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Monday, September 15, 2014

Yoga Keeps Me Sane From My Chemo Brain

AHHHHHHH How it feels good to be writing again.

This week has been fabulous. I've mentioned before Chemo Brain and it's effects and they are not fun. Memory loss, Aphasia which is as Wikipedia defines: a disturbance of the comprehension and expression of language caused by dysfunction in the brain. So starting a new adventure in learning has been scary but also in just a few short days one of the most rewarding experiences thus far.

I won an online yoga teacher training. I had reached out to a friend who is a yoga teacher and told her
"I'm in a rut, I'm losing my light and my spark is about to go out. I need something to get excited about because my health has robbed me of quite a bit lately. Just say I was interested in finishing my yoga teacher training, where should I start?"
She recommended some books and I began to read. She also tagged me in a post for an incredible yoga teacher (Sadie Nardini) about how she was giving away a free online yoga teacher training. All I had to do was describe in a sentence, why I deserved to win. I'm not going to lie, I was so excited about this opportunity, because it was something I wanted to do but in no way could afford. However, there were over 200 entries and this was just on facebook alone, so I was feeling slightly pessimistic about my chances. I gave her a go anyway, because I had nothing to lose and low and behold... I WON! I felt like I won the lottery and that my life was being turned upside down in the best possible way. My flame was reattacked with a blow torch, just like I needed.
Here was my entry:

The support from other yoginis was incredible! I just felt so.... grateful. I've always said
#PositiveEnergy attracts #PositiveExperiences
and it felt like it was finally paying off.

Saturday Night, I stayed in, and decided to get started. It was like a light clicked. I'm halfway through my first lecture and it's the perfect situation for chemo brain. I can pause my lectures to make sure my notes are comprehensive and I don't feel like I'm rushing or missing anything important. I can look up things I don't fully understand. I can take pee breaks, answer calls or texts, and LEARN! I don't know why I put myself through the exhaustive torture of University which only depleted my self esteem because I felt like there was something wrong with me. Trying to listen to the prof, take notes from what he was saying as well as what was in his presentations, rushing, and missing key important concepts. Eventually, I just went and listened because I loved what I was learning, but my brain has to write it down to remember. It's why I still use an old school day planner. I loved my classes, loved what I was learning, but I was stressed too and so it made it much more difficult to retain anything. Now, I've found my way to screw chemo brain and learn and I love it!

It's no secret I'm a closet nerd, no really, I have more books than a library on steroids. (Ok maybe not that many but a lot.) I started reading John Grisham in grade 3. I underline and highlight. If I don't know the meaning of the word, It's underlined and written with the definition at the top of the page, but I love it.

I've reignited a passion, and life is about being passionate. Life is about living in the now. I'm not worried about whats going to happen in the future, because I don't know. I can't control what happened in the past, I can only control how I react to it, and its gone and done with so I'm moving on. I'm living in the present. So Thank you Janine for getting me started again on this path. Thank you Sadie, for giving me this opportunity! Ready, Set, Go!

And yes... I will address my health, soon.

A little Throw Back to yoga at Crossing Vineyards over a year ago:

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Back With A Plan Of Attack!

So it's been a while since I've posted a blog piece. I was entrenched in the throes of love. I was succumbing to all the changes in my life both positive and negative and I was trying to re find my way. If there's one thing I know however, your "way" usually finds you and in the last 24 hours, it has. It was always deep down... but now its breaking free.

My health has been nothing short of a complete annoyance the last 7 months. I'm cancer free but the radiation and chemo caused symptoms and problems that have made life frustrating. It feels wrong to get mad, because I BEAT THE DISEASE but at the same time, I just want to feel healthy, normal and boring. I don't want to have to end up in the ER continually from excruciating pain, and then be put on pain meds, over and over again. I don't want to not be able to apply for jobs that I would be fantastic for because I cannot foresee my future and know whether or not I will have the energy to adequately get the job done, basically I don't want to let anyone down. Yes I'm frustrated, but now I'm realizing... again because in life you sometimes need constant reminders... I have to take it day by day.
Basically my body has been trying to talk to me, and its time to listen. I can't be mad... I knew this was part and parcel of my treatment. I'm using my frustration to fuel my drive and I'm ready to come back out on top!

It's time to start talking again. SO all the fun details will come out!

I said before I need to be a little selfish and take some time for me, but in the process I forgot that I was actually taking the time for me and worried about everything and everyone else. Now its time to live in the present and stop worrying about the future.

My health continues to throw me curve balls, which I'm still dealing with. My smile is still permanently glued to my face because no matter how much things SUCK at the moment, there is still so much good. I'm going to focus on the good and remember that I'm not mad, I'm blessed and just have been taught life lessons in the most unconventional ways... but at least I'm learning :)

So I'll keep this short and sweet as my re entry back into the blogosphere.... but remember

Get ready....

The Sassy Blonde is ready to reignite some inspiration, along my own personal journey....

Monday, March 24, 2014

Everything Happens For A Reason- How We Met....

I believe everything happens for a reason. I believe we have a purpose, I believe falling in love is a gift and I believe that being diagnosed with cervical cancer was not the worst thing that could have happened to me. Believe me when I say I would have preferred to have not gone through a single thing that I had too, but with out having that harsh life experience, I would have missed out on something that could be life altering for me. This is hard for me to write, because now I'm involving someone else. Now he, can read this, and although he knows exactly how I feel, so does everyone else, and I am very content with keeping our relationship just that, ours. However, I promised to keep this real and in that regard I'm going to explain how something so terrible led to what has become something so wonderful, so exhilarating, that I didn't even know I could feel like this.

I was privileged enough to be one of the honorary co-chairs for the Pink In The Rink campaign with the Canadian Cancer Society and Peterborough Petes to raise awareness and money to help aid in the fight against Women's Health. With this came the responsibility of press and media. Something that made me nervous but I was very excited to do. One of my press appearances was on a radio show, and it was at 8:00 in the morning. Anyone who knows me knows I'm not a morning person, so this was going to be a challenge but this cause was near and dear to my heart and I would not let it down. Luckily it was a radio appearance so I didn't have to doll up and could pretty much wear my pajamas. I was decked out in lulu leggings, uggs, a blue baseball cap, my glasses and a black zip up hoodie. Not something you plan on meeting someone in. I maybe had a little mascara on, because I have blonde eyelashes and look like I have none with out. My hair was in a pony tail and I clutched my Tim Hortons 1/2 Coffee 1/2 Hot chocolate for dear life as I begged for some mental clarity to not mess this up. I arrived a little early (I know... weird... especially for me) and was finally let inside. I went up to the studios and walked into the one on the right. There was a guy and a girl and it was very cool, exactly what you picture a radio station to look like. He had these eyes, that pierced right through me, and I was instantly smiling, I didnt care that I was in 8am mode. He made me feel so comfortable and told me to put my stuff in the corner and hang out, because I wasn't scheduled to be on the air for about a half an hour. I sat and watched as he did his thing and was in awe of how exciting it was. I also had another appearance on the sister station two steps away, so he walked me over to do that first. After that I went back and did the show with him and the GM of the Pete's. The interview felt like it was just him and I. He made me smile, he said things that made me feel like he completely understood, and I was immediately intrigued. I tried to keep it professional because I was there on very serious matters but something inside me was very curious. A feeling I couldn't remember the last time I felt.

I left with a jump in my step and a smile bigger than normal. I had no idea what was happening but I liked it. We have a mutual friend at the radio station and so I got his information to email B for the clip of our interview. His voice, I didn't notice it at the station, but I got warm and fuzzy when I heard it again. Ugh I was being a total girl. We flirted a little through email and that was basically that. He was trying to remain professional too.

I had a PSA to record at the station and originally missed it because of my flight delay back in Philly. My dad being the gem he is, knew about my crush and had it rescheduled so that I could go into the studio to do it. I recorded the PSA for the event and E, who helped me record it, and I became instant friends. We had B, (my crush) take a pic of us, and I was so excited to say hi. He asked if I wanted to come in and do another interview right before the event and I immediately jumped at the chance for more time with him. I couldn't explain it, he was someone I wanted to get to know. He's well known, but I had never heard of him. He's tall and smart and funny and sincere, and I just can only describe the feeling as intense curiosity as to who this person was and why they were drawing me in hook, line and sinker.

The time came for me to do my interview with him and I woke up that morning feeling MISERABLE. I facebook messaged him because we were yet to be text buddies. I apologized and asked if we could move it to the next day. He was so gracious and understanding although he had already promoted it for the day and we were scheduled for the next morning. (He later told me that he would never have done that for anyone else ::HUGE SMILE::)

The next morning while I was getting ready, because I may have put a little more effort in this time, we were facebook chatting. I put on the radio to listen to his show while I got ready and for the second or third time the song "Timber" by Kesha and PitBull was the first song I heard. He had also sent me a message which put a little hop in my step and so obviously I responded:

Now the radio dj's usually pick their line up ahead of time at the beginning of their show. (I know this now) So when the next song was Imagine Dragons "Demons" I lit up like a freaking christmas tree. "Did you do that on purpose"... I asked later, to which I got a "Maybe". It was on, like freaking Donkey Kong!

I arrived and did a quick interview with their sister station and then got to head back over to him. His co-host was out sick that day and so it was just the two of us. I was unusually giggly (Who was this person I had become and why) and we had a great interview. He told me I could stay a little while and hang out and so I did.

Towards the end of hanging out in the studio, I decided to stop being shy and put it out there. I didn't have anything to lose.
"Hey so are you going to be at the event tomorrow night?"
To which he replied
"Umm Yea I'll probably stop by"
-I later learned he had no intention of going, but I may have persuaded him. #ForTheWin
"Ok cool, well you should text me when you're there and we can grab a drink or something."
I knew he didn't have my number and was hoping I would get the exact response I got...
"I actually don't think I have your number"
PERFECT! Exactly how I wanted it to go down.
"Here well, let me give it to you! Oh I don't know how to work your phone, I apologize, My name is in all caps, I promise I'm not yelling at you!"
I may have been a little nervous. He responded with
"hahah no worries, it makes you stand out"
and that was how I got my nickname All Caps.

Later that morning I got a text...

The next night, was the event. I made time to see him. He was the only person I made time to sit down and actually have a drink with and I was nervous but it was fabulous! I had so many people I wanted to see, and so many people I did see... but the 10 minutes I got to spend with him, made my night. I told him to come to the after party and although there were complications with that, he came. I don't think I paid attention to anyone else that night, we said our good byes and little did I realize this was the beginning of something incredible. We would be attached at the hip.

You don't think anyone will want to be with you after you've been through an ordeal, or multiple for that matter like I have. I'm a liability. I can't have children, and realistically how sexy is cancer around your lady bits. But when you meet someone who tells you upfront they know, and it doesn't bother them, you feel like you've won the lottery. (Although I joke that I'm the winning lottery ticket considering you a. don't have to worry about me PMSing [no period] and b. No biological clock) I had no problem being single. I was happy and I knew my time would come, little did I realize it would happen when I least expected it, and now I wouldn't have it any other way.

This was over seven weeks ago and although everything has gone at rapid speed, something is special about this relationship. He has already seen me at my worst, while dealing with my ovarian cyst ordeal and the narcotic induced haze that came along with that. In fact seeing me at my worst is an understatement, he was there taking care of me, while at my worst. Things haven't been perfect and things haven't been easy, but this has made me feel .... just like there was a part of me missing, that I didn't even realize wasn't there and its no longer suddenly gone. The next few weeks will be hard, because I'll be heading to the states for check ups, but if absence makes the heart grow fonder, things will only continue on their path of just getting better.

He's wonderful and I'm happy, and I'm sure will become a main component of the blog from herein out, another thing that makes him so amazing
"It's your thing, write what you want to write."
So I will try to keep our relationship to just us, but in relation to my health, it will be mentioned. Who knows, maybe I'll throw in an anecdote or two ;)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Ovarian Cysts and Romantic Bliss

I know you're all dying to know about the man in my life, and I'll get to that... but first I know a lot of people have been very worried about me the last few weeks because I have gotten very sick again. Here is the good news: I am still CANCER FREE! However, complications from my treatment which I knew to expect have come up.

While laying there, I woke up feeling like I had been punched repeatedly, maybe even kicked, right below my belly button. I could barely move. Something was wrong but I didn't know what. I went home and laid down and tried to sleep away the pain, but it continued to get worse. I took some of my left over pain killers for the next few days and tried to ignore it. After about a week of this, and the pain getting worse, I knew I was going to have to do something about it. I was also developing a sinus infection and bronchitis and so it was time to see a doctor.

Here's where things get complicated. I met someone. Yes, I had been pushing myself too hard. Caught up in the whirlwind of a new romance. Trying to spend every second together. I was partying, gyming it, working and not taking care of myself. I knew the bronchitis/sinus infection was a result of poor diet and lack of sleep but the pain was not. It was where I was most vulnerable, it was near and dear to my lady bits. It felt like spasms, cramps of the worst variety, debilitating, I would cripple over in pain, unable to speak or walk. Having met someone, I knew the time would come where we would be how can I put this delicately, ....intimate.

I was a girl on a mission. I was crazy about him, and I was also scared $#!%less, because through my treatment I had basically become revirginized. But in the few weeks we had known each other, we were inseparable and there is that connection you only read about in Nicholas Sparks novels. I always said when I have sex again, it would have to be with someone I completely trusted and I've found that person. He wanted to wait to make it special, I however thought it was special just because it was him, hence, girl on a mission. So the next morning when I awoke to the pain, I got worried. I didn't tell him, not because I didn't trust him but because I didn't want him to think it was his fault, and so I went home and tried to hide it from everyone. I felt like maybe it was too soon. Maybe my "rehabbing" hadn't prepared me enough. This was my own fault and so therefore I needed to suck it up.

Eventually while at lunch a week later I told him,
"I think I need to see a doctor, something's not right."
He was already fabulous, and was more willing than I to ease into things, to wait until I was ready. Only the right guy cares more about me, than getting his rocks off, reinforcing my decision that there was no other person I would want to be going through this with. Mentally, emotionally I was more than ready... physically was a different story, and it was frustrating as H-E- double hockey stick.

I went to the doctor that afternoon and got antibiotics for my bronchitis/ sinus infection. The pain and its locale was not his specialty as a family doctor and therefore he referred me to a gynecologist.
The next day, the pain took over and won. I couldn't wait for the referral and I ended up in the ER.

I was immediately given pain meds and so it all becomes hazy. I had a cat scan which showed that I had cysts rupture on my ovaries. "Well isn't this just dandy. I have ovaries that don't even work and now they're causing me problems."

The gynecologist I was actually referred too happened to be on duty and came in to explain the best she could what was happening. She did a pelvic exam which took me back to my high dose radiation pain days. Tears flowed down my face and I clutched My dad's lady Claudette with all my might. The pressure, and the pain in the most innocent, vulnerable of places. They took biopsies to check for cancer and continued to infuse dilaudid which is another form of morphine, which I'm allergic to (The morphine, not the dilaudid- because that would be stupid to give me something I'm allergic to). I was told I could be admitted but I just wanted to go home. I just wanted to hide, and ignore the fact that I was not normal and yet again I was dealing with complications out of my control.
The next week was a blur of pain meds.
(Just wanting and ready to go home)

My Man came by to see me everyday, my parentals even gave him a key. My key actually... I think they like him better than me. We were supposed to be in the midst of our honeymoon phase and here I was doped up with out makeup and god only knows how often I showered. OMG I hope I shaved my legs. The point... he was there. He didn't scare, and he's still here now.

A few days after the E.R. I had an MRI and I got an appointment with a Gynecological Oncologist who worked out of Kingston and Oshawa. I had my MRI and a few days later we went to Oshawa. She was FABULOUS! She went to Yale, and was so smart and also mentored my ob/gyn back home, whom she said was her favorite resident. I was happy. As far as how we were going to proceed, this is where things also got complicated. Ovary removal, wait it out, hysterectomy?
(After the MRI- I had to pee and only the mens room was available)

I already can't have children, so the hysterectomy or ovary removal wouldn't be the worst decision. It would eliminate the possibility of the cancer or cysts returning and hey, maybe I'll lose a few lbs. However there would be a 6 week recovery time, which I didn't want to have. I wouldn't be able to work, or work out, or enjoy my new found romantic bliss. To which he replied
"6 weeks really is not a big deal."
...swoon. There was also the issue of the damaged tissue from the radiation making surgery more difficult and possibly creating a longer healing time.
Waiting it out... well this proved slightly problematic as well. I would be in pain longer from the damaged tissue, and on pain meds longer. There is also the chance of the cysts returning and the unbearable pain is not something I wanted to go through again.

A week after this appointment I had an Ultrasound to check out how things were looking. Things were better, but I'm still in pain.

I'm about two weeks past the initial incident, maybe three (Time has been lost on me from the meds). I havent been able to work or go to the gym, I've gotten out a few times, but even that has been a risk. "Low Dose Pain Med Nights." Low dose so that I would be able to interact with fellow humans not coming off as an intoxicated junkie. I've already got a slightly overwhelming personality, (Hello Past cheerleader: always enthusiastic and excited) so I didn't need pain meds completely removing my filter and upping my energy in public.

I've had wonderful visitors... Thank you C, even though it took me about 15 minutes to realize who you were lol!

We've decided to wait it out. The risk of surgery and healing and my weak immune system is not conducive to an easy or necessarily safe surgical procedure. I get to return to life next week. Easy at the gym, couple shifts at work, maybe even a bevy or two. Basically I wont feel like I'm on house arrest anymore.

My man and I have bonded in the short while we've been together because he's already seen me at my worst. When I'm supposed to be worrying about which lip gloss to apply or curls or straight hair, he's been with me laying in bed, listening to me ramble about god only knows. I've also just recently read an article that your sex life significantly improves as time goes on. I have so much to look forward too. Until then pain meds, and rest. More details on the man... because, it really does read like a Nicholas Sparks Novel. Its cliche and everything that I was fearful about as a cancer survivor, well... sigh.... He's wonderful.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Pink In The Rink - The Event

Months of planning. Weeks of preparation, anticipation, interviews, and promoting. All cultivating in a fabulous night for an incredible cause. Its come, its gone, and I wouldn't change a single thing.

When I first got the call to be a part of this event, it wasn't even a question that it was a huge honor and that I was going to do everything in my power to be available and to help make it a success. I knew it would be time consuming but it wasn't about me as an individual it was about what I could do to help people on a MUCH larger scale. Realistically this wasn't about my dad and I, this wasn't about the Pete's, this was about doing everything in my power to use my past experiences to help raise money so that no one would have to go through what I have been through. Its not fun, and its nothing that anyone should have to deal with. Not the patient, not their friends and family, no one. So for me, if someone said jump, I said "How freaking high?"

I also knew doing this event was going to be a risk for me personally. I was risking hurting my mom's feelings because I knew she would feel left out and unappreciated. However, for me, it was still something I wanted to do because this isn't about us, this is about Women's Health and all of the people I could help by getting involved. The theme was Daddy's Girls, and so while promoting it, it focused on my relationship with my dad. If the theme was Mommy's girls, then that would have been a different story and because we were working with the Pete's, my dad's hockey alma mater, that too would alienate my mother. I was right and she was very offended, felt unappreciated and reinforced why having divorced parents who do not get along is not fun for anybody. There are two sides to every story and the truth but this wasn't about her. This was also something I decided to do for me, and anyone who I could help, because this last diagnosis is realistically the first time I have openly talked about what I have gone through. My mom was a HUGE part of my recovery and with out her, I would most likely not be here. My sister and she were there for the worst of times and with out them I would not be the woman I am today. So in honor of Women's health, I thank them for being there for me to shape me into the woman I am today.

The MAIN Event:
It was fabulous. I got to do a couple interviews before the game. One radio, and one TV. I was so nervous. I then found out we would be doing the puck drop too. I whispered to my dad before we went out "Do NOT let me fall" lol. I could totally picture myself pulling a JLAW circa Oscars 2013.
There was an opening ceremonies which included a video BrandHealth did, which was incredible. The gist was Heaven, with angels awaiting my arrival.... 2003, "Nope She's not coming" 2006 ... "Nope, Still Not coming." 2008 "Ok She's still not coming whats going on?" 2013- "Ok Clearly she doesnt want to come" .... Its the perfect metaphor because I wont give up my fight against cancer. I wont give up the fight for other people battling cancer and being their voice.

Everything went swimmingly, no falls. I then got to rush around the rink during the game, because so many friends and family and co workers came to support me and I couldn't have been happier. This night was not only a fundraiser to support women's health, but personally a celebration that I was ok. I may have even had a date this night, but this is for a later post, because I know you're all DYING to know why I haven't posted lately.

The event raised around $40,000 and I am ecstatic. After the game, we got to go down to the ice with the team to take pics on the ice. In true Courtney fashion... I ran... in 4" heeled boots with my honorary Pink in the Rink Jersey on. I was a little too eager. As I darted across the ice, I just about made it until at the last minute I felt my heel slip out from under me and I knew the inevitable was coming. Yoga balance or whatever, I just about caught myself, along with the goalie's lap. I figured this would be a good spot for my place in the pic and had a soaking wet bum the rest of the night.

After the arena we went to Spanky's where we had quite the after party. It didn't take long for Britney to come on and me to end up on the bar. Here are the pics from the night. Thank you to everyone who was a huge support. TO the people who supported me through the nerve wracking press interviews (which turned out to lead to something fabulous... but again more on that later) and to everyone who came out and donated. I'm truly touched by your generosity and am so proud and humbled by everyone who helped aid in the fight to support women's health!
(My assistant for the evening who kept me on track! Thank You C)

(Some Friends, Epic Boss, and more friends)

(Some Adorable Mini Fans!)

(Dad and I with Danielle from Energy 99.7 and Country 105.1- and then Britney's "Toxic" on the Bar)

Little did I realize how much this event would change my life. I say everything happens for a reason, and it does. I would not have been able to be a part of this with out my diagnosis of cervical cancer. I would not have gotten to do all of the press interviews and I would not have gotten to meet someone who has turned my world upside down, in the best way possible.
Everything does happen for a reason and although I repeat it constantly....

Sunday, February 9, 2014

To Feel Loved, To Feel Lost, To Stay Optimistic

Feeling loved. That undeniable feeling, when someone makes you feel so loved, that your chest actually expands and you can feel the warmth radiating from your heart. You get a tad hazy and lost in the moment, Your mouth dries up while you're at a loss for words. That feeling when you feel so safe and in that moment everything is perfect. That is what we're searching for, that is what makes life worth living.

Being that person, who makes someone feel that way. Loving them so much, and having them physically feel it. A visceral reaction to the smallest statement, gesture, glance. Smiling when you kiss them (or feeling them smile), squeeze their hand tighter (or having them squeeze tighter), pull them in closer (or have them pulling you in closer)... reinforcing the fact that there is indeed... love.

This is also the scariest thing in the world, because what if this moment is fleeting. Something you spend your whole life looking for and it could be gone in an instant.

I can say I've felt it. I can say I've lost it. I can say I want it.

To get all over the place on this one, I found out another one of my ex boyfriends is engaged. This is the second ex boyfriend to get engaged to the girl he started dating less than a month after we broke up. I'm 2 for 3 right now. If we include one of my other boyfriends who was borderline serious... well he's living with the girl he started dating after me so we know whats inevitably coming. That gives guys the percentage of 50% that when we date, and break up, you're most likely going to find your wife after me. I am the female equivalent of Good Luck Chuck. (A Dane Cook movie if you're wondering, in which every girl he dates, she marries the next guy she sees after him.) Sooo what does this say about me?

Either I'm so difficult that their next girlfriend seems so easy that they're like
"OMG I'm SAFE- keep me please so I don't ever have to date someone like her again."

Or I'm so independent that they're like
"WOW, You not only want me, but you need me and like having me around ALL the time"
-I might be reaching there ;)

Or I'm literally the primer girlfriend. I show them what married life could be like, and their not quite ready when they're with me. So we break up. But they miss it, and so they wife up the next one. Timing is a BITCH! Now granted, I'm not looking to get married tomorrow, so I could have been throwing off those
"Woah not me buddy vibes"
and we all know how men feel about rejection. (Rephrase: how anyone feels about rejection) Or and this is what I'm going with,
it just wasn't right.
I could have been happy with all of those guys I dated, but we wouldn't have been happy together.

So no, I'm not upset about being the primer girlfriend, because I'm totally content with knowing that when it's right, I'll be just as happy as them someday. #EternalOptimist

There's no point in settling. It shouldn't be forced, it will be easy and it will be hard too. Falling in love is fun, scary and a whole other group of emotions, but the most fun with be falling in love with the right person. Until then... <3