Wednesday, February 22, 2012

"Cancer Is Not a Gift, But It Brings Many Gifts With It"

So I am getting closer to my surgery to remove the second half of my thyroid and I am so looking forward to having that date behind me. It’s funny….I keep wishing for the days leading up to surgery to go by quickly, yet as each day passes, I also get more nervous. I am not the kind of person that likes to wait for things to happen. I would like to get it done and know what the future holds for me. I want to have a plan, conquer it and move forward. The waiting, however, has given me some precious time to think . I have learned a lot in these last few weeks of having cancer.

I’ve been told so many times that I am lucky to have Thyroid Cancer. It is one of the most curable cancers you can have. Don’t get me wrong, because I do feel grateful that my cancer is the “lucky” cancer but, then I think to myself, there is NO lucky cancer! Cancer just plain sucks. It is an unwelcome disruption in my life. It has made me cry a lot. It has caused a lot of stress. I’ve dealt with some insomnia that I was lucky enough to never have experienced before my cancer diagnosis. Cancer has made my children worry about me when really the only thing they should be worrying about is doing their homework, having fun and being kids. Although my husband doesn’t say it, I know it has been hard on him too. It’s been hard on my entire family. It is going to cause me to have more surgery, pain, exhaustion and an isolation period, away from my family when I will be “glowing” from radioactivity. The lucky cancer is going to cause me to have countless blood draws, scans and doctor appointments for the rest of my life with always the possibility that I will have a reccurrence and more surgeries….. and the list goes on. I could dwell on all of these negative things but then I think about all the positive things that have come out of this diagnosis and there ARE many.

Through Annie & Isabel, I had the pleasure of meeting a woman who has been battling cancer for over 20 years. In fact, I wrote a blog post about her because she was so inspiring to me and now, her strength is something that is helping me on a personal level. Her name is Molly and she has fought her cancer with grace, humor and strength. She is definitely someone to look up to when you need a boost. So I wrote to her after my diagnosis, and she told me something that really struck me and I’ve found to be so true. She said, “Cancer is not a gift, but it brings many gifts with it.” You may wonder….how can cancer bring any gifts? When I was first diagnosed, I would never have understood how cancer could bring ANY gifts. There is nothing good about the word cancer, yet it has indeed brought so many gifts.

The greatest gift I have received from this diagnosis is a huge appreciation for my life, my children, my husband, my family, and my friends. I’ve always known I have an amazing family but, with this cancer diagnosis, I am reminded of what a gift they are.

Prior to cancer, I took so much for granted but now I try to listen to my children more, listen to them talk, laugh, scream, cry, and even fight. I appreciate my husband so much more. I feel blessed that I chose to marry him over 16 years ago….the best decision of my life.

My parents, whom I know felt so sad to hear I had cancer, have been with me every step of the way for doctors appointments, taking me out to fatten me up, watching the kids and just loving me.

I can’t even begin to tell you how lucky I am to have my sister, Selena. She has had her own heart wrenching problems recently and, yet, she is ready to take on cancer with me and do whatever it takes to make sure things are done right. She is the best sister, advocate, and friend and her love is unconditional. She is such a wonderful gift to me and I appreciate her more than ever.

A recent doctor visit - bye bye thyroid!

I’m still not perfect and I know I will continue to take some things for granted, but I feel so much more love for my family since my cancer diagnosis because I now know, first hand, how fragile our lives can be.

I have learned that the best medicine is laughing. Doesn’t laughing always make you feel better?? My kids do a good job of helping in that department. If you have a good joke, send it my way. I’ll take all the laughing I can get now. I’ve also learned that turning the music up in the car and singing with the kids does a body good! I doesn't get any better than singing Rock 'N' Roll Lifestyle from the band "Cake" right??  (Sorry if you get a little dizzy watching this....that's what happens when you let a kid do the video recording!!)

I have been given the gift of such a huge community that has truly surrounded me in love. I cannot thank everyone enough for all the well wishes, cards, thoughts, prayers, hugs, encouragement, family dinners etc., etc ., etc.!! I feel so blessed to have such an amazing amount of support because it has made this whole cancer diagnosis so much easier for me. You know the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child??” I have come to realize that it also takes a village to kick cancer’s butt! I am one of the lucky ones because I have a huge village of supporters.

As I gear up for surgery on the 29th I’m thinking good, positive thoughts. With my own strength and the strength of those around me I will get through this challenge and I WILL WIN!! I’m not going to say that I won’t be a little scared throughout this process, because I am, but I think CANCER might want to give a second thought to who it is messing with here!! I am ready for the fight and I have a whole army of people who are standing behind me for this battle.

Last weekend, my parents watched our boys and my husband and I were able to get away to our favorite beach destination, Santa Cruz. There is an older roller coaster there that I have grown up riding. Joe and I got on that roller coaster, for once with no kids in tow. We screamed and laughed as we rode over the old rails of the roller coaster. We felt so good and alive!

So here I am on my daily life roller coaster now and I want to remember to scream and laugh and enjoy the blessings of the ride that my life has dealt me.


  1. Praying for you, Anna. You WILL win - and your beautiful spirit, fabulous family, and community of supporters will help you beat this! You'll remain in my thoughts and prayers!
    Mindy B.

    1. Thank you so much Mindy!! I am ready to beat this:) ~ Anna

  2. What a beautiful, strong spirit you have, Anna! You have all the right tools to fight ths battle and to win the war. Add me to the lIst of people who care about you and pray for you daily.

    1. Thank you Kathy!!! I really appreciate all the prayers. I am so ready to move forward and get this all behind me.

  3. Your spirit has already proven to be a winning one and we are confident you'll win this fight. Our prayers and good thoughts are with you today, and for all the countless tomorrows you'll enjoy with family and friends. Love you, Anna.

    Jo Ann and Larry

    1. Thank you Jo Ann and Larry. Your note really touched me!! I appreciate all the prayers and can't wait to start celebrating some healthy today's and tomorrow's!!

  4. Dear Anna,

    I just finished reading your article in the Inside Arden magazine, found your Facebook page and your blog. I was so pleased to know of your company and your accomplishments. To my great surprise, I learned of your cancer. My prayers are with you and your whole family. I know your amazing spirit will bring you through this trial. I will hold you in prayer on the 29th. Best wishes now and always. Stephanie Fredrickson (Ryan's mom) from our days at St. Mark's Preschool

  5. I am so inspired by your fighting spirit and positive attitude. And you manage to stay chic throughout, wow!!!. Good luck with everything. All my best wishes

  6. You have a beautiful family! I have had mixed feelings about my thyroid cancer as well. My diagnosis was so fast that I didn't have time to mull it over like you did, but I felt the same things...many of them after surgery ( Now, as I wait for radiation, I am thankful for all of the blessings that have come because of my cancer; relationships restored, an appreciation for my beautiful babies and my husband, a realization of how many people care and spiritual growth as I learn to lean on God through the worst moments. Still, there is loss. I used to sing with my husband (, but cancer was wrapped around one of my vocal nerves and it had to be sacrificed. I will never sing again. Also, I'm worried about radiation. I have been down so much physically, with the radical neck dissection (45 lymph nodes removed, and half had cancer) causing a longer recovery than if they had just had to take my thyroid. I worry about how the treatment is going to make me feel and how my family will cope as I recover from this next procedure. I don't wallow in these concerns and sorrows, but they are there. I am so glad for you that you have come through so well. Your journey is an encouragement to me. And the perfect reminder to find joy in the blessings revealed through this trial!