Chemo Butterflies: Finding Your Well-Being

 As I closed my eyes last night, I had the butterflies. You know, the rush of what’s to come with the new day ahead. Like going to Disneyland or the thrill of waking up on Christmas morning, anticipation met with flutters. Naturally I knew that the following day I would have to wake up and begin chemo yet again, but I was greeted with those same feelings. A bizarre excitement but nonetheless, I am that girl that shows up and never gives up. The girl that believes anything is possible and willing to work damn hard for it.

There I was the following morning at 7:45a. The sun splashed into every dark thought I had on the way to the clinic. I was in an accepting mind frame that made me realize that I must be grateful for the means at my disposal, to work out my destiny. It was also so clearly apparent on the drive to Mayo Clinic, that I have been given a mind and will power for this very purpose. Chemo is not my enemy; chemo is in fact my saving grace, my hero, my best friend.

Certain experiences have an affect on you, as does all experiences in life.   When the experiences are forged by the wisdom of pain, it can be a total awakening, opening your eyes, and naturally restructuring you. When you have that, I truly believe that the universe aligns you with what you need in that moment, raising your vibration to see things clearly and allowing you to see what is beneficial to your well-being. For me, that is chemotherapy.

It might not be a dream job, but it’s what is going to hold those vile tumors at bay and for that, sign me up. Of course, ego kicks in and some of the side affects are not so glamorous, one being an “acne like rash.” Seemingly they have creams and things to manage it, however it makes me giggle. The one nice thing that I have had since having cancer is my appearance. Not in vain way, but in the sense that I can slap on a cute outfit, some lippie and look healthy and alive, even with my buzz cut. However, this just sounds painful and I have to avoid the sun like a bat. Yet, somehow at the end of the day, none of that rubbish matters. I’d rather have a face full of acne or rashes and be around, than the alternative.

Immediately when the chemotherapy hit my veins it was an instant peace of mind. The venom that is going to get those bastard tumors and cells was now running free inside of me. Hell was about to be raised and to my surprise my Oncologist also added an immunotherapy drug which fights for your white blood cells/immunity to stay tip top, while also targeting the specific areas wherein the tumors reside. On the other hand, the chemotherapy will be attacking all of the cells and with the two combined; the battle in my guts will be under brutal attack. It was a long day, but I tolerated it like a champ, other than a bit of fatigue.

Healing is not linear; I will of course have my bad days as I go through this yet again. I was born to do hard things and I will never forget how far I have come, all of the things I have gotten through, all the times I’ve pushed on even when it seemed impossible. All the times that getting out of bed seemed like lassoing the moon and when I wanted to give up, but got through yet another day and another. And at the end of my day today, it truly was my version of Disneyland or Christmas morning, for it’s giving me the best gift, which is my life.

PS- I felt all of the love and vibes today — thank you to all! xx

Britt xx

Advertisements

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

SaveSave

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

#BSMHB – 1st VLOG of 2016

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.


Always,

Britt x

The Power of Positivity and your Health ☯

#Paris #Rain #Travel #Lifestyle #LifestyleBlog #Photography #Writing I #BSMHB #BeStillMyHeartBlog I www.BeStillMyHeartBlog.wordpress.com

I#Life #BSMHB #BeStillMyHeartBlog I www.BeStillMyHeartBlog.wordpress.com

I #BSMHB #BeStillMyHeartBlog I www.BeStillMyHeartBlog.wordpress.com

Humans, often times are dealt a similar hand of cards and faced with the same life challenges.  Whether it is financial, relationships, health or just all around stresses that life can dispense.  After doing some soul searching of my own, through my own various stresses, namely health, I began to become curious as to what the researched affects of an optimistic mindset has versus that of a pessimistic approach.  It has been said that positivity is half the battle, “attitude is everything…”  But in times of crises, does it really hold us up?  Could optimism be the placebo effect?

Often times we can’t see past our own sad stories, or we are too stressed to endure that power of positivity.  Medical records and the Mayo Clinic have reported that the power of positivity versus negativity can weigh greatly on your health.  “Indeed, some studies show that personality traits like optimism and pessimism can affect many areas of your health and well-being. The positive thinking that typically comes with optimism is a key part of effective stress management. And effective stress management is associated with many health benefits.” ( The Mayo Clinic, 2011). 

The basis of the two different types of outlooks comes down to coping mechanisms, as well as stress management.  One who tends to solve things, such as hardships with a sense of humor as well as active problem solving are often categorically optimistic people.  On the other side of the spectrum, those who tend to burry their head in the sand during tough times and avoid facing challenging obstacles are commonly pessimistic minded. Putting a positive spin on things doesn’t just help the mind and soul, but also the body and has even been said to cure the common cold, as well as other varying diseases, even some life threatening.  The standard behind this viewpoint on optimism and better health comes from the understanding that most often, optimists are take charge types of personalities.  Characteristically, an optimist is concerned with all areas of their life and improving upon their life, such as their specific diet, exercise, the amount of sleep that they get each night and lastly the people that they chose to surround themselves with.  All encompassing, this leads to a healthier lifestyle, with greater happiness and self-preservation against negativity.  On the contrary, pessimists typically have on their mud-colored glasses and reject ownership of their own contentment, often resulting in depression, higher stress and less satisfaction with life.

Unrelenting, we all have life stresses that we should not be ashamed of.  But, perhaps the outlook in which we take, will determine the outcome in which we will arrive upon.  Certainly there is a middle ground between rose-colored glasses and mud-colored.  It’s important that we see things through clear specs, but attempting to engage in positive thinking may enhance our overall life experience and who knows, perhaps our lifespan.

Next time you have a negative thought or approach to a situation, whether it be your health, finances, relationships or life in general, affirm yourself with the positives that you have going for you and it could mean the world of change.

Via the Mayo Clinic, exploration has been determined that optimism can reap the benefits of improved health through means of the following.

Health Benefits:  (The Mayo Clinic, 2011)

  • Increased life span
  • Lower rates of depression
  • Lower levels of distress
  • Greater resistance to the common cold
  • Better psychological and physical well-being
  • Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
  • Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress

Love,

Britt x

References:  www.mayoclinic.com