I recently noticed on certain social media sites that everyone is showing a review of their year in pictures. I decided I would try and see what the website would come up for me. It successfully showed a couple pictures that were a big part of my year but it also forgot several other ones. Instead of sharing what the program generated, I figured my own review would be better. Don’t worry it won’t be month-by-month or day-by-day. No one wants to read a blog post about every moment that happened in a year. It would be too long and boring for even me to read.
I started my year by getting my first tattoos on my leg in preparation for radiation. What I didn’t know is that I would form a close bond with a group of nurses and radiation technicians. For seven weeks I was greeted daily by this group of people and we shared stories about riding, hot dogs, and how much they loved the cookies I would bring with me. They were more than willing to grab the white chocolate oatmeal craisin cookies out of my hands anytime I brought them. When you see the same group of people for 33 days you get to know them and they become more like family.
I lived three short months in which I was officially told I was, “out of the woods,” and was declared cancer free. What I didn’t know during these months was that my cancer had been spreading into my lungs. In this “free” time I spent my days riding Austin, preparing to go back into the classroom, and getting back in shape. I was working with a trainer and a nutritionist to get back to a “normal” lifestyle. I had gained almost 30 pounds during treatment. I had energy and wanted to go do things. When I wasn’t off trying to be normal, I spent time helping to take care of family. I had my port removed after my 23rd birthday.
In May my “normal life” vanished. I felt as if someone had taken the rug I was standing on and ripped it out from underneath me. My cancer was back but this time it was more aggressive and in my lungs. By the time we had scheduled my surgery to remove the tumors, I quickly found out that there was a tiny colony of tumors and that I would have to travel for a second opinion. My surgery turned into a biopsy that would have a not so fun recovery. The gravity of my situation hit me one night after a friend’s wedding when I was sent a video of a horse jumping. My trainer had said this horse would be the perfect for me. As I sat in the car watching the video I thought this would never happen because there was no way that this horse would still be there after all this shit I have to go through.
As we all know Joe was still there. I will never forget the first time I saw him in that barn on the cross ties. Even though my lung was screaming in pain when I was riding and I could barely get him to trot, I was prepared to load him into the backseat of my mom’s car. That obviously didn’t happen. He came home with us in a trailer a few days later.
In July I volunteered at a week long camp for pediatric oncology patients and their siblings. I had heard about the camp from a friend who said I would absolutely love it. It wasn’t until I arrived at camp and met all the staff that I realized how special it was. It was the first time since I was in college that I went somewhere for a week on my own where I barely knew anyone. What I didn’t anticipate was that I would be surrounded by a group of people who quickly became my extended family. Everyone was excited to be there and be part of the camp. Don’t worry I have a post dedicated to that week coming soon. I know you are just on the edge of your seats in anticipation.
The rest of my summer was filled with starting my new chemo pills, a death in my family, going back and forth to doctor appointments, a brief hospital stay, and spending as much time as I could at the barn. I started this blog and never thought it would be read by anyone. I didn’t realize that people read it until someone asked me, “are you the sarcastic sarcoma?”
In the fall we had the Ulman Cancer Fund party; I got to participate in a clinic with Joe; the holidays came; and I started showing again. My hair went from being completely brown and curly in the summer to white and straight by Christmas.
Looking back on this year I have met so many people. They have ranged from the new doctors on my team to the friends I made at camp. Anyone I have met over the past year has become part of my story. Some were placed along my path to teach me something and some will stay with me. I learned to surround myself with people and animals that care about me. These are the people I know I could count on for anything. The people I choose to surround myself with on a daily basis are those who have truly helped me survive through everything. Although one of them thinks it’s funny to be playful by crow hopping once and awhile. I certainly have enough excitement in my life to be thankful for. Thanks for reading my blog. I look forward to sharing more bizarre stories with you.