Grace’s Story

Site created on October 25, 2018

Hi all! My name is Grace Wenzel and I am a labor and delivery nurse living and working in Washington, DC. In October 2018 I was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic melanoma and my new adult post-college life was suddenly turned on its head. My intention with this page is to be real and raw about what it’s like to be diagnosed with late stage cancer at the age of 22, and so I invite you to read along as I try to figure out how to navigate this new normal (and have a few laughs along the way). 

Newest Update

Journal entry by Grace Wenzel

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how lucky I am. When I think of these past six months, certainly I think about how tough they have been, but even more than that, I find myself overwhelmingly grateful for my people. Oh, my people. I am confident I wouldn’t have made it this far without my people. This post is dedicated to them. 

To my parents- thank you. I don’t have kids, so I can’t claim to know what it feels like to be told that your kid is sick, but I imagine it is anything but easy. By far, the hardest phone calls I had to make on that Thursday afternoon in October were to you. It broke my heart. You all have been everything I have needed these past few months, but also just ever. You are the best parents. You have been there, you have held me as I’ve cried, you have slept in uncomfortable hospital chairs next to me (Mom), you have gone on mad hunts all over to DC to find me a nebulizer machine (Dad). You have given me the space I needed when I asked for it. You came here for the holidays when I couldn’t travel home. I can’t thank you enough for the ways in which you have been there for me. They are immeasurable and innumerable. 

To my sister- thank you. You are my very best friend. You are my best healthcare advocate. You selflessly take time off of work to go to appointments with me. You take notes in that tiny notebook of yours so that I can focus on conversations with my docs and nurses. You eat Chick fil a with me after every appointment. You let me stay over at your house and snuggle your dog whenever I ask to do so. You make me laugh. You understand what I am thinking and feeling maybe better than anyone else in the whole world. You know what to say to comfort me, and maybe more importantly, you know that when there are no words, just being there is enough. Thank you. 

To the rest of my big, loving, crazy family- thank you. Warren, I cannot wait to see you in just two short weeks. Thank you for being there for my first day of treatment, for watching The Office with me in that little infusion bay that afternoon. Tripp, I am so happy to have another brother in you. Thank you for holding my hand and showing me pictures of Zuri that day I came out from under anesthesia having a full-blown panic attack. Dale, I love and miss you and cannot wait to see you again soon. Thank you for being the best stepdad there ever was. Aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, how lucky I am to have you all rooting for me and loving me. 

To my friends- Rachel, Eva, Lilah, Cassidy, Clark, Hannay, Michaela, Elsa, Megan, Taylor, Maddie, Clare- I love you all. Thank you for being my friend. Thank you for helping me feel like a normal 22-year-old. Eva, thank you for still being friends with me even when I cry in (many) public places, for staying with me that night in the hospital and holding my hand through the world’s longest/worst IV placement at 3am, and everything in between. Rachel, thank you for being there always. You were there when I came out from under anesthesia after my lung biopsy grumbling about “throwing 18s in everyone!”, there the day I got my official diagnosis, there to commiserate about how the first year of being a nurse can be tough and challenging and rewarding, all at the same time. Hannay, Michaela, Elsa, my oldest friends, thank you for that night in February when we drank margaritas and ate ice cream and watched that weird scary movie with Anna Kendrick in it. I had the most fun that night. Megan, thank you for people watching with me at the Tidal Basin last weekend (thank goodness nobody fell in!). I love how goofy and myself I can be around you. Cassidy and Clark, my favorite Colorado friends, I am thankful for our many Facetime adventures, but I like it better when I can hug you all in person (be on the lookout for a Colorado visit in the near future). Lilah, thank you for listening to me ramble about anything and everything on my couch in my apartment. Maddie and Clare, thank you for being my work besties. I have learned many a thing about being a nurse from you both and admire you ladies very very much. 

To everyone in the melanoma community that I have had the honor of meeting (or connecting with via the internet)- thank you. Jamie, thank you for your never-ending positivity. You were the first person who, at that Saxby's back in November, convinced me that I really can beat this. I hope you know how much I admire and look up to you. Cody, TJ, Tracy, Heather, the Millers, I can’t tell you what it has meant to me to have met you. Tara, I never met you but feel like I know you, or at least parts of you. Thank you for your humor, strength, and courage in the face of such an ugly thing. I am doing my best to make the best of it. Hailey, I have not met you in person but am still struck by the similarities in our stories. I love reading your words and relating to your thoughts and experiences. Keep kicking your cancer's butt! I am rooting for you from my little corner of the world. Thank you all  for making me feel less alone in the face of this cancer.

To Dr. Gibney and Kellie and Dorothy- thank you for being my team. Thank you for being honest, measured, and always explaining the plan (and what we're going to do when things don't quite go according to plan). Thank you for celebrating little victories with me. Thank you for keeping me alive these past six months, and thank you in advance for continuing to do so for a long, long time. 

I don't think that love cures cancer. I do, however, think having an abundance of love certainly does not hurt. I am surrounded by a lot of love. I feel cloaked in it, and it makes the scary moments a little less scary, knowing I've got my people and a lot, a lot of love. Thank you all for being my people. Thank you, just thank you.
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