In February 2018 I was a healthy 33-year-old, a devout sports mom of 2 wonderful boys, pursuing my career in government, having just landed a position I had waited literally years for. I served on local boards and executives in my free time, and my husband and I were in the middle of a complete renovation of our home. I was healthy and happy, going about my life just like anyone else. Then life stopped, just for a moment, when I was told I had breast cancer.
Convinced and advised I would just have my surgery and return to life as normal after a brief recovery, I looked at cancer as just a blip on the timeline of my life. The enormity of the situation escaped me and it was probably for the best.
Three weeks after I underwent a bilateral mastectomy and partial reconstruction, a 10-hour surgery I was scared to death of, the pathology results came back and again life stopped.
Suddenly the 3 month blip I would have bet on was now surgery, chemo, radiation, and hormone therapy. As I went through treatments, cancer chipped away at my life. First my hair, then my weight, my career on hold, my sports mom abilities compromised, and my home renovation the soul responsibility of my husband. As I progressed through treatments my life was drastically different, and I reached an all time low when I was taking radiation treatments 2 and half hours from home, living in a hotel room 5 days a week by myself. The shell of the person I used to be finally broke the day I had to miss my son’s hockey game, the first game I had ever missed since he had started playing 4 years prior. Life got crazier as our youngest son was diagnosed first with epilepsy in July of 2018 while I was undergoing chemo, and then with Type 1 Diabetes in June of 2019.
A few months later, still undergoing treatments and having multiple appointments and more upcoming surgeries, I heard about the Shine On Foundation. With the help of my Oncology Social Worker, I applied for and was granted a trip. In July of 2019, our family flew to Toronto and onto New York. Our kids, having never ventured too far from home, were elated. The 12 days we spent on our trip were among the most amazing of our lives. We saw as much of NYC as time would allow, experienced a culture so different than our own, and saw things we only thought we would only ever experience through the power of television. We were not a family dealing with multiple health issues for those days, we were a family reconnecting, experiencing the amazement of a world so far from home. It was so wonderful to be away from our stresses, our worries left behind, and to just enjoy each other while seeing so many amazing things. The memories made cannot be taken, and the moments of sheer joy cannot be forgotten. As we waded on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean I experienced such peace, just my family and I, the sand between our toes and the waves lapping around us. It was a moment in time I will treasure forever.
The gratitude we feel to the Shine On Foundation is endless. They gave us the opportunity to escape our troubles, to reconnect as a family, and the strength to continue our battle. They say it is the moments in life that are most precious, and Shine On Foundation gave us so many moments that will last a lifetime.