Early on in my journey, Blake had pink bracelets made that say "Hope That Never Fails". When he asked me what I thought the bracelets should say I kept coming back to the two things I felt would get me through everything I was about to walk through: God's Unfailing Love for me and the Hope that my relationship with Him gives me. Recently I read about Hope being future-directed but also in need of our memories. "If we expect to keep hope alive, we need to keep memory alive." (from When Your World Falls Apart by David Jeremiah). I think the original intent of the pink bracelets was that it might be a reminder to our friends and family of our need for their prayers. But now every time I see a pink bracelet either on my own wrist or on the wrists of many of you who have faithfully supported us, it is a visual reminder of God's faithfulness through everything that has happened over the last 9 months and it strengthens my Hope for what is ahead.
I have talked a lot about not wanting to forget what I have been through, and I have come to realize that one of the ways to make sure it doesn't happen is through support. By this I mean finding ways to get involved in the lives of others who have or are walking similar journeys. On Wednesday evening, I was able to take part in the kickoff of the Ulman Young Adult Cancer Support Group in Annapolis. Ulman Cancer Fund is an organization aimed at supporting young adults that are diagnosed with cancer. It is also the same group that helped to provide Christmas gifts for our kids. They are well-established in Baltimore and Howard counties but a few of us are hoping to start something in this area as well. At this meeting, I was also able to talk with Ashley who is a social worker at AAMC's Breast Center about the possibilities of serving as a mentor in the S.O.S. program. The S.O.S. program matches survivors that have had similar Breast Cancer journeys (but been out of treatment for at least a year) with recently diagnosed patients to provide support. A few of my friends and I have also been putting together "kits" of a few necessary items to give to ladies that we hear of that are going through Breast Cancer surgery. Please let me know if there is anyone that might benefit from meeting with and being supported by some other young adult survivors through the Ulman group or any Breast Cancer patients that are about to go through surgery and would benefit from one of our kits.
The possibilites of becoming involved with support were definitely an exciting part of this week but our week has been full of other exciting things as well. We enjoyed a great visit with Blake's sister, Fay and her husband, Jim from Colorado. It was really fun to see the kids light up from being with their Aunty and Uncle. With the exception of my parents, the rest of our family is either in Hawaii, Colorado or California. We wish our visits with family weren't so few and far between, but we have learned to cherish these memories made with our sweet family. Monday was also my first day back to work since my last surgery. I can't say enough what being at work does for me. I love being with my co-workers and patients. I have had a few opportunities to share my story with patients (it is often necessary to just cut to the chase so they don't have to wonder about my hats) and that too is always a good reminder of where I have been.
Speaking of hair and hats, it is slowly growing back. I wish it weren't so gray but I had a feeling it would be this way and I know it is just temporary until I can get back to my friend, Megan. My eyebrows and eyelashes are growing back in as well but not before I lost every single one a month and a half after completing my chemo. I didn't expect that but I suppose the old needed to give way to the new. I have been taking Tamoxifen for almost two weeks now and so far, so good. That is a huge answer to prayer. Other than a continuation of the hot flashes and some mild mood swinging, I seem to be without any significant side effects. My incisions are healing up nicely and I am getting used to the new me. Now I bide my time til April 11th when I can begin running again. I will have one additional surgery in a month or two to complete the reconstruction, and then hopefully meet with the tattoo artist for the finishing touches. It is hard to believe the end is in sight.