(16-04-04) H.E.A.L.

“I can’t believe you waited so long to be friends with these people.”

My roommate had a valid point.  I’ve been working at Adobe Mountain School since October, 2011, and in the first three years i avoided my coworkers as much as possible, outside of work.  Sure, there were a couple of exceptions (Tyler and Jenna, you clever little buggers), but for the most part i had no interest in forming any sort of connections with my ADJC colleagues.  Even when i started loosening up more in 2014, i still considered those few coworker-buddies *exceptions* to my very strict rule: Keep the coworkers at work.  I wanted to avoid drama, repercussions, complications.  To me, avoidance was the best route.

My approach was all wrong.

Yesterday, i attended a fundraising event put on by the Happily Ever After League, (http://www.happilyeverafterleague.org/).  This nonprofit organization helps financially and emotionally support mothers who are dealing with cancer, and once a year they coordinate this fairytale tea to help raise money for those cancer-moms.  Normally, this is not something i would have attended, for a number of reasons:

  • I’m not a mom.
  • I’m more a quietly-and-quickly-write-a-check kind of donator, as opposed to a jump-in-and-join-the-crowd-for-the-event kind of donator.
  • I can’t paint, design, or build to save my life.  (Remember that previous post where i busted out my mom for doing all my art projects in grade school?)

Luckily for me, i wasn’t the one making the decision about this event.  Had it been up to me, i would have made excuses and missed out on what will most definitely be the best day of my 2016 year.  Luckily for me, this event was decided, planned, and funded by a group of people i would have never expected: my coworkers.

Dear Amy and Catherine,

I will remember this day for as long as i live.  The amount of energy, time, and money you two put into perfecting our “Wizard of Oz” theme continues to bring tears to my eyes even 26 hours after the event.  (Amy, you have stood by and listened sympathetically for months as i have vented about how unsupportive our administration is in dealing with my cancer; i feel like you took all that negativity and just transformed it into something exquisitely beautiful.  Catherine, you *barely* know me.  The first time we had an actual person-to-person conversation was at last year’s ACE conference, when we were all taking a break from workshops in Hileman’s room … and yet here you are, one year later, devoting countless hours into making our set design and costumes perfect.) The incredible details that you two put into the Munchkinland table piece (the apple trees, the tornado looming over a house, the lollipops everywhere, the yellow brick road dancing around the whole display, the lily pad pond, the hot air balloon, an EFFIN’ MOTOR underneath so that the whole thing constantly rotated!) had me starstruck most of the event yesterday.  I know there were other tables to view and baskets to bid on and people to network with and speeches to listen to … but seriously, i spent most of the tea time staring at what you two had spent weeks in Amy’s garage building.  


Dear Clayton,

As we all know, you can pretty much rock anything you wear (and we all enjoy watching you do just that!).  Today, though, you sashayed your way into winning our table the “Best Hat” award.  Perhaps this was just another Sunday for you; i could soooo see you struttin’ around Tempe or Scottsdale, schooling young men about the wonderful world of glitter wands, water guns, high hats, and goggles … but you seemed to go the extra mile in your charming ways today, and now Catherine’s “Wizard” hat is officially award-winning.

Dear Kate and Katie,

I know how super-busy you two always are.  You juggle work, extra duties with work, parenting, extra duties with parenting, and side jobs … yet both of you managed to find time to design awesome Scarecrow and Cowardly Lion costumes; find money to help pay for our group’s table; and find any opportunity yesterday to check in with me and make sure i was doing all right, since i was still recovering from my 6th round of chemo.  I love both of you.  I didn’t give either one of you a chance to get to know me for the first 2-3 years i worked at Adobe, and now i realize that was truly time wasted; you two are extraordinary womyn – STRONG womyn from whom i have so much to learn.  

Dear Christie,

My Arizona mom – you already know how much i love and appreciate you.  Your robust spirit has pushed me forward on many a day, and yesterday was no exception.  There was one moment during the tea when i was either spiking a fever or facing a serious hot flash … i was trying to conceal it so that no one would get worried about me, and just when i thought i might pass out, i heard the MC announce that our table had just won the “Best in Show” award!  I watched as you, Catherine, and Amy all went up on stage to claim the award, and i couldn’t help but burst out laughing as i watched you limp behind them all flying monkey style.  It was just like you to find a way to transform one of my miserable moments into one filled with laughter.  You don’t even realize how often you do that for me.

Dear Jenna,

You and i both know that i wouldn’t have even made it to that event had it not been for you.  You practically carried my ass to your car, drove me to Azure’s to get my makeup professionally done, and chauffeured me to the event.  I am willing to bet a paycheck that you were more than a little stressed in those final hours, knowing that your costume wasn’t finished but still making my needs a priority.  Thank you … and for the record, you totally should have won “Best Costume,”  but i am pretty sure those H.E.A.L. ladies were trying to avoid letting the Wizard of Oz table monopolize ALL the awards.  It’s okay.  We know the truth. 


Dear Felecia,

You weren’t at the event, but you found a way to make sure i knew your SPIRIT was: with cake.  Holy cow, this is hands down the most amazing cake i have ever received (and that’s saying something since one year, my Penn State buddies made me a birthday cake in the shape of a vagina … with a clitoris … and pubic hair).

a totally edible ruby red slipper perched on top of my FAVORITE: red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting in between the cake layers

I ate this cake for dinner last night; my roommate ate it for breakfast this morning.  Coworkers told me it took you over a week to “set” the slipper so that it would hold that shape.  I want you to know that we put the slipper in a plastic bag and moved it to the freezer; i am keeping that as a souvenir.


There were others who contributed to making this event perfect – like Kristine and Joni, for completing our group by adding a munchkin and Auntie Em in the mix; Langbehn, for putting an inscribed copy of The Wizard of Oz on the top of the table display; Lael, for building that motor and for taking time out of your Sunday to put up and take down the display; and the anonymous donors who helped our table raise over $500, which was on top of the $600 cost to hostess a table.  As i wrap this blog up with tears STILL STREAMING DOWN MY FACE, i want to make one thing very clear:

I owe my survival to the loved ones in my life.  You are all a part of my core being now … and once i beat this cancer, i WILL make sure i reflect the strength and sweetness that you have all bestowed upon me during this battle.

Author: breastcancerat35

I was diagnosed with Stage 3C Invasive Breast Cancer in October/November, 2015. This blog is my way to process my experience and allow my loved ones to have ongoing updates about my journey.

6 thoughts on “(16-04-04) H.E.A.L.”

  1. I have loved you as your surrogate mother for a very long time now…..and I always will! I really hope that your real mom is okay sharing!


  2. I love you. I know that people say “Love ya” all the time, casually, and without any feeling at all. Yet, when I say “I love you”, I mean it from the very core of my soul. When I first met you. I know I forced myself upon you. Making you wear “unmatching” socks for Halloween, and forcing you to skip down the hall when school was cancelled. Yet, I recognized a “mini-me” in you, had I been able to go back in time 10 or so years. You don’t know this, but you inspire me to be better. To seek my dreams and to push forward when everything sucks. You inspire me to stick up for myself when people want to walk all over me, when in the past, I would choose to let them. You encourage me to seek my dreams and you remind me that I’m better than I think I am. I love you Tarah and you need to realize that you are my pillar of strength. I am so proud of you for allowing people who truly love you to “love you through this”. I am so happy you had a wonderful time yesterday. I am so grateful to call you a friend. You will beat this. You have to. Always. Amy

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I had the best time with everyone for such a good cause. I don’t normally stretch myself to do things like this, nor do I really know how to sew! I seriously messed up 2 of the seat covers out of the ten, but I think there was enough going on at our crazy table that it went unnoticed! Then, before sewing started, the machine broke. Thank goodness a co-worker let me borrow his wife’s machine!! As I sat listening to the guest speaker and trying to hold back tears, I realized all the love for my friends that filled the 10 seats at our table. All the hard work from Amy and Catherine on the table was breathtaking! Tarah….I am so happy you were with us….you will also be a survivor along with my guest of honor Joni!!! You got this girl! Xoxoxoxo


  4. I can’t get enough of these pictures! I frequently look at them and sob like crazy lol. You do have a wonderful group of people who genuinely love and care about you:)!!!


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