Ever since I was little all I ever wanted was “the” story, you know the happily ever after story that finds its way into every single Disney movie you ever watched. Despite being somewhat of a tomboy growing up, I still dreamed of being a princess swept off her feet by Prince Charming. And I always imagined the life we would have together after the traditional credits rolled, you know the boring marriage stuff that never made it into the movie. I’m not saying that I wanted a house with a white picket fence and 2.5 children and of course lovable furbabies, but I did want some version of it. Up until about two years ago, I thought “the” story was improbable if not impossible. My relationship history has been anything but a fairy tale. And when I was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma in the Spring of 2014 I was ready to close the book all together. And then Josh walked back into my life a few months later. I hadn’t laid eyes upon him in nearly ten years, but there he was standing at my door with a huge smile and a bag of tennis balls for my golden retriever. He didn’t even have to say hello, I think I knew in that instant I was going to give ‘us’ a shot despite his insanely horrible timing. So I guess in our case, he”had me at these are for Jax”. Now don’t think for one second it was all ‘roses and gum drops’, we had all the normal issues every couple has. The initial awkwardness of really getting to know the other person, the fights over nothing really, you know the usual. But we survived the first year and decided to take the plunge and move in together. This was a huge step for me, being a self proclaimed commitment-phobe and doctor proclaimed cancer patient. When he moved in a little over a year ago now, I was on high dose steroids and suffering from a massive blood clot I didn’t know I had. I was pretty miserable to him to say the least and yet he stayed, quietly suffering my roid rage (At no point was he ever harmed just frequently snarked at). After the blood clot and some annoying lung issues, things started to get better. We got to be a ‘normal’ couple for a while. And for the first time, I thought this was it. My story. And then….
Fast forward to a few weeks ago when my worst scanxieties became a reality. My cancer was back. Stage 4 refractory Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I heard the words Dr. J was saying, felt Josh’s left hand on my knee as he held my mom’s hand with his right. I saw the look on my dad’s face the moment before he announced that he was “heartbroken”, trust me he didn’t need to say it. Tears immediately sprung to my eyes, that was new for me. I hadn’t really been much of a crier throughout this process, but I just didn’t and don’t want to face it all over again. I heard her say this time I would need chemo all over again and then a donor/ allogenic stem cell transplant. I heard her say it but interpreted it as my worst fear coming to fruition. I know the transplant horror stories. I know that there’s only a 30 % chance it works. I know that there’s a good chance I have serious complications like gvhd. I even know there’s a decent chance I die. And suddenly it felt like I was just cast into a less critically acclaimed version of Love Story. In an instant, I was devastated at the prospect of never getting married to this man that I love and have started building my life with, at never having the life I dreamed of. Even if had already taken some detours. And thus I have been having my very own month long pity party in my head. Pity party might not be the right word. I’m not really sad, I’m angry as hell. I don’t want to go through this again and I don’t want my family to have to either. I’m not afraid to die, but I am completely afraid of not having a life. I care more about my quality of life and seeing my story through on my terms than I do about anything else. I haven’t quite figured out my next steps in this cancer journey. I’m asking for options rather than just agreeing to the one that has thus far been presented. So right now at this juncture my story is ____________________. At any given moment, I may fill in the blank with a different word. I know that I have to move past through the stages of grief for the life I don’t get to have and be thankful and grateful for the incredible, beautifully messy life that I do have. And I’ll get there. I just need to channel Audrey when she said “I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day….and I believe in miracles.