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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Constellations of Thought: CT Scan Update

constellationsI called out to the man in the sky last night. Hoping that the constellations would align, burning only the brightest of stars in my sometimes-dark universe.

Earlier this summer the sands of time were not on my side. The currency of my life seemed as though it was changing to dust and I was about to combust. Any form of light was fading rapidly from my awareness, until I received the news today.

At the hum of morning, we headed to the place that I could equate to constantly saving me. With results I could only hope for, the Doctor assured me that my tumors are stabile, while another tumor has shrunk. Suddenly my piece of mind, like stars were able to form into a beautiful constellation, for a piece of mind is worth its weight in gold.

This path that I travel with cancer is consistently and constantly teaching me lessons that I never fathomed would apply to me. I realize now that patience and persistence is key. Of course today wasn’t the upmost ideal being that the cancer isn’t gone completely; however, there is progress and with progress comes an understanding that something is working. It’s important to recognize that stars can only be moved one at a time to form that constellation. But most important of all, you must learn to love the sky you are currently under and never stop looking up.

PS- As always thank you for all of the loving and support!  

Love,

Britt x

Summer of Senior Year: Cancer and Chemo

Someone once quoted the infamous sanity quote, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.” The words melted to my soul like butter. July will mark my fourth year as a forever changed mind, body and soul.

Four years — does this mean I am a mature cancer patient? Someone on the brink of their senior year…in cancer? I’m not sure. It’s difficult at times for me to keep my blog updated simply because when you have nothing to say, add, update about, life as a cancer patient can be pretty boring. I mean, there is the possibility of keeping a consistently updated log of my Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Amazon and overall storage of my Apple TV. But, that would just further prove that I am a hermit that rarely leaves the house.

As of late, I am a little quieter. I like staying in, not in a depressive way, but in a sanctuary sort of way. I’ve become more introverted in my older days. But, needless to say, without continuing to ramble— it’s good to be back.

And the truth is, I’m sick. I’ve been doing the same things for the past four years. Four years of chemo, four years of life altering surgeries, four years of telling my story, sharing my life and trying to figure it all out, while entering my thirties. I don’t regret any of the things I have chosen to do in terms of treatment for the past four years, nor do I regret any of the surgeries I have opted to have as a risk to save my life. Longevity, qualities of life are all things I’ve strived for in the past few years, an A+ student in the school of cancer. A peer group I never expected to be a part of, and then I was and I couldn’t imagine my life otherwise. Certain surgeries were more difficult to have, one being the hysterectomy I had thirty days after my thirtieth birthday. I laugh at myself now, because that was only the beginning.

How can it get much worse than having finality to your reproductive capabilities at the start of my third decade? My rock bottom was yet to come and would make my hysterectomy trauma seem like it was two foot small.

December, as many of you who keep up with me know that I took a huge chance with a surgery called HIPEC. Sorry, I can’t remember what it stands for, nor could I be bothered to “Google IT”. So, that said HIPEC was done in December of 2016 and I have spent the last four to five months recovering. I’ve been dealing with an array of issues. You could pretty much say I was sliced down the center, again and scar tissue from other surgeries had settled in, making my recovery even more painful. There was a collection of other issues peppered in, as my lower abdominal muscles were in a constant state of spasm, working against each other, thus creating a war on the inside. This lead to a number of bladder issues, as in, I constantly feel like I have a UTI when I in fact do not. Basically, I’m your average shit-show.

However, as time would have it I began to heal. From the inside out and I was feeling pretty f*cking groovy. Lighter, leaner, more energized, free. It was a feeling that was so nostalgic but also so unfamiliar. FOUR YEARS! I forgot what it was like to feel slightly healthy and normal.   It nearly felt too good to be true. And it was. The sensation didn’t last long. The OCD cleaning and tidying habits that I had suddenly formed began to fade, as my loss of control was again getting the best of me.   Something was up, and surprise, I was due for my first post surgery pet scan. It had been nearly five months at this point. New evidence of disease was a high possibility, but I was feeling so good. So well. So me.

It wasn’t until the night before the results, when I bent over to pick up one of Zoila’s toys from the floor. I had a twinge of pain in my lower left abdominal area; think of where ovaries would be, if I still had them. It was all too familiar and a feeling that I had felt in the past when there had been tumors residing in that very spot. The very next day, I followed up with my Oncologist who confirmed that the PET Scan did indicate evidence of disease in my lower left abdominal area. Bingo! As per usual, my gut was telling me the truth, physically and intuitively. He said I would immediately need to begin chemo in an effort to diminish it. When he walked in the door his face said it all. He believed, like so many of us that this HIPEC surgery was going to potentially provide me with an opportunity to stay off of chemo for some time, even perhaps making my cancer disappear altogether. We were all hopeful, but unfortunately it was back and apparently unbeknownst to me at this point, it was back with a vengeance. Rock bottom was right around the corner.

The beginning of summer beckons for graduations, pool parties, friends and family gathering and obviously a new outfit for each of the occasions. I was feeling summer in my bones, but it wasn’t about to feel me.   The first party of the summer season and I spent 99% of it with my head over the porcelain throne. Thankfully the hosts and their guests were gracious and kind, but certainly not the way I wanted or had expected to be starting out the summer. The summertime just before I was hoping to graduate from cancer. Move on and up— get some freedom, go college bound with this thing.

Unexpectedly, but expectedly all at the very same time, everything was the same as it had been.   Nothing was going to change in the maturity I was feeling with my cancer path. I knew nothing that was ahead and needed to buckle up because as intuition would have it, my current stock was about to plummet.

After being unable to keep anything, including water down, it was decided that entering Mayo Hospital would be the best next step. At this point I knew there was cancer activity on my left side. Chemo was set to begin that Monday and it was now Sunday in the Emergency Department. Immediately, the Doctor’s admitted me into the hospital, yet it remained unclear as to what exactly what was wrong. They didn’t take long to figure it out. My colon had collapsed onto itself, not allowing for proper ventilation to go through. My body was getting to a point where it didn’t know what to do with food. It would reject everything because the colon was collapsed and nothing could pass. Bile was exiting in the opposite direction and it was becoming septic and toxic.

Once they cracked that part of the case, they followed up to tell me that my cancer has metastasized to the lower part of my liver, a first for that spot, and then also on my lower back lymph nodes.   This was a shock to hear. Hadn’t I only just found out that it was back in the first place and now these additional places? Pure devastation ensued. The Doctors then had to implant a gastro tube in my stomach, where I would be able to “ventilate” the broth I would be drinking until the end of time. Not to mention the TPN (Total Parenteral Nutrition) — pretty much intravenous feeding that provides patients with all the fluid and the essential nutrients they need when they are unable to feed themselves by mouth.

Boom! Rock bottom. There, I felt it.

Eating can be one of my favorite past times. How long was this dreadful nightmare going to continue? FOOOOOODDDDD.

It’s been two weeks since I have had a solid meal. I feel the most inhuman I have felt thus far in my cancer sitch. They are expecting it to be at least another few weeks, two months, maximum. It all comes down to how I respond to treatment, as chemo begins next week. It reeks of freshman year of cancer all over again.

Essentially, I had a good month where I was feeling like my old self. Now my reality is that chemo is going to be in my life yet again. But, needless to say, even with this shit-show that I call my life, I know I am going to be okay. Nothing’s going to change my world. I’m going to continue to get out of bed every morning, slap on a smile and enjoy the blazing summer sunshine. I may not be able to meet up at a restaurant hot spot with friends for a while, or wear my cutest bikini to the next summer bash, but I am going to be the BEAST that I am and knock cancer out this round as well.

Imma’ graduate this next year. So long, cancer. You’ll see.

Britt xx

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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

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