Missing Out: Cancers Effect on Engagement, Wedding, and Baby Festivities

I almost feel dumb writing this blog, but if I feel it… Maybe someone else does too! Or else, i’m just a fool, one or the other. Anyways, what is this blog about? It isn’t about blamming cancer, it isn’t using cancer as an excuse for me having these feelings. It isnt me wanting sympathy, because that is the very last thing I am looking for! Actually, I’m just looking for a good ole place to vent, I mean that is what a blog is for right?!

Everybody knows that when I was diagnosed last October, I was right smack in the middle of wedding planning! I had my “knot wedding planner” all filled out, ideas were rather finalized, and vendor contracts were signed. I just started asking my bridesmaids to be my “girls”, and John was in the progress of planning the perfect way to ask his “gents”. I had the colors, the photographer, the venue, and yes… I said yes to the dress!

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Me and my sisters Samii Ryan and Jill aka Beaner

My whole entire life I’ve dreamed of being a bride and a mom. I remember being little and playing barbies with my sisters and if we were pretending our dolls were getting married, mine would be the bride and my sister Samii Ryan who is now a model and the farthest thing from a tom boy would always be the groom. If we were playing house, I would often be the mom and my littlest sister Jill would be my baby. When you’re young, you see how typical female roles are done and simply expect life to play out how you’ve observed it all your life. To me, I was to get good grades, go to college, fall in love, get married, have babies, and live happily ever after. Never was Cancer supposed to come and change my life plan.

 

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In the rhyme “first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage”, it never ever included oh but just in case you are the lucky girl to get Cancer at age 26, the rhyme may become”you will find love then be diagnosed with breast cancer, you’ll be planning your wedding, you’ll have to go through IVF because you have to start chemo and may permanently destroy your ovaries, youll be forced to get married early so you’re not bald on the biggest day of your life, then there is a huge chance you wont be able to have kids naturally, oh ya and your tits will be chopped off so breast feeding isnt even an option!” I mean, come on… What little girl would be excited for growing up if reality were actually the rhymes we grew up memorizing and expecting our life to become!

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Some may think that I simply was raised with unrealistic expectations of life, but come on… Isn’t that what we want from our life? Don’t we want our young kids to believe in fairy tales, and princesses, fairies, dragons, and knights in shining armor? Perhaps my “fairy tale” expectations and way I chose to live my life may be upsurd to some… However I love Disney and I believe those stories and being raised to be the creative girl I have been all my life has made me the positive and motivating young woman I have become when dealt a series of shit luck! Never ever ever did it cross my mind that I did something wrong to deserve my life, nor did I truthfully ever wish it hadnt of happened to me because frankly I 100% would have rather of had cancer over seeing my sisters battling this awful disease… Basically, because I knew from the beginning with their help, I could beat this thin

Anyway back to my wedding blues…From the very beginning I was planning a fairytale themed wedding (go figure). I always dreamed of being a princess… And what better time to make that dream a reality other than your wedding day! I took my mom, sisters, and mother in law-to-be dress shopping, and yes I said “yes to the dress” after only trying on about 6 dresses. I was soooo excited to start building our registries, and having showers, and of course getting wild and crazy with every tacky plastic penis bachelorette memorabillia my sisters could get their hands on because Why the Hell not! You do it once, its goofy and fun, and the next night your back to sleeping with your hubby-to-be #suchsinnersthesedays ! Oh well, such is life. My motto is you should always test the car before buying it… also absolutely important with the penis you chose to have forever (just saying…)

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My Facebook announcement to friends and family

All of these plans and festivities leading up to my big day came to a screeching hault when I received that call. I will never ever forget, midday October 12, 2015 my mother in law (soon-to-be) at the time just pulled us into the Giant Eagle parking lot when I heard those dreaded words, “you have cancer!” Like HOLD the EFF up, sayyyy whattttt! Almost immediately I felt like Alice falling down the bunny hole as my entire life was literally flipped upside down.

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One of the actual text message invites to our wedding!

John and I decided that we would move our wedding up so I didnt have to lose my hair and not feel as beautiful as I always wanted to be on my wedding day. Along with the help of a local non profit Jamies Dream Team who helps to grant dreams for people with cancers, transplant, and other serious illness. My sisters and cousin were such a huge help… We all came together, pulled out my already filled out Knot Wedding Binder and we got to work. After a few texts to my friends and family because there was simply no time to mail out invitations, we were ready for our dream wedding to come true!

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The struggle is real

The days prior to my wedding I was shooting IVF meds into my stomach multiple times a day. The day of my wedding my ovaries were huge and I was simply uncomfortable… However I was not about to let that kill my vibe. What many people dont know is when I would go to the bathroom with my cousin, amidst her managing my multiple layers of tulle to my cupcake looking dress, I was also injecting needles into my stomach and hoping and praying they would stop bleeding soon enough to get back out on the dance floor.

I wasnt able to drink at my wedding. Doctors did say I could have a sip or two of champagne however my belly was so bloated and uncomfortable as it was… Drinking was the last thing I was thinking of.

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And yes, We are always yet another statistic… According to a survey, the biggest reason why couples aren’t having sex on their wedding night is exhaustion. In fact,” 48 percent of people said they were just too tired after the wedding” thank you bustle.com ! Ok aside from being tired, I actually was not allowed to have sex on my wedding night because of my IVF schedule. I had an appointment at my specialist the day before and bright and early at 8:00am after our wedding (so yes we also didnt even get to sleep in on the morning following our wedding) because I was scheduled for an internal ultrasound— yes I had a wand shoved up my whoo haa if u know what I mean! That following Monday, I was scheduled for my first surgery married, first surgery as a patient Franz to Koziel, and first surgery with my husband holding my hand and telling me that everything would be alright. Our vows of “in sickness and in health” were tested on that 2nd day of marriage, lucky us right!

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Because our wedding was planned so quickly, I also missed out on a lot of the fun pre-wedding celebrations! The truth is, about a year prior when John proposed to me, my family was frankly angry. He decided to ask my sisters for their permission because I am soooo close to them of which they responded “no”and expressed their concerns of them not knowing him well enough etc. So, after you get one family denial… Why try for another even though your going to propose whether they want you to or not. Guys, please learn from his mistake and ALWAYS ask the permission from the parents! Its nice if you include siblings, but PLEASE let me save you from the torture… ALWAYS ask the parents for permission and go the most traditional route because it does mean a lot!

Plain and simple I didnt have an engagement party because we were more at a point that it was important for my family and his family to really have the chance to get to know eachother prior to us all becoming one big family. I can honestly say that my cancer was a blessing in the fact that my family was able to see how amazing John is and how he will do anything and everything for me, support me, and love me. Cancer has brought our families together, closer than I think we would have ever been and we all truly are my dream come true and one big happy family.. for the most part ;)!

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Although our wedding was absolutely everything and more than what i’ve ever dreamed, it does sort of make me sad when I am part of planning and attending my friends engagement parties, showers, and bachelorette parties as awful as it sounds because I will never be able to have those things! I dont want to be jealous but I just always thought I’d have those traditional events in my life and I didnt. But then I look at my life and how blessed I am to have such a wonderful life! I may not have had a huge engagement party and had initial support from my friends and family over my life decisions. I may not have received 3 boxes of the same wine glasses, or multiple sets of the same serving trays. I may not have been able to spend the day covered in plastic penises and getting lap dances from male strippers that are most likely gay anyways. I may not have been able to have sex on my wedding night. However, I can honestly say that Cancer gave me something that many people dont get.

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I had festivities that some NOT going through cancer will never have like my Tata to the Tatas celebration!  I had a Cancer Free party where all my friends and family came to celebrate the end of my treatments!  I have team “sparkle on” that has participated in its 1st 5K, and I will be having a Welcome party for my New Boobies, and yes I will be requesting new lingerie for that one girls;) Most importantly… I got a second chance at life! I had the wedding of my dreams, and both of our families are closer than they would have ever been! I love my life, and althought I still miss my hair, and would have loved to have all those special parties and celebrations… I would have given them all up time over time again to be alive!

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Future Koziels 😉 (literally)

Positive vibes that I will be able to have a baby thanks to modern science and you know what if I can’t, then it wasn’t meant to be and I am sureeeee we will adopt some of the most beautiful children on the planet! Life is good, life is fabulous! #sparkleon

Xo Meg

 

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Reaction: The PINK Ribbon and Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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What does PINK mean to you? To some it may remind them of underwear or bras from Victoria Secrets younger line. To some like me, it is the symbol of Barbie.  Maybe you relate the color to flowers,  jewelry, watermelon, or a favorite pair of high heels.  Some may relate it to female in correlation to the color blue referring to male. When you mention PINK and the month of October, I could probably place money that one of the most common words would be Breast Cancer.

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As a recent cancer survivor, I was asked a few days ago how I felt about the color pink and its connection to breast cancer awareness.  My response, “I love it”! I actually do not mind it at all! I mean, there’s nothing wrong with pink its just the best color on the planet! Maybe i’m a little bit bias because if you haven’t realized, my favorite color is pink and anything pink I typically love. Literally I drive a car with pink wheels and eyelashes, but thats for a later blog) Truthfully, if I had to chose a color to represent my cancer, it 100% would be pink!  However, it turns out that the pink ribbon symbolizing breast cancer awareness has been surrounded in controversy for yearsssss.

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In my mind, when I think of boobs… they typically have nipples.  My nipples were more of a pinkish color being a little more fare in complexion. Could this be where the “pink” reference came from?  Then there is that misconception that breast cancer affects women aka the pink color would represent the female race that this disease affects? Maybe that was the initial thought, however we all know that guys have breasts too, therefore this cancer does not pick and chose its prey! So where the heck did the pink color and the symbol of the ribbon come from anyways?

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Well… I did some research… and it  turns out it has an interesting story! First, lets address the  symbol of the “ribbon”.  Okay, so I love the color pick as a part of the breast cancer symbol, but the pink ribbon— UGHHH I HATE IT!  Why? I don’t really know why, like I said before… its only a ribbon and I loveeee the color pink!  However, since my diagnosis I have received many gifts with pink ribbons on them and literally I want to strangle myself with a ribbon thats how badly I hate it.  Not that I don’t absolutely cherish every single gift I’ve received along the way, it’s just unsettling to me, but why?

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Before cancer, I saw “cancer ribbons” of all sorts of colors to be a sign of fundraising, awareness, hope, and memory of those affected by an awful disease.  Now that I am one of those people affected, its like I don’t want one stupid little symbol to label me. The whole hope, faith, and courage words that often surround the pink ribbon sort of makes me want to throw up! Its like it unintentionally is saying “oh you have cancer so you need to (my other dreaded quote “fight like a girl”) have hope, strength, and faith and you will get through it”. Like GOSHHHH lets be a little more optimistic here! How about, you sell those ribbons— actually give the money towards research or womens health in general and lets 1. advocate, 2. prevent, and 3. find a fucking cure!

Basically, to me the ribbon itself has lost its effectiveness and is sort of turning into a marketing tool to sell “stuff” and make someone behind a desk a lotttt of cash! I feel like we live in the land of the pink ribbon especially in October! Its sad to me that breast cancer awareness literally is “tied ” to shopping instead of tying women and men to talk to their doctors and get mammograms especially the younger generations like me! It just makes me so angry! I feel as though some corporate monster is straight up making money on me because they are selling the merchandise with the pink ribbon attached and saying it supports breast cancer. News flash, when I was sick and my husband couldn’t work because he was taking care of me… the money from that pink ribbon Wal Mart shirt you just bought did not put food on my table or buy me my anti nausea meds… just saying!

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The ribbon Penney Laingen used as a symbol for support of her husband

Heres a quick little history lesson for you all.  The symbol of the ribbon came about sometime in the 70s they say by a woman named Penney Laingen.  Supposedly she was a wife of a hostage taken in Iran and she was inspired by a song to tie tons of yellow ribbons around trees in her front yard.  The act was publicized and new stations were claiming that the ribbon was a symbol of her desire to see her husband again.  That was the first time that the symbol of a yellow ribbon had become a visual message.  Perhaps one of hope, maybe desperation?  It wasn’t long before the yellow ribbon movement stretched across the country.

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The next big historical event surrounding ribbons came around 80’s when the AIDS epidemic spanned the country.  A group of individuals saw the awareness the yellow ribbon had on bringing our troops home, and decided to use the red ribbon to symbolize the strength and hope needed for the men dying on our own US soil from an awful and at the time unfamiliar disease. An activist art group known as “Visual AIDS” decided on a bright red color—“because it’s the color of passion”.  They looped it to make it different, and placed the symbol on stage at Tony awards pinned to the chest of actor Jeremy Irons. It wasn’t long after that that every charity had their own “colored” ribbon as a visual symbol of their cause. Heres a Snapple Cap fact for you… did you know that The New York Times named the year 1992 as “The Year of the Ribbon” due to the amount of support gained from this simple symbol?!

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Fast forward to the 90s when Susan G. Komen began handing out bright pink visors to breast cancer survivors running in its Race for the Cure event. In fall 1991, after seeing the effects of Jeremy Irons wearing the symbol, the foundation gave out pink ribbons to every participant in its New York City race that year. Basically the pink ribbons were cute however to catch on, Komen knew she had to gain nationwide attention on a much greater scale.

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That opportunity came through in 1992 when the then editor in chief of Self Magazine Alexandra Penney was busy designing the magazine’s 2nd annual Breast Cancer Awareness Month issue.  With inspiration from the prior years issue which was edited by Evelyn Lauder—Estée Lauder senior corporate vice president and a breast cancer survivor.  They decided they had to step up their game the following year… thats when inspiration hit Penney right in the face, a ribbon! She created a ribbon, and had them distributed on cosmetics in NYC! With Evelyn Lauder on her side, she decided to put the ribbon on cosmetics counters across the country.  But that wasn’t all…

Somewhere around a week later,writer Liz Smith wrote  a story about a woman who was using a peach-colored ribbon as a symbol for breast cancer awareness.  Who was this woman you ask? Reportedly, 68-year-old Charlotte Haley who had multiple women in her family affected by the awful disease. She made peach-colored loops by hand and was selling them by the set with a card saying: “The National Cancer Institute annual budget is $1.8 billion, only 5 percent goes for cancer prevention. Help us wake up our legislators and America by wearing this ribbon.”  Once her story was picked up by Liz and her phone number was printed, through word of mouth and shear determination she had distributed thousands of ribbons across the country!

Self magazine decided to reach out to Haley!  Reports say they wanted to collaborate to give the movement national attention, however Haley declined their offer saying they would make it more commercial than she wanted it to be. Like it would lose its effect to gain awareness of funds by legislators and turn into more of a makeup symbol.  Liz Smith later in the year wrote a follow-up article on Haley’s efforts and reported a controversial piece between Self Magazine and Estee Lauder.  Reportedly, it was announced that  Self  magazine brought up the fact that they really wanted the ribbon as a symbol and with Haley refusing to collaborate, they reached out to their lawyers who stated that as long as they didn’t use the same color ribbon as Haley they could run with it! And BOOM— we have the pink ribbon as a symbol for breast cancer!  About a year later, poor little Charlotte Haley’s peach colored ribbons were history, and basically never to be known or related to breast cancer ever again! Harsh right?!  Basically the point of the story is play nice, be a team player, collaborate, and support each other and you can be a part of something much larger!

“Pink is the quintessential female color,” says Margaret Welch, director of the Color Association of the United States. “The profile on pink is playful, life-affirming. We have studies as to its calming effect, its quieting effect, its lessening of stress. [Pastel pink] is a shade known to be health-giving. Pink is, in other words, everything cancer notably is not.

Okay, so maybe I feel a little better about the ribbon now that I know the history, and i’m still super stoked about the color being pink, because what girly girl doesn’t LOVE pink!

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I’ve also been asked the question of how I feel about social media, girls posting their bra colors, or provocative campaigns in support of breast cancer awareness specifically in the month of October.  My response, show those titties all you want as long as you then feel those tits for lumps, bumps, or discharge and if you are at risk or it runs in your family, please get to a doctor and DEMAND a mammogram! It literally can save your life! I don’t feel that these social media attempts make “cancer” more sexy, light-hearted, or saying that cancer is easy because thats not the point of the posts.  Basically SEX SELLS and in this day and age, it catches peoples attention. Sure, my boobs were cut off and YEAH I’m jealous over perky natural boobs on models etc. However once again, if it draws attention and gets one girl to notice a lump or bump and to get help! HIGH FIVE TO YOU NUDEY SELFIE! Work that camera girl… 😉

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I found this really interesting list of  Controversial PINK products.  Take a look… basically it really highlights the whole color pink and money not being used correctly controversy when surrounding breast cancer awareness. If you take one thing out of this post…PLEASE be more mindful about where your donations are going…there is a chance that not one single penny goes towards helping a breast cancer patient like me!

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Thank you: Think Before You Pink for the history lesson! Basically, wear your pink, support the smaller breast cancer campaigns, love each other, and feel those boobies!!! Oh ya, and #sparkleon!

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Support Izzy (yes he’s the cutest dog in the whole wide world!!!)

XO Meghan