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Kristen’s journal

“What can you write when there are no words left to say? When your soul is begging for rest and your mind can’t stop spinning. When you keep trying to find your ground, but you feel like a rootless tree. Spinning and spinning, not knowing which direction you are facing. I keep looking back – to past experiences, past mistakes, past pain. Wondering where along the road of life, death began to set in?  

Every new experience has an air of loss woven in. Wondering if these will be the last memories you make, and if they are, are you making the right ones? Then wondering in the end – what do these memories even mean? When you close your eyes for the last time, where do they go? Do they stay with you or vanish in the dust you leave behind?

I feel I have run my course – that the life I have led is somehow telling me to please let it go. Please let me rest. Please let me be.

I should be grateful. I should feel blessed. Shouldn’t I? When you are given 3 months and live over 4 years, you are one of the lucky ones, aren’t you? 

I have beaten the odds. I have proven the universe wrong. Yet when I die, people will still say that the cancer won. She fought so hard, but she lost the fight. Or that I gave up, I gave in, I wasn’t strong enough. Well, I was strong enough, I didn’t give in, I didn’t give up, the cancer didn’t win. 

 All I want my tombstone to say is – ‘She was so tired she just wanted to close her eyes, she just needed to sleep. But she was ALWAYS A WARRIOR’. ” – Kristen

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Holding on to hope,while hoping for the biggest miracle of all

My hands don’t know how much longer they can hold on to it.

For hope is not an easy thing to hold on to, when you’ve had to hold on for so long.

It keeps trying to slip out of my fingers. It keeps telling me to let it go.

I look down and I see my fingers doing all they can to not let that happen.

For I know, that without hope, there are no miracles.

Miracles rely on belief and hope in order to exist.

They are not wasted on those who do not have the strength to believe or do not have the faith to have hope.

I know these things to be true, because I have relied solely on my strength,my hope and my belief that I will rise above so many times, when there was nothing else left to hold on to. 

In those moments, when this cancer tried to overcome me, I was blessed with miracles beyond what science could have possibly done alone.

So, I sit here, and I clench my fists even harder, trying to find something inside of me to hold on to all these things that I need to make it over the biggest mountain that just landed  right in front of me. 

I have been told I need to climb this mountain as soon as possible, before it gets too big for me to even attempt to try.

As these thoughts run through my mind, my fingers burn and bleed and beg in pain.

Through my tears, I look down at my hands and pray that I am holding on strong enough. But what I see, makes me cry even harder, makes my heart hurt even more, makes my mind feel even weaker and makes my body just wrench in more pain. 

For what I see, scares me more than anything else I’ve seen before. Quickly seeping through the cracks of my fingers is not only my hope, but also my strength and my belief that I will make it through. 

I suddenly realize I have stopped breathing, so I take the deepest breath of all and let my hands release. 

Who is this person ? Where have I gone? This is not who I am, this is not who I ever was, and this is not what I will ever be. 

I have never had to clench my hands so hard to hold on to any of these things. 

My hope, my strength, my quest for knowledge, my endless research, and my pure belief that I WILL make it through the hardest of times, even when all the odds are against me, these things are WHAT MAKES ME, ME. These Things run through my veins, they are what makes my heart beat, they instilled within my soul.

So here I am. 

I am HOPE. I have HOPE. My heart,my mind, my body, my being, is full of HOPE.

I have the  STRENGTH to face and survive the biggest beast I have yet to meet on this cancer journey.

I I believe that I will survive one way or the other. My soul, my spirit, my being – they are too strong to not survive.

I have too much left to do, so much more to see, I am not done with this world just yet. 

I need to spread the strength of HOPE .

Because sometimes, that is all we have, yet it can be more than enough to get us through.

The MIRACLE has begun

Hi:) wow. Talk about the longest two days ever, and i am in so much pain, I am not even sure how to process it all yet-but I guess miracles are not things easily processed. The majority of the results are outstanding – yet there’s one tumor that decided it’s doing it’s own thing and not responding, which I will explain more below.let’s start with all the miracles that I listen to as my oncologist spoke to my family and I yesterday: 

All my soft tissue(except in the sacrum) and all my organs  are completely clear- AND my spine tumors are all stable, one has even shrunk a little- which means we finally found a way to reach my spine and get to the heart tissue ! In addition to all of that, some of the lymph nodes have shrunk at the top of my left leg, so the fluid from the lymphedema is beginning to be able to move up and out of my leg, but there is still a lot of work to do for that issue. For the lymphedema, I am working on getting a machine called a lympha-press, which I can do up to four times a day and people I have spoken to who have use this machine, said it is A miracle in itself. I can’t wait to try it, but it will take a few weeks for us to try and get insurance to cover part of the cost and for them to make the garments from my specific needs.

……now for the one piece of bad news…the growth in my sacrum which was small a few months ago, has grown significantly. This has been what is causing me more pain, because more nerves are now involved.  This mass(tumor) is why I am too weak to walk- but thank god the tumor is in my sacrum and not in my spine (which was on all of our minds, so My PT told me to stop trying to walk until the scan and we knew what was going on) because if it was in my spine, they said I would be on the fast track to paralysis. So since it’s not, I can go back to PT and work on walking and strength training again, but it will be very painful until we figure out how to get rid of this tumor in my sacrum. But- no pain, no gain, right? I have definitely taken a few courses in that these last few years!

So…..

The spine team is meeting tomorrow to see if there is anything we can do for the sacrum mass- one thought is that this tumor may have a different mutation than the rest of my cancer, because the sacrum is soft tissue as well, so it makes no sense that it isn’t responding to treatment, since all the other soft tissue has responded so incredibly well. Leave it to me to hear, “this is very rare to happen” and leave my doctors confused why it’s not responding, when my “hard tissue”(my spine tumors and pelvis) are even responding by staying stable and even some shrinkage with this new treatment.

If you are wondering what’s next:

 I will continue on with my miracle treatment, which is keeping everything at bay and getting rid of most of the cancer. While I continue on this treatment, we will be looking for a way to get rid of this tumor, get the lymphedema under control, and as soon as these two things are accomplished, I will be on my feet again, dancing every chance I get, surfing as soon as I can, and swimming in the warm Caribbean Sea somewhere beautiful… So here’s to one major miracle accomplished and a few more miracles that I know will happen over the next few months.
Thank you to my incredible tribe for ALL you have done to help me get where I am today, and I can’t wait to see what miracles will  happen tomorrow:)

An end of the year adventure….5th Miracle treatment ……..and THEN the last unexpected hospital visit of 2016:)

This was the night before New Years-cancer has DEFINITELY been keeping me on my toes until the last possible second.

Here is a link to the video: (it’s ok to laugh- i did when I watched it the next day!)

 Treatments and twists and turns

Happy new year everyone! I am sorry I haven’t been responding to texts, emails, his social media, or phone calls… But the last few weeks have been the hardest I’ve ever face and on my Energy has been focused on working through pain, Which then exhaust me so I fall asleep, then I get up, some more pain begins, and the days start to turn into one.Last night I had my fifth miracle treatment and it went pretty well. Except for the end, when I decided to use the bathroom before leaving( at 9 pm), and the bar set-up wasn’t one I was used to…. so I slipped and fell pretty hard. Well, Extremely hard. Then….What are the odds, that my first surgeon, Dr. Guillem, happen to be there to give us good advice and to help us head over to urgent care. He seems to show up when I need to see him the most – and it’s almost like he’s one of my Angels who shows up just in the moment he is needed. His smile and warmth and intelligence is something extraordinary, and I have never doubted his opinion. We went to urgent care, I had x-rays done and we found out something I knew must already be happening – my spinal cord is compressing more and we aren’t sure why, but the scans in two weeks will give us more information
So tonight when your are wishing in the new year, say an extra wish for me please. please wish that I will walk again, that this miracle treatment is truly a miracle, and that this pain is a sign of my immune system and making everything better and I just have to get through it, and I will then get to see the brightness once I reach the summit.   I will be wishing to… and doing all I can to make miracles happen.

This is actually my first NYE celebrating with my parents probably since I was 15 and  my second NYE with Cali Bear. THey are so happy because today the most pain-free day I have had in MONTHS. Looks like some of my angels are already listening… Let’s make a lot of noise and wake them all up since it takes a lot of energy to make miracles come true.

PT and Miracle treatment #3

      #3The last five days have been nothing but easy. I have been exhausted and in a lot of pain for several reasons. Today, I had physical therapy and then went right to my treatment. At physical therapy, we worked a massage that was very weak and it caused a severe  set of spasms and pain that I couldn’t not under control and neither could the doctors. In the end, things are feeling slightly better now, and I am heading to go to urgent care yet again. I am in my cozy bed with my mom sleeping on the couch next to me, and my pain is tolerable. That’s the best I can say about it. I am exhausted.​Treatment. 3 : holding on to the miracle – the low before the change

      Why I want to meet Ellen:)

      So a few weeks back, I posted on Facebook how I would love to meet Ellen DeGeneres. It’s kind of my “Make-A-Wish” and this letter I sent to her(thanks to an amazing person who reached out and offered to help me get it to her), will help you understand why. A few people have asked me about so I thought I would share, but I also thought that if I share this letter with everyone to read, and it doesn’t work out with Ellen(although I know it will!), maybe someone who reads this will have another idea of how we can spread the word about young adult cancer and our unique needs as a community. Maybe we can even find another outlet to use if Ellen doesn’t think it’s the right fit for her show. But I have a feeling if this letter reaches Ellen,she’s going to want to help, because she seems to be one amazing woman who find joy in helping people who really need it, and the young adult cancer community could definitely use her help. So here’s the letter, let me know what you think!

      Ellen, my name in Kristen McRedmond and this link will introduce you to a very small part of my journey, but it is where I am right now. http://nypost.com/2016/10/17/how-social-media-is-helping-me-fight-cancer/

       I am writing to you because I believe that with your help we can shed light on, whom I call, the “lost generation of cancer” and redefine what it means to be a cancer survivor. Some people think being a “survivor” means you are in remission. But I know that you are a “survivor” the moment you hear the words “you have cancer” and continue standing tall.

       As a 37-year-old Stage IV colorectal cancer SURVIVOR, I connect with this lost generation of cancer patients. I know what it feels like to be too old to be living with your parents and having them take care of you 24/7, but too young to reflect on a life lived, enjoying your children/grandchildren. Our illness is no different than what all other cancer patients are fighting. But we, as young cancer patients, face a unique set of challenges that continue to go unheard and I feel get lost in the shuffle.  

      I would love to share my story with you, if you would like to hear it. It is one of strength, determination, love, and life. My hope is that together, we can make the lives of this “lost cancer generation” just a little bit easier to manage. As I look around me each day, I am grateful for the love and support that surrounds me. My wish is that with you, I can help give others even one single pillar that they can lean on when they cannot stand on their own.

      I watch your show every day in awe of how you impact people’s lives and imagine what it would do for this community of warriors if you dedicated a show to their struggle. Maybe everyone in the audience would be part of this “lost generation”? Maybe you would highlight amazing support groups like Stupid Cancer? Maybe you would shed light on the alternative treatments that exist like genome testing and clinical trials? Maybe you would giveaway things like grocery delivery, housekeeping services, massage therapy, pet care, etc.? There is just so much that would make a difference in these people’s lives.

      Ellen, I realize you must receive tens of thousands of letters from people looking to you for help. I hope you see that the help I am seeking is not just for me, but more so, for the people I have met along my journey and the thousands more whom I don’t know. I am eternally grateful for the time you have already taken reading this. Should you want to hear more, my contact information is below.

      With much admiration,

      Kristen