Down but Not Defeated

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


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.

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.

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.

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”



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.


Maybe-Sky(written by sandie rossini: 9.30.15)

Maybe I really am different now. I think it’s almost impossible not to be. I don’t just say that I’m grateful for each new day, I really am. If I said that prior to cancer, I wasn’t lying, it’s just different now. I always tried to look at the bright side, to find good, even in bad situations but now I really understand. On this day it was sunny and when the sun slipped under a cloud, just for a moment, I heard someone complain. When I looked up I didn’t see the cloud covering the sun, I saw the sun shining through the cloud. Maybe I didn’t need cancer to show me how to live my life better, but maybe it just ended up working out that way. Someone asked me for some advice recently and here’s what I said- don’t take your health or happiness for granted, don’t wait for a disease or loss to change you. See the good, if it’s not there, create it. Maybe you can have everything you’ve ever wanted, why not just go for it? I am.

Take Me Home

CitgoSign(written by sandie rossini: 1.24.16)

The Citgo sign is a landmark in Boston and I used to associate it with Fenway Park but now it means something different to me. It’s what I see when I’m leaving the hospital. Now while I’m super appreciative of the hospital, the staff and everything I get done there to make me better- I REALLY appreciate going home. When we leave we always go the same way. When we come to a certain spot on Brookline Ave and I see that Citgo sign, I feel relief. I made it through another appointment and now my reward is going home to see my babies. When I see that sign I can breathe again. At that point I look over at my caring husband and feel so grateful for everything that I have, including him. Then he takes me home.