Cancer: An Unexpected Opportunity

If you are reading this and had no idea that I, a 33-year-old mother of 2, attorney, athlete, sarcastic, general badass, have breast cancer, I’m sorry to catch you off guard. There is no good way to break the news to people and especially no practical way to do it to a large number of people. Telling people you have cancer is at once horrible and sincerely strange. I have never before seen words have such a jarring, almost physical effect on people. So, I am sorry if you just experienced that for yourself but I promise, it gets easier from here.

I won’t go into detail about my diagnosis (it’s largely unknown at this point anyway)  or my treatment here. Instead, I’ll update that regularly in a separate area cleverly titled “Diagnosis” and “Treatment.” I am nothing if not organized.

I wanted to create this blog for a few reasons. The first, is to keep everyone who loves me and who supports me updated. Fortunately, already I’m feeling a little army rise up beneath me and it is the most reassuring and inspiring feeling. I am so grateful I cannot possibly describe my gratitude.

Second, I want to hold myself accountable. Cancer is scary as hell. It’s also holy Moses draining and time consuming. And yes, it is physically painful, mentally overwhelming and sometimes really sad.

If I left it at that, cancer would suck. It would suck the joy and hope out of my life, dim my spirit, and distract me from the meaningful and beautiful vision I have for my life. But I won’t allow it. I may have a big bad scary disease but I am going to leverage every opportunity for growth, authenticity, and love out of it. I’ve had a nagging feeling for some time that I wasn’t living out loud the way I was compelled to be inside. I was afraid of judgment and the patronizing eye rolls from people who didn’t understand me. Well, good news, cancer doesn’t care about all that. I feel like I have a shiny permission slip in my hands that I’m going to waive it around and charge forward with sincerity, honesty and bravery.

This is not to say that my writing here will be all glitter and rainbows and silver linings. It won’t be. I highly value vulnerability. I think it is primary and mearning full way we connect. It will be hard to share, sure. But maybe if you see that I am struggling under the weight of mortality, career, love, relationships, vanity, finances, parenting, and everything else, we can meet in an unspoken place where we both feel less alone.

So this, my friends, is my invitation and my promise. I will be true to myself and to you. Feel free to join me. I would love to have you. If not, set me down and let me go. We are no worse off having the wisdom to admit that we are not a match. I’m not trying to force a fit anymore. I just am what I am.

So that is the big news and this is where we begin. Go forward with love in your hearts and the knowledge that although I’m sensitive and empathetic, I’m also tough as hell. I will fight this with all my might…and that, my friends, is a deep well to draw upon.

Give em’ hell.

 

22 Comments Add yours

  1. Rita O'Neil says:

    Hi Katie, my little Friend: not close enough to be of physical help but I can pray and I’m pretty good at that! I always ask for peace and wisdom. Peace to get thru the day and wisdom to deal with all the rest of the garbage that mucks up our healing. Much love to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sabrina says:

    My dear Katie-

    I’m not going to try and pretend that I know what you are going through because I don’t and I’m no good at lying.

    What I do know is this…as a young girl you were a complexity to me. And assuming you haven’t changed since then you are one of the strongest, most intelligent people I have ever encountered. The part that was confusing to me was you didn’t realize it. I remember you always “trying to climb mountains” in everything that you did and you are one of the few people that can accomplish it no matter what the task. You are also a master at the two things that make us women which is a unique combination of hard hardheadedness and a caring for others so deep that it cannot be described in words. So if I can give you any words of encouragement it would be to just be you. Because you have always been enough whether or not you believed it. And because of all of this i know that you of all people can beat this.

    My thoughts are with you and I send all my love.

    Sabrina

    Like

    1. I can’t even speak. It means so much to me to be reminded of who I was and how I carry that young girl forward now. I was so lucky to have you as a friend and I am so touched to hear from you now. Thank you for reaching out. It is so refreshing and meaningful. Lots of love to you, momma.

      Like

  3. Kara says:

    Sending all the love, courage and strength from Seattle Katie. Your honestly, openess and ability to be real is like taking in a great big breath of fresh Montana air. May you feel the little army each day building you up, holding you up and standing right next to you. You are such a strong woman, mother, wife, daughter and friend…
    xoxoxoxo, Kara McCarthy

    Like

  4. Katie, thinking of you, Tom and the girls with much love! You are a badass and you WILL beat this!!
    I’m on the road a lot but more than willing to lend a hand when I am in town. I will pm you!!
    Hugs and prayers to all of you!! 😘🙏

    Like

  5. elissa says:

    Love love ❤……..we got your back over here I Hawaii. I’ll shoot some unicorns and rainbows your way from time to time 🌈 you certainly are a badass. Thanks for sharing with us 😻

    Like

  6. Good for you! With you all the way. Although I’m in Missoula, if you head this way for treatment or anything else, feel free to reach out when you need to!

    Like

  7. Katie, you’re right: I’m very surprised to hear of your diagnosis! I’m so sorry you and your family have to deal with this, but you absolutely will prevail. I’m certain of it. And I have some assurance and comfort to offer you: a friend of mine much like you–30s, mother of 2, athletic, badass–was diagnosed with breast cancer a couple years ago. Her treatment included a double mastectomy and chemotherapy, and for the chemo, she found a new approach to help to keep her hair called a Cold Cap. A super-cooled cap was applied to her head and fastened on, changed every 30 minutes or so, and the cold inhibited cells in her scalp from absorbing (if that’s the right word) the chemo drugs. She lost some strands, but kept a full head of hair. I was on her Cold Cap “team” for her chemo treatments (4 over 2-3 months). She has had her breast reconstruction surgery and has a completely clean bill of health 1-2 years out. I think the shock was perhaps the toughest thing to get over; once she decided on an oncologist and course of treatment, it was full speed ahead to beat cancer. You’ll do it, too. All best wishes from Bob and me! –JP Pomnichowski

    Like

  8. coastiemom05 says:

    Katie I am shocked beyond words😧 That said, it is now time to kick cancer’s ASS!!!!! I am here, I will pray for you and your family. Be available in case you need to talk, whatever you need from me!!! Please, PM me with your address I have something I need to send!!! Love you and I know if anybody out there can beat this it is you!!! Let’s go Warrior Princess!!! You got this 😘😘😘😘👸👸👸👸💪💪💪💪🙏🙏🙏🙏

    Like

  9. PillowHell says:

    This is so inspiring, Katie:

    “I may have a big bad scary disease but I am going to leverage every opportunity for growth, authenticity, and love out of it. I’ve had a nagging feeling for some time that I wasn’t living out loud the way I was compelled to be inside.”

    You are going to get more out of this than it gets out of you, and we’re along with you for the ride.

    Like

  10. Michele says:

    Hi Katie, you probably don’t remember me but I worked with Tom many years ago at Big Sky Resort. Just wanted you to know I’m cheering for you in your most badass extreme run of your life!! With your attitude and awesomeness, I know you will succeed!! Rock on!!!

    Like

  11. Bernadette Rhodes says:

    Much love to you four, Katie! You guys are an awesome family and you have both the inner strength and rock solid support system to get through this. Thanks for sharing your journey. Xoxo

    Like

  12. Sally Smarsty says:

    So much love and prayers for you and your family! I will support you from here you can do this! If you need anything. For real.

    Like

  13. cottonkatel says:

    Hell yes! You’ve got a bad ass army right with you! We love you, lady, and this world needs a smart, independent, loud mouth momma to speak up for it! We’re with you 100%!

    Like

  14. Jenn Rockman says:

    The Rockmans are in and here to help with anything. Just call and we will be here for whatever is needed. Praying for and with you. Love to you all. Jenn

    Like

  15. Taya Schick says:

    Katie- I’ve always appreciated and admired your honesty and spunk! It’s you and that’s what makes you authentic and real. The Schick family is behind you and is excited to watch you dominate this cancer and continue to do amazing things! You go girl!

    Like

  16. Jessie Pelton says:

    Holy hell, girl. Big scary news, indeed. And you just gave it a gigantic karate chop in the gut with your seriously inspiring level of awesomeness and bravery. I’m in and I’m here.

    Like

  17. Sonia says:

    Katie,
    I’m speechless. I’m sorry for the news. I’m behind you! While we are far away, our thoughts, prayers and best wishes are very present. Thank you for sharing. Love your directness.

    Like

  18. Nicky Swenson says:

    Love this, Katie!! I am in! You do not personally know me but Tom and I went to college together and I have seen life progress for tie guys via FB and when I bump into him occasionally. If anyone can whip up on cancer it is you and him! Give it hell, girl!

    Like

    1. Hi Nicky! Thanks so much for the kind and inspiring words! I’ll carry them with me for sure. So kind of you 🙂

      Like

  19. Adrienne says:

    Katie, you are a supreme badass, and if anyone has the willpower, drive, attitude, and spunk to get you through, it’s you. I had a bit of a scare myself a couple years back, and given my family history, it wasn’t something taken lightly. But within a week of my surgery, I was proudly showing off stitches of my badassery. You’ve got this, and you indeed have an army behind you.

    Like

  20. Linda and Buzz Jelinek says:

    Standing right behind you Katie, with love. Linda and Buzz

    Like

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