It’s All About Perspective

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”-Charles R. Swindoll

No one said this would be easy. It’s hard trying to come to terms with things that are hard to swallow. No one wants to accept that crappy things happen to them but that’s life.

Someone once told me “life’s fair because it’s unfair to everyone” I don’t think I understood that until I was diagnosed for the second time.

I’ve decided that you couldn’t possibly live a complete happy life, if you never experience pain. The emotions that are hard to bare are the ones that make us stronger. They make us appreciate life a little extra. The small things seem to have more meaning than they did before.

It might be hard to believe, but sometimes I think I’m happier now than I was 6 months ago.

Perhaps what I’m trying to say is that we should channel all the negative things in our lives, in order to appreciate the positive things.

Use your emotions wisely; we have them for a reason

xo.

Here We Go

3…2…1… BAMM you’re awake with half your face numb, unable to talk (thanks to the trach) and so high on morphine your brain is incapable of properly processing everything that’s going on around you.

The first night was more or less a blur. Besides being repeatedly woken up by the ICU nurse, to assure all my vitals were normal.

My head was the size of a ballon: uneven and extremely swollen. My left fibula had been cut, in order to reconstruct my face. As a result of the loss of bone, my leg was casted and extremely sore; this meant walking was no longer a simple task.

The few days to follow were probably the most difficult. I had an extremely difficult time breathing, due to the trach. It felt like I was drowning but had no means of communicating with the people around me (frightening).

I wrote on a white board in order to share my thoughts, however, it was extremely frustrating because it’s difficult to explain it to someone who hasn’t experienced it.

In addition to the trach, a feeding tube was put in place because the reconstruction of the jaw restricted my capability to ingest food through my mouth. Initially the tube was of little bother but within a couple days my stomach rejected the food. [The nurses insisted I receive 55ml every 12 hours, however, I was at 15ml every 12 hours. Which was of concern (seeing I wasn’t receiving the proper amount of nutrition).]

The thought of drinking water and eating pasta brought tears to my eyes  (Let me tell you… When you can’t eat… ALL you want to do is eat EAT EAT EAT)

Eventually the trach was removed and breathing was no longer such a difficult task. The feeding tube was removed a few days later.The first sip of water was probably the highlight of my recovery- the light at the end of the tunnel could now be seen!

I slowly made my way from clear liquids (water, apple juice, tea, etc.), to solid liquids (milk,smoothies, etc.) and finally soft solids (eggs, mashed potatoes, etc.)

Once the trach hole began to close, eating wasn’t a problem and I could walk on my leg with the help of an IV pole the doctors began to consider my discharge.

I was discharged exactly 6 days later.

Being home made the rest of my recovery much easier. I got to eat when I wanted, drink when I wanted and sleep when I wanted.

The initial days after being home consisted of both ups and downs but eventually I was back to being me.

Tomorrow chemo begins…till then

XO

 

“Where you live shouldn’t dictate if you live”

If you’re capable of reading this, it’s likely that you live somewhere relatively nice, where your basic needs are met.

Imagine living somewhere where your basic needs AND human right are never met. Everyday life would be difficult and I’m assuming (at times) quite frustrating; to feel stuck and unable to make a change, simply because of your geographical location.
EVERYDAY, children suffer as a result of where they live. They are unable to thrive in life due to the inaccessibility of health care, something many of us take for granted. Every year, nearly 7 million children worldwide die of preventable diseases. In other words, had those children been somewhere in western civilization with access to a doctor or medical facility, it’s likely that they would have survived.

“About 29,000 children under the age of five – 21 each minute – die every day, mainly from preventable causes. More than 70 per cent of almost 11 million child deaths every year are attributable to six causes: diarrhoea, malaria, neonatal infection, pneumonia, preterm delivery, or lack of oxygen at birth.”

-UNICEF

Children who suffer of non preventable diseases in these countries have no chance at life. If they don’t have access to basic healthcare, they most definitely don’t have access to specialty healthcare for illnesses such as cancer, MS, cystic fibrosis, etc. This is a result of:  lack of knowledge, lack of equipment and lack of funds.

Being both a cancer survivor and patient, I can personally vouch for the importance of medical advancement. If I was a child in a country without access to health care, I wouldn’t be here today.
We must not only be citizens in our own backyard but also citizens of the world.

Perhaps doing your part is simply recognizing how lucky you are to live in a country that gives you options. Death is still a possibility, even in Canada (depending on the severity of the disease.)  However, with access to healthcare, you have the chance to fight for your life: an opportunity many wouldn’t even dream of.

Help where and when you can.Whether you volunteer, donate (join the fight with SickKids) or spread knowledge on the subject.

Xo

Sound familiar?

“You haven’t struggled until you’re drunk af trying to do winged eyeliner”

“If tomorrow isn’t a snow day I want to die”

“When you’re in class and its so boring you’d  stick needles in your eyes if you could”

“I rather die than go to work”

I understand that everyones struggles vary but at some point you have to draw a line. Not all things we experience are worth complaining about.

I know past experiences help dictate what someone finds difficult or awful but it’s important to understand people are fighting for their lives while someone else is contemplating death because the weather isn’t what they want it to be.

I believe it’s important to evaluate the things you find challenging before you decide to complain. [I plan on evaluating things before I choose to view them in a negative way]

Don’t accept ignorance because it’s mainstream- be the change you wish to see in the world.

Xo

The 6 Letter Word that Kills

DID YOU KNOW… There are more than 100 types of cancer. On average, 555 Canadians will be diagnosed with Cancer every day.

In addition to that, 2 out of 5 Canadians are expected to develop cancer during their lifetime. [Canada’s current population is 36,626,083 those statistic estimate that 14,650,433 of Canada’s civilians will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.]

I have not only been diagnosed with cancer once in my lifetime, but twice. I was first diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma a malignant brain tumour. The second diagnosis was osteosarcoma in simpler words- bone cancer [& yes, this is the cancer Terry Fox passed away from.]

Osteosarcoma is most commonly found in fast growing areas of the bone (knees, elbows, etc.) Some Osteosarcoma patients undergo surgery, while others must undergo both surgery and vigorous chemotherapy treatments. The choice of treatment is dependent on the severity, as well as the location, of the cancer.

My diagnoses of osteosarcoma is linked to both the radiation I received as a child AND the mutation in my gene (P53.) My left jaw lit up like a christmas when I had a bone scan done. The tumour was measured in cm (this generally means the tumour is of a large size.)

The board of oncologists at Sick Kids discussed my specific case and decided I should under go surgery before starting chemotherapy. They wanted the tumour to be removed before it caused further damage (specifically nerve damage.)

The surgery whom was done by Doctor Gilbert, the head and neck specialist at the Toronto General Hospital, planned on:

  • Removing the jaw joint (leads to permanent complications chewing & numbness)
  • Removing a small lower part of the skull (this was to be done by a neurosurgeon)
  • Reconstruction of the left mandible (jaw)
  • Free tissue transplant from the left leg (used to reconstruct the left mandible/jaw)

The morning of surgery was long; it consisted mostly of waiting around. Once I changed into my dressing gown the surgery was quick to follow. The surgeon, as well as his fellow, brought me into a massive operating room (exactly like the ones in movies.) The few minutes between being brought in by the doctors and being put to sleep, seemed to last forever. I’ve been put to sleep sooooooo many times that it doesn’t scare me anymore.

If you close your eyes and start counting….1…2….you’re asleep!

Xo

Cancer

Everyones past helped shape who they are today so it’s inevitable that cancer helped shaped me.                                                                                                                                                            

I was diagnosed with cancer for the first time at the age of 2; it was a brain tumour situated  behind my left eye. I underwent treatment for months, with little results. My family was devastated by the idea of losing a loved one at such a young age. My mom insisted they keep treating me until my little fragile body couldn’t take anymore. After 12 weeks of radiation, and week long chemo treatments my tumour began to shrink. Eventually my oncologist was able to shrink the tumour, to ruffly the size of a loony, as well as eliminate the cancer cells. Years of fighting finally payed off- It created a miracle… ME

In addition to having underwent a childhood cancer, I was born with the P53 gene. This gene is essentially an error in my DNA that creates masses of cancer. Because of this gene the odds of me having cancer again were high- much much higher than the average person. In all honesty though, I never worried about it. I always told myself it’s pointless to worry about something that was out of my control. Weather I worried about cancer or not, if my biology insisted I get it- there was nothing I could do to change that.

January 6th 2017, shortly after my 18th birthday, the inevitable happened- I was diagnosed with cancer for the second time. I had been sleeping more and frequent headaches during the night began to affect the quality of my sleep. Th0se around me believed it was the lack of routine in my busy university lifestyle but something inside of me knew there was an underlying issue. I procrastinated going to the doctor during the holidays until I realized that my health was in my own hands. No one was going to advocate for me anymore; if I wanted an answer it was my responsibility to ask the questions.

After reaching out to my new oncologist nurse a few times, I realized she didn’t believe my symptoms were associated to anything major. She repeatedly encouraged me to go see my family doctor; however, something about her reaction was too calming. I decided to contact my old oncologist nurse whom assumed another role at the hospital. I explained my symptoms and that my current nurse was disregarding the importance of me seeing my oncologist. She contacted my current oncologist nurse and explained to her the importance of me being seen by my doctor. [I later found out, by my oncologist, that I only received an appointment because I spoke with my old nurse.]

The weeks to follow are a little bit of a blur. Everyone was in shock that this healthy young girl could possibly have such an awful disease growing inside of her AGAIN. By the end of January I underwent a massive surgery to remove the tumour, as well as reconstruct the left mandible with bone and tissue taken from my leg. The surgery was roughly 12 hours. The recovery time was estimated at 12-13 days but I was out in 6. I slowly began to recover.

XO

University… it’ll be great they say

University… It’ll be great they say…

I bet you have this whole ideas that you’re going to be your healthiest self & be the most scholarly version of yourself EVER

HAHAH that’s funny! Two months in you’ll be going to bed at 2am and regretting it when u need to make a 8am class. You’ll also debate going to at least 2 of your classes a week, not because you don’t care but, because it almost seems too easy. (If you can do the homework while you should be in class- it puts you ahead no?? GOOD ONE I promise you it’s worth attending your classes.)

Except if u decide to take a film studies class & hate every minute of it because you have the attention span of a 5 year old and can’t sit still for more than 10 minutes at a time.

You’ll also realize the salad bar that has basic lettuce & tomatoes gets old real fast. You end up eating gross over cooked pasta & wishing you appreciated the home cooked food sooner but u end up going back to the shitty salad bar because it’s better than over cooked pasta :/

At times it also feels like you’re attending summer camp but u never get to leave… scary right?

Minus the stuff listed above university is pretty awesome..

Adulthood doesn’t seem so far away after all

Xo