Never Hurts to Try

On Tuesday night at around 9pm, my mom called. I was worried at first– why is she calling so late on a work night? So I picked up a little panicky. And then she sounded panicked.

She had a teacher workshop at her school on Friday that she was running and the health and wellness speaker that they had scheduled had just backed out.

And then she said, would you be able to do it?

At first, I felt like was she calling the wrong daughter. I’m not a motivational speaker and I have a lot of experiences but I don’t have any certifications in any sort of health and wellness fields. So I told her I’d think about it and let her know the next day.

And then I thought. I thought about the oratorical contest I had signed up for in middle school and won. I thought about a business presentation I had done in college to a start-up company and won. I thought about the speech I made at my alma mater two years ago in front of hundreds of students and the speech I made last year to a bunch of golfers that work for corporate Applebees discussing the importance of raising money for Dana-Farber. Then I thought about the interview I had done on NESN before the Red Sox game. And as I thought about each of those experiences, I remembered, I actually like public speaking and just maybe, I’m not that bad at it.

And then, I got excited. I thrive off these sort of things… pressure filled objectives. But I was still weighing it in my head because the reality is, I’m not a professional speaker. I’m not a therapist, or yoga teacher or medical professional by any means so would the teachers of this school think me preaching to them about life be a little ridiculous?

But as I was going back and forth, a little birdy flew into my head and said, “what does it hurt? what do you have to lose?”

So I called my mom and said I’d do it. I might be only 28 years old but I have gone through a lot and I am confident that I could teach someone in that room something. Even if it was just one person and one thing, I was sure I could teach something.

I then spent Wednesday and Thursday writing and editing a presentation that would touch upon my cancer diagnosis and the insights that I garnered from that two year life event. I talked about different tactics that have helped me in coping with stress and healing the pain and anxiety a diagnosis brings — or any sort of emotional uprising brings. So I wrote and then I edited and then I practiced to Phoebe. I give her a C+ for her audience abilities. She doesn’t do much listening, rather more playing but she’s so darn cute, if I could win her over, I could win anybody over.

So this morning, I did it. I went to that school and I spoke about my experiences and how I think what I’ve learned can be brought into the classroom and into those teachers lives on a daily basis — like yoga, meditation, mantras, deep breathing, taking care of yourself. And it was SO fun. My hope is that the small audience I spoke in front of enjoyed the hour presentation and were able to take a way at least one thing to brighten their own lives. But even if they don’t, I know I took a lot away from this experience.

I took a chance. I said yes to something that I didn’t think I was qualified for. And by doing that, I opened a new door of possibilities to myself and met a lot of kind, loving people while doing it.

So as you go into this weekend, remember to keep your heart open. Remember to keep your MIND open to new opportunities. Sometimes, the things that scare you the most are the best things that ever happen to you.

Lots of love & light,

Jessy

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American Ninja Warriors 

A year ago, my little body was starting to shut down a bit when it came to my pancreas and liver. I was sitting in a hospital room, hooked up on so many pain meds, being flushed with so much fluids, I was unable to not only get out of bed but unable to move myself up or down without the help of others. This would happen time and time again until February 2015 (knock on wood, it never happens again). During these bouts, I would end up having to use walkers, canes and go through physical therapy to “learn” how to walk again. But my body is strong and I’ve learned that so is my mind. With a good attitude and determination, you can do just about anything. 

So yesterday, I completed a 5K race with three of my favorite people in the world. I certainly didn’t run the whole time, but I had a blast and did the best I could do. The greatest part of this race? 10 inflatable obstacles to throw yourself into, bounce and slide down. I pretended I was an American Ninja (princess) warrior and laughed my ass off the entire time. Laughing is the best ab workout, anyways right? 

 How grateful I feel to be strong enough to complete a physical challenge like this. 🙏🏼   
 
   
 Happy Sunday, loves! Enjoy your day. 

XOXO, 

Jessy 

A Golden Birthday

A year ago today, I turned 25. A year ago today, I received the first round of my chemo cocktail. A year ago today, I started the journey that was my 25th year of life. And it was a hard one. The hardest one yet. Today, as I turn 26 on the 26th, I’m so grateful to be where I am at this moment. Turning a quarter century old, I wasn’t yet sure if I would be cured, if I would respond to my treatment plan, if I would live to see 26. I like to think that in my heart of hearts I knew I would beat this and I would win, but to be truthful, there is always that “what if” in the back of your head. But today I’m stronger and so much healthier than I was a year ago today. Today I know I’m going to be okay, that I still have a long road to walk but that I can do it and that I will do it. Today, instead of being in the hospital, eating the single worst meal of my life (an absolutely nauseating chicken stir fry), I’m going to be busy at work and then spending the night with my mom, dad and Michael at a delicious restaurant in Somerville! We will cheers over a delicious cocktail called the Dorchester (pink lemonade, vodka & a cucumber…so good!) and we will celebrate all that we overcame together in year 25 and toast to a healthier, easier, and just plain better year 26.
As I’ve said so many times, this situation has taught me such a great deal, but none more than how truly blessed I am for the support system that I have. My birthday seemed to come early this year when last week on my one year “anniversary,” #inspirationaljessy stories starting popping up on my newsfeed. SO many people reached out…close friends and family, previous coworkers, people I haven’t talked to in years, people I’ve never met at all but read my blog. It was incredible. It made what was supposed to be a day of sadness, a day of celebration and happiness. The love I felt on that day was something I will never, ever forget and I thank each and every one of you who made it so special. It was the best birthday present I could ever have asked for.
People say turning 26 on the 26th means it’s your “Golden Birthday” and I think there couldn’t be a better time to have a golden birthday. So my birthday wish is to to have a golden year, one that sparkles and shines, one that brings out the best in me and allows me to help others, one that continues on my road to recovery. My wish is that this year is truly magical. Because a girl can dream, can’t she?
XOXO,
Jessy
p.s. yesterday at clinic, my amazing nurses surprised me with a beautiful birthday cake and “happy birthday” sing-a-long. It was so sweet and absolutely made my day so wanted to share some pics!
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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.