Sunday Thanks

March 29, 2014

This Sunday I’m thankful for:

1. The internet – yesterday I couldn’t connect to the internet and I have to admit, being stuck in a hospital room and unable to check email, go on Facebook, blog, read Buzzfeed, connect to Spotify or watch YouTube videos literally blew my mind. Like what the eff am I supposed to do?!? It made me realize how lucky I am to be going through this experience during a time period that not only gives me the ability to stay entertained but also allows me to stay connected to the people and things I love.
2. Pizza– I’ve been thankful for this glorious piece of life since I was in the womb but last night and today I’m extra thankful. Since I’ve been getting nauseous recently I’ve lost my appetite for some foods. But not pizza. Had it last night. Having it cold again right now and it’s always, always a win.
3. Soft Jammie’s– chemo is uncomfortable. Simple as that. But putting on comfy cozy pajamas isn’t. And I’ve been spoiled with about 20 new pairs of unbelievable new jams. So every time I slip on a soft pair of my fashionable new pajamas, I think “this feels good. Damn good.”

What are you thankful for today? I want to hear! I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend and has a fabulous week ahead!

XOXO,
Jessy

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Hard Day Down, One Step Closer

Disclaimer: This is not a sunny post. I need to get out how I’m feeling right now and right now, I’m a little cloudy… cloudy with no chance of North End meatballs.

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Yesterday I received extremely positive news— I’m officially in remission! REMISSION!!! Meaning that when they pulled my bone marrow on Wednesday, it came back clear of any cancer cells. Hallelujah! However, factually, they know that if we do not continue to fight the cancer cells they will absolutely come back. So continue to fight we will.
But I found myself unable to truly feel the excitement that should have accompanied this amazing news. News that my body is kicking some serious ass. News that I am going to live. L-I-V-E. This is huge news, obviously, but I felt so little relief. I had become overwhelmed with emotional and physical pain yesterday. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were, to say it simply…a lot. I had prepared myself for Wednesday but not Thursday and Friday. I hadn’t understood that I would be back in the hospital so quickly and was feeling so frustrated about it. I also hadn’t been able to prep myself for how I would physically feel… which was terrible. My whole body ached. Every joint hurt when I moved, or laughed. My head felt like a tractor trailer was sitting on top of it— and the only thing that brought any relief was to sit in the dark (and lets face it, I’m all about that light!) And then the nausea started and I couldn’t keep anything down. And throwing up sucks. No better way to put it.

So after blood being drawn, an ultra sound of my stomach and back, a check-in with my doctor and six hours of being in one out-patient room to get a few rounds of chemo, I finally was being transported by wheel chair to the overnight room I’ll be in for the next few days. With a splitting headache and my mom holding my hand, I began to get extremely nauseous and became “that person” getting wheeled by a stranger while puking their brains out into a plastic bucket. Crying. It was one of those moments. A moment I don’t think I’ll ever forget because I’m not sure I’ve ever felt lower or more beaten in my life. Not because of the pain but because of the way it made me feel about myself. It was embarrassing and down right demoralizing. I wanted nothing more than to grab Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak and hide. Better yet, I wanted to wake up from what I feel like is a horrible nightmare. But I can’t. Because it’s not a nightmare, it’s my life right now. And as much as that sucks, it’s life. It’s my life and it’s still a good one. In fact, it’s a great one. And I’m lucky to be here. Even in low moments like that one.

Around midnight I was able to get on medication for what was causing all my symptoms and it’s helped a lot. At 3am I got hooked up to a type of chemo that runs into my veins for 24 hours straight… so I’ll be here at the Brigham for a while but feeling much better today am going to try to do some things I enjoy. Like blog. and paint. and sleep— hopefully!

So all-in-all, not my favorite few day but those days are now in the past and that means I’m one step closer to winning this game. I thought I’d leave you with a fab quote that my dad said yesterday as he sat by my side all day, 9am to 10pm. As the true sports announcer he is, he compared my remission news into a perfect Boston sports analogy… “When the C’s were murdering the Lakers in Game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals, they didn’t stop playing hard at the half when they were ahead by over 20. They kept fighting and kept playing their asses off until the buzzer hit 00:00 because they knew that’s what they had to do to win the game.” And win they did… by a NBA Finals’ record of 39 points. And that’s what I’m going to do too— keep on kicking ass and keep on playing as hard as I can. Because I’m a competitor and I’m gonna win this game.

Thanks for listening. I’m jumping back on my positive party in just a few minutes.

XOXO,
Jessy

Feeling Anxious

Remember when I said “anxiety leading up to a challenge is more than half the battle”? Definitely true but definitely easier to talk about than put into action. Just how do you you go about conquering that anxiety? How do you go about taking control of your mind when something has you worried? That’s an answer I just don’t have right now. And as of right now, anxiety has struck.

Tomorrow is a big day. Tomorrow I go for my first “outpatient” procedure at the Dana Farber Institute to have tests done that will determine if chemo is working properly and I can be considered in “remission.” At that point, I will get a more detailed plan of what my next two years will look like. That will be determined by having bone marrow pulled – a procedure I’ve unfortunately already had done and therefore already know, to be frank, how much it REALLY sucks. And so I’m anxious. Anxious about the physical pain. More anxious about the results. And although I know that getting myself worked up about it isn’t going to help make tomorrow any easier, it’s really hard to control these feelings. So for this battle, I really am hoping that anxiety is truly more than half of it…because that, my friend, means I’m already headfirst into the fight.    

I’ve gotten through it before and I can get through it again. That much I know and that much I will continue to tell myself until this time tomorrow night. Because tomorrow night at this time, I will be back home, on my comfy couch, with the love of my life sitting next to me, eating a bowl of ice cream that I wish could turn into a glass of red. 

XOXO,

Jessy 

“A dark corner …

“A dark corner in a bright room will always be just that; a small speck of darkness surrounded by light. But bring the tiniest bit of light into a dark room? The whole space will light up. Darkness cannot prevail in the light. So be the light. Live the light. Shine. Shine. Shine.”

Sunday Thanks

I’ve decided I’m going to try to do a post every Sunday and talk about three things I’m thankful for that day. Not all serious or “important” but just little things in my life… right now, that I’m feeling lucky to have. 
 
So here goes for March 23rd…
 
1. March Madness- I’ve always enjoyed the tournament but this year I’m in a few different brackets and seeing as I’m literally home all day I’ve been able to watch almost every game. And this specific year, there’s been some fantastic basketball. Tons of buzzer beater endings, a few that have not gone in my favor but in general, really exciting games. When choosing my teams, I like to have a few underdogs go far because if it happens, it’s so much fun. This year, I decided to go with number 10 seed, BYU to go to the Final Four on account of the word “Juggernaut” being used in their CBS team description. Unfortunately for me, that tactic failed in the first round and I’m now left with just a great team name….#JuggernautJessy. Three different leagues. All #JuggernautJessy. All with the exact same bracket. So right now, as you can see below, I’m pulling HARD for Iowa State. Huge Cyclones fan.   
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2. Living close to my family – when I was about to graduate from the University of Tampa, I felt very torn about whether or not to stay in Florida. I loved that city and all its gorgeous-weather perks but in the end, I decided to come back to New England because I knew I wanted to be close to my family in order to be here for all the little things in life that I knew I wouldn’t want to miss out on. Never have I been happier or more thankful that I made that decision. I couldn’t have gotten through this past month, and wouldn’t be able to get through this next chapter of my life, without them here by my side. Yesterday that lesson rang true yet again when we were able to have a very special day as a family, all together, to re-celebrate my 25th birthday, St. Patricks Day and celebrate my Dad’s 57th birthday.
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3. Bagels and cream cheese- pretty self explanatory but hot damn have I been on a roll with them lately. In my normal life, I typically have yogurt and granola every morning for breakfast but with my appetite out of this world and my body torching calories at a ridiculous rate, I’ve switched over to these savory and absolutely scrumptious morning delights. Asiago anyone? 
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What are you thankful for on this first Sunday in Spring? I hope it’s something fabulous! 
 
XOXO, 
Jessy 

Little Life Lessons Learned

Yesterday was exactly one month from when I found out that I had leukemia. One month into what will be a long two years. I’m only one month in but in this one month I’ve learned more about life and what matters than I have in twenty-five years. And for that I’m grateful.

I’ve learned that you’re in this life by yourself — with or without you, the world is going to keep spinning and the sun will keep shining and that you have to find the strength within yourself to keep going even when life gives you a not-so-great hand.

I’ve learned at the exact same time that you’re nothing without your family and friends and that there is literally not one thing more important in this life than the relationships you create. Material items mean nothing. It’s the people that you surround yourself with that are important. They will be the ones to pick you up when you’ve fallen, tell you they love you and give you more hugs, kisses and support than you think you deserve.

I’ve learned to take help when you need it. Don’t let pride get in your way– people won’t offer to help if they don’t want to. So take it.

I’ve learned that I’m a lot stronger than I realized. That keeping a positive attitude in tough times, continuing to smile and believing in yourself is half the battle.

I’ve learned the power of a laugh. I’ve always loved laughing… who doesn’t? But I realized while Mike and I were driving to the grocery store two days ago and were hysterically laughing about something that that was the happiest I had been in a while. There’s really no better feeling (or therapy for that matter) than a good belly laugh. Laughter is happiness.

I’ve learned that faith matters– for me, it’s not about going to church and reciting memorized prayers but truly believing that there is something bigger in this life, something that can give you strength when you can’t seem to find it by yourself.

I’ve learned the power of being a good person. That doing little things for others matters. Bringing happiness to others brings happiness to your own life. Life’s a big circle and you will only get what you give.

I’ve learned that appearances matter more than they should but it’s just a reality of life. I’ve been very blessed to never have many self-image issues in the past but I find myself struggling the most right now with how I look. People say it doesn’t matter, it’s what’s inside that counts. And that’s true. But I still find myself avoiding mirrors as when I look at the reflection, it’s hard to see myself. Whether it should be or not, I’ve learned that feeling good about yourself and how you look really is an important part of life.

I’ve learned that doctors and nurses are literally angels that walk among us. They sacrifice their lives and time with their own family and friends to save other peoples lives. I have such admiration and gratitude for what they do.

I’ve learned the power of music. Music has always been a huge part of my life but it’s helped me in the past month more than I thought possible. Music helps you truly feel emotions whether they’re happy or sad. A song can help you get out of bed in the morning, make shaving your hair off a little easier, take you back to a special memory or point in time, or bring calmness to your day when it’s getting overwhelming.

I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how long you go without talking to someone, if you made a difference in each others lives, you’ll always have a place in each others heart.

I’ve learned that people are good. There are bad people in this world but there are far more caring, generous and loving individuals. People that will go out of their way to make someone else’s day better and bring happiness to someone else’s life other than their own.

Lastly, I’ve learned that I honestly enjoy a frosty mug of beer, freshly poured glass of wine or recently shaken dirty martini. I’ve come to the conclusion that I am going to miss these little pleasures, A LOT, in the upcoming months. And ya know what? There’s nothing wrong with that.

You don’t need a cancer diagnosis to learn important lessons about life but you do need to learn things for yourself. Because as much as you hear or read about life lessons, they really only sink in until you come to the conclusions for yourself.

So one month in and I’m feeling optimistic. Feeling optimistic about my life, where it’s going and all the lessons I’ll continue to learn along this unexpected but important chapter of my life.

Xoxo,

Jessy

p.s. (cuz I love p.s.’s… and Sloths. Here’s a fab motivational picture my friend Amanda at work created for me. Talk about people going above and beyond to make you happy. Thanks girrrrrrrl.)

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The Next Chapter

Monday afternoon I walked outside for the first time in 25 days and although too cold for my liking, it was the freshest, most crisp air I’ve ever breathed into my little lungs. Getting to sit next to Mike as we drove home through our fabulous city made me the happiest, proudest Bostonian to have ever lived. Stepping into our home was overwhelming but beautiful at the same time. I felt a sense of relief and gratitude that I was able to be in my own home again, as I know not everyone dealt this hand is always as fortunate. Then together Mike and I jumped into the most gloriously comfortable bed I’ve ever laid in and spent a few minutes simply enjoying being together in our home and in our bed. It was a moment I’ll never forget. 
 
And then there was Pizzeria Regina’s. Never have I shoveled food such like a wild animal in my life but I wouldn’t have done it any other way. Buffalo chicken pizza. Pineapple & prosciutto pizza. Mediterranean Greek Salad. 
Nom. Nom. Nom. 
 
With all the excitement of being home, there also came a very daunting feeling. Because as I woke up in my own bed yesterday morning and everything in my home was physically the same, nothing was the same. The last time I woke up in this bed I went to work like every other day not knowing what life was about to hand me. Since that day, my life has flipped upside down. And while I do truly believe everything happens for a reason and this is just a difficult chapter in what is an amazing life…it’s going to be hard. Really, really hard. 
 
But lucky for me, as with every other day so far in my small journey, my family (that includes you Mr. Stevens) was here to pull me up and help me see all that I am lucky to have. And that it’s not just my life that’s changed but all those that I love lives that changed. And that we’re in this hard, long road together. 
 
Today I had my first visit as an outpatient and it went really smoothly– my doctors and nurses, per usual, were amazing and made me feel comfortable and calm. As scary and new as this experience is to me, they constantly remind me that they do this every single day and are the absolute best at what they do– the reassuring feeling this creates is invaluable. While I was in the hospital, I’m not going to lie, I was going absolutely insane over the terrible food… I watched literally hours and hours of the Food Network (I know, I know I’m as masochist), so after a long but successful morning, Mike and I found a spot that was featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives hosted by my idol Guy Fieri and treated ourselves to some of the most delicious sandwiches I’ve ever eaten. Wooooo chil’ they were good! 
 
So now I don’t have to go back to the hospital until next Wednesday where I will get a bunch of treatments done including my second bone marrow pull. REALLY not looking forward to that but it will tell us something very important– if my leukemia cells have disappeared! And that, that’s some news I want to find out! Until then, I will keep on keepin’ on and enjoying all the little things in life… like silky sheets, snap chatting with The Voice (yup, did that last night), going for walks, painting my nails, looking at old pictures and of course, eating dynamite food. 
 
Happy Hump Day everyone– hope it’s a fabulous week so far! 
 
Xoxo,
Jessy 
 
P.S. I had cold pineapple and prosciutto pizza for breakfast yesterday morning and I didn’t feel one iota of guilt. Probably doing it again tomorrow. 
Sue me.