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,
March 26, 2016.
This is going to be a big day for me. This is the day I will have my last treatment of chemotherapy. I will walk into Dana-Farber, see the most amazing people in the world, get an infusion of cancer-killing, leukemia sucking drugs and then I will walk out, head held high and I’ll be damned if I ever walk into Yawkey 8 as a patient again.
It will be a day I waited 764 days for.
This Wednesday, I sat in the chair next to Dr. D and when he asked if I had anything else I wanted to talk about, I just blurted out, “when does it end?” “Can I have a date?” “I need a date!.” Honestly, I really didn’t think he was going to be able to pin point it for me, but he pulled up his calendar and did just that. It was so what I needed. I’m so grateful that I’ve made it through over a year of this battle but I’ve been feeling overwhelmed lately with how much longer I have to go. It’s different having pieces of your life back, like work and exercising but knowing that you’re still sick, that you still have a long way to go to make it out of the woods. Knowing the date gives me something to look forward to. To set my mind to. A much-needed finish line in my own little marathon.
Today is National Cancer Survivors Day– I don’t fit into this quite yet because I’m only half way there. i’m in remission, but I’m not cured. I have survived a lot in the past year but I haven’t gotten through it all. Next year at this time, I will feel incredible relief and gratitude if I am lucky enough to go for a walk on a beautiful June day and know that I’m two months passed my last chemo infusion. Two months into the rest of my life. It will feel unbelievable to be a survivor.
So let the countdown begin. 292 days to go.
Today might have been a snow day in the office but there’s no such thing when it comes to staying on track of your chemo regimine. So this morning, we bundled up, put on our boots and brazed the snow-laden streets to get over to the Dana Farber. It was a relatively long day as I had to meet with an anesthesiologist for a day-surgery I’m having done on Friday, in addition to getting my normal dose of chemo.
Over the past month, I’ve began losing my hair… again. It’s obviously a lot less drastic than when I originally lost it, but it’s been slowly falling out and I’m starting to stress out. I just can’t imagine having to be bald again (even though #baldisbeautiful. S/O Michael!) Oddly enough, some days are better than others; there are days I barely lose any and others that it falls out each time I run my fingers through my short locks. Today was one of those days. Every morning, I look on pillow to see how much is gone and this morning, there was a bunch. It sucks… flat out. I have been so excited about having hair back. Do I miss my long hair? Absa-freaking-lutely. But I’ll take when I can get and have felt so good about not having to wear head wraps or hats or wigs every time I step out of the house. Plus, being back at work, I want to feel as normal as possible and head wraps are just not normal… reality of the situation. I’m hopeful that it’s just thinning and it won’t be too noticeable but I really don’t know what the future will hold. And that’s enough to overwhelm me each and every time I look in the mirror.
More importantly, in the past few months, I’ve had three close people in my life get diagnosed with cancer; a good friend who is a new mother to the most handsome little boy, my beautiful, hardworking cousin and my loving, funny and beautiful Nanny. This sounds crazy and I know that it’s not how life works, but I almost felt like when I was diagnosed, I must’ve “taken the bullet” for my group of friends and family. But as I learned quickly, that’s just not the case. As I chatted with my cousin this week who is starting to lose her hair, I was catapulted back into the harsh reality of the day I buzzed my head. It was so hard (as I mentioned above, it still is), it was so shocking to see myself in that light… to truly look in the mirror and see a sick person. It’s just so unfair. Why during all these hardships, do patients have to also lose something that defines them so greatly, too? It makes life harder in an already extremely difficult time. But what I’ve also realized while watching these amazing women battle through their own struggles, is where I obtained my own strength. I’ve got a a hell of a lot of tough people in my life, including these three and they inspire me everyday. They’re beautiful and strong and true warrior princesses. Cancer is everywhere, it truly affects everyone in some way or the other and I’ve learned that as cancer survivors (because that’s what we all will be), we need to stick together and find a cure for this terrible, terrible disease.
Cheers to living life to the fullest. Cheers to beating cancer. Cheers to a cure.
p.s. throwing it back to my #baldisbeautiful days and to hoping that those days are only a thing of the past. #KissMySass
Every working human being knows the exciting feeling of FRIDAY. Today, I feel that tenfold. Today is my “first” Friday being back and I couldn’t be happier about it. It’s been a busy but important week in terms of getting my life back. Work has felt a bit overwhelming but I’m taking it one step at a time and already starting to feel back into the swing of things. So this morning as I was sitting in awesome traffic, I couldn’t help but dance around when that new Bruno Mars song came on. (It’s just TOO good).
On an even better note, I got my results from the biopsy and spinal tap I had done the previous week. I am….. Drum roll please………….Leukemia free!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I couldn’t be more relieved or blessed to still be in remission. So the march keeps on and we continue to kick some lousy cancer ass!
Well peeps, it’s time to start the day. I hope you have a FABULOUS Friday and remember to dance when you can! 🙂
Disclaimer: This is not a sunny post. I need to get out how I’m feeling right now and right now, I’m a little cloudy… cloudy with no chance of North End meatballs.
Yesterday I received extremely positive news— I’m officially in remission! REMISSION!!! Meaning that when they pulled my bone marrow on Wednesday, it came back clear of any cancer cells. Hallelujah! However, factually, they know that if we do not continue to fight the cancer cells they will absolutely come back. So continue to fight we will.
But I found myself unable to truly feel the excitement that should have accompanied this amazing news. News that my body is kicking some serious ass. News that I am going to live. L-I-V-E. This is huge news, obviously, but I felt so little relief. I had become overwhelmed with emotional and physical pain yesterday. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were, to say it simply…a lot. I had prepared myself for Wednesday but not Thursday and Friday. I hadn’t understood that I would be back in the hospital so quickly and was feeling so frustrated about it. I also hadn’t been able to prep myself for how I would physically feel… which was terrible. My whole body ached. Every joint hurt when I moved, or laughed. My head felt like a tractor trailer was sitting on top of it— and the only thing that brought any relief was to sit in the dark (and lets face it, I’m all about that light!) And then the nausea started and I couldn’t keep anything down. And throwing up sucks. No better way to put it.
So after blood being drawn, an ultra sound of my stomach and back, a check-in with my doctor and six hours of being in one out-patient room to get a few rounds of chemo, I finally was being transported by wheel chair to the overnight room I’ll be in for the next few days. With a splitting headache and my mom holding my hand, I began to get extremely nauseous and became “that person” getting wheeled by a stranger while puking their brains out into a plastic bucket. Crying. It was one of those moments. A moment I don’t think I’ll ever forget because I’m not sure I’ve ever felt lower or more beaten in my life. Not because of the pain but because of the way it made me feel about myself. It was embarrassing and down right demoralizing. I wanted nothing more than to grab Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak and hide. Better yet, I wanted to wake up from what I feel like is a horrible nightmare. But I can’t. Because it’s not a nightmare, it’s my life right now. And as much as that sucks, it’s life. It’s my life and it’s still a good one. In fact, it’s a great one. And I’m lucky to be here. Even in low moments like that one.
Around midnight I was able to get on medication for what was causing all my symptoms and it’s helped a lot. At 3am I got hooked up to a type of chemo that runs into my veins for 24 hours straight… so I’ll be here at the Brigham for a while but feeling much better today am going to try to do some things I enjoy. Like blog. and paint. and sleep— hopefully!
So all-in-all, not my favorite few day but those days are now in the past and that means I’m one step closer to winning this game. I thought I’d leave you with a fab quote that my dad said yesterday as he sat by my side all day, 9am to 10pm. As the true sports announcer he is, he compared my remission news into a perfect Boston sports analogy… “When the C’s were murdering the Lakers in Game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals, they didn’t stop playing hard at the half when they were ahead by over 20. They kept fighting and kept playing their asses off until the buzzer hit 00:00 because they knew that’s what they had to do to win the game.” And win they did… by a NBA Finals’ record of 39 points. And that’s what I’m going to do too— keep on kicking ass and keep on playing as hard as I can. Because I’m a competitor and I’m gonna win this game.
Thanks for listening. I’m jumping back on my positive party in just a few minutes.