Monday, July 24, 2017

The Last 5 Years

Five years ago, I wrote a blog post sharing life lessons that I had learned by the age of 25. It was one of my most popular posts, and frankly, one of the most fun to write. You can read that post here.

Each of those were strong, important lessons. Lessons I am ever so grateful for learning. But at the time, I had no idea what was to come next. The five years that followed that blog post were ones full of self discovery, adventure, challenges, and accomplishments.They were my growth years. They were the years I experienced heartbreak, fell in love, put myself first, grew closer with my family, and found myself. They were the years I found my voice, I pushed past the fear that had held me back for so long, and learned to forgive myself.

So I am here to update you on some lessons I have learned in these 5 important years.
  • Just because someone can make you laugh and buy you presents doesn't mean they are your soul mate. 
  • If you get the feeling someone is not being truthful with you, don't ignore it just to avoid conflict. 
  • Do not let another person define your worth. 
  • Cut yourself free from anyone or anything causing you pain. 
  • Family, above anything else, is the most important thing in the world.
  • The best way to get revenge on someone else is to prove to them you are so much better than the way they treated you.
  • You are worthy of being healthy and happy.
  • Pay attention to the people who embrace you when you are feeling the most unlovable. 
  • When you think you can't, you can. When you want to give up, push harder.
  • There are very few things a Girls Weekend trip cannot fix.
  • Do not be afraid to be happy. Do not be afraid to succeed. 
  • Let love in, even when it's hard. 
  • Be patient. Change does not happen overnight. Your dreams do not came true with a snap of a finger. 
  • That special guy who is patiently waiting for you to put your guard down IS probably your soulmate, so stop ignoring it.
  • Cancer is an asshole, and it does not discriminate. Cancer can happen to anyone at any time. 
  • Let people help you when they want to help you.
  • You do not have to live life the way society wants you to. You do not have to follow anyone's timeline but your own. This is your journey.
  • Taking care of yourself and becoming the strongest, healthiest version of yourself is not selfish. Do not let people tell you otherwise. You truly cannot begin to take care of others if you yourself are not taken care of.
  • You are capable of so much more than you ever even imagined. You just have to try.
  • Be open to new opportunities and challenges. Do not put yourself in a box. 
  • You will feel tired, worn down, and defeated when challenges arise. Allow yourself to rest, and find the spark to keep fighting.
  • Treat every single person you meet with love, but do not forget to love yourself just as fiercely. 
  • While it is nearly impossible to keep in constant contact with your friends, do your best, and remind them how much you love them. 
  • It's okay to breakdown. Find a health way to empty the negativity from your life, cry it out, and take the next step forward.
  • Take pride in your accomplishments, and own them.
  • Understand that you are a constantly changing, ever growing human who will make mistakes, and that's okay. 
  • Marry that guy who was waiting for you, who stood by you through all of the curve balls life threw at you, and who would do anything to make you happy. 

There are so many more lessons where these came from, you guys. It's been a jam packed, fast faced, incredible five years. When I wrote that blog post 5 years ago I had no idea that my life was going to change. I didn't know that I would lose 140 lbs, or that I would find a job that I absolutely adore, or that my dad would be diagnosed with cancer. I didn't know that I would fall in love and get engaged to a guy who I had already dated once before. I didn't know that I would have a niece and nephew who I would love so much. I didn't know the toll my dad's cancer diagnosis would take on my family, and I sure didn't know the unexpected blessings that would come with that diagnosis. I didn't know that I could be happy. 

I am not afraid to be 30. I am embracing 30. To me, it is just a number. I am not worried about a timeline or what next year or the next 5 years will look like. Perhaps that is because the biggest lesson I have learned is that you truly cannot plan for anything in life. We are not in control, here, and we have to learn that it's okay. Things happen, plans change, and it's all for a very distinct purpose. 

I am sending so much love out to each and every single one of you who have been there for me in these 5 years of craziness. I couldn't have possibly learned all of these lessons without you.

Closing with a song that I believe defines my last 5 years.

Monday, July 10, 2017

All We Need Is Hope.

It's hard to believe that it has already been over a month since I last wrote a blog entry. True, I do not blog as much as I once did, but it still seems hard to believe that so much time has passed.

When I last wrote, I spoke of the hardships my family was facing with my dad's cancer. One month later, we're still there. The roller coaster ride has not stopped, not even for a moment for us to catch our breath. But we are still holding on.

Tonight I feel it on my heart to share (duh, Megan, why else would you post a blog) something that has been weighing on my heart.

I'm getting married in 75 days. And I'm beyond excited. We are starting to get some of the RSVP's back, I've had my bridal shower, and there is really not much left to do besides the last minute logistics stuff and figure out the seating chart. Oh, and I have to pick up my dress. But other than that, we are pretty much on track with our to do list. But aside from the details of the ceremony and reception, I am so incredibly excited to marry Tom and to start this next chapter of our life. I am finding that I am starting to lay in bed just dreaming of our special day, our honeymoon, and the life we are about to have together.

But every single time I start to get excited, that excitement comes with a side of guilt. I feel almost selfish for being so excited about our wedding day, when my dad is fighting this battle and my mom is dedicating her life to taking care of my dad. I also get a side of anxiety. I mean, that's pretty natural when it comes to thinking about your wedding, but I have worries about my dad. I, along with almost everyone else in my life, have very, very strong gut feelings that he WILL make it to my wedding. And every time I see him, he reminds me that he will make it there. And I am trying to trust in God on this one. But that doesn't mean I don't worry about his health and whether or not he will be able to participate. And with these worries comes the lonely feeling, because there aren't too many people around who understand these feelings. I even checked the wedding forums. There are people in similar situations, but no one knows what to say except "I'm so sorry, I hope **insert relative here** feels better". And I don't blame people. There is no answer for this. I just wish that there was. I wish no one had to worry if their loved ones would or wouldn't make it to their wedding.

Combine all of this, along with the general wedding anxieties, plus work, and you get me. A sort of tangled web of excitement, fear, anger, guilt, and extreme sensitivity.

So what gets me through?

I take a breath. I remind myself that the little stuff (or as I like to call it, the Pinterest shit) for the wedding does not matter. I go to the gym. I carve out time to spend with Tom or my family. I listen to a LOT of music. I do what I can to help my mom with my dad. I pray. I go to church. I cry.

And now, for the first time ever, I share.

I bet I can guess what some might be thinking- none of us ever know what tomorrow brings, so why spend all our time worrying? Well, when there is a dark cloud of worry hanging over your head that literally is unpredictable and simply will not disappear, you can't help but to just dance in it's raindrops and hope the sun comes back out, pushing the cloud back out of the picture.

And that's what I'm trying to do-. Embrace the craziness of this roller coaster, hanging on tight to hope and to the people around me, understanding that it's beyond my control and that I can only do what I can do and spread my love as loudly as I can.

As always, thank you all for all the love.

PS: I know I've shared this song before, but it's become my mantra.

Monday, June 5, 2017

I Have This Hope

When someone you love has cancer, people try to tell you to be positive. They encourage you to live your life to the fullest, to cherish every moment, to take one step at a time. And for the most part, you can do that. You can take a deep breath and move forward, living life as normally as you can, accepting that cancer is just a little extra burden that you have to carry around.

But, because cancer is unpredictable, sometimes it decides to sucker punch you in the gut. You lose your positivity. Your strength starts to fade. You can't imagine how you're going to take one step forward, because you're so damn tired. And you try so hard to be positive, to look on the bright side, to hold onto hope, but cancer puts a dreariness over your world that you didn't even know was possible.

I've said before that cancer is a rollercoaster. One minute things are fine, the next you're going downhill fast, until someone or something sends you back up again.

My family has been on the cancer rollercoaster for almost four years now, and frankly, I hate it. We seem to have jumped ship to an even rockier, scarier rollercoaster now. I never asked for that, thank you very much.

It's been about 4 weeks since we found out that my dad's cancer had spread to his spinal fluid. He was put on chemo, which (we think) sent him into a weird state of confusion/unresponsiveness. He has pulled out of that now, but the poor guy is very weak, and very sick of being in the hospital. Of course, we know must also decide how to proceed, if he truly cannot handle the chemo. The medical team is running more tests and discussing options. While that's happening, we wait. We sit by his side and try to keep his spirits up. We test his memory. We support each other. We break down into tears, or fall apart laughing over the most ridiculous things.

I'm used to riding this rollercoaster with my family. But this time around, I told my coworkers, and basically anyone who will listen, that I need everyone to jump on with us. We know how serious this diagnosis is, and that it can be extremely difficult to treat. We have no idea what the next days, weeks, months will bring, but I am certain that they will bring a whole lot of emotion with them, and I am not going to lie and say that we can do this alone. We need prayers, hugs, etc.

Oh, and I'm getting married in just a little under 4 months. So on top of the journey with my dad, I am preparing for a life long commitment to my best friend, and planning for a celebration of that marriage. I have had a few people make suggestions for how I should handle my wedding (or ask what I am planning to do). I really didn't feel like I could write this blog without addressing the elephant in the room. So I will say this: My dad and I have talked. Tom and I have talked. We've got it covered. Trust me, the emotions I feel on this subject are quite intense, but I assure you all, everyone over here on my end is on the same page. I think that's really all anyone needs to know.

I will close this by saying thank you. Thank you for the prayers- if anyone is ever doubting the power of prayer you just need to come hang out with us for a while. Your prayers are working, and giving us both the grace and comfort that we need to power through. Thank you for the sweet texts, cards, messages, etc. Thank you for stepping up when we need someone to fill in for us. Thank you for the meals, treats and snacks. Thank you for being such wonderful, compassionate, beautiful souls. Thank you for everyone who sees me in Church and takes the time to ask how I am doing. Thank you for my coworkers for the coffee dates, encouragement, hugs, and for working so hard to put an end to this disease. And finally, thank you for hopping in a cart and taking this ride with us.

So, so, so much love. Like, an insane amount of love.

Oh- one more thing- of all the emotions I have been feeling as of late, the greatest of them all is hope. I have gotten a lot of that hope through all of you and your stories and your empathy. So thank you for giving me hope.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Carry You

I am not going to go into the whole long story about what is happening with my dad, because I assume if you are reading this you already know.

The short story: My dad's cancer has spread to his spinal fluid. This is a very serious diagnosis. Tomorrow he is having surgery to put a shunt in his brain, and from there he will get chemo through that shunt directly to the spinal fluid.

How did this happen?

My animated answer is that cancer is a bitch. (Excuse the language). You just never know what cancer will do.

The (sort of) scientific/medical answer is that cancer cells can go rogue, nearly impossible to detect, and they spread to other parts of the body. After 4 years of surviving Stage 4 Lung Cancer with Brain Metastasis, my dad's cancer cells have decided that the spinal fluid seems like a fun place to live. So they broke off from the brain and traveled to the fluid.

Like I said, cancer is a bitch.

A lot of people are asking how we are feeling, how we are doing, what we need. I'm going to try to answer these questions as best I can, right now in this moment. Be warned, this is me unloading my stream of consciousness. Also, I speak only for myself, not for other members of my family.

I'm tired. More tired than I can ever remember being before. Before Tom and I left the house this morning I asked him "Why am I so tired". He just sweetly said "Babe, you're stressed". Right. Duh. I'm stressed. That explains the tiredness, the headache, the craving for carbs and sweets. I'm scared. I'm afraid to see people who I'm close to because I think I might just sob. I don't always know what to say so I make awkward conversation. I'm hopeful but not too hopeful. I'm trying to be strong, but I have moments where I break down, and then I feel guilty because everyone just keeps telling me to be strong and to think positive. I want to spend every minute at the hospital and yet when I get there I just want it to all go away and go back to "normal". But, despite all of this, I am ready. I am ready to keep going. I am ready to fight alongside my dad. I am ready to take on each challenge. I am ready for the breakdowns that will come.

My sister said it best when she told a friend of ours "we are prepared for the worst but hoping for the best". From here on, that is my mantra.

We are not a family that gives up and you will not see us quit no matter what is thrown our way. We may stumble, we may take a time out, we may wonder how we will keep going, but we WILL keep going. For each other.

I love you all, I appreciate the prayers and well wishes and acts of kindness more than you know.