A Bone Marrow Biopsy, Palm Springs & Pie

I woke up exhausted today. I haven’t been sleeping very well. A stranger on Instagram said she’s had the same problem and it might be because of the full moon last night. idk. I had a day jam packed with meetings for work and now I’m even more exhausted. Also, I have weird anxiety from social media crap that doesn’t even have to do with me or my life. Is that the full moon too? It’s also an empath problem. I’ve always had some sort of anxiety but since I was diagnosed with cancer during a pandemic I feel it differently. So fun, she said facetiously.

I had a bone marrow biopsy a couple weeks ago. I was super anxious about it because my last one was traumatic, but it went better than I expected. It was the same nurse practitioner that does my lumbar punctures so that helped because we’re homies. It was way quicker than my last one and only one part hurt really bad. I was sore for a long time afterwards though. It’s been a few weeks and it still feels a little tender. My results came back clear which means that the chemo is working and there’s no sign of cancer! Even though I’m on a break from chemo, I still had to get a blood transfusion when my counts were too low, and an infusion the infectious disease doctor said I needed to insure the cdiff doesn’t come back, since I’ve had it twice in the hospital now.

another day another blood transfusion

I feel so good these days. It’s insane how just a few weeks off of chemo can really make a difference in my body. I am walking like a pro. I don’t even use my walker or walking sticks anymore! I still waddle like a drunk toddler sometimes but hey, baby steps. Pun intended.

I’ve had a couple outings which have been delightful. My doctor said that since my counts are rising I’m less immunocompromised which means I can leave my bubble a bit. I still have to be extra cautious until I’m vaccinated, which will hopefully be soon.

My parents, Coco and I went to Palm Springs for the weekend a couple weeks ago to see my aunt and uncle and one of my best friends that was in town. It was so nice to leave my house, sit in the sun and socialize with one of my bffs. As my health is increasing I also need to boost my mental health and this weekend did just the trick. And last weekend I went up to see Amelia in her back yard. Again, just a couple hours in the sun with people I’ve missed so much means the world to me after the year I’ve had.

Palm Springs
Amelia’a backyard & chickens

Yesterday my mum wanted to check out Julian, a little town in the mountains known for their pie. We were not prepared for how freaking cold it was. Mum told us the temp before we left but didn’t take into account the wind factor. My dad was in shorts and slippers lol. So we drove all the way up there, got some pie and drove home. The pie was bomb though. We’ll go back when it’s warmer, and when I can drink wine again because there are a bunch of wineries on the way up.

so ono

Sorry this post was all over the place. I just wanted to send out a quick update since it had been a while. To summarize: Cancer’s gone. Still in treatment for a long time. But feeling good.

k bye

*please excuse any typos, I’m too tired to check Grammarly

Quarantine Memories: Vegas Neon Museum

Hi. Hello. And how do you do? Sorry just had a flashback to my cheerleading days. Yikes.

Mini cancer update: I had my last chemo of the intensive introduction year! Now I have a little bit of a break and then move to maintenance where I’ll only get chemo infusions once a month along with chemo pills (for two years- womp womp). But according to my doctor, I’ll start feeling better and back to normal soon. I did it y’all, I made it through the hard part!! Plus my doctor informed me that I’m in the next tier/phase (whatever it’s called) for vaccines so hopefully I’ll get that soon and will feel so much better and safe and I’ll be able to leave my bubble.

Until then, I’m still living off memories of adventures past.

A couple years ago Amelia and I went to Vegas to see Britney Spears in concert, which was like a religious experience. Truly everything I wanted it to be and more. Also, #FreeBritney! OMG I watched Framing Britney Spears, the NYT doc on Hulu this weekend and I can’t stop thinking about it. I have always loved Britney, I was a super fan back in the day – lol who am I kidding, I still am! I mean I had a Britney themed party for my 25th birthday. This doc breaks my heart. Go watch it right now so we can talk about it. (Is it Project Rose?!)

anywhooooooo…

While in town, we decided to hit up the Neon Museum, otherwise known as the Neon Boneyard. It also did not dissapoint. It’s where all the old neon signs from the strip go to die.

We went for the gram. Peep the pics:

She’s always buzzing just like neon, neon
desert vibes
#adventuresofameliaandkeili
because ducks are my favorite
supes groovy
aloha always
how gorge is my bestie??

#mature

I would totally go back, I’d love to book the nighttime tour. The admission was $20. They have guided tours or you can roam freely. They only let a limited number of people in at a time so I suggest booking ahead of time. 10/10 would recommend to a friend.

k bye

You know what they say; what happens in Vegas… goes on Instagram.

Tata for now.

World Cancer Day

Today is #worldcancerday. Even though my life has always been touched by cancer in some way – my brother died of cancer before I was born, growing up I volunteered at various cancer organizations, I traveled to DC to advocate for cancer research funding, I interned at the Ronald McDonald House in college, and I worked for a childhood cancer foundation for almost 5 years – I now have a completely different perspective of this dreadful disease.

This past year has been the hardest in my life. I’ve never felt so low, so sick, so helpless. I always knew the kiddos I worked with were strong but I understand on a whole new level now.

I guess this day is to help spread awareness but I’m pretty sure everyone’s very aware. I bet every person on earth has somebody in their life that has been affected by cancer. Which is why it’s important to do what we can to prevent, detect earlier and treat cancer successfully.

Some ways you can help is by making a donation to a reputable nonprofit, volunteering your time, donating blood, or sending your favorite bald mermaid funny memes to get through the tough times.

This year has been a rollercoaster ride (lots of ups and downs and vomiting) and I couldn’t have gotten through it without all your support, encouraging words, prayers and aloha. Thank you.

Tropical Fits

Typically this time of year, I’d be in Hawaii. I’ve never gone this long without a trip “home”, yes I still consider Hawaii home, and it’s major bumming me out. So I put together this little board of wearable tropical vibes / aloha print goodies to feel a little closer to the Aloha State.

I tried to touch on every article of clothing I could think of to offer a wide variety of tropical goodness. I couldn’t find any good shoes so if you have any recs send them my way.

This took way too long to compile because it’s the dead of winter… but worth it.

1. Free People Aloha One Piece – It even has aloha in the name.

2. Anthropologie Arielle Sleep Maxi Dress – I actually got my mum this for Christmas and she wears it all the time.

3. Aloha Collection Mid Lei Lei Pouch in Orchid – I have a tote and a few of their pouches and LOVE them. The pouch bags are perfect for wet bikinis, cosmetics or organizing the inside of a larger bag. Who doesn’t love bags in bags?

4. Billabong Wetsuit in Iris – We unfortunately need to wear wetsuits to swim in the ocean in California… why not do it in style?

5. Tropical Face Mask – because that’s the world we live in right now.

6. Gigi Pip 2020 Sloan Straw Hat – Now that I rock a wig, I also love to throw on a hat to make it look a little less wiggy.

7. Slowtide Tarovine Towel – This towel looks like pure sunshine. I dig the tassels.

8. Wa’ahia Future is Wahine Tee – Preach.

9. Beach Riot Cara Legging & Bowie Top in Taupe Vintage Tropical – Workout gear in aloha print? Yes, please.

10. Misha Hawaii Tahitian Pearl Bangle – Every coconut girl needs this staple in their jewelry box.

11. L*SPACE Skyler Pant & Hayes Pullover – Our national wardrobe is now matching sweatsuits (not complaining at all) and how cute is this print?

12. Show Me Your Mumu Say Jay Ruffle Dress in Bright Blooms – Mumu is one of my favorite brands because they always have such fun bright prints and this dress is e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.

13. Jams World Print Top in Floral Breeze – This one seems a little cheesy but I actually love Jams World. Paired with some cut off jeans and a flower in your hair and voila!

14. Stone Fox Swim Lele Top in Jungle Iris – Now that I’ve lost weight (thanks cancer), I might actually be able to rock a kini like this. Maybe.

15. Coco Moon Hibiscus Kiss Pareo – This is actually a baby company but they came out with pareos and this hibiscus print gives me hella heart eyes.

Now I’m going to go curl up into a ball and cry about how much I miss Hawaii. Jk… kinda.

aloha

The Cure is Trying to Kill Me

I think I jinxed myself by wearing this shirt.

nawt.

I started feeling lousy on Christmas. I had a lovely brunch with my parents and we watched Christmas movies and then I went to bed for the next two days because I felt like crap. I got a blood transfusion on Sunday which usually makes me feel better. But the following days I still felt like crap. I just figured I needed another blood transfusion and I go into my appointment on Thursday, which was so hard. I could barely walk to the car. I almost fainted twice that morning. I get to the clinic and they take my temperature and see that I have a fever so they send me to the ER, because my counts were so low. My ANC was at 0.0. I’m admitted to the hospital and they find out I have an infection in my blood and start me on antibiotics. Then my c diff came back and I started to have PTSD from my last visit to the hospital and start to worry that I’ll be stuck there for a month again. My fever wouldn’t go away for days. It’s pretty scary to be in the hospital with several infections and a fever with almost no white blood cells (to fight infections) and super low counts. But the medications started working and my counts started to come up (with the help of daily shots in my belly) and I’m out of there in a little over a week. Thank goodness. That was not how I wanted to start my new year but whatever.

sunrise from my hospital bed

The pharmacy called me before I was discharged and they’re like one of your medications is a bit pricey and I’m like oh yea that’s because it’s a new year and I haven’t met the deductible yet so I’ll just pay for it. The cost was $2400. For 12 pills. That is just INSANE. What do people who don’t have insurance do? Die?!

I’m behind on my chemo schedule since the little hospital visit set us back a bit. I’m starting up again on Thursday and will just have 2-3 more weeks left before I can move to maintenance. I’m looking forward to finishing but not looking forward to feeling like crap until then. It’s crazy how the cure and treatment can be almost worse than the cancer. Someone needs to find a better way to fight this crap. Cancer sucks. But so does chemo.

My set #WFH set up in the clinic

Sometimes I spend all day at the clinic. This day I had labs, a blood transfusion, two chemo infusions and a shot in my booty. Luckily I had a big project at work so I put all my energy into that instead of focusing on the fact that I was in the clinic for like 10 hours. My AirPods died towards the end which was a big bummer. I really need to start bringing a charger with me everywhere. I don’t know how I haven’t learned that lesson yet. I am so not going to miss long days like that.

My hair does not look like the picture above. It’s falling out like crazy but I look so funny. It’s like an old man with a receding hairline because the front is falling out but the sides are still pretty long. I look like George Costanza from Seinfeld. I think it’s time to buzz the rest off.

This sweet nugget was so happy to see me when I got home from the hospital. She laid on top of me for like 20 minutes as if to say you’re never leaving ever again.

Wish me luck as I finish off this never-ending trying-to-kill-me round of chemo.

Tootles.

NEW YEARS MOOD

When it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month or even your year…

I actually wrote this post a few weeks ago but now I’m reporting from the ER with an ANC of 0.2 and a fever waiting to be admitted to the hospital. As if I thought anything else would happen on the last day of this crap year. But I’ll be darned if I couldn’t post this NYE mood board.

As much as I’m ready to say deuces to 2020, it was still an entire year. One I’d like to forget, most of. But I thought I should honor it by making a list of things that I was actually keen on. There were some. Not many. But some.

  • I still enjoy my job. I’m actually changing departments this week and I’m super excited to learn a new position but get to keep working with my team, whom I love. It’s been a blessing to be a part of a company that prides itself on customer service, quality and employees wellbeing. I’ve never been more appreciated and supported in a job before. It’s refreshing to be surrounded by positivity, creative collaboration and innovative ideas. I’m just relieved my cancer hasn’t kept me being able to do my job. It helps me feel a little more normal.
  • My parents moved to the mainland to help take care of me. I don’t know what I’d do without them. It’s weird to be living with my parents in my 30s since I moved out at 18 and have always been super independent, but c’est la vie. They have been lifesavers. They help me with meals, meds and take me to all my appointments but they are also just wonderful to be around, which is good for my mental health. This year could have been even more lonely. It sucks that they don’t get to enjoy their new city because we’re stuck in a bubble. But it is so nice having them here with me.
  • Coco Puff – that’s a given. Puppy snuggles make everything better.
  • Social Distant / Long Distant Love. I feel oh so loved. From videos compiled by sweet friends expressing support to front yard hangs to well wishes cards in the mail. I have such a strong support system, which I’ve discovered to be crucial when fighting for my life.
  • My body is responding well to treatment. It’s been a rough ride, but ultimately the chemo is working. Just pray the cancer stays away as I move on to the maintenance phase and beyond. (Lol again I wrote this a couple weeks ago).

Oh how I wish I was putting on a sparkly dress, popping champane and ringing in the new year with friends. I’d even embrace the insane Uber surges, disappointing midnight kiss, and inevitable bathroom floor hangover that often accompanies the holiday.

2021 will be better. I’m manifesting it. My cancer will be gone. My treatment will be minimal. Covid vaccines will start working. We will be able to take off our masks. I will be able to be around people again. People will start getting their jobs back. The economy will turn around. Kindness will be cool. Joy will return. I’d be down to keep up the cozy WFH wardrobe though.

Good riddance 2020. See ya never. Happy New Year!

Cheers y’all.

* Most images in the collage were found on Pinterest. Some are mine.

I’m Too Sexy For My Hair

I fell so hard in the clinic the other day. I was walking in and stumbled over my stupid numb toes. I cried out in pain and strangers came running. A little too cocky with my walking skills, I should have been using my walker instead of my walking poles. They put me in a wheelchair, took my vitals and did an incident report. I’m just relieved I didn’t hit my head. My doctor checked me out and everything seemed ok until I got home. Both knees, one ankle and the opposite foot started to hurt. I iced them all evening. I woke up in the middle of the night to use the restroom and I couldn’t put any weight on my foot. I sat and cried because I didn’t know what to do. I already have a hard enough time getting around. Luckily with the aid of some pain killers, towards the end of the day I started feeling better and was able to walk again.

you can see some bruises on my legs from my fall… but how cute is my sweet support doggo?

LOTS of chemo this week. On top of IVs, tummy shots and a lumbar puncture, I started a new chemo pill. The pharmacist said to not let anyone else touch the pills, keep them in the bottle (not in a pill box), and to wash my hands after I take them. If it’s that toxic to touch, imagine what it’s doing to my insides. Or don’t, chemo gives me enough anxiety as is – *insert emoji with huge “ahh” eyes.

I haven’t been nauseous yet, thankfully, but I woke up today with a headache and crazy body aches. The mouth sores are back. I’m also having difficulty with my vision. It’s hard to read this page even. I just feel unwell.

I’m on a break from my steroids thank goodness because the lack of sleep, puffiness and constant need to be eating were getting to me. One morning I was craving pizza for breakfast so I made (my mum made) a pizza bagel. Bagels make it breakfast-y. On a scale of 1-10, it was yum-tacular.

we should normalize pizza for breakfast

I look like cancer. A few years ago, when I worked for a kids cancer organization, I was with a group of kiddos at Alcatraz and requested for all of them to ride in the ADA cart to the top (it’s a long walk up a huge hill from the boat) and the attendant looked over at the group and said “all of them?” and I said “yes, we are a kids cancer organization” and he said “well they don’t all look sick” and I wanted to SMACK him. How do you know what “sick” looks like, bro? Don’t worry, I didn’t inflict violence and the kiddos got the ride to the top of “The Rock”. Well I look sick af. I glance in the mirror and I’m like woah. I’m super pale with weird bags under my eyes. My face is v round like a Cabbage Patch Kid. My hair is falling out like crazy. I think I look like Uncle Joey’s woodchuck puppet from Full House. The resemblance is uncanny, ay?

Same Same. *images are from google. please don’t sue me. the images of me are mine. obvi

As I was walking through the clinic the other day I took in all the people around me. I’m one of the younger patients there by far (sometimes I see other young adults but not often). But I just thought how sad it is that, because of covid, we can’t have any guests in the cancer center. If covid wasn’t happening these people would have their significant others, children or friends to help push them in a wheelchair, keep them company in the waiting room (where we spend a lot of time), and hold their hands during treatment. I’m ok going in on my own because I’m an I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T (do you know what that mean) woman but maybe I would feel differently if I had the option. Plus my mum has to spend a lot of time in the clinic’s parking lot.

how beautiful is this tree? mum really nailed it this year

In the wise words of Phoebe Buffay, 

“Happy Christmas Eve Eve”

*Pretend it’s yesterday – I meant to post then but I had a rough lp, almost fainted, went to bed as soon as I got home and didn’t get a chance to hit publish and don’t want to take out my “Friends” reference . mmk thanks.

WINTER SOLSTICE MOOD

We don’t really have seasons in Southern California but it gets dark awfully early these days. I’m excited for the Winter Solstice because that means the sun will start going down later from now on. It is a little chilly too (lol 60s) so I’m digging the cozy mood.

I wouldn’t mind some actual winter. This is the first Christmas I won’t be spending in Hawaii in a loooong time. Since I won’t have a tropical holiday I’m now craving snowy vibes. I thought maybe we could drive up to Big Bear or Idyllwild and rent a cabin but I googled it and apparently, there’s no snow yet. Plus I have to be in the clinic basically every day for the next two weeks getting chemo so I guess I’m staying put. Maybe later in the season, I’ll go seek a winter wonderland. Idk how my numb feet would handle snow anyway.

I whipped up this “winter” inspired mood board with the energy support of a white chocolate mocha – my current obsession (thanks steroids) since I’m still not sleeping much (again, thanks steroids). Speaking of, my Secret Santa at work sent me some white chocolate truffles and I have to pace myself. I’d like to eat them all in one sitting. One family tradition we’re missing this year is a large batch of pizzelles. My mum forgot the pizzelle maker in Hawaii (ugh). If anyone wants to send some my way I wouldn’t object. I’m usually not much of a sweets person but cancer has changed that. These days I’m a hangry sugar-craving monster.

Christmas looks a little different this year. I hope you get to spend it with loved ones (safely) and can still participate in some of your traditions. Mine are garlic shrimp for brunch, a day at the beach and a ride on the Sugar Cane Train. Guess we’ll have to raincheck on the latter two.

We plan to watch Elf on Christmas Eve. It’s our family’s favorite holiday movie. It won’t be the same without my nephew, who knows every word and is the funniest person I know. Maybe we’ll FaceTime that cotton-headed ninny-muggins so he can watch with us.

My world is v small at the moment and my creative outlets are limited due to mobility issues and crazy numb fingers so putting together this mood board was a mini pick-me-up on the (almost – I know it’s tomorrow but I’m impatient) shortest day of the year. Yay for getting a smidgen more daylight from here on out.

Happy Winter Solstice Ya’ll

*None of the photos in the mood board collage are mine. I found all of them on Pinterest.

Tell Your Homies You Love Them

My cancer treatment steroids give me crazy insomnia so I woke up at 3:30 this morning. Instead of the typical online shopping routine for the sake of my bank account, I channeled a wannabe VSCO girl and created this little collage.

If this year has taught me anything, it’s that life is too dang short.

This crap year feels like a blur. I’ve missed out on so much. With a worldwide pandemic happening, most of us feel that way, but with a suppressed immune system from chemotherapy, I’ve especially had to live in a bubble with little to no exposure to other people. Life is still happening around me. Several of my friends are getting engaged, having babies, and celebrating milestones and I could not be happier for them. I wish I could give hugs, jump for joy and just be around them.

My godfather passed away a couple of weeks ago, as if this year couldn’t get any worse. I know he knows how much I loved and admired the incredible man he was and how lucky I felt to be his goddaughter, but I wish I had told him more. I encourage you to share with your loved ones how you feel before you don’t have the chance to. Life can change in an instant.

I could not have gotten through this year without the support of dear friends from all over the world. Simple texts, funny TikToks, snail mail, sweet DMs, flower deliveries, FaceTimes and phone calls have kept me going.

I thank my lucky stars for all the memories and laughs I’ve shared with so many good friends over the years. I know that I’m going to beat this cancer and can’t even let myself think otherwise but I also know I’ve lived a full life thus far and am blessed to have had such beautiful experiences in just 32 short years. But don’t worry, I plan on filling my life with many many more.

Best friends make good times better and hard times easier.

So friends (you know who you are), aloha nui loa. You are everything to me. Life is about connection and relationships and somehow I hit the jackpot with all of you.

ILYSM

Things I’m Looking Forward to Doing Post COVID and Cancer

2020 has been such a strange year for everyone but I think my year has been a tiny bit crazier since I was diagnosed with leukemia. There are so many things that I miss since I’ve had to live in a bubble but instead of focusing on the negative, I’ve decided to make a list of things that I’m looking forward to doing once again.

1. Jumping in the ocean. I asked my doctor the other day if they’ll be taking out my PICC line when I move to the maintenance phase of my treatment and he said yes! Boom Shakalaka – that means I can jump in the ocean soon! And he’s like well you know the ocean is very cold right now. I was like I know but I’m just planning for the future and possibly a trip to Hawaii when it’s safe to travel again. But I don’t think I’ve ever gone this long without swimming in the ocean and this mermaid is craving a magical dip.

my happy place

2. Eating poke. Beacause of my treatment, I’m not allowed to eat raw fish and it’s torture. Every time my mum asks what I want to eat my answer is “poke” and then she says “you can’t have poke” and I say “but that’s what I want”. Anyway, I’ve tried imitation crab “poke bowls” to try and satisfy the hankering but it’s not the same! I want spicy ahi from Tamura’s.

this photo makes my mouth water

3. Dancing. I miss dancing Tahitian and hula so much. I can barely walk up stairs, my muscles are all shot and I have bad neuropathy so I couldn’t even fathom trying to dance right now but I will get stronger and will shake my booty again.

I’ve been following this TikTok famous woman on social who was diagnosed with leukemia a month before me. She’s an incredible mother of 5 young kiddos and has had such a rough cancer journey as well. She’s a dance teacher and has been dancing through her treatments and I’m so inspired by her positivity. But sometimes it makes me sad that I can’t dance like she can. My body just isn’t strong enough at the moment. I have to remind myself of that quote “comparison is the theif of joy” and just believe my body will heal miraculously and I will dance again.

miss my ori sisters too

4. Traveling. This is an obvious one. I’m used to traveling allllllll the time that it’s been so bizarre to just sit at home for months on end day dreaming about different cultures, food, architecture and people. My Pinterest is full of adventures to be had. I’m thinking Paris, Greece, and Prague, or maybe Thailand and Kuala Lumpur or New Zealand. The list goes on and on honestly… I am open to recommendations.

Dublin with my momma a couple years ago

5. Hiking. Like I said above, I can’t even climb stairs without it feeling like Mt. Everest so I can’t wait for my body to be strong enough to just even stroll through nature. I miss trees, fresh air, playing word games with friends on the way up and the views at the top. I also love that I feel closer to God when I hike.

trees make me feel small

6. Going to a Broadway show. When I was 10 years old my mum took me to New York for the first time and we saw Annie Get Your Gun with the incredible Bernadette Peters as Annie Oakley and I FELL IN LOVE with Broadway. My eyes were glued to the stage and I sat in pure wonderment for two hours. It encouraged me to pursue acting and shortly after that trip, I auditioned for a local summer program where we performed Into the Woods. I was cast as just a woodnymph (aka chorus background nobody) but it kicked off a passion for performing and I participated in many musicals for years to come. For my 12th birthday, my parents surprised me with FRONT ROW tickets to see Annie Get Your Gun at the Paramount in Seattle. We were so close the actors were spitting on us and I brought my best friend who’s a redhead and the main actress pointed to her as they took their bows and said there’s the next Annie and winked at us. It was so special.

My mum and I have been watching a lot of cheesy movies on Netflix lately but they’re set in NYC and it makes me want to visit so bad. As soon as I kick this cancer’s butt and covid gets under control, we are booking flights to the Big Apple and are going to as many shows as possible. Starting with Mean Girls.

Lady Liberty in all her glory

7. Visiting museums. I enjoy museums, fun installations, and art pop-ups. I like learning new things and all but one of my favorite things to do in an art museum is rename the pieces. You know like a super old Renaissance painting that should be named “Cardi B’s WAP” or something stupid to spice it up. LOL. I’ve considered curating my own pop-up museum but that sounds like a lot of work. It’s still on my bucket list for when I have more energy and/or win the lottery.

Not sure I quite understand contemporary art but I try

8. Social gatherings. I miss my friends. I want to throw a dinner party. I want to have a glass of wine in a bar. I want to eat chips and salsa at a Mexican restaurant. I want to go to a baseball game. I want to attend a picnic at the beach. I want to dress up and dance the night away at 80s night at the Belly Up. I want to hug my bff.

< 3

I have high hopes for 2021 and just pray that we can all get back to a “normal life” soon. Ok your turn – what are y’all looking forward to doing most?

Shoots den.