They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This has never been so true for me as it was during a recent breakfast that I had. It wasn't so much the nutritional benefit that made it so important, but it was the company and the conversation. I sat in a booth with a new friend with a warm smile and kind heart, as well as an "I can't live without you" kind of person in my life with great hair who I just absolutely adore and love.
We sat there with our eggs and fruit, coffee and orange juice, telling stories and jokes that involved Bud Lights, blondes, and koala bears. Bad humor, but great for a good laugh. You learn a lot about someone when you share a meal and I learned more about them, thus enriching the bonds that we all have together. Even after the food was gone, we lingered in our booth as we talked a little bit about life and my upcoming bone marrow transplant. It means a lot to know that I have support and people in my life who love and care about me and I was sitting with those kinds of people and feeling pretty loved.
At one point during our breakfast, a saying was shared that my new friend saw in a Seoul, South Korean restaurant. The saying read, "The day is long, but life is short." Isn't that the truth? I really stopped for a moment to think about what I had just heard. What does that mean? I believe that the days I have here are long enough for me to work hard, make a difference in this world and spend as much of my time focusing my efforts on the things that truly count in life. But, like the saying says, life is short. Pretty soon all of those long days expire. We are never guaranteed tomorrow, so live today to the fullest. Embrace joy, do what makes you happy, and don't wait for "someday" because "someday" is TODAY.
I am glad to have these days before I head to my penthouse suite at Karmanos, to be around the most important people in my life. It gives me great joy to share thoughts and feelings that translate into little life lessons and inspirational quotes that I will take with me to Karmanos. I am glad that the most important meal of that day ended up really being...the most important meal of the day. Food for the soul is what we really ended up ordering that morning and I am blessed to have shared it with the most cherished people in my life.
Those close to me know about my passion for watches. I would work just to buy watches if I could and even consider passing on my transplant to help support my watch addiction; you get the idea. R.J. King, who has quickly become my partner in crime around the D, invited me to attend the ribbon cutting of the Shinola store in Detroit. I was so excited to be a part of such a historic event in Detroit, while fueling the flames of my heated love affair with watches. It was a great evening, running into friends of mine through business, as well as meeting new friends that night. As if the night could not get any better, he gifted me my very own Shinola watch. I was floored. I now own a piece of Detroit history. Built in Detroit and that's how it should be.
I think that there is an underlining meaning when it comes to my love for watches. Time. Time is a tricky thing. I have felt as though time was not on my side when I was first diagnosed, hearing that I might only have a short amount of time to live unless I found a bone marrow match. Then time, as it always does, kept moving and it seemed like it was moving fast. To everyone’s surprise, I blew through my "D" date and time was suddenly on my side. Time became my friend and I was making the most of the time that I had here alive. I was living each day with an appreciation that I never had pre-cancer.
I still feel as though time is on my side, as I get ready for the fight of my life, truly, fighting for my life. I will fight for more time; time to spend with my son, my family and to see what else God has in store for me. The hands on my Shinola watch will continue to tick, to move and carry me forward. It's my time to SHINOLA.
Every year The Parade Company puts on quite the fireworks show along the Detroit Riverfront. I have never ventured downtown to see it in person; however, I've always thought it would be something I would eventually want to see live. It’s by far the largest firework display in Metro Detroit and I have been to my share of fireworks in past years.
R.J. King, editor of DBusiness magazine, has become more than just someone I met through business. He has become a friend of mine, someone I find truly interesting and genuinely kind at heart. He shares a passion for the city of Detroit and the business owners and leaders who want more for our City than the stigma it sometimes receives. He also knows that I have been battling cancer and will be undergoing a bone marrow transplant soon. In hearing that I’ve always wanted to see the Detroit fireworks, he took it upon himself to tell an employee and friend, Nick (a warrior and survivor of a bone marrow transplant, himself), to connect with a wonderful lady at the Parade Company, Valerie. She invited me to the sold out, V.I.P. Rooftop Party downtown without hesitation. She is a gem.
I found myself in the best seat in the "house," to watch the 55th Ford Fireworks. I remember watching it on T.V. year after year, but let me tell you, NOTHING compares to seeing this grand showcase of lights in person. As I watched explosion after explosion set off to a perfectly selected soundtrack, I kept telling myself, "Remember this, Tara!" Moments like that are what makes my heart happy. I am glad that it was dark and the night had set in, because I am certain that I had a cheesy, perma-grin on my face during the entire 20 minutes of the show.
I love living life, not just existing in it. I love going to events, meeting new people, and filing away memories to treasure for the long haul. It is times like this that make life worth living, worth fighting for. Again, I have to say, I am so blessed to know so many fantastic people who make things like attending a wonderful V.I.P. event, possible before I go to Karmanos Cancer Center. Thank you R.J., Valerie, Nick, and everyone who made the evening possible. You are now a part of future smiles at Karmanos, as I will surely look back and remember the 55th Ford Fireworks with some of the most amazing people in my life.
In life you have groups of friends. I have work friends, college friends, friends from high school, from church...and then my boating friends. This group of people are a fairly new addition to my life, yet I feel like I've known them for years. Mike Davis, the biggest victim of the "Asian flu," has supported me as if he has known me his entire life. I am quite certain that he is one of the most sincere, giving, supportive, caring and honest people I have ever met in my life. As with so many wonderful people I know, he too wanted to do something to help me during this challenging time in my life. So, he took the reigns in putting together ‘Bumpers for Bone Marrow’ at one of his best friend's bar, Paul Shamo, whom I've gotten to know and has a heart of gold.
So it was, with family and friends and my new boating friends, we celebrated life and had quite the send-off party before I departed for Karmanos. Earlier in the party, I was blessed with the support of my sister, Dawn, who has gone to each of my events and has been there for me through thick and thin. I love her and although she is crazy, so am I. I guess that makes us perfect for one another. Some of my clients showed up, business networking friends, family and even my dear friend Screamin' Scott, from WRIF radio, who I am so blessed to have met when I worked at the station.
Then the crowd shifted as the land attendees left and the boats cruised in from a day on the lake. I can't tell you what a stellar group of people all of them are. We all just met each other, and some hadn't even met me before at all, but because of Mike, they all love him and support what's important to him so they all came to rock out! That's how this group of people work; stick together, support each other, and celebrate life every day. There is much we ALL can learn from them.
I met a guy years back when I worked as an advertising account executive for a radio station. He was just someone I met for business, but ended up being one of my most trusted and closest people in my life, Nico. Upon hearing that I found a bone marrow match and planning my staycation at Karmanos Cancer Center, he took it upon himself to throw me one of the nicest parties I’ve ever had; Fishbones for Bone Marrow Drive and Fundraiser, at his restaurant in St. Clair Shores, MI. Not only did he get the food (sushi, fish, shrimp, and even a little alligator), live music he had professionally made posters featuring the Fishbones’ custom design and branding. Those ads were placed in a print publication and I know, being in ad sales, it isn’t free. I was blown away by his generosity, as was EVERYONE who attended.
Be The Match attended the event, too. I know that although I found my match, there are THOUSANDS of other patients who are still looking for theirs. They came and helped to spread the word and tell people how EASY it is to swab your mouth and get registered. The party was amazing and then one of my dearest friends from college, Jeff Haase, went up to make an announcement to tell everyone that Be The Match there to register people to the National Marrow Donor Program. I've known Jeff since 1997, when we went started at Oakland University and let me tell you that he owns more Polo attire than Ralph Lauren. I adore him and realized that although we haven't had a whole lot of heart to heart talks, he adores me too. When it became difficult for him to make the announcement, pausing a few times to let a couple tears fall, I knew that he truly cared and that we’d be friends for life. He is the best.
It was then my turn; impromptu speech. I thanked Nico and everyone for coming out to support me and this next chapter in my life. Standing there, with everyone looking at me, I felt an overwhelming feeling of love. I was doing pretty good, thanking people and even cracking a joke about looking sexy with no hair after chemo. Then, in the midst of my ramblings, I saw someone; my dad. He was sitting at his table, wearing a white shirt and leaning slightly to get a good view of me from the back of the room. At that very moment, all I could think about was how much I love my dad, my hero. So, I just said it out loud, into the mic, in the middle of my thank you, "I love you, Dad" and the tears just fell. I couldn't stop crying. I love my family, my dad, my mom, my sister, and my son. I took that moment to let my son know that HE is my life, my heart and my inspiration to live and to beat this cancer. I needed him to know that, right then and there, and to hear it out loud.
People have since told me that there wasn't a dry eye in the room and that everyone took a little something from my moment with the mic. I just know that as long as my family and friends know that I feel truly blessed to have their love and support, I will never be alone through this.
Last night I dreamt that I had my first dose of chemo. Not a great night's sleep, but it made me realize that cancer had gotten a hold of the best of me. Even at rest, I am thinking about it. I feel like if I walk around with a smile, no one will realize how scared and terrified I am, including myself.
This life God has given me has so much more in store ahead. I know it was created in His vision. I also know that if I don't stay mentally strong, I won't get the chance to experience the rest of it.
I can't let this circumstance steal my joy. Happiness is truly a gift from God and I think that many people underestimate how valuable it is. It's not living to others' expectations or maintaining wealth in money, but to be truly rich in joy and being true to yourself, those are the things that count in life.
What creates true happiness in your life? Take each day for what it's worth because tomorrow may never come.
People always tell me that they are amazed at how strong I am. Maybe it's because I was given a death sentence and kept living past my death date or how I keep it all together, knowing that I might lose my life in trying to save it. They are right; I am strong, but only because I have no other choice. I don't know how to live my life any other way, but to take the blows and keep standing and keep living. I have a lot of people counting on me to stay strong and not fail. I hate losing and anyone who knows me, knows I fight 'till I can't fight any longer.
Someone reminded me today that it is not God who creates the valleys in our lives, but it is the devil that is challenging us to turn away from our faith and trust in him. It makes perfect sense, because the ones who are weak are easily persuaded to seek an easy way out. It is the strong in faith that are his ultimate challenge and, thus, end up with more crosses to bear. My crosses are exhausting lately and I am admitting to the whole world and heaven above that I feel weak. I am tired. I cannot bear much more and I feel as though I am breaking inside and out.
There are only a couple of things in my life that I am certain of and even those are failing on me. But I have a choice and, as I always do, I am going to put my faith and trust all in God. I know it is said, "Faith, hope and love abide, these three, but the greatest of these is love" so I am trusting in words that will save me in more ways than one.
I refuse to be defined by the circumstances in my life. I am trying so hard to trust in the things that I know are sent from heaven. Sometimes you have to fight for what seems impossible, but in your heart you believe to be blessings from God.
Nothing is impossible and I know that from experience. I have to believe that the good Lord has a plan for me, so I am all in. No one ever said it would be a walk in the park, so I say, "Bring It."
Today is Father's Day and I can confidently say that I am one lucky girl to have a dad like mine. I spent this weekend with friends and family, celebrating my road to a cure and full recovery at my favorite restaurant, Ollie's Cuisine. I ended the weekend on the one Sunday, out of the whole year, that we officially celebrate our dads, but in all actuality, it is every day that I celebrate mine.
My dad is not only my dad, but also an amazing "Papa" to my son, J. My dad was there to greet me at Detroit Metro Airport when I came to America from South Korea when I was adopted, and hasn't left my side in almost 34 years. Through those 34 years, I've learned that he is my biggest fan. He supports my dreams and fights right next to me through this whole cancer thing.
I am blessed. I have a wonderful family, wonderful friends, and a man who carries the title father, but is so much more than that; he is my hero, my rock and my biggest fan.
Life is a sport; sometimes you lose, sometimes you win and sometimes you just play for the love of game. In the game of life, the final score doesn't always reflect the amount of blood, sweat and tears that it took to reach the end of the game. For me, I love sports; football, hockey, baseball; I love it all. Dedication, determination, and the drive to make things happen, make me who I am today. I hate losing.
I've realized that the people I see as strong, think that I am strong. These people believe in me. I do not want to let them down, despite my tears or uncertainty of the outcome.
I am a player and I came to play in the Super Bowl game of my life. It's been a long season, but I can't lose now. Game on.