The Beauty of Being Blind

To my amazement, over the past year and a half, I’ve continued to receive Smile Cards on a regular basis to take to the Brigham. Sometimes they’re from friends or family but more often than not, they’re from individuals or groups that I’m not associated with or know personally. Upon returning from the Cape on Saturday, I was immediately greeted with two batches of cards from different people. After we unpacked, I started reading thru them and, as I always am, I was moved by the kind words these strangers were writing to patients. But as I was reading through them, my mind wandered to the many tragic events that have unfolded in our country and throughout the world in the past month. It struck me, quite poignantly, that the many children and adults writing these cards don’t know who they’re writing to so they certainly don’t know the patients’ race or religion or gender or sexuality. They just know that they’re a human being. A human being in need of some support and so they selflessly offer their love, prayers and healing thoughts to complete and total strangers.

I wish that we could all see the world like the people who write these smile cards do…blind to the labels society puts on people. Blind to whether or not the person is voting for Hillary or Trump, blind to what kind of car they drive or what God they believe in or whether they’re gay or straight or transgender. They’re blind to it all; all except the fact that there’s a human being on the other end of that card, there’s a human being in a hospital bed that has a family and friends that love them. In the end, isn’t that all we really need to know? A person, just like us, is in need… We should help. 
It’s time we see people truly for the heart that beats within them.
Thank you to every single person who has written a Smile Card over the past year and a half. You’re making the world a more caring place. Keep them coming!
Lots of love & light,

Jessy

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

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

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