Twelve Twenty

Like many of you, this is a reflective time of year for me for so many reasons. I often find myself saying “this year went by so fast”, “I can’t beleive it is almost Christmas”, and “where did the year go”. However, these past six years have taken on a whole new meaning of reflection. Six years ago today, December 20th, 2011 (twelve twenty), Eric received his diagnosis of having grade 4 glioblastoma brain cancer. As I sit here and not only reflect on the last year, I can’t help but also reflect on the past six years. On that day six years ago, we couldn’t even predict what the next six months would bring, let alone the next year or even six years. If you were to tell me on that day six years ago where we would be, the challenges we would face, the ways we would overcome them and all the ways cancer has given us more than it has taken away – I am not sure I would have believed you.

A few days ago, I was looking through my nightstand and found the journal I had started when Eric was first diagnosed. If I am being honest with myself, I likely started the journal for the fear of the unknown to what was going to happen over the next six to twelve months. When Eric was originally diagnosed he was given a prognosis of 6-12 months. At that time, Bryce was only 3 years old, so in my darkest place, likely one reason why I kept that journal was to help keep Eric’s memory alive and so that we could never forget in case that prognosis became a reality. On this day six years ago, I wrote:

“Bryce went to daycare and I stayed home with Eric so I could go to his neurosurgery appointment. Eric rested awhile in the morning. I helped him get a bath. His appointment was at 2:45pm with Dr. Tranmer. We got to the appointment on-time. Dr. Tranmer came in, looked at Eric and said he looked well. We (Eric, me, Tracy) then looked at the MRI pictures of the tumor. It showed they removed about 70-80% of the tumor. After that was done, we were then told the results of the biopsy. Eric’s tumor was a grade 4 tumor, which is probably the worst outcome it could be. Dr. Tranmer said this isn’t typical for someone Eric’s age. Usually this tumor is found in someone 70 years old, not 29 years old. So, while the statistics might not be on Eric’s side for the outcome of the treatment, Eric is young and healthy, which will get him through. Eric was so strong in hearing the prognosis and is determined to stay positive. He is amazing and if anyone can beat this, it is him. I don’t even know how he does it, but even as he hears the worst news he keeps us all together. I love him more than anything. I won’t allow anything to take him from this family. We are going to do whatever it takes to beat this.”

While I may have started the journal in my darkest place, I am so glad to have found the journal in a positive place in our life. That positive place came from a recent trip to California.

Eric has had the opportunity a few times share his story, however on December 11th, he was able to share his story with an entirely new audience.  That audience would be Maria Menounos and her listeners on Conversations with Maria – Sirius XM Channel 109! About a year ago Maria and I connected on social media. At that time, her mom was recently diagnosed with the same cancer that Eric had. I was able to share some hope around the diagnosis, as Eric had just surpassed his 5 year survivorship with brain cancer. Maria asked if we would want to come on her radio show to share our story – which of course we said yes to!

The entire trip to LA was amazing. The Eagles were playing the Rams at the Coliseum when we were out there. We were able to get tickets to the game, and watch the Eagles defeat the Rams to clinch the NFC East! (of course I had to add this in about the EAGLES!) The following day we were scheduled to be on Maria’s show, which was nothing short of amazing. We arrived at the studio that morning, and Maria greeted us shortly after. Maria has such a beautiful appearance and demeanor about her. We were able to have an introductory meeting before going on live on-air, and then it was go-time.

During our nearly 30 minute on-air segment, Eric was able to talk about his diagnosis, our book, jewelry line and charity events, but most of all – Eric was able to share his story and give other listeners HOPE.

In those 30 minutes, I experienced so much reflection. On this day six years ago, we had been told two days prior that Eric had a tumor the size of a baseball in his frontal lobe. Who would have thought those moments would have been the beginning of our story with cancer. Since that first page of our story was written, we find ourselves six years later extremely blessed. On those pages these past six years, we have written many stories of life experiences, our changed perspective on life and how Cancer Canknot.

Something that Eric and I believe, is that he was given this diagnosis for a reason. With us having the opportunity to talk with Maria and her listeners added more validation to that reason. As Eric talked about on the radio show, we know that not everyone has the same story as he has had with brain cancer. However, no matter your story we all need to continue to fight for hope. Our wish is that our story will help keep that hope alive.

Maria, thank you for giving us the platform to share our story. The  awareness you have raised around brain tumors and brain cancer is amazing. We will continue to send positive thoughts to your mom and HOPE as she writes her own pages of positively with her story with brain cancer.

To Eric, thank you for being you. Thank you for your continued positivity, strength and hope that you have carried with you every day for these past six years. I LOVE YOU. xoxo

Conversations with Maria Menounos – 12.11.17
Twelve Twenty (12.20.11)

Right Place at the Right Time….

Probably every person reading this blog has said ‘everything has happens for a reason’…or ‘it was just the right place at the right time’, well, “The RIGHT place at the RIGHT time” happened to us last week.

As many of you know Eric goes in for routine MRI scans every six months to evaluate if there has been any changes to his tumor. As I have blogged before, me and the kids go to every one of his appointments. At this point it has almost become a superstition and not wanting to change anything up from our routine that could possibly erase the great fortune we have experienced thus far in Eric’s cancer recovery. This time it was no different. We packed the kids in the car, waited for the nurse to call Eric’s name, kissed him good-luck and then went to eat dinner in the hospital cafeteria. When we came back from eating I noticed there was a young husband and wife as well as some additional family members in the MRI waiting room. For any of you who have had to wait for a family member in an MRI waiting room, you know that it is an open space, without much privacy. Many times when I am there, I wonder what others are there for…did they have cancer too? That wonder was no different this time. I heard the nurse call the man’s name, he went to the back MRI room, his wife kissed him good luck and she waited, just like me. What I would soon find out, is their story was not much different than ours.

The family member that waited with her began to ask questions, about his seizures, how long he had been in treatment, asked about the tumor and then said the word many of us wonder about in the waiting room, “Cancer.” It was at that point I realized that she too was the spouse of someone diagnosed with brain cancer. I couldn’t help but eavesdrop on her conversation. A few times I debated whether I should interrupt, but I didn’t want to be rude. However, I got a sense of doubt from the diagnosis that this couple seemed to newly be facing so I decided to say something….I interrupted and said “I am sorry to listen in on your conversation, but it seems that your husband was also diagnosed with brain cancer?” It was almost immediate in seeing the sense of relief on her face knowing that someone else was going through something similar. As I began telling her our story, Eric walked out of the MRI with perfect timing, where I could say ‘ this is my husband, Eric – he is nearly a 5 year brain cancer survivor’. We were able to share Eric’s story of diagnosis, tell them about our book, how we are trying to help people diagnosed, but most importantly we were able to give them hope.  Before the conversation was over, we received no less than three hugs and endless thank you’s for helping them think more positively about the road they soon will be traveling.

So next time you are somewhere and you question yourself why, know that everything happens for a reason and there is always a right place at the right time.

I am also happy to say that not only were we able to give hope to that young couple in the waiting room, we also received the good word that Eric’s MRI still looks stable and there is no sign of cancer regrowth…not a bad story nearly five years later. He is still the Cancer Crusher, just as he is pictured. #CancerCanknot

 

Cancer Canknot Stop You From Saying “I Do”

Eric and I have the opportunity to share our Cancer Canknot story with many people, and we always love it when people have an opportunity to share their story with us.

We are always impressed by the strength and resiliency that each story tells, however one conversation we had recently with a survivor really tugged at our heart-strings.

Eric and I were at an event that Cancer Canknot was a part of and a woman walked up to our booth. Usually Eric or I will try to tell the person a little bit about Cancer Canknot and how it got started, but this person already knew who we were….she proceeded to tell us that she had recently been diagnosed with cancer. Previous to her diagnosis she was engaged to be married and when she got the diagnosis, they quickly tied the knot. Having seen the story behind Cancer Canknot in the local news, and knowing of the Cancer Canknot Jewelry, she now has a Cancer Canknot Ring as her wedding band. Just Amazing. Love[1]

When Eric and I came up with the idea for Cancer Canknot, we couldn’t imagine that we’d inspire these types of stories to exist. It still amazes us  how each person wearing a piece of our jewelry has made Cancer Canknot their own. In this woman’s case, Cancer Canknot Stop You From Saying “I Do.” Beautiful.

A Tough Pill To Swallow

I was cleaning up a few things recently and came across something that immediately brought back a lot of memories.

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A few short years ago, this was my life.  Pill bottle after pill bottle, day after day in order to help save my life.  I still remember taking the Temodar and almost instantly feeling sick to my stomach.  I had anti-seizure medication, narcotics for the pain after surgery and pills to help me sleep. I even had pills to help settle my stomach from all the pills I was taking.

The pills were bad, but the blood thinner may have been the worst.  It was a shot that I had to give myself everyday in the stomach, alternating sides as the scar tissue built up and made it hard to puncture the skin without resistance and a strong burning sensation.

This was my life for more than a year… a year that taught me a lot about myself and has made me a better person.

In the end, every pill and needle did its job… and it was worth every poke and tough pill to swallow.