Where Do I Go From HERE?

Reservoir-Rain-WhereDoIGowords & image by sandie rossini: may 22, 2014

What comes next? Where do I go from here? What’s the plan? Will I need more treatment? Will it ever get easier? So many questions. The doctors told me to stop thinking beyond today, focus on THIS step, don’t worry about the next one until I get there. Well how do I do that? I’m not the type of person that lives in the moment, who doesn’t think of the future in fact I’ve spent my whole life planning out my next step. So how do I just stop doing that? My next step wasn’t too great and I would soon find out that worrying about it wasn’t helpful, it actually had the complete opposite effect. Worrying was bad, worrying gave me anxiety and if I was trying to live in the moment and enjoy my life then anxiety couldn’t be part of that plan. So there it was- the answer, right there in the middle of all the worrying. My plan would be to not think of what’s next when it came to my cancer, to actually live day by day, moment by moment. I wanted a future, I needed to believe I had one, so I began to focus on my wedding-that was something in the future. I focused on my kids- they were in my future. I would take on projects that would happen in the future. There was a balance, I just didn’t see it before. I could focus on today and not worry about the future of my disease but plan my life, my future. I knew one thing for sure- my future plans do not include cancer, cancer will not win. I will win. I will fight for my future and in the meantime I would be happy and grateful for every new day and really mean it.

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Baldie

Baldieby sandie rossini: 4.21.14

You know how on TV and in movies you see people shaving their heads as they start to lose it during cancer treatment? They’re always empowered by it. Not me. I was definitely NOT 1 of those brave individuals. I had really long hair and it was hard when it fell out. My hair fell out from radiation and the doctors weren’t sure if I would get it back. When we shaved it I didn’t feel empowered, I felt like I looked like a cancer patient and I struggled with that. Dark circles, bald head, huge scar? I had the cancer look and I couldn’t embrace it. My hair was spared down the middle so I had what I called a “Receding- Mohawk”, not on purpose; it was just the way it happened. One day I felt brave, took a picture of my head and posted it on Instagram & Facebook. As it slowly grows back I still struggle with the way I look, but I’m glad I took this picture.

My Moment for Life

IMG_3795words & image by sandie rossini

When I close my eyes, and listen to the song I picture myself somewhere amazing, it’s almost like a blur of people and lights. The music is loud and everyone is dancing and smiling. The energy is so positive and everyone is so happy and I have never felt so good. I am celebrating that I am cancer free. I am by myself, separate from the crowd, but everyone I love is there. I can feel that they are happy and I am truly happy, it’s not a dream, my feelings are real. I believe that this is how life should feel, every moment of every day, this good, this real. I believe this vision is true and my body believes it. I do this once a day, every day and someday soon this will be my reality. “This is my moment…Drifting away, I’m one with the sunsets, I have become alive. I wish that I could have this moment for life.” (lyrics from Moment 4 Life by Nicki Minaj & Drake)

I’m Not a Statistic

NaplesSUNSET(words & image by sandie rossini)

You should always get a second opinion. I suppose that’s true. My gut is usually right but I do like to hear other opinions when it comes to… basically anything. That was most definitely true when it came to choosing my doctor and the hospital where I would be receiving my chemotherapy and radiation treatment following my surgery. I probably wasn’t thinking clearly, I mean I just had BRAIN surgery after all so I took the advice of my family members and went to the hospital just across the street from where I had my surgery and saw another doctor. The two hospitals were actually connected and shared information and research but it felt like I was entering a different planet. It didn’t help that I felt horrible that day. I was still recovering from surgery and I had a painful, throbbing headache that made it hard to see. I felt nauseous and couldn’t eat and I also was too weak to walk so I sat in a wheelchair. I was angry, very angry. As I sat in a torture chamber I was forced to listen to a screeching loud noise that sounded like someone’s nails on a chalkboard. I was then wheeled down a dark corridor and forced to wait for hours and had to listen to loud clicking noises and had to answer endless questions. After that I was then wheeled into a small room and surrounded by many men who then asked me more questions, which I was forced to answer. Then we waited, and we waited for an hour and then another hour. I demanded that someone wheel me out of the room but no one would. I had enough. I had made up my mind before we even met the doctor but I tried to give this place a chance but I was done, I couldn’t take another second of- then suddenly the doctor walked in casually. So I stopped my negative thinking. I gave him a clean slate. I began to understand that the screeching noise in the lobby may have been a young lady playing a harp to relax patients, the questions were probably reasonable and the clicking was most likely keyboards, my anger was most likely caused by the steroids that I was on to heal the swelling in my brain, the headaches and pain- well that was from my surgery and I shouldn’t be taking it out on this hospital that didn’t seem so dark now that I looked around. So I took a deep breath and said hello and shook this doctor’s hand. Unfortunately, he blew it. He began with the “at the most 5 years” speech and that’s when he lost me. That’s not what I wanted in a doctor. You see MY doctor needed to understand that I am NOT a statistic and that I was going to BEAT the odds. So yes, use your numbers, get the facts, do the math, the science and get me the best treatment out there but understand this- don’t ever tell me how long I will live because YOU sir, do not know that information. No one knows that. The doctor I chose- was my doctor from the start. I had a team of doctors at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA. My surgeon was a superhero who performed a miracle & removed the monster in my head, my Radiologist beamed positivity into my soul and my Oncologist is brilliant & continues to shield me from the evil of cancer to this day- and I can tell you that I’m positive I made the right choice. My doctor has always told me that I am NOT a statistic.

Runaway Home

TrainStationby sandie rossini: 6.10.14

I used to take the train by myself from Boston to New Jersey when I was in college and I loved it. I loved staring out the window and watching the world go by, one town or city at a time. I listened to music through my Walkman and daydreamed. I loved that time alone and I was able to block out all of the other passengers. This wasn’t a pushy and crowded commuter rail, it was a passenger train taking me home and most of the time it wasn’t crowded at all. It felt good to come home and when I see a train or hear the whistle blow it makes me want to run away home.

Tears on the Horizon

PieratSunsetby sandie rossini: 8.2.16

When I was a young girl I used to look out at the water and imagine myself on a sailboat. Not just any sailboat, a sailboat that would take me anywhere I wanted to go. I could just raise my sail and let the wind blow me down the coast or out to an island. There was something lonely about that feeling, yet I enjoyed looking out onto the horizon- in fact it used to bring tears to my eyes but I wasn’t sure why.  I think most of us enjoy gazing out at the ocean or even a lake. I still get lost staring out on a horizon and sometimes it still brings tears to my eyes and I’m not sure why.

Scars

FarmTunnelby sandie rossini: 11.19.2014

We all have scars. Some are visible to the world, some are internal. My biggest scar is one and the same. I have a large scar starting from my forehead across my head, it’s from my brain surgery. It’s a daily reminder of what I’ve been through over the past year and a half. Not that I need to be reminded, my surgery and cancer is something I can’t forget, no matter how much I try. Most of the time I wish I could forget and there are times that I do but then something happens- like I hear the news in the other room saying someone has died of brain cancer and it makes me feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach. It makes me feel dizzy, off balance, like my world is being turned upside down…but only for a moment. Somehow I have learned to right myself. Some people ask me- how do you stay positive? My first answer is faith. Secondly, I ask- what’s my alternative? The scary negative thoughts are just that- scary. I can’t live in fear everyday and I won’t.