Hollywood Script: Cancer & Love

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Typically I scoff at Hollywood’s portrayal of cancer.  Particularly chemotherapy.  Only because I have personal experience. I don’t know.  Maybe it’s me.  Maybe not.  But, in any case I feel that it doesn’t do it any justice.  And of course it wouldn’t and it shouldn’t.  They’re acting, after all and  I wouldn’t want them and by “them,” I mean the actors, to feel even a fraction of what a cancer patient has to go through.  However, I will say, this chemo round, chemo 3.3 we’ll call it, has been pretty on par with the Hollywood script of what cancer looks like.  

Keep in mind, my head is now buzzed.  So from a physicality standpoint, I look a little more like a cancer patient these days, whatever that is supposed to mean.  I guess once again I am referring to what Hollywood depicts.  Picture a standard, five star type of white robe on a once meaty body that is slowly getting less and less thick by the day.  Each Doctor’s visit, the scale becoming less and less, something most women dream for under normal circumstances.  Pale, weak and hanging over the cold porcelain toilet.  Imagine your worst hangover times a squillion, headache and all.  Textbook chemotherapy, textbook Hollywood script.

Last weekend, my best friend, Crystal was in town.  My sister from another mister.  Seriously.  We grew up together.  My brother’s and sister didn’t come into the picture until I was eleven, so Crystal and I grew up like sister’s.  We met on Halloween.  One of my favorite holidays, next to New Years, where I met my other best friend Allison.  I meet all the greats on holidays.  Even meeting Steve the day before the 4th of July — so I count that.  I digress.  Crystal was in town and what I love about our friendship group is that we’re all inclusive.  We all gathered together and celebrated being alive, young, happy and the wonderful things that each of us have going on in our lives and the friendship we share.  There was a big group of us.  And a rare occasion these days,  as I have become such a homebody since treatment has picked back up.

When we got home from the Irish pub that we regularly attend when we actually do make it out of the house, Steve and I sat outside on the chaise lounge on the terrace of our condo.  It was far past closing time, so it must have been three in the morning.  I nestled my head into his chest and we both put our feet up on the table that was before us.

With so many serious conversations under our belt, we looked up at the stars and Steve whispered, “You’re not allowed to leave me.”  

I of course knew what he meant.  He didn’t mean leave him, as in pack up my belongings and move out and onward.  He meant leave him as in from earth — leave him alone in this big world.  I tenderly squeezed his hand knowing it was a promise I couldn’t make.  Tears began streaming down my face as my heart began to ache for him and selfishly, myself.

We sat in silence both knowing what the outcome would eventually be.  Without words it was as though we both realized our love and resiliency was bigger than any Hollywood movie script could ever depict with regards to both love and cancer.  We kissed under the stars like it was our first kiss almost seven lucky years ago.  Sometimes life doesn’t make sense, but I can’t think of anyone I’d rather figure it out with than my man-bun, Ben Sherman wearing, House of Cards obsessed, hubby. xx

Love,

Britt x

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Buzzin’: A Nod to Sinéad O’Connor

Life is short, talk is cheap — so I did it.  I buzzed the hell out of my hair (or Steve did,rather). We were able to capture it on film, as well as audio and I’ll be sharing them both separately.

It was a tough call as to whether or not I should take the risk of buzzing my hair.  I’m extremely vain at times and wasn’t sure if I’d feel feminine enough.  But, this morning after pulling out a glob of hair out, I knew it was a CHOICE that I wanted to make.  A choice that I decided upon because I didn’t want to have to deal with globs and globs every day.  I want control.

 

Love,

Britt x

#HospitalLife – In Pictures:

I am beyond thrilled to share that I have arrived HOME!  Late last night they determined that I was fit enough to return home and all of my efforts of putting up the fight of my life, certainly seems to have now paid off.  There is quite a descriptive post in the works, to walk through my latest health journey in words and how I feel that I have once again been afforded a chance at life. This has been an entirely transformative experience and one that I never imagined in my wildest dreams.  Somehow, my strength and resilience is at an all time high and because of that I have been peacefully healing —- mind, body and soul.

Here are a few pictures of the

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My hemoglobin levels were considerably low, in which case I needed a blood transfusion.  It never really dawned on me how wonderful it is that people donate blood, something I have always been too ill to do even prior to my diagnosis as I have always been anemic.  I ended up using two units of blood which ran for about six hours.  Shortly after I felt like a completely different person; less fatigued, less cold and returned color to my face.  Thank you to those who donate!

Red Cross Blood Bank Centers

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The day of my surgery I snapped an #instax polaroid of my baby, Zoi.  It seemed obvious to me that if I had her adorable little mug looking at me with those eyes of hers, it would push me to do everything in order to make it back home to her.  Aside from all of the tremendous amounts of love I received from people near and far, my amazing friends, family and of course my husband — Zoila was the one little (but actually very HUGE) incentive to show up, kick ass and get back on the road of life and viola! here I am!

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Anyone who follows along on my Instagram knows that my baby Godson holds the actual key to my heart.  He stole it from day one.  When his beautiful mom — my lovely friend, Michele visited at the hospital the day after my surgery, she brought along a one of a kind flamingo and it instantly brought ridiculous amount of smiles — and not just from me, but all of the staff, fellow patients and anyone who saw my trusty IV monitor as I wheeled it by my side throughout my stay.

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I’ll admit, my biggest complaint about surgery is that you are forbidden the basic human need of drinking water (or anything for that matter), prior to the procedure.  In my case, I was told that I couldn’t have anything from midnight until later in the night after recovery.  Quickly, my mouth became a desert and my need for water seemed like life or death.  Of course that is an exaggeration, but it is certainly how I felt.  As soon as I got the green light, which was about twelve hours later, I ordered “sips and chips” and I felt like I stumbled upon an oasis.  Dreamy does not even begin to describe the feeling of when the ice water cooled my lips for the first time.  Sometimes it really only takes the small things to make you feel a sense of nirvana.

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Before I had even been transported to my room, my two best girls had flowers ready and waiting.  Prior to my surgery, I couldn’t find the strength to speak to them.  Distancing myself for selfish emotional reasons seemed to be the only way I could cope.  I felt that if I spoke with them, I might expose that I thought I was going to die and that we’d never have an ABC reunion again.  Without fail, they stood by my side no matter what and made sure that I knew they were there with me, showering me with their love and non-stop support.   I love you both.

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I felt so much power behind this operation.  Power from prayer and positivity and all of the amazing thoughts that were put out in the universe in honor of getting through this operation with a successful outcome.  I feel cheesy every time I say it, but there is no way I would have been able to do it without all of you.  Every single person that took it upon themselves to take the time out of their day to wish me well and include me in their conversations with whomever they have faith in.  It would be fair to say that I feel endlessly blessed.  Seeing this gleaming photo at St. Joe’s Hospital and Medical Center seemed like a fitting vision for the morning after the operation.  What a beautiful sight to see (I can even see my neighborhood if I look really close).  

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On the same glorious walk as pictured above, I was marching along the halls with the most important women in my universe.  They guide me through every struggle and challenge and proudly walk by my side, even in the darkest of hallways.  There are not many words that can do this picture justice, other than, thank you and LOVE.

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Further exploring the hospital, my home away from home, I walked past my favorite piece of art adorned on the walls in the lobby of the Oncology ward.  This particular wall decor always seems to catch my eye.  I appreciate creativity and try to search for it wherever I may be.  I can especially appreciate when it’s in unexpected spaces and places.  Well done, St. Joe’s.

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Just two short years ago, Steve and I spent the night at the hospital on Christmas.  It was by far one of the more depressing of holidays.  I feel very fortunate that I will be able to spend this Christmas with my family instead of inside the hospital walls.  However, they do their best to make you feel in the holiday spirit.  To those who will be spending your holiday in the hospital, my Christmas wish is that you are surrounded by love and joy.  It will get better.

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One of my favorite little cheerleaders, Kambrell joined me at the hospital a few days after the procedure.  Seeing things through her eyes and the way she expresses her love for life, makes me feel equally alive.  She is one of the most special little girls I know and I’m so grateful to be a part of her world.

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Just a few of the many gorgeous flowers I received. THANK YOU! I was able to enjoy them everyday and smile thinking of each person and the memories we have shared.  I chose to donate the flowers to the Oncology ward of the hospital once I was released.  They were all so beautiful and I wanted other cancer patients to be able to enjoy them as much as I did.  Please know that your kindness has such an impact and made many others smile, as well as me.

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Last but most certainly not least, my Steve sent this to me the second night, once he returned home to our dogs, Keg and Zoila.  He always knows how to make me laugh, as he was wearing my #ASU hoodie and my satchel to carry Zoila, all in an effort to take Keg on a walk. He takes care of all of us so very well and I am the luckiest person to have such a brave, selfless and loving man.  Thank you seems so insufficient.  What else can I say? You’re top notch, my love.

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More to come soon.

Love,

Britt x

#2 “Cancerversary” Q & A:

#2 Cancerversary

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?

A: Transparent.

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?

A: Happiness.

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I F*CKING LOVE MY GIRLFRIENDS!

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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