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Gin Schaffer is a former higher education administrator and works part-time at MWHC's Regional Cancer Center as the Coordinator of Integrative Medicine. She lives in downtown Fredericksburg and enjoys walking and biking with her husband and 2 kids (especially if coffee is involved).



Pink Ribbon Journey

On February 26th, I was told that I was in remission.  I've been pretty overwhelmed with emotions of gratitude, disbelief, and, to be blunt, pride.  I don't think it's a bad thing to feel "proud" that you've accomplished something such as eliminating the signs of cancer in your body.  But, in less than 24 hours, I was reminded, in a very personal way, that not everyone gets to experience that feeling. As I was coming out of my painting class the following night, Friday, I got word that an old high school friend was fading fast.  Amy had bravely fought breast cancer for five years, but it just never wanted to let go of her.  I had talked with her via Facebook, especially since my diagnosis and just like in our high school days, she was a presence of toughness and great humor.  I always considered her an original, kick-ass, take-no-crap kind of woman.  It's really hard to reconcile losing someone like that from the landscape of our lives.

I spent all of Saturday, February 28th celebrating my remission with family and friends.  The day was also my sister's birthday which made for even more special and fun.  It was hard not to keep checking my Facebook for updates on Amy; each celebratory stop was met with a feeling of bittersweet sorrow and a little of what I guess some would call survivor guilt.

Sadly, when I woke up on Sunday morning at my mom's house in Vienna, I found out that Amy had died.  Seeing that, reading that kind of finality took my breath away.  The weather was getting pretty bad outside - snow and sleeting rain.  It's weird how the weather will either be gloomy to match that feeling of someone passing or be sunny to help you sense that God has made your loved one an angel.

Whatever you need from the weather, in that moment, Mother Nature will provide. I know my mom just wanted me and the kids to get going back to Fredericksburg, but at the same time, she knew I had to get to church to see my sister and her kids, to possibly see friends who have known me since I was a child, and to say a prayer for Amy and her family.  I did all these things, and more, actually, because people were where I needed them to be when I needed them to be there.  I got to talk to our pastor and I had my own private concert while the choir was practicing and I prayed for Amy, I thanked her for teaching me how to live this life as a pink warrior. I attended Amy's celebration of life on March 7th and it's amazing how high school memories came flooding back to me.

Something we all shared was how when we heard a certain song, we thought of Amy.  If you've never heard P!NK's song, "Glitter In The Air", watch this.  Amy's family asked us all to make sure we take the time to reach out to those we love and I couldn't echo that sentiment more.

My writing The Daily Gin and Pink Ribbon Journey have been such important life lines for me to cope with the past year.  For my own recovery (and sanity), I will be taking a break from writing about my life as it relates to my health and will be focusing on some lighter writing pieces such as road trips with babies and toddlers and the lessons learned.  I hope you enjoy reading the blogs as much as I'm sure I'll enjoy writing them. Thank you for your love and support and I look forward to sharing the next phase of my journey with you soon.

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