Love is Present: Open for Business!

Box_MusicI am excited to share with you that after many months of hard work, multiple conversations, test ideas and lots of learning,  I have officially launched Love is Present.

Love is Present is an online platform to send thoughtful and practical gifts in a box. The gift boxes aim to provide encouragement to others during difficult times and to help celebrate happy moments in life. The business was built with the idea to help answer questions many of us face when wanting to communicate to others: what do I say? what should I send? where can I find something unique for my friend/family member?

Many of you know that I am passionate about helping others to become a better version of themselves and I believe feeling loved and supported despite distance has a strong and positive impact in the way we celebrate accomplishments and overcome difficulties.

Love is Present is a startup, a small business that has the goal of making this world a better place through the products we include, the organizations we support, the communities we serve, and the encouragement we provide.

I am grateful to the incredible advice, support, and feedback I have received to get the startup to this point.

I am looking forward to continuing learning.

Happy Gifting,

B

 

 

Clear Scans! Moving Forward

 

Navy_111515
My hair is curly and crazy

A couple of weeks ago, I had my three-month follow-up scans and appointments. I am happy to report that my scans are clear and my next follow up appointment will be in a year from now!!

 

We are excited about moving forward, excited about being able to enjoy our present while inventing and building our future.

My desire to help others and give back to the community is now stronger and I am directing my energy, talent, and knowledge to engage in fulfilling and meaningful activities.

I have two big projects lined up for 2016: One is to continue learning and for that I am going back to graduate school again, this time to get my MBA at the University of Maryland. The second project is related to connecting people through simple acts of kindness especially during tough times. (Stay tuned!) 

I am grateful for life, for kindness, for friendship, and for love.

Thank you for reading!

365 Days of Life

Sunset.  Foto Credit: Dave
Sunset.
Photo Credit: Dave

Today is a special and emotional day.  A year ago, on September 16 of 2014, I was in the hospital with Dave and my parents patiently waiting for the harvested bone marrow cells my brave sister Caro donated on a pure act of unconditional and endless love to save my life.  I am forever grateful to Caro, Dave, my parents, sister Cris, my in-laws, Marsha, brother-in-law Rafa, my friends, colleagues, and extended family for their prayers and support.

The fact that today I was able to run more than three miles at my fastest pace on record is a result of a joint effort and countless hours of care from my family and the talented team at Johns Hopkins.

Thank you to the love of my life, Dave, for serving as the Caregiver-in-Chief who made sure I had everything I needed to get back on my feet.  You are my inspiration, my everything.  I love you!

Thank you so much Marsha for sharing your expertise as a nurse to take care of me during the tough first period of post-transplant.  I am incredibly thankful to my mother-in-law, Kathy, who dedicated over two months to take care of me and helped us with multiple chores at home, you have served to remind me that love and family matter the most.  Thank you to my father-in-law, Terry, for his support, patience, and humor during extremely challenging times.  Thank you to Dr. Kanakry, Laura, Dr. Bolanos-Meade, Viki, Laura, and Lynne.

Thank you to all my friends and colleagues who shared their love and encouragement in multiple creative and thoughtful ways.

Although this year hasn’t been easy, I am thankful for the gift of life and the opportunity of having a future free of disease. I am certain God has a plan and a mission for me (God, this is just a reminder that I am here, I am listening, I am ready, show me the way….)

Today I celebrate life!

Thank you for reading

Grateful and in Remission!

Enjoying a beautiful day @ Chesapeake Bay
Enjoying a beautiful day @ Chesapeake Bay

After 10 days of anxiously waiting for my scan results, my oncologist said the word we were praying to hear “Remission”.

We are grateful, happy, and excited to leave in the past these very challenging three years and a half. It was a long and difficult road that taught us the importance of having a support network of friends and family, the critical role of healthy eating and exercise to heal the body and to keep it strong. We witnessed and experienced the power of prayers, hope, and faith. And certainly we are blessed with the gifts of life and love.

I am no longer the same person and now I am on a mission to create a better version of myself.  I know and believe I have a grater and bigger purpose in life to accomplish.

Certainly, life is about the moments and relationships we create, it is about enjoying the time with family and friends, it is about overcoming difficulties and leaving the past behind. Life is about seeking balance, practicing kindness, being grateful, and pursuing a better version of yourself.

Thank you for keeping me in your prayers, for giving me strength and hope when I needed it the most. May this experience serve as a reminder that life is a precious gift.

Thank you for reading and may God bless us all.

Love,

-Bea

Valentine’s Reminder

HeartI hope you had a terrific weekend and celebrated love. And yes, it is great opportunity to take a pause and cherish love and friendship. Many of you might be surprised since in Mexico Valentine’s Day is the day to celebrate not only love but friendship. I have great memories from High School when we celebrated El Dia del Amor y la Amistad (The day of Love and Friendship). Each year high school seniors dressed formally and delivered letters, roses, flowers, and brought Serenata (Serenade) on behalf of others. It was a lot of fun not only because seniors will raise money towards graduation or a trip, but because classes were interrupted by deliveries, guitars, and short love songs. I also remember girls always competing to see who will receive the highest number of roses and letters. Obviously your heart will be broken if you didn’t receive a rose, flower, or a letter (not fun). Regardless, even though Valentine’s day is a popular and commercial day I like the reminder that love prevails and surrounds us. Love is manifested in many shapes and forms through our friends, colleagues, family,our faith, even strangers, and our furry friends. But most importantly love is a gift from God.

I know. I haven’t shared on the blog my thoughts and feelings about faith and it has been on purpose since I struggled to make peace with the challenges I faced and for a long time I felt I was left behind. It was until I started reading about faith that I understood that faith is about trust and letting go, about the belief of a greater plan for us, the deep understanding that we are not alone and instead we are blessed with love, resources, faith, and strength to persevere.

The last couple of weeks have been tough because I am going through a roller coaster of emotions and I am nervous about my upcoming scans in March 2. Physically I feel stronger and better each day, I am able to run a bit more and my hair keeps growing and the graft-versus-host on my skin is less painful and noticeable. Emotionally most days I feel super excited, positive, and great; but others I feel the complete opposite. Despite difficult days, I know I will persevere.

I will keep you posted and thank you for reading!

Lots of Love,

-Bea

70 Days – Grateful

Today is my day 70 post bone marrow transplant.

On day 60 I was discharged from the transplant unit and instead of going to the hospital daily or every other day,  I go only once a week now. My oncologist says that I am doing well and everything looks according to the plan.

I am taking many different medicines to keep my immune system healthy. Each day I feel much better and stronger, I even started jogging and walking again. I can’t wait to start running again soon.

My hair is starting to grow.
My hair is starting to grow.

This Thursday is Thanksgiving, an opportunity to give thanks, spend time with family, and remember what is really important in life: love and gratitude.

Therefore, I would like to thank my loving husband, my mother and father-in-law, and Marsha who took the time and spent countless hours in the hospital and at home taking care of me. I will be always grateful for your support, patience, and love.

Also I am very grateful and fortunate to have incredible parents and sisters. Caro saved my life and now we share an even more special sister bond. I love you sister 🙂  My parents have been fundamental in creating an entire network of prayers, good energy, and positive attitude. This group of family and friends has kept me strong and positive. I am very grateful for their support and love; believe me, it does make a difference!!

With B we Beat It!, Tagline of the video campaign Cris organized.  Thank you!
With B we Beat It!, Tagline of the video campaign Cris organized.  Thank you!

A couple of weeks ago I received a beautiful care packet from my sister Cris. It was a beautiful surprise that included books, a movie, and a video with the campaign “With B, we Beat it!” a series of uplifting, fun, and great messages from family, friends, and others that sent encouraging words to me. Thank you very much to all that participated. A special thanks to my cousin Nane and my friend Monica who helped Cris and Daniel to collect the videos. Thank you Nayelli for the logo and design. Thank you Cris for producing the video that lifted my spirit when I needed it the most.
Today I am particularly grateful for the gift of friendship and love.

Happy Thanksgiving / Feliz Dia de Accion de Gracias!!!

And remember to give thanks 🙂

Love,

Bea

Day 32 Post Transplant

I didn't lose my eyebrows. LOL!
I didn’t lose my eyebrows. LOL!

Today is day 32 post transplant!!! I am tired but feeling better. This is the first time I have a day off and I don’t have to go to the hospital!!!

After the transplant I was feeling well, just tired. However, days later I started struggling with constant nausea and headaches that I have never experienced before; it was rough. Also I lost my hair on day 13.

During this 30 + days I go to the hospital 7 days a week to check my levels and to make sure that I am doing ok. I have to wear a mask most of the time to avoid bacteria and infection. So far I have received a round of platelets and two blood transfusions.

Two days ago I was allowed to go to a public space and we went to the groceries (wearing my mask), It was interesting to see the reaction of other shoppers when they saw me. 🙂

The Mask
This the mask I have to wear.

I want to take the opportunity to thank my husband Dave, my in-laws and Marsha who have served as caregivers and have been patient with me particularly when I don’t feel great. Thank you to my parents, sisters, family, friends, and colleagues that are praying and always ready to help.

Thank you very much for the lovely cards, flowers, gifts, and thoughtful posts on my blog and Facebook which always make me smile. I am grateful for the encouragement and love.

Regarding Music:  Many of you know that my talented sister Cris is on the show “La Voz” (The Voice) in Mexico. She passed the blind auditions, became a member of #TeamYuri and will be in the battles this Sunday. For my friends in Mexico tune in this Sunday at 8:00 pm. Thank you for supporting my sister.

Con todo Cris!!!
Con todo Cris!

Love, – B

Towards a Bone Marrow Transplant

I need a new immune system since mine no longer recognizes and attacks cancer cells; that is why on September 16, 2014 I am going to have a bone marrow transplant at Johns Hopkins. My amazing sister Caro is my donor!!!

A bone marrow transplant looks like a regular blood transfusion. The difference is that this procedure provides a cure for many types of blood cancers and saves lives. The transplant entails taking healthy cells from a compatible donor and infuse those into the bloodstream of the patient. In order to prepare the patient for the transplant high dose chemo and radiation are required.to replace the old and defective cells.  After the transplant the patient has a high risk of infection and needs to be isolated, wear a mask, and be extremely careful with potential sources of external infections.

The type of transplant I will have is called a haplo, half, or mini. This is an option for patients like me that don’t have a donor who is 100% match but have relatives that are 25% or above compatible. Before my transplant on Tuesday I have to do 5 days of chemo and 1 day of full body radiation. Today is my day No.2 of chemo and I am feeling well, just a bit tired.

These days I have a lot of mixed feelings, sometimes I am positive and hopeful and others I am just plain scared about everything. I am living one day at a time and thinking about what I want to do once I am healthy again and free to live my life free of this disease.

I am reading the book “Raw Faith” from cancer survivor Kasey Van Norman a great resource that is helping me to strengthen my faith; something I need so much right now.

Thank you for reading, thank you for the prayers, the positive energy, and encouragement.

I will keep you posted!

Love, Bea

PD. Before the chemo gets all my hair. I cut it short.

Short Hair Again

In Sickness and in Health – I love you

Our beautiful ceremony in   Aug 13, 2011
Our beautiful ceremony in Aug 13, 2011

Three years ago after a crazy and unexpected storm Dave and I promised each other love and respect in a beautiful ceremony with family and friends as witnesses.

Today is our wedding anniversary and to celebrate our life together, I want to write an open letter and dedicate this post to my husband, my best friend, and the love of my life: Dave.

Since we met in 2008, Dave and I discovered multiple things in common and the fact that we are very much alike. We came to the conclusion we lived in a parallel universe since we experienced similar situations he in the U.S and me in Mexico.

I am grateful we found each other, that we support each other and that despite trying times we always find time to laugh and smile.

Dave is an incredible person, a kind and devoted husband who is patient with me and always makes me smile and laugh. I admire his commitment to serve his country, his commitment to us, his strength.

These last years haven’t been easy and not exactly the way we pictured them; yet, during this time we have grown and confirmed that nothing is more important than to love and to cherish each other in sickness and in health.

Definitely I am lucky, lucky to have Dave in my life and have the opportunity to build and share a life together.

To you my love, to us, for many years to celebrate and give thanks. 

Happy anniversary!!! I love you Dave with all my heart.

-B

Our religious ceremony in  Oct 2011 in Mexico City
Our religious ceremony Oct 2011 in Mexico City

2014: I am free

This year is bringing good and positive things. In the second week of January I went to NIH for my follow up scans and studies. It was a relief to hear that my scans were clear, I am in remission, and cancer free!!!.

For the first time in the last three years I am free, free of the constant thought of cancer, free of being afraid, free of sadness, and free of pain.

2013 started rough but it was a great year full of wonderful events such as the arrival of baby Isabella, my beautiful and happy niece (I can’t wait to see her again soon); the weddings of my cousin Geny and my dear friend Lu, my remission, our new home (topic that deserves it’s own post LOL!), seeing my parents more often, spending time with friends and family. Also 2013 highlighted the fact my health is back, I am running again, and Dave and I celebrated our second anniversary as a married couple (I love you Dave!)

May God bless you with a healthy and positive year!!!

In December 2013, Dave took the photo below at the historic San Juan de Ulua Castle located in the city of Veracruz in Veracruz, Mexico. Mexico is indeed a magic place.
20140124-092321.jpg