Follow me as I spend a summer on the West Coast showing the world how lung cancer has never stopped me from doing anything.... ever.

 

Adios San Francisco

That’s it, I’m home, I’m back on the east coast and honestly couldn’t be happier. My last few days in SF were perfect. I went to Outside Lands for my last weekend which was SO fun, (it’s a music festival in Golden Gate Park) but I was the most excited for my red eye flight Monday night. 

My summer in San Francisco was amazing. I still don’t understand how and why I got so lucky. Interning at Delfina was amazing and living with Katherine in our funky little apartment was great, although comical at times. Things fell right into place and I’m so glad they did.

I’m also so happy to have shared my summer with everyone who read this! Thank you to everyone out there who took the time out of their day to read this, repost this, and share this on several social media sites. A billion thanks to Bonnie J and the Lung Cancer Foundation, along with Jill’s Legacy. Thank you all so much for getting me started with this tumblr and for allowing me to speak freely on this thing. Thank you all for lending me your car and allowing Katherine and I to have some pretty memorable trips around California. Thank you for helping me with Doctors and all the little cancer stuff I’ve had to deal with. Thank you for making my move to SF easy and enjoyable and thank you for allowing me to show the world that lung cancer has never stopped me from doing anything, ever. 

And that concludes my tumblr! However! I have some super spectacular, absolutely amazing, wild and crazy news to share with you all. So if your interested in following me past my summer in SF, check out my caringbridge blog and read about my news! 

Yosemite

Nothing does this place justice, not even my pictures, but there’s no other way for me to show you all the beauty I saw this weekend. Kath and I got up early Saturday to make the 4 hour drive over. Once we got there (6 hours later), after several very funny pit stops, we checked into our campsite and drove through Yosemite Valley. We saw as much as we could before getting dinner and driving back to our site.

We woke up early again on Sunday and spent the day taking pictures, hiking to Vernal Fall, and climbing back down to get our feet in the water. Even though it was a short trip, it was perfect and so much fun! I already can’t wait to go back one day soon :)

Small beach we stopped by before going on the hike.

View during the very very steep and slightly painful hike to Vernal Fall.

I thought the torture was over, but then we were faced with these stairs… Some stairs were close to 3 feet!

Vernal Fall!

View in the opposite direction.

Climbing down to touch the water.

Perfect little spot we found to sunbathe in.

So many funny little things happened during our trip, including but not limited to: driving two hours out of the way for a lake that didn’t really exist/was not what we were expecting, having a million ants all of a sudden appear outside and inside our car, then, going to a car wash where we ending up vacuuming as many ants as possible, finding a book in the small store near our campsite that told stories about deaths and MURDERS in Yosemite… after realizing we didn’t bring any form of light for the night, we purchased a $35 lamp to have for the night to “play beer pong with” (our campsite came with a picnic table), but because of the murders we learned about, we proceeded to lock ourselves in the car once we parked for the night… and not even crack a window open while we slept in fear of a crazy axe murderer…

We then, of course, froze for part of the night, woke up later than we wanted, almost died on our hike (at least I did, It was SO steep), failed to find a beach to go to after Vernal Falls, and ate way too much crappy food during the trip.

It was, hands down, one of the funniest 24 hours of my life. I kept joking we were characters in a horror movie and the whole potential axe murderers in Yosemite made us laugh and cry all at the same time. I’m so so glad we made the trip, even if we were too scared to pee during the middle of the night or froze for a little. It was so so worth it and so so memorable.

And now sadly, I have one week left in San Francisco! I’m taking the red eye in exactly one week, the 12th, and will finally be home and back to my dearly missed NYC! I have some ideas for another post or two and of course my goodbye post. Once i’m back on the east coast I will be saying goodbye to this tumblr and going back to my caringbridge blog. More details on all that to come. 

Happy Monday, everybody!

Delfina

It was mostly luck, the way I landed my internship at Delfina. The GM from over a year ago was a graduate of the Hotel School, and not knowing she was no longer at Delfina, I sent her an e-mail. She responded immediately although she was working somewhere else and set it all up. The whole thing took about 3 days. The Chef de Cuisine, Brian, e-mailed me and said he’d love to have me aaaaand that was it!

The story actually starts in April, at chemo of course, with my now roomie Katherine. It was a Friday morning, we were at Cayuga Cancer Center in Ithaca, NY, and I was receiving treatment. I was complaining because I had just lost an opportunity to travel to Costa Rica for the summer (thanks cancer, you really ruined that one for me! But there was no way to get treatment down there) and Katherine was complaining because she would be the only one of our friends to travel west for the summer (almost everyone from school is in NYC). Katherine jokingly asked me to come out with her which took me about 30 seconds to consider before I said why not!? When else am I going to be able to live on the west coast? The food scene in SF is supposed to rival NYC’s food scene, WHAT A GOOD IDEA! I HAVE TO GO!!

That mornings chemo convo led me to our schools database where I found Hotelies on the west coast and boom, 2 weeks later I was moving to San Francisco.

I’ve known for a very long time that I want to be a chef. I’ve also known for a long time that I don’t want to be a chef in a restaurant. My internship is now over and it was amazing and I miss it, but it’s just not the place for me. Working in a restaurant kitchen where you are making bulk sized everything and moving so quickly you are sweating, burning yourself, accidentally cutting yourself, and swearing every other minute takes away a lot of the beauty that deliciously prepared food is for me.

That being said, I could not have landed in a better place for the summer. Delfina is, and I’m not just saying this because I worked there, one of the most perfectly executed restaurants. The food is seriously delicious and the people working there are so passionate and kick ass, I felt inspired everyday and reassured that cooking is definitely something I want to do with my life. 

I learned more than I could have every imagined. I butchered so many ducks and rabbits, worked with so many new ingredients and vegetables I didn’t even know existed, and overall made some of the tastiest food ever.

I’m glad but sad it’s over. I’ll miss the food and the people, but I definitely won’t miss standing on my feet for 8 hours straight sweating as I deep fry zucchini….

And now, drum roll please, my summer in pictures!

One of the line chefs, Dante, plating our calamari dish.

Top 3 best days when I made pasta all night.

Beautiful meat slicer from La Quercia for a pork themed dinner.

Those zucchinis I mentioned earlier…

My height and age was the running joke all summer, it was great ;)

8AM fieldtrip to the most amazing and bountiful farmers market I’ve ever been to in San Rafael.

Working during service at our pizzeria next door was probably the highlight of my summer. I felt so bad ass with the pizza chefs!

It was hard to snap pictures at work since half the time my phone was in my locker, but I hope that was a good glimpse into my life in the kitchen. It amazing, although tough at times, but at least cancer never got in the way of it all. :)

Thanks, Delfina. I’m gonna miss ya!

Bye Bye Stanford

All done! Three California chemo’s and I’m all done. I can’t believe how quickly that went! Last Wednesday (2 days early) I had my last chemo with Dr. Neal. I got there late again (I swear it wasn’t my fault this time) so I stayed a little later than I should have, but they were all super sweet about putting me threw to chemo as fast as possible. I saw Dr. Neal and my nurse and after a quick check up they sent me upstairs to chemo. Dr. Neal is a super amazing man and doctor and I’m really going to miss his more comfortable, laid back approach. It’s not that other doctors make me nervous, but there’s something about everyone at Stanford that is just more relaxed. I’m so thankful my Dr. in NYC recommended him, even if it was a pain to get all the way down to Palo Alto.

Unfortunately I spent most of Friday and Saturday in bed with a headache I thought was going to make my head explode and a chest that was pretty sore at the site of my port. I think the nurse who took the IV out of my port did it too quickly, so I bled more than I should have and just ached for 3 days straight. I also slept 12 hours straight two nights in a row. I typically do that post chemo but can’t remember the last time I actually had the time to do it. It felt so nice to just sleep and relax :)

Already made my next appointment for August 16th in NYC!!!!! I’ve loved it here but I can’t wait to go home to MY doctors and MY hospital. Oh how I’ve missed Memorial Sloan Kettering!

Young Adult Advisory Board Meeting

I finally did it! I finally was able to make it, in person, to my very first Jill’s Lecacy/BJA Lung Cancer Foundation meeting.The last one I “went to” I was skyped in which of course isn’t as great as being somewhere in person. I’ve heard of and seen so many faces on the board, but never actually met many of them in person.  Last week, however, I was able to! I even finally got to meet Bonnie herself! Hey girl! So happy we finally met!!! (Kicking myself for not taking a picture with you)

The board meeting was held last week at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. We got a meeting room with some finger food and drinks, and after many introductions, we sat down and got down to business. 

The main goal of this meeting was to really touch base and go over our goals for 2013. We’re making a huge move to reach out to “young adults” who are being diagnosed with lung cancer and to maybe even one day get to the point where we can catch it before it even becomes a problem. 

"Our mission is to make lung cancer a chronically managed disease by 2013."

Do you think we can do it?

We also talked a lot about a new “young lung study” which would require performing advanced clinical genomics of young lung cancer patients to facilitate delivery of TARGETED therapies. So basically, we take a sample of a tumor, test it to find out a persons entire genome, and figure out the correct path of treatment for that specific person. I myself was lucky enough to have this test done and now my doctors in NYC have my entire genome. We don’t know much about which mutation works best with which cancer drug, but we’re getting there. For example, I was found to carry the ROS1 mutation which has been found to work well with some other cancer drug (the name is escaping me right now). What this means is that, I have a “plan b” set up if my current drugs ever start to fail me. 

Having your entire genome tested isn’t easy and it’s pretty expensive, but what we’re trying to do at Jill’s Legacy is to encourage hospitals and doctors to believe in this program and to understand how important it is that we do this study. Everyone is different and the drug that may work for me may not work for the next stage 4 lung cancer patient. So, we need to figure this out!!! We also talked about an inherit study. Can there potentially be a gene that was passed from parent to child? I always thought this wasn’t the case because no one in my family has had lung cancer that I know of, but we’re starting to think differently.

We also talked a lot about different ways to get the word out and get our name out there. A lot of people know about JL and BJALCF but not nearly enough. The entire meeting was extremely enjoyable with a bunch of super dedicated people yelling out thoughts and ideas. Besides Bonnie, I was the only person in the room (physically - we had some survivors/board members on the phone!) who was a “patient” and it was so heartwarming to meet so many who care so so much for finding an answer and a cure to this awful evil disease. I even got the chills a few times!

Overall, it was a super successful night and we left with some great ideas. I’m so happy and thankful I am in San Francisco so that I could attend such an important meeting. I promised the board I would be better at getting the word out via social media. I want to share, re-tweet, post, re-post, annoy, etc etc anything about lung cancer via social media so if anyone wants to jump on that boat with me that would be awesome! Everyone has a few friends that don’t know about JL but should so it’s our job to spread the word.

Alright, it’s time for me to head out! I have chemo a little later today and do not want to be late like I was last time!

Be back soon!

The past two weeks

Hello! Sorry for being so MIA for so long, but a lot has happened in the last two weeks. Mainly, going home with Katherine for the 4th and then hosting my older sister and friend from high school, Anna for the weekend.

Seattle was the most fun. It was the nicest mini-vacation. Coming back for work wasn’t so easy…

Seattle Gum Wall

Space needle!

We obviously did a lot of sightseeing but were able to relax and get a lot of sleep in as well. It was magical!

Katherine and I flew back early Monday morning so she can go to work and I can go to chemo. Ended up spending pretty much the whole day in the hospital which was a bummer but I guess that’s what happens when you’re late to your appointment! Not much complains post-chemo. Barely noticed any headaches which was great because I did not want to feel sick for my visitors this past weekend!

On Friday my sister Dassy and friend Anna arrived in SF! Of course, we did a lot of touristy things which include lunching at Tartine, dinner at Pizzeria Delfina, Ferry Building, In-N-Out, Ghiradelli, Lombard Street,  Alcatraz (from afar) just to name a few.

This picture doesn’t do it justice, but Lombard St. is beautiful.

Saturday night was our last night together which was very sad but super fun! We went out to dinner then stayed out a little too late. Today has been pretty lazy  with nothing too exciting to talk about except for some errands and a movie.

It’s been a fully packed past two weeks and thankfully cancer hasn’t gotten in the way of that! I have some exciting stuff coming up (Lung Cancer event) and a busy last few weeks at work. This Thursday I’m doing an early morning trip to the farmers market to buy fresh produce for Delfina! I’m the most excited about that and will definitely try and get pictures when I go.

I have an exciting post coming up that’ll really go into all that I’ve done at Delfina this summer and how I actually came across the internship. Super excited to write that post, but I just want to get as many good pictures as possible! (There is a picture of me next to a fish practically my size…)

If you would be interested in that, stay tuned, readers! Adios!

We have a car!

Well, we had a car for the weekend, and it was the nicest thing EVER.Thanks to my family over at Bonnie J Addario and Jill’s Legacy, I was able to do some things I probably couldn’t do with just public transportation.  Scott, the president and CEO offered me one of the company cars if I ever wanted to do some exploring outside the city, so I finally took him up on the offer and Katherine picked it up on her way home from work Friday night.

For those of you who don’t already know, SURPRISE! I don’t have my licence/don’t drive. So, Katherine was kind enough to be the driver for the weekend! We were so productive and did so much in 2 short days. The second she got home Friday night we headed over to Twin Peaks to finally catch a glimpse of the “greatest view of the city.”

It was a little too foggy to see the Golden Gate, but it’s definitely visible from this point. This area was packed with people taking pics, it was so so beautiful!

On Saturday, we made plans to go on a hike but it didn’t exactly work out. Instead, we drove all over the Presidio and then decided to drive across the bridge to Sausalito.

After our day adventures, Katherine and I finally had a housewarming party!

Here I am in the apron Katherine got me for my birthday!

The spread

Friends!

After a not so great night of sleep, we headed to Santa Cruz to spend our Sunday at the beach. Unfortunately Katherine and I both woke up sick but we still made the most of our day!

Top of the Ferris wheel!

At this point of the day, Katherine started feeling really ill :(
We stopped here before heading home because it’s been a whole month and we still haven’t been!

After a rough Monday at work, today was spent at home in bed. Katherine made it to work for a few hours before deciding she needed to come home and rest. We both got some weird cold/flu which we are desperately trying to get rid of because tomorrow we head to Seattle for the holiday weekend!! We are spending it at her house in Washington and are super excited!

I hope everyone has a safe and happy 4th! Will report on our trip as soon as I can!

*Thank you again to BJA and JL for letting us borrow the car for the weekend!!!

Children

If you were to compare Katherine and I to a pair of 5 year olds, you wouldn’t be far off. Even though I recently turned 21 and Katherine is turning 22 soon, (eeek!) we managed to fill our weekend with (super fun) childish things.

Saturday was spent at the Ferry building which included the farmers market, a ride on a old trolley (the F line), the pier, a carousel, and huge ice cream cones.

We continued this trend on Sunday… It rained for the first time since I’ve gotten here so we decided to spend the day indoors at the Walt Disney museum!

We decided to buy tickets to the Maurice Sendak exhibit which was awesome. It was small but pretty much told his whole life story throughout.

We then headed to the actual museum where we spent 3 hours. Luckily Kath is weird like me and enjoys reading every single thing in the museum!

All this disney talk inspired us to watch a disney movie, so we headed to the movie theatres to watch Monsters University. We yelped the closest theatre and ended up at Sundance Cinemas. This place was huge and unlike any movie theatre I have ever been to. They had 21+ auditoriums which sold beer and alcohol right outside, it was so cool. We decided to have the full experience and not feel like such 5 year olds. It was a great way to end the weekend and even better way to watch a movie!

This weekend we have some more grown up things planned so no fear, I haven’t turned into a 5 year old again! Except who am I kidding? We are 100% going to Great America theme park because we really want to ride on a roller coaster. Yup, I’m turning into a 5 year old again…. 

Have a good week, readers!

BJA Headquarters

How did I forget to mention my visit to BJA headquarters?! I’ve been imagining this building since I was first contacted by Bonnie and the gang over 2 years ago!

We lunched in San Carlos at Locanda Positano which included a huge charcuterie plate and even bigger pizza. We chatted it up and got to finally really meet each other. E-mails and phone calls don’t do these people justice. They were amazing. I honestly want to get lunch with them everyday. Hey guys, available anytime soon!?  After our meal, we got in the car for a quick tour of headquarters! It was even bigger and cooler than I imagined. I once skyped into a BJA and JL conference but it did not capture the laid back easy going atmosphere of the office. Their office is so cute and cozy. The first thing I said when I walked in was “I wanna work here!!” They have a great little set-up. Everyones cubicle/desk is around a circle which allows the team to easily see and talk to each other during the day. The greatest part of the building is their “living room” however. It’s exactly what you are thinking but better. One huge room with high ceilings, comfy couches, tables, and a big screen (where my face was on during that skype call!).

I honestly wanted to stick around and hang out but had chemo to attend to! On the ride over, Scott, who is the President and CEO of BJA, offered me the company car if I ever needed it for a weekend here and also offered other awesome things. They aren’t kidding when they say they take care of family. Scott also joked that if I came back to SF after graduation they’d having me working at the office which I happily accepted! They have been too great for me not to! Plus, like I said earlier, I would honestly LOVE to!!

I’m sad my visit with the team didn’t last longer but it was a great first one. And I know there will be many more to come!

Another great thing that came out of our meeting is the Cornell 5K site. It is now up and running! We are in the beginning stages, but we do have a date, time, and place for the 3rd annual walk at Cornell University. I’m super excited to get the ball rolling and make this another successful and fun year. 

Many things planned for this weekend! Be back soon!

Website: http://www.kintera.org/faf/home/default.asp?ievent=1076187

It was like my very first chemo all over again

Hi everyone!

I’m here to report on my very first chemo in Stanford… that strangely felt like my very first chemo ever! I felt so new to everything. This hospital, everyone, is HUGE and there was so much going on, I have to admit it was a little overwhelming! Not in a very bad way, but I definitely was the “new kid on the block” with  several other patients coming over to “welcome me” while I received treatment.

After getting my port accessed and blood work taken, I saw Dr. Neal quickly before reporting to chemo. There isn’t much to say on that end besides that Dr. Neal prescribed me some stronger pain medicine for my “after-chemo headaches” that have been starting to act up lately. Of course after I ask for them I don’t really need them as I was (mostly) headache free all weekend! Yay!

Here are two pictures I snapped throughout the day. It was such a busy hospital, I felt weird taking too many pictures.

Here is the infamous machine I get connected to every 3 weeks. For those of us who have never been to chemo and are new and or confused about it, here’s the damn thing! haha. Those two smaller bags up top are my bevacizumab and pemetrexed aka the two cancer drugs I am on. One takes 10 minutes to drip down my line into my system and the other takes 30. So, realistically the whole process takes about an hour which makes it short and sweet.

Now while chemo was easy here and everything went well, I’d be lying if I said it was my favorite chemo suite. In NYC at MSK I’m used to being on a lung cancer floor. I only deal and see other lung cancer patients who are getting the same drugs as I am. In Ithaca, the chemo suite treats all kinds of cancers together, but it is so small I barely see any of the other patients. At Stanford, I was put in the biggest, scariest room ever!! Ok, I’m exaggerating, but it’s going to take some getting used to. This place was huge and there were so many sick patients all around me it made me a little uncomfortable. I’ve actually never seen patients who need blood transfusions during chemo. What this means is that attached to their infamous little machine is a scary looking bag of dark red blood. Now, sorry if this is a little TMI (too much info) but boy oh boy it gave me a jump and is something I’m definitely going to have to get used too!

Besides that, I loved all the nurses :) and everyone was super helpful and sweet. Which was impressive for such a huge facility dealing with way too many patients.

So that was basically my day with cancer! Before that I had an awesome lunch with Jill’s Legacy in San Carlos. Hi guys! Thank you so much again for lunch and my birthday present! I arrived at the table to a card signed by everyong and a bottle of red wine which I then actually lugged around the hospital all day. I thought it was pretty funny. I was definitely getting some questionable looks… me, with my port accessed, with a bottle of wine, walking all over the place. whoopsies!

Saturday I woke up to sunshine and a full day of activities planned!

Saturday started here for the yummiest brunch. This place won me over with their amazing home fries (and the bottomless mimosas probably helped too).

I then went to the North Beach festival which was enormous and awesome. So many vendors, things to try and see. It was pretty windy but definitely worth it.

After that I went to the mission to finally try out Tartine Bakery! The lines here are always out the door and down the block. I got a delicious cappuccino as a pick me up before an even more delicious birthday dinner my friend Caedran treated me to! We decided to leave SF and head over to Sausalito since I had never been. 

Our table had an awesome view. It was mostly seafood, so I got the crab cakes and Caedran got the Mahi Mahi. They were both unbelievably fresh and yummy tasting.

Quick stop in between dinner and desserts for this beautiful view of the GG bridge.

We decided against desserts at Scoma’s so we could head over to…

and order…

Now I have to be honest with all of you and tell you that at this point of the night I began to feel very sick. We can’t decide if it was something I ate or chemo, but my stomach has been evil since Saturday night. I’m started to feel a little better, but I’ve definitely seen brighter days :(

My tummy troubles didn’t stop us from heading over to Off the Grid food trucks in Presidio Park. Every weekends a bunch of food trucks congregate at different locations in SF to sell their goods. Music is playing and hundreds of people go. I found out the one in Presidio Park is the smallest event with only about 10 vendors, so Katherine and I have already planned to go back on Friday to the really big one at Fort Mason.

Regardless, Sunday was the perfect sunniest day for Off The Grid. Caedran got a fish taco while I got an Argentinean empanada. We then bought a bunch of fruit and sat in the grass for 2 hours listening to the music and getting some sun.

Best berries I’ve had in… ever?

and then the best peaches ever ever ever, hands down.

I ended the afternoon in bed trying to feel better and eating chicken noodle soup!

Only 3 days left until my weekend again! :)

Have a wonderful week, readers!