Never Thought I’d Say These Words

I can’t believe these words are coming out of my mouth: WE ARE MOVING TO UTAH! Never thought I’d say that after I left Utah 12 years ago. But here we are. A week away from loading up a moving truck in Nevada and unloading it all in a storage unit in Utah.

I am devastated to leave northern Nevada. I fell in love with this area the moment I saw it. I’ll never forget the first time I drove here with Preston when we were still living in Lovelock. When Preston found out there was a job opening for a prosecutor position in Douglas County, he knew that this is where he would end up, even though neither of us had ever been here. Before he even interviewed for the job, we checked out the area after one of my doctor visits in Reno. I’ll never forget the moment we drove into the valley that first time. I had an overwhelming feeling that this was where I belonged. I was overcome with emotion as I sat in the car in silence, but my insides were screaming, “This is it! This is home!”  We drove down the main street and Preston pointed out the Sherriff’s office, claiming matter-of-factly, “That’s where I will be working.” Maybe you think we were so arrogant to think so confidently. But it never felt like that. WE JUST KNEW, and we never portrayed that confidence to anyone. A few weeks later, on a Friday in early November of 2014, he was asked to come in for an interview. That same day, I found out I was cancer free. The very next Monday, he was offered the job. It was one of the best weekends of my life.

Although the first couple months here were rough while we got adjusted, we grew to love it as we knew we would. We planned on living here our entire lives. We explored Tahoe every chance we could. I couldn’t get enough of the mountains, the lake, the fresh air, the beautiful scenery all around. I soon realized all the benefits of living in a small town and never wanted to go back to a big city. I love that there is no traffic. I love all the increased family time because there is no commute.  Preston works basically from 8am-5pm and he comes home for lunch everyday. We have also met so many great people here, who have loved us like their own. We have the best neighbor ever. She brings us food all the time, presents for the kids at every holiday, and the kids love going over there for treats. Most importantly, I love that the tap water actually tastes really good and that I don’t ever have to buy bottled water. I could go on and on. But you get the idea. I thought we would never leave. Until stupid cancer ruined all my plans!

I was cancer free for a year. During that year, I had big plans in my head. I was excited to get into a workout groove and get into great shape. I dreamed up many business ideas, as well as an idea for a non-profit organization. I was just asked to help lead the youth in my church, which I was really excited about. And I was just starting my real estate investing plan when everything came crashing down.

When I found out the cancer had metastasized in October, I knew we had to move. We needed to be near family and friends who could help us. When we moved here, we didn’t know anyone. So finding babysitters during my medical appointments has always been stressful. If I was going to need a lot more help in the future, I didn’t want to burden my friends here who I had only known for a short period of time. Even more importantly, if I truly only had a few years to live, I wanted to spend my remaining time near family and loved ones. I also needed to explore other areas to find the best doctor and treatment center possible.

I immediately felt impressed that we needed to be in Utah. And that impression has never left me.

I sought second opinions from three other doctors, including a breast cancer oncologist at UCLA who specialized in my type of cancer (Her2+), an oncologist in Vegas because we were considering moving there, and a breast cancer oncologist at the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Utah. As I visited each of these doctors, they all said basically the same thing. But when I visited with the oncologist in Utah (we can call her Dr. J), she presented the same plan, but in a much better way. Instead of doing chemo, hormone therapy, and Herceptin infusions all at once, she wanted to do one treatment at a time in order to determine what was or wasn’t working. That way I could have better quality of life by doing the least demanding treatment first to see if it would work by itself. Brilliant, I thought. Why didn’t anyone else come up with this? I also really appreciated the manner in which Dr. J spoke. I actually understood her without asking her to repeat everything like I usually want to do with other doctors. And she even wrote down what she was saying while she was saying it! Not only was I impressed with this oncologist, I was blown away by the facility. It felt like a mall when I walked in, super shiny and clean with a grand piano playing. And! Are you ready for this? They have a free daycare!!!!! What the what?!! When I found that out, the deal was done in my head.

Now, let me get something straight. I am telling you all this from my perspective. If my husband were writing this, the story would be very different. First off, my husband never had the strong impressions like I did of needing to be in Utah. He has gone along with everything because that’s what he does and he’s a good husband. But if it were up to solely him, we would be in Las Vegas, where he grew up and where most of his family is. Living in Las Vegas would be super convenient for us and makes sense for so many reasons. So when we went to Utah to check it out, he went a little reluctantly (Understatement. I seem to remember some kicking and screaming). On the other hand, I felt that if we were really supposed to be in Utah, it would be made known during the visit. I prayed for this. My prayer was something like this, “Heavenly Father, neither of us really want to live in Utah, and Preston REALLY doesn’t want to live in Utah, so if that is where we are supposed to be, PLEASE make it really obvious. If Utah is where you want us to be, please blow us away with the medical facility and doctor, please provide the perfect job for Preston (because remember this Utah thing was your idea and so you owe us that) and please soften Preston’s heart and help him to be open to this idea.” I said that prayer many a time leading up to our trip to Utah. Well, needless to say, they had us at the words, “free daycare.”

The visit to Utah was around New Years. We have been looking for a job ever since. Preston has flown out a few times for interviews but nothing was panning out. Preston was growing extremely frustrated with the whole process. I know that deep down, he desperately just wanted to be in Vegas. But, for me deep down, Vegas never felt right (at least, not now). I can’t explain it, other than trusting your gut. And obviously, I am a spiritual person so for me, this is the Holy Ghost guiding my thoughts and impressions.

After Preston was notified that he didn’t get a job that would’ve been perfect for us, I started to have doubts about Utah. Preston had all but given up on Utah, and my prayers changed to this: “Heavenly Father, Are we really supposed to be in Utah? Are we supposed to be in Vegas?” I couldn’t understand why things weren’t working out for us to get to Utah. Just four days ago, I was hanging out with my friend Jorja, who always tries to convince me to move to Vegas. Jorja is one of my best friends so it would be a dream to live near her. That night, my prayer was, “Heavenly Father, I have no idea what we are doing. Help me to reconsider living in Vegas. Just please tell us what to do whether it’s Utah or not!” I felt lost and confused. I felt like I was forcing something on my husband, and I couldn’t completely justify it yet (okay, that is still the case today). And what do you know… The very next day after this confusing prayer to God, the Salt Lake City Attorney’s office offers Preston a job!!

So for the past few days, my mind has been all over the place and I want to blow my brains out, but somehow my house will get packed up and our belongings will be in Utah next week. I don’t know exactly where we will end up. I don’t know how it will all come together. I don’t know why I have felt this impression that we need to be in Utah. All I know is that we have been praying about it basically everyday since my cancer came back, and we have been stressed about what to do. We never imagined raising our kids in Utah. In fact, I’ve always imagined raising my kids in a place that I would describe as quite the opposite of the demographics of Utah. So this is how I feel right now: “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” But if I could choose, it would be dark chocolate with coconut cream (for future reference when you’re at the store wondering what to buy for me).

Okay so this was a long way of saying, anyone know of a place to rent in the SLC area? I have no idea in what area we will end up. So if you have any suggestions as to where we should look, that would also be appreciated. All I know is that Preston’s job will be somewhere downtown SLC, and my doctor will be at the Huntsman Cancer Institute in South Jordan.

I’m so sad to leave this place. A piece of my heart will always remain in Tahoe. But it’s time to get my big girl pants on and MOVE ON yet again.

About Melanie

Hi. My name is Melanie. I currently live in Salt Lake City with my husband and our three children. Although I have been diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, people are continuously surprised of my optimism for life. For this reason, I have started this blog to inspire others to live life to the fullest as if they had Five Years To Live.

11 Responses to Never Thought I’d Say These Words

  1. Nicole Erickson says:

    Thank you Mel for your courage, strength & unbelievable humor…..I hope this is a segue towards your future book 😉 😉 Thinking of you in Florida!!! ♡♡♡

    • Melanie says:

      I would love to write a book someday, but man that just seems so overwhelming. For now, a blog is easier for me to write here and there. Thanks for the continued support Nicole! Keep Grayson away from the water at Disneyworld!

  2. Anne Pasquarosa says:

    Hi Mel, I have been following you since your diagnosis as I was diagnosed at the same time and had the same treatment schedule as you. I admire how strong you are and I will keep you all in my prayers as I have thought about you often. I live in Vegas so I was hoping you were gonna say you were moving here so we could meet! But God has your plans all set as you know. I hope you enjoy your new home (wherever that may be in Utah) I am so sorry that you have to go through this again but with your strength and faith I believe you will prove them all wrong & be a Grandma some day! God Bless you and your family! Anne

    • Melanie says:

      Thank you so much Anne for following and for your kind words! Yes, we are currently in Riverton, Utah, but we almost made it back to Vegas. How is everything going for you now? What treatment are you doing? And who is your doctor? I doctor shopped in Vegas and found an onc I liked. (Edwin Kingsley is his name). Hope all is well with you!

      • Anne Pasquarosa says:

        I am well. Went through everything like you did, chemo, radiation surgery, but with the bilateral at the same time. On Letrozol now & see Dr every 6 months. Dr Kashef with Comprehension Cancer Centers. (they were the first to answer the phone at the time!) I hope your loving Utah. Anything is better then Vegas right now! Thanks for replying. Take care & I love hearing your story and how positive you are! That’s what gets us through! As well as Faith, family & friends. 🙂

  3. Ilaria says:

    Melanie, you are one amazing and strong woman! I’m very happy to know you are following your heart. There’s no better way to live, in my opinion, when it is possible. I really hope Preston’s job is going to turn out as a fantastic opportunity for him, so that you will both feel like you are in the right place. Of course, I think your prayers were somewhat lacking; nowhere in them did you ever ask whether you should move to Switzerland. I’ll have to try and live with that… 😜 But I think you need to start asking if Switzerland/Italy is the right place for your next big vacation. I’m confident the answer will be a resounding “yes!” (Are you all with me?!) Love you, Mel, all jokes aside. Oh, and I’m going to have to research if Switzerland makes this dark chocolate with coconut cream you so subtly mentioned. 🤔 If it does, you know it will be THE best chocolate you have ever tasted! 😉 I will need a home address as soon as you settle down so I can send you a sweet house-warming gift. Talk to you soon!

    • Melanie says:

      Hey Ila, I just re-read this message, and I will send you a PM on Fb with my address. Also, we really do want to make it to Europe next year. We are planning a benefit concert in November in Vegas to help pay for bucket list items for me and also for another relative with cancer. So hopefully this will help us get there next year. Love ya! Thanks for always commenting and making me laugh, and reminding me how fun it is to play Mad Gab with you 🙂

  4. Emily Tuttle Leininger says:

    Hey Melanie! I’m so glad to be in touch with you (it has been so long) and so sad to find out about the cancer. It’s devastating. I hate cancer! I’m just so sad you have to have to go through it. Your family is beautiful. What a miracle to have a healthy baby during chemo. What a nightmare. I’ll be praying for you and your recovery.

    I can’t believe you lived in Tahoe! We go there almost every summer. I would have driven to see you and now you’re moving!

    I have so many memories of you that make me laugh out loud. We had so much fun! I would love to get together and meet your family. We live in Virginia but are coming west this summer. We’ll be in Utah for a couple of days. Email me and maybe we can figure something out.

    • Melanie says:

      I’m so sad that we never met up in Tahoe. It is one of my fav places on Earth. And now you live in Virginia! I grew up in Mt Vernon. Where do you live? Let me know when you’re in Utah so I can see you! Last time I saw you was we were both at BYU. And yes so many great memories in Portugal. We need to reminisce! And you need to remind me of some stories because I have the WORST memory!!

  5. Julie Keller says:

    I love you. That is all.

    • Melanie says:

      I love you. But that’s not all. I’ll just have to tell you later, my little button cakes. (i don’t know where that came from. but just go with it)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *