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

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A Lot Of Worry but a Little Light

This week has been hard. Harder than expected. What I would’ve expected is pure excitement, pure elation that the road is coming to an end. But instead, I’m feeling overwhelmed with a mix of emotions, most of them being sad and scared if  I am being totally truthful. 

Tonight is no different. Tonight I feel scared and I feel anxious. Tomorrow I will wake up and go to the Dana for my last scheduled bone marrow biopsy. I always become really nervous before these procedures since I find them really painful but more than that, I’m nervous of the results. I won’t find them out until next week, but tomorrow will be my last “check” for leukemia. The “what if’s” are worrying me. Well, it’s not exactly plural- it’s singular- it’s “what if there are still leukemia cells in my bones, in my blood?” I literally don’t know what I would do and I can’t bare to imagine it, but I keep imagining it. 

The flip side is that if the results come back negative and there is no such leukemia in my body…….. Well, there are no words for that. 

As I walked into my driveway tonight, I smiled to myself as a small flower has finally begun to pop through the dirt and show its colors. I photographed this same flower two years ago when I had returned home from the hospital as it reminded me of new beginnings. Today, it once again reminded me of new beginnings and a renewal of hope that I so desperately needed. There she goes, Mother Nature making her presence known and love felt. Always remember to look for the little signs. 

  
If I could request it one last time, I’ll take all the good vibes, prayers and positive energy tonight that you can spare. 

All my 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