October 1st is the first day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In honor of this important event, I want to write a little about my friend Michelle aka The Pink Warrior Princess and the bravest girl I know. The tears are welling up as I write this but not out of sadness– hers is a story about strength.
There are certain things in all our lives that feel too scary to think about– even after you're through the "danger zone." Michelle's cancer is one of those things for me. Even now, it feels incredibly tender to write about. But it's so important to share her story.
It started in the summer of 2009. Michelle was getting ready in her bedroom and saw– yes saw– a lump in her breast. There was a flurry of doctor's appointment and tests. Things felt like they might be ok and then they were not. In July of 2009 Michelle was diagnosed with Stage 2b breast cancer. She underwent a double mastectomy. You have to know this girl had a figure to envy. Great curves and still petite. I expected her to be upset about the aftermath of the mastectomy. In addition to all the pain and discomfort, something that had been literally a big part of her was gone.
Michelle amazed me with her calmness and strength. She was completely disinterested in wearing her prosthetics. She was totally comfortable with where she was at in her treatment. This picture is from last autumn. Michelle had just cut her hair to get ready for five months of chemotherapy and the possibility her hair would fall out. It did but her smile stayed put.
Sometimes I got the opportunity to go to Michelle's chemo appointments with her. It was actually fun (is it wrong to say that?) hanging out while we waited for the numbers to come back and the drip to start. I would be in the middle of what I thought was a hilarious story and then I'd look over and see she was asleep. She seemed so fragile to me during this time.
Michelle had chemo treatments for months. She was sick and exhausted but her spirit never faltered. Her husband, two boys, family and friends all rallied around her but really it was Michelle who made everyone feel strong. Her sense of humor gave me comfort during this time. She's the most genuine and sweetest person I know AND she also has a wonderful ironic sense of humor and way of seeing things. She's VERY funny and her cancer took her hair but gave her some new material.
The Last Chemo Treatment
Her last chemo treatment was like a slumber party. All these girlfriends from different parts of Michelle's life, united in love for her. Within a few weeks, Michelle's hair started growing back and she embarked on seven weeks of radiation. She joked her 'do was getting long. This was around her birthday in April.
Happy Birthday, Warrior Princess
And here she is walking the runway at a fundraiser for the Seattle Chapter of Gilda's Club Spring of 2010. Doesn't she look fierce working the runway? That's her cute Mom Cheryl in the background. Michelle became a tireless advocate for cancer awareness and prevention. Was she doing better? Yes. Was it still a scary time? Definitely.
Fast forward to the present. Radiation in the hospital is over (there is a daily does of Taxol) and she's back at work. She has a clean bill of health and gets checked out every three months.
This is a special photo of Michelle. She's gracing the cover of the magazine for Evergreen Hospital in Kirkland, where she received her treatment. Did I mention that girlfriend is also a TV Anchor and Reporter? Yes she went through this whole deal in public and with so much grace.
And here's my most recent photo of Michelle from this week. Look at this woman literally glowing with strength. She's just gorgeous inside and out. I made her a few breast cancer awareness pendant necklaces and she's wearing one here. Hers reads "Courage."
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I want to send one to a few of you. It's my tiny thank you to the universe.
Just leave me a comment on this post about how breast cancer has had an impact on your life. The giveaway open for one week until 5 pm Friday October 8th. We'll pick a few winners. Please be sure to leave your email address so we can connect with you if you win.
To read more about Michelle's Journey check out her blog at KIRO TV. And this important page details Breast Cancer Basics. Through this extremely difficult year, I've seen Michelle become a fierce advocate for breast cancer awareness. Rising above her own fear and pain, she's given hundreds maybe thousands of people important information and more importantly– hope. Before Michelle's battle with cancer, I was a person who had a hard time letting friends know how I felt about them. And now– I realize each day is to be appreciated. It's so important to say what you need to say.
Michelle, I am amazed and awed by the strength and faith you've shown through everything this past year. I'm SO proud to be your friend. I love you!
Thanks for taking the time to read this post. Big Pink Hug!
Linking to some of these fab parties