Page 28

life

with cancer

September-October 2019

with cancer

The Gift

Being Present

A Letter to My Younger Self

More Important Than Being Perfect

Hey girl, I know this might seem weird receiving a letter from your future 28-year-old self, but I have some thoughts to share and hope you find it useful. Actually, as I write this, I realize I might have read this... interesting. You’re 16 and have already been through what feels like pretty hard times. The typical middle and high school drama, crazy firsts and experiences, and sadly some bullying. It’s all rough and highly emotional. Keep your head up and kill them with kindness; it turns out those people need it the most. Spread your light and love always. Also, you’re really freaking cool. And don’t forget it. I promise you one day you’ll look at your life and realize those moments were peanuts compared to what you’re about to go through.  Moving on to your current situation and diagnosis. Heavy stuff, I know. Why you? Christmas will look a little different this year. Prepare for the world’s worst holiday season. Rough days and sleepless nights ahead. You’re going to lose your hair, like immediately. That’s the first thing that goes. Then all other hair, your appetite, physical strength, feeling in your feet, hearing, short term memory, sense of taste and smell, even your eyesight at times. Girl, you’re in for it. However, just so you know, I think this happened to you because you can handle it. Not only do you handle it, you’ll make cancer your bitch. The hardest moments won’t necessarily be the most painful. The hardest moments are seeing your loved ones take this on as well. Your mom, dad, sister, boyfriend and friends are all trying to hold it together for you, but it’s really hard. They’ll find the courage... your sister will cut her hair off because you lost yours, your dad will carry you when you collapse, and your mom will administer you a shot that is your lifeline every day for seven months. Those are just a few of their heroic moments ahead. They’re in this too, just as sick as you. Their fears can’t even be put into words, and no one really sleeps well for about a year. Cancer affects everyone, but especially the people who love you the most. Speaking of love, you’re in love for the first time. How amazing! True love in every sense of the word. He’s caring, so kind, your protector. He’s selfless. He makes you feel beautiful even though you look absolutely

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terrible. You’re his world and he is yours. It may not end up being your longest relationship, but it will be your most significant. As the months go on, the medicines stack up, the bruising increases, the treatments get harder, the blood counts become lower... but then you’ll receive the ultimate good news! Yep, that’s right. You’re fighting off the cancer and the chemotherapy is working. Believe it, hold on to the good news and never let that feeling go. I can now say with confidence that what you’re going through at such a young age will be the greatest gift you ever receive. Yes, you’ll have to grow up fast. Really fast. But you are incredibly lucky, and your life turns into something beyond anything I can write in this letter. You’ll discover an inner strength, independence, gratefulness and magic within that carries you through the world with grace. Your love for life will be contagious, and you’ll make a positive impact. You’ll have many loves, adventures and experiences that most people only dream about. You’ll travel the world, multiple times and visit places that will literally bring tears to your eyes. You’ll work really hard, climb ladders and land your dream job. You’ll even purchase a home, all on your own. You’ve just got the keys, and it’s really cute. Of course, you’ll go through hard times again, experiencing death, sadness, illness, loss and heartache. But by the time you’re 28, you do a pretty kick-ass job of figuring things out. Never settle for anything less than magical, because that’s why you’re still here. You deserve it all.  Cheers to you young Lily. Hang in there, because it does get better. Love,  Your older, wiser self  P.S. believe it or not, you’re going to miss the wigs, so wig it up while you can! ;)

Written by LILY ELIZABETH O’DARE Photography by CINDY O’DARE

Portfolio-VeroBeach.com

As women, we are taught to be the best versions of ourselves, to have it all together at all times. We strive so hard to paint the picture of perfection. No crumbs on the counter, laundry always folded, the weekly meal planning and grocery shopping done. I’ll admit, I ran myself ragged trying to keep up until one day, I found myself unable to get through my weekly chore of grocery shopping. I had no energy left. I barely made it back to the car while my daughter looked at me in total confusion. I looked fine but I hadn’t felt fine for a while. However, being the woman I was raised to be, I just kept on keeping on, carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. Don’t we all? Then came the news: the pathology results came back. Not only did I have cancer, but I had two very different, rare types of cancer that would require two different forms of treatment. Hearing those words quickly put things into perspective for me. It was time to fight. To live. To survive. The following weeks became a blur. The scans, biopsies, excruciating pain from a power drill bit driving deep into my hip bone, blown out veins and hours upon hours of isolation during treatment, not to mention the waiting. Oh, the waiting and the crushing weight of the unknown is the worst part of it all. It is against my nature to wait. I have stuff to do! However, unwillingly I was forced to be patient. I had to quickly learn to release the burden of the expectations I had put on myself over the years. I had to admit that I was not OK, I was broken, and that brokenness was OK, because one way or another, it would all be OK. I had to embrace this season of chaos to find my peace again. That meant overlooking the dust on the ceiling fan and the crumbs on the counter. I finally realized that the things that I used to get worked up about really didn’t matter at all. I learned that taking care of yourself and resting isn’t selfish. I learned that what matters most is having a deep conversation over coffee with someone you love, or listening to birds chirping, or waves crashing against the shore with the salty breeze blowing in your hair. Above all, the greatest lesson this journey with cancer has taught me is that being present is more important than being perfect. (Oh, and a little brow pencil goes a long way for bald spots). We may not be able to choose the storms that we face in this life, but we can embrace the chaos, the brokenness and the lessons it teaches us along the way. Lately, while focusing on restoring myself, I have had the pleasure of getting back to my love of restoring

Portfolio-VeroBeach.com

old pieces of furniture. Bringing new life and beauty into a piece that has long been forgotten gives my heart such happiness. You can find my story and current pieces on @moore.restored.

Written by JESSE MOORE Photography by PENNY TRANCHILLA

September-October 2019

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Profile for Vero Beach Portfolio Magazine

September/October 2019  

Gather your flock! This issue is dedicated to the beautiful islands of the Bahamas. Stunning photography by Melissa Groo of the West Indian...

September/October 2019  

Gather your flock! This issue is dedicated to the beautiful islands of the Bahamas. Stunning photography by Melissa Groo of the West Indian...

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