Tuesday, December 16, 2014

My first public speech for the mAss Kickers annual celebration of life!

I was asked a few months ago to give a speech to thank and toast to the caregivers at the mAss Kickers annual celebration of life, which happened last October. I am not a fan of public speaking, I get nervous way too easily, but in my quest (stupidity) to do 40 things out of my comfort zone before my 40th birthday, I said yes!! That lead to several calls and texts to friends about how to not only write a speech, but how to deliver it. After a couple months of procrastination, I wrote my speech a couple days before and practiced it numerous times on my children!! They gave me mixed reviews, saying it was good and that it was really sad. I think I made Josh (my 10 year old) cry at one point. So I had to explain to him that I was just giving the full story to everyone and explaining it in detail. I think the details were a bit too much for him, but he was able to handle them. It made him sad for his daddy and also made him realize how serious that first day was when we didn't know anything.

I talked about how I started to feel a pinched nerve feeling in my leg that eventually made my entire leg shake, and I said how my hubby jokingly would scratch behind my ear as if I were a dog (like how a dog's leg goes crazy when you scratch it in the right place). It was hilarious at the time, but I'm sure he felt bad afterwards when we figured out what it really was. And I think one of the hardest parts for my son to hear was about the night (or wee early morning) I had a full on seizure and after he saw me in a coma with blood running out of my mouth and how I looked dead. That is the exact time that Faith and Zach walked into my bedroom, and she swooped Zach out, trying hard to not cry in front of him, but thinking that I was dead. How awful for a husband and child to think you're dead. Thankfully I wasn't.

Josh didn't quite (thank God) understand the part in my speech about the more than dozen firefighters in my bedroom and how I missed out on every women's (including my own) fantasy. But he'll figure that out in a few more years....

I think the talk about my hospital visit and all of the different diagnosis I had was a bit strange to him. "Why didn't they know what was wrong with you, mom?" But he sure is grateful that I didn't have breast cancer that metastasized to my brain giving me only 14 months to live. And of course he doesn't understand the waiting game we had until we finally figured out what exactly I had, nor does he remember it. I had a second surgery a couple weeks before Christmas and although I had the initial pathology report from during the surgery, I did not get the full report until a couple weeks after Christmas, because although hospitals don't shut down doctors offices do and we had to communicate with the surgeon to get the final results.

The final results of a stage 2 astrocytoma is what I still have today, even after 4 total surgeries and all the growth that took place in between surgery 3 and 4.

I also discussed how as a caregiver, my husband thought for better or worse, meant that worst would be PMS and that our new term for PMS is "P"re "M"RI "S"yndrome, and he definitely has had to deal with a lot of my anxiety throughout this entire journey as well as be a mom and dad to our children at different times. But through it all, he's been by my side and a huge help to our children. Even my children have been a huge help to me. Faith is always around to watch her little brothers when we need her to. Josh is the oldest boys and he is able to keep a quick eye on his younger brothers if I need to lock myself into a room to speak with the doctors or if I need to rest because of the chemo. I can always count on Zach to unload the dishwasher or pick up anything that needs to be picked up. And Josh will almost always help out his little brothers.

I also explained in my speech that I am not a statistic, which I have said on multiple occasions. And had to explain to Josh a few times when I was practicing on him. Like I told him, I'm young for this type of cancer (every time I go to the doctor's office, I'm always the youngest person), I'm fit (is the average american fit and healthy), I'm vegetarian and eat mostly organic and non GMO food (is that an average or statistic?), so I believe I don't fit into average or their statistic. I'm doing all I can to fight this thanks to Josh, Zach, Ben, Faith, and my super hero hubby, Sean!!

I guess my speech was successful because they all clapped, lol! But I was so happy to have it finished. I put all of my notes on my phone so that I wouldn't be reading my own story that I have known for the past 3 years almost, so once in a while during it I peeked at my phone, but just spoke from my heart for the rest of the time!

I felt great speaking in public and being able to share my story, I think I would like to start doing more of that and may start with the Relay for Life by speaking at their events next year.

It was also great checking another thing off of my 40 before 40 list!!

Here are the photos from my speech. My children were there, only they didn't end up in any photos...oops!!
Snuck up on the deck with Tanya, another survivor who made her speaking debut, just like me!

Clay (an amazing speaker who has the most unbelievable story) gave me a shot before my speech, I really was nervous.

And with as good looking as Clay is, I figured my hubby needed to be in a photo toasting a pre speech shot with me, lol! I had to have something help me get through, but I'm not sure it worked. I was still extremely nervous!!

Giving my speech for the first time as well as physically speaking my story publicly for the first time. Everyone said I was a natural and that I had nothing to be nervous about, but my insides were speaking a different story...bathroom please, lol!!

And since my speech was a thank you to caregivers and I included a cheers to those who carried us through the hard times, everyone cheered with champagne.

A big hug right after my speech and cheers from my friend Kristin, a natural speaker who has a great story to tell and does so many things for Cancer.

All of the night's speakers together, Robyn on the left who has spoken before and Tanya in the middle along with me, both of us popping our public speaking bubble!

Some of us mAss Kickers together. Us survivors love to celebrate life since we know how precious it is!

Shortly after this speech, Kristin nominated me to be a Hero Of Hope for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. I'm sure you'll see upcoming posts about this!!