12/4 has become the new milestone in my house. Everyday Riley and I walk to the calendar hanging on the wall and count down the days (and I obviously have an app on my phone that updates daily to keep the excitement going). 7 Days. HOLY MOLY. 7 days until my last treatment. 7 days until my “new normal”. 7 days until I can eat sushi. 7 days until the chemo chapter has closed. 7 days until I can use women’s Rogaine (I laugh every time I say this). I could cry on demand for how I feel when I think about what I have accomplished and HOW DAMN CLOSE the finish line is. I can taste the victory and trust me, I am ready to take on the world and can do just about anything I set my mind to (love that George Harrison song) after this.
I have always said I have no regrets. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason (even getting cancer!) and that following your gut instinct will lead you the decision you were meant to make. Well, slight lie, one regret was not studying abroad but Gabby and extra paperwork don’t go well together (part of living life in the red). Although, because I did not go abroad, I traveled the globe with my common law marriage wife Sam (another red person) for a month post college and that was pretty epic (we can leave the absinthe story in Prague with a drunk dial to Marc for another time).
Each chapter of your life is an opportunity to learn and to grow, and to evolve your character. From being in media and advertising for so long, I focus a lot on brands and their persona in the marketplace. After taking a step back from work during this process, I have had a lot more time to think about myself and my “brand”.
It is kind of funny but ever since I have been diagnosed, I swear I have become like a Buddha and am viewed as very Zen by friends. I have always been someone that people share their secrets with because I am a vault (I cannot STAND blabber mouths; if someone shares something personal, assume it is not meant to be repeated!) but it has now been elevated to a new level. What a great distraction for me, and I absolutely love that I am someone friends confide in, ask advice from, and that they trust. What a great brand to have!
On Sunday, I experienced a forever memory. We are a pretty open household in the sense that we don’t gloss over things and try to explain in as much depth as possible for what is appropriate (a great therapist helps with that!). My son Pierce was trying on a stethoscope and pretending to be a doctor, and he noticed that only one side fit in his ear and the other was not. He said “Mommy, I can’t find the other ear”; I immediately walked over to him, and said “Pierce, you were born extra special, and what makes you so special is that you only have one ear. Just remember how special you are” Pierce understands he has one ear, that he has hearing loss, that he wears a device that helps him hear better, but this was like the first real time experience where he processed it from start to finish in a play setting. It is our job as parents to build your kids up and make them super confident; that day, Pierce walked away with a pep in his step. It led to me think even more about my brand and how my experience makes me different/unique and therefore special. You see Pierce, Mommy and you are the MOST special and we are the pure example of when life hands lemons, make lemonade. I am SO proud of you and know one day when you can understand what I went through when you were three, that you will be of me too!
Isn’t this the most magical time of the year? Thanksgiving is by far my most favorite holiday. Dipping the turkey in cranberry sauce, unlimited red wine (not this year BUT I will be back in 2019!), forgetting any form of a diet/monitoring, and being with my family is the absolute best. 8 months ago if you asked me what I would be doing on Thanksgiving, I would state all the above. Move to the current situation, and I had chemo the Tuesday of Thanksgiving week and needless to say, I was not 100%. Round 7 was definitely not as tough as rounds 1, 5, & 6 but Thursday and Friday were not my best. Luckily, the Claritin, Advil, being surrounded by entire family, creating new traditions (love you cousins!), and helping my mom prepare and cook, kept me quite distracted. This year we went around the table and went through what we are grateful for – obviously, it was a sob fest. Marc said it best by saying he was grateful for early detection.
I thank my lucky stars EVERYDAY that I knew I had the BRCA gene, that I was so top of my health and under surveillance, that my diagnosis is what it was, and that I was cancer free in July (I always have to explain this part BUT the chemo is truly an insurance policy; I HAD breast cancer, I do not currently have breast cancer!). I am TRULY blessed!!!
I want to do a few shoutouts and key highlights:
- Round 7: My dad, Mals, Marc, Allie Cat, and my girl Thiery (best nurse ever!!). Thanks for keeping me such good company, for keeping the chatter constant, for making me laugh, and Allie Cat, those gorgeous roses (you need to open up your own flower shop for real!). We faced Jamie’s window this time (nurses know to put me there!) and seeing the sign change to 1 more to Go was EVERYTHING. Jamie & Jon, the nurses at Sloan LOVE you, and are obsessed with what you are doing (me too, duh!).
- Leah Howard (now Zahal): So sad to have missed your wedding BUT you looked absolutely amazing and could not be happier for you. Cannot believe you surprised me with the hand knit hat; love it so much, it is so special, and it is already part of my fall/winter wardrobe (perfect for over the halo!). Elana and I cannot wait to see your gorgeous face in February!
- Mals and Adam: Feel like you get one every blog post but that’s because you guys are so freakin amazing. Thanks for taking Riley to the parade, for taking P/R bowling on Sunday, for helping us out so much with the kids, and for being the best support system EVER. LOVE YOUR FACES.
- Mom & Dad: You outdid yourselves with Thanksgiving! You made taking care of me and preparing for such a high pressure food holiday look like such a breeze. I joke around that I feel like Britney Spears when she was under her parents control (hey, we do have matching haircuts although hers was more by choice) BUT I am so lucky you live so close and would do anything for your kids.
- TV Shows: Still binging Orange is The New Black (4th season!), loving all my Housewives, Ozark, I Am Sorry (Netflix, super cute, thanks Ali Brenner for recommendation!).
- Best part of everything is that every invite we get now is for past 12/4, and I can actually be the YES girl again (well until my surgery 1/16).
- Made my first Botox appointment (WOOHOO!), first real sushi meal (Arata and then Tanoshi), lots of celebration dinners (thanks to Marc and all my girls for organizing so many fun festivities). So excited to go to the supermarket (lame I know) and to take my kids to a birthday party (never thought I would say that).
- Pumped to return to work, be in the grind of NYC, ride the LIRR, and to get work email (yes, that sounds nuts BUT so me).
This week is an off week and I plan on enjoying myself now that I am out of the Chemo FUNK (cue in Bruno Mars). Lots of exercise (yay Craze), spending time with the kids, hanging with the greatest souls of all time Dana (her adorable munchkin Ari) and Debbie, seeing the RVC crew, and celebrating Hanukkah (my house will be DECKED).
Thanks for riding this journey with me, and let the countdown begin (1 more week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!).
87.5% and Peach Fuzz