I'd like to share with you a story of hope and inspiration. My dear friend Marlena started a blog recently and I wanted to share it with my friends and family because it's a testament to the human spirit. It's called Finding My Grace. Check it out.
This is Marlena. (Ha ha, Marlena, I stole your work head shot!) Among the many labels that characterize her identity (mother, wife, friend, comedienne, colleague, aspiring runner, Martha Stewart protege, among many others), she is also waging her own war on the thyroid cancer that was discovered last year. After undergoing countless diagnostic tests, multiple surgeries, low-iodine diet regimens, and a course of radioactive iodine in a span of just 14-15 months, Marlena has just embarked on year two of her assault on the 'highly differentiated' cells. (We share an office at work, so I've even learned a thing or two about thyroid cancer in the past year.)
She told me that she wanted to start a blog to chronicle her adventures as she navigates her way through dealing with cancer, while facing the challenges and embracing the joys in all the other facets of her life. This is not a blog that recounts all of her medical procedures, providing a blow by blow descriptions and unpronounceable scientific terms. That's not Marlena's style. Hers is a blog about life, living it to its fullest, and as you might guess from the title, finding grace along the way. It's funny, honest, endearing, real, moving and inspirational. You don't have to be a cancer patient to enjoy it, although if you know of someone who is dealing with some heavy medical issues, perhaps you might share this with them. Please take a visit. http://findingmygrace.blogspot.com
Let me tell you a little more about Marlena.
We met in 2005, when she returned to Emma Willard to work in my department. I liked her from the moment we met. Effervescent and spunky, Marlena has an infectious, good-natured, high pitched cackle of a laugh that resonates throughout the old walls of our building. I sensed a devilished streak in her early on from the twinkle in her eye.
She and her partner in crime, Ariana, injected daily laughs into my life at a time when I really needed it. We all celebrated her joy at the birth of her son Owen and marriage to sweetheart Jeff. Then, at the age of only 27, Marlena was diagnosed with a somewhat rare form of thyroid cancer. I was stunned by the news. It was even more disturbing because I knew that Marlena had lost her mother to cancer at a young age, although it was a different form of cancer altogether.
For the next year I would be continually amazed and inspired by Marlena's courage and determination. She has really taken life by the horns and grown tremendously. When I start to get overwhelmed with the petty, minutiae of life, I take a moment and think of Marlena and the challenges her family regularly faces. It puts things back into perspective for me. I am moved by her optimism and resilience and humbled by her wisdom. And though it may be difficult for her to believe, I even find my own grace through her.