I daresay 2018 brought a lot of pain, loss, frustration, negativity, hopelessness, loneliness and so much more. If I focused solely on that as I reflect about last year, I would just curl into a ball and shrivel away. So, instead of focusing on disappointments and what I didn’t accomplish, I decided to reflect on what I actually DID accomplish in 2018. This idea stems from the free class I took with Lacuna Loft called It’s a Wonderful Life: Taking Care During The Holidays!
My writing: I truly AM a writer
My blog turned a year old. I am so proud of what I have written. When I reviewed the stats, I could not believe how many people not only read my blog, but also follow it. I am floored by how many countries I have reached!
This is truly a proud moment for me. My blog was planted in pain but grew in love, advocacy and compassion. The comments I received last year whether directly on my blog page or through social media and private messages has let me know that not only have I continued to build my voice, I have helped others discover their own.
Published on the following websites and publications:
- Lacuna Loft
- WILDFIRE Magazine
- Rethink Breast Cancer
- Humor Beats Cancer
- Chronic Love Club
My top connection: Francesca from Elon University
A surprise connection was made through Stupid Cancer on Facebook with the pre-med student Francesca. She reached out to me about a study she was doing on young adults and the fertility conversations with oncology providers.
The timing was perfect because I was in full out grief over not being able to have children due to my cancer treatments. I had been processing the lack of compassion by my oncology team during active treatment, and then how compassionate my oncology team (2nd opinion) was during my post-treatment.
I underestimated the mental and emotional toll having a hysterectomy/oophorectomy while single would have on me. Then, enter the fabulous Francesca from Elon University with her study. Many of you will remember me posting it in the cancer support groups I belong to because I felt it was so important that our voices be heard.
I never dreamed what would come next…
Francesca asked if I wanted to be co-author of two abstracts that were to be submitted to two major medical conferences. There was no hesitation in saying, “YES!” I helped with editing and formatting the questions in a way that would speak to the young adult cancer community.
American Psychosocial Oncology Society
Our abstract titled, “You don’t really have a say in anything…like you don’t have any options”: AYA Cancer Survivors’ Perspectives on Fertility Preservation Conversations with Healthcare Providers” was accepted, and we will give a podium presentation at the 16th Annual APOS Conference in Atlanta, GA on February 28 – March 2, 2019.
Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine
Our abstract titled, “The struggles of fertility are more difficult than the struggles of cancer”: Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Survivors’ Perspectives on Fertility Preservation was accepted for a Poster Symposia II: Sexual and Reproductive Health oral presentation at the 2019 Annual Meeting of the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine Washington, DC on March 7, 2019.
Plus, SAHM will publish our abstract in the supplement to the February 2019 issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.
Francesca and I will finally meet in-person next month after talking on the phone, emailing and texting. She is an amazing and ambitious young woman with so much compassion and determination. Super excited!!!
My job: I’m working!
It has been a rocky road on the career front. Instead of focusing on the stress, I am going to reflect on the fact my brain is professionally razor sharp again. When I had to take part of 2017 and early part of 2018 off to just heal, it was a blow to my ego and finances.
Chemo brain is no joke.
Fatigue is no joke.
I made the tough decision to completely leave the TV and radio industry because my stress level in this “new un-normal” couldn’t handle that kind of fast pace anymore. I took a lot of temp jobs in different industries to see where my skills and new mindset could fit.
In the end, I am a marketing project manager in the staffing industry. There have been a lot of ups and downs at this job, but for the first time ever, I spoke up about the managerial issues. I never would’ve had courage to do that pre-cancer. Of course, I was professional about it, but also did not let up until real change was made.
I ended 2018 by receiving a Spirit Award nomination. People in the company (80+ markets) nominate those who embody spirit, confidence and enthusiasm. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I received the nomination in the mail during the holidays. I haven’t even been there a year, so it’s nice to know I’m making an impact.
My joy: My cup runneth over
Though I’m often raw and dark in my posts, I’m super bubbly and a tad “extra” in-person. I love wearing fun hair accessories. I’m dramatic. I love to laugh. I love my cat Nathan (Natey) Edgar Chase.
I rekindled old friendships and sparked new ones.
I was able to visit my college after 19 years in October. I have ah-mazing memories from my four years at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY. Yep, a GA girl went to college in one of the coldest places on earth. LOL It was like no time had passed. I saw and reconnected with old friends, old haunts and my favorite professor, too!
Most of all, I have found love and acceptance with my tribe of friends, near and far.
All of this to say, there were beautiful moments in 2018. I’m still alive and pushing through the pain of this “new un-normal.” I have a feeling 2019 is gearing up to be pretty darn special and exciting.
Thanks so much for continuing to ride this cancer train with me. Cheers to 2019!
Until next time,