Was diagnosed with cancer (note my swollen belly above. That’s me sucking in. Full of a big tumor and 3 liters of fluid)
So my friends and I said “eff it” and had my 25th birthday early and threw a rager. Here are the tamer shots.
I went under the knife on December 4, 2012 for the first of several surgeries. I had a total abdominal hysterectomy. Luckily I had my big brother by my side with my parents before the surgery. In the months following I was cut open a few more times to insert an intraperitenial port and a central line. I learned to embrace the beauty of scars.
Scars are nothing in comparison to the torture that is the NG tube. WORST EVER.
A few weeks after surgery the chemo started at Yale.
In preparation for the impending doom of losing my hair, my mom and I headed to the salon and had some fun trying on wigs and trimming my long locks into something more manageable. I also learned that blondes do not have more fun. Yikes.
I was reminded by many wonderful friends that “bald is beautiful”
But that didn’t stop my family and I from having some fun with a few novelty “cranial prosthesis”
It also didn’t stop me from making my friends try on my wigs for my amusement (p.s. they are all red heads/blondes)
I rocked a lot of hats after I lost my hair. I grappled with my perceived stigmatization of “cancer patient” without my hair.
But eventually I put it out into the world.
Sometimes in the midst of physical and emotional pain and the uncertainty of my condition I got scared. Luckily I had the support of many to keep me afloat. I’m smart to have kept some evidence.
Sometimes the advice came from the universe.
Nothing compares to the wisdom of your parents.
Even on Valentines Day in the hospital I got by with a little help from my friends. Stack was the BEST valentines date…
…and chemo date…
…and St. Patricks date.
When my immune system was compromised, even my tiniest of friends found a way to cheer me up!
Regardless of chemo, surgeries, and general unpleasantness my friends, family and I were determined to have fun…
And with the fun came some rewarding hard work further fueling me to still pursue my dream of finishing a half-marathon. For now, a messy 5k will do…
Thank goodness I worked so hard to gain my weight and strength back because I had some weddings to boogie at!
I also didn’t have any time for cancer because I needed to go on vacation to California to see my brother…
I also had to jet set to Wisconsin for an Australia 2009 reunion!
Where I learned how to drive a jet ski and was showered with paper cranes 🙂
Cancer had to go on the back burner because I also had to casually hang out with New Politics and The Mowgli’s…
The most important “rockstar” I met all year was hands down Eff Leukemia’s own Tony Lanza. He kicked Leukemia this year and after many months of being “cancer pen pals” we finally met! Best day.
But nothing was better than my biggest accomplishment of the year:
Finding out that I was cancer free and announcing it to the world (despite Chris showing up late and ruining everything hehe)
And as the result of such good care from my parents, brother, oncologists, surgeons, nurses, PA’s, family, friends, colleagues, and strangers I am here today. Clearly not many of my darker times were documented. It wasn’t all sunshine but I am really lucky to have captured so many moments that were wonderful. My heart is very full right now.
THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart to everyone that ever cared, worried, sent love and support. It’s been a hell of a year.
Love this post! It goes to show that cancer patients can live really full lives and have fun in between the crappy times.
Yup. This is everything. You’re the greatest and everyone in these pictures (and beyond) loves you tons!
Thank you for sharing all the photos….what a year! Love and hugs from the Hurleys.
Two things. First: WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.
Second: ZERO EFFS.
Mutha effin’ rockstar! Also very adorable and peanutty. So freakin’ proud of you!
Jess, we briefly shared a treatment room at Women and Infants Cancer Center, back in April. I think you were on your second-to-last day of chemo. You made a huge impression on me then, and I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to read this post. I’m sitting here grinning at my computer, all teary eyed. You go!
Ruth! I remember you well. Thank you very much! I would love to know how you are doing!
I’m doing great. My condition isn’t curable, but it is manageable, and we have found the right balance of treatment. No more blood-letting — I’m on meds, and only have to see the doc once a month. Best of all, for the first time since April, I’m back to running. Life is good.
What a year it was. Happy anniversary. One year down and a lifetime more to go! Happy Hanukkah!