Tuesday, March 31, 2015

On November 12, 2012 I began a journey that I never saw coming. It was that day that I learned that cancer is an equal opportunity offender and I was its victim. I was enlisted in a club that I never wanted to join. I was enlisted knowing very little, never even given the rules. It was like being sent off to war without any ammo. Despite knowing very little, I learned quickly. I learned that cancer is not for the faint of heart. It is something that knocks you to your lowest point and forces you to get back up again. You quickly figure out how strong you are when you are climbing up from the bottom. When you are at the bottom you are searching for answers, for a reason that this happened to you. I began to realize that I would never have a reason, I would never get an explanation. I had to trust that there was one and know that God only gives us what we can handle. 

Cancer has taught me that you usually don't remember the easy days. You remember the blood, sweat and tears. You remember climbing back to the top. I remember the day I started chemo, the fellow doing my lumbar puncture told me the lidocaine would feel like a mosquito sting. Try again it is more like a wasp sting. I speak from experience after having countless LPs. The next memorable event was Chris having to shave my head. Being bald taught me a number of things. 1. I have a very nice, round head. 2. I look like my fathers twin. and lastly 3. Bald is beautiful. I still have days that I look in the mirror and wonder who is looking back at me. My hair is dramatically different than it was before I started treatment. Honestly, I am sill adjusting. The next hurdle was my walking. I remember the day someone pointed out my foot drop. I knew then I was in for the long haul. Next came the physical therapy and then my braces (aka my magic legs). It is a side effect that I still struggle with and have to work on everyday. Its a side effect that may last a lifetime. Its a constant reminder of my battle. 

While I say it is easier to remember the hard days, cancer did oddly enough bring many good things. It has changed many of my relationships for the better. It has strengthened my relationships with those I am closest with and has surrounded me with people I know I can always count on. Cancer has brought people into my life that I would never otherwise have met. These are people I am now proud to call my friends. 

The funny thing is, just because I am done treatment I still have to live with the side effects and risk of relapse. Cancer will be part of me forever. It has changed the person I am today. It has taught me I am stronger than I ever thought possible. While undergoing treatment I completed my graduate studies, walked across the stage with my classmates, passed my boards and got my first job as an APRN. It has made me realize that I have many things to be proud of. Most importantly it has taught me that “life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, its about learning to dance in the rain”. 

I will continue to live my life one step @ a time. 

Till next time…KMS

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Where has the time gone! The past few months have been busy, I feel like yesterday was summer. 

October I participated in Light the Night for the second year. Again, I was honored and overwhelmed by everyone's generosity. Team one step @ a time raised quite a bit of money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society! At the walk I was asked last minute to speak as the honored hero. I honestly had about 5-10 minutes to write something up. I made a brief speech, but as always it made me reflect on my journey. At the walk you are given a white balloon which represents patients and survivors, a gold balloon which represents those we walk in honor of and red balloon for caregivers and supporters. Being on that stage made me realize how grateful I am to carry a white balloon. There were very few white balloons at the walk. Sadly, there were many more gold balloons. The white balloon for me on this journey is a light of strength. Cancer isn't for the faint of heart. Everyday I’m inspired by not only the things I have accomplished since my diagnosis, but I’m fortunate enough to be surrounded by patients who put up an amazing fight. The quote on my banner this year was, "you have to fight through some tough days to earn the best days of your life".  You have to dig deep to find strength on the toughest days. While I’m through the worst part of my treatment, I still experience many side effects from treatment. I hope the best is yet to come. 

November marked two years since my diagnosis. Two years that I wouldn’t change for a second. As I’ve said before, cancer has changed me forever. I’ll never be the same person I was before I heard the words, "you have cancer".  Cancer has been my biggest life lesson. It’s taught me that I’m stronger than I ever thought possible. It’s shown me that with a little determination anything is possible. It’s brought people into my life that I’m honored to call my friends. It’s shown me that I have people who love, care and support me. My "A" team has never wavered and have been by my side every step of the way. These past two years have taught me to appreciate life. They’ve taught me to slow down and never take the little things for granted, because, who knows, maybe one day I might realize these were the BIG things. Most importantly, I’ve been reminded to not get too ahead of myself, and take everything one step @ a time. 

December has been busy getting ready for the holidays. I just want to take a moment to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year. I hope the New Year brings much happiness and good health to you. I’m excited to see what 2015 has in store! 

Till next time…KMS

Thursday, September 11, 2014

I feel like I blog less and less. It gets a little hectic with work and treatment, but I’m still plugging along. On top of my busy schedule, I’m fundraising for Light the Night! On October 18, 2014 I’ll be walking in Light the Night. This will be my second year walking in the event. Last year was a great time and I was able to raise quite a bit of money thanks to everyones generosity! Since being diagnosed it has been my goal to increase awareness of blood cancers. While increasing awareness it’s important to raise money to increase access to many needed resources. There are many people out there who do not have the support I am fortunate enough to have. Cancer does not discriminate. I once read a quote that describes it perfectly- “It is an equal opportunity offender. You’re enlisted in a club you never wanted to join. You’re shipped off to war even though you never enlisted in the army and you have to put on your armor.” (Graham) This is not the journey I would have ever imagined I’d be on. For some unknown reason it chose me. Its a journey that’s shaped me into a person that I’m proud of. It’s shown me that I’m stronger than I ever thought possible. It’s brought many amazing people into my life, while showing me constant love and support from those I’m closest to. 

Below is the link to my Light the Night page. I encourage you to donate. Not only are you helping me increase awareness in blood cancer, you’re making a huge impact in the life of someone who is battling cancer. Thank you for your continued support! 

Light the Night 
Lighthouse Point Park New Haven CT
October 18, 2014 5:00pm 


Saturday, August 9, 2014

About one year ago I started maintenance. I remember always counting down to “when I'm on maintenance”. Now it's talking about “when I'm done”. Being on maintenance hasn't been much easier than my other phases. Its still been an uphill battle. I've had one trip to smilow with neutropenic fever and a few days of tears. While I feel like cancer has changed me into a better person, the journey hasn't been easy. 

To reflect on the past year is crazy. This past year I have accomplished quite a bit. I completed clinical, passed my boards and began working 40+ hours as an APRN (hence why I am not blogging much). Another big accomplishment was kicking my braces to the curb. I always said I would graduate, but I really never thought I would get out of braces during active treatment. And to think…I have much more ahead of me! 

I don’t count down to “when I am done” because I will never really be “done”. My life has been changed forever.  Instead, I continue to take things in stride and take everything one step @ a time. 

Till next time…KMS 

Friday, June 13, 2014

I’m not sure what happened to May (or half of June for that matter), but it came and went. May is typically busy with our anniversary and mom & dads birthday’s, but to top it all off, my butt was kicked after getting discharged from the hospital. I am just starting to feel better and less tired. I would come home from work and just crash I was so tired for a  while there. It definitely takes me some time to recover, but of course in my true fashion, I’ve been working 40+ hours each week and keeping up with my physical therapy. All of the hard work definitely pays off! I’m getting there slowly but surely. 

Some days are easier than others, but I just always have to remind myself how far I’ve come. As I write this I laugh because I’m very bad at this. I tend to focus on the here and now, but looking back over the course of the year no one imagined I would be doing what I’m doing now. Last year at this time I was still having nausea and drinking Nakeds. It  was just about this time I was getting fitted for AFOs (aka my magic legs). I never talk much about my neuropathy, because I’m not sure there are words to describe the pain it has caused me emotionally. Still to this day even as I watch myself make major strides, it isn't easy. Those who are closest to me have watched me struggle and have been my shoulder to cry on, but it’s not something I ever wrote much about. Looking back a year ago, I would have never imagined I would be where I am today. While I’m proud of myself, it’s still a daily struggle. I just hope to continue to keep up this pace and keep on improving. 

“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.” - Moliere 

Till next time…KMS 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Today was my lucky day! After 5 nights, I was finally able to come home. Tonight I will finally able to get some much needed rest. It’s nice to be home with my girl Subie (and of course Chris). She has spent most of the day by my side, snuggling on the couch. 

My discharge came in good time since tomorrow is Chris’s birthday. We won’t be doing much in the way of celebrating, but at least we wont be at Smilow. This will be Chris’s last year in his twenties. Yes, he is rapidly turning into an old man. Happy Birthday Chris, I’m not sure what I would do without you. You make difficult times like this past week feel manageable. This has been one crazy journey, but I’m glad we are on it together. 

Till next time…KMS 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Well…I was unexpectedly admitted to Smilow yesterday afternoon with neutropenic fever. So I’m blogging from NP 11 tonight.  All is well, I just have to get IV antibiotics for a couple of days. I also need to stay fever free which isn’t going so well for me. I’ve had temps all day today. It isn’t ideal that I’m here for Easter, but it is out of my control. So as always, I will take it one step @ a time and go with the flow. It’s definitely not fun being the patient. Ironically enough, I was on call this weekend, so I was supposed to be admitting people not having myself admitted. Having a neutropenic fever can be very dangerous because I don’t have any white blood cells to fight infection. So I have been poked, prodded and swabbed in numerous places that we won’t mention to find the cause of my fevers.  

Of course Chris has been here through everything and my parents came up today after just getting home from vacation. We all agreed that Easter just doesn’t like me! Last Easter was when I got very sick with nausea and vomiting. This year I decided to spend it at Smilow. Your life can be thrown off course in a matter of seconds when you have cancer. Yesterday I was planning on making a variety of deviled eggs and a special desert. The next second I was packing a bag to come to Smilow. If I let every bump in the road get me down I would be a very unhappy person, so I take it in stride and hope for the best.

Till next time…KMS