Time flies when your having fun or… sits still for the best or possibly worst news of your life.
I’m an emotional wreck.
It’s been a crazy year.
Life has been up… life has been down.
But.. I’m happy to report that life is back up and rising to the highest of highs.
It is with pure joy that I want to share with the world that my most recent PET scan and Biopsy came back as negative for malignancy. This is by far the best news I have ever received in my life to date. I feel like I won the lottery of life back. I think that I tried my best to keep positive during treatment but I would be lying if it didn’t cross my mind that this might be the start of a long fight and the recent news has lifted a huge weight off of our shoulders.
This is a happy day. I go for more scans in 3 months to check on things again as they will keep a very close on me for a while but this is the best news I could have asked for.
In amongst all of the madness in the last year we decided to close Splendido and completely renovate and build a new restaurant together. Last week Victor and I opened that new venture together and it is another proud moment in my life where I truly feel like we took a really hard, tough time in our lives and modified and made changes according to what we needed. What I needed and what our family needed. The decision did not come easily. Although I truly feel like we have built the restaurant of our dreams it came with very tough days of decision making of letting go of old dreams and believing in new ones. If you would have asked me last year where we would have been in March 2016 I don’t think I could have dreamt a better picture. Truly. However, if you would have asked me this time last year where I thought I would be in July 2015 I would not have imagined a more horrific place to be. The roller coaster of emotions is something that is unexplainable and in the last year has been all very consuming.
As comforting as being given the green light there is a bit of sadness with the lose of heartache. You know the part of a bad breakup where you realize that today is the day where your sad story exists no longer and you have to get out of bed and face the world head on. It’s bitter sweet. I’ve been given the best news of my life but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I won’t miss the slowness of life and sweet time with my family that came along with me being in treatment & also starting a new family. Time. Strangely we had a lot of it. The green light gives you the ok to be busy again and there was a certain sweetness to the quiet life that existed during the time when I was in treatment and being a new mom. So I have to remind myself to take time out of this crazy life.
So where do I go to find comfort? I find myself at the hospital. True story. Strangely feeling comfort among the stark white walls, hospital staff and the familiarity of people in need. A hospital lends nice to small chat, no chat or just a light smile that gives comfort to your broken heart. I heard this happens. I’ve been really wanting to write and my mind is so busy that I can’t seem to get anything down to the page. So many people say, wow – I don’t know how you do it, your so busy and now opening a new restaurant, that’s nuts! But… ironically it’s necessary. Vic and I are both creative souls that are always on the rise with new ideas – it is what fuels our souls so for us this makes total sense in amongst the Kaos to create a Kaos that you created. Kaos you create is different from the uncontrollable ones like… let’s say Cancer. There are so many things in life that you don’t have control over so we try to create exciting new projects that we can contribute to and this new restaurant is going to be such a beautiful space for our girls to grow up in, a second home with “tasty, delicious, food!” shared with our friends and family.
I’m slowly starting to feel like myself. This self is of course a newer version of Nikki, one with a couple more stories and tales to tell. I was doing fine until I was recently at my family doctors – you get a new resident on his first day and he goes through your file from top to bottom of your entire medical history and now that story is getting long.
Doctor: How do you generally feel overall with your health?
Me: Hmm… hard to answer.
Doctor: Any major surgery?
Me: Yes… a few actually.
Doctor: Any pregnancies?
Me: Yes… a couple.
Doctor: Any babies?
Me: Yes… 2 beautiful girls.
Doctor: Any allergies?
Me: Yes… most def sensitive to all drugs and some make me projectile puke across the room.
Doctor: I see here in your chart that you recently went through stage 2b cervical cancer… wow, your baby was only 2months old and wow, wow… you have another one, she’s just 2years old? Wow, you didn’t waste any time did you! Hahaha! Ok… (skim’s the chart) it looks like you had chemotheraphy and radiation followed by in hospital brachytherapy. How are you feeling? It must have been so hard being away from your children during treatment, how are you dealing with it all? How is your husband and family dealing with all of this stress?
Me: Smile, nod. (not sure how or what to answer first! Maybe they were rhetorical questions?!)
Doctor: Ok… so, what brings you here today, Mrs. McKean? Or is it Barry? I see here that your kids last name is Barry?
Me: It’s Mckean.
Doctor: Oh oh, ok.
Me: Well… I’m not sleeping much I’m assuming because of the medical induced menopause.
Doctor: Have you tried meditation?
Me: (surprised and humbled that he would ask and suggest as typically drugs are just given out.) Yes, actually I have but it’s still difficult somedays.
Doctor: Ok, well you should cut out all caffeine and any screen time.
Me: Hmm… Going to be difficult because I’m really tired, I love coffee, I own a coffee shop and screen time – well I’m a photographer! Eeekk!
Doctor: Ok, let me prescribe you something new for your sleep.
Doctor: Any other problems? How are you dealing with the recent good news of your latest scans? Is there anything else you would like to talk about?
Me: I haven’t really had time to think about it. I think I need to go sit in a hospital for an entire day and let it soak in. Hospitals give me comfort, since I was little they have always provided a place where I feel safe and taken care of. People also seem to be a little bit more humble at the hospital as I’m assuming a lot of the people here are in health care and the others are patients and friends and family of patients. People tend to be a little more compassionate here… so I like that. I like hospitals for providing me with a little bit of “feel good” love.
Doctor: Well, that’s a first!
Me: Nah, I’m sure a lot of people do it. Hey, listen… it’s not always the most positive place – I was also ready to tear down the walls of the hospital last time I was in for my internal radiation.
Doctor: Any other concerns?
Me: Yah, I’m having trouble with my bladder & leakage.
Doctor: Leakage? Hmm.. well, you did just have 2 babies and cancer treatment in the pelvic area. Are you doing your kegels?
Cue… crazy lady now!
Me: … long pause. …even longer pause. No. No I don’t do kegels. It’s similar to flossing your teeth. I could sit here and tell you that I do, but I’d be lying. I don’t do my kegels and I floss my teeth when corn gets stuck in them.
Doctor: Fair enough. Ok, we will refer you to a Urologist.
Me: Great, thanks.
Once again, I’m back at the hospital – I saw the Urologist today and he went through a similar medical history file with me. Re-hashing all of the details of my medical history and also giving me strange puppy “I feel sorry for you eyes”. Nice guy but I couldn’t help but feel like… Jesus, is my story that sad? I’m not sad so why is everyone projecting their sadness on me and the “I’m sorry for you” looks on me?
I think that’s the toughest part about being diagnosed with the big “C”. People deal with things in different levels and process things in completely different ways. Even me when I was given my recent results – I didn’t share them with anyone right away. Please note: not even Victor, my person. I kept the results to myself for a day. Similar to when I found out I was pregnant with Charlotte. The most amazing news but selfishly wanting to relish in the moment and process the news that will define your immediate future – people may react to them in ways I don’t know how to respond to and I wasn’t ready for that. Yah sure, I got the most amazing news – I kinda got the lottery of life given back to me…. That’s pretty epic. And I’m happy, but I’m also extremely emotional. I have a lot to process in my brain and my new body that is still healing. People hear great news and they assume everything is A-ok. And things are. They are more than A-ok, but I’m also terrified that it could come back. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it and when your around people that have ‘those stories’ we all know it’s possible. But I also understand that I feel good and I have so many crazy wild dreams to accomplish that I’m ready to dig back into them again. I’ve always believed in dreaming big. Wild open spaces. Unicorns. Raindrops upon clouds that create magical rainbows. Today I am feeling extremely vulnerable and I understand that life is precious and we should try to use every square inch of it whenever possible.
A week ago today we opened the doors to a dream project PIANO PIANO. Piano Piano translates to slowly slowly in Italian, also piano piano va lontano a phrase that Vic loves that translate to slowly slowly we go further. This entire idea of taking time out, similar to FIKA is something that is a sweet reminder in our busy lives.
I feel like we are wearing our hearts on our chest with this one. We have poured every ounce of love, commitment, passion, talent, emotion, dreams into this one thing and I can feel it coming to life and it couldn’t come at a more appropriate time. However, I am also fully aware that we brought to life the kind of space and restaurant that we wanted for ourselves knowing fully and completely that others would be crazy not to want it too. We took an idea that we have been dreaming for a long time, during a very difficult time of our lives and even when we were down we decided to be up… dream big and put our ideas to life. This kind of love and support that we channel for one another is a true gift. Imagine always imagining things… well, we imagine and ‘we do’. We encourage to be ‘do-ers’ because it makes you feel alive and vibrant.
Do. Or do not. There is no try. – yoda.
It’s Victor’s favourite quote.
So if your asking me if I believe in rainbows and unicorns my answer with no hesitation is… absolutely fucking yes. I think the key is that I believe in greatness. I believe that there is greatness in everyone and that there is love and kindness even when life is shitty. We all intend for greatness but we are human and we all have sad stories. Shit happens. We all have a story and some people come with a great resume of bullshit but the best news is the stories that have great triumph and rocky roads. Sometimes life is up. Sometimes life is down. Sometimes… you don’t know if it’s up or down and that’s just the truth. What I know for sure is that we can control some of the greatness in this life and it’s contagious so let’s just all do our part to play a little with life and enjoy one another. Soak up the sun and the next time it rains go splash in a puddle. I dare you and please make sure you tell me about it. My mom said that when I was little and it rained I would say… God was crying for someone that was sad today and my mom would say “yes and the rain will bring out the pretty flowers and hopefully bring a smile to someone’s sad day and worms for fishing”. Well, ain’t that the truth.
Piano Piano. Slowly Slowly. That’s our new thang.
PS- Dear Victor,
You are the love of my life and I can’t tell you how proud I am to be by your side. You are my everyday love letter. You are my person and you have shined as a person and as the best human being in the last year to the largest lengths. Your commitment to me and our family and your level of compassion to making change when we needed it will never go unnoticed.
I can’t tell you how much I love you and it’s my life intention to continue to encourage us to wear our hearts on our sleeves. To live our life the way we choose. To dream the biggest dream and to see it unfold infront of our eyes. You are my everything. You, Charlotte and Sofie, our family and our friends. I am feeling like I have new wings and get ready for them to fly again because my dreams and life list has just gotten bigger. I pulled up my old ‘nikki life list’ and thought you might get a kick out of this. I had on my list “open a restaurant” and I kinda thought opening the café was that… but I was wrong. I love that sometimes even you don’t know that your dreams can become bigger than you ever imagined. That’s what life is like with you. It’s the sweetest thing. The best part is that on this life list made (revised when we first met in 2008) the red is what I have “crossed off” and the black is what’s to come. To no surprise since being with you I have crossed off most of the black so that means that it is time to refresh our life list and extend it to even further limits. Check it out…
Happiness – yes
Masai Mara – yes
Write a book – working on it. J
Lived in BC – only for a short bit.
Live in a studio loft artist space – yes
Have a family – yes. Yes. Yes.
Own a Restaurant – Yes. Most definitely yes.
Fresh flower reminders – well… yes. Now everyday because we painted them for our eyes to admire daily.
Have a bulldog – yes
Be honest, love yourself – yes
Enjoy Hawaii again – yes, we got engaged there.
Build a secret garden – yes. Fika.
Health – yes. Thank your lucky stars.
Learn how to play the piano – Well… now that we have a piano I don’t mind if I do.
Adopt a child – 🙂 Now… if we want more babies it might be the only way. That’s one way of turning cancer into the most positive thing that ever happened.
To love and be loved – everyday.
This was my blog (http://nikkileighmckean.blogspot.ca) that I wrote the first time I visited Africa which was a lifetime wish. We had just started dating and you had just taken over/purchased Splendido. Time flies when your having fun. The ‘Ponycorn’ zebra pic that Tiffany brought to life with a unicorn horn in Piano Piano’s dining room was taken almost to the day that you opened Splendido. The collaboration of our dreams has been brought to life is so many ways, it’s beyond my wildest dreams.
My advice. Write it down. Dream big. Love deeply.
Barb Proctor March 28, 2016
Absolutely amazing. I have really enjoyed following your story. You are indeed very talented in writing as well as photography. You should write a book. I hope and pray you will continue to beat the cancer. Xoxo