Day +54: I’m 20 and just as confused as the rest of you

Birthdays are a really big deal in 5 South (the hem/onc unit at CHO). Let’s not think about the morbid reason that they are such a celebration and instead talk about how I had the best birthday of my life.

There is a nurse who has the same birthday as me and we both love the color black and being vain. Basically we are both perfect. So on our birthday we went on a drive around the Oakland hills and she ate a cupcake in one bite and the Oakland Fire Station, where her husband works, put up a sign to surprise me.

Aren’t both of these pictures so cute and fun? Wish me luck that I’m not harshly punished for creating this picstitch (I’d deserve it).

Oh, also very important: we won $4 over about 20 scratch cards. We tried ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Simultaneously the very best friends on earth were running a bone marrow drive at Stanford. It’s taken me a week to thank those of you who organized and participated in this drive because honestly I have just been a ball of warm mush who could not adequately express myself. I felt every ounce of love and community and so did Abri’s family.

The drive was brought to life in ways I could never have imagined. We registered 138 people (almost THREE times the AADP’s initial goal of 50), raised over $2500 for Abri’s family, and hopefully raised some awareness about the bone marrow registry (I know I’m a broken record but bethematch.org. Seriously).

I’ve been trying to remind you all that I had a life before this…my friends took it one step further and reminded me what that life was like. I am incredibly touched.

It was also featured by KTVU Channel 2 and several stations in Reno (where Abri lives) and shared on Chi Omega’s national FB page.

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^This picture is already on the internet so might as well own it. I think they chose it for the baby tongue.

This birthday montage was the best gift I have ever received:

http://www.birthdaymontage.com/brooke-montage.html (password is ‘brooke’ lol)

SO basically y’all made me feel like this:

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If you can’t tell what that is, it’s Nicole and Sophia suffocating me with love.

ALSO a HUGE shoutout to my girl Sara for finishing her LAST DAY OF CHEMO TODAY!!! This is the girl who tricked a resident into making brownies for her, paints my nails at a skill level far superior to mine, loves Abri just as much as I do, says sharks are her very favorite animal, and has never lost her sassy, fun, insightful attitude throughout this entire AML ordeal. This is a picture of us being BFFs etc.:

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I’m sure you’re ready for this post to end now because it was seriously the fuzziest thing I have ever written but like my usual self I have to be a bit of a downer too. There have been a couple of reasons that this post has taken me so long to write.

The first is that, like pretty much all of you, I have been horrified by the recent attacks around the world. A lot of times people ask if having cancer has changed my perspective on life and in most cases it hasn’t really – I was already pretty satisfied with most of my life choices. But in the case of recognizing what it means to lose life, I am much more horrified and feel much more acutely both for these families and for the people themselves who have lost their futures. On the flip side, it makes my life feel less important. I will be the first one to tell you that it’s awful when a ‘normal’ kid from Stanford gets cancer. But engaging with the loss of livelihood and life around the world forces me to really remember that I’m not alone in facing my mortality every day and that it stretches far beyond sick kids in developed countries’ hospitals.

The other thing is that my counts have been dropping. First on Thursday, again at the re-check Monday. We aren’t sure what this means yet, but the main three options are some kind of asymptomatic virus, graft rejection, or relapse. I am scheduled for a bone marrow aspirate on thursday to get a sample of my bone marrow and see what’s up.

I am reminded that I can never get too comfortable and frankly I’m angry about it. It’s pretty amazing how easy it is to slip back into that mindset of ‘if’ I get to graduate from college, brunch with friends, hike in Big Sur, acquire a mini teacup pig…etc. etc. I am low-key studying for the MCAT and that is NOT going to be in vain so I definitely need to stay alive but ugh honestly I just want to whine about all of the treatment and discomfort because I don’t wannnnnaaaaa.

So yeah, best birthday ever. Still wished to see 21 when I blew out the candles. I don’t understand the world at all but I am trying. I feel clothed with love.

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About Brooke Vittimberga

I have cancer...oops
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2 Responses to Day +54: I’m 20 and just as confused as the rest of you

  1. Kate Ford says:

    Thank you for sharing this all with us Brooke, sending you continued love and hugs!!! ❤️❤️❤️

    Like

  2. Maureen Sullivan says:

    Happy Birthday Brooke you may have only been on the earth for twenty years so far but you are wise beyond your years – I so enjoyed reading your blog today- your sense of humor, honesty and candidness helped an old lady (me) today to see the joy in the little things we call life – I think I’ll go eat a cupcake !!! Sending you healing thoughts 🙂

    Like

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