Monday, January 1, 2024

Hope is a Powerful Motivator

 Even though I continue to fight stage four melanoma, every day that I wake up, I feel amazed.

Doctors said I’d never make it past October of 2022, so some friends got together and gave me and Mike money to bring our kids to Italy (my biggest bucket-list item). I can’t tell you how humbling that was, especially since several of those friends were also fighting cancer. Yet, they still found it in their hearts to do something kind for us despite their own struggles. Anyway, we bought the tickets almost a year in advance and, after finding surprisingly cheap prices (that felt like a miracle itself), we booked flights for a time when I would most likely no longer be alive. THIS was a huge leap of faith… but, even with our health, it’s important to make goals because hope is a powerful motivator.

I’m so proud to say that almost a year ago today (in December of 2022), we visited Italy, and it was life changing. (Mike and I both have grandparents who came from Italy, so this was extra special.)

The time spent after the expiration date (that men gave me) has been filled with beautiful moments. I’ve lived much longer than doctors predicted (going into calendar-year three—whoot!). I had a massive surgery and needed a blood transfusion, got pulmonary embolisms (blot clots in my lungs) on different occasions, needed to be hospitalized several times, went into liver failure, and almost died of sepsis before pulling out of it… But I ALSO went skydiving with my family and survived a crash landing (because of my bum leg), sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” at a semi-pro baseball game, got a real Maine Coon (Trey did, but we all love the little guy), wrote two books—one that got traditionally published, but both are now audiobooks—and now, we’ve actually seen Italy! It’s sad it took fighting cancer for me to truly “live,” but I’m grateful for the extra time and memories. 

It’s rough still having cancer and fighting sickness each and every day, but I’m so grateful to still be living. I’m not in remission but my crappy attitude sure is. 

Life is such a miracle, and I’m surrounded by the most wonderful family and friends. To the people who generously made the time since my diagnosis shine, I don’t know how to truly thank you, but I hope you know how much my family and I appreciate what you’ve done for us. 

And in regard to Italy, the people who made that happen a year ago… They gave all of us—especially my kids—memories that will last a lifetime. I know no matter what the future might be, my kids can look back and remember backpacking through Italy while Mike pushed me in my wheelchair! 😅🤗 In fact, sometimes when I’m facing bad news, possible surgeries, more radiation, and grueling treatments, I remember Italy. And those beautiful moments with my family get me through. My kids were just so happy. Unbelievably happy. Maybe Heaven simply looks like Florence the exact days we were there. Probably…

You can see pictures of that trip below. If you’d like to read more about those adventures, they’re in my memoir, “Ring the Bell”:

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