2014: Year In Review

It seems many people are reflecting on 2014 and, generally, letting everyone know how fantastic their year was. These kinds of posts can irk me somewhat; as much as I’m happy for all the great stuff happening to many friends and family, I’m also aware that a lot of people might not have had such a great year and it might be difficult to read about so many personal experiences oozing with happiness and celebration. I, myself, was one of those unhappy souls not so long ago, with 2012 and 2013 both being fairly rough on me. The last thing I wanted to hear was how awesome everyone’s year had been when mine was anything but.

But now as I reflect, I must tell you – 2014 was a really good year for me. And I want to share that fact with all of you who might have had a shitty year and are going through a rough time, be it with cancer or anything else. Even when life is at its darkest, the light eventually finds its way back in. There was a lot of light in my 2014. So here is my year in review, and may it give you hope that next year can always be better than the last.

January:

Ah, who can forget this glorious moment: finishing cancer treatment. I can’t even believe this was less than a year ago. It feels like a lifetime away now, like a memory that isn’t even mine. Finishing treatment was a wonderful way to kick off a new year and a fresh start.

I also went to Jamaica, again, because apparently one cancer vacation was not enough.

February:

This happened:

My college roommate got married and we took a trip to Los Angeles.

I walked the runway in the Holt Renfrew/Wellspring fashion show and did not trip and fall. So much fun.

Got my port removed without any drugs. HARDCORE CANCER GIRL.

March:

Much to my pleasure, the hair continued to grow.

April:

My husband became obsessed with running, which makes him very happy. Although this is really part of his year and not mine, my happiness is directly related to his so happy husband = happy me. (If you need to excuse yourself to go barf after that sentence, I understand.)

Went to Washington D.C. for a family trip and cousin’s bar mitzvah. My first bar mitzvah in many years. If anyone wants to invite me to their bar mitzvah, I’d totally come. They’re way better than weddings.

May:

My beautiful mama turned 60 years old! 60!

The beginning of the summer of too much ice cream began.

June:

I faced my fear of heights and leaned off the edge of the CN Tower.

Went to summer camp with my sister.

July:

Had my first column published in a national magazine.

Went to NYC for an early birthday celebration where I pretty much ate for 4 days straight.

August:

My 30th birthday, which included a lovely surprise party picnic in the park with my friends and family.

September:

Walked 60KM to help fund breast cancer research. Wasn’t waiting for a cancer diagnosis, or preparing a speech about my cancer diagnosis this time around – just a plain ol’ walker like everyone else.

October:

Got dressed up for a big charity event for Rethink Breast Cancer, and then got a job working there a couple weeks later. Not a bad deal!

We celebrated our third wedding anniversary by going to Mexico and relaxing for a week, which was pretty much the opposite of our first wedding anniversary post-mastectomy. Mexico FTW.

November:

My husband’s brother and his wife had a baby and we met her for the first time and fell in love.

December:

Holiday time with lots of friends and family and food. Doesn’t get much better.

As those super weird Facebook 2014 recaps would say: It’s been a great year. Thanks for being a part of it.

2013: A year in pictures

2013 was quite the year. Lots of happy times. Lots of not so happy times. It’s been a long year, and I am ready to move on to the next one, and start looking forward.

May 2014 be filled with good times, good friends, good family, good health… and 100% less cancer.

Are you there God, it’s me, Stephanie

Tomorrow evening marks the beginning of the Jewish New Year, also known as Rosh Hashanah. For those of you not in the know, this is one of the holiest and most significant days for us Jewish folk. It’s like our Christmas. Except not at all.

Unlike the North American type of New Year, the Jewish one is a touch more serious, with some heavy lessons thrown in for good measure (the Jews love lessons). The idea is that the Big Guy up there opens up his big book of judgment on Rosh Hashanah, and decides whether you’ve been naughty or nice and if you deserve to be written into his Book of Life. If you’re an evil, awful person, then your chances don’t look so good. If you’re a saint, then you likely have a good year ahead. If you’ve made a few mistakes, but are otherwise pretty alright, then you need to spend the next 10 days repenting for your sins and asking for forgiveness and making things right with the Big Guy, before he seals your fate for the year on Yom Kippur.

Okay, so I think that’s a really simplified version and if any religious Jews are reading this, I apologize, but that’s the best I can do right now. Judaism for Dummies.

Challah, i.e. the best part of any Jewish holiday. (photo by Tori Avey)

Last year, we celebrated the holiday the week I was diagnosed with breast cancer, so one might say that there was a bit of a cloud hanging over the holidays. Actually, there was a cloud hanging over pretty much every holiday for the entire past year, and some holidays I even had to bypass completely. So I am looking forward to any holiday where I can sit up, eat some food, enjoy friends and family, and not pass out in the middle of it all.

I don’t think I was really deserving of the past year, and if there is a God up there, I’m pretty sure he got it wrong when he decided what my fate would be for the following year. Unless I did some really, incredibly terrible thing that I have blocked from my memory, but I’m fairly certain that I’m mostly a decent person.

So hey God, if you’re listening, you kind of owe me one. I’ll look past your error this time, since we all make mistakes, and maybe you were just having an off day. It happens. But there is no need to waste time judging me this year. I’ve paid my dues. Please just throw my name straight into your Book of Life. Top of the list. Β Let’s try to make this year a little better, a little brighter, and a lot less cancer-filled. Thank you.

Shanah Tovah.

Happy New Year?

In a few hours, we will bid adieu to 2012. Everyone is getting dressed up, going to fancy dinners, gathering with friends, drinking champagne. And I am home, in my sweatpants, with now patchy crazed-killer-esque hair, 3 days out from chemo #2, mostly exhausted, and not really feeling all that festive. But before you take too much pity on me, please note that having an excuse to stay in on New Year’s while wearing my sweatpants is actually right up my alley and very likely what I would desire to do, regardless of this whole cancer business. That’s just how I roll, yo.

I’d like to reflect back on the good things 2012 brought me. And there were some. Lovely weddings of friends. My first nephew. My first wedding anniversary. Lots of birthdays, family holidays, celebrations. There was some good stuff in there. But ultimately, 2012 will always be the year I was diagnosed with cancer. The year my life came undone. There’s no way around it. 2012 was a real crapper for me. But that’s how it goes. Everyone has that one really bad year that they want to put behind them and forget ever existed. So I’m okay with this last one having been mine. But I think I’ve paid my dues for awhile. I’ve earned a good year. (Or two? Maybe three? I don’t want to get greedy now.) 2013 will undeniably be a rough go as well. More treatments, more drugs, more surgery, more scans, and more question marks. But I really hope that the second half is better than this one was. There’s only so much a balding gal can take.

I do want to take this chance to say thank you. To my family who do everything for me, when I can’t. To those dearest of friends who continually check in and allow me to tell them how I’m actually feeling, and then continue being my friends all the same. To my husband, who has been by my side every second, and who is currently cooking me a nice dinner, while cursing in the kitchen*. To the many people who have sent me gifts, food, and offered amazing acts of kindness. To everyone who has shared this blog and offered me endless words of encouragement and made me feel like a total superhero, during a time where it is easy to feel isolated and misunderstood. To all the strangers who’ve never even met me, yet take the time to leave comments and reach out to me across my computer screen and put a smile on my face.

So you see, there is a lot to be grateful for.

But even with all those warm fuzzy feelings, I will still say:

So long 2012. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

*My sweet husband would like me to mention “across social media” that he made “the best dinner that has ever been made in our house” while wearing his Old Navy fleece “leisure suit”, with “Fred Savage fluffy hair” while drinking out of a Vera Wang champagne flute. An image to warm the soul, right there.