2017 was a doozy, probably the worst year of my life to date. 2018 and 2019 have been quite different as we continue to recover from 2017 and discover how our lives have changed. Every time I start to think we’ve figured something out, things change. The saying … “the only constant is change” … is something I think about a lot.
So, in no particular order, here are the lessons of 2019 …
- We’ve re-discovered in a very different way that living life closely with family can have significant ups and downs. Having this much close family time for the first time in decades has brought it’s own challenges and navigating those issues as adults is very different from when we were kids. My parents regularly refer to the 6 of us as dragons and when we’re at odds, it’s pretty spectacular in many different ways.
- We’ve discovered that as soon as things seem stable and quiet, things change. I experienced my first progression in August of 2019. Progression is when the cancer mutates, figures out how to defeat the cancer medication, and starts spreading again. My progression was “mild” as I only had two new bone Mets, but the fact that the cancer mutated at all was devastating. I am thankful that Ibrance worked for 24 months and I had a good quality of life. Piqray is now my main cancer drug and we’re still working on figuring out how to capture a similar quality of life.
- We’ve discovered that being a part of the right community is important for the whole family. It has taken us a bit of time to find that community, but I think we have found a place where we are all supported and we can be friends with other families. A “play date” with a bunch of boys is a little different from “play dates” with girls, but we’re figuring out how to make it work for everyone. We attended our first “Friendsmas” this year and have rediscovered the joy of being close to other families and the benefits of being able to lean on others.
- My non-profit, Connect IV Legal Services, launched officially in January of 2019 and I’ve been able to connect over 70 families with legal services that they desperately need. It’s hard to describe how meaningful it is to me to be helpful to others, to ease a burden, to provide solutions.
- I lost some people I knew in 2018 to cancer but I had no way to know that 2019 would be devastating in the metastatic breast cancer world. The number of young, vibrant women, daughters, mothers, wives, we lost in 2019 has hit me hard. I knew many of them in real life, all of them online, and it’s been one of the hardest things I’ve ever experienced. I am irrevocably changed by the women and men I’ve met and gotten to know who have cancer. They have changed me and I believe I’m better for it.
At the end of the day, family is the most important. At the end of the day, the boys being healthy, learning to be authentic and growing up with the values we consider important is so key. If we can help others along the way, then so much better. Here’s to ringing in 2020 with an even better outlook on life than 365 days ago!