Sunday, August 17, 2014

"Summertime Radness" ;)

     Hello friends...I'm back! Please don't take my short absence personal; I decided early on that regardless of my scan results, I was going to take some time away to digest the outcome & how it would affect my life & the lives of those around me. Thankfully - this time - the results were AWESOME {as I posted below} & I am cancer-center-free until the end of September. With my latest CT scan yielding clear results, this means I'm officially 25 months NED {no evidence of disease}! It still seems surreal sometimes; like I'm going to wake-up any moment & discover that all the good has actually been a dream because God knows the past 4 years have been 1 hell of a nightmare. Fortunately I don't have to worry about waking up because this is now my reality; a reality I fought so very hard for & dreamed so very long about & it's an amazing {& slightly overwhelming} feeling to finally be living.
~ ❤ ~
Summer 2014 was off to solid start with no cancer leading the way, but there were also some other kick-ass contributors in making it a pretty spectacular season.

  In late June, I was fortunate enough to be able to check something off my bucket list  & that was meeting & seeing my favorite musician {and actress who you may know from Canada's Instant Star or as the (then) red-headed "nail gun girl" from Final Destination 3}, Alexz Johnson, perform LIVE! No band - just her & her guitar, a back-up keyboardist & a venue that used to be a church....WHAT?! The day I found-out that Alexz was going to be rolling through Pittsburgh's The Alter Bar, I immediately knew I HAD to get tickets. I first fell in love with Alexz's music in 2004 & over the past 10 years her music has served as the soundtrack of my life. In one way or another her music has been with me through some pretty trippy times, both good & bad. She gave me my cancer anthem's {"Look At Those Eyes"/"Nothin' On Me"} & creatively distracted me with her ridiculously-amazing vocals & equally matched talents as a songwriter & guitarist. To me, she's everything that's right about music: raw vocals, honest lyrics, & unwavering passion for her craft. Unfortunately, I think that's something that is fleeting nowadays. Chad & I very rarely agree on music - like serious emphasis on the "very" - but he left the show a completely converted AJ fan. Seeing her perform live & taking that even further to actually meeting her (yes, I'm totally fangirling right now) is an experience I honestly never thought would happen but it did! I'm forever-grateful that I was able to say "thank you" in person to her for lending me her thoughts when my own could not find their voice. 
  I'm forever a fan & I can't wait to catch her on the road again.  
Bucket-list check-off 10 years in the making! 
 Alexz Johnson LIVE ✓
The Alter Bar
Pittsburgh, PA
June 23, 2014

{Source: Alexz Johnson YouTube (Official)}
{btw's - When I tried to upload videos from my phone I couldn't convert their landscape for viewing so instead of having you tilt your head, I'm gonna borrow a video from Chicago's show until I can't figure out how to rotate my videos. Trust me, this one is equally as rad & just as flawless! Enjoy!}

     I have amazing friends, like super-amazing friends; the few that stuck by me during my hurricane of a cancer battle are truly part of me. No matter how long it's been or whatever circumstance it may be, when you bring us back together it will be like no time has passed at all. However, I didn't really know something, or someone I guess I should say, was missing from my life until I had the chance to reconnect with an old friend over the past few months. Franki & I have known each other since we were kids; for the majority of our lives we had mutual friends & would often find ourselves hanging-out in the same circle. We have lots of memories that include each other in some form, some of which are a little fuzzy (aka the college years - sorry Mom!) but for the most part, they all revolve around a group setting. She actually gave me my first touch of my - now -always present "Colorectal Blue" hair streak. We eventually lost touch over the past few years; not because of a falling out or anything specific but because sometimes that's what happens in life. Around March I reached-out over Facebook & as they say "the rest is history". Just kidding! You know I LOVE to talk! I was pleasantly surprised to find out that we now live literally less than 5 minutes apart so I began visiting. It didn't take long to discover how much we have in common & how much fun we can have together. Our visits quickly evolved from every-so-often, to once-a-week, to a few times-a-week, to pretty much everyday! It seems like I so often mention the relationships/friendships that I've lost since my diagnosis, so it's incredibly refreshing to finally be able to tell you about this incredible friendship that is - now - such a huge part of my life. We can spend hours talking about anything & everything & it will feel as if only minutes have gone by. She has a beautiful (almost) 11-month-old baby girl who will (& did in my case) steal your heart within seconds. I'm so, so proud of the mommy she has become. Sometimes I catch myself just watching her watch her beautiful baby girl; it's truly a special connection you can literally see with your own eyes. Our bond is truly something I hold close to my heart & our friendship is something I hold very sacred. Maybe it's because Franki & I have known each other since we were little; I remember the days of CCD classes before Sunday church services like they were yesterday or maybe it's that fact that she took the time to see the person I am post-cancer; the person who knows life can change with 3 simple words & the person that refuses to leave a room without saying "I love you" because maybe, just maybe if you get in that car & drive away, we may never get to see each other again. Whatever it may be, I truly feel so fortunate to be able to watch her daughter grow & learn from day-to-day & to be considered a part of their family.  I'm so thankful we "found" each other again because I honestly can't imagine my life without my 2 girls. :)

     One thing we love to do, weather permitting of course, is to go on walks which is awesome because having someone else to help keep you motivated is a great way to stay on track. Now that my body is fiinnnnallly at a point where I can actually do light exercise, I'm definitely, well let's be honest, I'm attempting to take advantage of it & trying to go on walks as much as I can. I guess I didn't realize how much of an effect the removal of muscle & tissue from my left thigh {from surgery #2 in 2011} truly had on my body until I started using it more. My left leg definitely tires much more quickly & much easier than my right, so I need to continuously work on my strength & stamina. {Oh, quick FYI - if you're an Android user & don't necessary don't want a pedometer with a GPS, I absolutely recommend "Walkdroid" for your cell; it keeps track of your steps, your time, your distance & then keeps it all in a log which you can review at any time. It's such a simple, easy-to-use app but gives you such a sense of gratification when you can actually see how much work you are doing for your body.} 
     We've also recently started making jewelry (with plenty other projects in mind) & may, perhaps, be coming to an Etsy shop near you sometime in the'll just have to wait until see. Until then, here a few sneak-peaks at some of our "Peace By Peace Creations". 
Necklace & Bracelet set a'la Franki

Brown-beaded, leather wrap-bracelet a'la me.

Close-up of an Colorectal Blue-inspired wrap bracelet. 

     Finally, the last thing I am super-excited about this summer is that I am, officially, about to start training to become a "Community Health Advisor" (CHA) for The American Cancer Society! I'm such a believer in the saying "everything happens for a reason" & I whole-heartedly believe I was given & survived this disease for a reason; perhaps sharing my story even further than on this blog will help me find & understand that reason. If it doesn't, well at least I'm putting my story out there & maybe it will resonate with someone...and for me, I consider that a win.

- LISA -

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