Six years ago on March 29th, I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. For those of you who have followed my journey or know someone…a family member, friend, co-worker who has been diagnosed with Cancer…you know that it SUCKS! Big time. However, there in the middle of all of that ugliness and darkness can sometimes come beautiful things. One of them being my friend Stephanie. Stephanie and I met shortly after I was diagnosed. She listened to my radio show and said that when she heard me announce my Breast Cancer diagnosis, it rocked her to her core. I said on the radio that day that if ONE woman went and got a Mammogram and/or did her monthly self-breast exam because of me sharing MY Cancer, than it more than confirmed that I made the right decision to go public with my journey. Stephanie did just that. After a year and a half of putting it off, she went back to getting mammograms. She went back because of me. That’s powerful.
I didn’t know Stephanie. When you are on the radio, the people who listen to your show are called “listeners.” I always felt they were more than that though. People who would give up their time to listen to anything I had to say, had to be pretty special people in my book. People who would let me share personal stories about my family and me and then stand by me through thick and thin? Well, I think I would rather call those people friends. That is what Stephanie became. In fact, she became one of my best friends. I always felt like we were kindred spirits.
Stephanie can be seen all over my personal Facebook page. She and her family are a part of mine. Stephanie used to make beautiful jewelry until she put that to the side to take over an AH-mazing French restaurant in Sandy Springs, GA called La Petite Maison. It is my favorite restaurant and the place my husband and I celebrate our wedding anniversary every year. She took over because the owners, two sweet sisters who were very close to Stephanie, one got sick with Breast Cancer and later lost her life and the other moved back to France with her husband. Stephanie kept the restaurant true and authentic and it is thriving in their honor!
Stephanie has had a rough go at life. Her Grandma passed away at 49 due to complications on the operating table from colon. Her mum, who was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, passed away about a year after we met which was a month after her Uncle also died. Then almost a year later, her father passed away from a blood clot to his heart and because that wasn’t enough heartbreak, her brother passed away last year to colon cancer. And that’s just PART of her story of loss. Through all of that though, she has shown nothing but strength, grace, generosity, kindness and true friendship to everyone who knows her.
Unfortunately, Stephanie just found out that SHE now has Breast Cancer. I have known many women who have gotten diagnosed since me and my mom. One of my best friend’s mom, one of my best friend’s sister, some friends, friends of friends and neighbors. I almost felt like I was getting used to this happening, which is truly sad. Stephanie’s diagnosis has truly broken a little piece of my heart. Not that any woman, any person….any of us really, deserves ANY kind of Cancer but man, Stephanie? Come on. She has been through so so much. She only deserves the world! She is one of THE most genuine friends I have ever had. Her spirit and heart have gotten me through some tough times. She has a beautiful family and her family is our family. She has a beautiful soul. I have been a blubbering mess since she told me. It’s just not fair.
The thing is, I know Stephanie is going to be ok. Really. She is one tough cookie but my heart just hurts for her. Mostly because I know how hard it is, how many different emotions you experience during this journey and the physical pain you have to endure. I told her today on the phone that in some strange way for me, I feel like I am a better version of myself because of my cancer. It changed me. It improved me and continues to improve me every day. It has really shown me how to lean into my Faith and for that I am so grateful. Stephanie? She is already the best version of herself. God made a pretty good one with her!
I am happy to know her and happy to be her sister in this journey. Let’s do this! I love you my friend!
XO Surviving Mommy