Cancerversary – 2 Years Fighting Leukemia

TWO YEARS FIGHTING CANCER in selfies. Another rollercoaster of a year, this time with more hair. It was slightly easier than the year prior, thank goodness. There seem to be more good days, some realllllly crappy days, but mostly just ok days.

I’ve gotten used to feeling super down during steroid weeks. I know when I’ll be out of commission and when I’ll typically start feeling better. My chemo is manageable and way less intense. I calculated it and I’ve had almost 80 chemo infusions since I started treatment two years ago, and almost 25 lumbar punctures. I tried to calculate the number of labs, pills, shots, and clinic/doctor’s visits but it was impossible.

I can’t believe it’s been two whole years since we thought I had COVID and it ended up being Leukemia and my whole life flipped upside down.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel though. I’ll be done with it all in September, if all goes as planned. It was kind of smooth sailing-ish up until recently. I’d been excited to update ya’ll on how great I’d been doing (relatively) but then… this past month I started feeling really lousy with extremely low energy, fevers and strange pains and we’re not really sure what’s wrong. I’ve been in and out of the ER and clinic trying to get to the bottom of it and haven’t been successful. I even got a blood transfusion for the first time in over a year because my hemoglobin took a dive randomly. I had a 2 year cancerversary tea party planned last weekend that I had to cancel and a work trip I didn’t make it on this week. I’m on a break from chemo to help my immune system fight off whatever’s going on. I seem to be on the mend, I hope.

I’ve taken full advantage of the good days. I try to adventure and spend time with friends and family as much as possible, to make up for lost time. I am so thankful for my support system and medical team. This has been an insane two years, but I am coming out on top. 

#cancerversary #leukemiawarrior #cancersucks #leukemia #cancerfighter 

I Bought Shampoo!

This may sound strange, but I got emotional buying shampoo for the first time in over two years. My hair is growing ya’ll. To quote the wise ladies of “Drama QueensOne Tree Hill podcast, “Hair matters”.

It’s been a while since I posted a health update… sorry I’ve been living it up.

I’m doing well. I still have all my maintenance treatments (daily and weekly pills, monthly infusions and lumbar punctures and 1 crappy week of steroids a month). I don’t feel great but I also don’t feel awful.

I received monoclonal antibodies, four shots in my booty to protect me from covid since I’m still immunocompromised. I feel so much better knowing that I have that extra layer of protection.

BIG NEWS! Drummm roll please…………………

We have an end date! Light at the end of the tunnel. Doc said last treatment will be in September. SIX MORE MONTHS BABYYYY. You bet your okole I’m already planning my end of treatment party.

Last time I was in the clinic for a doctors appointment the front desk ladies were all gushing on how great I looked and were like “you’ve got your groove back”. They almost didn’t recognize me. We’ve come a long way.

I’ve been traveling and hanging out with friends. I feel like I’m making up for lost time and try to fill all my free time with F.U.N. But sometimes my body disagrees and gives me a gentle reminder that I’m still in treatment and have to take it easy. There are a couple days each month that I feel like absolute s-h-i-t and can’t leave bed or my “emotional support heat pack”. The rest of the days I feel like 45% crap, but that’s good enough for me. Last month I strategically scheduled my treatments and steroids so that I would feel awful in the tiny window between my friend’s bachelorette party, a huge weeklong photoshoot that I produce at work and jury duty. A diva is a female version of a hustla.

emotional support heat pack

I went on an amazing trip to Cabo with girlfriends. I’ll write a blog post about that soon so stay tuned. I also went to Palm Springs for a wedding, Mammoth for a bachelorette party and Vegas for a Shania Twain concert. Ya girl is livingggg.

My oncologist asked me to participate in a study for young adults with ALL and of course I opted in. I feel like any way that I can help future leukemia patients I’ll do it. I actually want to do more. I’m looking into volunteering for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society but I’m also open to other charities if anyone has reccomendations lmk.

Speaking of Drama Queens, lol at the beginning of this post, I’m actually headed to Wilmington, NC next month. Back to my roots. BTW, I painted my nails blue this week cuz Tar Heel Born and Tar Heel Bred…. I’m going out to spend time with my fam but I also want to visit the iconic OTH locations because listening to the rewatch podcast has uprooted some very nostalgic feelings. I won’t share photos from the last time I visited because it was when I was in high school and big yikes (hair, fashion, acne). I actually got to be an extra on an episode in season two. They cut me out but I promise I was there. You can see my friend and my foster sister. Maybe that’ll be a whole post on its own. Stay tuned.

blue nails manicure Tar Heels

anywhoooo TTFN and #goheels

-K

FRIENDSgiving

I hosted a Friends themed Friendsgiving / Birthday Party this weekend. I am a die-hard fan. I put Friends on before bed almost every night. I’ve seen each episode numerous times and would kick your butt at Friends trivia any day. And yes, I enjoy throwing my own birthday parties because 1. I love to host events and 2. I have so many different groups of friends it’s fun to bring them together. Plus my godfather used to throw his own epic birthday parties and I like the idea of paying homage to him by doing the same.

Here are some of the details that went into this special day.

Invites & Outfit Inspo: I sent out invites and put together a quick mood board of costume ideas since I wanted people to dress up.

Food: I provided a sign up sheet of carefully selected dishes based off references from the show. Everyone brought their A game. The spread turned out even better than I could have imagined. “Joey doesn’t share food” but we sure do!

Check out the food card labels I created for a closer look at the menu:

Costumes: Everyone went above and beyond with their outfits. I was extremely touched by how the guests that aren’t Friends Fanatics (like me) put so much energy into their costumes. I dressed up like Rachel when she was trying to impress Joshua, one of her clients at Bloomingdales, and spontaneously throws a going away party for Emily, Ross’ new love interest, who’s returning to England. Rachel put on her old cheerleading costume from highschool and does a classic “American” cheer as a send off but also a cry for attention from her crush. I used to be a cheerleader and I loved this story line so it was an easy outfit to select for the party. We had so many other goodies too: Joey wearing all of Chandler’s clothes, Monica’s diner costume (with extra tatas), Ross in Vegas, Janice, Monica’s Turkey Head, Richard with the mustache, one of the Phoebes performed Smelly Cat, and a friend even wore blue eye contacts and the iconic Rachel hairstyle. I swoon.

Decor & Details: I put a loooooot of work into this FRIENDSgiving. I’ve spent many many many hours watching this show so I had so many tiny details I wanted to incorporate into this party I’d been dreaming up for years. I crafted place cards by hot gluing coffee beans into tiny coffee cups with classic name tags (as a play off of the episode where Ross throws a party in his new apartment and nobody shows up and he wears two name tags) and included as many funny nicknames and obscure characters from the show. I also handwrote Rachel’s 18 page love letter to Ross, used Central Perk coffee mugs as candle holders, arranged flowers with themed cards as accent pieces, colored a Science Boy comic, used Friends trivia coasters, drew on the iconic Magnadoodle and much more.

I ordered a few props like the Gladys art piece and the Geller Cup from the sweetest Etsy shop. She even wrote on my shipping reciept how I have the coolest last name. Fun Fact: In highschool my best freind’s last name was Green and mine’s Geller so alphabetically we were next to each other. For senior year I wrote Rachel on my hand and pointed towards the left and she wrote Monica on her hand and pointed to the right so in the yearbook it looked like we were pointing to each other. That also shows how long I’ve been a fan since I turn 33 tomorrow…

I curated a playlist with songs from the show to play during the party. Feel free to peruse on Spotify.

After our feast we played games, sat around the fire pit and talked story all evening.

Even though I had a chemo infusion the night before and I just started my monthly steroids I felt pretty good most of the day. But my parents were a HUGE help. My dad set up the bistro lights, tables and all the heavy things and mum helped cook my contributions. After everyone left they were like “you have the sweetest friends” and I couldn’t agree more. I am oh so loved.

This time last year I was stuck in the ER hoping to be released before my birthday and this year looks like this:

Thank you to everyone who participated. ILYSM. I can’t wait to host the next extravaganza.

HBD to me 🙂

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.”

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.