NEARLY 1 YEAR AGO:
Was it really just last summer that we were all at home enjoying our new baby(“Snuggles“) and our new puppy, taking life easy and enjoying the day to day life as it came… just as summer should be. I gotta admit, I got overwhelmed often with all the little mouths to feed, carpooling everyone around in our filled to the brim (now clostrophobic swagger wagon ), finding it pretty a hard to just stop and smell
the roses the sticky faces in the house and play with them, instead of just keeping my eyes and mind elsewhere with my chores while occupying my precious fam with other “stuff”. I needed a reality check in a major way. Not that this is why I got one, but, it became one of the many blessings in disguise to appreciate how cool my crew over here really is.
Although hurricane season 2014 on the Gulf coast went easy on us, in our household, just outside of New Orleans,
…we had no idea what storm was about to hit us.
Throughout that summer, I recognized a lump while nursing my baby, hoping this possibly clogged duct would simply unclog, but … not so much.
In, July, I went in.
After seeing my OBGYN mid July, my biopsies and tests were handled during the last 2 weeks of July (summer of 2014). Then my kids’ school packet day and orientation began during the first week of August as more tests ran while i waited the inevitable, smiling all the way through new teacher meet and greets, etc., …and the final diagnosis… STAGE 3 BREAST CANCER… was given during the kids’ first week of school. I kept it amongst my husband, our parents and our siblings until the weekend when we could tell the kids. Then we contacted our close friends and family before we sent out the email (below) to our school faculty, parish, and friends. I tossed back a cup of joe as I quickly typed it up Sunday morning before heading to church to nervously yet bravely walk through those doors, to face the world with a whole new cross to bear, but knowing we needed our community and some Jesus in our lives now more than ever!
Needless to say,
This summer (of 2015), although my summer is just as chaotic, if not, more (as I’m still in my last legs of chemo … juggling infusions, physical therapy, summer fun with the kids all at once), I cherish it all! I take deep breaths before every moment before those possible freak out “She-Hulk opportune scenes” could arise, remembering that I AM HERE! Just being here to be amidst the hub-ub of my kids’ life and trials means I’m winning. I still get to be the mama. Cancer didn’t steal that one.
“Nah nanny boo boo!”
AND THAT IS PRETTY DARN COOL! So, how could I complain. I’m thankful to be here to be part of all of this blessed chaos and involved with my kids’ craziness. I almost wasn’t.
Thank you God.
And thank you to all of those who read this email last year, shared it, received our news, and at whatever part of our journey, joined us and continue to be a part. I wouldn’t be where I am, feeling strong for these last legs with out you.
REMISSION in the FALL.. I’M COMIN TO GET YA!!
Pardon any typos, as I quickly typed this while also shouting through the office doors for the kiddos to get their church shoes on and finish up their pancakes! 😉 Never a dull moment…
Hope this email may help someone else out there who just, unfortunately, may find themselves in the frazzled, nervous, but ready to “get-er-done” shoes that I was in nearly one year ago
(My desperate shout out for a “Village”)
Hello to our MQP family of teachers and friends,
I don’t have the email for everyone, so you all may spread this as you wish, but I wanted to touch base with those of you that I know have and will this year be working so closely with my big crew of kiddos. You may forward this to the rest of the faculty, friends, or anyone you see fit.
I was recently diagnosed with Breast Cancer. We’ve been back and forth doing doctor visits, tests, scans for past 2-3 weeks and now it’s moving really fast. Thursday, we got our first results that I had “invasive ductal carcinoma” (cancer within my milk ducts of my right breast) and a tumor within the lymph nodes under my right arm. They said it’s moving fast and furious and we need to contain it fast. It was at a stage 3 (while another doc questioned it to be a stage 4). They quickly got me an appointment the very next morning with the best of the best, Dr. Stolier, at the St.Charles Center for Breast Cancer and Reconstruction. He further investigated to find that this cancer has been there for a few years actually and could very well be in other areas of my body. I now needed to leave to see an oncologist. Again, I was able to get an appointment with another amazing, best of the best doctor, Dr.Jay Saux at the Mary Bird Perkins Center here in Covington, for this week who has already called directly and given me his cell to get me going with more MRI’s, echocardiograms, and a PET scan this week before I see him either Wednesday or Thursday once those are completed. Long of the short, I will need some fast and furious chemo, followed by a mastectomy, then radiation, and finally, reconstruction. That’s the grand scheme of it at this point. Whew!
Funny thing is, I’ve somehow known this in my gut for a while and I feel like God has been preparing me in prayer. It’s strange. I knew it before I even found anything, I just felt it in my heart when everyone said it was probably just a clogged milk duct and keep nursing, or when I first went to each doctor, I knew. God is giving me some kind of drug-like state of grace right now.
This is where our faith will really come in handy. Having 5 kids, doing ministry and never “making sense on paper” or feeling like we’re “swimming upstream” in comparison to the norm most of the time, has made us have to trust in God A LOT. Every choice we’ve made as far as jobs, home, … having each child has been a true discernment process, even though I’m sure it seems I merely blink and am pregnant! (Haha!) However, we feel God has guided us all along and has always taken care of us when he’s asked us to walk through doors that I feel like it seems don’t make sense, or we just shouldn’t. I pray, to God each time, “Lord, open the doors you want open and close the doors you want closed.” And I’m always surprised at what’s next! He’s never let us down and he led us here to Mary Queen of Peace, to a parish and school so welcoming and full of love and community. Our kids KNOW they are loved and that’s what means the utmost to me. The very hardest part of all of this cancer ordeal is to think… “What about my kids??” That’s the one thing that makes me cry. I know that God will take care of me, but I have to trust He will take care of them. After all, they were His first. They are just on loan to me. I also KNOW that He led us to you all as part of the many uncanny things in our life that, we feel, have prepared us for this moment.
We’ve talked to our kids about how Mommy does have a sickness and it is called cancer. My children have been very close with a dear kindergarten friend of theirs who has spent much time at St. Jude’s hospital and have stared cancer in the face and felt more love than fear. However, my children to know my diagnosis is different. Other children that they currently know in our area now in more battles with cancer, are different.
I described it to my children like snowflakes. Everyone’s story is unique to them. It will be fragile, but the sameness in them all is that the outcome can be beautiful. We raise our kids and work in our house as a TEAM. It’s not Bella’s responsibility to take care of the baby’s safety, however, we all chip in around the house and help one another because that’s what a team does. Jason and I are the captain’s, but God is the coach. He’s in charge, and we lead and guide the team. We all chip in, we all help out. Sometimes, a player feels weak, but another steps up and the team works together to balance out and it may shift next game. So… we’re going with the team vibe for this. Now my family growing up, my high school buddies, and my nieces and nephews all call me “Buna” (Boo-nuh). So they are all jumping on the “Go TEAM BUNA” bandwagon.
If you can look out for my kiddos, be patient with them and my family as they try to be “mommy”, give me a little extra heads up on projects and assignments or extra snacks or things that need to be sent in, that’d be great. They’ll need some hugs pretty quick as they watch me lose my hair quickly in the next few weeks as they’ve prepped me for and the kids know. As I said, they plan to go fast and furious. Dr.Stolier put my records down, held my hand and teared up to tell me, “Brace yourself. You’re getting the blue plate special with extra helpings and the road is gonna be long and rough. Good thing you’re tough bc you need to be tough and positive bc we are going to have to beat you up pretty good so we can get you out on the other side.” I trust so much in God that I’m going to come out on the other side. I’ve gotten appointments with doctors that I was told I “wouldn’t be able to get for weeks”, yet after a quick prayer, I got in in less than a day, over and over. God is opening up some very hopeful doors.
Last, in my prayers, it sounds super weird, but as a music lover and a singer, I meditate on songs a lot. Usually they are true worship songs, but this time, I found God sings Bob Marley just like me! Through every biopsy, scan, mammogram, waiting room, etc. the song in my heart and my head is “… Say don’t worry, about a thing. ‘Cuz every little thing …is gonna be alright!” I feel a very genuine sense of peace and surrender. God has got me and my family and so do you and I trust in you. I can only ask for your prayers and support. I get embarrassed to ask for anything, but when it comes to knowing my kids are ok, I’m shameless. Please hug my kids… a lot. And if they have questions, I ask that they continue to ask parents, grandparents, etc. But if they do ask you, please just keep us posted as to what they asked. I am an open book. No worries in asking me anything. I just want my kids to be protected and be ok. Some people can say some strange things in front of them about our “too large family”, so I can only imagine the lack of filter that my come right now. Kids are smart and intuitive. Again, I have to surrender that, too.
Thank you for your prayers, and for your understanding. God bless you all and thank you for EVERYTHING that you have done, you are doing and you will do for the entire MQP parish and school. Y’all are some AMAZING, AMAZING people. I pray that one day I can come and be a part of your “cool club” and teach at the school where my kids are and are so loved.
Thanks for your prayers and know I offer mine for you as well,
*My apologies for any typos or bad grammar here! Please don’t let it be a reflection on any of us. I’m just too tired to read it twice.
Now I’m off to go “KICK CANCER’S BUTT!” … and yes, I just said “BUTT” in a letter to my kids’ teachers because I’m just that mature. 😉
And there ya have it.
I’ve been reflecting a lot on this past year. It’s been a whirlwind, and I didn’t even have time to think about it. I wrote about it all. I’m glad I did, because I can remember it all through these blogs. It all feels like such a blur to me now. I think this next year after treatment ends, I’ll reread it all and finally begin to process what the heck just happened!
Looking at moments like this, when my head was first shaved and I was about to first take that initial brave step out of my bathroom and down the steps to my kiddos to be seen by my husband and those sweet little faces…
… I am overcome by the flood of emotions as i stepped out nervously, only to be received and loved more than I’ve ever been loved in all of my life combined.
Thank you, to my village, for all of that love.
I am forever grateful for the strength you continue to give me and my family to help us all grow into the joyful warriors that we wake up to be every day.
What joyful tears I find myself in during this reflection in less than a year’s time.. and still going.
AND TO THE NEWLY DIAGNOSED FIGHTERS (FAMILIES OF) AND SURVIVORS OUT THERE…
“CARRY ON… WARRIORS!!!!”