Looks like I made it

Tomorrow is August 9th, also known as my birthday, and also known as the day I turn THIRTY.

Yes, my friends. Little ol’ me who still gets mistaken as a high school student is turning the big 3-0.

When I was first diagnosed, I remember one of the first (of many) frantic thoughts that flew through my head was, what if I don’t live to see 30? I made it my mini goal, to “make it” to 30, because it seemed like a realistic amount of time to still be alive.

And whaddya know – I am alive! A pat on the back for me for being able to check off that box.

I am so happy to be turning 30 and say sayonara to the 20’s. Do you know how many Facebook posts I have seen of people crying and whining over their 30th birthdays, acting as if it is some sort of tragic occasion? So many. And I always want to yell at those folks and remind them that there are many people who are not fortunate enough to see their next birthday, and would gladly trade places. I said it last year, and I will say it again: getting older is a privilege. Getting old is my DREAM. When I think of being truly “old,” I get all weepy, because I worry it might not happen for me. This might already be my “old” stage. I have no idea.

But for now, I am content with having made it through another year, and having pushed my way into another decade. What a glorious thing. I don’t know what my next goal age will be. I’ve been really scared that I won’t make it to 40. So I don’t think I’m ready yet to think that far ahead.

In fact, no goals right now. No wondering about next year, or the year after that. I made it to 30. And that’s something worth celebrating. Another year, and I’m still here.

Happy birthday to me!

**Same deal as last year — If you feel like giving me a birthday gift, please donate to my team and support breast cancer research and programs at the Princess Margaret. Do it! It’s my birthday!

New York, I love you

To celebrate my quickly approaching 30th birthday, the Hubs and I recently took a little trip to New York City, which is easily one of our very favourite cities in the whole world. There really ain’t nothing else like the Big Apple. Anyone who has ever been to NYC will always tell you the “things to see” and the “places to eat” and all the many sights you absolutely cannot miss, and the list varies greatly depending on the person and what he or she likes to do. That’s the great thing about New York — no matter what type of person or traveler you are, there truly is something for everyone. If you can’t find something you like in NYC, then I’m pretty sure you won’t be satisfied anywhere, ever.

For me, the city is all about food and culture. Those are the things that get me excited. Our first evening, we planned to see a Broadway show, so our food options were limited since many Broadway-area restaurants are tourist traps with terrible food. We headed over to Cafe Edison, a place that we have gone every single New York trip we’ve taken together. Cafe Edison is really nothing out of the ordinary, and I’m not sure it’s a place that would excite or appeal to the average diner. But for me, it is pure comfort, serving up Eastern European Jewish cuisine, at extremely reasonable prices, considering you’re in a neighbourhood that is known for its exorbitant markups on average food. I always make sure to order the matzah ball soup when I am at Cafe Edison.

The matzah balls are huuuuge and the noodles are plentiful and it is like being wrapped up in a warm hug. The soup also did double duty on this particular visit, as I was fighting off a nasty cold, and what better cure is there for sickness than homemade matzah ball soup in the heart of New York City? I can think of none.

After stuffing ourselves (I also had a chicken salad platter, consisting of a huge mound of chicken salad, egg salad, coleslaw, egg, and veggies), we then made our way down the street to our Broadway performance. I don’t think I’ve ever been to New York without seeing a Broadway show and for me, it is one of the most “oh, right, I’m in New York City” experiences I can have. I become like a child when I see all the glimmering lights from the marquees, with stars in my eyes as I walk along the sidewalks and watch all the crowds spill into the theatres. It’s truly magical.

This time around, we got tickets to see the new musical “If/Then” starring Idina Menzel. If you don’t know who Idina is, you’re probably living under a rock, especially after that whole Adele Dazeem fiasco. I have been a huge fan of hers for a loooong time, since she first starred in the original cast of the musical “RENT” when I was a little pre-teen, obsessed with all things musical-related. This was my second time seeing her on Broadway and I was once again blown away by her incredible talent and sheer force. Her voice is truly unparalleled. If I could sing like that, I wouldn’t even bother ever talking. I would just sing, every word, all the time. If only.

After the show, I thought, hey, why don’t we go to the stage door and say, “What’s up Idina!” It seemed like a quaint thought. But apparently half of the city had the exact same brilliant idea, as a huge mob crowded the stage door, waiting for Queen Idina to emerge and jump into her SUV. We stood around for awhile, thinking maybe at least I could catch a glimpse, but she took her sweet time and we decided to bail. After all I am almost 30, which is probably a bit too old for such foolishness. Ah well.

Post-broadway mob scene.

Post-broadway mob scene.

The next day, we took a food tour of Nolita (North of Little Italy). If you’re asking yourself, What the heck is a food tour?, well, it is a tour where you eat food the entire time, i.e. THE BEST IDEA IN THE HISTORY OF ALL IDEAS. This was my third tour through Foods of NY and I have loved every one. The guides are always amazing, you get a great history of the area you’re exploring, and you get to discover all sorts of hidden New York gems. Our guide this time was a lovely woman named Annie, and I would have taken her home with me if that sort of thing was offered/acceptable. She told me to give a big hug to all of Canada, so to all my fellow Canucks out there – you have been hugged.

Annie, our adorable and informative guide.

Annie, our adorable and informative guide.

First taste: Brooklyn Blackout mini cupcake

First taste: Brooklyn Blackout mini cupcake

Second taste: super fresh brick oven pizza made with mozzarella, arugula, prosciutto, heirloom tomatoes, grana padano cheese... my fave stop of the tour.

Second taste: super fresh brick oven pizza made with mozzarella, arugula, prosciutto, heirloom tomatoes, grana padano cheese… my fave stop of the tour.

Very happy to be eating pizza for breakfast.

Very happy to be eating pizza for breakfast.

Third taste: Avocado, asparagus, parmesan cheese on fresh baguette flown in from Paris, avec vino.

Third taste: Avocado, asparagus, parmesan cheese on fresh baguette flown in from Paris, avec vino.

VW bus transformed into a taco stand.

VW bus transformed into a taco stand.

Fourth taste: toasted corn with lime, cotija cheese and spices.

Fourth taste: toasted corn with lime, cotija cheese and spices.

Fifth taste: Fresh Housemade Ricotta, Cherry Tomato, Olive Oil & Sea Salt on Multigrain Bread

Fifth taste: Fresh Housemade Ricotta, Cherry Tomato, Olive Oil & Sea Salt on Multigrain Bread

Cute hubby

Cute hubby

Final taste: housemade salted caramel gelato.

Final taste: housemade salted caramel gelato.

After the food tour, we walked a bit around Soho and then headed back to our hotel for some downtime, because that much walking and eating deserves a nap. It was during this time that I learned we had been selected to receive two tickets to that night’s Shakespeare in the Park, via the online lottery I had entered that morning. Woohoo! Shakespeare in the Park is a quintessential NYC summer experience, where brilliant actors perform a Shakespeare play in an outdoor theatre in Central Park. Best of all, the tickets were FREE and we didn’t have to wait in line for them because I entered (and won) the lottery. So while all those other suckers were standing in line for hours that morning, we were galavanting around Nolita, stuffing our faces full of cheese and gelato. I was extremely happy at how that all worked out.

We hopped in a cab and headed up to the upper west side of Central Park to retrieve our tickets. We then made our way over to Shake Shack, which is always a necessary stop for any trip to NYC. I always get the exact same items: Shakeburger, cheesy fries, and a lemonade. And as always, this meal did not disappoint. Oh boy, was I happy.

Then back over to the park to see the show. The performance currently running is King Lear, starring the unbelievable John Lithgow. I am a huge fan of Mr. Lithgow’s and was extremely excited to see his take on Lear, as well as the fabulous Annette Bening in the role of Goneril. The cast were all amazing, and it was really fun to get to experience Shakespeare in the Park. We were actually in quite good company, as comedian Amy Schumer and Judd Apatow were in the audience as well.

We did run in to some rough moments during the performance, as the weather was extremely hot and sticky which can be a bit of a struggle when one still has to deal with cancer-related hot flashes. It also started to pour during the final act, sending some of the wusses in the audience running. But we persevered, and I actually enjoyed the pathetic fallacy of the rain with the dramatic finale taking place on stage (oh man, my high school English teacher would probably be so proud right now).

No photos allowed of the actual show, so this is the best we could do.

The next day, we kicked off the day by… EATING MORE FOOD. Duh. We made our way down to the Lower East Side for Clinton Street Baking Co.’s famous pancakes. The wait was an hour, and oh boy, was it worth it. I’m not even such a big pancake person, and never order them for breakfast, because a plate of just pancakes can be really disappointing. However, these pancakes are on a whole other level.

Moist and fluffy and perfectly cooked, with the most delicious side of maple butter to truly put them over the top. I ordered the chocolate chunk (obviously), and the Hubs ordered the Maine blueberry. We both talked about the pancakes the whole time we ate them – the true mark of a good meal. And of course we had to add a side of the famous sugar cured bacon. This combo was essentially my dream. If sugar is wrong, then I don’t wanna be right.

Then it was time to resume walking, in order to stave off the looming threat of obesity, due to our over-consumption. On our stroll, we popped into Economy Candy, a candy store from the 1930’s that literally has any and every type of candy you could ever imagine. I actually didn’t buy a single thing, not yet ready to think about candy after my pancake binge.

Then we continued on, and stumbled across Streit’s, the matzah factory. This was a fun unexpected stop and a really nice little piece of Jewish history that I didn’t even know existed. The kind man working the counter humoured my questions (“Do people seriously like eating matzah all year round?” Answer: “Yes.”) and even gave us some piping hot matzah, fresh out of the oven. I don’t really like matzah all that much, but I didn’t tell the matzah man because I didn’t want to let him down.

Next, we found ourselves in front of a little shop called The Pickle Guys, run by a really nice guy named Alan Kaufman. We bought a single sour pickle from Alan since we couldn’t really stomach much more than one. But that one pickle was absolutely delicious and delightful, and now I really wish I had an entire jar. Mmm pickles. DSC02444

Then, because clearly this trip hadn’t been Jewish-themed enough, we went to the Eldridge Street Synagogue, a National Historic Landmark that offers tours where you can learn about the history of the synagogue and its struggles and restoration.

We love you Mel!

We love you Mel!

I won’t bore you with all the details, but the story behind this place was so interesting to learn about and a really fascinating chapter of Jewish life in NYC. We were so lucky to have a great guide by the name of Mel, for just the two of us. Mel shared many amazing stories with us and gave us a real glimpse into the past of NYC and the area and the building. He kept making jokes and trying to trick us in that wonderful funny Jewish grandpa kind of way. We loved him. Mel also told us that he grew up just about a mile away from where we were, which was really neat. This guy was a true New Yorker, through and through.

Oh, did I mention that this synagogue was absolutely beeeeeeautiful? It was breathtaking. If you’re in the area, you should stop by and see it, because it really is something special.

When we got back to our hotel, I went out on my own to try to do a bit of shopping, but I failed miserably, since I was completely exhausted from walking around in the heat all day. The only thing I ended up buying was a 99 cent slice of pizza. So, really, not such a failure after all.

After a bit of a rest, we made our way to the Jazz Standard in Gramercy.

All dressed up with somewhere to go.

All dressed up with somewhere to go.

Monday nights at the Jazz Standard feature their famous “Mingus Big Band” celebrating the music of Charles Mingus. This band was craaaaazy and a lot of fun to watch. I was bopping my head and tapping my knee like some sort of spastic nut. The Jazz Standard also serves BBQ from their restaurant upstairs, so we got to listen to music while dining on fried chicken and brisket. BBQ + frantic jazz = a winning combo. Big time.

The next morning, before we had to leave for our flight, we hustled over to Ess-A-Bagel, maker of delicious, chewy, perfect New York-style bagels. I ordered a salt bagel with cream cheese and nova lox and IT WAS HEAVENLY. I was getting really concerned about not having had a bagel the entire trip, so I’m really glad I managed to squeeze one in. I ate the entire thing and spent the rest of the day guzzling water to try to counteract the massive sodium intake. Worth it, though. So worth it.

I sure do love me some bagels.

I sure do love me some bagels.

Then we moseyed on over to the airport to catch our plane back home, with our stomachs and hearts happy, and already discussing when we’d be able to return.

Oh, New York. I love you.

My new project

A riddle for you:

What do these two things have in common?

Look very closely. Can you see it yet?

Having some trouble figuring it out?

Here is a hint: The person on the left will soon be inside the magazine on the right.

Ohmygosh, you’re becoming a fashion model?! you are probably asking yourself.

No, no I am not. But thanks for thinking that. I’m flattered.

I will, however, be joining the wonderful Elle Canada magazine as a columnist, where I will be penning my own monthly column for one year.

This is something I’ve known about and have been working on for awhile but I’ve had to keep it a bit of a secret, because if I spoil everything, then no one will want to read about it months later when it’s published… alas, I have been living under a shroud of secrecy. But now you know, and I’m excited to share this new development with the world.

I am so grateful to Elle’s amazing editor-in-chief for taking a chance on me and giving me this opportunity. I’m sure “national magazine columnist” was probably on my list of dream future scenarios for myself, back when I was a little girl. I started this blog as a simple diary, a way that I could chronicle my journey through the unthinkable. And now it has become this force that continues to open so many new doors for me. I’m sure there is some sort of life lesson takeaway from that, but I don’t feel like exploring whatever that may be right now. All’s I know is I’m pretty excited to flip open that first issue and see words that I wrote, attached to my name, smack dab in the middle of perfume ads and celebrity interviews.

The first issue is September and will be on stands soon (I wasn’t paid to say that, I swear). If you’re Canadian, you should be able to easily spot it (or you could just subscribe, which costs next to nothing). And if you’re not Canadian, there should be plenty online to keep you entertained.

I don’t have a link or a spoiler or a preview to share. All I will say is the column will be about me and this next phase of my life. I will be doing lots of cool and fun things and living my life the best that I can, and writing about it as I do.

I hope you’ll come along for the ride. It should be a good one.

Calling All Angels

When I was going through cancer treatment, I often thought about how much more difficult everything would be if we had a young child to take care of. Part of me wished we did have one, so I didn’t have to take on the added concern over possibly never being able to have children. But the other part of me felt that since I could barely take care of myself, I couldn’t imagine having to care for and worry about a small human being.

I have a huge admiration for young moms who are diagnosed with cancer. I have known them and witnessed their unbelievable strength, firsthand. It is such an unfair position to be in, and unfortunately, there are many women who find themselves in the very tricky situation of having to juggle being a mom and being a cancer patient.

For a lot of moms, especially those without a lot of family or financial support, this is an extremely challenging struggle, and one that causes added grief during an already overly stressful time.

There is a brilliant organization that was created to deal with this issue, based in Toronto, called the Nanny Angel Network. They provide free in-home child care to mothers who are undergoing cancer treatment by sending in volunteers who have a professional background working with and caring for children. These “Nanny Angels” want to find a meaningful way to give back to the community, and as a result, they make a huge difference in the lives of families who are greatly in need of help. People helping people. What is better than that?

So why am I blathering on about this, you might ask? Well, I have just started working with the Nanny Angel Network and have been tasked with recruiting new Nanny Angels and doing some outreach. Sadly, there are a lot of moms in and around the Toronto area who desperately need some relief, and there are not enough volunteers to meet that demand.

By now, you might be thinking, This is amazing! I am so touched! How do I help?!

I am very glad you asked that, kind reader!

If you live in or near any of the areas listed on this page, then chances are, we need your help. ASAP. You must have a minimum of one year of professional child care experience and be able to commit a mere 5 hours of your time per month. So if you’re a retired teacher, a youth social worker, a former camp counselor extraordinaire – then we need you. And you should volunteer. Because it’s a good thing to do. And will make a mom going through a rough time very, very happy. And you will make me happy. Everyone wins!

If you want to get involved, or know of a person/group who might want to help out, you can send an email to admin@nannyangelnetwork.com. And then, lucky you, you will get to correspond with me directly. Truly, the icing on the cake of this sales pitch, am I right?

So please, spread the word and let’s get this thing going. The more successful it is, the more likely it can someday expand to different areas and we can take over the country and then the WORLD, with Nanny Angels falling from the sky à la Marry Poppins (okay, maybe I am venturing into fantasy land a bit, but hey, you gotta think big).

Updates (but not really)

Hello faithful readers! Jut checking in because it’s been awhile. How are you? I’m just fine and dandy, thanks for asking. The weather has finally warmed up and I am loving it. We Canadians talk about the weather every chance we get. It is so rare for it not to be completely miserable out, that when it’s a nice day, we jump for joy and can’t stop talking about it. Can you believe this weather we’re having? What a gorgeous day! What are you doing on this beautiful day? Get outside… it’s so nice out! I can’t even remember what snow and freezing feels like! We revel in the warmth and sunshine and talk about it until we are blue in the face, ensuring that we have fully demonstrated our gratitude to great Mother Nature.

Or maybe that’s just me.

Now that we’ve sufficiently discussed the weather, we can move on.

What’s new with me? Everything. I went from a very laid-back cancer recovery vacation to juggling about a million different things all at the same time. I’d be lying if I said I haven’t found it a bit overwhelming, going from zero to a hundred practically overnight. My brain and body are tired. But it’s all good stuff. Very good stuff. I feel like I’m having a bit of that cliche post-cancer zest to grab life by the horns and make sure I’m using my time wisely, while I’m still here.

So you’re probably wondering — what is all this exciting stuff I’ve been occupying my time with? Well, unfortunately, I’ll be saving that for a future post or two, so you’ll have to be patient. Mostly because I just don’t have the time right now, and also because some of it is top-secret… which will make sense once I explain. But I’m not explaining now. Sorry. Aren’t you just on the edge of your seat?! You probably shouldn’t be. I’m not going to reveal that I cured cancer or something that major. Although that would be so wonderful, wouldn’t it? Not today, my friends. Not today.

In the meantime, while you await future updates, I will ask a favour of you. I am doing the Weekend to End Women’s Cancer walk yet again. I wasn’t positive if I’d do it this year, but then there were a bunch of promotional materials with my face on it, stating I would be walking again, so I felt I should follow through and not disappoint all two of my fans (Hi, Mom and Dad). But this means I have the difficult challenge once more of raising some major dough.

So if you feel so inclined and haven’t decided which charity you feel like donating to this month, I’d really appreciate if you choose me. The money goes directly to ground-breaking breast cancer research and programs at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre that help benefit people like me. We’re all in this together, right? So whip out your credit cards and show me the love.

If you’d like to donate, you can do so by clicking here. Thanks in advance to anyone who donates! (And for those of you who don’t, don’t expect a Christmas card from me this year.) (Just kidding, I don’t actually send Christmas cards, but it was the most neutral threat I could come up with on the spot.)

Hope everyone is having a lovely start to their summer. Go outside. It’s a beautiful day.

A weekend at camp

Recently I had the opportunity to pretend I was a kid again and go to sleepover camp. Only this type of camp was a little different, because it was 100% female, no kids, booze-filled, and raised a ton of money for charity.

The “Health and Fitness Weekend” was in honour of Linda Lewis and all proceeds went directly to Wellspring. Linda’s twin sister, Leora, was one of the main organizers of the event and so generously invited me to come along. My sister accompanied me for the weekend and we had an amazing time, filled with delicious food, dance parties, new friends, and a few dozen mosquito bites (seriously… I have never seen so many mosquitoes in my life).

When we first arrived at Camp Manitou, us city girls were giddy over the site of the glistening water and all the greenery. We signed in at registration and then wandered into the woods to search for our cabin. Our cabin happened to be down a small incline, which was just perfect for clumsy ol’ me (i.e. I may have slammed into a big tree trunk once or twice to prevent myself from tumbling down the hill). The cabin was large, but still cozy, with several requisite bunk-beds, naturally. Since there weren’t too many of us, no one had to sleep on a top bunk, which was just fine with me. I never liked top bunks. #scaredycat

We soon met our cabin-mate, Susan, who works with Wellspring. As far as having to share a cabin in the woods with a stranger, we majorly lucked out with Susan. We had some good bonding moments over chasing mosquitos and killing them throughout the cabin.

Our first lunch meal was delicious and nutritious, as was every meal the entire weekend. Obviously since my central concern is always “what can I eat/when can I eat/why aren’t we eating,” I was pretty thrilled. Hunger was most definitely not an issue.

The weekend was structured with a jam-packed schedule each day, filled with numerous activities ranging from seminars, to aerobics, to yoga, to hiking, to boat rides, to pretty much anything you’d ever want to do during a weekend in the country. You could choose to do whatever you wanted, or not to do anything at all, which was perfect. No camp counsellors yelling at you to jump in the freezing lake and plenty of time to just lounge and read and relax. In other words, camp for adults is pretty fabulous.

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Lisa LaFlamme (anchor of CTV National News) was the MC for the weekend, and provided a lot of entertainment while we sat and ate our meals and listened to speeches. She also hosted an auction, where a ton more money was raised for Wellspring. I so badly wanted to jump up and shout “TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS!!!” for every item, but since my current unemployment status means I don’t have extra cash to burn, I stayed in my seat and watched the other ladies duke it out for the prizes.

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We had a later addition to our cabin, Eva, who also works for Wellspring. When Eva was settling into the cabin, we got to talking, and she mentioned that she couldn’t do too much activity because she’d just had surgery.

“I had reconstruction last month because I had breast cancer,” she said.

“Oh, cool, I had breast cancer too!” I replied.

Ding ding ding! An instant friendship was forged. We talked all about our experiences and where we were at now and all the gory details. It’s pretty special, the way in which a shared cancer diagnosis can immediately make you comfortable enough with someone to talk about your bowel movements. Seriously. Eva and I had the exact same chemo regimen, and so it only took about two seconds for us to start swapping war stories. Yep, I remember that. Oh yep, that happened to me too. Cancer bonding at its finest.

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On the Saturday evening after dinner, Eva got up and made a speech in front of everyone and shared her story. She was awesome, and of course I cried, and I imagine many others did as well. But the crying did not stop there, oh no. Next up was Nikki, Linda’s beautiful daughter, who shared a poem she had written while her mom was going through cancer treatment, before she passed away. Her poem was filled with love and rage and blew everyone away. There was definitely not a dry eye in the room at that point. Nothing like a cathartic, good group cry. We then each lit a candle and sat in silence, in memory of someone close to us.

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After releasing a lot of emotions and wiping away our tears, we made our way over to a different part of the camp, where a bonfire was happening, complete with a guitarist playing songs, and of course – S’MORES. I can’t remember the last time I had a s’more, but wow, that is seriously one genius combo. Kudos to whoever the heck invented those things. Unfortunately, the bugs got the better of us again that night, attacking our faces and scalps and every inch of our poor little bitten bodies, so we cut the night a bit short and headed back to the cabin. We brought back s’mores for Susan and Eva, who were staying in to avoid the bugs, and they were very excited by the unexpected midnight snack. Cabin buddies gotta have each other’s backs.

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The weekend eventually came to an end, and we packed up our stuff, said bye to new friends, and headed back to the city. Itchy, smelly, exhausted, relaxed and happy. And of course, like any summer camp kid, sad to be home and wishing camp never had to end.

*High-res photos all taken by Sarah Lever

 

A time capsule

I’m sitting here on my laptop, looking through a folder of old photos from my phone and taking a walk down memory lane. There is nothing like a photograph to take you right back to a moment, and to remind you of how you felt in that moment. I know a lot of people don’t take photos of themselves during cancer, which is understandable. For the most part, you usually look like crap. And you don’t necessarily want to document the worst, scariest, saddest part of your life. In my case, I actually took quite a few photos. In fact, I even treated myself to a nice camera early on in my diagnosis, which I used for most of the photos that appeared on this blog.

I also snapped several photos on my crappy Blackberry (hence the mostly poor quality), which I tend to never look at, except for moments like now where I happen upon that folder. Let’s have a look, shall we?

This photo is apparently from the day I had my biopsy. So I'm assuming this was a forced smile...

This photo is apparently from the day I had my biopsy. So I’m assuming this was a forced smile…

I think this was my first time going out post-mastectomy.

I think this was my first time going out post-mastectomy.

In a Starbucks bathroom right after my pre-chemo hair chop. Got to enjoy this style for a whole month before it ended up on my floor and in my garbage bin.

In a Starbucks bathroom right after my pre-chemo hair chop. Got to enjoy this style for a whole month before it ended up on my floor and in my garbage bin.

This is the bruise I got after having dye injected for a CT scan to see if my cancer had spread. I cried so hard when I took the bandaid off and saw it. Yuck.

This is the bruise I got after having dye injected for a CT scan to see if my cancer had spread. I cried so hard when I took the bandaid off and saw it. Yuck.

Before I was wheeled away for my port placement. Feigning excitement.

Before I was wheeled away for my port placement. Feigning excitement.

A clump of my hair as it started to fall out.

A clump of my hair as it started to fall out.

My sis bought my this nail polish during chemo. It's called "Enuff is enuff."

My sis bought me this nail polish during chemo. It’s called “Enuff is enuff.”

My zombie/nearly-dead look which I sported most of the winter.

My zombie/nearly-dead look which I sported most of the winter.

One of a few chemo shopping sprees I had when I happened to have a burst of energy.

One of a few chemo shopping sprees I had when I happened to have a sudden burst of energy.

This was pretty much the lowest of the low. Splotchy steroid cheeks and bald as hell and not even able to muster up a fake smile. Yeesh.

This was pretty much the lowest of the low. Splotchy steroid cheeks and bald as hell and not even able to muster up a fake smile. Yeesh.

Chemo did all kinds of bad things to me, including causing extreme dry eyes that were constantly painful and looked disgusting. Ew, this pic.

Chemo did all kinds of bad things to me, including causing extreme dry eyes that were constantly painful and looked disgusting. Ew, this pic.

One thing that just kept on going was my appetite. So much food, all the time.

One thing that just kept on going was my appetite. So much food, all the time.

The fat-face/pumped full of steroids look.

The fat-face/pumped full of steroids look.

Walmart hat fashion.

Walmart hat fashion.

One of my few wig days.

One of my few wig days.

The beginning of the regrowth phase when I became obsessed with taking photos of my scalp to see if I had hair. This photo was taken exactly one year ago.

The beginning of the regrowth phase when I became obsessed with taking photos of my scalp to see if I had hair. This photo was taken exactly one year ago.

Is it growing? OMG I think it's growing!

Is it growing? OMG I think it’s growing!

These photos now cause a huge range of emotions when I look at them: sad, shocked, angry, proud, amazed. I’m glad I have so many photos, if anything, to remind me how much has changed in such a short amount of time. And how much, for better or worse, could change again. How it’s all out of my control and how I need to be grateful that, for the time being, my current photos consist of me smiling, having fun, feeling healthy, and with a full head of hair.