I’ve had Seven Extra Years, and Counting… SEVEN!!
Last weekend was my SEVEN YEAR CANCERVERSARY. Yes, it’s been seven whole years since I finished treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
I don’t have the right words, really. To say that I’m happy, or to say I’m grateful just isn’t enough. Mere words like thankful, elated, indebted, honored, or humbled, are all accurate, but aren’t exacting or strong enough.
It’s a wordless kinda feeling.
Cancer was weird. It was a weird time in my life. It was a difficult, and kinda scary time that was full of procedures and medicine, doctors visits, worry, lots of shots. I did chemo. I did radiation. I had surgeries. I was bald. I was scared. I was strong.
And of course, as trite as it sounds: cancer changed me. It really did, though. I emerged from the fight as a kinder person, a nicer, sweeter, more appreciative-of-the-small-stuff person. I like post-cancer Rose much better than her pre-cancerous bratty counterpart.
Cancer brought my family closer.
Cancer brought me back to God, and I had never been closer in to Him than during that time.
Eight Years Ago: (it’s eight years ago, because the fight took a whole year)
I remember going to the appointment with my Aunt Sheila and Uncle Tim, in my pink velour track suit, and finding out I needed chemo and I was going to lose my hair. I was on a boat in Polk County with my then-bf Rick and our pal Critter, when my surgeon called to give me my pathology results and told me I really did have cancer.
We had this meeting, my boyfriend at the time, Rick, and four of our closest friends: Chas, and his then-girlfriend Jess, and Richard Mack and his then-girlfriend, Jessica. Chas and I were running for Student Gov’t Pres and VP and Richard was our campaign manager. The cancer diagnosis came smack dab in the middle of our campaign. We had to figure out what to do. It was crazy and intense, and so surreal.
(all my pics from back then were prints, no digi. and they were all stolen. i wish i had pics of those days i could pop into my blog, here. boo.)
I’ll never forget the people that saved my life. My family and friends, the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. My sorority and the whole Greek system. My friend Jessica who got her church to donate $3k towards my treatment fundraiser. Total strangers just giving to keep me alive. It was amazing. I was on the receiving end of so much… it’s impossible to ever give back enough. To ever be thankful enough.
In Seven Years…
I’ve done a lot. I’ve tried to make the most of my extra life, of my bonus months, days and hours.
I graduated college. From UNF, with a BA in English and Poli Sci. I had a 3.8 GPA. That’s an accomplishment I’m durn proud of!
And for the record, I literally invented the SWOOP! Anyone from UNF will know what I mean. I promise, I am the creator and inventor of The Swoop! I used to do it at half time during basketball games to pump up the crowd. Anyways! Moving on…
After cancer, I got this sweet tramp stamp to signify my accomplishment:
I went nuts for a while. I had some rockin’ good times!
I lived in this awesome apartment with all my best friends. 1308. We had way too much fun, and engaged in far too many shenanigans. It was such a great era.
I worked for Merrill Lynch for a while. I did somethingerother with some mutual funds. It was boring and kinda tricky, and in a cubicle. I liked the people I worked with, though. I loved them, actually.
I lived in Jacksonville for a while after UNF. I loved my friends, and I just had a fun, good life.
I dabbled in modeling. But that didn’t go very far. Oh wells! I tried, hehe.
I quit the cubicle and became a beach lifeguard, again. It was my first and most favorite job of all time. I will always love it. So yeah, in 2008 I quit ML and went back to the beach. It was so fun!
Then I decided to try and grow up some more. I went back to school, for nursing. I worked super hard. I graduated from Remington College of Nursing with a 3.1 GPA. Nursing school was seriously the hardest thing I’ve ever done, academically and mentally. It was tough! But I was good at it. I loved it.
In the past seven years, I’ve dyed my hair an awful lot!
I’ve traveled: Costa Rica, the Bahamas, Hawaii, the Northeast, NYC a bunch of times, Vegas, and more…
I got back into surfing. I learned yoga. I taught myself how to paint, sorta.
I started teaching CCD (Catholic Sunday school, basically) in Jax, and continued it once I moved to Hawaii. When I left the Catholic church, I taught Children’s Church at my non-denom place of worship. I like working with kids so much. I want to be a pediatric nurse some day. Or a best-selling writer. Or both!
I met, fell in love with, and married the most wonderful man in the whole universe. I love you so much Duggs, and I am so very blessed to have found you and to be your wife. You’re the best!
I started a tie dye business. And this blog.
I’ve had some ups and downs with my health in the last seven years, yeah. I’ve had a few surgeries. I’ve logged some hospital time, it’s true.
It would be impossible to have seven years of only happiness, that’s not real. There have been challenges, and hard time. Sadness. Loss. Frustrations.
But that’s the cool thing about surviving cancer: it really toughens you up. And it teaches you this resolve to get through any and everything. And for me, I’ve learned to do it with a smile or with a joke. I’ve learned to do it with the help of those who love me, the help of strangers too. And with faith in God that it will all be okay.
For seven extra years of life, I am so absolutely thankful and happy. I try to live a life that shows how grateful I am, and one that aims to make the most of every day, of every opportunity, just of everything.
So here’s to seven more years! Or seventy more years! Or even just seven more minutes of this wonderful and precious life. Every breath is worth it, and every moment is a gift that I am forever grateful to have.
as always: thanks for reading! xoxo, hhr