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 

Bacon Avocado & Feta Salad

After a long weekend full of food and drinks, this always seems to be what Mike and I end up googling….

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So, in an attempt to find a recipe that was healthy but also not boring, I went to where I always go for food ideas… Pinterest! After a few minutes of searching, I found the perfect combo of satisfying and sensible. Plus, it was simple and quick to make which is always preferred. Totally something you could do on a week night and unlike many salad recipes, we were both surprised how full we still were later that night. Anyways, hope you enjoy as much as we did!

Bacon Avocado & Feta Salad 

Balsamic Dressing
  • ⅓ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons water (or more oil if you wish)
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • ¼-1/2 teaspoon salt (adjust to your tastes)
Salad:
  • 5 ounces |150g bacon, diced and trimmed of all fat
  • 8 cups chopped Iceberg and Romaine
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1/4 cucumber, chopped
  • ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • extra Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

Whisk together the dressing and if you’re going to add grilled or seared chicken, use this as the marinade as well. Once dressing is made, refrigerate. Fry bacon to a crisp so that it can be easily crumbled. As the bacon is cooling on paper towels, prepare salad fixings and add all together, crumble bacon atop and toss with dressing. Serve and enjoy!


As I mentioned, you could easily grill chicken to add protein or toast up some Sourdough bread as a side.

That’s all for today! Hope you are having a wonderful Wednesday! Half way thru the week, yippee!

Love & light,

Jessy

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

March 25th: A Day I’ll Remember 

The bone marrow biopsies are a thing of the past. It was a stressful morning as things got pushed back and I didn’t end up being taken in until 12:30. So while we waited, we took pics…obviously. 

  
Then I was taken in and I had to take a pic with my most fabulous doctor who has done all my spinal taps and all my bone marrow biopsies since the beginning. Not only is she the most fashionable lady at the Dana but she also is the absolute sweetest. 

  
Now it was time to get suited up- and tis the bunny season, I just had to…

  
So then it was time to chill with the silliness and get this thing some and over with!

   
 
Go time.

(Warning:this is a little graphic but Mike took it and I found it fascinating as I’ve obviously never seen it from this angle!)

  
And just like that, I took my last “big breath”, Susan pulled the marrow and it was over. I instantly started crying but it was tears of such joy, relief and gratitude. I felt so empowered and so strong in that moment. I have hated this procedure every time, I have always gotten so worked up before and after as I wait for the results. But the reality is, it’s out of my control now. I’ll get the results next week and I really feel deep in my heart that the leukemia is out of my body so the moment just hit me so hard, like WOW, I’m really almost done. The finish line isn’t around the corner anymore- it’s right there, I just have a few more steps until I cross that yellow line.

As always, Michael was there by my side. Today, actually holding onto my feet, but right there with me, making sure Halo was being played at the appropriate time and loving me with everything he has. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I really am the luckiest girl in the world. 

   
 
With that, I’m making myself a bowl of ice cream and continuing to relax on the couch with my two loves for the night. Thank you for the millionth time to everyone who said a little prayer for me, I owe you big time.

Lots of love & light,

Jessy 

A Lot Of Worry but a Little Light

This week has been hard. Harder than expected. What I would’ve expected is pure excitement, pure elation that the road is coming to an end. But instead, I’m feeling overwhelmed with a mix of emotions, most of them being sad and scared if  I am being totally truthful. 

Tonight is no different. Tonight I feel scared and I feel anxious. Tomorrow I will wake up and go to the Dana for my last scheduled bone marrow biopsy. I always become really nervous before these procedures since I find them really painful but more than that, I’m nervous of the results. I won’t find them out until next week, but tomorrow will be my last “check” for leukemia. The “what if’s” are worrying me. Well, it’s not exactly plural- it’s singular- it’s “what if there are still leukemia cells in my bones, in my blood?” I literally don’t know what I would do and I can’t bare to imagine it, but I keep imagining it. 

The flip side is that if the results come back negative and there is no such leukemia in my body…….. Well, there are no words for that. 

As I walked into my driveway tonight, I smiled to myself as a small flower has finally begun to pop through the dirt and show its colors. I photographed this same flower two years ago when I had returned home from the hospital as it reminded me of new beginnings. Today, it once again reminded me of new beginnings and a renewal of hope that I so desperately needed. There she goes, Mother Nature making her presence known and love felt. Always remember to look for the little signs. 

  
If I could request it one last time, I’ll take all the good vibes, prayers and positive energy tonight that you can spare. 

All my love & light,

Jessy 

Breathe Easy

take a deep breath

I don’t know if it’s the steriods I’m on that’s making me feel like this, but I can’t stop thinking about all I have to do. Life, in general right now, is busy. Work’s picking up, I have personal obligations that I need to complete, I’m trying to take my first online class on Coursera, there are trips I need to research and schedule (which is fun but takes a lot of time!), I want to read this, write that, schedule this, plan that, prepare for this or that. All of a sudden there seems like a pile of tasks to check off the list. So today, this motivational Monday is just as much as it is for me as it is for all of you. I need to remember to breathe. The tasks will slowly come off the list– and if some have to get postponed, that’s okay. Today, I need to remember to BREATHE. To inhale all the good that’s in my life, take a big beautiful breath of positive energy, close my eyes and see the light and exhale any negative thoughts or feelings that don’t serve me well.

There are so many benefits to deep breathing — beyond just helping to calm your mind, but physical benefits that can truly make a difference in your daily health.

Make sure you’re doing it correctly, however, to gain the best benefits. First inhale through your nose, expanding your belly and filling your chest. Count to 5. Hold and count to 3– feel all your cells filled with golden, healing, balancing Sun light & energy. Exhale fully from a slightly parted mouth and feel all your cells releasing waste and emptying old energy.

So trust in the fact that you’re where you need to be today, everything that is meant to happen is happening. Breath the certainty in and any worry out that you may have. Today is a good day.

Lots of love & light,

Jessy

For more information on the benefits of taking time to do some deep breathing, here’s a list of 18 physical benefits from the One Powerful Blog:

1. Breathing Detoxifies and Releases Toxins
Your body is designed to release 70% of its toxins through breathing. If you are not breathing effectively, you are not properly ridding your body of its toxins i.e. other systems in your body must work overtime which could eventually lead to illness. When you exhale air from your body you release carbon dioxide that has been passed through from your bloodstream into your lungs. Carbon dioxide is a natural waste of your body’s metabolism.

2. Breathing Releases Tension
Think how your body feels when you are tense, angry, scared or stressed. It constricts. Your muscles get tight and your breathing becomes shallow. When your breathing is shallow you are not getting the amount of oxygen that your body needs.

3. Breathing Relaxes the Mind/Body and Brings Clarity
Oxygenation of the brain reducing excessive anxiety levels. Paying attention to your breathing. Breathe slowly, deeply and purposefully into your body. Notice any places that are tight and breathe into them. As you relax your body, you may find that the breathing brings clarity and insights to you as well.

4. Breathing Relieves Emotional Problems
Breathing will help clear uneasy feelings out of your body.

5. Breathing Relieves Pain.
You may not realize its connection to how you think, feel and experience life. For example, what happens to your breathing when you anticipate pain? You probably hold your breath. Yet studies show that breathing into your pain helps to ease it.

6. Breathing Massages Your Organs
The movements of the diaphragm during the deep breathing exercise massages the stomach, small intestine, liver and pancreas. The upper movement of the diaphragm also massages the heart. When you inhale air your diaphragm descends and your abdomen will expand. By this action you, massage vital organs and improves circulation in them. Controlled breathing also strengthens and tones your abdominal muscles.

7. Breathing Increases Muscle
Breathing is the oxygenation process to all of the cells in your body. With the supply of oxygen to the brain this increases the muscles in your body.

8. Breathing Strengthens the Immune System
Oxygen travels through your bloodstream by attaching to haemoglobin in your red blood cells. This in turn then enriches your body to metabolise nutrients and vitamins.

9. Breathing Improves Posture
Good breathing techniques over a sustained period of time will encourage good posture. Bad body posture will result of incorrect breathing so this is such an important process by getting your posture right from early on you will see great benefits.

10. Breathing Improves Quality of the Blood
Deep breathing removes all the carbon-dioxide and increases oxygen in the blood and thus increases blood quality.

11. Breathing Increases Digestion and Assimilation of food
The digestive organs such as the stomach receive more oxygen, and hence operates more efficiently. The digestion is further enhanced by the fact that the food is oxygenated more.

12. Breathing Improves the Nervous System
The brain, spinal cord and nerves receive increased oxygenation and are more nourished. This improves the health of the whole body, since the nervous system communicates to all parts of the body.

13. Breathing Strengthen the Lungs
As you breathe deeply the lung become healthy and powerful, a good insurance against respiratory problems.

14. Proper Breathing makes the Heart Stronger.
Breathing exercises reduce the workload on the heart in two ways. Firstly, deep breathing leads to more efficient lungs, which means more oxygen, is brought into contact with blood sent to the lungs by the heart. So, the heart doesn’t have to work as hard to deliver oxygen to the tissues. Secondly, deep breathing leads to a greater pressure differential in the lungs, which leads to an increase in the circulation, thus resting the heart a little.

15. Proper Breathing assists in Weight Control.

If you are overweight, the extra oxygen burns up the excess fat more efficiently. If you are underweight, the extra oxygen feeds the starving tissues and glands.
16. Breathing Boosts Energy levels and Improves Stamina

17. Breathing Improves Cellular Regeneration

18. Breathing Elevates Moods
Breathing increase pleasure-inducing neurochemicals in the brain to elevate moods and combat physical pain – See more at: http://www.onepowerfulword.com/2010/10/18-benefits-of-deep-breathing-and-how.html#sthash.yKZxzcMv.dpuf