Elephants and Tea - December 2019 - 5

FIGHTERS

Dear Cancer...

Dear Cancer,
We started our relationship with each other when I was 15 years old. My Grandma Harriet was
diagnosed with cancer at 57. I wasn't old enough to really understand it or digest it. One day she
was Grandma Harriet, the next day she wore a cancer turban, the next day she was gone. What I do
remember was the pain it caused my family, and especially my mother. The tears, the grief, the anger;
it built this hate inside of me for this evil disease. I wish I would have been able to really be there for
my mom. I just didn't understand the realness or magnitude of what was happening at 15 years old.
I would see cancer fairly often as I got older. It wasn't as close and personal as it was with
my grandmother, but it was prevalent. It seemed every family had some type of relationship
with it. In 2010, my father-in-law Larry was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. It was reminiscent of what my family had already been through. Larry was 60 when diagnosed, and he had
two major goals. To see all his grandchildren born, and to be around long enough that they
would all have memories of him. He was a WARRIOR. He never bitched, he never moaned,
he just acted with independence and dignity as this was his life. Larry made it 4 years and
passed on July 28, 2014. My wife lost her father, my mother-in-law lost her husband, and my
children lost their grandfather. Cancer didn't care, it did what it wanted, when it wanted. It
played by its own rules and had its own agenda.
In 2013, when Larry was going through chemotherapy, I was diagnosed with Brain Cancer,
a Grade 3 Astrocytoma. I had three kids under five, a wife taking care of her father - and
now this. I remember lying in bed in the hospital after being diagnosed, and I just started to
cry. I started to think about my family, my kids, and started to have retrospective on my life.
I was trying to understand why this happened. In the middle of my five-minute pity party, I
just started to scream and curse. Strength is not how much we can lift, it's not the size of our
arms; strength is something that's deep down in our bellies that at the deepest and darkest
of times we can grab it and we can own it. I didn't know I had that in me, but when I found
it, I made it mine. This was my journey; cancer was just along for the ride!
I went through surgery, chemo and radiation; the major change in my life came from perspective. I started to see life through a different lens. I started to understand basic things in
life that weren't so basic before my fight with cancer. I was taking lessons and gifts from cancer
that I would never give back. They were mine; I was taking them from you, cancer. I started
to really understand living in the moment and appreciating the now. My catharsis became
writing. I would share my thoughts, perspective change, and appreciating and understanding
the fragility of life. I would do this to unburden myself of the anxiety and fear that would sit
in my belly as every 3 months I would get MRI's to see if cancer had grown back.
In 2018, I self-published my book "Starting at the Finish Line." I wrote it for ME. It made
me feel better. It became a catharsis to get things off my chest. I had no expectations anybody
but friends and family would read it, and I would put three copies in my safe so when my kids
were old enough they could read what really happened. One week later we were #1 in New
Releases on Amazon in a variety of categories. I started speaking all over the country on my
story, perspective, and the need to have some type of financial plan in place prior to the bad
happening. I began doing multiple TedX talks, interviews and more. For the last five years
we have done the Broad Street Run in Philadelphia to raise money for charity, and I became
an ambassador for Head for the Cure, an amazing brain cancer charitable organization.
I often get asked, with my change in the way I viewed life, the "gifts" that I have received,
am I glad this all happened? NO! It was a horrible experience for me and my family, and it
is something I will deal with for the rest of my life. I wish it never happened, but rather then
complain, I will take from cancer instead of it taking from me. This is MY LIFE! I OWN IT!
To all in the cancer community, we are WARRIORS, and we are a family
of WARRIORS! Inspiring and listening to our community is a responsibility and obligation I take seriously. Family is always there for each other.
Cancer, we have had a long history with each other. I hope we never meet
personally again; I hope we end your existence to harming people and families, and I thank you for the gifts you gave me that I will never give back.
M AT T H E W N E W M A N

Dear Cancer,
You might think I'm mad. You did push your
way into my life without warning. You did turn
my life upside down at 28 years old. I wasn't
supposed to be going to chemo treatments and
radiation treatments and undergoing a ridiculous amount of surgery...not at 28.
I was supposed to be hanging out with
friends. Doing things I have never done before. Travel. Laugh and enjoy life. Filling
my life with love and going to weddings and
baby showers. Starting my own family. That
was the plan.
I was ready for that next step, but you pushed
your way in and told me forcefully NO! I promise you though, I am not mad. I am not mad
because you taught me life lessons I needed
before entering this next phase of life. You
taught me to slow down.
Not everything is so important, and things
can be put off to another day. You taught me
to find peace. Every morning I do things for
myself before anything else and it has really
helped me to love life again. You helped me
find myself. I spent a lot of time alone and
when you are alone you get to know yourself.
So, I changed, and I grew during this time
and I became the young lady I knew I should
have been and wanted to be. You also helped
me feel love, which I didn't know I needed so
bad at that time. I had a handful of people that
dropped their lives for me, and I have never
felt so loved ever in my life.
And as for starting my family. I am ready
now. More ready than I was before. I have been
loved and I know now how to pass that same
love on to my special miracle baby one day. So,
thank you cancer. In an odd way I needed you
and you came at just the right time.
You made me a stronger better person because of it.
R E BE C C A M Y E R S

ELEPHANTSANDTEA.COM
DECEMBER 2019

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Elephants and Tea - December 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Elephants and Tea - December 2019

Contents
Elephants and Tea - December 2019 - Cover1
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Elephants and Tea - December 2019 - 1
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