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(Wore this shirt on diagnosis day and plan to wear it every March 8th)

Today feels like any other day, not really one you’d want to mark with celebration, but its an important day. Its also not a day we will ever forget ether. This day, one very long year ago, we found out that I had breast cancer. Now, Jason is the writer of the family, to which you should read his beautiful reflection on this day. It would feel strange for me to let this day go by without marking it in some fashion, so here I am.

There is so much that can be said after a year like this past one. I wrote about diagnosis day if you wish to read that story. Today I remember back on the days surrounding the Friday afternoon we got the news. One thing that you should know in reading these reflections is that not a lot of people even knew I had found a lump. Ive had a lot of friends who had found lumps and it was never anything, so I was not worried at all. Telling other people would make it a bigger deal than I believed it to be. While telling people, they were in complete shock because most didnt even know I was getting a biopsy.

The Monday before I got diagnosed I was at Kendra’s house, who was teaching me how to make bread. Yeast and I had never gotten along and she was teaching me how we really truly could be friends. I never mentioned to her that was having a procedure that week because it was nothing. So when Emily called and told her our news her response of “Alisa? Are sure?” was about the same in how we were feeling. You sure you got the right girl? Even, now, after everything, I wonder sometimes if I really did have cancer.

Allison and I had a tea date set for Saturday morning after diagnosis day. I wasnt dreading it, I love spending time with Allison but of course, wasnt sure how to bring up the news. She and her husband, Adam, are adopting so we were talking about that for a while. She then asks how I had been, so I shared with her of course what happened the day before. She automatically grabbed my hand from across the table and said “Oh Alisa.” with shocked filled eyes. Adam and her came over later that day with flowers, food and a game of Catan. Perfect way to just kill time until Monday, when I would get my first ever MRI to help give a bigger picture of what the cancer cells they had found were all about.

The weekend was one of the worst because we were in a fog of so much unknown. I do not recommend getting diagnosed on a Friday if one can help it, because of all the waiting. Once we started getting information from the MRI and meeting with doctors – it was overwhelming but the information was so powerful. Church that Sunday was different. Not in that our faith had been shaken (although we were asking a lot of questions to Jesus over those first few days for sure) but that were such a fragile state and most of our friends had no idea what was going on with us. Were pretty open and honest people so that was strange to have this big secret in the mist of a community we trusted so much. We slipped in late and slipped out early. We weren’t ready for another wave of overwhelming questions, to which the answers we wouldn’t have yet. The few people that new, gave us long knowing hugs. I desperately wanted to beg this community to pray for us, but didn’t want to break down on them ether.

That afternoon I composed an email to our community group, because we wanted them to know and we didnt know if we could emotionally get through sharing all the information we did have in person that night. The email was sent and we waited. Griffin responded to us that he loved us and would do anything we needed. Community Group that night, we ate dinner together like always and then walked to the park because it was a nice March day. We threw a frisbee around, played on the jungle gym and chased Anna’s dog August around at a local elementary school. Michael and Hannah wondered if we wanted to talk about it as a group. We didn’t know so we didnt. As we walked back to their house, Sabrina walked along side me and asked how I was feeling. I shared with her my fears and worry. It was our last evening of feeling normal before the cancer world set it and it was kinda perfect. I found out later that our news hit our little group hard and they just didn’t know what to say. I understood that, I don’t know if Id know what to say ether before actually going through it myself. This small but amazing group of people gave me my chemo bag and stuffed it to the brim with things they researched that I would need while going through treatment. While my head was full of worry, my heart was so full of love and comfort from this community.

Theres an online community I have been apart of for many moons now. Some very dear friends have come from this message board, and they knew what was going on with me that week. They gave me words of encouragement and prayers in the very early days. My friends Susan, an pediatrician oncologist and who’s mother also had breast cancer around my same age, was the first person to say “Not to scare you, but I wouldn’t rule out cancer.” as the first few doctors who saw my lump were telling me it wasn’t anything to worry about. It did scare me to be honest, but I was glad it came from a friend first over a stranger of a doctor. These ladies have been a constant source of a listening “ear” that has meant the world to me. They even came from near and far to celebrate the end of radiation with me. This place, even if its online, is a very special one especially this past year of my life.

After finding out for sure I would be having chemo (at one point in the early days I was told I would not be having chemo, what a tease) I suddenly went into Spring Cleaning mode. I was decluttering our house. Deep cleaning it for when I wouldn’t be able to clean. Making plans for the unknown days that were ahead of me. My church were I work were beyond supportive to me durning treatment, Im every so grateful for such a workplace such as mine. They prayed for me at a staff meeting, I still remember our lead pastor praying “Lord, we pray for you to heal, Alisa” and tears that seemed to be contestant filled my eyes. I honestly hadn’t prayed such a prayer, not because I didn’t think God could, but because I wasn’t really brave enough to. I never once thought I would die from this cancer, which might be a bit boastful but it just wasn’t something that crossed my mind. When I do think about the fact I had a life threatening disease, its crazy to think that was even part of my story, but the fact I have come so far from that realilty, makes me not fear death as much. Death has lost its sting.

As the news trickled out, having people from our different circles tell people for us, we heard from many people. People came out of the woodworks. Friends parents who I hadn’t talked to since I was a little girl contacted me. Told me they were praying for me. Packages showed up everyday for quiet a while with gifts to help ease this time. Meal sign ups were booked for months within days of the food tidings being created. Friends offered to clean our house and mow our lawn. So many people from so many different places were sending their love and support and praying for us. Its a feeling I can not put into words. Those prayers carried us through our year of cancer. If you prayed for us, thank you. We could of not walked the road we did without people like you praying. There are many more stories of kindness I could tell of those early days but this post is probably too long as it is. Thank you for reading all my rambling thoughts and for loving us so well, dear friends.

(If you want to read my thoughts from those first days, just click on “New Journey ” category.)

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Oh, dear friend. I wish my fears and gut feelings hadn’t been true a year ago, but I am also glad that my tales of chemo curls haven’t been lies either. 🙂 So honored to be one of the many people to walk with you through this. :hug:

March 8, 2014 1:15 pm

I have never been more proud to call you my friend! As much as the past year has been difficult, God’s beauty and grace and faitfhulness has been shown through you. Praying for a VERY HAPPY year ahead of you with only good news and peace. I know the journey isn’t totally over, but this major milestone is now part of the past and I pray it’s smooth sailing from here on out. Lots of love from Bama!!!

March 10, 2014 1:09 pm

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