I am so totally and utterly in love with the month of February. My love affair with February is not the romantic dinner, card, chocolate, and roses kind of love, but a true, unconditional, sincere love for this month because it is the month that saved my life. It is my month for reflection and gratitude.
You see, 10 years ago, on February 24, 2009, the day our one and only beautiful son, Nathan, was born, we received very bad news. What was supposed to be a joyous occasion was shrouded in a black cloud because the morning Nathan came into the world we learned I had Stage IV Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. I was told that I was not going to survive more than 3 weeks.
Faced with our new reality of a brand new baby, dying was not an option or a choice my husband I were willing to entertain in any way, shape or form. My husband’s mantra to all the doctors was “Please, just give her a fighting chance!” As quickly as we possibly could, and determined to find a group of doctors that would treat me, we sought out second and third opinions. I was told statistically, on paper I was a goner, however, the second doctor we received an opinion from, decided to fight with us and saw me as a new mother, a fighter and a human being with feelings, regardless of the statistics on paper and in medical journals.
Nathan was three weeks old when our family started our journey to fight this cancer and to save my life. Emotions went in waves. At the start I was strong. I knew this disease had been given to me for a reason. I told my husband I was going to use this as a platform to help others. I’m not going to lie, there were definitely times of despair, anxiety, and depression. I got over those things with the help and love from my husband, and our beautiful newborn, I finally pulled myself out of a very deep, dark hole. Because love never fails.
This is the reason why February is a time of reflection and gratitude for me. I am actually grateful for those desperate times because I learned a lot about myself, my friends and acquaintances, and that even a complete stranger can show you love.
Over the last ten years, I have helped raise awareness and funds for cancer research. I have become a public speaker spreading the word that it is possible to come back from a stage IV cancer diagnosis. I’ve also volunteered at cancer camps helping young adult cancer survivors get their mojo back after treatments.
Cancer taught me to accept challenges and grow. It has taught me to walk through fears and never look back. I learned that I was enough!
When I became healthy enough I started training to run half-marathons. Those half marathons turned into triathlons and mountain bike racing. Endurance events gave me a great outlet and a sense of accomplishment. However, my biggest accomplishment was not a physical challenge, but a mental challenge. I conquered my fears and anxiety and took to learning how to white water kayak. Being “trapped” in a boat upside down in the water is not an easy feeling to overcome. But I did it. Kayaking is one of the most challenging and most fun sports I have ever done. It takes a close second to snowboarding. Do you see a trend here? Endurance and outdoor adventure sports are my jam.
One might think, “How does this adventure junky relax enough to create?” Well, I’ve always been a creative and a maker of things. I started making soaps, candles, jewelry, mosaics, and other crafts in high school and on into college. If you are a friend or family member, odds are you’ll recall holiday gifts you received from me were a “handmade with love” gift. Today’s truth is I want to live life to its fullest, and if I can’t be up in Tahoe snowboarding for the weekend, I need to keep busy. Helping others learn to create beauty around them is how I choose to keep busy. Blue Jays and Butterflies has been a gift that I can give others while still feeding my creative side.
My cancer diagnosis has helped me connect with so many people from so many walks of life. I know now that my cancer has been a blessing and helped me realize that life is really pretty simple. Life is all about love. We are all just humans. Humans that want to feel loved, competent and important. Humans with feelings that are not a number, a casualty or a statistic.
Our family has always been, and will always continue to be, so very grateful for the outpouring of love and support we received during the hardest time of our lives. My hope is that my influence of joy and gratitude pours over into your space, you can experience yourself in a positive way, and that you share your love and gratitude for this life of ours with others that cross your path.
Stay loving, grateful, and creative,
Celebrate 10 years with me by taking $10 off any party, use the code FEBRUARY10 at checkout.