I hope that everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving holiday! Hopefully you did not have to rush off to work just yet (sorry Jacque! Retail is a buzz kill).
Thanksgiving this year was different than usual. Because I was scheduled to receive chemo the day after Thanksgiving, it would just be too much for me to drive back to Torrington and home again in 24 hours. Despite the gracious offer to join my cousins, my parents and I had a modified low-key Thanksgiving together on the Cape. We had a phenomenal four course traditional meal at the Daniel Webster Inn. Afterward, my mom and I whipped up a delicious apple pie and a loaf of banana bread using the secret family recipe. I have yet to eat banana bread that rivals my mother’s so it was nice to share this piece of our family history with her.
We ended the night with a marathon of Rummikub. To keep things interesting, I forced my parents to adopt silly rules and claimed them to be “new house rules”. This involved making by parents flap their arms like birds and yell “caw-caw, caw-caw!” whenever they had two tiles remaining.
I adore my family and do not get to see them often as we are a bit spread out in a few states. As much as I would have liked to share this holiday with my extended family I think it was in my best interest to have a quiet break from life for a couple days in Mashpee. I was able to decompress and recenter myself. I can honestly say I feel much better than when I last wrote.
As I mentioned, today began yet another new cycle of chemo. I received both Taxol and Avastin. I am thrilled that W&I was able to fit me for an early afternoon infusion so that I did not have to rush back from the Cape early in the morning.
**Bonus** There was a therapy dog today! So many kisses and snuggles were had by all!
Today I receive the updated CA-125. The numbers came back as just over 600, meaning it has doubled since the last reading. Considering the infection that I’ve been fending off, stress, and feeling rundown I am not at all surprised that my numbers shot up. That said, I’m not upset either (and no, this isn’t one of those times where I’m putting on a brave face but secretly sad on the inside. I’m very legitimately okay with this). I chalk this one up to a ‘not-great reading’ and hope that my body is in better condition for the next one.
In the interest of remaining focused on a more positive frame of mind, I want to share a gift from one of my students:
(I appreciate Kim providing me written consent to share her name as well as this gift with you.)
The context surrounding this gift is that before Kim became my advisee, we had crossed paths through Relay for Life and the Izzy Foundation. We bonded over our common experience of being young with cancer and that evolved into her joining my caseload in Advising. She is a stellar student and has a big heart for those around her. I can happily say that she is now cancer-free.
Through Kim, I met another wonderful girl named Nelly. Nelly was a patient at Hasbro with Kim and they became the best of friends under horrible circumstances. Nelly had been fighting Ewing Sarcoma but her suffering came to an end last weekend when she earned her angel wings.
Kim was the first to share the news with me and all weekend I worried about her. When someone close to you passes it is quite obviously devastating. When someone close to you passes of a disease you can relate to there are complex levels of emotion- fear, anger, mourning, survivor’s guilt, etc. It can be hard for some to process.
On Monday afternoon I returned from lunch to find a purple gift bag on my office chair. It contained a card and the framed picture above. Kim had written on every square inch of this card. It then dawned on me that while I was worried all weekend about her, she was also concerned for me.
Below is an excerpt from her card. It helped me to find perspective and I think it can speak to all of us on some level:
“I made this frame myself. There are many flaws and even some scratches, but they represent scars. When I first made this frame, it gave me issues, so I re-did part of it. I didn’t start new because I felt as though the scars (scratches) tell a story, just as all of our do. I kept it like this to show how perfection isn’t everything. Our lives are far from perfect, but we still manage to survive and get through every day.”
I think we can agree that my student is wise beyond her years. There are no accidents in life and this card arrived at a moment when I needed an influx of reminders that it’s okay not feel strong all the time. Beauty still exists within our imperfect worlds.
I consider myself so lucky to work with students with such heart. When people say to me: “I don’t know how you work through all of this!” I wish I could let them be flies on the wall for these kinds of moments packed with such genuine human connectedness.
So in short (HA! Right…) I feel that I am slowly returning to a more centered frame of mind. I am not currently feeling the stress and sadness that lingered over the past few days and I am getting excited for the weeks to come both in and out of work.
Cheers friends, have a happy and safe weekend!
ENJOY ALL OF THOSE LEFTOVER TREATS!
Thanksgiving at the Cape with Mom and Dad, and her home made banana bread, sounds perfect to me! Happy you enjoyed the holiday!
That is such a beautiful framed picture ~ the work of a true artist. That you received it when you needed it is no surprise! that you enjoyed your Thanksgiving with mom and dad, pie and bread (a true blessing) is wonderful. That you soldier on no surprise! Many blessings today and through your continued treatments. Namaste!
Jessica, I am honored to hear about your, “Turkey Day” weekend, your quiet time, the dog, and to read you were able to get afternoon chemo. Rock on!
Glad you had a nice Thanksgiving with your parents. I love the frame your student Kim made, you are right nobody is perfect we all have scratches and flaws in our live. Beautiful frame and a beautiful picture to treasure. Praying for you and Kim and all who is affected by cancer.
Your updates are so uplifting, Jess! Since our meeting (on the airplane in May), I have been caring for a dear friend who was diagnosed with gastric cancer in February. She is now in hospice care but she is still an integral part of my daily life and close to my heart. She has a 24 year old daughter who is very innocent and inexperienced with the ups and downs of life. I thank you so much for chronicling your experience with cancer. As a breast cancer survivor, I understand the process of healing and being in remission but it is difficult to truly understand the alternative process. I will continue to pray for your healing. You are an awesome young lady!