I've been thinking about this for awhile now. Cancer sucks. I am sure that every single one of you who are reading this right now have been affected by cancer in one way or another. It is such an awful disease, sneaks up on the seemingly healthiest of victims, and spreads quickly.
Sitting here, I can think of several people who have been hit by cancer. My mom (state 4 lung cancer). One of my best friends (breast cancer). Another one of my best friends (breast cancer). Several friends (skin cancer). So many types of cancer, but they all have the same thing in common. You can only do so much to prevent it, but ultimately cancer has a mind of it's own. Even if you feel you are doing everything right, there is no guarantee that you'll be spared. It's just not that easy.
Another thing I have found with cancer is you either fight it or you let it rip you a part - mentally and physically. I know that when my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, we all prepared ourselves for the worst. It was hard not to considering her first doctor gave her less than a year to live. He wasn't hopeful. He wasn't encouraging. He wasn't optimistic. He simply recommended that she anticipate the end and make the most of the time she has now...comfortably.
It was like a slap in the face when we heard it, and we definitely let it rip us apart at first. It was a very dark time for everyone close to my mom - my mom especially. It came as such complete shock, and we felt hopeless. We couldn't change it. We didn't know what to say. And we felt as if the invetiable was out of our hands.
It was then that I learned what a real fighter was. Out of that darkness came a then almost 70 year old momma determined to make a difference. It's like a light switch turned on, and she wasn't ready to give up. Not just yet. And while she didn't know if the changes she made would help, she was committed to at least trying. And that's what she's been doing every single day since. Fighting. She changed her thought process. She changed her mindset. She started researching. She started eating healthier. She started eating more of the things that were cancer fighting (beets, pineapple, greens) and less of the things that enabled cancer (especially quick digesting carbs). She cut back on wine - even though her doctor encouraged her to have a glass a day if that helps to make her feel "normal" (whatever "normal" is). Though she's always exercised, she started exercising with purpose. She started weight-lifting again because she'd read it was important to strengthen her muscle. She added the natural supplements her doctor had recommended. She started to rest when her body asked for it. She started applying her doTERRA essential oils exactly as my best friend, Teresa, recommended, twice daily. She detoxed from friends who no longer brought her joy. She stopped listening to upsetting news. She stopped reading disturbing novels. She started crossing things off her bucket list. She walked the COLOR VIBE 5k in Arlington in spite of one of the tumors being in her hip making it difficult to walk. She dressed up for Halloween not once but twice last year with me and went golfing in costume and then to a friends house that night. She had her first zip-line experience in Alaska which is also the longest zip-line in the world. She went on her first cruise. She continued to play golf - the one passion that helps her feel normal.
Every day she is fighting. Every day she is surviving.
And what started as a possible death sentence of 3 months to a year has turned in to 2 years...and going strong. Her cancer is stable. After months of chemo that ended up not working, doctors then turned to limited targeted radiation. Then a clinical trial. It's this same clinical trial that she is still in. Her body is responding so well that not only have all 3 tumors shrunk, but she the cancer is stable - meaning it's not growing. It's not spreading. It's not doing much of anything. And that's even after having been off the infusions for 3 months, and she will continue to be without unless something changes. So, for now, we are counting our blessings. We realize it would have to be a miracle for her to be cured, but we will take this. THIS is good. Her attitude to fight has already bought us an extra year.
My mom has shown me what it means to really "fight".
As we kick off October, I'm sure many of you are aware that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Did you know that November is Lung Cancer Awareness month?
I'd like to take the next two months and pay tribute to all the FIGHTERS, for there are so many among us.
I'd love to hear YOUR stories. Are you a FIGHTER? Do you know someone who is? I hope you'll take some time to share their story with me. I want to be inspired. I know that my mom's strength has given strength to so many around her. Your strength can do the same, so if you're feeling up to it, please share. Send your stories to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line FIGHTER. I'd love to share your story on the blog.
Also, every week in October and November I'll be giving away one FIGHTER dolman tee. The giveaway might vary from week to week, but I would love to see FIGHTER tees on women who are facing something hard, giving their all, and FIGHTING rather than giving up.
Watch for the first giveaway on IG.
Also, for those of you don't win or choose not to wait, I am discounting all remaining FIGHTER dolman tees to $10 (75% off), so that you can be sure to snag one before they are gone.
Cancer is hard. There's no easy way around it. You can't ignore it, and it won't go away. And while it's not likely that my mom's cancer will remain stable indefinitely, we are grateful for every day we have. We talk frequently, text back and forth more often, are always sending pictures and funnies, and we are forever planning our next visit. It's definitely brought us closer. But we wouldn't be where we are now had she not chose to FIGHT. That was the turning point.
So, here's honoring all who are doing the same. You are in my thoughts, my prayers, my heart, and I admire the strength in each and every one of you.