On April 2, 2022, Maria went in for what she thought would be a “normal” mammogram. Instead, she learned that at the age of 42, she would need to spend the next year going through chemotherapy, and radiation if needed, and surgery to hopefully get rid of her cancer. A friend of theirs from high school is now an oncologist and was incredibly helpful in her getting in and beginning her path to recovery and wellness almost immediately. They were thrilled with this news, but while all her friends were preparing for the summer, enjoying their children, and planning for travel adventures, Maria was planning to fight a battle with cancer.
The word cancer means so many things to different people. It is hard to hear the word “chemo,” “radiation” or “treatment” because it means the loss of your former self, loss of hair, losing a part or parts of your body and can always possibly mean the loss of life. Maria has certainly thought of all those things.
As she reflects on the past six months of her diagnosis, she is certainly filled with an incredible
sense of gratitude. She is not thankful for her cancer diagnosis and don’t think she will ever be. It brought grief, pain, and fear into her life, Lee’s, and their children. Every ache she feels is now something she will worry might be a recurrence or metastasis or a “side effect.” But as she looks back, she sees the incredible joy and endless adventure that being part of a community with cancer thrivers and survivors has filled in her life.
During treatment, people SHOWED UP in ways she never expected or dreamed of – from sending cards and gifts to visiting her and being there during each treatment appointment. They knew exactly what she needed and showed up in some way!
She would be lying if she said that being part of a cancer community doesn’t have its
challenges. It can be incredibly painful because too often it means you love people you will lose
far sooner than you ever wanted to. But each person in this community has taught her truly how
to live. This community has reminded her that nothing is promised, and we don’t know how
much time we have, so we have to appreciate and enjoy each day. They have reminded her
that each day is not necessarily good and can often be hard, but there is so much good and
beauty in each day especially when we look for it. She thinks about those she has met and tries
to embody their traits as much as she can. Their warmth. Their generosity. Their love of life.
As the weeks after her diagnosis went on, she wondered if she would lose her job due to missing so much work. Now that chemotherapy has finished, she recently found out that work never began counting all this time for her treatment as her short-term disability. This, as you can imagine, brings on a whole other set of worries and concerns. Maria and Lee will need help to stay financially afloat. This October will be a major, eight-hour surgery, which will be so costly for them and so emotionally and physically draining.
They have managed thus far but it would be so helpful with the help of others to maneuver and recuperate from the upcoming financial burdens. Anything that you can donate to offset the costs would be so helpful. If you are unable to make a financial donation, we simply ask for a prayer. Prayers are what has gotten them through as well as the emotional support from friends and our family. May God continue to bless them in these very challenging times and continue to protect and guard Maria as she moves through the next step, surgery. Thank you so much for all your support!