The “Now What”



Life goes on- so they say. I watch the world go by. Friends buy houses, have babies and those babies grow up and my own babies have now turned into beautiful teenagers…yes, life goes on, so now what? Yes, I still have brain cancer and yes, I still have to go to the hospital to get treatment and yes, I’m still doing ok. Yes, I still have mostly good days- with a few bad ones here and there. So now what? I’m positive and optimistic and happy with my life. I live each day with everything I have. I say what I need to say, I dance like no one’s watching and like “everyone” is too. I spread positivity to everyone I meet and accept it back to everyone who offers it. I am a student of the world, of the people- constantly learning from everyone I meet. I have met some truly remarkable people throughout my journey, and I cherish every single one of them. I embrace my family like never before. A loss hurts more but the crying is a needed deep release. Each experience feels like the first time, music sounds so much better now, food tastes like paradise and hugs are like clouds and rainbows. So, yes…I guess that’s more than enough, for now.


THErebuild-SRwords and image of the barn at central by sandie rossini

Every once and awhile you need to take a step back and look at the important things in your life and perhaps do some repair- for example your career, relationships, even your wardrobe, or perhaps to your home. Whether you choose to view those items as significant is up to you. In my opinion- they’re all quite significant. Changing your career is difficult or it can be exciting, scary but exactly what you need to finally be happy. Choosing to rebuild a relationship with someone is huge and a challenge, if you’re willing to go through with it. Your wardrobe- that’s your style and it speaks to who you are as an individual. Then lastly- your home, well I hear that can be extremely stressful. Wait- I just did this! Let me tell you a little story…

One day, a very long long time ago…or sometime last year, we decided to put an addition onto our home. Our house was small for 2 adults, 2 growing teenage girls and 3 dogs. The bedrooms were very small, and we only had 1 full bathroom with very small closets and no storage space- we needed storage space. I was renting storage for my business and my office was in the middle of our family room. I won’t continue to bore you with the details but trust me-we needed MORE SPACE. So off we went- to the bank then permits, contractors, quotes….you’re hired! Great. We’re only doing adding to one part of the house- so we’ll just stay here- we said, no problem…?

First step to our rebuild- you gotta tear it down to build it back up. It went down fast and then it went up fast too, kinda. Great! It was summer time and all the workers were at the house bright and early and I was impressed. They were framing, building, we got a new roof, new siding on the house, more new windows, a new garage, new bathrooms, new toilets- we were picking everything out, then putting things back (we were trying to save money)…meanwhile we were all living in one room in the house. All of us, including the dogs and all of our stuff- and we had a lot of stuff. Summer turned to fall and eventually to winter and things got cold- did I mention we had no heat? That’s OK, we have blankets and each other, I felt blessed.

Now a lot of people were asking me- how are doing you this? How can you stand living in the middle of construction, with no heat? I said the following- I’ve been through worse. Plus, WE did this. We asked for this. This wasn’t a natural disaster where didn’t have a choice- this was OUR choice. All of this was a good thing, this was an addition to our home, it felt like a luxury. We not only have a roof over our heads- we’re adding to it. Sure, at times it might have been a little tough but nothing I personally couldn’t handle. We had each other. I still get to wake up every single every day and I will never complain about that. This was our rebuild.

My Life is Pretty Perfect


(words and “ER Selfie” image by sandie rossini)

My life is pretty much perfect. I say that and truly mean it. I can honestly tell you that despite some bumps in the road I am grateful for each and every single day that I have. I genuinely feel blessed. Okay look- every day isn’t perfect, I have great days and occasional not so great days when I’m not feeling well. Recently I had a little setback with my health- not too many people knew but after awhile I had myself what I call a little Sandie Pity Party. That’s an exclusive VIP event- (Very Insane & Pointless) for a party of one; Dress Code: drab and pitiful; Attitude: bad and sad; Cover Charge: valuable time lost. Those parties do NOT last long for me. I don’t have time to be like that, or I should say- to WASTE time like that. I’m not saying I don’t go there- I do. I dip my toes in, I open the door and peek in but I have to be strong enough to slam that door shut and walk away. It would be way too easy for me to fall into that darkness and I can’t allow myself to do that. Being positive has always helped me with getting and staying healthy- there is absolutely no room for negativity.

Whenever I am given new challenges I have to find new ways to face them AND overcome them. My RSVP to the Sandie Pity Party will have to be No, not today- not ever, I have a life to live, a good long pretty perfect life.

In the Thick of It

ThickofItwords & image by sandie rossini: march, 2016

Survival. Sometimes you have to really fight for your life. You have to get through some really bad days to get to the good ones. The hardest part was supposed to be over, so why was I feeling so terrible? My migraines were worse than ever, and I could barely get out of bed- this wasn’t me. I wanted to get back to “Sandie Strong”- the one that everyone was complimenting on being courageous, the one that everyone was “amazed” about how great I was doing, the one that was speaking about how to survive stage 4 Glioblastoma, how to be “Invincible”…but I couldn’t. I just wanted to go back to bed. I just wanted to hide. The pain in my head was too much to bare. It wasn’t my cancer; my recent MRI’s hadn’t shown any new growth- it was my migraines. My migraines were something that had haunted me for a very long time and they were currently making me very sick. Then I suffered a setback and that setback was in the form of a seizure which turned into a trip to the ER and then a stay in the hospital. I was in the thick of it. This time was different though. I felt TERRIBLE and I knew I had to get through a few REALLY BAD days but then there was a solution. A change in medication and a NEW positive attitude was what I needed. I had fallen into a bit of a rut and it had landed me there- back in the hospital. I wasn’t going to let this bring me down. I had setbacks before and this one was scary but not enough to break me. NOTHING was big enough to break me. I could see what was waiting for me-I had a TON of hope and a whole lot of faith. So yes, I needed to get through some not so great days but then I was going to come out EVEN better and stronger on the other side. I could see it, clearly.


Cornfieldwords & image by sandie rossini: january 12, 2015

What if I told you that your destiny was decided at the moment of your creation? Your genetic makeup is created at fertilization and that includes things like your strongest personality trait. Of course our environment shapes our personality and who we will become but if we really are WHO WE ARE from the moment we are created- that is amazing. Where is this coming from? Well, I once saw a National Geographic documentary called “In the Womb” that said you get your strongest personality trait at the moment of conception. Things change depending on who raises you and where you live but despite all of that your strongest trait remains. Then I wondered about my strongest personality trait- well, most people would say that I am and always have been stubborn. Well, ok, I suppose I can admit (stubbornly) that at times I can be a little stubborn in just about everything I do in life. 😊 Here’s an example, I even refuse to believe I have cancer at times, but it’s that belief that actually keeps me going. I believe that I will survive and that someday I WILL BE CANCER-FREE. Wouldn’t it be amazing if my very first personality trait at the beginning of my existence ends up saving my life? Imagine that…I do.


ShoppingBlog-3words by sandie rossini: february 23, 2016

I could spend all my time getting overwhelmed by what I call the “big stuff” in life- like for example, brain cancer, but let’s face it, that’s just way too super scary for me to comprehend. What really overwhelms me is shopping. Not all shopping, just shopping at two stores in particular; the first store is Michael’s (which is a craft store, I love that store and have a tendency to go a little overboard with my spending in there and honestly I’m not really that crafty so you can try to figure that one out); the second store is Pier 1 imports (which I can only explain by simply saying that I just happen to be deeply and madly in love with each and every single item that has ever sold in that store.) This is all may sound very silly, it is.

Humor me as I walk you through what takes place during one of my complete and total mental breakdowns. Keep in mind that I am totally aware upon entering the establishments that this will all take place and I attempt to warn whomever is accompanying me about my “condition” however “first timers” always seem to be shocked. Friends and family are familiar and know how to handle the situation. As I enter the store I begin to see things that I want to buy, things that I feel I need to buy and all of those things quickly become things that I MUST buy. I tell myself that I can’t have any carrying assistance, i.e. bags, baskets, shopping carts; but without knowing it I have picked up a few items. My hands hurt, so I have to take a basket to relieve the pain from my hands, obviously. I see some amazing things that I must buy- everything is on sale. I’m being pulled by what seems like a magnetic force, I look down and realize I have 2 full baskets- how did that happen? I also seem to have lost my family. I should get a shopping cart. I feel a little dizzy, it might just be the lighting in here- oh my gosh, that frame is amazing, I’m getting it. I need a second shopping cart that way I can fit more things in it, I don’t want to have to come back, that would be silly- I could get that lamp over there and Christmas gifts for next year, can you imagine getting all that shopping done so early? Oh and my mom’s birthday’s coming up, I could get her that beautiful vase and fill it up with fresh flowers once a month, she would love that…now, if I can only remember what I came here for…

Ok, don’t judge me. I don’t overspend, I have never been in debt and I pay off all of my credit cards every month, I don’t spend what I don’t have…and no, I am not in denial. I actually tend to be a little prissy, I never break the rules, so I can do this because hey, if I’ve learned anything it’s that life is short and once in a while it’s ok for me to kick up my shopping heels and lose my mind for a few minutes, to smile, laugh to go into a dizzying shopping frenzy, to be pulled in different directions by awesome picture frames, sweet smelling candles & craft-making fantasies.

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.


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.