Breast Cancer…pink ribbons…October. None of these things had much personal meaning for me. I would see them, I would hear of others stories, but the reality of breast cancer hadn’t gotten closer to me than a friend of a friend who was diagnosed, or someone else’s grandmother with the dreaded C.
On June 11, 2013, this all changed for me. At the age of 39 I was told that I had stage 2 breast cancer. I had no family history, and was in a “special club” as the surgeon called it, because I was young. I have 3 kids ages 14, 11 and 5 and a wonderful husband, which made the news that much harder to digest since I worry about them as much if not more than myself.
I was quite in a state of shock, to say the least! I AM young…I am a dancer…and dance teacher. I eat well, and exercise, all the things that lower risks of cancer. But, as I’ve heard before and now know firsthand, cancer is indiscriminate.
I am the director of the Miami Valley Ballet Theatre, a community based dance company. One of the very first things that my 120 families wanted to know was what they could do to help! They were as shocked as me about my diagnosis, and wanted to do anything that they could to help my family during surgery, chemo and radiation. I think this is a question that everyone gets from loved ones during a rough time. The question “how can we help” became overwhelming for me! What was it that I needed help with?
I’m the mom…I’m supposed to take care of everything! This however, became a time that I had to let go of some of that control, and accept help that was being offered! The first thing that I did was let someone help me clean the house, honestly, not a very hard thing to let go of! Then, I had a dance parent ask me if I had ever heard of something called “meal Train”. I hadn’t. She told me that it was free website that you could use to make it easier for friends and family to deliver home-cooked meals very specific to your own needs. With my permission, this parent then took it upon herself to set it up for me so that during chemo weeks, I had 6 meals delivered to my house.
The email went out to my dance company families, and within hours, the meal Train asking for 48 meals, was filled up! It was organized, easy, and everyone signing up could see what others were making us, so there were a wonderful variety of foods. I was able to leave notes of thanks, requests for when the meals needed to be dropped off, and could even leave special dietary concerns to best meet the needs of my family. This was all managed through the website, and made the organization of meals so easy, which in turn took the stress off of me!
Having a tool such as the meal Train and the support of my dance family, not only meant the world to me, but also took the pressure of preparing and shopping for food during chemo weeks off of myself and my husband. This allowed us to have more time resting, and more time for my husband to take care of me and our 3 kids! What a true blessing the meal train was for us! I’m gratified that, because of experiences like mine, there is now a dedicated breast cancer section of the site– meal Trains sponsored by Magnolia. You can visit MealTrain.com and enter code Magnolia C to start one. In a situation such as this, you need to let go of some of those family duties and let others do what they are offering to do. Let someone clean your house, and definitely let someone set up a meal Train for you! Take care of yourself during treatments, and let others take care of you!
This journey of breast cancer for me although not yet totally finished, and totally unexpected, certainly did show me how much love, and support that I have filling my life. My thanks aren’t adequate to show everyone how much I appreciate everything that was done for my family during this journey.