Coming Off the Vacation High 

Welp, vacation is officially over. It’s back to work tomorrow morning. Back to inside all day, back to meetings, back to waking up early, back to long days. Back to “reality.” I hope that one day my day-to-day “reality” is something that I’m excited about and feel good about myself doing, but for now, I’m sure you can feel my level of excitement through my words– not thrilled. 

I did, however, do a good job concentrating on the days and moments I had while I was having them. Sometimes on vacations in the past, I’ve spent too much time thinking about how much time I have left or how much work I’ll have when I’m back but if thoughts like that entered my mind, I tried to bring my thoughts to what was going on right now instead of focusing on days ahead. It makes a difference.

So now, as I have begun to stress out about the week ahead and am beginning to feel like I’m drowning in negative thoughts, it’s time for me to remember what an amazing 10 days I’ve had. 

Days full of kayaking with my love.

   
    
 
Lobster, fried clams, clam chowder and more lobster.    

    
   
Days starting with Mary Lou’s Coffee every morning. 

  
 
Fishing off the dock.    

 Playtime with my favorite puppy    

    
   
Playtime with my beautiful, crazy, hilarious, sass monster of a niece.    

    
    
 
Swimming in the amazing ocean.    

    
   
Relaxing and taking in the gorgeous scenery around us. 

  
   
And overall, just enjoying moments with my wonderful family. 

    
    
    
    
    
 
It ended today with a day celebrating our little Princess Elle, who turns 4 this Wednesday. 

  
 
What a lucky lady I am. So many memories made this past week with the people that matter most to me. Blessed would be an understatement.

XOXO,

Jessy 

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Fleeting Moments

It’s been a rough few days, Mike’s mother unexpectedly passed away this weekend.

When I first met Michael, he was living with his mom. I remember when he told me why, how taken aback I was. Here’s a successful 29 year old, putting his life on hold to be there for his mom in more ways than I could imagine. To make her dinners, and keep her company. To get up in the morning and do aerobics with her to keep her active. To watch football games with her and just chat. It amazed me how selfless he was. But Michael wasn’t alone in this effort, never for a second. His brother and sister were right there with her every step of the way. Giving every part of themselves to help their mom. Giving everything they had to help her live a better life — those three, together, are a true inspiration.

Rosemary lived a hard life. She struggled severely from mental disabilities, some that were inaccurately diagnosed which led to additional issues. I only knew her for three years but I felt for her, as so many of her issues she was unable to control. She was hard to understand at times but there’s a few things I knew about her for sure — she loved shrimp cocktail and italian cookies, she loved watching football and she loved her adorable granddaughters. One last thing I know is true is that she raised three amazing children. Three people that are strong, smart, beautiful, funny and caring. The three of them stick together through thick and thin and are always there for each other, no matter what. She raised a true family.

Life is but a fleeting moment. Moments strung together in the memory of your mind. Moments that define you, moments that shape you. What makes those moments magical are the people in the memories. The laughter, the silliness, the joy, the tears, the hugs & kisses, the smiles. With every moment in life, we are tested, some times much harder than others, but always tested. And with every test, we should grow, we should learn and we should become better people. When you lose someone important to you, who’s made an impact in your life, it can be difficult to remember that life is good, as you feel the pain that surmounts atop you and pushes down on your chest. You’re reminded how short life is, how nothing should be taken for granted and that tomorrow is never promised. With such a harsh reality, sometimes it’s hard to stay positive. But those moments strung together, those life-altering memories, are what can help pull you for air, just when you need it most. So remember the moments, cherish the memories. Because after all, memories are one of life’s biggest gifts.

To the woman that gave me the love of my life, thank you. I am forever grateful.

XOXO,
Jessy

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One Year Ago Today

A year ago today, I woke up like it was any other day. Got dressed for work and headed to Framingham. That would be the last time I go to work for 11 months. Later that day, while sitting in a team meeting, I would begin to get shooting pains down my back and legs so bad that I could barely stay in my seat. I hurried back to my desk to try to walk it out but nothing worked. Within a few minutes, I found myself in a maternity room downstairs rolling around in pain on the floor and calling my mom hysterically crying. At that point, I would call my friend Amanda and ask her to drive me to the hospital. It was an abnormally beautiful February day (nothing like today) and we were able to put the windows down. I remember laughing and making jokes through the pain and putting my face towards the sun and really feeling it on my face, feeling the wind go through my hair. Although I had no clue what was about to happen, I remember the car ride so vividly and feeling a sense of surrealness while making our way to the hospital. We waited there for quite sometime and then my dad came through the door. We finally got taken into a room where I was told, for the what seemed like 100th time, that I just had back pain, most likely sciatica nerve pain. I was then brought into a room where I was able to start listing off the additional ailments that had been going on; nose bleeds, bruises, blood blisters, headaches. Quickly that got the attention of the doctor and they immediately wanted to take bloodwork. At that point, Mike had showed up. A few minutes later, my mom showed up and we both instantly started crying when she gave me a hug. It was like we knew, something was about to go wrong. Maybe our lives were about to be turned upside down. And then it was. A doctor walked in the room and precisely asked my family members to leave. I knew that wasn’t a good sign. She then sat down next to me and took my hand as she said the words that the blood work had come back and it appeared that I had leukemia. I was stunned. I didn’t cry, I didn’t hyperventilate. I was still…numb. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, I couldn’t believe the words she had just said. And what I couldn’t do is tell my family. So that’s when I asked her to please call my family back in and be the ones to tell them. I’ll never forget the look on Mike’s face when she said the words that I had leukemia. It was the worst thing I had ever seen, and I think the worst thing I’ll ever see. It was a face of sadness, panic, pure worry. It was like looking in a mirror of what I was feeling. Then it all became a whirlwind. We had to pick a hospital to go to and my mom and I got in the back of an ambulance and I was rushed over to the Brigham. At that point, I had no idea that I wouldn’t feel fresh air for almost a month. I also had no idea that I was about to meet some of the most genuine, caring and wonderful individuals I would ever have the pleasure of knowing. One waiting for me in the emergency room. My very own angel, Dr. Mandy. She stood there as I got wheeled in and immediately took my hand and looked into my eyes. She could tell how scared I was, how overwhelmed myself and my whole family was. And she reassured us that everything would be okay. She held my hand the whole time she talked and told me that she was going to cure me, she was going to make me better. And although I had only known her for a few short minutes, I believed everything she said. I instantly trusted her with my life. I would then get taken up to a holding area for the night, that had a lovely metal toilet right next to my bed. That would be the first night that Mike would stay with me, he didn’t leave my side for the next 27 days. He would barely sleep that night. With plenty of drugs, I would sleep on and off the rest of the night and wake up the next morning to get hours and hours of tests done to see exactly what strand of leukemia I had. It’d be a painful, long day but a day that would end up telling me that, Dr. Mandy was right– everything was going to be okay.

That was all a year ago today. Last year when it was all happening, I knew what was going on, but I was in crisis mode, a shell of a person, just trying to do whatever I could to get myself better. I was surrounded by family, friends, nurses and doctors at all times so there wasn’t that much time to reflect. A year later, and I feel like it’s important for me to remember exactly what last year on this day entailed. It almost doesn’t feel real that an entire year has passed. It was by far the hardest year of my life, most trying and difficult time I’ve ever experienced. But I also learned so much about life, about the wonderful people in mine and the things that are truly important. Things I never would’ve realized without this journey; it’s a journey I never would have asked for but as I march through it, I realize that I’m so blessed. I’m still here a year later, I’m about to turn 26 and all my labs look great. What more could I ask for? Absolutely nothing. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that health is everything. Today is a sad day as I reflect on how my life changed so drastically but it also is a good day, I’m so much healthier than I was a year ago today. I’ve made it so far in a year and I have so much to be thankful for.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all those who have reached out with kind words, prayed for me, sent me positive vibes, cards, care packages, and simply shown me love in the past year. I cannot tell you how much it has all meant to me and what a difference it truly made. I love you all.
XOXO,
Jessy
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You’ve Got Mail

Last night, Mike and I got home from a VERY early dinner and found ourselves watching “You’ve Got Mail” with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. It’s such a good, truly romantic movie, and one that I had never seen until last year. I realized while watching it last night, as the snow came tumbling down outside, that it was a year ago that Mike was in New Orleans for a bachelor party and I was home by myself watching this movie having a glass of white wine. A year ago, I had no idea what was about to come my way. As I sat there on the couch, I remember feeling fully stressed at what was “happening” to me. I knew something was wrong, I was in agony about every other day with shooting pains down my back and legs making me unable to not only walk but do anything but roll around in bed and yell in pain. I was having nose bleeds regularly and blood blisters on my lips. I had bruises all over my body that had no reason for being there. And I had headaches so bad, I started keeping a neck pillow in my car so I could have some sort of relief as I drove to and from work. But as worried as I felt, I truly couldn’t have imagined the news I was about to hear and the year I was about to have.

In “You’ve Got Mail,” Meg Ryan’s book store is forced to close down due to a large, conglomerate book store opening up just down the street. She’s tormented with the fact that the life she had envisioned for herself and grown accustomed to, is so abruptly taken away from her. As I watched last night, I empathized with her character so much more deeply than I had just one year ago, as our stories are not the same but I so understood how she felt getting her “life” ripped away from her. But by the end of the movie, she’s making the best out of a bad situation and turns out to be writing her own book and allows herself to truly follow her butterflies and finds herself in the arms of Tom Hanks. She lets life take the reigns and it leads her to happiness. That’s what I’m still trying to do, trying to let life take the reigns, follow the things that give me butterflies in life. Because one thing I’ve learned in this past year is that life’s too short, too precious and too unpredictable; you’ve really got to enjoy each day for what it is. Whether it’s a good day or bad day, just appreciate the day. Appreciate it because you’re lucky to be here and lucky to have what you do.
XOXO,
Jessy

Sunday Thanks

March 29, 2014

This Sunday I’m thankful for:

1. The internet – yesterday I couldn’t connect to the internet and I have to admit, being stuck in a hospital room and unable to check email, go on Facebook, blog, read Buzzfeed, connect to Spotify or watch YouTube videos literally blew my mind. Like what the eff am I supposed to do?!? It made me realize how lucky I am to be going through this experience during a time period that not only gives me the ability to stay entertained but also allows me to stay connected to the people and things I love.
2. Pizza– I’ve been thankful for this glorious piece of life since I was in the womb but last night and today I’m extra thankful. Since I’ve been getting nauseous recently I’ve lost my appetite for some foods. But not pizza. Had it last night. Having it cold again right now and it’s always, always a win.
3. Soft Jammie’s– chemo is uncomfortable. Simple as that. But putting on comfy cozy pajamas isn’t. And I’ve been spoiled with about 20 new pairs of unbelievable new jams. So every time I slip on a soft pair of my fashionable new pajamas, I think “this feels good. Damn good.”

What are you thankful for today? I want to hear! I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend and has a fabulous week ahead!

XOXO,
Jessy

Sunday Thanks

I’ve decided I’m going to try to do a post every Sunday and talk about three things I’m thankful for that day. Not all serious or “important” but just little things in my life… right now, that I’m feeling lucky to have. 
 
So here goes for March 23rd…
 
1. March Madness- I’ve always enjoyed the tournament but this year I’m in a few different brackets and seeing as I’m literally home all day I’ve been able to watch almost every game. And this specific year, there’s been some fantastic basketball. Tons of buzzer beater endings, a few that have not gone in my favor but in general, really exciting games. When choosing my teams, I like to have a few underdogs go far because if it happens, it’s so much fun. This year, I decided to go with number 10 seed, BYU to go to the Final Four on account of the word “Juggernaut” being used in their CBS team description. Unfortunately for me, that tactic failed in the first round and I’m now left with just a great team name….#JuggernautJessy. Three different leagues. All #JuggernautJessy. All with the exact same bracket. So right now, as you can see below, I’m pulling HARD for Iowa State. Huge Cyclones fan.   
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2. Living close to my family – when I was about to graduate from the University of Tampa, I felt very torn about whether or not to stay in Florida. I loved that city and all its gorgeous-weather perks but in the end, I decided to come back to New England because I knew I wanted to be close to my family in order to be here for all the little things in life that I knew I wouldn’t want to miss out on. Never have I been happier or more thankful that I made that decision. I couldn’t have gotten through this past month, and wouldn’t be able to get through this next chapter of my life, without them here by my side. Yesterday that lesson rang true yet again when we were able to have a very special day as a family, all together, to re-celebrate my 25th birthday, St. Patricks Day and celebrate my Dad’s 57th birthday.
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3. Bagels and cream cheese- pretty self explanatory but hot damn have I been on a roll with them lately. In my normal life, I typically have yogurt and granola every morning for breakfast but with my appetite out of this world and my body torching calories at a ridiculous rate, I’ve switched over to these savory and absolutely scrumptious morning delights. Asiago anyone? 
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What are you thankful for on this first Sunday in Spring? I hope it’s something fabulous! 
 
XOXO, 
Jessy 

The Next Chapter

Monday afternoon I walked outside for the first time in 25 days and although too cold for my liking, it was the freshest, most crisp air I’ve ever breathed into my little lungs. Getting to sit next to Mike as we drove home through our fabulous city made me the happiest, proudest Bostonian to have ever lived. Stepping into our home was overwhelming but beautiful at the same time. I felt a sense of relief and gratitude that I was able to be in my own home again, as I know not everyone dealt this hand is always as fortunate. Then together Mike and I jumped into the most gloriously comfortable bed I’ve ever laid in and spent a few minutes simply enjoying being together in our home and in our bed. It was a moment I’ll never forget. 
 
And then there was Pizzeria Regina’s. Never have I shoveled food such like a wild animal in my life but I wouldn’t have done it any other way. Buffalo chicken pizza. Pineapple & prosciutto pizza. Mediterranean Greek Salad. 
Nom. Nom. Nom. 
 
With all the excitement of being home, there also came a very daunting feeling. Because as I woke up in my own bed yesterday morning and everything in my home was physically the same, nothing was the same. The last time I woke up in this bed I went to work like every other day not knowing what life was about to hand me. Since that day, my life has flipped upside down. And while I do truly believe everything happens for a reason and this is just a difficult chapter in what is an amazing life…it’s going to be hard. Really, really hard. 
 
But lucky for me, as with every other day so far in my small journey, my family (that includes you Mr. Stevens) was here to pull me up and help me see all that I am lucky to have. And that it’s not just my life that’s changed but all those that I love lives that changed. And that we’re in this hard, long road together. 
 
Today I had my first visit as an outpatient and it went really smoothly– my doctors and nurses, per usual, were amazing and made me feel comfortable and calm. As scary and new as this experience is to me, they constantly remind me that they do this every single day and are the absolute best at what they do– the reassuring feeling this creates is invaluable. While I was in the hospital, I’m not going to lie, I was going absolutely insane over the terrible food… I watched literally hours and hours of the Food Network (I know, I know I’m as masochist), so after a long but successful morning, Mike and I found a spot that was featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives hosted by my idol Guy Fieri and treated ourselves to some of the most delicious sandwiches I’ve ever eaten. Wooooo chil’ they were good! 
 
So now I don’t have to go back to the hospital until next Wednesday where I will get a bunch of treatments done including my second bone marrow pull. REALLY not looking forward to that but it will tell us something very important– if my leukemia cells have disappeared! And that, that’s some news I want to find out! Until then, I will keep on keepin’ on and enjoying all the little things in life… like silky sheets, snap chatting with The Voice (yup, did that last night), going for walks, painting my nails, looking at old pictures and of course, eating dynamite food. 
 
Happy Hump Day everyone– hope it’s a fabulous week so far! 
 
Xoxo,
Jessy 
 
P.S. I had cold pineapple and prosciutto pizza for breakfast yesterday morning and I didn’t feel one iota of guilt. Probably doing it again tomorrow. 
Sue me.