A Golden Birthday

A year ago today, I turned 25. A year ago today, I received the first round of my chemo cocktail. A year ago today, I started the journey that was my 25th year of life. And it was a hard one. The hardest one yet. Today, as I turn 26 on the 26th, I’m so grateful to be where I am at this moment. Turning a quarter century old, I wasn’t yet sure if I would be cured, if I would respond to my treatment plan, if I would live to see 26. I like to think that in my heart of hearts I knew I would beat this and I would win, but to be truthful, there is always that “what if” in the back of your head. But today I’m stronger and so much healthier than I was a year ago today. Today I know I’m going to be okay, that I still have a long road to walk but that I can do it and that I will do it. Today, instead of being in the hospital, eating the single worst meal of my life (an absolutely nauseating chicken stir fry), I’m going to be busy at work and then spending the night with my mom, dad and Michael at a delicious restaurant in Somerville! We will cheers over a delicious cocktail called the Dorchester (pink lemonade, vodka & a cucumber…so good!) and we will celebrate all that we overcame together in year 25 and toast to a healthier, easier, and just plain better year 26.
As I’ve said so many times, this situation has taught me such a great deal, but none more than how truly blessed I am for the support system that I have. My birthday seemed to come early this year when last week on my one year “anniversary,” #inspirationaljessy stories starting popping up on my newsfeed. SO many people reached out…close friends and family, previous coworkers, people I haven’t talked to in years, people I’ve never met at all but read my blog. It was incredible. It made what was supposed to be a day of sadness, a day of celebration and happiness. The love I felt on that day was something I will never, ever forget and I thank each and every one of you who made it so special. It was the best birthday present I could ever have asked for.
People say turning 26 on the 26th means it’s your “Golden Birthday” and I think there couldn’t be a better time to have a golden birthday. So my birthday wish is to to have a golden year, one that sparkles and shines, one that brings out the best in me and allows me to help others, one that continues on my road to recovery. My wish is that this year is truly magical. Because a girl can dream, can’t she?
XOXO,
Jessy
p.s. yesterday at clinic, my amazing nurses surprised me with a beautiful birthday cake and “happy birthday” sing-a-long. It was so sweet and absolutely made my day so wanted to share some pics!
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One Year Ago Today

A year ago today, I woke up like it was any other day. Got dressed for work and headed to Framingham. That would be the last time I go to work for 11 months. Later that day, while sitting in a team meeting, I would begin to get shooting pains down my back and legs so bad that I could barely stay in my seat. I hurried back to my desk to try to walk it out but nothing worked. Within a few minutes, I found myself in a maternity room downstairs rolling around in pain on the floor and calling my mom hysterically crying. At that point, I would call my friend Amanda and ask her to drive me to the hospital. It was an abnormally beautiful February day (nothing like today) and we were able to put the windows down. I remember laughing and making jokes through the pain and putting my face towards the sun and really feeling it on my face, feeling the wind go through my hair. Although I had no clue what was about to happen, I remember the car ride so vividly and feeling a sense of surrealness while making our way to the hospital. We waited there for quite sometime and then my dad came through the door. We finally got taken into a room where I was told, for the what seemed like 100th time, that I just had back pain, most likely sciatica nerve pain. I was then brought into a room where I was able to start listing off the additional ailments that had been going on; nose bleeds, bruises, blood blisters, headaches. Quickly that got the attention of the doctor and they immediately wanted to take bloodwork. At that point, Mike had showed up. A few minutes later, my mom showed up and we both instantly started crying when she gave me a hug. It was like we knew, something was about to go wrong. Maybe our lives were about to be turned upside down. And then it was. A doctor walked in the room and precisely asked my family members to leave. I knew that wasn’t a good sign. She then sat down next to me and took my hand as she said the words that the blood work had come back and it appeared that I had leukemia. I was stunned. I didn’t cry, I didn’t hyperventilate. I was still…numb. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, I couldn’t believe the words she had just said. And what I couldn’t do is tell my family. So that’s when I asked her to please call my family back in and be the ones to tell them. I’ll never forget the look on Mike’s face when she said the words that I had leukemia. It was the worst thing I had ever seen, and I think the worst thing I’ll ever see. It was a face of sadness, panic, pure worry. It was like looking in a mirror of what I was feeling. Then it all became a whirlwind. We had to pick a hospital to go to and my mom and I got in the back of an ambulance and I was rushed over to the Brigham. At that point, I had no idea that I wouldn’t feel fresh air for almost a month. I also had no idea that I was about to meet some of the most genuine, caring and wonderful individuals I would ever have the pleasure of knowing. One waiting for me in the emergency room. My very own angel, Dr. Mandy. She stood there as I got wheeled in and immediately took my hand and looked into my eyes. She could tell how scared I was, how overwhelmed myself and my whole family was. And she reassured us that everything would be okay. She held my hand the whole time she talked and told me that she was going to cure me, she was going to make me better. And although I had only known her for a few short minutes, I believed everything she said. I instantly trusted her with my life. I would then get taken up to a holding area for the night, that had a lovely metal toilet right next to my bed. That would be the first night that Mike would stay with me, he didn’t leave my side for the next 27 days. He would barely sleep that night. With plenty of drugs, I would sleep on and off the rest of the night and wake up the next morning to get hours and hours of tests done to see exactly what strand of leukemia I had. It’d be a painful, long day but a day that would end up telling me that, Dr. Mandy was right– everything was going to be okay.

That was all a year ago today. Last year when it was all happening, I knew what was going on, but I was in crisis mode, a shell of a person, just trying to do whatever I could to get myself better. I was surrounded by family, friends, nurses and doctors at all times so there wasn’t that much time to reflect. A year later, and I feel like it’s important for me to remember exactly what last year on this day entailed. It almost doesn’t feel real that an entire year has passed. It was by far the hardest year of my life, most trying and difficult time I’ve ever experienced. But I also learned so much about life, about the wonderful people in mine and the things that are truly important. Things I never would’ve realized without this journey; it’s a journey I never would have asked for but as I march through it, I realize that I’m so blessed. I’m still here a year later, I’m about to turn 26 and all my labs look great. What more could I ask for? Absolutely nothing. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that health is everything. Today is a sad day as I reflect on how my life changed so drastically but it also is a good day, I’m so much healthier than I was a year ago today. I’ve made it so far in a year and I have so much to be thankful for.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all those who have reached out with kind words, prayed for me, sent me positive vibes, cards, care packages, and simply shown me love in the past year. I cannot tell you how much it has all meant to me and what a difference it truly made. I love you all.
XOXO,
Jessy
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You’ve Got Mail

Last night, Mike and I got home from a VERY early dinner and found ourselves watching “You’ve Got Mail” with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. It’s such a good, truly romantic movie, and one that I had never seen until last year. I realized while watching it last night, as the snow came tumbling down outside, that it was a year ago that Mike was in New Orleans for a bachelor party and I was home by myself watching this movie having a glass of white wine. A year ago, I had no idea what was about to come my way. As I sat there on the couch, I remember feeling fully stressed at what was “happening” to me. I knew something was wrong, I was in agony about every other day with shooting pains down my back and legs making me unable to not only walk but do anything but roll around in bed and yell in pain. I was having nose bleeds regularly and blood blisters on my lips. I had bruises all over my body that had no reason for being there. And I had headaches so bad, I started keeping a neck pillow in my car so I could have some sort of relief as I drove to and from work. But as worried as I felt, I truly couldn’t have imagined the news I was about to hear and the year I was about to have.

In “You’ve Got Mail,” Meg Ryan’s book store is forced to close down due to a large, conglomerate book store opening up just down the street. She’s tormented with the fact that the life she had envisioned for herself and grown accustomed to, is so abruptly taken away from her. As I watched last night, I empathized with her character so much more deeply than I had just one year ago, as our stories are not the same but I so understood how she felt getting her “life” ripped away from her. But by the end of the movie, she’s making the best out of a bad situation and turns out to be writing her own book and allows herself to truly follow her butterflies and finds herself in the arms of Tom Hanks. She lets life take the reigns and it leads her to happiness. That’s what I’m still trying to do, trying to let life take the reigns, follow the things that give me butterflies in life. Because one thing I’ve learned in this past year is that life’s too short, too precious and too unpredictable; you’ve really got to enjoy each day for what it is. Whether it’s a good day or bad day, just appreciate the day. Appreciate it because you’re lucky to be here and lucky to have what you do.
XOXO,
Jessy

A Slap of Reality

It’s been almost a month since I’ve been back at work. I’m coming in early, leaving late, chugging through long days. Overall, just really feeling the stresses of being a working girl again. And I have to admit, I love it. I don’t like waking up early (obviouslyyyy) but I like waking up with a day full of productivity and socialization in front of me. That was something in the past year I struggled with so much. I often laid in bed for long periods of time after waking up because I simply couldn’t reason with myself of why I needed to get up. So it feels incredible to be making my to-go coffee and heading out the door in the morning. Beyond work, I’ve been back to practicing yoga and going to the gym. Exercising feels awesome because I know it’s something good I’m doing for my body. With so many harsh toxins going into me every week, it feels only fair that I would give this body of mine something to feel good about. Another piece of really exciting news is I got a new car— WOOO HOOO!!!! I’ve only ever owned sh*t boxes (proud owners of them though since I saved my own money in both high school and college to be able to purchase them), but after rear ending some lovely lady that also works at TJX (another story, another time), I said goodbye to Carmen Elantra and got my dream car…a 2012 Hyundai Sante Fe- beep beep! New car, back to work, back to exercising, and back to eating and drinking! My pancreas has really done a 180 and I’ve been off pain meds for over a month and am eating practically a normal diet again! Mike and I even had nachos the other weekend and after over 6 months of not having them, we were in HEAVEN! I’ve also been able to have some drinks lately, which if you’ve read my blog in the past year or know me even slightly, you know that that’s a big deal. It makes me sound like a lush but so be it… I like to have drinks. I like drinking beers and watching the Pats. I like having a glass of red after a long day of work. I like having margaritas with my tacos or going to hotel bars with Michael and getting house snack mix and martinis. I like being Champagnes Moran. And Champagnes Moran I was two weekends ago. Mike and I had an awesome night just the two of us going out to dinner then heading over to a new bar for after dinner drinks…it just felt normal. And that feeling of normal gave me such a sense of pure happiness, from the top of my head to the tips of my toes, I felt amazing. I felt like “Jessy” was finally back in action!

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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!HAAAAAAAULLTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
That’s what it felt like. That’s what getting pancreatitis and being hospitalized for it for the fourth time a week ago felt like. A W-T-F moment. A “no! no! no!” moment. A “this can’t be happening” moment. It felt like a punch in the gut…literally. My life had just gotten back to my new normal. I was feeling like me again. Life was being good to me. And then I go in to have my stent removed on Friday and the stent gave the doctors trouble coming out. So much so that it broke in half while they were in there. So with that much struggle going on, my pancreas got “upset” and pancreatitis hit me again. I spent 28 hours in the emergency department before being transferred to a hospital room and another day asking when I could get transferred to 7D. We watched the Pats game on a 13 inch TV with no apps and no beers. (but with the company of some of my favorite people, Mike, my mom and Dr. Mandy!).
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I sat in a hospital bed trying to get as much work done as possible as I couldn’t bear thinking I was taking more time off after just coming back from being out for 11 months. I’m back on pain medicine and wearing my stupid heating pad day and night. I got released Tuesday night and was back to work by Thursday. It was such a hard week and I’m so glad it’s Saturday. Having a taste of my normal life again and having it taken away again is a lot to handle. I started crying really hard when I got home from work yesterday while I was talking to my mom… I just couldn’t hold it in anymore. It feels SO unfair this time. Everytime has felt unfair but this time just seems like too much. Having what I’ve wanted back this entire year— normalcy— and then having it taken away one more time is more painful than I can really put into words. Mike came home just as I was sitting there sobbing on the couch and for the millionth time this year, he gave me a hug, kissed my forehead and talked to me about it until I felt better. I had been trying to just “keep marching along” and pretend like this was something “I’ve done before, I can do it again” but it’s more than that this time. It’s frustration to a whole new level. But after crying and talking it out, I felt better. I’m already one week down. I’m already out of the hospital which is a lot better than the first three times. I’m back at work and have something to keep my mind off it. It’s likely that it won’t take as long to heal this time. And there’s no more stent in me which means no more endoscopies which hopefully means this truly is the last time I’ll deal with pancreatitis.
AND lastly, the Patriots are Super Bowl Champions. So really, life is still pretty good.
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Happy weekend everyone!
XOXO,
Jessy