“You know, this could be a sign of things to come. You win all your cases, but with somebody else’s help. Right? You win case, after case, – and then afterward, you have to go up to somebody and you have to say- “thank you”! Oh my God, what a fuckin’ nightmare!”
– Mona Lisa Vito in the film “My Cousin Vinny”
This is my first wine story. My husband and I both were Literature majors (and lawyers). He has been writing the amazing wine stories you find on our website and social media. But with this story, I told Scooter that maybe – just maybe – I should write this one. It may help me get out of my head, help me do something creative, and may help someone else along the way. So here it goes…
I’m good at action.
I really love the physical aspects of winemaking – climbing barrels, diving into tanks, lifting 30-pound harvest bins full of grapes, troubleshooting why a harvest machine isn’t working. (Winemaking also appeals to my attention to detail and need for a creative outlet.)
However, for the past 6 months, I haven’t been able to lift more than 5 pounds (or vacuum – as most of the post-operative literature says since I guess that’s a particular task that most women traditionally do).
I also generally like being alone – until I don’t like it. (Does that make sense?) But that is another good quality for a winemaker – and another reason why it appeals to me.
But now I am part of an amazing sisterhood…
It started back in late 2020. The time between finding the lump and going to the radiology department for tests was the hardest part – not knowing.
Once I knew, though, it was all about action and moving forward.
I’m good at action.
Luckily for me, the pandemic didn’t affect my treatment. Thankfully the hospitals, clinics, and doctors were in a spot to make sure cancer patients were receiving treatment. My first surgery was in January. My most recent was in June. I cannot say enough about the amazing team of healthcare professionals that surround me at Cooper Hospital and MD Anderson in Camden. My poor husband because of Covid has yet to meet in person any of my teams of doctors and nurses. He has had to process this journey in fits and spurts as I come down from the medical offices back to his waiting car – sometimes hours later. I have lived it with these caring professionals in a more gradual way.
The time after the diagnosis, however, brought another surprise – the sisterhood of breast cancer patients and survivors. This sisterhood is immense, loving, funny, brave, and powerful. I don’t like feeling weak, and this has not been easy. The fear washes over me in waves. This sisterhood has helped me feel brave. Helped me appear brave. I have received intensely personal stories and advice and pictures!! Pictures of before and after, single or double, with or without, chemo or radiation, or both. Best advice I received so far? “Don’t drink a fuck ton of red wine the night before surgery!”
Early on a fellow craft beverage maker and friend checked in on me. She knew that I was diagnosed with breast cancer but did not know how I was doing. She didn’t want to intrude on my time and privacy. I tried to assure her that it was no intrusion to check-in. And that I am doing well. My friend continued by saying that you are not just a citizen, you know, you are also a public figure (well a small business owner in a small community), and that you could share your journey to benefit others. So it got me thinking. I recognize that I was never someone to just reach out to people. Just ask my best friend from high school. We are still friends! But she always said that I never called her while in high school and she thought it was because I didn’t like her. It was never that. I just generally like being alone – until I don’t like it. (Does that make sense yet?)
But this experience has made me break out of that. Already I have contributed to that sisterhood of strength and love. The time now in recovery has taught me to take things in stride, to step back, and let others step up. Although I still can’t climb barrels yet or lift more than 5 pounds, I know I will be able to again soon. And I also know our great staff (especially my assistant winemaker Eric), my family and friends, and this amazing sisterhood of survivors will be there with me.
And, if a story like this becomes personal for you, I will be there for you too. One thing is for sure, there are way too many breast cancer patients…but none of them are alone.