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)

The Things Cancer Taught Us

CANCER CANKNOT. There are so many things that Cancer Cannot do, but there is one thing that it CAN do, it can teach you a few things about life.

In 2011 when I was diagnosed with cancer, I was young, happy, had a wonderful family and a seemingly perfect life… and then cancer happened. Cancer tried to take all of those things away, but instead it actually taught our family how to live.

Cancer Canknot Be More Powerful Than Those That Love and Support You

When they say, IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO RAISE A FAMILY, well it also takes a village to help you survive cancer. Everyone you interact with plays an important role in moving forward with your diagnosis; family, friends, doctors, nurses, co-workers – everyone makes their own contribution and impact in beating this disease. Cancer Canknot be more powerful than those that love and support you.

Cancer Canknot Ruin Your Outlook on Life

Staying positive truly is key. Having moments of frustration, sadness, fear, and anxiety is one thing, but letting it consume you is another. You cannot let that bad moment turn into a bad day, a bad week, or a bad month. Having a positive outlook is what keeps you and everyone around you fighting. Cancer Canknot ruin your outlook on life.

Cancer Canknot Break You

Don’t sweat the small stuff. For every problem there is a solution. It is easy to get upset when things don’t go your way, but you can always find a way to move past it. For every moment of falter there must be a moment of strength. What doesn’t break you does make you stronger. Cancer Canknot break you.

Cancer Canknot Stop Hugs or Kisses

Kiss each other good night. Tell your kids you love them as they leave for school. Not only be appreciative of every day, but every moment. After cancer you realize that any moment could be your last, so always take advantage of your time with loved ones. Cancer taught us to be conscience of the last thing you say to someone, so make sure you have had that opportunity to leave a lasting impression. Cancer Canknot stop hugs or kisses.

Cancer Canknot Consume Time

Don’t wish away your days. It is easy to say things like “I wish it was Friday.” Cancer teaches you to live in the moment and appreciate all the days that you do have. Take advantage of your time and be thankful for your life as everyday creates new experiences and opportunities. Cancer Canknot consume time.

Cancer Canknot Stop You From Moving Forward

Don’t wait. You know the famous saying NEVER PUT OFF UNTIL TOMORROW WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY, well it’s true. Seize every moment and take advantage of time. It is easy to say, “I will do that next week” or “we can take a vacation next year.” Do it now. Don’t save it all for the rainy day fund. Sometimes it is important to use those savings on the sunny days. Time is precious and never let a moment pass you by. Cancer Canknot stop you from moving forward.

Cancer Canknot Take Away the Importance of Family

Family first. We’ve all heard the saying “work-life balance” and cancer taught us the importance of that. A bad day at work is just that, ONE bad day. In the grand scheme of things it isn’t important. Family is what is important. Family is what keeps you going. Family is what keeps you strong. Family is what keeps you fighting. Cancer Canknot take away the importance of family.

Cancer Canknot Keep You From Being Happy

If you get angry… get over it. Just as quickly as you feel hurt, angry or upset, it is just as important to forgive, forget and move on. Resentment and anger can consume you, and the quicker you can realize those things aren’t important or healthy to hold on to, the happier you will be. Cancer Canknot keep you from being happy.

Cancer Canknot Take Away Love, Hope and Memories

Lastly, MIRACLES DO HAPPEN. What was a 6-12 month prognosis has turned into a three year SURVIVORSHIP. In those three years, we have had the opportunity to write a book, design a line of jewelry, and bring a beautiful baby girl into the world. All of which seemed impossible on that December day in 2011. Cancer Canknot take away love, hope and memories.

WHAT HAS CANCER TAUGHT YOU??