When I was growing up, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Thanksgiving. I was a picky eater. I focused on the fact that I didn’t like the food. If you don’t really like vegetables and you’re not into turkey, good old T-giving can be a tough day. But as I’ve grown older, I’ve realized what an incredible day it really is. I’m happy to say that now that I consider myself quite the foodie, I absolutely love all the delicious food I get to stuff my face with BUT I love even more to have a day that’s specifically dedicated to giving thanks. It’s a day focused on being grateful for all you have and to be with those you love and reflect on all that you have together.
Since being diagnosed, I have found true strength when I count my blessings. When I consciously think about all the things that I do have in life, no matter how hard the day, my mindset is always helped. It helps ground me and helps put things into a necessary perspective. So today in honor of this amazing day that is completely dedicated to being thankful, I am going to list out everything I feel so lucky to have in my life.
I am thankful for…
My incredible doctors (especially Dr. Mandy & Dr. D)
The most amazing and caring nurses (especially Andrea, Rachel, Margo, Deb, Kristen!)
To be a patient at the most amazing cancer institute in the world— Dana Farer
To have a job
Having a roof over my head
Having food to eat everyday
Being an American
Living in New England
Being a Patriots Fan
Being able to practice yoga
Sharing a home I love with a person I love
My under desk bicycle
Having a safe car
T-Swift, in particular, “Shake It Off”
The ability to opening my mind to alternative ways of thinking
Clothes & Shoes that I love
A working pancreas
Good food and being able to eat it!
Being in remission
Having hair again
Soft, fuzzy pajamas
Last but certainly not least, I am thankful for this blog and most importantly thankful for all the supportive and wonderful people that have followed my journey. I’m thankful that you’re part of my life and thankful for everything your support has provided me throughout a challenging portion of my life.
I hope you all have a beautiful day, and remember to truly give thanks to all that you have in your life. Even if you’re going through a tough time, try to think of at least one thing that you can feel true gratitude for — whether that is as important as another human being in your life or as simple as being able to have a glass of wine. Whatever it is you’re thankful for, be truly thankful, down to your core.
I started writing this blog post last week and never finished. I went back and read it this morning and realized in one short week how things have already changed. Here’s what I wrote…
“The past four months have probably been the worst four months of my life. Not the most uplifting way to start a blog post but it’s the truth. During these months, I’ve struggled to stay positive and truly feel happy. Partially because of the unexpectedness of the pancreatitis. It seems so unfair that I would get that on top of leukemia. Because other than that my chemo caused the pancreatitis, it has nothing to do with the cancer. It’s only delayed my treatment, caused me a lot of pain and laid me up in the hospital three too many times. …. even when I’m doing “fun” things, my mind races to that things aren’t normal. That I can’t have a drink. That I can’t have a french fry. That I have to be home early to hook up to a feeding tube. That I’ve simply been hooking up to a feeding tube for over two months now. That I’m not at work. The list goes on and on.
I’m hoping that the end of this funk is coming near as sometime in January I’ll be FINALLY going back to work and I think that will help immensely. But I wanted to write this blog post so I remember how I felt at this moment. These days are long and tiring. Each day I feel different, whether it be emotional or physical. I have a hard time sleeping and my mind always seems to run back to “i have cancer.” I spend half the day sleeping and another portion watching TV. I can’t take that anymore. I want to do, I want to be productive. But sometimes it’s too hard, I’m too tired. Today I was tired. I got out of my pajamas at 4 o’clock to run to the grocery store to get things for Thanksgiving. I love being in pajamas but when that’s all you have everyday, getting dressed up becomes a privilege. Overall, things have just been really tough.”
Well it’s funny what a few days, family, friends and good food can do. I had the best four days I’ve had in a really long time. Thanksgiving was wonderful as I got to see my whole family and grandparents and snuggle with my love bug of a niece. Then Friday I got to see a bunch of my best friends from high school at a fabulous Friendsgiving party! Saturday, Mike and I got our Christmas tree and started decorating for Christmas (my ballerina reindeer are up which makes this girl VERY happy). Then we headed out to a housewarming/birthday party at one of our good friends house which was a blast. Sunday we just stayed around the house and decorated for Christmas, made some turkey chili and watched the Pats. It was a busy but perfect few days and it was just what I needed to help get me out of that funk. I felt so happy to see my friends and family and get to spend four days with Mike. Times like this weekend I’m reminded why I’m so blessed. It helped change my mindset and brought me a sense of happiness that I haven’t felt these past four months. There are still hard days ahead (most likely a lot of them) and I will have to keep working on feeling normal and feeling happy but I’m thankful for last weekend as it brought both those things back into my life.
This year for Thanksgiving I have a lot to be thankful for. Sometimes lately that’s hard to remember but it’s definitely true. So today I want to write about what I’m thankful for.
First and foremost I’m thankful for my amazing family. Without them, I don’t know where I’d be or how I would’ve survived the past nine months. Their support and love have given me strength when I’ve been frustrated, tired and sad. Family also includes Mike because if he’s not family then I don’t know what is. Without him, I couldn’t do this. I’m thankful everytime he walks through the door from work. I’m thankful every time he hugs me when I’m down or kisses my forehead when I’m crying. I’m thankful every time he makes me laughs and writes me love notes. I’m so very very thankful that he came into my life.
I’m thankful for my friends, near and far, I realize how lucky I am to have so many wonderful people in my life. Friends that go above and beyond to make me feel loved. Friends that help keep it light and make having fun easy.
I’m thankful for my amazing team of doctors and nurses. I have been blessed with the most incredible men and women to treat and take care of me. Doctors that are brilliant and caring and nurses that are warm and compassionate but also funny and real.
Lastly, I’m thankful for my health. It might seem counterintuitive since I clearly am not the healthiest person in the world right now but I’m still here and I’m on my way to being cured. Because of that fact, I still smile everyday and I still feel so blessed for all that I do have in my life.
My first pancreatitis attack happened on August 13th. It’s now November 14th. That’s three hospital stays in the books, about 100 pounds in fluctuated weight, an incredible amount of pain medication down, a stent placed into my pancreas, two months behind on my chemo regimen and three months in the past of simply not eating or not eating the foods I want to eat. In fact, right now, I’m unable to eat anything but “clears” for the next two weeks (clears = broth, apple juice, jello, water). It sounds unenjoyable but not the end of the world, right? I would have guessed that too but not being able to eat is more than that. I’m having such a hard time with it because it’s something that I enjoy doing so much. I enjoy cooking it, I enjoy snacking on it, I enjoy going out to restaurants with my boyfriend and friends, and I enjoy eating it! Food was one of the last things that not much had changed since my diagnosis. And I so revelled in that. So the fact that it got taken away from me just seems unfair. Now, instead of eating, I have a feeding tube that I attach to every night for 14 hours. Not exactly a pasta dinner.
In general, these past few months have left me really down. I’ve been in the hospital 45 days of the three months which is nothing short of miserable. Being in the hospital is a mind game. It’s draining and sad. You become like a hamster. For the majority of the time you’re kept in your little cage where people are constantly coming in and out to either visit, poke you with something or give you medication to take. The latter is my favorite as it hopefully will make me sleepy and I can dose off to kill an hour or two. If I’m being honest, sleeping has become one of my favorite things to do in these past few months because it takes me away from everything. I know that doesn’t sound very inspirational but it’s the truth. Trying to stay positive and keep my spirits up has proven to be harder recently than it had been in the past. I think it’s a combination of this big bump in the road I’ve had (aka pancreatitis) and also the sense that I’ve been at this for almost 9 months now and I still have so much further to go. Today, however, my mom and I are staying in our pajamas all day since it might snow and making Christmas crafts for the holidays. It should be fun and I’m grateful to be out of the hospital and doing something I enjoy… crafts! Now, if I can just get to eating by Thanksgiving, I’ll be making positivity strides all over the place.
Much love for listening to me vent… I had to get this one out.