You know when people say life throws you curve balls? Do you really ever start paying attention to what that means until you get a line drive to the face? That’s sort of what happened to me a few months ago. I’m sure everyone at Jackrabbit can remember where they were and what they were doing when time sort of stopped when they heard the news of two bunnies having cancer.
It was a Sunday in June and I was riding with my boyfriend to get an oil change after church. I got an email with a meeting request from Jill for the next Monday. Because Jackrabbit is a virtual company, we sort of know when we’ll have meetings. It was very out of the ordinary for Jill to just request a meeting in person for the very next day with something she needed to tell Julie and me. That’s when I got my first curve ball. She told us she was going to have a mastectomy and the story unfolded from there. Life will never be the same. The shock of your closest co-worker and good friend having cancer is hard to describe. Then to have a second curve ball come a couple months later was a game changer. When I saw the news about Heather’s diagnosis, my mouth hit the floor. I couldn’t believe it.
How does this happen? Two healthy and young women. Why them?
We are lucky to have an amazing culture at Jackrabbit that feels like a family. Supporting these two ladies was an instant reaction to every person on our team. We decided to share this post with the public to give you insight on the journey Heather and Jill are both on. We want to share how important it is to stay up to date with your appointments and check ups. But we also want to share how important it is to be ready for the curve balls life will throw at you. Breast cancer snuck up on Jill and Heather and the way they have both reacted is truly inspiring and worth sharing. We hope that you will join us in spreading the word about breast cancer awareness and giving Jill and Heather a ‘Go get ‘em’ with us.
In 2013, an estimated 232,340 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed among women, as well as an estimated 64,640 additional cases of in situ breast cancer. Jill has lobular invasive and Heather has invasive ductal carcinoma cancer. Read more about them here. Jill started with a mastectomy, is currently in chemo and will have radiation and hormone therapy to follow. Heather started with chemo and will have surgery after.
A couple moments really stand out to Jill and Heather as they think about the high and low of this process.
Jill: The highest high was when I realized that I could do this. That I had the strength and the support of many around me to give cancer the beat down. The low point was seeing my name attached to the treatment regimen and the timeframes associated with each phase. That made the whole thing real.
Heather: The high has been seeing the support of my family and friends every step of the way. The low point for me was realizing that the diagnosis and treatment plan will completely decide any more childbearing decisions for me.
Worry. There seems to be a lot of this when your life is turned upside down. Finances have been a worry for both of these ladies. People have gone bankrupt battling cancer and the thought of that is frightening. Having insurance has been a blessing for each of them. Heather has also had her 3 year old daughter, Vivien on her mind. The thought of not being able to see her daughter grow up has been a huge worry. Vivien is a light in Heather’s family and you can see how happy this family is when they’re together. Jill’s family has also been on her mind. Her parents are getting older and live a couple hours away. They can’t easily come visit because of their age and just watching this all unfold from a distance is challenging. Heather and Jill are both married to men who have been supportive for every step of the way. That has also been a worry for them to see their partner worry about them and get worn out from the treatment as well.
Life Changers: Short Term
1-It’s a job. The sheer number of appointments and treatments is unbelievably overwhelming. Luckily I can do work from home (many times from the sofa!)
2-I’ve never gone through anything like this before. It’s not like the flu. You realize that this is going to be a year-long process.
3-Appearance. Coming to terms with changes and then realizing that it really doesn’t matter to anyone.
1- A lot of plans for activities and holidays are completely derailed now as life has to be arranged around necessary medical treatments and the effects of being very ill after them.
2- I just can’t be as involved with taking care of my daughter’s needs and also engaging in a lot of fun activities with her due to my compromised immune system. It breaks my heart.
3- I’ve had to give up a lot of control over my own health and trust my health care team to guide me. This goes for learning to not overdo it and let my support system take care of me when I am just not able.
Finding positivity. Heather has been lucky to have a great support system that keeps her going and encourages her every step of the way. Cancer is hard and the fight you have to go through to try to get rid of it is tough. Jill doesn’t know what positive will come out of this battle, but she knows that there will be some positive on the other side. She has found positivity in her faith and trust in God’s plan for her life. Whether it be that her family relationships get stronger, or someone else is inspired by something she does, or that someone’s faith is strengthened from her experience she does not know. But one thing is for sure – she has found the positive in this hope.
Life Changes: Long Term
Jill: The realization of my own mortality. We aren’t going to live forever, but battling cancer makes you stare it in the face. My priorities have also been shifted. I don’t think they were terribly misaligned before but I’ve learned a thing or two about what’s really important and really irrelevant.
Heather: It has really reinforced for me to not procrastinate on anything. If you have wanted to do something, do it when the opportunity is present. Stay on top of routine things that need to be done whether that be medical appointments, house maintenance, small errands, etc. Once you’re brought down for the count, all of those “should haves” get even more backed up.
Overall, Jill and Heather both have learned a lot about themselves through this process. Their strength hasn’t been tested like this before, and they’re both rising to the top. Heather has a sense of humor that can remain intact in the worst of times. Jill has a perfectly round head. They both look great with a mohawk. And above all, they have inspired the team at Jackrabbit to not take any moment for granted and support these two women every step of the way.