How COVID-19 Affects Someone with Contamination OCD

Yes, it’s another post that references Coronavirus.  I know it’s annoying since it’s all that we are currently hearing about, but please keep reading.  I promise to have a different perspective.

So many people have asked me recently how I’m handling all of this, knowing I have contamination OCD.  Gosh, I love them.  I love that I’ve created an open space for discussion around the topic by not being ashamed to talk about OCD.

In short.  I don’t even know what the hell to think.  I honestly never thought I would have to live through something like this in my lifetime.  I didn’t see it coming.  I thought it was honestly going to be like the Ebola scare we had in 2014.  It was able to get to a few places, but it was nipped and gone within a few weeks.  I guess that is what I get for being a little naive when it comes to our government, or when it comes to people being smart and proactive.  To be completely honest, BEFORE the scare came to the US, I was taking weekly hypnosis sessions with Tim Shurr at Indy Hypnosis (he’s AMAZING by the way) to conquer my contamination OCD.  I had gotten through 3 weeks before there was a case of COVID-19 confirmed in Indy.  I noticed it was helping me so much to really separate the compulsive thoughts from realistic thought.  I was genuinely feeling so much relief, getting better sleep, working out again and trying to eat less and then BOOM…..Indy has a confirmed case of COVID-19.  Not Northern Indiana, not Southern Indiana….Indianapolis, 15 minutes from our home.  Though, I did hear it was a case on the North side of Indy, so I’ll say 35 minutes from our home.  It shocked me.  I don’t know why it shocked me, but it did.  That was last Friday, March 6th.  That evening a report was on Fox 59’s website that a Hendricks Co woman had all the symptoms and was trying to get tested and no one would test her.  That kinda brought it much closer to home for me and I honestly started to think about what would happen if it ACTUALLY came to Hendricks Co (where we live).  I didn’t even really get the chance to process most of it before Sunday morning there WAS an actual case confirmed, followed by another positive case Sunday night.  These confirmed cases were in a town about 5 miles from our house.  I was SHOCKED and scared and unsure what the heck to do.

Since last Sunday (March 8th), I feel like all freakin’ pandemonium has broken loose in Indiana.  I mean, it could be worse, that’s for sure, but it feels like an extreme amount of information has been thrown at us within 5 days time.  Let me try to paint you a picture of how this feels.

I think you should realize that any type of “outbreak” or “epidemic”, and definitely a “pandemic” is basically someone who has contamination OCD’s WORST NIGHTMARE come true.  It really is.  It is the worst possible scenario we could ever think of.  It’s so scary to us, it doesn’t even register as something that can actually happen.  Let me make something clear, it’s not just the outbreak of this particular virus that is the worst nightmare, it has nothing to do with that (at least for me), it’s the fact that we have a global pandemic virus outbreak that is our worst nightmare. 

I jokingly told my husband about a week ago that if the government truly wanted to keep Coronavirus out of the US, they should have hired about 200 people with contamination OCD to make sure it didn’t happen because we are ALWAYS 10 steps ahead of any type of preparedness or prevention measures that a non OCD person would put in place.  It’s true though.  Part of having contamination OCD is thinking many many steps ahead of the average person and thinking in great detail with extreme caution, of all the little things no everyday person would think about.  Hence, why our brains are constantly in fight or flight mode…which causes all the stress and anxiety.  Our brains DO NOT STOP OR SLOW DOWN.

So, our schools are closed, my company has put several preventative measures in place for large meetings, travel, cleaning and such and I’m going to try to get set up to work from home, which may or may not work out since my company laptop is a few years old and hasn’t been used in a while (it may not be compatible anymore and of course now there is a shortage of new laptops since everyone is trying to work from home).  Our kids haven’t asked many questions to be honest.  Brayden (our 5th grader) is just excited to be out of school, but he doesn’t realize e-learning is still like going to school and will start for him bright and early tomorrow morning (bahahahaha) and our kindergartner Mason hasn’t asked a single thing, mainly because I haven’t talked to him about what is happening in the world right now and aside from what his teacher has talked about in school, I feel like he really doesn’t need to know everything because he wouldn’t understand much anyway.  All he needs to understand right now is to make sure he’s washing his hands for the entire birthday song haha.

Our grocery stores are OUT OF EVERYTHING by the time I can get there for grocery pick up through the week and even Target has gone to rationing out TP and Clorox until about 11 am when they run out completely.  I will add that the past couple weeks whenever I had to place an order for groceries or our normal Target “home items”, I ordered things like children’s Tylenol and a can of Lysol and a package of Clorox wipes, just to have a little inventory in case the shit hit the fan.  Well, I guess I should have ordered more of the Lysol and threw in some TP and hand sanitizer because now it’s all NO WHERE TO BE FOUND.  You know things are bad when you can’t even find it on Amazon.  Again, things I thought I would never witness hearing “the US is out of hand sanitizer, toilet paper, wet ones and Lysol and can’t keep shelves stocked”.  As someone who is a frequent user of alllllll these things, it’s freaking me out.  I use wet ones to open every door I use at work and in public while out shopping.  I use them as soon as I get back in my car when I’m out and about and I use them to wipe the lids of my coffee from Starbucks when the barista with dirty money hands gives me my coffee.  I literally use them for everything.  I use a lot of Lysol this time of year, just for everyday things like spraying the couch down every night (school germs and dirty kids ha), the fridge handles and door knobs and the boys’ backpacks and coats.  I don’t do these things in the summer or even spring, but I do during flu season (which apparently we’ve pushed aside at this point).

In a twist of perspective on this, I want to say that it comforts me that schools, businesses and stores are cleaning more.  The truth of the matter is that I FEEL like they should have been cleaning this much during flu season anyways!  I mean, it would drastically improve student, employee and customer well being if these cleaning measures were just a normal thing from December to March every year.  Just sayin’.

Another plot twist to me is that it’s crazy to see people worrying now about “all the things”, since I’ve been worrying about all the same things for over 7 years, only to be met with little understanding from hardly anyone, lots of eye rolls and sometimes ridicule.  Welcome to the worries and anxieties of normal everyday life for someone with contamination OCD, world.  It sucks. Maybe this will teach some people to understand more and be more empathetic. Kinda funny how when you have to adapt to a certain lifestyle, you suddenly see how difficult it is and how much it changes your every day life.

So here we are.  Sunday, March 15th.  What normally would be a time of happiness with spring finally approaching, baseball season starting, March Madness bets going, kids looking forward to spring break and people gearing up for yard work has turned into everyone staying home, “social distancing”, stalking the kids with the stock carts at the grocery store for toilet paper and living in a state of not knowing what the next day brings.  Every day we pray for the numbers to go down, for this virus to pass quickly, and that our government will make the right decisions.  For someone with the anxiety that contamination OCD creates, it’s so hard to feel like you’ve lost the little control you once had.  You look and find things you can still control, like making sure the kids are ONLY around people you know really well, that you only go to public places when you need groceries or paper products, making sure things are clean in your home, making sure your parents are taken care of, and making sure you are taking all your vitamins and making healthy decisions.

What can we do:

Social distancing is in place for a reason.  It’s not because of the virus being as dangerous as the plague.  It’s to PREVENT IT FROM SPREADING.  All of these closures are to protect us in the long run.  We have to do the sucky thing now for it to get better later….

Cancel your vacations.  Ohhhhh ya, I just went there.  I did.  I get that a ton of people are like all “YOLO” with their lives.  That’s awesome that you live your life that way, but right now this is NOT ABOUT YOU.  As far as I can tell, going somewhere like the Bahamas or Jamaica where there are very few cases and you are FOR SURE healthy and have been for at least 14 days, doesn’t seem to pose a huge risk.  BUT domestic travel needs to stop right now.  Spring break is going to suck this year, but traveling to places like Florida, Texas, New York, California and Colorado needs to be halted for a few weeks. These places have much higher confirmed cases than we have (and that’s without having a lot of access to testing!) and places like Florida and Texas have an extremely large population of elderly; not only elderly, but many elderly with underlying conditions.  Please think about hundreds of thousands of younger people (45 and younger) coming INTO a state for a week of vacation, not knowing if they are carriers or not, staying long enough for exposure, then bringing who knows what back into their home states upon return and leaving who knows in the state they vacationed to.  It’s a hot mess of a situation and no one loves a beach vacation more than me, but this isn’t about me and its not about you either.  It’s about protecting our 70+ seniors, it’s about protecting our cancer patients, our immune suppressed, and for the love of everything its about DOING YOUR PART to social distance so that more people’s lives can be spared as this virus moves along at a steady pace.  You can reschedule your vacation later, I promise.

Stop being greedy….stop buying 200 bottles of hand sanitizer, 60 rolls of toilet paper and 200 cans of Lysol.  Yes, the stores will get more in, but everyone deserves to feel a little prepared right now, not a week from now.  You guys….as I mentioned before, there’s no one more prepared for any situation that involves germs like a person who has contamination OCD and even I only “stocked” up on Clorox wipes (about 6 containers), Lysol (about 5 cans) and medicine for kids.  I didn’t hoard toilet paper or laundry detergent or wet ones (though I probably should have bought more of the wet ones since they are an every day staple for me).  Come on people….again….THINK OF SOMEONE OTHER THAN YOURSELVES…..

Offer to online shop and drop off for the elderly…..need I say more?  These poor people who are still completely capable of living on their own, should NOT be out and about right now.  It may be a struggle for them to accept your help, but they know they should.  Just make it easier on them, we need to protect them.  Be the good.

If you have kids, DO NOT use this time out of school to go to every public place possible.  This is why these public places keep closing, because the goal right now is to STAY HOME as much as possible, minus getting essential items like groceries and medicine.  My husband and I have decided we will allow our kids to OCCASIONALLY see and play with their friends, ONLY if we know their parents extremely well and know they share the same beliefs we do on the subject.  Simply stated, we know what occupations their parents have and know where they have been, haha.  Also something I never thought I would be saying or writing, in case you are keeping track!  Additionally, 95% of their friends live right in our neighborhood, so they aren’t leaving our sight or control much at all.  We will not be going to the movies, we will not be going to the zoo, we will not be going to Sky Zone or even birthday parties.  Praise the Lord above that this virus is not affecting kids as much.  But, that doesn’t mean you should disregard others around you….again, I’ll say it one more time for the people in the back….THIS ISN’T ABOUT YOU!  It’s about preventing ANY AND ALL the spread and protecting those most at risk.

If you’re like me, you’re exhausted at this point from talking about it, hearing about it, seeing it and living it.  I think it’s completely normal for everyone to be mentally exhausted and confused right now.  I’ve been listening to a lot of meditations as I go to bed at night, saying prayers, and journaling.  I also have been trying to get in 30-45 minutes of treadmill time.  I just walk, but it FEELS good to check out for that time and just get the anxiousness out.  When it’s nice out, I spend A LOT of time outside.  The sound of birds and sunshine are sometimes all I need to put a smile on my face.  I’ve also been in frequent contact via email with my therapist and hypnotist.  They know these times are crazy and they are figuring it all out as they go just like the rest of us.  We are all in this together friends.  If anyone needs someone to listen to their concerns or just talk, please know I’m always available.  I’m here to help!

Take care friends, be safe and be conscious of what’s going on around you.

xoxox

Mary

Bringing Myself Out of the Winter Slump

I’ve been in a slump, a funk. Not a sad slump, just a blah slump. Some of this, I think, is because I haven’t really seen my friends since New Year’s! Last year I made several plans with lots of friends and I honestly think that was such a mood booster!! Plus, here comes the broken record that is myself again, but flu season has been worse this year than last, and that’s something that obviously contributes to my daily stress and anxiety.

I don’t know, I just haven’t had any creative juices flowing lately. Can you relate? Too much on my plate everyday, but also not willing to shift things around to help clear ‘said plate’; because I don’t have anything meaty to talk about anyways? Make sense?

Even though I’m in a creative funk, and not as present on social media and this blog right now, I can assure you that I have been busy & giving 100% to therapy and other forms of mindfulness for overcoming my OCD. I have learned so many tools to use in everyday life and feel like occasionally, I should share the love with you all!

So, in the spirit of slumps, I wanted to share 4 tips for pushing forward EVEN THOUGH we may not feel as awesome as we would like or know that we can be.

1. See your friends. I have plans tomorrow night with one of my girlfriends I have known since 4th grade. It’s gonna be good for the soul. Text 5 friends today. See what they are doing. Do a little ‘friend fishing’, if you will. See if you can get something on the calendar!

2. Spend a little time working on artificially creating your own ‘sunshine’. Look up….and smile. Seriously. While you are looking up and smiling, (smiling like your life depended on it, ok…like you have a hanger in your mouth type of smile) I want you to think of a place or memory that makes you really happy, or one that always makes you feel relaxed. Spend about 15 minutes doing this. Then, write down the things that made you happy or feel relaxed and hang them on a mirror, in your office or on your fridge.

3. Try to move. Do you have kids; and do they enjoy dancing like no one is watching? Well, if you do….put those little performers and yourself to work showcasing some epic dance moves. Solo? Try to get OUTSIDE for a walk if the weather cooperates. Even just a few blocks. While walking, take several deep belly breaths, exhaling very slowly.

4. If you are strictly a spring and summer person like me, get a head start on it NOW! I’ve told my friends and family for the past two weekends I’m ‘willing spring into existance’. What I mean by this is that I’m trying to do things now that I would normally do in early spring. This helps me enjoy more outdoor time when the weather gets nicer. For example, this past weekend I cleaned my front porch off, washed down our front door, raked leaves and old moldy mulch out of our flower beds and deep cleaned my car. It felt so great to get these things done, and even greater knowing that when the weather breaks, we only have to add new mulch and add any additional decor we would like to our porch. 😍

I hope you enjoyed these suggestions and can weave them into your own schedules. This time of year is harder for me with gray skies, rain and snow. I’ve learned I kind of have to create my own kind of happy, so to speak. Oh and speaking of happy and all things sunshine, remember to take plenty of vitamin D3. 😉

Have a wonderful week and productive weekend ahead!!

Xoxo

Mary

Five Quick but Extremely Therapeutic Ways to Battle OCD

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Hi friends!

Now that we have discussed what OCD is, what types are out in the world and how diagnosis usually works; I wanted to give my 5 best, most helpful, tips on overcoming an intrusive thought spurred on by the OCD.

These are tips I’ve picked up in my years of therapy and through the many books and documentaries I’ve read and watched.  I truly hope they help.

1. Be present.  When an intrusive thought “attacks”, try to take yourself out of the situation mentally.  Be mindful of every single detail of your surroundings and try to focus on this.  What’s the air like?  Is it a pretty day?  What color is that tree?  I wonder when that field will be harvested (sorry, Indiana girl here).  Force yourself to take that thought, pick it up, and move it aside.  Sit with it, be ok with it, and move it aside by thinking grounding thoughts.

2. Breathe.  It sounds ridiculously simple, but it’s life changing.  Breathing calms the body down like nothing else can.  Focus on your breath.  Breathe in through your nose for a count of 5, release through your mouth for a count of 5.  Do this about 10 times to regain control of your emotions and thoughts.

3. Pray.  I’m Christian, so this is one I use a lot.  However you choose to be spiritual and practice that; bring those tools to the table for this one.  Pray for relief and understanding, pray for a sense of calm and confidence. Don’t repeat the same prayer, try to keep it simple, to the point and mindful.

4. Write the fear down.  Do a “brain dump” of all the feelings you have at that very moment.  Why does that thought make you feel that way?  What brought the thought on?  How do you see yourself getting out of the situation or putting the thought aside.  Treat the thought like it’s a person if that helps.  Give it a name.  It may sound silly, but our brains acknowledgement a feeling better when it’s given a name.  What do you think you have to do, step by step, to defeat this feeling/person/thought?

5. Ground yourself with gratitude.  No really, it works in a moment of fear like nothing else.  When you feel the intrusive thoughts boiling to the surface, stop them by looking around you and seeing the things you are grateful for.  Are you alive and healthy?  Are you at work, out with friends, driving your own car?  Do you have kids?  Can you afford the privilege of college?  Do you have an animal you love? Close friendships?  Supportive people in your life?  Think of them, think of all of it.

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xoxox

Mary

 

Never In a Million Years…

It’s taken me 3 months to write a post about this.  If ya’ll know me, you know I don’t sit on things I want to write about, but I didn’t know if I wanted to write about this.  It was throwing me off.  I barely even wanted to talk about it with friends and didn’t and still (to this day) don’t know how to process it.  Here it is.

On March 13th this year, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Just writing that makes me want to punch the keyboard and throw my computer against a damn wall.  My mom.  My mom, whom, is one of my best friends, that watches our boys, that goes on vacations with us, that lives 5 minutes from us, that is around us everyday, and that is always there when we need her.  Yep, that mom.

Now that I’ve gotten the worst part out of the way (actually typing the word and seeing it written in front of me), I’ll tell you some more about what happened.

In February, my parents went to Destin for 4 days for a mini vacay over President’s Day weekend.  She told me she was getting a mammogram when they got back, because it had been a couple years and the year 2019 was going to be the year she caught back up with everything, medically.  She went in for her procedure and we went about her business.  They’d always been normal before.  Also, I should note, not that it really matters these days, but we have NO FAMILY HISTORY of breast cancer, or any type of cancer on my mom’s side of the family that we know of.  Even on my dad’s side of the family, there’s been no breast cancer.  The next day, they called to say they saw something very small, but couldn’t tell what it was, and wanted her to come back and have a diagnostic mammogram.  I had urged her to get the diagnostic before she went in for the initial appointment because they are the type I always have to have, and there’s less chance of them seeing thickened tissue or fibrous tissue and thinking it’s something else.  She went in for the diagnostic and they saw the same small spot, but couldn’t tell if it was a tumor or not because of the size (less than 1MM), so they did a biopsy and told her it would be 2-10 days before she would hear anything, but probably sooner rather than later.

On March 13th, Mason had a teddy bear parade for Pre-K.  It’s a big deal to the kiddos; they make a float and put their favorite stuffed animals in it, and walk around the gymnasium (a la parade) for the guests.  Then, after the parade, a special guest gets to stay for a picnic.  Mason had chosen me to stay after with him, but my mom was with me for the parade.  When we were going to gather his float after the parade before the picnic, one of his teachers invited my mom to stay for the picnic as well.  I could tell my mom was anxious because it had been 2 days and she was expecting to hear from the doctor.  I was completely thinking everything was going to be fine.  I mean, my mom is the picture of health, minus her addiction to baked goods.  She had left her phone in her car accidentally while we were watching the parade and having our picnic with Mase and I’m so glad she did.  😦

After the picnic, I went home to grab a PB sandwich to go back to work and on the way back to work, I got “the call”.  Invasive lobular carcinoma, very small-less than 1MM, stage 1.  What the actual hell do you say?  What do you think?  I can tell you what happens:  You don’t think.  You don’t say much.  You have a dark cloud in your brain that won’t go away.  It’s not real, after all.  It’s not real.  It’s not real.  It will all be OK, because it’s certainly not real.  I told my mom the doctors had found it very early and everything would be OK.  I went to work and called Brock and started to feel the knot in my throat.  At work, one of my favorite co-workers came in to hand me something and I told her.  When I said the word, I just started crying.  About that time my boss called me for something.  I can’t even remember the conversation I had with her, but it was between sobs.  I told my therapist.  I figured she was going to have to deal with me at my worst and wanted to prepare her.

My mom had already gotten an appointment the next day with the doctor in the women’s center and 3 people had asked if I was going to the appointment.  It honestly hadn’t crossed my mind.  Newbie over here at this kind of thing.  I figured she and my dad would want to handle it themselves.  Also, it was early March and as all of my readers know, I have contamination OCD, and the flu was still going around, and the appointment was at the hospital….I’ll let you put the pieces together.  I finally texted my mom to ask if she cared if I went to the appointment, because I had a lot of questions to ask and I needed to hear the answers from the doctor herself.  I figured every single person in the room would interpret what the doctor was saying differently, and I needed to take notes and really understand what was going on.  If you don’t already know this about me, you should know I go down medical rabbit holes I never come out of.  Mostly because of my OCD, but also I’m a nutrition NERD, so I’m pretty good with medical jargon.  I had reached out to one of my oldest friends in the midst of all of this.  She was always so close with my family and offered to watch Mason while I went to the hospital with my parents.  It was all happening so fast and still felt like I was outside my body, just going through the motions.

In the appointment I tried to do what I do best in awkward situations, I tried to make them all smile by making dumb jokes.  If there’s one thing I know, it’s to ALWAYS look for the silver linings.  Always.  I tried to make sense what was being told to us, and to the doctor’s credit, she was literally drawing everything out for us, which helped a ton.  I heard about hormones, and sizes and treatments and through it all, I kept my calm.  The nurse for the nutritionist came in next and you guys, I’m not kidding when I tell you that the nutritionist’s name was Dr. Macaroni.  No lie.  I couldn’t stop laughing.  The nurse was explaining some basic things to my mom and I was chiming in with what I knew.  Finally, she suggested that I make my mom an eating plan since she said I was telling my mom the things she would suggest anyways.  To end our visit, a nursing assistant came in, sweet as ever, and gave my mom a binder with references and information on just about anything and everything.  Then, she said, she had forgotten my mom’s bag, and came back with a bag that had a crocheted hat in it, a stuffed animal and blanket.  THAT put me over the edge.  No, my mom wasn’t having chemo, she wouldn’t lose her hair, why did she need a stuffed animal?  I get it….volunteers do these projects for the hospitals and it’s very sweet.  Very thoughtful, but nope….it suddenly made it seem more real.  I couldn’t have that. Because, you know, it still wasn’t real.  Since my mom’s doctor was able to get her in so soon, we were still waiting on the hormone test to come back.  If it was HER2 (I think that’s what it’s called) negative, like the doctor anticipated, then no chemo would be required.  She would take a hormone pill for the next 5 years and have mild radiation after surgery that that would be the end of it.

I left the doctor that day feeling numb.  I kept asking myself what was happening.  We had asked the doctor what her thoughts were that caused it and she said likely environmental and nutrition factors.  But, they weren’t for sure, of course.  Like I mentioned above, my mom is the picture of health, tall, decently skinny and hasn’t had prior medical issues.  But, she likes her sugar.  I know sugar feeds cancer cells similar to throwing a steak at a dog.  All I kept thinking about was how I was going to fix it, how I could help and what I could do.  We had a plan after that appointment, dependent on the hormone test that was due to come back in the next few days, and that made me feel a little better.  I felt like we were organized and had dates and kind of sort of knew what was headed our way.

You know, grief is weird.  Denial is weird.  I remember that Friday I went to Chipolte to get dinner and just cried in the parking lot.  I started opening up to a few more friends and to my surprise, a lot of their mothers/mother in laws/grandmothers/aunts etc. had a bout with breast cancer as well.  When I went to see my therapist the next week I told her it was so unreal to me that it felt like nothing was even happening.  She explained to me that when we love someone so incredibly hard, and something bad happens, our brain puts up an incredible force shield in the form of the strongest denial you can experience.  She said both my mom and I were feeling this.  I’ll be really honest here, to this day (post surgery, and radiation) I still don’t feel like it’s real.

My mom was only concerned about one thing.  Getting the tumor out.  ASAP.  She was advocate for herself, calling the doctor daily until surgery was scheduled (2 weeks sooner than planned) and I’ve honestly never seen someone so excited and in a rush to have a surgery.  She decided on a lumpectomy.  The hormone test came back, just as the doctor anticipated, HER2 negative (Praise Jesus!), so no chemo was on the horizon.  Also, they were relieved to find that it had not spread and nothing was in her lymph nodes.  The man upstairs was taking care of my mom, for sure, and still very much is.  The surgery went extremely well.  She was so happy it was out of her body.  She was groggy the day after surgery when I came over with the boys to see her.  All she kept talking about was how relieved she was that the poison was out of her body.  Honestly, I would have handled it the same way as she did.  “Ok, this blows, but let’s get this sucker out … right this minute!!”  With a mastectomy, the chance of it ever coming back was 1% or less.  With a lumpectomy, the chance was less than 2%.  I personally would have hacked both of my boobs off and went through the painful surgeries to get new ones, but I respected my mom’s decision to get a lumpectomy.

About 2 weeks after the surgery, she started the process of preparing for radiation.  So many new things were coming up that I was learning about.  For example, they mold a “bed” for you at the radiologist, so you can basically slide right in and be hooked up and out as soon as possible.  After meeting with her radiologist and getting a CT scan (that came back great) and a few other tests, he suggested that she just come for a month, for only 15 minutes a day.  Basically, she had one of the lowest forms of treatment, which again, was such a blessing.  We prepared our schedules (my boss is AMAZING by the way) and worked radiation in every single day of the week (Saturday and Sunday were off days) for a month.  She was proudly able to “ring the bell” on May 29th.  Looking back, I wish we could have been there when she rang that bell (I had the boys and Brayden had conditioning camp), because it was just another hurdle she hopped through with grace and courage.

The next step was starting the hormone pills.  She hated the idea of going to the oncologist, because it kinda just reiterated that she had ONCE had “the c word”, as she says.  She had blood work and a bone density test done before starting her pills.  All of that came back great, so she started the pill last Wednesday.  The pills scare her, just because of their menopause-like reputation.  And, I get that.  It took her around 8 years to go through menopause, so the idea of reliving all the hot flashes and night sweats and mood changes is, I’m sure, no walk in the park to think about.  However, we know we are all very blessed in that she only has to take a pill and doesn’t have to go through chemotherapy.  She will be on this pill for 5-10 years depending on how her follow ups go.

So, here we are.  July 1.  I feel like yesterday was March 13th.  Call it denial, call it, I don’t know, whatever you want, but it still doesn’t feel real to any of us.  My mom has handled everything like a rock star.  Whizzed through surgery, healed up awesomely, went through the entire month of radiation with no side effects and has had amazing test results.  There is still, and will be, so much emotion wrapped up in this.  I think the reassurance the doctors are giving all of us is letting us just run right through everything.  My mom told me that one day the radiologist looked right at her at one of her follow up appointments and said “Patty, you do NOT have cancer, remember that.  It’s gone now.”  When she told me that, I wanted to drive to Avon and give him a high five and a hug and I’ve never even met him.  Little reassurances like that.  They are so important.  In my mind, this battle has been won.  I cannot even tell you how strongly my mind is SET on that.  I keep telling my mom this was just a bump in the long, exciting road of life.  Oh and I told her we should take vacations more..haha.

So, that’s what has been going on with our family since February.  We are so incredibly thankful for those who reached out, who asked questions, who checked on her, who checked on my family, and those who called and texted.  My friend Danielle that willingly gave up most of her day to watch Mason so I could go to my mom’s initial doctor’s appointment, Mason’s pre-K teachers who prayed for my mom and always checked in, my amazing co-workers and friends who were literally checking on her everyday and my friends and mother in law who reached out to my mom and sent her cards and flowers.   Everyone has been so amazing.  I wasn’t sure about…literally, anything, when all of this happened, except for that my mom would be OK.  That’s all I could think about.  It’s surreal.  It’s one day at a time and one foot in front of the other.

See, my mom is such a big part of our lives, that there’s no other way to look at things.  It’s all a marathon she’s going to continue to win.  The “c word” as she calls it, is GONE.  Now we move forward in a healthy way.  She’s touched so many people and so many people have been inspired by her.  I was proud of her when she put her story on Facebook.  I was glad she wanted to talk about it and share the good news.  I can’t even describe to you all how wrapped up in the clouds of Heaven that I feel.  Is that a thing?  I mean, can you be wrapped up in clouds?  I don’t know, but I envision them to be perfectly fluffy and something that just engulfs a person in the best possible way.  I know how extremely blessed my family is.  I know not every family gets this and I’m not naive enough to think we all have all the time in the world.  I know life is about one day at a time.  But, I can tell you that every day is a wonderful day, a cherished one, a fortunate one and one filled with a lot of love.

My ask is this.  Please continue to pray for my mom and our family.  Always keep her in your thoughts and in the back of your mind.  She’s on the tail end of this journey and has come out of this with flying colors, but we pray for continued great health.

A final thought and PSA.  Get a mammogram.  Even if you are under 40, even if you are under 30, even under 25.  Don’t be scared to get a mammogram.  It literally saved my mom’s life in every way (with a healing hand from Jesus).  I’ve had to get them since I was 23 because of fibrocystic tissue and the year they came out with the diagnostic mammogram, or “3D” mammogram, I switched to that.  It doesn’t matter what age you are, if you feel ANYTHING out of the ordinary, go, run, to your nearest women’s center and get one.  And if you are at the age that they are required, please, please go every year and get yours.  They are a blessing and a gift.  Truly.

xoxoxo

Mary

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March 13, the day of “the call”

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Throwing it back to 2002

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Brock and I’s wedding

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Beachin

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Throwing it way back!

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A little Holiday World fun!

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