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Making It! Jo's celebration of a chemo goal...


So, I just turned 50.

Many women don't look forward to this milestone.

Many women haven't been diagnosed with cancer at 37.

I was.

So, turning 50 to me is a celebration!  A huge, exciting and wonderful gift! I smiled from ear to ear on my birthday!

Here is my story... and something fun I am doing to celebrate it.

Let's roll back 12 plus years ago.  I was a busy mom working in Corporate America as a database analyst.  My 2 boys were aged 8 & 10.  It was August and the whole family was heading out to Moab, Utah for a well-deserved vacation.

Moab 2007

We were travelling with 2 families:  In total we had 7 kids, at least 3 dogs and a cat along for the ride.  We were travelling in our RVs and camping at Dead Horse State Park.  If you ever get a chance to visit Moab in an RV... it is a great place to stay.

On the drive out I wasn't feeling my best.  I seemed to catch some sort of bug while heading over the mountains.  I spent the first few days sick with a fever.  I started to feel a little better and enjoyed the remainder of our vacation.  But there were times I just couldn't catch my breath when hiking up big hills.  It was strange.  I even told me husband at one point... I think something is wrong with me.

We got home from vacation and I felt like I had a sinus infection.  So, I went and got some antibiotics from the doctor.  Cleared it up after 2 rounds and I moved on.  Then one day I woke up with a sharp poke of pain for just a second under my left arm.  Hmmm... that was weird.  I went to feel the area and found a lump.  It was a Sunday morning.  I knew what a lump in your armpit could be.  Believe it or not... I saw an episode of Oprah one day years before where they talked about checking under your arms.  So, I was instantly frightened.  I made an appointment to see my doctor on Monday morning.

Spring 2008 - a few weeks after I finished chemo

She wasn't convinced it was anything... we waited for my cycle to come and go.  If it was still there, she said come back.  Now, I had never had a mammogram.  I wasn't old enough.  The recommendation at that time was 40.

So, when it didn't go away, I went back and that was when everything started spiraling out of control.  It took a full month for a formal diagnosis.  There are lots of steps.  By the end of September, I got the results and yes, I had breast cancer at the age of 37.  They said I probably had it for at least 8 years.  That would date back to when my youngest son was born.  

While going through all of this unbelievably scary stuff, I would pray to just make it to 50.  Please, just let me live until I'm 50... my boys will be 20 and 23 by then.  So much closer to being ready to make it without me.  You have so little control during something like this.  I had to do something, so I didn't lose my sanity.  I did lose a lot of that lingering baby weight... that was a plus.  However, I don't recommend the anxiety diet.  lol.

I had surgery 9 days after diagnosis and started chemo 3 weeks after that. All of my hair fell out on Thanksgiving morning.  All at once.  

I continued to pray.  Let me get to 50.

I had 6 rounds of chemo. I finished, and life started to move on.  It was still very scary many times.  Still is every now and then. Slowly but surely you learn to live with your new reality.  The day I accepted that I could get hit by a bus tomorrow, that no one lives forever, and I have to enjoy and appreciate every single day I get on this earth.... that day was a good day.  And here I am... 50!  I did it!  I made this goal during chemo to fight to get to 50 no matter what.  I have been lucky.  So far, my cancer has stayed away.  I still have to go annually to my oncologist and get tested.  Once a year I am a twit consumed by anxiety until I get the results.  My type could lay dormant for decades.  I will never be 100% free of the worry.  But I don't let it completely rule my life anymore.  A day doesn't go by that I don't think about it 100 times.  Anyone who has been through something like this will understand exactly what I mean.  My life changed forever back in August of 2007... but not for the worse.


Relay for Life 2008

I became an empowered woman who wasn't nearly as afraid to follow my dreams.

That is how the Fat Quarter Gypsy came to be. Thanks to cancer.

And now I'm 50 and so very happy!

My new goal is 105!

It's time to celebrate!

I am hosting a Mini Blog Event with two of my favorite quilt designers:

Kris Poor from Poorhouse Quilt Designs and Kate Colleran from Seams Like A Dream 

Please visit their blogs and see what fun tutorials they have planned for you. We will be posting 3 weeks in a row starting with today.  For me, this week is all about why.  Next week I'll share a beautiful fabric collection by Marcus Fabrics.  They were generous and sent us fabric to make projects and a quilt for this blog event.  We saw this collection at International Quilt Market in October and instantly knew we needed to do something with it.  So, come back next week to see it. The last week I will be launching a new quilt pattern called “Feel The Love” under the Swirly Girls Design brand. The pattern will be available as a pdf download.  All profits (everything except the credit card fees) for 2020 sales will be donated to the American Cancer Society.  I'll dive into why I support the American Cancer Society every single year on week three.  

Marking my 50th birthday by giving back is something I am really excited about! Thanks!

Time to go do a few celebratory cartwheels… oh wait… maybe not.  I am 50 after all! Jo

Schedule of Events: (I borrowed this from Kris/ blog post... thanks Kris!!)

Feb 7th

Kate will be posting a mini tutorial and a link to the free pattern.

I will be posting about her breast cancer story.

Kris will be posting tips on strip piecing.


Feb 14th

Kate will be posting a mini tutorial to enhance the free pattern.

Joanne will be posting about why she chose this fabric line and show snippets of her project.

Kris will be posting a mini tutorial and a link to her free pattern.


Feb 21st

Kate will be posting a mini tutorial and showing other projects made with the fabric.

Joanne will be showing off her project and a link to the pattern. All proceeds of the pattern sales will go to the American Cancer Society.

Kris will be posting a mini tutorial about sizing the project for kids.

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