Being there for milestones

My dad had just recovered from a quadruple bypass when I got married. My fondest memory is his toast, where he said how blessed he was to be there on that day.

I just finished a story for my upcoming book, Miracle Survivors. It’s about Carole Kurbin, who has been living 16 years with stage IV breast cancer. One of the things she says that helped her was her desire to be there for her daughters’ milestones. I know that has been a driving force for me and other cancer survivors. Who wouldn’t want to be there to see their daughter walk down the aisle for graduations and her wedding?

I took a break after writing my first draft of her story and got on Facebook (my guilty addiction). Someone shared a Huffington Post article about fulfilling an 11-year-old girl’s wish to have her terminally ill father walk her down the aisle. They hired a photographer and had all the trimmings of a wedding. The images are both heart-wrenching and beautiful, in my opinion. I think it is a great gift for daughter and father alike.  I shared the link and was surprised by the variety of opinions on it.  Some thought it was inspiring and touching; others said it was too hard to watch. One friend said it bordered on child abuse and could soil the girl’s future wedding.

I found the discussion pretty interesting, and it made me think about my motives regarding milestones. I’m not one to dwell on death, but it certainly comes up given I have stage IV cancer. While my daughter’s milestones have always been a motivation for me to keep on living, I know that there is a possibility I won’t live to see them. I think that’s why I like watching Say Yes to the Dress with her; to share that time with her. I have even toyed with the idea of going wedding dress shopping with her if I knew death was near. But now I’m thinking, would that be fair to her? Would it make her sad or happy? I guess if I did something like that, I would make sure it was something she’d want, too.

No one knows what the future will bring. I’m doing well now and there are so many hopeful treatments in the research pipeline. I plan to, as my friend Suzanne Lindley (a 17-year, stage IV colon cancer survivor who’s also in my book) would say, “hitchhike” to the next treatment.” And I’m taking care of myself in body, mind and spirit, too (well I do have some pounds to shed …). So I have optimism I’ll be around for many years to come.

I am so grateful for all the milestones I’ve had the opportunity to witness since being diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer more than six years ago. I’ve seen my now 15-year-old daughter go through puberty, enter high school, have her first boyfriend … and soon, learn to drive a car. I cried with joy at her first band performance and look forward to seeing her run in first track meet. And I plan on being there, loud and proud, at her high school graduation, which will be here before we know it.

On April 4, I will be reaching my own milestone. It will be 12 years since I first heard the words, “You have cancer.” I never would have dreamed what would transpire since then, but I’m here, and l’m blessed.


  1. Laura Ashurst
    May 22, 2014

    They sure are! The power of the internet is phenomenal. I’m so so thrilled to have connected with you. Here’s to many many more milestones.

  2. tamilb
    May 21, 2014

    thanks so much Laura for sharing your story with me! I am so happy you are there for the milestones. They are priceless, aren’t they?

  3. Laura Ashurst
    May 20, 2014

    Hi Tami
    I’m a stage 1v bc survivor of 6.5 years. The mets in my lungs and pleural lining are being ‘nicely controlled’ as my onc puts it and I’m grateful for every single day. Starting in 2001 when my daughter was three and my son was five months old, two separate primary breast cancers kept me busy during their early childhood and then in Dec 2007, I was diagnosed with mets. Like you, I have survived to see so many milestones and long may those milestones keep on being witnessed before my eyes. Thank you so much for your book. I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Much love from Laura (England, UK).

  4. Elayne
    Apr 10, 2014

    Great! I will do that.

  5. tamilb
    Apr 10, 2014

    Thanks Elayne! Congrats on your survivorship! I would love to share your story on the blog sometime. I’m finalizing the book right now and sending it to my editor in a couple of weeks, so I won’t be able to use you for my book. Just send me a message using the Share Your Story button and I’ll put your story on file.

  6. Elayne
    Apr 10, 2014

    Hi Tami!
    I found much hope in reading about the other survivors of stage 4 cancer.
    I have a similar story. I was diagnosed at 34 with stage 3 breast cancer and have been stage 4 the past 7 years.
    This summer will be 16 years total!
    You are welcome to Check out my blog at I would also be more than happy to share my story for your next book if you are interested.
    Thank you for providing hope and inspiration!

  7. tamilb
    Apr 4, 2014

    Thanks so much Yana! Your comment made my day!

  8. Yana
    Apr 4, 2014

    Tami, your blog is one of a kind. You really normalize the concept of living with a disease instead of dwelling on possibly one day dying from it. I am so grateful for your perspective. Bless you and your family, your daughter is lucky to have you for a mom. Keep writing, you inspire many and give us hope to live normal happy lives :)

  9. tamilb
    Apr 3, 2014

    Thanks so much for your kind words, Laurie!

  10. laurie o'neil
    Apr 3, 2014

    Tami, thanks for the inspiration, thought provoking commentary and most importantly, the feeling of hope and gratitude I feel every time I read one of your posts. Cant’ wait to read the new book!
    Laurie- AKA gracefulwomanwarrior’s Auntie L

  11. tamilb
    Apr 2, 2014

    Thanks for reading my posts, Catherine! Glad to bring smiles and new perspectives!

  12. Your posts leave me smiling and thinking with fresh perspectives. Thank you for this, and for sharing these stories. ~Catherine


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