Taking a look back, it was ten years ago I crossed the finish line during our first breast cancer walk. I was fighting the beast at the age of 33. Hand in hand, arms up with my family and friends we stood united. Johnny was on my left and my sister Morgen was on my right when we stepped over that line together. To say it was a surreal moment is an understatement. But I learned something as we crossed the victory line, something I carry with me till this very day. Michael Douglas says it best, “Cancer didn’t bring me to my knees, it brought me to my feet.”
So let me introduce myself again. I’m a fighter, I’m a survivor and I’m the proud owner of one real breast, a uniboob if you like and yes, one fake boob. I certainly found my sense of humor early on in this battle. My sister Morgen wouldn’t have allowed me to be any other way quite honestly. Morgen she’s a fighter herself, a fellow spoonie battling lupus. She looked me right in the eyes and I knew we would kick butt together. It was just that simple. Morgen is a force to be reckoned with, and she made sure I was too. From the beginning Morgen rallied around me. The evening we faced my treatment plan, the loss of my breast, The Uniboob Club was born. With some kind of Cyclops vision and laughter it was Morgen who coined what would eventual become the tittle of my blog. The night before my first surgery, she was there with me starting our new tradition of gathering with family and friends at IHOP before each of my next 14 surgeries. We laughed cracking jokes, cried a little bit and gathered our courage to face what was next. It was also this night my dad and I began our own little tradition of whispering behind a menu together, head to head deciding what we would order. Deciding my last meal before reckoning day was a big decision after all. Till this day it’s just something we do before surgery.
When the big day came Morgen was right there beside my parents, my children, my husband and our friends in the waiting room as I underwent a modified radical mastectomy on my parent’s anniversary no less. Again she was there the evening I faced invasive cancer with a TNBC diagnosis. When chemo hit the table, again in battle gear she was ready to face the beast with me. When I look back over the last 10 years, I see the same beautiful smiling face looking back at me, encouraging me to be me, to write as I do, and making no apologies for who I am. Morgen, she’s simply irreplaceable, a one of a kind. She has a quick wit, doesn’t hold back what she thinks often, she’s fiercely loyal with a heart as big as Texas. She’s my sister, my best friend and a blessing beyond compare. When I was crawling up the stairs, when I was in so much pain I couldn’t see straight or my drainage bags (yes as in plural) were showing, Morgen allowed me to have my tantrum. Then helped me to pull it all back together again. She showed me laughter was far better than being angry or resentful. And that’s why I couldn’t help but call this blog, The Uniboob Club. After all it was humor that kick started my journey and it is humor that has continued to fuel every adventure since.
See Morgen, she never left my side. I was never alone because she was always there, day in and day out. When I hit my lowest, when death felt close to my door, Morgen sat with me in the dark, knowing I’d find the light again. I remember her passing me toilet paper under a stall door inside the oncologists building as I hugged the toilet even before chemo started for the day. Did she complain? Nope even though she knew it was winding up to be a very long day. Those days I could barely move, it was Morgen showing up at my doorstep proclaiming, “Well you’ve made it from the bed to the couch. There’s no stopping you now.” When my exspander was too full and pain was searing through my body, she stood there beside me and Johnny. We waited together on the doctor to meet us on an early Saturday morning. I had no shame standing there in my PJ’s, robe, slippers and holding my fake boob, looking through the glass doors…waiting and waiting. The best part of it was Morgen had no shame either. She just kept me laughing as the words, “Open, open, open” were repeated out loud.
When I tell you Morgen is a part of me, part of my heart, my soul and my spirit it’s the truth. I can’t explain how she knows when something is wrong, but she does. It’s as if she is so in tune to my soul, she feels my pain and my happiness herself. It’s always been this way after all she’s my sister. I could not ask for a better friend, a closer consort or a more kindred spirit. When I think of Morgen, I think of Beau Taplin’s quotes, “You’re loyal and I like that. Whatever the hour or occasion I can always trust you to be there 100%. Our friendship is made of sturdier stuff than a few superficial interests or a shared relationship status. No matter how many years pass between visits, I know you’ve got my back.”
Life Lesson # 79 ~ The Original Uniboob Club is still running strong. We’re fellow spoonies, sisters, friends and superheroes together. We have fought the good fight side by side, lifting each other up, facing the enemy and “conquering our demons and wearing our scars as wings” together. (atticus) We are fierce, passionate and spirited. Like a phoenix we will rise up again and again from our ashes. We are constant, unwavering and steadfast because we are sisters. Ruth 1:16 speaks to us about loyalty in the most beautiful way possible. It goes like this, “But Ruth answered, “Don't ask me to leave you! Let me go with you. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.” This is the only way I can truly express my love and thankfulness for Morgen and her place in my life. So yes, every entry, every post I write on my blog is because of Morgen and her belief in me. Just the other day she texted me, encouraging me to continue writing, and how one day she knows I’ll have my book on the shelves. Truthfully, I was wiping tears from my eyes. She’s just selfless like that. Even while she’s battling her own beast, she’s giving of herself. Morgen, she’s the original Wonder Woman and yes sweet sister I still have my cape. One day we’ll cross that finish line again and together hand in hand, arms outstretched. Truly we’ve faced the devil together. You’ve been there for me through it all. From my 10 year battle with rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, lymphedema, degenerative disease, type 1 diabetes, stroke, breast cancer, every ICU stay, emergency room visit and so on and so on you have been by my side, unwavering. Even if we take a punch from time to time, together we’re an unbeatable team. I want you to know when I remind myself that I'm a force to be reckoned with I think of you first. You have to be the original inspiration behind one of my most favorite quotes, “Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor each morning the devil says, Oh crap she’s up!”
So happy birthday to my sweet, beautiful sister. May you be celebrated as you should my fellow Harry Potter head, my "Captain Obvious" quoting, amazing, witty, strong-willed, Halloweenish, October 13th baby. YOU are MY hero, part of the original Uniboob Club, and fellow Spoonie for life. I love you forever and always.