Category Archives: Uncategorized

Just Keep Being You 

Last year around this time I had a falling out with a very close friend. It was extremely hard for me – even put me in the hospital from the stress. I internalized it and began to believe that maybe this is how everyone sees me. Maybe people are pretending to be my friends just because they don’t want to be that person to break up with a friend who is suffering from cancer. I started to not trust all those close to me. To this day it saddens me and although I try to push it aside, it still affects my self esteem and self worth. 
Yesterday I came home from dinner and found these beautiful flowers on my kitchen counter. The note from who they were from was surprising and so perfect. No – it is not from that old friend. It is from a mutual one. One who was closer with her than she was with me. One who was there the night everything blew up. One who stood up beside me and said that this wasn’t right. One who still continues to stand beside me. I am forever grateful and this note moved me to tears. When one friendship ends a new one blooms. 

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Motivational Calendar

My mom gave me a daily motivational calendar for Christmas, and truthfully I was sort of disappointed. Ever year she gives my sister and I a calendar, and I look forward to it because I always hang it up and keep track of my appointments. This year however she said this one spoke more to her. So I put it up in the bathroom to rip off during my morning routine. The strange thing I have been noticing is that most days it eerily speaks to me. 

For example: On the day of my results appointment I forgot to rip it off in the morning. At night I was brushing my teeth and noticed the wrong date, so off it came. The saying for that day was, “Keep on keeping on”. Couldn’t have spoken to me more and it made me feel a little more at peace before heading to bed. Now I’m not sure if daily I am just finding something to relate it to, like when you read your daily horoscopes in the paper, but I am choosing to believe that this calendar is really speaking to me. So today I was coming out of the shower, feeling bloated and with low self esteem while looking in the mirror, and I ripped off the page. To my surprise (but not really anymore) it spoke to me again. 

“You’re in pretty good shape for the shape you’re in.” – Dr. Seuss

That is me to a T. I’m not in the best shape of my life, but for what I have to deal with, I’d say I’m doing just fine. 

So this called for a progress picture since I have not done one in over a year. Well low and behold I am in the best shape I have been in since I gained all of that weight back in 2015. I still haven’t been able to work out (hopefully signing up with a physiotherapist soon), so I owe it all to my diet. Great way to turn a low self esteem day into a high one ☺️. 

Oh She Glows

Eating out is so much easier than cooking. That is probably one of the main reasons I got into this mess – I was the queen of fast food. Even though I no longer spend my days in a drive-thru, I do still eat out a lot. With my kitchen renovation complete, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to actually use it. For my birthday I received the Oh She Glows vegan cookbook by Angela Liddon. I have heard the recipes are easy to follow and that the food is AMAZING. So let’s give it a shot. For the next little while I will be trying to make one dish a week. I will post my progress on here so you all can follow along! This will also hold me accountable so I can’t just run out and grab a pita. Maybe I will actually enjoy this? I will get started after my next surgery (which is July 5th). My food will become my new drug since I am not being put back on chemo right away.

 

 

 

Remember Me?

It is hard to explain the way I have experienced this year and a half. One thing I have come to realize, is that it really did fly by. It seems like just last week I was leaving work and heading to a bar to throw back a couple on a Friday. Regular life. I was laughing because I was genuinely happy, and looking forward to all that life would bring me in the future. This I believe has been one of the main issues when it comes to my relationships with other people. In their world, a lot has happened in a year and a half. Maybe it dragged on for them because they were stuck in some boring job they wanted out of. So a week goes by, then a month, then a few months, and all of the sudden we have lost touch. The reasoning is usually always the same, “I’m so sorry…I’m sure you have had a lot going on… you seem really busy…. I have been keeping up with your blog and Instagram.”. Oh have you? Good for you. So because of that you think that we are still friends? I guess it was “cool” to have a friend that was dying at first, but now that I have decided to turn it all around you don’t need me on your roster anymore. Well here’s the truth. It hurts. Inside I am still the same person who isn’t sick. I know I can’t do everything I used to be able to, but that doesn’t mean not to ask. Yes for a while I was unable to drive – but that was months ago. I am fully capable now and could come visit – but how would you know that because you never care to ask. 

It is very true that when something big happens in your life you discover who your true friends are. What they don’t explain is if you wait it out, a lot of those friends will fizzle away to leave you with your actual TRUE list. Thank you for those who continue to stick by my side even though I am no longer the “cool dying girl”.

For everyone else, please learn from this – as I am sure one day someone else you know will need support. A simple text every now and again to just say hello, or send a funny picture, or whatever – really says a lot. “I think of you often” doesn’t do anything. 

First Clear

Part one of my “two steps to clear” is now complete. My colonoscopy last week showed no new growths! I was nervous leading up to this of course. But when I was awoken from the nurse, she was chipper and kind. Once she told me to get dressed and the doctor would be with me shortly – I knew I was in the clear. Such a different experience from the last. Now I have a scan in September and that is the big one. I am trying to keep myself busy until then. I know that the wait in my surgeons office a few days following the scan will feel like the longest of my life. Now I just need to mentally picture him saying the word “clear” over and over again in my head. 

Boundaries

Unless you are close to me, here are a list of things that are off the table for conversation.

1. My “healthy” appearance. Yes – I get it – you thought that all cancer patients on chemo end up looking like a clothes hanger. Well newsflash – steriods cause water retention. With chemo comes steriods. Everyone reacts differently, however it is very common to swell up from them. No one would ever say to someone they barely see, “Oh wow, you have put on a few.” So please refrain from using the word “healthy” around me. I know what you are implying. 

2. My experience with chemo. Sometimes I receive the question, “Well other than all the regular symtoms that come with chemo.. blah blah blah.. how else has it affected you?” Are you serious? Do you even understand how invasive this question is? First of all, all of the “blah blah blah” parts about the chemo suck. Nausea, hair loss, cold sweats, etc – are not a “blah blah blah”. Second of all – you barely know me. Why would I go into details about how it has most likely burned away all of my eggs – so a baby is off the table. Go fuck yourself.

3. How much my insurance company pays me to be on disability. Money should never be discussed. Stop asking.

4. What my sex life is now like. Seriously? 

5. How I am even able to smile after everything I have been through. Well I am alive, so that’s a positive.

6. Did I lose my hair everywhere *wink*. Yes – It is weird to not have nose hair.

7. It must be amazing to not have to worry about fixing up your hair everyday. True – however I would still choose hair over no hair. And how do you know that I am not crying every night because I hate my buzz cut. (I’m not by the way – no need to be concerned.) The point is – you don’t know. I may smile in public but cry in private. 

8. If I have lost friends because of this whole thing. The simple answer is – yes. However again, why do you need to remind me of the shit. 

9. How I am doing (with the low tone and sad face). Fine. I will always say “fine” to you. No one really wants to hear my day in and day out struggles – just like I don’t want to hear about theirs.

10. My surgeries. They haunt me. I had terrible experiences in the hospital. Do not make me think about those images while I am eating.

The only exception to this rule is if you yourself are about to go through something similar. Then I know you are just asking for your own personal knowledge. If that’s the case, I am more than happy to go into detail about anything you wish to have answered. 

Rant over. 

Anniversary

This week marks my one year anniversary from being diagnosed with cancer. I was actually looking forward to this date. I thought it would be a positive experience to celebrate how far I have come. Just a year ago they not only told me I was sick, but also that there was no surgery option. I was told that people can survive a few years on chemo (that was supposed to calm my nerves). 

But look at me now. Just a year later I have had two surgeries, finished my chemo, and am rounding the corner to “cancer free” ville. That is why I was so taken back when instead of feeling happy and grateful, I began feeling very depressed. I no longer was able to think things like, “crazy this time last year I was doing (fill in the blank), and had no idea I had cancer”. Now I can’t say that. For some reason that upsets me. Most people I speak to do not undersand, they all seem to have the same thing to say – “Jamie, be positive! Look how far you have come!”. Yes, I agree with that – but it does not mean I am still not allowed to grieve my old life – when my world was not filled with “What if..”. 

Although no one can predict their future, it is safe to assume one fact – that you will be alive. Your mind plays head games with you when that option may not always be there. 

Should I save all my money for a house? But what if I die? 

Should I take courses in school to further my career? But what if I die? 

Should I say yes to a vacation next year? But what if I die? 

I know this whole things sounds quite morbid – but those are the true thoughts that run through my head – and I am sure a lot of people with cancer have the same morbid mind games. So I have to make a choice – I cannot stop these thoughts – but I can have an answer. “Oh well”. There is a chance for any of us to kick the bucket at any time. Even one of you reading this could go before me (sorry). I have become comfortable with the fact that my attitude can change daily, even hourly. Stepping into the positive is hard, but it is something I have to work hard at every day. To change the question to – But what if I live?

Vacation

A vacation getaway is such a different experience when you are not going just to have a break from work. Yes, you are in a different country surrounded by gorgeous weather, but you are mainly doing the same activities you would be at home. Relaxing. I have however had such a different and amazing experience this time around. No longer am I a rotating hotdog on a lounge chair, I am actually walking and observing and taking everything in. You hear a lot when on these tropical vacations about “wasting my day”. 

“Get dressed we are wasting our precious tanning time! The sun is out and I need to take advantage!”

God forbid you come back from one of these trips not looking like an ad for skin cancer. When you do however, people always comment – “Doesn’t even look like you went away.” 

This time however, my vacation is not being wasted by tossing and turning day in and day out in a uncomfortable plastic lounger. It is not about trying to get as drunk as possible because “I am on vacation”. No, this time it is all about enjoying and appreciating every second of the day. Being grateful that I am able to sit on the veranda of my hotel room and write this as the warm sun kisses my feet while the sound of the wind in the palm trees relaxes my mind. It reminds me that I vacation to get away from the cold, but I can still appreciate all these small things at home. I am alive. That is something to be thankful for. Although I know my time in this world may be shorter than the person next to me – I am thankful I have that knowledge. I am now able to live my life in a grateful and happy state. I do not care about the way others feel I should be living my life – or how in their eyes I might have “wasted my vacation”. I am doing things that make me happy and enjoying every second of it. 

Hair Come Back

I never thought the day would come where I would be looking at my legs everyday, and praying I start to see hair again. It has been six weeks since my last chemo treatment, and yet the drugs are still having an affect on my body. I have decided that my leg hair coming back will be my first sign. Once that begins to grow, then I will know the drugs are coming out of my system. What I did not anticipate (although thinking about it, it makes sense), is the breakout I am having on my face. As those harsh chemicals begin to flush out of my system, my pores are screaming out. My face no longer resembles a moon, now it is more like a tomato. Again, just another fun thing I have to put aside in the “at least I am alive” pile. I am beginning to hate that saying. Well, maybe hate is a strong word. Either way it is getting annoying – as I feel it is becoming everyone else’s excuse, however it is not mine. I am not one to make excuses for anything. 

“I hate that my pants do not fit” – Well at least you are alive.

“My stupid face is all broken out” – Well at least you are alive.

“Beach ready in my extra large, full piece, bathing suit” – Well at least you are alive.

“Do these heels match my tracksuit?” – Well at least you are alive.

Obviously I am thankful and grateful to be alive. That is not the point. I should still be aloud to speak like a regular young female who went from a size 4 to a size 14. It is an uncomfortable feeling. I look at old pictures of myself, and do not recognize that girl. Yet when I look in the mirror, the person staring back at me is also a stranger. So who am I really and who do I want to become? For now, I want to be the girl with hairy legs – that will be a great accomplishment. 

I’m Done

Last chemo

After weighing all of the pros and cons of stopping my chemo treatments early, I decided to quit after 9 treatments. Well, maybe the word “quit” is not quite appropriate. I did not “give up” on my treatment, but instead I listened to my body instead of the general public’s opinion. This decision to not complete all 12 treatments was not taken lightly, and I would not have stopped without my oncologist’s full blessing. Lucky for me, he agreed with everything I had to say.

During my seventh treatment, my oncologist let me know that my liver was becoming inflamed because of all of the drugs we were pumping through it. This got me thinking – I started this process with a shitty, tumour riddled liver. Then I met this incredible surgeon who found a way to operate on that sucker. My body then worked its magic and created something out of nothing – it grew me a healthy new liver. Now, here I am, poisoning the shit out of it. The whole reason we were going so hard and fast with the chemotherapy was to try to shrink the lung growth. Now that we discovered that it was not shrinking, why continue on with the poison? Was there heavy medical research showing that you must have all 12 treatments in order to see the full results? Not that I could find. These questions I brought to my oncologist. He agreed with me fully. If my cancer did come back, it would not be because we stopped the treatments at 9. He let me know that if it wasn’t dead already, then 3 more treatments are not going to kill it. And so, I was done. After 19 weeks and 9 chemo cocktails, it is finally time to allow my body to heal.