The Pendulum 

When I was growing up, my dad always said I was like a pendulum. I swang either really high or really low. I was either elated over scoring tickets to an *NSYNC concert or I was hysterical over a boy not dancing with me at a middle school dance.

Lately, I’ve been feeling just like that. There are moments like last Thursday, when it’s 60 degrees in February and I’m able to take Phoebe to the beach and sink my toes in the sand. The pendulum swings high. And then there are moments around 3:30pm this Thursday when I realize the day is coming to a close, and I’ve yet to make any money this week. The pendulum swings low. In those low moments, I begin second-guessing my decision to leave my steady job and salary. I struggle with the idea that I can still be a worthy human being without making money or having a successful career. Logically I know this to be true but emotionally I haven’t gotten there yet. I spend so much time staring off into the sky overthinking what I’m supposed to do with my life and how I can make a quick buck. It’s stressful to have bills and have to dip into savings to pay them. Or even worse, having to ask you’re partner for help. That’s the epitome of the low swinging pendulum in my mind. The last thing I ever wanted to do in my life was depend on anyone else financially yet somehow I find myself having to do that every time I go grocery shopping. 

So many ups and downs. Ups when I’m able to take my own dog to the park rather than pay someone to do it for us. Down when my dogs barking at me because I’m trying to do work at the kitchen table. Up when I’m able to spend time cooking a healthy meal. Down when I realize I’ve been cooking this healthy meal for two hours and my fiancé is still two hours from being home from work. Up when your mom is able to visit you on a weekday. Down when she leaves and you feel lonely because you now don’t have anyone to interact with the rest of the day. 

So many emotions in the past few weeks that it’s hard to process. I know I can’t speed up the universe but I wish I could. I want so badly to be on a steady path and know how I should proceed. How if I continue to wander aimlessly like this for months or even years? That’s feels like a nightmare. 

The question is, do you shoot for highs even though you understand that youll of end up in the low sometimes too? Or do you aim to be constistenly in the middle? Although I, ironically, am the middle child, I’ve never enjoyed being in the middle of the pack. And right now, I don’t even feel in the middle, I feel like I’m falling to the back of the pack. But if I go back to that pendulum analogy, it should only be a matter of time until I’m on that high swing again.

I’ll wait.

Happy weekend to all you worker bees 🐝 out there! 

Love & light,

Jessy 

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Guilty as Charged

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I feel guilty that I haven’t written a blog post in 3 months. I’ve written a few posts about random things but haven’t felt like I could publish them because quite honestly, they were me venting and expressing myself. Unfortunately, however, expression of feelings isn’t always what you want the entire world to see.

I feel guilty so much lately. About a whole array of things, I’ve begun to realize how much this one feeling affects my life every day.

I feel guilty that I got to live through my terminal diagnosis when others don’t get to

I feel guilty when I don’t see my friends and family often enough

I feel guilty when I complain about my job

I feel guilty when I don’t work out

I feel guilty when I think of all the people that helped me

I feel guilty when I don’t get home to Phoebe in time

I feel guilty when I’m being lazy and just don’t want to play fetch anymore

I feel guilty when I don’t call my friends that don’t live close by

I feel guilty when I want to go to bed early

I feel guilty when I have a drink during the workweek

I feel guilty when I spend money on things I shouldn’t

I feel guilty when I don’t do yoga regularly

I feel guilty when I don’t clean my house or help unload the dishwasher

I feel guilty when I think negatively of people in my head

I feel guilty when I drop off Smile Cards knowing I didn’t write any this month

I feel guilty when I don’t make a donation to a nonprofit/charity

I feel guilty that I don’t like my career and I complain about it to Mike

I feel guilty when I feel sorry for myself

I feel guilty that I stopped going to see my therapist

I feel guilty when I take medication to help me sleep

I feel guilty when I give Mike shit about little things

I feel guilty when I’m not in a good mood

I feel guilty for writing this post

Mostly, I’ve begun to feel guilty for feeling guilty all the time. I feel guilty when I don’t feel like I’m being the best version of me. I feel guilty that it’s the first time I’ve written a post and it’s not inspirational in the slightest. I feel guilty that it’s about me venting. I feel guilty that in the past six months, I have become cancer-free, not received one thing of chemo, gotten engaged, picked out a wedding dress, been to Italy, gone back to NYC twice, held beautiful babies, played with my dog, spent time with those that I love, live in a house and city that I adore and have my best friend to go to bed with every night—and I still somehow feel lost. I still feel like there’s something missing. I still have a hard time falling asleep at night without the medication I had been on for two years. I still whine and become sad on Sunday nights knowing I have an entire work week ahead of me. I still bitch about minute details of life when I know that there’s so many bigger problems out there. I still eat buffalo chicken nachos on the weekends even though I know they’re not good for me. I still drink beers while watching the Pats game because I like to. I still give Mike attitude at the end of the day when I’m grumpy for reasons that have nothing to do with him. I still honk at people when I’m driving to work. I still spend way too much time on the computer and my phone. I would’ve guessed that after two years of many moments of hell, I would be able to let things go easier, be more carefree, be kinder, gentler, fully in the moment.

I view the feeling of being given a second chance at life two-faced. I feel such gratitude and beauty from knowing that my eyes have been opened to how short life is and how I need to not take anything for granted and enjoy each moment and each day. But the other side of the face has created this enormous feeling of guilt when I’m not achieving the daily level of happiness and gratitude that my brain tells me I should be obtaining.

My therapist, the one that I stopped going to because I didn’t think I needed to go anymore (maybe I should rethink that decision, I know), had continuously told me for two years that I needed to have more compassion for myself. That I needed to stop being so hard on myself and stop judging every action that I take. She had said that I needed to allow myself to feel feelings that I have and try hard not to overthink everything. And while I can say I try to show myself compassion, it’s so god damn hard! It’s easier to criticize my actions and try to perfect what I’m doing wrong. It’s not healthy and I know this but I can’t seem to get out of my way sometimes.

I feel so frustrated that at this time in my life where everything seems to be going right, I somehow don’t feel euphoria, I don’t feel like I’m living this dream life. But I had dreamed of this life, since February 20, 2014, I dreamed of this summer, I dreamed of being engaged and planning my wedding, I dreamed of going back to work, I dreamed of having a French bulldog, I dreamed of going to Italy, I dreamed of having drinks with my friends at dinner and sipping on a Pumpkin Head beer while I watched the Patriots from the comfort of my house. And now I have that all. I have a Frenchie. I went to Italy. I got engaged. I bought my wedding dress. I’ve enjoyed drinks and food. I workout multiple times a week and can feel my muscle mass returning. I have a job. Yet, I still feel so confused and because of that, I feel like the most ungrateful brat that’s ever existed. I feel awful that I’m even putting these words out in the universe, that I’m letting people really see how I’m feeling. Now don’t get me wrong, my weekend in New York City getting engaged was everything I’ve ever dreamed about, our trip to Italy was literally the best two weeks of my entire life, I kiss and cuddle Phoebe every single day and tell her how much I love her, I feel at home, safe and secure when Mike is with me and continues to tell me that things are going to be okay.

I feel guilty for these negative feelings and emotions when so much is going right. I feel guilty because people that I know and love are going through horrible breakups and divorces, are dealing with health problem of their own, caring for a loved one that’s battling cancer, out of work and struggling to pay for childcare, grieving a loss of a loved one and so many more examples of real problems, real issues. Me not knowing what I want to do with my career and trying to achieve an unattainable goal of happy, content and successful life can barely be considered a real problem, however, to me, it feels like this insurmountable problem. I feel like I’m at the bottom of a mountain and I can’t see the top, I have no idea how high this peak is or how long it will take me to reach the top. And because of that, I feel frantic. I feel like a deer in the headlights, whipping my head around wildly looking for the right way to go but unable to find any sort of tree marker because I don’t even know if the top of this mountain is attainable with my abilities.

So, for today, I sit here at my computer with a “De-stress” and “stay calm” essential oils next to me hoping that I can figure out a goal, figure out a direction, figure out what I want, figure out what will make me happy, figure out what will make me feel content and fulfilled but most of all, I hope that I can learn how to not feel guilty, not feel ashamed that I feel the way I do. My hope is that by writing this piece, if you ever feel guilty for similar things that I do, that you feel less alone.

I’m hoping that my future blog posts will be more upbeat– to be truthful, I think that’s why I haven’t written in so long. I felt like my readers don’t want to hear about my little, and neurotic problems, nor do they want to read a post about my amazing Christmas weekend in NYC. I  have felt a sense of, you guessed it, guilt, if I begin to write about things that don’t fit into the box of “inspirational.” I began the Inspiration Initiative to express my feelings and to document my journey through a difficult time and I did that. I stayed true to my feelings, and I never felt guilty when I complained or vented because it felt “fair” to write my negative emotions regarding a cancer diagnosis. I knew nobody was going to judge me for that. But talking about that I’m frustrated by my career confusion or how much fun Mike and I have been having lately on the weekends, or the flip flop feeling in my stomach I get when I think about my body image, how much I love my dog, or what delicious meal I’m cooking that night, I know I can get judged for these type of content topics more than I could have been before. But I think it’s time for me to begin writing again more frequently. It’s time that I close the cancer book and start a new book that’s simply this: My Life. The ups, the downs, the in-the-middles, and all the moments in between. My cancer journey will still be part of it on days because the reality is that that diagnosis changed me, those experiences scarred me– some scars are ugly and some are beautiful, but they all remind me of the time period. But I’ve begun a new book and I hope it gets brighter by the second, and I’d love if you come along with me. It’s not going to be the same stories as you’re used to, but they’re still my stories.

If you got to the end of this ranting and redundant post, thanks. And, I’m impressed. I know this wasn’t beautifully written, I know this wasn’t inspirational, I know this wasn’t my best work but it made me feel better. For a few different reasons it made me feel better but at least for one, it erased the guilt I felt about not writing a blog post in a while.

I’ll be back.

Lots of love & light,

Jessy

The Guilt of Health

I can’t believe it’s been over a month since I wrote a post. I can blame it on the fact I’ve been quite the busy lady in August, from bachelorette weekends to concerts to Red Sox games to doggy ice cream socials to creating a 6-page itinerary of our upcoming Italy trip, it’s been a whirlwind month but if I’m being honest, there’s another reason I haven’t written too. I have a bit of guilt that’s kept me from writing.  I used to write this blog in a hospital room when I was feeling lonely or sad or scared or upset to get my emotions out. I still have feelings of isolation or sadness or anxiety but I don’t feel like I have the right to express myself when so many things have gone right for me recently. What do I have to complain about when I know there are so many people still suffering? I know that this blog should be a safe space for me but, like everyone, I worry about what others will think. What you will think. Whether or not somebody will roll their eyes when they read my posts. People might think this is weird but I almost feel more vulnerable expressing my feelings now than when I was going through treatment. My day to day isn’t “interesting” to the outside world anymore. And god damn, I’m so happy it isn’t! My trials and tribulations are just like everyone else’s — a normal 27 year old, trying to figure out the whole work-life-love balance.

After going through cancer, I feel such a large responsibility to myself and every single person who gave me my health back to make the most of life, to be the happiest, healthiest version of myself. But sometimes having pressure to be happy, to be content, to be “living life to the fullest” is overwhelming. I learned so strongly how quickly life can change and so I hate when I feel like I’m “wasting time” or not making the most of everything.

So this was a bit of rant but sometimes that’s when I get my truest feelings out and that’s what I’m going to continue to do, keep being honest and as open as I can be. I’ll keep this blog as a place for what’s going on in my life– whether it’s inspirational or not, it’s what’s happening in my life.

On a brighter note, something that just happened in my life was getting the opportunity to be interviewed for the Red Sox pre-game show with Tom Caron last night to tell my story as a way of raising awareness and garnering funds for the Jimmy Fund. I had an absolute blast and was ready to start handing out my number to the staff to try to get me my own show! haha boy, I just loved it! 🙂 Here are some pics :

Lastly, Mike and I leave for Italy vacation this coming Monday. I went to Dana Farber today and was so relieved to find out that everything still looks good and I’m in the clear to head abroad. I’m beyond excited!

Happy Wednesday all!

Lots of love & light,

Jessy

 

The Date is Set

March 26, 2016.

This is going to be a big day for me. This is the day I will have my last treatment of chemotherapy. I will walk into Dana-Farber, see the most amazing people in the world, get an infusion of cancer-killing, leukemia sucking drugs and then I will walk out, head held high and I’ll be damned if I ever walk into Yawkey 8 as a patient again.

It will be a day I waited 764 days for.

This Wednesday, I sat in the chair next to Dr. D and when he asked if I had anything else I wanted to talk about, I just blurted out, “when does it end?” “Can I have a date?” “I need a date!.” Honestly, I really didn’t think he was going to be able to pin point it for me, but he pulled up his calendar and did just that. It was so what I needed. I’m so grateful that I’ve made it through over a year of this battle but I’ve been feeling overwhelmed lately with how much longer I have to go. It’s different having pieces of your life back, like work and exercising but knowing that you’re still sick, that you still have a long way to go to make it out of the woods. Knowing the date gives me something to look forward to. To set my mind to. A much-needed finish line in my own little marathon.

Today is National Cancer Survivors Day– I don’t fit into this quite yet because I’m only half way there. i’m in remission, but I’m not cured. I have survived a lot in the past year but I haven’t gotten through it all. Next year at this time, I will feel incredible relief and gratitude if I am lucky enough to go for a walk on a beautiful June day and know that I’m two months passed my last chemo infusion. Two months into the rest of my life. It will feel unbelievable to be a survivor.

So let the countdown begin. 292 days to go.

XOXO,

Jessy

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

Three Months Hungry

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My first pancreatitis attack happened on August 13th. It’s now November 14th. That’s three hospital stays in the books, about 100 pounds in fluctuated weight, an incredible amount of pain medication down, a stent placed into my pancreas, two months behind on my chemo regimen and three months in the past of simply not eating or not eating the foods I want to eat. In fact, right now, I’m unable to eat anything but “clears” for the next two weeks (clears = broth, apple juice, jello, water). It sounds unenjoyable but not the end of the world, right? I would have guessed that too but not being able to eat is more than that. I’m having such a hard time with it because it’s something that I enjoy doing so much. I enjoy cooking it, I enjoy snacking on it, I enjoy going out to restaurants with my boyfriend and friends, and I enjoy eating it! Food was one of the last things that not much had changed since my diagnosis. And I so revelled in that. So the fact that it got taken away from me just seems unfair. Now, instead of eating, I have a feeding tube that I attach to every night for 14 hours. Not exactly a pasta dinner.

In general, these past few months have left me really down. I’ve been in the hospital 45 days of the three months which is nothing short of miserable. Being in the hospital is a mind game. It’s draining and sad. You become like a hamster. For the majority of the time you’re kept in your little cage where people are constantly coming in and out to either visit, poke you with something or give you medication to take. The latter is my favorite as it hopefully will make me sleepy and I can dose off to kill an hour or two. If I’m being honest, sleeping has become one of my favorite things to do in these past few months because it takes me away from everything. I know that doesn’t sound very inspirational but it’s the truth. Trying to stay positive and keep my spirits up has proven to be harder recently than it had been in the past. I think it’s a combination of this big bump in the road I’ve had (aka pancreatitis) and also the sense that I’ve been at this for almost 9 months now and I still have so much further to go. Today, however, my mom and I are staying in our pajamas all day since it might snow and making Christmas crafts for the holidays. It should be fun and I’m grateful to be out of the hospital and doing something I enjoy… crafts! Now, if I can just get to eating by Thanksgiving, I’ll be making positivity strides all over the place.
Much love for listening to me vent… I had to get this one out.
XOXO,
Jessy

I get knocked down, but I get up again.

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This week I had plans to make delicious meals like grilled buffalo chicken sandwiches, to go out with girls from work for dinner, tackle the mounting pile of laundry in my closet, practice yoga, and enjoy the hot weather that’s finally hit New England. Instead, I’ve been at the Brigham since Sunday night. Instead, I’ve been lying in a hospital bed almost continuously for 4 days. I spiked a fever on Sunday night after getting home from spending time with my dad and Bumpa for Father’s Day. Halfway through our attempt at watching Frozen, we were packed and on our way to the emergency room. After getting blood taken in both arms, a new IV put in, x rays, urine tests and a CT scan done, I was on my way to 4C, Room 56 (could’t even get into my resort 7D). Worst. Sunday night was scary. Really scary. I couldn’t stop the bad thoughts from racing through my head. What was wrong?  Am I not responding to the chemo correctly? Am I having some sort of allergic reaction to all the medicine I’m on? Could it be that the leukemia has come back?? Unfortunately, I still don’t have an “answer” as all the tests that have been run have come back negative. But this is actually a good thing as it means most likely this infection is due to my extremely low counts and my body being unable to fight off anything because of all the chemo.
(this is a pic from the ER on Sunday night. I thought twice about taking it, and thought three times about posting it. But it is what it is. And that’s what a chemo patient looks like in the ER with a fever. #nofun)
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My whole body ached, my head pounded, I couldn’t keep down any food or water and I could barely stay awake for more than an hour— I felt so physically and mentally exhausted these past four days. And then yesterday it all just sunk in and made me angry, made me grumpy. I had Mike hold a pillow so I could hit it as hard as I possibly could for about 5 minutes. I sobbed uncontrollably when the nurse was changing my IV line. Because it hurt? Yes, it hurt, but I cried because at that moment, as Coldplay of course was playing in the background (what’s wrong with me always listening to them when I’m sad), I just couldn’t take it, I just couldn’t take any of this anymore. I hit a wall. I don’t want people poking me and sticking me with things or ripping tape off of my extremely sensitive arms (a side effect of chemo is that your skin can become very sensitive to touch), I don’t want to feel like shit and be sleeping all day. I don’t want to be trapped inside while the sun is finally shining and the air is hot and inviting. I don’t want any of this, I kept thinking. I want my life back, as simple as that. It’s something I’ve said a lot on this blog, and something that has gone through my head probably 1000 times more. I just want my life back. So in between apologies from my nurse who thought she was borderline killing me from the sounds of my sobs, and Mike stroking my arm and saying everything’s going to be okay, I was able to pull myself together and stop the dramatics. Once she left, I beat the pillow. I had to. I had to physically get out how angry I felt. I’m obviously angry about this situation in general, but I felt angry about being here this week. I didn’t plan on this. This isn’t part of my “schedule.” Everything I had planned to do this week is pushed off now or cancelled. And that’s why this time feels so different.  This is another interruption of the already-interuppted life I’m living right now. And I hate the interruption. The other times I’ve come in (other than obviously the first time) I’ve been prepared and ready for it. This time I’m just sitting here feeling ripped off, feeling sick and feeling frustrated. I’m trying hard to stay positive, to continue to try to enjoy everything I possibly can. Like going boating this past weekend to celebrate one of my best friends 25th birthday. Days like that make me feel alive and make me feel so happy and so thankful that I’m able to still enjoy a day like that. Because those days are special and I know it. But it’s hard, it’s hard to always come back to those happy moments when you’re feeling beaten. As much as I try, sometimes thinking of bright days ahead just doesn’t do the trick in the moment. But then again, I got to feel that sun on Saturday. I got to laugh. I got to feel the ocean spritz on my face. I got to dance. I got to enjoy myself for a day. That’s more than some people can say.
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So as always, I feel a little better after this blog post. I needed to get out how kicked down I’m feeling. Because I’m not doing silly dances or arts and crafts this week. This week I’m struggling. This week I’m reminded that I’m in the thick of this horrible disease. I’m only 4 months into this long journey but I’ve still come a long way and I have a lot to be proud of and thankful for. There will be more rough weeks ahead, that’s for sure, but there will also be days like Saturday, on the boat with good friends and good food. That’s what will get me through.
Back to resting and getting rid of this fever.
XOXO,
Jessy