Work Goals

Things have been so great lately but yet I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed and a little bumming about not feeling like I know exactly what I want to do with my life. And then I was scrolling for a password in my Notes section and I came across this note I wrote myself almost exactly one year ago today. It goes…

“What I want in this life, in regards to my work life. 

I want to wake up every morning and be energized.

I want to feel passion every day.

I want to listen to music every day.

I want to dance when I want to.

I want to laugh.

I want to know that I’m making a difference in someone else’s life.

I want to stimulate my mind, body and soul every single day. 

I want to be surrounded with like minded individuals that are just as excited as me.

I want to ask how people are doing on Thursdays and not hear “well, tomorrow’s Friday so that’s good.” NOOO!!! That’s so fucking depressing!! I want to hear, today is good! I’m happy to be alive, I’m happy to be here and be doing what I’m doing! 

I want to be excited about my day, my work, my life.

I want happiness. 

Wanting actual happiness within your career seems like such a lofty goal. Like something that’s so rarely attained in this world. That only a few “lucky” ones get to really enjoy what they do for work.

But what if we just all did what made us happy? What if we all just woke up and did things that made us smile and laugh? That’s not reality. But I want it to be mine. I’m determined to make that my reality. 
No longer will my goal in life be to “be a successful business woman” or “to work my way up to the c-suite.” Who Gives a rats ass if I’m successful if I’m just sitting in an office all day, feeling trapped and bored?! What kind of success is that?!? Rather my ultimate goal will to be to create a career that fits into my life. A life that makes me happy, provides me financial support, let’s me be passionate every single day. Let’s me wake up in the morning and FEEL FREE!!!! I want to be free from going through the routine, going through the motions: this is MY life!!! My life WILL be more than just muddling through it. 

I will not be just another person struggling for the weekend. I refuse. I was given another chance. I was shown the beauty of life at a young age and I promise not to take that for granted. I will work hard so that I can live a life that makes me happy, that others benefit from and that makes this world a better place. Succeeding will be based on my joy. My happiness. As happiness is the ultimate measure of success. 

LETS F-ING GO!”

Ha! A bit aggressive I must admit (I’m going to guess that I was on steroids during this moment) but I like where my head was at. Not settling, not sitting still and being comfortable with mediocracy. Happiness isn’t unattainable- it’s difficult to achieve I think but it’s doable. I needed this today and so maybe one of you did too. 

Let’s f-ing GOOOO! 💪🏼

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 

Tampa Times & Relay for Life Speech

It’s been over a week since I’ve written a blog post and it feels like an eternity. But that’s because I WAS ON VACATION! First vacation since being diagnosed. First time being on an airplane and getting to see palm trees and plop my butt in the sand and just relax. It was such a wonderful few days and something Mike and I really needed.

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We were greeted in the Tampa airport by multiple members of the fraternity I was a part of, Delta Sigma Pi. Their excitement to have me down and meet all the new members was infectious and something I felt so lucky to be able to experience.

So after deciding we no longer wanted a boring rent-a-car because we were on v-a-c-a-t-i-o-n,  we hopped in a mustang convertible and headed down to Clearwater!! The drive was perfect– the warm wind was in our faces, the music was on loud and I felt happy at its purist. We got so lucky as we were able to stay in a GORGEOUS condo that my friend Kelly’s family owns and were so nice enough to let us stay there for a few days. It’s right on the water, has a fantastic pool and jacuzzi, and the best balcony view of them all. We were so lucky to be able to have that opportunity! (so thank you thank you thank you to the Fitzgibbons!)

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We spent the next few days lounging on the beach, doing yoga in the sand, going for long walks hand in hand, sleeping with the doors open to hear the waves crash down, watching dolphins play in the water while we ate grouper sandwiches, spending time with some of my best girlfriends who came up for a day to visit, and watching the sunset go down atop the beautiful white sands! We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect few days.

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We then headed to Tampa so I could show Mike my old stomping grounds and get ready for the Relay for Life event that I was speaking at on Saturday. Friday night I got to meet all the wonderful students who have worked so hard over the past 6 months to fundraise in order to get me to Tampa and also to put on this incredible event. I was greeted by so many smiling faces, including old professors that came to support me– it was truly heartwarming. We then went out with some great friends for dinner and ended up at World of Beer for old times sake. It’s funny, WOB is right across the street from MacDittons, my favorite bar in college, and as I watched college kids go in and out, I felt old and almost like “could I do that anymore?” Funny how times change. Overall, it was a really special night to see so many close friends that I don’t get to see nearly as much as I’d like and just catch up and laugh together.

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Then came Saturday– the day we were down here for. I was anxiously awaiting my speech all day, reading it over and over by the pool and practicing too many times in front of Mike. Being the perfectionist I am, I wanted it to go smoothly and really make it worth everyone’s effort of getting me down there. The night came and my family, of course, was there to support me! Mom, Dad, Court, Stratos & Eleni were all there to cheer me on as I took the mic. With over 1000 people in attendance, I started to get pretty nervous– I haven’t public spoken like that in quite some time. But once I started speaking, I was reminded  that I’m talking about my journey– something I know a lot about. I could do this. And I did it. There was sense of relief when I ended but also real excitement. Overall, the ceremony was beautiful and so touching. It’s a night I will always remember.

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I’ve included the video below where you can watch my speech, hope you enjoy!

Again, thank you to all my brothers from DSP for making this trip a reality and to all my Tampa family who made being back so special to me. I love you all!

XOXO,

Jess

First Day Down

Today was my first day back to the working grind. It was for sure a mix of emotions. It felt just like the first day of high school, I was anxious all day yesterday, could barely sleep last night and then the day came. I had trouble getting myself out of bed in the morning, not because I was too tired but because I felt so overwhelmed at what the day would bring. But get out of bed I did and to Framingham I headed. As I walked into my cube this morning, everything was just how I had left it 11 months ago. The new 2014 calendar was still up, “Punta Cana vacation” highlighted March 7-14, cereal in my drawers, and my trusty heating pack still sitting on my desk as I had been using it to help ease my back pain (soon to find out it wasn’t exactly “back pain.”) It was surreal. Nothing had changed but everything had changed. I’ve worked 11 months to get back to where I sat today, I’ve gone through what feels like hell and back to get my life back. But it hit me as I sat there at 5:30 with the lights starting to dim that I’m not getting my old life “back.” I’ve got a new one, a very different one than the one I had left. One that is filled with much hope, determination, fear, anxiety, love and fight. I still have a long way to go, about 15 months more of treatment to be exact. There will be good days and there will be bad days, but as Mike reminded me last night, if I can get through what I’ve been put through in the past year, I can make it through a few stressful and tiring days of work. Just need to put my head down and tough it out. I might be be small and fragile looking on the outside, but I’m a warrior princess on the inside. And warrior princesses can do just about anything.

So tomorrow, I’ll be back at it again…back in my cube, back in meetings, back on emails and back on social media but I’m back with a little chip on my shoulder and a lot of things to prove, not just to my colleagues but myself.

Bring it.

XOXO,

Jessy

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Until Next Week

LK;ADKFJAD;LAJD;LKJA;LKJDF;LKJ AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!  

 
That, my friends, is how I’m feeling right about now. Today went NOTHING like how I thought it was going to be. I had planned to write a post tonight from my hospital room, instead here I am sitting at my kitchen table again. I’m home with a packed suitcase and another hospital stay pushed off. Good news, I didn’t get the bone marrow biopsy. Oh wait, that’s just because I’m getting it next week instead. Today I got a better understanding of what my doctor didn’t “like” last week. Basically, when my blood’s been drawn the past two weeks, things called “blasts” have appeared which indicate that the leukemia could somehow have come back (could, keyword there). Luckily, although still there, that number has decreased since last week and all my other counts were in the normal range. So both my doctors are leaning towards that these “blasts” are just immature cells that my bone marrow has produced while it’s been replenishing itself. However, the possibility of the leukemia coming back is real and therefore, until we know exactly what’s going on, we can’t move forward with my planned treatment. 
 
As my doctors were explaining everything, I started getting emotional… I was instantly overwhelmed, I felt like a ton of bricks had just fallen on my shoulders. Consoling me, Dr. Mandy talked to me about how healthy it is to get “out” my feelings and said something that really hit home. She said, “You’re dealing with death, 50 years earlier than you should. You have the right to feel the way you’re feeling.” I hadn’t thought of it like that until this moment. I had been coping by categorizing this in my head as a “sickness,” a sickness that is awful and unfair but something I would get through and undoubtedly live to tell my kids about. I’ve done a good job telling myself that the ‘d’ word is not an option. And I really still don’t see it as one. (I have way too much to do in my life to let it be an option.) But the fact that it’s ever even mentioned or considered is terrifying. The reality is, this most likely is all just a big scare; the hope is that I’ll go in next week, get this bone marrow biopsy done and find out a few days later that everything is fine and continue on with the action course we’ve had planned all along. But the possibility, as small as it may be, that the results could come back next week and things could get “more serious” than they already are leaves me a little speechless. I am, however, reassured that if the results don’t come back the way we want them to, there are still different treatment options we can try, all of which are of the goal to cure.
 
Other than those first few days, emotionally this was definitely one of the hardest/scariest days. But, just as they were there to comfort me in those first few hours and days, my doctors were there to comfort me and be honest with me…to let me know exactly what’s going on and in terms a marketing major can understand. They make such an incredible team and are so unbelievably knowledgable about this disease. I trust their decisions, whole heartedly and completely. That’s a priceless feeling. Beyond all their brilliance, however, they are caring, kind, compassionate people, and those qualities have continued to make all the difference for me. When I look in their eyes I can see how much they want this too, how much they truly care about me, almost as if I’m a loved one of theirs. I’m not though, I’ve only known them for 3 months. But they care about me a lot and they take care of me to a level that I can’t describe. I am and will forever be grateful to Dr. D and Dr. Mandy– best doctors a person could ask for.  
 
So my update today wasn’t the brightest of ones. Today was a tough day. This week will be a tough week… my mind is inevitably going to wander and I’m going to have to try really REALLY hard to stay focused and positive. I never thought I’d say the words “I’m excited to get a bone marrow biopsy” but I’m excited to get a bone marrow biopsy. I want next week to come because I want to know what we have to face. Once we know what we’re facing, we can map out our plan of attack and get back to kicking some cancer ass.
 
But before I get back to kicking some ass, I’ll take a few extra prayers this week if you’ve got ’em. 🙂 
 
XOXO,
Jessy 
 
p.s.  a shoutout to my shitty friend leukemia— go eff yourself. 
p.s.s. another special shoutout to my lovely grandparents and great aunts and uncles– apologies for my cursing. 

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