Bald and Beautiful

Just a quick note today.  I finally did it, I shaved my head.  Milo seems to love it; he’s constantly playing with the fuzz left on my head.  I don’t hate it like I thought I would, but my head is cold a lot of the time.  I haven’t decided about a wig or cap yet, but I need to do some shopping and decide.  I definitely need something on my head to keep from feeling cold.  How do you bald men do it?

I added a gallery of people who have shaved their head for me or are bald and proud of it.  You can find it in the pages section to the left side of this page.  In the mean time, if you have any suggestions for head coverings please pass them along.


A Conversation with Milo

The hair loss thing is hitting me pretty hard.  My two favorite traits about myself have always been my big blue eyes and my long, wavy brown hair.  I’ve only ever cut my hair short (by choice) once, when I donated it to Locks of Love in my early twenties.  I kept it short for a few years because I loved the ease, but it wasn’t long before I was growing it out again.  Part of my identity is tied to my hair.  I’ve just always thought it was awesomely girly to have long, soft, thick hair.  It was probably the most girly thing about me (besides the obvious girl parts, that is).  So you can imagine how I am starting to look at myself differently as my hair thins and falls out.

This, and some political talk a little earlier, prompted the following conversation:

Me: Thank you for not being Newt Gingrich.

Milo: (laughs) You’re welcome, honey, because I am not a cheating bastard.

Me: Still, you could have left me and you didn’t.  I appreciate that.  (pause)  Are you going to still love me when I have no hair?

Milo: Of course! Then you’ll be MoonDragon.

Me: Who is MoonDragon?

Milo: She is a bald sorceress who somehow ended up involved with the Avengers. (This was later corrected when we looked her up and found out she was a telepath, not a sorceress.)

Me: So wait, you’re going to love me because I remind you of some bald, geek comic girl?

Milo: Of course!  In fact, I bet there is a whole list of hot, bald Sci-fi chicks!  I’m going to look them up!

Then he proceeds to look them all up and read them to me to make me feel better.  My husband is freaking amazing, I tell you.  How can I not love this man?

Mea Culpa

The Cisplatin-Gemzar routine had thinned my hair out quite a bit.  I don’t think it caused it too fall out too badly, but it certainly slowed how quickly it grew.  I had thought before that I was losing my hair as it seemed to fall out during washing or combing and generally at a more alarming rate than previously.  Despite that thought, my hair remained and my cute short cut was satisfying.

Since starting the Irenotecan, I have a new appreciation of hair loss.  Dr. Brooks had made note of the hair on the back of my shirt and left on the exam table during my last appointment.  I had noticed that if I touched my hair at all I’d end up with a few stray strands left on my shoulders or back.  What I hadn’t noticed is that other people could see it as clearly as I could.  Then, I ran my hands through my hair at work a few days ago, only to have a wad of hair left between my fingers.  A second run through, just to see if it were some stray locks, produced the same amount of hair.  Then I noticed that whenever I washed it, I would have hands full of hair.  If I combed it, I would have a pile of hair.  It wasn’t just thinning anymore.  Slowly, but surely, I am losing my hair.

Today, I stood up from the couch and my pajama top and the couch itself were covered in hair.  Piles of my hair.

I’m tempted to shave it all off and do myself the favor.

It breaks my heart to see all the hair I loved, the hair I played with whenever I was sleepy (both as a child and as an adult), will be gone.  I can feel the places where it is thinnest and wonder how long it will be before I start to see bald spots.  Milo asked if I wanted to go wig shopping, but the one I wore for Halloween was a quality, medical grade one and it itched like crazy.  It was also insanely hot.  I don’t really want to have to deal with that at work.  I’m thinking I might just get some medical scrub caps and some nice scarves…

But the thought makes me really upset.  Looking in the mirror and seeing how thin my hair is now makes me cry.  It’s amazing how much just a few days ago I wanted to look as sick as I was so people would stop assuming I wasn’t.  Now that I am starting to look the part, I’ve changed my mind.  Everyone keeps mentioning how pale I am –I’m embracing my inner vampire– and how tired I look.  I don’t want to look into the mirror and see sick me; I certainly don’t want people to remember me looking this way.  If cancer is going to strip me of my life, I’d rather people have the chance to remember the me I was…and for my dignity to remain intact.  It’s hard watching my hair get tossed into the trash or rinsed down the drain.  It’s difficult feeling nauseous all the time and tired more often than I’d like.

I’m sorry I asked for it.  Totally taking it back!

So Tired

I am so tired of being sick and tired.

I cannot accurately express what it feels like to live the way I currently am.  The nausea is overwhelming and constant for the first few days after chemo.  Afterwards, I am lucky enough that it becomes intermittent.  This week it has been so strong that by the end of the night I cannot tolerate food.  As if it isn’t bad enough to vomit, it is so violent that I am physically in pain.  It actually causes my bones to ache and I start trembling uncontrollably.  Being this sick is miserable.  Completely and totally miserable.

The lethargy is horrid.  I actually managed to sleep most of my Monday away and today at work I felt as if I was dragging my limbs through concrete.  I pushed through and survived, but coming home was a welcome reprieve from the desire to crawl under a desk and nap.  It’s just emotionally and physically exhausting to be in this predicament.  How much more am I expected to take?

The worst part is that there is no end in sight.  What should have been three months of treatment before getting my life back has been almost twice that.  It’s been almost six months since I was diagnosed;nearly twenty-four long weeks since my first chemo treatment.  I have never seen a doctor this often in my life and I am just so tired of it.  I’m tired of needle pokes and toxins running through my blood.  I don’t want anymore of this and yet I can’t give up.  I want to so badly just lay down and stop fighting, but how can I do that to everyone else?  How can I ask that of them?

The darkness of my emotions envelops me like a blanket; I just can’t shake the feelings.  I see no exit strategy to this anymore and it fuels my reluctance to continue.  Sometimes, I’m tempted by the bottles of pills of I have for pain management.  It would be just so easy to throw in the towel.  One pill too many would be a fast reprieve from my current situation.  Emotionally, I’m drained.  The certainty I have that there is no positive end in site is overwhelming.  The only thing that keeps me from something as cruel as ending it all is Milo.  I cannot and will not do that to him…

But that doesn’t mean that when the pain and nausea are at their worst it doesn’t cross my mind.  That scares me.

At least I am not that weak.

I’m also not a hero and yet sometimes people make me feel as if I am.  They seem so awe-inspired that I am working, that I keep going.  They don’t know the truth: it takes everything I have to keep breathing.  To keep going requires all my energy and focus, all I have.  I’m not special; I’m not some kind of super strong individual.  I just remind myself to be like Dory, to keep swimming.  I can’t do anything less without hurting so many people.

But I am so tired and I really don’t want to go through this anymore.

Secrets and Emotions

Here’s a secret: I sometimes envy those with cancer that actually look ill.

I know, that sounds insanely ridiculous.  I hate myself for even feeling that way, but it’s the truth.  When people hear I have cancer, they default to: “You look so well.”  Sometimes, they throw on the “You wouldn’t know you had cancer.”  It impresses people that externally I looked like a completely healthy, albeit overweight, thirty-year-old.  I still have some energy, enough that I make it through my work shifts.  On good days, I can tolerate food.  My hair, which was fairly thick at the start of this, has thinned out, but isn’t as noticeable as being bald.  If I hadn’t seen my own scans, been through the biopsy and dealt with the chemotherapy and its effects, I might honestly believe I was faking this entire thing.  I’m sure there are people out there that do.  Heck, I’ve had friends admit that before the chemotherapy started and the diagnosis came from a doctor that they thought I was being melodramatic about feeling sick all the time.

I probably was a little, but it was real.

I just don’t look like a cancer patient and it makes me feel…weird.  Not that I want to give up looking healthy either.  It’s the one thing that lets me delude myself into feeling well enough to press on.  I think if I looked sick I might actually wallow more.  I can push through because I can forget the cancer most of the time.

This week, however, I started to look like a cancer patient.  Dr. Brooks noted that my hair was falling out, as evidenced by the amount on the back of my shirt and no longer on my head.  During chemo, I actually felt really sick: my chest started hurting, I had trouble breathing and I thought I was going to vomit.  When the nurses rushed over to see what was going on, my blood pressure had plummeted to ninety-five over sixty.  They slowed down the infusion, but when they upped it again later I was equally as sick.  I managed to suck it up and make it through, however, until we went outside.  Then I lost my lunch.  It was the worst treatment ever.

Friday night, I had trouble sleeping and my food didn’t want to digest.  I was pale all weekend long and emotionally liable.  I would go from snapping to laughing to crying at the drop of a hat.  When I boil my feelings down to a reason, it’s my strength faltering.  I’m incredibly tired of being sick and sometimes I think that I just want to give up.  I mean, what if this new drug doesn’t work either?  How many times am I supposed to let the oncologist dump toxins into me in hopes of buying more time?  What quality of life do I have if I am losing my hair and dropping pounds, if I can’t work a real schedule –currently I am doing every other day to make three days a week of twelve hour shifts?  What if I never can stop chemo so we can have a family?  Isn’t it as bad as life support in a way?  What quality does my life have if I am sick all the time from the medications?

My own suffering makes me wonder about Milo.  How can I possibly subject him to this for the rest of our lives?  Why should he watch his wife wither away in hope that I might someday be healthy again?  Why should his life be on hold?  He isn’t sick; I am.  These thoughts caused me to slip into a bit of a funk tonight.  Sometimes, I feel as if I am going to beat this thing and go on to have a long, healthy life.  Milo and I will have children and live the fifty years we promised each other.  Everything will be perfect.

Other times, times like tonight, I start to feel like our best will be half a decade.  We won’t have our miracle or our family.  It will just be us and Milo will be forced to watch me wither away.  I’ve seen what an end stage patient looks like and it isn’t pretty.  I don’t want him to remember me like that, the person I just moments ago admitted to wishing I looked like; I want him to remember this me: the one that laughs with him, who still has hair and bright blue eyes.  Someone who isn’t in pain.  Someone who is still vivacious and energetic.

Amazingly enough, as I was sinking into the pits of my despair tonight, a hand reached for me.  A good friend of mine, Jon, died a few years ago.  He was twenty-nine.  Lately, I find myself talking to him a lot.  I tell him about his sister, who I keep in touch with on Facebook.  I ask how he managed to be sick for so long and still so happy all the time.  I beg him to put a good word in for me so I can have my happily ever after with Milo.  Sometimes, I ask him for help to cheer up his sister who misses him so much.

Tonight, he sister found out about my cancer and it was she who offered me the hand.

Just when my hope was slipping away, it was Erica reminding me that Jon was strong and would want me to be strong that helped me out of the dark.  I couldn’t help but smile.  Jon has been listening all this time and when I needed it most he made sure I got the kick in the butt.  I should have known.

I’m still tired and my hope isn’t what it has been, but it’s not all lost.

Jon made sure of it.

Fertile Action: A plea

In the past few months I have been trying to collect money for a charity that specifically helps people between the ages of fourteen and forty who have been diagnosed with cancer.  This charity was one of two I’ve discovered since my diagnosis that have helped me immensely.  Mind you, there are many more resources out there than I even have time to acknowledge, let alone visit daily.  For instance, I have found a site called I Had Cancer, which allows cancer patients and survivors to put up personal websites (like Facebook) and meet other patients with cancer.  I haven’t found anyone on that site with cholangiocarcinoma, but I have met a few people I speak to via email that have been uber-supportive during my treatments.  It’s nice just to have someone say “I’ve been there and I survived.”

Another is my all time favorite message board, even though I tend to lurk more than post.  The board is on and every patient on there has the same cancer I do.  It isn’t just the survivors and patients, though; it is family and friends, caregivers and supporters all coming together to raise each others’ spirits.  It’s incredibly nice to be surrounded by people who are walking in your shoes, who have heard that the cancer is inoperable and we will do our best to treat it.  It’s comforting to feel like you are being hugged by a group of people who just get it.  The board celebrates everyone’s wins and mourns for those who found the good fight but are still losing ground to the evil C-monster.  They welcome everyone, regretfully, and make them feel at home.  It’s like the internet version of Cheers, except a whole lot more somber.

I’ve also found blogs by so many other people with cancer.  People who, like me, get up every day and do their very bests to just make it through.  We go on living, inspired by the fact that others before us have made it too.  We keep positive as best we can, we don’t allow much wallowing and we live.  Some go on great adventures.  Others live quiet lives of normalcy.  We share ideas to make it through each day with a smile on our faces.  Together we weep to Martina McBride’s “I’m Gonna Love You Through It” (seriously, give it a listen!) and Tim McGraw’s “Live Like You Were Dying.”  But we’re really not any different than anyone else.  Cancer gave us a new role, but we are still just people who are living.

For the record, my other go to tunes to get through the day are Kelly Clarkson’s “The Sun Will Rise” and Jo Dee Messina’s “Bring On The Rain.”

Today, however, I realized that one of my favorite charities is in a lot of trouble.  Alice Crisci is one of the very first cancer survivors I had the pleasure of speaking to after my diagnosis.  In fact, the second I left my oncologist’s office after the very first visit, I called Alice.  She runs the group Fertile Action, which I have written about before.  Fertile Action is a charity that oncologists’ offices refer patients to (mostly female I believe) when they express interest in maintaining their fertility.  It is through Alice and her group that I met with the esteemed Dr. Hutchinson, a Tucson fertility specialist.  I didn’t know at the time just what that meant.  Tucson is really not a hub of younger people.  It is very much a retirement community of sorts.  There aren’t exactly hundreds of fertility experts here; in fact, I believe at last count there were two: Dr. H and the man who trained Dr. H!  When I has asked about preserving my fertility, Dr. Brooks said there was a good chance we’d have to go to Phoenix for that because he had heard rumors that Dr. H had left town.  That is why he referred me to Alice and Fertile Action.  He knew she’d find me someone that could help.

Alice is…well, magical.  I know that sounds ridiculous and if she reads this she’ll probably tell me I’m exaggerating, but it’s true.  Alice is a survivor and a vocal one at that.  She maintains a blog, writes freelance for several online media sources and has a book published (I’m Too Young For This).  When I called her that first day, she was soothing and gave me props for going into the oncologist knowing that I needed to do my best to salvage my fertility.  She had been there only two years before.  What I didn’t know until today, however, is just what Alice has given up to do this.  She was a successful financial consultant who lost her career because cancer sapped her strength.  She dove into Fertile Action because no one had talked to her about saving her eggs or wanting to be a mother after cancer.  Oncologists aren’t used to those questions.  Their patients tend to be past child bearing years (or so young that it is the last thing on their minds) and just want to live.  So they don’t ask.  Dr. Brooks, as incredible as he is, didn’t ask me.  I told him.  It isn’t part of their training to think quality of life sometimes.  They want to increase our life expectancy, the rest is gravy.

To a cancer patient, it isn’t gravy though.  It’s life.  We want to live and if having a family is part of our living, we want that too.

Or, at least I do.

So Alice was like a beacon in the dark.  I didn’t know where to go for help keeping my dreams of mommy-hood alive.  Just weeks before I was a player in the Game of Life, zooming right along in my little car and making plans until POW!  My tiny car tipped over and the plastic peg people spilled out, clinging to the precipice for dear life all because of a speedbump called cancer.  I could either sit by my car and do nothing, or find a tow truck (okay, this analogy officially jumped the shark but work with me).  Alice and Fertile Action were even better than a tow truck; they were a helicopter.

Within hours of calling Alice, I had an email that she found a doctor willing to help me…for free (a word you hear very rarely in the medical world.)  He was going to donate his services, she was going to try and get the medications discounted.  While I wasn’t given enough time to actually get a harvest done, something I regret not fighting more for at this point, without Alice I wouldn’t have even had the decision.  I would have just walked into the oncologist’s office and sacrificed my eggs and my chance at being a biological mother.  That’s a big deal to me.  I had a rough choice to make in just using the Lupron injections in hopes of maintaining my fertility, waiting a month more to start chemo so I could harvest or do nothing.  At least I had the choice, though.  I wouldn’t have known my options without Fertile Action finding Dr. H and getting him to help.

Fertile Action, however, runs on donations (they have a “membership” for companies that want to list with them, but it doesn’t bring in much right now.)  They aren’t doing so hot right now.  The economy is tight and while cancer isn’t exactly taking a vacation, donations are.  Until now, I was trying to get OMG 2012 more donations because Fertile Action had led me to them as well.  I wanted more attention to be focused on the middle group (the “young adults”) and their issues when facing cancer.  But OMG 2012 is sustaining well.  They can pay their employees and hold mega conferences in places like Vegas.  Alice hasn’t taken a pay check since the company started.  All her donations go to creating scholarships for women who can’t afford fertility treatment after cancer; not all doctors are willing to donate their efforts like Dr. H.  As such, Fertile Action is floundering.  I can’t let other women lose the chance of being a mother because Fertile Action dies out.  Women have a right to be a mother after cancer; fertility specialists make enough money.  With Alice and her group there to help be an advocate for those with bigger wars to rage, more women will have their dreams come true.

So, I’m going to ask a favor.  If you haven’t donated already to my OMG site, don’t (thanks if you did!). I’m going to the conference in March anyway.  I’ve collected enough to get my ticket for free and I’m within reach of the travel vouchers.  Even if I don’t make my new goal there, it’s no loss.  The conference is close enough that I am not worried about the expense to travel.  We’re road tripping anyway and it will so be worth it.

I may never get to be a mommy biologically.  The Lupron may not have worked and we didn’t harvest eggs.  I know that my cancer is…different, that survivor rates for it without surgery are exceedingly low.  I’ve faced the fact that my survival might be a few years or a lifetime.  There are so many uncertainties and I just hope and pray that someday I can call Alice and thank her for helping me become a mother.

The point: I would like you all, if you can spare some money (even ten dollars!) to donate to Fertile Action instead of my other charity.  I am going to stop spreading the news about my OMG 2012 donation site and start pressing people to help Fertile Action instead.  I don’t know why I didn’t sooner.  You can visit Fertile Action’s website here:  Alice is currently helping twelve women try to find doctors willing to preserve their fertility.  When I needed the Lupron shot, she did her best to try and help me get the cost down.  She’s incredible and I want to help her out.  If you wish to donate, and I won’t know if you end up doing so, you can do so by clicking here.  It takes you directly to the Fertile Action donation page, which is safe and secure.

I know a few people questions whether OMG 2012 was a scam of if the money was going directly to me so I could travel.  The answer to both is no.  But OMG 2012 has enough sponsorship that they can offer rewards for those who raise money.  Alice can’t do that.  Somehow, Fertile Action is seen as just unnecessary to some.  I get it.  Cancer patients should focus on surviving and just be happy they can live.  That’s really easy to say when you aren’t a cancer patient who expected to have this entire life ahead of them, including a family.  It’s also very easy to say when males tend not to become infertile after chemo.  The medical community warns they might, but many do not (even those with testicular cancers) because they are constantly regenerating sperm.  Women do not constantly regenerate eggs.  We are born with our supply and chemo damages them so badly that they are rendered useless.  Things like Lupron shots and egg harvesting are our only hopes of becoming biological mothers after chemo.  Just because we had cancer doesn’t mean we should give up the dream of carrying our own child.  Please don’t let Fertile Action fade away…and know it is not a scam.  I have been helped by Alice and her group.  I have spoken to her on her phone, in text, in email.  We are Facebook friends.  She exists and her group does great things for women like me.

So, if you can find an extra five or ten dollars floating around, please help.  Every little bit keeps Fertile Action working.

And it keeps the dream of motherhood alive for women just like me.

Unanswer Prayers?

I’m going to share a little story here and I apologize if getting to the point of it actually takes some time.  I was just inspired to write it and I thought: hey, why not?

I returned to work yesterday and originally intended to write a full blog on just a twelve hour shift.  However, as I sat and pondered what there was to really write about, I noticed that it could be summed up quite easily.  It was hard, I was tired by the end of it, but I survived.  It’s almost how I feel about cancer in general; it just is.  I went in, did my work and pulled through without issues.  Do I think I could handle two shifts in a row?  Not right now, but I do know I can handle two shifts in one week given a day to rest up for the next.  I can do the job I trained for; cancer can’t have that.  But seriously, thank God for a good boss that understands and is willing to work with me.  For that I am exceedingly grateful!

The point of mentioning work, however, is that one patient hit awfully close to home with me.  Without violating HIPAA, I can say that she has a terminal illness that takes life slowly.  From the moment I started the day with her, I realize that I could too closely sympathize, and in a way I never could before.  I now know what it is like to beg for the sickness to stop, to cry yourself to sleep because you’re scared to die.  I know what it feels like to suffer because your body is working against you.  I understand how tiring the fighting can be and how tempting it is to throw in the towel.

The difference: I have someone to fight for and she doesn’t.

She was very much alone, her words, and very tired of being sick.  Her fight was gone and I don’t blame her.  I’ve admitted more than once that without Milo I’m not quite sure how much fight I would have either.  He’s my entire world and I won’t go down without a fight because of him.

It wasn’t just her solitude or sickness, however, that made her stick out most.  It was what she asked me.

As I finished my hourly rounding and asked if there was anything else I could do for her, she asked, “Janine, do you believe in God?”

Somewhere in my mind, I remember that in nursing school they tell you not to divulge personal information or befriend the patients, but that can be awfully difficult to do sometimes.  These are people you spend a large portion of the day with and sometimes multiple days.  You become the person they vent to, sometimes they cry with, and for a little while you attempt to make a big difference in their lives.  How do you not give them little tidbits now and then?

And how do you not answer a question like that to someone who so badly needs an answer?

Boy, is it a loaded question too.

I gave her my standard short answer, that I believe in a higher power (we can call him God) because I have to.  The world has too much perfection, things are so well developed and planned, to just be an accident.  Plus, I have to believe that things like cancer and illness happen for some sort of reason.  There has to be some purpose to suffering or else…well then this God guy is either really cruel or, if there isn’t one, then life in general just sucks sometimes.

That really is the short answer though.

Once upon a time, I believed in the same God everyone else did.  I was a child who just knew that He was out there watching over us; my faith was untainted by life and knowledge.  It just was.

My mother tells a story about me at about four or five.  I was sitting on our front porch in a two family home that we shared with my grandparents.  My grandmother came outside to find me and started talking to me.  I kept telling her to shush.  When she finally asked why, I told her because God was trying to talk to me and I couldn’t hear Him over her loud mouth.

That is how deeply I believed.  I had that personal relationship with him Christians like to talk about.

Life, unfortunately, has a way of skewing things.  As I grew up attending Catholic school, I started questioning.  The more life threw troubles at me, the more my questions would come.  I won’t go into the specifics, some of the laundry is not my own to air, but I will say that I did not have the peachy keen upbringing so many seemed to think I had.  I was obese my entire life and children are insanely cruel sometimes.  My home life was not idyllic and I had very few friends (and even fewer I trusted.)  Elementary school was torture most of the time and I would often escape the real world through books and daydreams.  By high school, I was severely depressed, but only one guidance counselor picked up on it.  I remember the day I saw my file and noted her label for me: “clinically depressed with suicidal tendencies.”

My school never said a word to my parents; why would they?  I was in the honors program and my grades were beautiful.  In a class of three hundred and fifty plus students, I was number thirty-five.  I didn’t act out, my only detention was for gum chewing in gym class.  They probably thought the old woman was just insane.  How could I be depressed when I had good grades, no behavior issues and friends I was seen with all the time?  Clearly she was wrong.

For the record, I never even attempted suicide, even if it did cross my mind.  But I prayed.  A lot.  I had long since given up on “religion” though it would be years before I could express just what unsettle me about it.  I had yet, however, to give up on God.  Every night I would close my eyes and whisper over and over “Please let me not wake up tomorrow, Lord.  I need the pain to stop.”  I’d beg.  I’d plead.  To no avail.

And then, for the longest time, I stopped believing that He existed.

After all, bad things happen all the time to good people.  What kind of God allows that?  Why would God, who so loves the little children, give them such horrible diseases like cancer?  Let them be abused?  Let them be murdered?  Why would He let the free will of others intrude upon the goodness of those around them?  Why, oh why, wouldn’t He help me escape?

(I promise, this is going somewhere.)

I started believing in a higher power sometime during a biology class I took.  I realized that I still had major issues with organized religion and what people who claim they are “Christian” or “religious” will sometimes do to each other.  I also accepted, that sometimes prayers went unanswered.  But as I heard lectures of the inner workings of bodies, and the interrelations of ecosystems and organ systems I knew that it  was all too perfect.  Things were designed to be in such a fashion that I became certain that some intervention had to take place.  The child in me still believed, even if the well-educated adult in me still had far too many unanswered questions.  I was still a little bitter though.  Why hadn’t He helped me when I needed Him most?

Over time I stopped hiding behind the facade of someone who was in control and happy.  I just learned to be happy and took control of my life again.  I lost weight.  I made better choices.  Better friends.  I found my way into a career I loved and my life started to become good.

Then there was Milo.

If ever I was thankful for unanswered prayers, it was the day I realized I was in love with my friend Milo.  He was smart, handsome and funny.  I cannot imagine a life without him in it.  He’s my entire world, my other half.  He is my reason.  I thank God for him and thank God for allowing me to have him in my life.

After all, despite my past my life now is pretty good.  I have great friends that I love, a family I adore, an amazing husband.  I’ve traveled.  I’ve lived.  The few regrets I have are chances I never took, but then I might not be here today so I don’t even regret those much.  Every step I’ve taken has brought me to Milo.  How can I really regret that?

I’m not sure what God wants me to learn from this cancer experience.  Maybe I need to slow down and enjoy life more.  I’m doing that now.  Perhaps I need to take better care of myself.  I can do that.  It could even be that He wants me to stop putting things off and saying “someday.”  I am doing that too.  Today, I had the thought that possibly God is answering my high school prayer a little belatedly or even a case of “be careful what you wish for.”  He’s given me this amazing life and is threatening to take it away.  Maybe He wants me to prove I am thankful enough to deserve it, that I will fight for it at all costs.  Or maybe He just wants to prove to me He is and has been listening, I’ve just stopped talking.

I’m not sure, but I do know this: I am still fighting.  Until my last breath I will push through and enjoy what I have.  I will be thankful for my amazing husband, my family and my friends.  I will make something of my life, do things instead of talking about them.  I will live.

And I will thank Him for old unanswered prayers and, hopefully, new answered ones.

Because until I perish, I will not give up hope.