This week has been filled with a lot of ups and downs for me. I was sick with the flu for the first time in a decade and slept for 36 hours straight. I had some great workouts at the gym later in the week. I had one of the worst days at work since starting this job almost two years ago. I started getting involved in Operation Beautiful and it helped to save my day. I had some great conversations with my parents about life and the pursuit of happiness. And most importantly, I was reminded of how happy I should be with what I already have.
Sunday was the 5th anniversary of my brother-in-law’s cancer diagnosis. On June 14, 2004, my baby sister graduated from high school. The Huz and I were home in Pittsburgh to celebrate with her and the rest of our family. That morning, rather than joining us at the stadium for the graduation ceremony, my sister’s boyfriend, Ben, was admitted to the hospital.
While the rest of us were napping after the ceremony, my sister got the call that masses were found in Ben’s kidneys, liver and lymph nodes. I will never forget the sound of my sister crying quietly in her bathroom, not wanting to disturb anyone.
Lots of tests and misdiagnoses later (non Hodgkins lymphoma was tossed around too much for my liking), Ben was diagnosed with stage IV testicular cancer. That summer, rather than traveling to Germany like she’d planned, my sister spent every day with Ben, sitting with him through chemo, researching studies and advocating for the best care. My baby sister, this 18-year-old peanut, was suddenly one of the strongest women I’d ever known. Later than Fall, Ben completed chemotherapy and underwent a major surgery to remove all scar tissue, along with several major organs.
Fast-forward five years: My sister and Ben struggled with more than a year of infertility frustration, but now they are PREGNANT! That’s right! My baby sister, now happily married for almost two years, is going to have a baby of her very own! I think she expressed her emotions on this best in a post she put on Facebook:
Today is the 5-year anniversary of when I first knew I wanted to have a family with Ben. It was the day of my high school graduation, the day he was checked into the hospital and had his first biopsy, the day my naive invincible teenage attitude ended. I remember feeling that need to have some permanent tangible piece of him, in case he didn’t make it. Many people may have thought we were young to get married, young to become parents, young for all we will face together, but I have never doubted what I’ve known in my heart for the last 5 years. The odds were not in our favor, yet here we are. Now I have him and his baby is growing safely within my belly. This is what I am meant to do. We are so blessed.
For all the frustration and uncertainty I have about my job, and all the angst I harbor about my diet and weight, I am fortunate. And how fortunate for me to have such a strong reminder this week, of all weeks.
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