The Many Faces of Cancer: Soul Over Ego

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Cancer and I have an interesting relationship, constantly playing tug of war over this body and the life I was blessed with. The perpetual balancing on egg shells as evil has made a home out of my insides, leaves me to feel as though my own flesh and bones no longer belong to me. On a day to day basis I find myself living under caution tape due to the illness that comes with chemotherapy, as well as side effects of medications. This naturally leaves me drained of everything I have to give.

There are many faces and personalities that come along with cancer. By looking at the curated aesthetic of my Insta’, 90% of the photographs would seem to showcase to the world that I am a “normal, healthy” looking woman, with a fairly active life to boot. Although that is true, I try to keep myself up and face the darkness, I’ve found that I have gotten away from showing how quickly I can become utterly debilitated. It’s truly amazing how one minute I am a bright, lively person and then in an instant I don’t recognize myself, nor this life.

You’d think after four years of living and fighting cancer, reality would have settled in. After all this time it would start to make sense, it wouldn’t still shock me or feel like a nightmare. But the truth is, it never makes sense. And sometimes when something doesn’t make sense, I feel everything so deeply. Conversely it can also be difficult to feel almost anything at all, until it dawns on me all over again that I could have never imagined one day waking up sick and never getting better.

Since my fourth bout of chemotherapy started up again in June, I am now six treatments in. The second week of September I have a CT and PET scan to determine if chemotherapy is working on my numerous tumors throughout my abdominal region and liver. This time around I am a bit more nervous than usual, being that it’s my first scan since the evidence of disease reappeared rapidly following my HIPEC operation. Demons take control of my mind pre-scan thinking of all of the possibilities, particularly because I’ve been having a rough go at it. In spite of all that, I wear strength and darkness equally well and it will be nice to know where I stand against the enemy.

On occasion it’s rather difficult not to have a pity party of one, especially when you are witnessing from the sidelines the progression of other people’s lives — i.e. babies being born, career accomplishments and general life goals. Whereas for the last few years, my main goal has been survival, which becomes a full time job. Comparison as they say, is the thief of joy, but the trouble is I am living in the thought of tomorrow. I’m not living now, I’m waiting.

Keeping pretty quiet this summer, I’ve spent most of my days with my head in the toilet or lounging around the house, thus leaving the path that I travel feeling isolated and unfair. Then I try to remind myself that whoever our maker may be, perhaps using both my good and bad experiences is meant to develop my character. A refined character.

Sometimes it takes an overwhelming breakdown in an effort for an unbelievable breakthrough. My body is broken down and I’m still waiting for that break through. Nonetheless I will press on, knowing that I have wonderful family and friends that steady me, as they are my gravity. It remains comforting to me that some of the most extraordinary people are those who have faced defeat, struggle, pain and suffering. Trusting life will only give me what I can handle, I’ll continue to believe this experience is most helpful to my evolution and remind myself that it’s always soul over ego.

PS- Always be kind to people, you never know what they are going through — even if they are dolled up, lookin’ healthy! One of the many lessons I’ve learned from this cancer journey.

Love,

Britt x

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Hello, From the Other Side:

 

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The best thing about life is that everyday is a new opportunity.  As cliché as that may sound, it rings true.  Many of you know that on December 12, 2016, I underwent a rare procedure called HIPEC in an effort to provide myself with a greater opportunity to live.

There were many risks involved in having this operation, but without risk comes little reward.  I had to take that leap of faith in order to provide myself with more time and quality at that.  No doubt I had my reservations and up until the night before I was having serious second thoughts.

I’m signing up to be cut in half.”

 “Can I even endure this again, will my body be able to handle another major operation for the third time in three years?” I asked myself. My mind would not and could not stop operating on all cylinders.

Saturday, December 10 I had just been out with my Mum for a lovely day of brunch and pedicures.  It was special, quality, time before I was going to go into the hospital in just two short days.  After our pleasant day she dropped me off and Steve was at his parents house.  I lay on my bed as I was pretty worn out from the whole day and was going to try to catch a nap, when suddenly something came over me and I began thinking about the last few weeks prior and how I’d spent time with the people I love most; quality one on one time.  Were those my goodbyes?  I immediately began to shiver, my lips turned blue, my breathing became increasingly difficult and my body tense.  I thought I was dying right then and there.

As quickly as I could I called my Nan and word travelled fast.  She along with my Mum and Auntie Bev were on their way, as well as one of my very best friends, Allison.  Steve, too immediately left his parents.  No one truly knew what the situation was but knew in any case I needed immediate attention as my normally ever so strong brick walls had come crashing in on me.

Once they had arrived, I was clearly still very much alive but also in a state of panic and still freezing and stiff. They comforted me and Allison even called her brother with whom is an ER Doctor to get some medical advice on what they should do since I was refusing to go to the hospital.  If it actually was my time, I wanted it to be in my own home, not the cold hospital.  Her kind brother suggested that I meet everyone halfway and allow the paramedics to come and assess the situation and I obliged, particularly because those were Steve’s wishes as well.

Long story short, there were about five paramedics that came and determined I was having a forceful anxiety attack and low and behold my walls did cave in on me.  After awhile I calmed down and I was so grateful to have them by my side.  And I was happy that it happened when it did and not the morning of the surgery. For some reason I believe that, that freak out needed to happen in order for me to actually go through with the surgery, for me to know that everything was going to turn out okay in the end.

It was now time to be the queen I know I can be.  It was Monday and it was show time.  I rolled into that operating room feeling free of anxiety or fear, but instead excited for what was on the other side, post operation, despite the brutal recovery.

The Doctors practiced their magic and before I knew it, I woke up in the intermediate care unit.  I felt fabulous as the drugs from the operation were still in my system, even making a video of the news that had been shared with me that I was “CANCER FREE!” It felt so good to say those words, even if I was in la-la-land.

However, as the course of my stay at the hospital got longer and longer, the Doctors became less and less liberal with that word.  In turn leaving me to wonder what any of it really meant, even having it reiterated today at my follow-up visit with my surgeon now that I’m completely clear headed.  Where do I go from here and am I free of cancer?

The truth is, I’ve won the battle but not the war.  By having this surgery they have removed any and all signs of tumor that currently exists in my body, by cutting me open to remove them, scraping my insides and attacking with chemotherapy.  Therefore at this time I’m free of cancer.  However, I still remain a Stage IV cancer patient as I have had recurrences in the past, ones which have recurred rather quickly I might add, so I am considered a VERY HIGH RISK patient.  My cancer could come back tomorrow, next month or two years from now.  The moral of the story is I will be under surveillance non-stop by my Oncologist and looked after by the pros.  Naturally we all are hoping for the best-case scenario, but he kept it real with me, which I appreciate.

In the meantime, I’ve been home for the last week and a half recovering and it’s going well.  Slowly but surely I’m getting back to my old self.  I cannot express the gratitude I have for all of the love I’ve received leading up to the surgery, during and after.  It truly warms the cockles of my heart.  Now we are just trying to get through the holidays and get back into our routine.  When things get too routine, I just need to keep myself humble and remember that everyday is a new opportunity.

Happy New Year, my loves.

Love,

Britt x

My Michele, Ma Belle: Alfresco We Shall

1933942_1180777715018_4109152_nEvery time I think of my tender hearted and dear friend, Michele, The Beatles song enters my quirky brain, Michele, ma belle, these are words that go together well, my Michele.  In fact I often associate people with songs, or maybe the other way around, but either way she is my spirit sister.  We met years ago at American Express when we were both working corporate America.  Not that there is anything wrong in that.  We are both just done with that phase of our life now.  She’s blessed with two beautiful boys and has blessed me with a Godson that I often gush about.

After going to bed yesterday feeling kind of crummy, my Michele text me and as shown below, this is exactly why I love her. Tonight we are going to have a candle lit dinner à la rooftop, makeup free, laughing above the beautiful desert and cityscape of Downtown Phoenix.  We may even cry a tad because that’s what we do and then we’ll laugh a little more.  But all in all, thank you, my Michele.  You don’t know how much you impact my world.

Here’s our loony conversation, telling her to show the lady at the Vietnamese restaurant my picture because she knows me and will therefore automatically know what we want.  Brilliant if I do say so myself.  We’re like Miranda in Sex & the City, except with Pho. Always a laugh, with my Michele.

PS- Don’t bitch at me bc I know The Beatles version of My Michelle is with two ll’s but MY Michle is only one. So there.

Bon appétit and cheers,

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

Smoking Gun: How to Get the Perfect Smokey Eye With Maybelline New York

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For most people a rock and roller smokey eye is best suited for after dark.  However, I am just the opposite, I am hysterical and I prefer smokey 24/7.  In fact, it is much more difficult for me to attempt the “natural” makeup look, as apposed to a heavier, more MAC inspired look, if not otherwise a classic red lip.

I am a firm believer that a smokey eye is a skill that every girl should have in their back pocket.  Many girls think that they have it down, but there’s a fine line between looking like a badass bitch or a raccoon.   The good news is, practice always makes perfect, if you haven’t already perfected the panda look. 💋

Here are my daily gothic steps:

  • Begin by priming your face, including your eyes.  Do not put your foundation/concealer/powder on prior to your eye makeup for this look.
  •  Utilize eyeshadow primer or an under eye concealer all over the top of your eye lid,  leading up to your brow bone.  This will act as a base coat for your smokey eyeshadow and will prevent the residue dust falling on your face throughout the day and ruining your beautiful makeup.
  •  Use a matte white or vanilla based eyeshadow as the primary base on your lid.  Brushing once again from the top of your eyelid to the bottom, utilize a liberal amount on the lower lids as it will allow for the black to be even more noir.
  • Using Maybelline Eyestudio ColorTattoo on the lower part of your lids, color from the crease line, to the lash line.
  •  Utilizing a blending brush, sweep Maybelline’s, The Rock Nudes Palette over the space  with the ColorTattoo.  Pressing and setting the eyeshadow will give you an extra dark and dramatic smokey look.
  • Sweep your under eyes with the Maybelline’s, The Rock Nudes Palette smokey eyeshadow and then the crease of your eyelid with the bronze color, to contour eyes your eyes for depth a  mysterious affect.
  • Curl and coat lashes to liking and boom!

You’re ready for your first rock solo.

Peace and love,

Britt x