Today's blog post comes from our friend Lexie over at Survivor Chest. Check her out at www.survivorchest.com.
As an added bonus to hearing from Lexie, get 10 percent off any order at survivorchest.com with Coupon Code: ULTIMO10 (Donations and yearly subscriptions excluded).
Christmas was always a big production for my mom. I’m talking boxes upon boxes of green, red, and white knick knacks that replaced all of the other knick knacks around the house for a couple of months each year.
Gifts were extravagant, and cookies were baked for days and then piled into little Christmas tins for the neighbors, coworkers, family, and friends. Even in some of the difficult years, while my mom was also going to chemo, radiation, or whatever the treatment was at that time, she still made an effort to keep Christmas consistent.
The year that I came home from college for my holiday break and none of the decorations were out, the house felt cold and dull, and Celine Dion’s “So this is Christmas” wasn’t playing on repeat, was when I knew life would be different.
At that point my mom had been in and out of remission for nearly 13 years. What started as breast cancer was now Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer – in other words, it has spread to other parts of her body. She was a single mom that cursed like a sailor yet carried herself with grace and poise. She knew when to be tough and when to be vulnerable. I loved her with all of my being – I love her with all of my being.
That Christmas, my mom was struggling… my younger sister and I recognized that even though we were just 18 and 22 years old. It wasn’t going to be the same kind of Christmas this year, but we would do everything we could to get it close. We brought up all of the boxes from the basement one day while our mom was away. We decorated the house the same way she had every year prior, and put up the Christmas tree – ornaments and all. Needless to say, my mom was ecstatic.
Not long into that winter break, though, we ended up at the hospital with her – taken by ambulance. For a moment we thought that was it. That she would be leaving us. That we would be motherless. She cycled through her usual peppy self and the state of a person whose body was failing them. At one point, the exact time isn’t clear to me, she sent us home to our house full of Christmas cheer with individual letters in hand.
I don’t think I realized at the time that it was a goodbye letter, perhaps because she nonchalantly thanked me for everything I did to bring the holiday spirit into our home. But, she also told me how proud of me she was, and that she loved me. It was a simple letter, but I know it was written with heartfelt emotion.
Just a couple of weeks later we said goodbye to our mom, in our home. We held her hands and stayed by her side during her final hours. There aren’t many words that can describe it much more than that...
I can’t imagine going through that time without being able to say goodbye, or going through this time in my life – now with a daughter of my own – without being able to occasionally take out her notes, her diary, and her thank you letter. I cherish the little pieces of her that she left behind, and that remind me she is still here… living through me, my sister, my daughter, and in the letters of that thank you note.
About Survivor Chest
In 2016, as a way of honoring my mom, I started a business called Survivor Chest. Our mission is to Unleash the Survivor in Every Woman. We do this by curating and sending care packages to women previving, thriving, and surviving cancer. Each Chest that we have assembled contains treasures that will uplift and empower fighters for their journey.
Inside our care packages are eco-elegant items like non-toxic beauty products, cozy clothing, and handcrafted jewelry. Additionally, our Chests contain organic wellness products that serve as natural aids for the possible side effects from treatment. And, all of our bright, floral Chests ship straight to the recipient's doorstep.
My mom, Pam, battled the ups and downs of cancer for so many years, meeting other warriors like herself along the way. It quickly became her dream to help and support these women by opening a cancer-focused wellness center that women could visit for nutritional counseling, massage, yoga therapy, support group meetings, and much more.
I started Survivor Chest, not only to honor my mother, but to honor her dream. Today, it is my goal to support women facing cancer by sending Survivor Chest care packages. In addition, I am saving 10 percent of all proceeds to open Pam’s wellness center.
Lexie and her husband Garrett live in Colorado with their daughter Penelope and dog Maverick. Penelope, aka “Penny”, is named after Pam who told her daughters that she would send them pennies from heaven whenever she was thinking of them.
Lexie has a background in journalism and marketing, and is a certified yoga instructor. She is looking forward to gaining her yoga therapist certification with a focus in cancer-related yoga therapy in the years to come.
In 2012, Lexie underwent genetic testing and discovered that she is BRCA2+ like Pam, meaning she has up to an 80 percent chance of developing breast cancer, and an increased risk of ovarian cancer. Luckily, her younger sister Cassie tested negative! Lexie's plan is to have at least three babies - although her husband might disagree - and then tackle preventative procedures.