Super-Heroes 

As many of you know, my mom works for a small Catholic elementary school in New Hampshire. My brother went to school there, my aunt is on their board and my mother was a kindergarten teacher for 10 years before becoming Vice Principal. It’s a very close-knit community and one that my family has a long-standing relationship with. So, when I was diagnosed in 2014, the entire school, from teachers to parents to students rallied around my mom, myself and my family to show their support and love. Being a Catholic school, the students began praying for me weekly, asking God to “heal Mrs. Kathy’s” daughter. Every single child at Mount St. Mary’s Academy did this for me… for over two years. If that’s not good karma, I don’t know what is. So when the kindergartners found out that I had completed treatment this March, that God had “cured” me, they made me cards and a beautiful handmade Super Woman Cape. I was blown away by this gesture. I’m definitely not a super-hero, I did what I had to do and was the only option I had. But the fact that these little girls and boys thought I was some sort of super hero warmed my heart more than I can ever describe.
So about 3 weeks ago, I got the chance to go meet every single one of those students, wearing not just my cape but the biggest smile on my face. I was lucky enough to spend the entire day with these incredible little humans who are so full of life, so innocent but so smart, and so funny and so loving! They didn’t have any filter and didn’t think twice when they asked me questions like “Why did I get cancer?” “Do people look at you different when you don’t have hair?” “Does chemo hurt?” “How did it feel to find out you have cancer?” Some of these questions I’ve literally never been asked before because I think adults would be shy or feel rude to ask such direct questions but the reality is, is that those questions are real, they’re honest and above all, they’re human. I learned so much from these incredible kids and they instantaneously became my super heroes.
It’s a true blessing to get to be surrounded by children, and we should all open our minds to really learning from them more often Because as Shakespeare once said…


Lots of love & light,

Jessy

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

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 

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

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

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

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

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

Jessy 

You Win Some You Lose Some

Today I won a little and I lost a little. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So next week, we just try again. 

Lots of love & light, 

Jessy 

Grateful for the Now

So much of our lives are spent wishing for the next thing. When you don’t have a boyfriend, you wish you were in a relationship. When you have a boyfriend, you wish you were engaged. When you’re engaged you can’t wait to get married and have all that stressful planning done and over with! It’s always on-to-the-next and I’m fully guilty of this. Certainly, I am guilty of this lately — I think almost daily about how much I can’t wait for this time period of my life to be over. How I can’t wait until I’m “normal” again. I can’t wait until I can have drinks again. I can’t wait until I don’t have chemo treatments every week. I can’t wait until this damn port is out of my chest. I can’t wait to have a dog. I can’t wait to get rid of my commute.
I can’t wait. I can’t wait. I can’t wait.
I’m literally wishing away my life because it’s “hard” right now. Then I sit and think about it and I realize that it’s always going to be hard. Life is always going to have bumps in the road and obstacles to get over… you don’t go over one big wave and then have smooth sailing the rest of the ride. Navigating those rocky waves is part of being human. So although my hope is that this time in my life is particularly difficult, I need to stop pretending like this is the only difficult thing that I will experience in my life. What I really need to do is start living in the now and appreciating the day in front of me. I feel like this expression, “life in the moment,” is so overused and rarely ever acted upon but it’s the only way to say it. You truly have to embrace each day and feel grateful to be in it. Because as wonderful as tomorrow looks today, who knows if you’ll ever get there? That sounds bleak but it’s the truth. Tomorrow isn’t promised so if you spend all of today looking forward to tomorrow, you’ll never enjoy the sunshine that’s beating down on you RIGHT NOW.
Saying this and living this are two different things. It takes practice and a lot of actual effort to truly feel happy, to whole-heartedly embrace the day. I’ve realized that being happy isn’t something that just happens, you have to make a conscious effort to attain it. I believe that having gratitude for the things in your life and being grateful for the many blessings that you have, really helps in feeling that true joy we’re all looking for. I’ve been putting a conscious effort to act on this lately and have found that a few easy practices, have helped me take on each day with a better mindset.
that I have found helpful is meditating for a few minutes in the morning before I get out of bed. My type of meditating doesn’t consist of any “om-ing” or special rituals that take a considerable amount of time. Rather for just a few minutes before getting out of bed in the morning, I sit up straight with my legs crossed, close my eyes and think about how grateful I am for this day, how grateful I am for my life and the people in my life. Doing this starts the day off on a positive note– it is a reminder to feel thankful for simply being alive and getting to live this day.
Another thing I’ve been trying to do more often is to take deep breaths. I know this sounds so simple but it can be so impactful. It physically calms your body down when you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed out. Breathing deeply in through your nose and slowly out through your nose, can help reduce anxiety, which I think we all so desperately can use. While I’m doing this, I often say to myself, “I am strong. I am loved and I will get through this.” These three sentences have sort of become my mantra that I’ve been saying in my head since about February 21, 2014 but yours can be whatever you want. Whatever makes you feel more at ease, gives you confidence and makes you feel like you can get through whatever life is handing you. And the beauty about pairing deep breathing with a personal affirmation is that it can be done anytime, anywhere.
The last thing that I’ve found helps to ground you and bring your mind to the present moment is to look up at the sky. Really look. Throw your head back and look up at its beautiful openness. See how big it is. Think about how small you are in the world compared to it. It’s a humbling feeling and I find that it helps to give you a sense of much-needed perspective.
That being said, I don’t want to act like I don’t see the importance of planning ahead or being excited for the future. Being excited for what’s to come is what motivates us and gets us to push ourselves to be the best we can be so our tomorrow can be even better than today! It’s just important to remember to be grateful for the now, TOO. Be grateful for THIS moment. Even if it’s a hard moment, be grateful for it. It might be tough but it’s making you stronger. Be grateful for that. Simply said, be grateful for your life — it’s a beautiful one.
So, just like my gorgeous little Leni bear, I hope that every day you stop and take time to smell the flowers blooming right outside your window.
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Lots of love and light,
Jessy
p.s. I’ll probably have to reread this tomorrow when I’m sitting at work, wishing for the weekend. But hey! It’s all about making the effort.

Stay Hopeful Stay Humble

I came home to the most beautiful and meaningful present I’ve received in quite some time. Maybe ever! My beautiful and thoughtful friend Maija sent me a “lokai” bracelet. On it, there is a black bead that holds mud from The Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth. This signifies the difficult moments you experience throughout life and reminds you to stay hopeful even at life’s lowest moments. It also has a white bead that carries water from Mount Everest, the highest point on earth. This bead signifies life’s highest moments. It’s those times when you’re feeling on top of the world, that it’s important to stay humble.

Secretly (or maybe not so secretly, who knows) I’ve been having a little bit of a hard time mentally lately. I’ve been feeling like this journey is never ending; like I’ll never get back to my life, get back to my normal. So after a long day at work, coming home to find this on the table was the most wonderful thing I could have ever asked for and just what I needed. It made me feel so loved and so lucky. Because I am lucky. Yes, I am going through something difficult, but so does everybody in life. What’s important is that you remain positive and remember that things will get better. Hope is an invaluable feeling and this bracelet will be a daily reminder to be just that, hopeful and humble. 

Thank you to my beautiful Mai Tie, I am so lucky to have you in my life. 

Lots of love & light,

Jessy