Eight years

Eight years

Dear Universe:

The sickness and poorer part of our vows were not an invitation. I’ll have you know that despite pneumonia, cancer, myasethenia gravis, a combined 18 nights in the hospital, more than 10 dashes to the ER, 8 years of at least one and usually both of us as full-time college students, layoffs, hours cut, car trouble, eviction notices, healthy diets, exercise, a sweet and miraculously healthy baby girl, daily “adventures”, good friends, a lot of wine, belly laughs, a home full of books, homemade dinners, long conversations late into the night, snuggling, holding hands, and occasional long walks on the beach, we’re happier and more in love than ever. You should also be aware that we have not given up hope on the richer and health part of those vows. You know where to find us.

judy schwartz haley
judy schwartz haley and aaron albert haley

Also, Happy Anniversary to my amazing husband. I love you more.


Thank You

If you haven’t already heard, we have some pretty awesome news: I just completed my treatment for breast cancer!

I am so ready to get on with my life, but first I want to take a moment to say thank you to everyone who helped get me through the past 16 months since my diagnosis.

1. Gem

Look at that face. She is such a powerful motivator. And sweet, too.


No matter how rough things got, she was enough to get me out of bed – Even if that meant just going to the living room, and cuddling up with her on the floor.

It’s amazing how much she has grown up through this ordeal. Here she is just a week before I was diagnosed:


2. My Husband, Aaron

Aaron is my biggest cheerleader, the one who kept telling me that I CAN do this. He was the one who held me when I cried, and told me he would still love me no matter what, and made me feel sexy even missing a boob.


He wouldn’t let me get depressed, and he fills my life with music.


3. Mom

My mom was the one I could count on to drop everything, and come running at a moment’s notice


4. Friends who formed a little army of volunteers

Kristen, Mary Jane, Diane, Sommer, Carrie, Candice, Tim, Mel, Sharon, and Perry – I can’t begin to describe how much you helped me. From bringing meals, to babysitting Gem, to washing dishes, to just sitting with me or taking me outside for a walk, you really helped to carry me through.

5. The young women of the Young Survival Coalition

It’s one thing to experience sympathy and empathy, but nothing helps like meeting others who understand because they’ve been there. I have written about the Young Survival Coalition before, and I’m sure I will do so again and again and again going forward. These girls are my confidants, my hand-holders, my glass of wine with a side of giggles, and my sneaking out from a vegetarian retreat to bring back a side of bacon.


5. Debbie Cantwell and The Pink Daisy Project

A breast cancer survivor herself, Debbie started The Pink Daisy Project to help other young women deal with the overwhelming facts of everyday life that pile up while battling this disease. She came to my rescue by sending grocery cards so I could buy diapers, and hired a cleaning crew when I was too sick to deal with housekeeping. Debbie is truly a hero. Stay tuned: I’ll have more to say about Debbie in future posts. 🙂

pink daisy project

6. Delia

Dee is one of my oldest friends, and she’s been there for me through thick and thin. When I was diagnosed, she flew out to be here with me during my mastectomy. She helped whip my house into shape while I was recovering, and watched the baby, and helped in too many ways to list in one post. She’s another one of those people that I can count on no matter what.

Judy and Dee

7. Old and New Friends; Some I’ve Never Met

Social media is an amazing phenomenon, and it has had a profound effect on my life. It’s brought me back into contact with old friends I haven’t seen in more than two decades, and it has introduced me to new friends, some I speak with every day, but have yet to meet face to face.  These friends have followed me through the ups and downs, provided encouragement, hope, sometimes a little gift or cash, an ear, a shoulder – and often at 3 in the morning, when normal people aren’t available.

So now I’m done with treatment. I’m still contending with some of the side effects. I have some neuropathy, the fatigue is still slowing me down, and I’m typing with one hand because my arm is bound up to treat the lymphedema. But these are little, non-life-threatening issues, and we can deal with that.

Right now, my heart is just full of gratitude.

Now, we are looking forward. We are looking forward to Aaron getting a job. We are looking forward to me finishing my degree. We are looking forward to Gem being potty trained, and learning to read, and getting ready for pre-school. We are looking forward to a long, happy, and healthy life together.

Love to you all.

Maybe it’s just the oxycodone talking

Maybe it’s just the oxycodone talking

I hurt today. It’s frustrating to be back on the pain meds after doing so well for so long.

This is part of the battle, part of the getting up every day and getting on with life despite the stumbling blocks you find on your way.

These are the little things to which I cling:

  • The sun on my aching legs.
  • My daughter running over and giving me kisses at random moments throughout the day.
  • When my hands lose the strength to open the jar of baby food, I know she’ll be ok with just a bowl of cheerios and raisins. Daddy can feed her the vegetables later.
  • Chocolate gelato
  • Ginger ale
  • Chocolate gelato with ginger ale – don’t raise your eyebrow at me, it’s an amazing combination
  • My husband is going to give me a massage tonight – right Babe?
  • My daughter has figured out that letters and words are symbols that represent sound and meaning
  • Giggles – there is nothing quite so medicinal as baby giggles

Maybe it’s just the oxycodone talking, but I’m really feeling blessed.


You can learn more about my cancer story here:

my cancer story | Judy Schwartz Haley


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