Life finds a way

When thinking of what to title this blog post, a post I’ve been imagining writing for a long time, the voice of Jeff Goldblum immediately popped in my head. In Jurassic Park, one of my childhood faves, his character utters the now famous line, “Life, uh, finds a way.” Although referring to dinosaurs and their ability to breed in that particular case, the line came to mind when thinking about my own little (far less destructive) miracle that has found its way into existence, despite the odds.

That’s right folks, the rumours are indeed true: I am pregnant. With a baby (not a dinosaur, in case there’s any confusion there). And not just a baby, but a baby boy. A real, live baby boy. Ain’t that somethin’?

For a quick recap: you may recall that I was taking cancer-fighting drugs that prevented me from having a child. You may also recall that I had a type of chemotherapy that put me at risk for damaging my ovarian reserve. You may not recall any of this, because it’s in your rearview mirror and you are likely thinking about other things, as you should be. But I have not thought about other things. Ok, that’s not entirely true. Occasionally I think about pizza, or last night’s Bachelor episode. But a lot of my brain power has gone to thinking about babies. Wondering if that possibility was lost for me. Wondering if I should take the risk. Researching, reading, discussing, deciding, trying to sort through it all the best that I could.

My decision to attempt pregnancy was not made lightly. It was agonizing. At times, it still is. My anxiety has been sky-high, as I wrestle with nerves around the pregnancy itself after encountering a bumpy start which made me hesitant to share my news. My excitement has been tempered with familiar fears creeping their way back in, fears about my own health and how my survival now feels even more critical. I feel like the last time I got really excited about life, I was hit with a bomb, and I worry (irrationally, but still) that I might somehow jinx this good fortune if I put it out into the world.

But after waiting patiently on the sidelines for the last several years, watching baby announcements flood my social media feeds, celebrating the births of my friends’ and family’s children, I want to enjoy this moment in time, this moment I’ve waited so long for. I want to share it. I want you to know that miracles can happen. I want you to know that good things can happen. But mostly I want myself to know that good things can happen. It is possible. It has to be. It’s happening right now, as I feel my son swimming around inside of me.

Good things can happen.

 

A Thanksgiving song

Last year on (Canadian) Thanksgiving, I wrote a post about the things I was feeling thankful for. Today, on Thanksgiving, I met up with my awesome cousin Dan who presented me with a wonderful surprise: my very own song. Dan took the words from my blog post and wrote music for them and sang and recorded the whole thing. Pretty cool, right? What a thoughtful, special gift to receive. Thank you, Dan!

Listen, enjoy, and be thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

A note on perspective

This is by far the longest I have gone without writing a blog post since I first started blogging. I re-watched Julie & Julia on Netflix yesterday, and after watching Amy Adams update her blog daily, it made me think I should maybe get back to mine. (It also made me crave all of the meals presented in the film and wish I had even the tiniest bit of desire to attempt to cook lavish French meals… which I do not.)

As per the last update, my life has mainly been filled with trying to secure employment, which so far has been unsuccessful, although I suppose I haven’t really been at it that long. I keep reading stories of people who have been out of work for over a year. Oh Lord, please don’t let that be me. It’s only been a bit over a month that I haven’t received a paycheque and I’m already starting to feel anxiety when I fork over my loose change to buy a fro-yo. But on the other hand, I don’t think I’m nearly as stressed as pre-cancer Steph would have been. When I was stuck at home last year with the cancer blues, I remember hearing about everyone’s daily stresses, like trying to find a job, and thinking, I would way rather be in your shoes than mine, you lucky bastards. I was wishing deeply that I could get back to a state where I would be worrying about the same things that everyone else was worrying about at my age, rather than cancer. And here I am – wish, granted! So I really can’t complain. (Although, ask me how I feel a couple months from now, and I might be singing a different tune…)

I also had another dose of perspective and reminder that life is pretty great last week when I celebrated Passover with my family. Passover is my favourite Jewish holiday, and last year, I had to miss out on the celebration. Reading that blog entry is actually quite painful, as I can so clearly remember exactly how miserable I felt on that day, knowing my family was together, while I was lying on my couch, feeling like I wanted to die. But that dark memory managed to make this year’s holiday hold extra significance for me, on a personal level. I was so grateful to be surrounded by my family and once again enjoying a tradition that has become a meaningful anchor for me each and every year.

I now always have this nagging worry of, What if this is my last <insert special occasion/milestone/holiday here> ever? And as much as it can be troubling to have those types of thoughts swarming through your head, it sure does manage to make every moment that much sweeter.

Happy Passover/Easter/holidays to all my lovely readers. Remember to enjoy your family, your friends, and all the little things that make it all worth it.

Another part of the story

Besides a minor mention here and there, I have never really written about fertility and cancer — specifically, my fertility and my cancer. I’ve had numerous reasons why I didn’t want to write about it: feeling that it was too personal and private, something only to be discussed by me and my husband, or worrying about friends who are moms or soon-to-be-moms feeling they can’t talk about anything baby-related in front of me. But I’ve come to realize that by not writing about it, it sometimes puts me in uncomfortable or awkward situations, which other people likely aren’t even aware of. And why should they be? I don’t talk about it, so their ignorance is really my own doing. I also know that a lot of people read my blog as a way to educate themselves about how it feels to have cancer, especially as a young person, and by not broaching the very important issue of cancer and fertility, I’m not doing a really great job as cancer teacher.

So, here we are. And I am ready to talk about it. Or at least, some of it.

When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 28, one of the first things my doctor told me was that she wanted me to see a fertility specialist immediately, since certain cancer treatments can have a negative effect on one’s fertility. This is one of the very major issues facing young adult cancer patients, and unfortunately, it is often overlooked. I have heard countless stories of young men and women who were thrust into cancer treatment, without their fertility being discussed. This is a huge problem, and one I think all young people and all doctors should be aware of. So in that regard, I was very fortunate that both my family doctor and oncologist had discussions with me about how my treatment might impact the potential for me to have children.

Learning that my ability to have children might be compromised on the same day as learning that I had cancer was a major double whammy. It was a tough pill to swallow, when I was already considering the possibility that I might not even live long enough to start a family in the first place. Most people who get cancer are quite a bit older, and don’t have to deal with such things. But unfortunately for me, and for my husband, we had to deal with it, and fast.

The same week that I was meeting with breast surgeons, trying to decide if I should remove one breast or two, I was also meeting with a fertility specialist to discuss my options. To say I was a bit overwhelmed would be a wild understatement. I had tons of information coming at me from every angle, and very little time to make decisions that would greatly affect my future. It was kind of a shitty week, you might say.

The fertility specialist did various tests and exams, where my husband and I learned that, yep, we were indeed fertile. Yippee. Too bad I was about to shoot my body full of drugs that could potentially ruin all that.

There are specific chemotherapy drugs that are known to have a damaging effect on fertility. Unfortunately, I had to get one of them. This was not an option. You can’t get pregnant if you’re not alive (lesson of the day!), so staying alive was my first priority, above and beyond everything else. And sadly, in the world of cancer, the best proven method of doing this is often by poisoning yourself.

We were given the option of retrieving embryos, which we could then “store” for  the future, if needed. At first, this seemed like a good solution. An insurance policy, in case the worst case scenario became a reality. (A very, very expensive insurance policy, mind you, as these procedures aren’t covered in Ontario for cancer patients.) With barely any time to think about it, it seemed like the smart thing to do. I got a bunch of prescriptions for shots I would need to give myself and a million consent forms that needed to be signed, and we were off to the races. At least, that was the initial plan.

As I began doing more research about the hormones I would have to take, despite some limited studies showing it was safe, I started to feel uncomfortable by the idea of messing with my hormones, especially when I have a hormone-sensitive type of cancer. It felt risky, especially when knowing that a) we might not even need the embryos and b) if we did need them, there’s not even any guarantee that the procedure would work. In many cases, it doesn’t.

I was also presented with the option of joining a clinical trial, where I could potentially receive a drug that could benefit me, targeting my specific type of cancer. If I chose to do the fertility preservation, there was a good chance the start of my chemo would have to be pushed, and I might not qualify for the trial.

To top it off, the thought of injecting myself with hormones and dealing with potential side effects from that and having to undergo the egg retrieval, at the same time as being in tremendous pain from my double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction and gearing up to start chemo… well, it became less and less appealing.

One night, I was filling out the form where we had to decide what to do with the embryos if we ended up not needing them. Would we donate them to another couple? Give them to research? Have them destroyed?

Suddenly, it all just felt like too much. It felt like I was doing what I thought I should do, rather than what my gut was really telling me to do.

After expressing my concerns to my husband, he admitted to having the same concerns too. We discussed it some more, and then came to our final decision that we were going to put the brakes on the preservation process, and have faith that things would work out for us. Dealing with the cancer felt like more than enough for us to have on our plate at that time. So with that, we put 100% of our focus into making me healthy. I joined the trial, began my treatment, and tried to push thoughts of babies and pregnancy far out of my mind.

None of this has been easy. I remember being so angry that I had to make such hideous choices. I shed a lot of tears, cursing cancer for destroying my dreams. I have wanted to have children since I was a child myself. Anyone who knows me knows this fact about me. We had hoped to have a mini S or mini J pretty much… right now. But cancer decided to show up and derailed the plans and the future we had envisioned for ourselves. At least for now.

So where does that leave me now? I am not quite sure. It is not really possible to tell what effects the chemo had on my fertility, since I’m taking a drug which messes with my hormones. And, to top it all off, I am not allowed to be pregnant while taking said drug… which I am supposed to be taking for a minimum of 5 years, and possibly 10. Or, I have the (not medically-approved) option of coming off of it early, which there are NO good studies to support, and possibly increase my risk of having the cancer come back and not surviving. So my big decisions are not over. Not even close.

It is hard seeing people around me getting pregnant and having their babies turn into toddlers. It is hard seeing photos posted at every hour of the day. I’m fairly certain anyone who has wrestled with any type of fertility issues can relate on that one. We live in a very baby-centric world, especially when you are my age. It ain’t easy. (Although I make myself feel better constantly by thinking of the vacations and nights out my husband and I can take whenever we please, and our ability to sleep in on the weekends as late as we wish. We often say “If we had a kid right now, we couldn’t be doing x,y, or z.” It makes me feel better… for a moment, at least.) If anything, this whole ordeal has made me much more sensitive and empathetic toward couples who are experiencing infertility problems.

I do have a lot of hope for our future, and our family. I know, regardless of fertility issues, there are options. I like to think that all of this sad stuff will eventually lead to somewhere happy. I need that hope, and I hang on to it.

All about me

Okay, so I’ve recently come to realize that a huge portion of the people who read and comment on this blog don’t know me, or anything about me (except for the whole cancer thing, obviously). In fact, there are over 1,000 people who subscribe to my blog, and I’m pretty certain my mom and dad only make up two of those people, because I have the ability to do basic math. So I feel like maybe I should tell you some non-cancer-y things about myself, in an effort to not just be “cancer girl” to all the loyal readers out there.

Here are some facts:

1. I come from a really great family. Boring, right? But that’s the truth. I have a big bro and a little sis, and two parents who love each other. We all live in the same city and see each other all the time. I also have a very large extended family, many of whom I also see frequently. I always thought this was kind of normal, to come from this awesome, big family, where everyone is smart and funny, and gets along and loves each other. I now know that that is not always the case and I am extremely fortunate for how I was raised and the relationships I have with my family members.

The siblings. The one who clearly looks nothing like me is the bro's girlfriend but she is included as a sibling as well because that's how we roll. (If you're a music fan, you can check her out at basiabulat.com.)
The siblings. The one who clearly looks nothing like me is the bro’s girlfriend but she is included as a sibling as well because that’s how we roll. (If you’re a music fan, you can check her out here.)

2. I’m married to this handsome man:

He’s smart and kind and makes me laugh until I can’t breathe. There is no one in the world I’d rather spend time with. We met on the internet, as is becoming the norm for lots of modern-day couples. Although I like to think we were a bit ahead of the curve on that one. I sent him a message after checking out his profile, because he spelled everything properly, made a couple non-obnoxious jokes, and didn’t look like a serial killer. I had no idea I’d ever end up marrying the guy, but here we are, living the dream (minus the cancer part).

3. I love movies and TV. Probably to the point that it might be unhealthy, but if that’s my worst vice, then I’m okay with it. It is hard for me to relate to people who “don’t watch any TV” or “haven’t seen a movie in years.” I just can’t understand that, because I get so much joy out of these forms of entertainment. I can go on forever and ever talking about whatever good or horrible show I am currently obsessed with. I feel actual anxiety when I hear of some new TV show that is getting a lot of buzz and I haven’t yet seen it (i.e. True Detective, which is next on my list). Current/recent faves are: Scandal, Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey, Orange is the New Black, Homeland (despite a pretty weak recent season), Girls, The Mindy Project, Breaking Bad (RIP), Nashville, Pretty Little Liars, The Vampire Diaries, Parenthood, The Bachelor… I will stop there before it gets any more embarrassing.

I grew up completely obsessed with movies. This is how I bonded with friends, and how I often judged prospective boyfriends (I have since gotten a lot less snobby about such things, as you can see from my occasionally terrible taste in television). I still get extremely excited to see a new movie in theatres, and I swear, my heart skips a beat when I hear the movie studio’s opening theme song. Sometimes I find myself humming the New Line Cinema theme, for no reason. That’s probably a pretty strange thing to admit, but alas… the truth.

I could easily write ten thousand words on my favourite films. There are many great, remarkable movies out there, but the ones that I always return to, that I have watched a million times and could watch a million more: Edward Scissorhands, Back to the Future (Pt. 1 for always, Pt. 2 for laughs, Pt. 3 for never), When Harry Met Sally, The Royal Tenenbaums, A League of Their Own, Annie Hall, The Lion King, Wizard of Oz, Hook, Marry Poppins, Home Alone, Poltergeist, and Dumb and Dumber. Those are truly my tops, many of them being childhood favourites. Obviously there are “brilliant” films like Citizen Kane or Schindler’s List, but those aren’t exactly DVD’s that I feel like popping in every night as I drift off to sleep. For me, my favourite movies are all about comfort. This was especially true when I spent lots of last year being ill, and sometimes the only thing that could comfort me was this:

4. My other favourite subject to talk about is food. I am, one might say, obsessed with food and eating said food (note: I am not obsessed with cooking. Cooking to me is just a necessary means to an end. I would much rather have someone cook for me, so I can just focus on the act of consuming the food, which is really the only part I enjoy of the whole cooking thing). I love food so much that if I’m eating something delicious, I will literally try to shove a piece of whatever it is in the mouth of whomever I am dining with, because I need someone else to experience what I am tasting. My husband and sister both find this extremely annoying, but I will never stop doing it. My friend Laura and I often write each other emails that are only about food — which new restaurants we have eaten at, which ones we’re dying to try, where we’re going to meet for lunch next week. And then when we go out to eat, we only talk about the food that we’re eating the entire time, and we joke that anyone sitting near us would likely think we are insane, or haven’t eaten for a month.

I just love food. Healthy, unhealthy, fine dining, hole-in-the-wall diners, all ends of the spectrum. I don’t discriminate. If you put it in front of me, I will probably eat it (a fun theory that my siblings like proving by putting something on my plate and watching it disappear, without me realizing that I have ingested anything). Some might say I have an addiction. But I just say, I LOVE FOOD SO PLEASE FEED ME AND I WILL LOVE YOU FOREVER.

My favourite activity.
My favourite activity.

5. I don’t drink alcohol. Party pooper, right? Sorry to disappoint. People always think that this is some kind of great life decision or statement or religious thing. But I actually can’t drink alcohol, for it makes me very, very sick. I have pretty bad chronic reflux disease (yet another thing, like cancer, that is usually saved for older people… I guess I’m just ahead of the game). This means that things like alcohol, caffeine, spicy foods, and some other things can do crazy things to my insides, which if it gets bad enough, can make me violently ill. Occasionally maybe I will have a few sips of wine or some champagne for a celebration, but for the most part, I abstain. Being someone who does not drink has made me realize how much value people put on alcohol consumption. A lot of people look at you like you’re some sort of weirdo if you don’t drink. I know some people can’t imagine the non-booze life. For me, it is pretty easy. And it also makes me a really cheap date, which may or may not be why my husband chose to marry me (just kidding… I hope).

Okay, I think those are enough random tidbits for the time being. But maybe now you feel like you know a tiny bit more about me, albeit on a somewhat surface level. If you feel so inclined, all you wonderful strangers/lurkers/random people I’ve never met, leave a comment and say hello and tell me something about yourself, or your blog, or what you’re doing here. I meet people all the time who say “oh I know you, I read your blog” and I know nothing about them, which always feels a bit strange. So don’t be shy, say hi! Or at least tell me your favourite movie, so I can judge you swiftly, because really, that’s the only way to do it.

Thanksgiving (Canadian edition)

I am thankful for:

The roof over my head

The food in my fridge

The water in my glass

The husband who makes me laugh

The friends who continue to check up on me

The family who are always there

The ability to laugh at it all

The ability to cry, when laughing fails

The pill I take every night

The medicine that flows through my veins every three weeks

The knowledge of my physicians

The kindness of my nurses

The compassion of perfect strangers

The money in my bank account

The existence of chocolate

The buzz of the television

The peace and quiet of a rainy day

The long weekend

The health of my family and friends

The people who read my words

The people who demand I write more

The little things

The country I live in

The stories that inspire me

The changing of the seasons

The ability to walk up the stairs

The hair on my head

The clothes that keep me warm

The blanket that keeps me warm

The dream of a cancer-free life

The fact that for today, I am alive

Whatever tomorrow brings

Whatever the future brings

I am thankful

 

 

A celebration

When I was still doing chemo, some members of my family had mentioned it might be a nice idea to have a party when it was all over, to give me something to look forward to. I started researching some venues and thinking of who I might invite, but then I stopped. I felt sick and ugly and bald. I couldn’t imagine ever being healthy enough to attend a party. And I didn’t feel like celebrating. My future felt uncertain, a big question mark. Why celebrate when there might be more terrible news lurking around the corner? How would I really know when I was at the “end”?

So the party plans stopped and I told everyone I didn’t want to think about it for the time being and didn’t feel comfortable planning anything.

Then chemo ended, and radiation ended and I started to get better. And I had a scan that I was really scared about and felt some relief from the results. And then I decided, okay. Time to plan a party.

I knew this couldn’t really be a woohoo, I’m cured! themed party, because, well… I don’t know if I’m cured. And no one’s going to be saying those words to me any time soon. But I figured it didn’t really matter. Whether I’m cured or not, whether I live or die, right now I am feeling pretty good and I can stand up for multiple hours without fainting and I can climb several flights of stairs and I can lift a bag of groceries without needing a nap – and all of those things seemed worthy of celebrating. Just being healthy, for the moment, and alive, for the moment.

I also really wanted the chance to gather all the people who had been there for me this past year, in one room. It was my opportunity to say thank you to those people who had dropped meals at my door, sat with me while I moaned, mailed care packages to me, sent funny texts and emails to cheer me up, let me know they were always thinking of me.

We put together a huge candy bar. And we had cupcakes. And mini sandwiches with nutella and peanut butter. There was a music soundtrack provided by yours truly, and lots of laughs and hugs throughout the evening. I even made a quick impromptu speech at the coaxing of my grandfather.

It was so special to have all these people under one roof, and I admit, a bit overwhelming. I hadn’t seen some of these friends in a long time, and it’s very rare to have the opportunity to be surrounded by so many people who care about you, when there is not a wedding or any type of traditional milestone occasion involved. I had a friend fly in from New York to surprise me, and I also got to meet a very special lady for the first time after corresponding with her the whole time I was in treatment. It was an amazing night filled with amazing friends and family. And I am so lucky.

*All photographs taken by Lindsay Lauckner

Are you there God, it’s me, Stephanie

Tomorrow evening marks the beginning of the Jewish New Year, also known as Rosh Hashanah. For those of you not in the know, this is one of the holiest and most significant days for us Jewish folk. It’s like our Christmas. Except not at all.

Unlike the North American type of New Year, the Jewish one is a touch more serious, with some heavy lessons thrown in for good measure (the Jews love lessons). The idea is that the Big Guy up there opens up his big book of judgment on Rosh Hashanah, and decides whether you’ve been naughty or nice and if you deserve to be written into his Book of Life. If you’re an evil, awful person, then your chances don’t look so good. If you’re a saint, then you likely have a good year ahead. If you’ve made a few mistakes, but are otherwise pretty alright, then you need to spend the next 10 days repenting for your sins and asking for forgiveness and making things right with the Big Guy, before he seals your fate for the year on Yom Kippur.

Okay, so I think that’s a really simplified version and if any religious Jews are reading this, I apologize, but that’s the best I can do right now. Judaism for Dummies.

Challah, i.e. the best part of any Jewish holiday. (photo by Tori Avey)

Last year, we celebrated the holiday the week I was diagnosed with breast cancer, so one might say that there was a bit of a cloud hanging over the holidays. Actually, there was a cloud hanging over pretty much every holiday for the entire past year, and some holidays I even had to bypass completely. So I am looking forward to any holiday where I can sit up, eat some food, enjoy friends and family, and not pass out in the middle of it all.

I don’t think I was really deserving of the past year, and if there is a God up there, I’m pretty sure he got it wrong when he decided what my fate would be for the following year. Unless I did some really, incredibly terrible thing that I have blocked from my memory, but I’m fairly certain that I’m mostly a decent person.

So hey God, if you’re listening, you kind of owe me one. I’ll look past your error this time, since we all make mistakes, and maybe you were just having an off day. It happens. But there is no need to waste time judging me this year. I’ve paid my dues. Please just throw my name straight into your Book of Life. Top of the list.  Let’s try to make this year a little better, a little brighter, and a lot less cancer-filled. Thank you.

Shanah Tovah.

To my mother

Today is Mother’s Day, so it seems fitting to write about the woman I call Mom. (Actually, I call her “Mommy” because no one ever told me or my siblings that adults usually drop the extra “my“, until it was far too late for us to break that habit.)

This is my mom:

She still pretty much looks like this

I have always had a great relationship with my mom. I am lucky. Growing up, all my friends loved her and wanted to be around her. She was funny and kind of weird, in a good way. She was the “cool” mom. Of course, she embarrassed me from time to time, and still does. As all good mothers should.

My siblings and I are, and always have been, completely spoiled by my mother. There is no denying this. She will always drop whatever she is doing to help us with even the tiniest task. If we realize we are in need of something, she will likely show up with it the next day at our doorstep. She loves making us happy and doing things for us, even when we are all now (somewhat) capable adults. I have never known anyone as selfless as my mother, and I am fairly confident that most people who know her would agree with that statement.

The day I found out about the big fat C, I called my dad and told him to call my mom. I couldn’t stand to tell her myself, to give her that news that no parent expects to hear. To make her world fall apart, yet again, after dealing with so many health crises in my family over the past several years.

In typical mom fashion, she immediately started doing what she does best: taking care of me.

Throughout this whole ordeal, she has been there. Buying me a pretty notebook to bring to my appointments. Buying me an iPad upon realizing I needed way more than a notebook. Bringing us endless amounts of groceries and household supplies. Getting me fancy designer button-down pajamas to make it a little less depressing that I couldn’t raise my arms. Helping me get dressed. Holding my hair back while I threw up in the hospital. Sleeping on my couch after my surgery. Cooking dinner for us when we weren’t able to. Driving me all over the city. Listening to me agonize over decisions that could affect my survival. Rubbing my back and sitting by me while I cried in pain. And even today, bringing me some sort of futuristic cooling pillow to help with the hot flashes that keep me up all night.

My mom took me to one of my chemo treatments a few months ago for the first time. I didn’t think much about it because I had already been several times, and was used to the routine. It wasn’t until after that I thought to myself how strong my mother is. How hard it must be to sit and watch your daughter get hooked up to machines and witness as she slowly gets sick in front of your eyes. I think a lot of people would crumble in that situation. But not my mom. She got me settled, gave me lunch, refilled my water, talked when I wanted to and went silent when I didn’t. She did everything I needed her to do, putting all my needs ahead of hers. As she always has, for the past 28 years.

My mom is truly a wonder woman. It might take Mother’s Day for me to publicly express how wonderful she is. But I hope she knows that I am thankful for her each and every day, and always was, long before this cancer crept into our lives and gave us something new to tackle together.

I love you Mommy.

An update

Update on Steph for those who truly want to know the mundane details of my life right now. For those who prefer the happy dancing cool cancer chick moments, feel free to skip this one for now and I hope to provide some more of that soon enough.

-I’ve been ignoring most emails and phone calls. It’s nothing personal. I have very little energy and it’s been another rough week, probably the worst yet, and I’m finding it hard to talk to anyone right now. But as always, I appreciate the love so much and really really hope to have at least one or two friends after all of this.

-I have styes on my eyes. I’m sure Dr. Seuss would be able to make that into some sort of interesting storybook, but in reality, it’s not very exciting. Itchy. Red. Styes.

-My skin has turned grey. Not pale, but grey. I used to think being pale was kind of lame, but now grey takes the prize.

-I took a walk today. Spring has sprung. I’m still wearing a black hood with big sunglasses because I can’t really bear for anyone to see my face right now. I seem to get stares wherever I go. Sometimes I just want to shout at strangers on the street, I have cancer, it’s not contagious, get over it. I have come to realize how oblivious we all are to other people’s suffering. How we just walk by, stare, and ignore. I’m sure I have done it a hundred times. Now when I see someone who I think has cancer, I just want to hug them and cry and ask them to come to my home and build a fort with me and hide in it.

-I haven’t had a good sleep in a long time. Between my nightmares, body aches, hot flashes, and the raccoons that seem to enjoy scratching under the window, I can’t seem to make it through the night.

-I have collapsed into a puddle of tears on several occasions the past week. I’m not sure where it is all coming from, most likely exhaustion and the fact that I am almost completely cut off from the outside world and am in some form of pain most minutes of my day. In a moment of sobbing hysteria, I asked my husband if he could cover all the mirrors so I wouldn’t have to see myself anymore. It made me think of all the shiva houses I had been to when I was younger and how I would stare at the foggy mirrors. But I have no idea what people spray to fog the mirrors and am also far too vain to stop looking at myself, so my mirrors remain as they were.

-I watched The Princess Bride last night and it was the first thing in awhile that made me laugh, so thanks to Rob Reiner and all who were involved if you ever read my blog.

-I ate some beets today. Straight out of the jar. It’s a crazy, crazy life.

Things I’m grateful for today:

The sunshine
The comments people leave on this blog
Toast
Health insurance
The few eyebrow hairs I have left
Movies
My friend Rebecca who always says “that is so so shitty” whenever I describe the gross and weird things happening to me, instead of “it’s ok, you can do it!”
My friend Lily who buys way too many things for me
My good friends who check in on me constantly and stick around through the dark days
My husband who lets me soak through all his shirts with my tears and who tells me I’m pretty when I have styes on my eyes
My mother-in-law who sends me photos of rainbows
My parents who do everything
My siblings who are the only friends I see anymore
Everyone who sends me cards and nice things in the mail
The fact that I’m still here
Tomorrow