Reflections

Each year from Thanksgiving Day to New Year’s Eve is a time I use to reflect. Around Thanksgiving Day, I begin reflecting on things or events for which I’m grateful.  This year I was in Virginia Beach for Thanksgiving with my parents, my family, and my brother’s family.  It was the first time in seven years we were all together in Virginia Beach and I was thankful.

All in all, I’m thankful and blessed to be alive and to have a tremendous amount of support. My family and I couldn’t do it without all of your help.  Since being diagnosed I’ve seen over 12 doctors.  I want to specifically thank Dr. Ashkan Bahrani and Dr. Linda Martin.  I’m happy for the both of you being recognized as “Top Docs” in Baltimore by Baltimore Magazine, but I’ve known it for awhile.  Thank you for your compassion and care, for being my advocate in tumor board meetings, for remaining positive and optimistic despite poor scan results, truly listening to my concerns, allowing me to cry when I’m afraid and laugh with me when I’m goofy.  Thank you for seeing me as a person and not a number.  Words are not capable to express my gratitude for the both of you.  I know, without a doubt, I wouldn’t be where I am without the both of you and I view you and love you as my family.

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Dr. Linda Martin, my hero

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Dr. Ashkan Bahrani, also my hero

 

I also have to thank my spiritual team Cardinal Stafford, Deacon Vic, Father Jay, Deacon Luke and Father John Abrahams. Cancer isn’t just a physical disease for me; it affects me spiritually and emotionally.  I would be lost without your spiritual guidance and wisdom.

Around Christmas I reflect on past Christmases and the joy I’ve experienced around this time of year. I thought a lot about last Christmas, when I had my first positive scan in over a year and we went to Florida and Disney World.  My earliest memory of Christmas is from when I was in 1st grade and I snuck downstairs before my family.  I remember being in awe of the presents and the awesomeness of Santa.  I saw my first skateboard unwrapped under the tree.  I had to ride it.  The living room carpet was high and made riding the skateboard impossible, but it didn’t stop me and I loved every second of it.  It seemed like I was riding the skateboard for hours, but actually it was probably ten minutes.  Carefully, I put it back under the tree hoping no one would notice I had been there.  I tip toed back upstairs and went to bed grinning, excited to return to my skateboard.

On New Year’s Eve, I reflect on my past year. This past year has truly been a miracle for me.  My last two scans have been NED (no evidence of disease).  I had two successful surgeries.  I traveled to Europe twice with wonderful friends.  I was able to help coach my daughter’s soccer team.  I’ve been able to work more.  I’ve been able to spend more time with my extended family and friends. It’s also been a year full of hugs and kisses from my little ones.

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Katie is next to me.  Team Crusaders had an outstanding year and overcame an inept coach.

 

 

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The only highlight of the Philadelphia Eagles season was beating the Patriots.  Tim, Matt, and I celebrating the victory at my brother’s house  in Rhode Island amongst many Patriot fans.  (Yes, my brother is wearing athletic shorts over sweatpants).  Matt also burned his shirt after the Eagles loss to the Redskins at the end of the season

 

This year has also had its own struggles with surgeries, lung collapses, and losing close friends to cancer. Tragically I lost a friend to colon cancer this week.  Heather Johnson was a friend and an inspiration to me and many other people.  She always remained positive throughout her struggle with cancer and was always looking to help others with cancer.  She helped me with parenting young children while having Stage IV cancer. Early on in my diagnosis I didn’t want to discipline my children because I believed I was going to pass away soon and I didn’t want their memories of me to be negative.  I wanted their memories of me to be fun and loving.  Heather helped ground me by providing perspective only a parent with cancer could provide.  I’m forever grateful to her because being a parent is the proudest and most important moment for me each day.  So please hold Heather, her husband Steve, her young daughters Grace (8 years old) and Katy (6 years old) in your prayers and close to your hearts.

It’s also difficult for me because everyone I’ve known that was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer before me has passed away. It scares me because I question, Am I next? I’m now the “old” one and I hope I can be as supportive to others as Heather was for me.

There is a lot of joy and happiness during this time of year. But it’s also painful for many who’ve lost loved ones.  Please take a minute and watch this video and keep in mind many people have struggles that you may not be able to see. God Bless

 

(Thank you Clark for sharing this video.)

 

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