I Need Your Help

 

When the emergency room doctor stepped outside after telling Mike and my parents that I had leukemia, there was precisely one thing that popped in my mind and quickly came out of my mouth, “but I want to marry Mike,” I said to all three of them. One year from today, on July 22, 2017, at a quaint inn on Cape Cod, that dream of mine will become a reality. That dream is due in large part to the the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. I have about 1,000 things to thank them for but giving me a second chance at life and giving me the opportunity to marry the love of my life and start our life together brings a level of gratitude I will never be able to match. But in just over two months, on September 25th, I will symbolically try to thank the organization that essentially gave Mike and I our future, by walking in the Jimmy Fund Walk to support the ongoing programs, medicine and RESEARCH. This research is imperative to conduct so that one day all stories have a ‘happily ever after’ like mine. Tragically, today that isn’t the case for all patients that go to the Farber in hopes of fixing themselves and getting to marry their Mike. So it’s my responsibility to help and today, I’m asking you to help too by making a donation to my walk team. 
 
Any donation, big or small, truly makes a difference in the efforts of Dana Farber and their live-saving mission. On behalf of all past, current and future patients, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
 
tinyurl.com/jessysjfwalk

Lots of love & light,

Jessy

2014 vs 2016

p.s. Cheers to one year today Stevens, I love you!

Stevens Put A Ring On It

It’s been 3 weeks since Mike surprised me and told me to get my lazy butt out of bed—we were going to NYC for the long weekend, he said. My eyes nearly burst out of my head and I whipped off the comforter so fast Phoebs barely had time to jump up. IT WAS ENGAGEMENT WEEKEND, I THOUGHT. OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD. So I started frantically running around the upstairs like a kid who was just told they’re going to Disney World for the first time and threw the most random assortment of things into my luggage—a bathing suit? Yes. A pair of pajamas? No. Everything I own that’s white? Hell yah.

And just like that, we were packed and on a train back to NYC. I say back because NYC is where we pretty much fell in love. Our first date was exploring the city at Christmas time with our main goal of seeing the Rockefellar Tree at night. We had started the day as really good friends (with a little bit more than friends feelings) and ended our day with sweet smooches and (literal) hair-on-fire love! From that night on, we had continued to go to NYC for summer visits and Christmas time “anniversary” visits where we’d see the Rockette’s and guzzle delicious beers at the oldest bar in Amerca, McSorley’s. Everytime we went, we had a magical time. But once I got diagnosed, we didn’t go. It felt like too much to go all the way there – I felt like I would be annoyed that I couldn’t go to my favorite bar—how if I got car sick on the long ride? It just didn’t work in that 2 year period. And that’s okay, because that’s what made this weekend even more incredibly special. WE WERE BACK!!!!!!! And we were back stronger and more in love than ever.

 

When our cab dropped us off at the Waldorf Astoria, I felt like I was dreaming—are we really staying here? Oh boy, now I really know something fancy is going on. But it didn’t come quite yet – we walked around the Park then got some lunch and grabbed a drink downstairs at the hotel bar as we listened to a beautiful pianist. Then it was time for dinner at Gotham. Before our taxi driver could take us there, however, Michael had him take us to Rockefellar. Just the place we had been in search of the first time. Except this time, instead of awkwardly looking at each other because we weren’t sure if we should kiss—he knelt down on his knee and asked me to be his wife—he promised that we would come back to NYC, together, forever and ever and ever. And I, of course, said yes. And then we shared one of many kisses in the Rockefellar Center.

 

With that, I obnoxiously began calling my family and best friends as well as notifying anybody in an ear-short distance of our engagement and the most beautiful ring that was now on my finger. The weekend was perfect – it was just our weekend – in our favorite city. Just the two of us – just how we began – and just how we’ll end one day.

 

I can’t put into words how grateful I feel that Michael fell in love with me—that we fell in love with each other—that I have someone who is so caring of others, so smart, so handsome and so funny. I am so thankful for the kind of man he is and how hard he works and how much he gives of himself so that our little family can be happy.

 

My heart is beyond full as we start this next chapter of our lives, together—I feel like it’s really time to leave the past behind and begin planning for the future—a future that is filled with love, happiness and butterflies.

 

Lots of love & light,

Jessy

6 Weeks In

I used to count how many months “down” I was. But tonight, I can say I’m a month and a half “in” and headed back to Dana Farber for the first time as a “graduated” patient tomorrow. It’s already been 6 weeks since I got my last dose of chemotherapy and my body and mind are finally beginning to truly heal. After two years of a tingly tongue and numbness in my fingertips, those underlying & continuous feelings have gone away. So have much of my fatigue, headaches and nausea are gone. I no longer have to stop eating two hours prior to going to bed because of a daily chemo pill. I’ve gotten to lift life restrictions.

I’ve had a dirty martini. 🙌🏼


I’ve eaten sushi.


I’ve gone in a public pool and hot tub and not worried about getting an infection.


And had a mani/pedi day with my best without worrying about going against doctors recommendations not to in order to reduce risk of more infections.


I’ve gone to the Red Sox game with friends and stayed out too late on a work night.


I’ve become obsessive over the new Beyonce album. (Download ‘Freedom’ and then try telling me she’s not my soul sistah)

I’ve done yoga and felt strong the entire time.


I’ve had a 24 hour get-away with Michael


I’ve lived six weeks of a “free me” and damn, it feels good.

I still have so much to work on and mentally get through; some days I’m good and some days I’m emotional. I still don’t know what I want to do with my life, I still don’t know exactly why I was given this second shot but I’m so grateful for it. I’m so happy to get to live my life!
Lots of love & light,

Jessy

A Card to Make Me Smile

Last week when I got home from work, I had a letter in the mail from a sender I didn’t know. I opened it and this is what appeared ….

   
“Don’t let anyone dull your sparkle.”

  
A very simple note, from a complete stranger that made me feel so warm inside and gave me energy I didn’t knew I had that day. 

I got my own SmileCard. And you know what?! It worked. I smiled so big and was so touched by someone’s small act of kindness. 

So first of all, thank you to whoever sent this— it’s exactly what I needed. 

Secondly, this inspires me to keep writing cards- they make a difference. If you want to make a difference in someone’s day, write a Smile Card- write a few, whatever comes to you, and send my way (2Webster  St. Somerville, MA 02145). I’ll take them to the hospital- there are ALWAYS patients that need them.

As we start this new week, let’s take from the important of this saying– don’t let anyone or anything dull your sparkle- you have a lot of sparkle so let it shine! 

Lots of love & light,

Jessy 

I Worried. But it’s okay, cuz I’m Yonce Anyways 

 First  off, I can’t begin to express the feeling of overwhelming love and support I have felt this past week and especially in the past 24 hours. Without doubt, your prayers, radiating energy, good thoughts and positive vibes are what allows me to say that I HAVE AMAZING NEWS TO SHARE!!! My numbers have bounced back up so I am no longer neutropenic and I am able to get back on my treatment today! My bone marrow is cancelled until we need to do it during the final week, which is now currently scheduled for March 30th!!!!! We’re cutting one of my nightly chemotherapy pills in half the dosage so that the lower dosage will hopefully mean that we don’t have more issues like this. Obviously if I come in next week and the numbers have plunged again then we’ll have to reconvene but for now, I am able to go to work tomorrow and go to my retreat this weekend. Right now my heart feels so full, my body finally feels relaxed  and my mind is still buzzing but with all positive energy.

This was the Instagram video I put up right before coming in. My comment was that ” eff you leukemia, you can’t break my spirit.” And I was right, didn’t and won’t ever break my spirit!!!

My spirit has been able to stay strong because of all of you incredible souls who send me positive energy, prayers and well wishes. It’s what pushes me through weeks like last and helps keep a smile on my face.

So thank you, for the thousandth time, thank you! You are all amazing and I am forever grateful. 
Lots of love & light,

Jessy 

Two Years of Bubble Girl

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Two years ago this picture was taken. This was the first time that I had been able to see Leni since I was diagnosed. Truthfully, it was one of the happiest moments of my life.

A few days later and this picture was taken….

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was still severely neutropenic at that point which is why I had to wear a mask and gloves when she was around. This picture is such mix of emotions: I feel such love and warmth when I look at the two of us locking eyes. She is truly my little angel and I’m so grateful to have her as my Goddaughter. But it brings an emotion of sadness because I sit in bed two years later and feel like, although so much has changed, not much has changed at all. 

Since that picture… I cut my hair….

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Then I lost it all.

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But then slowly things started to turn around and I started getting fuzzies. Photo on 6-11-14 at 4.22 PM

it was time to fix my pancreas — with a full head of hair! PRAISE JESUS! IMG_5248

And then on January 12, 2015 I marched right back into the work force. I came back to the same desk I had left abruptly on February 20th 2014. IMG_5164

I even bought myself a new car to deal with all the winter snow– santa fe BEEP BEEP!IMG_5262

Then I started balding again which was no fun but I kept my “crow” cool and namasted on.IMG_4013

Then I went back to my old almamater and made a speech for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. It was a moment that I’ll never forget.

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things were starting to feel like normal again. IMG_6602

I was even able to put my hair in a pony tail!!!!!!!!IMG_7118

I was getting stronger and doing things with friends. IMG_7912

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AND THEN THIS HAPPENED. IMG_9199

PUP. MOM. = Life changed forever. In the best way possible. IMG_9376

I’ve been feeling so much happiness. Like I’m finally in the right place at the right time. IMG_0377

But then three weeks ago happened and I was made into Bubble Girl again– not able to see anyone who hasn’t cleared themselves as very healthy and certainly no going into work or public places. Then I had a week that I got taken off the house arrest and I sighed a sense of relief knowing that my counts were going back up, they weren’t yet where they need to be for treatment, but they were in the right direction. THEN I go into clinic last Wednesday. Uh oh. My counts have dropped to lower than they were even before when I was put on house arrest. So not only am I told, no going into work or public until you’re back here next Wednesday but we’re most likely going to want to do a bone marrow biopsy to “make sure things are okay.” For the first time in a very long time, Dr. D had a very serious demeanor, he mentioned that he “just could not explain” why my counts would be doing something like this. We go over a few complicated possibilities but all my mind was registering is this is no good– this is not what I want to hear– this is exactly the  opposite of what i want to hear. Just moments before, i had been thoroughly concerned about my end date being pushed back another week, now i’m a terrified that something has come back. That the leukemia may be showing signs of recurring. As I say these things to Mike and other close family and friends, I am often shooshed and told “we can’t talk like that” but the reality is, that’s a possibility, as small as it may be, that could happen. I am trying so hard to stay positive. I have been burning essential oils day and night, trying to breathe in only good toxins, deep breathing, taking ativans when I get too worked up, looking up at the sky a lot more to remind myself how big this place is and how small I am, I feel like I’ve tried everything but the fact of the matter is is that this shit is absolutely horrifying. I cannot begin to go down the path that my mind takes when I think about the doctors telling me something I don’t want to hear, so I won’t go there… but I know, it’s a place I really really don’t want to be. I’m just so close.

Two years ago when that picture with my niece was taken, I told little Leni that in two years, Auntie was going to be all better– that’d I’d be able to play with her all the time, with no masks and no gloves. I want to make good on that promise.

If you have a free moment tonight or tomorrow, I would so appreciate if you kept me in your thoughts and prayers. If you just sent me good energy to harness to endure whatever is to come. May it be the expected path I’ve been on, or one that takes a turn. I am a warrior princess and I’ll be ready… just need some of my angels behind me to cheer me on. I know I ask of you all a lot so I hope it’s not “too much”– I just so believe in your positive energy and thoughts being the ones to heal me.

All my love and light,

Jessy

 

p.s. here is Leni last week breakin hearts for Valentine’s Day. Does it get any cuter?

leni

 

You Win Some You Lose Some

Today I won a little and I lost a little. 

Good news is that I’m off house arrest. My counts have risen enough that I can go out in public again. 

Bad news is that my counts didn’t come up as much as they needed to begin treatment again so we’re paused until we try again next week. So, I won’t hit the March 16th date. I had so wanted to keep that date and not be pushed back but I also realize that in the grand scheme of things, looking back at the two years, one or two weeks extra really isn’t going to make a difference.

So although today was not what I had hoped for I still had a pretty good day.

It started with feeling a little silly in my mask  but then realizing I’m exactlyyyyy where I shouldn’t feel silly at all. 

  
After getting my blood drawn I headed over to my favorite floor at the Brigham to bring them a boatload of Smile Cards. I have received nearly 200 from various students in NH & MA over the past few weeks which is so amazing. One of my all-time favorite nurses was there and I haven’t seen her in monthsssss so we got to catch up which made me smile.

  
Then I went and had some QT time with my Dr. D’Angelo aka Dan the man with a plan. We looked at my results from a recent CT scan which was really fascinating and things are looking good! 

Then since I wasn’t getting chemo, I had to go over to infused to have my port de-accessed and my three favorite nurses were ALL there at the same time. MY DREAM! Plus one of them it was the first time I’ve seen her from coming back on her maternity so it was fabulous to give her a hug and see pics of her little princess. Then we just got to spend some time the four of us chatting and laughing. These girls are the best and I literally consider becoming a nurse just so I can hang out with them everyday.  

 
Then I packed up and went down to the chapel as I typically do, but today since its Ash Wednesday I was able to get the ash cross put on my forehead which was nice.

I got home and decided it has been a week since I had gotten to be in public so I packed Phoebe up and we drove over to a local walkway along the Mystic River. It was cold but we were bundled and the princess was happy to be out and about. And we saw the beautiful Swans! 

   
 
Then we sat on a little pier and took a momma puppy selfie.  

    
 
We ended our night doing a very important first for a mother daughter duo: WE WENT SHOPPING!!! And oh boy does Phoebs love the shopping. Her harness has gotten too small so we had to get her a new one so she picked it out along with a hair brush and new ducky toy…obviously she needed another toy she said.  #chevronforever

 
When this shopping pair came home, dinner was on the table courtesy of Mike Stevens. ❤️❤️❤️

So what could’ve been a crummy day turned into one that had a lot of smiles and a lot of warmth from lots of different people. Thank you to everyone who has sent me words of encouragement, love, prayers, good vibes, positive energy– or just thought of me. I truly believe it’s all so important and I appreciate every bit from the bottom of my heart.

So next week, we just try again. 

Lots of love & light, 

Jessy 

Favorite Things

I’ve always been a big Sound of Music fan– the entire movie is just incredible. But this song is the epitome of what makes it’s awesome. It’s so important to remember the little things in life that make us happy so here are a few of my favorite things:

  1. Chatting with Mike in bed after we turn off the lights
  2. Being outdoors and watching the water
  3. Riding waves in the ocean and feeling the salt water splash upon me
  4. Relaxing with family and friends
  5. Feeling sunshine hit my face
  6. Being in shavasana after a hard yoga session
  7. Getting back scratchies
  8. Sitting in a hot tub
  9. Getting kisses from Phoebe
  10. Reading in bed
  11. Listening to my niece laugh and watching her dance

What are some things that make you happy? Deep down to your core happy?

I bet you just thinking of a few of these things will make you smile.

Lots of love & light,

Jessy

Onto 2016

2015 was far better than 2014. For many reasons, but most importantly this year brought me much improved health than the year prior. That improved health allowed for other blessings throughout the year and I’m grateful for the improvements so I wanted to write down some things down that were absolutely awesome about this year. 

1. Spent about 95 days less overnight at the Brigham 

2. Had hair. ALL year. Plus a pony tail at the end.

3. Had way less spinal taps and bone marrow biopsies 

4. Puked a hell of a lot less 

5. Did a thing I like to call “be a working woman”

6. Switched jobs and ditched the long commute 

7. Ran a 5k 

8. Went on vacations with people I love

9. Learned how amazing stand-up paddle boarding is

10. Became a God mother to the sassiest, most beautiful, most hilarious little girl

11. Made a speech about my journey to about 1,000 students at my alma mater 

12. Stood beside an amazing friend as she got married 

13. Saw my girl T-Swift with all three of my besties and a bunch of other ladies I love!

14. Bettered my yoga practice & began learning about different philosophies & teachings 

15. Last but certainly not least, became a pup mother

  

I have mixed emotions going into this night, however. I got the pic below in my TimeHop and I got thrown into a surreal feeling of looking at my happy ass before my life got flipped upside down. Mike and I had such a fun night 2 years ago. We went to an incredible dinner in the North End, drank red wine & champagne then hopped over to the best little hookah bar where we sat and sipped martinis until about 11:50. Paid our check and ran over to the water to watch the fireworks go off in the absolute FREEZING cold! It was a glorious night and I remember it so vividly and relish in those memories when I think about my “life before.” 

  
Thinking of that “before” makes me a little sad honestly cuz I’d love to live that night over again. But that’s not how life mworks, you don’t get to go back in time. You only have today and that’s what today’s still pretty good too. It’s different than two years ago… I’m already in my pajamas, we have a pup snuggled up with us and there’s a lasagna about to go in the oven that was made by my amazing nurse Andrea who makes her own pasta, sauce and ricotta!!!   

  
PLUSSS, we just got this picture of these beauties which really just couldn’t have made my heart any warmer. #ILoveBeingAnAuntie 

  

So net net is tonight’s still pretty nice too. 

I have waited 22 months and 11 days for the clock to strike midnight and my phone to say 2016. I can’t really believe it’s here, I can’t believe we’re about to hit the year that I’ll get to begin to close my cancer chapter. But I’m excited so let the countdown officially begin.

Thank you to all my amazing family, friends, nurses, doctors, coworkers, blog readers, and incredible boyfriend for your continued support and endless love. I am grateful tonight and grateful always. 

All the love & light in the world going into 2016.
Jessy 

Thankful For So Much

When I was growing up, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Thanksgiving. I was a picky eater. I focused on the fact that I didn’t like the food. If you don’t really like vegetables and you’re not into turkey, good old T-giving can be a tough day. But as I’ve grown older, I’ve realized what an incredible day it really is. I’m happy to say that now that I consider myself quite the foodie, I absolutely love all the delicious food I get to stuff my face with BUT I love even more to have a day that’s specifically dedicated to giving thanks. It’s a day focused on being grateful for all you have and to be with those you love and reflect on all that you have together.

Since being diagnosed, I have found true strength when I count my blessings. When I consciously think about all the things that I do have in life, no matter how hard the day, my mindset is always helped. It helps ground me and helps put things into a necessary perspective. So today in honor of this amazing day that is completely dedicated to being thankful, I am going to list out everything I feel so lucky to have in my life.

I am thankful for…

  1. My Michael
  2. My family
  3. My Phoebe
  4. My friends
  5. My incredible doctors (especially Dr. Mandy & Dr. D)
  6. The most amazing and caring nurses (especially Andrea, Rachel, Margo, Deb, Kristen!)
  7. To be a patient at the most amazing cancer institute in the world— Dana Farer
  8. To have a job
  9. Having a roof over my head
  10. Having food to eat everyday
  11. Being an American
  12. Living in New England
  13. Being a Patriots Fan
  14. Being able to practice yoga
  15. Sharing a home I love with a person I love
  16. Music!!!
  17. My under desk bicycle
  18. Having a safe car
  19. Dancing
  20. Technology
  21. Fresh flowers
  22. Queen B
  23. T-Swift, in particular, “Shake It Off”
  24. One Direction
  25. Buddhism
  26. The ability to opening my mind to alternative ways of thinking
  27. Clothes & Shoes that I love
  28. A working pancreas
  29. Good food and being able to eat it!
  30. Buffalo chicken
  31. Strawberry strudels
  32. Being in remission
  33. Having hair again
  34. Soft, fuzzy pajamas
  35. Last but certainly not least, I am thankful for this blog and most importantly thankful for all the supportive and wonderful people that have followed my journey. I’m thankful that you’re part of my life and thankful for everything your support has provided me throughout a challenging portion of my life.

I hope you all have a beautiful day, and remember to truly give thanks to all that you have in your life. Even if you’re going through a tough time, try to think of at least one thing that you can feel true gratitude for — whether that is as important as another human being in your life or as simple as being able to have a glass of wine. Whatever it is you’re thankful for, be truly thankful, down to your core.

Happy Thanksgiving, loves!

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Lots of love & light,

Jessy