A Life Worth Living

A blog… 

Yes, I can do this…

I’m not a techie by any stretch of the imagination, nor am I a writer. However, with the power of WYSIWYG technology and the forgiving eyes and ears of my readers, I can become a blogger, talented or not.

Why, oh why, would I start a blog?

I have a story to tell, and a life to share. I am a normal person with an extraordinary story… a story of which I wish I had no part, but alas, I must live this story.

On the surface, these pictures show a woman (me!) modelling a dress and shoes. Below the surface, however, these pictures go much deeper. The dress is made by the model, using a pattern (Sofilantjes Litore) she customized for her own style. Her shoes are from her favourite designer, John Fluevog, who not only inspires much of her creations, but also brightened up a hospital recovery with a surprise visit. Upon looking closer you will also notice the woman is not looking straight at the camera. In fact, she only shows the right size of her face while hiding behind hair thickened with hair extensions. 

This is me. This is my reality. On January 4, 2017 I received a devastating call from my doctor. “The biopsy results came in and… it’s cancerous.” In one moment my life turned upside down. This 32-year-old mother of a 6-year-old boy and 8-year-old girl had cancer: oral squamous cell carcinoma. I was thrown into a world in which I had no experience. We hear that everyone is touched by cancer. Aside from losing my grandfather at the age of 7 to lung cancer, I hadn’t ever felt the devastating effects of cancer… until that day, and then it didn’t hit close to home, it was right at home.

A major surgery… 35 rounds of radiation… 2 rounds of chemo… six months of hell and then, suddenly, it was over. I felt good. I looked good: healthy, vibrant, full of life. I hit the one year cancer-free mark. I was at the top of the world. I felt good, our family of four had just come back from an amazing European adventure, I was advancing in my career, and I was happy. But then on July 19, 2018 I received the most devastating news of my life, worse than my original diagnosis. “We found squamous cell carcinoma in your jaw.” I hadn’t beat cancer. It had returned with a vengeance. Another surgery, this time leaving my face scarred and a little misshapen. A few months later I had another recurrence, another surgery… and another… and another… and another… the left side of my face is very scarred. My facial nerve was damaged during surgery 4, and removed during surgery 5, resulting in a loss of control in the left side of my face. I cannot smile. My left eye cannot fully blink. My left nostril runs freely in the cold. The fibula in my left leg is now in my jaw, leaving a scar in its place. I have a huge scar on my left thigh, and another on my right wrist. I have a square scar on my right thigh. My neck has been opened 5 times. I have experienced the anguish of 2 tracheotomies. I experience the anxiety of recurrence everyday. This is me. This is my reality.

In the midst of all the devastation, however, I have found so much joy. I love spending time with my precious kids, who are now almost 9 and 11. I have the courage to say no to the trivial, but yes to the important things. I spend much less time keeping my house clean and a lot more time doing the things I love… 

One of my loves is creating with various textiles. I crochet, I sew, and I finally learned to knit last fall. I have always loved clothing. My head is always full of new design ideas. Having cancer has inspired me to release this creative energy through various textile mediums and spend my time doing what I love.

These pictures hide the physical scars of a difficult story, but, at the same time, display the inspiration that comes from a life-changing journey. This blog will tell both, the continued journey of navigating cancer and the art that results from facing your own mortality. I have faced a wide range of emotions over the past 2.5 years, but joy through this cancer journey has taught me this: This life is truly worth living.