Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Hair Growth and a Ridiculous Summary of a Tragic Few Months

It has been a crazy last few months, to say the least and I'm not even going to try to share all of the events that have taken place or my feelings, but my mom encouraged me to at least come on here and let everyone know the happy news--I finished chemo! Some friends spent the night in the hospital with me my last night there and after getting discharged, I walked next door to the cancer center and rang the bell loud and clear. Physically, I feel amazing. I have not used my cane in weeks, I don't feel sick anymore, I have some more color, I've put on a few pounds so I don't look as much like a freaky skeleton (though I probably went about putting on weight with a little too much gusto, let's be honest), and I can actually do chores and run errands throughout the day without feeling like I got the life sucked out of me.

One thing I thought would be fun is to document the changes in my appearance. Since that last week in the hospital I have been taking selfies every now and again without wearing make-up so you can see what I really look like. Here are those gems:

Nov. 13 2013 (Last week in
Nov. 19 2013
Dec. 11 2013


Dec. 16 2013
Dec. 26 2013
Dec. 29 2013

Dec. 31 2013
Jan. 7 2014
Jan. 16 2014

Jan. 28 2014

Feb. 10 2014

I am loving the way I look. Especially when I look at the stark contrast between that last week in the hospital and now. It doesn't even bother me that the hair in the center of my head sticks straight up. I just love that I have enough hair for it to do that. Here is a better angle of my funky hair that doesn't stay flat and a picture of the first day in a year I woke up with bed head.

Now, this is going to seem callous, and it's possible that later I will want to get into all the touchy feely details of how my life drastically changed after finishing chemo, but for now I will give you the whirlwind summary. A week and a half after finishing chemo, I spent an amazing Thanksgiving weekend with my entire family. Five of them (my dad, my brother Daniel, his wife Sheree, my sister Amber, and her fiance Jonathan) left in my dad's plane to go home after Thanksgiving and the plane went missing. They were missing for over a month, and in that time we suffered immensely. We felt pretty sure they had passed away, but hoped and prayed with all our hearts they were still alive. A huge blessing was that Michael and I went to Brazil with his family for two weeks, which was a nice almost-escape from the anxiety. We came back to Provo and the next day flew to San Jose to be with family on what would have been Amber and Jonathan's wedding day (January 4). Thousands of people helped in the search for the plane and on January 10 they found it. Everyone had died on impact on December 1. Michael and I were supposed to move to Wisconsin on January 15, but a week before moving we decided to move to San Jose instead. So Michael turned down his incredible job offer and we packed up and moved job-less into my mom's house in San Jose. Best decision ever. Anyway, there was a beautiful memorial held for all five of our family members that passed away on February 1 and I gave my baby sister's eulogy. Michael and I are now both applying for jobs.

Wow, talk about a loaded paragraph. Anyway, I just wanted to blurt that out and let you know what's been going on these past few months. For today I only have one comment on all that happened. Cancer seems like old news. Once my family disappeared I was like, "Whaaaat? I thought my life was hard because I had cancer? What a joke." I get the feeling that's how life is. Each trial puts the previous trial into perspective. Enjoy life now, regardless of your circumstances. I thought my life was hard, but it turns out that having cancer is one of the best things that ever happened to me because of the closeness I had with my family during that time, both physically and emotionally. Literally, knowing what I know now, if someone approached me a year ago and said "You can have $1 million or cancer" I would take the cancer. Ahh, the curve balls life throws us.
My family Thanksgiving weekend


  1. Dude, I think your little tuft of straight up hair is awesome! Like not even kidding right now.
    And the eulogy you have was incredible. Well done. It was such a beautiful service and that just added even more to it.
    This comment might not make sense when I wake up tomorrow but as long as ive gotten across that you look rad with short hair and the eulogy was wonderful, then we are all good m

  2. First off, congrats on finishing chemo! You pull off the short short hair amazing. Second, I admire you for the outlook you have even after going though cancer and losing much of your family. I am glad they found the plane, but saddened that you lost so many family members at once. You are incredibly strong and amazing. I'm glad we had the chance to work together as interns. If we ever go though your part of CA, we'll stop by. Good luck in the job search.

  3. Crystal, you look GREAT!!! ...and I love the selfies, especially the bedhead one. Omigosh, when you showed me that I got all choked up. It was a 4-way intersection of emotion: excitement, success, pride and pure joy. You are AMAZING and so inspirational to me. Your go-getter attitude and positive perspective on life motivate me, Crystal. Thank you for you! I feel privileged to have been able to spend time with you these last few months. Amber's eulogy was flawless and I continue to hold your words and testimony close to my heart.

    I love you! ...and I want to congratulate both yours and Michael's employers (in advance). They are so lucky to have you! :)

  4. Crystal, you are so beautiful! Thank you for sharing your unbelievable journey. Your courage and your love for your family is inspiring. Your attitude makes me want to be a better, more grateful, more generous person. Thank you!!

  5. Crystal, as weird as this may sound, I actually think you look really good in short hair. Maybe I'm just biased the because that's how you looked when I first met you, and you just seemed like a totally awesome person. When I finally saw a picture of yourself with long hair, I didn't recognize you at first because the hair was partially hiding your radiant face!
    You are an amazing person, Crystal, and you have taught me and so many others much simply by your demeanor and example. Thank you for being such a wonderful example of Christ!
    Love you!

  6. Crystal, you look fantastic! Your smile is always so full and beautiful, but I can see with each picture that your inner glow increase and your confidence heightens. Congrats again on finishing chemo--so glad we got to celebrate with you before Thanksgiving. We love and miss you guys and think of you often!

    Shawn and Brittany Howell

  7. You look amazing!! I bet you are so happy to look like your beautiful self again! Congrats on finishing chemo!!

    I'm so sorry about your loss. I'm so glad you and your family are close and can continue to help and love one another no matter the circumstance. I hope San Jose is an amazing adventure!!

  8. Hi Crystal,

    Was really inspired by your blog - you're a great writer. Lots I want to say but I'll start with this:

    I know you are currently looking for a job but I wondered if you would consider freelance writing work? Mostly blogs. I need someone who has your kind of writing style. Can you email me: keren [at] topleftdesign.com and then I can explain what I have in mind. Thanks and hope to read from you soon.

  9. Crystal, I just have to write to let you know I feel you and your mother are amazing women, what you both have been through emotionally and physically since your diagnosis and then to endure the loss of your father and two siblings, your mother loosing her spouse, and two of her precious children, plus loosing two other special members of your family.... I can't imagine how you both make it everyday with such a positive outlook. I admire both of you, your courage and your strength. Congratulations on becoming healthy again, I wish only the best for you in the future you deserve it. Continue staying strong and please take care of your mom.
    I am from Butte, Montana , although I didn't know your brother and sister-in-law, or anyone who knew them and what they did her for a living here or where they even lived here, your families loss has become a part of me through the media and through caring about people. Again I admire your whole family and my heart aches for you all.

  10. Wow you looks so lively and so lovely. Cancer is just a testing point in life for a person and you have won outstandingly.

  11. Wow you looks so lively and so lovely. Cancer is just a testing point in life for a person and you have won outstandingly.

  12. Hello Mrs. C!!! This is Eliza (note passer/shortie) and Annalyse (tall one) from fifth grade (four years ago), when you taught at hobble creek! We miss and love you, and we always talk about how you were are favorite teacher!