Is there a month that just doesn’t seem to agree with you? July is that month for me. Our wedding anniversary is June 30th and we usually plan a celebratory vacation around this time of year. A little over 2 years ago in July, my beautiful 11 year old daughter at the time was diagnosed with T1D. My husband and I were in Mexico celebrating our anniversary and a new job promotion he had just received that would we require us to move out of state. We were on cloud nine for this new adventure. On day 2 of our vacation, our life changed forever. We received a call from my parents saying Ava was in critical condition with a diagnosis of diabetes and she was in DKA. The doctors were requesting we get back home right away. Jonathan and I literally went from a place of paradise to a place of pure hell. These feelings ran through us in a matter of 24 hours of trying to get out of Mexico: shock and disbelief, pure desperation, fear, and anger. Why did this happen? How could this happen? Why am I in Mexico and my baby is fighting for her life without her mommy and daddy?!
Within 24 hours, we got to our baby girl. She pulled through and we began our new journey as a family living with T1D. Those first few months were so dark and hard for me as a mother. It was a death, a loss for us. I would look through old photos of Ava and my heart would hurt. Those pictures showed a sweet and carefree time for her and our family. There were no worries about her health. No needles or balancing sugars. The realization she’d endure this for the rest of her life broke my heart. I couldn’t will this one away or take it from her.
Fast forward to the present. My Ava took this disease by the horns and she’s owned it from the very beginning. You see kids are resilient and they just accept things easier than adults do. Not once, has Ava said, “I hate this! Why me?” That’s just her personality. She’s the strongest person I know and I am so proud to be her mom.
This year in July, I was diagnosed with Stage 1 Breast Cancer. And in its perfect timing (insert sarcasm) my husband and I were celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary in Maui when I discovered my lump. All those same feelings we had with Ava two years ago came flooding back. Why??? How??? No!!!
I had a double mastectomy at the beginning of August and I’m in the process of breast reconstruction presently. We are very thankful I found my lump and reacted very early. I had DCIS as well as an aggressive form HER2 grade 3 invasive cancer that had not yet spread to my lymph nodes. I realize how fortunate I am to be here and beginning to head down the other side of this horrible mountain.
This too, was a death or loss for me in a way. I’ve lost a part of my body that I was born with that gave me the ability to nurse all three of my babies. They also provided an intimate bond with my husband. As much as it hurt to lose, I’ve come to realize you stay in a place of loss. With both of these life changing circumstances, there is an overwhelmingness that happens; good and bad. But the amazing support we received from people all over the country still blows my mind. That support helped my family and me when we felt we couldn’t handle it. They stood in the “gap” for us while we felt despair. That support also encouraged us and inspired us to get strong! We were dealt some pretty crummy cards but you know what? Ava and I are fierce. We are stronger than any disease and we will live and make the most of this life we have here on earth!