My name is Carey I’m the owner and fiber artist of Snugglebugg Knits. I’d like to tell you my story and why we Stand up to Cancer every day around here. About 11 years ago I became deathly ill. I felt something in my throat and swallowing became nearly impossible. I ended up in the ER where doctors discovered a mass. The doctor said I needed a biopsy immediately and if I went to sleep I would die that night. Then he said I would also need a tracheotomy or I would suffocate during the biopsy and die. I didn’t really have any time to prepare myself for the idea that I could have cancer or that I could die during surgery. I had to tell my children I loved them. I needed them to know that if I didn’t wake up they were the most important things in the world to me.
Once I woke up in the hospital I couldn’t speak. I was heavily sedated and groggy and the doctors were telling me I had stage 3 lymphoma. I was then told the doctors removed what they could and I had already had my first round of chemotherapy. I was in shock!
How could this be happening? I had a daughter who was a senior in high school who needed me to help her prepare for college. I had another daughter in high school and one in middle school. I had an ailing mother who I had been taking care of until I started feeling tired and run down. I had a family depending on me. Now I wasn’t able to do anything but lie there and listen to doctors telling me I might not survive this. Every day all I could do was think of what a burden I was all the people I loved the most.
Each day got harder I was in the hospital for 6 weeks I went home 1 week and then back in the hospital another 2 weeks. My hair fell out I was completely bald. I went through 6 months of chemo and 3 months of radiation. I became so violently ill that it was impossible to eat. Children looked at me in the stores and were afraid. At home, I had to ask my girls to empty my vomit bucket. Help me to the bed, the bathroom, or the car. Someone had to drive me to the doctor, or the store. I was so weak that shopping for Christmas that year was nearly impossible. I fainted in the shoe store and my husband had to carry me to the car.
I scared my own children. I heard that dirty word everywhere I went and I hated it and everything about it. There was no escaping it or what it had done to me, my girls or my whole family. It stole my life and I was literally the walking dead. For months I didn’t know if I was going to die. Something would come on tv about cancer and I would look at my family and the question on all our faces was what if I don’t make it through this and my heart would break for them more than for myself.
The good news I lived! In the beginning, I would say things like nothing is harder than dying. Nothing is worse than cancer. After the chemo and radiation were over life was not much easier. For another year I spent my time healing from the toxins chemo puts into the body. Every day would be a new challenge and the answer was how hard can it be? It’s not cancer, and I’m not dying. But, dying is really quite easy you just give up! It’s the living that’s hard.
During my recovery, I was too weak to do anything but knit and crochet. My daughter Rachael and I started making chemo caps which at the time gave us so much pleasure because we really sucked at it. My head was so small and the hats were so big but it gave us bonding time and we laughed and laughed. I had plenty of time to perfect my hat making skills and well the love of knitting grew. I had time to learn to quilt which became important to me after walking the hospital halls and looking at all of the memorial quilts on the walls. I finally had time to do all those things I always wanted to do. It only took a near death experience and cancer to slow me down and make me re-evaluate my life.
I did go back to work for a bit which was hard to do. Trying to get a job and convince your employer that all your doctor appointments are necessary and that you can’t promise you won’t get sick again. After I started working I realized my memory was not the same. I had suffered severe memory loss and fatigue. I have chemo and fibro fog. After 11 years I still have chronic fatigue, aches and pains from fibromyalgia, and loss of movement due to back surgery and arthritis. My body has aged at least 10+ years. I’ve gone through early menopause and have a whole sleuth of other ailments. Currently, I have kidney disease. But I’m not one to give up! I’m alive and I have no intention of giving up!
Over the last 11 years, my girls all have grown into amazing women. I have a college graduate, a mother of 2 Snugglebuggs and my youngest is newly married. It’s amazing to me what has happened over the last 11 years. The things I would have missed if I had not survived cancer. The questions you have as a survivor are why am I still alive? Why did this person die and not me? My mom passed 2 years after my diagnosis. I’ve lost so many family members in these years and then these stars we all know Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Patrick Swayze and I think to myself if I had died I wouldn’t have seen these people pass on. But the question I ask mostly is why such amazing people are gone and I’m still here. Why did I not die?
I believe that each of us is here for a purpose. That we all have a job to do and we are here until we have finished that job. My job is not done, I may be ill but I have a job a purpose and I have to keep trying to do that job until I’m done. Dying is nothing to fear it is a part of life and though we are saddened when we have to say goodbye to those we love it is only for a short time.
Snugglebugg Knits has saved my sanity! For me, someone who has worked 2 jobs every since I was 13 years old. Staying home all day no matter how bad I feel physically was causing some serious depression. So I began knitting and crocheting more to pass the time. Still, my mind was not stimulated enough which gave me the idea to start a knitting blog. I could grow as a knitter while sharing what I learn and helping others. I was excited, scared and nervous but for the first time in a long time, I felt like my life had a purpose.
Today this blog has helped my memory issues more than I can ever explain. It keeps me positive, allows me to make friends and to share what I love with so many at all levels in the fiber art community. I learn something new every day. I teach something new to someone else every day. It keeps me stimulated mentally and emotionally and I’ve learned that cancer though it changed me forever it changed me for the better. God’s reason may not be clear to any of us who are suffering from an illness but there is a reason for everything and so long as we are here on earth we are here for a purpose. Find your purpose and you will find your peace.
So my job is more than to knit and crochet. It’s more than to be a blogger, teacher, mother, grandmother. It’s to be a bridge, a sounding board, a place to call home, to provide a home for the homeless. To heal the sick, to hug a crying child, to share the wisdom of being a wife, mother, girlfriend. To teach, and yet it’s to have time for me to enjoy the arts I put away so long ago. Time to knit, crochet, quilt, draw, paint, play the piano. I’m not done learning, growing, or sharing!
My life like so many has been busy raising children, working, friends, and family. As a single mom, I really had very little free time to do what I love most. Hobbies, artwork, music and fiber arts really took a back seat once I got married and had children. Cancer may look like the bad guy in my story, but in truth, it freed me in the sense that I now have respect for the time left in my life. That I spend it loving the people in my life. That I no longer allow people in who will harm me or my happiness. That I find the time to do what I love so much which now is SnugglebuggKnits and FADesignCharts both are my children and both are my passion. Our time is short, we are only here for a little while. My hope for each of you is that you too will find your passion, your, purpose, and peace. God Bless You and Thank you for being a part of this past year with SnugglebuggKnits and FADesignCharts! You all truly have made me happier than you can ever know.