You can’t wait for the sun to rise…

You’ll never know until you try

We make mistakes and learn through time

We all grow old, We live, We die.

-“Don’t Wait” Hit the Lights

In the summer of 2008, one of my favorite bands at the time, Hit the Lights, dropped their sophomore album Skip School, Start Fights. I was about to enter my senior year of high school and I was working my ass off to buy my first car, Snowflake, a 2000 Toyota Corolla. I listened to this album religiously. Specifically this song. It spoke to the uncertainty of that academic year and the choices I would face upon graduation. I wrote a screenplay for the music video I wanted to create for the song — I think I still have it actually.

I find that in times of change, I rediscover the song accidentally (subconsciously?). I listened to it before my graduation from Saint Peter’s University (St. Peezy if ya nasty), I listened to it when I got my first real job at S&S, I listened to it when I moved into my apartment last year. 

It’s been ringing in my head since I rediscovered it in a “throwback” Spotify playlist on my drive to work on Friday morning. I listened to it the way I listen to most music I appreciate… I listened to it thrice. Once to understand the lyrics (I do this thing where I break down the lyrics and analyze them — such an English major), another time to break down the melody (what instruments are playing? What rhythm or time is it in? How does the music fit with the lyrics?), and finally, one last time to sing it out. As I was listening to the song, I realized how each line aligned itself to the year I had. 

I sang my way up the GSP with it as my soundtrack on my drive this Saturday to see two of my best and closest friends, Yas and Jackie.

I saw Jackie first. We met at her house and I sat with her, her husband, and her dog Archer (my godson), as we caught up on all the things that had happened since we last saw each other — when they visited me in the hospital last April. I looked around their house and I was full of happiness for the two beautiful people who had created their lives in that space. 

After a quick change of plans, Jackie and I hopped into Padfoot (my car), and set off. We got to the shop in time, went downstairs, and waited for Yas to come out of the curtained off dressing room. 

When I saw her, I cried. Yas looked so beautiful as she tried on the first wedding dress she had set her eyes on. She stepped on the platform as the woman shuffled around her, showing her belts, and showing us how we would bustle her train. Jackie and I sprung into action — frantically taking as many pictures as humanly possible while I tried to suppress my happy sobs. 

Looking at her as she swayed this way and that, I couldn’t help but think, God, I could have missed this… I couldn’t help it. I promptly lost my shit. I sobbed quietly while I took pictures and stood in awe of these two beautiful women in my life. 

We spent the rest of the night the way we normally do. Dinner. Karaoke until our voices were shot. Excessive conversation sitting on the floor and eventually the couch of Yas and her fiancé’s, Toni, new apartment. We laughed and planned and cried.

I could have missed this…

I drove Jackie back home and I shared with her something that I hope one day to have the courage to write about and I drove back home at 2 am in a daze.

In another part of my life, my cousin graduates high school in a few short months. Another cousin not too far behind will be off to college soon too. Next month, I get to see one of the younger ones perform in Carnegie Hall (again). My family, my beautiful family. 

I mentioned in an earlier post a recording I made my first night in the hospital. I listened to it when I got home last night. In part of the recording I list some of the things I’m afraid I’ll miss. Tonight when I talk to God, I will thank him again for listening to me that night. For allowing me to be a part of all of the things I was afraid to miss. 

My heart is full in ways that overflow. 

It is times like this when I fear Death most. It is times like this when I ask Him to wait. I am not done. I cannot be done. I have so much more to see. I have so much more to say. I have so much more to do. 

So I turn away from Death and I search for meaning in the life around me. In the mumbles of my dogs’ snoring. In the patterns of the stars. I turn away from Death and I walk towards the horizon.

I will not miss this.

Just a girl with her head in the clouds…

Author note: This was written on 01/03/2019

Looking out of this tiny airplane window, I can see heaven. In this moment, it’s hard to imagine how much has happened in just a year. Around the holidays, I started writing a post detailing every single moment of the past year. It was getting so lengthy and honestly, it felt boxy to write — as if I were knee deep into my memoirs or diary. It just didn’t sound like me.So I decided to start over and just make it simple. At the beginning of 2018, I thought that I had gone through the hardest year ever. I had ended a long term relationship early in 2017 and I spent a lot of that year struggling to figure out who I was after seven and a half years. I felt like it had been the most formidable year of my life and, in a way, it was. I had wrapped my identity in someone else for so long that I couldn’t tell you what my life was without him. It was ridiculous.As usual, I started 2018 with a list. Goals that I wanted to accomplish or at least work towards. Some were small:

  • Read more (I started the year with a modest goal of 12 books for the year and after I got sick, I pushed the goal to 52)
  • Spend more time with my cousins
  • Spend more time with my grandparents
  • Try dating
  • Start running more

Others were more ambitious:

  • Get an apartment
  • Bike to work (from my apartment — not from NJ)
  • Update my passport
  • Spend my birthday in Barcelona 

At this time last year, I was sitting in a Perkins with my dad telling him that I wanted to start looking for a new apartment but I would move out around March. I started looking shortly after that and I ended up moving in the middle of January. After that I traveled for work, I found new places to fall in love with NYC, I started dating. I was so tired all the time but it felt worth it. I was in the most amazing place in the world and I was working hard. The apartment was beautiful and I loved the freedom of finally being on my own. I felt proud to be getting out there. I interviewed for another job and I got an offer. But at the same time, my apartment was becoming more dangerous to live in. I figured it was a scam and so, shortly after that, I was released from my lease and I moved back home. I felt defeated. I turned down the job offer. But I kept pushing myself.

Throughout all of that, I was also fighting through the early stages of my diagnosis. In the last few months of 2017, I had what my doctor and I believed was the first signs — I had flu like symptoms but despite my urging for blood tests, I was misdiagnosed with mono and dismissed. By January my gums began bleeding profusely and incessantly for 3 weeks. Around the time I was losing my apartment and frantically trying to find another, I got sick again. This time it was worse. And then in April, it all snowballed and, well you know what happens after that.In a way I did get to check off a lot more on my list than I probably thought I would at the beginning of 2018 and, although I didn’t get to spend my birthday in Barcelona, I’m grateful that I made it to my birthday at all. In this past year, I got an apartment, got out of an apartment, started dating, read more (35 books!), took time to take care of myself, started seeing a therapist, and spent time with my family. More recently, in the last month, I started a new job and on the last day of the year I bought a Jeep Cherokee (name suggestions welcome!).

And now I’m on a plane to Florida for work and I feel like I’m slowly getting back to some of the things that I had missed most while I was on disability.I look to 2019 with fresher eyes, my rose colored glasses steady on my face, I am ready to make a new list. There are so many things I want to do and sitting here, with my eyes set to the heavens, I know that no matter what happens, I will be happy. Nothing can shake me anymore. I cannot be afraid of my ambitions and I cannot hold myself from improving my life in every facet.

My head may be in the clouds right now, but I have looked at Death and I have known him — I have known God. 

I am overwhelmed with emotion and I am grateful that I am not sitting immediately next to anyone because now I can appreciate how fucking beautiful everything in this life is. 

Looking out of this tiny airplane window, I can see heaven. In this moment, it’s hard to imagine how much is yet to come. 

It’s my party and I’ll [live] if I want to…

Every six years, I have the blessing of sharing my birthday with my (second) favorite holiday — Thanksgiving! (My favorite holiday being New Year’s). This year, I have that blessing again.

Today, at 2:22pm, I turn 27 years old.

Every year, I enjoy having family gather around and squeeze into my parents’ kitchen and express their love and gratitude for another year of blessings and abundance. I reflect on the love of the people around me and say a blessing for my family. I reflect on my actions and my life and all I have to be thankful for.

This year is the same and this year is different. This year, I am still thankful for my family and my friends and everyone around me. But this year, I am also grateful for my life in a way that I have never fully understood until now. It feels like I have unlocked a depth within me that has filled with humility and appreciation. I can feel my heart swell with emotions and I know that I am whole.

My whole heart appreciates you. My whole heart appreciates the kindness you have shown me. My whole heart appreciates the love you have given me. My whole heart appreciates the strength and courage that I have found within myself.

Admittedly, I had a better way of writing this in my head while I was showering and damn it, I don’t feel like it’s coming out the way I want. But that’s okay. I will add on to it later…

For now, I have to finish getting ready and join the party.

I love you all.

Happy Thanksgiving.

…Because you [mean] the World to me…

It’s not hard for me to love you, hard for me to love you.
No, it’s not a difficult thing
It’s not hard for me to love you, hard for me to love you
Unconditionally…

These past two weekends have been full of excitement!

Saturday, November 3rd, began with a quick trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles (or its re-branded Motor Vehicle Commission here in NJ) to change my driver’s license to include my OFFICIAL NEW LAST NAME 🙂 I would share with you the lovely pic of me looking like a thumb wearing lipstick, but I’ll save you the trouble.

After that, it was off to the races! That evening was the Princeton, NJ Light the Night Walk and I am so grateful to every single person on Team Amanda vs Cancer. Together, we raised an amazing $3,300 for the fight against blood cancer and our team was definitely one of, if not the, biggest “Friends and Family” teams of the event! I’m pretty sure we completely took over our tent!

I posted all of the pics that my younger cousin took with my camera and some of the pictures that our friends Myriam and Jenn took that night! [You can find them here]

As I anticipated, the event was extremely emotional and I was very grateful to be surrounded by my friends and family.

Fast forward a bit to last weekend. On Saturday, November 10th, my dad organized the first annual “Semper Fit Me Presents Amanda vs Cancer Fun Run” with the proceeds from all ticket sales going directly to me. It was another incredible event that many  people registered and attended. I was completely blown away by how smoothly the event ran and how well my dad laid out the trail and exercises. Above all, I was amazed that he was able to get it all together in less than three weeks! He is such a wonderful man and I am so lucky that he’s my dad!

I realized mid-way through the run that the settings of my camera were a little off so it’s going to take a little bit of time for me to edit them and upload them to the Facebook Page but please be sure to check regularly to see if they are up!

I think the overarching thing that has stuck with me these two weekends, is how many people were eager and ready to show up. In both instances I was completely overwhelmed by the amount of support from friends and family. My heart was and is extremely full. It was hard for me to believe that so many people cared enough to be there for me and it still is hard for me to process.

We take for granted our place in the world and the way that we affect others. I know that I owe so much of that to my parents. Without them and their support, I do not know where I’d be right now or even if I would be.

From every inch/cell/fiber of my being, thank you. Thank you all for reading this. Thank you all for supporting me. Thank you for being a part of this extremely difficult journey. I can only hope that one day, I can pass along the support that you have shown me back to you a hundred fold.

I love you all. Whether I met you this weekend, last weekend, or I’ve known you my whole life…

I love you.

thank you.

On the run…

I know it’s been a while and I promise I’ll post something after this to update you, dear reader(s), on what I’ve been up to the past month or so.
But before then I wanted to tell you about two AMAZING events coming up!

Light the Night Walk — Team Amanda vs Cancer

Who: Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

When: November 3rd 2018 | 4pm – 9pm

Where: Mercer County Park, NJ

About:

Family, friends and co-workers gather together to celebrate, honor or remember those touched by cancer. Registration is free, but walkers are encouraged to raise funds to support the mission.

The walk is family and pet friendly. There will be vendors, food, music, and a fireworks show at the end of the night. Each participant will be given a lantern upon registering:

  • White Lanterns  for cancer survivors (please note that these are for survivors of ANY form of cancer; not just leukemia or lymphoma)
  • Red Lanterns for supporters of those with cancer
  • Gold Lanterns for people walking in memory of someone who has lost their fight with cancer.

When I heard about it the first time, it made me immensely emotional to think about.

All proceeds raised from this run will go directly to LLS in support of funding for blood cancer research and blood cancer survivors! The LLS means so much to me and I’m so excited to be a part of this walk this year and to be able to be a part of something so much bigger than me and my journey.

Click here to watch a video by LLS about the walk!

Sign up here: https://pages.lightthenight.org/nj/Prince18/AmandaVsCancer

Light the Night Walk
Head to the page and click the “JOIN” button to join my team!

Amanda vs Cancer Fun Run hosted by Semper Fit Me, LLC!

Who: Semper Fit Me — MY DAD 🙂

When: November 10th 2018 | 9am – 1pm

Where: East Brunswick Community Arts Center

About:

My dad, Coach Vince, worked with friends and colleagues of East Brunswick Township to put together a “Fun Run” fundraiser for me. The run includes fun exercises throughout the run itself and will have vendors with tables there as well.

Tickets are $30/ person and we encourage that you bring your receipt to the run so we can keep track of who shows up. All proceeds (with the exception of the EventBrite Fees) will go directly to me for medical, COBRA, and additional expenses.

In order to register for the run, sign up here: Http://AmandaVsCancerFunRun.eventbrite.com

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Next month is going to be CRAZY with all of these events. Plus November also holds my dad’s birthday, the Marine Corps birthday (dad’s “other” birthday), Veteran’s day (another day for dad lol), and my 27th birthday (which just happens to fall on Thanksgiving this year)!

I’m very excited for all of this and I look forward to (hopefully) seeing you there! Of course, if you cannot make it, I completely understand and I ask that you consider donating directly to my GoFundMe page.

Again, I know it has been SO LONG since my last post… I’ve been coming up with post ideas but it’s been difficult for me to focus and write lately. I promise that I’ll be writing again soon. I’m gonna force myself to buckle down and write them soon so that I can release more content so… STAY TUNED 🙂