Patrice is a Breast Nurse Navigator for Advocate Christ Medical Center Cancer Institute in Illinois and one of our Partnership Coordinators. Christ Medical Center is a member of our Partnership Program and is honored to be the recipient of a corporate donation from LabCorp to be able to pass along Hope Scarves to women in treatment.
Writing usually brings me immense joy, but the past couple months – I found it hard to sit down and just do it. I think that’s because I put the idea of “writing a book” into the universe and suddenly writing became intimidating. (Isn’t it crazy how that happens?)
I look at it as I do most things in my (hopeful) life. Does this bring me joy? If so, yes! If not, no thank you. Though some things like laundry and paying bills sneak through. Today – however, I made myself just sit down and write. And, it feels good!
Our family spent the last 5 weeks on our summer hiatus in Michigan. Each year since the boys were babes we have escaped the southern heat to return “home” to Michigan. This is where I found myself after my MBC diagnosis in 2014 and where I return each year to rejuvenate in body, mind and spirit. This summer was amazing – every day an adventure of wave jumping, swimming, boating, fishing, running, laughing, & simply being free!! Usually with 2-5 boys and dear friends & family who share my love of this special place and wild escapades.
In years past I kept a gratitude journal – writing down the activities of each day so as not to forget the awesomeness (and to help the boys remember how fun I am). This year, however, I just lived. I took thousands of pictures to capture the summer – but I didn’t worry about the written documentation. Though I can barely remember the details of all our fun – it was freeing.
That’s where I am in life, too. Living fully and intentionally in each day. Not worrying as much about the documentation – or capturing it for future remembering… just living! Hoping the moments sink deep into our children’s souls so that these experiences shape them. They shape me.
I am a sunset chaser. I simply can’t stand not seeing a sunset when we are in Michigan. I plan each day around the “golden hour” and taking in the magic of the sun sinking into Lake Michigan. If you haven’t seen a Lake Michigan sunset – you must! One night I had to swim in the setting sun. The water was freezing, but the rush of diving into the chilling water is one of my favorite feelings. I feel so alive as I tingle from head to toe and burst through the surface with a huge gasp… and usually scream.
I also rallied daring women and a couple fearless children to swim with me at midnight as a storm brewed out in the lake. Though maybe not the safest idea… it was invigorating to dive into the pitch black as the sky lit up with distant lightning. The white foam of the waves crashing against our pounding hearts. I held my son’s hand and said “Feel it? We are so alive!”
I am reminded that loving life is what it’s all about. Instead of being sad that this chapter is already behind us – I am grateful it happened. I don’t know what the next chapter holds, but I lived fully in this one. I am one of the lucky ones. Daily, I hold friends in my heart who are spending summer getting rods in their legs to strengthen breaking bones, starting new chemo and enduring full brain radiation. I don’t know when this will be my reality. I don’t know if the cancer is lessoning in my lungs or spreading to other parts of my body. This I know:
There is no greater story than a life well loved.
However you can – love each moment, love your people, love the opportunities for connection, for learning and to feel alive.
Live a great story-
Barbara is a passionate and positive storyteller. She shared her inspiring story facing triple negative breast cancer with us earlier this year as one of our first story donor interviews by phone. Thanks Barbara!