And the drinking saga continues

Warning: this is a ranting post but I need to rant.

The combination of leukemia and pancreatitis CAN SUCK BRICK KID! (reference to Home Alone 2, anyone?) I feel like I’m one year behind and a thousand years to go to end this hell. I was starting to feel normal again; back at work, going out with friends, having drinks. But as of this Wednesday (and again tonight), I got the lecture of a lifetime about not drinking for the next year. NOT DRINKING? But I just started to be able to have drinks again! I JUST had my first dirty martini. I JUST had my first bloody in a year. I JUST had a great weekend out with friends, laughing, drinking and dancing. I want more than anything to feel like a normal 26 year old, like my normal, happy, carefree self. It’s my favorite holiday of the year this weekend, St. Patricks Day. Isn’t it illegal to not have Guinesses? If it isn’t, it should be. I know I’ve complained about not being able to drink a  decent amount in the past but this is just something I haven’t been able to get used to. It’s such a big part of social life, whether we all like it or not. My grandparents drink, my parents drink, my boyfriend drinks, my friends drink, my co-workers drink. I declined an after work event yesterday because I didn’t want to have to go and be the only one to have water, or god forbid have to explain why I can’t drink. It’s literally all around me, all the time.

Maybe if it was the only thing that had been taken away from me in the past year, it would be easier. But it’s not. Too many things have been taken away and I’m getting frustrated. Like my first trip outside the country to the Dominican Republic- CANCELLED. To not being able to go to Marathon Monday, the greatest day in Boston. To having my career be put on hold for 11 months and then to get demoted for having cancer by the time I get back (shows the real heart of corporate America). To losing my hair, having it grow back and then have it thin again so I look like a balding old man. To not being able to eat normal foods for months and being on a feeding tube. To STILL having to watch what I eat — like when having a cupcake on my birthday almost sent me into pancreatitis number 5. To spending about 100 days in the hospital in 2014 and not in my own bed. To having this push off personal milestones (like an engagement ring, anyone?!?)
I cried twice since being home from work in less than an hour. Sometimes it’s just too much and right now, to be honest, I’m overwhelmed as all hell. I’m working long hours, way more than 40 a week, and for something that I’m just going through the grind over. Now, after long ass work weeks, more than ever do I want a glass of wine. I want to relax. I want to go out with friends and get silly and dance in bars. I want normalcy. I want my life back.
I try to remind myself that this is not what’s important. What’s important is that I’m getting stronger and getting healthier. But having drinking basically tabled again really set me back mentally. As Dr. Mandy reminded me tonight, I’m not normal yet and I can’t begin to think that I am. I have a full year of treatment ahead of me. A regimen that’s reduced but not easy. A regimen that puts a big strain on my body, both mentally and physically.
So as I sit here tonight, not having the Sam Adams Cold Snap that’s in my fridge (and calling my name), I’ll try to remind myself that I’m lucky to be here, lucky to have the people in my life and lucky to have the doctors I do to tell me what’s up and remind me what’s important, even if I REALLY don’t want to hear it.
End rant.
XOXO,
Jessy
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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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What a Week Can Do

One week ago today, I was running on about an hour of sleep, crushing a 101+ fever, puking up anything I tried to consume, sitting in a hospital bed, and thoroughly pissed off. 

Today, I’m getting things down around the house, sipping on green tea, watching birds enjoy my bird bath (so chute), enjoying being in my house, listening to Sam Smith and feeling thankful for having just had such a wonderful weekend. What a difference a week can make. 

I got out of the hospital on Friday and it weirdly took me the whole night to mentally “feel better.” I couldn’t really kick the anxiety I felt from being locked up in the hospital for five days. For some reason, this stay really kicked my ass and even Regina’s pizza couldn’t get me out of my funk. But Saturday was a new day, a better day and the start of the weekend hit the “reset” button. Mike and I walked around Harvard’s “Arnold Arboretum” on Saturday which was perfect. In the city, but I felt so far away from the hustle and bustle of Boston. There were gorgeous flowers, endless walking trails, and my best friend holding my hand– couldn’t ask for much more. I even removed my baseball cap for a bit (which felt amazing) and we walked around as the beautiful bald-headed couple we are right now. 

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After walking around for two hours, we headed to my old stomping grounds in Brookline to enjoy an early dinner on the outside patio at Barcelona, the same restaurant we went on our first date in Connecticut. Meat & cheese, soft shell crab, grilled cheeses with “jamon,” salad, and mussels… we rolled out of there.  

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Sunday, Mike went golfing went with his brother and a few friends as I contently cleaned up around the house and did some errands (one week of getting nothing done makes cleaning such a fun thing!). I then headed to Mansfield to spend the afternoon with Mike’s sister-in-law and nieces. Elle, who’s almost three, loves princesses, reenacting Disney movie scenes and is the sassiest little thing around. I’m obsessed. There’s nothing quite like playing in a “castle” tent, pretending everyone else are monsters and chatting about earrings, pink dresses and dolls. So lucky am I to have that little nugget in my life. Doesn’t matter if you’re having a bad day to a 3 year old, she’ll make it better. 

I hope you too had a wonderful weekend and got to do things that made you smile. Happy Monday! 

XOXO,

Jessy 

Resort 7D

Yesterday was one of the most nerve-racking days of my life. And then, it was one of the happiest.
 
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Living with the possibility that the leukemia had come back was terrifying and a thought i had trouble really wrapping my head around. I could barely sleep Monday night and literally felt nauseous all morning Tuesday until I met with my doctors. But then I met with them and the many, many prayers from myself, my family and friends were answered. “There are no signs of cancer cells in your bones or blood.” I was overcome with such elation and relief– like a 1,000 pound weight had just been lifted off my shoulders. It was incredible. It is incredible. You know when people say, “I felt like I had won the lottery”? Well, yesterday I won the best lottery you can win. So I am ecstatic and energetic to get this next round of chemo started. It seems funny to celebrate “no cancer cells being found” with more chemotherapy but that’s the way it goes (and will go) so I’m all about this chemo cocktail for the next few days in order to continue to rid my little body of this terrible disease. Officially in BEAST MODE. 
 
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(scratch that, I began beast mode last week during my bone marrow biopsy) 
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When I was checking into the Brigham yesterday, I literally couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I was practically hopping down the hospital halls, I was in just SUCH a good mood. As we bounced on over to the admitting offices, carrying a suitcase, two bags, my pillow/blanket and of course, Uncle Fred, there was a family in front of us, also carrying such items and for a second, it reminded me of when you’re checking into a hotel for a vacation. It somehow seemed “normal” and exciting. So I decided then that for the next five days, I’m not locked up in a hospital but instead I’m staying at an all-inclusive resort with luxury of on-call staff. How wonderful! After pleading my case, I was able to get back on my old floor, 7D. Thank you Jesus!! Two miracles in one day? Lucky girl! I absolutely fell in love with those nurses, (aka my resort personal assistants), and I’ve missed seeing them so I’m thrilled to be back and chat with them all! 
 
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(pic from yesterday waiting for my bed to open up. Both feeling so happy and so relieved) 
 
So around 5pm, after my room was pristinely cleaned and prepped, I checked into Resort 7D, room 76. Overall, super swaggy. The view is magnificent and should make for a great therapeutic writing area.
 
 
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Plus, the bench in front of the window is roomy enough to be my make-shift yoga mat and allows me to feel the sun and soak up some Vitamin D— what every dream vacation is made of. 
 
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The TV is flat screen, SCORE. And it’s ingeniously connected to a remote hooked up to my bed which is how we get sound. Super tech savvy. Extra points! 
 
The shower could have been constructed a bit more logically, rather than directly next to the toilet with no floor lip, causing massive chaos and flooding every time one goes to clean themselves. However, it gains additional points as the water pressure is legit and that’s obviously super important. Lastly, the flooding, although shocking, creates a sense of adventure so I score the bathroom a B. 
 
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The bed scores a B as well. The sheets are a bit paper-like but my own personal blanket, Fluffy and Uncle Fred add some softness and overall coziness. The score gets upgraded due to it’s super cool ability to move up and down the back and foot rest. Perfect for elevating my feet after a grueling day on the Brigham island. 
 
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The overall design of the room is quite unique and intriguing. Some of my personal favorite pieces are the goal chart white board, varying sizes of examination glove boxes, and by far the best piece…a biohazardous “sharps” depository. Art deco scores high at an A.
 
The staff here is top-notch, and basically my BFF’s. They are attentive, caring and most importantly, chatty! (or is it just me always chatting to them?? who knows. ) Plus, they rock bright colored, fashionable scrubs like you’ve never seen. They score an A++.
 
Most importantly, Fluffy and Uncle Fred are sincerely enjoying themselves. 
 
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This morning I enjoyed a glorious breakfast in bed: a delish bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios, fruit salad and a coffee. Relaxed in front of my bay window and enjoyed the view. In addition, went for a long walk all around the resort in my gray sweatpants and keds; riding the escalators up and down, using the revolving doors, and aggressively marching around to burn some cals. All-in-all coming close to being one of those power walkers at the mall. It was a proud moment.
 
Overall, day number one of vacation is going great. My own bed will feel great on Monday for sure, but the Slomerville view’s got nothin’ on Resort 7D’s. 
 
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XOXO,

Jessy 

Just Keep Going

It’s Tuesday after Memorial Day Weekend which is always a bummer. A long weekend long awaited for is over. And even though I’m not currently working I still somehow feel the “Monday blues” (or in this case the Tuesday blues). Weekends I’m not alone, I’m not in the hospital, I get to “get out” and do things. So with or without work, I’ve learned that weekends are always the best. This long weekend seemed extra awesome— I felt so grateful to be feeling strong and getting to spend time with my love, my friends and my family. What more can you ask for?
This Sunday, Mike and I did something we never really do… we went to church. My Grammy had mentioned that the Old North Church in Boston (“One if by land, and two if by sea” church) still holds masses so we decided to go to the 11am. History and a little spiritual pick-me-up… not a bad combination. Plus, today’s a big day (stilllllllll anxiously awaiting to hear from my doctors) so I thought putting in an extra prayer in the big man’s house might not be too bad of an idea. After scurrying in at 11:05, we sat down in our own pew (which in this church is like your own little penalty box. Big fan). I always dreaded church growing up, couldn’t get myself to pay attention (gotta be honest, still have a hard time), and never really understood what they were talking about. But this time felt different since I chose to go myself. So as I sat there in a little pew right next to the windows, in a place that I don’t think has been updated since 1772, I was surprised as I realized how much I was enjoying myself.
The minister gave a quick homily as there was a baptism also during this mass.  To be honest, I don’t exactly remember what the whole homily was about but I do remember this: she told a story about how Jesus had said to his disciples to just keep going (regarding what, I have no clue. Exhibit A of my attention span). She looked out to all of us, and urged us too, to just keep going. That line rang through my head the rest of the mass, “just…keep…going.” I felt like she was speaking directly to me… I felt like I came to this mass specifically to hear those words. I needed to hear those words as those three words are exactly what I have to do. I need to keep pushing on, keep moving forward, keep keeping my head up, keep being positive, keep being happy, keep being thankful…. I need to just keep going.
The past few weeks have been hard. I’ve been so anxious about whether or not the leukemia has come back that I’ve felt like I’m sitting on pins and needles.  But at the end of the day, the results I’ll get tonight or tomorrow are out of my control. Letting the “what if’s” take hold does nothing but bring me down and cause chaos in my head. Those fleeting moments, however, create a feeling like I can’t keep going, like this is all just too much. But then I do things that make me smile, like going for long walks, doing yoga, dancing around by myself to One Direction, accepting nightly back rubs from Mike (he really is the best), or even taking out my aggression on a Bozo the clown blow-up doll. Those things, as trivial as they are, make me feel good, they make me feel alive, and rejuvenated. And because of those little things in life, I’m able to realize I can absolutely do this. That this is A LOT but it’s not something I can’t handle. I can keep on keepin’ on.
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I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend and are able to make it through the work week. But if you’re feeling the Tuesday Blues right now, remember…JUST.KEEP.GOING.
XOXO,
Jessy

Happy Days

On Wednesday morning, I packed my suitcase, grabbed Uncle Fred and my favorite blanket and headed to the hospital thinking I would be there for five days. Two hours later, Dr. D came in the room and said we’d have to wait a week until I could start my fourth round of chemo. I was certainly not looking forward to being in the hospital for five days but I was ready for it. I had mentally prepared myself and there’s always a sense of “excitement” to start the next phase because it just means I’m one step closer to the end goal. So in a weird way, I was disappointed that I didn’t get admitted last week— not to mention, my bags were packed and I knew I’d have to unpack just to repack— the worst. 

But what originally felt like a setback quickly turned into something I felt grateful for. Not only has the weather been absolutely gorgeous but physically I’ve felt better than I have for quite some time and therefore was really able to enjoy just being home and having some time to myself. I had plenty of energy which allowed me to work on a mothers day gift for my mom all day Thursday (before & after pic below… loved the way it turned out)! Friday night Mike and I went out and got pizza from our favorite place and caught up on some TV. It was a perfectly lazy night.
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Saturday, Mike and I had fun day, plain and simple. The day felt normal and that’s exactly what we needed. My Grammy bought me a membership to the Museum of Fine Arts: Boston for my birthday and we hadn’t been able to use it. Feeling good, I got all dressed up and we headed downtown. We so enjoyed the museum, so many beautiful and interesting pieces of work. I especially loved an exhibit called “Think Pink” which examined the history of the color pink particularly in fashion. We saw Lucien Lelong sketches, Oscar De La Renta dresses and Louboutin shoes… I was in heaven.
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Then we headed to Boylston, walked around for a bit to see all the beauty that’s Boston in Springtime and enjoyed an early dinner outside together. Came back to our home and watched the Bruin’s demolish the Canadiens on our comfy couch. Glorious day.
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Today was special as well. I felt really lucky to be able to spend Mothers Day, not in the hospital as we had planned on, but at home in Manchester with my family. My Nanny was there. My sister was there. And of course my mom. If we had only had my Grammy there, I would’ve been with the four most important women in my life. I’ve been so blessed to have so many strong women surround me and show me what it means to be a wonderful mother. And since it is mothers day, I’ll tell you a little about my mom. She’s the best. She’s the happiest, most loving, funny, beautiful woman I know and above all else, she is my best friend. I’m such an unbelievably lucky lady to call her my mumma.
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Sunday nights can get me a little bummed but tonight I feel happy and lucky that I’m in my own bed, watching the Revenge season finale knowing I was able to have such a fabulous weekend with a lot of people I love. If I would’ve been admitted on Wednesday, I wouldn’t have gotten to enjoy these past few days like I have. Everything really does happen for a reason.
XOXO,
Jessy

Boston Strong Forever: My Reflection 1 Year Later

One year ago today I woke up like a kid on Christmas morning. It was my first ever Marathon Monday. I had heard so much about this day and all it’s wicked glory. As a kid who grew up in New Hampshire and went to school in Florida, I had never gotten to experience the excitement and pride that this day brings. My Beacon St. apartment was directly in front of the mile 23 marker— my first floor living room window looked right out onto the street as the runners pushed through the final few miles. Our apartment was filled with mimosas, buffalo chicken dip (and an endless array of unhealthy snacks), jello shots and of course, an ice cold keg of cheap beer. It was a party and I was THRILLED to be a part of it. April 15, 2013 was a beautiful day for a race. Blue skies, a slight wind, and sunshine. A perfect day for a celebration. With a red solo cup in hand, I stood with my girlfriends on the sidewalk cheering on all the participants. I had never been to a marathon before and I truly was blown away with the strength of these participants. By the time I was seeing them, they had run 23 miles— 23 miles!!!— it’s a feat I really can’t even fathom. One of my favorite moments of the day came when a group of military men and women marched by. As they passed with an American flag being held high and proud, the crowd starting chanting, “USA! USA! USA!” I felt such a sense of pride in that moment…not only proud to be an American but to be a Bostonian. During that moment, I remember looking around at all the bystanders and all the runners and really trying to take in what is so special about this day. It’s Patriots Day. It’s Boston’s day. And for the first time, that meant it was my day too. It’s all of our day.

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I had just finished babbling on the phone to my mom about what a fun and fabulous day I was having. Probably a bit too much fun for a Monday afternoon but then again, it was my first Marathon Monday so what else do you expect?! Then this day of excitement, pride and joy became a day of tragedy. I was outside at the time and people from inside the apartment yelled for us to come in and see what had just unfolded three miles from where I was standing. An act of pure evil had just happened. Quickly a house full of people drinking and laughing became a house full of people surrounding a television, silent and crying. After a few minutes, we began bringing runners inside to give them water. Our apartment was suddenly full of a lot of people I didn’t know but it didn’t matter. We all had the same thoughts, feelings and emotions. A bunch of strangers became one. A city became one. And one act of evil had created hundreds of acts of greatness.
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The days following the Boston Marathon were strange. The suspects had not been caught and everyone in the city was on edge. Walking to my car the next morning, there were armed military men at the T stop dressed in bullet proof vests and carrying enormous rifles. I hated it. That’s not what I should see on my way to work, I thought. That’s not what anyone should see on their way to work. It felt un-American. On Friday April 19th, after being in a lockdown all day, completely glued to the television and truthfully frightened, the ban was finally lifted in the early evening. Mike’s brother and sister-in-law had just had a new baby girl two days prior and we had planned to meet her that night. So we jumped in the car and sped off to Newton Wellsley Hospital. After being greeted by an army tank and having our car searched, we parked and ran upstairs. The moment we were walking in the hospital door, “suspect #2” had finally been located and was being handcuffed and taken away. I felt so much joy from this news, so much relief for our city and for all those who had been directly affected by their cowardly acts. I couldn’t stop thinking about how I hoped he and his god awful brother rot in hell. I felt such anger, such hateful thoughts towards these so-called human beings. And then, just when I was feeling such nasty and almost barbaric emotions, we opened the hospital room door and were greeted with a miracle; the best humanity has to offer…a beautiful, healthy baby girl. Cheeks rosy, skin soft and eyes filled with innocence. She was perfect. She didn’t know the horror that had ensued on Monday or the anxiety ridden week that had just finished. Because she was just a baby— a baby born into the most spectacular city, with her whole life ahead of her. I’m so grateful for seeing her that night because that angelic little baby unknowingly took away all the negative thoughts in my head and replaced them with hopeful and happy thoughts. Baby Tori won — baby Tori won against two terrible terrible monsters.
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The morning of April 20th, I think the entire city breathed a sigh of relief that April 19th was a day of the past; I sure did. I felt relief but also felt a sense of urgency to go enjoy the magnificent city that our law enforcement had just risked their lives to protect. So I strolled on down to Newbury and walked my favorite street in America. Then I headed over to the Boston Public Gardens filled with flowers that were blooming magnificently and signifying the start of Spring. And then, with a heavy heart, walked to the edge of Boylston, to where a memorial had popped up honoring those lost and injured in the marathon, to pay my respects and say a little prayer. It was a special day in an even more special city.
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The week of April 15, 2013 taught me a lot. It taught me that life can take unexpected turns so you should always enjoy the present because who knows when it can change. It taught me what a fabulous day Marathon Monday truly is— and to never, EVER not take it off from work (it’s so worth the vacation day). It taught me how much we need our law enforcement and military. It taught me that good always prevails over evil. And it taught me that Boston is truly the greatest city in the world.
#BostonStrong- yesterday, today and always.
XOXO,
Jessy