Anxiously anticipating the start of classes, I am glad to be done with the month of roaming across the country and weeks of training for my position of RA. Shout-out to Amanda Baker who offered me the job and her perfect timing because the offer came immediately before my last chemo infusion.

Building new relationships with my Co-RA, fellow RA’s and the professional staff of my building has been a perfect transition into the large institution UMD is.

Embracing myself, I released my personality into the crevices of my room. My feng shui. I cannot explain how my room came to be and its’ continuing transformation- I simply move, re-do, organize until I am content knowing the next day, I will move things again. Thanks Ikea!

I have all I need. My goal is to transition into my version of minimalist. Unaware of the volume of my room and the mass of my things… I know I have too much. My goal=needing less. Plan of action: for everything I bring in, I get rid of three items, forcing me to evaluate on a daily basis, differentiating between wants and needs and keeping me away from unnecessary shopping trips. So far, I have kept true to this goal.

Wanting to cut some of the weight I gained throughout treatment I returned to my previous vegan lifestyle, with doctor’s permission of course, and am regaining the energy to live a more active lifestyle.

During treatment I had ample time to reflect, reading and engaging in gave me context and ideas sourced in differing perspectives. Now, with my life becoming my own and a space to call my own, I have begun executing the goals I created at a time it was not pragmatic to pursue them. I spent my times as a patient with rotating drivers, including myself, now I am the predominant driver.

As promised, I will also give a quick recap of my journey from Colorado to University of Maryland:

Jacob and I left the night of my surgery, July 13th, and made it to Ames, Iowa the following morning meeting Emma at the farmers market with her precious pup Gus. Staying a few nights in her sweet house, playing Cat Ladies with Tufts the barn cat, and meeting up with a childhood friend- Nadia.

On the way to Dubuque to visit my dad’s family, we stopped in Cedar Rapids/ Marion to eat Kolaches and honor my late family. I made sure to honor my aunt who passed from sarcoma when I was young by leaving a yellow rose and apricot kolache in honor of her cancer ribbon.

In Dubuque, I enjoyed showing Jacob around the beautiful city. Iowa offered family visits and hospitality we are extremely grateful for. Our adventures took us to Ohio and our plans were rained out leading me to pursue getting a tattoo of my cancer ribbon on my wrist I had been wanting upon the completion of treatment but waited until all my counts were within healthy margins.

Finishing our cross-country trek, we found ourselves in Rehoboth Beach for my family’s annual beach vacation. I made the vacation what I needed it to be. Relaxing out of the sun, writing, reading, enjoying family time- I celebrated my returning health with rest.

The last day was gorgeous, I decided to get in the water for the first time of the week. Feeling strong against the break of the waves I paddled and splashed in the cool ocean with the hot sun on my head. Jacob and his mom picked me up and I was welcomed to Hampstead, MD for the first time. For everything Jacob and I had been through in the last eight months, it was about time for me to see his hometown.

A trip to Baltimore was my first chance to use the John Hopkins system for care. I had an appointment with a dermatologist and was able to stop Accutane and subsequently birth control (a requirement to be eligible for Accutane) meaning I am only on one medication a day! Yay! I am regaining mental clarity.

Together we baked a banana-chocolate chip cake with salty dark-chocolate frosting. Jacob submitted the cake into the County Fair for the last time of his 4-H career. He won class champion!

My last stop was DC where I stayed with Ted and TJ. I spent my time catching up on rest, drinking wonderful coffee and catching up with my favorite city and the people who live there. An annual Econ conference my mom attends coincided with my visit. This year, I was an official attendee and I pursued the conference excitement on returning to the academic world and my studies.

Taking us full circle to RA training. Apologies for the space between posts but as narrated: life has been hectic and my energy low. Now bring on the classes!

P.S. Shout-out to LLS for posting a piece of my writing on their website: https://www.lls.org/blog/a-college-freshmen-faces-a-cancer-diagnosis

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