I won’t give up. I have too much worth fighting for

Michelle Winchenbach: Together, we can make it

A big thank-you to a community that rallied
Sun, 03/16/2014 - 8:30pm

Where to begin? This has turned into quite the journey that I never would have expected for my life.  I am a homemaker, a worker, a mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend, a woman. I like to make people around me laugh, sometimes to the point of my own expense, just for that good laugh. I thought: How can I make others laugh, when inside I am crumbling apart and can barely muster a smile to present on my tired face? I have two young daughters who look to me for strength and guidance; how can I break down and give up, but expect them to believe everything will be alright, especially when I don’t know if it will be.

Cancer has taught me that the only things that need to be done are the things that keep you sane, happy and most importantly, alive.

So many wonderful people have written to me, or reached out to me, and told me that they felt I was a strong person and a brave person for what I am going through. Neither of which have I ever really thought of myself being. Strong, maybe at times.

My husband is a commercial scallop fisherman who is away 60 percent or more of the year. It takes a lot to raise two children (especially in today’s society), make sure bills are paid and the household is running smoothly, plus do all of the outdoor yard work and such, essentially all alone. But that’s all stuff that I did whether he was home or not…it just needed to be done.

But, brave? No, I still can barely deal with a spider in the house, and I will NOT ride the carnival rides at the fairs. THAT. That is brave, or stupid. The jury’s still out.

Ambrose Redmoon said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important.”

My family and friends are always more important to me. I can be strong and courageous for them. And I thank my Lord, Jesus, for providing me with that strength, for without Him I would just fall and allow it to consume me.

Cancer has taught me that the only things that need to be done are the things that keep you sane, happy and most importantly, alive.

I try not to dwell in pity for myself. I am alive. I will seek out happiness, be it in a friend, a family member, or even my favorite, the haven’t-met-yet-friend, a stranger who looks like they need a kind word or two.

I will run in the summer rain in my skivvies, dancing like a child.

I will look for the beauty in every tiny, little aspect around me, just to avoid the ugly.

I will share my medical experience with anyone who shows interest, but will not press it upon them unsolicited, as I believe we all experience life, death and the dash in between differently and uniquely to ourselves.

My medical experiences may differ drastically from the next person’s, or may practically mirror someone else’s, cancer patient or not. I can only speak of what I personally have experienced, the good, the bad, and the “you’ve got to be kidding me?”

After hearing of my diagnosis, I had so many people reach out to me, or try to contact me to make wonderful offers to my family of cooking meals, cleaning my house, covering costs of copays, plus offering to chauffeur my children, if need be, to school, or related events, trips to the grocery store, etc. 

Many thanks go to The Food Ladies of the Waldoboro Baptist Church for our Friday meals during intense chemo treatments, as well as numerous neighbors and friends and family who also provided spontaneous meals.

My enduring thanks to my neighbor, Michelle Prock, for helping out when our puppy got hit and needed to be taken to the vet.

To my high school friends: Missy Poulin, who stepped up and shaved her head right after I had to do mine; to Mia Feltis, for giving me a haircut on my terms so that it wouldn’t be so shocking when it began to fall out; to Brenda Olsen for taking down the length slowly for me; and to Gena and Paula for doing the dirty deed and buzzing it off completely when it finally HAD to be done.

I am blessed to have such wonderful friends and family, as well as to live in such a remarkable community. I am completely blown away by the outpouring of generosity by all the businesses and individuals for the auction and raffle that was organized on my behalf, not to mention the phenomenal success of the evening, overall. I cannot even come close to thanking you all enough for caring for me and being there the other evening.

Words cannot even describe the love and thanks I have for my parents, Joe and Leanne Robicheau,for everything they have done for me, and continue to do. (Read Leanne Robicheau: Lessons learned from a daughter’s breast cancer)

Which leads me to an unprecedented group of people, My Dirty Half Dozen: My sister, Jennifer Maynard, and a group of my closest friends, Genevieve ‘Gena’ Richardson, Paula Byrnes, Kevin Boughton, Jen Chapman and Beth Waters. These fantastic people went above and beyond, for little ole me by gathering gift certificates, retail items, handmade/homemade items, promotional time and advertising for a surprise auction and raffle fundraiser. I was.... Shocked. Stunned. Astonished. Giddy. Humbled. I couldn’t, and still cannot, believe my friends care so much that they took a lot of their own time to plan and organize something so special for me.

They even arranged a surprise — a short, but sweet, Skype chat conversation with the founder of the breast cancer awareness group, “Feel Your Boobies foundation,” Leigh Hurst, who I had only had a phone conversation and a couple email correspondences with prior to the event. I have been, and now will continue to be, a long-time advocate for breast cancer awareness, and Leigh’s group creates a light-hearted way to approach the serious matter of breast cancer.

Mike and Kelly Woods, owners of Trackside Station, where the event was held, are awesome! The facility was clean and bright, food was delish, drinks were tasty, wait staff was super friendly and the hospitality was overwhelming. Thank you for providing such a wonderful atmosphere to this event that the above mentioned group worked so hard on. The evening was simply PHENOMENAL all around.

I’d like to thank each of the generous businesses and individuals who made donations for the auction and raffle as well as many other gifts, such as flowers for my table. They did this for me, a community member they may or may not, have known. I will forever be appreciative and give thanks to:

Anne Crosman Robishaw
Kim Scheimreif, of Shepards & Such Homesteading Farm
Ann Betts Daggett, Kathy Rawley Hammer and Patricia Ripley, of Bad Hair Days
Todd Mank, of Bullwinkle’s Steak House/Bog Tavern
Casey’s Creative Cupcakes
Cindy Dirkes Miller
Elizabeth Stanley Photography
Megan Gray, of Grayz Angle Photography
Steve Ralph, of Harold C. Ralph Chevrolet
Jade Express
Jeff’s Marine
Jennifer Maynard
Jeremy Davis Woodworking
Jil Emerson Ritchie
Tom Chester
Jessica Leonard Chester, of Leonard’s
Maggie Trout
The Maine Lighthouse Museum and Dorothy Black
Mia Feltis, of Mia’s Sheer Perfection
Midcoast Laser Works
Mike Farley
Moody’s Diner
Nida Kunesh
The Owls Head Transportation Museum
Patti Lawry, of Reflections
Mike Benner, of Rockland Ford
Kerry Boynto,n of Salty Water Designs
Susan Vaughan, Marci Creamer and Heather Soper, of The Look
Mike and Kelly Wood,s of Trackside Station
Vicki Fales, of Waterworks
Melissa Soiett
Chris Chadwick, of the Black Harpoon
Burnham’s Bloomers
Dorrie and Frank Woods
Elizabeth’s Cut and Style
Kevin Boughton, of Midcoast Marine Electronics
Joe and Carol Rafalowski
Heidi and Joel Neal, of The Loyal Biscuit Co.
Paula Byrnes and Lyman-Morse
Liftmaster and Millsy’s Garage Doors
Rob and Nikki Dixon Murray
Sarah Robertson
Lorraine Prock, of the Belted Cow
Beth Waters and U.S. Cellular
Donald Blackman, of Best Rates Towing
David Neubig, J & J Lobster
Knox County Paranormal Services
Susan Ware, of Maritime Energy/Farms
Lolie Palooza, a.k.a. Laura Perkins
Mike and Meg Maney, of Naked Leather
Chris Merritt, of Schooner Bay Taxi
Lynette Platt, of the Market Basket
Cathy Grindell
Sharkey’s American Iron
Atlantic Studios Inc. Custom Tattooing
Shelley’s Flowers

A most sincere thank you to all the attendees of this event, those who bid on items, those who won items, those who won raffles, purchased drinks and shirts, etc.

An extended thank you to the generous folks who made donations to my bank account, or who have sent them to me directly; and to those who have continued to do so since the fundraiser.

A big thank you to some of my tiniest supporters: Magic Mountain Daycare and Brenda Porter and Courtney Porter-Tetreault.

A thoughtful thank you to my nephews, Ryan and Brady Maynard, for the numerous pictures they drew for me to keep my spirits up, as well as shaving their heads in support of me.

A fierce shout-out thank you to Oceanside East students who bought bracelets and paid to wear hats one day to show support for me, and thanks to my niece, Kaytlin Maynard, for arranging it.

I have a special thank you to the anonymous person who left me a heartfelt donation at Trackside, prior to the event. In the note he wrote: “It’s not much $, but God chooses his toughest soldiers to fight the hardest battles. P.S. You got this; don’t (expletive) give up. Please.” 

And to him I say: “I won’t give up, I have too much worth fighting for. I hope that some day, you may introduce yourself, as in my mind, we are now friends.”

Without naming each person, I would like to thank every current fighter or survivor who has reached out and shared their experiences with me, offered support and advice, resources, alternatives, product suggestions, etc. You are all such wonderful folks, and you truly define the words, “Together We can make it.”

A true heartfelt thank you to the folks who had never met me, but came to show support for me — my “haven't met yet” friends — and to the people who won auction or raffle items/gift certificates and turned them back in to go to my family. That was completely unexpected and incredibly generous and thoughtful of you.

And to ALL my friends and family (whether in attendance or not).....I appreciate your continued love, thoughts and prayers, and well wishes.

It is such a great feeling to know that you are surrounded by love and have so many meaningful connections with those around you. 

 Michelle Winchenbach