Getting Caught Up on Catching Up!

Hey guys! So, It’s obvious I have been away for a while, and I’m sorry! But, if it is any way I consolation, I have missed using this forum with you all SOOOOOO much! This space, this place brings me great peace, fulfilment and excitement! I find a balance with in myself that organically occurs whenever I have “blogging” consistency. It allows self-reflection, an openess about myself, my life and the people who I care about (which I don’t feel comfortable exercising in my day-to-day life, although I strive to not be so guarded) and lastly, it allows me to connect and learn about you guys in whatever fashion or capacity you wish. And for all of those things I am BEYOND grateful!

So, here is a “quick” update of what has been going on in my world.

1. I had my thymectomy. The surgery to remove the thymoma I had. The surgery went well and my surgeon feels confidant they got it all! I went in the night before my surgery and received my immuno-therapy. The following morning my surgery was preformed bright and early (I had the rudest awaking: I awoke to my nurse scrubbing me down with the surgical prep soap…which so happens to be ICE COLD!) I chatted with my doc and said my “see you later’s” to my mom and dad, and then off I went for a 5 1/2 hr surgery. Post-operatively I was informed that the mass was much larger and substantially more dense than the CT Scan had indicated. I had a 5 day stay in ICU/intermediate Care Unit, with my wonderful and lovely nurses, other medical staff and the most pleasant janitorial personnel you could ever ask for! They all indulge my intrinsic need to communicate and learn about people. It was one of the single most influential moments in my life, I could not have experienced everything I did and remain unchanged, I am not the same person I was before this diagnosis, months of treatment and ultimately the surgery that has brought me to where I exist now. I still have to go through a couple more rounds of treatment, but I’m optimistic that this chapter will come to a healthy conclusion. As I sit here in front of my laptop typing away about myself (I know…gosh), I promise to become everything and all of whatever it is that I am supposed to become in life with my time here on earth, and I will take you all along for the ride for as long as you guys care to know.

2. My brother David is officially a married man…YAY! He married his best friend, the mother to his little girls and the love of his life! Plus, the cake I made them was AMAZING!

3. I FINALLY TRAVELED TO HAWAII!!! I will be post al; about that in a following post.

4. I had one of the most amazing career experiences I could have ever asked for 2 weeks ago. I had the privilege of making a cake for a styled photo shoot on Kent Island, at the Chesapeake Bay Beach Club! I promise to fill you guys in about that and share some of the lovely behind-the-scene photo, in a blog post to come.

5. Lastly, I am planning a trip with my mom and best friend Tara (hopefully…fingers crossed she can get off work) to Santa Barbara, California. I am quite thrilled, as it has been a dream of mine to visit for about 10 years now.

Here are a couple of photos of me the night before surgery and during my recovery:

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The night before surgery goodies…Dolcezza gelato! And a photo montage of some of my favorites, whom we had dinner with!

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There it is…the bane of my existence for 9 1/2 months. GONE! 

I want to take this time to say a huge thank you to my family and friends, who with out your constant support I would not be living the beautiful, wonderful and lucky (albeit challenging) life I lead. I love you guys!

All That’s Happened and the Healing Wonders of Sarah Addison Allen!

Sarah Addison Allen has done it again! I just finished reading her second most recent novel, “Lost Lake”. Most of you should know that my favorite author is Sarah Addison Allen, (i.e.: 50 facts about me post). But, I don’t believe you know just how much she’s meant to me and my journey through my recent years of life. I first discovered Sarah Addison Allen’s literary work in the summer of 2009. That was the summer I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, my official diagnosis was papillary carcinoma with follicular variant. That was one of the longest years of my life. From the FNA (that said I didn’t have cancer. What they didn’t know was they got a sample of a cystic nodule, that sat atop the cancer), the initial surgery, to the follow-up surgery (as they found out after the first surgery that I did in fact have cancer), radiation, a blood infection (due to a weakened immune system), going into a hypocalcemic episode and then justing to thyroid hormone replace therapy. It was a lot for me and my family to endure given my already complicated medical history. But honest to God, I can say one of the things that tied me back to myself was the wonderful stories told by Sarah Addison Allen. She gave me a unwavering sense of hope, faith in the extraordinarily ordinary everyday and reaffirmed my belief in the power of a great story!

I’ve read everything from “Garden Spells”, “Girl Who Chased the Moon”, “The Sugar Queen”, and “The Peach Keeper”. Each and every book unlocked a piece of myself I never knew I had or had neglected or had forgotten about. Ms. Allen has woven tale after tale of strong female characters, good and honorable men, the importance of friendship, a since of faith, community and beauty and magic that arises not only in nature but in the people that we encounter in life; who help us become who we are. I couldn’t be more grateful for Sarah Addison Allen or her talents as a storyteller. I honestly believe that she is a gift that I was given. And I know that many of her other fans will feel the same exact way!
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“Lost Lake”, was exactly what I needed, and I didn’t even know it. At the end of each of Sarah Addison Allen’s books I part with such bittersweet sorrow. The feeling of saying goodbye to those characters after she make you fall in love with them is like no other feeling. I’ve never been in love and so the characters that resonated with me the most were, Devin and Lisette. Devin reminded me so much of myself as a child. She was mature and intuitive enough to know what was going on in the worlds of the adults around her. But, still very much a unique, free spirited and silly little girl. As for Lisette, I found small instances when I realized that was something I had either done or would have responded quite simularly. She was stubborn, was a skilled chef and baker and she was guarded and reluctant to love. There was such peace as I turned to the next page and the page after that, until it was finshed.
I very vaguely mentioned to you all a couple months ago the new medical issues I was dealing with. But, I was reluctant to give full details. I am so grateful for this blog. A part of me is so willing to open up different facets of myself and share them with you all, knowing that you’ll appreciate or understand those things about me. But, I’ve had a very different upbringing than most with my extensive medical issues. It’s made me guarded, I didn’t know how to share with you all everything that I’ve been going through. So here it is, I have something called a thymoma. A thymoma is a mass that grows within  or surrounding your thymus gland. It was discovered back in August, after returning from a trip to California. And since I’m being more open I might as well tell you that was the worst trip of my life. During that trip to California, the day after arriving I was notified that one of my dearest friends had been murdered. It was during a string of shootings in Baltimore, involving innocent bystanders. His name was Devin Cook.
This is Devin (last year at the lacrosse “Final Four”)
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Devin was a wonderful, lively and passionate soul I met at school. He was only 20 years old. I only knew him a year and a half, but that was long enough to know 4 things for certain. 1. I loved him very much as a dear friend, 2. I will be forever grateful I ever had the chance to know him and call him my dear friend, 3. A part of me will miss him for the rest of my life and 4. His favorite song was “A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke. I decided to return home from California a week early, and I hadn’t been feeling well. I chalked it up to being depressed given what I just found out. But, upon my return I was experiencing sharp pains in my back that wouldn’t let up. My mom being the intuitive person and persistent nurse that she is decided I need to go to the hospital. They told me I had a kidney infection and that I needed to receive IV antibiotics. To diagnose the kidney infection they needed a CT scan and that’s how they discovered I had the mass in my chest. So, as heartbroken as I still am that I lost my dear friend Devin, every fiber of my being believes that it is because of him that I found out about my diagnosis. He saved me. These past months of receiving IVIG treatment to treat an associated illness called Mysthenia Gravis, that is commonly linked with thymoma have been tough and intense. At times I have felt lost and less than myself. But, I took time to rediscover everything that I had learned in the books of Sarah Addison Allen. I reread each that I own, so although I never lost faith, I found hope. I carried the books to doctors appointments, treatment sessions and fell asleep with them by my pillow. The meaning that I have gained from reading the books of Sarah Addison Allen stand at the apex of some of the greatest treasures of my life. I anxiously await the paperback release of her newest literary work, “First Frost”!! As I normally destroy a hardcover book…lol! I haven’t reached the end of the road on my newest journey, but I see it in sight! And I am going to reach it with grace, faith, hope and love from the support of family, friends and knowing I have the works of the Sarah Addison Allen to light my way!
Do yourself a favor and go purchase all of her literary works ASAP! Your heart, mind and soul will not only thank you for it but reward you in turn!
You can find info about the author herself and where you can find and purchase her books at: www.sarahaddisonallen.com
Here’s some quick high points to update you on:
1. My brother and his love of 10 years, Heidi and the mother of my nieces Mia and Emi, are getting married!!!
2. I am doing the wedding cake…eek! And I am a bridesmaid…one life goal down, check!
3. I will be having the surgery to remove my thymoma the first week of June at University of Maryland Medical Center.
4. I turn 25 on April 20th. I am officially a quarter of a century old, oh how exciting…no REALLY!!!
5. I couldn’t be happier for the beginning of spring and the summer to come! So, look forward to lots of blogging!
6. I too am writing a full length novel. And although I expect nothing to come from it, it’s been one of the most therapeutic and glorious endeavors I’ve ever pursued.
7. I have now added to my “Happen List” to meet Sarah Addison Allen!!
8. Here some pics of me in treatment from the past months…
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Be well loves!
P E A C E + L O V E + B A K I N G !