Déjà Vu

Twice today I experienced déjà vu and it got me thinking. Once this morning, when my aunt decided to venture out and pick up breakfast burritos. The prospect of having a delicious breakfast burrito made me the back to the last time that I had one which I realized was, coincidentally, almost exactly one year ago. Last year at the beginning of August I was in San Diego/LA, enjoying the best breakfast burrito I’ve ever had.

I decided to move downstairs to eat. So I hobbled down on my crutches and sat at our kitchen table. From there, I had a decent view of outside, and noticed that someone had finally reset the patio furniture which had been strewn about the yard since my sister’s graduation party. I promptly decided to move outside and as I sat down on one of our cushy whicker chairs and looked out at our lush, sun drenched yard I realized that almost exactly a year ago I was doing this very same thing. I was resting outside on the patio furniture, set almost exactly as it is today, breathing in fresh air and trying to heal my aching body. Thankfully, this time I’m only trying to heal my aching hips.

These weird coincidences got me thinking about how much has changed since then and how much is changing still, but how much is still exactly the same. Peoples lives change all the time. My life, for example, has changed a great deal over the past few years. I graduated highs school and moved to away to a new city all on my own. I made amazing new friends in my new home and started at a great school. A year later, I graduated from that school and was promptly diagnosed with cancer. Shortly after, I moved back to my hometown where my cancer remised. And through all of these changes there are still things in my life that are exactly the same.

I often think that cancer changed me, completely. That the old Katherine died during that period of my life and what came out of it was a different Katherine, a better one. But I don’t think that’s true anymore. I have changed so much throughout the last few years, cancer probably being the most impactful, but I am still the same me. There are things about the person that I am today that are the same as the person I was before. Little things that make me, me. Like my favorite places to go, my favorite things to do, my favorite people to be with, my favorite restaurants, my favorite stores and my good and bad habits. The little things that have always made me tick, and always will.

Nothing will ever really change all of who you are. You can change the way you behave, the way you react, the ways that you live your life, but there are some things about you, the things that make you who you are, that will never change. So don’t worry, because you’ll ALWAYS be you!

xoxo Kathy

One Year Later

A year ago today, I was trapped in the hospital in Seattle, occupying my time with Pinterest which I was using to inspire the redesign of my childhood bedroom. I remember sending an image of a window seat to a family friend who doubles as a woodworker in the hopes that he might be able to construct one for my sanctuary. I’d always wanted a window seat in my room. There’s this perfect nook for one that I was always trying to fill with other furniture when I was growing up. But nothing ever fit like this window box, the one I’m sitting on now, writing this post.

I’ve finally finished the bedroom remodel that I began as soon as I got out of the hospital last year. Looking at the finished product now, it’s pretty remarkable how closely it resembles the inspiration images, even with the extra dressers needed to contain the vast amount of unnecessary clothing I own. And I am absolutely in love with it. Even as a visual designer, I have never noticeably experienced the impact of my surroundings as strongly as I have since creating this environment for myself. It hurts me that I will have to leave it so soon!

Continuing down my list of “Projects I Thought I Could Handle While Going Through Chemo,” I come to this blog, The Kathy Diaries, a domain that I purchased the rights to shortly after getting out of the hospital. Originally, I wanted to document my cancer experience in real time and share with everyone my life, thoughts and perspectives. I quickly realized that this was not something that I was capable of doing. It takes a lot of  work to establish yourself as a blogger, especially the caliber of blogger which I intended to be. No one going through chemo needs such high expectations to be placed on them as what I was trying to place on myself, so I let it go. Along with pretty much all of my other outlets (besides television, there was a lot of television).

As I’ve been recovering (on maintenance) these past few months, I’ve been able to start replacing some of the pressures that I relieved during intense treatment. Especially the good pressures, like exercise, design, work, running errands, participating in family activities, living life and travelling! This is what allowed me to finally complete my room, which involved finally unpacking boxes of my stuff from LA that had literally been in the garage for almost a year. And it is allowing me now, to begin dedicating the time, energy and passion to this blog that I have wanted to all along. I can’t document chemo in real time, but I can document the process of getting back on your feet and restarting your life. I can demonstrate how a positive attitude and thinking about things from the right perspective can create a happy and fulfilled life during and after cancer. I can strive to inspire those who are struggling and spread awareness for our cause to those who are too afraid to pay attention.

So stay tuned everyone, because I’ve been sitting idly for too long, and I’ve got a lot of exciting things coming your way in the near future!

xoxo Kathy

PS Here’s a pic of my lovely window seat! And I’ll throw in one of Val, and one of me holding a baby for smiles!

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What 2013 Gave Me

I never would have described myself as a glass-half-full sort of person before this year. Not because I was a negative, glass-half-empty sort of person before but because I have never experienced something so unique or scary or enlightening or profound as I have in 2013. Something happened to me that I had no control over at all. There was nothing I could do to stop it or change it. The only thing I could choose was how I was going to live with it. And LIVE WITH IT is EXACTLY what I did. I crashed head-on into a lemon tree this year, but I’ve figured out how to make some damn good lemonade.

Here is my 2013, the bad, the good and the really, really, really good.

  • I got a tattoo on my leg.

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  • I graduated from FIDM, and made some really bad ass shit.

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  • I went to Disneyland with my sisters.
  • IMG_1955I got diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and had to move back to Washington.

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  • I fell madly in love.

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  • I rocked a bald head.

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  • I got a new car.

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  • I experienced what it’s like to be trapped in your own body and have no control over your movements and actions or the ability to speak or function normally and had this tube shoved down my nose via leukoencephalopathy, fuck you very much methotrexate.

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  • I redecorated my bedroom and got a badass TV.

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  • I spoke at two cancer benefit events

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  • I bonded with my family

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  • I went to some dark places. (but I only threw up once)

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  • I missed my best friends.

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  • I went to my first Seahawks game, sat in the Red Zone at met Russell Wilson!

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  • And I gained a new sense of community. I experienced the kindness and compassion of family, friends, acquaintances and strangers. I learned more than I ever could have expected.

Getting cancer is horrible, but getting through it is amazing. I don’t know if other people can see it the way that I do, but in the end, I gained so much more than I lost this year, and a lot of it wouldn’t have happened without Leukemia. Life happens, whether you want it to or not and sometimes you just have to roll with the punches, and enjoy what you can with the people you love. Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me, supported me, prayed for me, thought of me, donated blood, donated money, done anything for me or my family or cancer research. I may not have responded at times, but I have appreciated everything that has been done for me so greatly and I hope that everyone who has tried to support me knows that.

2013, I’m not sad to see you go, but you were good to me. Overall, you were good to me.

xoxo,

Kathy