Wednesday, November 30, 2016

My 6th year re-Birthday

Six years ago tonight I was given another chance at life. A complete stranger from the other side of the world, selflessly, donated her stem-cells in order to save someone's life. 

In a way I feel special because I am blessed with two birthdays, my actual birthday and my re-birthday.

My re-birthday signifies a new life, a new journey, a new beginning. It is a reason to celebrate. There is no shame to recognize and speak of it. Because without it, I would not be here.

This day does not signify grief or sadness. There's no doubt the journey to be where I am today was a long one and there were times the outcome was unknown but there was always hope. And that hope went minute by minute, to hour by hour, from day by day until it has become year by year.

For me, my re-birthday is a day to celebrate and recognize the importance of this monumental miracle.  It's a day to celebrate life, to embrace it, to love, to laugh and to appreciate each other and know how blessed we truly are. ❤

God bless and Rock on!!!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Time to Reflect and Be Thankful

This is the time of year that I always reflect on the year 2010 and where  I was on Thanksgiving day.  Six years ago, I was prepping for my stem-cell transplant. Laying in my hospital bed, eating my dinner by myself, while my family had their dinner in the hospital cafeteria.

The memory of that day really puts things in perspective. It has taught me to cherish each day, treasure every moment no matter how big or small, to love hard, and to be thankful for family, friends, and to my selfless donor who gave me another chance at life.

Happy Thanksgiving and God Bless!!!

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Friday, November 11, 2016

My Guardian Angels

We all have our beliefs and I ask you to respect mine, especially for what I'm about to tell you.

I want to point out that in my past, especially in college, my faith had been tested a few times, and I questioned God's existence.. And over time, even before my cancer experience, I knew deep down my belief in something greater than our own selves and knew that God does exist and lives in my heart. 

A couple of weeks ago, I had someone approach me and stated that someone I know has a gift. A gift of communicating with the spirit world. And that this person has been wanting to approach me but unsure of what my reaction would be or if I would be open to hear what she had to say. I have to say with everything I have been through my curiosity was peaked.  And just for the record, I have only just met this person and have only been around them just a few times.

So I approached this person and asked her if this was true. She stated that when she first met me she was overwhelmed by four (4) strong women and that these women are related to me through my maternal side of the family. There is one that stands out as my main protector and her name begins with an 'E'. I couldn't think of anyone on my mom's side that would have that name. There is a great aunt who is still living so it could not be her. I asked my mom about my Grammy and the miscarriage she had and questioned if it was a boy or girl. My mom didn't know but she did say that my Grammy had a sister who passed away as a baby but couldn't remember her name. We decided to share this with my cousin who we thought may be able to remember but she couldn't either, so we decided to ask other family members the next chance we had. 

So after this person disclosed the information regarding the name, she proceeded to say that all four (4) of these women wanted to let me know that I will be okay and to stop living in fear. That I won't be touched again by what I've been through. They want me to move on and enjoy life. She continued to say that these women are telling her to ask about a specific place that holds meaning to me and that it's a place that consists of lighting a candle. They stated that I had stopped lighting those candles and all they ask from me is that I light those candles again. 

I was blown away by this. As a child and into young adulthood, every Christmas Eve was spent at my Grammy and Grandpa's. I cherish those memories to this day and because they meant so much to me, I wanted to carry on the Christmas Eve tradition when my Grammy passed away. The first few Christmas Eve's I had a candle lighting ceremony. It consisted of lighting three (3) candles. One was for my uncle who was killed in a motorcycle accident and his birthday was on Christmas Eve, so a candle was lit in his memory. The second candle that was lit was dedicated to those family and friends who have passed on and lit in their memory, while the third candle was lit in memory of my Grammy who made every effort to make sure we all had the best Christmas Eve filled with great food, laughter, love and music.   

But for some reason, I stopped. I stopped lighting them. It was after my cancer experience where I changed. I'm not sure if it's been for better or for worse, I would like to think better but I stopped lighting those candles. 

So as you can imagine when this person told me that these women are asking for me to start lighting those candles again, I knew. I knew this just wasn't coincidence. No one in my family knows her and no one would know of this tradition  that I used to do. This is real. And it confirms my feelings that I have always felt that I've had more than one person looking over me. Never did I know it would be four.  

As you can guess, I definitely shared this with my husband, kids, my mom and dad, and even my cousin. And today, it all made sense. All the dots have been connected. My mom and dad visited the cemetery where my Grammy, Grandpa and Uncle are laid to rest. They were visiting today, Veteran's Day,  to pay their respects because my Grandpa and Uncle were in the Navy. So while they were there, they walked the cemetery looking for the resting place of my Grammy's sister. And they found it. Her tombstone says 'TU SPOCIVA' which means 'Here Lies' and her name was Ella. She was born April 2, 1923 and died March 17, 1924. She was 11 months old. I truly believe she is my protector, my Guardian Angel. 

Here is the picture of the tombstone that my mom sent me. 

I feel so blessed to have not just her, but three (3) other women who watch over me. This gives me comfort. This gives me joy. And when God decides it is my time, I know I will not be alone. They will be on the other side waiting for me and leading me to a blessed everlasting spiritual life. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

In Limbo

I'm stuck.
I'm not regressing.
I'm not moving forward.
I'm just there.

I feel like I'm at a crossroad. Do I move forward and leave all of cancer behind me? Or do I go left or do I go right? Will I encounter something new as a result of cancer or will I awaken something or somethings that have been dormant, only to battle and conquer again?

I know what I cannot do. I cannot and will not go back. I can't even make myself turn around. I can't even take a peek. Because what you think would be an innocent peek, would be like an innocent peek at Medusa. In just that fraction of a second, your life could end. It could turn you to stone keeping you stuck in a time you never want to relive.

I think that my path is becoming the one where I choose to move forward. But even when I move forward, somewhere on that path, I am faced with another and the only option is left or right. I need to choose because going back isn't an option. Whichever I choose it leads me to moving again to choose yet again.

This has become my new normal. A life in limbo. A life of moving forward. A life of walking in circles. But never, NEVER will it be a life going back.

Image source

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Life After Cancer

This article is amazingly accurate....feels like she was inside my own head and read my thoughts

Check out this article...

Thursday, September 1, 2016

September - Blood Cancer Awareness Month

For all those who have fought the battle and who are still fighting!!!

Image sorce; 
Instagram  @bonemarrowstemcelltransplantclub 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Need Feedback....

Is it too short to try extensions to add thickness and fill in the bare, thin spots???

#feelingbrave #sixyearsinremission #hopingtoditchthewig #nofilter

Saturday, June 25, 2016

It Will All Be Okay

The above quote can't be anymore true. Seven years seems so long ago, but the experience still feels like it was yesterday. I can't believe its been seven years since my initial diagnosis.

Is it because of my current circumstances? The ongoing side effects? The continued hair loss? The doctors appointments that still occur every three or four months rather than once a year or once every two years?

It seems that no matter how much I try to move on, it's a constant reminder. I know I need to accept these changes because they are things I cannot change. The chronic GVHD won't go away. My near baldless head won't be a full head of hair again. The weight gain will continue to be an ongoing battle. My breathing may always be winded with coughing episodes here and there.

So even though I know all of these things and try to accept them, something small occurs to trigger my worst fear...relapse.

It happened on vacation. I had a couple bruises appear and a few more the next day. This obviously is out of the norm for me so I became scared because this had happened with my relapse. So I reached out to family and a couple friends to give me the strength and support to not worry and think the worst. They gave me support and prayers which gave me great comfort. I prayed and prayed, cried and cried, and prayed and prayed again. And for those who believe in divine signs, I had them. I had an angel-like image appear in a picture. Some say it was the glare of the sun, but I will believe it was a sign from up above. Also, a quote had appeared in an ad in my newsfeed stating 'everything will be fine because I'm watching over you'. Seeing and reading that gave me more peace. I didnt dwell but enjoyed the rest of vacation, laughing and playing in the ocean waves and sun with my family. It was one of the best vacations ever.

So here I am today feeling overwhelmed by emotions, both content and happy with a little bit of fear. I had blood drawn yesterday and Im waiting for the results. But I truly believe it will all be okay.

No matter what happens, it will all be okay because of the love and support of my family, my friends and the divine ones who are watching over me.

So take this moment to love one another and to treasure every moment you have with each other.

God bless!!! 🕆💗

Friday, June 10, 2016

Recognizing The Signs

For those who have Facebook, each day you are able to look at your memories and re-share posts from years ago. This is one of mine and as you can see from my post above, I knew deep down something wasn't right.

I had an ulcer-like sore in my mouth and bleeding gums that I needed to see the dentist for. I remember the bleeding gums being one of the first signs. I would be in the shower each day getting ready for work and all of a sudden I would taste blood. I was always confused wondering why this would happen everytime I took a shower and then the ulcer-like sore appeared.

I remember my sense of taste not being quite right and my hair being lifeless and dull. This was just the beginning. The bruises came next. They were large sometimes as large as a tea cup saucer. Still to this day, a bruise is never a bruise regardless if it's on me or someone else. When I see one, I am instantly reminded of what they meant 7 years ago.

To be honest, I really don't need the Facebook timeline to remind me of the days leading up to my battle.  I relive it every year and it doesnt seem to get easier. It's my truth. It's my journey. It's my new normal.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

National Cancer Survivors Day

National Cancer Survivors Day
#sevenyearssurviving #sevenyearsfighting #sevenyearshopingandpraying #nationalcancersurvivorsday #ncsd #celebratelife #leukemia #orangestrong

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

My Own Pity Party

Tonight I'm having one of those rough nights. I had just got done washing and styling my wig and thats all it took for my mini-breakdown. I miss having actual hair to cut, color and style.

I don't resemble anything close to who I was before my relapse.  My hair isnt even growing in anymore. There are times that I question if I would have never began using thr wig, would my hair have grown back?

Why cant I accept this new me? The bald, chunky, squinty eyed new me. I feel so wretched.

I miss the person in the photo. I miss the happy, go-lucky person I was before my relapse. Is she gone? Will she ever come back? Only time will tell.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Just 'be"

This is one of my most favorite pictures. It's of my daughter when we were at the beach last year. When I look at this picture I see someone who is celebrating life. Who is celebrating a moment. Who is free, content and happy.

This picture also reflects how I'm feeling at this moment. I am feeling all of those things mentioned above. I am truly blessed. I am grateful for each new day that I am able to wake up on my own and get out of bed and go to work. Even though some days, I want to crawl back in because of the many side-effects from the stem-cell transplant. I keep battling on.

Life is a gift and the people who cross our paths are gifts. I feel so lucky to have so many amazing people in my life. And there are so many more yet to be met.

The journey just keeps getting better. Cancer may have tried to ruin me, but it has done the opposite. It has strengthened me and has helped me appreciate all the good things in life no matter how big or how small.

It's good to be alive. It's good to just 'be'.

Monday, March 14, 2016

GVHD Sucks

Fairly new side effect, have had it off and on...small red bumps on fingers, sometimes itchy and sometimes not, usualy just a couple, but now all have surfaced...difficulty grasping... even holding a plastic spoon hurts
#gvhdsucks #cancereventhoughyouregoneyouhavetotallyscrewedwithmylife #ihateyoucancer

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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

I Surrender

This is one of the most difficult entry's I have posted. It's so difficult because it's the blatant and embarassing truth of where I'm at in my life and how this whole experience has affected me. I thought I was alone. I thought I was crazy for feeling the way I do. But social media can have its benefits. I have learned through the many forums I have joined regarding stem-cell transplants that many of us share similar experiences and side effects. And the experiences and side effects I'm referring to are anxiety, depression and even PTSD.

I guess I'm not doing as well as I thought I was. I had my first anxiety/panic attack last week. This occurred at work. As soon as it happened and was over, I was embarassed. I was ashamed. And I felt like I didn't have control .

The situation involved a local news channel wanting to tape a segment about one of the programs the agency offers. My boss was out of town and it was up to me to do this. I instantly became nervous thinking of what I was going to say. Then those nerves led into becoming extremely warm, my heart started beating more rapidly and my chest felt heavy. I was in the room with three other people but I felt like I was so alone and also felt as if the room was closing in on me. And while all of this was happening, I was picturing myself being broadcast on TV. That I would be on display as one of those so-called 'freaks' back in the time when circuses or carnivals would  display them for other people's  viewing pleasure to either gawk at or make fun of. This is how I felt. Once I came out of my attack, I felt shame and embarassment. I felt as though I let me boss down and that I didn't fulfill my duty as a manager. I'm supposed to be a leader and lead by example and have confidence but I failed. I didn't do any of those things. Actually, my boss was on the phone with me and talked me out of the attack. She was very supportive that day and still is which I'm very grateful for.

But since that episode I realized I'm not as well off emotionally as I thought I was. I thought I was becoming more comfortable and coming to terms with my 'new' normal self when really I'm not. I feel as though I'm a freak out walking amongst the normal. I wear a wig to appear more normal but I feel as though people see through the so'called disguise and see the squinty-eyed,  near-hairless, overweight freak underneath.

It has been said that many symptoms of anxiety, depression and PTSD are quite common post Cancer. And that it could be a result of the combination of both the chemo and meds that are used, as well as, the whole experience which results in a lot of stuff.

So now that I've come to terms of my so-called underlying freak status, combined with my self-diagnosed anxiety, depression and PTSD, I realize I need to seek some professionsl intervention.

I don't want to live this way.  I want to finally come to peace with everything I've been through and with who I am now.

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Friday, January 22, 2016

Reality Check...You Are Not Alone

As I read comments from the various cancer and stem-cell transplant groups I'm a part of, I am reminded how much I'm not alone. There is a comradery sharing the numerous side effects we have. Many are so similar and so different with all varying degrees of severity.

We share both the good days and the bad days. We all share the test of figuring out our limits and knowing that if you push too much, your body begins to shut down. And what were once non-exisistent or usually mild symptoms become something so much more that it limits you in one form or another.

I think of how grateful it is to be alive but it's hard to enjoy all the aspects when your limited in some way because of having a flare up of one or more of the begrudged gvhd symptom or symptoms.

One of the most reoccuring symptoms for me are my dry eyes. It can become so severe that I can hardly keep my eyes open and whatever I am doing at that time, whether for work or pleasure, it's a disruption. And it's not so simple as dropping a few eyes drops in the eyes and all is better. Sometimes it has taken an hour or more of resting my eyes before there is any relief.

Or there are those moments where you are having a good day and all of a sudden begin to smell a dirty ash tray or, as most present, an ongoing ammonia smell. It comes to a point where it's so powerful it becomes nauseating.

But most of all, the fatigue can be the biggest battle. My fatigue has gotten better but when I ignore the small signs and my stubborn nature wants to keep pushing, that's when the mighty crash and burn occurs. It manifests itself with extreme fatigue and nausea. I have left work because of it and would come home to sleep for an hour or two and feel much better after that nap.

And while I can go on and on with all my symptoms, I'm reminded with many of the support groups that I'm a part of, that I'm not alone. There are so many of us that are faced with these challenges daily. And we just need to keep moving on. It's scary at times to think that at some point one or all of these symptoms could mean something much more debilitating in life. And it's scary not knowing what damage has been caused by all of the toxic chemo we have endured. Some people say you can't focus on that or think about it but that's a lot easier said than done. When faced with living and dying and knowing you're alive because of the poison you allowed in your body. You can't help but be reminded of it when your body begins to weaken and shut down. And because I have had a relapse, the fear is even more real.

I try my best living and enjoying each day, but it's when the side effects resurface and gives a reality check not to get too comfortable.

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