3 Months in the Making

I haven’t written a blog post since my port was removed. That was March 13.  
I thought that by not writing about cancer or talking about cancer, I wouldn’t think about cancer. But there’s still not a day that goes by that I don’t think about it. To be honest, there’s hardly an hour that goes by without it popping into my mind. 

Is writing like riding a bike?

Can you not write for years and then start back up again- like you never stopped? 

I hope so, cuz I’m ready to start riding again. Wait, I mean writing. 

Four months of being a stay-at-home pup mom brings up a lot of emotions and they varied everyday. One day I would be jacked up when Mike got home, so excited to talk to someone- to a HUMAN! Omg! And then others I’d be down, unable to keep a conversation because I felt so bad about myself. I felt guilty that I didn’t have a job, I wasn’t making money for our family, and that I didn’t have a better direction of where I wanted to go than I did the day before. I over-compensated by trying to do every single household chore one can think of. I became an award-winning chef. I got to spend time with family members that I know I wouldn’t have been able to if I had been working full time. There was so much good that happened in these months yet some days seemed so very difficult, so lonely and sad. What I learned, is that I need some sort of structure, I need to have a purpose, I need to feel part of a team. More than be part but I need to feel like I’m an equal part to the team. It’s essential to my happiness. Without it, I feel unworthy. Whether or not that’s a healthy realization, that’s yet to be determined. But it certainly is true for me. I’ve begun telling myself “I am worthy” during meditation. That’s because I am. But I don’t always believe it. I don’t always believe that I am worthy of this life I have been given- one with many abundances, many positive relationships, and above all, one that is healthy again. Feeling worthy is essential. It’s a piece of life I definitely haven’t mastered but I’m working on. I hope you read this and remind yourself that you’re worthy too. You’re worthy of all the good things that have happened to you, you’re worthy of all the blessings you’ve been given, you’re worthy of this life… your life. 

With that simple post, I feel accomplished and I feel like I can start writing again. I’ve had my down moments in the past 3-4 months but I also have had amazing moments- I’ve gone tubing with my whole family, I’ve helped throw and had my own bridal shower & bachelorette party! I’ve traveled to Vermont, Florida and Austin. I’ve gone on long walks with phoebs on the beach. I watched my baby brother graduate college. I’ve gone to sporting games and concerts. I picked out my WEDDING ring! I’ve done SO much actually now that I’m looking back. And the best part is that new things are happening and there’s so much more to look forward to! I want to remember every bit of it… so it’s time to start documenting!

Happy weekend! Hoping you get to soak up the rays of sun that have finally decided to come out to play! ☀️

Love & light,

Jessy 

Another Angel

Yesterday my best friend Brittany’s Meme passed away. Yesterday I was reminded, yet again, of the importance of remembering that each day with those we love is a gift. Yesterday I was reminded of how beautiful and important friendships can be.
Brittany is more than a best friend, she’s a sister. I met Brittany when we were 5 years old in kindergarten and she asked me for my fruit roll-up. A rarity in my household, I swiftly denied trading for whatever snack she had. Since that moment, we’ve been by each other’s side. Throughout my childhood, The Piet’s, were my second family. I had a trundle bed in Britt’s room as I slept there so often. I went on almost every family camping trip and even a family trip to Disney when we were 16. I was at holiday’s and parties. Sometimes, to Mr. & Mrs. Piet, it probably felt like I was there more than I was my own home!! They already have four girls, but they opened their home to me and made me their 5th daughter. And that love was not just with her immediate family, but with her extended family as well. I gained aunts, uncles, cousins and two amazing grandmothers. How lucky I was to have this extended family in my life. My own family and grandparents are incredible enough, then I got blessed with this second set of family as well!
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Meme was kind, gentle and full of love. Her smile was one that would wrap around you like a bear hug (that is, if she wasn’t giving you an actual bear hug!) She was truly a beautiful soul here on this earth and I know she will continue to be one eternally. Most of all, her family was her everything and I am so grateful that I was able to be an honorary member of that family.

I will forever remember her sweet eyes, lively laugh, caring nature and sweet demeanor.

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To my Piet family, I can’t thank you enough for making me part of your family and allowing me to have known this remarkable woman. I am here for you and I love you all from the bottom of my heart.

All my love,

Jessy

Tampa Times & Relay for Life Speech

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.

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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!)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

XOXO,

Jess

Friendship is the Best Medicine

There’s not too much that takes my breath away but these little boys just did. They show that true friendship is a bond like no other and one that can help make even the worst of times better. My friends have helped me so much this past year, whether it was being a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen to my worries, a visit while I was stuck in the hospital bed, making me laugh while I was down or even creating a video montage of about 10 of my closest friends dancing to a song that I love (yes, they really did that!). I wouldn’t been able to get through this experience without the love of my best friends. True friendship is such a rare and beautiful thing and these boys are an amazing reminder of just how powerful simply being a good friend can be.

Happy weekend everyone!

XOXO,
Jessy

My Year in Review

As 2014 was quite the unexpected year for me, throughout the year, I decided to take videos and pictures of myself while home alone to document what my thoughts and feelings were on a day-to-day basis. I’ve made a compilation video of some of these images and clips of the videos to share with all of you who have so kindly followed my story all year.

Thanks to each and everyone of you for your support, kind words of encouragement and love throughout 2014. It has made all the difference in the world.

XOXO,
Jessy

Hard Times, Good Times

I started writing this blog post last week and never finished. I went back and read it this morning and realized in one short week how things have already changed. Here’s what I wrote…

“The past four months have probably been the worst four months of my life. Not the most uplifting way to start a blog post but it’s the truth. During these months, I’ve struggled to stay positive and truly feel happy. Partially because of the unexpectedness of the pancreatitis. It seems so unfair that I would get that on top of leukemia. Because other than that my chemo caused the pancreatitis, it has nothing to do with the cancer. It’s only delayed my treatment, caused me a lot of pain and laid me up in the hospital three too many times. …. even when I’m doing “fun” things, my mind races to that things aren’t normal. That I can’t have a drink. That I can’t have a french fry. That I have to be home early to hook up to a feeding tube. That I’ve simply been hooking up to a feeding tube for over two months now. That I’m not at work. The list goes on and on. 
 
I’m hoping that the end of this funk is coming near as sometime in January I’ll be FINALLY going back to work and I think that will help immensely. But I wanted to write this blog post so I remember how I felt at this moment. These days are long and tiring. Each day I feel different, whether it be emotional or physical. I have a hard time sleeping and my mind always seems to run back to “i have cancer.” I spend half the day sleeping and another portion watching TV. I can’t take that anymore. I want to do, I want to be productive. But sometimes it’s too hard, I’m too tired. Today I was tired. I got out of my pajamas at 4 o’clock to run to the grocery store to get things for Thanksgiving. I love being in pajamas but when that’s all you have everyday, getting dressed up becomes a privilege. Overall, things have just been really tough.”

Well it’s funny what a few days, family, friends and good food can do. I had the best four days I’ve had in a really long time. Thanksgiving was wonderful as I got to see my whole family and grandparents and snuggle with my love bug of a niece. Then Friday I got to see a bunch of my best friends from high school at a fabulous Friendsgiving party! Saturday, Mike and I got our Christmas tree and started decorating for Christmas (my ballerina reindeer are up which makes this girl VERY happy). Then we headed out to a housewarming/birthday party at one of our good friends house which was a blast. Sunday we just stayed around the house and decorated for Christmas, made some turkey chili and watched the Pats. It was a busy but perfect few days and it was just what I needed to help get me out of that funk. I felt so happy to see my friends and family and get to spend four days with Mike. Times like this weekend I’m reminded why I’m so blessed. It helped change my mindset and brought me a sense of happiness that I haven’t felt these past four months. There are still hard days ahead (most likely a lot of them) and I will have to keep working on feeling normal and feeling happy but I’m thankful for last weekend as it brought both those things back into my life.
XOXO,
Jessy
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When Life Hands You Apples, Make Applesauce

Just before my first pancreatisis attack, I met with a few girls from work for coffee. It was so great to see them and feel a part of the team again. They had asked to get together so they could give me something a whole group of people had put together for me. As many of you know (and working with me every day, you can imagine how much they heard about it!), Mike and I had a trip planned to the Dominican in March. Unfortunately, I was diagnosed just a week and a half before and we weren’t able to go. Really, really disappointing. So my coworkers, being the amazing and thoughtful people that they are, all chipped in to be able to send Mike and I on a little get-away weekend to Peaks Island, Maine to make up for it! Peaks Island is right off of Portland and Mike and I had discovered it last summer. It’s about 3 miles wide and the cutest, most quaint little island I’ve ever been to. We had had such a relaxing and special day there; biking around the island, laying on the beach, watching people ride horses along the water, drinking summer beers on an ocean deck restaurant as we let one more ferry come and go, not wanting to head home. It was a day that for some reason really meant something to me and I have often thought of it when I’m feeling down. It’s become kind of like a happy place for me when I need to think of something good. (I digress!) So when so many of my co-workers (some that don’t even work at TJX anymore!) came together to surprise me with this, I was floored. It was so over-the-top generous and thoughtful, I truly was touched. So Mike and I picked a weekend, made the reservations and started making plans for our little fall getaway to Peaks Island, Maine.

It was scheduled for this weekend. We were in Somerville this weekend. Boo. We felt like we had to cancel because I’m still recovering from pancreatitis, I’m still on the feeding tube at night and it probably would have been too much to be gone for the whole weekend. I was so disappointed as I was really looking forward to a relaxing weekend, out of the house, out of the city, just with Mike, in a place that really meant something to me. It felt unfair that something else got “taken away” from me. But as Mike reminded me, we have next summer and maybe at that point I’ll be feeling 10x better (hopefully will even be able to have a beer on that deck) so I’ll be able to enjoy it even more than I would have this weekend!
So we turned apples into applesauce (I actually did that today! But I meant the expression! ) and had ourselves a pretty fun filled weekend for a “couple with cancer.” Friday we stayed in but cooked turkey burgers together (yes, I was able to eat a turkey burger— wahoo!). Then Saturday we went to the largest corn maze in the world with two of our best friends and 2 1/2 hours later completed that. Came home and went out to a fabulous Italian restaurant near our house that we haven’t been to in a while and had a great meal together (I’m able to eat pasta now too — even bigger wahoo!). Sunday we walked around the Boston Public Gardens and window-shopped on Newbury St. just for fun. Came home to watch football, nap on the couch with the fireplace going and make another pancreatitis-approved meal— turkey tacos! And then we had one more day- Monday! Mike had taken it off originally for Peaks Island so he kept it so we could have a three-day weekend. We kept the fall-fun going and trucked it up to North Andover to a great little farm that we could  pick our own pumpkins. And that we did. Picked them and then came home and carved them— pretty decently if I do say so myself. 🙂 Overall, it ended up being a fabulous weekend. I hadn’t expected it to be because I was angry about not being able to go away but as life has taught me this year, sometimes you just have to roll with the punches and make the best of what you’ve been given. And this weekend, I was given a great few days.
Hope you all had a lovely fall weekend as well!
XOXO,
Jessy
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