Round 1 to Cancer Free (Week 8)
Lots of amazing things have happened in the days leading up to my last day in the office. I am not going to sugar coat it; COVID-19 has been extremely challenging for the hospitality industry. Many industry professionals have entirely lost their livelihoods. The uncertainty and stress we are dealing with at times is simply soul-destroying. Every day, I witness firsthand the sheer determination and passion from my fellow industry professionals. Their selflessness is evident, and they make me proud to be part of this crazy world called hospitality. This industry stepped-up for me - donating, decorating, and documenting. It is impossible to list everyone, but my heart is overflowing with love and admiration for you all.
The highlight of my week was Halloween morning. We kicked-off the day and closed-out Breast Cancer Awareness month with the Making Strides of South Palm Beach FL “Pink Car Parade”. Benny from Daniel Events delivered to us a pink boxing ring float! We were honored to lead the parade, wearing t-shirts donated by Amy Hoodack.
The energy from these warrior women who have conquered cancer was evident in the screams of support from every car adorned in pink. The morning was filled with love and was so empowering. So many friends and family were there, raising awareness and much needed funding, to finally make that miracle cure a reality.
When I was diagnosed with cancer, I said I wanted to do good through my diagnosis. The Pink Car Parade reminded me of the promise I made eight weeks ago. Looking out from the back of the float flanked by three little warrior girls, I was reminded why this cause is so important. The amazing Rosefield family of Grounded Co. had come out in force to support me. Their daughter Marie was perched up on their Jeep waving a flag and cheering TEAM ZOE! She was so proud to be part of the day and her girl power was evident. The pride and admiration in her eyes captivated me. Looking down at the three warrior princesses next to me and the inspiring woman around me, I was reminded that my efforts today are funding the cures of tomorrow. My heart literally burst with pride and love for them all, and I decided I cannot stop this effort now that Breast Cancer Awareness month is over.
As we transition into November, our focus will continue on the fight against cancer, in partnership with American Cancer Society. I have been selected as an Ambassador for their ResearcHERs campaign which gives women an opportunity to fundraise for women-led cancer research and recognize female trailblazers in the field.
When I was a young child, we relocated from my country of birth, leaving behind our entire family. Somehow, we created a new family made up entirely of friends. This newly acquired family inspired me so profoundly that even today, the woman I am has been impacted by them. The same family units have been created here in the USA. The love and support I receive daily is literally carrying me through this. Friends are on-hand every second of the day, preparing me and my home. Things I would never give a moment’s thought to have been facilitated. My girlfriend Lola must have written the book on "what you need to know" following a mastectomy. I have a drawer full of button-down night shirts, gowns with pockets for my drains, a converted toilet and shower, front closing bra’s and a myriad of practical items to facilitate a speedy and pleasant recovery. No words will ever truly be sufficient to thank you all.
Getting ready to leave my office late Saturday night was impossibly hard. Not only because no matter how much you plan, inevitably numerous curve balls will be thrown at you. On a personal level, the Addison is my happy place, and being part of making memories for our couples and their families is profoundly important to me - mostly because the team that I love deeply are my extended family. I just feel so sad leaving them. Part of me knows, I will be back at my desk in a nanosecond, but the lunatic within keeps filling my mind with macabre thoughts. No words could adequately relay the complete dedication the Addison team has to achieving their goals. They wanted to hug me, and two videos show the collaboration and sheer determination this work family put into creating suitable PPP attire to be able to hug me.
I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be battling cancer at 49. I know I am about to get in the ring and go 12 rounds with a heavyweight. My surgery is scheduled for 7:30 AM tomorrow. I am scared senseless, but as Sonja (my motivation always) said, “this is round one in hearing those future words - YOU ARE CANCER FREE!”