3 Year Anniversary and a Thank You <3

Tonight while cleaning my room I stumbled onto all of the mementos I kept from my cancer journey. I’ve bumped into them before, but it hasn’t been something that I’ve taken the time to sit down and read through since they found their home there in the beginning of my journey.

When life gets back to a fast pace it’s easy to forget just where you were in those terrifying moments. Simply reminding yourself where you’ve been and celebrating where you are now is refreshing for one’s soul. While reading through everything I felt several emotions. The biggest was a huge and very welcomed reminder and just how blessed and cared for I am. I was incredibly humbled while reading through the benefit guest book. There were over 180 signatures in it and I know several others were present as well as many that were unable to make it, but were still a very big part of my healing journey. THANK YOU. Thank you to each and every one of you. I know I’ve expressed it before, but even this long after, the gratitude that I feel inside makes my heart feel like it’s going to explode. I have so many angels looking out for me. Both up above and here on earth. I have no doubt that I am one VERY lucky girl with so much to be thankful for.

Another profound thought crossed my mind tonight: I am 3 years out from the time I was diagnosed and you know what… I am a week late on the anniversary. I wish I could say that means I don’t still think of cancer every single day, but it was kind of refreshing to realize that the 18th came and went without a single thought of that horrible, horrible day just 3 short years ago. Instead I spent time with family up in the mountains and watched a beautiful bride and friend of 8 years walk down the aisle. August 18th was a great day and I am looking forward to many more in the future.
<3 Nicole <3

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A grip on reality and some amazing little fighters.

A grip on reality and some amazing little fighters

~Kendra, 13 years old, Leukemia Cancer Survivor~
Yesterday I was lucky enough to be a part of River Discovery’s first youth survivor and co-survivor 1 day rafting trip.  It was a beautiful day and the participants were great. I was assigned to Kendra’s crew and I felt right at home. Her family consisted of  her mom, a younger sister, and two older brothers and one thing was clear very early on- Kendra has an incredible support system at home. Unless you’ve had a major illness strike your family, it may be hard for you to relate, but life as you know it comes to a screeching halt. One thing many crave is a sense of normalcy.  Their old normal. Before cancer normal. Her family seemed to have that down when an older brother pretended to push her in just to get her to laugh. Watching them with her (one 22 and the other 17) was incredible. At one point she skinned her knee and they were quick to make sure she had the proper medical attention she needed. You could feel the love and respect they all had for each other and watching it at work really warmed my heart. Her little sister was a spit fire and I felt like I was looking at what my daughter will be like in a few years. She was fearless and had a huge sense for adventure. She even “rode the bull” (riding the raft with your feet hanging over the front and holding on to nothing more than a rope) through almost all of the class 3 rapids we encountered. Then there’s her mom, oh my gosh her mom. What an incredible woman she is. From spending DAYS in the hospital by her little girls side to holding down fort at home. When she looked at her daughter you could see a whole story playing behind her eyes. Fear, anguish, hurt, but above anything else – LOVE. So much love. Watching this mom watch her little girl smile and laugh and to get to just be 13 was so beautiful. I have no doubt that yesterday will forever be a day that all of us can look back at and smile. A day out of the hospital, a break from cancer, a day to LIVE.

For more information on River Discovery, please go to http://www.riverdiscovery.org.

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August 2, 2012 · 3:21 pm

It’s that time of year again…

Boise’s Race for the Cure is only two and a half weeks away and this year although our lives are very busy this year, I am so excited to set some time aside to represent an organization I care so much about. The services, funding, and support that are available to women at all stages of their journey because of this great organization is nothing short of incredible.

If you live in the Boise area and have not already joined a team, we’d love for you to be a part of ours. Just go to KomenBoise.org, click on the Race for the Cure link, click on “join a team” and search for our team name and click “Join”. It’s as easy as that, it’s a GREAT cause, and we’d LOVE to have you with us to celebrate!

This year my husband and I were also a part of this years race campaign. Bellow is his “story” and his “I race for”… Can I just say that I am a VERY luck woman. :-)

Written by: Brock Cassity


As a co-survivor you have a hard time relating to other people. From the outside world people say “oh you don’t have it tough, she does”, but in reality… it is tough. As a husband it hit me hard, but in different ways and it changed from day to day. Some of the hardest were the emotional heartbreaks of watching your beautiful wife lose pieces of her that made her who she was like her hair and her pink-peachy colored face that was once full of joy and life turn dull and grey and full of sickness. It hurt to see her so sick and in pain.
Everyday my stomach was in knots while I did my best comforting her and financially provide; yet at the same time I felt like I could do nothing. It was impossible to completely understand what she needed or what she was going though, because I wasn’t the one who was physically going through it.
Our faith in God, trust in each other and a whole lot of love is what got us through. We stood our ground during the hard times and it paid off. Nicole is now over a year cancer free and is as strong (and stubborn) as ever. The memories of the rough times will always be there, but the good that came from it outweighs the bad.
I was lucky, she beat cancer and I am blessed in that I get to come home to my beautiful wife and mother to our 3 year old daughter. To those who’ve lost that- My heart aches for you. To Cancer- One day you are going to lose and I hope we live to see the day where all of your victims can stomp you into the ground and keep you away forever. 
I race for my beautiful wife, Nicole, to show her how much I stand behind her and will always be there to support her. I also race for my daughter, Morgan, in hopes that she lives a happy, healthy, and cancer free life.  

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Baby makes 4!

I just got back from my doctor appointment and I am excited to announce that this holiday season will be complete with a new member of our family! My official due date is November 14th so that makes me 9 weeks and 1 day.

It’s amazing what difference a year can make. I remember this time last year I was in medically induced menopause and dealing with symptoms like power surges (hot flashes), insomnia, ZERO libido, and I’m sure my husband might add mood swings to the list. Needless to say, while going through all of that I really worried about how well my ovaries would make it back out of it and it didn’t feel like the possibility of having another child on my own would ever be possible again. Menopause is HORRIBLE! Be nice to your mothers, wives, aunts, whomever is going through it… other wise they might just kill you! ;-)  

If we didn’t get pregnant by this coming summer, we had every intention to start the adoption process and we were pretty excited about the idea of it. I don’t know if adoption is still something that our future holds (we’re ready for what ever blessing God wants to bring our way), but right now we are very excited about the little blessing living inside my belly. :-)  

It’s funny how very different I feel about this pregnancy than with Morgan. I just want a happy healthy baby. I don’t care about the sex… just health. This baby is truly a miracle and we feel SOOO lucky to have him or her!

I’m so excited to say… BABY MAKES FOUR! 

God is so good and I can not wait to see what other good things this year brings. Happy Tuesday!

Love,

Nicole

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What is Love?

What is Love?

In the beginning love is more of a connection. A desire to get to know more about this person. A curiosity that makes you want to know everything there is to know about the other. You hold onto their every word like poetry. You have a need for their presence so strong, that missing them makes you sick to your stomach. It’s when you  see each other next the passion is so overpowering that fireworks go off inside of you at the sight of them and your body tingles at their touch.

At your wedding, it’s being so nervous you want to vomit, yet the second you connect eyes you see the other with a smile bigger than you’ve ever seen them smile, with wet cheeks, and a consistent stream of tears gliding down them. It’s trusting them with your future and knowing that where ever you end up… as long as you’re together it will be worth the wild ride getting there.

It’s the moment you decide that the timing is right  to start a family. The excitement, yet fear. Then finally the comfort in knowing that you have each other to stumble through it together.

It’s telling the one that you love that you have a deadly disease, that you are scared, and that your future is uncertain. It’s them countering with a hug so full of devotion, yet so full of passion because they too fear that they could lose you.

It’s facing that fear together, as a team. And if one get’s knocked down, you’ll fall down together.

I have a confession… a cheesy one at that. Some moments I find myself inspired with a burning desire to sit down and write. Different things trigger it be it a song, a dream, a memory, or in tonight’s case… a movie.  Before I let this confession out I will call myself out upfront. I am an absolute hopeless romantic. I am also the type where my mood can be easily swayed by things as simple as a song, a story, or yes… even a movie.  Tonight I watched Letters to Juliet (YES I KNOW… I am THAT cheesy!) and it got me thinking about Love.

I am very much the type that thought once I got married the wooing and sweeping the other off of their feet would have only just begin. That we’d be 80 years old walking 1.5 miles per hour leaning on one another for support with our feet only shuffling along, because lifting them off of the ground could risk a fall. I pictured him referring to me as “His Bride” after 50 years of marriage. Then reality crept in. He’s dodging a shoe being thrown at his head after an argument and somehow “My Old Lady” doesn’t sound as romantic as “My Bride”. It’s funny, but sometimes it takes looking back on my illness, my wedding, or the early days of our relationship to remember exactly what it was that led us to our life as we know it.

My marriage now is by no means as romantic as it was when we first started out and only on special occasions does the other take the time for surprises. Although we are no Romeo and Juliet we are one thing and that’s Real. Moments like tonight make me realize that the same desire to punch my husband in the gut is fueled by the passion that brought us together. If I didn’t care so much about him the thought of beating him some days wouldn’t be so desirable. I’m only kidding about beating him part… the actually doing it part. The desire… now that’s still there!  :-)

Sometimes that passion can be fueled by other things and once the feeling of being loved falls out of the equation, I think we as women fill that passion tank full of frustration, anger, maybe even a little regret. I have a friend in whom I think the world of. Right now she is going through one of the hardest decisions of her life. After 10 years of marriage her and her husband have decided to walk away and take separate paths. Although I do think that many throw the “D” word around far too easily, in her case I don’t know if there is any other way for the two of them to be happy. When one person has completely shut the other out both as a friend and as a partner and refuses to explore ways to make things better… you have no other choice than to go your separate ways. I do believe that marriage is worth fighting over… (that’s why my husband and I are so good at it… the fighting part), but her situation has opened my eyes to another side of cancer. One that is very, very ugly.

I will be the first to admit that there is always two sides to every story and that there is so much of it that I do not know. But what I do know breaks my heart. My friend and I were diagnosed just a day apart, yet our stories and cancers are very different. Like me, she is a mom with two beautiful little girls to fight for. The biggest difference is I am considered to be in … dare I say it… “remission” where she is still very much in the heat of her battle. She was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. Like me she initially chose chemo and although at times I felt as though the chemo was killing me… hers literally was. She went from running marathons to not even being able to lift her own head off of her pillow. She was only given, at best, 4 months to live so she chose to go off of the chemo and try her luck going a different direction. If she only had 4 months to live she didn’t want to spend it deathly ill and frankly, what did she have to lose? She chose to go a more natural route by dramatically adjusting her diet  and today, although she still has stage 4 cancer… she’s ALIVE. She’s not sure what the future holds when it comes to treatments, but right now she is stable and that is a great place to be.

The even harder part to fathom in this story is that although I believe that in the beginning her marriage had the same passion, fear, and love that Brock and I had when I was diagnosed, our situations were very different. Although there were small moments of “what if’s” 90% of my journey was knowing that I was going to be okay. That I was going to live. My odds were in my favor. Hers were not. Although I feel like kicking her husband in the junk when I think about their current situation, the more rational side of me forces me to sit back and try to see it from both points of view.

I can not even imagine being told the news that my husband only had 4 months to live. To figure out what my future was suppose to consist of when the person I’ve always envisioned sharing it with will soon by cut from the picture. She was 27 at diagnosis. Together they had two very young children and I can only imagine the weight he felt on his shoulders. The pain, the confusion, the anger, the fear, the anxiety. To filter through all of those feelings and to feel the biggest low you’ve had to of ever felt in your life and then for that end not to come.

See to me this is where the story should be that “Happy Ever After”. Where their new love story can begin, but for them, more heartbreak laid ahead. I will be the first to admit that I do not know her husband… not even slightly. I have met him only once and he seems like a nice guy, but even in that short meeting it was very apparent that their wasn’t much of a bond left there. I don’t know what happened, what “clicked”, or what “went wrong”, but in my head the only way to make sense of this madness is to come up with a reason. So that’s what leads me to wonder if all of that emotional trauma lead him to completely and entirely, emotionally numb himself towards her. Maybe it’s just too hard to go through those feelings again so instead of working through the tough feelings,especially the possibility that although she is okay now…  only God knows what the years ahead hold. Instead of having to go down that road again, to toy with those thoughts and feelings,  I wonder if he’s shut them off completely?

I know that the months ahead for my friend are going to be far from easy, but I also see a day when this will be a distant memory of the past and I truly believe that if anyone can beat stage 4 cancer, she can. I admire her and look up to her so much and it makes me so sad to see someone so courageous put on a tough front, but when you look into their eyes you see that there is a lot of pain and hurt resting just bellow the surface. The eyes never lie.

I also know that if you can persevere through a cancer diagnosis, you can do anything you set your mind to. To every closed door, another one opens and I can not wait to see the blessings and prosperity that her future holds!

I love you girl!

Nicole

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Staying Connected

Every month the local CFR girls try to get together for a night to catch up and the opportunity to stay connected. Tonight only two of us were able to make it,  but I’ve never regretted making the time and effort to come. There is something to be said about connecting with people who understand you on a level that no one else can. When you go through an illness or catastrophic event like cancer, it forever changes you. When you undergo treatments like chemotherapy, you don’t come out of it the same. Sometimes when I am talking about a change in myself that I’ve noticed since chemotherapy and I’m explaining it to someone who’s never personally gone through it, I feel like they think I am being melodramatic or a hypochondriac and that I am using my treatment as an excuse to this madness. Tonight I was talking to my good friend, Melissa about my new bouts with anxiety and  how certain things seem to really trigger it like finances and feeling rushed or unprepared. She totally got it. I didn’t feel crazy telling her what I expect caused it, because she gets it. She understands that even after the treatment is over, you are forever changed. Our girlfriend Dani had an amazing analogy of just this. She told us a story about how it’s like you’re running in a race and getting cancer is you stepping out of the race to catch your breath on the sidelines. Life doesn’t slow down, you just see everyone passing by. Then you finish treatment and your hair grows back and you start to look healthy again so people start calling you back into the race. The problem is, you’re different, you’re changed. You can’t keep up with the race and part of you doesn’t even want to.

That’s kind of where I’m at in my own personal race. Since going back to work especially, I feel like I am back in the race, but slowly getting lapped. I look at all the lessons I learned in the past year and all of the things that God has put a passion in my heart about and I wonder if I’m even at the right race. I see other runners rushing by so fast that my hair moves with them, yet as soon as they pass everything turns into slow motion and I see on their backs words spelling out different directions I should be taking in my life. For some reason though, I’m hesitant and maybe even a little scared to take the first step.

It’s like that old wise-tale about the man who is promised a big fortune from winning the lottery and after years of not receiving it he questions God about why that is and God simply answers, YOU MUST BUY A TICKET FIRST MY SON!

I am so blessed and grateful to have my job back and I know that right now it is important to help my family out in whatever way I can financially. I also understand that it’s necessary to get me to where I’d like to be.  Maybe it will be months, maybe it will be years, but I know that I won’t get to where I want to be if I never take the first step. The easy way would be to just continue the current race because I know the scenery and I’ve raced in it before. The path to my passions, however, is on new land. Land with steep hills and  mud puddles. No one said running with mud caked to your shoes would be easy, but then again if it were, people wouldn’t be living with so many “what if’s” now would they?

When I left my date with Melissa tonight some of the feelings I felt were inspired, empowered, understood, and encouraged (just to name a few). That is what staying connected is all about. Keep people in your life that make you feel this way. Don’t waste your time hanging around people who make you doubt yourself or leave you with a negative outlook on life. We were not put here on this planet to just be ordinary. Each of us have gifts and it’s our choice on what we do with them. I feel like I got breast cancer at such an unlikely age for a reason. I know that because of my struggles and hardships I can now reach out to and relate to people I otherwise would have nothing in common with. I feel that my wisdom from all of this is a gift and it’s my job now to figure out what I am supposed to do with it.

My resolution this year was to help make our financial situation better, but that’s not good enough. I realized on my drive home tonight that although I am improving our current situation by going back to work, I am still just jumping back into the same old race. I know this race and it’s within my comfort zone. It’s a race I can settle for and be content with, but it’s not a race I am passionate about. So in addition to that…

TODAY…

Right this minute…

I AM ON MY MARK…

I AM SET…

…I have officially taken my first lunge across the starting line to my new race. A race of self discovery, of new lessons, and a race of purpose.

Wish me luck!

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Back to work

Back to work-

If you don’t know me, I am a planner. I have to have a game plan for everything.I mean everything. Don’t get me wrong, I can totally wing it, but only if winging it was part of the plan. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in the last year and a half is that no matter how solid your plan can be, if God has a different plan, His will win. Never in a million years did I think I would have to battle cancer and never in a million years would I have thought so much good could come from something so horrible. Trust me, it definitely wasn’t in the “plans”. Not my plans anyways.

This week is another example of a change of plans. Last week I returned to work as a travel agent and this week will be my first week back full-time. I went back full-time because right now my family needs the extra income to pay off debt and to help make ends meet. To say this return was bitter-sweet would be a total understatement. I am incredibly lucky to have a manager that thought enough of me to put up a fight to get me back, but on top of that the other ladies in the office were genuinely excited and relieved to see me return. It definitely made a hard decision a little easier. I am also lucky to have an incredible mother-in-law that thinks the world of my daughter and loves spending as much time with her as she can. It’s a huge relief on my heart to know she’s in great hands while I am unable to be there.

I feel silly to be so heartbroken over such a frivolous thing, but I am. I hate that I have to go back to work, but I refuse to sit back and watch my family collapse financially when I am healthy enough to step in and help. I know this isn’t the path I planned on walking down, but I have to trust that this path was necessary to lead me and my family in the direction of a better future.

 

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