Martha: A reintroduction

Hey Lake Country! We met a little less than two years ago and I started contributing on almost a weekly basis to the blog – which has been such an incredible experience for me! But, since then I’ve stepped back a bit because a LOT has changed in my life and I think it merits a “reintroduction” of sorts. If you want to check out my initial post – it’s here… and some things are the same, but much is not. I’m breaking it down into a few sections, which I plan to expand upon in their own blog posts later down the road but here goes.

Hello again!

Hey! I’m Martha, mom of a feisty 2-year-old named Dane and wife to a wonderful, supportive husband named Casey. We live in the Westshore Neighborhood in Oconomowoc (close to Lake Okauchee) and love everything Lake Country – the weather, the lakes (obviously), the restaurants and mostly, the incredible sense of community we are lucky to have here. I was so drawn to Lake Country Family Fun,
not only for the well thought out content and super helpful guides, but also for the strong women who run it. Each has so much to contribute from their unique perspectives. It’s an honor to call Erin, Stephanie and Madi colleagues and friends.

I run my own personal blog Staying Martha, and am pretty active over on my favorite social media channel Instagram. Staying up-to-date in the digital world is a passion of mine and sharing pieces of my life publicly is relatively new to me, but is one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.

Up until recently, I held a full-time job in Digital Marketing for Top Floor in New Berlin – a job I loved and miss all the time. My reason for leaving? Well, that’s a crazy story and you can read it below.

Here Goes Nothing

The past few years have been both amazing, and also hard. Raising a little boy has been such a joy for our family. Dane is the first and only grandchild so far on my side and one of two on Casey’s so we have done a whole lot of trial and error, learning curves and given ourselves a ton of grace. He has been a steady light shining in when we’ve gone through some of our darkest days and for that, I will be forever grateful.

Two and a half years ago, we got the devastating news that my dad’s cancer had returned – and this time it wasn’t going to be so easy to beat. The first time, he was able to have surgery to remove the mass and move on with life. Unfortunately, some cells were missed and came back with a vengeance. His cancer was unique in that it wasn’t a specific “type” like pancreatic cancer, or brain cancer… his liked to attach to
the outside of his bones in the form of painful tumors. At the time, I was 31 with a six month old and my world was turned on its head. He underwent chemo, painful radiation on his neck and lung, many surgeries, a rare bacterial infection caused by aspirating something into his lung, which led to sepsis and many nights in the ICU. We thought we were going to lose him over and over, but he prevailed. Navigating  those waters with my family was one of the most difficult and trying times in our lives but it brought us together in so many unexpected ways. On March 8th of this year after a long battle, my dad went to Heaven and was released of all the pain he had endured for too long. He was only 62.

I do not believe I have fully come to terms with his passing. There are days that I feel his presence right beside me and as my mom likes to say – “he’s always on your shoulder.” There are days when I lay down and cry and wonder why he had to die? I miss him so much.

Hurdle Two

Meanwhile, back in February I found out that Casey and I were expecting our second baby – something we were SO excited about. My due date was October 21. We told Dane right away that he was going to be a big brother and he was overjoyed (well, as much as a 2 year old can be ) We started slowly telling family and friends, and since my dad was sick – I was so happy when he was ecstatic for the news, even
though we knew deep down he may never meet the baby in this world.

Notice I’ve been using “was” and “were” – you could probably guess, but sadly we lost the baby around 7 weeks… I had had a feeling something was off, and finally gave my OBGYN a call. Sure enough, it was confirmed with an ultrasound. My appointment was the afternoon of March 8 th – yes, the same day my dad passed. I wrote a very emotional blog post over on my personal blog about that day, which –
I’ve come to think of as “The Day God Gave me Too Much”.

I ended up needing to take pills to help move the miscarriage along and man was that a hard experience. Miscarriage is something that I never thought would be part of my story, but the truth is – it is SO common, yet so rarely talked about. I’d like to change that, which is why I opened up about it in the post above. Once the weekend of my dad’s funeral passed, and I visited my doctor for a checkup, and was given the go-ahead that things were healed and looking great – I was very ready to turn the page and start a new chapter. I was feeling more ready to allow myself to grieve and heal and I was in a good place.

Until I Found a Lump

So here’s where my story really gets crazy. I was doing a self-breast exam and came across something that felt like a bruise. I had been upping my exercise game and thought maybe it was sore from pushups of all things. I monitored it over a week and finally decided to make a call to my OB. Luckily they got me in right away for an exam and ultrasound which led to a next-day biopsy and then I got the call that no woman wants to ever get in her lifetime, much less in her 30’s…. I had breast cancer.

After ALL we had just been through with my dad, after my acceptance and “new chapter” starting, after the miscarriage pain… why me? But cancer doesn’t care, it doesn’t discriminate, and it certainly doesn’t consider if you’ve already been to hell and back.

After two strenuous weeks of appointments, tests and results, I found out that I had triple negative stage 2 invasive ductal carcinoma with (luckily) no cancer in neither my lymph nodes nor anywhere else besides a localized area in my left breast. In case you’re curious about a more in depth explanation – head over to my post here: My Breast Cancer Journey.

So, Why am I Telling you about all of this Tragedy?

The honest answer is so that I can help people. I truly believe that sharing my story and being vulnerable enough to show transparency can and will make a difference. I am a parent right here in Lake Country – like so many of you. I am certain cancer, or miscarriage or pain has touched each of you in some way. So lets open up the conversation, and do a better job of finding empathy in each day, each interaction and the small moments.

I am so blessed to have a LARGE support system, reaching to all corners of my life. I have an incredible son and husband who support me through the tough days – like the day I shaved my head for example. Losing my hair was extremely emotional and painful for me, but the support I have been given has made all the difference.

Motherhood and Cancer

Since my diagnosis, we have been very honest with Dane as to what is going on with mommy…because our main goal is to make it as non-scary as we can. We knew going in that my appearance would possibly change, my hairstyle would 100% change, and my energy levels would be greatly affected. Luckily, kiddos have a very keen sense of intuition because boy have I been spoiled with lots of snuggles, kisses and extra love from our little man. On the other hand, even though he is young, he knows something is going on so the stress we may be feeling definitely projects onto him in some ways. It is a balancing act that is for sure – on my good days it’s easy and normal… but on the hard days we’ve found ourselves leaning hard on our loved ones for the extra support. Martha

I hope that my sharing has touched you in some way, and if you or someone you know is going through something – please reach out, I would love to talk, cry, or vent. We, as a community are all in this together and if cancer has shown me anything, it is that the power of a strong community is unstoppable. Thanks for taking the time to read – I will be sharing more about my journey here on LCFF and
also my personal blog. Cancer will change MANY parts of my life, now and when I finish treatment – from diet and exercise to lifestyle changes I plan to implement.

Watch for more posts regarding all things cancer, and hopefully my small platform here on the Internet can make the world (or at least our community) a better place.

Peace and love,

Martha