by Josie Sanctis
In April 2021, only a few short weeks after giving birth to our 4th child, I was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer called osteosarcoma. There are only 400 new cases of osteosarcoma in U.S. adults each year. Nothing could be done or said to adequately prepare for what would become the hardest year of our lives. The biggest shock for me, perhaps even more than hearing “you have cancer,” was that my treatment would have to be administered inpatient at the hospital because of the high level of toxicity and risks involved with the treatment. In other words, I would be away from my family and our newborn son for weeks at a time, while being treated with one of the most intense and toxic cocktails of chemotherapy. I would be forced to leave my husband, four kids (6,4,3, and 1 month) and our organized routine at home to largely spend the next 9 months of my life in the hospital. Even during the short weekends or off-weeks when I could be at home, I would still have to go to the outpatient infusion center to get fluids, or I’d be so sick and spent my fair share of time between treatments in bed at home, or in the emergency room for neutropenia. My husband, who is a saint by the way, became the full time caregiver to our 4 kids – packing lunches, helping with homework, projects, laundry, dishes, etc. – all while working a full-time job. Running on fumes, he would be up in the middle of the night with our infant son Joseph, feeding him and changing diapers. We simply were both in survival mode. And when you’re in survival mode, all you can really do is keep showing up every day.
The other challenge with osteosarcoma is that chemo alone cannot cure the disease. The cancerous part of my tibia needed to be resected in order to give me the best chance for survival. The scary part was that a successful surgery was not a foregone conclusion and that there was a risk that my leg may need to be amputated. In August 2021, I walked into the hospital to have the major surgery on my left leg. After a successful surgery that lasted 4 hours, I came home in a wheelchair and would rely on using the wheelchair to move around over the course of the next 3 months. My leg was locked perfectly still in a brace for the first month, which resulted in significant muscle atrophy. As I began physical therapy, I slowly was able to move around using a walker, then crutches, a cane, and now with a lot of work, prayer, and God’s will – I am walking unassisted! There is still a lot of work left to be done and I’m continuing to work hard on my rehab goals in order to be able to do things that I once took for granted.
With our world having been turned upside down for a year, once I was able to do begin doing more things at home again, I started to notice that my anxiety was building up with stuff being out, piling up on our counters, shoved in cabinets, etc. As our family grew through the years, we didn’t have an organizational plan to grow alongside our family. There simply wasn’t a dedicated place for things to go. Andrew started researching for organizational help and that’s when we found Laurie Martin and her team at Simplicity. If I could fly a blimp around Charlotte to sing their praises, I would. From the first moment we met Laurie, we found that she exhibits kindness, humility, grace and patience. She was unshaken by our clutter and totally understanding of our situation. She and her team got to work and have helped bring so much peace and organization back into our home. It is better than I left it back in May of last year! Every single item, from the largest items to the tiniest items have a place where they belong. Things are easy to find, visually pleasing, functional, and logically organized. If you are like me and clutter in your house also clutters your mind, then I can’t recommend Simplicity enough. Thank you, Laurie and team, for a happy ending to such a hard year! We will always remember the time spend together and the FUN we had with you all.