I F*CKING LOVE MY GIRLFRIENDS!

WHO RUNS THE WORLD

If you drink too much, cuss too much and have questionable morals, you are probably my friend. Okay, all jokes aside, I don’t take the time often enough to say “I F*CKING LOVE MY GIRLFRIENDS!” and the thing is, I do. I’ve always been one of those lucky ducks when it comes to friends, whether past or present, I’ve always had solid girlfriends of all shapes, sizes and opinions. Absolutely there have been a few sour apples in the mix, but the rest of the batch has been unmatched.

After going through the trenches of cancer for the past two years, I realize that I have not been the greatest girlfriend in return. I’m notorious for forgetting to respond to text messages, I make plans and bail and even sometimes become self consumed with my own, crazy life that I don’t spend enough time expressing interest in yours. Yet all the while, without a doubt I still get love and you never fail to leave me off the invite list, even though you know I most likely won’t leave my house (((because, because))) and we can go days, weeks, months and even at times a whole year without spending more than an hour together, but at the drop of a hat I know you’d be there.

This one is for my girls;

Thank you for keeping it real when I have a tendency to do the most ridiculous things or have the most outlandish ideas. I come to you because I know you are wise and honest and will always have my best interest at heart.

To my friends that are now Mom’s — GOD BLESS YOU! None of you will ever truly know how in awe I am of you. I can barely remember to brush my hair and take my crazy pills and yet you manage to not only take the best care of your kid(s), but you also look crazy beautiful and effortless while doing it. I endlessly praise you!

To my friends who have traveling souls, you may not realize this but as a cancer patient I live vicariously. I have been very fortunate to be able to travel even going to Hawaii and the UK just this year, but it’s difficult due to energy levels, treatments, etc. It’s so lovely to see photos or hear stories of your travels, its beautiful to see the thirst people have for adventure and living life to its fullest and the way you see the world is wildly contagious and inspiring.

To all my #Girlboss friends out there, no matter what profession you are in, you work damn hard and deserve it all. Your insane ability to manage squillions of things at once and be on point as a friend is beyond me. Get it!

The fearless friends that hone in on things they love to do and put effort into practicing their craft. With having the attention span of a fly and the energy of a snail, the fact that, unlike me, you take the time to run a marathon or belly dance at the nearest coffee shop means you took the time to learn something, to better yourself and immerse yourself into your passions. How truly motivating, I mean, really.

My point is, I’ve been blessed with friends from all ends of the earth and all walks of life. We may not talk everyday or laugh over brunch and a mimosa(sss) on a regular basis, but in some way you all do what you do and still manage to be a brilliant friend. So, I guess what I am trying to say is, THANKS. On days that are a bit darker than others, I can still smile knowing that I can call the most kick ass babes, my friends.

Cheers, GIRLS!

Love, Britt x

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Time ⏰

This evening, during my nightly phone call to my Mum, the subject of time came up. I was asking when my younger siblings were going to be released from school for summer break, to which she replied within the next two weeks. This means that my baby brothers and sister will be another year older; one a junior, one a freshman and the baby of the family will be in seventh grade. It got me thinking, where does time go?

As a child we wait for so many things- a birthday, Christmas, school dances, getting our drivers license, graduation, then college. As adults we tend less to wait for things, as the time flashes before us in the blink of an eye and the real treasure is time itself. There isn’t a remote to pause, rewind or stop the hands of time, but somehow it seems as though everything is fixed on fast-forward and it’s astonishing how short a time it can take for things to transform. In life, our days are numbered, but our souls do not have calendars or clocks, nor do they know the notion of time.

Over the weekend, it was one of those times where I wish life came with a remote. I wanted to freeze time and soak up all of the contentment that life in that very moment had to offer. Friday began with my very best friend visiting from California, where we spent the day laughing and generally being our weird selves, followed by Saturday which was spent with our small gang, “ABC”, Allison, Britt and Crystal. My best ladies and I reveled in the Arizona sunshine by sitting poolside, coupled with amazing cocktails and lots of chatter. The time spent was precious and long awaited, but never the less fleeting in its momentary bliss. The day transitioned into night, where some other friends joined us whom we hadn’t seen in some time, along with our significant others. Happiness was shared all around and before I could clench to the occasion, it was over in an instant and I retrieved to enfolding my best friend in a goodbye hug. Just like that the visit had come to a close and we are back to counting the days until we would see each other again.

The busy and quickening weekend forged ahead and my lovely cousin, Tom and his beautiful bride to be, Steph, stopped in Arizona on their journey across America. Tom and Steph are visiting from England and although our time spent together was short lived before they were off on their next destination, we embraced every moment of their company, enjoying it to the hilt. The four of us explored Downtown Phoenix, whilst bar hopping and having a great laugh. Once again the time flashed before us and was over in an instant.

I’m so eternally grateful to have such amazing relationships and people in my life. Time spent with all of them is definitely time well spent. It’s the oldest story in the history of the world; one day you’re ten and planning for someday and then quietly without ever really noticing, that someday is today and that someday is yesterday and this is your life. Try to enjoy every moment that you are given, stop to appreciate the small things and most importantly hang on to the memories that make you happy, for the experience of them is what makes life truly worthwhile.

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Pool Day

BrittCody

Guys

CB Robes

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BestFrenz

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ABC2

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Love, Britt x

 

7 Rules

I’ve recently viewed this article floating around on Facebook and I had to share.  Many times, people do not know what to do, how to act or what needs to be done when being in close proximity of a cancer patient, going through chemotherapy.  To no fault of there own, there is a sense of awareness when knowing how to approach a cancer patient and say and act by doing the “appropriate’ things and react in a graceful manner.  This article serves as a fantastic guide when visiting someone with cancer, as well as has some staggering statistics of cancer, survivorship and truly how many people battle this grave disease.  I hope you can all take away something from this article and most of all feel more comfortable on the approach with cancer patients.

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At the stroke of midnight, 01 January, 2014, US Census Bureau statistics tell us that the population of the USA was 317,297,938. The American Cancer Society tells us that in the year 2014, 16 million out of those 317 million people will be diagnosed with cancer.

Half of all men will get cancer during their lifetimes

  • One-third of all women will get cancer
  • Three-quarters of all cancers strike after age 55
  • Fourteen million people are living with cancer; as survivors or current fighters
  • 1500 people die from cancer every day
  • 600,000 lives are lost every year

My brother Michael lost his life his life in 2012 to oral squamous cell carcinoma. Me, I’m one of thefourteen million survivors.

The numbers are clear. At some point in your life, you will want to visit a friend or loved one with cancer. It is scary as Hell. What to say? What to do? How do I help? We want to help, but we don’t know how. What are the rules for a visit with a cancer warrior?

My Seven Rules for Calling on the Cancer Warrior.

1)  Make absolutely, positively, 100% certain you are healthy.

Whether from the chemo, the stress of the illness, or their cancer itself, many cancer patients have compromised immune systems. A little bug or a sniffle that might put you a bit under the weather could have serious repercussions for the health of a cancer patient. Even without your bug raising serious problems, a cancer patient already feels lousy enough. Keep your sniffle-ly nose to yourself. If your kid stayed home sick yesterday because of some norovirus, stay home.

i)  Wear clean clothes. Your favorite sweater, the one a little kid goobered on yesterday in the queue at McDonald’s whilst you weren’t looking, might still harbor some Klebsiella or H. Influenzae.

ii)  Wash in. Wash out. When you enter the house, wash your hands properly with soap and running water for 30 seconds-that’s singing Happy Birthday through twice. Or use hand sanitizer. Wash them again on your way out. It’s a good practice.

2)  Make contact in advance.

My brother and I were as close as brothers can be. Yet, when he was deep in his cancer fight, I never dropped by. One, it’s just rude. Two, you never know what kind of day your friend is having. Michael really liked to make those contacts via text message. To a cancer patient, a ringing phone, when your pain and discomfort have just settled down enough so you can nap, is a huge and unwanted intrusion. Send a text. You might not get an answer. Don’t drop by ‘just to see if everything is all right.’ Most likely, your friend is getting some sleep.

Cancer, and cancer treatment, are exhausting beyond words. How exhausting? Picture yourself as you lie on the couch with your face turned towards the seat cushions. You hear something interesting on the TV. Now, try and imagine that you lack the energy to turn your head towards the TV to see what is on. Yep. That bad. Sometimes worse.

3)  Time limit your visit.

When you text to see if there is a good time to visit, give a limit.

“Michael, is there a good time today or tomorrow for me to stop by for a twenty minute visit?”

When those twenty minutes are up, get up and go. If your friend wants you to stay longer, s/he’ll let you know.

Even when we have cancer, when someone visits our home, we feel as if we are the host. Just to burn the mental energy required to be “the host” is a huge drain on very limited psychological resources.

4)  Contact the caregiver about gifts.

Before you bring anything with you, contact the patient’s caregiver. Radiation and chemotherapy play havoc with the senses. What to you is a lovely scented bouquet of flowers might kick off three hours of retching and vomiting for your friend. In addition, many people become highly sensitive to pollen during treatment. A plant might be nice. But ask.

We like to feed our friends and family when times are tough. Ask if there is anything special you could bring, and anything specific you should avoid. Just because your friend liked your lasagna two months ago, the smell of the tomatoes and basil might send her reaching for the waste bucket.

When Michael was ill, I brought him DVDs. He was a huge baseball and Detroit Tigers fan, so I brought him highlight DVDs from the Tigers amazing 1968 season. We were little kids then, just starting to fall in love with sports and our heroes. I also brought him Rocky and Bullwinkle videos. Mindlessly funny stuff. Norman Cousins, in his great book, Anatomy of an Illness, wrote at length how the Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, and the other great comedians of his youth helped him heal during his bouts with ankylosing spondylitis.

“I made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep,” he reported. “When the pain-killing effect of the laughter wore off, we would switch on the motion picture projector again and not infrequently, it would lead to another pain-free interval.”

5)  Avoid forced optimism.

Don’t be a cheerleader.

“You’re going to be fine. I just know it.”

“Bullshit,” says the patient. “I might freakin’ die. That’s why they’re bolting my head to that goddam table and irradiating my skull. That’s why my body is slowly being carved to pieces. That’s why I get bags of ugly yellow chemicals pumped into my body. You don’t know shit about my illness. I’m laying here, feeling like if I blink 2% too hard, my eyeball is going to fall out of my face, and if I swallow without thinking on it first, I’m going to be curled up in a ball in the bathroom for the next two hours heaving my guts out, while I try not to have shit come pouring out my asshole, and you’re sitting there telling me ‘You’re going to be fine. I just know it?’ ”

“What the fuck do you know? Get the fuck out of here. Jesus, you fuckingidiot!”

Don’t play pity poker. Don’t tell a story about your cousin who’s a cancer survivor. Fact is, in the midst of my cancer, I don’t care. I’ve got my own problems right here, thankyouverymuch. When I was struggling with my melanoma, I found inspiration in an older friend who was fighting a much worse case of esophageal cancer. As cancer fighters and survivors, we’re good at finding our own inspiration. Hang out with me, that’s all I ask.

6)  Physical contact. Ask first.

Cancer hurts. Sometimes, the pain cannot be imagined. Sometimes, a hug can be agony. Sometimes, you need a hug, a bit of human warmth and contact to remind you that you’re not alone. So ask before you hug. Pro-tip: Use your friend’s hug as your guide. As I was leaving my brother’s house, I’d always ask Michael if we could hug. When he said yes, I’d let him move towards me, and as firmly as he hugged me, I’d hug back, but just a bit softer. If you opt for a hand-squeeze, be just as gentle. Hard to believe, but some cancers cause such deep-seated bone pain that even a too-firm yet loving squeeze of the hand is agony.

What Should You Do?

7)  Be there now.

Ram Dass titled his seminal 1971 work Be Here Now. When you are with a cancer fighter, be there. Turn off your damn phone. Your twitter feed can wait. If your friend wants to talk; Talk. With. Them. Listen, really listen, to what they’re saying. They’re talking with their eyes, and body language, as well as their words. Pay some fucking attention. They want to watch a little TV with you, then watch some TV. If they want to lie back for a few minutes and take six or eight deep breaths, why don’t you join them? Lower your shoulders from up around your ears, relax a moment, and join them in several deep quiet breaths.

You do realize, don’t you, that you too, are stressed? You do realize that your angst fills the room? It is hard to watch someone suffer, someone in fear, someone in pain. Let your heart fill with compassion, not pity, and join with them in your heart for a few moments. Don’t share your heartache. Let go of your pain and watch them relax along with you.

In the Torah, Jews are commanded to perform acts of lovingkindness. Buddha says “He who attends on the sick attends on me.” In the Christian Bible, Jesus commands his followers to care for the infirm. The atheist cares for the sick because there is no greater service to humanity than to care for the sick.

Be gentle. Be kind. Be compassionate. Be there now.

Reference:  http://dadsroundtable.com/health_lifestyle/2014/03/7-rules-follow-visiting-someone-cancer/

Love,

Britt x

Drama Decline ½ ⅓ ¼

In my early twenties, I had more friends than I could count.  It was quantity over quality, who was up for the next party and then able to party some more.  Sure, I had my closest friends, but even some of those relationships fell by the waste side, while my priorities were about being fledgling, carless and inattentive.

As I reached my mid-twenties, my priorities began to shift and my hundreds of friends began to dwindle in a non-conjuring way, but nevertheless there was a shift in the needs and wants for all parties involved.  Soon, as I reached the peak of my later twenties, I have found that my circle has become even smaller, much more intimate and without agenda.

Through the experience of my cancer diagnosis, I am seeing everything through with no time to waste.  There has become this trajectory of tolerance and what I am willing to put up with for the sake of the relationship and on the contrary, things that I will not put up with because it seems meaningless in the big scheme of things.

When you begin to have that mindset, you also begin to look at those around you, the people that you let in your life and in time effect your life in some way.   People, my friends especially have become so transparent to me.  I’ve become more in-tune to their lives and the way they chose to live it, even if my observation is from afar.  There are those who will try to be anyone, other than who they are and those that make no excuse for who they are and keep it pretty real.

Typically speaking, those whom I am finding to be in disguise are the ones that drain you.  They find medial reasons to be dramatic, have a slew of goals but never find themselves acting on them and ultimately induce dramatics into your life, when you need it less and less.  Without sounding harsh or acrimonious, sometimes everyone needs to reflect on the relationships that they keep.  I want to mean something to someone wholeheartedly, not just by the short-lived moment and vice versa.  Friendships can be a laborious task, but drama-reduction is sometimes necessary for an overall quality of friendship versus quantity.

The pages of friendships past cannot be unwritten or rewritten and we should take those times with an appreciation, but sometimes all you can do is grow from that comradeship and wean yourself away, for the better of both parties.

Ultimately, I have really been given the opportunities to see who my true friends are during this testing time in my life, both old friends and new friend’s.  It has provided me the opportunity to reflect the friendships that will stand the test of time and of course those that served their purpose, even if briefly.  As your social group becomes smaller, you will realize that it is a lot more even-keeled, with low neglect and surmountable support, as friends should do.

Cheers to those of the past, the sweetness of the present and the foundation of our future.

Love,

Britt x