Okay guys. Get ready for this doozy of a blog. It’s about the people you meet. The lessons you learn from them and the paths they lead you on. I am one of those people who believes that every person you meet is a teacher. I believe it’s pre-destined. Whether that person allows you to grow, teaches you about love, compassion, community, friendship, heartbreak…they all… no matter how briefly you cross paths or how long the relationship… have the ability to teach you or lead you to something new.
Heartbreak. I was as going through my journals and found this passage. I didn’t date it.
The other reason I was sent here was to fall in love and get my heart broken just to put it back together again and still love that person. Don’t get me wrong. I have no regrets about why I’m in the place I am now and who has what pieces of my heart. I am thankful for every moment of every experience I have had and I love you for letting me fall and having me learn how to once again pick myself up… a stronger and better person.
Speaking of heartbreak and love… I can partially thank a nice guy I met online for leading me to my breast cancer diagnosis. I had to renew a prescription and found myself, less than a week after our first date, getting my first mammogram. The amazing tech found a tumor. The diagnoses forced me to put the brakes on a second date with that nice guy.
While I pray to never hear the words, “You have cancer” again, I am thankful for my cancer journey. It’s an experience I can now share in hopes of helping others. The people I’ve met along the way all have truly left footprints on my heart.
Compassion Another journal entry…
August 23, 2016 Dr. Iyengar is not officially a member of my medical team but he’s an honorary member. The rushing chemo nurses… the beeping… the pain… the blurred vision. I remember it all. I remember looking down calmly at my MantraBand bracelet that read “Breathe”… so I took deep breaths. Amidst the chaos, in strolls Dr. Iyengar who smiles and calmly says “So, having a bit of problem here I see. Slight allergic reaction. What’s your pain level?” I look at Elaine (my angel who went to nearly every weekly chemo infusion with me) to attempt to give her a thumbs up. I decided I should focus on breathing instead. “Don’t do that again” she said a week later as we sat in Dr Iyengar’s exam room. LOL!!
Taking The Ride Elaine was with me on that ride. We’ve all rolled with the ups and downs on the rollercoaster of life, but you really learn you have no control when it comes to the cancer coaster. Thankfully my safety bar was down and locked. I was first told I didn’t need chemo. Then I was told I would need it. Then I was told I might not need it. Then I was told I likely wouldn’t need it. Then, we were waiting for the result of a special test. Basically, the rollercoaster had gotten stuck… upside down.
Rewind to August 2, 2016. I walked into the exam room filled with anticipation to hear how we were going to kick cancer’s ass… that the cancer coaster wouldn’t be stuck much longer. Nope. I sit down and hear, “Test results aren’t in. It’s going to be another two weeks. I’m not sure if you’ll need chemo.” I burst into tears. I was at the appointment alone. I figured I had this appointment in the bag! I thought the “i’s” would be dotted and the “t’s” crossed at this meeting. I was wrong. The cancer coaster jolted on its way down. A blessing though. That special test result actually came in during the time I was sobbing in the exam room and … yup… I needed chemo. Nobody ever wants to hear they need chemo but I was happy to have an answer. I didn’t write the next thing I’m sharing with you in a journal. I had typed it on my phone at the end of that day.
August 2, 2016 Thank goodness for Chelsea. This day just sucked. I’m so over this day. I’m mentally drained and just back from a long night at work. Bless Chelsea for opening her door when I texted her after today’s appointment. I was numb. I was blurry-eyed. I was tired. I was frustrated. I felt alone. She answered my text and offered her couch. She embraced me in a cocoon of warmth as she listened. It’s probably not how she thought she’d spend her afternoon before we went to work. I am grateful. I am less shattered. I am ready for a new day. The cancer coaster (at least for the moment) has pulled into the platform.
Speaking of platforms. I work at a department within ABC News. We call shows at the network “platforms.” It took me years of hard work and a lot of slammed doors… but I made it to New York and ABC. I thought that was why I was brought to New York. I thought my hard work brought me to the Big Apple for a job. I realized last year it was to fight cancer. To meet the people I have met at work and on The Great White Way.
Community So, let’s rewind to 2011. I had moved from Chicago for that ABC News job. That year, my love for Broadway blossomed again with Priscilla Queen of the Desert. I can’t remember exactly how it happened, but I met the “Priscilla Posse” a bit late in the run. I had gone to see Nick Adams perform in the musical a number of times. I believe we (members of the Priscilla Posse) and I connected through Twitter. A handful of these women are now some of my dearest friends in New York. Elaine… who I mentioned earlier… is one of them. Our love of Priscilla turned to a love for Kinky Boots. Several cast members of Kinky Boots (whom I can now call friends) have left boot prints on my heart forever.
Fast-forward a couple of Broadway seasons to 2016. January 24th. Hamilton time! It was my Birthday treat to myself. I had no clue Lin-Manuel Miranda had an understudy. Enter… Javier Munoz. Something about him just drew me in. I didn’t know much about him but I knew I wanted to sprinkle some of my Birthday love on him. He graciously popped out of the theatre to meet me a few days later on my Birthday, January 27th. I give gifts to a small number of people on my Birthday. I gave Javi one. Jump forward to the week of August 14th. I was having some sort of allergic reaction. (Yes, I had two different reactions two different weeks.) I was covered in hives. I was lonely. I was miserable. I looked terrible. I was on my second sleepless night. I had watched Scandal on Netflix and needed a new show to start. Netlfix was the only thing getting me through my hive induced insomnia. Two people responded to the below tweet. Javi was the other person.
Jessica Zellermayer @jaz1976 16 Aug 2016
What to start watching on Netflix. Hmm? Orange is the New Black or Game of Thrones? Thoughts @JMunozActor or anyone who watch 1 or both?
Yup, Javi responded in my time of need with the recommendation of Stranger Things. Let me just say. That tweet legit saved my sanity for the next two sleepless nights until I got pumped with steroids. So I end this post with community.
Community To tell you that you’re never alone. There is a community of people who care. You may not always be able to physically see or talk to the people in it, but they are there. They are your sounding board. They are your cheerleaders. They are your reality checks when you need one. They are your teachers. They are there… in the “like” to your Tweet, a smiley face to your Facebook post, in the text they send you or the card they mail you. They are there in the conversations they have with you over coffee or the chat they have with you on the street. They are there… lights on your path.