Tag Archives: Blessings

What me and Old Blue Eyes have in common…

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This past December, I celebrated my 1 year Cancerversary, one week after my Aunt lost her five year battle with aggressive lung cancer. What happens after you survive cancer and you lose a loved one to the disease? That’s something that I don’t think even the best doctors and nurses in the world can prepare you for. I couldn’t remember being so angry at the Universe when I was going through chemotherapy or even after being diagnosed. But after my Aunt Anne passed away, I wanted to high five the all mighty creator…in the face, possibly with a closed fist. All I could think was, “Why? Why did she have to leave and I’m still here?” I could have screamed it through hot tears at the Universe if I thought someone would answer me.

The night I celebrated my Cancerversary I wore a purple lei, her favorite color, in her honor. What I hadn’t realized until just days before was that my very special day also happened to be the 100th birthday of Old Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra.

I fell in love with Sinatra as a child, first seeing him as a cameo on an episode of an old classic cartoon I was watching with my grandmother. She sat next to me in her rocker, eyebrows wiggling up and down as she said “That’s Frank Sinatra” with a mischievous smile. Luckily my grandfather was asleep in his recliner.

Sharing my special day with Sinatra, made my heart smile. I like to think of it as the Universe’s way of letting me know my grandparents were with me in spirit, proud of all I had overcome.

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As though that in itself weren’t special enough, my 1 year Cancerservary also turned out to be the Day 3 Hawaiian Luau celebration of the Matthew Hussey retreat I was attending in Florida. The energy I experienced that night was like anything I’ve felt. Perhaps, only parallel holding my son and daughter for the first time. Yeah, that good.

The energy between all of us High Value Women attendees and the GTG team was indescribable – 130 plus strangers, united by a desire for change. The kind of change that happens within, on a core level.

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(Left to right: Me, Epic Emma (above), the Lovely Lindsay and the Extraordinary Emmylou)

The luau celebration ended only after half of us (myself and three closest soul sisters; Emmylou, Lindsay and Emma included) jumped into the pool fully clothed with the GTG team…actually it ended once we all jumped back out of the pool and started dancing again!

I’ve used that night as my emotional button for joy at least a million times since returning home. Okay, maybe only half a million…because I love the feeling it gives me to think of those women and the bond we all share.

I can’t think of a better way to have spent my first Cancerversary – on my favorite musician’s 100th birthday, with some of the most inspiring souls I have had the pleasure of becoming friends with.

 

 

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Check Out My Port! (part 2)

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Between cooking Chicken Marsala (I’m just saying, it’s kind of a big deal. If I could marry my marsala, it would be on like Donkey Kong) and the weather becoming much warmer–I quickly changed into a tank top as the kitchen started heating up tonight. 

Looking at my reflection in the bathroom mirror, seeing my bare shoulders in a tank top again, with that protruding triangular shaped mound just sitting there; really got me thinking. My surgeon has given the go ahead for port removal; it’s been in place for 15 months now. I’m already 7 months out from completing treatment…7 months!

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Change is the evolution of life right? But I’ve become attached to my port. It’s just as much a part of me as my hair or skin. What’s it going to feel like when I don’t have a port anymore?  What will it be like looking in the mirror to see a fading scar where an obvious prominence used to be? To not have to wear my seatbelt a different way for comfort? For my daughter to say “Mommy, where did your port go?” To not get stared at in public by total strangers who don’t always know what a port even is? To not see my oncology nurses every 6 to 8 weeks for a port flush? To go to the lab for routine blood draws, instead of to the nurses in the infusion suite?

Port removal is a major milestone as a cancer patient. When your oncologist and surgeon are in agreement that it’s time to take out the port, it’s this hopeful intention that you’re going to be healthy long term. It’s their way of saying a patient is in a good place of survivorship.

Having my port removed isn’t just letting go of what was, it’s moving forward into what will be. Living my best life, one day healthier and stronger at a time.

chemo-portCheck out my port! Pretty gross and extremely fascinating at the same time. Especially when you consider that it’s sitting under my skin at this very moment. Having a port is kind of like having a tattoo, you forget that it’s there. Except, unlike a tattoo, I get reminded each time I buckle my driver’s side seat belt, get dressed in front of a mirror or get hugged way too hard. The hugging doesn’t hurt, it just gives you this feeling of “Oh hey I remember that! The chemo thing my surgeon stuck in a blood vessel X amount of months ago.”

Pay It Forward :)

My children and I were getting a little stir crazy last week. We have a pretty busy schedule but the routine of it all gets a bit overwhelming sometimes. I’m the kind of person who needs adventure, variety, to not be doing the same thing each day. Since my son has something going on every day after school Monday through Friday…every…single…week…it gets to be monotonous.

I was looking forward to coming home and throwing on my jammies after my son’s appointment that day. A few days earlier, the Patriots won their game against the Ravens. Which meant that one of my son’s fave local restaurants was serving up the kids menu for free all day! No, it’s not organic but I figure once in a great while won’t hurt anything. My son was oober excited so I didn’t have the heart to tell him I’d rather come home than go out to eat that night.

We left my son’s appointment later that night, heading to the restaurant. Dom (my son) and Izzy (my daughter) were so well behaved I thought I must have walked right into the Twilight Zone for sure! I mean one behaving okay, but both of them? Wow. Not only were they behaving but they were entertaining each-other and the surrounding tables with their comical theatrics.

(SIDE NOTE: Izzy is obsessed with Disney’s Frozen right now. Absolutely obsessed in every sense of the word. To the point where normal everyday conversations become lines from Frozen. Last night when I told her it was bedtime, she went to run away from me and said “Mommy, you have to tell me ‘Elsa stop!’ okay?” Then tonight she went to kiss me. Lovingly, she placed a hand on each of my cheeks. Looking into my eyes with a kissey face on her lips, she said “Oh Ana, if only someone out there loved you.” [this is what Hans says to Ana in the movie for those of you who haven’t seen it] This was followed by excessive giggling and “Oh Mommy! I’m such a little stinker huh?!?” Like I said, obsessed!)

Anyhow, she was belting out “Let It Go” in her loudest Disney princess voice as we waited for our food. I leaned in close to her and let her know she needed to use her quiet, inside voice to sing. This little goofball looked me square in the face, laughed out loud and then (in a very not so quiet, outside voice) said “Mommy! I farted! Oh what’s that smell?!?! Who did that?!?”

On their way out, a couple I’ve known well over 15 years stopped by our booth to say hello. They had been sitting in the back of the restaurant (unbeknownst to me since my back was facing them). I hadn’t seen them in years. It was great reconnecting with them over pictures of their grandchildren, joking about the times we had when I used to work for them. They each got a huge hug from me before going on their way.

Me and the kids went back to our meal. I kept thinking how I was going to leave a pretty sweet tip for our server. He brewed a fresh pot of coffee for me, brought my soup out as soon as it was done (still piping hot) and kept our “to go” order of ice cream in the freezer so we could pick it up on the way out. All without me asking. It was such a great night. The energy was light, care free.

When it came time for the check, our server told me that the couple I had been speaking with earlier picked up our tab. Even gratuity had been covered. I was speechless.

So this is my message to you. As we all start off 2015, let’s start it off right. PAY IT FORWARD! A simple act of random kindness doesn’t have to be done for someone you know. That’s the joy in it. You don’t have to be dough loaded to make a difference. Sending a personalized “thank you” or “thinking of you” note/card can be all it takes.

Whatever you put out into the Universe comes back to you, I truly believe that! It may not be today or even next week (well…for some people it might) but at some point there’s a boomerang effect. When someone does something special for you, keep that good deed moving forward. Do something selfless for another. You’d be surprised how much a simple act of kindness can change someone’s day for the better 🙂

‘Tis the season…for a healthy colon…Part 2

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As my mother drove us home, I answered a call from one of my older brothers. “Hey Wonder Woman!” It had become his new nickname for me since I began going through cancer care. “Hulkster!” Yeah, that’s right, Wonder Woman and the Hulk. Cheesy as it sounds, that’s how we roll!

My brother is a man of few words. But I know him well enough to know just how elated he was by the news. Over the last year, I could hear the concern in his voice more than once when we spoke about my treatment or diagnosis. As hard as it was for me to go through, I think it may have been even harder for friends and family to witness. Sitting by the sidelines, watching someone you love battle a potentially life-threatening disease, unable to do more than offer your emotional support…it’s heart-wrenching.

The holidays will be so different for my family and I this year. I was diagnosed five days before Christmas last year and went in for surgery on New Year’s Eve. I only shared the news with my siblings, parents and a few other friends and relatives until after the holidays. I had battled the decision to tell everyone via Facebook but didn’t know if I was ready to.

The day after my colon-resection surgery, New Year’s Day, I decided to share my diagnosis with everyone else via social media. The responses ranged from sadness to encouragement. A few people even thought my account had been hacked.

The holidays were a difficult time for us, not knowing what to expect or what the new year would bring. While everyone else was opening gifts and celebrating–my family was sharing tears, facing fear of the unknown. We faced it together as an unbreakable unit but it didn’t make it any less concerning.

This year, I’ll be spending the holidays without fear of the future. I am so eager to see what the new chapters of my life will bring. I’ve already been graced with meeting so many like-minded individuals. Like-minded, in the sense that we share passion for living extraordinary lives. I’m not content to live a life by the nine to five standard  that society says I should. Cancer has catapulted me full force into tapping into the energy of creativity, of visualizing a beautiful life of my own doing. I can hardly wait to see what 2015 brings. I look forward not with anxiety, fear or worry but with clarity, eagerness and anticipation. Bring it on Universe! I am so ready 🙂

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‘Tis the season…for a healthy colon…Part 1

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The Fall semester of school is finally coming to a close! You know what that means, more time for blogging! Yippee!

I’ve missed blogging and tracking the progress of everything going on in my life. As I continue to make transformational changes emotionally and physically, moving forward, I know I’m exactly where I’m meant to be…blessings are everywhere, in everyday moments and I am so undeniably thankful.

Yesterday was a huge milestone for me. It was my first colonoscopy, post-diagnosis. My official one year cancerversary isn’t until Dec. 20, 2014 but who’s counting right? (Ah yeah, that would be this girl over here!)

This week also happened to be finals week on campus, having time to worry about my upcoming procedure wasn’t really a thought. Between chauffeuring my son to basketball practice and martial arts training, working on final projects for school, and trying to plan out next semester’s course load; my mind was already running on overdrive. Then my son brought home a respiratory virus, that has since been passed along to my daughter. Add in the two of them taking turns with who can’t sleep through the night, well, you get the idea. It’s been a week of relatively organized chaos for sure!

It wasn’t until yesterday morning rolled around that I began thinking about the gravity of how this colonoscopy could potentially affect my life. If it went one way, I would be deemed “cancer free” and wouldn’t have to have another colonoscopy for another year, at least. But if there was something there; a polyp, another tumor, a growth, unhealthy tissue–I honestly couldn’t even fathom what that would mean.

Everything went as scheduled. I arrived a few minutes late for my 7:55 a.m. check in, got changed into a hospital gown and followed the medical assistant to my hospital bed. There I met with several lovely people who would be part of my procedure that morning; the anesthesiologist, the nurse who would be monitoring my vitals, another nurse who administered the IV into my port (“That is one prominent port you have there! That’s wonderful!” she said) and another woman who I believe was also part of the anesthesia team.

As I spoke with the nurses, we laughed and made jokes with one another using jargon that only cancer patients and their medical team understand. “Now do you typically use Emla?,” one of the nurses asked. I told her through chemotherapy I swore by it. (Emla is a numbing cream used by some patients to numb the site of their port prior about an hour or so prior to it being accessed. Otherwise you get a little bee-sting type feeling when the needle goes into your port. We discussed the type of chemotherapy I was given, “5FU, Leucovorin and Oxaliplatin?” “Yup, that’s the one! With a 48-hour take home pump.”

She went on to tell me that her husband had experienced his own cancer journey. One morning on their way to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, her hubby nearly had a meltdown at the thought of having forgotten to put Emla cream on his port. I can’t say I’d be in disagreement with him. Emla is the best thing since sliced bread! Especially since it makes being turned into a human pin-cushion far more bearable.

One of the nurses and one of the anesthesiologists whisked me away to the procedure room, gurney and all. They positioned me on my left side in the bed, as the Gastroenterologist (Dr. S, I’ll call her), came into the room.

If you haven’t read any of my previous posts about Dr. S, let me tell you, I absolutely LOVE this woman’s energy! From the moment I met with her, prior to my cancer diagnosis, I was sold. She has this way of talking to patients that puts you at ease. She’s always upbeat, full of good energy, and extremely down to earth.

The anesthesiologist counted some deep breaths with me, slowly, in and out. Before I knew it, I woke up in the recovery room. My vision was still hazy as I came to but I overheard Dr. S speaking to my mother. There was a smile in her voice as she said “Everything looks great! Nothing but good news to report, she did extremely well and everything is healthy and normal looking.”

My mom was overjoyed. I couldn’t see her yet but I could hear the happiness in her voice, I would have hugged her if I wasn’t so out of it.

Gratitude, Day 26: The “Bat-Mobile”

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DAY 26:

Friday/October 3:

This was a long-awaited, much-deserved day. For the first time in nine years, I have a vehicle of my own again!

Earlier this year I began a fundraiser on GoFundMe.com (awesome website if you need to raise money for any type of reason or cause). The intention was to raise enough money to get my children and I into a brand new vehicle, a safe means of transportation for the three of us…four if you count the dog.

Up until October 3, I relied heavily on those around me for transportation. I had been using my father’s vehicle the first year I moved back home. Then my mother’s for the next two and finally a very dear friend’s mini-van for the last three or four months.

I felt frustrated being so dependent upon those around me. Once chemotherapy treatments began, it made sharing a vehicle far more difficult. I began chemo in February. If you’re not familiar with New England weather in February, let’s just say it “wicked” cold…wicked freaking cold.

One of the side effects I experienced from chemo was extreme sensitivity to cold. To the point where touching anything frozen or below room temperature felt like pins and needles pulsating through my fingers.

Because I shared a vehicle with my mom, at that time, I would have to go out at 11:30 p.m. or later to pick her up from work. Going out in freezing temperatures, plus getting my sleeping children into/out of the vehicle, was trying. I would have start it up, ten to fifteen minutes beforehand, just to warm it up.

It wasn’t until October that enough money was raised. I had been negotiating a deal all September with one dealership, when a better deal came along. It took a few days to get the paperwork in order and have the vehicle registered. But when all was said and done, it was the best feeling in the world to drive home in what my son has named “The Bat-Mobile.” A vehicle of my own choosing that gave me back my independence.

Each time I drive that SUV, I’m reminded of the power I have to beautifully manifest anything I truly desire. But more so, it’s a reminder of the love that surrounds my children and I. The Universe is constantly taking care of us, nurturing us and supporting the further advancement of our lives toward bigger and better things.

It wouldn’t have been possible (at least not for another year or two) to have this vehicle; not without the unyielding support of those around me both physically and emotionally.

Cancer didn’t just change my life. It catapulted me toward living the life of my dreams.

Gratitude, Day 25: Great Morning!

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DAY 25:

Thursday/October 2: 

This right here, is my goofy goober of a son. He is the sun, my Universe, one half to the whole of my heart.

He is also the grumpiest person I know in the morning, when it’s a school day. On this particular day my son got ready for school without the slightest hint of attitude, picked out his own clothes and ate breakfast…all without me having to tell him twenty million times.

It was so, and I mean incredibly so, nice to have such a great morning with him. He was still on cloud nine from buying school clothes the night before.  His behavior allowed me to stay in a vibration of gratitude. In fact, it amplified the feeling completely.

Part of parenting is learning to take it all in stride. Accepting the moments of sheer joy as well as those of frustration. You do the best you can with what you’re given. But ask any mother and she’ll tell you–when her offspring are cooperating it makes for heck of a thankful day!

Gratitude, Day 23: UMass Journalism Alumni Panel

In the midst of being a busy single mom of two, student and magical manifesting ninja of creation…yup, that’s right…I’m a magical ninja people! I haven’t made time to blog the last week of 30 days of gratitude. So in a nutshell, here goes! (sorry if this seems a bit rushed, lots to do this weekend!)

DAY 23:

Tuesday/September 30: UMass All-Star Journalism Panel

The nerd in me was completely fulfilled on so many levels Tuesday night! There were six successful UMass Alumni present for the event I attended. One of my previous professors was there and introduced me to one of the six panelists, Mackenzie Issler Rigg. I shook her hand and was seated at her table with five other students. Conversing with her gave me such insight, fueling the fire of determination to progress forward in my writing career.

All six panelists offered great advice, staying after the discussion to speak one on one with  journalism students, myself included. It was exhilarating, inspirational for me and so many others. The link below provides more information about the event 🙂

http://www.umass.edu/journalism/alumni_all_starts_2014

Motherhood

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It’s nearly 2 a.m. and here I am blogging from the cargo space of my SUV. No really, I am.

I had this donation fund started on GoFundMe (awesome website for fundraising) to raise money to purchase a new vehicle. Something to call my own; I haven’t been in my own vehicle since 2005. Going through nearly nine months of cancer treatment made sharing a vehicle exhausting. Depending upon other people for transport became a frustration more then anything.

It’s taken over a month to get paperwork, registration and everything else in order. But this past Friday, mama’s new four-wheeled baby came home!

My son fell in love with our vehicle. So much so, that he convinced me we should camp out in the back of the SUV and watch a movie on my Mac. So now it’s nearly 2 a.m. and here I am blogging from the back of my vehicle.

Once you take out the car seat and stroller, move the privacy screen, move the seats down, open the moon roof and throw about four blankets down; it’s pretty darn comfy. Plus two, three, four…possibly five pillows and you’ve got yourself two snoring children and a rather comfy “Mommy blogger.”

Just finished watching “Mom’s Night Out” for the second time. First time all the way through, though, without having to tend to laundry or dishes or being distracted by the “Mom isn’t giving me full attention so I better do something to get it back” behavior of my children.

Motherhood is this crazy whirlwind of beautiful heartwarming moments, chaos, frustration, joy, bliss, happiness, did I mention chaos?  But those moments when you end up Hulking it out from your toddler’s temper tantrum or your eight-year-old’s incessant desire to negotiate everything from bedtime to what your daily activities will be…it’s all so worth it.

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There’s one particular scene from “Mom’s Night Out” (don’t worry, no spoiler alert needed here) where the main character (Alyson) is at a bowling alley with her husband and children. Aly’s daughter places her hands on her face, looks her in the eyes and says something to the effect of “I love you most of all.”

Being the over-emotional basket case I am when it comes to my kids (total helicopter parent, I’ve gotten somewhat better but let’s just say that I’m all about the “attachment method” of parenting…before I ever knew what that meant) I teared up at the scene.

My daughter does that all that time when she speaks to me. Every single time she places those little hands on my face and tells me how much she loves me–joy fills my spirit, my heart melts and I remember just how trivial those moments of insanity are compared to the moments of rapture.

Motherhood is not all rainbows and butterflies and unicorns. Sorry, but any woman who tells you that motherhood isn’t the least bit stressful, that her life is blissfully perfect and her child/children never push her buttons–either has a nanny or is a damn good liar. Sorry to call bullshit on that one but it’s the truth.

Being a parent is ten ties more amazing than it is difficult. It’s a learning experience for both parent and child. My son has told me (numerous times) how mean I am for making him play outside instead of letting him play video games all day. He’s also written me random notes; “You’re the best mom in the Universe” or “You totally rock!” He’s given me hugs out of the blue and come up to me to smother me in kisses. You learn early that it’s a constant balanjng act.

We (mothers) are all doing the best we can with what we’re given. Single moms, housewives, stay-at-home moms, moms of multiples and moms with an only child, adoptive moms, inseminated moms. We are all mothers one way or another, handed different circumstances in life. Parenting as best we can. United by the common bond of motherhood. United by all of the crazy disasters and loving moments filling our daily lives.

The point is not to beat yourself up when you screw up. Because guess what? We all make mistakes. It’s part of being human. Like it or not, you will screw up at some point or another. Don’t waste time comparing yourself to Miss Susie Homemaker who looks like she’s got her shit together; kids are always behaved, clothes perfectly pressed, that mom who bakes designer cupcakes for PTO functions.

I’m sure as soon as she gets home the kids are running around like miniature marathon athletes. Picassos are painted on living room walls, furniture becomes a jungle gym, the house is filled with boisterous noise-makers–all wanting to get their way.

The conclusion? The only person you should be trying to better than is the person you were yesterday. That’s all that matters in the grand scheme of things.

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My kids are 8 and 3 and they both still sleep in my bed. Sometimes my son stretches the five-second-rule to ten seconds, my daughter isn’t fully potty trained at 3 (even though my son was at 2), they go to bed late some nights and take joy in destroying the wallpaper in my mother’s kitchen.  I embarrass my son with intentional, ridiculously awkward dancing in front of his friends.

But you know what? They always have healthy food to eat, a roof over their head, warm beds to sleep in (usually mine) and are fully aware of the unconditional love I have for them both. Both are physically thriving and intellectually advanced for their ages.

My kids drive me nuts sometimes. But I am grateful for every moment. For every tantrum, every melt-down, every “You’re the bestest Mommy ever!” and “I’m going to keep you forever” they tell me. I’m grateful for Crayola masterpieces drawn on living room walls, tea parties, messy bedrooms and a sink full of dishes.

These babes of mine are the spice and variety of my life. Every day is a new adventure (sometimes exhausting) but always always interesting. They’ve taught me to be young at heart, how important it is to be able to laugh at myself. Oh and to know the location of every bathroom at every store or restaurant we frequent.

My life is chaotic and constantly in a state of movement. But it’s a beautiful kind of chaos, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Gratitude Day 19: FaceTime!

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DAY 19:

Friday/September 26:

Friday, I was thankful for Facetiming with a good friend that I call my “sister from another mister.” She has a set of twins; some of the cutest, most adorable babies I swear I’ve ever laid eyes upon. She lives miles away, as in hundreds of miles away, but I think of her often and can’t wait for the day that I get to meet her little munchkins in person.

It means the world to me when we both, as busy busy moms of two, have time to video chat through FaceTime. It brought me so much joy to watch her twins interact with one another. Seeing for myself the stare of love and adoration that radiates from her son when he looks at her, listening to her daughter’s hearty belly laughs when her mom would tickle her.

I’m thankful for technology that allows us (and my other sisters from other misters) to keep in contact; FaceTime, text messages, social networking, home phones and cell phones. It brings part of my heart that much closer to home even though these inspiring ladies live miles away. Love ya woman!!!