While this definitely wasn’t how I planned for my first post of the new year to go, I’ve learned life doesn’t always go as planned. And well, the last two months have actually gone exactly opposite as planned.
I always try to keep the blog positive as we are constantly being surrounded by negative things so I am sharing the below in hopes that you take something positive away from it. And because there are so many people out there going through similar (and sadly much, much worse) situations so hope this post brings light to their situation.
This post is not a pity party nor an excuse for going MIA the past month, but instead a completely open and honest note to show that no matter how many curve balls life throws you there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel if you keep moving forward.
So here goes nothing.
It was a little over a month ago, I was rushing on my way into work during a big deadline week when I got a call from my mom (just like every morning), “Hey sweetie, how’s your morning?” “Sorry mom, got a huge project due this week so can’t really talk right now” I replied. “No worries, just wanted to call and see how your morning was. Also, I have a doctor’s appointment this afternoon. Be sure to say a prayer for me”, “You’ll be fine, but will do. Got to go!”. I hung up the phone, got into the office and buried myself in my cubicle to crank out this project. The day flew by and I didn’t even have a chance to really check my phone until the end of the day when I see a text from my mom “Call me asap” so I quickly texted back, “almost done at work, can I call tonight?”, she replied “Call now”.
I grabbed my phone, stepped out of the office and called her back. “Hey sweetie, so I went to the doctor today and they found a lump on my chest that doesn’t look very good. They took a biopsy and I’ll know more in 24-48 hours”. Now I know this sounds crazy, but I’ve always been one of those people who thought nothing bad could ever happen to me, so freaking out is never my first reaction. “No worries mom, I’m sure it’s nothing. Don’t freak out, let’s just wait and see what the results come back as”. The next 24 hours were the longest 24 hours of my life. The waiting game is probably the worst part of everything in life but 24 hours goes by and the doctor called back and asked my mom to come back in.
Cue the “ok maybe I should be freaking out” moment.
My mom called back to break the news to me: the lump had come back as positive for breast cancer and due to the size they wanted to act fast.
Now if you know anyone who has had cancer, you probably already know this but if you are like me and knew nothing about it then the best way to describe this part of the process is like being given a rubik’s cube. You know there’s an outcome, but there’s a bunch of different paths and tests you have to take until you get there so the next week felt like a complete whirlwind; back to back doctor appointments, finding out new information everyday, getting test results back everyday, more waiting games and lots of googling to see what things mean and next steps.
The week came to an end and my parents had planned (long before any of this happened) to come in town that weekend to help me work a pop up event for Bon Aprontit. Due to the situation, plans got changed around and that Friday ended up being the final doctors appointment to get the end result/plans for next steps. I was back at my apartment getting ready to head to my pop up when my mom called with another update. “Hey sweetie, the doctor said it looks like they caught it early at stage 2 (finally some good news!) but due to how quickly it grew and the size, they want me to start chemo next week for the next 6 months and then have surgery the week after your wedding”.
Hearing these words were probably the hardest words to hear but knowing that this was one of the first moments when I knew I needed to be strong for my mom, I replied “You’ll get through this. It’s only 6 months of your life for you to be around forever and we’ll all be here supporting you every step of the way. Don’t worry about the wedding, it will just make it that much bigger of a celebration for both of us.”
Saying these words on the phone was one thing, but deep down my heart was breaking for her. There was no doubt in my mind that she would kick this thing’s butt as she’s one of the strongest women I know but knowing what it would take to get to that point was hard to swallow.
My mom replied, “I know we’ll get through this. I’m going to let you go and call your bother now. Good luck at the event and I’ll call you tonight”.
The event? The event that my mom had planned for months to come in town and work with me? The event where I would have to put on a smile and talk about a product I designed inspired by my mom? But just when I thought I couldn’t pull myself together to go, my biggest support system jumped in and said “yes you can and we’re going to do it together. Put on your shoes and I’ll load up the car.” (Sometimes I seriously don’t know know what I’d do without him).
We loaded up the car and headed to the event. Steve helped me setup and talk about the aprons to every person who came up to our booth. Sometimes when you want to give up, you just need that person there to keep you going.
I wish I could say this is where I end with my positive takeaway but unfortunately the story continues…
The next week comes, my mom has her first chemo treatment and I try to distract myself from all the cancer talk for a little and focus back on my aprons as holiday orders were coming in left and right. So that weekend, I head to my manufacturer to pick up my aprons that were ready. I walk in, get my box and head home. When I get home, I always inspect every apron before I ship it out and when inspecting the first one I notice it looks a little off. I try it on and can’t get the neck tie to snap around my neck. I immediately grab one of my samples to compare them and notice the top half of the aprons were mis-made. I grab the box and dig through the rest of the aprons (a total of 100 aprons…big gulp) to notice they all were made incorrectly.
I spend the next 48 hours back and forth on phone calls with my vendors figuring out what went wrong and then calling my mentors for advice on how to move forward. Ah yes, my first small business hiccup and what perfect timing, right?
The next two weeks I spend all my free time running back and forth to my vendors to get new materials and square everything away to get started on fixing them. Everything finally is in process of being fixed when I get a call from our jeweler that our wedding bands arrived and are ready for pick up.
Finally, something positive and exciting.
Steve and I head over to the jeweler to pick up our rings. We walk in and they have us sit down and try them on. I place the band on my finger and immediately realize it was the wrong one. Now I know, I know this hiccup is the most minor of them all and honestly is not a big deal but after everything else this was the real cherry on top moment of “can something in my life right now please just go right?”.
We get home from the jeweler and I was about to have one of those, “I just want to lay on the floor like a star fish and close my eyes and hope this all goes away moments” but instead got out a notebook and wrote down all the positive things that came out of the negative situations.
Mom’s Breast Cancer:
-Gave her the chance to take time off work during the holidays to enjoy time with family since she usually works late during the holiday season
-Happened during a time when we already had a big celebration planned so now the wedding will be an ever bigger celebration for more than one reason
-The wedding also has given her a distraction for something else to think about (I put her on hotel gift duty to get her creative juices flowing and a chance to focus on something else during her treatments)
-Every small business hits a hiccup and luckily it happened at a time when I had a lot of pop ups planned so was able to pre-sell some aprons to help with the costs of re-making them.
-It taught me a big lesson of cross checking every detail before going into bigger rounds of production that I have in the plans for 2018
-We randomly bought these super early when we were out one day running errands and so luckily there is more than enough time to get the new ones in before the big day.
After writing these all out and looking down to see that everything really happens for a reason and there is a light at the end of the tunnel for each situation I realized life is never going to go exactly as I plan in my planner and it’s not the moments when things fail that matter but the moments when you get yourself back up and figure out how you’re going to move forward that do.
My new wedding band is on it’s way, my aprons are almost done being fixed and my mom is only 1/4 of the way through her chemo treatments and the lump has already shrunk drastically so ending this post on a positive note and saying goodbye to 2017 and hello to a new year full of positive outcomes!