I have had such an eventful weekend! Well, that is pretty much an understatement, I had a blast! I would have to say that this ranks up in the best weekends of my life (so far!)
On Friday, Job came over to my house at around 1pm so that we could go to the UFC weigh-ins and faced-offs at 2:30. The drive up there was pretty uneventful, except that we talked about everything and anything. When we got to Sleeptrain Arena, we walked to the entrance to the stadium and I ended up showing my email from the Vice President of the UFC Reed Harris inviting me to the weigh-ins. I was so thankful that I had kept the emails in a separate folder in my mailbox so that I could find them! Job and I walked into the stadium and found our way to some open seats (there were many because it was during an interview and only those in the fight club were invited) and we watched the interview and then made our way down to the bottom of the seats to meet with Reed Harris and got to our VIP seats to watch the weigh-ins and face-offs. I had talked to Reed on the phone to arrange everything for the weekend, but had not met him until that day. He was all amped up and excited about the event, as were Job and I. The cover for the UFC video game for Xbox was revealed and we got to meet Jon Jones, who will be featured on the cover. He is such a nice guy! Job and I took pictures with him and talked to him for a little bit while wandering through the backstage tour. We also got to meet Urijah Faber (well Job already knew him and Faber did recognize him, which was awesome) and took pictures with him, and also chatted with him for a bit. We also got pictures with Chad Mendes who was all smiley and visibly excited for his fight. I also got to talk with Scott Jorgensen for a while and he was so ready for his fight, as he was going down a weight class and actually looked healthy for going down to flyweight. He was so easy-going and even said that he wished he brought extra t-shirts to give us (they are awesome t-shirts and super soft!) and he has cool, colorful, well-done tattoos. Yeah, I am a bit of a tattoo snob even though I only have one! Job and I also got to meet the President of the UFC, Dana White. I found out that Job and I would be sitting in the seats in his area, so I had to thank him for that! Both Reed Harris and Dana White are just so generous to let Job and I experience what we did, and it was not for publicity or anything, it was to make me happy and to give an experience of a lifetime. As much as I am new to MMA and am still learning about it, I have so much respect for it. I have been around wrestling (and wrestling) since 7th grade, so that part of MMA I know very well. The other styles of fighting, not so much. I am still learning the submission moves, but am just fascinated by them. Okay, back to Friday! Job and I also got to meet Joe Rogan, the host of Fear Factor and commentator for the UFC fights. I will be honest, it was very hard for me to tell Dana White and Joe Rogan apart! They are both short, built, baldies. Their voices are completely different but man, guarenteed that they could have switched places in high schools and not have their teachers notice! (Go baldies!) I also got a picture with the Octagon Girls (who are absolutely gorgeous!) I figure that back when I was in shape I was toned enough to do that, which I think is nice that the girls who are seen as beautiful and kind of represent part of the UFC are muscular and toned. The last person who Job and I met was Demetrious Johnson, who was in the featured fight for Saturday for the World Flyweight Championship. He might only be 5’3″, but he is 5’3″ of pure muscle who could easily beat the crap out of anyone, not to mention that at 125lbs, he is extremely fast. He was also a really nice guy, just like everyone else who I met at the weigh-ins. I loved how down-to-earth everyone was and that they were not the stuck up athletes that are associated with being a professional. They don’t have the sense of entitlement that other top athletes have, and Job was telling me that when you can beat up 99% of the population, there is no need to prove yourself. I think that is perfect! So Job and I got to see everyone face-off after they made their weight on a scale in front of everyone. Pretty much all of the fighters looked emaciated from cutting the weight to make their weight class, but of course, all of them made weight. Not like in high school where some did not make weight and could not wrestle. When this is your livelihood and your love, you make weight. In high school, most of the wrestlers are not nearly as dedicated and are just wrestling to make their parents happy or to make their resumes look better. Everyone in MMA genuinely loves what they do and you can just tell. It was cool to see everyone face-off and meet each other face-to-face and so that I could stack up the competitors and choose who I thought would win just based on their body type. Oh, and Reed Harris sent me home with some goodies! I got a UFC duffle bag, a hoodie, four-tshirts (and one for Job!), two VIP lanyards, a program for the Saturday event, and two posters (one signed by all of the fighers!) You could say that I will be sporting my t-shirts and jacket pretty often.
Saturday could not come fast enough! I was so excited for the day to come! I had my outfit planned out already and could not wait to get ready. I woke up at 11:30am so that I would be out the door at 12:30pm. I took a shower and put on my makeup and dress. My red and black lace dress had a cutout in the back that showcased my scorpion tattoo, and I wore eyeliner and red lipstick, as well as my red and black nails that I did myself the night before. I was planning on wearing an Ariel-red wig that was long and curly, but it would not show my tattoo so I went for my blonde wig that I got when I was first diagnosed in 2011. It looked perfect! So Job came pretty much right at 12:30pm and had to eat, but he was lucky that I was having my wig issues that I was not waiting on him. We ended up arriving at the Sleeptrain Arena at the perfect time and got to our seats (3rd row floor seats!) just in time to watch the first fight, which was scheduled at 1:30pm. After the first fight, Reed Harris met with Job and I and invited us to sit right by the cage and watch the first few fights from there. We got to wear headphones to listen to Joe Rogan talk about what was going on in the fight. We could hear every breath, every punch, every throw that went on in the cage. It was surreal being right there! There was a lot of bloodshed and I can’t say that it grossed me out. I might seem like a sweet, innocent girl but I love my horror movies and I have had my fair share of blood transfusions, so I am very, very used to blood and gore. It was neat, after every fight the cage is cleaned very thoroughly to ensure that the blood was gone from the fight before. Job and I also were basically right there behind the fighter and their team during the between rounds (they get pretty much a minute break in between the three five-minute rounds). We could hear what the team on our side of the ring were saying and their game plans, that was so neat! So after a while, Reed Harris had to kick us out from our cage-side seats so that those who were supposed to sit there could get their seats. But we did not have to return to our 3rd row seats right away, we got to talk to the lead singer of The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Anthony Keidis, as he had 1st row seats (not the cage-side seats) and Reed Harris introduced us to him. He is a really chill guy! He is really into MMA and surfing, and I have to respect that athletic side of him along with the fact that he has quite the voice. When the next fight was about to start, that is when Job and I returned to our actual seats. I had to find a business card in my purse to give to Anthony Keidis, and finally found one and made Job reach over and hand it to him since he has a much longer wingspan than I do. At one point Job and I did get up to go to the restroom, as it was a long day, and I got some coffee drink which was not very good, but very refreshing. I missed most of one of the fights waiting in line for that drink so I was a little sad about that. Oh, and I ate a hotdog and got some popcorn (which I did share with Job) and ordered a margarita just because I could. It was a little too strong for me, so after two sips I gave it to Job because I did not want any more. Just the thought of alcohol makes my stomach upset now, so I am definitely not the average newly 21 year old. When the main two fights were about to start, the whole stadium was filled to the brim! Everyone was so stoked for Urijah to fight and to win! Of course, he did win and knocked out his opponent. The crowd went berserk! Job and I jumped out of our seats and were cheering! We also did the same when Johnson knocked out his opponent- it came so fast and was unexpected! That’s the thing with MMA, one little mistake and someone will capitalize on it. And there are so many mistakes that can be made and so many opportunities, it is crazy. So we jumped out of our seats again and were going wild! Just then, Reed Harris goes to our seats and grabs me and pulls me to near the cageside, and I got to see Jon Jones again, who recognized Job and I from the day before. So anyways, Reed pulled me to the entrance of the cage and hands me the belt for the World Flyweight Championship. He takes pictures of me with my phone and I am just blown away that I am holding something so important (and surprisingly heavy!). He then tells me that I am going to go up in the cage and hand the belt to give to UFC president Dana White to give to the World Flyweight Champion, Demetrious Johnson. Wow! I know I was shaking more than normal due to the excitement. I was going to be on TV! Just in the background, but still! And I was looking all dressed-up and fantastic, I was stoked and slightly nervous. I actually was on the tv, and I had no idea that I would ever in a million years get to go in the cage! Talk about feeling special! So when I exited the cage and walked back to my seat, where Job still was, he had no idea what was going on! He did not know that I went in the cage or anything, he was not paying attention! He saw how jittery I was and had to ask what happened, so I told him. Yeah, he was excited and a little jealous about it, but mostly excited that I got to experience this. We said our goodbyes and thank yous to Reed Harris and everyone else and went to look for my car. It took us twenty minutes to finally find it, as we were looking in the wrong direction. Luckily, I had Job with me so I did not feel uncomfortable walking around, and I can always use a little exercise. I was just relieved when we did find it! Not to mention, some of the cars were cleared out and I could actually back out of the parking space. Always have to look at the positives in every situation!
Sunday was a Susette day! She is back in town for a while for Christmas Break so we just had to squeeze in a day to hang out. She came over and we went to Crazy Sushi to gorge ourselves with food. We went to town on our sushi! On top of the two rolls each that we ate, I also had some miso soup. You could say that we were very satisfied and full by the time we left. When we got back to the house, we had to do our thing and watch horror movies. We ended up watching the original Black Christmas and Rosemary’s Baby. Both classic movies and we did enjoy both of them, although Rosemary’s Baby made us mad and laugh at the same time just because of how ridiculous the outfits and makeup are. We also got to talk and set up to hang out tomorrow! I normally do not get this much Susette time, so I am thrilled about this.
Monday was a relatively lazy day, except that I had to go to the Morse Avenue Kaiser to get my blood drawn and cross-typed and matched in case I needed a blood transfusion on Wednesday. Morse will send over the blood to Roseville so I did not have to make the longer trip down to Roseville to get cross-typed and matched there. Turns out, my blood counts are rising on their own so I do not need to get my blood transfusion tomorrow! I will have to get my blood drawn tomorrow just to check and see if my platelets are rising on their own and are not just the ones that were transfused to me on Thursday, because I did get two units of the yellow stuff. Since I was in the area, I stopped by the Cheesecake Factory to get myself some lunch. I have never been there and decided to give it a try. I ordered some fried zucchini, four-cheese pasta, and Oreo cheesecake. The fried zucchini was mushy and oily because the oil was not hot enough when it was fried (I know this because I watch so much Food Network). The pasta was amazing and the portion was HUGE! I ate it for lunch and dinner, and they gave me some bread with the order. The cheesecake was fantastic too! It turns out that it is the 2nd best-selling cheesecake, so I made the perfect choice. I still have leftover cheesecake too so it was a great deal for me…
Today was a Kevin day! We went back to Huong Lan, the Vietnamese sandwich shop in Sacramento. I got myself another ham, headcheese, and pate banh mi, some shrimp crackers, coconut-flavored rice crackers, pork buns, mocha boba drink, this Vietnamese ham that I had no clue what it was and it surprised me when I bit into it, some custard filled buns that I have yet to try, and my personal favorite, some eggy, pork things. I do not how to describe them other than delicious. I cannot compare them to anything I have ever tried before. Oh, and I brought my mom a BBQ banh mi and made her very happy. So Kevin and I got to see so many weird people just on our way to drop off my mom her sandwich! The most memorable one was this lady in a bright pink outfit and had what I thought were flower sunglasses. Kevin said they were actually “2013” New Years type glasses. That made sense to me, well not really. We both were cracking up at our people-watching skills. When we got back to my house, we started chowing down and turned on Jerry Springer. Man, do I love that show. My dad even loves watching that show with me because it is so ridiculous. We also watched Wife Swap and then Kevin left to walk off his food and to relax some more at his house. We had so many great Lauren and Kevin moments and talks, so it was a great day. As I have been typing this, I was watching Pawn Stars, Chopped, and now The Biggest Loser with my dad.
I have to say, being at the UFC fight event made me feel so normal. It made me forget that I have this horrible disease of cancer for a day. I looked completely normal (and dare I say hot!) and no one stared at me because I was the bald girl. I am so thankful for that, and trust me, any time that I feel healthy (well healthy for me is totally different than being healthy for the average person) is the best moment for me. I love it.
I am also so thankful to everyone who has been supporting me along my journey. Whether you have been there since the start or are just hearing about my story, I am thankful for you being there for me. There is nothing more that I can ask for than support. I need as much help as I can get when it comes to getting the word out about childhood (and young adult) cancer. I WANT as much help as I can get to get this research funded so that so many of us will not die due to this disease. I want the rate of survival for metastatic Ewing’s Sarcoma to rise from around 20% to in the 90s (or 100%). Adults who are diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma already have a lower survival rate so I am already at a disadvantage. I know that this is a scary fact. It terrifies me, but I always remember that I am not just a statistic and I am constantly defeating the odds. I am strong physically and mentally and that helps me tremendously. I want to be one of those few who does come out on top of the disease. I do reach my goals that I set for myself- they might seem tough or even impossible at times, but I work for them and achieve them in the end. I want to get more cures for every childhood cancer (although I do favor cures and research for Ewing’s Sarcoma) because no child or young adult deserves to go through this. No one. I lost a dear friend to Ewing’s Sarcoma and it has taken up too much of my life and is making my life hell so I have a vendetta against it. I take this personally, very personally. Having these low survival rates for youngsters is just unacceptable, so I need all the help I can get to spread the word that this is not okay. Childhood cancer needs a nice kick in the butt!
So my lesson that I learned this weekend was one that I really noticed at the UFC weigh-ins and at the actual fights. I have always felt that having friendly competition is very important. On my team, I had a few girls who were faster than I was in certain events and I would strive to beat them. I let them know that I wanted to beat them because they were better than I was. This would end up pushing all of us, because we could respect the effort put in by each other to be fast. It was also flattering for the people whom I wanted to beat, because that meant that I genuinely thought they were good. I also figure that by expressing my desires to work hard to beat these specific people and by telling them in person, they could know that I was not conspiring against them to steal their spot. This also would get my teammates to work just a bit harder because they knew I was gunning it for them. The thing is, they knew that I was putting in the effort in to try to beat them and that I was not just going to magically get faster than they were. Or that I wanted to beat another girl because I wanted a spot on the “A” relay at state. I sure did work my butt off to get there, and I would have had a spot on at least one “A” relay, had my body cooperated for one more week and decided to not have my lung collapse, but hey, life is unpredictable! This is only going to push me more to get back in the pool and get a better time when I am healthier. I think with this unfriendly competition, things are taken personally and feelings get involved when they really should not be. Seriously! If we are all working hard and putting in the time and effort (Okay, I had unfriendly competition with one girl on our team but we all did with the same one, because she did not come to any practices and was constantly drinking and was still super fast, but that is another story) then may the best person win! This is a competition, a sport, it is not meant for feelings. It is meant for our muscles and mental ability to get us to win. So in the MMA fighters, everyone works so hard and is so dedicated to their sport that they appreciate their opponents. They always learn from each other, and the fighting styles are so different (like every swimmer has a different stroke and body type) so it is not truly a loss when someone loses a fight. They learn and adapt with every fight. One technique will work better against one person than another, and person A can beat person B, person C can beat person A, and person B can beat person C. When a good hit or move is landed, the other person acknowledges it. Even though one has been hit in the face, they nod or smile because they respect the other person. Really interesting to me! MMA is also so unpredictable, one mistake can bring a champion down. That is why there is so much respect within the sport, it is a mental game. I think if people take the fights personally and dislike each other, the fight not be as clean and not as enjoyable. I love seeing people go against each other who are friends, they all shake hands and move on after the fight. There is just something about that that I can relate to. When I have someone who I am friends with (even on another team) who beats me, I take it better than someone who I do not feel deserves it. Oh, and when the nice people who do not walk around like their shit don’t stink win, it just feels better. So moral of the story: be nice and respect the effort of other people. Learn from them and they are probably learning from you!
So here are some videos that I am in, the first is the KCRA interview (which the title says I am 18, but I promise I am 21, they got confused because I was first diagnosed when I was 18 and now I have relapsed at this age, well in May I did) and the second is where you can see me in the background at the UFC World Flyweight Championship belt-giving. (Oh I just added the post-fight interview Youtube video)
So again, here are a few organizations that you can donate to that fund childhood cancer research:
And here are my social networking sites: