A BROAD, ABROAD WITH A BLOG, ✈

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.

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Love, Britt x

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One Thing After Another…

Well, the good news is that I have lost another twelve pounds and thirty-five since my diagnosis last July. Finally, I am getting back to my normal weight, slowly but surely. It’s now fun shopping in my own closet. Things that I was unable to fit in for the last two years now fit perfectly. It’s as though I have a whole new wardrobe. I am now more comfortable in my own skin; although I still have some more weight to lose it’s motivating to see the number on the scale dropping.

Since my diagnosis I have been trying to eat healthy for the most part, with the occasional treat. However, as of late my appetite has been non-existent. Living off of bananas and cuties (you know, those tiny tangelos). While it’s been nice shedding pounds, my body is rejecting all food and I am throwing up at least seven times daily. It’s becoming so frequent that throwing up has become a part of my daily routine and I can pretty much guarantee exactly when it’s going to happen. It has become so bad that I am paranoid to go out in public, for fear that I will be sick and not make it to a restroom on time.

I had a Doctor’s appointment with my Oncologist this past Monday and I was feeling so great that day, that I completely forgot and failed to mention my beyond frequent nausea and vomiting that has been occurring over the past month. We chatted about every other subject under the sun, yet it slipped my chemo infused mind that my seven time daily spewing was affecting my life in many ways and could not be a healthy side effect.

Once I remembered my failing to share the details of my recent hurling marathon, I called my Doctor to share the information out of sheer concern. My Doctor was shocked and concerned by the amount of times this is happening daily, especially considering I was not sick in this way during my twelve chemo rounds. In fact, I wasn’t once sick during chemo, as my only side effects were achy bones and fatigue. Of course, following my chemo I was diagnosed with “almost” debilitating neuropathy, which is slowly getting better as the days pass by. Initially, I thought that my throwing up may have to do with my neuropathy and thought that it had perhaps traveled to my esophagus. Clearly, I don’t have Dr. in front of my name, but I deemed myself a medical professional via WebMD.

When I expressed this to my Oncologist, she immediately ruled out any correlation to my severe neuropathy. I could hear in her voice the level of concern and hesitation on telling me the possibilities of my recurrent vomiting. After a moment or two of silence she explained that my symptoms were synonymous with having a brain tumor. A brain tumor? How could this be? Suddenly my day went from bad to worse and I felt as though the light at the end of the tunnel was quickly dimming.

After I digested the possible thought of having a brain tumor, my Doctor advised that she wants me to get a MRI of my brain immediately, along with another PET Scan, even though I had one less than a month ago. She went on to explain that if the MRI and PET came back negative, then the next step would be to see a Gastrologist.

Heaven knows that I have already been through hell and back over the last nine months. Suddenly my weight loss seemed so minor and the thought of my daily vomiting seemed scarier than ever. I have my MRI tomorrow afternoon at the hospital, then my PET Scan on Tuesday. In the meantime I will continue to keep my upbeat attitude in hopes that it is not related to a brain tumor. I ask that you all say a prayer for me for negative results and send all of your good vibes my way. As always thank you for the ongoing love and support. I couldn’t make it through without all of the kindness and encouragement that I constantly get from all of you. I will update as soon as I have more information. In the meantime, have yourself a fantastic weekend!

Updates: 03/31/2014

#Lifestyle #LifestyleBlog #Summer #Swim #Vintage #Fashion #retro #BSMHB #BrittOchoa #BeStillMyHeartBlog I www.bestillmyheartblog.wordpress.com I

Hello, lovers! I’ve been hiding under a rock the past few days working away at my book. I’m happy to say I am five chapters in and it’s coming along well. It’s been very interesting to relive the last nine months and has brought up a lot of different emotions, both happy and sad. It has made me realize how far I have come and how much my mind, body and soul has endured over the last nine months of my life. Certainly it has made me a much stronger person, even though I feel weak from time to time and let my situation get the best of me.

I have some exciting updates to share. First and foremost, I have been hired by an online magazine to be a writing contributor/freelance writer. The magazine is geared toward women and cancer, but other topics will be discussed that will appeal to a larger audience. I’ve been working on my first few columns, so once the website officially launches, be on the lookout for my updates. I am very excited about the opportunity for many reasons. I am happy to be afforded the opportunity and experience to write for a magazine and strengthen my writing muscle, as well as bring further awareness to cancer and working closely with strong, independent women. I feel I will learn a great deal from this experience and can’t wait to share more details with you all!

Secondly, I had my first Doctor appointment with my Oncologist in about a month. It was so wonderful to see all of my friends that work in the office and I was well received with big hugs. It’s amazing how much you bond with the Doctor’s and nurses that are responsible for making you a whole person again. I truly don’t know what I’d do without them. They took some blood to see where my tumor markers and numbers are at since being off of chemo for the last month and a half. So, fingers crossed that my numbers have remained low since chemo. I shared with my Doctor that my neuropathy is still around, but slowly and surely getting better day by day. Over the last three weeks I have been keeping myself very busy and that has helped both mentally and physically to cure the neuropathy. As I keep telling myself, a body in motion stays in motion. Steve and I also met with a social worker that will begin seeing the both of us on a regular basis. For a long time I was too prideful to seek out counseling or to talk to anyone professionally speaking, however I have finally given in and think it will do Steve and I a world of good to discuss and work through everything that we have going on since my diagnosis. I realized it takes a strong person to admit that help may be needed and we both look forward to the benefits this will bring.

Lastly, I have been trying to go up on my rooftop to swim each day and get some sunshine. It’s amazing what a little vitamin D can do for you. Since getting sunshine each day, my mental state has been much more positive. I am trying to soak in as many rays as possible before we enter the Arizona summer. Thankfully it’s been a beautiful spring and there are plenty of beautiful days ahead.

I hope you all have a wonderful week. I’ll be updating the blog later this week!

Love,

Britt x

Are you there God, it’s me, Britt…

#Spirituality #Cancer #Life #Death #quotes #BSMHB #BrittOchoa #BeStillMyHeartBlog I www.bestillmyheartblog.wordpress.com I

I struggle to say this aloud as well as typing it, propelling my thoughts and beliefs into the universe.  For those who I know personally, you would realize that I did not grow up in a religious setting.  My Mum was of the belief that I could make up my own mind about spirituality, religion and who I define as my God.  Holding all of the cards as to who I presume God to be, I have been an extensively spiritual person. There are many things and experiences that I could share in an effort to better outline or host my level of spirituality, but I will spare you of the gritty details.  Lets just say that there have been a number of incidents as to which I was met with my spirituality.

During difficult times, many people cling to what it is they decipher God to be, as well as how they define death in the ended phase of immortalization.  For me, I have remained in tact with my spiritual resolutions, trumping specific identification for which I believe my God to be.  In fact, the spirits that I feel have guided me through this life thus far are the family members with whom have passed onto the other side.  I’m not saying I pray to them in an effort to save my life, but I listen to them deep within my heart and soul and look to my gut feelings on what they would say if they were alive today, as I believe they are marching me through this challenging time.

Just the other night, I lay in bed from the time I rested my head on the pillow, alongside the glimmer of the nearly full moon, and did not sleep the entire night through as I watched the sun arrive with the following day.  As I lay in bed with the slight murmur of my husband and dog’s snores, I thought deeply about everyone who has been in my life, going from the start of my twenty-eight years, all the way through those that are in my life today.  Relying on my faint memories all the way through my large, life impacting recollections, I spent a moment or two on every memory that could be relived inside of my chemo infused mind. Particular and distinct aspects of my reminiscence struck a smile, enticed my nerves and in some cases brought tears to my eyes.  Realizing that every single person I have been lucky to meet and carry a relationship with has made my life up to this point and each held impacts, some more significant than others but nevertheless appreciated and important.

This cinematic approach to my life so far distracted me through the night and inevitably begged the question as to why I was inventorying life, my life.  I have mentioned before that thoughts about the afterlife and dying was a real thought process when battling and balancing life with Stage IV cancer, or any stage of cancer for that matter.  Of course I do my best to put on a smile and tell myself and convince others that I am still the happy go lucky person I once was, believing that I held all the cards for my life and death was a formidable postscript.  However, in the deep, dark hours of the night leaves you discerning things that you wouldn’t dare share with the world, speak aloud or even think of during daylight.  I know that despite my diagnosis, it is not a death sentence, yet it surely comes in the form of a pink slip.  Similar to the dreaded pink slip, cancer clambers itself into your life and you’re left feeling as though you are getting fired in this job that we refer to as life and livelihood.  Suddenly your only job is to rid yourself of the cancer, some are able to find a new “job” and others remain “jobless” and unable to work at being alive anymore.

As the morning approached from the sky up above, the lingering image of myself was in a casket.  It was such an organic and real image that it left me shaking in my boots, or rather my bed.  The representation of that train of thought caught me off guard.  Was it healthy to be having these thoughts, was I giving in and giving up?  Those were some of the questions I asked myself as the thought was imprinted in my mind, almost as though I was soring above myself and found that I was rationalizing as to what I thought my deceased loved ones would advise me, I felt their presence.  Somehow it was an uncomfortable reaction with the thought of them and the feeling of their company.  Frantically attempting to imagine anything else became a difficult task.  I was now confronting my thoughts of the night and reasoning as to WHY I traveled down memory lane.  They say your life passes before your eyes and when you are about to meet your maker, your life’s theatre debut takes place in the cognizance of your mind.  By my own grasp, the momentous sensation of my loved ones that passed were in attendance left me bursting into tears.  In my own, painstaking mind, I viewed their attendance as homage to my significant spirituality, but also a fear that with all of my retention in the night and weighty reminiscence, the loved ones were here to “collect me”.

After catching my breath, I escaped to my bathroom, rinsed my face and told myself that my gut feelings were due to lack of sleep.  Perhaps I needed to relive some of my fondest memories to realize how truly fortunate I have been all of my life.  I was raised with love and care from my family, my friends and now a connection with beautiful peers battling the same disease.  I then chose to stop thinking about death and enjoy what I have in front of me.

This week, Steve decided to take time off of work to comfort me and spend some quality time going on small adventures and enjoying this thing we call life.  They say life is a matter of arrangement and matter.  I am choosing to simply “arrange” my feelings from focusing on what the afterlife is and realized that all that “matters” is that I live everyday to the fullest and compartmentalize thoughts of death to the far corner of my mind.  Feeling refreshed after my optimization of each and every memory and feeling, I have adopted a mantra to get me through.  An object in motion tends to stay in motion; an object at rest tends to stay at rest.”  So, for today and the days ahead, I vow to myself that the key is to stay in motion, keep fighting and assure myself that I can rest when I am dead.

Love,

Britt x

The Battle Between My Own Two Feet

Right- so here it goes.  I am going to share the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth as to why I have been absent from writing and sharing my story.

Over the last month or so, I have been distant in all aspects of my life and most importantly jotting down- or typing rather, my experience with cancer, chemo and the whole lot to share on my blog.  You see, when I was first diagnosed with cancer I was mad but determined, angry but untiring and sad but strong.  I was ready to take cancer into the ringer and show it whose boss, all the while remaining poised with pronounced finesse.  For the first few months of my diagnosis I was on a power trip.  Cancer creeped into my life without permission and I was determined to execute and evict its residency inside of my ill body.  Don’t get me wrong, when I use past tense examples of my willpower towards my situation, I am still extremely spirited in my steadfast approach to rid myself of this horrendous disease, but I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t get more difficult by the day.

On that note, that carries us to today and the last month or so since I have been missing in action.   Roughly a month ago, my Oncologist abruptly declared that I was going on a “break” from chemo.  The reason being is that the neuropathy side effects from the chemo was leaving me nearly handicap, unable to utilize my hands and unable to walk.  Her concern was that if my chemo were to continue at this time, then the chances that the neuropathy would remain long term was a real distress on both my Doctor and myself.  The Oncologist at this point had prescribed everything under the sun and nothing seemed to be working to cure my incapacitating neuropathy.

The days would pass, without me seeing the light of day.  The only view that was available to me was that of my ceiling, a blank, empty space in which I could relate to; I felt like a shell, my body was physically there but the depression that seeped in was insurmountable.  I found myself unable to do pretty much anything.  Unable to write my blog for therapeutic purposes, unable to take Keg on a walk and sadly unable to stand on my own two feet.  It finally hit me.  Although chemo is not something I would sign up for as an elective, at least I was able to get out, I had a routine and I was able to see and talk to other patients; someone to possibly relate to.  It’s not that I didn’t appreciate everyone in my day to day, or those caring for me, but I was feeling so far down the rabbit hole that I couldn’t cope with the fact that I couldn’t relate to anyone anymore; in which chemo allowed me to do so and without chemo every other week, it left me with a sense of dejection.

As difficult as it is to admit, there have been many days within my gloomy outlook where I felt that death would be the easier avenue.  I would no longer be in excruciating pain, I wouldn’t feel like a worthless human being that lives a life on a king size bed, as well as burdening those around me to take care of me and worry about me night and day.  There were a handful of days in which I called Steve at work when I was having dark thoughts with the possibility of self-harm.  Although I truly don’t believe that I would ever go through with such a thing, the feeling I had inside me was something I had never experienced before and within the last month I became unrecognizable to myself.  Where was the girl that was so eager to knock out her component? Gone.  She was gone and as much as I tried to dig deep to resurrect her, the sadness monopolized the happiness and the despondency remained.

Now, here we are, coming out of the shadows of the last month and although I haven’t discovered the other end of a rainbow, I am now seeing specks of light and hope.  I had a PET Scan and was told that my tumor markers are at an all-time, manageable low, coming in at 1.8.  This was exactly the news I needed to hear as it made me realize that the fight hasn’t been all for nothing.  No, the fight I started was merely in the frame of halftime.  I needed a little break, I was feeling defeated, but I soon put my boxing gloves back on and was ready to keep on, keepin’ on.

Just within the last few days, my neuropathy is beginning to die down and I am finding a tad more balance on my feet and more feeling in my hands (hence the reason I am now able to update my blog, as I can type once again).  Since feeling better, I was to embrace all of my good days and enjoy them to the hilt.  I want to be able to get out of bed, put some makeup on and do basically anything, with the exception of lying in a bed.  At this point, I am averaging about three days of feeling well and the remainder feeling bad.  However, because I am now being granted a few good days, I will embrace them and consider myself lucky to have a little bit of normalcy left.  Although my updates might be few and far between as I will not always be able to type, I will do my best to update the blog and if nothing else, try to write on my good days so I may process everything therapeutically, as it has helped me since day one. Thanks again for all over the continuous support, love and encouragement.

There are many resources out there if you or a loved one is seeking some guidance and/or just to talk to someone.

  • Cancer Support Community. Look for a Wellness Center in your area.  Many times they offer free amenities, such as yoga, to meditation, to support grounds.
  • National Suicide Prevention Hotline:  1-800-273-8255
  • American Cancer Society>Find Support and Treatment = www.cancer.org

Love,

Britt x