11.23.2020

30: I Made It


I have a wrinkle 
A worry line
In between my eyes 

I like to think it’s from 
Squinting at the bright sun in Mexico 
Concentrating on a concept in a loved book
Confused frown that I ordered a gin and tonic 
and this was most definitely soda

I ran to the bathroom mirror 
To the bedroom mirror 
Frantic 
I have a wrinkle!
I’m so grateful I lived long enough to experience 
This wrinkle



10.13.2020

MBC Day 2020



Recently I’ve started to feel like a cancer veteran 

Calming the newly diagnosed and informing the advanced

I explain what WBR stands for

(Whole brain radiation. However, I try to avoid telling people it almost killed me.)

How a lung biopsy feels

(Coughing up blood is normal) 

What to do to prepare for chemo

(after 50+ sessions everything they say about mints and fuzzy sweaters don’t matter because you’ll sleep through it anyways)

If you ask me, what’s a port?

Just get one and don’t ask questions


I realize I’m 29 though

I should know that KUWTK 

Is for Keeping up with the Kardashian’s 

And getting real tattoos instead of radiation tattoos 

I should be worrying about buying a house and having kids

And not about clinical trials, prognoses, and medical insurance

I should be waking up AT 5AM, to go to a job I love 

Not going to bed at 5AM because 

insomnia, intense heartburn, pain in weird places, and crying uncontrollably


Despite this I love my stage IV life 

But imagine what it could’ve been 


The number of women expected to get breast cancer in her lifetime: 


1 in 8 


The number of women expected to be diagnosed with Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC) in her lifetime: 


Unknown 


There is no data and statistics recorded for those of us living with stage IV. When we progress from early to late stage it isn’t recorded. We want more research, but we don’t even have the basis to found it on. 


Today is #metasticbreastcancerday. I’m fighting tirelessly to create stage 4 awareness. We need you to be an MBC ally - it shows you understand, will advocate and support #MBC. 


Make me count. Sign here



10.06.2020

I’m back!



Hey!

It’s been such a long time since I’ve posted regularly. I guess I deemed blogging a thing of the past, turning to social media to document my crazy cancer life. 

Don’t think that I’m going to stop putting my face in your feeds anytime soon though. It’s October which means it’s breast cancer awareness month. It turns out that I have a lot to share this year but Turning the Page on Cancer takes a whole post of it’s own

(quick plug (I can’t help it!!) : Join Turning the Page on Cancer, our read-a-thon on Sunday October 25th! Raise money and awareness for mBC and commit to reading for a full 8 hours straight! To learn more and join click here 💕) 

So,  the last time I really posted was when the pandemic started. Let’s go back.. 

After I wasn’t able to be on my clinical trial any further. I waited for my thinning hair to grow back but..it didn’t. I had a reverse mushroom cut and finally I decided to embrace the bald going forward. Here’s a video of me shaving my head (for the fourth time):


Months went by and they felt so long. My mom took a leave from her job and started coming over every day. I was so used to being alone, that the quarantine changed my life (for the better!). My days started to look like this:



I started becoming more active in the online cancer community:


I got  back into scrapbooking and art journaling:


Some redecorating:


Peel and stick wallpaper and a handy husband!

And lots and lots of:



During all of this I ended my trial drug (mentioned above) - my eyes were so damaged , my oncologist told me if I continued I’d go blind (keratitis). So even with good scans (although I DID debate if going blind was worth it - that’s how desperate I am), I switched onto Neratinib. It’s a take home chemo. I take 4 pills every morning. I’m not going to lie, the first month is shitty (literally). I started by eating a Crohn’s like diet and added things back in as I went. I suffered but not terribly. I am to the point now where I rarely take Imodium! 

The loss of appetite and taste changes are affecting me the most - I’m not even sure at this point what treatment they’re from. I’m smaller then I was at 21, and while you may yearn to be skinny, having an advanced cancer has made me open my eyes and be realistic. Skinny isn’t sexy or anything to strive for and the fact that it’s normalized makes me want to throw up. I want to be strong. I want the weight on me to be able to afford any sudden weight loss if something were to happen to me. 

My scans show I’m doing well on Neratinib. The nodules in my lungs have decreased significantly! I get scanned again next week, so we get to see if I’m continuing to show recession.  

Unfortunately, it isn’t my body that’s the problem. My oncologist told me that my body wouldn’t be the cause of a sudden decrease in my health - it’s my brain, I have little to no options left. I have had two craniotomies and they can’t take any more of my brain out. I have had whole brain radiation and targeted radiation. I have exhausted all my options. So I made the choice not to scan my brain going forward. 

My oncologist explained it to me - if I’m feeling good and continue to scan my brain, what can we do about it if the results are negative? Nothing. So why look if there’s nothing left we can do. 

It’s a bold and scary move. I open my eyes every day assessing my symptoms - blurry vision, dizziness, pressure headaches, random nausea. With that being said, I’ve never felt better. More clear. I rarely ever cry or worry. Realizing I don’t have any control has made me feel free. I’ve given myself permission to do whatever I want these days - sometimes it means staying in bed until 3, some days I wake up at 7 all ready to go. 

I don’t allow myself to think of the future. It’s always been the way I’ve coped with my mBC diagnosis. When I’ve planned something far in advance, I am so disappointed if it doesn’t happen. Not planning is hard to do, requiring strict blinders at all times. It’s not that I don’t acknowledge my cancer, I do. I just choose not to think about it a lot of the time. I believe in modern medicine that will help keep my mind stable, medicine that takes pain away. I find ways to enjoy my life as it is at that moment. When my eyes were sore and I couldn’t read, I listened to audiobooks. When I started limping, I continued to dance - staying in place, only moving my arms. I’ve been asked why I’m able to stay positive. I truly think it’s because even when I can’t see, hear, walk, read - I adjust my expectations. It usually means lowering them. I try not to dwell on the things I can’t do - I always focus on the things I can and still look forward to. When I close my eyes at night, I ask for guidance and strength. I don’t barter or plead for a miracle. Metastatic breast cancer is the life I’m living and every day I’ve had to choke down this reality and learn to accept it. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I don’t really have a choice though, do I?



xx

Sam

8.02.2020

‘Why you so obsessed with me? ‘

I am put to sleep by the anesthesiologist. When I wake up, I will have one less body part.


I open my eyes and see the site where the drains were inserted.


There it is. 


The drains are laced in between the flower petals I have tattooed neatly on my skin. I am grateful to my surgeon, and think "That must have been fun for her". 


That's what I've learned.


When you are 25 and diagnosed with breast cancer it isn't a tragedy, it's a spectacle

7.24.2020

Is This Normal?

Last weekend I went away with friends.

I hope I’m not the millennial that brought new cases of COVID into the city. 

We went to a beach, the sand so hot it burned my feet and I cried under my sunglasses. 

I was so cold that I had goosebumps in thirty degrees. I welcome the sun, trying not to get too warm (I get violently ill). 

I was careful to go only as far as I could touch. 

Then I figured out how to keep my balance, floating on a toy - going deeper and deeper. 

Everyone was laughing as I floated away. Laughing until they weren’t and concerned looks were on all their faces. 

The current, come back!

I didn’t want to. I had a moment of peace before I came back to myself. 

Wouldn’t it feel so good if this was it? If I was the one in control of my fate - not the disease?

Jeff pulled me back, upset. I went back to normal. 

Is this normal? 


5.26.2020

This Is It

I feel like this could be a dark post regarding subject matter, but it isn’t how I feel at all. 

Under quarantine and with jeopardized  immune system I’ve primarily stayed at home. 

I’m going to declare now that I feel incredibly happy and light. I think I can justify to you why I feel that way. 

My backyard is a paradise and I’ve never appreciated living here like I do during this quarantine. I used to lament about how far away I was from everything. Now, I’ve come to realize, there’s really nowhere if rather be. 

I started my new chemo (Neratinib) and the side effects can be rough, but having my Mom here for company has changed my life. Giving in finally (I am stubbornly independent) to having someone help me, and having someone to talk to during the day (most days I wouldn’t speak until Jeff got home!) makes such a difference.  My quality of life is Better then it had been in a long time - even when I felt ‘fine’ on my last treatment. 

I know the change in weather has instantly affected me - I love and thrive in the sun. My dark periods of the past have always started in January and sometimes I was really desperate. 

It could be those reasons but here is my theory:

I’m at peace.

I’m wary to say that so plainly. 

It’s something I’ve battled since my Stage 4 MBC diagnosis in 2016. I did the begging to above. I made a list of things I wanted to achieve. I was sad for so long about a terminal diagnosis. No amount of meditation made me feel better. I was sad underneath it all. I buried it so far down. My meds made it impossible for me to cry. Yet, if you caught me at 2AM or when I forgot to take my medication, the sadness was at surface level and I couldn’t hold it back anymore. 

This wasn’t how it was supposed to turn out for me

Years I’ve spent battling this idea. I could never accept it: I’ve spent a lot of time with myself where I’ve gone over my diagnosis - 5 years later and I still can’t believe I have cancer. I always was getting used to this new normal - it never became ‘normal ‘ to me. 

I had an appointment with my oncologist that brought up some sensitive subjects when it was clear I was running low on options. 

Long story short: there is presently no trials I qualify for, Tucatinib is not approved in Canada yet and due to multiple times of stereotactic radiation, two craniotomies and whole brain radiation - there isn’t a lot that can be done up there anymore! (Never say never thought!)

I felt so conflicted and defeated. I hadn’t come this far to let my mental strength break. I didn’t feel at peace with this breast cancer diagnosis though. 

I spoke to my therapist (someone who basically saved me mental health), and she urged me to say something to those I loved.  I pleaded for their reassurance that regardless of what happened to me, they would be okay. 

My therapist expressed me to that this is my time. My life. I can’t take on how you are dealing and processing my diagnosis - I have enough worrying to do on my own. I felt guilt. I think that’s common for those that are critically ill.

Not only did it open up conversation and break a barrier between myself and the people I love the most, it was then I felt automatically free. 

I felt enlightened and it allowed me comfort. I finally felt enabled to make decisions based on just me. How I felt. I’m feeling this was, I actually feel stronger then ever. To have the knowledge that this can go either way and it’s going to be okay - that was the secret for me to go forward. 

I’m not worried going into scans and appointments. It feels so strange. I wondered if writing this was just a way to reassure myself and mask my fear going forward but it isn’t that. I genuinely feel like this is what peace feels like. Something I’ve been struggling to find and achieve for 5 years. Has it really been that long? It has felt like a whole life and I’m the other hand, just a few days. 

In closing, I feel happy going into my next treatment. I understand it will be tough going forward but whatever happens to me next - good or bad - feels like something I can deal with. 

xx

Sam 

4.01.2020

5 Ways To Handle A Quarantine


I have started this post so many times. First, it was a look at the downward spiral COVID-19 is bringing to the whole world. Then, it was about how unfair the Coronavirus is on cancer patients. Lastly, I made a “funny” post detailing how hard it was for everyone to live the quarantine life - one that I’m very familiar to.

None of them felt right. I felt like I was over-exaggerating, feeding into the fear mongering. I felt as if I was looking for pity, screaming “Don’t forget about cancer!” during a global pandemic. Being funny seemed wrong; it wasn’t the time or place to feel satisfied with a big ol’ “I told you so!”.

A couple of days ago Jeff asked me if he should still post his pictures of new beer he was carrying on Instagram (@beeratbrowns).He posted a poll asking if his viewers thought it was insensitive and the answer was an overwhelming NO - anything to take my mind off of March 2020 PLEASE!

The best way to describe how I’m feeling right now is happy, sad, and worried all at the same time. It’s how I’ve felt the better part of 4.5 years. It’s likely how most of you are feeling now. 

Everyone is affected; you’ve been laid off, you are elderly, your parents are elderly, can I still walk my dog? My kids are driving me crazy! Amazon workers have the virus?! I can’t eat Chinese food anymore! My massage was cancelled? HOW WILL WE COOK FOR EASTER?! Stay home! Stay home! Should I make my own mask? “My ratings are higher then the finale of the Bachelor!!!!!”. 

You are being asked to work HARDER under dangerous circumstances. You are afraid and lonely and doing your best. 

I’m not going to make this about cancer. Just some things I’ve learned after spending a lot of time alone. Mistakes I’ve made so that you don’t have to make them.

I don’t have kids. I don’t go to the gym or excercise (like at all) (even before cancer). My life is way different then yours. I’m just speaking from my own experience. 

When you’re alone for hours on end, it’s hard to quiet your mind. Your brain jumps to things you could be accomplishing with all of this time, the dread of getting up to another day of nothing, and instead of doing anything, mindlessly scrolling. 

By the time your day has ended you’ve had way too much time to think about what a failure you are - unproductive with your time. You should be doing online yoga, enhancing your cooking skills, cleaning out the graveyard of hair products under your bathroom sink! You should be saving hundreds of dollars (the need for a Nintendo Switch was real though!), and less time worrying about how your artificial nails are going to grow out and watching YouTube videos of stylish quarantine haircuts. 



Mood swings are normal when your mind goes from Netflix (Carole Baskin fed her husband to the tigers), to craving someone new to talk to, a change of scenery, and thinking about your inevitable death all in an 8 hour span of time. 

Being at home is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. 

It caused me years of depression, anxiety, hopelessness and self hatred.

It still does, some days. I told Jeff yesterday that I wasn’t feeling good. Those are the words I use when I can’t describe how I’m feeling or where it’s all coming from. I can talk to my parents on the phone like normal and then hang up and have a break down. 

It sounds great to stay at home every day! 

I’ll write a bestseller, get perfect skin with all of those facemasks I’ll be applying, read all of the books, do all of the things! 

No, you won’t. 

I’m here to tell you that it’s okay to be unproductive sometimes. Even though you have this time, it doesn’t need to be filled. Sometimes taking care of yourself and others means having a nap or eating a bag of chips (I know this isn’t just me). I can’t say this without saying that 75% of the time I don’t abide by these rules. I make myself feel like shit all the time, then I flip on Animal Crossing and I forget what I was worried about to begin with. 

My problem was/is not having a routine. You probably feel that way too. Eating all the time because your meals aren’t structured. Or forgetting to eat, next thing you know it’s 6PM and you’ve only had 2 girl guide cookies and haven’t been outside in two days.

Let me speed up the stay-at-home process for you: 

1) Do not put daily pressure on yourself to be productive.

This doesn’t mean give in to laziness. It means it’s ok to lie on the couch browsing Pinterest for an hour. Balance!!

2) Do not get consumed with all of the negative news

The Ottawa Hospital has something called “My Chart”, where you can access all of your scans and results. I have never ever logged in. 

That’s how I’m able to function. I put severe blinders on. I’m happy to let my health care team tell me what I need to do in exchange for results that will tell me if my cancer is “bigger” or “smaller”. I don’t want detail. When I was newly diagnosed I stayed up until 3AM reading about the life expectancies of breast cancer and had a panic attack. I never googled it again. 

I know this is uncommon, and likely some are thinking how this is negligent, not taking my health into my own hands. I know myself though, and I would get caught in the doom and gloom. I would not be able to separate the overwhelming statistics from leading a good life. 

I’m not saying don’t watch the news. I’m just saying be careful on what you consume. Be mindful of  your mental health. Don’t give in to the person who assures you THEY would never let poisonous chemo into their bodies. They will juice it away! 



Have you tried drinking Alkaline water? (@thecancerpatient)

(Be sure you’re getting your information from legitimate sources (Nancy on Facebook is not a legitimate source) ). 

3) Be mindful when it comes to your diet

Again. Chips. Bagels. Mini donuts. Hot Cheetos. Some of my all time favourite things! 

One time I was staying overnight in the hospital after my last craniotomy and I had slept in chunks of chocolate I had dropped in the bed. The next morning the nurses laughed it off (luckily) knowing it’s was chocolate and not feces. 

In that instant it was okay to binge though - have YOU ever had a craniotomy?! 

Just kidding. You’re allowed to eat snacks. I went overboard for a while thinking all bets were off though when I started staying at home. You pay for it later. With lack of exercise that you normally have, try to adjust for it. Some days are for sour cream and onion chips, some days are for smoothies and long walks (to the end of the driveway). 

4) Get out of bed

This can be synonymous with stop mindlessly scrolling. Stop having anxiety naps. Have the will to get up, get dressed. It may feel like a novelty to video chat without wearing pants, but you still need to prioritize your feeling of self worth. 

I have gone days without looking in a mirror or having a shower. There’s been plenty of days where Jeff has gotten home at 5 and I’m in bed, not having turned any lights on. 

I use the ‘excuse’ that I have cancer (or, for you, quarantining) a lot. That’s fair. We are all going through an unprecedented, weird-ass time. I will tell you though (and my future self in this position) that getting up, showering and taking care of your basic needs has. to. be. a. priority. 

I have never regretted getting up and going. 

 5) Talk to your family, often. 

I talk to my parents and sister every day. 

I have my immediate family. My aunt, my grandmothers, my best friends. I have online friends, work friends, book friends - all those people I now consider my family. They’re always checking in on me. It’s important to reach out to them as well. Especially when you don’t want to. (Talking can mean texting too! I don’t talk to anyone other then Mavvy most days, but I feel just as close to everyone!)

You’ll likely lose touch with some people as well under this isolation. That’s ok. They were just convenient acquaintances anyways.

And an extra!!!!*

Take your medication at the same time each day. 

Your routine is disrupted. You’re used to taking it in the morning at 7AM, on your way to work.

Your routine is disturbed. You’re used to taking it at 9:30PM, but now you’re up past one and you’ve forgotten it altogether.

Tomorrow is a bad day. You can’t wake up. The world is dreary. You skip breakfast to fall back asleep. You get up to go to the washroom and feel guilt that your dog hasn’t been out. You can’t make the effort, though. You just feel so down. You skip your morning medication because you’re out of it. Did you eat dinner? You have less energy because of the lack of food.

Sound familiar?

This was basically two years of my life. It is a never ending circle. You lose track of what day it is. 

Just trust me. You don’t want to go through this. Do the right thing. Take your meds on time. 

* This won’t apply to everyone, but if it does: this is my most important piece of advice. 


In the end, I’m not going to tell you that I am the perfect quarantine-er. It felt icky to write things for you to aspire to when I knew them not to be true myself. 

I think the biggest takeaway is treat your mental health the exact same as your physical health. At a time when it’s so easy to get lost in your own head - reach out to loved ones, be mindful of your eating, force yourself get out of bed, don’t worry so much about your productivity (chase what makes you happy instead!), and turn off CNN. 

Dare I say it?

We’re... all.. in this.. together!

xx

Sam

2.23.2020

“I Was Diagnosed With Breast Cancer at 24 - Here’s What It Taught Me”




Sarah Maxey

Back in 2014, I was originally diagnosed with Stage 3 Breast Cancer. It was shocking. I left my job immediately; going on to do six rounds of chemotherapy, a mastectomy, and a full month of radiation (with my mom! Remember when she was diagnosed with cancer right after me? Sometimes I feel like it wasn’t acknowledged enough because I was the priority).

During this time, I started my blog. Through writing I found a true way to express myself. I found something to work on, giving me purpose. It helped me sort out, record and remember my feelings. Mostly, though, I was able to connect with you guys. 

This February marks my fourth year with Metastatic Breast Cancer and this past November marked FIVE years since being diagnosed with cancer. My life has completely changed, so when I re-read the words I had written below, I smiled and nodded, tearing up at how innocent and unknowing I was about the future. I feel like 5 years later, they still ring true.

I read this now and I feel like I want to hold her hand. To stop anything from popping her bubble of a cancer-free life. That the view from those rose coloured glasses would come true. I yearn to be this naive again, but it hurts to think that way. I don’t know her anymore. So instead I’ll leave it here. 

“I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 24 - here’s what it taught me”


Originally published on Hello Giggles July 14th, 2015. 


When I was 23, I had a couple of things on my mind. How I was going to stop my face from breaking out? Wasn’t that supposed to stop after I left my teens? Could I somehow swing going out for drinks when I worked at 5 a.m. the next morning. 

What I wasn’t thinking about was the small, hard lump I’d found in my breast late July 2014. I also wasn’t thinking about renewing my health card or going for a checkup at my family doc. I’m young and healthy. Drinking Starbucks a few times a day is healthy… right

By the time October rolled around that small lump had turned into a large, rock hard one and I was getting nervous. I took the leap and made a doctors appointment. My family doctor assured me: At your age, it’s likely just a cyst! Luckily, she was cautious enough to book me in for an ultrasound. When the imaging came back, I was rushed in for a biopsy (ouch). When they called me to tell me they would like me to come in on November 18, 2014 to discuss my results, I was too shy to say… November 18?! That’s my 24th birthday!

I had pancakes for birthday breakfast and told my boss at work that I was having some testing done but it was likely nothing to worry about. I remember thinking: OK, even if they did find something, I’ll take a few weeks off work, have it removed, be back for the Christmas rush. No biggie!

My mom, boyfriend and I went to the hospital where my surgeon told me the big news: Sam, it came back as a cancer. The rest of the appointment was a bit of a blur, but I remember hearing some scattered terms: chemo, losing my hair before Christmas, leaving my job immediately, surgery and radiation. I was given a letter stating that it would take a full year to beat this thing… so my battle with stage 3 breast cancer would begin on my 24th birthday and end on my 25th

I’ll spare you all of the details. Chemo sucks. It isn’t as bad as it’s made out to be in Stepmom (for me: very little puking, tremendous weight gain). Surgery, in my case, was a single mastectomy (no, they don’t let you keep your nipple). Radiation is exhausting and the open wounds and burns aren’t easy to deal with.

No one can prepare you for the fear and loneliness that accompanies a cancer diagnosis. Your friends and family won’t understand what you’re going through but they’re going to try really, really hard. You’ll start to see everyone around you get purple circles around their eyes and you realize that you aren’t the only one fighting this battle. Everyone will be strong in front of you but when the door is closed, everyone starts to fall apart.

I’m lucky. My cancer was caught at stage 3: it had spread from my breast to my lymph nodes but it had not gone any further then that. Had I waited any longer, my diagnosis could have been much, much different. My genes were tested and my results came back negative.

I finished my radiation a week ago, and I’ve had some time to reflect. Here is what facing breast cancer at 24 has taught me.



People are really good

It’s very easy to believe that our world is full of gun-slinging, blood-thirsty villains. But when you get cancer, your small town will rally for you. I wasn’t in a good place when I was diagnosed: I didn’t have health benefits and I definitely didn’t have any money. There were bottle drives, fundraisers, charity hockey tournaments in my name and even a full page in our local newspaper. Family, friends, friends of friends, strangers, colleagues, schoolmates: everyone started sending me their well wishes. People want to help in a time of need. People are good.



Hopes and dreams are nothing without your health

I love to work. For a while, it was kind of my thing. I worked a lot: 50, sometimes 60 hours a week for the last few years. I chalked it up to good experience, getting ahead. When I was diagnosed with cancer, I realized that I was very sick. And no, I don’t mean with cancer. My mental health had suffered, my skin was breaking out, my weight was on the rise and I was tired, unable to think straight. I had not taken any time for myself in years and it all caught up to me at once. Don’t wait for something like cancer to make you take a time out. Without your health, you can’t achieve your hopes and dreams.



Physical appearances just don’t matter that much

I am a girly girl. I love nail polish and shiny things. When I went in for my surgery, they changed me into a blue robe. I wasn’t allowed any makeup, nail polish, jewelry, or even a hat. I looked at myself in the mirror and saw me for the first time: bald, pale, and not looking very Sam-esque. But… I still felt the same on the inside. I still knew I was in there, the same old me. My outer appearance was shockingly different but I knew that it didn’t matter. And you know what? My new appearance made me more relatable. People are talking to me because they are interested in what I have to say, what I think. Since I decided to focus less on the outside and more on the inside, I have made more fulfilling relationships, I have been able to focus on what makes me feel full and happy at the end of the day. Plus, I’ve saved a ton of money on hair product while I’m at it. Hobbies are fun.



Make time to do what you love

If you don’t know what you love (which is where I found myself on a cold afternoon when a reporter asked me, so what do you like to do in your spare time?) then just try everything. This winter I read a pile of books, I coloured in colouring books, I started weaving, I learned to knit, I learned to cook, I scrapbooked and art journal-ed… the list goes on. It took cancer (and a year off) for me to explore hobbies, but the creative freedom, expression and sense of accomplishment you feel when you complete something as small as a colouring book page is incredible. Make time for yourself, whether it’s a bubble bath, a book club or 5 minutes to meditate in the elevator.



Have faith in something

I don’t care what you believe in, but you have to believe in something. One night, when I was going to bed, I was crying so hard I couldn’t stop. I kept asking “Why me?” Suddenly, I abruptly stopped crying and in my head there was a voice that told me “Because you are strong enough to deal with this.”

I have repeated this to myself ever since. I don’t know who, what or why this happened but I have had faith ever since. Little, strange interventions like this happened throughout my treatments. I always did my best to approach my situation with a positive attitude. I went in to my chemo appointments with all my lucky charms: prayer beads, lucky bracelets, healing stones and the socks that I wore when I got the job I love. I’m not an overly religious person, but my best advice to you is this: You have a choice every single morning when you wake up. Stay positive. Surround yourself with only the things that will lift you up.
Like yours, my story is longer and more complicated then I can fit into an article. But here’s what I want to leave you with: Cancer can happen to you. It happened to me. I’m just a girl. Cancer can happen at any age, on any day, in any situation. You are not exempt from cancer, or for any other potentially scary thing in the world. But this isn’t something to fear. It’s something that can motivate you. Be proactive, and appreciate what you have, whatever stage you’re in.


Samantha Price is a 24 year old business graduate who works in visual merchandising. Outside of her work, she has a handsome boyfriend and two sweet kitties (Oatmeal & Pancakes). She spends her quiet time reading (blogs, books, magazines, cereal boxes), pinning, scrapbooking, and watching Netflix. 


To leave on a high note, here’s what we’ve been up to this week:




 I’m off to enjoy some beautiful February weather (we don’t usually get 5 degree weather in our Canadian winter!)

xo

Sam

1.01.2020

2019: The Times They Are a-Changin



2020



2019 was a strange year. If my screen time did a year in review, I almost certainly would have spent a large chunk of it on my phone. Now - I don’t hate that. I read and listen to audiobooks on my iPad, message friends all day when I’m alone and the only person that hears my voice is Mavvy. I call my parents and my sister nearly every day. I’ve gathered a ton of inspiration and jotted down notes of things I want to complete but didn’t start. This year I want to start.

Before I tell you all about my hopeful plans for 2020, I thought I would do a 2019 recap. I can barely remember what I did in the last week anymore, so this year has been a blur. Recapping a decade?! Trust me, I was going to try but I don’t need that kind of anxiety in my life!

After saying to friends “All I know is that in 2019 I did nothing” (ha), I was reminded that the year wasn’t bad at all.  

                                      
2020 Mood  

Life

I went on a trip in February, saw more then a few shows, celebrated weddings and in August, I started brainstorming my ideas for what was going to be my new fundraiser; Turning the Page on Cancer. 

It was my purpose to get out of bed. I woke up to an alarm, eager to get started. It ended up being overwhelming, sometimes stressful, so much fun and reminded me why in my life, I have always kept busy. Although this time, I still watched Netflix and spent time with Jeff. No workaholic tendencies here. Balance. A huge achievement for me. 

Looking back, I remember after the fundraiser I didn’t feel the gratification. I felt my donation to the Canadian Cancer Society was BIG to me, but would be a small amount to them. On reflection, I realized that while I desperately wanted to work towards a cure for Metastatic Breast Cancer, I started feeling that what I was doing wasn’t going to make a difference. You know the - “one man can’t change the world” quote? This fundraiser was more then that though. It was seeing all of my friends, family and acquaintances (even strangers!) from every corner of my life come together. From book donations (my place became a sea of book boxes!), to great events with everyone generously donating their time to volunteer and join my team, raising funds for a cause that means so much to me, and in turn, means so much to them. We raised over $20 000 dollars after I set my original goal for $5000. This is something to be proud of and not only will it help make a difference, we spoke to so many and educated them on Stage IV. Next year I hope to make it bigger and better, start earlier. For now though, I’m still coasting and taking a break.


                       

                             
2020 - I’d like to stop doing this

Cancer

I started the year on a new Zymeworks trial. I ended up failing the drug in but I was grateful that it granted me more time. I spent a lot of this time overly anxious as communication on a trial (so I thought) was sparse and I regularly felt I was a number, not a person. 


In March I started Tykerb and Xeloda, both take home chemo drugs that come in pill form. They treated me terribly in the beginning, until I found the right dose. I travelled with a barf bag everywhere I went and if we weren’t close enough to a bathroom - I wasn’t going! I stayed on these drugs until November. By the end the sight of them made me nauseous. Even though I had figured out the right dose, the side effects less severe over time, I felt like my life revolved around taking pills 3 times a day. I was getting sick most mornings and I was so tired (although now I wonder, was I tired or was it anxiety and a hint of depression?). I would sleep in late and take the doses at different times each day. I lost my sense of taste and smell so food wasn’t interesting to me, nor a priority. I would take the drugs on an empty stomach, trying to cram them all into my increasingly shorter days. The day I learned I had failed this drug, I was devastated (this was my fault. I begged to try again. This time I wouldn’t take my life for granted). In all honesty though, I felt a sense of relief. I didn’t know what options I had anymore, but I knew I couldn’t continue on this drug. 


In May I fell and from that learned that a lesion in my brain was acting up. I went on steroids to try and shrink the necrosis (dead cells that have been zapped from radiation, taking up space. Equally as dangerous as an actual tumour) and when it didn’t, I had my second craniotomy in June. Brain surgery - and I was awake the whole time! No anesthesia. I will tell you, it wasn’t scary at all and since I wasn’t lucid what was a 6 hour surgery felt like minutes! I was out of the hospital within a day. Isn’t that crazy? 

In December I started SYD985, another trial. It came at a time when I was sure I was out of options and (so far) it has been kind to me. I will take the weekly appointments across the city any day. It’s showing promise in other patients which leaves me excited. I had my second round on December 23rd and I said to my Mom earlier that day - I need caffeine pills, this holiday is leaving me EXHAUSTED. Turns out, there was a reason for that. My blood (hemoglobin for cancer nerds) had dropped to 79, and I needed a blood transfusion. They couldn’t fit me in before Christmas and I mistakenly sipped a drink (which my Onc said not to.. Him: “Do cocaine instead!” Me: “I already do enough drugs”) and fell asleep before dinner.

I got it the transfusion on Friday and feel more energetic. I have a couple mouth sores making it hard to eat and sensitive gums! My eyes are dry and a bit bloodshot (which gets worse) so I’m skipping eye makeup for the most part. We’ll see if I feel like ruining the first bit of 2020 risking it for tonight!! 

Books

This year, I read 35 books. It was the year I started becoming really into audio books. I re-read Agatha Christie’s classic “And Then There Were None”, incredible fiction like “Normal People” and “The Tattooist of Aushwitz”, and some thrillers like “The Silent Patient” and “My Lovely Wife”. For me, though, it was a year for non fiction; eye opening pieces like “Radium Girls” and “Five Days at Memorial” to Jonathan and Tan’s books (from Queer Eye!). 

That being said, my favorites that I read this year were...



Becoming - Michelle Obama

Daisy Jones and The Six - Taylor Jenkins Reid 

Dear Girls - Ali Wong

Know My Name - Chanel Miller 

I listened to Becoming and Dear Girls, they were read by Michelle and Ali themselves. It gives the book so much personality and context this way. 

I also listened to Daisy Jones. Narrated by all the different characters made it unique, however friends that have read it give no less then 5 stars either. 

Lastly, Know My Name is written by Chanel Miller, the girl found in the center of the Brock Miller case. This is a book that needs to be read so you can highlight quotes and re-read sections over and over. 

Music

This wasn’t a great year for music. Just being honest. I discovered a love for 70’s music and listened to a lot of old favorites. This was what I was most excited about released in 2019:



In case any of you were wondering where Jeff’s list was, he said overall in 2019 their weren’t any albums he loved but I suspect it has more to do with prioritizing laying on the couch watching Netflix :).

This is where it gets tricky. Yesterday I chose to make a best of the decade playlist (*clown emoji*). I then thought I should have a pop based playlist and an alt/indie playlist. In the end I mashed it all together and in fear of getting judged, I made it private and chose not to post. Here we are, though, and I’m unashamed to tell you my decade was ruled by Justin Timberlake and Lady Gaga (Fame Monster). Yes I know it was released in November 2009 but it defined and ruled 2010, so it’s included. I know I am the only person who still likes Maroon 5 as well. This is my blog and my playlist though!!

I also made the hard decision of Best Song of the Decade and Best Album. In my opinion. OPINION. Okay?!

BEST SONG

“God is a Woman” - Ariana Grande. This song embodies what this decade was all about - the emergence of GIRL POWER. It’s an anthem. It slays when it comes to aesthetic. I will never get sick of it. Also, can we remember this performance please?


BEST ALBUM

Golden Hour - Kacey Musgraves

Her humble upbringing infused in all her music makes Kacey relatable. She’s hilarious, my personal style icon, throws around swear words and won’t be defined musically (originally Golden Hour wouldn’t be played under Pop or Country). Seeing her live, in an arena or small venue, is always intimate, her band is just as great as her and her personality oozes. I heard Follow Your Arrow for the first time when something clicked. Golden Hour is a traditional more “grown-up” version of the same message. One we need to bring into 2020. Accept everyone as they are. Give love. Be open with your feelings.




Oh, what a world, I don’t want to leave, there’s all kinds of magic, it’s hard to believe 


Ivy and Channel Orange (Frank Ocean) Body Talk (Robyn), Bahamas (Earthtones), Red (Taylor Swift), Anti (Rihanna), Born To Die (Lana Del Ray) and the 20/20 Experience (Justin Timberlake) were all contenders too!


Goodbye to the 10’s

I made a few personal resolutions I’m going to try and stick to:



1 - Set a bed time. Not a get in bed time and go on my phone and listen to my book. A time to actually sleep. I’m always up until the crack of dawn because I have “nothing to do tomorrow”.

2 - Get up earlier. Right now I don’t set an alarm. I usually sleep late into the day after going to bed late. I used to use the excuse that I was a night owl. I would be in my nightie when Jeff would come home from work and I want us to spend more quality time together. I want my days to be filled purposefully



3 - Get (some sort) of exercise. I am used to and accepting of the fact that I have a wardrobe for being a M, L, and XL. This isn’t about weight. It’s when I go to bed I still have energy. My legs get restless. I want to wake up and do some form of (safe, modified) exercise (auto corrected to excruciating, how appropriate). I’m hoping this will also encourage me to eat breakfast... something I don’t get up in time for *facepalm*.

4 - Change all the art of my walls. I need something new to look at. I have a big gallery wall, but since we aren’t able to paint, this feels like the biggest way to make a big impact.


I can’t bring myself to do a timeline of my decade. It was challenging. Even before cancer when I had normal problems.  While I’m “happy and sad at the same time” (get that Kacey reference?!), I haven’t come to terms with my diagnosis yet. I find it cyclical: learning- acceptance - relearning. I hope I see all 2020 has in store for me and find some peace.





Happy New Year xx


PS - A profile picture is supposed to go into the pink square on the right. I wrote a new about me but haven’t included links yet. I have one episode of You left and our Chinese Food is getting cold so... FUTURE SAM PROBLEM! 



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