Smile Cards

As many of you know, I spent nearly 100 nights in the Brigham in 2014 (and a few in 2015). Being “locked up” in the hospital is hard— the days are long, the nights are kind of scary and the mornings are the toughest, as you feel like you’re waking up in a bad dream. During my many stays, the one constant that would always make me smile, even at my lowest points, was being able to open a card that someone had sent. My initial month-long stay, I was blessed to have multiple cards to open every single day. I would wait until morning to open them with my breakfast, as I was typically alone during this time, and it would remind me that people were thinking of and praying for me. Truly, every single letter helped to lift my spirits. I’ve kept each one as they made such a difference in some of those dark days. I know, however, that not everyone is as lucky as I was to be able to get cards so frequently. I also know that every single person deserves to know that people are thinking of them– at the very least. They deserve to know that someone, no matter who that someone is, is keeping them in their thoughts and prayers. They deserve to have something put a smile on their face during the day, even if just for a split moment.
That’s why Mike and I have begun writing cards to patients of 7D (the oncology floor I stayed on). The letters are not long or full of wisdom, just simple notes to let these warriors know that they’re not alone, that there are complete strangers that are keeping them in their thoughts. Knowing this, as a patient, really makes a difference. It’s a touching feeling when you realize that people really care.
In one of the cards that I received over a year ago said the following words…
“You are strong. You are loved. And you WILL get through this.” 
These words have rung through my head probably a million times over the past year. They have acted as a self-affirmation for me when I’m feeling down, or when I need to be reminded that I can do this. Those three sentences have helped me get through a lot of tough times— and I have the person who wrote them in that greeting card to thank for that.
I wanted to let you all know what we’re doing in hopes to inspire you to write a few yourself. They can be about anything— a funny story, an inspirational note, words of encouragement — whatever you feel fitting! Mike was hesitant at first as he thought he wouldn’t be able to relate to them since he’s not a patient himself, but I reminded him, it’s not about being able to say “I’ve done it too” but rather “I’m thinking of you.” SO, if you’d like to help in this little quest of putting smiles on the faces of some very deserving people— feel free to send me cards addressed to “one very strong Brigham patient!” I am going to begin dropping them off every Wednesday when I come in for my treatments.
My address is: 2 Webster St. Somerville, MA 02145
Many thanks and lots of love,

Good Days Making the Bad Days Harder

It’s the night before another hospital appointment and most likely a five day stay to begin the next round of chemo. As I had mentioned in my last post, I’ve had a great few days. A great week, in fact. My energy, and spirit, has been high and I’ve genuinely just felt happy. I’ve done a good job at putting tomorrow “off” in my mind and just enjoying the time away from the hospital and off the chemo. But as tomorrow nears closer, I know I can’t put it off any longer and I’ll be in that hospital room before I know it. I’m anxious for multiple reasons…I have another bone marrow biopsy tomorrow, one that was not planned. So I’m nervous about the physicality of the procedure as I know how uncomfortable it is. I’m also anxious about the results of the biopsy as my doctor is doing it to double check that nothing has come back due to a something he saw in my labs last week. He’s “almost confident” it’s nothing but obviously wants to be sure. And “almost confident” makes me nervous. Really nervous. I’m anxious about how I’ll respond to the next round of chemo as with each new type of treatment I get there’s always the possibility that there could be complications. I’m anxious about simply being in the hospital for five days— the bed’s not comfortable, I can’t stand the food and the little beeps and noises all night drive me crazy. So basically, I’m just anxious for it to be one week from tonight. 

Last week when I thought I was going in for the five days I wasn’t nearly as bummed out as I feel right now. Since I hadn’t felt “good” in over a month, it made me have a little bit of a “who cares” attitude. But tonight I feel much different than that, I’m bumming hard over having to go back tomorrow. I feel this way because I know that starting back up with the chemo means that my body will be knocked down again. While I logically know that this is what my body needs and that it just means one step closer to being cancer free, emotionally it’s been so freeing and exhilarating to feel like myself this past week. And I just really, really don’t want that feeling to be taken away from me. I don’t want to feel sick, or nauseous, or tired, or have another month-long headache. I think since I felt a sense of normalcy the past week, it makes it that much harder to say “bye” to it tomorrow. Correction: it’s not goodbye but just “see ya later” for a little bit. One day all these crappy days are going to add up to one healthy, happy life. And that makes it all worth it. 
For now, I’m enjoying a bowl of ice cream (addicted), watching The Voice and enjoying my last night at home for a few nights. Thinking some good thoughts for some good outcomes tomorrow.