1-800-273-8255: The Sun Will Rise Again

As I lay in the dark last night, my mind wondered to everything I’ve gone through in the last couple of years, as it sometimes does. In the beginning of this path, I had no idea what was in front of me and the mental toll it would take. It’s hard to imagine that I ever contemplated taking my own life, especially when I had worked so very hard to remain in existence.

Not long after I was discharged from the hospital in June, I was sitting solo on my balcony watching the sunset. In that moment, it meant something more than usual. In awe of how the one thing we can count on is that the sun rising and setting each day, while the world spins madly on. As the suns rays were coming to a close, I could feel the colors of the evening sky running deep through me. What was left of daylight beamed through my fractured body and scars. Suddenly my head felt like it was above the cotton candy skies, and I forgave myself for ever contemplating taking my own life.

Depression is cancer itself, once it creeps in, it doesn’t feel like the sun will ever rise or fall again. I felt so alone, despite all of the loving support I had surrounding me. The days that I was unable to walk because my neuropathy was electric, or feeling so isolated from the rest of the world that I shut myself out from everything and everyone. During that time I tried as best as I could to write and share what I was enduring, particularly on the mental side of things. I’ve never revisited any of those blog posts, I can’t. Life is easy to be scared of, especially when your world can be as dark as the nights sky.

Thinking back to walking for the first time after each of my surgeries, or how terrible the pain of it all was, seemed like it was never ending. It felt like I’d never heal, but months passed and seasons changed and every time I had a huge roadblock in front of me, I somehow found inner strength to keep moving forward. It would have been so easy to give up by now. But I didn’t.

The way you approach life is a choice. You may be facing something tiring at the moment, or feeling cynical. You may want to give up, wondering what this life is all about. No one has the manuscript, we are all just winging it, hoping for another sunrise tomorrow.

Life, one day it’s here and then it’s gone. My life, your life and anyone out there contemplating suicide is worth living; our lives are worth it. There is no replica, this is it. You don’t have to be swallowed by the sea of sadness and depression. Know in your heart that someone out there cares and loves you. You are never alone.

If I was able to swim my way back to shore to witness that beautiful sunset, so can you. At sunrise you have a new day, an opportunity to entice your soul into living your best life despite your circumstances. Getting up each morning is your greatest gift and continuing to live when you want to die is ultimate bravery.

If you or someone you know suffers from depression, don’t give up on them. I was so fortunate that no one gave up on me. If you have contemplated harming yourself, please, please don’t give up. Take time to watch the sun rise and set, for it’s proof that no matter how dark your world is, we can experience beauty at the beginning and end to every day.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 — available 24/7.

You are loved and worthy of your life.

PS- Please share and pass this message along.  If it can help just one person, we are making a difference!

Love,

Britt x

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What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do: Key to Cancer Support

My life seems to be divided into two very distinguished parts; pre diagnosis and post diagnosis. It’s as though they are entirely separate lives that have been lived by just one person, a split screen, then and now, the past and present. When something like this enters your life, you find your true friends and support system pretty quickly.

The diagnosis of the patient may be an initial shock, not just to the individual affected, but the people they share their lives with as well. The early days are usually high on the spectrum of support and friends bossing up, then it slowly slips away like yesterday’s trend. People move on with their lives after being gobsmacked by the news and ghosts begin to appear as friends, challenging your most coveted relationships.

You slowly stop going to parties because you’re sick in bed, having to cancel on dinner plans or you just plain forget how to talk to people because you’re self conscious that everyone pities you. Thus, friendships start to splinter. Some have their own reasons for dipping out, and contrary to that, you realize and form relationships and bonds with people you would have never expected. And for each friend I lost, I gained others who wanted to stand by my side and that is a beautiful thing.

When you are so far beneath the floor boards, experiencing things you’d never imagined can be a very personal journey. After my last blog, my friend and lovely supporter, Andrea asked a question that I had never been asked before, and thought it to be very thoughtful. She simply asked what are some of the right things to say or do for a friend with cancer. As soon as I read it, it put me in the perspective of those who are a part of this journey with me. I suppose if I wasn’t myself, in my situation, I might not know the right things to say or do, either.

Truthfully, there is not a rule book on how one should react to a friend or someone you love having cancer, nor is there a right way one should show their comradeship. Do’s and do nots, say and say nots can certainly be a thin line.

Personally, I have been very fortunate to have such a strong unit of people surrounding me from all over the globe —friends, family, strangers. I also choose to share my cancer experience with the public, therefore there aren’t many things that are off limits in terms of what to say and/or ask. Firstly, start by assessing your relationship with the cancer patient. Every relationship is different and consider your unique dynamic.

Sometimes it’s much more awkward for the person with cancer because we understand people don’t always know what to say. The best way to avoid any form of awkwardness is to treat the person the same. So much of our identity has been stripped away and we want to cling to normalcy as much as we can. Treating us like you always have is a gift beyond measure.

Uncertainty of the future tends to run through the veins of a person with cancer, with a direct connection to the brain. This resulting in many sleepless nights spent overthinking. That said, no one is able to reassure you that everything will be okay. But, hearing from a friend just to take a moment to tell you they are thinking and rooting for you, is rest assured it will result in a bright smile and swollen heart.

With this vile illness disrupting the body, one of the perspectives that has shifted for me is that I don’t want to travel my cancer journey in vein, I want to bring awareness to young adult cancer. With that, it takes the help and support of others to show that it can happen to anyone, cancer does not discriminate. If you are curious about something, anything just ask and I’ll write about it or share with you. The more you know, the greater the awareness and understanding of this disease, the less my diagnosis will be in spite. If my situation has impacted just one person and helps them in any way, shape or form, then it is all worth it.

Using humor and sharing funny things is also a great coping mechanism for a cancer patient. Laughter after all is the best medicine. It’s also a wonderful stress reliever and making light of things can allow the cancer patient to take a break from the darkness and seriousness of the situation.

Invite us anyway. Even if nine times out of ten we can’t make it, it’s nice to know we are still thought of and connected to people. And if we indeed cannot make it, please know it’s nothing personal and that we would rather be spending time with our friends or family, as opposed to laying in bed.

In most cases, cancer patients won’t tell you when they need help. It’s easy to feel like a burden to the world and being unable to do some of the most simple things can prove to be difficult. Asking the cancer patient, “how can I help?” will be ultimately appreciated. Even if we are too proud to take you up on it.

Many diagnosed patients create blogs, much like myself in and effort to keep family and friends in the loop with what is going on. If you truly want to understand what someone is going through and be there for them, it starts with understanding the situation and typically it’s a more detailed version than if I were to be talking face to face.  With writing I personally go into a zone, a trance of sorts.  Comprehending what your friend is going through can be the most powerful way to connect for a cancer patient and it also helps from constantly repeating yourself over and over again. If you want to be on this carousel with your loved one it’s nice to be able to read all the nooks and crannies of their day to day life, whether it be a blog or sharing updates on social media. It is essentially the patient expressing and opening up to their family, friends and supporters — a version of taking the time to listen.

Lastly, and I think this goes whether you have cancer or not, the best gift you can give someone, especially someone going through cancer is your time. Even if it’s for a quick cup of coffee or tea. It’s easy to become a hermit and hideaway from the world when you don’t feel well. Yet, spending a little quality time is a great way to break away from the house, hospital or Doctors office.

I hope this gives some tips and they are helpful to better understanding what some cancer patients need from their soldiers, marching by their side. Awareness is key, questions are vital, kindness is always welcomed and time is most definitely precious. Thank you to all of those who have stuck by me since day one of this strange new life. The bonds and connections that humans have the capability of is by far the most magical source of strength.

Love,

Britt x

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New Year’s Resolutions: 17 for 2017

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Hiya!  I can’t believe December is nearly over. Where has this year gone? I am sure you’re asking yourself the same question. I think this year has been the fastest of my life thus far and it frightens me. They say the older you get the faster the years go and I’m starting to believe whoever “they” are. For as long as I can remember I’ve stuck to one resolution and one resolution only when it comes to New Year’s, however I’m feeling a little sparky this year and thought I’d mix up the bag. Some of these are unique to me and others are some I’ve seen floating around in the abyss. Either way, I hope you can enjoy and perhaps foster them into some of your rezzy’s for this 2017!

  1.  Set up a recurring donation:  If there is something that is close to your heart, perhaps you could have a few bucks deducted from each paycheck to go towards your favorite charity.  You won’t even know the money is missing and you’ll be doing something wonderful!
  2. Boost Positive Daily Thoughts:  This is a fun one!  Sign up for a daily, motivational text through Shine text and you can share the beaming energy with your friends and co-workers.
  3. Provide in Tangible Ways:  We don’t always have an extra $5 to give to every homeless person on the street, but perhaps we can keep a few extra water bottles in our car, a banana, or even a PB&J.  Get creative, help can come in many forms and can be a lot more than money!
  4. Downsize Social Media Time:  This is a big one for moi and for many others, I believe. Social media is just so damn entertaining and it’s fun being nosey and seeing what everyone is up to, but it can also be very time consuming.  Limiting yourself to X amount of time per day will make you feel less tied to your phone, but in case you need a little help…there’s an app (go figure) that lets you know if you’re spending too much time on your phone and kicks you OFF! Check it out for your smartphone.
  5. Get my To-Do-List ON:  I am notorious for procrastination and being scatterbrained.  I want to keep a better check on my schedule and my to-do’s in a proficient way, with the upmost potential to all of my devices and this online to-do-list seems to be the lifesaver that will help me stay afloat…and it’s free, yippee!
  6. Reality TV vs. Educational TV:  Another thing I am notorious for is reality television.  Anything on Bravo, I’m there and hooked, doesn’t matter the show or the plot, all that matters is that Andy Cohen is behind it. However, I’m not learning much other than maybe a few new hot words. So, instead of constantly filling my head with reality TV, I figure I’ll swap that out with something that is more educational, such as a documentary or something along those lines in which I can learn from.
  7. Say No More:  Here’s the deal, I want to say yes to everyone and please everyone, but saying yes isn’t good for anyone involved if you’re being stretched too thin and putting their needs above your own.  Honesty is the best policy and people will respect you so much more if you speak up.
  8. Take Time to Meditate: The practice of meditation can be physically, emotionally and mentally empowering.  Setting time aside for yourself as a body and soul is so important and has the power to improve your whole life if you practice daily.
  9. Drink Hot Water w/ Lemon:  When I was originally diagnosed a friend of mine told me to drink this every morning and I did for a while.  It is tremendously good for your digestive track, amongst other things.  It’s about that time to get back on that wagon.
  10. Learn Another Language:  In High School I took Spanish but I did not retain a thing.  I have quite a bit of time on my hands these days and a spartphone at my disposal with a free app like Duolingo.  Why not brush up on my español?
  11. Get Outside More:  Typically I am such a homebody, this upcoming year I want to start taking advantage of my awesome neighborhood and beautiful city.  Getting outside can clear your head and a bit of fresh air can do you a world of good.
  12. Build More Experiences:  Not to focus on the material aspects of life, but instead the experiences.  The short road trips to California, the weekends up at the cabin, concerts and festivals with friends, the possibilities are endless.  Experiences and memories over things and items will last a lifetime.
  13. Turn Negatives Into Positives:  We live in a world where the negatives seem to outweigh the positives these days.  Instead of looking at the glass half empty, look at the glass half full and your whole perspective on life will change.
  14. Say I Love You More Often:  Since I was diagnosed I have no shame in telling the people that I love that I love them all the time, even at times completely out of the blue.  I’m sure it gets annoying but if it pops into my head, I want them to know it.  Friends or family, it doesn’t matter — don’t carry shame for love, yell it from the rooftops if that’s how you feel.
  15. Show Others Your Appreciation:  I am fortunate enough to constantly have people doing such lovely things for me and I feel inadequate when it comes to showing my appreciation.  This year I want to be sure that I am showing my appreciation in full force.
  16. Don’t Take Anything Too Seriously: Have a laugh, loosen up, be the butt of your own joke.  You can’t take anything in life too seriously, there’s always someone out there that has it worse off than you and you must remind yourself of that.  We’re all pretty fortunate.
  17. Forgive:  Last but not least, forgive those who have hurt your or forgive yourself.  Life is too short and as we know the years are way too short to hold onto anything negative.  Come into the new year with a fresh start and a clean heart.

 

Happy New Year, my loves!

Love,

Britt

Surgery: HIPEC 12/12/16

A short fortnight ago, I am abashed to confess that as I lay in bed I was fantasizing and rhapsodizing death. It appealed to me in the way one looks forward to a vacation; I saw it as a destination — an endpoint to all of the pain and suffering this shell of mine has endured in my short lifetime. Suicidal thoughts were never coupled with my pensive imagination, one must be clear. However, the guilt I carry for even discerning as I did bears a weight I cannot carry as I should feel grateful for the days in which I am granted. God knows life only grants us so many and we can never be too sure as to when they will expire.

In recent months it’s been no secret that I have been quite mum on my blog and as of late, social media as well. Perhaps I may explain why I have not turned pain into power like I once did so very well. Life before cancer seems to be drifting further and further away, slipping through like tiny grains of sand in your hands. Cancer has become so normalized that talking about it in a constant fashion seems extraneous. Not much changes from one day to the next and my routine is pretty intact.

With time things get better, scars begin to fade and people go back to their every day life. What I am struggling with at the moment is how I am going to fill my time in life, discovering what I am meant to do on earth. Most people have children or a career to fulfill their years and I am on a journey to find what will fill mine. I say that with optimism as after my fantasizing, I was given remarkable news that could change my life forever.

On December 12th, 2016 I will undergo a major surgery called HIPEC. They will once again cut down the center of my abdomen, essentially scrape the lining of my abdomen, place hot, hot chemotherapy directly inside of me, sew me up, shake me around for 90 minutes and then drain the chemo. Although it sounds quite ludicrous, it is a rare and unlikely procedure yet it has a 30% chance to cure me altogether, a 30% chance I could go into remission or a 40% chance that I come out of the surgery no better or worse then when I went in. Given my age and otherwise healthy body, the surgeon feels that I am the perfect candidate for this type of procedure.

So, as I prepare for the 12th I no longer fantasize about being pain free by going to the other side. Instead I fantasize about the life that I hopefully have before me, in hopes that I will either be cured or in remission. This is the trial of a lifetime, but I toast to the lesson and at the end of my life and throughout life I’ll understand what really matters. It is essential to push harder than yesterday if I want a different tomorrow. Nothing is guaranteed, we’re all perishable — life is significant and for a moment the pain nearly managed to make me forget that the substance of significance is a destination all on its own.

Love,

Britt x

Don’t be an “ⒶⓈⓀⒽⓄⓁⒺ”

I #BSMHB #BeStillMyHeartBlog I www.BeStillMyHeartBlog.wordpress.com

By way of my zodiac sign, the Scorpio, I am an overly intense person, arguably to a fault.  There is no middle ground for me, no grey area of truths or untruths and an unvarnished knack for being a straight shooter.  You will always know where you stand with me, which is a blessing and a curse, with a liability all of my own.  I say what I say and I mean what I mean.  Sometimes though, I don’t know when to sojourn and let go of things I cannot control.

Habitually, I am an ASKHOLE (a new term I just learned from the interweb).  An “askhole” is someone that asks for advise and goes against it nonetheless.  So, yours truly, the resident “askhole” has a cumbersome relationship with being overly self-reliant and constantly preferring to look to myself for the answers.  While that may sounds like a respectable trait, I have found that more recently in my endeavor with soul searching, I need to let things marinate before inciting a reaction from my whip of a tongue.  I believe in the world of balance and any unwelcoming balances, brings out the penetrating behaviors of my unleashing star sign.

As most people set out for New Year resolutions, I am opting to make my resolutions a little earlier.  For starters, I must begin by continuing to be authentic and true to myself.  After all, if you can’t keep it real with yourself, then how can you expect to deliver that within relationships that you hold outside of yourself.    By staying true to you, does not deem you to be a selfish person, but rather a wise person that realizes the investment you have in yourself will manifest it’s way into important relations you carry with others.  We must demonstrate a set of our own standards and follow our own road in life, in an effort to live peacefully with ourselves and those we surround ourselves with.

Second to that, we are hardwired to perceiving and especially holding on to negativity in our lives.  This in and of itself is like a cancer, but unlike the real BIG C, this type of “life cancer”, as I call it,  festers and boils over into other capacities of our day to day lives.  I am going to begin focusing on smelling the roses, as opposed to dwelling on a conversation or experience that turned into a negative one.  Studies show that it takes five positive occurrences to negate one negative manifestation.  It takes 99% more effort to inhabit negative thoughts, than it does to harbor positivity.  Learning to let go, will allow you to grow.  Make room for the positivity and by letting things go, will sanction supplementary room for the good things your life has to offer itself.

By grooming yourself to let go of the old and invite the new, the balance in your life will become restored, whether it is fear, judgment, relationships or material possessions.  Letting go may be a slow process, but I plan to start as of now.  In addition, I am setting the standard for myself to let go of the things that cannot be controled, welcoming the triumphs that cannot be measured and hold on to the people and things that make me happy.  Moreover focus on the close confidants and comrades in your life, hold onto the people you love, LISTEN to them and take their advice.  After all, you wouldn’t want to be dubbed an “ASKHOLE”.

1. Letting go of fear

2. Letting go of old relationships

3. Letting go of grief

4. Letting go of loved ones

5. Letting go of disappointments

6. Letting go prejudice

7. Letting go of material possessions

8. Letting go of depression

9. Letting go of abuse

10. Letting go of negative energy

11. Letting go of addictions

12. Letting go of ego

Love,

Britt x