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An Open Letter

An Open Letter

AN OPEN LETTER

“You Have Been Assigned This Mountain To Show Others It Can be Moved”

This INCREDIBLE letter was presented to me by my Step Mom, Dr. Tracey Butler Ross, right before my mastectomy last year. I recently read the letter again. It touched me so much that I felt lead to share it with you all because it remains relatable for any one facing a giant! Consider this, could what you’re facing be an opportunity to stand tall in ways you never thought possible?

Happy Reading!

“I’m praying for you this day and the days to come. Praying for your physical body, your strength (of mind and character), your courage in adversity and pain, your ability to endure and be empowered during the storms and trials in your life. You are the epitome of grace and elegance even when under fire.

We all applaud your steadfastness in doing what needs to be done, your bravery as you stand ready to fight, and your true grit as you dig down to the very fiber of your being as you face this “Goliath” in your midst. Your ever knowing  spirit that knows that you DO NOT walk alone.

I’ve watched you smile through many tests and tribulations. I’ve watched you evolve and grow, live and learn, withstand and endure, take hit after hit… and yet you keep standing. You still have been a wife, a daughter, a mother, and a friend and you haven’t missed a beat.

But I never want you to forget that you ARE a women and this particular crossroad that you are now facing is especially tough. I cannot imagine what you are feeling, but I want you to know that I see you and your heart. Every shake and anxious quake, every tear that you’ve kept within, every sob that was never given a sound, every scream that was muffled by a smile and. Always being strong even when you didn’t know how to be in this situation.

God sees you and HE is there with you every step of the way!

I wish that I could take this cross from you, but sadly, it is not within my power. You have every right to feel angry, sad, depressed, overwhelmed, scared, or whatever other human emotion that may be going on or that has gone through your mind over the past few months, especially right now. Your life as you have known it is not the same, and understandably, you also are not the same. Though your physical body may change, your character has not. You are still the “warrior princess” that God spoke into life and existence almost 32 years ago. Sure, you like all of us, might have some battle scares, but I declare there will come a day that you will look at those very scares and feel a surge of victory and accomplishment that you made it through!

This is a defining moment in your life and you get to write what that definition and story shall say. Perhaps it will be…. Over comer, champion, role model, activist, only God knows, but it will constantly change and adapt to fit the need for the moment at hand. Keep looking up when your head may want to lower, keep striving forward when your body feels exhausted, keep standing when your legs may want to buckle; keep reaching for Him when you feel that you don’t know how to keep going on. He will see you through. As He said to Elijah in the wilderness, “Eat and rest for the journey ahead is great.”

The life that you dream of, lives in the changes that you are experiencing, and your ability and willingness to change with them, and not just for you, but for you husband and children also. Why this particular path was given to you, we shall never know, but I know that God IS able and He never changes! He will carry you and never let you fall. Continue to trust Him and allow Him to guide you. I promise you that there is something on the other side of this beyond challenging battle. You just keep taking it one day at a time. Embrace every moment and chronicle it clearly, for this is your destiny and testimony. No one can, nor will they, tell and live it like you! There is NO win or lose in this fight…. Only WIN or LEARN!

Go forth and glean from every moment ahead, for the day that you shall declare the works of the Lord is soon to come.

I am SO proud of you and will continue to be there every step of the way! My heart bursts with the love I have for you and as I promised you…. THE BEST IS YET TO COME!”

Tracey

It’s almost been a year since I first received this letter and I hope it has blessed and encouraged you just as it has me! It represents my heart towards every breast cancer warrior! I am NOT thankful for cancer, but I am thankful for what cancer has taught me! Continue fighting because you are here for a reason!

Until next time….. Much Love and Light,

Ciao Bella

From Guilt To Grace: The Mom in you Gives the Love They Need

From Guilt To Grace: The Mom in you Gives the Love They Need

There is not a more beloved position in the world then the role of being a mother. As with any mom, from the moment you find out you’re pregnant you visualize this precious bundle of joy coming into the world and changing your life for the better. You can’t wait to watch your child grow because you know you will appreciate every precious moment. You want to be the best parent possible by teaching, guiding, loving them, and being a great example. However, with all those wonderful intentions, parenting is not for the faint of heart! It brings so much joy but just as many challenges. Adding a chronic illness or cancer into the mix makes it even harder!

Having a little one depend on you is a huge responsibility. It’s one that I don’t take lightly. This is why when I first found out that I had cancer my children immediately flashed across my mind. I decided to stand firm on my faith. I also vowed to go through any and all necessary appointments and procedures to ensure that I would be here for them. As the days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into months I started to realize just how much cancer has not only changed my life but there’s too!

Days when I was literally too sick to get out of bed, to cook, do the laundry, make bottles, change diapers, or help with homework brought a certain aspect of guilt. I didn’t look like the mom they were used to. My hair had fallen out and I didn’t want them to see me as “different.” It was a daily struggle filled with self-blame, anxiety, and remorse. I found myself missing all the things that used to annoy me, like being covered in spit up or tripping over toys! Lol

I’m used to being extremely active with my children. I found joy in planning the next big trip or adventure. We were always on the go. It all came to a halt once my health was on the line. Living with guilt was starting to tear me up inside. I would frequently ask my husband, “Am I still a good mom?” He would of course assure me that I was, but it didn’t always feel that way on the inside. Once I realized that feeling this way wasn’t going to help make things better, I decided to stop complaining and get creative! I’m going to share with you 5 reasons you should NEVER let guilt get the best of you!!!

1.) YOU ARE SHOWING YOUR CHILDREN THE TRUE DEFINITION OF STRENGTH! There’s something to be said about a woman who can get up every morning and fight while also holding down a family. They see bravery in YOU….. that’s right! It may not be the way you wanted, but trust me; you are showing them a great example of courage.

2.) YOU ARE TEACHING THEM EMPATHY. Sympathy is feeling sorry for someone and that’s easy to do, but teaching them how to understand and share the feelings of someone else is a valuable life lesson. I will never forget, one day my two year old son randomly brought me a throw blanket when I was lying down on the couch. He could tell I wasn’t feeling good and said, “Mommy’s sick,” then he hugged me. I could see that this was his way of relating to me and trying to make me feel better. He’s actually become quite the little helper. It makes me proud that he’s able to pick up on certain things and how much he wants to make a difference.

3.) YOUR HEALTH IS A PRIORITY! The old saying goes, in order to be good for anyone else you have to be good to yourself first. This holds true especially in this situation. There will be days where you will be weak and tired. Sacrificing some of the things you used to do to get extra rest will slowly but surely help you become strong again. So listen to your body and don’t try to over do it!

4.) YOU’RE SHARING THE LOVE! Thankfully my husband and I have a huge support system. Grandparents, family members, and friends all want to help us out. This includes loving on the kids. It’s allowed me to see just how loved we are. It’s allowed the kids to see and spend more time with other loved ones….. and that’s a good thing!

5.) YOU’RE CREATING MEMORIES! So you can’t get out to the amusement park today. Maybe all you can muster up is a short walk around the neighborhood or a movie night at home. Believe me, it’s all the same to them. They will have just as much fun spending time on the floor building “Lego Castles” and making snowman out of play dough then going anywhere else. My kids are little, but you get the picture. We get real creative sometimes! Lol I also cannot express how much it’s meant to have the extra time bonding with my baby girl. I wouldn’t have this opportunity if it weren’t for me being at home more.

So, in a nutshell, YOU ARE MORE THAN ENOUGH!!!! Your worth as a mother is not determined by being able to complete EVERY single chore or making EVERY single event. It is already embedded in the heart of your child from the moment you laid eyes on them. This is just a season so don’t get discouraged. Show yourself a little mercy and grace. Try to find the positives in even the smallest things. Enjoy being there another day to kiss and hug your babies. You are valuable, you are loved, and you are irreplaceable just they way you are!

“Children are a gift from the Lord, they are a reward from Him.” Psalm 127:3

From one mom to another, I hope this helps!

Ciao Bella!

Micky

Living With Cancer

Living With Cancer

I became  inspired to write this since many people have asked me questions about my experience with breast cancer. I thought it would be a good idea to openly share what it has been like for me. I must admit, in the beginning I was a little naïve about the path set before me. I underestimated what this journey would cost. Let me be transparent in saying that the past 2 months have been some of the greatest but most challenging months of my life. I’ll speak on both later. Clearly finding out that I might have cancer did not make me feel like I won the lotto or some golden pot of rainbows.  As one could imagine, I felt the complete opposite. It’s almost like I felt betrayed by my own body. Once everything was confirmed I then had 101 questions racing through my mind. For example, “Why me? Has it spread somewhere else in my body? What stage am I? What does that even mean? How will this affect my husband? How will I tell my kids? What about my family? What will other people think? Can I still have a normal life? How sick am I going to get? Will my hair fall out?” these are just to name a few. There’s nothing more surreal than having to look mortality in the face. It’s jarring because you don’t see life the same and never will.

I’m the kind of girl that always tries to see the cup half full, but even for me, this was a huge pill to swallow. My emotions ranged from shock to devastation. I am now approaching my third chemo treatment. Even now, there are still times that I can’t believe that I have cancer! The side effects from chemo alone are enough to drive someone crazy. I have experienced nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, migraines, tingling in my hands and scalp, hair loss, dry mouth, light sensitivity, and fatigue. I have to take countless medications to try to stop the side effects, but each medication comes with its own list of side effects as well lol. While all this is taking place in the background I still had to worry about work, medical leave, figuring out insurance, and managing a household with kids. I’m doing this while trying to recover from my last treatment so that I can become strong enough to face this beast called chemo again.

Now, let’s look at the bright side. What gets me through is confirmation that my chemo is actually working! The oncologist has confirmed that my lump has decreased in size! I have also been able to connect with so many new people and organizations. God has allowed me to cross paths with people that I know will now be in my life forever. I’ve also learned just how loved my family and I are. We have received so many messages, prayers, cards, stylish breast cancer socks, breast cancer jewelry, inspiration boxes, chemo snacks, food, household items, gifts for the kids, and gift cards. The list could go on. My co- workers even set up a weekly “meals on wheels” for our family. Seeing the way the others have extended themselves to bless us has honestly humbled me. It makes myself and my family very appreciative to see how cherished we are.

My husband created an online care calendar that he named, “The Healed Family” (clever right?). With this app our close loved ones can go on line and help us with certain things that we have a need for. A few examples would be taking me to a doctor’s appointment or picking up the kids from daycare. Let me just pause right here and say that a care calendar is a brilliant idea. I’m realizing that a lot of people want to help us, but may not know how. So I’ve found it best to just be vocal about what my family’s needs are.  Now our loved ones do not have to question what we need or wonder what a priority is for us.

Speaking of my husband earlier, I have learned what TRUE unconditional love looks like in its purest form. From sitting on the floor letting me cry on his lap, to numerous appointments, to reminding me to take my various medications, to taking care of the kids, to running last minute errands, to shaving my hair after  it started falling out in clumps…. I mean the amount of stress and sacrifice is insane. It makes me conscious that cancer does not just affect me, but my entire family. If you have a spouse or caretakers remember that this is hard for them too. They need an outlet from time to time.  I don’t even know how I would handle things if the shoe were on the other foot. He does it so effortlessly and never lets me think the worse. He has been beyond supportive, prayerful, and positive since the very first day I even noticed there was a lump. I am forever grateful to him. In spite of this mountain before us our marriage is actually stronger than it’s ever been!

Spiritually I have learned to focus on God and to trust him with my entire life…. Literally! On my weak days he is my strength, when I am sick from side effects He allows my body to heal, and somehow even through the midst of turmoil and chaos I can still feel the warm embrace of his peace, love, and hope! Through this ordeal God has shown me what is really important in life. I am interested to see how our relationship will continue to grow and where this faith walk will take me.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1. I can remember when my mom would make us read and recite this scripture from an early age. Seeing how much I rely on it now makes things come back full circle. It reminds me that hope combined with faith makes you unstoppable.

I’m realizing more and more that life with cancer is a daily journey. Feelings change, my body is changing, my life has changed, let’s just say EVERYTHING has changed lol! Yes, there are some days that knock me down and I feel like cancer won the battle, but I know it won’t win the war! Falling down will always be a part of life, but getting back up is how you win! Every time I make it through a long day or a dark night I feel like I’ve earned another diamond to add to the tiara that represents my journey. Somehow I muster the strength to get back up again, put my tiara back on, and continue to walk in faith while protecting my hope!

Until next time….. Ciao Bella!

Micky

Overcoming Obstacles: Turn Your Stumbling Blocks into Stepping Stones

Overcoming Obstacles: Turn Your Stumbling Blocks into Stepping Stones

This topic was on my heart today. Obviously, my current challenge is overcoming my battle with breast cancer. I am confident that the victory is already mine, but I am sensitive to the fact that there are others in the world trying to overcome obstacles as well. No matter how great or how small the problem may seem you already have the strength within you to overcome it! I am going to give you three sure fire ways to increase your faith and realize the power within! 1.) Prayer and Meditation This is a great way to quiet the outside noise around you and connect with your inner thoughts and emotions. As a working wife and mom I barely have time to myself. Some days it feels there are not enough hours in the day. This is why it is so important to make time for you! There is no way you can be good for anyone else if you are run down and burned out. You must have goals and be self-assured of what direction you are headed in! The only way to accomplish this is to find quiet time and pray and ask for direction. Even if you can only afford 10 minutes a day; it will be worth it. Try it and see! You will feel much more confident and centered! 2.) Speak into your life I started achieving this years ago. I decided that anything I wanted to see come into fruition that I would start to speak life into it. Meaning everyday whatever goal I wanted to accomplish for my home, job, marriage, or family that I would express it verbally….. OUT LOUD. I promised myself that I would not stop speaking whatever it was until I saw it manifested in my life. I did this when I spoke over my job, my marriage, when we bought our first home, and even when I wanted to get pregnant with our sweet baby girl! These are just a few of many examples. Realizing that you have the power to speak change into your life is a powerful tool to manifest your dreams! 3.) Don’t Settle for Less! Adversity comes to build character and strength. If things do not work out exactly as planned know that it’s not the end. When faced with a road block there is always a detour, but you must keep going! I want you to realize that you deserve to have everything you want in life. Watch the company you keep. Surround yourself with supportive people who appreciate you and want to see you succeed. Create healthy relationships and boundaries for yourself. Rid yourself of any toxic behaviors. This could include poor eating habits, making excuse, minimizing your value, and a biggie….not realizing your true potential. You, my friend, are worth far more than any rubies or diamonds. Know your worth! Only you can take responsibility of your life. It is up to you to make a decision to get up every day and walk in the realness of hope and the authenticity of faith! Trust me if a girl like me can do it knowing what she’s up against then I believe you can too. How do I know this? I know, because there is no one on this earth like you! You possess an individual God given uniqueness that can’t be bought, compared, or compete with anyone else. That’s the awesome part of it all. Only you can fulfill what you were born to do! I want you to take charge of your mind today. From this point forward refuse to entertain any negative thoughts including fear! Remember you attract what you believe! Until next time…. Ciao Bella, Micky