I am wishing each and every one of you the brightest and happiest of New Years full of blessings and joy. Since most of my readers are often facing a breast cancer diagnosis or in the process of receiving treatments, I understand just how difficult it is to find joy and happiness at this very moment, which is the exact reason I first began this blog. I wanted there to be a living document that showed just how one can move past a diagnosis and treatment phase of their life to living a full, healthy and happy life after cancer. Although I do not blog as often as I used to, I do my best to update my readers on my life, and I hope each of you can see that updating this less often means I've moved so far past cancer that it's a blip on my radar in my past, and it soon will be for you too.
First, I would like to apologize to each of my readers as it seems all the photos I posted in my blog from day one have disappeared. I believe this is related to the Google migration that occurred last year, which is where the photos that were on this site were stored. When they were lost during the migration, it removed them from my blog. I will do my best to replace what I can, but I'm fairly certain some are simply lost to the ages, which is quite sad. I, better than anyone, understand how important photos are to those facing a diagnosis, treatment, etc., and I'm quite frustrated so much valuable information has been lost!
At any rate, I will attempt to recap my life since I last blogged. So much has changed, and I couldn't be more thankful! Life continues to throw what many would consider curve balls at me, but I see them as blessings that forced me off my current path and into the path in which I was truly meant. In September of 2018, my position was abolished with Ohio University where I had worked for nearly 20 years. As an administrator within the Transportation and Parking Office, I had played an instrumental role in 20 years worth of change, growth and development within this department, and it was truly a punch in the gut when I realized my position was being abolished in favor of "budget cuts". I was expected to return for less pay and more work, but I took a leap of faith and elected not to apply for my newly written position. Cancer had taught me to value myself, my life, my time, and my worth. Who knew such a disruptive illness could teach such a valuable lesson. I had no idea other job prospects when I made this decision, and I wasn't sure I would be able to find a position that would allow me to support my family the way in which I was accustomed. However, I knew I had to try. While I sought my next adventure, I kept myself busy by working as a substitute teacher in a local school. This was truly an amazing experience as I gained an entirely new perspective regarding how hard our teachers work to ensure the children of our community receive a quality education. They donate their own items and money to ensure each child has what they need, and they hand out hugs by the dozen every day to children who wouldn't get them otherwise. In March of 2019, I began working as a Sales Director for a mobile payment software company, PayByPhone. To say I was thrilled for this new adventure in my career in an understatement. I remain within the parking industry, in which I have built my career, and I am part of an ever changing technological landscape that allows me to work with clients to help improve the parking experience. PayByPhone is a global company, and I represent the Midwest territory, which includes my home state of Ohio. I work from home, and I get to travel within my territory as well as to conventions and summits. I've always dreamed of a position that allowed me to work from home and skip the daily commute, but I didn't truly believe it would be possible for me. However, life has a way of making things happen exactly as they are supposed to happen, and I have learned to simply trust God's plan and have faith.
In December of 2019, I earned my Master's Degree (Social Sciences). Earning a master's degree at the age of 46 is quite an achievement, and I must admit so much schooling over the past four years has certainly played a role in my lack of time to keep this blog up to date. All my extra time was spent typing papers of a much different sort. I am proud of myself for setting a goal and achieving it, and I am a walking, talking, living, breathing example that you can do whatever you set your mind to after cancer. I've now earned two degrees since beating cancer, and I consider this a huge F U to cancer. To add to my graduation experience, I got to do this with both of my daughters. My older daughter, Autumn, also earned her Master's Degree; and my younger daughter, Makya, earned her undergraduate degree at the same time. Standing with my daughters in our regalia at graduation was an experience I will never forget.
My grandson, Wyatt, is now attending Preschool and is doing very well. He has begun speaking a lot more, and he never hesitates to say he loves me. My granddaughter, Willow, is now two, and she is full of love for all of about five seconds just before the sass kicks in. They are both huge blessings in my life and represent the change that can occur after cancer. While facing treatments, I begged God to let me meet my grandbabies one day. At that time, it was simply a dream. God answered my prayers, and now I have two. I know there are more to come in the future, and I am always thankful for the opportunity I've been given to be a Mimi.
In June of 2019, I went to Amsterdam, The Netherlands, for a work summit. Amsterdam is quite beautiful, and it was a wonderful experience seeing the waterways, canals, and so much history right in front of me. After I finished up, I hopped on a quick flight to Scotland, and I spent two days in the highlands. Scotland is breathtaking, and my only regret is I didn't have more time to see and do more.
On a cancer related note, I finally took the plunge and got 3D Nipple tattoos! I've patiently waited this long to ensure my reconstructed breasts didn't shift or draw up. My biggest fear was that I would get tattoos then have to have my breasts redone with tattoos now located in the wrong location. Since I had to have a double mastectomy and my DIEP flap was only on my cancer side, I am not a candidate for nipple reconstruction (too thin of skin). However, the 3D Nipple tattoos look phenomenal, and I am quite happy with my results. After seeing a blank canvas each time I looked in the mirror for so long, it was an Earth shattering moment when I looked in the mirror and saw nipples again. Suddenly, I didn't have Barbie boobs. I had, what appear to be, real boobs again. I had forgotten how it felt to look in the mirror and see something other than scars. Of course, I cried happy tears and lost control for a few seconds as I looked in that mirror. I am truly blessed!
I am sure there are so many precious moments I didn't cover, and to be honest, I am blessed every day of my life. I couldn't possibly begin to blog about all of them. So on that note, I will close this posting and simply say that I welcome 2020 as a 6 year cancer survivor. I am thankful for cancer's lessons and the way in which I've grown as a person since I was diagnosed. I wouldn't change a thing!