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

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 

Lemons Into Lemonade

Lemons into LemonadeEveryone knows I love me some Bey. I tend to get a little crazy with it and I know this but the reality is, her music got me through some really tough patches and so I feel connected to her, as crazy diva as she may be. 
Her new album Lemonade came about about a month ago and I was lucky enough to hear it all live at her concert in Foxborough last Friday night. 
The more I listen the more I relate. No, I’ve never been in a romantic relationship that someone’s hurt me so badly- I’ve never dealt with infidelity but I know what it feels to be cheated on. 
When I was first diagnosed with leukemia, I felt like my body cheated on me. It let me down, it betrayed me. I had loved it and taken good care of it for 24 years and that’s how it repaid me? Her album talks about all the emotions that she felt during her struggle with her husband- how she felt angry, sad, overwhelmed, then went through grieving and forgiveness and the important process of feeling free again. 

My favorite verse from the album goes like this…

“They say true love’s the greatest weapon

To end the war caused by pain

But every diamond has imperfections 

But my love’s too pure to watch it chip away

Boy nothing real can be threatened

True love breathes salvation back into me

With every tear came redemption

And my torturer became my remedy”

And that couldn’t be more true. To me, it’s saying- SHITTTT that was hard. But you know what? I’m strong and the love that I have for myself (or in her case, him) is much stronger than any pain I could ever feel. It was my body that “tortured” me but it is me treating it with love and respect and understanding that has been my remedy. I honor it. 

I think the story of infidelity and betrayal is one that any human can relate to. We’ve all experienced it on some level or another. Betrayal, whether it be with a lover, family member, friend, workplace, or in my case, my body can be infuriating and beyond upsetting. Betrayed, in any form, hurts the soul. But if you can come to terms with it and choose to move past the negativity, it can make you a stronger person because of it. 

Now this is not my way of getting you to go listen to Lemonade but instead I hope that it’s just a good reminder of an important lesson in life… When you’re served lemons, always always make Lemonade. 🍋🍋🍋

Lots of love, light and SLAY BEY SLAY BEY,

Jessy


p.s. If you are looking for a pump-me-up song, you NEED ‘Freedom’ in your life. I literally March as if I’m in a step crew every time I hear it. 💃🏻💃🏻 sue me. 🙌🏼

P.p.s the video is her ending the show with Halo- the song that I sung to myself over and over and over during hard procedures or times during the past two years. Seeing her sing it live, with fireworks going off in the background was a moment that felt very surreal and one that I’ll never gorget. Very grateful. 

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

Choosing to Love


On my walk home tonight, there was a quote stuck to the underpass of a busy street in Somerville. At first I walked by not taking the time to read it and then it processed in my brain that that’s the reason why I walk, so I can enjoy life a little bit more than when I drive (and so I can avoid becoming a crazy person from Boston traffic) and to be able to appreciate all that surrounds me- even if it’s a busy street that littered with garbage. The paper read the quote “when we choose to love, we choose to move against fear, against alienation, and separation.” 

After taking a few pics because it’ll most likely be gone by tomorrow morning, I continued on my walk but let the words I read bounce around in my mind. Someone, whoever they are, felt so moved by these words that they posted them in a public place for others to enjoy. So I enjoyed the words. I thought about how choosing love can be hard sometimes- it sounds easier than it really is. You take a risk when you choose to open your heart and let people in- you inevitably allow your heart to be vulnerable as its openness allows for the opportunity for it to be broken, or hurt, or bruised. But by letting love in, you also take the chance that something magical happens, something so incredible, so fulfilling, so beautiful happens. Because when true love happens- it’s greater than any fear you could ever have. 

So to whoever posted that quote on the side of the McGrath Highway underpass, thank you. You made my day. 

Lots of love & light,

Jessy 

Give Me Summer

On my way to work the past two mornings, I’ve taken my sunglasses off and almost stumbled into the road as I keep putting my face up and towards the sun. I need the warmth. I want the Vitamin D. It’s time to get outside, I’m ready for it.

Happy FRIYAY everyone. Hope you had a wonderful week and an amazing weekend.

Lots of love &a light,

Jessy 

 

IMG_2709

I’m Free

Today, I cried some tears of joy but mostly, I smiled. I smiled because today I got my last infusion of chemotherapy. I smiled because I was told that after looking at over 1 million of my cells, ALL of them had been cleared of leukemia. I smiled because my nurse Andrea had a “Nuked the Leuk” shirt made for me. I smiled because there were 15 nurses and doctors waiting behind a curtain as I arrived to surprise me and give me hugs. I smiled because I was with Mike, my mom and my dad- the three people who were with me the night I was diagnosed and have been there for me every step of the way since. I smiled because I walked out of the doors of Dana-Farber and knew that it was my last time there as a patient. I smiled because I got given the greatest gift I could ever receive– a restored, renewed and beautiful life.

I smiled because my baby brother put together this video montage using pictures and videos that I’ve taken over the past two years. I had planned to post a bunch of pictures from today but I’ll do that later– right now this video has made me smile on the outside and on the inside.

Today, after 769 days, I crossed the finish line. Today, I was reminded of every single person that helped me get to this point- every friend, every family member, every nurse and doctor, every person who sent me a card or commented on my blog with well wishes- I thought of everyone. Today, I feel more blessed, more grateful, more humbled then I ever have in my life. Today I feel free… and I feel that because it’s true. I am free.

All my love & light,

Jessy

A Moment In Time Reminds

I’ve been looking through a lot of old pictures and videos today. I have tons of these videos, me by myself, talking about the day. This one struck me because I watch this and know how hard it was. I am so excited to #nuketheleuk but I think processing what a difficult journey this has been for me, helps me heal.

I’ve come a long way since this day, buzzed head sitting alone, looking out the window but these raw moments were the reality of my days. Not each one cheery or inspiring. 

On a brighter note, i got my second to last treatment today. Friday is the bone marrow biopsy and one week from tonight I will be a cancer treatment graduate. 

All my love & light, 

Jessy

Slainte 

  
Two years ago today, I crossed off the final mark on my “days down” whiteboard. I had started it during my first stint at the hospital after being diagnosed as I wanted to remind myself of the number of days I had been “locked up.” Then with a little Irish luck on my side, my counts crossed over the mark we were waiting for and I was released from the Brigham on St. Patrick’s Day 2014. Mike drove me home with my parents behind us and we celebrated with a pizza and salad from Reginas Pizzeria- my absolute favorite. I remember walking in that door with Mike, having left my house the morning of Februrary 20th just a normal day at work and hadn’t been back since. I was home. I didn’t cry when I walked in, I simply smiled. I felt so much pure joy to be in my house again. As Mike had stayed with me every night in the hospital, he too had not laid on our bed for almost a month. So we did. We jumped in our bed and just laid there together, so thankful that we were home. So grateful that God had granted me a second chance and that I was able to lay there beside him. We cuddled, and took in the moment before my parents came in with pizza. It was a moment I will never, ever forget. 

Today, I have 12 days left to go until I cross off my final “day” as a leukemia patient in active treatment. Two weeks from today, I will no longer be an “active” patient. My treatment plan will be over and I’ll be a patient in remission that has to go to the Dana for check-ups every 6 weeks- that’s it. And that’s incredible. 

I can’t believe it. I’ve decided I’m never erasing the top part of this board- it means too much. It brings back a lot of memories and it reminds me that as long and hard as the race looks originally, with a little resilience and a lot of faith, you can get thru just about anything.

#neuktheluke final campaign has officially begun. 

Lots of love & light,

Jessy 

The Hike

Last weekend I was lucky enough to spend two days doing one thing and one thing only– taking time for me. I spent my 27th birthday weekend at a yoga/health & wellness facility in Lenox, MA where I did a lot of different activities but one that I did over and over again was write in my journal. I took it just about everywhere and wrote down whatever popped into my head. A lot of good stuff came out– stuff that means something to me and stuff that I want to share here on my blog. So tonight I’m starting where I ended. This is my story of my hike in the Berkshires. 

mountains

The Ascent 

After a gentle yoga/Qi Quong class followed by an aromatherapy massage, I packed my car and got ready for my last little adventure — a guided hike. As I waited for the group to arrive and assemble, I began to feel like this wasn’t right for me. This is my trip— a time to be with my own thoughts and feelings and memories. I didn’t want to make small chat or slow down or speed up for anyone. I wanted this to be my last adventure at my own pace, with my music, my ability to stop and rest, take pictures, write and simply enjoy mother nature and all her goodness. So I grabbed a map of the trails surrounding Kripalu and chose to go to Monks Pond. I’ve been meditating like a modern day Monk all weekend and any option that puts me near water is a good one. So on my way I went. The trail has been really muddy as it’s 45 degrees in February. I feel so grateful as I only have yoga pants on, a long sleeve fleece and sunnies. I can breathe in crisp air but it’s not a stabbing that can come with deep winter colds. As I approach the pond, there looks to be an abandoned little shed and broken dock. But the water has frozen to a shimmery, star-dust blue— it’s breath taking. The sun is shining off and illuminating this frozen but alive body of water.

I look to my left and there’s a stunning stream that I can now see that runs all the way down the path I just marched up. Lucky for me, I’m all alone and no one is around so I’ve sat on a ledge next to the flowing water and am angled directly in the sunlight through the trees. The moving water is so calming and reinforces the fact that life goes on. It hits rocks, splashes up and down, freezes into sculptures at some places and runs wildly down others, crashes upon rocks and creates wade pools in others. But the water, this stream, it all continues to run together in a form that’s one. Each droplet of water essentially going to the same place— a bigger, greater, calmer body of water that is all one. I sit here on this rock and think about the stream I have gone down, all the water droplets that have given me the current I needed to keep flowing on. I feel as if I’m rounding the bend with this vast beautiful body of water that will await for me now in my current life but acts as just a foreshadow of the beautiful, completely blissful, full of love body of water that waits me, and all of us, one day.

For February 28, 2016, I can smell the new body of water coming… I can sense the sunshine beaming and I can feel the love all around me.

The Descent

Just as I sat there taking deep breaths and thinking calm and loving thoughts as the stream bubbled beside me, I slowly stood and decided it was time to head back. Almost instantaneously, I got excited— I got borderline panicky— like I needed to get back NOW. I knew that I had made it to where I wanted to go and now I was ready to come home. So I started picking up my pace— jogging, skipping, jumping over mud puddles but realized shortly that I wasn’t 100% sure where I was going. I was on a path— that was for sure— but I was alone, and I didn’t know which direction I was headed. All I knew was that I was walking and I was simply looking for the blue marks on the trees to tell me “it’s this way” “stay on the path.” Immediately, Dr. D and Dr. Mandy came into my head — the whole journey, I’ve been on a path, somewhat blindly putting my full trust into their guidance— sometimes no questions asked, simply looking toward the blue marker to say “go this way” or “turn down here.” Amidst this excitement, I began to skip again. More than anything I wanted to see the clearing. But I couldn’t. Not paying attention, I slipped and fell on ice and I could briefly hear my Dad say “slow it down Jess.” Then my favorite Florence & the Machine song came on — The Dog Days Are Over. That’s it! I thought. This is it— so I literally started dancing my way down the path with my gut knowing that I was coming to a clearing. I was right. But it was the same frozen Monks Pond I had started my “descent” on. 

Keep going— I could hear my mom say, “it’s just a little bit father.”

So I did just that and marched and marched, continuing on the path looking for all signs that pointed me “home” With two very muddy pink sneakers and a damp bum from falling, I made it to the Kripalu camp. Rested right above the hill overlooking the beautiful Berkshire mountains, the sun was just beginning to set. There were cars and people and buildings. Life is just like it was when I went into those woods, but I have a completely different perspective on the same view. 

I’m glad I didn’t go with the hiking guide and group. I needed to do this on my own. I needed to walk the path, stumble, get excited, get let down, and come to the beautiful clearing that I had hoped for, knowing that every ray of sunshine that beat down on my face was a family member reminding me they were here for me— every trail marker, a nurse or doctor letting me know I was doing okay — every breeze that tickled my face and made me laugh, a friend showing their support —  and the horizon at the end, my Michael, my love, I look at those mountains and see so many adventures to be had and memories to be made.

Today is February 28, 2016.

I am here.

I am now.

I am grateful.

I am proud.

I am hopeful.”

selfie with mountains

Lots of love and light,

Jessy