Love Is All You Need: Life Expectancy

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We’ve all played the game, “If you were given six months to live, what would you do? Would you live your life any differently than you do today? Everyone seems to think that they would. They picture themselves buying that plane ticket to their most desired destination, soak up every minute with family and friends and literally, to quote Tim McGraw, “Live Like You Were Dying.” And perhaps it’s just an entirely personal experience and other people may do things otherwise. But, the truth is, you don’t know what you would actually do when you are essentially living within that actuality — there are circumstances, particularly within health issues that may prevent you from checking off some of those “bucket list” items.

Speaking from experience in that department, I have been given life expectancy timelines since the beginning of my cancer career. I’ve defied all of the odds so far and quite frankly passed some huge milestones given my condition and situation. Lucky doesn’t even begin to describe my fortune. Yet, that doesn’t change how it feels when you are given a number, a numerical suspense for the rest of your life. It punches you in the gut, leaving you winded, EVERY.DAMN.TIME.

I learned today that I truly shouldn’t ask any questions if I am not prepared for the answer. Being that I start chemo on Wednesday, I had a touch base appointment with my Oncologist to discuss my last hospital stay, my gastro tube, the TPN (refer to previous blogs for info), as well as chemo. For days I had been thinking of asking him how much time he expects that I have, it has plagued my thoughts and my dreams and the answer was something that I thought would bring me a bit of peace.

To my disappointment, when I asked for the 100th time in the last four years, what my life expectancy looked like at this stage and point, I was met with a number I wasn’t prepared to greet. My generous and brilliant Doctor obliged and told me very pointedly that if I do not respond to chemotherapy this go around, then my future looks pretty grim.

Six to twelve months were the words out of his mouth.

After the initial shock to my heart wore off, I leaned over to my lovely mother in-law and said, “That means I could be gone by Christmas.” In an instant everything seemed so bleak. While my hopes quickly vanished, my fears began to take charge over my mind.

What will Steve do? He will be a widower at such a devastatingly young age! Will Zoila be okay without me? What about my family, watching my siblings grow and my friends who have become family?

 Swiftly my mind raced with too many questions that I didn’t have the answers for. These are all very real things and it made me realize that none of the things I feared were materialistic. This coming from a girl that practically sold her soul for a YSL purse a few weeks ago (pix on insta). Rather, all of the things that I distress over are all because of love. It comes down to the people you love and care about in this world, and in my case my baby Zoila. When my day finally arrives, I won’t be concerned over the latest iPhone or YSL bag, but instead whether or not I showed the people I cherish the vast amount of love I feel for them and to be loved just the same. Treating others as you’d like to be treated, treasuring the time you have on earth and realizing that we, everything is all connected.

Time is strictly earth bound and we are only given so much of it. Some more than others, but I believe that no matter the time frame I am given, I will fight this until the bitter end. Thus far I have refused to go down without a fight and I don’t plan on it this time around either.

Chemo is definitely kicking off next Wednesday and I can tell you that I don’t plan on going anywhere in the next year. To answer your question, I don’t have a list of things that I must do before I pass. In the end it’s only love that counts. Love is all you need.

 PS: I have been fiercely working away at my book, so stay tuned.

Love,

Britt xx

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Back from the Atmosphere: 🌏 

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Real talk, I’ve been a tad on the emosh lately — for so many reasons.  The teeniest, tiniest things have the power to set me off in an array of passions and personalities that I didn’t know exist.  Lets face it, it’s been a long time since I’ve lived, instead of existing to survive.  Naturally overwhelmed by my affections, I’ve realized I’ve been covering up my scars with paint and I’m finally ready to wash away its taint. The very same taint that tortured me for the past three, almost four years.  Yet, in its wonder I have continuously been learning that my most painful trials can be rewarded with the most salient growth.

I have failed to balance my writing, or, rather share my writing because I felt stuck on a road with no end. No end to the endless days of pain, but keeping hope in my mind that life could once again be kind.  It seemed like a dream, a place far away from my reality, as I was encased in flesh and bones, yet desperate for life in my veins.

Month after month following my HIPEC surgery were spent under the covers. Forgetting all of the faces and all the different places I have been. It made no sense in my mind that I should feel lucky to be alive, while dealing with such agony.  In my dreams my tears were chilled to the bone, I couldn’t remember what it was to feel alive.

The brilliant medical team at Mayo would remind me that patience is a virtue and that my body has been sliced, diced and poisoned to the nth degree.  It seemed as though  I was walking alone, and no one was following. It wasn’t just pain from the recovery — my body was telling me something wasn’t right.  Just like every other instance, my body was insistent on a pain so severe that it made me call for the man in the sky.

Friends would ask, “How are you?”

Great, fine. Just not healing as fast as I’d hope,” I’d reply practically lying through my teeth because I didn’t have any answers.  The fib would then be followed by an exclaiming, happy heart face emoji.  This all in an effort to indicate that I wasn’t hiding inside a cage, but was instead a warrior. The way so many seem to view me.

Meanwhile I hated leaving the house, much less get out of my infamous monogrammed, “B.K.O.”, black robe. I only wanted to be home, where I belonged, where I could put sorrow on the record player and smoke until I found a heavenly place to fall from grace.

.It was now March and by this point I had a decent amount of post op appointments with “da team.”

“Doc, I literally feel World War III erupting in my insides.”

I wasn’t saying that loosely, or to be insensitive given the current political climate, but quite frankly I felt that after months of bitching and getting nowhere, it was an obligatory analogy.  Even if my example was a bit crass, it turns out that I got my point across and at last the Doc’s realized I wasn’t complaining because it was good for my health. Okay, bad pun.  Yet, they actually began to understand and realize the severity of my pangs. I was no longer drowning under their belief that my body was behaving “normally,“

I digress — off to the Urologist. Let me tell you, I’ve never met a man more in love with his job. Urine banter and all that it entails to “void,” is his pride and joy and I had a feeling that just maybe, just maybe, he’d magic up the culprit to my evils.

Sure enough, he did. I was having issues doing one of the most basic human bodily functions, i.e. wee, wee-wee, number one, pee, piss, U-R-I-N-A-T-E — g*ddamnit.

“I mean, WTF is wrong with me now?”, I would scream to myself.

Nevertheless and lucky for me, after months of complaining, it only took two appointments with, Dr.Piddle for him to solve the current mystery this body of mine riddled.

A Magician, perhaps — or just a man so passionate about liquid body waste that he becomes golden, baby. Of course it took several uncomfortable and down right miserable tests that forced me into a state of meditation that my mere existence relied upon.

Once the worse was over, the mystery was revealed. My abdomen/pelvic region had been so invaded over the course of the past few years that my muscles, including my bladder, is in a constant spasm state. Suddenly the hell I had been enduring made perfect sense — I was practically having constant f*cking contractions.

The real rabbit out of the hat was that there is no magic cure — except six months of physical therapy. Annoyed by the lack of instant gratification, I made the offering and obliged under his respective Doctor order.

Right after my first session of “PT”, as the cool kids call it, I decided that my body deserved physical therapy. It was time to let go of all the marks that have settled in my skin. Knead out the all of the suffering, trauma to my guts and the scar tissue both mentally and physically.

Since then I have returned to yoga, wake up during daylight, clean the house without paying for it later and come together with my mains for cocktails and a good old fashion gossip sesh’. Best of all, I have released the pause button on feeling secure enough in my health to make future life plans with my loving and endlessly supportive husband.

When you look at me, you wouldn’t know that I am lucky to be alive. You’d think I was the picture of perfect health. The long and short of it is that each day brings its own sets of challenges and I am privy to the fact that healing is a life long endeavor.  Even so, maybe this time it worked.

Updates to follow…

Love,
Britt x

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

#BSMHB – N.Y.E. Makeup ♡

Love,

Britt x

PSA: HAPPY N.Y.E. 🎉

How is it the very last day of 2015?  

Time is a concept that I just cannot seem to grasp.  It was a fast, but very busy year, filled with all sorts of ups and downs, highs and lows.  Needless to say I am extremely grateful to be here, to be alive and living, as I did not think I would make it to see 2016.  Fortunately, I am extremely blessed and my surgery went impeccably well.  The recovery process has been lengthy as expected.  Here’s a little Good Morning message from me to you on this New Years Eve.  Cheers to a happy, healthy and whimsical 2016, babes!

Always,

Britt x

PS-  Watch out for a second video today of a NYE makeup session! 💋