2010

My year in review (disclaimer – this is more for me than anyone else, but kudos to you if you actually read it all):

January began with some of my very closest theatre friends at a lovely restaurant, followed by a friend’s house for drinks and the ball drop. Nothing too extravagant, but very “Kelly.” The month continued with rehearsals for Three Penny Opera, which tested me as a performer and a person more than any other show I have ever been a part of. Luckily, a trip to Ireland with Ian and two of our best friends interrupted those rehearsals. We traveled the country by car staying in adorable B&Bs, I ate my weight in fish and chips and only had about three sips of a beer. It was a truly amazing experience to see such a breathtakingly beautiful country, walk through 900 year old castles and graveyards and experience a new culture. With the return back home came more rehearsals, the start of my final semester as an undergrad and the birth of my first niece (all the way in Australia – boo)! Ian and I also adopted our second puppy from the SPCA – Ellie! Our happiness with having a new puppy was marred by the fact that we found out a few days later that the vet diagnosed our first pup, Otto, with early kidney failure. We spent three days crying – no joke. Obviously, January was a busy month for me!

February marked the run of Three Penny Opera which turned out to be a very rewarding experience because of the great friendships I made and the character I had the ability to craft onstage. No theatrical rest for me, though! Right after Three Penny opened, I went straight into rehearsals for Reefer Madness a show I played the lead in and helped to produce. This also turned out to be one of the most trying theatrical experiences of my life (eclipsed only be Three Penny!). Producing is hard work!  Toward the end of the month I found out that my senior thesis would be published in the Sac State history journal with no revisions necessary. It was chosen unanimously by all of the editors of the journal, which floored me!

March ushered in that nasty feeling of “senioritus” as I realized that I just wanted to be done, already! That meant completely procrastinating on all school related assignments, not going to class and just being an all around bad student. I off set that with passing the CBEST, starting running and working my booty off to produce an awesome show. Not all bad, right? The best news of the month came with my acceptance into the history graduate program at San Francisco State! While I may have been done with being an undergrad, I was ready for the next level.

April began with the opening of Reefer Madness. It was then that I realized that I needed a break from theatre. It came to be too much for me to handle because the joy had been depleted from the process. Sad. With that being said, I had a great time onstage playing Mary Jane and was very proud of our final product. Good things were happening at school, as well. I found out that I had been selected as the outstanding honors student in the history department – an honor bestowed on one student in the department per semester as chosen by the faculty. I thought the honor was actually pretty funny considering what a slacker I had been, but I wasn’t going to question it. I also officially accepted my spot in the SFSU history graduate program! Perhaps my favorite part of this month was hanging out with Ian, Netty and Paul once a week to watch LOST and FlashForward. Ah, how I miss those shows.

May closed up Reefer Madness and a somewhat disappointing run – mainly because it didn’t sell as well as I had hoped. I had ended up having a really lovely time performing in that show and was thankful that I made a few good friendships during the run. Otherwise, I did a little GAR, organized an AD garage sale and worried big time about actually passing my french class so I could graduate college. The ever-so-talented Jessica Goldman stepped up and tutored me, allowing me to pass my french oral exam with a mind-boggling 90%! That is telling about the teacher, not the student. The best part about it all was that I graduated from college! I was done with Sac State! I threw a graduation party and got to hang out with some really awesome people. The month ended with me finding out I was hired to work as an Underground Tour Guide in Old Sac with some of my very favorite people ever. Needless to say, I was beyond excited.

June, July and August involved a lot of laying around, watching all SIX seasons of Grey’s Anatomy and working as an Underground Tour Guide 12 hours a week. I created my own GAR with the lovely and talented Graham Sobleman, which was all about the history of the US through musical song. Dorky? Yes. Amazing? Absolutely. I also ran my first 5k, turned 25, moved to San Francisco and the history department hired me as their student assistant. Somewhere in there we also decided to close AD. So, I guess there was some important stuff in there!

September marked the beginning of grad school and my long distance relationship (yes, 100 miles is long distance!). It was definitely difficult to focus on school while missing Ian and our two pups, but having my roommate around made it a whole lot better. I realized how lucky I was to have a roommate that I liked so much and got along with so well! I also realized that there was no way I was going to apply to PhD programs once I was done with the masters program. Too much theory! I spent a lot of time reading and not doing much else.  The department also hired me to grade for two classes, so I spent a lot of time reading really poorly written history essays as well. It pained me. A lot. I did get to take a mini-vacation at the very end of the month to fly to beautiful New Hampshire for Ian’s cousin’s wedding. Definitely the break I needed.

October panned out to be pretty similar to September (ie. reading constantly) with the added twist of finding out that my endocrinologist thought my thyroid looked very worrisome and it was time to have it out! That meant that I spent October working part time, going to school full time and going to the doctor’s office part time. It was hectic, especially driving back and forth to Sacramento so much, but worth it in the end. Oh! October was great because two of my very favorite people got engaged to their significant others! Mmm… I love engagements. I also got to experience some nice closure with AD by putting together a goodbye dinner at the Melting Pot for our volunteer staff. It was a great way to end the company.

November can pretty much be summed up with the word: thyroid. I had it removed and found out that I have papillary thyroid cancer – stage one! I did a bit of reading, but I really just sat on my butt for the majority of the month. Booooring. Oh! Duh! I started this really awesome blog (that I often forget to write in)! Best part of the month? Seeing Harry Potter Seven three times in one weekend. Don’t judge.

December began with the realization that I was still in grad school, so I better actually do some school work. I work my ass off reading, writing and grading papers. It all paid off with a 4.0 GPA!  I also began the second part of my cancer treatment: preparation for radioactive iodine treatment. That means being off of my thyroid hormone replacement pill for a month and on a special no-iodine diet for 2.5 weeks. I am in this stage now and pretty much hating my life. Well, that is too dramatic. I am really just angry because I can’t have diet coke. Life without diet coke is not worth living. Again, don’t judge.

 

So, that is my year in review. I am SUPER impressed if anyone actually read that. I like having a place where all of the big events of my year have been written down for my own sake. I am going to post New Years Resolutions tomorrow! Happy New Years Eve, everyone! (and by everyone I really mean Mom and Dad, because you two are the only ones who have actually read this far!)

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Wait – what? I have a blog??

Okay…. so I haven’t been succeeding with this whole blog writing thing. Its been around 5 or 6 weeks since I have written… oops. There is a reason for that, though – I promise! Its called graduate school.

I had to miss two weeks of school for my surgery and then had to head back to Sacramento numerous times for doctors appointments, blood work, etc. That meant that I pretty much wasn’t in class for the month of November and much of December. Luckily, my professors were amazing and didn’t mark me down for missing class and gave me extensions on any assignment if I asked for it. (And you better believe that I did ask for it.) Even with the extensions and the lenient professors I was so incredibly overwhelmed the last four weeks of school. I had to write about sixty pages and read seven books. For many people in grad school that wouldn’t be a difficult task, but I am the slowest student ever. Seriously, I generally write one page an hour. ONE PAGE.  I also usually get through about thirty pages of reading in an hour. That is just wrong when you are in grad school.  Needless to say, I did nothing but school when I got back to San Francisco after my surgery. I had no choice.  I said to myself numerous times during those four weeks, “I never thought that cancer would kill me, but graduate school might.” The really completely fantastically amazing news is that by working my butt of I somehow managed to get all As my first semester of grad school – yes, that is a 4.0. And yes, that is the first 4.0 I have earned since middle school. (Don’t judge.)

News on the cancer front: I am currently hypothyroid and on a no-iodine diet in preparation for my radioactive iodine treatment on January 12th. I went off of my thyroid hormone replacement medication (levoxyl) two weeks ago and have only just started feeling the symptoms of being hypothyroid. Mainly, I just get really tired, really easily. I have been getting kind of cranky and needing a nap in the middle of the afternoon – its like I am a baby! Dumb. Ian and I went to the Roseville Galleria yesterday and I was pooped after walking around for about two hours. I did have energy after a nap and dinner to go see Tangled with Ian – it was amazing! I love Disney and I love Zachery Levi (please tell me you all watch Chuck), so I was pretty much in heaven.

Being hypothyroid is nothing compared to this no-iodine diet I am on for the next two and a half weeks. Here is what I can’t eat: salt, processed foods, restaurant food, dairy, carbs and diet soda. Yes, I am having to give up pretty much everything I usually eat. Here is my menu from yesterday:

  • Irish Cut Oatmeal with white sugar and bananas
  • Apple with freshly made peanut butter
  • Turkey patty with avocado and tomato
  • Baked potatoes with olive oil and pepper
  • Salad with balsamic and olive oil dressing
  • Cinnamon and Sugar Apples
  • Salad with chicken breast, tomatoes, carrots, avocado and b&oo dressing

Okay – I know you are probably looking at this and thinking, “Well, gosh Kelly. That seems like a really healthy way that everyone should eat.” And yes, I agree with you. But it is so difficult to not drink diet soda or have a piece of toast or some cheese. Oh man, I miss cheese. I just keep reminding myself that this is pretty much the hardest thing I have to go through. No chemo and no side-effects from chemo – just a radioactive pill that might make me throw up a bit. Meh. So I have to be hypothyroid for a bit and eat some bland food (that is actually really good for me and if I continue to eat this way will probably be the best way to beat cancer). Big deal. Gotta count those blessings and this is definitely one of them.

Posted in Cancer, diet, school | Leave a comment

Thankful.

Have you ever evaluated your life? I mean, sat down and really looked at what you have done with your time here on Earth? Taken stock of what you have accomplished, whose lives you have touched and the impact you have had on the world around you? I certainly hadn’t until about two weeks ago. But then the whole cancer diagnosis thing happened (its a recurring theme, I know) and I found that I couldn’t help but assess the past twenty-five years of my life. Here is what I came up with.

As far as accomplishing things goes, I get an A+. How bad ass is it that at twenty-five I can say that I starred in a huge professional theatre production, managed a moderately successful non-profit company, graduated as the top honors student in the history undergrad program and am currently excelling in my graduate program. Boom! I can honestly say that if I had been given a much worse prognosis, I would have been able to die with a huge sense of accomplishment.

That is where the good evaluation ends. Now it is time to get to the hard stuff to acknowledge. Bummer. In the friendship department I would give myself a big fat F. I read through some old emails the other day and they had a recurring theme: “Gosh, Kelly. I emailed you three weeks ago and I still haven’t heard back from you.” Oops. I justified this behavior for so long with so many different excuses: I’m just so busy… they didn’t really want to talk to my anyway… I will call them back tomorrow… I have already screwed up that friendship, so why bother trying to repair it. You get the idea. The list goes on and on. I think I am a good girlfriend to Ian, but I think that is where my good relationships end. Good thing my prognosis gives me some time to fix this!

I don’t think I have made much impact on the world at all at this point – but have many people at the age of twenty-five? I’m not going to beat myself up about this one, yet. I plan to be a teacher and know that I can make a big ole impact on a bunch of kids later when I inspire them all to fall deeply in love with history. (A girl can dream, can’t she? Since I am dreaming, I am going to make them all fall in love with history while I wear a wardrobe comprised entirely of clothes from Anthropologie. *sigh*)

Okay, time to find that silver lining! What can I take from all of this? Well, the good news is that I am a driven, committed and capable person. If I put my mind to something, I can achieve it. I have proven that to myself time and time again. I need to take some of that drive that I have for achieving things and focus that commitment on the relationships in my life. There are easy ways to do this: return phone calls, make lunch dates, talk to new people. I can do these things. In fact, I have to do these things. If I find out in ten years that I only have six months to live, I plan to be able to look back on my life with no regrets. I encourage you all to do the same.

Posted in Cancer, goals, no regrets, silver lining | 3 Comments

Patience is a virtue… right?

I would like to offer you all a piece of advice: don’t go see a really great musical a week after you get your thyroid removed. Okay, if you don’t like to sing you can go, but if you do enjoy singing then just save yourself the heartache. I realized this after watching the first national of In the Heights at the Community Center last night. And it sucked. (My inability to speak/sing, not the show. Duh.)

An old friend of mine had her thyroid removed because of cancer about ten years ago. When she told me about her experience she focused on the damage the surgery did to her voice and how traumatizing that was to her psyche, practically more than the cancer itself! I haven’t been singing much (or at all) in the past six months, so I didn’t think losing my voice would bother me that much. Sure, it would be annoying to constantly have a hoarse speaking voice for a few months, but I thought that being without my voice would be fine. In fact, I told my friend Kat just two days ago that I completely accepted that I wouldn’t be able to sing for the next few years. I felt at peace.

Boy was I wrong.

I know my voice will come back. I know I will be able to sing again someday. I am lucky because the nerves that connect to my voice box weren’t damaged in the surgery, which means I could be singing again in as little as six months or a year. But the uncertainty of it all is torture.

I am coming to realize that the waiting, the unpredictability, the vagueness is the worst part about having cancer. (Yes, I know that if I had brain cancer or something I might feel differently, but for my thyroid cancer it is the worst part.) I am determined to find the silver lining in all of this, though, and here it is: I am a very inpatient person. Cancer will teach me how to be patient and how to live for today, not tomorrow, next year or even five years from now. Yes, thyroid cancer has an extremely high survival rate, but I could be part of that 10% who doesn’t survive. I don’t say that to be morbid or anything. I say it to remind myself that patience is a virtue and one that I will strive for every single day.


Posted in silver lining, singing, surgery, theatre | 3 Comments

Hello world!

I love blogs. A lot. So much so that starting my own blog has been something on the back of my mind for a long time, but something has been holding me back. I couldn’t find my niche, my hook, the thing that would make my blog just a little bit different than all of the other million blogs out there. Then I was diagnosed with cancer and my entire perspective changed.

I wish I could say that my perspective changed because I realized that I don’t need a hook since I am interesting enough on my own. Not so much. (Okay, that isn’t entirely true… I do think I am interesting. However…) Cancer has provided me with that little extra something to make this blog special and interesting. For example, before the doctors diagnosed me I thought about making my blog about how I am a history graduate student who also loves theatre and want..s… to b..e .more…h…ea..l…th…..y….zzzzzzzz. Oh! Gosh! Sorry. I fell asleep just writing about it. Compare that with this: A history graduate student who is attempting to juggle a healthy lifestyle, a love of theatre, a long distance relationship and cancer! Did I hook you? If not, then you are just too damn hard to please.

In all seriousness, being diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer did encourage me to start this blog because I want to be able to chronicle this process in a public forum so other people who are going through thyroid cancer can read about the journey. It has been extremely helpful to me the past few days to read blogs written by people with thyroid cancer. I am able to relate to them, sympathize with them and get an idea of what I am in for. I hope that this blog will be able to help others that same way. On a purely selfish note, I want to become a better writer. I write a mean academic research paper on how the Civil Rights Movement influenced the Free Speech Movement, but no one reads that stuff except my professors who are paid to well respected scholars in the field of history. Being a well rounded writer is important for everyone – even stuffy historians – and I think that this kind of exercise will help me to become that kind of writer. Because, lets be honest, I just need to write!

Posted in Cancer, Writing | 2 Comments