THANK YOU, NEXT (Love you Ariana; you my girl)

After 5 months, it is the best feeling to say I AM DONE.  I DID IT.  A few days before the last round, I was chatting with the Cycle for Survival Team about my public speaking opportunity at the upcoming March event, I literally (verbatim) said out loud, “this was just such an amazing experience”.  I laughed after and said to the Business Development Team, I cannot believe I just described cancer like that (I mean, who seriously does that), and then explained how I learned so much about myself, my strength, a deeper appreciation for my family and friends, how cool I am, and how each day should be lived to the fullest.  Jen Oilman, I guess that is the rose glasses in me (best compliment ever!) J

I thought I would write the next blog immediately after I completed the last round on 12/4 but I truly couldn’t verbalize the emotions I was feeling.  I decided to sit on it for a few weeks and process the war my body just went through.  It is so strange to be done but yet so exciting; it is weird to not have appointments every week, and it is incredibly hard to know that I am cured yet I look like a cancer patient (still sporting my Doug cartoon character hair, full eyebrows (phew!), and 25% of my eyelashes).  I was ready for everything and anything that Round 8, also known as 100%, could have brought me but the truth is, it was not that too bad!  I am attributing it to the company that came to my chemo suite that last round and to having my most favorite nurse ever, Thierry.  I had Markeeeeee, my sister, my mom, my two mentors (Chad & JB), Jamie & Nancy Jeuda (seeing the 100% sign in your window meant the world!), and a surprise visit from T-Rap (obsessed with our soul sister bracelets; its officially never leaving my body).  Needless to say, I was achy for a few days but this time solely in the legs versus from head to toe, and I just slept A LOT.  I hate even complaining about it because at the end of the day, it was the last one and that is all that mattered.  Excited for my body to get adjusted to life post chemo and to start stabilizing; after all, this chickadee is back to the grind January 2nd (can’t wait!!).

round 8

I thought it would be fun to outline a lot of my revelations and the things (some super little) I now have a deeper appreciation for:

  • Sushi: You knew this was happening.  This Friday night, Mals, Adam, Marc, and I went to Arata.  Every bite melted in my mouth and I could have cried of pure bliss.  That last Tuna with a peanut sauce in the 10 piece omakase meal was MAGICAL.  I licked the entire plate clean.  I hope and pray I never have to give this up ever again!sushi
  • I love my kids (like more than anything) but being home for the last 5 months confirms that I am meant to be a working mom. I could never replace the amount of time I got to spend with them and I am so grateful I got to see them flourish, but this girl needs a J-O-B.  Ready to hustle, crush it, get back my patience, and am heading into 2019 with a new head (and hair, wigs, hats) on my shoulders (literally!).
  • Peloton: Thank you for keeping me company, for making me motivated to still keep my body in check, and for being an in home solution.  Emma Lovewell, your groove rides, make Gabby happy.  Thank you for making it similar to Soul Cycle, for making me sweat on the daily, and for making me smile.
  • Sloan Kettering. You saved my life.  I promise you the rest of mine will be lived to the fullest, and I am going to continue to take such good care of myself.  I cannot thank you enough for catching this so early, for being so vigilant, for hiring the best doctors/nurses, and for being the BEST hospital and most knowledgeable.  You truly are experts.
  • Hair.  I long for the days I can get a blow out.  I knew I was going to lose it all, but I did not really pay attention or do any research on the actual timeline for growing back.  It is going to take A LONG TIME, and I am working through that now (I really thought I was the exception to the rule but that is just not life).  Already researching cute headbands, pixie cuts, and know that I will rock it (because after you go through this, you just say f*ck it and OWN IT).
  • Great skin care & make up products. Oddly (minus the crows feet), my skin has never been better.  Thank you chemo for not making me break out!  Best products are Beautycounter, Drunk Elephant, Cetaphil, Tarte, and First Aid Beauty.  I am super cautious about products now and these are all made so well/safely.
  • Family.  Needless to say, my support team could not be topped.  I felt for people at Sloan who were there alone, and I was basically hosting a party every other week.  There was a family member there with me every single round, and you all did not leave my side for 5 months.  I always knew how amazing you all were, and how lucky I was, but when times are tough, we all just come together in this way that is so special.  Love you all so much, and Marc, THANK YOU for being my rock (we got stronger because of this and that is so cool!!).
  • My nuclear circle. I have the BEST friends in the entire universe. Everyone should be envious at how freakin awesome my friends are.  Every single one rose to the occasion, checked in on me all the time, was there for me at all hours of the day, helped with my kids, was there for Marc, and gave me the love/support I needed to conquer the shiat out of this. I struck gold with all of you!
  • Paulette (Paul Paul). You are my childrens second mother and make my house function.  Not only did you take care of my two kids and make sure they did not skip a beat, you took care of me.  You were my therapist, friend, and family during all of this and I could not have gotten through this without you by my side.
  • The girls I have met through this. I have been connected to so many strong women through this process.  Cheers to all of us for overcoming this together, for being each others shoulders to laugh/cry on, and for sharing our stories.  Couldn’t have done this without you!
  • My home & Merrick. My house is my peaceful place; it is so zen and has great energy.  I was truly able to take care of myself and relax and there was days at end I did not leave my house; that is a testament to have magical it is because in general I cannot sit still.  I could not imagine going through this anywhere else but Merrick.  I am surrounded daily by such incredible people, and EVERYONE (whether we are besties, our kids are in school together, or friends of friends) was SO supportive.  Thank you for all the carpools, for dropping by with bags of groceries, for just ringing my doorbell for a hug, and for constantly checking in on me to see if I needed anything.   Marc and I feel so blessed that we moved here, that we met all of you, and that we have made friends who are family at this point.

Up next is my final surgeries are in the middle of January and that has a two week recovery; I am resting (need it! Got 102 yesterday and was sent to the hospital), getting my body strong and prepared for it (lots of weights, vitamins, Peloton).  Nothing can compare to what I already went through, and I know that this will seem like a cake walk versus chemo.  On a positive note, I will officially be replacing my expanders with implants (I know Marc is pumped!) and will be reducing my risk of ovarian cancer to minimal (BRCA gene is both ovarian & breast).  Feels nice to be in control of this one and these final decisions!

I have been asked if I am going to continue writing, and the answer is yes; it may be less frequent given I am back at work soon but I am going to provide updates on my “new normal”, my doctor appointments, my hair growth, and resources I have found helpful in this chapter.

Thank you SO much for following along my journey! Cheers to Chapter 2 and as Ariana Grande would say, THANK YOU, NEXT.

XX

Gab (100% and READY TO TAKE ON THE WORLD!)

PS- Anyone been to Portugal and have their itineraries? Our 10 year is coming up and we are starting to plan!!

THE GABBY BRAND- SPECIAL

12/4 has become the new milestone in my house.  Everyday Riley and I walk to the calendar hanging on the wall and count down the days (and I obviously have an app on my phone that updates daily to keep the excitement going).  7 Days. HOLY MOLY.  7 days until my last treatment.  7 days until my “new normal”.  7 days until I can eat sushi.  7 days until the chemo chapter has closed.  7 days until I can use women’s Rogaine (I laugh every time I say this).  I could cry on demand for how I feel when I think about what I have accomplished and HOW DAMN CLOSE the finish line is.  I can taste the victory and trust me, I am ready to take on the world and can do just about anything I set my mind to (love that George Harrison song) after this.

I have always said I have no regrets.  I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason (even getting cancer!) and that following your gut instinct will lead you the decision you were meant to make.  Well, slight lie, one regret was not studying abroad but Gabby and extra paperwork don’t go well together (part of living life in the red). Although, because I did not go abroad, I traveled the globe with my common law marriage wife Sam (another red person) for a month post college and that was pretty epic (we can leave the absinthe story in Prague with a drunk dial to Marc for another time).

Each chapter of your life is an opportunity to learn and to grow, and to evolve your character.  From being in media and advertising for so long, I focus a lot on brands and their persona in the marketplace.  After taking a step back from work during this process, I have had a lot more time to think about myself and my “brand”.

It is kind of funny but ever since I have been diagnosed, I swear I have become like a Buddha and am viewed as very Zen by friends.  I have always been someone that people share their secrets with because I am a vault (I cannot STAND blabber mouths; if someone shares something personal, assume it is not meant to be repeated!) but it has now been elevated to a new level.  What a great distraction for me, and I absolutely love that I am someone friends confide in, ask advice from, and that they trust.  What a great brand to have!

On Sunday, I experienced a forever memory.  We are a pretty open household in the sense that we don’t gloss over things and try to explain in as much depth as possible for what is appropriate (a great therapist helps with that!).  My son Pierce was trying on a stethoscope and pretending to be a doctor, and he noticed that only one side fit in his ear and the other was not.  He said “Mommy, I can’t find the other ear”; I immediately walked over to him, and said “Pierce, you were born extra special, and what makes you so special is that you only have one ear.  Just remember how special you are”  Pierce understands he has one ear, that he has hearing loss, that he wears a device that helps him hear better, but this was like the first real time experience where he processed it from start to finish in a play setting.  It is our job as parents to build your kids up and make them super confident; that day, Pierce walked away with a pep in his step. It led to me think even more about my brand and how my experience makes me different/unique and therefore special.  You see Pierce, Mommy and you are the MOST special and we are the pure example of when life hands lemons, make lemonade.  I am SO proud of you and know one day when you can understand what I went through when you were three, that you will be of me too!

Isn’t this the most magical time of the year?  Thanksgiving is by far my most favorite holiday.  Dipping the turkey in cranberry sauce, unlimited red wine (not this year BUT I will be back in 2019!), forgetting any form of a diet/monitoring, and being with my family is the absolute best.  8 months ago if you asked me what I would be doing on Thanksgiving, I would state all the above.  Move to the current situation, and I had chemo the Tuesday of Thanksgiving week and needless to say, I was not 100%. Round 7 was definitely not as tough as rounds 1, 5, & 6 but Thursday and Friday were not my best.  Luckily, the Claritin, Advil, being surrounded by entire family, creating new traditions (love you cousins!), and helping my mom prepare and cook, kept me quite distracted.  This year we went around the table and went through what we are grateful for – obviously, it was a sob fest.  Marc said it best by saying he was grateful for early detection.

I thank my lucky stars EVERYDAY that I knew I had the BRCA gene, that I was so top of my health and under surveillance, that my diagnosis is what it was, and that I was cancer free in July (I always have to explain this part BUT the chemo is truly an insurance policy; I HAD breast cancer, I do not currently have breast cancer!).  I am TRULY blessed!!!

I want to do a few shoutouts and key highlights:

  • Round 7: My dad, Mals, Marc, Allie Cat, and my girl Thiery (best nurse ever!!). Thanks for keeping me such good company, for keeping the chatter constant, for making me laugh, and Allie Cat, those gorgeous roses (you need to open up your own flower shop for real!).  We faced Jamie’s window this time (nurses know to put me there!) and seeing the sign change to 1 more to Go was EVERYTHING.  Jamie & Jon, the nurses at Sloan LOVE you, and are obsessed with what you are doing (me too, duh!).
  • Leah Howard (now Zahal): So sad to have missed your wedding BUT you looked absolutely amazing and could not be happier for you. Cannot believe you surprised me with the hand knit hat; love it so much, it is so special, and it is already part of my fall/winter wardrobe (perfect for over the halo!).  Elana and I cannot wait to see your gorgeous face in February!
  • Mals and Adam: Feel like you get one every blog post but that’s because you guys are so freakin amazing. Thanks for taking Riley to the parade, for taking P/R bowling on Sunday, for helping us out so much with the kids, and for being the best support system EVER.  LOVE YOUR FACES.
  • Mom & Dad: You outdid yourselves with Thanksgiving! You made taking care of me and preparing for such a high pressure food holiday look like such a breeze.  I joke around that I feel like Britney Spears when she was under her parents control (hey, we do have matching haircuts although hers was more by choice) BUT I am so lucky you live so close and would do anything for your kids.
  • TV Shows: Still binging Orange is The New Black (4th season!), loving all my Housewives, Ozark, I Am Sorry (Netflix, super cute, thanks Ali Brenner for recommendation!).
  • Best part of everything is that every invite we get now is for past 12/4, and I can actually be the YES girl again (well until my surgery 1/16).
  • Made my first Botox appointment (WOOHOO!), first real sushi meal (Arata and then Tanoshi), lots of celebration dinners (thanks to Marc and all my girls for organizing so many fun festivities). So excited to go to the supermarket (lame I know) and to take my kids to a birthday party (never thought I would say that).
  • Pumped to return to work, be in the grind of NYC, ride the LIRR, and to get work email (yes, that sounds nuts BUT so me).

This week is an off week and I plan on enjoying myself now that I am out of the Chemo FUNK (cue in Bruno Mars).  Lots of exercise (yay Craze), spending time with the kids, hanging with the greatest souls of all time Dana (her adorable munchkin Ari) and Debbie, seeing the RVC crew, and celebrating Hanukkah (my house will be DECKED).

Thanks for riding this journey with me, and let the countdown begin (1 more week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!).

XO

87.5% and Peach Fuzz

IT IS A MARATHON (NOT A SPRINT, UNFORTUNATELY)

Thursday night of my last off week was so bittersweet.  I was beyond excited for my girls weekend with my besties since childhood (so lucky to have such a squad who know everything about me and it is just effortless in the best way possible); at the same time, I was SO sad to be missing my cousin Jill’s wedding and being with my entire family.  Pierce kept asking why I could not go and while Riley understood, she expressed how upsetting it was.  I put on a brave face and as soon as that door shut when they left, I couldn’t help but cry. After a solid 15 minutes, I composed myself, put on the Real Housewives of Orange County, and passed out alone in my house (I cannot think of the last time it was just me for a solo night). Like a lunatic, I checked behind the shower curtains, put the alarm on, and basically slept with half the lights on (SVU is one of my fave shows!).  As I am sure you have gathered, I hate missing anything and have the worst case of FOMO, but feeling like my kids were disappointed was not fun.  I knew it was the right decision for my health—after all, a plane during cold/flu season is the MOST contaminated place when it comes to germs (have you seen those news articles!), and I could not risk getting sick and pushing out my treatments.

Markeeeeee—you are crushing the dad game.  I mean, I could not help but laugh out loud picturing you with the double stroller, a giant suitcase, and two kids both ways on the plane.  You did it and you deserve a medal!  Thank you Mal & Adam for helping on the way down and for being such an incredible aunt & uncle the whole weekend (what would we do without you!).  Special shout out to my parents and my rockstar sister and brother in law for helping Marc all weekend, and for making sure Riley and Pierce were the cutest freakin flower girl and ringbearer. My kids were so distracted all weekend with all the love/attention, that I was old news (and that is a-okay!!!).

wedding

Girlfriends are just the best medicine— they took such good care of me and I was laughing from Friday to Sunday. While I hate that the Big C brought us all together that weekend, it was long overdue and everyone of us smiled for 48 hours straight. I need to explain my friendship with Jamie because it is one of those that is so special it deserves it’s a description. Jamie and I have been best friends since pre-school (go Temple Emanuel!) and we grew up two blocks apart (Green Acres is the place to be!).  We have been through EVERYTHING together and were attached at the hip from elementary school through high school.  All of our firsts were together (as well as all the times we got in trouble!), and only times we separated were sleepaway camp and then college.  Since going off to BU and Oswego, Jamie moved to the Midwest and I was forever bound to NY (my voice and accent would not be accepted anywhere else).  Distance never got in the way of our friendship, and Jamie is by far the BEST at keeping in touch.  You see, anyone who meets Jamie is instantly changed.  She is simply the best—great vibes, so fun, easy to connect with, truly a sweetheart, and such a GOOD FRIEND.  I am LUCKY to know her and to get to call her a best friend.

jame

When Jamie comes into town, it calls for a reunion.  The full team got together—Heather, Stacey, Jamie M (aka Manny), and Tara.  We acted like we were in high school all over again and everyone slept at my house.  The whole weekend was amazing but my two major highlights were:

girlfriends

  • Jamie being Jamie brought on the plane a stack of pictures (some VERY embarrassing ones) dating back to 1985. All of us going through them at the sleepover was so fun, absurd, ridiculous, and brought back so many fun memories.  I mean, there was ZERO worries in the world back then.  I spend so much time reflecting on life before the Big C and seeing these and how much fun we had gave me such good feels.
  • The Uber Karaoke ride to dinner where we played every song from Spice Girls to Backstreet Boys to Britney Spears to NSYNC. All of our voices are TERRIBLE, we are still altos/baritones, but that was the most fun I have had in awhile.  We are all just so ourselves with each other, and I am forever blessed to have each of you in my lives.  I mean look at the below pic to see how hard I was laughing (captured by T-Rap).laughing

Kids and Marc came home Sunday, and Jamie was back to Iowa (so sad to see her go everytime), and I was off to chemo that Tuesday.  I was sent to round 6, AKA 75%!!!!!!!!!, feeling so good, happy, and #blessed.  I remember at the very beginning of all of this thinking about how I would feel at this exact point.  While I am so OVER IT and excited to be at 100%, it is such a victory to be here.  I imagine this is how marathon runners feel at the 20 mile mark (boy do I wish I could be one of those but running is so not my thing).   I am still in the thick of it and recovery is certainly not as easy as I was anticipating, but I can see the finish line and that is EVERYTHING.

Interestingly enough, the date was 11/7, which happens to be mine and Marc’s anniversary (how absurd!).  If you would have asked me 9 years ago how we would be spending our anniversary, NEVER would I have said at Sloan Kettering with an IV attached to my arm for 4 hours.  But what do champions do—they adjust!  9 years married, 13 years together, and we are stronger than ever before.

The night before chemo while my appetite was back to Gab we went out for a FAT MAN Italian meal at Pietro’s.  No red wine for me which is a normal given with Italian food, but that chicken parm melts in your mouth (if you have never been, you must!).  It is by far the best I have ever had and I will stick to that bold statement.

As soon as my name was called in the waiting room and I was brought to Suite 6, I knew this round had good vibes attached to it.  After all, it was round 6 in suite 6, got assigned my girl Thiery (amazing nurse!) and I had a straight view into my friend Jamie and Jon’s apartment where it said in the window “2 more to Go” (can’t thank you enough for updating that every other week for me; means so much!!).  LET’S DO IT!!!  I was in such good company. Marc of course was in tow (after all it was our big day!), Rob and Hayley (two of our BFF’s; Rob was the best man in our wedding, and Hayley is an angel!), and my Merrick girls Debbie and Ali.  Such good conversation, laughs, and honestly it flew by this time.  They must have brought good energy because this time it was a 3-hour infusion vs 6 hour (WOOHOO!), and I have no reaction whatsoever.  I love when friends from different worlds meet and mesh and that is exactly what happened here (duh, I am only friends with the best of the best!).  Fun fact, for our 5-year anniversary, Marc and I went to Napa and Rob & Hayley came.  Only fitting they came to my chemo on our anniversary too (with a huge stack of balloons!)  After all, they are family.

Taxol is VERY shocking to me, and not in a good way like a surprise birthday party where all your friends show up and buy you a gazillion tequila shots.  While it is certainly easier to handle than the Red Devil, it is not the cake walk I was expecting.  For those of you who know me really well, you know I am not a complainer.  It takes A LOT for me to admit anything is wrong (pretty much ever), and even more for me to actually admit pain or discomfort.  I am the girl in my heyyyyydayyyy that even with having the flu (Sam, please tell me you remember that night we went to Meatpacking and I had 103) or after having my wisdom teeth out (drooling out of all four corners of my mouth- HOT, I know!), I went out that night.  Well, round 6 was not my best; I know it is cumulative but this one took me a full week to recover from.  Legit (no exaggeration), EVERY single joint/bone/vertebra felt it from my jaw to my neck to my back to my legs to my toes.  I am thrilled that I only have 2 more Taxol’s and pray that it takes it easy on me the next couple of times.

I am going to end the blog post on some more fun highlights:

  • Riley’s 6th birthday was exactly what she wanted! Went a TAD overboard on gifts this year but I felt like she deserved the world especially now.  She told me it was best birthday ever and while I originally promised her a sleepover party, Riley will have to wait until we celebrate 6.5.riley 6
  • Orange is the New Black—can’t stop, won’t stop. I am so late to the game BUT it’s really SO good!
  • Eyebrows/Eyelashes still intact! I met with the Sloan Dermatologist and he provided me with a hair plan.  Was a super interesting appointment and learned so much!  Started taking Biotin and Biosil and using Latisse (as well as coconut oil!), and it is working; once I am done with chemo, I can start using Women’s Rogaine (never did I think those words would come out of my mouth).
  • I had to shave my legs!!!! BIG DAY GUYS. That means hair is growing back (and yes, my hair started growing back! I currently look like Doug from the cartoon!).
  • LetsFCancer is a great organization and I proactively reached out to see how I can get involved. They featured my story on their Insta page, and I am going to be weighing in on key topics that are of particular interest to the community such as genetic testing.  So happy I can be of help (that is why I started this blog to begin with!).  Check them out :  http://www.letsfcancer.com/
  • Booked my first two real sushi meals and am so ready; I know I made it through pregnancy but I am in dire need of salmon and tuna.
  • I have gotten so much outreach for those who are actively considering genetic testing. Thanks so much for letting me be a resource!  It is such a good decision and no bad could come out of it.
  • Next fundraiser is for MSKCC and their Cycle for Survival; my family and I will be riding in March 2019 and will be rounding up a squad for a team. It is going to be amazing!
  • Final surgery is middle of January and that is it!!!!!!!!!!!!! Doctor suggested building up immune system until then after last chemo, and returning to work after that recovery period. February 2019 it is!! CANNOT WAIT to HUSTLE again (so READY!!!).
  • Got a new wig for everyday earlier this week at Galli in Great Neck. Cannot recommend this place enough!  It is Ombre, a LOB, and HOT.  Pics to follow…
  • Next chemo is Tuesday, and then it is Thanksgiving, my faveeeeeee holiday EVER. Cannot wait to be with my whole family and stuff my face (hopefully I have an appetite).

Have an amazing holiday everyone, and thanks so much for all the support!  17 days until the last chemo, and cheers to whatever my “new normal” is.

XX

Gab (75%, so close to 87.5%!!!!!)

CALL ME ELSA (AT LEAST IN MY LONG BLONDE WIG)

5 out of 8.  How are we here already?  I cannot believe this whole experience started in July and we are already almost in November.  I knew it would go fast once we hit my favorite season but time is FLYING BY and this girl is loving it.  Before we know it, it will be early December and I will be doing cartwheels everywhere celebrating pure victory.

This past Tuesday I had my first round of Taxol and BOY am I glad that is over.  My companions were my dad Superman Stu and my girl T-Rap (T-Goldie; AKA my first friend ever for 34.5 years).  They are warriors because Taxol is a LONG A** infusion and is over 3 hours (mine was 6 hours because I am extra special).  For the first one, they administer super slowly because you can have a reaction such as shortness of breath, turning red, etc (anyone want to switch spots with me?). And to make it even more fun, they ice your hands/feet the entire time and make you feel like your Elsa in the movie Frozen (yes, that is over 3 hours with ice on you!).  The coldest I have ever been was a hypothermia warning in Boston when Sam and I thought it was a good idea to walk to a party with no gloves and a beer can in our hands.  Those were the days…worrying about which party was next.

taxol

tata

Apparently the ice protects your nail beds because they can get all screwed up too; add it to the physical responses that these chemicals have on your body (is there any part of you that can’t get damaged?).  Thank g-d my chest will look FAB.  About an hour into mine, my Dad and Tara notice that I am super splotchy (for those who know me very well, it was the same as if I drank Stoli).  I felt like Jim Carrey in the Truman Show— within a minute all 8 nurses ran in as well as my oncologist and Odessa (his right hand and my spirit animal).  They decide to slow down the infusion to see if that will help; the final consensus is that I am just a splotchy girl.  Tick, tick, tick—3 hours becomes 6 hours, and I am delirious.  That IV coming out of my arm was how I imagine winning the lotto is.  Thank you Dad and Tara for not leaving my side, and for Markeeeeeee who surprised me as soon as he heard about “my red reaction”.  I think you either live life like you are dancing on rainbows or under a dark sad rain cloud, and luckily I prefer the happy route.  For the most part (this is in life pre the big C), I always have a smile on my face and although my doctors think I am nuts, I certainly keep it interesting and am pretty unique when it comes to my attitude versus others there. You know that is true when every nurse and doctor at a Cancer hospital tells you that.

Moving on to all the good that has happened over the last 2 weeks.  For starters, this chickadee is 3-5 and it feels good.  While I did not get to have jello shots on my birthday , it really was such a magical day.  While cancer sucks and it completely changes you forever, life is amazing and I am appreciating it now more than ever (so should you!).

Highlights of the last few weeks:

  • My birthday was AMAZING and did not disappoint at all. Sub-bullets happening:
    • Marc legit planned the best day ever (and got me the most GORGIE bag!). So grateful I was feeling well to enjoy each activity (with naps in between of course!); started with Soul Cycle in Roslyn (11am class with 8 people vs the 945 waitlist sold out class; these are things I never thought of before), followed by massages at the Garden City Hotel’s Red Door Spa, lunch at the hotel, a nap for 2 hours, and dinner at the new David Burke Restaurant.  Luckily my appetite was BACK and I truly got to stuff my face which is rare these days.
    • My kids rock – they sang, they danced, they made brownies/cookies, and gave me so many hugs/kisses. I can’t even with the two of them!
    • For those of you who follow me on insta, I hope you got to see my Terez takeover. They are doing one every Tuesday and featuring Breast Cancer patients/survivors during October; was such a cool experience and thank you Deb (do not know what I would do without you!) for the introduction.  They documented the entire day and I was thrilled to share my story!!
    • I got to celebrate with so many girlfriends from all areas of life; thanks for spoiling me and going the extra mile this year! A girls night out is always the best medicine and I purposely planned treatment around 10/16 so I can celebrate.birtdhay
    • Rob & Hayley—Devin from the Challenge wishing me a Happy Birthday was BY FAR the icing on the cake. I am not going to blow your secret on how you made that happen but I love him, and that was absolutely absurd!!!
      • I keep comparing my on week staying at my parents to the redemption house, and my off week like living in the Challenge house. See the correlation?
    • Thanks to everyone for all the wishes/messages/calls/flowers/balloons/gifts/texts; not one person forgot and it made me feel so special!
  • Charity Ride—HOLY MOLY, was this a success!! We raised over $7300 for the BRCA Foundation (that is SO much money!!).  Huge thanks to iSpin for being such great hosts, for my sister making such a bad a** sign, to Pammycakes for donating cookies (https://www.pammycakecreations.com/) and to everyone who donated, rode, and traveled near/far.  The playlist, the energy in the room, the vibes, and the love were EVERYTHING and it made the birthday week complete.
    • I know I referenced this in a much earlier post but having friends and support from each part of my life has always been something incredibly important to me. At the ride, I had representation from family, childhood, elementary school, high school, to college, post college NYC life, old colleagues from Verve and current colleagues (JB!).  To look around the room and see 37 people there FOR ME was the most special feeling in the world.  I seriously can’t thank you enough for giving up a part of your Sunday to celebrate life!
    • For those who could not ride and donated, THANK YOU. Playlist below (inspired by my Positive Vibes Spotify list):
      • Came here for love Calvo remix-sigala ft Ella eyre
      • Run the world (girls)-Beyoncé
      • Eye of the tiger (Ralph Crowell &maydro festival remix)- survivor
      • Dog days are over – Florence and the machine
      • Stronger (mac Quayle mixshow edit) – Britney Spears
      • We will rock you remix – queen
      • Stronger- Kanye west
      • Survivor – destinys child
      • Fight song (wildbeat remix)- rachel platten
      • Don’t stop believing (mynga remix) – journey
      • Roar club mix remix- Katy perry
      • The climb (teddy cream bootleg)- Miley Cyrus
    • Major shout out to Karen & Steve Goldsmith for babysitting my kids during the ride; so lucky that I got such an amazing extended family. My kids had the best time ever and asked when you are coming back (whenever you want!).
    • ververide2ride.jpg

  • Pierce and his school did a Breast Cancer Walk; Mill Neck is such a magical place and I love how much they give back to the community.
  • I am officially at 62.5% and started the new chapter of Taxol; adios Red Devil. While I only had this on Tuesday, I was warned that round 5 would be the hardest.  I have a mix of the RD still in my body and introduced a new drug; well, I will absolutely say that these doctors know what they are talking about.  Side effects are definitely different and this is lighter but it comes with its own version of fun.  I retreated at my parents for the week, and am definitely fatigued and SO SORE/ACHY.  I feel like I took 10 SLT classes in a row, and every bone decided to wake up from these drugs.  However, I will take this over foggy/dizzy, which is a WIN in my book.  I cannot believe I only have 3 more left!  I can so do this!
  • The Bold Type: What an amazing show! You are very welcome; highly recommend to anyone who loves Younger and is in media/publishing.  I binge watched in 2 days and wish I had more seasons to enjoy!
  • SAY YES: I got an invite to a 40th birthday that is at the end of December and I actually got to say YES because I WILL BE DONE. You have no idea how that feels until your liberty and freedom of being a YES girl is stripped from you.  That was the fastest RSVP ever, and I cannot wait to SHAKE IT.  For me, will all of you just say YES to anything fun?  Thanks so much in advance!!
  • The Cancer Card: I have had to pull this a few times in the last couple of months especially with chemobrain BUT this story takes the cake.  For those of you familiar with Denny’s, it is an incredible children’s clothing store and I feel like my kids could be their spokesmodels (along with half of Long Island).  Since being diagnosed I have been living a much cleaner life and have been utilizing CBD oil for anxiety/sleep when necessary; CBD oil does not contain THC and it is amazing.  Well, I bought a new CBD oil vape that is just for Gabby (no germs!); I am in Denny’s minding my own business waiting on line when the store owners/clerks mention that it smells like smoke and need to know where its coming from.  We are all looking around, and sure enough, there is a big black cloud coming from my pocketbook.  I am swatting the smoke with both hands, and it was like a scene out of a movie.  I turn bright red and have to explain that it is legal, and why I have it.  It must have turned on in my bag and is super sensitive to touch (hands down one of the most absurd experiences in my life). Never been a better time for the C card; thanks for the laugh CBD. 

It is obvious that there are things I am going to miss and be upset about:

  • My Cousin Jill’s Wedding: I was super fortunate to grow up literally across the street from my Aunt Eileen, Uncle Mel, Cousin Jill, and Cousin Melissa. They were 4-5 steps away at all points and Mals and I were the annoying little cousins.  I noticed as I got older that no one else called their cousins “Cousin Jill”, “Cousin Melissa”, etc; to this day, we all still address each other by Cousin before the name.  My Cousin Jill is getting married next weekend and I cannot believe I have to miss it; it is in Florida and it is not suggested I fly during flu season especially when still under treatment.  I will have FOMO to the max but super happy that Marc and the kids (flower girl/ring bearer) will be representing the Wasses.  So happy I got to come that Saturday night to your bach party in Greenport; how brilliant to rent a house, sit in sweats, and have a chef come (Gabby “The Big C” approved).  Best of luck Markeeeeeeeeee on the flights to and from with both kids (YOU GOT THIS!!!!).
  • My nuggets & Marc. I know it is best that I rest and that I spend my on-week at my parents house but I am really missing my normal family balance.  Even Pierce who I thought had no concept of timing asked me the other day where I have been and when I am coming home, and that he misses me (so many tears!).  I know my kids are feeling it, and I am so proud for how brave they are; this will be a chapter that closes in their life too and every FaceTime call gives me the extra strength I need to crush this.
  • Sushi: Please come back into my life.  I need an omakase STAT with a bottle of sake.
  • My teams annual Thanksgiving lunch: This was one of the best days in 2017. I absolutely love my team at Placed, and I will be at Sloan with an IV in my arm while my favorite humans all celebrate the best holiday ever (Thanksgiving is up there with my birthday!).  Please send me LOTS of snaps; Riley and I will miss you (yes Riley joined us last year and came to Cubby Hole; mom of the year!).
  • My eyebrows and eyelashes: As if losing your hair is not hard enough, your eyebrows and eyelashes apparently wait for Taxol to really kick in (treatment 7/8) before falling out. It is like the final F*CK YOU from chemo; kind of comical when you think about it.  They say the last to fall out is the first to grow back; well, thanks for that!  Luckily I got my hands on lots of good pencils/stencils and am ready to become an eyebrow expert.  If anyone has any tips, I am more than interested!  On a positive note, I am like a hairless cat and have not had to shave in 2 months; could be worse!

 

Still figuring out my reaction to Taxol overall, and when I will officially feel back to Gab before I head back into round 6.  I always got a good 5-6 days on A/C so I am praying I get the same for these 4 rounds.  After all, I got Riley’s birthday party coming up (can’t let this stop me!) and Halloween;  I cannot wait to spend the day with my kids (outdoors is a beautiful thing!).  While Marc and the kids are away in Florida, my bestie from the midwestie Jamie is flying in to keep me company; all my girlfriends from elementary and high school are spending the weekend at my house (I told you I got the greatest friends ever!).  Looking forward to lots of smiles/laughs/reminiscing and to my cousin Jill FaceTiming me so I can see how beautiful she looks and how the kids are during the ceremony.

Love you all and cannot thank you enough for the support!! We are SO CLOSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

XO

Gab (6 weeks away from FREEDOM!!!!)

 

 

 

DROP THE MIC–THIS CHICK IS 50%

It ‘twas the night before treatment, and this girl treated herself to Soul Cycle.  It was my first ride since surgery and it was everything I dreamed of.  I wore my beanie, and sanitized the crap out of the bike and the weights (I am far too OCD for my liking).  Lissa, I have never taken you before, but if you somehow magically are reading this, YOU INSPIRED ME.  I held on to a quote and wrote it down immediately after your class – “challenge is a form of measurement to see how far you can be pushed.  Without challenges, there is no way of seeing what you are capable of as a baseline.” Well girl, that struck me like lightning and gave me the exact motivation I needed to take on the 50% mark (insert Eye of the Tiger).

Being in some form of Ad Sales my whole post college life, I would never have counted 50% as a success (after all, you don’t make commission at 50% and mama needs her shoes.). It is so interesting to me how numbers can take on different meanings when new adventures occur.  As of July 2018, 50% meant success; it meant that I could see the finish line, that the “Red Devil” would be behind me, and that it would be October (my favorite month EVER; I clearly planned that my birthday would fall on my off week).

I went into the 4thCT as if I won an Emmy for Best Talk Show Host (you can tell I am really obsessing over missing my calling). Insert picture below from my Bat Mitz where my theme was Gabbing with Gabby (how freakin funny!).  My mental state was incredible—after all, I had the BEST off weekend.  We did the fall festival shenanigans at Hicks with the kids, dinner Saturday night (sitter style) with Sam & Hunter, and hosted my first Sunday Funday.  Hicks was super cute and it was so nice to be just the four of us; between picking apples, the hayride, face painting, and Pierce deciding it would be funny to take my baseball cap off (I was wearing a halo which basically is a hula skirt and shows the top of your head!).  I know how much I have grown during this because I truly didn’t care and was over it in a nano second.  It is so weird how normal it becomes to have no hair and the funny part is you realize how much people talk about hair in general.  After this experience, I made a vow to minimize chatter around hair; I didn’t say I wouldn’t spend as much on coloring/cutting; sorry Wass).  Honestly though, in the grand scheme of things, it just does not matter and your face is truly whats key (and being a good kind person; I would not have the support I have throughout this if that was not the case).  Life is too fun and amazing!

gab with gab

hicks

I had to start a separate paragraph for this because it is worthy of it.  Did I mention that my girl Nicole came over Friday with the grandest gesture of all time?  SHE DIED HER HAIR PINK FOR BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH (like seriously; the whole head! Only she can pull it off and look as fabulous as ever).  Picture below—she was inspired by my story but was even more moved when she met someone at the salon going through the same exact experience(including triple negative!).  I mean how could I not run into the last RD treatment with the biggest smile on my face feeling on top of the world.  Love you Nic!

nic

My crew and I marched right into the Sloan on 10/9 and my girls did not disappoint (duh!).  They brought the laughs, the constant chit chat, and most importantly the good vibes.  The Wasses  kick bad vibes out the door (those of you know who have attended one of our many house parties).  As the Jewish baseball team was being called into the chemo suites (Rosenberg, Stoller, Weinstein, etc), I went in ready to kick this things a**.  The nurses were celebrating the 50% mark and were just as happy as I was.  Special thank you to the Rosses for constantly updating their window sign to celebrate my victories, and huge hugs to Elana (those posters are EVERYTHING and being saved forever), Sam, and Stacey for keeping your girl company.  Love you all so so so so so so so much!!

So now it is officially Gab = 4, Red Devil = 0; don’t get me wrong, the RD had its moments and it definitely made me lethargic and exhausted, but it is fair to say, if one was being crowned a princess, it would be ME.  Lesson learned from round 3 and between listening to my body, reflexology, working out, and hydrating, I am happy to share that I had NO dizzy spells.  Pumped to begin treatment 5 of Taxol and see what that bad boy brings.

One thing I know it will for sure bring is CHEMO BRAIN.  CHEMO BRAIN IS REAL.  I mean seriously, it is actually a legitimate side effect that we are finding quite comical. I never had pregnancy brain or if I did, it was mild (like less than 100.4 mild).  I trust all of you who have had it BUT now after going through two pregnancies and the big C, I can promise you nothing compares to chemo brain.  Apologies in particular to the ever so patient Markeeeeee who has to repeat everything 6 extra times; thanks babes for laughing through it.   I thought it would be funny to share with you all a few real life examples:

  • Z Gallerie—I swear I ordered a mirror from you about 3 weeks ago; it should be arriving this week based on what I thought. In fact, I found someone to hang it and was ready to make my entranceway shine like the Chrysler Building i(f you can’t tell, Annie is now the favorite movie in my house).  I called my mom after I ordered it because I was so proud of myself for using a 20% coupon (one day I will get on ebates!).  Well, to have the mirror of your dreams delivered, you actually have to press confirm order.  So now, no mirror to stare at my bald head with before leaving the house, and no coupon; fingers crossed, it is back on sale for Black Friday.
  • Same thing as above happened with Container Store in my attempt to organize the kids toys. Waited for weeks and the chaos continued to build up.  This was the same day as Z Gallerie as I thought I was being so productive.
  • Carousel Designs—if you ever need a baby gift, this website rocks and they have best customer service ever. For Dana’s new little love muffin Ari, I placed an order for Debbie and I with seriously the best sheets ever.  They were grey/white and chevron, and would have been delivered so timely if the freakin name was right.  SERIOUSLY, James?  Like I couldn’t get that right?  Dana, thank you for sending me this pic; I needed that laugh real bad and new ones are on the way with the right name.  That one I am sharing with Sloan Kettering for their hall of fame.james

I am so happy to be out of my fog this week and wanted to share another list of fun bullets:

  • Thank you to all influencers and brands who have embraced Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Prior to this that is something I would not have noticed, but what you are doing is SO smart for your brand and it is touching so many women nationally.  After all, Breast Cancer touches 1 in 8 females; I will be buying your brands SO much now.  XO
  • Huge huge huge thank you to my parents!  I seriously am so grateful for how well you are taking care of me and my entire family.  Your energy level is insane and I can only hope I have half of it when I am your age.  Even though I sometimes say I feel like I am in prison or back in high school, I would not be healing and recuperating the way I am without your dedication and love.
  • Finished Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (so good! Excited for season 2), Gossip Girl (all 6 seasons), and on to Friday Night Lights. I am up to episode 4 and it reminds me of Varsity Blues and I am loving every second of it.  NEED MORE SHOWS.
  • Obsessing over Dave Matthews, Train, Sam Smith, and Calvin Harris; those are on the Positive Vibes playlist these days.  Keep sending songs so I can shake it!
  • Kids are kicking butt in life; Riley is just showing such empathy and doing so many sleepovers (she just had one with her city BFF Scarlett!) and Pierce is thriving at his new school.  I mean this video is EVERYTHING and such a big deal!!
  • Please send girl trip recommendations—plane or local!  Thanks in advance!!!
  • Anyone do a Tough Mudder?  Want to add that to my bucket list and officially got the motivation to do the damn thing.
  • Planning Halloween for the kids—Pierce being a Fireman (such a boy!) and needed help with Riley. Any and all suggestions as she is allllllll over the place (JoJo, cheerleader, tooth fairy, unicorn). HELP and please tell me if a Tooth Fairy is weird; personally I think it is unique and so freakin cute. 

So here we are, the night before I turn 3-5 (AHHHH!!!!). Marc took the day off and we are staying at the Garden City Hotel (fancyyyyyyyyyyy!).  We get to spend the morning with the nuggets, see them off to school, and SIONARAAAAAAAA.  I can’t wait to see what the day has in store, and to spend a full day feeling back to myself with him!  Mal & Adam, special thanks to Uncle David! 😉

Looking forward to the Charity Spin Ride on Sunday, 10/21 and am SO THRILLED with how much we raised (over $5K!!!!).  Can’t wait to rock out with all of you and ride the crap out of our bikes for such a good cause (BRCA FOUNDATION).  There is still time to donate below and I would LOVE to get above $6K if possible!!!

https://www.gofundme.com/gabby039s-hakuna-matatas&rcid=r01-153966117576-45744c7e52334830&pc=ot_co_campmgmt_w

I spoke to the Director of the BRCA Foundation on the phone, and know that this money is going to be used for incredible research; her follow up email is below:

“You’ve got such a great spirit, Gabby, audit’s clear to me you’re modeling such important stuff for your kids— especially your older one, who will likely remember this period.  How to power through, keep a smile on your face, still have fun, and remain engaged in life.   The biggest gift of all is modeling how to move through difficult stuff…

You have a beautiful family, you’re beautiful, and before you know it, this will all be over and a distant memory.  I know, easy for me to say, but it will be.

Thank you so much, again, for the donation you’ll be making— and to your friends, as well!  Oh— and that reminds me— you encourage testing in your blog.  You should know the BRCA Foundation has partnered with  Color to offer the Family Testing Program, whereby anyone who is a first-degree relative (parent, sibling, child) of someone who has a mutation (not just BRCA but definitely including BRCA) can test for only $50!!!”.

That last part really resonated with me—for anyone who is thinking about testing, $50 is SO not a big deal compared to what I have heard it costs.  DO IT DO IT DO IT!

Anyways, let’s let the birthday celebrations continue and in advance want to thank my family and friends for making it so special and for dealing with the birthday nazi!  The theme of 3-5 is making lemons into lemonade, and I am just so excited for what 3-5 has in store (lots of good health!).

Thanks so much and SO much more to come after the ride!!

XO

Gab (almost another year older, wiser, and 50% of the way done!!!)

ARE YOU A “YES” PERSON? IF SO, YOU GET WHAT THAT MEANS.

FOMO (fear of missing out for my non millennial readers) is a real condition, and one that I have always suffered from.  For as long as I can remember, I have had FOMO and have never learned to manage it.

I know that being a YES girl and suffering from FOMO are related.  We are the type of individuals whose planners are booked for 4 weeks.  We totally overdo it and commit to everything (usually first amongst everyone with a giant YAY and with a sense of pride!).  This applies to things at work, family/kid activities, nights out with friends, Sunday Funday’s, birthday parties, concerts (you get the gist!).  Being bored is NEVER an option and not even part of our vocabulary.  If there is that time slot available (including driving time with traffic if you are taking this to the outer boroughs), you put it on the calendar and make it work with zero problem.  That is the definition of a YES person.

As I said in my last post, I thrive on chaos and being a YES girl is just part of my makeup.  Because I have always said yes to everything, I have been subjected to a lot of interesting and unique experiences and have been fortunate enough to meet the best people (which is really showing during this time more than anything!).  My attitude since day 1 has been work hard, play hard; my college girlfriends can attest to our 12 hour shifts at Mugar Library followed by nights out to the sunrise.  My colleagues and clients can confirm my strong work ethic and my oddly quick response time to an email (I can’t help it; I NEED to write back instantaneously and cannot understand people who do not. Molly Brant and Renee Parris, you SO get this!).

Recently, my therapist and I spoke about the 5 things that would be used by others to describe me; feel free to correct me or provide feedback, but I used positive, always down for everything, loyal/reliable, fun, and an energizer bunny (well she said that one!).  Based on the description above, you can only imagine what it has been like for me during the Big C.  I hate missing out on anything, hate responding “maybe” or will be a “game time decision”, hate having to ask for help, hate having to ask if anyone attending is remotely sick, and hate feeling like I cannot commit when I all I want to do is be there.  There have been instances where I attended things and forgot I even am going through this and then there are others where I overextended myself and should have listened to my body more What I can say is, I am learning everyday and need to understand that I am not a 100% version of the Energizer Bunny I was 3 months ago BUT I will be SOON!

With my new look, I decided to update my Bitmoji to be a blue eyed bald head cutie; it is actually amazing that Bitmoji has these types of features available (I mean they even have a headscarf if I am feeling cray and sporting one!).  I truly believe that all personal communication (clearly not work!) can be done via a Bitmoji, a GIF, or an emoji.  For those that I text with on the regular, you know what I am talking about.  PLEASE INSERT A GIANT DANCING WOOHOO BALD HEAD BITMOJI NOW– I will be 50% done with treatment on 10/9 and 100% done with the “Red Devil”.  Gab=3, Red Devil=0; I will not let the damn devil stop me from living my best life.  I can’t help but smile and think of spring break in college at Palladium when “Dance with the Devil” was all we listened to (Sam, Elana, Traci, Leah, Michelle, Pam—we got to find that soundtrack!).

As of today 10/3, (1 week + 1 day post 9/25 treatment), I officially feel back to myself (I get 6 whole days to enjoy every minute!).  Round 3 definitely hit me harder than the others in terms of fatigue and the introduction of dizzy spells.  This time during my treatment week, I literally slept or laid down for days; when I got a sporadic burst of energy, I take advantage by going for a walk and by eating something. Most of the days, I slept 12 hour nights, would force breakfast so I could take my medicine, and crawl right back into bed.  It is so odd being able to do that at my leisure—as a full time working mom, I never ever have time for just me and while being fatigued is not something you jump up and down about, being able to nap and sleep when you want is a luxury.  However, on a more fun note, I finally saw Princess Bride.  I can feel you all cringing now and so get the hype around it.  Judy, one of my mom’s besties and like a mom to me, made a date with me to watch it.  Thanks Judy for everything (highlighting the life references in the movie, the company, the flowers, the fruit!).

The dizzy spells are not new to my life as I have had them pre-chemo but it has been years (last one was pre-kids on a NYC crowded subway where I actually fainted and an angel random nurse on platform saved me).  And of course they are bound to happen when you are so hungover and you don’t know what to do with your life (we have all been there; don’t judge!).  The positive is that I know all the signs of it and the negative is that they came back with round 3; it happened twice this week.  It is apparently because I have super low blood pressure and oh yeah I am going through CT; doctor said I need to hydrate, eat every three hours, and always carry a form of protein on me.  I won’t get annoyed at any of you for asking me if I am doing those things; you have my word (Jewish mother me all day!).

Is this not the best time of year?  I seriously am OBSESSED with the Fall.  Everything about it makes me happy and I am blessed to be going through the peak of this during my FAVORITE season EVER.   Nothing makes Gab more excited than the first wear of my leather jacket (otherwise known as the LJ) and the first pumpkin flavored ad.  Because of the CT, I have been avoiding supermarkets which has its pros and cons BUT one negative is that I could not get all the new pumpkin stuff at Trader Joe’s (live for TJ!).  I follow them on Instagram and had so much FOMO of everyone sharing their newly stacked pumpkin filled everything carts.  I know this is temporary and I will be back there soon, but not being able to get in my car and go that day KILLED me.  I did not admit this to anyone BUT you can imagine it feeling like Hanukkah or my birthday (I love my  birthday more than the average) when my AMAZING MAGICAL UNICORN of a friend Ali texted me at 9:30am Sunday that there was a special delivery at my doorstep.  YOU WILL NOT BELIEVE IT—it was EVERYTHING from TJ that was pumpkin flavored; I mean, come on, it was as if my silent prayers were answered.  Ali Brenner, you are a gem, a mind reader, and my Pumpkin Spirit Animal.  I love your face and you seriously made me the happiest girl in the world. 

Besides loving the season, the end of September and October have so many other moments worth highlighting:

  • Pierce & Romy’s Joint Birthday Celebration at White Post Farms: literally the most PERFECT day on so many levels. It was the Saturday before round 3 and I felt AMAZING; it was fall festival and the adults/kids soaked up the best weather ever.  So lucky that Pierce was surrounded by all his buddies and his little girlfriend, Romy and that we were with so many friends from all facets of life throughout the day.  A joint birthday was the smartest decision ever, and I highly recommend it to other parents when kids share the same friends!birthday pierce
  • NEW BABIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My churro Sam Acunto and Dana both had the cutest little dudes of all time. Aunt Gab is ready to spoil your little man faces!
  • Gabi & Brett’s Wedding: Normally I do absolutely nothing the Saturday of treatment week BUT I literally slept all day (thanks to my in laws for taking the kids!) to make it to this wedding. They are family, we LOVE them so much, and we HAD to make it.  Despite that one of my dizzy spells happened at cocktail hour (I swear it was something with the lighting!), I was able to power through wearing the sickest dress ever (courtesy of my girl Jen!), my red wig like Ariel, and shook my a** with Markeeeeeee until midnight (skipped the after party like a good patient).  Marc and I needed a night out like that and he was the most handsome arm candy of all time!  PS—anyone getting married should highly consider Elements (they had soul and RAPPED!).  MAZEL MAZEL TO THE NEW GOLDSMITHS!!!!wedding red
  • OCTOBER IS BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH (and my birthday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!): YOU GUYS….there is a whole MONTH dedicated to what I have and I literally feel like every day needs a mini celebration. This is where I preach heavily but PLEASE for those that could have the gene, GET TESTED (what are you waiting for?) and for those that don’t, PLEASE do a self exam.  For all my friends and family who posted on social media and tagged me/my blog/my story, THANK YOU.  Keep spreading the good word; my goal and purpose is to make a difference and to help others!!
  • THE TODAY SHOW: I mean honestly this was one of the coolest experiences ever. I am doing sub-bullets because there is SO much to say.
    • I am so happy with how I am handling my diagnosis; without putting my story out there and being so open, I would never have discovered Fighting Pretty. They put together care packages for patients going through chemo, and I swear the day the box is delivered, you are changed for the better. Outside of beauty essentials, My box contained a letter from a little girl named Marley (HELLO, BOB MARLEY IS MY FAVE and its PIERCE’s middle name!). 
    • Fighting Pretty was being featured on the Today Show for the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and asked several of us to volunteer for putting packages together on set. My sister and I quickly said YES (DUH!), and I asked my Pepsi OMD clients to join (as a team they always volunteer together; how freakin awesome are they!).  THANK YOU MAL, SARAH, EMILY T, AND ERICA FOR BEING BY MY SIDE; SO HOW BLESSED TO HAVE  YOU IN MY LIFE. mals and i
    • My amazing red head of a daughter Riley, Mals, and I spent all Sunday afternoon making posters for the show. Riley seriously was so proud we were going to be on TV, and put her heart and soul into the art on those posters.  Thank you so much Riley for continuing to get sweeter by the day; you have no idea how much I adore and love your face.  One day (when you are way older) you will read this, and I cannot wait for you to see how proud I am of you!  PS- everyone LOVED your poster and it made it on the big screen girl.riley fghting
    • Prior to the taping, they asked several of us our stories and if any of us wanted to be featured. Sure enough, I got selected once they learned I am actually going through it NOW (think the Hermes headscarf gave it away!).  I could not have been more honored to speak and represent all the fighters out there!  Not going to lie, I feel like I missed my calling in life and should have been a TV host or Talk Show Host (thanks Jules for the suggestion of Gabbing with Gabby!).
    • Unfortunately, you would not have seen me putting together the packages which is what I was most excited for. After the first hour, I got a MAJOR dizzy spell and almost fainted on the set (legit saw black and stars); between not having breakfast (we woke up at 4:45) and being on my feet for almost an hour, my body was not having it. The Today Show and Kara (the founder of Fighting Pretty) were AMAZING; they brought me water, OJ, rubbed my back, and would not let me leave until I was 100%.  I cannot thank the Today Show enough for seriously taking the best care of me and for holding me up to go inside.
    • STILL THE BEST DAY EVER AND SO PROUD!!!!!! I must focus on the good that came from it! You see, I learned A LOT from that day and just overall; I know my body and until that one week mark from treatment occurs, I need to not overcommit.  I am a work in progress!
  • Last but NOT least, MY 35th Birthday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Instead of blacking out on jello shots, we will be tapping it back at iSpin for a charity ride in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. All proceeds are going to the BRCA Foundation; Thank YOU to my family, friends, cousins, old coworkers, and coworkers who have donated and are riding!  We are going to have a BLAST and there are a few goodies in store!!  I have a few bikes left if anyone is interested in joining; details and the website below:  https://www.gofundme.com/gabby039s-hakuna-matatas

 

As you can see from the above, despite the Big C, I got a lot to be excited about and grateful for.  Feeling incredibly physically (thanks to my Peloton bike & Physique 57 on demand subscription) and mentally strong going into the next round on 10/9.  After all, I got my girl squad there with me and I will be at the 50% mark!  I swear it is flying and I attribute that to the love, support, and of course that is FALL.

Thanks SO much!!!

XO

Gab (your chameleon hair friend; who knew I could rock bald, short, red, blond, long?)

LESSON NUMBER 1 MILLION DURING THIS EPISODE OF LIFE—-LOVE YOUR MELON (YOUR HEAD!)

There are two types of people in the world—those who live their life in the green or in the red.  My dad and my sister are 100% both “green” people, and my mom and I are “red” people.  I met my match with Marc—he is red too (we really are two peas in a pod!).  For those of you who do not get what I mean, explanations below:

  • Life in the Green Lane: Your phone/computer/technology are always 100% charged; you have back up chargers for your back up chargers, and you know how to utilize every type of streaming technology (I just made that part up but you get the gist). Your ear buds or ear phones are always untangled, and you have the PERFECT little pouch container for them. You get anxiety when your battery is at 80% and when you have any unread emails at night (inbox must be 0 before snoozefest).
  • Life in the Red Lane: As I like to call it, thriving on “chaos”.  Your phone/computer/technology is always on “low battery”, and you play a sick little game to see how much longer you have before it actually dies.  You have slight anxiety around it but can function in life knowing that you maybe have the appropriate charger somewhere in the vicinity. Your earbuds are always tangled, and I mean ALWAYS tangled and you have yet to upgrade to the new ones because why make your life easier.  Your personal inbox is a MESS and has 29,238 emails; not your work one because you are an OCD professional and kick a** (every company needs those that live life in the red lane; they are often your best producers!).

The world needs both types to go round, and I am a proud member of the “Red” club.  I can’t help but laugh thinking about my lifestyle, how I live in this lane, and how my first four treatments are known as the “Red Devil”.  It is too ironic but it is Red Vs Red here–I refuse to let the RD win; as I said earlier. you met YOUR MATCH.  As of 9/11, I am 25% done with all treatments, 50% done with the Red Devil, and I am ready for those next two; no one messes with this chickadee.

I will not lie—the days leading up to your next treatment are the best and the worst.  You start to gain “normalcy” and feel like yourself for just a few days, and while you know you are one step closer to completion (insert whatever dirty joke you got), there is this looming anxiety around if this time will be the same, or even worse.  All doctors and nurses tell you that it is cumulative and to expect it get more intense as it goes on but that the symptoms you experience are typically the same (for example, if you did not have water tasting like metallic the first one, it 99% wouldn’t happen the second).  Sounds fun, right?

September 10th, 2018:  L’Shana Tova to my people; unfortunately, this year I had to avoid temple like the plague.  The Wasses minus Gab represented but it is far too risky with germs, people, and the desire for everyone to do the double kiss on the cheek and pass me whatever they got.  To get in touch with my inner spirit animal that day, I saw a reflexologist for the first time; it was a day before my next treatment and this form of east meets west is believed to aid with healing, and to boost your immune system.   I am always down to try something once (sorry Mom and Dad, I was your rebellious child) and I was BEYOND impressed/relaxed/happy I did it. For 60 minutes, Heidi touched pressure points on my body that are connected to areas that help with your immune system and it was the first time in 2 months I was 100% at ease (basically sleeping and drooling).  Post reflexology and after my nuggets came home, we went to our best family friends, The Raphael’s.  This is an annual tradition and no one had any colds/runny noses/coughs/sinuses/etc (these are the things I have to ask about before going anywhere now; so annoying!).    Such a fun afternoon being with my parents, my family, The Mandel’s, and the Raphael’s; 34 years of friendship between all families (so cool!) and I just felt the best energy/love/support before treatment the next day.  I say goodbye to the kids and explain that I am sleeping in the city and will be at my parents for a few days; it was beyond difficult this time because they know what to expect.  Pierce gives me his gorgeous sad blue eye face and then smiled, and Riley is just sad/quiet/trying to be strong (breaks me into a million pieces to even see her like this).  We are just so connected and very similar that being separated is beyond difficult for both of us.  I give huge hugs, put on a brave face, and walk away crying in the pouring rain (as Pierce would say, the sun is crying; makes my heart melt).

holiday

My dad being a superhero drove my sister and I back to her apartment that night in NYC; yes, through the Rosh traffic and everyone schlepping their leftover brisket and matzoh ball soup.  Thanks Dad! Trust me, I cannot wait to take public transportation again and to be on that LIRR for work (counting down).  Mals and I spent the night watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians (we both are still obsessed!) and just being us; as much as I love sleeping next to Marc and having that comfort, there is something so special about being with my sister that just makes everything feel okay.  I pass out, sleep through the night (of course with the aid of my ever so fabulous Adavant) and wake up ready to ROCK.

September 11th, 2018: I made Mal sign up for a FlyBarre class with me before treatment; yes, I am a lunatic but physical activity is a critical part of my life and I need it mentally.  Figured it is the first class in the morning, and after I wipe all the weights a thousand times (things I never thought about before), I should be good to go!  So our alarms go off at 5:45 (sorry Mal!) and we make our way to the UES studio for the Power class (taxi and Mal opened door/shut door, and I used my sweatshirt for arms).  I looked around the class at all these gorgeous gals and thought about what each of them were doing today and oddly felt empowered knowing I was different and the only one about to do CT.  As weird as that sounds, it made me feel like the strongest girl in the world and gave me exactly what I needed to take the Red Devil head on.  Post class, we put on our FU Cancer Gear–my new custom trendy AF Wass sweatshirt from Oilman’s & custom “Tough as a Mother” shirts from Pixie and Lane–Dara and Jenn.  Absolutely follow these gals on Insta and FB–they made these custom shirts for me after following my journey and dropped them at my house as a gift for my chemo squad and myself (so freakin sweet).  https://www.facebook.com/PixieLaneDarandJenn

We made our way to Sloan for a packed agenda—8am blood prick, 8:30 Dr Robson (my angel of an oncologist; seriously most soothing man ever), a generous hour break to grab water/fruit/coffee, and 10am chemo.  And guess what—-my blood count came back AMAZING (attributing to taking good care of myself and of course the reflexology!!!).  Happy to share her contact info!

I know I am always boasting about how incredible my friends are (I know I know it is because of me and who I am) BUT round 2 demonstrated that.  Jen and Seth, friends from Merrick (who at this point are family) were our “Uber” and kept me company; I mean seriously, how freakin LUCKY am I.  In our fancy chemo suite, I had my sister, my husband, and two of our best friends.  Only I could make it a party, but we had the BEST TIME.  If you have not played “What Do You Meme”, I highly RECOMMEND IT.  It is normally an amazing late night drinking game but it is guaranteed hysterical laughter; the 1.5 hour treatment flew in a blip and although the nurse thinks we are insane, it was one for the books.  I am pretty sure it was marked in my file that I am the patient every nurse wants after how much fun and how loud our room was (after all, we are in a cancer hospital and it is a pretty depressing place).

The week after treatment went as expected; I retreated at my parents Tuesday-Friday afternoon, and returned back to Merrick Friday night.  Unfortunately, I had to miss Riley’s meet the teacher night; schools are a giant petri dish of germs and a big no-no for Gab.  Marc represented the Wasses and the teacher knows everything going on (Riley is doing great and is not showing any signs of anything at school; YAY!  Makes me so happy and proud of her and how we handled it).  This time around was easier for a variety of reasons—I slept a LOT (12 hour nights, and naps in between forcing myself to eat), I was able to work out (post 6 weeks; did long walks), and I took Claritin.  WEIRD but Claritin happens to help with the joint pain you experience; so instead of feeling like I took 14 Barry’s Bootcamps in one day, it felt like I did two.  I WILL TAKE IT.  It was such a significant difference from treatment one and anyone who is getting the Nulasta shot should take it 5 days post infusion.  I am so grateful as a person that I am open to sharing my story (so many hide and keep it private; to each their own) and being introduced to others going through this; I never would have known that tip and it changed my entire second experience. 

Never again will my kids be home on a Saturday during my on-week; as much as I love them and their energy, it is my worst day (off sleep meds and off steroids), and mama bear needs her sleep/rest.  Lesson learned from the first treatment when they were home, and it truly impacted my overall health and physical status.  My parents being the superheroes they are exchanged me for the kids and took them for the full day/night.  My dad grew up in Coney Island and thought it would be fun for the kids to see; they spent the day on rides, eating Nathans, walking the boardwalk, and visiting my dad’s old stomping grounds.  It was a special day for them, and they today are still talking about it; thanks Mom and Dad (seriously; how you have this much energy is beyond me!).

coney.JPG

Saturday, Marc and I seriously just sat, slept, sat again, and then slept again.  The liberty of being able to take a nap at any moment is so powerful; it was like a pre-kids day except with a layer of chemo.  By 5pm, the FOG was gone.  I was BACK (play Ariana Grande “Break Free”).  Now this is the comical part—on Saturday afternoon, Marc develops a COLD.  I mean SERIOUSLY; it is our one day together, your wife is going through cancer/chemo, and you get the sniffles.  Dudes are just so different than females (love you SO much Marc) but they cannot handle being sick; it is as if the world is ending, and they just need so much love/attention/help.  As cute as it may be to be that needy and vulnerable, I cannot be near germs and every sneeze drove a bigger wedge on the couch during Bachelor in Paradise (obsessed with Astrid and Kevin!!!!!!!!!).  Needless to say, separate beds for the night, walking around with Lysol the entire day, and THANK GOD I DID NOT CATCH ANYTHING.  And yes, Markeeee is all better thanks to Advil Cold & Sinus and lots of sleep.  Don’t worry, I am feeling good too!  😉

I wake up Sunday morning to part of my pixie cut on my pillow.  Throughout the week it had started BUT like so minimal and non-traumatizing.  I have spent so much time focusing on the hair factor, and promised myself the first minute it started, I would buzz it off.  I swear to all of you I was not sad or upset; it actually means the chemo is working, and that I am a step closer to being done with this phase.  Plus, I seriously have 17 wig options and each one is better than the next.  I text Lisa immediately (my angel face of a friend and a huge part of this journey for me), and we booked it for first thing Monday morning after drop off.

Sunday afternoon there was the Merrick fair (outdoor activities rock and so does Purell), and we took the kids with several friends of ours; it was HOT AS BALLS out there and wearing a wig in 100 degrees is NOT FUN.  I overdid it but that’s what you do for kids—I feel internal guilt all the time for having this, not being here during the on-week, and just want the days where I feel good to celebrate every minute.  What matters most is that the kids had the best time, and that I had 10 bottles of water on me to stay hydrated.  I put on as big as a smile as I could, and my friend Nicole saved me and brought me to an AC bar/restaurant where the lady gave me a ginger ale for free (she could tell I was hurting).  Life lesson learned–do not overcommit to activities where weather conditions may not be best for you and ASK FOR HELP GAB.  You don’t have to be a superhero, and people want to help YOU (pep talk I give myself).  After the carnival, we retreated back at the Oilman’s, watched the games (let’s keep it real, the girls hung in the kitchen and chit-chatted for hours), the kids played outside, and most importantly, I hydrated and hydrated.  I CANNOT WAIT TO HOST AGAIN and have my house be that house; SO SO SO SO SO SO SOON.  Jen and Seth, thanks for always having us now and I promise to pay it forward (Cinco de Mayo and SO much more!!!).

You all know how much I love my bullets and I wanted to highlight a few things from the last week:

  • 4 others stepped forward and told me they got genetically tested for the BRCA gene. YOU GO GIRLS!  Knowledge is power, and it is what helped me catch this damn tumor so EARLY and to be A-OKAY.  You have the opportunity to be in control, and do not realize how lucky you are to get to do things prophylactically.  I am envious of you; that was supposed to be me!
  • I truly can rock any hair style. First thing Monday Lisa came over and buzzed my head; it was the MOST liberating feeling in the world and my head is like a giant chia pet (kids are obsessed with rubbing it for good luck!).  More importantly, I feel GORGEOUS and SEXY.  I have never been so appreciative of my facial features, my eyes, my skin; my friend Elana joked that I could be on an app for changing hairstyles.  Who knew I was so versatile?
  • Earrings and hats are so wonderful and really help make you feel fabulous; BaubleBar & Bloomingdales has the BEST stuff.  So accessible, affordable, and lightweight; please send me any and all recommendations for the best hats/earrings.
  • I am getting better at asking for help; it is really hard for me. I am a VERY independent person and strong minded and have a VERY difficult time asking for help/admitting I need help.  Thank you to all my friends, family, and support system who have given me no option and have offered to drive/help with kids/babysit; I NEED YOU and am so grateful you know me well enough to not allow me to say no.  THANK YOU, THANK YOU!  I am working on it!
  • The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is a GREAT show; thanks for the recommendation! Binge watching it and of course all my housewives are back (phew!).  RHOD is SO great; watch it!!!!  Next up, Orange is the New Black and Ozark 2!
  • I added 5 more songs to my Positive Vibes Playlist on Spotify and thought I would share them and why they got selected:
    • Omen by Sam Smith & Disclosure – I love Sam Smith and he was by far one of my most favorite concerts ever at MSG. I had to fake drink with my clients because I found out a day earlier I was pregnant with Pierce (my mannnnnnnnnn!) and could not stop replaying this song after.  Just happiness all around!
    • Rolling in the Deep by Adele — Mals, we know no one can touch Adele; no one should bother on American Idol or EVER. Inside joke BUT this song is just the best and always makes me shake my booty and pretend I am a Soprano (I am so a baritone).
    • No Easy Way Out by Robert Tepper— Recommendation by Markeeeeeeee and although I have never seen Rocky 4 (I know, I know, I know; added to list of things to do while on leave), this song is such a PUMP UP and makes me feel strong on a daily basis.
    • Nobody to Love by Alex Newell—one of my favorite business trips was to HOTLANTA with two colleagues who became family—Allie Cat and Brian Rosenberg. We replayed this song a MILLION times and climbed up Stone Mountain having this play.  It brings me to a place where I just feel pure joy; it is funny how songs spark memories. 
    • Such Great Heights by The Postal Service—COLLEGE. Senior Year. Leah and Elana.  Late night drives to IHOP (best whole wheat pancakes ever with boysenberry syrup).  Enough said.  Love you ladies so much and this along with so many songs are helping me throughout this.
  • Candles are therapeutic. My girl Heather got me one from Leoben that’s mantra is “Today you will relax”.  I am OBSESSED with it, and light it almost every single day.  It gives me a sense of peace and makes my house smell so magical.
  • I am CANCER FREE. I asked the nurse during my appointment when it will be gone, and she said, “GIRL IT IS.  You are doing chemo as an insurance policy but after the double mastectomy, consider yourself healthy”.  I AM NOT SICK (have to keep reminding myself that and everyone else who keeps using that word) and in just a short few months, this lady will be back and I am plotting all my most favorite outings/activities.
    • First one is BOTOX. I know that makes me vein but it is just the best thing ever and mine looks natural.  I still don’t understand why if I am putting all these other chemicals into my body, why I can’t do that.  Apologies for crow’s feet in advance on top of my bald head.
    • Second is absolutely a pregame at my house and then Mulcahy’s night for Big Shot.
    • Third is the best omakase sushi dinner EVER. Going on a tour of Omakases; send me your favorites!
    • Fourth is dying my hair bleach blonde; as soon as I have stubble, I am going for the Cara Delevingne look.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is just a few short weeks ahead.  Do a self-exam, make a doctor appointment, get checked.  As females it is our job to own our bodies and to be in control!  I have sent my blog to several publications and publishing houses. If anyone has an in and wants to share, go ahead!; I am pretty confident my story would resonate with millions of women out there on how important early detection and genetic testing is.  Not to mention, I think they would love the wit and perspective and good vibe I got going on.

Next treatment is 9/25, and until then, I am going to enjoy the off week and time with my husband, family, friends.  Love that during this season I can be outdoors (free game! No germs!) and soak up the sun and fall weather.  I am giving all the extra TLC to my babies; Pierce does not really realize whats going on but Riley needs me more now than ever.  She will not leave my side when I am home, and I swear she is getting sweeter and sweeter and more empathetic by the day.   I am loving how some of the sass is converting to just pure kindness and love; I wake up in the middle of the night and she is right beside me.  I am her comfort and her safe place, and I am dedicated to kicking this things a** for my family.

Thanks as always for all the support, the love, and for always checking in; I am doing great mentally and physically and it is because of YOU.  And Markeeeee, thank you for being you; you love me unconditionally and truly make me feel sexy no matter what and that is all that matters!!

LET’S DO THIS.  NEXT TIME, I AM 75% DONE WITH THE RD, AND 37.5% TO GOAL.  WOOHOOO!!!!

XO

Gab (who can rock any hairstyle and loves who she is)