention, Kathy (one of the women from the strength training class) started a conversation with me in the locker room. It was something along the lines of “Hey I see you training all the time in the weight room, you should totally come to class!” That conversation was all I needed to kill my ego, face my irrational fears and finally step into the Hybrid Strength & Conditioning class I so admired.

Just a couple of Amazons getting our Strong Woman training on! Kathy (left) my inspiration for joining the class and Steph (right) one bad mamma mamma and all round rad mama! BOOYAH!!!

 

 

Nearly a year after stepping into that class; I’ve learned to flip 600 lb and 700 lb tires, nail it with box jumps, pull a pickup truck with kegs and several dope humans in the bed of that truck and lift some crazy ass shit…like this 185 pound dead lift with two jeep tires attached on an axel! (pictured above)

As Hybrid Athletes; we train together, support one another though life’s ups and downs and encourage growth in every aspect of our lives. This dynamic group of badass athletes aren’t just people in a class, they’re family. A family that would have never become part of my life, had it not been for a cancer diagnosis pushing me to join the gym…and of course for that lovely divine intervention! 😉

This journey through “dis-ease” into health and wellness has been hard, trying, and at times completely exhausting. Yet every step of the way has guided me toward living a more fulfilled life. A life centered around gratitude and compassion with a much deeper connection to the world around me.

To read more about the PHENOMENAL WOMEN of this class and how they kick ass in Strong Woman training on the weekends too…click HERE!!!

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Rest, Recover, Reflect

Standing, unilateral, landline press with a two-inch, Olympic weight bar weighing about 44 pounds (20 kilos) 3 SETS EACH SIDE: 15 lb. plate added for 7 reps, 10 lb. plate added for 10 reps, no weight added (bar only) for 10 reps

One week ago today, was my first day back at the gym after a two week hiatus spent recovering from the flu and pneumonia.
Hit the weights hard, warmed up with a little HIIT cardio on the elliptical since my lungs weren’t at full capacity. Trained triceps and shoulders with a little bit of back. Played around with the weight doing these standing, unilateral land mine presses. By leg day on Saturday, I was riding the wave of endorphins flowing within my body – welcoming the soreness that followed from killin my quads, knowing I’d given my all.

It was longest length of time I’ve spent away from the gym since beginning to train nearly four years ago. Even during chemo, I’d only take a week off between treatments.

Feels extraordinary to have that piece of myself back in place.

But…will also say my body needed LOTS of rest with the way I’ve been running myself into the ground. Between goal smashing, being a present parent, maintaining our household, both kiddos getting sick back to back and training our new pup – I’d forgotten to be a “kindness warrior” to myself. Listening to stubborn self talk like, “Keep grinding, sleep later, write more, work harder,” led to me not only falling ill but also to the realization that I was forgetting to play and seek adventure in the everyday.

I was losing myself to my own hustle.

The level of exhaustion I experienced over the course of the last few weeks has been comparable to how chemo treatments left me feeling. It also reminded me that my tendency is “all or nothing” and how easy it is for me to burn my candle at both ends.

So I’m back to training again, but this time – mindfully – with more respect for my body than ever before. When she wants to rest, we’re gonna rest and when she’s too sore to train – I’m letting my body recuperate.

My fitness journey isn’t about a number on a scale or achieving a certain body type. It’s about loving the skin I’m in, conditioning my mind to be stronger, and pushing past my own limits…no one else’s. 

Choose Love

(February 1, 2018)

Re-post from my IG page @amber.strong.journey

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Clearing clutter in my room tonight and came across photos a friend had taken of me and my kiddos for her photo journalism project. As I held each photo in my hand, I sobbed. Grateful tears streamed down my face as I felt each moment as though I were there again. The pain of needles going into my port, the joy of sharing moments with my children, the sadness of friends and family who I’ve lost to cancer since my own diagnosis, the deeply humbling sense of being grounded because of knowing what it is to face my own mortality.
Love your babes, cherish the little moments, let sunsets take your breath away and don’t ever be afraid to love too deeply or to laugh too loudly. Every day is a gift, a blessing and another shot at making the moments count. Choose love  

Failure; The Warrior’s Prelude to Success

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Show me a person who thinks that failure isn’t an option and I’ll show you a person who never grows. We are are so terrified of failing and rejection as a society, conditioned to strive for perfection. Yet if we stay within our comfort zone, stick to what we know we won’t fail at, countless opportunities are lost. Opportunities for growth, for new friendships to develop, for romantic relationships to begin. Fear of failure can cause us to miss out on an extraordinary life.

The failures I’ve experienced; heartache, rejection, emotional, physical and financial struggle – they’ve all conditioned me to work harder on myself, to FIGHT for my dreams to become a reality. Failure has forced me to be my own hero, to stand up and take MASSIVE action toward living a life of deep soul fulfillment.

In 2010, as I studied Veterinary Medicine to become a Veterinary Technician, I knew it was what my family wanted. I loved working as a Veterinary Assistant and thought the next logical step was to become a technician. Nearing the end of the program, however, I felt a great discomfort in my heart.

It wasn’t what I wanted.

My soul longed to study writing, to somehow earn a degree in the field that allowed me to use my gifts, to further cultivate an art that had been an early childhood passion of mine. In the meantime, I was having difficulty passing one of my veterinary courses. When I went to speak with an advisor, serendipitously laying there on the office table was a handout about the college’s Creative Writing degree program.

The same day, I brought the handout home and shared the pull I felt to change my major with my mom. Our conversation left me disheartened. “You’ve worked so hard for your degree already honey. I’d hate to see you have to start all over again, you’re almost done,” she told me.  She meant well, as most mothers do, but my heart was heavy with disappointment.

At the same time, I was in the early stages of pregnancy with my daughter. The smell of chemicals in the anatomy lab, not to mention morning sickness and fatigue, caused me to fall behind in the veterinary course I was already having trouble with. It was my second time attempting to pass. If my heart hadn’t been so dead set on becoming a writer, maybe I would have tried harder. I did end up passing the class with a C- but because the program required passing with a C or better, I was forced to leave the program.

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The following semester I changed my major to Creative Writing. It led me to taking an introduction to journalism class on campus. With a “little” encouragement from a wonderfully stubborn teacher, Professor Cooksey, I became Features Editor of the campus paper.

After graduating with a 4.0, I transferred in the Fall to a four-year Journalism program at the local University. The Travel Writing course I took, as part of the program,  allowed me to travel to Sicily for ten days with a dynamic group of classmates – who I’m proud to say I’m still friends with four years later. Studying Journalism helped me obtain a paid internship with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as a conservation writer, for 14 months.

For one of my journalism classes I had to write a story about sick-time-leave in the workplace. I interviewed my mom’s boss for the story, who told me about a local bar that offered live music. A few months later, I interviewed the bar’s owner to write a feature story for the same journalism class. Because of that interview, I ended up receiving a call from the owner six months later about an available bartending position. I’ve worked there, part-time, for two and half years now.  The stories of incredible souls I’ve met through that job alone would take SEVERAL more blog posts.

Through working at the bar, I discovered “Unbuttoned, An Evening of Spoken Word.” An open mic night hosted at the bar, the first Tuesday of every month, just for writers. This event brought me to speaking with a woman, the first night I performed, who invited me to join a small group of other women writers who meet once a month as well. Remarkably, we’ve been taking spin class together for months and had no idea that either one of us were writers! Because of joining this group, I’ll be performing poetry in April at an annual fundraising event ran by the woman who hosts our women writers group.

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When we surrender to our purpose, miracles happen. Growing up I always heard, “You’ll never make a living as a writer.” Even my professors cautioned, “Until you write what your editor wants you to write, and write it well, you won’t be able to write the stories you really want to and get paid for them.”

We have to expect more from ourselves than anyone else could possibly expect. I’m a single mom of two, working two part-time jobs to support my babes, soon to be three…part-time jobs, not babes.  The gym is my second home, I’m there six days a week. Every day I schedule in time for priming, gratitude meditation, journaling and podcasts or reading. Some days I don’t get to do all of them, but most days I do. If someone like me with a super busy schedule can make time to feed my passion, there should be no doubt in your mind that you can too.

“I don’t have time,” “They say I can’t,” “I don’t have the money,” “I’ve had a hard life.”

Guess what? We ALL have a story.

Every…

single…

one…

of…

us.

Don’t let your story become the excuse that makes you miss out on an extraordinary life. Stop telling yourself you can’t. Stop letting your fear of failure hold you back.

Take back control of your life, take massive action and make shit happen. It’s not going to happen overnight. It’s taken years of work behind the scenes to get to where I’m going. Even once I get there, there’s going to be new mountains to climb. New goals to conquer, to create. But I’m not giving up, I’m not backing down. I’m taking what’s mine, and I want you to know YOU CAN TOO. I believe in YOU. Believe in the dream you have for yourself, immerse yourself in whatever knowledge you need to make it happen and then take the initiative to get shit done. YOU’VE GOT THIS!!!

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“Unbuttoning” My Cancerversary

 

Extending my sincerest gratitude to Julian Parker-Burns Photography for capturing these candid moments from open mic night

Writing short stories and creating poetry is something that, throughout most of my life, has helped me come through the darkest of circumstances with a healed heart – however bruised it may be. When I began my cancer journey, it was no different. 

This blog allowed me to connect with all of you, to not feel so alone on the road to wellness. For that, I can never begin to thank you enough  – for reading my posts, for following me on my journey, for sharing your own stories of how mine has impacted you – I am so truly grateful.

After listening to a “School of Greatness” podcast with Lewis Howes and Rupi Kaur, a few months back, something in me shifted. Rupi’s story inspired me. As much as I had spent the past year unearthing my truest self – another part lay hidden, beneath the layers of motherhood, being a woman, working hard and achieving my goals. A part of me lay buried beneath the ash of pain and sorrow, waiting to be brushed off with life anew.

A few days after listening to the podcast, a completely unrelated conversation with a friend led me to discovering a local open mic night. It offered poetry in the beginning and live music afterward, the second Tuesday of every month. It was pretty clear what I had to do.

The first time I sat down to write that poem for open mic night, was beneath the shade of a large maple tree. That is, until a group of ants decided to use me as their personal playground. I quickly moved my blanket out onto the open field. My best friend Emmylou from England was a few hundred feet in back of me, sitting on park grass, journaling away. I remember how warm the sun felt on my back, beating down without a cloud in the sky.

I was nervous about writing again. Would my poetic muse still be there for me after all this time? I had abandoned her when she was always by my side. For a good five to ten minutes, I heard that old “worrier” voice in my head, “You’re not a poet anymore, it’s been too long.” Followed by “You’ll never have time for this, it can’t be done.”

I hadn’t come this far, to give up now. I regrouped, put Lindsey Stirling on in my earbuds, took a breath and that’s when I heard her. My inner Warrior shouting to me, “It can be done, you’ve got this, MAKE the time for it!”

Like a distanced lover, who you never really had a falling out with, but instead just drifted apart from – my poetic muse embraced me with open arms. I did finish my poem that afternoon and read it that night, aloud at that open mic event. It was INCREDIBLE!

Last week I returned for open mic again. The poem I prepared was “A Letter to Cancer,” about both the struggles of treatment and the people who pulled me through. Just minutes before going on stage, it hit me that it was also my three-year Cancerversary. What a beautifully raw, emotionally charged, empowering way to celebrate being three years in remission!

A LETTER TO CANCER

Dear Cancer,

You thought You damned me,

condemned me to death.

But instead…

You breathed into my life

a power I had yet to know.

More fulfilling than the first breath that, 

into newborn lungs, flows. 

Dear Cancer,

You gave me,

bee sting pinches

for port access

just below my collar bone.

Toxins,

every other Tuesday

that took away my glow. 

Nine months of…

treatment

for

every

one

of

those

I

fought

through.

My son lent me his strength.

My daughter guided me with her light.

You thought I’d give up

when I got you.

But I had butterfly kisses

and little league baseball games to go to.

Berry bubblegum serenity

lingering on my little one’s

freshly shampooed hair.

Dear Cancer,

 Chemotherapy caused me pain…

physical pain.

I walked on invisible shards

of broken glass

each time bare toes touched cold concrete.

Put on socks

to go in the basement.

Wore gloves

just to wash clothes.

Dear Cancer,

I had enough!

In spite of You

I didn’t give up.

One week on treatment,

the next at the gym.

Protein shakes,

power lifting,

then chemotherapy again.

Slowly…

5 pounds on.

Steadily,

ten more.

Dear Cancer,

I’ve gained weight now. 

You have…

forged a fighter,

within me.

A survivor, 

an inspirer. 

Dear Cancer,

I dont hate You

anymore.

You thought You damned me,

condemned me to death.

But I see now,

You were never my disease…

You were..

my CURE.

 

Let Challenge Transform You

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PHOTO LEFT: This was me, 3 years ago this May, age 29, three months into chemotherapy…and super blonde! I weighed 119 pounds, my hair was thinning, exhaustion and fatigue were relentless daily adversaries, intent on defeating me.                                                                                          PHOTO RIGHT: Fast forward to today, this photo was taken Feb 2017. I now weigh a HEALTHY 145 pounds (fun-sized at 5’4”), am letting my natural auburn/brunette hair color come shining through and have never felt healthier or stronger!

When I began chemotherapy in 2014, I was told that my treatments would more than likely cause muscle loss in my body. That alone made me want to cry. For ten years I struggled to gain weight, no longer the thick curvy girl I was in my early twenties. I weighed 119 pounds, on some days 117. Bi-weekly doses of toxic chemicals, poisonous to the point of killing my healthy cells too, flooded directly into my blood stream in hopes of destroying the cancer cells.

Being told I may lose even more weight was the turning point for me. I became angry. “NO…FUCKING…WAY!” I told myself. I was determined to let this dis-ease in my body break me open, not break me down.

I joined the gym. I started slow. I could barely do three sets of squats with a ten plate on each side, with a Smith Machine. Now I squat with a free bar, 5 to 7 reps per set with 140 pounds…155 or a little more when I have someone there to spot me.  Miraculously, I gained about 18 pounds or so by the time I finished all of my treatments. Then another 5 or 6 pounds a few months after that. Now at a solid 145 pounds, I have my curves back and then some. My self-confidence and self-love are through the roof!

The thing is, it’s not the results that gave me back my confidence. It’s the promises I’ve kept to myself as a result of deciding to take value in my own health and well being. It’s the self-respect I gained through eating healthier, being active, staying committed to my workouts even when I’m tired, even when it’s easier NOT to go to the gym.

Being diagnosed with cancer saved my life in so many ways. It brought me closer to my family, to my children, guided me to going on a week long women’s retreat where I made lasting friendships and healed the relationship I had with myself. It brought me more compassion and understanding for the human condition. It gave me the gift of loving deeper, laughing louder and knowing just how sacred the precious commodity of time truly is.

It led me to a day where I said “ENOUGH” and joined the gym. That decision alone has led to so many new friendships and experiences. It’s led to fitness becoming part of my children’s lives early on, something I hope stays with them as they grow into adults of their own. It’s led to me becoming an Ambassador for the supplement company I’ve been using for about two years now.

Cancer could have destroyed me. Instead, it acted as a catalyst – transforming my mental, spiritual and physical states beyond the parameters of what I knew to be true. It accelerated my soul’s growth and brought me to a more authentic version of myself.

If there is something in your life – a fear holding you back, don’t let it.  I never would have thought that joining the gym could change my life so dramatically. My life, and who I’ve become, are practically unrecognizable from where I was three years ago. But it’s only because I took that first step. You are always one decision away from a completely different life, YOU have the power to make it a masterpiece!!!

(Shot out to Unico Nutrition!!! Use promo code Amber7 for a 15% discount at http://www.uniconutrition.com/shop/team/Amber.Strong )

You can also follow my new IG Fitness account at Amber.Strong.Journey

THANK YOU so much for reading! 🙂

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Celebrating Two Years Cancer Free

The day before yesterday, 12-12-16, was my Two-Year-Cancerversary. It was also Frank Sinatra’s Birthday. Lucky coincidence? I think not.

It’s been two years since a follow up colonoscopy, post chemo completion, deemed me cancer free. What a feeling 🙂strength

How did I spend the day celebrating? The night before I attended a Reiki share with some fellow Reiki practitioners. It left me feeling super charged and ready to take on the day Monday. My Cancerversary itself was spent outdoors in the snow, acting like a five-year-old with the best teacher: my five-year-old daughter Izzy.

We built a snowman, as she yelled at me to stop singing Frozen’s “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” Not sure if it was my singing or her inner demolition queen but our snowman didn’t stay assembled long. The Madd Queen from Alice in Wonderland may as well have shouted “Off with His Head!” Because that’s exactly what my sweet, little Izzy did. Without haste she belly-flopped into the snowman. His mid-section was transformed into a powdery mist, his head airborn as it propelled toward my dog – an innocent bystandard caught in the midst of our snowtastrophe. After we made snow angels, our leggings were so caked over snow clumps we had no choice but to go in the house and change. .

Honoring the parts of my life that mean the most; quality time with my love bug being one of them

Two years ago I wouldn’t have been able to be outside with either one of my children in Winter. The side effects of chemo made it impossible for me to touch anything below room temperature, about 65 degrees. On a cold day, even touching the glass slider that led out to the patio, would cause INTENSE pain in my fingertips.  Nevermind what going outside in the snow would have done to me.

I’m reminded of that every winter. The precious gift of life I have. The gifts of health, of strength, of family and the immense support and love of my friends and family. I’m reminded of what truly matters. The cold reminds me of how far I’ve come, of the mighty giant I battled and won. Winning isn’t everything though. It’s the lessons I took away from that battle more than anything that keep me grounded, that remind me to keep a grateful heart and never forget those who were there for me while I faced my darkest hour.

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What me and Old Blue Eyes have in common…

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This past December, I celebrated my 1 year Cancerversary, one week after my Aunt lost her five year battle with aggressive lung cancer. What happens after you survive cancer and you lose a loved one to the disease? That’s something that I don’t think even the best doctors and nurses in the world can prepare you for. I couldn’t remember being so angry at the Universe when I was going through chemotherapy or even after being diagnosed. But after my Aunt Anne passed away, I wanted to high five the all mighty creator…in the face, possibly with a closed fist. All I could think was, “Why? Why did she have to leave and I’m still here?” I could have screamed it through hot tears at the Universe if I thought someone would answer me.

The night I celebrated my Cancerversary I wore a purple lei, her favorite color, in her honor. What I hadn’t realized until just days before was that my very special day also happened to be the 100th birthday of Old Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra.

I fell in love with Sinatra as a child, first seeing him as a cameo on an episode of an old classic cartoon I was watching with my grandmother. She sat next to me in her rocker, eyebrows wiggling up and down as she said “That’s Frank Sinatra” with a mischievous smile. Luckily my grandfather was asleep in his recliner.

Sharing my special day with Sinatra, made my heart smile. I like to think of it as the Universe’s way of letting me know my grandparents were with me in spirit, proud of all I had overcome.

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As though that in itself weren’t special enough, my 1 year Cancerservary also turned out to be the Day 3 Hawaiian Luau celebration of the Matthew Hussey retreat I was attending in Florida. The energy I experienced that night was like anything I’ve felt. Perhaps, only parallel holding my son and daughter for the first time. Yeah, that good.

The energy between all of us High Value Women attendees and the GTG team was indescribable – 130 plus strangers, united by a desire for change. The kind of change that happens within, on a core level.

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(Left to right: Me, Epic Emma (above), the Lovely Lindsay and the Extraordinary Emmylou)

The luau celebration ended only after half of us (myself and three closest soul sisters; Emmylou, Lindsay and Emma included) jumped into the pool fully clothed with the GTG team…actually it ended once we all jumped back out of the pool and started dancing again!

I’ve used that night as my emotional button for joy at least a million times since returning home. Okay, maybe only half a million…because I love the feeling it gives me to think of those women and the bond we all share.

I can’t think of a better way to have spent my first Cancerversary – on my favorite musician’s 100th birthday, with some of the most inspiring souls I have had the pleasure of becoming friends with.