Memories & Thank You’s – Five Years Cancer Free

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I recently celebrated five years cancer free – WOOO!!! This is a HUGE milestone because this magical five year mark means that I AM CURED!!!  The disease has not come back and it better never come back!  I have too much life to live!  It means a lot to me, and means more than some other birthdays I have had.  This milestone seemed so far away and difficult to get to but I made it.

This post is dedicated to my time spent during cancer and my thoughts and memories. I also thank a whole heck of a lot of people in this blog post.  So if you really want to read this, you might want to grab some coffee or a snack because this is a long post!  This isn’t all happy either!   (Thank you in advance for reading!!)

I remember…

I remember crying alone in my car when I got the news from my new primary care doctor and how I needed to try to hold it together when I needed to call off work because I was being sent to an oncologist immediately when my first results came back.

I remember coming home to tell my brother, who had to drive me to the oncologist (my brother was 19 at the time) and my sister (22 at the time) meeting us there straight after work.  I remember their faces and I remember how I felt.  I remember trying to relax and be calm because they were so worried.

I remember getting a bone marrow biopsy which still makes me cringe to this day.  It was painful.

I remember shutting everyone out and having my brother and my boyfriend at the time call my family members to tell them the news.  I couldn’t bare to talk to anyone and only hung out with a few people that weekend (Memorial Day weekend – so long weekend thank God!)

I remember going for my first PET scan and so many other procedures that I never had to do ever in my life.

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I remember my first chemo and how I can’t stand the taste of honey nut cheerios anymore.  My first chemo was seven hours and my aunt brought me and then my sister sat with me all of those hours after she worked beforehand.

I remember the taste of those bitter steroid pills that instantly dissolved in your mouth – I would eat them with sour patch kids!

I remember the day my hair starting falling out – I barely could brush it and by the next day, my brother was shaving my head because I couldn’t stand it anymore.

I remember all of my chemo sessions afterwards – my grandma came with me to each one and my grandpa drove us.  We sat and talked for four hours every time about everything and anything.

I remember getting the call that I didn’t need chemo anymore and my excitement was short lived because I called you and you couldn’t talk to me to celebrate.  We then had a fight and I had to celebrate without you.  I remember thinking this wasn’t that big of a deal.

I remember my brother in law and sister taking me out to celebrate I didn’t need chemo anymore because my cancer was gone.  I remember some of my friends coming out also since it was so last minute.  They made me feel this was a big deal.

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I remember my first radiation treatment and how all of the nurses were so nice.  My radiologist was so awesome too and I learned so much from him as he too was a Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Cancer survivor.  I learned so much more from him that I ever did from my oncologist. 

I remember the nurses at St. Margaret’s gave me a head wrap because I wore head wraps to radiation all the time.

I remember celebrating two times with my groups of friends because I was done with radiation and I was cancer free.

I remember getting back to my life somewhat normally – and getting a haircut for the first time and how scary it was to not need a wig anymore.

I remember going in for my 6 month check-up after being declared cancer free.  My treatment had worked – 6 months of chemo and three weeks of radiation.  I also went for my first mammogram.  I had no reason to believe I was going to be a cancer patient again in a week’s time.  I was so focused on my life outside of my health and focused on boy drama that it never crossed my mind that I would end up having cancer again.

I remember about a week later I was talking to my oncologist that I had cancer again and then being referred to a fertility specialist all within an hour on the same day because I was also told that my eggs would basically be gone after this round of chemo after a second time.  Within an hour, everything came crashing down and I was alone to receive this news.

I remember depending on a person to help me find solace – I remember wanting that person to make me feel better and be there to support me.  I felt so broken and lost and lonely and again, it was about how this person was treating me and not how the news of having cancer again affected me.  I remember that was my dead on focus and unfortunately I hadn’t let this news sink in of having cancer again.  I was a mess and very down. 

I remember seeing a therapist for the first time – it is a requirement of someone who is “under duress” needing to freeze eggs caused by a medical condition.  We had an hour together and it was on a day where I found out a relationship was no longer going to happen because it was solidified that the other person had moved on. I was devastated all around.  I also had to make up my mind in who I would gift my eggs to if something were to happen to me.  This is the moment where everything sank in.

I remember going to Northwestern every day for three weeks – driving myself early in the morning going to a fertility clinic where there were couples and pregnant woman and me, being single and nowhere near having babies in my life, was waiting among them. I felt so odd and out of place. I had to go for daily ultrasounds because they were speeding up the “freezing of my eggs” process so I could start chemo ASAP.

I remember having my egg procedure done and the nurse in the room holding my hand, both of her hands gripped my hand tight and how sweet she was. Whoever she was, she brought me so much comfort that day. At this point in the process, I was going through the motions and I always expected the unexpected and was ready for whatever was coming because no matter what, the next few months were very unknown to me.

I remember the day before I started my first chemo I had the day off. I ran errands and made myself up and worked out and ate like a queen that day. It was also the first time I could put my hair in a ponytail for over a year.

I remember starting my first chemo – this time around I would be admitted for 48 hours (over the course of 3 days) and spent most of this time alone.

I remember my best friend spending the night on a hard hospital bed next to me and it was the best thing ever. Anything I could to distract my mind from what was happening would be a good thing for me. Social media was my friend where I lived on it to communicate with the outside world. I was administered chemo straight for 12 hours.

I remember having a positive outlook on moving on from my ended relationship and started up a new one – a distraction really. I remember also when this quickly ended as being bald was not ideal for this person.

I remember again focusing on things that should not have mattered. I needed to focus on my health and my mindset and these distractions needed to go away. I was going to put myself first and focus on getting through these next unknown months.

I remember losing my hair and this time I was able to simply pull it out from my head – I didn’t use clippers or anything. It was like pulling string and it was painless to pull out. I lost it all within a day (this would be my second time losing hair).

I remember going on a date and it was when I was bald and thinking how in the world am I pulling this off? I felt so self-conscious about this and was so nervous.  I never expected anything from it but it took my mindset to a whole new direction.

I remember actually having FUN during my chemo visits and in between my chemo rounds. I would have 2.5 weeks off in between treatments and I made sure to get out and do stuff when I was feeling fine. I celebrated every little milestone – I had so many things to be grateful for and I was actually happy for a change. It was an odd feeling because the first time I went through chemo was a very stressful and difficult time and the people around me then did not fully support me how I needed to be supported.

I remember going out with all of my friends and celebrating the fact I had a chest x-ray that showed no signs of my cancer! This was after my 2nd round and I would still have to go through a 3rd round and then a stem-cell transplant. I felt great and it was awesome to be around with a group of people who were all fully supporting you.

I remember then becoming obsessed with Seagram’s ginger ale with some cranberry juice! My nurse that made that for me was the best nurse ever and my obsession with ginger ale is still thriving five years later!

I remember being in the hospital in the dead of winter.  I remember for the most time being alone and not having communication with any of the outside world.  I remember not WANTING to speak to anyone except for a select few.  My sister was really the only person I truly wanted to talk to. 

I remember the nurses having me meet another patient who was on my floor and had a similar story as mine.  We met in the computer room and she was going through the same treatment as me.  Her mom and her would check in on me all the time.  We still communicate to this day.

I remember when walking around once on the hospital floor was a long journey.  I needed to wear a mask and gloves and I couldn’t walk fast or without losing my breath.

I remember only consuming diet coke and Reese’s pieces and maybe some ginger ale as that was the only thing that I wanted.  Some days I even sprung for some popcorn.  I was the weakest I had ever been and with my busy mind and my “go go go” attitude that I can’t even imagine how I was able to lay in a bed for 12 hours a day.  I didn’t want to get up and walk around.  I felt that crummy.

This was right around the time I was having horrible fevers and had an infection in my system that the doctors didn’t know the cause for.  I was cleared to go home with all other stats but I remember being so upset and frustrated that this reinforced the idea that sometimes you might do the right things with your body and be healthy and active your whole life, that you can’t do anything about it.  You have to play the mental game and mentally get through these times. 

I remember my sister would come and visit and take dirty clothes away and by the time I left the hospital, my suitcases were packed full with snacks and no clothes!

I remember sitting in my hospital room every night living on Facebook (Facebook memories also reminds me of this!) and planning out my next year of things I wanted to do.  I remember signing up for races WHILE going through chemotherapy.

I remember coming home and not being able to walk a flight of stairs without being out of breath. I can’t believe how fast your body gets weak with being bed ridden for so long.

I remember coming home to my puppy, who from what I heard was acting really strange because I was gone.  My sister had made me a cake and decorated the house for me to come home!

I remember getting another huge blow as someone important to my recovery and my happiness was once again leaving my life and I would need to pick up more pieces. I remember also not dwelling over this too much as I was going back to work and finally going to get my normal routine back. I was determined to get my strength back and walking on a treadmill for 8 minutes straight was a big accomplishment.

I remember a month after my auto transplant I ran a 5 mile race (yes one that I signed up for while getting treatment).

I remember after my first x-ray that I had signs of possible cancer growth again and had to have another surgery. This was a huge blow to my recovery. I went through this surgery and it ended up being dead cells. It was a scary moment but it was another speed bump in recovery.

I remember celebrating every milestone this time around and the people around me made it a big deal with every test, every procedure, every declaration of clear scans.  I remember having a better support system this time around.

I remember finally being declared cancer free and I held a huge part at my house that involved a keg.  It was one of the best parties our house had ever seen!

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I remember that summer was one of the best summers I had with my friends. I got so close with so many people and developed relationships that would last the rest of my life. Those people are still my family today.

I came out of this stronger than before. I think that my first time with cancer really didn’t change me for the better because I was more of the same person – I depended on others for happiness and I wasn’t the independent person I was supposed to be. I lost myself in a relationship and during my first cancer battle, all I wanted to do was “get back to normal”. No one was there to tell me that I will have a new normal and through my 2nd battle and all the other side heartaches that happened, I love the person I have developed into today. Now being 30 years old, I think about how I was 23 years old being diagnosed, alone in a car on my way to work and needing to go see an oncologist right away. I was roped into this whirlwind and unfamiliar territory where I didn’t have my mom or dad to call or take me to my appointments. There was so much stress put on this life of a young adult that it makes me tear up thinking of my young self and how much she had to deal with. Thinking of 23 year olds today, my goodness! I can’t tell you how I got through it, I can just tell you that I did get through it. I don’t know how I did it. You just get through. I didn’t get through this alone though.

My Thank You’s

Thank you to my best friend, where I remember going out to dinner to a local Chili’s to catch up and as she was going through nursing school I decided to tell her about a painless lump in my neck that wouldn’t go away. I could tell by the way she looked at me when I told her that she was immediately concerned. I didn’t have a primary care doctor established (never needed one as I was relatively healthy) and she referred me to her local family doctor.

Thank you to that family doctor who sent me straight to get tests done because she had some major concerns. Also, thank you to her when she immediately had arranged for me to see an oncologist after I was read my cancer results.

Thank you to my assistant manager at the time, who was very caring and understanding when I had to call off work that day because I got this news and couldn’t come in because I was seeing the oncologist.

Thank you to my brother and my sister that day – my brother (who is 4 years younger than me) drove me to the oncologist because I was so upset. My sister left work and met me there as well.

Thank you to my uncle who was there for me every single step of the way and for all of the major appointments.

Thank you to my boyfriend at the time who took me to my very first PET scan and made sure I ate well and took me out for chicken wings. He calmed my fears that day.

Thank you to my aunt, uncle and boyfriend who came with me for my surgery and my boyfriend and his family buying us food all weekend.

Thank you to my sister, who sat with me for seven hours straight during my first chemo session (after she had worked all morning).

Thank you to my aunt who also came with me to my first chemo session and made sure to bring a bunch of snacks for me. (who was also caring for her sick mom at the time)

Thank you to my grandma who sat with me at every other chemo session after that. We would talk and talk and talk about life and everything else. Thank you to my grandpa for driving my grandma and me there and back every time.

Thank you to my boyfriend’s family at the time, because they took care of me and thank you for the golf outing that was put on to support me. Thank you to all of the wonderful people who donated and sponsored golf holes and thank you to my friends who made shirts, designed shirts, made jello shots and did just about everything for me that day.

Thank you to all of my friends who celebrated with me for each milestone of being done with chemo and being done with radiation and being cancer free.

Thank you to my brother in law for always driving me around and taking care of me when my sister needed a break.

Thank you to my sister who made dinner every night for me and kept the household running when I couldn’t even walk around because I was so sore and sick.

Thank you to my brother who used his clippers to shave my head when I couldn’t stand it anymore.

Thank you to so many wonderful friends, co-workers and acquaintances who sent me gift cards to myself and my family. So many random acts of kindness that it was overwhelming.

Thank you to my oncologist at Northwestern, because now I actually miss seeing you as much as I did before. I was always nervous to go to my doctor here locally, but all of the doctors and nurses at Northwestern eased my worries and actually cared about me.

Thank you to my uncle and my aunt who were with me every single step of the way when it came to more surgeries, doctors’ appointments and other procedures. Thank you to my uncle especially for sitting with me for 8 hours in a really boring room while I had my stem cells harvested.

Thank you to my sister who doesn’t like driving on the highway and made it to Northwestern once a week by train to visit me on her own.

Thank you to my brother in law for driving me or picking me up from Northwestern when my uncle couldn’t.

Thank you to my best friends, who came and visited me and most notably one of my friends always spending the night with me.

Thank you to my boyfriend at the time, who provided overwhelming support for me while I endured this, and who was so good to me when I needed him to be. It kept me distracted a lot of the times and you were one of the only people I wanted to talk to or lean on.

Thank you to all of my friends who visited me and brought me snacks and stuffed animals and had dinner with me. I will never forget all of my visitors.

Thank you to one of my nurses at Northwestern – who made a special “cocktail” for me for the Super Bowl and made everything so painless for me. Being a big sports fan, I watched the Super Bowl alone and it was weird for me because I was used to parties. She made a special concoction of ginger ale and cranberry for me and now I am addicted.

Thank you to my friend who visited me on Sundays – those were the best days to look forward to.

Thank you to my wonderful aunt who came with me to my last surgery because it was amazing to get to spend the day with you and get to talk to you like that.

Thank you to my awesome group of friends – where you believed in my ideas and my will power and signed up for many races to run in while I was still in the hospital fully knowing I was going to be okay and run with you.

Thank you to my amazing family who constantly checked in on me, brought me food and cared for me while I needed it.

Thank you to one of my bosses (and my now husband!) for emailing me while I was in the hospital demanding pictures of food and basically just demanding contact. It is amazing how you are a little part of this story and now you are the biggest part.

Thank you to my girls – you know who you are. You are all amazing to me and I just can’t imagine not having you in my life.

Thank you to my sister – because you were my biggest champion through all of this and there were times where I couldn’t take care of myself. I can’t list the millions of things you did for me, but know I will be forever grateful. When I came home from my long stay, I walked into a house that was already decorated.

Thank you to everyone who gave me encouragement, a card, a gift card, monetary donation, said a prayer or anything else – I had an immense amount of support and I’m sure there are people that I don’t even know who supported me also.  If you are no longer a part of my life anymore or we have drifted a part, please know that if you were a part of my story you helped in some way and I will be forever grateful.  I am the person I am today thanks to everyone who has come into my life.

I don’t feel what I did is extraordinary – the best quote I can share with you is “You don’t know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have”.  That was my only choice.  In my mind, I feel I did what anyone else would have done.  It honestly took a lot of nights of self-reflection and days where I sat alone thinking in silence about certain situations or my road to recovery, but it also took a lot of venting sessions with a lot of my friends and a lot of my distractions helped also.  It takes a village, and really, there isn’t enough support for the family or friends that go through this with you.  Sure, you might be the cancer patient and you can only help yourself but what about the caretakers who feel helpless and try to understand what you are going through?  I had so many people in my life who were my caretakers, but my core friends and family, I will never understand what they were thinking, just as they won’t understand my feelings.  I was diagnosed at 23, my sister was 22 and my brother was 19.  For my sister to go through this as well, we were all so young dealing with so many adult issues.  The same goes for my friends and my various significant others throughout this road; they do not understand and everyone reacts differently.  Some people aren’t geared to be there for other people or geared to take on such a big responsibility and it doesn’t make them a bad person, it’s just that they aren’t the ones that need to be there for you.  The people that can handle these unfortunate events are the ones that are the strongest.  I don’t blame the people who I lost along the road, because like I said, everyone reacts differently.  I was so young, we were all so young going through this mess and I didn’t have parents that were there to help or be there for me.  A lot of young people dealing with a mess of adult issues.

 

The last five years have been nothing but amazing; and while there has been heartache along the road and ups and downs, I know how to live life now. When I turned 30 last summer, it was very bittersweet because I was saying good-bye to my 20’s, which were truly life changing in every way. I know how to get through tough times and really dig deep and know that certain situations are only temporary. All that matters is your reaction and what you are going to do next. You absolutely cannot control life sometimes, but you can control how you react and your actions towards your outcome. I have amazing people in my life and people that support me in whatever I do and I only hope that I show that back. You can’t waste your life on people who don’t lift you up and on not being happy with yourself. You are missing out on so much if you aren’t doing things you truly love with the people who truly build you up and make you feel great.

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Thank you for reading my longest post ever – this was an ode to the young girl who didn’t know what she was getting in to and how proud I am of that girl for getting through the hardest trials of her young life.

Until next time,

Lo

If you are a cancer survivor or cancer warrior right now and have some questions or need to talk, I am here.  I am a part of several groups on Facebook where I give advice and share my story and experiences to other cancer survivors or current cancer patients now.  If you need to talk to someone, I am here for you to vent <3
You can connect with me on any social media outlet or email me at laughalwayswithlo@gmail.com or go to the contact tab at the top of this page.

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Thankful & Grateful

Hi everyone!  It has been almost two months since I personally have posted on here.  I have been meeting so many of you and you all have shared your stories with me.  I have met so many people from different walks of life and I can’t wait to meet more of you.  Over the past two months, I have had so many guest posts in the Laugh Always Spotlight Edition and I am hoping you are enjoying this series.  These are incredible people, and I can’t wait to showcase more of your stories!

During Thanksgiving week, I decided to focus some of my posts on my Instagram on items that I am thankful for.  I challenge the Laugh Always Ambassadors and my followers to participate in the #LAthankfulchallenge.  It was seven days and it made me truly think about the bigger things in my life.  Sometimes we are all so busy that we don’t take a moment each day to recognize what we are thankful for.  We shouldn’t do this on one designated day for the year, we should be doing this a little bit each day.

Each day was themed and I want to share what my seven days of thankfulness were.

 

Day 1: Person

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First and foremost, the person I am most thankful for in this life is my husband Darrin.  Our story of coming together as a couple is my favorite story to tell and it has been so easy and simple ever since.  Our relationship has been and still is one of the easiest things in my life, and that is why we make such a great team.  We take on so many projects together and go through journeys together.  We pick one another up and can be husband/wife but also best friends.  I hit the mother load with this guy and I still can’t believe someone loves me as much as he does.  He has taken on so much for us and is always making sure our dreams come true.  I can’t brag about him enough; he has taught me so much about unconditional love.  He has pushed me into new ideas and new journeys that I never thought possible and with him I feel invincible.
DAY 2: FOOD

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I love food.  I am one of those people who definitely gets “hangry”.  I have two different items here; salmon and chicken wings.  In January of this year, I made some goals for myself; not necessarily resolutions.  I decided one of the things I needed to do for myself was self-care and eating better.  I finally made cooking fun and I made an effort to try different recipes each week.  For that, I tried salmon for the first time.  My wonderful husband made a blackened salmon recipe and ever since I have been hooked!  I get it at restaurants and we eat it at least once a week.  I am not a seafood person, and having more fish in your diet is very beneficial.

Chicken wings and I have a love affair.  If I could eat these everyday I would!  Watching a sports game and having a tall beer is probably my favorite go to cheat meal or whenever I am feeling stressed (stress eating is HORRIBLE!)

 

DAY 3: MOMENT

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My moment that I am most thankful for is something that ultimately changed my life forever.  I decided to grow up quick at 23 and go see a doctor about a painless lump in my neck.  Considering I hadn’t been to a doctor other than for sports physicals in high school, I was completely clueless on where to start.  Being healthy and having this lump not really bother me, I didn’t find the urgency either.  With the slight push from one of my best friends, she referred me to her family doctor and the same day of my first appointment with her, I was being sent to the hospital for a chest x-ray and a CT scan.  All new things for me and I was completely alone.  With how much this was hard to take and the journey itself lasted for three years, I am now a healthy 30 year old on the verge of being cancer free for five years.  It has given me a new outlook on life and has completely changed my life in becoming a better person.  There isn’t another moment that defines everything that has led to this moment now.

 

DAY 4: MORNING

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This picture shows one of the best moments in a morning setting this year, if not my life.  My best friends and I ran the Disney World Princess Half Marathon (our first half marathon).  We actually participated in the Glass Slipper Challenge during the weekend which consists of a 10k and a half marathon on back to back days.  This moment was taken right after we all joined back up after the half marathon – 19.3 miles in 24 hours.  We have never ran that long before and to do be a part of this wonderful weekend was definitely a bucket list item checked off.  My husband was able to catch these candid moments where we were all emotional and congratulating each other on a job well done.  Getting up at 2:30 am each morning to complete in these races seems crazy but it was completely worth it (and I can’t wait to do it again!)
DAY 5: SUNRISE/SUNSET

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I am not awake for a lot of sunrises.  Not that I am not a morning person, but I like my sleep and I tend to be more productive in the evening.  My husband and I took a dinner cruise in Chicago in Lake Michigan for our first anniversary this year.  This picture is of the best skyline in the world-CHICAGO!  I have been lucky that I live 45 minutes away from such a beautiful sight and a beautiful city, but I am also lucky to have the opportunity to move there with my husband (hopefully soon…trying to sell our house!).  Another item on my bucket list is to live in this city – for who knows how long but it is great to have a partner who wants the same things.  I have seen this skyline so many times, but I am completely in awe of it every time we drive in.

 

DAY 6: LAUGHTER

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LAUGHTER!  LAUGH ALWAYS!  Laugh always is my motto!  Of course I am thankful for laughter!  Laughter has gotten me through ALL of the darkest times in my life.  That is how I get through life’s challenges, whether it be making fun of myself or making fun of the situation.  You CANNOT take life seriously.  You have to have humor because otherwise you are just going to end up hating everything you have to face and your life is going to be miserable.  I have so many pictures like this with my favorite people.  I don’t post these frequently but my phone is full of these crazy pictures.  You have to be silly through this crazy thing called life!

 

DAY 7:  NATURE

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I am more of a city gal.  I have never been camping, nor do I care to unless it is in a cabin with running water and electricity.  However, I do like lakes and lake house weekends and I like hiking.  I love being outside and smelling the warm fresh air.  I am a summer gal where the sunshine is the best thing ever.  Warm nights are also the best too.  This picture is of a park that is right down the street from our current house (and that’s my pup!)  The park is gorgeous and another one of those things where you constantly have a good feeling while you are there.  There is a giant lake and the landscaping and structures are all gorgeous.  It is a great gem that is right down the street in our little city.  Belle loves it too!

 

Thank you for reading and getting to know a little bit more about me.  If you want to join more photo challenges, head on over to this group to see what we have coming up!  I want to know what you are most thankful for in 2017.  Share in the comments below!

Follow #lathankfulchallenge on Instagram and Facebook to see what everyone else has posted throughout the week!

Until next time,
Lo

P.S. – I have a group where we post daily motivational quotes in a group atmosphere.  Need a little daily pick me up?  Join us on Facebook here!

Learn to Love Yourself

I stopped waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel and lit that b-tch up myself. (1)

Health and fitness has quickly became a forefront in my life.  While I have always been active, I used to be one of those lucky girls who could eat and eat and eat and not gain a single pound.  Maybe I was unhappy with my weight one day and decided I wanted to lose a couple of pounds, so I could focus on healthy eating and immediately drop weight the following day.  Yea – that would be awesome if it stayed like that forever right?!

From high school until I was diagnosed with cancer, I was a consistent weight.  I never swayed, never gained weight and barely went to the gym (I had a gym membership though, that counts right?).  I did not watch what I ate (I mean my first job was at McDonald’s!) and I was not a water drinker by any means.  Being in my early twenties, I went out to bars and drank every weekend.  Looking back now, you can say I had a great metabolism!

Fast forward to being 26 and post chemotherapy and radiation and a bunch of other nonsense, my thyroid finally stopped working on me.  While at first, it seemed that I couldn’t gain weight fast enough.  I had lost a considerable amount of weight during my second bout with cancer, and had dropped to my lowest pant size since MIDDLE SCHOOL.  Six months post treatment I was able to start putting weight back on and I started to work out more.  After treatment, I started running more on the regular and tried spin classes for the first time as well as other group classes.  I also started doing yoga.  I finally had a mindset that “Hey, you know what?  I should start treating my body with some love.  It has brought me this far that I need to give it some love back.”  Sure, I had the workout focus, but I was still eating whatever I wanted.

They say that when you are in a happy and healthy relationship, you tend to gain some weight as well.  My husband and I met around this time and as we were both very active, we went out to eat a lot and drank a lot on the weekends.  While we ran together, went to the gym together, and wanted to lose weight together; our food was just not cutting it.  This became a vicious cycle for me, and rather than losing weight due to working out, I continued to gain weight and became the heaviest I have ever been.

A part of this was not my crazy eating and drinking.  I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism as a result of the radiation I received during my first bout with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  This went unnoticed for a year until I finally brought something up to my oncologist.  My thyroid was very under active.  I felt as if when I did focus on my eating, my weight just wouldn’t come off, no matter how hard I worked at it.  Again, with the vicious cycle, I would get upset and get down on myself and eat comfort food to satisfy my mood.

My thyroid today is somewhat regulated.  As of January 2017, I was at my heaviest weight and I felt that I had finally hit my “rock bottom”.  While I worked my butt off working out 7 days a week, I was undoing every little thing by eating whatever I wanted during the weekends, including alcohol.  My husband and I finally took a hard look at what needed to be fixed and decided to go at this together.

Over the course of five months, I lost twenty pounds and my husband dropped thirty pounds.  While we still aren’t at the lowest we desired, we learned to love the process and appreciate our bodies in between.  We tracked our calories, tracked every meal and were consistent with our workouts.  We were each other’s support system and made time for treats along the way!

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I look back on pictures of myself previous to having cancer and I see a young girl who was very thin.  I remember at that age thinking I was NOT skinny, and that I wanted to lose weight.  I ate whatever I wanted and drank whatever I wanted.  I have learned through this process that I cannot focus on past pictures.  I will never be a size two again, and that is okay!  Looking at pictures of myself as a size two makes me feel like my bones are sticking out of my body.  There are so many pictures out there that show people looking thinner by GAINING weight.  The number on the scale is simply that, a number.  It is all about how you FEEL and how clothes fit you.  Of course I wish I could still eat whatever I wanted, but as I grow older I know that can’t always be the case.  My body has been through a lot and I need to focus on prolonging my life.  Eating healthy and working out is learning to love yourself.

You may not be thin, skinny, fit, or where you want to be right now but know that you have to love yourself to get to where you want to be.  There is always time for eating bad food (I am obsessed with chicken wings) but learn to give that to yourself in moderation.  I love wine and beer, but I don’t drink these every day.  Stop comparing yourself to pictures of other people in magazines or social media.  Start using your pictures of yourself!  Take comparisons of yourself.  Only compete with yourself.  Learn to love the process – I promise that you will learn a lot about yourself.

Thank you for reading <3

Lo

 

I am looking to start a Laugh Always Ambassador community!  If you want to join a group of like minded individuals to help spread love and motivation to those who need it or if you have a story to share of your own personal triumph, please join us here!

 

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