Friday, April 1, 2011

New Life, Day 366

The FriedOkras have been very busy this week enjoying a Spring Break staycation, hence the no-blogging of late. I miss y'all though!

Just wanted to pop in and share a huge milestone that just makes my heart want to hop out of my chest and run around jumping and leaping and giggling and hugging strangers and kissing babies.

Today is the one year anniversary of my amazing friend Meagan's first day of life AFTER BREAST CANCER. And I'm happy to tell you that amidst all the bad news and sadness that 2011 has been dishing out with wild abandon, there's this bright ray of gorgeous sunshine: Meagan celebrates this day (and every day!) vibrant, healthy and full of optimism and hope.

Puh-raise the Lord and pass the pink ribbons, people!

Two weekends ago my 3-Day team, Cure or Bust, hosted our main fundraising event for the year, a big ladies day with lunch and Bunco and prizes and a gigantic silent auction and raffle drawing for over 180 items donated by area businesses. It was an absolute blast. We had 180 ladies in attendance and we raised about $20,000 to fight breast cancer.

(I know!)

We still have money to raise to meet our goal, but WOW! $20,000!!!

To me, the most meaningful part of the whole event was listening to Meagan talk about her experiences this year as a breast cancer survivor. You see, I spent the year feeling happy and full of joy and feeling like we'd beaten the toughest monster out there. Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case for Meagan, who ended her battle with cancer a year ago today only to be dragged into an even tougher fight against a more sinister monster: FEAR.

Oh, how I wish I could share her exact words with you. She so eloquently detailed her heart's struggles to move on with life and the menacing, constant rumble in her mind of that thunderous sentiment: WHAT IF? She worried about missing out on seeing her children grow up and become adults, never seeing her daughter in her wedding dress, never holding the tiny, sweet bundles of her grandbabies for the first time. She wondered daily if she'd get to live the dream of growing old with her life-long sweetheart, her husband John.

For a long time, Meagan kept her fears to herself. I've spent some somber hours pondering how lonely she must have felt and berating myself for not stepping up and ASKING Meagan during those months if she was feeling afraid. I think a huge part of me wanted to believe she WASN'T afraid at all, and that if I asked her the question, I'd plant a seed that would grow into fear that hadn't been there before. But, of course she was fearful already. Of course.

As the year progressed, Meagan finally discussed her fears with her husband and doctors and the ladies in her church small group. Receiving their prayers and support and assurances helped her feel less alone, and reminded her that no matter what happens, she's going to have plenty of people (and one magnificent God) to help her handle it. The final outcome is that, for Meagan, this anniversary marks the end of Year One without cancer, and the beginning of Year One without fear.

I will also tell you that Meagan has been a huge support to my family as we've dealt with the fear and sadness of Owen's battle with leukemia. She's answered so many of my questions, given me so much encouragement and hope, has kept up with Owen's progress and been one of his loudest cheerleaders along the way. The day I got news of Owen's diagnosis, Meagan was with me (along with several of my other close friends) as I cried and worried, and she shared the story of her own fight, as a teenager, with lymphoma. When I thanked her for sharing her own experiences, she told me that she felt blessed to be able to help me as a result of her own struggle.

Meagan will walk again in this year's Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure as a member of Team Cure or Bust. Strong, healthy, beautiful, smart, compassionate, and finally free of fear, she's celebrating her complete healing by giving her own time and energy and heart to create a future without breast cancer.

I am so proud of her, and I know that I'm deeply blessed to have her as a friend.

Meagan and her daughter, Skylar, on the day of our Bunco event.

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  1. Hooray for 1 year cancer free and the beginning of a year without fear!

  2. Happy Anniversary, Meagan!! Can't wait to meet you in person some day! You and your daughter look gorgeous. :)

  3. Oh, that dreaded C word so many live with that fear every day. My own daughter had breast cancer over 7 years ago and it was discovered by accident when she had breast reduction surgery, which was a miracle in itself. She is alive and well today and lives each day to the fullest.. Happy 1 year Meagan!!!!

  4. This brought tears to my eyes. What a great story of courage and faith! I think we all live with our own versions of the What Ifs and you are right, we are afraid to ask others if they are afraid. Thank you for sharing and for walking!!

  5. How wonderful that you have an honest friend with the courage to reach out for herself, and to help your family through Owen's treatment. Your words made me remember that "perfect love casts out fear." Three cheers for Meagan,

  6. I haven't been blog reading in a while so I have missed your posts for a few years. (!!) I am so glad to be back. Thank you for sharing your story about Megan.