Sunday, April 6, 2014

I Am Grateful

"You have 9 months to live" is pretty scary, especially when you pass that 9 month allotment and realize that as smart as your doctors may be, it will ALWAYS come down to God's will and you have to start planning for your life!
And for those of you who are wondering:
All my life I have wanted pretty consistent ideas for my future.
I wanted to be a Sports Medicine Physical Therapist, then I wanted to be a Neurologist. Then I got diagnosed with cancer and I don't want to do that at all anymore! I don't want to feel empathy for others in this situation, (as awful as that sounds). I never want to see ANYBODY experiencing what I have. So I've thought about it lots lately, and think I have decided to become: a motivational speaker. I love talking to people and I am comfortable with who I am and how I have handled my situation- people find it fascinating. So that is my current goal!

My church does this cool thing twice a year- where all of the head leaders of the church stand up and not only give us direction, but bear their strong and powerful testimonies. It's amazing. Very spiritual.
This year I had the opportunity to bear my testimony through song at that meeting. I sang in the choir and it was incredible. I will post pictures. And a link.

https://www.lds.org/general-conference?lang=eng


I have a story for you;
When Jordyn and I were little, we used to play on the swing set in the back yard a lot. One day, Jordyn was on the yellow swinging bar trapped by her own two hands. Needless to say, Diane got an amazing picture of her, wedgie and all.
(That story will resurface)

My favorite speaker in general conference (President Uchtdorf), talked about being grateful. I love and agree with his words completely.

They gave me 9 months to live, but guess what? I'm almost to 20. And like President Uchtdorf said, I may not be at peace with God's will, but I have learned to accept it. I know that whatever my Heavenly Father has in store for me, is the most effective way for me to learn and grow eternally.
I am not saying that I'm giving up! There will be a fight before I do that! But I am saying I am finally allowing myself to struggle.
And just like Jordyn-helpless and alone on the swing set, I feel alone too sometimes. And I have realized that just like it was her own hands trapping her from happiness, sometimes it metaphorically is my hands trapping myself. With God, I realize that my hands don't have to be white-knuckling the yellow bar. Because my God allows me to be grateful. He will always be the ground right underneath my feet to stabilize me. Just like the ground, only inches beneath Jordyn.

Moving on.

Right now my friend Jane and I are trying to start our very own clothing company called   Mindless.  We will donates some proceeds to the cureSearch foundation which donates 100% of proceeds to cancer families. It is mostly centered around the brain and I bet you can guess why!

We are doing an Easter egg hunt and are really excited to hopefully start going somewhere with it!
Contact me with any registration or donation questions! rachelelysestratton@gmail.com

I am going to have an MRI soon, but I haven't told anybody besides my family because the stress scares me! I don't want any questions about it! I have chosen to keep it a secret so as not to stress me out any more. I am more excited for this time though (as opposed to every other time), because I finally got them to sedate me so I'm not on my back on the hard table, stuck in a tube for 4 hours- AWAKE. Which is literally how long it takes.

I'm so grateful that even though what I am going through is hard and miserable, that I can find things to be happy about, to laugh over, and to appreciate.

I'll be updating real soon!
I can do hard things!
Rachel
Oh and I died and cut my hair, have I mentioned that yet!?


A snapchat I received!

Look it's me!

Selfie in the Conference Center!

Congrats Miss Cassidy Mella

All aboard the Carson Express! (friend from St. Jude with brain tumor)

Me and my friend Mariane!

Me and my friend Charmaine! 

I am thankful for all of my friends and for my family and for my religion. I am grateful for my body and my knowledge. I am grateful that despite everything I have been through, I can feel grateful.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Blind Date

I was asked by a friend to go on a date this weekend with his cousin. He was told to treat me like a "normal" girl. He called me two or three times before the actual date and seemed really nice. He was asking me if I had a problem being out late, and kept reassuring me how late it would be. I told him no, suspicious that he's one of "those" people who finds me incapable. Over the phone he told me we were going to Chili's (Does Chili building ring a bell)? He came to pick me up, a little late, but close to on time. He was a gentleman and opened my door. (For the most part I would rather open my own door because I'm extremely capable of doing it by myself, but it's very "kind" and "classy" of him to do for me).

So off we went in his car where two others were in the back whose names I can't remember, but were very.. together. We finally (6 minutes later), arrived to Chili's. I have plenty of conversation up my sleeve, and I have some pretty interesting stories to tell-not cancer related. Like that time a year before I was diagnosed with cancer that I was spotlight searched for in a park by the police and almost hit by an angry driver that decided the grass was a fine place to drive. I'm just saying, I have some good stories, and I love hearing good stories.

We sat down for dinner, after I greeted the staff, who all know me as "BIG Rache the VIP girl who comes in a lot and was treated at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital" the charity they support. After mulling over the menu for a little while, and having my date repeatedly ask me if I would to do the 2 for 20$ deal with him we decided on what to eat. 

As often as he asked me to do the 2 for 20$ deal, he asked if I wanted an appetizer. After I repetitively told him no, (because I'm on a strict diet) I told him to get an appetizer, because I figured that's what he was after. So he ordered fried cheese, (mozzarella sticks) and they arrived shortly after. His friend sitting across from me kept letting his mozzarella stick dangle from his mouth and dangle low with a thick string of cheese in between, and sporadically he tried having a lady and the tramp moment with his girlfriend and the fried cheese (barf). Every once in a while I felt like I was in a real life caramel filled chocolate commercial with the way the cheese hung down from his mouth.

I was asking questions about him and his life, but between his secret language with his friends and inside jokes, I was feeling really lost. He was courteous though, and explained every inside joke to me, I assumed most of it was "had to be there for the moment" kind of material. Before the food came, I told my date who was sitting on the same side of the table as me, that I eat with my left hand and I would appreciate if he would trade me places at the table so I didn't elbow him all night. (I was feeling really trapped and just wanted to sit on the end, though I do eat with my left hand which makes for the perfect excuse). After I inquired about our seating arrangement, he replied with "Well, I'm left handed too." And the conversation was over.

Dinner was over, and because I know the staff at Chili's, they sometimes give me free food, so the appetizers came free!

We left the restaurant and went down to his apartment complex where his friend was throwing a black and white party. So I went with his friends girlfriend to her apartment to get changed into our formal black/white dresses. The boys came back to join us and my date was dressed in a black suit with white suspenders, a white bow tie and black sunglasses. I had to admit, he looked pretty awesome. So I said "you look awesome!" in the way you kind of fish for a compliment.

I don't usually fish for compliments, but he kept talking about how good he looked so I thought I may as well lean into it. We went upstairs to the party where they were serving lots of drinks and sherbet. We went and sat on the couch, him with his shirley temple, and me with my awkward-blind date grin. He kept offering me desserts and drinks, but I kept telling him no, because I don't eat any sugar. I apologized one of the times I said no because I said it really rash, and harsh. I didn't understand what about "I don't eat sugar" is hard to understand, and I was getting annoyed. But I am glad I took NOVA where they taught me to be strong, and just say no.

There was also red lights everywhere, so I asked my date what kind of a party he was taking me to, and he had no idea to what I was referring. After about ten minutes of sitting down, he got up and socialized. It was his ward boundaries so there were plenty of people for him to socialize with. It felt like a family reunion I was intruding, except nobody was fighting. It was opposite actually. There was a lot of happiness in the room, and I thought that some of the girls were reuniting with loved ones from the military. Heaven forbid they only see each other once a week at church.

Anyways, my date would come back and sit with me as if he was taking a shift at an old folks home. He would ask me all about my cancer which was cool that he cared and was so interested with it, but not necessarily good 1st date conversation. And certainly not conversation in which I was interested in having on a blind date. He sat with me every once in a while, and would leave me for about 15 minute intervals. I have no problem being alone. But I do have a problem with watching my date sit on other girls laps, flirt like crazy, and ask other girls out on dates right in front of me. No judgement, the kids on a hunt. I just wish I had the guts to tell him that hunting on dates wasn't one of his strong points. 

So I went back downstairs to the apartment we got ready in. I felt like I was in a movie sneaking out of the date/party. I figured if he was sitting on girls laps, he wouldn't mind me texting (I neverb EVER text on dates). So I did! I texted Jordyn my heroic twin and McLean my good friend, and told them what was happening. When he came to find me in the apartment I felt even more like I was in a movie. I was scared. But I went out to the living room where he routinely was flirting with one of the roomies. 

We went back to the party a little while later after he asked the girls roommate to come over to his apartment and watch Brooklyn -9-9 with him sometime. Once we got back to the party, I returned to the couch like an ashamed runaway dog that had heroically been retrieved. A few minutes later he surprised all of us with a dance performance he had put together. I use the term "all of us" in a singular way, seeing as this party was not one of the kind that you bring a date to, like I had been.
Between Jordyn and McLean telling me to leave and offering to pick me up, I finally took Jordyns' offer and left. I had her come pick me up because from what he said over the phone, it would be a long night full of at least four more hours of the same activity.

When Jordyn came to pick me up, I talked all muffled when I approached him sitting on the other side of the room. I said, /////family emergency////sick//////I need to go//////my ride's here///personal stuff//thank you for dinner//////. He walked me to the car which was very kind and said goodbye.

I've never been more relieved to be off a date in my life. (Well, besides once).

Before our date, he was told to treat me normally, and I came to the conclusion that if this is how normal is treated, maybe the cancer life isn't all too bad.

So another perk I have found with cancer, people you treat you different! Better!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

the pokes and the perks

So if you've ever had one of your comments removed, I apologize, but this is my space of hope and peace, and that's why I don't like anything negative on it (these comments RARELY happen), I am not perfect, and I understand that. I am trying to improve and be a better person and this is where I write about it, and I appreciate kind comments the most, so thanks to everybody that has nice things to say to me, it's easy to get caught up in the negative things, I would know cause I haven't always been a super positive.

I'm going to address a part of my cancer history that I didn't write down before, that I'm ready to talk about now.
When I was on Dexamethasone (the steroid I complain about so much) and originally moved to Memphis, I stopped acting like "Rachel", and although that's not a problem now, it was, very much a problem at the time. 
I stopped feeling, and I stopped looking for something to feel.

Every day I would lay on the radiation table I would play Keep Breathing by Ingrid Michelson because that's literally all I thought I was capable of, was to keep breathing.

I looked forward to my next blood draw just so I could feel something, even if it was just a poke. I stopped crying. I stopped caring.
I stopped basically everything that had previously made me happy. That stuff no longer made me feel the emotion of happiness. I didn't feel like I was even in the real world or alive, I felt like my head was the only place that might have life left in me.

Why am I bringing this up again? Because I'm kind of in the tear drought again. I feel like I physically can't cry. I've tried making myself, but it's useless. I'm just glad I can still feel emotions. Maybe it's a blessing I can't cry. I haven't been super happy lately. 
I brought this up because it's the first time that I have felt this way since that Memphis trip. But I'm not depressed like the first time. I've had so many people help me find things to be happy about.

Thank you to those of you who help me find the things in life to be happy about.


The other day, Jane and I decided to get a desk from savers. I am pretty sure we were "those" people who people think are hoarders living out of their car.

 Me and Dr. Engel. He's not "technically" my Dr. but he's a dr. in my clinic and I love him!

Getting chemo!

Guess who I was with tonight! Most of you should know who this is!!

I think I have a pen problem. My new desk only gives me an excuse to have a drawer full!

Hair is getting so long, and life is getting good.

Every once in a while I get a snapchat from my awesome brother Devin in the morning. I'm not particularly a morning person.


I can do hard things!
Rach

I am going to start being less dramatic on my blog next time. HAHA.