Fake it til you make it?

Often times my response is “Great!” when people ask how I’m doing these days. That response is relative to how I felt last year but in comparison to my healthy life pre cancer it’s not so great. Does that make sense? I feel crappy 10/7 instead of 24/7 so to me that’s a win. Basically cancer gave me perspective. Or I’m a 7 (enneagram) and I just want to exude rainbows and butterflies.

I had a moment last week where I realized I might have some ptsd or something going on because I found some hair on my pillow. I am still on chemo. I just wasn’t expecting to lose hair again since it’s been growing like crazy. And then I had a visit with my oncologist and usually it’s just him and I in an appointment but this time there were 4 people in the room and he sat next to me and a moment of “oh crap I’m about to get bad news” flashed through my mind but really it was just that there was a fellow shadowing him and a nurse training with my case manager/nurse.

Maybe I need a therapist lol.

Then my doc was like “your liver numbers have been regular the past couple labs”, which is great cuz they sky rocketed for a couple months, and I thought he was going to say “so you can have tequila shots again” but instead he said “so we can increase the dosage on one of your chemo pills”. Major buzzkill.

A couple people in my life have recently been diagnosed with cancer and it breaks my heart. To know what they’re about to go through and how sick they’ll most likely feel. I just hope and pray they don’t feel as awful as I did and have a quick and successful treatment protocol ahead of them.

chemo infusion, but make it cute

Well, the good news is I’m now 11 months away from my end of treatment. Less than a year left!!! *Insert party dance gif*

K tootles I’m off to get a needle in my spine. 😝

Color of the Moment: Kumquat

Sometimes I get stuck on a color. I buy everything in that color and I start seeing it everywhere. Earlier this year it was Pink. Then I moved on to Kumquat. I think the obsession has subsided but I wanted to share some of the moments I had with it this summer. (see above photos)

I guess I should take this time to update ya’ll on what’s been going on lately. I don’t even remember the last time I wrote about my health. I’m doing pretty good for the most part. The steroids weeks are still brutal but there’s not much I can do so I just power through. I got my 3rd covid shot as soon as it was available. Otherwise I only feel ill on the days I get a chemo infusion and a lumbar puncture. I also am getting a migraine about a week after I finish my steroids which sucks big time. My hair is growing like crazy… I’m just leaning into the mullet while it grows out. I used to have super straight hair and it’s growing back curly. It’ll be interesting to see if that stays.

My favorite nurse practitioner who did all my lumbar punctures moved back to the east coast to be closer to family. Everybody was bummed. I got to be her last procedure. I wrote her a little card as a goodbye and shared it’s rare that someone looks forward to a lumbar puncture but she did that for me. We became buddies and she was such a bright light in a very dark year where I didn’t get much social interaction so her friendship meant a lot. I’ve had one LP since she left and it wasn’t horrible but it also wasn’t great. I have another one coming up and I’m certainly no longer looking forward to them.

I graduated from physical therapy after a year. It was bitter sweet. Happy that my body has recovered enough to not need as much assistance but sad because I became friends with my PT. Another person who boosted my social interaction when it was limited.

A couple weeks ago I had a really stressful day. I had just come back from Seattle where I attended a funeral and a wedding so I was physically and emotionally exhausted. It was the day after a 3-day weekend so work was nuts and the cancer center was backed up. I normally wouldn’t schedule such a busy day for myself but the circumstances of travel and holiday weekend were unavoidable. I was at the cancer center all day with labs, a visit with my oncologist, chemo infusion, lumbar puncture, and a shot in my booty. I also had to hop on a few calls for work because we were a week out from the major photoshoot and had to meet deadlines with my team on the product end of things. On top of it all my dad had a super scary accident was in the hospital for a week and was being released that day AND we were moving to a new house at the same time. I was in the rough part of my steroids so I felt like crap too. Everything was all happening at once and Mercury wasn’t even in retrograde. I obviously managed but it just made me take a step back, give myself some grace and remember that I’m still fighting this ugly cancer beast and it’s ok to not be ok all the time.

ANYWAYYYY

Since I’m over the orange hue, what color should I obsess over next? I guess it’s fall now so maybe I’ll lean into a darker palette but I also love bright colors so who knows. LMK your suggestions.

Malibu Rising

I go back and forth on giving Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid 4 stars or 5. It gave me all the feels but I’m pretty picky when giving a book a perfect score so I’d say it’s about a 4.25. It was, however, a perfect summer read. I especially enjoyed it because it was nostalgic for me with Malibu, the surf culture, and bit of LA celebrity life.

I loved escaping to the Bu when I lived in LA. But I didn’t love the traffic from the one road in and out. I texted my bestie while I read, “should we move to Malibu and get houses next to each other on the beach” as if I have that kind of money lolz. Malibu beach houses remind me of that scene when Lauren didn’t go to Paris. Millennials, you know what I mean.

I actually went to a house party on Point Dume once. It was nothing like the party in the book but it brought me back. It’s still an exclusive neighborhood with a key to access the stairs to the beach. My friend saw Bob Dylan at the Pavilions.

I read many reviews of this book and most of them said the first part of the book is better than the second and I agree. The flashbacks draw you in with June and Mick’s story. But I also love the relationship between the 4 Riva siblings in “present day”. It made me want a big family. It also made me wish I learned how to surf when I was a kid.

The story is equally beautiful and heartbreaking. As soon as I finished I immediately went to google and was relieved to see they’re making it into a show to be released on Hulu. I can’t wait.

I found this cute playlist on Spotify that I put on while reading the second half of this book.

Loving Taylor Jenkins Reid. Her books are so easy to read. Next up is The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.

What are you currently reading?

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

Friday the 13th Dinner Party

I hosted a dinner party last week on Friday the 13th. It was more Practical Magic and less Freddy vs Jason vibes. I always wish I had taken more photos after the fact but when we’re in the moment we are too busy enjoying ourselves to snap pics.

I recently found out my mother has a whole collection of vintage plates so I of course had to dig in the storage unit for them. I made deviled eggs, a gorgeous cheese board and alllll the Trader Joes appetizers. My friend brought homemade sour dough in a cauldron, which was so on theme. I lit candlesticks, arranged purple and dark red flowers, made black sangria and pretended it was a “midnight margarita”.

I bought a wax seal and dried flowers to create name tags, little potion jars of crystals, sage, a palm reader hand and a crystal ball. I also wrote down superstitions from around the world on the back of tarot cards for each guest to read aloud. Did you know in the Netherlands it’s considered bad luck to sing at the dinner table? It means you’re singing to the devil. I also had face jewels for everyone. We love a good face jewel. There were little moments that felt serendipitous throughout the night… maybe we channeled some witchy energy.

We listened to a playlist of songs inspired by Practical Magic, laughed under twinkle lights and the stars, and enjoyed the company of good girlfriends. Coco loved it too. She went from lap to lap.

I had strategically scheduled this party for when I knew I’d be feeling good (a week after my steroid pain) but of course I got a terrible headache that day out of nowhere. I powered through but it was so annoying, that the one day I had something fun planned where I needed enough energy, I somehow felt ill. F U cancer.

I’m already planning the next TWO parties. Stay tuned.

“Always throw spilt salt over your left shoulder, keep rosemary by your garden gate, plant lavender for luck, and fall in love whenever you can.”

Poke, Pareos and Poi; Maui Nō Ka ʻOi

… jk about poi tho.

I sometimes forget this was intended to be a travel/adventure blog since it turned into a bit of a cancer journal. Well, I finally have a trip to report on and have been putting it off, mostly because I’ve felt like crap lately. Let’s dive in…   

As soon as I got vaccinated and received doctor’s approval to travel, I hopped on a plane to Maui. I had the whole row to myself which felt a bit like winning the lottery. After hugging my sis and nephews, I immediately went to Tamura’s for a poke bowl and then hopped in the ocean. Priorities. 

I stayed at the Royal Lahaina since my parent’s house is being rented, which was sweet because it felt more like a relaxing vacation. I read a lot of books, laid in the sun, swam in the ocean, and adventured as much as my body allowed. I hopped over to Oahu for a few days to see one of my college roommates and eat Hula Pie.

Two of my girlfriends flew in for a couple days and I got to show them some of my favorite secret spots on the island. We watched an epic sunset from a catamaran, walked through a magical forest, spent the day in my favorite waterfall, ate more poke and watched lots of Friends

One of the main reasons we flew out to Maui was to celebrate my nephew’s 10th birthday. First his big brother surprised him, then I flew in a few days later and then my parents flew in a couple days after that. After the year we all just had, it was so lovely to just be together as a family. We ate pizza, swam, and spoiled the birthday boy with alllll the Legos. 

The island seems like it’s not ready for tourists quite yet, or at least it wasn’t when I was there. Restaurant reservations are all booked up, rental cars were going for as much as $900/day and people were renting U-Hauls, places ran out of food, and they’re not able to let guests in full capacity until more locals get vaccinated. So just do your research before you book a trip and don’t expect as much aloha as you may have experienced pre-pandemic. 

I actually felt like crap the first bit of my trip because I was on my monthly steroids but I truly believe the Hawaiian waters are healing. 

There were several situations where I was like I’m not sure I’ll be able to do something but I’m still going to try, and I surprised myself with what I was able to do.  I had to take a tiny plane to and from Oahu and wasn’t sure I’d be able to get up the sketchy ladder stairs by myself, but I just went for it and was totally fine. 

I was also worried about getting in and out of my favorite waterfall but that sure didn’t keep me from trying. I wouldn’t have been able to on my own so thank God for good friends. If that isn’t a metaphor for life, then idk what is. 

Hawaii is pure magic. 

This was a perfect first trip post pandemic/cancer diagnosis. I could adventure a little and relax a lot. I can’t wait until I’m able to travel like I used to but for now Hawaii will do.

Also, my freckles are back. 🙂

alooooha

A Day in the Life – on Chemo Steroids

Wanna know what being on chemo steroids is like?

It’s 3am. You’re wired from insomnia, in excruciating back pain, full-on sweating.

Then you…

Read an entire novel.

Take Pepcid so you don’t die of heartburn the second you eat something.

Grind through a work project that would typically take 4 hours in approx. 55min.

Create an itinerary for your friend’s upcoming bachelorette party.

Eat 500 white chocolate cookies from Subway.

Send some emails.

Immediately regret emails.

Eat a pickle.

Edit the grammar of old Tweets.

Eat a banana.

Apply heat pack to back.

Scarf down a huge breakfast.

Write a review of the book you read earlier.

Get lost in a Pinterest rabbit hole of delicious-looking food recipes.

Eat carrot cake.

Work on 35 more work tasks simultaneously.

Reapply heat pack to back.

Glance at clock and realize it’s only 8am.

Online shop.

Overthink every single word spoken and typed all day.

Plan outings for the weekend then talk yourself out of them.

Google pain symptoms for the millionth time, as if anything has changed.

Text everyone in contact list to say “hi”.

Eat chips and guac.

Daydream about having a hot-tub to sooth back pain.

Text cousin with hot-tub.

Apply heat pack to back.

Brainstorm gift ideas for someone’s who’s birthday isn’t for another 6 months.

Scroll TikTok.

Eyeroll for 5 minutes at the video you found that says going to the LACMA lanterns is “cheugy”.

Eat Cheetos dipped in Del Taco hot sauce.

Open phone to do something and immediately forget what you were in the middle of doing.

Update bucket list.

Yell at your oh so sweet and extremely helpful mum for no reason.

Change Spotify playlist for the 100th time.

Start planning a random dinner party.

Meticulously read through a work email to ensure you understand exactly what it says.

Worry you possibly read emails wrong in the past.

Eat mashed potatoes.

Deep dive Yelp for future restaurant reservation ideas.

Map out closest thrift shops.

Massage swollen face.

Clean out inbox.

Scour internet for specific tube top.

Try to start a series on HBO but don’t follow through because you are having a hard time focusing.

Start a new book. But stop because of same focusing issue.

Attempt to quiet your mind from reliving horrible moments from the last year.

Browse Goodreads to update book list.

Google ways to reduce swelling from salt consumption.

Design a graphic for a friend’s new business.

Knead sore calves.

Remove all clothes because fabric hurts to touch.

Research online classes to learn new skills.

Reapply heat pack to back.

Google anxiety coping mechanisms.

Decorate dream home in your mind.

Cry in discomfort and extreme hot flashes.

Make notes in phone to remember how and when these damn steroids affect you.

Stress about weight gain from all the crap you ate today.

Giggle at cancer satire insta account that perfectly sums up your situation.

Reapply heat pack.

Eat chips.

Force yourself to realize this is all temporary, will pass in a day or two, you’ve been through so much worse & YOU CAN DO HARD THINGS.

All while laying flat on your back in bed because ow.

*slightly exaggerated for emphasis…but not really.

I write notes on the tops of pill bottles to easily grab them. My steroid is Dexamethasone.

Books I Read on Vacay

I just went on vacation to Hawaii and I brought 3 books with me. I was reading a book before my trip that I couldn’t get in to so I ditched it and bought fun summer books that are easy to read.

First I read Beach Read by Emily Henry. It was super easy to get in to and so sweet. It made me want to fall in love again and also made me want to write a book someday. Maybe I’ll comprise some of my blog posts later, who knows. I highly recommend, especially if you’re going on vacation and need a good book to lay by the pool with.

Next up I read a Reese’s Book Club rec, Northern Spy by Flynn Berry. I read this book in two days. I couldn’t put it down. It has similar vibes to Conviction (also from Reese’s Book Club) which I read recently and loved too.

Lastly I read People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry, the author of the fist book I mentioned. I couldn’t help but think about one of my best friends while I read this book EXCEPT NOT in a romantic way. Just that we’ve been friends for so long (since we were 4) and how we’ve traveled the world together (his mother is a flight attendant) and he would join me on vacations often. It was sweet to reminisce but hard to focus (I had to reread several pages).

I finished this book at home and I probably would have read through it faster if I had a beautiful beach or pool to read it by.. I thought it was ok but wasn’t as invested in the story as much as I was with Beach Read. Still a good vacation book though.

Honorary Mention: Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid, another Reese’s rec. I actually read this one a while back BUT I got to be a guest at a book club for a day to discuss this book. I met one of my college friend’s on Oahu for the weekend who was traveling with some of her friends from San Francisco. They are all in a book club together and luckily I had read the book they were discussing. I actually just gave this book to my BFF to read because I knew she would like it. She texted me one morning saying she woke up in the middle of the night to finish the book. It reads like a Rolling Stone interview and is roughtly based on Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac. They’re making it into a show and I can’t wait to watch.

Wish every book club looked like this

BFF had about a week before she popped out another baby so I Amazoned (lol is that a word?) her Malibu Rising, by the same author of Daisy Jones since she loved it so much and I wanted her to be able to relax and put her feet up before bb came. She loved it and read it in days. Now it’s my turn to read.

She also ordered the first book by Taylor Jenkins Reid called The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, which I can’t wait to read because I’ve seen several TikToks about how it’s their favorite book.

I actually have SO many books in the line up right now waiting to be read but I always love to hear recs so send them my way!

“Who We Are” – Tyrone Wells

I’ve mentioned before that Tyrone Wells is my favorite singer/songwriter. I’ve been to tons of his live shows, his music always touches my heart and played a small part in helping me get out of a toxic relationship (read more here.) Today he released a new single called Who We Are and you should run, not walk to go listen to it.

I was alone in the hospital, just days after I was diagnosed last year, and Tyrone hosted a live performance on his instagram which was so perfectly timed with what was going on in my life. So I reached out to him on insta and thanked him. From there he would occasionally check in and see how I was doing and started following my cancer journey. (Side note: I know some people have a problem with the word “journey” when talking about their cancer experience but I think it’s pretty accurate and don’t hate it at all). Anywhooo back to my story- earlier this year Tyrone asked for my email to send an unreleased song and holy moly what a thoughtful gift. I immediately burst into tears because every bit of that song spoke to my soul. He said if I liked the song, it could be a sort of an anthem and he was 100% correct. I thanked him for thinking of me and said how it completely resonates with my life but it’ll touch so many people as well. He said I was the first person outside his work crew and family to hear it. Wow how special. This whole cancer thing really sucks but there have been some really beautiful moments to come out of it and this was one of them.

I told all my closest friends to listen to the song today and they all wrote me back saying they got chills.

The bridge goes “I will turn the pain into tears of gold, I’m not caving in, I’m not letting go. When I hear them say, that it can’t be done, I’m not laying down, I will overcome.”

You have to hear it because the whole song is powerful.

Last week, I was flying from Oahu to Maui which is a 40 min flight in a 12 passenger plane and I kid you not, I listened to this song on repeat the whole ride. It was really hard to keep the tears from falling down my face in that tiny airplane. I was also on Decadron which makes me super emo… I was so moved that he shared it with me and thought about me and my journey. I also thought about all I have been through this past year. The months in the hospital alone, the night in the ICU where I almost died, the pain, the nausea, the anxiety, the sleepless nights, learning how to walk again, the isolation, and everything in between. I still have bruises on my stomach from shots I got over six months ago. I see them every day and it’s a reminder of where I’ve been and how far I’ve come. I was also flying from a weekend with one of my college roomates on Oahu (which is such a special place to me- where I went to college and had the time of my life) to Maui for my nephews 10th birthday party with the rest of my family. I am beyond grateful I survived this past year and get to celebrate these unfortettable moments.

view from the puddle jumper

I didn’t share much of the absolute worst days with ya’ll because 1. I was so stinking sick and 2. I didn’t want to scare you with horrible details. But know that it sucked. You can’t control what happens to you but you can control how you react and I chose and am choosing to smile through the pain and always seek the good in every situation. Plus, this whole experience has made me stronger and I can only image who I will be after I’m done with all of this. Speaking of, even though it’s more than a year away, I am planning an epic end of treatment bash where maybe I can convince Tyrone Wells to perform this song… lol dream big, right?

K now go listen.

“I believe, yes I believe it. I can see, yes I can see it. Though I’m not there yet, I lift up my head. I believe, yes I believe it. I can see, yes I can see it. Every bruise and every scar makes us who we are.

Palm Trees with My Main Squeeze

Not too long ago I had to teach myself how to walk again after spending a month in a hospital bed. It’s been a long road to recovery and I still am unable to walk properly but I get stronger every day. So when I “hiked” down and up this small canyon I was elated.

Caroline (one of my bffs from childhood) and I rocked up to the Palm Canyon in cute outfits and the ranger in the parking lot asked if we had water and how far we were planning on hiking and I said just to the bottom of the hill for photos in the palm trees (duh) and he said “yea I figured” and glanced over at Caroline’s dress. We obviously were not dressed in hiking gear but we did not need your sass, sir.

Ranger cheekiness aside, this place was EPIC. We went first thing in the morning to beat the heat and the crowds. It was $9 a person to enter Indian Canyons but there are different canyons with several hiking/horseback riding trails and waterfalls. Palm Canyon is at the base of one of the trails so people who walk like wobbly toddlers (me) don’t have to hike much to get amazeballs pics like this:

A Picture-Perfect Pinch Me Picnic

As of Tuesday, I have been fighting cancer for ONE WHOLE YEAR.

I wanted to do something special as a thank you for the girls that have been my San Diego fam through this insane year.  They’re the ones that made signs and waved at me from a bridge outside my hospital room when they weren’t allowed in due to Covid, organized video messages when I was feeling down, brought me dinners, constantly checked in, and did more for my morale than they even know possible. I am forever grateful. So as a small token of my appreciation I hosted a sunset picnic at one of our local neighborhood viewpoints overlooking the ocean.

First of all, I love hosting and planning events, and this gave me something to dive my energy into besides work lately. There are tiny details, if you look closely, that I tried to put a lot of love into. I arranged the flowers myself (and then all my girls brought me bouquets of flowers themselves as a gift – they know me so well), stuck to a color scheme (pink is my current color obsession), designed “thank you” cards along with handwritten geode name tags for everyone’s table setting, bought an insane assortment of snacks for grazing boards (+ pizza duh), curated a playlist that included songs that reminded me of each of my guests from a specific memory with them, and had a cheeky “F Cancer” sign to remind us what we’ve been through. To top it all off Amelia made the most gorgeous candy platter of my dreams.

We laughed, cried, hugged (for the first time in a YEAR), ate way too much, watched the sunset, and had the sweetest evening with the best friends a girl could hope for.  

*I wish I had taken more photos but honestly, we were enjoying each other’s company that we forgot to.

*Shout out to my BFF Amelia. She’s v preggo and I’m still pretty wobbly/fatigued, and we set up this whole thing just the two of us.  

How lucky am I that I get to call these girls my friends? Pinch me.

You bet your butt I’ll be throwing a blowout party when my treatment officially ends that EVERYONE will be invited to… but we still have over a year before that happens so stay tuned. 

alohaaa