It’s been over a week since I’ve written a blog post and it feels like an eternity. But that’s because I WAS ON VACATION! First vacation since being diagnosed. First time being on an airplane and getting to see palm trees and plop my butt in the sand and just relax. It was such a wonderful few days and something Mike and I really needed.
We were greeted in the Tampa airport by multiple members of the fraternity I was a part of, Delta Sigma Pi. Their excitement to have me down and meet all the new members was infectious and something I felt so lucky to be able to experience.
So after deciding we no longer wanted a boring rent-a-car because we were on v-a-c-a-t-i-o-n, we hopped in a mustang convertible and headed down to Clearwater!! The drive was perfect– the warm wind was in our faces, the music was on loud and I felt happy at its purist. We got so lucky as we were able to stay in a GORGEOUS condo that my friend Kelly’s family owns and were so nice enough to let us stay there for a few days. It’s right on the water, has a fantastic pool and jacuzzi, and the best balcony view of them all. We were so lucky to be able to have that opportunity! (so thank you thank you thank you to the Fitzgibbons!)
We spent the next few days lounging on the beach, doing yoga in the sand, going for long walks hand in hand, sleeping with the doors open to hear the waves crash down, watching dolphins play in the water while we ate grouper sandwiches, spending time with some of my best girlfriends who came up for a day to visit, and watching the sunset go down atop the beautiful white sands! We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect few days.
We then headed to Tampa so I could show Mike my old stomping grounds and get ready for the Relay for Life event that I was speaking at on Saturday. Friday night I got to meet all the wonderful students who have worked so hard over the past 6 months to fundraise in order to get me to Tampa and also to put on this incredible event. I was greeted by so many smiling faces, including old professors that came to support me– it was truly heartwarming. We then went out with some great friends for dinner and ended up at World of Beer for old times sake. It’s funny, WOB is right across the street from MacDittons, my favorite bar in college, and as I watched college kids go in and out, I felt old and almost like “could I do that anymore?” Funny how times change. Overall, it was a really special night to see so many close friends that I don’t get to see nearly as much as I’d like and just catch up and laugh together.
Then came Saturday– the day we were down here for. I was anxiously awaiting my speech all day, reading it over and over by the pool and practicing too many times in front of Mike. Being the perfectionist I am, I wanted it to go smoothly and really make it worth everyone’s effort of getting me down there. The night came and my family, of course, was there to support me! Mom, Dad, Court, Stratos & Eleni were all there to cheer me on as I took the mic. With over 1000 people in attendance, I started to get pretty nervous– I haven’t public spoken like that in quite some time. But once I started speaking, I was reminded that I’m talking about my journey– something I know a lot about. I could do this. And I did it. There was sense of relief when I ended but also real excitement. Overall, the ceremony was beautiful and so touching. It’s a night I will always remember.
I’ve included the video below where you can watch my speech, hope you enjoy!
Again, thank you to all my brothers from DSP for making this trip a reality and to all my Tampa family who made being back so special to me. I love you all!
10 thoughts on “Tampa Times & Relay for Life Speech”
This is so beautiful, you never cease to amaze me. Love you! Gram
Thanks Gram, love you lots!
What a strong and beautiful person you are. Enjoyed your speech and wonderful pictures. Keep up the good work and I’ll keep praying. Give Mike a big hug from me. Love you.
Thanks Auntie Mona, I’m glad you liked it. Lots of love!
Jess and Mike, Thank you both for allowing us into your world. The love you have for each other, your family and friends makes my heart feel so warm. The burdens in life can either make or break you and Jess, it has made you a strong proponent for those who can’t speak for themselves. You are my hero!
Awww Deb, thank you so much for your kind words! They mean a lot! Xoxo
That Speech was beautiful and amazing it made me cry as I thought of my mother who also had leukemia she died when she was 64 27 years ago!
I’m so glad that you connected with the speech (although I wish it was for other reasons!) but thank you for your kind words. Lots of love!
Thank you for sharing your relay experience. Your speech was AMAZING and it really puts your journey in perspective for those of us that live far away and are not there in your everyday life. Although there are many miles between us I want you to know that you are always in my thoughts and prayers. The relay that I participated in the same day as yours was also so heartfelt. Cancer has been a part of all of our lives and the more involved we are to support it’s victims, the better people we become. Besides your relay involvement I was so happy to see that you and Mike had a great time in my old stomping grounds in FL. You two make great tourists. Lol. Convertible and all. Way to go! Keep doing what you do, Jess. You are truly amazing! See you this summer ❤️
Thanks Cathy!! I’m so glad you also enjoyed your Relay experience, it’s truly a special event! Can’t wait to see you this summer! Xoxo