Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My Family Rocks!

Seriously, they do. As soon as the news of my diagnosis spread, I received lots of thoughtful emails and phone calls with words of encouragement and love. And I’m not just talking about my relatives…I consider my Hawaii friends my family, too.

It was really hard for me taking Brian to the airport after we found out my surgery was cancelled. Knowing that I would need chemo and this was going to be a long road to my recovery, Brian had to head back to the Middle East to begin his check out process so he could be here for me. My mom had planned to come out after Brian left to help get me home, but since the cancelled surgery bumped up Brian’s departure, there was almost a week of overlap with no Brian and no Mom. Enter my amazing friends. I had all kinds of support from my second family (they definitely got more than they bargained for when they agreed to take me in for the summer!) It ended up being a pretty challenging week, as I had to undergo a second biopsy, and also had a horrible allergic reaction to the pneumonia vaccine I needed for my compromised immune system. They didn’t miss a beat, driving me to and from the doctors I had to see, and letting me borrow their car. Amazing, really…a true blessing in my time of need.

When my mom arrived in Hawaii, we were in big time transition mode. I had to rearrange all of my household goods shipments, as well as redirect my car. I had several medical appointments to make sure that my move to Madigan from Tripler would be seamless. Finally, after more than four years in paradise, it was time for me to say goodbye. My mom and I wore matching breast cancer shirts to the airport, courtesy of my sister. I noticed people looking at us, and said so to my mom. Her comment was that they all probably thought it was she, and not I, afflicted with cancer. Funny the way life works.

The flight home to Seattle was uneventful. It felt surreal to be moving back to my roots after 11 years of being gone. It was an absolutely beautiful fall afternoon when we landed…the trees were just starting to change colors, and Mt. Rainier was out in all its glory. I gathered my things and joined everyone in the aisle anxious to disembark the plane and hug my sweet nephew.

As I rounded the corner of the jet way, I was greeted by a sea of pink at the gate. Everyone was clapping and cheering…for ME!!! My family—28 members of it—was standing there at the gate with roses and balloons and t-shirts that said “Erin’s Support Crew.” I felt so incredibly loved. It was the coolest thing ever.

We topped off the night by having a great big family dinner at the Spaghetti Factory. It was awesome to see everyone, talk and laugh. It was great to tell my story, and great for them to hear it. I am on the biggest journey of my life right now, and have all the support in the world to help me. It’s an amazing feeling.

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