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

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Life Lessons: 30 Things

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Typically before a big surgery my mind begins to overthink, racing with thoughts of what I have learned over the last three and a half years since being a cancer patient.  The thing about cancer is that it changes people.  It sculpts us into someone who understands more deeply, hurts more often, appreciates more quickly, cries more easily, hopes more desperately, loves more openly and lives more passionately.  I wanted to take a moment to jot down the top 30 things off the top of my head that cancer has taught me and share them, pass them along.  Some being more obvious than others, some being more simple as well.  It never hurts to be reminded from time to time that sometimes it can be the small stuff that can make us the upmost happiest.

Enjoy!

  1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
  2. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
  3. Don’t take yourself too seriously. No one else does.
  4. You don’t have to win every agreement. Agree to disagree.
  5. It’s okay to show your emotions. It’s okay to feel.
  6. Don’t compare yourself to others; you have no idea what their journey is all about.
  7. Don’t bother with pity parties.
  8. Burn the candles, use the nice stemware and wear the fancy dress. Every moment is a special occasion.
  9. Go with the flow.
  10. Be eccentric, who cares if people think you’re out of your mind.
  11. The most important sex organ is the brain.
  12. You cannot hold anyone else accountable for your happiness; it’s up to you.
  13. Forgive.
  14. What other people think of you is none of your business.
  15. Time heals.
  16. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your family and friends will.
  17. Believe in miracles.
  18. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.
  19. Listen to your body.
  20. Envy is a waste of time.
  21. Deep breaths calm the mind.
  22. Yield.
  23. Make your intentions pure.
  24. Turn wounds into wisdom.
  25. Peace will always be there for you in your darkest moments.
  26. How you feel is always more important than how you look.
  27. The big questions are worth asking.
  28. Love will always win.
  29. Always make self-care a priority.
  30. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.

Love,

Britt x

Caboodle Spring Cleaning: Cure Diva

54ec6ff6731ffb6e3353b696b4e65565Beauty and cancer are two things that don’t tango very well together, particularly when chemotherapy is in the mix.  When you are being poisoned week after week, it’s no wonder that your skin gets dry, your cuticles scream for mercy and perhaps the chemicals in your makeup might not mix well with the toxins being pumped into your body.

Cancer or no cancer, it’s always nice to be in the know as to what is in your beauty products and I have teamed up with Cure Diva to discuss Spring cleaning as to what is in that kit and caboodle, as well as their expert advice on what goes into the products of our typical everyday products.

It’s all relative and can be applied to just about anyone that looks after themselves in the beauty depot.


  1. Read the Label:
    • Use only hypoallergenic products, or those that don’t have harsh ingredients such as acids, emulsifiers, preservatives, fragrances, mineral oils, silicones, dyes or aminesYou want happier, more comfortable skin, so scan your products for these ingredients and restock your supplies with organic, chemical-free and sensitive items. CureDiva.com has an entire line of facial natural and organic skin care.
  2. Moisturize:
    • To prevent dryness and cracked, uncomfortable skin, be sure to moisturize immediately after washing and toweling dry. This means:
      • For your body, apply moisturizer after the bath or shower
      • For your face, apply moisturizer in the morning and at night
      • For your hands, moisturize after washing many times during the day
      • For your lips, use a hydrating lip balm throughout the day
  3. Blemishes:
    • Yes, some chemo treatments can cause acne on the face and scalp. Even if you suffered from acne before, take another look at your old acne ointments. They usually contain salicylic acid, retinol, benzoyl peroxide and other harsh ingredients that further dry and irritate skin. Try more natural solutions like Acne Clarifying Serum by Nurture my Body and a mild, natural soap.
  4. SPF:
    • Although SPF is used in the summer outdoors, it should become a priority when in treatment. Chemo skin is super sensitive, especially to sun exposure which can cause lasting damage even in the winter. Wear sunscreen whenever you go out, and protect your skin with UV-protective clothing (hats, gloves, long sleeves). With skincare and beauty products, choosing an SPF version is best.
    • While it can be overwhelming to find products that are safe on skin and look and smell great, asking your doctor or a friend who has been through treatment is the best way to receive a referral. Websites like CureDiva.com provide a great amount of information for those going through treatment to get the answers they need.
  5. Fingernail Care:
    • Some chemo drugs can cause finger and toenail damage. They become dry, cracked and may start lifting up. Apply cuticle balm and lots of hand cream. Checking out the label is relevant here. Switch to water-based nail color like CureDiva’s water-based nail polish by Acquarella which is my favorite when I’m dressing up!

 

Stay beautiful!

Love,

Britt x


Information: 5W Public Relations & CureDiva.com

 

#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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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.

Follow me on Instagram for daily updates: bestillmyheartblog

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Love, Britt x