Making Dreams Come True

Cancer evokes paralyzing fear as it threatens your entire future.  Life milestones, once assumed inevitable, become unlikely possibilities.   More, your mere existence hinges on factors outside of your control.  The fear can be suffocating; and not just for the patients, but for all those around us.

AYA, ALCF, Bonnie, Corey, Sandy

Hanging out with Bonnie and some of the awesome patients she’s connected me with – Corey Wood and Sandy Jauregui-Baza.

Through my position at the Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (ALCF), I am in contact with new patients each week.   The most common question I have is not about side effects or treatments, but rather “How do you deal with the fear?”

Miles often tries to paint a picture that I am stoic under all circumstances.  Almost inhuman with my composure.  I’ll admit his unwavering confidence in my own confidence makes me stronger.  But he forgets that on the day of my diagnosis, it was me he found curled in a ball, sobbing in the shower.  Fear had crippled my legs.  And there, under the falling water, I lay completely vulnerable without any strength.  I was suddenly fighting for my life and I felt unprepared, weak, and frightened.

That night, Miles and I made a vow: Cancer would never steal one more moment from us.  We began to plan and talk about our future…a future without cancer.   Each night, we envisioned the same three scenarios:

One, we would give back and help other patients.  The care and support we were receiving from oncologists, surgeons, family friends, and the ALCF was extraordinary.  We wanted to ensure all patients had the same opportunities and advantages that I was receiving.  And today, thanks to Bonnie, I have been given the opportunity to fulfill this promise each day through my work with her foundation.

Two, we would join in celebration with our family and friends to thank them for their overwhelming support.  You all provided us with the greatest gift: love.  We felt it around us constantly.  It gave us such strength.  It inspired us with so much hope.  It bolstered our fight.   So, we started planning a party that we would throw when I was two years cancer-free to thank everyone who helped make me a survivor.

To be honest, in the summer of 2012, a celebration party felt like a very distant dream.  There was so much to get through in the meantime: chemotherapy, finding a surgeon, traveling to New York for treatment, enduring radiation, a long and difficult recovery, and finding a new “normal.”  Whenever things got tough, Miles would remind me of how incredible our 2 Year NED party was going to be.  Often at night as I struggled, he would start imagining the event.  And to make me smile, he kept making it more and more grandiose. No, this was not going to be a typical summer BBQ.  It was going to be a fancy affair…Lights illuminating the night sky…DJ spinning dance tunes…Caterers walking around offering appetizers with fancy names. He would survey the imaginary crowd of guests and tell me who was there.  It would make me giggle with excitement.  I wanted that day to be a reality so badly.

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Some of the gang celebrating out on the dance floor!

And on May 23rd, it became one.  Miles and I threw the 2-Year NED party of our dreams.  And let me tell you: IT WAS WORTH THE WAIT!

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My boyfriend, NED, even made an appearance. And boy was he popular (see pictures below)!

That night, we welcomed about 75 of our dear family and friends to our home to celebrate this momentous occasion. Just as we had imagined over the past three years, the party was spectacular.  We were surrounded by so many people that we could never truly thank in words.  We had family, friends from college, workmates, college coaches, and even Dr. Reckamp and Carrie Christansen, my care team from City of Hope.  And under the glow of about 5,000 white Christmas lights, we ate, drank, and danced the night away in honor of this life event.  In the end, as hard as cancer tried to take away my life milestones, all it did was create new ones to enjoy.

Three, we would spend each night dreaming about our future family….which may not be such a dream anymore…stay tuned for that in the next post! 🙂

Much love. Live in the moment.

Emily

NED party - NED

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14 thoughts on “Making Dreams Come True

  1. Pingback: Opportunities and Advantages | Motivation to Succeed

  2. Emily – you have often moved me with your words, but never more so than with this post. It was raw. It was beautiful. Love you both so much.

  3. Hahaha. Yes Yes and Yes.

    We had such a great time at your party and you and Miles’ toast was really touching and we are so grateful. You two are amazing. Thank you.

    Emily, just thought you should know and I may have mentioned this before that Casey is a great name for a male or female human. The world will always be good to a Casey. If you’re considering going down this road, consider this as well: name the child anything you want other than Casey but then call him or her Casey from day one. Make sure there’s a story behind both names. Fast forward to Kintergarten thru Senior year, your Casey will own the first day of school come roll call with this epic tale building trust and admiration from his/her peers and rapport, much-needed rapport with the teacher. If this wonderful child takes on your personalities he/she will very much need this goodwill to cash in on.

    Disclaimer: it is my understanding that twins could be in the cards. In the event of twins it might be best not to use the name as it gives an unfair advantage from the very beginning. You can’t call them both Casey that would be silly.

  4. Very nicely done. Really liked this post. It will be extremely powerful for others going through diagnosis.

  5. Loved reading about the Emily-Miles team who triumphed over the bad guy! Can’t wait to hear
    your next news:) xoxo

  6. So awesome, Em! Can’t think of another party more worthy of fancy appetizers, a blow-up doll, and a raging dance floor! Love to you and Miles.
    A toast from your Chicago cheering section, EmHam

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