As most of you already know, I survived my first post-treatment scans. Not only did I survive them but I have been told I am in remission. The day started with a lot of nerves and anxiety, but as always, I had my parents by my side. Showing up at the cancer center was by far the worst part of the experience. It was like everything I have tried to block out came rushing back to me, it was scary. A lot of random memories would pop up and seeing the people fighting not only broke my heart but made me a little nauseous as well.
The day first started with some blood work. At this point needles don't hurt me anymore, I honestly don't even feel them. The only bad part is the anxiety. I know that it won't hurt, but like I said the memories that come are enough to scare anyone. After the blood work we headed over to start my scans. For the PET and CAT scans you have to drink some fluids and be injected with a contrast dye. I hate both of these things. During treatment the fluids made me puke pretty bad...which is when they decided to tell me that they make a "kids" version that tastes like lemonade. So, naturally I asked for that right off the bat. You have to drink this fluid every 15 minutes, and I think it ended up being four cups worth. Which doesn't sound too bad, but trust me it is. I don't think I'll be going near lemonade until the next set of scans! But the worst part comes when you are actually in the machine. Once the scans are happening they hook you up to an IV that will inject contrast for better images. When the contrast is injected your entire body gets warm and you feel as if you've peed yourself..not a great sensation. This part always makes me feel a little sick, and the technician remembered me from my last scans so she put a puke bucket on my stomach. Which was funny because using it while in that little tube would be impossible. I don't know if you've ever seen one of those machines before but there isn't really a lot of room for movement. They do make open machines for 'larger' people..I asked. Anyways, I was fine throughout the scans and next we were headed to meet up with my oncologist. Luckily the place was pretty empty, so I didn't really have to see too many patients. To explain why that matters to me is simply because I hate seeing people having to go through what I did. I would gladly take their place because I hate cancer and don't want anyone to suffer through it. I know a handful of people who will read this and say that I am done and shouldn't take more, but I would chose me over anyone else, it's just my style.
Waiting for the oncologist was difficult. First of all, he isn't my usual oncologist because mine moved to Vegas. Second, he was an hour behind! I told you all about my mental stability in the last blog, please picture me waiting in a room for an hour to be told whether I am in the clear or not! At least I had my parents entertained. When the doctor finally arrived the first thing out of his mouth was,"you are in remission!" That was all I needed. I could breathe again, could relax, and finally turn the page on this chapter. But then he said that there were gray areas in my scans. This was unsettling. I don't know what color scans are but I know gray doesn't mean things are where they need to be. He went on to explain that there are a few areas that still lit up in my scans. He didn't say they were particularly active but they also weren't clear of the cancer. He said that they are areas we will watch in future scans and to listen to my body to see if anything sparks up. I went from this extreme high of being told I am in the clear to this sense of disappointment. It was like a blow to the ego, I fought most of it off, but now I have to live with gray?! And in my mind was, "if this is 'gray' how is that remission?" But apparently the spots aren't big enough or active enough to need any treatment or attention. It's still pretty unsettling to me.
That is why as excited as I am to be in remission, and don't get me wrong I'm ecstatic, I am always going to have a little bit of fear until this gray area goes away. I am sure even without having the couple of spots I would still be fearful for future scans. What is keeping me moving forward is my faith, my family and friends, and that fact that I know in time everything will be alright. Fear isn't always a bad thing. It will keep me conscious of what is happening with my body. It will keep me pushing to be healthy. And most of all it will just remind me to love my life.
Every day is a gift. And every time there is a small bump in the road I think about the hell that was my life for the past year. If I can survive that, I can do anything. And so can all of you. You just have to get through the bad to experience all the good.
I'm thinking this will be my last blog. It is time for me to put these pieces together, finish my book, and move on. I have recently gotten a new tattoo, that I wear with extreme pride. It is the anniversary of my diagnosis and "Still I Rise. Still I Fight." Right under the scar where I found my cancer. I wear all my scars with pride, they are my physical proof and reminder that I can handle anything. I am starting to feel more like myself again, getting back on the lax field just for the heck of it, and trying to finish up my masters degree. Which is still proving to be a little difficult on the brain. I am planning on getting extensions soon, I have seen some pretty awesome results for cancer patients. And as much as every one says I rock the short hair, I am just kind of over it. I want to be me again. Not that hair really makes me who I am, but it's what I want so don't fight me on this one.
I will never be able to thank everyone enough for the support you have given, not only to me, but also to my family. I truly and honestly wouldn't have gotten through this journey the way I did without all of you. This experience has made me stronger, but more importantly has shown me that great people still do exist. You might not see that when you turn on the news or you read the newspaper, but please consider me living proof of that statement. I wish nothing but the best for all of you. And I sincerely hope you have all gotten as much out of reading my blog as I have in writing it. My final advice would just be a combination of all the past blogs... Live life day by day, believe in your greatness, create your own happiness, remember somewhere someone is going through worse, and finally I would just say embrace life and all that it has to offer. After you read this do me a favor and look outside, appreciate the trees and the sky and everything this world has to offer. It's an incredible place and I fought like hell to be here. But, hey, what do I know? I'm only 23, and it was only cancer... ;)
For the last time, keep your spirits up, your faith strong, and your body moving. And no matter what obstacle you face, just remember, "Still I rise, still I fight."
Thank you all from the bottom of my heart,
Wow! It’s been awhile! There is so much to catch you all up on. I guess I should start with my summer. As everyone knows I fought pretty hard in that last week of chemo in order to make it to Lindsay & Mike’s wedding and to get to camp. I am so glad I was able to fight through those pains in order to have the summer I did.
My position at camp this summer was a lot different than being the lacrosse director. I struggled with it because of my chemo brain and not having the kind of time I was used to spending with the girls. My job was to manage photographers and to take and tag pictures. The first week was miserable because I couldn’t remember any of the girl’s names. I knew all the faces but couldn’t get my brain to focus long enough to figure it out. Luckily, all the campers and staff were amazing at helping me deal with the stress. My support system there was overwhelming. My friends were incredible, as I expected, but the bigger shock was with the campers themselves. There is a well-known child therapist who comes to our camp to talk to our staff about working with children. His name is Bob Ditter. I was extremely nervous about the campers handling me being sick, so I spoke to him about how to handle it. At first when I told him my stories and my fears with the situation he just said, “Whoa.” Typical reaction. Then he began to tell me how I had to let the kids run the conversation, and most importantly I couldn’t lie to them. With this new knowledge I was ready and anxious for the girls to arrive. I did not expect for their reactions to seeing me to be the way they were. My expectations were that kids would feel awkward around me and nervous. I didn’t realize how sick I actually looked until I look back at pictures, so I can’t imagine what they thought. I had girls who I hardly had spoken to the summer before running up to me to tell me how beautiful I am. They kept telling me I could pull off bald, how strong I was, and that my eyebrows and hair would grow back in no time. They were incredible. Every day I had someone asking about my vitamins or if I had sunscreen on. And everyday they would tell me how fast my hair was growing. I don’t think those girls will ever understand what they did for me this summer. They gave me confidence, they lifted my spirits, and they gave me a reason to stay strong and make sure that nothing was going to interfere with my summer. I don’t think I can ever thank them enough.
Although I was dreading the end of camp, saying goodbye to great friends and great girls, I did have a huge event to look forward to. THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER! Remember way back in the beginning of my diagnosis when out of left field I decided that when I beat this disease I was going to see HP. Well, with the help of an organization called Compassion Partners that dream came true. Compassion Partners is kind of like an adult Make-a-wish foundation, they supply tickets to Universal’s parks and also Sea World. My parents and I left for Florida on a Sunday and stayed for a week. I had my first Disney experience, then enjoyed two days of Universal, and a day at Sea World. I am still not sure why I wanted to celebrate at the Wizarding World, but it could very well be the best decision I have made in my life. At all of the parks we were given a “golden ticket.” Since I still have to be careful with being in the sun this pass allowed us to cut the lines and wait indoors. At Universal we were treated like celebrities and taken through the back door and got straight into the attractions. So many dirty looks happened when we skipped the lines in Hogsmeade, especially at Ollivander’s Wand Shop. My mom and I never really noticed the attention but my dad had mentioned that people would get angry and then point to my hat and scarf and stop. He isn’t used to seeing the reaction as much as my mom and I so it kind of bothered him. The trip was amazing and Compassion Partners really did make my dream come true.
So, I guess I should move on to where I am at today. I am struggling with this part, but I have to remind myself that this blog was to help others just as much as it is to clear my mind. So, here goes nothing! Over the summer I started to notice my anger and anxiety were pretty bad. The smallest thing can make me so completely enraged that my hands just ball up into fists. Stress makes my heart race to where I feel like I could pass out. And I am noticing that there are times when I am just not myself. I have a lot of days lately that I wake up and just feel incredible, so happy and blessed to be alive. On those days I will walk into a store and ask everyone how they are. I feel good on those days. Other days are bad. And I didn’t realize just how bad they were until my parents called me out on it. When we were at the parks, I couldn’t handle the crowds. I couldn’t handle people at all. Nothing infuriated me more than people smoking and me having to breathe it in. On a side note…Smoking areas in amusement parks are like saying there are peeing areas in a pool…that shit still spreads! Anyways, one day my mom and dad started telling me they notice my anger and they have seen my fists and told me I might want to consider counseling. This, of course, enraged me. My response was, “I don’t need counseling until I start swinging.” And my parents dropped the topic. But the smart people they are had planted this seed into my head. I began to notice my anger and anxiety even more. So, I went to Lindsay to talk it out. My feelings of counseling, (just for me, not others,) was that it is a weakness. In my head I had been incredibly strong all throughout treatments, so I can’t be weak now that they are over. Of course Lindsay corrected me on that right away. And the point she kept making was, what kind of 23 year old could face a life-threatening situation and take it all on their own? And she’s right. I am not weak for needing help in dealing with this. For the six months I was fighting I was too distracted to wrap my head around things. And now with no distractions it is all hitting me. I can’t believe what I went through and a lot of my anger comes in when stupid things go wrong. And all I can think is, “well, what’s next in my life?” or, “when the hell do I get a break?!” I don’t like this version of myself, I don’t like the negativity, and I sure as hell don’t want breaks! I didn’t fight for my life to sail through the rest of it. I can handle challenges every now and then; in fact I will embrace them. So, I have decided that I need to talk to someone who can help me work through these things. And I don’t feel weak in admitting it. Actually, I feel stronger because I can face reality in that I can’t get through this part alone. I will never regret any decision I made throughout my battle, but now I need to figure out how to deal with what happened.
I have my first scans since chemo on Friday and to be quite honest I am scared out of my mind. I am not worried that I still have that awful disease in me, although I have moments where it crosses my mind. But what cancer patient wouldn’t. I think I am more scared of walking into that building again and seeing what emotions catch up to me. But I am strong. I know there is a lot of prayers headed my way. And whatever happens, I can take it. I’ve made it this far, just gotta keep pushing.
Well, I am officially a week out of chemo treatments and I must say it is an incredible feeling to know that I don't have to get crushed by the chemicals soon! I feel like I have been blessed with so many great things lately it's a little bit overwhelming, but I have never been in a happier state than I am these days.
I arrived at summer camp on Saturday and was greeted by incredible friends right away. So many hugs (from healthy people) and so many people saying they were happy to see me, it felt incredible. I was a little nervous at first because I didn't know what to expect from people.. I didn't think anyone would be rude or weird, but it's nerve wracking after six months of being pretty sheltered. I should've known better though, this place has some of the greatest people I've ever met. We were watching the highlight film from last summer on my first night here and I found myself getting choked up. For a couple of reasons really, but mostly due to the fact that I realized I made it. Camp was my finish line for all of it. Camp was the one thing I could tell myself to look forward to when times were hard. Of course being healthy is something to look forward to but at times there are moments that you don't believe in those days. I have crossed my finish line. It is time for me to live my life again and I can't wait to live it to the absolute fullest.
God has blessed me with so much through this journey. I have the worlds strongest and most supportive parents, I have incredible friends who I now consider family because of their support, and I have my health! Soon I will begin to work out, I'll finish my class, I'll get back on the lacrosse field, and I'll do it all with a smile on my face and love in my heart. I wouldn't change this journey for the world.
You know, bad things may happen to good people, but in the end, with enough support and faith, you'll find the silver lining... You just have to fight like hell to get there.
Finally, the night before my last treatment! To say I am excited is an understatement. Of course the anxiousness sets in when I'm trying to sleep. All I can think about is how the pains of tomorrow will be the last ones. It's the greatest feeling in the world.
My life is so much different than it was 6 months ago. I see things now, I mean really see them. The sky looks different, the trees look greener and more alive, and little things that went unnoticed are now things that make me smile everyday. I am so grateful for this entire battle. Of course I didn't enjoy a lot of it, but the outcome is something I'll carry with me forever. An appreciation for life and the desire to be the best version of myself! That makes every bump, bruise, and pain worth it.
I have a pretty big week ahead of me. I have chemo on Monday, port removal surgery is Tuesday, then some healing time, and eventually I'll be making my way to my summer camp job. Looking forward to camp has kept me pushing through this whole thing. Having something to work towards kept me motivated. I cannot wait to start working out again and to feel myself getting stronger. I can't wait to have my brain back.. And my hair! I know all of these things will take time, but I'm pretty sure I can handle that!
I was driving around the other day and noticing my surroundings. I was just thinking about how much different things look now than they did before. I swear the sky has never looked as beautiful to me. As I was driving and processing this my next thought was: "I really did this." I started to cry. I was just overwhelmed by this sense of pride and victory. I beat cancer! I took this ugly situation and made it my own.. I never let cancer control me. I did it! I beat the toughest opponent I hope to ever face and I did it all while being me. I laughed, I cried, and I fought like hell to finish this game. With a buzzed head and braces I have never been more confident in myself. You want to mess with me?! I dare you. I beat cancer, there's no way you can knock me down. You know in a way I feel like a bad ass. I feel like I can take on the world and I'm ready to. I still expect some more bumps along the way, but I say bring it on.
My journey may be nearing it's end, but my blog won't be. I still have a few things left to say! Listen for that bell tomorrow... I plan on ringing it pretty loud.
"Did you feel it change? I mean how many moments in life can you point to & say
'that's when it all changed'?" -One Tree Hill
Sitting in that doctor's office and just hearing the word 'cancer' for the first time. That's when it changed for me. In that instant, without a doubt in my mind, I knew I had cancer. Without the biopsies and consults, I just knew cancer was my next battle. In that moment the room goes white, everything around you shrinks, and you can't hear anything the doctor says following that horrendous word. It’s like your world just closes in on you. The only thing I could see was my mom. She was so scared; she went white and tears rushed to her eyes. Then came the post biopsy consult. It was so hard to focus on anything. I couldn’t look at my dad because as he was fighting so hard to stay strong, I couldn’t help but feel like I broke him. My dad, who jokes about everything, still screams at me for my defense, or these days my team’s defense, from the sideline, looking lost in that room. I only had one question: Can I beat this? The rest is a blur.
I cannot believe I am sitting here six months later. I have a few new scars, a new haircut, and a new outlook on life. But right now all I can focus on is the fact that I only have two more weeks of this left, I did it.
I have an amazing friend who has stuck by my side and made ridiculous 6-hour trips to come visit me on multiple occasions. Her and I have had a couple of conversations about how good people never seem to catch a break. I think one of the most frequent thoughts I have in hearing people’s stories, new diagnosis, or even reading what’s in the news is; why do bad things happen to good people? As we have discussed this we both decided we would much rather be good people who are dealt a bad hand, than bad people any day. I was thinking about all of this yesterday and I came up with my own theory. Maybe bad things happen to good people because they are the ones who can get through it. The good people are the ones with the support systems, in friends and family and in their faith. Maybe good people are dealt these situations by whomever they believe in, because that higher power believes in them. It’s never easy, but how much do we learn from the struggles? I am not by any means saying that I approve of this occurring. I hate it. I wish bad things didn’t happen to anyone. But for me thinking about this situation in this light makes me feel better about it. I am going through this because I can handle it. My parents are going through this because they can handle it. And in the light of an extreme tragedy, at first no one will see it this way. But when the days of healing and accepting come along, maybe they too will think that someone in charge put a lot of faith into them to overcome it all. And that should make anyone feel special.
My theory may not make sense to anyone; it might only have significance to me. But tonight I admitted a fear to my parents, a fear that after I ring this bell, I will come back in 6-8 weeks for my scans and be told that I need to do it all over again. The likely hood of this happening is low, according to my doctors, but the fear still exists. I won’t let this fear become a burden. Mostly because I know if it does happen again, it is because I can get through it.
With two more treatments left... Still I Rise, Still I fight. My spirits are up, my faith is strong, and my body is still moving. What more could I ask for?
"YOLO, you only live once..." a phrase that has been used constantly lately when you listen to a song or log on to twitter. I guess before it became ridiculously popular, I either didn't pay attention or just didn't care. The first time it sunk in for me I actually took a picture. It was a couple of weeks before I was diagnosed. I sat down in my normal seat for class and someone had written it on my desk. So simple, it was like I almost anticipated what was ahead for me. I remember thinking that day how true the phrase was. I thought to myself, "time to do me, face my fears, and live." I have faced more fear in the past six months than I ever thought possible. And along the way I've made life decisions that I will always be grateful for. A few of which I probably never would've committed too, if it weren't for this battle. Nothing crazy of course, just more along the lines of giving my all to reach my dreams, putting myself first, and realizing the kind of people I want in my life. I can honestly say I don't regret anything I've done in my life and with this journey I'm not sure I ever will.
I've learned so much, for example if I have to be bald, my head isn't that terrible for it! I was so scared to lose my hair, what 22 year old female wouldn't be?! But I rock my bald head. I'm proud of it! I took this thing head on and took all control of it. I hope that power is something I carry with me forever. I have realized that sometimes the fairy tale isn't what it seems. You have to take a step back and really look at a situation. But I won't give up dreaming for the fairy tale, because I know it exists. And I've become extremely aware of negativity. I don't know how many times I can say, "somewhere, someone has it worse." There are times when I wish I could slap people across the face with that phrase! Call me rude if you want, but I'm also not biting my tongue these days either!
Life is too short to play 'negative nancy' all the time. At some point you have to suck it up and deal. I consider myself lucky these days. I am battling this dumb thing and I am sick and I am tired, but I am living. I will be healthy again and my family is healthy, what more could I want? One of the crazy things with cancer is that you seem to become everyone's shrink. It's not a bad thing, but even my parents get it. Some days you just want to say, "oh, is that all?" Obviously, I don't do that, but its tempting.
I have a few wishes I've come up with through all of this. The first is that I sincerely wish I could fight cancer for everyone and just have it disappear. I hate cancer and hate that anyone has to fight it, but I will forever be willing to support and fight with anyone going through it. I wish I could really share what I have learned with people my age, because I am so grateful for every lesson. And I wish that everyone could realize that the world isn't that terrible of a place. You just have to make the best of it and believe that good things and good people exist. Stop focusing on all the bad in your life and start embracing the good. I promise if you do this for even one day, you'll be so much happier!
Just a lot of rambling I guess. But two more treatments left and I'm giving it my all... Less than a month till I ring the bell, see two of the greatest people I know get married, and head off to camp. I can't wait!
All day, everyday. Still I rise, still I fight.
Wasn't lying.. Here's my desk!
Do you know that moment when you have just driven yourself somewhere and you realize you don't remember anything about the drive? That's how I feel. How did I get here? One night in October I woke up and felt a lump... I told Lindsay about it calling myself a freak and laughing it off. Now I will be in and out of machines for the rest of my life. How the hell did I get here!?
The holidays are all a blur, not a single memory sticks out, I don't remember my first chemo, I will never forget my first ER visit and how grateful I am for Lindsay, I don't remember much of lacrosse season, yet I'm laying here, pretty worn out and only three treatments away from being done with cancer. I don't remember the details, but I can say that this was a hard drive. More bumps and potholes than I ever believed could exist. But with my family and friends and all of you reading, I am nearing my destination and for the most part my car is in one piece.
That's the best metaphor for me to explain where I am at. Treatments are getting harder the closer I get to the end, and more than ever before I keep telling myself, "Still I rise, Still I fight." that's the only thing left to do. Treatments make me feel horrible and yes they're harder, but who stops fighting in the fourth quarter?! I was never the type of athlete to do that so I refuse to be that type of cancer patient. This whole thing has been broken down like a game for me. Because sports are all I've ever known. They make sense to me and are dependable and always there for you. As long as you are mentally and physically prepared they are usually pretty good to you as well. Sometimes I am losing my mental game lately. I get really nauseous stepping foot into the clinic, which makes the start of my drugs bad. When they access my port I seem to freak myself out right before they shove the needle in there. It's just becoming harder to keep my head. But I can do it.. I only have to do it 3 more times!
My last treatment I will get to ring a bell in front of all the nurses and staff. My nurse told me a whole basketball team came to watch their teammate once and that a lot of people make a huge deal about it. Unfortunately my team who have been my Rocks (get it??) will all be scattered back to their homes. That's ok though, I told the nurse they may need a new bell when I'm done ringing it! How simple is that though? A bell.. That I am looking forward to more than anything right now. I highly recommend more focus on the little things to get you through a struggle. Everyone these days thinks they're entitled to fireworks and all the riches in the world. Step back. You are no better to the person on either side of you. You have no entitlement, you get what you give. People seem to forget lately that you need to work for what you want. I worked my ass off to beat this disease and I want to ring that bell. There's my victory, I don't need a huge show, I just want to ring the bell. I guess I've been thinking about that kind of stuff a lot lately with what I see all over the sports world, it's disappointing to me seeing athletes more worried about money than the sport they're playing. I had my senior season taken away from me and my world ended. My heart was broken. Then I get cleared to play and run around with my team and I get cancer... I need to talk to the lacrosse Gods because something isn't right here! I'd give anything to play and I know I'd work hard to get it back, and eventually I will just for the heck of it. But my game wasn't completely taken away. I still have the ability to share my knowledge and passion for the sport with others and for that, especially through this little bump in the road, I am truly blessed.
Work for what you want, focus on simpler things. I'm not trying to become the next Pat Summit in the coaching world, I'm just trying to give back to a game that has saved me more times than I can count and always been there for me. You don't need fireworks and you don't need someone telling you how great you are, although I am sure you are. If you aren't happy, change it. If something isn't working out, try something else. Life is too short to create your own unhappiness.
And to all of you parents, especially mine, you all are put through the ringer so many times with us kids.. We can be rude, selfish, demanding, and do stupid things. But at the end of the day you stick by and come to the games, the hospital visits, the school events, all of it. Sometimes you wanna deck us, sometimes you're over come with pride, but you love us all the time. Thank you. You're doing a great job. Not enough children say and actually realize that we wouldn't be here with out you. So, in all the hard times you all face today's blog is for you. The parents. Keep your spirits up, your faith strong, and your body moving. Remember we are going to mess up, but remember you did to! And lord the stories I know about my mom and dad, I am an angel! ;) I love all of you supporters! 3 more y'all!!!!
Show some love to a great friend of mine. His name is Jon Holtz and he is running the Pittsburgh Marathon in my name.. Check it out
I am on such a high right now! ...not that kinda high ;) ... Today was chemo day, beginning of cycle four which would originally be my last cycle if I would've chosen the radiation route.. Only 5 more treatments and for me it is the much safer decision.
Lately, everyone has been telling me how close I am to being done. It wasn't really settling to me because I didn't know when that last treatment would be. Today I got the date. I feel like there is a light at the end of the tunnel now. 6 weeks after my last treatment I will be getting scans to see how bad I kicked this thing's ass!
That was just the start to my great day.. Tonight my team played our rivals. A team who every single one of us hates. It's just how it's always been. In my four years playing we never beat them. We had overtimes and would always battle to the end and come up short. Last season they were the first team I was sidelined against due to my ACL and meniscus. They're the one team that I cannot stand watching the game and not being out there with my team. Tonight my sisters killed it. They beat this team with grace, pride, and heart. And I was out there... I was on our goalies arm in permanent marker, on our scrappy little defender's calf was a number 4. And the team carried me out there the minute they put on their fight like a girl shirts. They have carried me through more than anyone in the past year alone. Some of them have seen me through two knee surgeries, some of them witnessed my last knee injury..and posted it to Facebook.. Thanks Morgan! But every single one of these girls have carried me through the toughest battle of my life. There was no way chemo could've kept me from this game, from supporting these girls tonight, and for the pure joy in finally showing this team that we are better.
It's moments like today and tonight that make me appreciate every bump, battle, and blessing I have. Life can be hard, but we create our own happiness. That's why I keep pushing. I don't know what tomorrow holds, I don't know what my future scans will say, and I don't even know if I'll be able to stand up tomorrow after all this activity on chemo day. But what I do know is that at any given moment I have a team full of sisters to pick me up when I fall, an unbelievable family to support me in times that I may fail, and a faith in God and life that with the right attitude and enough fight anything is possible.
"Happiness is not a destination. It is a mood, it is not permanent. It comes and it goes. And if people thought that way, then maybe people would find happiness more often" -One Tree Hill
My spirits have never been higher. My faith has never been stronger.. And believe it or not my body was moving in the last 4 minutes of that game! I'm still not lucky, I am extremely blessed.
I have a lot of updating to do. First let me explain why I haven't been blogging. I have accepted the fact that I am physically weak and exhausted all the time. I don't tend to let that stop me from doing things anymore. I just know that I need to rest every now and then. What I cannot accept is my mental weakness. I have always had a strong memory, I am insanely good with names after meeting someone once. I received extra credit in college because the second day of classes I was able to name every student in an elective class. Now, I can barely remember what I ate for breakfast! I started to notice how bad my memory was on spring break, when I'd want to tell the team something I could never remember what it was. I asked Lindsay for a notebook and pen, then forgot the notebook and pen! This has made school extremely difficult. I don't think my parents understood how bad, or frustrating this part of treatment is for me until I was trying to tell my mom a story. I must've attempted this story three times and would just forget what I was talking to her about. I became extremely frustrated and just started to cry. I hate it! I can't stand feeling like I don't have a brain. With online classes, I am pretty much teaching myself. Which is extremely difficult to do when I can't read, because I can't remember what I am reading. And I can't write a decent paper because I forget what I am talking about! I have fallen behind in classes, I am now only in one class because the professor is being extremely generous with time.
On a more positive note, I have continued to witness greatness throughout all of these struggles. Friday, my team played Millersville University. From running this site I had seen that Millersville ordered 23 Fight Like a Girl t-shirts and assumed they would be warming up in them. Even with knowing that this was happening, I began to cry as soon as Lindsay and I walked across the field. Seeing the support from my team is overwhelming enough, but from another team in the conference just blew my mind! It was so uplifting to see their support. I spoke to their coach before the game, she was so kind hearted and caring, she said her team was on board with supporting me the minute she told them what was going on. I thanked the team after the game. Saturday our team hosted a "Stick it to Cancer" game. They were raising money for the Headstrong Foundation. Which is a lacrosse foundation for blood cancer. Shippensburg wore the lime green headstrong shirts, and the stands were filled with lime green. A majority of my team sported the number 4, some of them had phrases like, "Still we rise, Still we fight," on their calves, and some had, "Fight like a Girl." They kept saying that it was 'my day.' To me it was just another day of my team supporting me like they have this entire battle. They give me strength everyday I am around them. They keep me laughing and keep me sane. When I am with them I forget about being sick and just have fun. Leaving Slippery Rock on Saturday night, I couldn't stop smiling. I told my mom it was a great weekend. It was one I will never forget. I was with friends and family, being supported by complete strangers and looking forward to the day I can say, "Yes, I had cancer, I beat it though."
I wish I had more time to update you all, and I will try my hardest to blog more. But right now there is a very cute, but extremely wild puppy demanding my attention! His name is Storm and he is a cancer/early birthday present. I need to go stop him from chewing my mother's carpets...Spirits up, Faith strong, Body moving. Tomorrow's a new day...and soon 'tomorrow' will be cancer free!
I apologize for my sporadic blogging lately... I am gonna have to fill some gaps with my plans to write a book!! I am finally home from spring training and have some serious mixed emotions about it. I had such a blast being with my team, Lindsay and MB. I can't even begin to explain the nonsense that occurred on this trip. There was a lot of dancing, singing, laughing and lacrosse. All of which I have missed more than anything.
As I face this opponent in my life I continue to learn more about myself and the people around me. I have been blessed with such caring and fun people who continue to support and look out for me. Watching the game of lacrosse is a hard thing for me. I am very passionate about the sport and would give anything to be on the field again. But with this week I have learned that I have such a strong passion for coaching that I will be just fine being on the sideline. Lindsay has often told me about how rewarding coaching is, to put time in a player and see them succeed. She was right. The only thing that makes it better is the fact that I already have a connection with a majority of the people I am now coaching. My team means the world to me. They have been there through some of my toughest moments in life and just continue to stick by my side. They now warm up in lime green shirts that say, "Fight Like a Girl," on the front, and the back says, "4," and, "Still we rise, still we fight." That definitely made me cry! I figured I would be emotional watching the first game because of the fact that I wasn't out their with them, but I was crying for a whole different reason. There are moments throughout this whole process, where I feel like I don't deserve to complain. Or that I am not really fighting anything. I know that sounds crazy, but it's just how I feel. So seeing 27, (not a proper coaching term, but,) friends, warming up in that shirt hit me hard. I am fighting everyday. And I do have the right to complain, everyone has that right from time to time. They just gave me 27 reasons to fight harder.
There was a moment on spring break where I did have a complete break down. The girls were out on the beach at night filming a scene for their music video, yeah, they're weird. I decided to go check it out and was immediately side tracked by the sky. The stars were breath taking and reminded me of two different moments in my life. The first was camping with my family when I was little. That one got me just because I missed my family and love the memories of those trips. And the second memory was of the summer camp I work at. The sky at night there is incredible, and a lot of times I will sit on duty and just think about life while staring at the sky. As I snapped back to reality from these memories I began to cry. I missed those moments and the people involved in those moments so much, but the worst part was thinking back to a day without cancer. I only have 7 more treatments, but to me that feels like a lifetime. Lindsay came over to see what I was doing and I told her about those memories. As we were talking I told her that sometimes I wish I could quit. I told her how much I hate complaining, but it's hard. I hate being weak, I hate being sick, and I just hate cancer. I told Lindsay that I would never actually quit, but I hate feeling like a burden. She of course told me how crazy I am, but most of all she just let me talk and cry. After we talked about it for a couple of minutes, she hugged me and just reassured me that I am going to beat this in no time. I am the luckiest person to have her in my life through this. She has become my big sister, and a medicine nag! But I wouldn't change her nagging for second.
There were a couple other moments on the trip that were a pretty big deal for me. One night after I got out of the shower I decided to show a bunch of the girls my balding head. When I pull my hair back it covers all my bald spots so they hadn't really seen it yet. After showing them, I pulled Lola out and let some of the girls try her on. We all had a good laugh, but for a couple of girls I could tell they didn't like it. I understand, no one likes to deal with it, but it was a huge thing for me to show so many people my balding head. On the way home from the trip I was sharing a seat with one of my closest friends. I don't remember how it came up, but I asked Morgan how she was going to handle seeing me bald. She said that it wasn't going to be easy for her, and my response was, "why?" I told her that I have cancer now and she handles it just fine. And she said, "because then it will be more real." And she's right. I am nervous for that day too. I think when that moment happens, this will become a whole new level of 'real' for myself. That day will be one of the hardest yet.
I guess what I am trying to say is that fighting for anything is hard. Whether it's a lacrosse game, surviving school, or fighting for your health, there are always times when you want to quit. And I think that's alright. As long as in those moments of weakness you can get a grasp of a reason worth the fight. That is what my team, my family, my beliefs, and Lindsay, have continued to do for me. So, yeah, life's hard sometimes, but it's worth the fight. Fight with purpose. Fight with pride. And fight with the knowledge that someone out there is in your corner for when you fall. If you can't find them, look to me. I fight for you, I'll fight with you, and I'll fight when there seems to be nothing else left to do.