May 2013 I was diagnosed with brain cancer, a grade 3 Astrocytoma. I started writing blogs, notes and emails to be my catharsis. To unload the negative anxiety and stress that came along with this evil disease. My fight, my strength, my support were all there, but my writing really started during the toughest of times to alleviate the inner demons in my belly and let them out so I could focus on the fight. I was never a writer, and I’m not sure why or how writing became my way of dealing with the uncertainty and fear that came along with my relationship with cancer. Having my financial planning done so that my family would maintain their lifestyle if the worst happened was a major issue that I didn't have to address. It was taken care of in advance and allowed me to focus on the fight at hand. The need for planning and being prepared during the toughest of times is a tool we need to utilize. It is necessity to maintain the strength and focus on fighting the disease, not getting wrapped up in regret and resentment. Having support, being in good shape, and finding the outlet to control your fears all can do nothing but help us on the battle that we have taken on. A battle none of us choose to join, but a battle WARRIORS diges
t and accept.
Writing as my catharsis led me to the writing of my book. I never planned on writing a book, and when I published it I really did not expect many people to read it; but the reactions and messages I was getting from the WARRIORS fighting cancer, and families of WARRIORS going through this awful disease was humbling and surreal; the ones that didn't have support, that didn't have an outlet, that wanted inspiration and motivation; this became my new calling. To help and support the families and WARRIORS taking on cancer; sharing my story, getting in support groups, welcoming conversation. It became extremely cathartic for me, and a lot of what I was doing was writing to others which addressed the anxiety and fear that still occasionally crept up to me. 99% of the time I was in beast mode! That 1% was often addressed by the obligation I felt was handed to me which was supporting WARRIORS. I stopped writing as many blogs, emails and messages because a lot of why I was doing that was being addressed in my "New Role," which was not only supporting our community, but I started speaking all over the country and sharing my story, my perspective change, and my appreciation of the moment. In all these speeches reminding those that the need for having a plan in place prior to the negtive is essential. This was beyond cathartic, it was real, it was pure, and it was something I felt was my new obligation and responsibility to share with others. With great power comes great responsibility. I don't feel I have any great power, but this has given me a great responsibility that I have taken on and own. Its mine, not cancers.
Today, I needed to write. I needed something to pour my heart and energy into. When I was going through my bout with cancer, my father in law Larry was going through pancreatic cancer. He was, and is the definition of a WARRIOR. He never complained, he never bitched, he took on the challenge and fought for 4 years to spend as much time with his family, and most importantly to him, his grandkids. He was my cancer partner, and after watching a legendary man fight with pride an dignity, I was more ready for my battle then I ever expected. A battle I never planned on taking on at 39, but I was ready for it by having the HONOR of watching him fight his battle. Larry made it 4 years after being diagnosed, and on July 28, 2013 he left us physically. His legacy will never be owned or dictated by cancer. It was HIS journey, cancer was just along for the end of the ride. He owned it, and the dignity he portrayed is what legends are made of.
When I came downstairs this morning, I was getting ready to walk the dogs and grab a cup of coffee. Rebecca came down and told me she was going to go to yoga, she needed to clear her mind. As she started to speak on why, I immediately knew where she was going. It was 4 years ago today when we lost her father. My eyes welled up; not just with sadness, but with pride. I can't tell you why, it just did. I gave her a big hug, she walked out the door, and I grabbed the computer to type. For the first time in a long time, I needed to write. I needed to get my thoughts and feelings out. Today my hate and anger towards cancer is in the red zone, and I need to write and share to find the balance that does not allow cancer to own this moment. It cannot control love, it cannot control appreciation, and it cannot own us. I have anger for what cancer has done to families for no reason. It plays by it's own rules, and has no regard for our feelings. Today is a day of retrospective. A day to honor the life of Larry. It is not a day for remorse, if it is then cancer wins. This is our day to celebrate the life of a WARRIOR Father, Grandfather, Friend, and Cancer Partner. I miss you Larry, and your family and grandkids think about you everyday. I know you see all of this; you watch out for us, and you are there for us; just in a different way. Thank you for all you taught me. Thank you for inspiring to write my memoir which is helping people in a manner I never expected, understood, or comprehended was possible. I wrote the last line of my book about you.
"Cancer; You may dictate how long we are on this earth, but you will never dictate the legacies we leave."