My Daily Inspiration

sandie getting chemo in 2013

Early on in my cancer journey I decided to share my story, publicly. I realized that I was discovering new things and qualities about myself that I never knew I had. You see, I was never an athlete but I always felt I was a strong person… on the inside. What I was going through took an enormous amount of strength and I needed to use every bit of it to fight for my life. I learned that when I was at my weakest I actually was my bravest. It’s mental strength that got me through some of the most difficult days.

I always say that from the beginning I needed to surround myself with LOTS of positive items- clothes, decor, mugs, etc and when I couldn’t find what I needed, I made it myself- hence the birth of Sandie Rossini Designs. What was most important with my “business venture” was that it was a mission. So I decided that I would donate a portion of the proceeds to cancer research and spread the importance of positive thinking. I believed and will always believe that positivity is a life saving PART of any treatment of any disease.

I soon realized I should put my positive statements onto small cards in a box that you could pull from everyday. I needed that myself and maybe someone else could benefit from them too. So, I got to work- except it wasn’t work…it was just my thoughts (and some quotes I liked) to remind myself and others to stay positive and strong. That “the storm won’t last forever”. That “on our darkest days we shine the brightest” and sometimes just an “Everything Will be Ok” makes us feel a little better.

I quickly found out that the cards were important to others as well. Not only did they help people get through tough days they made great gifts for people who really just didn’t know what to get. It’s difficult to find a gift for someone who’s going through something like a serious illness- physical or mental. The cards seem to fit.

The inspiration cards helped me and continue to help me. They remind me of what’s important and sometimes just to stop and take a deep breath. I’ve been battling cancer now for just about 9 years with ups and downs but I’m nowhere near done. I have fallen but I get back up and I can only hope that my story encourages others to do the same. We’re all in this together, no matter what you’re going through. Don’t ever give up.

Thanks for reading.

The Worrying in Me

I think I’ve probably mentioned that this past year hasn’t been my best but I’m done with that- it’s time to “shake off the dust”, to get back up- because yes I unfortunately literally fell on my face- oops! Yes my cancer came back last year, last November actually and it’s been pretty rough but I got through it. Then in September they found something “new”…but we would need to wait a few months to see if it grew. Waiting to see if a new brain tumor will grow is so much fun- that’s a joke. Luckily I’ve had some practice. The key is NOT to worry. Easy? Well, no but I have learned that worrying is negative and super toxic. Worrying doesn’t help and I truly believe it can hurt. So, first step is to stay positive and occupy myself with lots of other things- ANYTHING to keep my mind off the impending results.

FEAR- it’s not real. It’s a lie that we create in our minds and trust me I realize that it feels VERY REAL. Coming from someone who used to suffer from panic attacks, I get it. They are physical to the point where you can’t breathe or feel like you’re having a heart attack. However I had to find a way to FACE my fear if I wanted to beat cancer and live. So I did. I took control and I still do. So that’s what I did as I waited for the “news”.

Don’t make it a BIG DEAL. Another thing I try to do is not make the day I get my MRI a BIG and scary day. In fact I try not to think about it until a few days before. Then I have a playlist called “Brave” that I listen to on our way to the hospital and we are there. That playlist is filled with all my favorite “pump me up” songs- for lack of a lack of a better term. At that point it’s all in God’s hands.

The results…I am happy to report that my scans were “stable”, meaning there was no growth to the tumors and in my world that is a HUGE WIN!!!

Oh, by the way that new and super scary thing- that turned out to be nothing…

Eight Years

Eight. I didn’t even think about that number. I was just going through the motions- taking it day by day- just focusing on getting and FEELING better. Each year since I was diagnosed with Brain Cancer I celebrate each moment, each day and yes every year. We celebrate on the day my life was saved- the day of my surgery. Some people celebrate on the day that their cancer is cured but since that hasn’t happened for me YET I choose to celebrate differently. I’m happy with my choice. I am so grateful I was saved. Am I happy that I still have cancer? Well, not exactly but I try very hard not to focus on that part and focus on all the positive things in my life.


This past year was a little different. I have had some setbacks along my journey but in November of 2020 I learned that my cancer had cancer had come back. It was new and in new areas. This time around I had some new doctors and since we were in the middle of the COVID pandemic procedures were different. My husband couldn’t always accompany me. Honestly I wasn’t my “positive” self. I wish I could lie to you but the whole ordeal from the biopsy to the radiation was terrible. My recovery was long and my attitude was very negative. I couldn’t read, watch TV, work, walk on my own or barely talk to my family. So- what now?


I knew I needed to get out of this slump- right away. My theory is that positivity has always been what helped saved my life but how would I get from this to there? I didn’t want to listen to anyone else (I can be a bit stubborn) so I had to do this on my own. I needed to close my eyes and just listen. My body was fighting my new medication and making me sick so I told my doctors that I needed to cut back. So we did. I started to be honest with my those closest to me about how I was REALLY feeling. I realized that I was trying so hard to be positive FOR them but I wasn’t being honest with myself. Once I did that things slowly started to get better.


When I’m at the hospital and I see others who are sick, especially when they have brain cancer, I feel so badly for THEM. Whatever is going on with me gets put on the back burner. Whether it’s a child or an adult- it makes me so angry that this disease has no cure. When I get angry it makes me want to fight. So I feel stronger. I am currently in the middle of fighting off these three new buggers so I need ALL my strength and positivity.

Now here I am- 8 years later, still here and still fighting. Maybe I will get knocked down and it will be tough but I WILL get back up. I will NEVER GIVE UP.

Thank you for reading.

Down but Not Defeated

when she stood, she stood tall….
words and image by sandie rossini

SOMETHING NEW

Life has been good to me and I try not to complain- in fact I actually feel blessed that it’s been just about 7 1/2 years since the brain surgery that saved my life. Every time I get a “good” MRI scan (meaning there’s no “new” cancer) my family and I are so grateful. I have been feeling pretty good in fact my doctors appointments were actually reduced and in July my doctor and I celebrated 7 years! Then everything suddenly changed…the cancer had returned. Words I never wanted to hear. As my doctor spoke I tried really hard to listen, to focus on the words he was saying… ”same side of your brain…but on the bottom half this time…surgery..radiation…” Needless to say my head was spinning. I decided that I would need to just try to be patient and positive while I awaited my doctor to call with a treatment plan. A few days later we received a phone call with more news- oh good-the plan? No, in fact a closer look at the scan revealed “something” else in a different area. It was too much for me- I had to walk away and take a breath.


TAKING A MOMENT TO BREATHE
Throughout my cancer journey thus far I have learned many things. A great lesson that I’ve learned along the way- if it all feels like too much, it’s ok to step away to take a deep breath. Panicking and worrying does not help so I know that I need to do certain things to calm myself down. Learning that after 7 years my brain cancer had returned was just too overwhelming. Stepping away from the situation to take a deep breath was how I dealt with this news. I am extremely lucky that I have a partner that can hold me up, hold me steady in times like these. I know not everyone has someone like that. In fact I see those people at the hospital who are alone and it breaks my heart. It makes me appreciate my amazing and strong husband.


ALONE
New rules- facing it alone. This time things would be different. Due to the terrible pandemic facing our country the hospital was forced to create new and strict guidelines- which includes no visitors. So that meant this time around I would be flying solo. The idea of doing this on my own seemed almost impossible and daunting but I had a choice. I could either get up and fight for my life once again or I could back away from the challenge and die- did that sound blunt? Well that’s because it is. It’s life or death and I choose life. I will always choose life.

WALK THROUGH FIRE
So, a new challenge. I must be brave- braver than I ever have before. I would fight to live, again. I’m going to fight for my husband, my loving family & friends, for my daughters- I am so desperate to see them to grow up. There are so many things to live for- I would give absolutely anything to live. I am grateful for what I have now, right now- but man do I want a future. I will go through all the painful treatments, I will walk into the hospital alone, but tall, with my held high and walk out alone into the arms of my loved ones. I would walk through fire to save my life. Just watch. Hey cancer- I’m coming for you.

The “Now What”

ViewfromCape-SR

 

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.

THE REBUILD

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

ER-SELFIE

(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.

Stubborn

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.

Overwhelmed

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.