Fighting a Losing Battle

True to the title, I got bad news today from the tumor board meeting. I was also coming in because I have been experiencing excruciating pain on my shoulder/neck area and on the left side bottom of my ribs. I rated it on a scale of 1-10 as an 8. In the hospital, they kind of made me put my pain scale to where I needed meds at 4. And knowing how much I tolerate pain-wise, this was an incredible amount of pain for me. I took some pain pills before my appointment to dull the pain, and it did to an extent. I could not sleep well and had to get out of bed early to put on two ice packs for my two hurt areas. I then went to my appointment with my nurse-practitioner to hear about the results from tumor board.

It turns out, that the ICE (aka hardcore chemo) that I had taken less than a month ago did not have much of an effect. I also found out that I am inoperable, there is no benefit for putting me in pain from surgery. Radiation will hurt my heart even more, and that is my main issue. My heart has fluid or tumor around it and in the left side of the pericardium. Basically, the surgery would be incredibly dangerous as it would be near my heart, but it would also expose other tissue that has cancer cells in it, causing them to grow into tumors. As it stands, my heart has pressure on it and will eventually not be able to pump as much blood out to the body, causing eventual organ failure. So this was not the news that I wanted to hear. I cried and cried, I swear my timing with everything is awful. I know I will be able to live to see my 21st birthday and the New Year. I still have more goals that I need to achieve before I leave the earth.

So here are my plans for the near future. My mom and I are going to fly out to San Diego on Friday because we are going to get tattoos on Saturday. Yeah, the best tattoo shop that I found was in San Diego, so that is exactly where we are going. I am going to be getting a black scorpion that I have been planning on, while my mom is getting a heart-shaped lock with two keys, representing Mark and I. Egor will be visiting us for the day that we are getting the tattoos because he is stationed there. This makes for perfect timing, because I am going to be seeing all my friends soon, luckily it is close to winter break so my out-of-state friends will be flying home. I am so excited to see DeAngela and Aly! I am going to be visiting Susette up at UC Santa Cruz and visit her during a weekday- it has been forever since I have seen that chick! Kevin lives close by so obviously that will be easy to see him. I am unsure of when Job gets home from his training, and I miss him so he better be coming back soon! I miss my crew, I know we will all get together. I am also going to be visiting my swim team at DVC next week after I have taken my day with Susette. So I will spend two days or so in the Bay Area. On Thursday, I am getting another echo cardiogram and meeting with a bunch of the oncology team to see what they can do to prolong my life as possible. Let’s be real, I still have more things to accomplish and more places to visit, as well as more people to reach out to. I am also going to be planning a Florida trip after I hear what my treatment options are. As many of you know, I LOVE Florida and it has been my dream to go to Florida Gulf Coast University and to live down there with my dad. I wanted to get a boat and have cars and constantly be tan because of the amazing weather. Bugs are not a big deal for me whatsoever, and I am sure my soon-to-be tattoo will scare them off. Luckily, we have a great family friend who is more of family than friend, who has a vacation house in Tampa that is connected to a canal and he has a boat. I love that house so much, so I am excited to visit it. I am planning on going sky-diving with Kevin in the near future. It is worth the risk. I am also planning on going to Las Vegas with Kathryn and Cheryl and my mom to eat the good food, go to the clubs, watch the shows. Kathryn and I are one day apart, I am the older one. So we both turn 21 in December, so we have been planning on having all the fun- with our moms paying for it. Hehe. They know it and they don’t mind because it will be so worth it. I will be renting a scooter thing in Vegas because I am not going to walk more than is necessary and getting out of breath. Other than these things, I need to think a little more about what my bucket list should consist of.

So with my whole dying thing, I have an idea of what it is, to die. For some, it means going to heaven, being reincarnated, etc. For me, I believe it is a lot like sleeping (and boy, do I love sleeping) and dreaming. I have had dreams where people who have died have visited me. Andrew visited me in a dream and it was real. Uncle Mike visited me in a dream and it was real. They are always happy in the dreams and I know that they are ok and that they love me. I promise that I will visit my friends’ and family’s dreams often, and it will be the real me. This is one thing that I am sure of, I will always visit and always be happy. Whenever you dream about someone who has died (who you care about) then they are watching you and are with you. I will want you to be happy in the dream, because we would both know that we care about each other. I firmly believe in this, and it makes sense to me and there is no need to worry about everything. Dreams are amazing and they are always entertaining, so I will never be bored, especially if I end up visiting in one of YOUR dreams. I will visit as often as I can, I am never going to go away for good! Let’s be honest, I think I am a pretty memorable person! Besides, I have so much knowledge about how to kill zombies and stuff, so I would be a perfect teammate for a zombie apocalypse dream.I never die in those dreams and I have to say that I am beyond legit in them. I use flamethrowers, chainsaws, and have other-worldly athletic/jumping abilities. So happy hunting ;]

Another thing I wanted to discuss is what you should get out of knowing me and what I want each and every reader to do for me, kind of as a parting gift:

  • pass on the knowledge that it is better to be happy and think of the good things in life.
  • Do not be a negative person, but if you do have to vent every once in a while, then you are more than welcome to.
  • Just do not suck up the positive energy from your friends, have all of you feed off each other and be even more positive
  • Be confident in who you are. Sure, modesty is key, but it is best for you to acknowledge how awesome you are. People love hanging out with confident people (not to be confused with cocky) and again, there goes the positive energy. Hell, I am bald and am super white from not swimming, am getting too skinny for my likes (including having the tiniest wrists known to man) yet I STILL know that I am not only attractive (I think I am pretty darn good looking actually), but I know that I am very intelligent, a good friend, and a great mother to my kitty, Panda.
  • Embrace your not-so-fantastic traits. I know that I am overly obsessed with my cat and that I would put him over having a relationship with a guy any day. I would not have it any other way. I get overly-irritated at people for no reason. I guess I am too good at showing how I feel based on my facial expressions, and annoyance is a very common one for me. I will own up to that, but I would never change it (well, I can work on it, I am not ashamed of this personality flaw). I get overstimulated by people when we are inside. Especially in my own house. Every noise bothers me (it seems that I have incredibly good hearing by the way) and I just end up shutting down completely. Outside and with a group of friends, I am perfectly fine. But sometimes I just need to have someone present, but silent. I enjoy the company of others and just them being there makes me feel happy. Words are not always needed. I feel if you are truly comfortable around someone, you can just sit and enjoy each other’s company. I have social anxiety, but who wouldn’t after being taken from one harsh reality to another? I am not as bad as I used to be, but it sometimes gets to me. I am a big flake. This is attributed by my social anxiety for the most part. Sad as that is, but my flaking is never to hurt someone, it is just my brain freaking out on me. I am also very, very, OCD about time. I need to plan everything out and bring every possible thing that we might need for an activity. But that does have a good part, that I am always on time! Hm. What other personality flaws do I have? Well, I get incredibly angry when people complain, mostly about pain or how much their life sucks. Cuz, um, no. Their life does not suck. Everything can always be worse, even in my case. Just be happy with the cards you have been given, and if you aren’t pleased with how your life is going, work on it. Nobody likes a negative Nancy, so just be positive. Also, when  people complain about pain to me on a regular basis and it is not warranted, I will give absolutely no sympathy or empathy. Sorry =P
  • Another thing, do things in your life that if you were to be dying in a month, that you would be proud of the things you have done. Would you be proud of drinking every night til you puke? Would you be proud of constantly fighting with your parents? Would you be proud if you were a bully? Accomplish great things! I am not saying a party once in a while is bad at all, quite the opposite. Have as much fun as you can, but accomplish your goals that you would be proud of sharing with everyone. Make it so that at the funeral, people could say “he worked incredibly hard in math”, “he saved me from being bullied”, “he was such a great football player and was dedicated to the sport”, “he was such a nice guy and no one can say anything bad about him”, “whenever we had problems, we were always able to talk things out and stop fighting”, “he was the best big brother that anyone could ask for”, “he was the best son anyone could ask for”, “he was my best employee, he always helped the customers in a friendly manner and was never late to work”, “he helped out with the community so much, it made a difference in people’s lives”. Life is all about the choices you make, so make the right choice. Make the choice to stand up to a bully, work extra hard in practice, be dedicated to your boyfriend/girlfriend and treat them well, learn how to play that instrument that you have always dreamed about, go the extra distance for a friend in need, be kind to your family, be appreciative of your teachers, do something that makes you happy- cooking, dancing, a new hobby. Play videogames, but also have another hobby that is a little more tangible (sport, job, instrument, help around the house without being asked). I really don’t think any of these things are boring. I always thought it would be fun to learn a new language- I know a few words in Japanese, Russian, and Spanish, but that is about where it goes. Save up your money and go to the concert of your dreams or go take a dream vacation. Set goals and achieve them. Make sure you are happy. I know that I set a lot of goals for myself, and I do achieve them. My best example by far is that I qualified as an All American without my full lung function and cancer already in my body- without even swimming in state! Make reachable, but difficult goals and they will taste all the sweeter when you accomplish them. I promise!
  • Of course, I cannot express this enough, be a good friend and surround yourself with people who are also good friends. Talk things out if there are ever any problems (which, chances are, will happen) and see things from the other person’s point of view. I swear it works and you get a better understanding of your friend and how they tick. If someone does something incredibly deceitful and wrong to you, drop that friend because they are no friend to you. Do not worry about popularity, don’t hang out with a bunch of people who you hate and who hate you back just to be in the in-crowd. It is so not worth it. In the end, popularity gets you nowhere. Being nice actually does. People will want to be around you more and will be nice to you back. Don’t be a kiss-ass, just be genuine and nice. It will make your life so much easier and so much more enjoyable when you spend it with people you care about and who care about you right back. Also, compliment your friends when you truly feel like they deserve a compliment. It is as easy as telling them that they are such a good friend and you are glad that you have met them, to saying that they are attractive , smart, etc. Especially when a friend is down, be nice to them and cheer them up by trying to make them laugh. (One of my catch-phrases from high school swim that I still use today is, “It’s a little nipply outside!”, joking about how when you are in a swimsuit and it is cold outside, your nipples get obviously hard. I also stick out my index fingers and pretend that they are my nipples. It never ceases to make people laugh, and trust me, having the sticking out nipples is a little awkward and embarrassing, but by making a joke about it makes everyone more comfortable about themselves)
  • Another thing that I cannot stress enough, is: stay away from the drama llamas. Seriously, though. They just drag you down and it gets old very fast. This reminds me of the couples that are always extremely public in their constant breakups and makeups. Or if you have Twitter beef with someone- how immature can you be? If you have an issue with someone or someone has an issue with you, plain and simply grow some balls and talk it out. That is not only the easiest, but the best way to solve any problems or any misunderstandings. Social media is no way to air your dirty laundry pretty much every day. It is annoying and draining trying to figure out if people are dating or not dating if they have public breakups and fights publicized. Like, seriously, it makes them sound so immature and so dramatic. If you breakup and makeup every other day and make a big deal about it, chances are that you are not meant for each other. You may love one another very much, but you can never be truly happy if the relationship flip flops so much. As much as I have pretty much no experience dating, I have seen my friends and others enough so that I have a pretty darn clear view of things. Sure, my longest relationship was 3 months when I was a senior in high school. Sure, the most recent guy I dated only lasted 3 weeks (horrible timing, really, that’s the story of my life). However, since I have a good self-worth and I know who I am and what I want in a guy, the last guy I dated and I got along perfectly. We would communicate and were honest with each other about everything, he even asked me questions about “periods” in general, because he was genuinely curious and felt comfortable asking me about this very uncomfortable subject. That is how I feel relationships should be, about communication and understanding (well, as a base, other things are needed of course). So please, stop with the Facebook, Twitter, even real life drama. It is a big waste of time and energy that could be spent having fun and being happy. Just let it sink in and think about it. You will end up agreeing with me.
  • Another thing, do not be judgmental of people so easily. Yeah, a first impression is needed and we always judge by what we see, but there is normally more substance to a person than just the outside. Give someone a chance to be your friend, do not decide that they are not “cool” enough for you if you haven’t even spent time with them. If you do talk to them for a little while and THEN decide that you two do not click as friends, then that is perfectly fine. It is definitely a “don’t judge a book by its cover” situation, but I don’t expect you to not judge them by the outward appearance. Hell, I do. I judge people on the clothes they wear, their eyebrows, and their teeth. Oh, and shoulders (it’s a swimmer thing). But that does not mean that I will outcast someone if they do not look like my ideal person. Normally you end up finding things in common and that this, maybe strange looking person, really is awesome and you share a lot of the same interests. Just food for thought!
  • Um, if I haven’t already said this, be grateful for what you have. Sure, things could be better, but they could also be worse. Be grateful that you have pretty eyes, that you have an amazing pet, that you have good looking legs, that you are smart, that you can write poems, that you are athletic, that you have a normal family bond, that you have great friends, that you are alive. That is the biggest thing, be happy that you are alive and well (maybe not in perfect health, but you are indeed alive if you are reading my blog). That is what I ask of you.

I am sure that I will think of other things that I need to add to this list of “Lauren Lessons” that I have already. You can learn a lot from people who have gone through hardships and kept their heads up. You can learn a lot from your parents, grandparents, and even friends. So please read and really let what I have said sink in and take it to heart. And mostly, be happy. That is the best feeling in the world. So do things that make you happy, be with people who make you happy, be happy with yourself.

I will keep you guys updated on everything that is going on, and my breathing is fine and I can walk. I am not a goner just yet! (I feel like it will be a long while before anything gets super critical in my health) So if you could, as much as I do not believe in God, but I do believe in the power of wishful thinking and the power of prayers. So if you could please, please hope, pray, wish, have good thoughts about me, anything that can help. I would really appreciate it. I need all the support I can get.

Oh, and if you could please forward my blog to all of your friends, family, teammates, coworkers, etc that would be great. I am trying to reach out and touch as many people as possible. I would love to share my knowledge, my battle, and my thoughts with as many people as I can. I need the public to be aware that childhood cancer is deadly and honestly, there are never as good of cure rates because it is hard to do a clinical trial on a child. I am at that awkward stage, but I do have pediatric cancer. Please spread the word about pediatric cancer and my blog. I also have about 500 business cards with my name, email address, my slogan “Raising Awareness. Changing Perspectives.”, my blog (TheNotDyingGirl.com), my phone number, and another message that states, “Talk about it. Make Childhood Cancer a household name.” I would really appreciate it if some of my friends/ acquaintances could get a few from me and hand them out to people who would actually read about it and spread the word. I want Pediatric Cancer to have a name as big as Breast Cancer Awareness Month (Childhood Cancer Awareness Month is actually in September, but guaranteed no  one knew anything about it, and our ribbon is gold by the way, my specific one for sarcoma is yellow) so that the research and funding is given to where it needs to be put the most- into the world’s future, the kids.

So I am done for now, I need to go to bed and change, because I am sooo hot and sweaty with a blanket covering my legs, on top of that blanket is my equally hot laptop, and I am wearing pajama pants and a sweatshirt. Yeah, it is time for me to go.

Here is my contact information:

Lauren McCullough

@facebook: laurenmccullough2

@twitter: swimchickLM

@instagram: swimchicklauren

@vine: swimchicklauren

email: shashimi1992@yahoo.com

My Bipolar Day

Today I woke up and was happy to see that my dad was still in the hospital. Turns out that he had taken the day off because he had some errands of some sort to run, but it meant that he could spend a little bit more time with me in the morning. I was expecting Eden to come at around 10 so I decided that I had to get ready a little bit earlier than I normally do. Eden came a little bit earlier than I had thought, so while I was washing my hair and body she went to hang out with the nurses until I was all nice and clean (in a hospital sense of clean). When I was done she came back to hang out with me and while my dad went to get breakfast downstairs. Eden always talks about how much she loves talking to me and just hanging out with me alone, because we have so much in common and we have shared our cancer experiences together. So while talking, my nurse Carole came in with a blonde mustache attached to her face. We immediately started laughing, and I had to get out the mustaches that Robyn handed me a few days earlier. Eden and I put on our blonde mustaches and joined the fun! We were taking pictures and videos when DeAngela came in, so she had to join in the action- although the blonde definitely was not her color. Eden’s stache was a thin one, kind of french looking if you asked me. My mustache looked like something a deputy would have, while DeAngela’s stache was one that matched with a sheriff’s.
When my EMTs came, Eden left and DeAngela and I kept our mustaches so we could surprise my awesome radiologists. I really liked the EMTs that I had today. They were extremely nice and had no problem whatsoever with taking DeAngela with them. In their own words, “She could even want to stop by McDonald’s and we wouldn’t care,” So they were already winners in my heart. They were three heavy set men with a sense of humor that I could enjoy. With one of them, DeAngela and I felt comfortable enough to have more adult conversations with, and we were all very open about everything and talked about random, funny subjects such as the concept of the teenage parents who refuse to believe that their kids might have sex and will not provide them with proper birth control to him sneaking into his college girlfriend’s room during Thanksgiving Break at a religious school and almost getting caught. This was by far the most fun I had while I was in the ambulance, and I guess it did not hurt that I was unattached to my IV pole the whole time. The ambulance driver was very considerate and took the long way to radiology because the short way is very bumpy and can cause stomach aches. This gave me a new view from the back of the ambulance that I hadn’t seen in all the other 8 times that I was taken to get radiation.

Radiation went smooth as usual, and the radiologists all appreciated the mustaches, so Dee and I took them off when we left. I invited all of my radiologists to my wedding because they have played a very important role in my life in the past two years. 

When I got back, Eden, Ashleigh, and her mom visited my room and we talked for about thirty minutes, as Ashleigh had chemo that day and was in Ativan Land, so she was getting quite sleepy. I love being able to talk about the experiences that I have had during my battle with cancer and I love being able to give tips to people of what to take advantage of and what to stay away from. When they left Dee and I were alone for about twenty minutes until my old neighbor and girl I grew up with who is in the babysitting coop with me named Kelsey came by with beef teriyaki and rice for my lunch. She also brought by a gift from the kids of the babysitting coop. It was a star named after me. What a great way to leave behind part of my legacy than to have a star named after me? I thought it was really cute. Kelsey, DeAngela, and I were watching Identity Thief (which I was not very interested in and did not think was very good at all) when someone knocked on the door and it turned out to be one of my best friends from high school Eric and his mother. I had totally forgotten that he had asked to come by and that I was really excited to see him. Go figure, I will blame it on the chemo brain, even though I haven’t had chemo in about three weeks or so. But he came in bringing the most beautiful bouquet of flowers with plenty of roses- which smelled fantastic by the way. I was so glad that he came at the perfect moment, so I talked with him and his mom while Kelsey and DeAngela continued to watch the movie. I was so glad to be reunited with Eric since I had not seen him in quite a while, so we had a nice long embrace when we saw each other. His mom asked if there was anything food-wise that we needed for the wedding, and I answered honestly that we could use a few more small bites for the cocktail hour. She responded by saying that she could make 300 egg rolls, half with pork and half vegetarian. I was floored with her offer and quickly accepted, graciously of course. She then asked if we needed any fruit, and I responded again with a “yes”. She had the best idea of what to do with the fruit so I am going to keep that a little secret, but it was a cute idea. I was originally supposed to help her make it (well I offered to help so I could learn) and it turns out that the mother works during the day before the wedding and was planning on making the fruit fantasia during the evening of July 5th. However, I am going to be rehearsing for my wedding at that time, so I guess I will have to let her know what the new plan is. But nevertheless, I am incredibly excited for the whole wedding, if not a little nervous.

So at the end of the day I ended up being really emotional and kind of sad, because it was confirmed that the love Egor has for me is friendship love, and it will not bloom into the romantic love that I was really hoping for. I am glad that he has been honest about it during the whole time, but I still had a little hope. I started crying because I want to be in love at least once in my 20 years of living and it does not seem like that will happen, I will have to settle for true friendship love. And I am grateful that Egor is willing to marry me with all of the friendship love that he has for me. So unfortunately for me, we will not be consummating the wedding. That is another problem I will have to deal with. I have needs that all grown women at the age of 20 have- in fact every woman has them. This is me writing in my honest state of mind- I just want to be able to be touched and loved by a man (more of lust but I am a little embarrassed to write that).

I got a letter today from a family member today that really touched me and made me cry. This family member has been going through a tough time and has been thinking of giving up, but because of me he has hope again. Because I am still battling a battle that is most likely unwinnable, and he has a life that he can still live out even though things are hard. Hearing things like these are reinforcing some of the reasons why I try to write every night. I want to inspire people to never give up and to live their lives in the best way that they can. I want people to realize that their lives could be worse and that they should be thankful for their health. I want people to understand what I am going through in the most real way possible, mostly without censoring it to keep it as raw as possible. I want people to stop complaining about stupid boy problems, friend problems, family and money problems and to realize that life could be so much worse, and that no one likes people who complain constantly about stupid, little things. I want to inspire people not to give up on their lives.

And on one last note for the night, I get out of the hospital tomorrow and I also have my last radiation treatment tomorrow as well. I am elated to be going home and I cannot wait to be there to relax, spend time with my family, and of course, cuddle with my kitty for the longest time, as he is the only family member who I have not been able to see in the two weeks that I have been here. So yay to getting out of the hospital!!!

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Carole and I rocking our mustaches. Thought you might enjoy this picture.

Planning for My Wedding

Being married is a very important part of my bucket list and it will be fulfilled on July 6th.

So far, I have said “Yes” to my dress, it is gorgeous but I will keep the details a surprise until I make my debut. I tried on a total of six dresses in the Physical Therapy room of the hospital because it was big enough for my large array of people who wanted to accompany me to pick out my dress. With me I had: my mom, a family friend Cheryl, the two workers from David’s Bridal, my future mother-in-law Irina, and none other than Olympic Gold Swimmer Summer Sanders. A few of my nurses wandered in when they had time, such as Robyn and Katya, and even my Dr. Sonali watched me find my dream dress. The room was full of excitement beaming from everyone. It is not every day that one tries on wedding dresses in a pediatric hospital. When I tried on my last dress (which I chose for last because I thought it would be my favorite) I just knew it was “the one”. Once you find that dress, you do not want to try on any other dresses because you already know that you have found the dress you have been waiting for. I was even able to try on the six dresses with no oxygen, which really tired me out, but I felt accomplished to become detached from tubes for a while.

For my wedding we also have the cake under way, which I designed to be beachy- that is all the details that I will give out. The flowers have also been picked out, but I have not seen them as I have not left the hospital since I arrived a week ago. I did give my mom an idea of what I want for the flowers, but It will be a surprise for even me. We have decided on the catering, which will be some really tasty Mexican food. We have also made some centerpieces which look fantastic to me, a lot of the decorations are going to be home made because in my opinion they end up looking better than store bought decorations, and are more unique as well as less expensive. Yay for a little hard work!

A few hours after I had chosen my dream dress, David’s Bridal staff came back with a seamstress (someone who does alterations) to make my dress fit me like I had imagined it to. Considering that I am much bigger on the top than on the bottom, it is because I have gigantic swimmer shoulders and a teeny tiny, almost non-existent womanly waist. They also made it so that the top was more of a sweetheart neckline and that I had more of what I called a “booty pop”. I also got to try some headbands because I am not going to be wearing a veil, that is just not my style. I will be trying on some more at my second fitting tomorrow. Everything is moving so fast, I am impressed. It shows that all these people truly care about me and want to get my dream wedding done with such a short time limit of three weeks. 

My friend Meagan came and visited me again, just as she had the night before and we really got to bond some more, and we decided that on Friday and Saturday we (along with Susette) will figure out what songs are going to be played on my wedding night, other than the piano that my talented cousin Kristen will be performing for my ceremony.

I also found out that my swim team is having a little get together honoring me on June 28th, which is the day after I get out of the hospital. I am staying in the hospital until Thursday the 27th, and the bonfire get together was scheduled around when I could get out of the hospital, so I am very thankful for all of the people who are supporting me and loving me, and also comforting me through this adventure.

Remember, just because I am dying, doesn’t mean that I cannot live my life out to the fullest every day. I think of all the good things in life, I think of how much I love my parents, my teammates, my friends, my animals (mostly Panda), my grandparents, my other family, my teammates, my nurses and my doctors. I also think about how all of the people who I suggested above truly care about me and love me. It always fills my heart with joy when people say that they want to visit me in the hospital, especially since I am not offering out invitations to come out or asking anyone to come, it is more of just an open invitation that anyone at any time can come visit me from anywhere. I have gotten some beautiful flowers from my friend and ex-classmate Kristin Dong gave me the most beautiful flowers that I have ever seen from Vera Wang. (I did not even know that Vera Wang made flowers! Classy!) I also have various other flowers given from friends of family and the baby sitting coop from back in the day. I have been given a blanket from my future mother-in-law as well, and it is extremely soft. I received a cat hanging on a balloon stating “It’s a Boy!” because in the hospital they did not sell any balloons stating “Congrats on Getting Engaged!” which I thought it was so funny. The cat stuffed animal was chosen because it looks like my baby Panda, and I miss him so much. This was from the Melgoza family. I also have another stuffed animal from someone who’s name escapes me, but it is a cute chocolate lab.

Even though I am dying, I am not sitting in a cave being depressed. I am doing as many things as I can do from the hospital and being peppy and trying to talk to everyone and strike up nice conversations, because you never know if you might brighten up someone’s day. I live every day like it is my last, because last is right around the corner for me, but I stay positive, always. =]