Laurie's Story

"Be Happy for this Moment." - Laurie Emerling

My favorite part of styling homes is discovering people's stories. Often, women need a hand to create a warm inviting space, one which reflects their story. This past fall I had the opportunity to hear Laurie's story.

In August 2015, Laurie was diagnosed with breast cancer which had spread to one lymph node and found to be HER 2 positive, a very aggressive and once a deadly diagnosis.

Here is her story:

"My bilateral mastectomy was on September 11, 2015. I needed only a single mastectomy on the affected side but chose to do the unaffected side also and never regretted my decision. When the pathology came back from the surgery, the unaffected side also had tissue with atypical cells. Not cancer cells, but cells showed changes that could become cancer.

Post-surgery I immediately started breast reconstruction. I, unfortunately, developed an MRSA infection and had to go back to surgery to remove the tissue expander. My plastic surgeon and I made the decision to pause expanding the other side and remain flat and even on both sides. It messes with your head a bit. My chest was so disfigured with scars and extra skin. Six months after the first surgery I attempted a second reconstruction replacing the missing expander. Sadly that also ended in infection, another surgery and more antibiotics and more waiting. (Finally, we found success with a different method in July 2017. )

In mid-October, I started chemotherapy. Even as a nurse I was terrified and anxious for the initial treatment. How would I feel, was I doing the right thing putting these toxic chemicals in my body? Would I be able to take care of myself? You feel so vulnerable, alone and with so many unanswered questions. My mind could not shut off.

I completed my chemo in October 2016. Over the next year, I fought multiple infections and hospitalizations. My immunity was down and I got sick easily. My mom was also diagnosed with advanced bladder cancer and started treatment with radiation & chemo. Unfortunately, my mom passed in May 2017. She lived with Larry and me most of her last year. We were lucky to have each other.

I started a new oral medicine in December 2017. This medicine was newly released to treat my specific type of aggressive breast cancer. It was a rough drug causing severe nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The oncologist had warned me of the symptoms but I wanted to do it. The drug is supposed to decrease the risk of a reoccurrence so I was willing to go through the prescribed year. I made it 9 months but the Dr stopped it then because of the severity of the symptoms. In the last couple of months, I have recovered amazingly. I’m feeling fabulous and strong.

I know it sounds so corny but it was my family, friends and faith that got me through. I had so many people praying for me, so much support. Larry has always been my rock and my cheerleader. He is amazing. My friends started a food chain and girlfriends would get me to Dr appointments if Larry wasn’t able. I was wrapped in faith and love the entire time. It always gave me strength to continue on.

Our motto has been “Be happy for this moment”.

We knew it was going to be a long treatment plan. We felt like we couldn’t stop living and loving every day because it was so long. We were not going to put our lives on hold for years so we made the best out of each day. For us, that meant doing the things we love. I went to football games. We went out to dinner. We simply found the joy and whatever we were able to accomplish big or small. It is said often "that tomorrow is not a guarantee." The last 3 years has made me appreciate everything more fully. To live and be happy in the moment. I’m grateful for every day I have with my loved ones!"

First, we decided to paint. Laurie loves warmth, but she wanted to lighten up her family room. We chose SW Maison Blanche to add brightness with warm tones.

Laurie wanted to keep her existing furniture. We swapped the chair placement so that the brown leather connected with the sofa and her faithful recliner (which helped her through many long nights) felt more like an occasional chair. She had a beautiful piece of custom furniture tucked into the corner, and we chose to make it the focal point. The botanical prints were in her mother's home, so we were able to reuse them here to be a sweet reminder of her mom.

We found the green pillows at Crate and Barrel which brought depth and color to the room. We kept the accessories simple on the back console table to show off the piece itself. The mirror is from wayfair-the color was a bit too solid so I distressed it a bit to bring out the natural wood tones.

Laurie recently visited Magnolia Market and shared how she loved Jimmy Don's signs. So we surprised her with a similar maker on Etsy to display her life-giving motto. ​

We added ottomans for extra seating and panels from Pottery Barn. We are still waitng for the coffee table, but we could not wait to share Laurie's story. Her reaction below warmed our hearts for days!

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