Posts tagged cancer survivor
The Beginning of the Chemo Shoes

It was the first day and, as expected, I was a little anxious.  I didn’t know what it was going to feel like…what I would feel like.  Was I going to get sick?  Was it going to hurt?  I mean I had never had chemo before so of course I had convinced myself it was going to feel like acid flowing through my veins.  Not to mention my intense fear of needles.  Looking back…I think it’s safe to say I was scared.  Really scared.

When we showed up at the cancer center we were quite the sight.  There were four of us…all with several bags packed full of snacks and games and cozy things.  And of course…Starbucks.  They called us into the infusion room and they so graciously let us take up half the room.  I sat there waiting for what I knew was my impending doom.  As it got closer and closer I felt like my chest was going to cave in.  I couldn’t decide if I wanted to run away or tell them to hurry it up so I could get it over with.  Finally…it started.  I squeezed my eyes shut waiting for that intense pain I had dreamt up in my head.  But nothing.  As I sat there waiting for it (because there was no way this was going to be painless)…my best friend, Sidne, pulled a wrapped box out of her bag and handed it to me.  A present?!?!  For me?!?!  I never thought about the idea of getting presents for starting chemo…had I known this little fact I may not have been so anxious.  

I immediately opened the box and inside were a pair of 5-inch, bright blue, glittery, spike-covered high heels.  And when I say spikes…I mean it.  Those things were dangerous.  I immediately put them on and from that moment forward…those became my chemo shoes.  I wore them to every single treatment because those shoes could kick some serious a$$.  Before long my chemo shoes became the talk of the cancer center…but above everything else they were my little piece of happiness.  It was the one thing I looked forward to on every chemo day.  Because in those shoes I was indestructible.  When everything else was being taken away from me...they were giving me something back.  They made me feel fierce and strong and were the best gift I could have ever received.  I knew those shoes were going to kick cancer’s butt…and that is exactly what they did.

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I know that everyone is facing something scary.  Something unknown that makes you want to run full speed in the other direction.  But I believe that we all have a pair of chemo shoes somewhere inside us.  That little something that makes you feel like you can do anything.  That no matter what…you’ve got this.  I think sometimes…those shoes get buried in the back of the closet and get forgotten about all together.  But what if you took just a little extra time to dig them out…brush them off…and put them on??  You could be unstoppable.  So the next time you’ve convinced yourself that something is too big.  Or too scary.  That pain is inevitable…put on those blue, spiky heels.  Because I promise you…I’m living proof that in the right pair of shoes, you can do anything.

xo, Lauren

Dear Audra,

Dear Audra,

I was going to start this with something positive and inspirational…but the truth that you and I know all too well is…cancer sucks.  Bad.  It’s scary and ugly and takes a hell a lot more than it gives.  It doesn’t care that you’re a mother or a wife or a daughter…or just someone that is too busy to deal with something this huge.  It doesn’t discriminate and it shines a beaming spotlight on what little control we thought we had.  Cancer is a force to be reckoned with…but so are you.

A friend told me once…you never know how strong you are until being strong is your only option.  And man if that isn’t the truth.  If you would have asked me three years ago what my biggest fear was…I would have said spiders or accidentally eating a jalapeno.  I never would have imagined that cancer would one day end that sentence.  Where you are sitting right now is probably the scariest place you’ve ever been.  Dealing with the harsh reality of having your looks stripped away from you.  Feeling like it’s so vain to worry about losing your hair but as women…our hair is part of us.  Wondering how your husband will look at you…how your kids will react.  Terrified that your hair is just the beginning of an up-hill battle that is so daunting it just seems easier to set up camp at the bottom and give up before you’ve even started.  But let me tell you something that is so much truer than cancer will ever be…YOU CAN AND YOU WILL.

Simple as that.  You are strong and resilient and one hell of a fighter.  And if you ever doubt that for one second…look at the three boys that you are turning into strong, amazing men.  Look at the husband that loves you so incredibly much and would put this on himself in a second.  The friends that would do anything for you.  The people in your life are a reflection of what you have to give and I have no doubt you are going to give this cancer the fight of it’s life.

But in those quiet moments.  The times when that feeling sweeps over you and you can’t seem to find the bright side.  Where doubt and fear and a whole lot of anger creep in…remember this.  You are incredibly brave.  Courageous.  And fearless in a way most people will never experience.  And you are all these things not in spite of cancer…but because of it.  Because something crept into your life and threatened to let it crumble…but you are far too strong to ever let that happen.  You are a survivor and an incredible $&@*ing woman.  And don’t ever forget it.

From one survivor to the next…kick some ass.

Your friend,

Lauren

The Fighting Spirit

I have the great honor of managing the Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center Creticos Cancer Center.  That’s quite a mouthful, but nothing compared to the incredible cancer journey that our patients and their families take in partnership with our team.  I have been a family member and friend of cancer survivors on this journey and I can tell you that the spirit is so important to heal and nurture through and beyond the treatments.  A few years ago, we had the honor of meeting Lauren, Sidne and her cheerleaders.  We were still in our previous facility, where there was limited space to accommodate family members and friends and the décor was somewhat dated.  All of that was outshined by the bright spirit that Lauren and her friends brought to each and every visit.  That bright spirit was captured in the spiky blue heels (her chemo shoes) that she wore to every visit and everyone around her saw that as a sign of hope and “fight” in her to get through her cancer treatments.

 

A close family friend was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year.  I bought her a pair of The Janet's and gifted her with them the day before a key doctor’s appointment --- her face lit up with the magical smile that I have seen in our cancer center over and over again when Lauren and Sidne have hand delivered the Healing Heels to our patients!  It is amazing to me how these heels truly uplift our patients (sometimes literally if they are wearing The Lauren) and it is amazing to me that Lauren and Sidne have continued to pass forward that fighting spirit, so that other women can be inspired, uplifted and to be healed.

 

-Maritess

 

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