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

Acceptance…💝

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

Acceptance is demarcated in a few assorted variations.  One being favorable reception; approval.  Another being the fact or state of something being acceptable.  When it comes to family members coping with a loved one’s cancer diagnosis, acceptance from family members may be one of the most difficult things to do.  No one wants to believe or accept that his or her loved one is ill and a coping mechanism is non-acceptance, while rejecting the notion of the illness is much simpler than the alternative.

With a cancer diagnosis, particularly with a family member, comes many feelings; shock, disbelief, fear, guilt, sadness.  It goes without saying that no one is ever prepared to learn that their loved one, whether it be their child, mother, father, brother or sister, has a life-threatening disease.  Combatting the acknowledgment of the illness is only a buffer to delaying painful feelings.  Often, with the denial factor of conceding the cancer derives from feelings of lack of control, as trusting someone else with a family member’s life is fear provoking.

Through much research, I have come across many articles, which showcase that non-acceptance of a family member’s diagnosis is not uncommon.  In fact, it is relatively more common than the substitute of the family accepting the diagnosis right off the bat.  Particularly in parents, acceptance takes greater length of time.  Parents often blame themselves for their child’s cancer, with feelings of preferring to have the cancer themselves, rather than their child.  With this comes many questions, “why?”, “what could I have done differently as a parent?”, “why me, why us?”, “why my daughter or son?”.  The first part of accepting a loved one’s prognosis, specifically a child, is accepting that there may never be an answer to the questions of what caused the cancer and why.  Secondly, finding a reason as to why this happened isn’t necessarily going to change the fact that it happened and the outcome.

Many family members find themselves feeling isolated emotionally and find it difficult to properly emote.  The good news is, you are not alone.  There happens to be a slew of ways to learn to accept the diagnosis of a family member and ways to ensure that the dive into reality takes place in a copasetic fashion.  First and foremost, don’t be afraid to express your feelings, talking to other family members and/or the person who has been diagnosed in an open dialogue may serve as great therapy to know that you are not alone and as a family unit, you will all work through the unbearable news.  Don’t shy away from a good cry session.  Crying is known to psychologically give your feelings a good airing and is thought to be a healthy tonic.  Additionally, the use of a support group for family members and parents of cancer patients is a bountiful form of beneficial healing and often allows the family members to feel like a part of a community and more connected to the in’s and out’s of the disease itself.

Once the family member lets go of the anger, guilt and other innumerable emotions that come along with the territory, the shifted energy may be used to help themselves, their family and their loved one battling the grave disease.  Face forward with your beloved and know that they appreciate having you as a part of their unshakable support system.  Know that the person with the cancer recognizes that people compartmentalize things differently and while some family members accept the news and take charge, others may take time to come around to the new normal.   Don’t go at it alone, don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and identify that your acceptance towards to the cancer will mean the world to the patient, even if it takes a while to arrive there.

This post is dedicated to one of my favorite people in the whole world, you know who you are.  Know that you are not alone, and I know that you are always here for me no matter the situation.   I love you to the moon and back. x

***If you or someone you know is having trouble accepting a family member’s diagnosis, please check out the below resources:

Online Support Group:

ACS (American Cancer Society) has an online site called the Cancer Survivors Network that family members can join. Another option is the Association of Cancer Online Resources.

Local Support Groups:

The National Cancer Institute offers a searchable site to look for cancer support groups and organizations for family members. ACS provides links to similar resources.

Helpful Articles:

Love,

Britt x

Moving onwards…➳

They say that moving can be just as stressful as planning a wedding.  In 2011, I decided to tackle both, like a pro and without much complaint.  Fast-forward two years later, and we find that we have to move yet again.  Presently, we live in this glorious loft space in Downtown, Phoenix and being that it’s under private ownership, our unit recently sold.  Subsequently, that left Steve and I to find a new place.

Fortunately, with the assistance of the best realtor in all the land, we were able to find a condo two blocks north of where we currently live.  The condo we found was a pocket listing and hadn’t even been placed on the market before we were able to view it and claim it as our own.  We lucked out, being able to stay in our same Downtown neighborhood, dodging the infamous Craigslist for listings and not to mention the view that we are gaining at the new abode.  If Phoenix had a Central Park, our view would be overlooking it. We are overlooking the Japanese Friendship Garden, which is plush with trees, greenery, ponds, bridges, and the whole caboodle.

Now the not so fun part is packing.  Anyone in his or her right mind loathes packing just as much as I do, I am sure of it.  I’ve moved more times than I can count in my early twenties and would consider myself to be quite skilled at this point.  However, the one thing that I haven’t had in the equation until now was cancer and chemotherapy treatments, whilst on the move. Moving forward with my third chemo round, the move couldn’t have come at a less convenient time.  My motivation and energy is lackluster and the feat of packing up a house seems unmanageable.

Through the many books I’ve read over the last few months, it is my understanding that a lot of young cancer patients become more transient as their prognosis or treatment progresses.  The meaning of having an established setup of their own becomes less and less significant.  Granted, I am a married woman and the idea of couch surfing on friend’s sofas seems less than appealing, as does the thought of bunking in with family members.  For me, I still want a place to call my own but what I am struggling with, as I pack up all of Steve’s belongings, and mine, is that I realize that I don’t want material items.

Having been a material girl for most of my life, tangible items always served a great deal of significance to me.  The position in which they held in my life, symbolized that of boundless effort in working hard for something that I wanted, something to call my own and something wonderful.  Now I view these items as small reminders of how my once able self was once capable of working to get these nice things, pre-diagnosis.  My once budding career is now that of a fulltime sick person.  My job is to do what the Doctor’s tell me to do and keep myself alive and kicking.

As I sit here on the couch that I once loved, I am reminded of all of the endless hours that I laid here in recovery after my surgery.  All of the agony and pain that I was in, not but just three short months ago.  Or when I come home from chemo and I don’t have enough energy to walk from the front door to my bed, this couch has lent itself to swooping me up, as I was about to fall.

So why get rid of such memorable items, you ask?  The thing is, everything now is a reminder of cancer in some way, shape or form.  All of the objects that I was once so proud to possess, I now want to rid myself of them in their entirety.  Live minimally and humbly.

Realistically speaking, I cannot get rid of everything I own.  For starters, that would be gravely unfair to my husband, Steve, who has worked equally as hard to attain the things we have.  Secondly, starting fresh and anew is a wonderfully wondrous idea, but who has the means to do that?  Particularly when you know you’ll be paying off medical bills for the rest of eternity.

My point is, Steve and I can make a home wherever we land.  We are just those types of people.  He is home to me, so as long as he is there and we are a unit, then the rest is a breeze.  It certainly isn’t what you have, but whom you have.

So, as I sit here anxiously and tirelessly waiting for our moving day to arrive this coming Saturday, I realize that I cannot purge my life in it’s entirety.  Yes, everything currently surrounding me is a small reminder that I have cancer, but what would I have done without this comfy, cozy couch to lean on after my surgery and my long recovery period.

I look forward to a new space, a new place and somewhere to build new memories.  Even perhaps somewhere that doesn’t remind me daily that I am sick and have cancer, as these four walls gently retell me everyday.  Moving is a downright drag, but the rewarding part will be that all of the items we possess will look new and fresh in their new atmosphere.  Here’s to hoping that the new place will also leave me feeling new and refreshed.  Cheers to moving!

Love,

Britt x

Mortification Proclamation- ⓄⓂⒼ

Normalcy is something that is often taken for granted, without an inclination that it is something to be taken for granted of.  Last night I yearned for the sense of normality, to be able to enjoy an evening out with my friends, catching up over dinner and contributing to the air of Friday night delight.

While I had gotten my fusion pack removed earlier in the day, I felt pretty decent and truly untouched by the effects of chemo, outside of fatigue, a bit of standard nausea and my sensitivity to cold.  Once I arrived home from the appointment to remove my fusion pack, until I undergo chemo again in two weeks, I took an exquisite and much needed nap.  As I awoke from the nap, I awoke to a text message that I could not refuse.  My two very lovely friends, Sean and Wayne had asked me to meet them for dinner at a new restaurant in our neighborhood.  Short of any hesitation, I immediately responded with a, “YES!” and was out the door in no less than fifteen minutes.

The eatery was chockfull of downtowners, eager to try the new venue out and possess the gorgeous Arizona evening weather.  As we sat down to our table outside, I was feeling groovy, social and happy to be amongst friends for a night out.  Seizing the catch up session, we chatted about everything under the sun and limited the cancer prattle to a minimum, outside of the occasional, “F*&K Cancer” holler from my charming friend, Wayne.

Abruptly, my disposition altered.  I was attempting to maintain our boisterous conversation(s), but promptly found myself feeling clammy, with blurred vision and sick to my stomach.  Before I knew it, I was sick all over the table, amidst the hip, restaurant and its patrons.  Despite feeling as though I was about to black out, I recall feeling mortified and affronted by my illness.  Just like that, under the normalcy of the moonlight and company of my friends, the cancer snuck up on me as an unpleasant reminder that it’s still there and I am still sick.  Long gone are the days of being footloose and fancy free, impromptu dinners with my mates and not having to consider how I am “feeling” prior to making plans.

Sean and Wayne both went into crusader mode, both assisting me with the simple task of walking, as I was on the brink of blacking out.  The funny thing is, I kept thinking that the other restaurant goers most likely thought I was piss drunk and heedless of remotely any class for my sickness was everywhere.  As wonderful friends, Sean and Wayne put my mind at ease and told me that it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks, all that matters is that I am okay.

Thankfully, they got me home safe and sound and I was able to sleep off the gaffe of my chemo side effects.  In the daylight, I reflected upon my evening and felt guilty for being humiliated by my cancer, as if I had some form of control or jurisdiction over having cancer at all.  If anything last night allowed me to have a mortification proclamation, it allowed me to feel ashamed of my disease and expose the insecurities that come along with the territory.  It’s okay to feel wrathful, blue and disheartened by cancer, but for me, I will never allow myself to feel shamed because of it.  Each day I am fighting for my life and that is something to be proud of, not indisposed of.  There will be times in the future when I get sick in public or find that I cannot keep up with the normalcy that I was afforded pre-diagnosis, but I am thankful to the friends I have that are there by my side to pick me up when I fall down (literally) and assure me that all is going to be well.

Thank you, Sean and Wayne for being such studs and super-hero’s.  Love you both xx

Love,

Britt x

For, Steve, With Love…♡

Iphone Steve and Britt

Bingo

XI.XII.XIIn one of my initial posts, I discussed the subject of love and marriage, in sickness and in health.  My concern during that phase in my diagnosis, before even receiving treatment or realizing that this would be a life long illness, was around whether or not “in sickness and in health” could be upheld.  I was not necessarily speaking about Steve directly, but young couples in general who find themselves in a sudden whirlwind in the cancer/illness world.   Something less expected when echoing the intimate words, “in sickness and in health”.

Fortunately, despite being just shy of our two-year marriage and five year relationship, Steve and I feel like we have been partners for a lifetime.  Generally speaking, we have gone through things that most couples, happily for them, don’t have to experience in their complete martial career.

When I first began my chemo treatments two weeks ago, it was very difficult to perceive what the effects of the chemo were versus my mental state overall.  Chemo was something that had been a long, drawn out wait after my diagnosis, as I had to heal from my colectomy and ovarian surgery.  Thereafter, Steve and I chose to go through fertility to secure our future family, which regrettably did not end up functioning.  Low and behold, there were many steps to take to finally reach the time when my treatment would begin and while I was awaiting its arrival, it felt like a lurking ghoul.

Once the time irrevocably came, Steve was by my side during my clinic treatment, as well as the days to follow at home with my fusion pack, or proton pack, as he prefers to call it.  I especially recall having a moment of complete absurdity and lunacy is a lesser of the mental state that I briefly found myself in.

After taking a lobster boil, my version of a bath, I recall getting out and wrapping my towel around me, but finding any way to bellow at Steve.  Every little thing that he did, I chose to nit pick and badger as though he was this lad that suddenly became my punching bag for no reason.  Shortly thereafter my momentary lapse in sanity, I sat in our huge wing backed chair; still wrapped up in the grey hotel like, fluffy towel and I started to cry.  Steve, frustrated with my whips in emotion, sternly, yet supportively told me that I needed to get myself under control.  My response was that you should never call a crazy person, crazy.  Which then made me chuckle at what I had just said in return, as it made me sound even more nutty.

Steve took a walk to get some fresh air, along with our English Bulldog, Keg.  He needed to take a moment to give me some alone time, collect my thoughts and I’m sure just get away from my mental state of mind in general.  When he came back upstairs after his ephemeral walk, I cried at the site of him.  When I looked at him I was beyond blue and told him the real reason behind my madness.

The thing is, I didn’t sign up for my cancer, but at the end of the day it’s my body, my life and my burden.  I often feel guilty for those closest to me, because my burden has also become theirs.  With Steve, I was inadvertently trying to push him away, perhaps to save him in a sense from a lifetime of cancer chatter, potential surgeries, chemotherapy and overall sickness.  He just turned 29 and he’s had to take on the world, become my advocate, support system, caregiver, all the while still waking up at 4:30a to go to work and support us.

I explained to him that I was afraid of him leaving me, as a lot of marriages fail for much less of a reason.  Attempting to “save” him from my illness, I wanted to give him an out now, before it progressed even further and ultimately be the one to say what I was feeling out loud, just in case that was how he felt deep down.  He immediately put my mind to rest and said he would never leave me, I’m too easy to love and too big of a pain in the ass to leave.  The funny thing is, that was his way of telling me, we will go the distance, to infinity and beyond.

Just the other day when I was given the prognosis that I would forever have cancer, incurably and preventatively have to remain on some form of chemo for the rest of my life, Steve was by my side for the news.  Even though it came as a shock to the two of us at first, the day turned out to be one of the loveliest days of my life.  We enjoyed the rest of the day to the hilt, even expressing to one another how we’ve never been happier with our lives since my diagnosis.  It’s not that we are masochists and want to be going through all of the hardship with my health and all the baggage it that tends to follow, but meaning we’ve never been closer or more in love.

Things have been put into perspective for us and I would say even more so within the last two weeks.  Something just clicked.  We appreciate each other, the relationships we have with family and friends, our dog, the roof over our head and the simple joys of spending time together, no matter the place.

So, in my temporary moment of insanity brought great clarity.  Steve isn’t going anywhere, nor was he planning on it.  In my own, sick and twisted way it was me loving him enough to let him go if this was too much for him.  Caregivers carry a great deal of encumbrance, especially spousal caregiving.  They are there to support you and be strong for you, but it’s important that the caregiver also has support.  It will take an army to make me better, but truly only the love of Steve and my family and friends to make me happy.

And Steve, I love you…thank you for being you.

***If you or someone you know is needing Caregiver support, please see the below organizations for assistance:  (Please note that none of the below mentioned Organizations are affiliated with BeStillMyHeartBlog.)

Love,

Britt x