On becoming a Londoner, and the ‘Beast from the East’

Somehow, seemingly impossibly, five years have passed since I moved to London. I’ve now spent one-third of my adult life here, and I can’t say I haven’t changed from the experience either. My z’s have turned into s’s by default. My American accent has softened, and now when I speak my questions end on an upward inflection. I consider queue jumping one of the greatest sins, and spend an excessive amount of time discussing the weather. I fit things into my ‘diary’ instead of  my ‘calendar’. I accept bad restaurant service without declaring the injustice, all whilst happily paying the ‘optional’ 12.5% gratuity added to the bill. I still don’t like English breakfast tea though.

Recently, people’s reactions when I tell them how long I have lived in London has changed from ‘how long are you planning to stay?’ to ‘oh you’re a proper Londoner now’. I used to say I had no plans to stay and no plans to leave, but it seems like I have more plans to stay than leave these days. At least for now.

But even as a ‘proper’ Londoner, I still can’t believe how quickly the city crumbles in the wake of a dusting of snow and below-freezing temperatures. This week’s ‘Beast from the East’, a polar vortex that descended upon the UK and Europe from Siberia, brought London to its knees in a way I had not yet experienced.

British perseverance is best measured by the density of pubs during difficult times. Some really awful things have happened in recent times, such as the Terror incident on Westminster Bridge last March. Within hours of the news, the steadfast Brits were congregated outside of pubs less than a mile from the incident. They would not be deterred, and the community of the local pub is where the Brits find consolation in tough times.

And there was the guy who cemented his legendary status after his night at the pub was disrupted by the London Bridge terror incident. The country cheered him with pride when photos surfaced of him running away from the scene, pint of beer still in hand.

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Brits will not be scared off by cowardly terrorists, but the same can’t be said about some weather.

In Southeast England, 2-7 inches of snow fell over a handful of days, and here is how London reacted this week.

On Monday, the rail companies warned commuters to get out of London by 6pm. Hundreds of trains were cancelled preemptively. London didn’t see snow until the next day.

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Tuesday there was a dusting of snow, I think. It wasn’t enough to remember.

Wednesday I woke up to a winter wonderland, with 3-4 inches of snow that had fallen overnight.

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I was home from work with a nasty cold on Wednesday, and headed to the grocery store to pick up some medicine where I overheard a 20-something year old woman declare into her phone that “they can’t expect me to get to work in this, I may slip and fall! I’m not risking it!”.

On Thursday, trains from London to Bournemouth got stranded, resulting in 15 hours of absolute chaos with passengers stuck without electricity, heat or food on trains overnight. People were even climbing on the luggage racks to lay down!

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On Friday it snowed a bit more in the afternoon. My internet stopped working. I called my service provider who had shut down their customer service center due to the ‘cold’ weather, and the recorded message encouraged me to call back the next day. A day later, they’re still closed.

Also on Friday, train commuters got stranded again, and having heard the news from Thursday, decided to take matters into their own hands by exiting the trains while still on the tracks. Police were called. Rail companies begged commuters to stay on the trains. More chaos ensued. 

Today (Saturday) temperatures rose and most of the snow has turned into brown slush. I was walking through Hampstead and noticed a couple gathered outside the iron gates of a house. I overheard them discussing their concern that a dog had been left outside and it was too cold. I took a glance at the dog who was still outside when I walked by again an hour later. The dog was a Siberian Husky. The temperature was a balmy 38F/3C.

[Update] It’s now Sunday, and the snow is gone. The Beast has moved on.

London, I love you, but you are ridiculous. And with that, I think I’ve become one of you.

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Icelandic Adventures

It was 29 November 2014, four days before my scheduled trip to Iceland for my 30th birthday. I remember the doctors standing over me, trying to make small talk while they waited for me to fade into a drug-induced dreamland before a difficult biopsy surgery. I could feel myself fading, getting woozy, my words slurring as the anesthesiologist asked me about American politics. I cut him short, I had lost interest in his conversation, and looked up at the surgeon. I very poignantly told him he better be sure I make it through this surgery, as I had to cancel my 30th birthday trip to Iceland for this major medical inconvenience, and I needed to be sure I would one day make it back. They laughed at my bedridden bossiness, and then I passed out.

And now, two years later to the date, I’ve just returned from that trip to Iceland that almost never happened, and it was incredible.

Iceland is otherworldly. In all of my travels, I’ve never seen anything quite like it. It’s lush and barren. It’s full of fire and ice. It’s desolate but overgrown. It is weird, and it is amazing. I think it may now be my no. 1.

Iceland was really put on the map in 2010, when the global news outlets covered the volcano eruption, piquing the interest of adventurous tourists. Tourism now makes up 60% of Iceland’s GDP, followed by fishing. Iceland’s land mass is 25% bigger than Ireland, but yet its population is only 330,000, just a mere 7% the size of Ireland. I’ve spent a lot of time driving through relatively uninhibited land in the American Midwest, but I’ve never seen anything so remote as Iceland.

Getting to Iceland was the easy part, myself and 7 of my friends all flew direct; four from London, three from Chicago, and one from Minneapolis. If you’re traveling to/from the USA and Europe, Iceland Air allows you to do a 7 day stopover in Iceland for no additional fee. This is a great deal, so if you’re planning a trip be sure to take advantage of this, because the rest of the trip is going to be costly!

Tip: You can negotiate prices in Iceland. It’s almost like they know how expensive the Icelandic Kroner is vs European currencies and the USD, and they feel bad so are willing to knock a bit off the price to make it more bearable. Our pizza delivery man told us we should’ve asked for a discount, so from then on out we weren’t afraid to ask, and most of the time got it!

Day 1: Arrivals, Blue Lagoon, & a night out in Reykjavik

Some of us landed on Friday night, with the others arriving first thing Saturday morning. For those that landed on Friday, we booked a room near the airport at the Geo Hotel, which had a free transport to/from the airport and the Blue Lagoon, which was a huge perk as cabs are wickedly expensive!

Since everyone landed at different times, we decided our meeting place would be the Blue Lagoon. The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal pool, and a good stop to coordinate when you’re arriving or departing, as it’s close to the airport. The Blue Lagoon is definitely full of tourists, but as far as tourist traps go, this one was pretty good.

We spent the morning floating around in the massive pool, dipping our hands between crevasses in the structure to fetch some silica mud to use as a mud mask. It really did make your face much softer! We went in December, which is the low season, but you still need to book your tickets a few weeks in advance as they sell out.


From the Blue Lagoon we headed to our flat in Reykjavik. We took a taxi, but there are plenty of buses to Reykjavik for a much more cost effective journey.

Tip: Driving in Iceland can be tricky. The weather is unpredictable at best, and there’s only one 4-lane road in the entire country. However, this is definitely the most cost effective means of transport, and the best option for exploration. I would highly recommend renting a car, but brush up on your bad-weather driving skills, and prepare to have your plans changed due to road conditions as you’ll inevitably run into some weather in the winter!

Our first night in Reykjavik we splurged on the tasting menu at one of the top restaurants,  Grillmarket. Our 9 courses included some odd new foods, but no fermented shark! Reindeer, grouse and whale were foods I had never had a desire to eat, but they turned out to be pretty good! Although I still feel bad about eating a minke whale. They just look so cute. 😦

Tip: If someone offers you the fermented shark to eat, politely decline. The smell is wretched and something the locals do to watch the tourists cringe. Nope nope nope! Fermented whale does have deep roots in Icelandic culture. In tough economic times, it was sometimes the only food they had available.

Day 2: Golden Circle, Silfra Fissure, & Fighting Daylight

On Sunday morning, we were up early for a Golden Circle tour plus a snorkeling expedition at the Silfra Fissure. Some of the group had already done the Golden Circle two years ago, so we hired a private driver and added on a snorkel expedition to make sure they could experience something new.

Tip: if you have a bit of time, don’t try to do both of these in one day in the winter, as you’ll be fighting the daylight hours. When we were there in December, it was only daylight from 11-4!

The snorkeling expedition was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. The Silfra Fissure divides the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates, and some of the freshest water in the world occupies the space between. The 35F/2C water was so fresh you could drink straight from the fissure, and it was so crystal clear that you can see over 100m down! I’m not going to pretend it wasn’t cold, because it was, but it wasn’t unbearable and was actually much warmer than I had anticipated. On top of your clothes, you are also outfitted with a fleece jumpsuit, followed by a water tight dry suit, mask and mittens. I would highly recommend this for someone looking for an active adventure. And even better than snorkeling would be diving, so if you’re PADI certified add this to your list of dive sites.

The Golden Circle tour was nice, but something best explored on your own. You can easily drive to the waterfalls, geysers, and lakes on your own, so no need to do a tour unless you don’t want to drive while there. The sights were still beautiful though!

 

Day 3: Roadtrip to the South Coast

On Monday, three of the girls had to leave, so the remaining 5 of us rented a car and headed to the south coast. We drove Road 1 from Reykjavik to Jokulsarlon Glacier, a 5 hour journey where the landscape changed drastically multiple times along the way.

Our first stop was in Vik, a coastal town on one of Iceland’s famous black sand beaches. Vik has a charming church overlooking the water, but the most impressive part of this town is the rock formations in the ocean and the black sand, caused from the volcanic explosions.

The drive north then turned out one waterfall after another. At Selfoss, you can actually walk behind the waterfall to give you a different vantage point (and a misty shower).

 

An hour north of the mountainous waterfalls and the landscape changed dramatically again. Gone were the mountains, and instead they were replaced by a vast valley of mossy rocks that spanned for hundreds of kilometers. This was one of the most awe-inspiring views I’ve ever seen. Everywhere you turned were rolling hills (more like lumps) of volcanic rock covered in bright green moss. The mountains spanned the perimeter in the distance on one side, and the sea spanned the other. If you had told me I was on a different planet, I would have believed you.

The next change of scenery came as we got to the glaciers. Snow capped mountains sandwiched the glaciers, and the bright blue glacial ice magnified off the brown, barren flat lands leading to the sea.

The closer we got to Jokulsarlon glacial park, the more dense the fog became. We spent about 20 minutes driving in really dense fog, and had no idea what the scenery really had to offer until we pulled off the road to park the car. It was only then that we realized we were in a glacial lagoon, with seals swimming around the massive ice chunks that looked as clear as a perfectly flawless diamond.

It was here that we were meant to meet up with or ice cave tour, which we got REALLY excited about after seeing the lagoon. We waited around for a while, but our guide never came. When we called to find out what was going on, they told us the tour had been cancelled due to flooding in the cave. We assessed our options, then sprung into action and started approaching guides who were lingering around waiting for their tours to start. We just so happened to get into a glacier hiking tour with an expert guide. This was the best thing that happened to us. She was a local, independent guide who knew the glacier better than anyone it seemed. Her knowledge and experience was beyond impressive, and since she didn’t operate the large tour groups, she took us into parts of the glacier unknown by other guided groups. By the end of the trip, we were referring to her as the glacier cowgirl. She owned that glacier!

Tip: You should definitely book any ice cave or glacier tours well in advance. I recommend emailing info@glacierjourney.is and asking for Laufey. But in case you don’t plan ahead, you could do what we did and ask the guides lingering in the car park to see if they have any extra space. You just may get lucky, we did!

After the tour, we stopped for dinner at the Hali Hotel, which was the only restaurant open for many miles. I had the best Atlantic char I’ve ever had, It was so wonderfully fresh and home cooked. From there, we headed to our simple cabin/bunkhouse for the night, located in the middle of nowhere.

Tip: with the exception of 1 ridiculously expensive luxury hotel, accommodations on the east coast of Iceland are few and far between. I recommend planning ahead, as you may end up driving for miles if you don’t have lodging pre-booked, especially in the high season. Also, there is no such thing as 24 hour reception, and most places have limited food resources, so be sure you pack your own or you may go hungry! Also, make sure you keep your gas tank full! If you run out, you may not get help for quite a while!

Day 4: Luxury at the Ion Hotel

Our last night in Iceland was spent at the Ion luxury adventure hotel. It’s an hour’s drive from Reykjavik, situation next to a power plant in the middle of nowhere. This hotel has been getting some serious accolades from the likes of Travel & Leisure and Conde Nast Traveller, but it didn’t quite live up to its hype for me. The Ion is an ideal place to see the northern lights, or so we hoped. It even boasts a Northern Lights bar with glass walls to help soak in the aurora borealis. However, we failed at seeing the Northern Lights the entire time we were there. Had we seen them while at the Ion hotel, I probably would’ve rated this part of the trip higher.

Tip: Seeing the Northern Lights is really down to luck, not planning. The natural phenomenon requires no cloud cover, and a decent amount of particles around the sun. The Icelandic Meteorological office keeps an hourly Northern Lights tracker with a scale from 1-9 to help guide you to where you may see them. The highest we rating had the entire trip was a 4, and we sadly left without seeing them. On the upside, that just means our next trip will be chasing the lights in Igloos in Finland!

I highly recommend planning a trip to Iceland, and I guarantee however long you decide to stay, you’ll wish you could stay longer! I think I need to plan another trip in the summer to soak up the 24 hour daylight, explore the north, and take an adventure into a Volcano. Any takers?

And to my amazing gal pals, thanks for coming. And more importantly, thanks for being so near and dear to me over the last two years especially. Love you all!!

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Let’s pick up where we left off, shall we? 

My mom reminded me that it was two years ago today when I called her from the hospital in London to tell her the news: I had cancer.

730 days later, it hadn’t even dawned on me that today was the day; I’ve never been one for anniversaries. In fact, the months all blend into years, and years blend into each other, and I find myself having to think hard about just how much time has gone by. It seems like it could have been a day and a decade ago, all at once.

One of the first questions I asked the doctor when he broke the news was whether I could still go on my 30th birthday trip to Iceland with my girlfriends. He said no, so I traded in my hotel room for a hospital room that birthday.

And exactly two years later, the trip to Iceland is back on, along with the original cast of characters, plus some. I am so grateful to have these girls in my life. They’ve been there through the good, the bad, and the ugly. In two weeks, we will be travelling from the UK and USA to reconvene in Iceland for the adventure that almost never happened. It’s time for a re-do.

And while I’m always excited for an adventure, this trip means so much more.

First of all, I had some serious doubts about whether I would even live to see a life without cancer again. I’m really glad that I was wrong about that one.

And there was the anguish and emotions that came with cancer. The mental pain while you have the disease doesn’t go away when your doctor discharges you. But I’ve found that a bit of time and a decent therapist can heal those wounds too.

And the physical setback my body experienced took me a full 10 months post chemo to recover from. I’ve finally regained the strength I lost during treatment, and some. And as luck would have it, I finally nailed that side crow pose today after an intense bootcamp session. My stamina and strength is definitely back (along with a teeny tiny ponytail!!!!!)

And then there’s the future. I still don’t know what that looks like, but the persistent fear that there would be no future has subsided.

In some ways, my life is so profoundly different than it was two years ago. And in other ways, I feel like it is exactly the same.

I’m still the girl who dove fearlessly into her 20s, always looking around the corner for the next challenge. Perhaps I got a bit more than I bargained for to kick off my 30s, but I’ve nearly made it to 32 now, and I’ll take it, scars and all.

So, two years later, I’ve learned one very important lesson, and that lesson is that no pain is permanent. Time really does heal all wounds, no matter what the injury is, and perspective will continue to change with every inflicting pain. And that, my friends, is called growth.

So, whatever your current pain is, remember that it is just a growing pain, and this too shall pass.

The next entry on this little blog will be picking the travel posts back up where we left off, as I am sure that while in Iceland, I will find that the world is at my feet again.

Victory Lap

On June 11, 2015 I got my clear scan, putting my Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in full remission status. The PIIC line that had been attached to my arm to administer chemo since December was removed. My doctor cheerfully sent me on my way, with my next appointment scheduled for a month’s time.

My first order of business was popping some bubbly and celebrating. For a few weeks celebrate is what I did. I wanted to make up for the time lost during treatment. I regained strength, busying myself with work, socializing and dating while Deb went back to Iowa.

Then one Friday in early July, my doctor contacted me to tell me he wanted to discuss more treatment. Despite that he reiterated that I’m still in remission, more treatment meant more time feeling ragged. More chemicals, more toxins, more poison. I was gutted.

This was not what I wanted to hear, especially as I was meant to make the trip across the Atlantic the following week to reconnect with family and friends in the USA, who supported me from afar during treatment. But, my doctor is a big fan of taking holidays to unwind and recharge, so he happily allowed me to continue my trip home. Upon my return, I was to meet with a few more doctors for second options and more tests. There were three potential outcomes:

1) two more rounds of chemotherapy (4 doses/8 weeks)

2) radiotherapy, which I’d been trying to avoid at all costs

3) do nothing and cross my fingers that the disease never comes back

I met with another oncologist who specializes in radiotherapy, whom I really really liked. He spent 45 minutes with me discussing my experiences with the UK and US medical system, my job, and of course my case. When he told me his opinion, I was a bit surprised. He flat out told me he did not recommend radiotherapy for me. I suppose that is the refreshing part of dealing with the UK medical system. Doctors aren’t incentivized to prescribe certain drugs or treatments in the UK like they can be in the US. It just feels more compassionate and honest in the UK.

My doctor told me if I opt into additional treatment, it’ll increase my chances of survival to 80-85%. Even better odds. So I agreed to 8 more weeks of chemo, but this time just three of the four chemo drugs. We left out the bleomycin in order to spare my lungs any long term damage, as my breathing still hadn’t returned to normal. Perhaps the effects on my breathing had to do with the walking pneumonia I’d had since (at least) June, but nonetheless we decided to err on the side of caution and omit the bleo.

Despite my parents offering to hop across the pond again, I decided I wanted to do this last round on my own, with support from my amazing friends and boyfriend (yes, I landed a great guy during this whole crazy cancer process) in London. Knowing I was already in remission meant that much of the mental anguish of dealing with cancer was alleviated. I already ran the race and beat the disease, but I just had to get through this last lap. This was my victory lap.

And my support group rose to the occasion. I had friends take time out of their very busy lives to accompany me to chemo and doctors appointments. They brought me meals when I was feeling too tired to cook. The boyfriend made sure to stay with me during treatments, and would check to make sure I was okay every time I woke up at night. They all handled it like pros.

And, as of two weeks ago, I finished my victory lap. I hope and pray it is truly the last lap.

that’s a wrap, folks

Remission.

Cured.

Survivor. 

Those are words every cancer patient hopes and prays become their reality. I am counting my lucky stars as those words now define me. 

After 7 months, 1 near-fatal surgery, 12 injections of chemo, and countless hospital visits, I am finally free of cancer and beginning to resume life as normal… Although normal has taken on a slightly new meaning. 

My new normal means finding the balance between always having cancer in the back of my mind, and enjoying life even more than I did before. It means wondering what the root cause of every cough is, but also finding the strength to believe that this experience has enriched me in unimaginable ways. Normal means enjoying some yoga, but realizing that jogging more than a block may make me faint. Normal means eating well and having to look after myself again, after having my mom take care of me like she did when I was born 30 years ago. 

I’ve learned that I really don’t have a lot of control over this crazy thing called life, so I’m just going to sit back and enjoy what it throws at me. There is truly beauty in it all if you look for it. And the past few months I’ve had a zen-like happiness that has me appreciating more and worrying less. 

So, now that I’ve gotten the all clear, I’m going to do what I love best. I’ve already popped a few bottles of bubbly and am starting the celebrations. Next up: booking a few flights to some of my favorite destinations. 

Dear world: I’m baaaaacckkkkk!!!!!

No-Hair-Don’t-Care Henna Party

I have long said that I must have been reincarnated from an Indian woman in a past life. This is the only way I could explain my serious obsession with rich colors, interesting patterns, and all things gold. So when my friend Alissa suggested I get a henna crown on my chemo-induced bald head, I was in. 

Mehndi, or henna, is a paste used to temporarily tattoo intricate designs, mostly in Indian culture. Mehndi is usually used for ceremonious occasions like weddings, and leaves a beautiful design on the skin for 2-3 weeks.  Since I’m not likely to have an Indian wedding anytime soon, I opted to have a no-hair-don’t-care henna party to celebrate the end of my treatment and bring a bit of beauty to this thing called cancer.

When my hair started falling out, I asked my former colleague to put me in touch with a mehndi artist, and so he introduced me to the woman who did his wife’s wedding mehndi. I first met Dina, the artist, in February. My hair had started to thin, so I called her up and she came over to test out the paste on me to ensure I didn’t have a reaction. She did a small design on my neck, and luckily I had no reaction.

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I spent the next 3 months thinking about buzzing off my hair but not actually mustering up the courage to go through with it. So the mehndi project was on hold.  By May, I finally got the guts to shave off my hair, and called Dina to tell her we’re on. Dina has 16 years experience with mehndi, but this was the first head she has tattooed. I was enamored with her work on Instagram (@dinasmehndi), and I think she was equally as excited to tattoo a head.

So, Deb and I planned a brunch and invited my gal pals to my flat last Sunday. Dina and another artist come over so we could all get tattoos. It was a smashing success! As Dina spent 2+ hours working on my head, the other artist tattooed everyone’s feet, arms, stomaches, etc.

My dear friend Amy put her amazing photography skills to good use and documented the day for me so I could share with you.

Step 1: Freshly shaved head   Step 2: the artist starts on her canvas  IMG_8813  Mandala design on my melon IMG_8815  And so it grows…  IMG_8837   IMG_8824  The end result: a beautiful design to lessen the ugliness of cancer   IMG_8819    IMG_8831   IMG_8833Thanks to Dina for generously sharing her amazing talent with me, and to Amy for loading up all her photography gear and snapping these photos. And to all the gals who came, I am so happy I could share this experience with you!

If you are in the London area and interested in getting a henna crown (or any henna), leave me a comment and I will get you in touch with Dina.

Mother of the Year Award

Since Mother’s day falls in March in the UK, and May in the US, I’ve decided that my mom gets to celebrate twice. Besides, she has to be in the running for the Mother of the Year award this year.

One Friday last November, my mom ended her job at her place of employment of nearly 20 years. The next day, I called her from the ER and told her something was wrong, and I was being admitted to the hospital. I was alone that night, and that first phone call to my mom was both terrifying and calming at the same time.

The next morning, an ER doctor broke the news to me that I probably had cancer, but they didn’t know what kind. He delivered this news with a grin on his face as I cursed the world and bawled my eyes out. And then I called my mom again to tell her the news. Then we both cried, but not for long as she sprang into action. Within 24 hours, she landed in London for what we’ve dubbed her “study abroad” program — learning the ins and outs of the UK health system, cancer, nutrition, and taking care of her 30 year old daughter. Not to mention adjusting to life in a foreign country.

While losing her job was a huge blow, it freed her up to come be with me when I needed her most. She very easily could have taken her new joblessness status as her own personal crisis, insisting that I move back to the USA for treatment to make her life easier and allow her to look for a job. But she didn’t. Instead, she selflessly bent over backwards to be there for me.

My mom and I have been through a lot in life, and I like to think we’ve been able to be there for each other throughout it all. While we don’t speak every day, there’s an unwritten rule between us that we’ll be there for each other when we need it. And right now I needed it, and my mom has gone above and beyond. Here’s a list of things she does for me every day, so that I can focus my energy on work and seeing friends instead of dealing with life admin:

  • Runs my prescriptions from my hospital to my GP and the pharmacy on a weekly (or more) basis
  • Ensures I always have a full glass of water (hydration is key during chemo!)
  • Makes my bed each morning
  • At night she goes in to shut the blinds in my room and turns down my bed. (no chocolates on the pillow though, she could really improve on that one).
  • She has done ALL of the laundry. I seriously haven’t even done a load since November.
  • There is a trio of drinks waiting for me each morning: lemon water, Berocca and coffee, followed by her perfect mixture of organic oats and flaxseed for breakfast.
  • I leave for work with a packed lunch and snacks each day
  • Dinner’s on the table when I come home
  • The flat is cleaned by her, and she tidies up my messes on a daily basis.
  • She’s also my personal shopper, making trips to the grocery store nearly daily, running other errands and taking care of nearly all of my life admin.
  • The last time she left London for a few week stay back in the USA, she announced to me after a grocery shopping trip that she “bought tangerines instead of oranges, because she knows I don’t like to peel oranges”. Yes, she has even been peeling my oranges.

She even puts up with me calling her “Florence”, as in Florence Nightingale, when I need her to do something nurse-related for me. And she’s dubbed her maid alter-ego “Consuela”. We have a good laugh as I boss her around from the sofa when I’m too weak/tired/lazy to do something on my own.

And you want to know how many times I’ve heard her complain? ZERO. None. Not even a little. Talk about one selfless momma.

Despite the crappy circumstances, my mom and I have grown even closer over these past 6 months. She’s been there for me in every way. She’s cried when I cried, and laughed when I laughed. She has made this whole process so much more bearable by just being here by my side. In a few weeks, I’ll be finishing treatment and my mom will go back home. There’s going to be an immense void in my life here in London when she leaves.

In a way, we’ll still be in it together even when then Atlantic separates us. We’ll both be trying to figure out what’s next for us, as both of our lives were put on hold that day in November. I’m certain good things are in store for the both of us. 

So, mom, on this Mother’s Day I thank you for your love, kindness, selflessness and grace, especially over the past 6 months. I could not have done this without you.