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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Lately I've been morning my old life. I feel like there was my life B.C. (before cancer) and my life now, A.D. (after diagnosis).

Anyone who knows me knows I don't do well with change. Even the smallest change throws me for a loop. I have been lucky to have a pretty stable life. I moved once when I was 7, but other than that there hasn't been anything drastic. Until now.

I feel like the life I had before was rudely ripped away from me. I was not prepared at all. That Monday I went to class and drove to the doctor, I never expected to not be going back. I am angry. I want that back. I miss my tiny little apartment. I miss my routines I had there. I am a pretty independent person and I thrive on routines. Coming back home, I lost that. I love being home, but I miss the life I had before. I miss watching Tuesday night shows with my friends. I miss random movie nights with my roommates. This freaking sucks.

I decided I lost a part of my identity that Monday. I know this sounds a little intense, but hear me out. Thankfully, I have always been healthy. Sure I got sick here and there, but it wasn't anything an antibiotic couldn't fix. I eat pretty healthy (usually) (and especially for a college kid). I haven't even had a cavity since I was little. Being healthy has always been part of me, and now it isn't and I don't know what to do. This is why this whole thing just makes no sense. I would like to think I did not take it for granted. I always saw stories of people who were sick and I really tried to be thankful for my health. I know that doesn't guarantee nothing will ever happen, but it has be questioning the reason for all this.

I am having a really hard time looking at pictures lately. I need to clean out my iCloud storage, but going through the pictures made me sad. I look at all the pictures I took where I didn't know what was coming. I was so happy. Not that I am unhappy now, but I was a different person in those pictures. I sometimes wonder if I will ever get back to that person. I know I will, but I wasn't ready to say goodbye to her. I have a had a nice several days. Then today, all the feelings I haven't felt came crashing at full force. I have been saying it all comes in waves. The last couple days the waves have been calm and peaceful, today though, there would be a red flag on the beach. The waves are powerful and mean today.

I want to go back to school. I want to finish the semester and come home. I want to spend the summer nannying two of my favorite kids like I have for years. This is my favorite time of year. I love the events the spring and beginning of summer include. I love the feeling of finishing a whole semester and coming home to relax. I am angry that I won't get that this year. The only bright side to this timing is that it is nice out. The nice weather always makes me feel better. I wish it could make me better. And at least my friends will be home for the summer soon.

I am trying not to take this out on my family, but I am angry. I am sad. I don't want this to be my life. I should be scheduling fun trips for the summer. I shouldn't have to think about "well I hope I will feel well enough to go" or "I hope I won't be having chemo that day". I know this is the ever popular saying, but it just isn't fair. I am just struggling with that right now.

Not to end on a sad note, here are some good things lately.

Once again, the support I have gotten is amazing. I know some people run when things get bad, but I am so thankful I have not run into that. Two of my best friends, Katie and Laura, have driven home from Columbia every weekend to see me. I know that drive sucks, so it means so much for them to do that. A special shoutout to Katie for bringing me my clothes from my apartment (which if you know my closet, is no small feat). My other best friend Evan has also been awesome. Although she is more local, she has taken the time away from school and everything she has going on to come hang out with me too. My aunt dropped everything she has going on to come down that first week. My cousins are coming down in 10 days. I have gotten numerous surprises in the mail. Each thing means so so so much to me. Besides that, I have had COUNTLESS offers. I don't want people to think I am forgetting them or anything. I am sure as I get further along in this process, I will be calling on you! Let me wear out those that have no choice but to love me first :).

A very exciting thing happened yesterday. I got home from lunch and some errands with my mom. I had a package from an address that we did not recognize. I opened it up to find a ton of One Direction  Merch. There was no note attached, so I posted on Facebook to see if anyone could would come forward. It turns out, Katie's dad emailed a lady at One Directions management company. If you know me at all (probably even if you don't!) you know I am a HUGE fan of theirs, and have been pretty much since the beginning. Her dad emailed and told them what has been going on and asked if it would be possible to send me an autographed picture. Well, they sent much more than that.
That would be a t-shirt, a tank top, the booklet for their last tour (which I went to! Twice!), 2 chapstick/sunscreens, a watch, and a vinyl of the Midnight Memories single.

To say I was shocked was an understatement. Did I mention that shirt is SIGNED?! We weren't sure at first, but after I got the details, it was confirmed! HARRY STYLES TOUCHED THAT SHIRT Y'ALL! We went and got a shadow box for it today...I am guarding that thing with my life! Especially after the recent events! You have probably seen the news recently that Zayn left the band. It has been a rough week, and if I hadn't just experienced the last few weeks of my own life, I would probably be a bit more broken up. Anyway, that shirt is basically a relic now because it has Zayn's signature. I will forever be grateful for Katie and her family for all they have done. This was SO incredible and I will somehow figure out a way to thank them!!!! Love y'all :) I never thought I would  be on the receiving end of such kindness. 

So, it is a mixture. Bad moments are bound to happen, but it is hard to dwell in them when there is so much love around. As I said in my last post, life is still good. Hard at times, but good.

inspirational and motivational quote

Still Good

Thursday, March 26, 2015

I met with the chemo doctor today. I posted an update on Facebook, so I don't wanna focus much more on that. It is what it is.

I do feel extremely positive and encouraged. The first thing out of the doctor's mouth was that the end goal of this treatment is to cure me. I should be fine after this. He called it a blip on the radar. A crappy one, but a blip nonetheless. I am extremely grateful for that. Seriously. I know it could be worse, and while I never thought worse, it is good to know that another doctor thinks the same. I'm gonna be fine, but it is just going to take a little bit to get there.

I don't know what I am going to do about school. Things are still up in the air there, but something will work out. It kind of depends on a lot of things.

The side effects of chemo are crappy. No way around that. Nausea and fatigue are the main two, which thankfully there are lots of good medicine for nausea! The doctor encouraged me to keep up with my life as normal as much as possible. I am going to have lower immunity, but he said it shouldn't be anything some normal hand washing won't take care of. I will be free to hang out with anyone or go anywhere when I am not in the doctor's office!

I will be spending a lot more time in the hospital/doctors than I am used to. I am not a person who is sick. I have had the flu once. I get sinus infections occasionally, but I have never even had a surgery. This is a whole new thing for me and it sucks. It just doesn't make sense.

The word sick is something I have been thinking about lately too. Am I sick currently? I guess. Cancer is a sickness. Do I feel sick? NOT AT ALL!  I feel fine. Minus the knee pain, I couldn't feel better. That's why this is all so weird. It is still easy for me to ignore what is happening as long as I am not going to appointments. I think I ignore it so when reality hits, it hits hard.

I know I am not going to be able to ignore it for too much longer. I will lose my hair. That is sad to me for a number of reasons. I take a lot of pride in my hair. Am I always happy with it? No. I have been trying to grow it out and it is finally getting long. I have started using nice hair products. I am scared to lose it. I know it isn't going to change anything, but it is. It is going to be a reminder and I don't want it. I don't want people to treat me or look at me like I am sick. I know that it is just a part of it, but I don't want it. I don't feel sick and I don't wanna look sick.

Chemo is going to make me feel sick. I think it is funny that the treatment for this disease makes you sicker than the actual disease (in my case anyway). Chemo has a lot of crappy side effects. I really like my doctor and I feel confident that he is covering all his bases. Still, freezing eggs is not something I ever thought I would have to think about at 20 years old, but here I am. They are going to be continuously monitoring my counts, heart, and kidney function. The doctor said I am in a good place since I am only 20 and otherwise healthy, but it is still important to keep an eye.

I am still wishing I could wake up from this nightmare. I didn't realize how long this process actually is. It just hit me today and I am angry. I don't know why this is happening. I'm just mad. I wanna go back to my life a month ago. It just sucks and there isn't really anything else to say. #$@$ cancer.

I don't want to sound ungrateful or anything, but I need to vent too. I am extremely grateful for my doctors and modern medicine. I am going to be fine. I've just been dealt a crappy card and slowly I am dealing with it. I honestly don't know where I would be without my family and friends. The support I have continued to get has been incredible. I only hope that everyone who faces something like this has people like I do around them. Every message, thought, prayer, etc is felt and is appreciated. You are all honestly amazing and it means the world.

It is not a bad life, just a bad day or a bad part of a day. I had a canvas in my room previously that said "everyday may not be good, but there is something good in everyday". My goal is to find something good in everyday. I will. The good is still there, and as long as it is there I will find it.


Cancer and Cinderella

Sunday, March 22, 2015

I finally got to see the new Cinderella movie today. I had been anticipating it and was not disappointed! It was so good, and I definitely recommend seeing it!

Cinderella has always been my favorite princess. If I'm honest, it is probably because her movie lacked anything scary. I was easily scared as a kid so I did not love Snow White or Sleeping Beauty or Ariel. When I was sent to my room when I was little I thought Ursula was going to come get me!

I never thought that I had anything in common with Cinderella until I was watching the movie today. Cinderella had a "perfect" life at first. After some sad events, her stepmother comes in and turns her world upside down. The life she knew and loved was gone. Sound familiar? It did to me. In my life, cancer is the stepmother. Not that my life was perfect before this (by any means), but it was familiar and it was mine.

One difference between me and Cinderella in the given situations, is that Cinderella takes it for way too long. I totally am all about the whole "be kind" motto, but I don't think it applies to cancer. Honestly, I would have cracked the first time anyone told me that I have to climb 9 billion stairs to live in an attic. I'm not going to take that kind of crap (for lack of a better word) from this disease. I am not going to let it control me or keep me from any royal balls. Me and my friend Katie both agreed that forgive would not have been the "F" word we would have said to the stepmother at the end. And I will definitely not forgive cancer for what it is doing to my life. Good for you Cinderella, but not for me (at this point in this situation at least).

I wish it was easy as having my fairy godmother "bippity bobbity boo" this away, but sadly it isn't. It is going to look more like the scene where the magic is wearing off, and she is being thrown around inside the pumpkin. It is going to be bumpy and hard, no doubt about that.

Another difference, is of course, the prince. Her prince was a handsome British guy with the bluest eyes ever, while mine will be a bag of toxic liquid called chemo. Chemo...Kit....pretty close...kinda. He walked in and saved her from her stepmother and chemo will save me from mine.

While happily ever after isn't guaranteed like it was for Cinderella, I know it is all going to end well. I may not get my own kingdom, but I will get my life back. Will it be the exact same? No. I don't think anyone can go through something like this and go back to exactly who they were before. I will be a newer, improved version of myself. Cancer is not going to stop me from whatever is in my future (which could be a kingdom....ya never know :) ).

On another note, I have decided to adopt the motto of the movie for my life. The words "have courage and be kind" are so powerful, especially to me at this point in my life. I am trying my best to do both of those things. I am going into completely unknown territory, but I will do so with the most courage I can. I talked before about how important it is to be kind, so I won't elaborate on that one. Kindness goes a very long way, as evidenced in Cinderella (and life).

I did not expect for the movie to impact me like this. I have seen Cinderella 500 million times. The words "have courage and be kind" are exactly what I needed to hear and what I want this adventure to be about. I will do my best to portray that motto, and I hope you all will too.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

I am not any different than I was before this week. I did not magically develop superpowers that equip me to handle what life has thrown me.

I have been told multiple times that I am strong and that I am handling this much better than some people think they would. I am here to assure you, that is not the case. I was no more prepared for this news than anyone. I think when you get thrust into situations like this, you don't get much of a choice. You can either cry and continue to feel bad for yourself (which I do plenty of) or get ready to fight. And I am ready. I still have lots left to do in this life and I am not going to let anything stop me.

The emotions come in stages. Sometimes I am sad, sometimes I am angry, and other times I am fine. It is strange. It is quite a range of emotions. Yesterday was the first day I drove and was out since before all this. I was fine and it felt nice, but at our last stop I began to feel angry. I was walking around the neighborhood Walmart where I have been thousands of times. I saw all these people and I got mad that their lives hadn't changed like mine had. The world stopped for me (and many others, I know), Monday March 16. I get jealous of people going on with their lives.

Saying it just isn't fair leads me to a whole other thing. Life isn't fair. It is true and this proves it. Many people have also told me that I am the last person on Earth who deserves this. Do I think that I am a nice person who tries to do the right thing as much as possible? Yes. Do I think that being a nice person makes me any less deserving of this than anyone else? No. No one deserves cancer. I would not wish this feeling on my worst enemy. It is turning my life upside down. Frankly, this just sucks.

I have not let myself do the whole "why me" thing. That is just torture and there is no answer, at least on this side of Heaven. Have I asked "why" in general? 100% yes. I just turned 20...the world was just opening up for me. I had 6 weeks left in a semester with some of the hardest classes. I was about to be done with math and science for good. I had turned in my application to the professional program. I was making plans for summer. I just try not to spend so much time on the "why". It is useless. I have always believed that everything happens for a reason, and while I am still trying to believe that, I am struggling.

I had my scans on Wednesday, but have yet to hear results. I had the biopsy today. That was the worst thing so far. I was out (conscious sedation) and pretty drugged up. I spent the majority of the day on the couch sleeping. Not exactly my favorite Friday. My leg is sore, but should feel better tomorrow. One more thing down and off my list. Baby steps!

Yesterday I felt extremely good and didn't even cry once. I was able to get out of the house and see one of my best friends. Having my aunt here has been fantastic as well. I am not going to lie though, today was rough. I think part of it really hit me today while in the hospital. I hate hospitals. I have never had surgery minus oral surgery so this is a whole new world for me. I wanna go back to school. I don't want this. I am good like 95% of the time, but like I said today was rough.

I am not going to end on a sad note as there are still so many good things. I have continued to receive such amazing support from my family and friends. Seriously, I don't know how I got so lucky. I am thankful for nausea medication because after my biopsy I felt so awful. They were able to give me something that not only made me feel better, but knocked me out. Yay modern medicine! I am thankful for kind nurses and doctors who make scary things not so scary. Seriously y'all, nurses are so overlooked. I have been fortunate to have nothing but wonderful experiences. I want to bake them all cookies (and eventually I will). I am thankful that it sounds like I should be able to work something out with my professors so this semester won't be a total waste. Although I could keep going, I am especially thankful that I will get to see my three best friends tomorrow. I can't wait!

I promise to update everyone when I get results back. I am kinda thinking that no news is good news or at least not urgent news. I don't have anything scheduled now until next Thursday so I plan on just trying to embrace my new normal.

Thanks everyone again for all the continued support and love. I am really feeling it all! I also wanna apologize for any typos or grammatical errors. I have been on a lot of medicine today and am exhausted, but I wanted to write. I feel better after I get stuff out!

I am going to end with a quote from an episode of Modern Family we watched tonight. I am not kidding when I say I am so thankful for that show! It never fails to bring laughs, even when we have seen the episode 200 times (which we have!).

"I've always seen life like a series of doors. Sometimes you get to choose the door you go through, and sometimes you don't get that choice. But you still have to walk through it. So either you can go through kicking and screaming or walk through with your head held high."


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Well day three of this nightmare and the dust seems to be settling. I no longer cry every minute so that is a plus.

I feel completely at peace. I don't know if it is because of all the prayers/thoughts/wishes being sent for me (because I know there is a lot of them! and I am SOOO grateful), but whatever it is seems to be working. Anyone who knows me knows I worry about everything. Literally almost everything. I have not once felt one ounce of worry over this situation. I feel confident in my doctors, my treatment, and in all my support. I am not scared. My only goal is to get better, and I will do whatever it takes to do that.

If I find myself with the time and energy, I would love to send out thank you notes to every single person. To anyone who has taken the time to text, call, post on FB, whatever....THANK YOU! I mean that from the bottom of my heart. The fact that people are taking time out of their day and lives to think of me means the world.

The only thing I can think to do is pay it forward. Whenever I get the chance I will. Something good will come from this, I know it. I don't know what that is yet, but I will have plenty of time to think about it. I don't think God gives people bad things, like cancer, to teach them anything. I was perfectly fine in my life before this happened. I do think that bad situations happen so good things can happen later. And they will.

I have always believed that you get back what you put into the world. If you are nice to people the world is nice back to you. I still believe that is true. I want to encourage everyone to just be nice. Spread kindness. The world is too dark and scary, there is no reason to add anything more to it. You never know what people are going through. When I was driving in my car yesterday, do you think anybody knew what I was dealing with? Or do you think the people at Burger King knew that my parents were there while their daughter was packing up stuff from her apartment so she could go back home and have cancer treatments? The answer is, no. I am not excusing bad behavior, but there's no reason to be rude. You just never know.

As I mentioned above, I went down to Columbia yesterday to pack up some stuff from my apartment that I will need. I will have to go back and get more (I couldn't fit all my clothes in my car...and I can't stand to be without my clothes!). It was hard. Really really hard. Did I ever think I would be packing up my apartment halfway through the last semester to go back home for something like this? NEVER. And it sucked. It does suck. But I will be back. Even if just for a night or something. I am not losing everything!

On the bright side, I got to see some of my best friends and it was great. They had surprises for me, which was totally unnecessary, but super appreciated. I will now have plenty to eat, read, and watch which is good! I look forward to seeing them again soon because it felt good. I got to forget about all this for an hour. When I got home, my cousins had sent me a box of chocolate covered strawberries (my favorite!), which was a great surprise after a not-so-great afternoon. My aunt is currently driving down to spend some time, which is exciting. I am all about wanting to see people and distractions right now!

I don't want to become secluded from the outside world. I want to know what is happening (I mean I get a pretty good idea because I am always checking some social media), but don't be scared to tell me what is going on in your life. Sure if you wanna text and ask about mine, I will answer, but I will be SUPER happy to discuss other things! This is not becoming the center of my world, and I don't want it to become the center of anyone else's either. I am still the same person. I still like to talk about all the things I did before.

I am about to shower and head to my scans. Prayers that we receive good news are very appreciated! It is going to be a long day, but I will be one day closer to being done with this!

Thanks again everyone! I love you all and you all mean the world to me!

Who better to encourage niceness than my love Harry Styles? :)

Here Goes Nothing

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Well, here we are.

I never thought that I would need a blog for something like this. I always figured if I had one at all, it would be because I would be married to Harry Styles and using it as an update for all of the adoring fans. So to say this is unexpected would be a huge understatement.

I started a blog not only to keep people updated (which will be super helpful and much easier than sending out texts to everyone), but also as a way to sort through my thoughts. I currently have a lot of them in my head.

 I decided to call this blog "Beautiful to Me" because I want to focus on the things that are just that. I don't want this to be a cancer blog. I don't want to become the "girl with cancer". Yes, that is now something that I have to deal with, but it is just a small part of my life. I will get through this and move forward. I am going to need some distractions and I don't want to get sucked into a new identity . I am still me and plan on staying that way.

You know what is beautiful to me? The people in my life. I cannot even express how thankful I am for every single message people have sent me. Although I wish the circumstances were different, I have never appreciated such kindness and love in people. Thank you is all I can possibly say, but know that it means so so so much more to me. Every message, prayer, offer, everything. I have joined a new team, not one I wanted to be on, but I could not be happier with the people behind me.

So that brings us to yesterday, March 16, 2015 aka the worst day of my life so far. I have had some knee pain the last couple weeks, just when I bend down. I went to my regular doctor last Thursday where they did some x-rays. Nothing showed up, my doctor told me to do some exercises, and sent me on my way. That afternoon, they called me back and said the radiologist saw some densities and they wanted me to have an MRI. The following day (Friday) I went for my MRI. Then it was the weekend and the end of my spring break so I returned back to school Sunday afternoon.

Monday the 16th, I woke up as usual at 6:45. I was super unhappy to be up at that hour once again, but I made my toast for breakfast and headed off to class. As I was walking to my car after class, the doctor's office calls me and tells me they want to meet with me and my parents to discuss the MRI. I knew then that it wasn't great news, but I never expected this.

The rest of the day is kind of a blur. I drove back to Greenville and went from doctor to doctor. I got lots of words thrown at me. I am still trying to process everything. I feel like I was lifted up by a tornado and have yet to be set down. I go through waves of accepting my new reality and mourning everything I used to know. I know it is not all gone, but it is just a change and anyone who knows me know I am not good at change. I know I will adapt and this will be a thing I do and then hopefully be done with. It is just going to take some getting used to.

Now what we know:
My doctor is awesome. He is an orthopedic oncologist and is one of few in the country (and thankfully happens to be in Greenville!). He said that this is the smallest one he has ever seen and that the location is favorable for surgery. He was extremely upbeat and positive during our meeting. He pressed on my leg and it did not hurt. I am not walking with a limp. It is probably the best version of the worst news.  I am looking at a couple of cycles of chemo then some surgery and possibly more chemo. I meet with the chemo doctor next week to figure out a plan.

I have a bone scan and a chest CT scan tomorrow to check for spread. I am praying that it has not spread, or if it has it is minimal. The biggest concern with this disease is that it spreads to my lungs or other bones. The less spread the better! Then Friday I have a biopsy. They will go in and get some of the tumor/nodule out to test and confirm the diagnoses. Thankfully I will be asleep for that!

It is going to be a long ride. I am fully aware of that. It is not going to be fun. I know. I've seen the movies and read books. This is not something anyone would choose. I feel extremely positive about everything. I will do what I have to do and get better and back to my life. This is just a detour.

Now questions. I know there are lots of them. Heck, I still have lots of them. As far as school goes, I have emailed my advisor to see what she suggests. My doctor said I could continue online, but that I will probably not be up to it. I am hoping I will not have to repeat this whole semester and then be behind. Seriously hoping. Obviously I will not be returning in the next couple of weeks. I am dealing with this the best way I can, but I am broken hearted. Anything that has crossed your mind has probably also crossed mine.

I would just like to say, please do not google this. I was told not to, and I have resisted. There is no point. There are facts out there, but they vary case by case. I am simply listening to my doctors and that is it. I encourage you all to do the same!

It is kind of crazy how life throws things at you. I thought my biggest stress this week was going to be a paper due Wednesday and going to math office hours. I never thought I would miss my simple school routines, but I do. Enjoy the everyday because it is beautiful.

Please also don't be hesitated to reach me. If I don't feel like talking, texting back, etc. I simply won't, but do not let that stop you or offend you. I love hearing from people and it makes my day.

I am sure there are 1000 more things to say, but my mind is kind of racing. I also apologize for any typos in this post, like I said, my mind is not exactly "there" today.

I find great comfort in lyrics and quotes, so I think I will end with one. Thank you for reading and taking the time to think of me. I will never be able to thank you enough.

“It's just that...I just think that some things are meant to be broken. Imperfect. Chaotic. It's the universe's way of providing contrast, you know? There have to be a few holes in the road. It's how life is.” 
― Sarah DessenThe Truth About Forever