Happy New Year!
The last month of 2015 proved to be crazy — to say the least. Here’s a little re-cap of everything that went down with my operation and how I am recovering, as well as what’s up for 2016.
The last month of 2015 proved to be crazy — to say the least. Here’s a little re-cap of everything that went down with my operation and how I am recovering, as well as what’s up for 2016.
Upon my #2 year “cancerversary” I reflected upon the journey with some Q&A:
Q: What makes you smile these days?
A: Air conditioning first and foremost, but otherwise it’s just the simple things; a funny text, a song on the radio that triggers a lovely memory and of course the fact that I am lucky enough to get the summer free from chemo. A break from treatment has left a permanent smile on my face.
Q: Did you learn anything in your second year of battling cancer?
A: YES! Not all things are fair, but that is the nature of life. I’ve realized that I am here on a spiritual journey and if I’m open, l will see the beautiful lessons all around. But most of all, I’ve learned to accept my defeats and try to grow from them instead of letting them control me in a negative way.
Q: What has been your most memorable moment in the last year?
A: Ah! There are too many, this last year has been so good to me. I’d say my most precious moment was when I was in Liverpool with my Nan and a street violinist played, “You are my Sunshine” and my Nan sang it word for word to me. It was an emotional, raw moment that I’ll never forget.
Q: What have you done to make your life less stressful?
A: I’ve stuck to my zero bullshit tolerance. I often walk on such a fine line of being content and depressed and in order to remain on the positive side of things I’ve learned that I need to protect myself. It’s a challenge.
Q: Are you carrying any excess baggage into your third year as a cancer patient?
A: No. I’d say I am in a pretty great place; my tumor markers are at an all time low, my body is getting stronger each day and I am focusing on my mental health constantly. I’m also creatively in a good place, with a lot of different projects in the works.
Q: Is there anyone that deserves a big “THANK YOU”?
A: Anyone that has given me love, encouragement and support over the last two years. I always feel the love. Steve and my Nan are saints and I can never thank them both enough, especially.
Q: What are your top three goals for the next year?
A: Obviously first and foremost is to try and stay as healthy as possible, with the thought that my terminal illness is not a death sentence and try to live as normally as I can. I’d also like to put a lot of energy into my creative power, publish the book that I am co-authoring and manifest a steadfast voice for cancer patients and survivors.
Q: What has the biggest lesson been so far with having cancer?
A: Sometimes painful things can teach us the most beautiful lessons. I’ve seen people’s true colors, as well as my own and I’ve realized that peace really does have to come from within.
Q: What are your fears?
A: Letting fear win. Once fear enters the mind, it takes over the body and I can’t afford to let that happen.
Q: What have you struggled with in the last year that you want to change?
A: Communication was my biggest struggle this year. I have a tendency to be such a loner and keeping up with people and connecting sometimes takes a lot of energy for me. But, I realize the significance of my relationships and I’d like to be able to reciprocate my time and energy more often and freely. It is so important.
Q: What can you do today that you were not capable of a year ago?
A: TRAVEL! A year ago I was on travel lockdown and too sick to pack up and go. This year I’ve managed to travel and it’s been bliss! My two biggest trips were Hawaii with Steve and the UK with my Nan. My world opened up again this year and changed me forever.
Q: What word best describes the way you’ve spent the last year of your life?
Q: In one year from today, how do you think your life will be different?
A: Hopefully my cancer will still be in a manageable place, where I can continue to have a quality of life. Second to that, I hope to get published and see the book lined on shelves for everyone to read. High hopes, always!
Q: Are there any issues from the cancer that you continually avoid to talk about?
A: Yes, the dynamic that takes place with family members when cancer is in the mix. Those you think would be there aren’t always able to show up for you and it is difficult to accept. So far the thing I hate most about cancer is what it can do to a family.
Q: What is something that no one, not even cancer can take away from you?
A: Writing. At times cancer can take away my will to live, but writing let’s me bleed and reminds me that I am alive.
Q: When you look into the past, before your diagnosis, what do you miss the most?
A: Pre-cancer me is such a stranger now. I miss feeling young, wild and free. Cancer can feel like a trap at times and my body feels ancient.
Q: What is the #1 change you need to make in your life for the next 12 months?
A: Let go of what I can’t change. I think that’s a quote, but accepting change is what I need to change.
Q: What have you learned about yourself in the last two years that you have been a cancer patient?
A: I’m pretty fu*kin strong! Also, the importance of mental health — it can be so tricky!
Q: What is one thing right now that you are totally sure of?
A: That you can never really be sure of anything.
Q: What question do you often ask yourself?
A: Where is my mind? I sing it to myself though, like the Pixies.
Q: Time or money?
A: Time, it’s priceless.
Q: What is your wish for the next year of your life?
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.
Hello, my shining moonbeams. It’s been a minute. Within that minute I have entered what I feel to be a new phase in my life, a freeing phase that is catapulted by happiness. For nearly a month, I spent time across the pond and rediscovered my life and the things I want out of it.
To start off, wow. Can I just say – I LOVE ENGLAND! I’ve always known that and I had been there times before, but this time felt different. As most of you know, if you follow my story, I have been on travel lock down since my cancer diagnosis in the summer of 2013. By nature I am a jetsetter. I enjoy being in unknown places, without being attached to my “real” life and the troubles within. When I travel, there is a certain romance to it, a freedom that allows you to be whomever you want and for me, that is living without a terminal illness. I’m able to go back to being me; an adventurer with thirst in my blood for worldly experiences. When I was diagnosed, I felt that one of the biggest losses to having cancer was the fact that I could no longer be as free as I wished to be. My citizen of the world passport would no longer apply and I’d be stuck doing treatment after treatment without an escape. My escape had become writing. If I were no longer going to be able to leave and experience life, then I’d write about it, which I have.
This year, 2015, I vowed to myself that it would be different than the last two, that I would yet again spread my wings and live a little. In the beginning of the year I approached my Doctor and pleaded for some independence from my chemotherapy week after week, to which she obliged and advised that 2015 could be my year of travel with chemo squeezed in between. It was the best news I had heard in quite some time and immediately booked a trip to Hawaii with Steve-O and planned the trip for Nan and I go travel to the UK together to attend my beautiful cousin’s wedding and share laughs and love with the family over there that we don’t get to see often enough.
The trip was so important to me and I wanted to ensure that I soaked everything in. My Nan in her very own way was my wish-granting factory, as she made the trip happen. Being that we were returning to her home town, I was fortunate enough to visit her previous homes, where she grew up, the house she was born in, the hospital she had my Mum and Auntie Bev in, where my Granddad went to college, where the two of them were married and so much more. Being able to experience England through her eyes was more than my hearts desire and something I will never be able to thank her enough for.
There were endless amounts of stories, laughs, fish and chips, tea and best of all time with family on both my Nan’s side and my Granddad’s side. My roots are in full force over there and it was lovely to get to know that side of myself so much more. The posh wedding of my cousin, which we attended, has built memories that will last a life time, as well as traveling to Chester, Liverpool and all over the Wirral with my cousin’s and their other halves, of course also visiting London with the best company and seeing each and every friend and family member. Howls were had, love was expressed and England will forever hold the key to my heart. Quite literally, as Nan and I locked our love on Albert Dock in Liverpool and threw the key into the River Mersey. Our loved ones can continue to visit us in Liverpool, even though we may not physically be there, our spirit will always remain.
Since I’ve been back I have been reliving each moment in my head and finding it difficult to write about. My time spent there was so special, that it is difficult to express. I feel rejuvenated and feel I have a new sense of direction for my life. Suddenly gears have started moving upon my return and from that, fresh goals have emerged. I’m super excited about the future and what it holds and as things get closer, I’ll share more deets.
In the meantime, check out some photos from my trip and watch out for some upcoming projects and collabos. Big Kiss x.
Follow me on Instagram for daily updates: bestillmyheartblog
Happy December, my friends and for those in the states, I hope Thanksgiving brought warmth into your bellies and hearts. It hardly feels like the Holidays, being that I live in the desert and it was a balmy 87° degrees on the very weekend that Arizona and the rest of the country kicked off the holiday season. Don’t even get me started on how quickly this year has passed. I swear I feel as though I have merely blinked and the year is nearly over. I am also aware that I am not alone in that sentiment. However, clearly I am not here to talk weather or how quickly a single year can pass before our eyes. I just figured I’d check in again.
One thing I didn’t stick to this year was my blog; the very same blog that brought me so much delight, with a pure connection with my readers and allowing for a genuine therapeutic outlet. Admittedly, I fell short of sharing many of my experiences of life with cancer, particularly as a person in her twenties. Yet, you all know and have been so patient and understanding in that I have lacked the “umph” to do much of anything at all.
Over the last few weeks, my so-called “umph” has been restored. Not to discount, of course, that all that ails me continues to do so, being no better or worse than my early days on this cancer journey. In fact my current statuesque is a dash on the unsteady side, as my tumor markers are similar to playing Russian roulette; one week they will be extremely low and there seems to be progress and then the following week they have sky rocketed, where boisterous concerns begin to be flown around. When I visited my Oncologist today, we were going over the different elements to my chemo and the method to madness of it all; taking control over my life and my cancer. Pondering whether the designated treatment is doing it’s job and if my tumors are shrinking or perhaps the opposite and my body and tumors aren’t responding to the chemotherapy, at all. In my case, neither one of those scenarios is my situation. Leave it to me to have unruly tumors that are difficult to pinpoint patterns, their plan and very own method to their madness. We’ve been reviewing my tumor markers bi-weekly to attempt to make sense of it all. One week the markers will be incredibly low, which leads to talks of lowering my chemotherapy and even possibly removing one of the five concoctions all together which would allow for more energy. Then the following week the numbers as I have said earlier, skyrocket leaving everyone, including my Oncologist, a smidgen perplexed as to what the actual situation going on inside of me is.
It makes sense though, because just like everything in life, it’s a mystery. I’m not sure that I will ever be able to make sense of my cancer, nor will I ever be able to make sense of my roller-coaster ride of tumor marker results week over week. Instead, my mind has recently chosen to compartmentalize those things and I have been pushing myself to live the life I daydream about, as I have been laid up in bed for the past year and a half. Be brave, push the limits of my pain and makes strides towards healing the mental tolls that cancer has imparted on me. If you were to ask me how I arrived at this ever-evolving place of newfound energy and peace, I’m not entirely sure if I would be able to pinpoint it. However, a little something is telling me that it began with a little appreciation.
It began with reassessing how I was regarding my appreciation for my surroundings; people, things, places, etc. Once I reevaluated all of those things, it was representative of the life I want and that perhaps I had been taking most things for granted. There was a sudden shift in my mental state. My lack of genuine appreciation to the people in my life, the roof over my head, food on my table and even despite my unfortunate health circumstances, I understood that I am still here, breathing and on the journey that is life. It reminds me of a certain quote by Tony Robbins, “[If you] trade your expectation for appreciation, the world changes instantly.” It truly starts right there.
Pushing myself beyond the limits of my pain has been very challenging. Most of 2014 has been spent in the confines of four walls and a comfy bed. I’m sure to some that may sound very lovely, perhaps a vacation from life. However, as I lay day after day, I couldn’t help but begin to think about life and all of the things I had wished for myself and my dreams to capture the world by it’s heartstrings, but then losing everything I had worked for and still wished for. I had begun to see the world with a different vision and was maddened by all of the things I didn’t think I was capable of doing or having since being diagnosed as a Stage IV cancer patient. Unsurprisingly, that is a hard pill to swallow and naturally, you wish for a new reality, or no reality at all due to the gloomy reality you are currently in. After such a long period of time and some much needed therapy throughout the later half of the year, it was then that a new reality finally began to sink in. For starters, I became more accepting of my cancer, forgiving of my situation and told myself that if I could find a way out of the gloom, I wouldn’t waste another minute being unhappy or living my life on a king size bed. I began to follow the rhythm of my wild heart and push myself to do things that once made me, me. Spending every day in bed is now something of the past, there are new winds in my sail and I am going to be more grateful for the things I am capable of accomplishing, rather than focusing on things I don’t believe I can do. But, psssst – anything is possible and it’s not bad to think you are capable of it all, because we all are. We are alive, damnit.
That said, as we spend the holiday season amongst friends and family, I will not be taking anything for granted and in the meantime I will continue to push myself beyond my cancer and fight for my place and purpose in this world. A PET scan will be taking place next week to try to gain some insight as to what my tumor(s) are doing and if there is anything to be concerned over. I’m a firm believer that what you think about, you bring about – so only good vibes allowed! As I had mentioned time passes so quickly, I am sure December will fly by and we’ll be ringing in 2015 before we know it! There are plenty of fun things planned for this month, so expect some updates sooner rather than later. As always, thank you for reading and continuing to support me so vigorously, it does not go unnoticed.
Just one last thing, thank you to the lovely anonymous reader who sent me this picture today. It melted my heart.
Peace and love always.