Today I am celebrating a fantastic milestone. Three years ago today, I got some of the best news of my life, and it was contained in two words: No cancer.
It was only three days after my bilateral mastectomy, and my surgeon called. She left a message. She cut right to the chase: Hi Erika, It’s Barb Schwartzberg. Good news: No cancer!
I saved that voice mail for a long time. But even now that I don’t have it, I can still hear her voice and remember how I felt in that moment.
I still had quite a road ahead of me. I had been through six months of chemotherapy and a bilateral mastectomy. And I still had radiation therapy, six more months of infusions and reconstruction ahead. But at that point I knew that the disease was gone and everything from that point on was about prevention and healing: my wheelhouse.
These three years have been filled with so much: travel, education, opportunities, a move, time spent with my family and lots of opportunity to be grateful.
Having a complete pathological response to chemotherapy was the best possible outcome, and I’m grateful every day. About 60% of patients in my shoes have this result. So it was by no means a guarantee but somehow I always felt I would be one of the lucky ones. I could feel it in my bones.
I’ve made the most of these three years. Here’s a sampling of my recent adventures.
This semester, I started a master’s degree in Foreign Language Education alongside my bachelor’s in German. It was a full and challenging semester. I finished with 100% in both my master’s classes and a 98.9% in my German class. I started clinical field experience this semester and had the privilege of doing so in Providence Day School’s Upper School German classes. I learned so much and enjoyed being accompanied by a fellow master’s student and Munich native (who happens to be a bad ass boxer dubbed The Bavarian Hercules. Google it.) I learned a lot of language from him in addition to the students. There’s nothing quite like a native speaker to tell you that you make no sense.
That said, I had some unique experiences in my German class this semester. I participated in a debate on the merits of free higher education. I taught a class about Karneval and separable prefix verbs and I (mostly) overcame my fear of sounding stupid and just spilled my guts in German — right or wrong. All German, all the time. And I loved every minute.
My master’s classes were good too. I learned how to write effective lesson plans, effective methods for teaching foreign language, including the use of technology and all about the American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Language and the standards by which language skills are taught.
In the end, however, I have decided to unenroll from that program. Instead, I am investigating master’s programs in DaF (Deutsch als Fremdsprache) or German as a Foreign Language. This program is offered at many German universities and is a four-semester program. So, yes, I would be living in Germany during this time. Twist my arm. I may or may not re-enroll in the master’s in Foreign Language Ed later. Not sure on that yet. More on this as plans unfold.
In two weeks from today, I will be going to Germany to study abroad for summer semester. I will return in August in time to begin my fall semester, and I’ll graduate with my BA in German in December 2018.
While in Germany this summer, I’ll be studying German at Goethe-Institut. I’ll be in Hamburg and Freiburg. I’ll be in class five days a week for five hours a day. Like I said before, all German, all the time! While I’m there, I’ll be seeing a concert, running a half marathon, visiting friends, taking a jaunt to Switzerland and perhaps to Holland and whatever else pops up!
The best way to reach me while I’m there is What’s App. If you have my phone number and want to keep in touch while I’m abroad, just send me an invitation through What’s App, and we can connect. I already sent invitations to a number of you. It works just like texting except that it’s over Wi-Fi and, as an added bonus, you can make both video and regular phone calls. It works well. It’s what Michael and I use to keep in touch when we’re separated by an ocean.
Keep in mind the time difference. From the East Coast, it’s six hours ahead. So, Aspen, that means eight hours for you. Anything you send after about 2 in the afternoon (MT) will be answered the next day. And Leland, that’s nine hours for you. 🙂 (I know you didn’t need me to do the math for you, but that’s why it’s funny! See you there! P.S. Any way I can convince you to run the half with me?? LOL)
She moved in with me! In April, she resigned her full-time position to pursue a new career. Meanwhile, she is living with us in the “Kerrianne Suite” and is doing contract work for her former employer. She and I packed up and moved her house in rain, snow and wind. We arrived in the dark of night in North Carolina then awoke to blue skies and sun. Last week, we began her tour of NC to explore the areas and opportunities the state has to offer. We went to Boone and Asheville. Good lord, my heart aches for the mountains. Charlotte is a nice city, but it’s a city. I like it, but I do not love it. I’m looking for a way to finagle my way back to the mountains. App State does have a German program! Look out, I just may find myself teaching in Boone!
We spent a few days by ourselves in Western NC, then Michael and Zach joined us for Mother’s Day. We hit lots of fun places including The Art of Living Center, App State, The Blue Ridge Parkway, Mt. Pisgah, Black Mountain, Catawba Falls, LEAF Festival and more. Here’s a glimpse.
My new car
I love this thing. It’s so cute and fun and zippy! It’s got a six speed manual transmission and sport mode. I’m applying for my personalized plate now. It has four seats. It’s not the most comfy back seat but it’s space for yoga mats and fleece pullovers. Also there is a small trunk space/hatchback. I can fit six bags of groceries back there.
Aspen inherited my Honda Crosstour, which she is over the moon about. Michael and Zach drove it to her in Colorado during Zach’s spring break.
Spring time in Charlotte
And now I’m heading out for my run. I’ve been so consistent this time around. I feel good, and I’m running completely pain free — including no shin splints. I have zero bone pain and I am up to 7 miles for my long run this week. I am looking forward to finishing my last five weeks of training in Hamburg. It’ll be flat and cooler and maybe even rainy and chilly! One can hope. I’m not sure if I’ll write any blog posts from Germany. I’ll see how much time I have. perhaps I will when I return in August.