Hello, From the Other Side:

 

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The best thing about life is that everyday is a new opportunity.  As cliché as that may sound, it rings true.  Many of you know that on December 12, 2016, I underwent a rare procedure called HIPEC in an effort to provide myself with a greater opportunity to live.

There were many risks involved in having this operation, but without risk comes little reward.  I had to take that leap of faith in order to provide myself with more time and quality at that.  No doubt I had my reservations and up until the night before I was having serious second thoughts.

I’m signing up to be cut in half.”

 “Can I even endure this again, will my body be able to handle another major operation for the third time in three years?” I asked myself. My mind would not and could not stop operating on all cylinders.

Saturday, December 10 I had just been out with my Mum for a lovely day of brunch and pedicures.  It was special, quality, time before I was going to go into the hospital in just two short days.  After our pleasant day she dropped me off and Steve was at his parents house.  I lay on my bed as I was pretty worn out from the whole day and was going to try to catch a nap, when suddenly something came over me and I began thinking about the last few weeks prior and how I’d spent time with the people I love most; quality one on one time.  Were those my goodbyes?  I immediately began to shiver, my lips turned blue, my breathing became increasingly difficult and my body tense.  I thought I was dying right then and there.

As quickly as I could I called my Nan and word travelled fast.  She along with my Mum and Auntie Bev were on their way, as well as one of my very best friends, Allison.  Steve, too immediately left his parents.  No one truly knew what the situation was but knew in any case I needed immediate attention as my normally ever so strong brick walls had come crashing in on me.

Once they had arrived, I was clearly still very much alive but also in a state of panic and still freezing and stiff. They comforted me and Allison even called her brother with whom is an ER Doctor to get some medical advice on what they should do since I was refusing to go to the hospital.  If it actually was my time, I wanted it to be in my own home, not the cold hospital.  Her kind brother suggested that I meet everyone halfway and allow the paramedics to come and assess the situation and I obliged, particularly because those were Steve’s wishes as well.

Long story short, there were about five paramedics that came and determined I was having a forceful anxiety attack and low and behold my walls did cave in on me.  After awhile I calmed down and I was so grateful to have them by my side.  And I was happy that it happened when it did and not the morning of the surgery. For some reason I believe that, that freak out needed to happen in order for me to actually go through with the surgery, for me to know that everything was going to turn out okay in the end.

It was now time to be the queen I know I can be.  It was Monday and it was show time.  I rolled into that operating room feeling free of anxiety or fear, but instead excited for what was on the other side, post operation, despite the brutal recovery.

The Doctors practiced their magic and before I knew it, I woke up in the intermediate care unit.  I felt fabulous as the drugs from the operation were still in my system, even making a video of the news that had been shared with me that I was “CANCER FREE!” It felt so good to say those words, even if I was in la-la-land.

However, as the course of my stay at the hospital got longer and longer, the Doctors became less and less liberal with that word.  In turn leaving me to wonder what any of it really meant, even having it reiterated today at my follow-up visit with my surgeon now that I’m completely clear headed.  Where do I go from here and am I free of cancer?

The truth is, I’ve won the battle but not the war.  By having this surgery they have removed any and all signs of tumor that currently exists in my body, by cutting me open to remove them, scraping my insides and attacking with chemotherapy.  Therefore at this time I’m free of cancer.  However, I still remain a Stage IV cancer patient as I have had recurrences in the past, ones which have recurred rather quickly I might add, so I am considered a VERY HIGH RISK patient.  My cancer could come back tomorrow, next month or two years from now.  The moral of the story is I will be under surveillance non-stop by my Oncologist and looked after by the pros.  Naturally we all are hoping for the best-case scenario, but he kept it real with me, which I appreciate.

In the meantime, I’ve been home for the last week and a half recovering and it’s going well.  Slowly but surely I’m getting back to my old self.  I cannot express the gratitude I have for all of the love I’ve received leading up to the surgery, during and after.  It truly warms the cockles of my heart.  Now we are just trying to get through the holidays and get back into our routine.  When things get too routine, I just need to keep myself humble and remember that everyday is a new opportunity.

Happy New Year, my loves.

Love,

Britt x

Life Lessons: 30 Things

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Typically before a big surgery my mind begins to overthink, racing with thoughts of what I have learned over the last three and a half years since being a cancer patient.  The thing about cancer is that it changes people.  It sculpts us into someone who understands more deeply, hurts more often, appreciates more quickly, cries more easily, hopes more desperately, loves more openly and lives more passionately.  I wanted to take a moment to jot down the top 30 things off the top of my head that cancer has taught me and share them, pass them along.  Some being more obvious than others, some being more simple as well.  It never hurts to be reminded from time to time that sometimes it can be the small stuff that can make us the upmost happiest.

Enjoy!

  1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
  2. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
  3. Don’t take yourself too seriously. No one else does.
  4. You don’t have to win every agreement. Agree to disagree.
  5. It’s okay to show your emotions. It’s okay to feel.
  6. Don’t compare yourself to others; you have no idea what their journey is all about.
  7. Don’t bother with pity parties.
  8. Burn the candles, use the nice stemware and wear the fancy dress. Every moment is a special occasion.
  9. Go with the flow.
  10. Be eccentric, who cares if people think you’re out of your mind.
  11. The most important sex organ is the brain.
  12. You cannot hold anyone else accountable for your happiness; it’s up to you.
  13. Forgive.
  14. What other people think of you is none of your business.
  15. Time heals.
  16. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your family and friends will.
  17. Believe in miracles.
  18. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.
  19. Listen to your body.
  20. Envy is a waste of time.
  21. Deep breaths calm the mind.
  22. Yield.
  23. Make your intentions pure.
  24. Turn wounds into wisdom.
  25. Peace will always be there for you in your darkest moments.
  26. How you feel is always more important than how you look.
  27. The big questions are worth asking.
  28. Love will always win.
  29. Always make self-care a priority.
  30. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.

Love,

Britt x

Painted Lady:

Words cannot express how incredibly honored and surprised I am to have artist and author, Anthony Oldham paint this insanely beautiful oil painting of me.  I have never had someone paint a picture of me, let alone something so lovely! Thank you, Anthony!

BRAVO!

Love,

Britt x

Fraudulently Inspiring:

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I wish I could tell you where I go when I go quiet. It’s often when I feel my walls crumbling down around me. Lately I have been struggling to find purpose in my life, but I know my weaknesses and I know my voice and writing happens to be just that. I know I shouldn’t abandon the one thing that gives me purposefulness and solace in my lowest of low. When I feel weak it builds the walls around me up , strengthening the world that I live in.

Pain has been something I’ve been dealing with lately, a lot of cracks in my everyday life that darkness seems to have been setting in much more than light. I’ve needed to find my way back to my latest disgrace. Feeling as though I am a fraud in the light of inspiration that so many find me to be. How can one be inspiring when I can’t even feel my feet below me? I feel lost and sleep the hours away under the spell of depression.

My Doctor gave me a month break from chemo as he sees how tired I have become from all of my treatments. After the month is over I will resume back on chemo as well as begin a clinic trial, which is not approved by the FDA. Of course all of this makes me nervous. It’s a constant reminder that my life is in the hands of medicine, in poison. However, I am going to take full advantage of this month and get plenty of rest, per Doctors orders.

I feel stifled by the air in my chest and the anxiety that I am currently enduring. My heart is flooded with emotion, not with haste but an understanding that I am what I am and my life is how it is. All I can hope is that one-day my scars will be healed and all of this pain will be far away. That I can learn to live with what I am, full-fill my dreams and that this fickle flesh will not go to waste.

The reality is that I have no time to spare, I have to put up a fight and rise to the occasion. Find my purpose in what I love most, which is writing. Get back in touch with my one true love. Find consolation in the people that believe in me, so I can still believe in myself. Coming out of the woods by choice and be sure that I can see a new start.

Thank you for bringing me out of the cold. Let’s hope the darkness in my head is tamed  and the sunshine beams through instead.

Love,

Britt x

For the first time a blind shield was lifted today as I walk across the tight rope that I walk so finely each and every day. Things lately have been ever so windy and I have been dangling from that tight rope, hanging on for life, wishing I could start again or finish quickly. I’ve been absent, hushed from my writings and mum from the world. Many things have been taking place in our lives as of late, we’ve been taking the hits as they’ve been coming, but we have each other.

Through the many storms that I have weathered, I’ve recently allowed them to harden my exterior and becoming a prisoner, trapped, experiencing monsoons eroding from within. This weekend I was finally able to slow it down, realizing that friends and family exist and no matter the troubles that are taking place, there is goodness within the chaos as it churns and its not us against the world.

Britt

x