Click For Hope

Clickforhope

Searching for myself

Clickforhope, Divorce, Single Parents, Single MomJasmine LopezComment
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Please share your story:

I’m an author, artist, dancer, cellist and mother. But I couldn’t say that so concisely eleven years ago…I only found and redefined myself in 2014. Before that, I was Octavia, the cellist, the French major, the world-traveler, Miss Michigan.
After college, I competed for Miss America and when I came home without the crown, I married my love and we moved to Chicago to begin our life together. We were surprised to become parents within our first year of marriage and panicked, suddenly desperate to do everything “right.” The shoulds we were both raised with were that good wholesome Christian families were homeowners in the suburbs with a dog and van. Check, check, check and check.
As we began to complete our American Dream checklist, I realized the more we checked-off, the bigger the void in my heart grew. My husband felt a strong calling to become a pastor of a small urban ministry center and I supported it wholeheartedly. I felt a strong calling too – whether corporate or academic, I felt I had so much more to give than birthing children, although that had become my life.
I went to graduate school. I dropped out of graduate school. I started a full-time job. We had another child. I quit the full-time job to be a full-time mom. But something was wrong. I wasn’t like those moms that are fulfilled being moms. They were so happy with their children, nestling securely in their roles as homemakers. Content. Placid. They LOVED being moms. I loved being a mom, too, but that wasn’t all. I couldn’t place my finger on it, but I was far from content. I was lonely and isolated. So I made up some friends; I started writing books.
While writing was my creative outlet, my scientific side was also understimulated and I wanted to have a career that provided more paycheck than risk. I felt called to healthcare and began my post-bac pre-med coursework. I was desperately searching for myself. I was depressed. I was hopeless. I was bored and unsatisfied. I wanted more than my suburban prison with really cute cell mates. I wanted friends. I needed a bigger purpose. I needed to contribute to the world outside of my home. I had drive. I had zeal. I had a full tank of gas but no GPS.
I was pregnant again. I started designing nonprofit youth programs and writing grants to fund them. I lost my third child. I was still taking my classes, teaching private cello lessons, working part-time coordinating a STEM grant at a community college, working part-time at the ministry center, running the grant programs I designed and wrote to fund, and then, yes: enter child number four.
We had our fourth child.

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I finally got into the medical program for which I had been applying for years. And my husband and I came to a crossroads. He didn’t understand why I wasn’t satisfied. He didn’t understand why I wasn’t fulfilled making our home my career. We went to counseling. We tried going on dates. We tried getting to know each other again. And we realized the very hard and sad truth: I would never be the wife he wanted. He would never be the husband I wanted. He would never be satisfied with me being myself. I would never be satisfied with him being himself. So, now what do we do?
We got a divorce. I wonder if divorce is harder when neither one of you is the Bad Guy. I dropped out of school and feverishly took to finding my footing in a way that I could live in the city, near friends, and finally realize my larger-than-life dreams of serving others, writing books that are more paycheck than risk, and still being a creative and nerdy mom.
As my circle began to learn about my divorce I realized I was part of a secret sisterhood of silently suffering beauties – wives, unfulfilled by their relationships, and suffocated by the shoulds of motherhood. I began blogging to help myself and others navigate the treacherous and uncharted trails of unexpected emotional trauma. I called the blog Road to Relovery (roadtorelovery.com) and continue to write from my experience of being a single mom of three, trying to honor God and myself and my children with every decision I make.
Finally, here I am, three and a half years post-divorce, successfully co-parenting with my once-husband, successfully working in a career that is more paycheck than risk and uses both my writing skills and healthcare passions to serve one of the country’s leading children’s hospitals; and I’m about to release the first episode in my sci-fi fantasy series, The Hibouleans, with nine more episodes already written – and I’m working on my next biblical fiction novel, Hem. I’m proud of my journey, not only because I am being more true to myself, which helps me be a better mother to my boys, but also because I didn’t have to choose between God’s calling for me and the weight of the shoulds.

How has your story shaped who you are today?:

I am a better me -- author, artist, dancer, cellist and mother. My dreams are coming to life. I am flourishing. My children are thriving. And I feel like I've only taken the first step.
www.octaviareese.com

What compelled you to want to share your story with us?:

I have had a colorful reset to the adulthood chapters of my life and I know there are other mom's out there that can benefit from knowing they are not alone.

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What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story?:

Marriage: it is scary; it is NOT what anyone says. It takes work, no matter what. Your relationship does not define you; you define it and your partnership should serve BOTH of you, not one more than the other. Neither of you should need either other; rather you should want to be with each other and make the decision daily to honor each other and make your relationship work. And finally, whatever blessings and scars you each bring to your partnership from your childhoods, remember that you define your own culture for your family. You determine your traditions, your norms, and your boundaries.

Parenting: there is no manual to parenting, but you can't parent well when you aren't well yourself. If your goals, career, or relationship is detracting from your ability to be your best parent to your children, then that factor needs a reset and an adjustment. You can only be your best parent to your children when you are your best self. Take care of your kids by serving yourself, setting boundaries for yourself and your children, and by carving time for your own spiritual-mental-emotional health BEFORE you burn out! Be gentle with yourself and your children. Always lead with love and be the parent you wish you had when you were a child.

Dreams: a dream deferred isn't a dream denied (Langston Hughes), but don't martyr yourself in the name of fulfilling everyone elses expectations of you. It's OK if you're that mom or dad that isn't fulfilled by being a parent. I wasn’t. And it’s OK. When a tree grows a new branch, it doesn't cut the others off. Parenting is just one branch of the tree that is you, and all branches need nourishment and sunlight in order to bear beautiful fruit. You are a better parent when you are your best self and if your best self finds fulfillment outside the home, don't deprive yourself of that light -- and don't let anyone else tell you you're wrong.

I will be the father of your children

Clickforhope, Single Parents, Single MomJasmine LopezComment
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Please share your story:

As a single parent it has definitely been a rough patch, from waking up super early, to being the last one to go to sleep. Mommy duties never end. When I became a single mother, I was so afraid. All I could think about was how would I survive with my 2 daughters. I was an emotional wreck as I was a victim of verbal abuse. I felt as if I was never going to get out of that relationship. I stayed with him because I was afraid of being a single parent. I could only imagine the challenges that were going to come my way the moment I would decide to let go. When I finally decided to let go, I faced lots of struggle. I now knew that all the responsibility was going to be on my shoulders. I now had to be a single parent to 2 daughters. I have to teach them good and bad. I fell into an anxious season. I felt as if I was losing my breath, as if I couldn't handle the weight of being a single mom. The Lord rescued me one night, comforted me, and said "I will be the father of your children." I felt a peace and even though sometimes the struggles are there, the Lord always reminds me of how blessed I am to see my children grow. To see them wake up next to me, to see the smile on their faces when I'm down, brings me so much joy. There are days where I would cry at night because of the pressure of having to raise 2 daughters. Not having that support of a father for my daughters would break me. My day consists of a chaotic morning waking them up, to dropping them off, to picking them up from after school and daycare. There are days where I have late dinners, at around 9:00 pm, because my children come before me. You learn to manage your time and day efficiently. And on my days off, they are my world, I spend lots of quality time with them. I pray every night over them, so that the Lord can guide me to be a parent who raises them well.

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How has your story shaped who you are today?:

It has definitely made me stronger as a person. I am more independent and it has allowed me to see things differently. I am stronger in my faith because of this circumstance. I feel like I can conquer anything. There is no holding me back from growing as a person and growing spiritually. When I learned to let the burden out and allow the Lord to build me as a new creation I was able to be free. I can now say I'm blessed to be a single mom.

What compelled you to want to share your story with us?: I want to let other single parents out there to know that they're not alone. I want others to be encouraged through my story and push forward,  bring hope and not be afraid, don't overthink the process.

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What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story?: I would tell them to never feel alone, to always lean on God's word to pull you through. To always smile through the trouble and to see your children as blessings.

I then heard the sound of firecrackers

Orphan, Clickforhope, Depression, Suicide, LossJasmine Lopez8 Comments
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Sensitive Content. Please be advised.

Please share your story.: I was born and raised in Gary, Indiana. The third child of five siblings. My mother and father always helped others even though money was always a major issue due to both of them being addicted to crack cocaine.
I was 11 years old, asleep in my bed. One Monday morning, there was a knock on the door which woke me up at around 5:30am. I remember my father waking up to answer the door, it was someone he knew, which was a "buddy" who came over extremely early to get some money from the friend my parents allowed to live with us until he got on his feet. My dad let him in, the "buddy" went to the room where the friend was staying and demanded his money. The friend told the "buddy" he didn't have the money, but would get it to him as soon as he got it. Well of course the "buddy" wasn't happy and as I lay in bed I heard him say to my dad, "Let me take your television until he comes up with my money." My dad told him, "No, you can't take my TV, I don't have anything to do with this and it's time for you to leave, because my kids have to get up for school in a few minutes." I heard foot steps toward the door past my bedroom and I heard my father say to the "buddy" it was time to go. The door opens and I then heard the sound of firecrackers ( as a child this was the only logical explanation). I then heard my dad run close to my bedroom door and I heard even more firecrackers. I heard my mom calling my dad's name and she ran in my bedroom which was right next to where my dad was.  She came into my bedroom where she put her back against the door and pressed the heel of her foot against my bedroom door and told me not to get up from the bed. The "buddy" was shooting at her through the door. Then he quickly ran from the house, and heard loud screeching tires. Mom and I got up and went to the kitchen where my dad was laying on the floor in a pool of blood, he had been shot 9 times. We had to step over his body in order to get out of the house and ran to a neighbor's house to call 911 because we didn't have a home phone. Shortly after the call the coroners showed up and pronounced dad dead.

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My mother took this very hard and started drinking just about everyday. She'd cry in the kitchen almost everyday finding a spot of dad's blood that was missed during the clean up process. I always tried to comfort her. About one year later, my mom came home from being in the streets and asked me to bring her a glass of water so that she could take her medicine. I was sitting in the living room at about 9pm struggling with my homework from school and looked at her and said "Ma, I'm trying to do my homework I don't understand it". She told me no not bring the water that she'd get it herself and she did. I sat and watched her take her medicine. The next morning my sister and I were getting ready for school and on our way out the door to walk to school, I turned to my sister and told her that I needed to ask mom for some money. Deep down I knew she didn't have any, but there was an urge just to go ask anyway. I did, and I patted my mom to wake up because she was still asleep. I then shook her, no response. I shook her even harder, no response. I then took my mom's right arm and placed it under her back and raised her in a sitting position. I immediately moved it, to realize my mom was dead. She had taken her medication the night before and died. She had taken her life. I backed up in the room and hit the wall behind me, and stared at her for a few minutes. I ran to tell my sister, who was still waiting outside for me, so we could walk to school. Again the coroner came to our house for a second time, and this time it was for my mom.

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How has your story shaped who you are today?: My story has given me the strength to live life with purpose and courage. It has taught me that no matter what you have to walk through in life, you can make it. If I can make it anyone can! My motivations for graduating high school and college were growing up with little to nothing, this made me want "more" out of life. I currently work with Psychiatrists, helping children who are in the system with foster parents and are experiencing similar situations like I did as a child. Now life is tremendously better, I'm happy with a loving spouse and three wonderful boys of my own. My family and encouraging others are my ultimate motivations.

What compelled you to share your story with us?: I was compelled to share my story, because I realize that there may be other children who may be currently experiencing something similar, and I want them to know they are not alone.

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What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story?: Don't give up on life because those who were suppose to nurture and protect you were taken away so soon. Your life is a gift and you can make it through this, I know it hurts, and I know you're angry but it will get better. Just take one day at a time. God is there and he'll never, ever leave or forsake you, I'm living proof.

Spreading God's Love To My Kids

Good Good Fathers, ClickforhopeJasmine LopezComment
 photo provided by dad

photo provided by dad

What does fatherhood mean to you?

Well, not to make it sound too cliche but there is the part of me that connects with God and recognizes that as a man, it's an honor, privilege, and obedience to what God expects from us. To be able to honor His glory for generations to come, in making sure that I do my best in spreading God's love to my kids so that they can continue doing the same. So I just appreciate that God has allowed and entrusted me to have such a thing to steward. And then there is the other part of me that appreciates the journey of life I have been through, from the start to present. I've begun putting it all into perspective. I recently found out that my dad was fatherless his whole life and am now understanding and making sense of the upbringing I had. I went from telling myself what I would do differently to basically now becoming as supportive as I can of my own father, and ensuring that even though he never had a father, he has done his best, and as a byproduct, I will continue to at least be the best son he can ask for. But through that journey, God has allowed me to see a perspective of fatherless children growing up into broken homes to also being in conflicts of war. While I served my tour in Iraq, I never expected to see the sadness war brings because I was trained and ready to see only the very bad of war, but it allowed me to put more value into the life God has given me daily. While out there, I always viewed fatherhood as the ultimate blessing that I never knew if one day I would get to be, but always wished desired and prayed I one day would, not knowing if my life would end the next day.

Who or what inspired you to be the dad you are today?

With my dad being fatherless all his life and learning that later in life, it just sparked something in me to ensure that if God ever allowed me the blessing of being a dad one day, I will always make the best of it, so that my children would not be affected by it. I firmly believe that if God allows me to have something, I will honor it the best I can by being the best steward over it. But there is one person who actually has really been a great inspiration for me from afar. When I was in high school I had a close older friend that I would often hang out with that wasn't always the greatest influence but I enjoyed being around him. Our friendship eventually grew apart as I left for the Marines, and he then soon became a father himself. I watched from afar his relationship with his daughter and never would I have thought that he would be probably one of the greatest dads I have ever known to his daughter. He has always gone above and beyond for his daughter, constantly takes her on vacations and constantly showers her with love in many ways. He always seems to put her first in everything he does and if he doesn't he always seems to make time for her and makes sure she knows she is his priority. He is showing her what it is to be loved the right way as he slowly grooms her to one day be on her own. I still admire the way he is with her till this day and by far I have always told myself that I could only hope that I can be as great of a father as he is.

Fatherhood, embodies love and responsibility

Good Good Fathers, ClickforhopeJasmine LopezComment

What does fatherhood mean to you?

I approach fatherhood as one of the most important things that I'll ever do in life. Fatherhood, embodies love and responsibility, teaching and care. I love my son more than anything, next to my wife. I have a responsibility to provide for him and protect him. While he's growing from a baby to a man, I have to act as his sword and shield. But being a provider doesn't lessen my responsibility to be a loving dad. I want to teach him what I've learned and the mistakes that I've made, while never passing up on an opportunity to show him how much I care. I don't want to just be someone he runs to for answers, I want to be someone he leans on for strength.

What/Who inspired you to be the dad you are today?

Life is what inspired me. Life is difficult enough in the best situations; it can be even more challenging if the people you count on the most are the very same people who let you down. The father I am today is fueled by my desire to make sure that the values, wisdom, and love that his mom wanted to teach him is passed on. I want him to know that he is raised by two parents, always. I want him to know that I'm doing my best, and through any difficult situation or circumstance, I will never let him down.

AWAKENED BY A MAN ON TOP OF ME

Abuse, Adoption, Breaking the Silence, Clickforhope, Depression, Forever Family, Foster Care, Rape, Sexual Abuse, Single MomJasmine Lopez13 Comments
 Photos by:  Jazi Photo  Makeup by: Ashley Vela

Photos by: Jazi Photo Makeup by: Ashley Vela

Please share your story:

It all started when I was 14. I lived in Gary on 21st Sve . I was going to school and just living a normal teen life, chilling with friends and having fun. It had its ups and downs but hey who's life doesn't right?!? So in March 2012, my dad takes a trip to Puerto Rico to visit his mom, leaving my brother, mom, and me alone at home. So one day, being the nosey child that I was, I went looking for my mom but couldn't find her. I went upstairs to check and nothing. Something said go look out the window. So I went and looked, and saw my mom talking to some guy. I didn't know who he was but they exchanged something, and my mom walked back into the house. I didn't think anything of it. I'm 14, why should I really care, right? My mom always told me to stay out of grown folks business, so that's all I knew.

So a couple days later my mom comes downstairs and says "We're having company for a while." I told her, "Ummm...okay?!?" To soon found out it was the guy who she was talking to outside. I told myself, "Something is wrong here. A man is staying in our house that isn't my dad. He shouldn't be here. But she said it's only for few days, and she gets paid for it?!?" Now money was tight since no one had a job at the time, so my brother and I had to panhandle a couple time for money just to get through one day at a time.

One night, I'm asleep and the night is still. Only to be awakened by a man on top of me, touching me, and taking my innocence. My brother was asleep in the bed beside me. The man whispers, "Shhh don't tell anyone, and your mom will be okay." I laid still thinking my life is over. I'm scared...Where's my mother to protect me? He left soon after. The next morning, I walked downstairs to see my mom scooping some type of substance on a plate... Is it flour? Sugar maybe? I walk into the kitchen and she hurried to cover the plate, and told me to get back upstairs. It's now April and the same thing happens again, while I'm asleep in my bed, in my house...while my mom is God knows where. My brother and I were barely surviving and it's up to me to stop this from continuing. May is here and I have no menstrual cycle. My mom is all of a sudden curious, and asks me. "Where's your cycle?" I replied, "I don't know, late probably?" I can't even look at her. I stopped going to school because I had no motivation and no drive to do anything but live in fear.

One day my mom sent me to my grandma's church to ask for some money, but something in me said enough is enough. I went to church and I told my aunt that I didn't want to live with my mom anymore. I was tired of everything going on and I was dying inside. My other aunts, who attended the church, came over too, to gather my things, along with my brothers. We left and stayed with them for a while. I told them what happened and everyone was disappointed in my mom, in how she let her guard down and let drugs break her wall of being a real parent.

The next day, I was in the hospital getting rape kits done, swabs, and shots, only to find out I'm one month pregnant. Yes, I was 14 years old, pregnant and felt like a piece of trash without anyone or anything. My aunts told me and everyone cried. Three months past by and I'm now four months pregnant. I'm tired, big and taking everything in, all at once. I have a journal to keep me sane and it wasn't working. My aunt found it and kicked me out because of something I wrote. I was then placed into foster care and I can honestly say it was the best thing that could have ever happen to me. I missed a lot of school, so I had to do 8th grade over again which was my choice. Even though everything was bad, I was blessed with a beautiful son on December 24th, 2012. Yes I can really say he was my gift from God. I named him Alejandro Nicholas Kirkland.

I moved again shortly after that to Whiting, Indiana and my son got a terrible fever of 104.3. My foster parent really didn't care and kept saying to give him water. God whispered to me and said be patient, just watch. A few hours later, my therapist came and saw Alejandro so hot and called the abuse hotline. We went to the hospital and stayed all night. Lets just say God has his ways and perfect timing. The doctors said if we had waited any longer, he wouldn't have made it. That made my life take a turn it really needed to. We were removed from her care and moved to East Chicago, and spent a summer there. We then were placed in a foster home in Gary once again. At this time, I just couldn't deal with my life and putting my son through that didn't feel like it was right. I couldn't do this to him. I was in school but I didn't have a job and I couldn't provide for him like I wanted to.

So winter of 2014, I got placed in Dyer at a mom's home for some help and to see if I still wanted to have the role as a mom. I found out that I didn't. I didn't have help andit was hard seeing my peers with their baby's father. I was alone and no one came to see me. I loved him with all my soul and being, but I wanted better for him. I want him to have the world and some. I wanted to give him everything I never had. Summer of 2015 I gave him up for adoption. It was the hardest decision I ever had to make. I signed the papers and he was officially adopted. He deserves better and that's what he's going to get. God has always watched over him and I trust Him.

So its been a little over a year now and his new family spoils him and some. He loves it. I'm also glad that I could be a blessing to someone who couldn't bare on their own child. But, overall God gave me an amazing person to help guide me and steer me in the direction I needed and her name is Kiessa Hamilton. I love her so much and shes my rock. I'm sure I wouldn't be here without her pushing me to keep going forward. I will be 19 on September 18th and its crazy to think about how I've been in 6 placements, 5 schools over 4 years. Where did the time go.?.

I can't end the story here. I always told myself good things come to those who wait. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for God. I wouldn't be telling my story without Him. And I'm a firm believer, because God's work is so pure and unbelievable. He's amazing! When you think it's over, God sneaks up and says "No you're just getting started."

How has your story shaped who you are today?:

It shaped me to know that life isn't over. Keep moving forward and know you have more to live for. Life is more valuable then you think. Keep pushing through the pain and you will find healing.

What compelled you to share your story with us:

Because I've been through a lot and I feel like I can help someone overcome their troubles. To let them know they can get through what they're going through. You are a strong independent person!

What encouraging words would you say to someone who shares a similar story?:

You're strong!

You got through it!

I'm proud of you.

Keep going.

I knew you had it in you.

Never give up on your dreams.

God has plans for you.

 

Climbing the Mountain called Cancer

Cancer, ClickforhopeJasmine LopezComment

Please share your story: : It started early in the summer of 2016. I was breastfeeding my daughter, Savanna and I started to have some redness and hardness in my breast. She completely refused to go anywhere near that breast, so I knew something was off. Following my husbands request, I went to the doctor. I was diagnosed with mastitis. I was given antibiotics and was sent on my way. This went on for a couple of months. Nothing was making it better, if anything, it was getting worse. My doctor then sent me to a surgeon-thinking there was a blockage or something that might need to be taken care of. After a couple weeks under his care, and a negative ultrasound, he said, "it should be better by now, we need to do a biopsy." In this middle of all of this craziness, I did a bit of research. I came across something called Inflammatory Breast Cancer. I fell to the floor as I told my husband about it, everything that was written on it, just fit how I was feeling and my symptoms. It was Monday, September 19 when I was at work, anxiously waiting for the call from the doctor about the biopsy results. I looked at my TimeHop for the day, and realized that 2 years ago on that date, we found out I was pregnant-after a year of trying. When I realized this, I knew the news wasn't going to be good. I felt like this was a sign from God that He sent me this baby girl to help me through what was about to happen in my life. I wanted the news to be good, but deep down, I just knew it wasn't. Then I got the call that confirmed it, "I'm sorry, it's not good news, it's cancer." I immediately called my husband hysterical, called my mom and left work to go be with my daughter and husband. The next couple of weeks were filled with appointments and scans, and they all seem to be a blur. It was the most absolute terrifying weeks of my life. My instincts were right, I was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer. Anyone that searches this online knows that there is nothing good about it. The stats aren't good, the prognosis isn't good, it's just not good. Every time I talked to a doctor, the first thing I would say is, I just wanna watch my baby grow up. That's all I thought about and still is. I started chemo a couple weeks after the day of diagnosis. Chemo sucks. I have really great friends and family that helped with so much during this time. I didn't feel good enough or have the energy to do some everyday tasks and they all were there for me helping. The one constant is that fiery little red head of mine. No matter how I felt, no matter how much I wanted to stay in bed all day, I had to get up and take care of her. People couldn't be with me everyday and I didn't want them to be. Savanna kept me going, I call her my little life saver. I will never be able to explain to her what she did for me. I also dramatically changed my lifestyle. From the food I ate to the products I was putting on my body. I tried to have as little stress in my life that I could. I finished chemo on January 18 and was so relieved for that chapter to be over. After the 2 chemo sessions, I really saw changes in my breast, by the end, my doctor couldn't tell that anything was ever there. It was back to 'normal', but it still had to go. I had surgery on March 1, a double mastectomy with lymph node removal and I chose not to get reconstruction. I'm so grateful to say that the cancer treatment worked. I had a PET scan before surgery that came back clear, and the pathology report from surgery came back with a complete pathological response. Hallelujah! I still have to do radiation as part of the IBC treatment protocol. I am prepping to start that next month. I have learned so much through this and I feel like I'm a different person than I was 6 months ago. I have a new outlook on life. I hate cancer, but I love what it did for me and my life. I will continue to live as healthy of a lifestyle that I can so I can do what I can to prevent this from ever coming back. Take that cancer!

How has your story shaped who you are today?: I'm a different person. I physically don't recognize the woman in the mirror, bald and boobless, but I really don't recognize WHO I am. I don't want to be the same person I was before cancer, I want to be better. When faced with your own mortality, you think very deeply about life. I appreciate everyone in my life so much more now. I'm so grateful to be alive and I never want to take advantage of being so ever again. I want to live life to the fullest. And I will.

What compelled you to share your story with us?: I was at the Beautiful event last weekend and was so inspired with all the women there to support one another. It's incredible what we can do if we all just work together and be there for one another.

What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story?: You got this! Don't doubt yourself, ever. You can do this and you will do this. It's ok to be scared, cancer is a large mountain to climb but you can do it! And you ARE beautiful, even when you don't feel so.

Hope 25's Beautiful Event

Cancer, Clickforhope, Pop-up ShopJasmine LopezComment
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It was such an honor getting to be a part of Hope 25's Beautiful Event. Not only was it CLICK FOR HOPE's first pop-up shop where we raised money for Breast Cancer Awareness, but we are able to photograph 12 survivors! Aren't they beautiful?!?  I'll be sharing some of their stories over the next few days. It was such a blast getting to do a mini shoot of each of them!!!

And here's a little sneak peek at our new Spring Collection! I can't wait to share more with you!!!

When sickness takes over...

Mental Health, Anxiety, Mental Illness, PTSD, Clickforhope, GastroparesisJasmine Lopez3 Comments

Please share your story?

At 15, I got sick. Prior to I was a very competitive athlete and a gifted student, but I suddenly found myself battling for simple acts of survival. The first two years, of my illness, were spent spent fighting for doctors to listen, as my body fell apart. I ended up over 140 days in the hospital over a 12 month period, trying to convince doctors that my issues were physiological and not "all in my head”. Mental illness was treated with scorn, as if the possibility that my symptoms could be psychological negated their effect. I was losing weight, cognitive function, and hope.  The doctors didn’t listen, pushed my body to the point of collapse, added medications that gave me life-threatening complications, and physically injured me in both the physical and emotional sense. My parents (I was 16 at the time) wanted to discharge me against medical advice, but were told that if they did, it was likely that child protective services would be called. After seventy days, I was released on a whim by a holiday doctor- pure luck. Over the next few months and years, my family and a team of doctors, that I trusted, worked incredibly hard to bring my body back from the edge. I was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder, an autoimmune nerve condition, mast cell activation syndrome, and gastroparesis. These diagnoses allowed for treatment of these conditions. However, even while my body improved, the traumatizing recollections remained- but in an interesting way. For so long it felt as if I was looking back on the experience from the view of an outsider. Logically, I knew it had happened to me, but the visceral response was absent. As I moved out of survival mode, my brain brought back experiences I had forgotten and reignited feelings that had been buried. This past summer, my health cratered again. This brought memories back in brutal technicolor, forcing me to change my coping skills and realize that the medical professionals caring for me were not like the ones who hurt me. I poured my heart into writing, and as I shared my story I was contacted by so many young women who had had similar experiences. I’ve found my joy and passion in patient advocacy, and I strongly believe that treating mental health in patients with chronic illness is just as important as treating the physiological diseases. My psychiatrist, medication, coping skills, my family and service dog- are all integral to my stability, and that's nothing to be ashamed of. There are so many ways to manage mental health, and acting as if it's a character flaw silences patients and denies them the opportunity for treatments that could greatly improve quality of life. If sharing my story openly has helped even one person feel heard and understood, then all of this is worth it.

How has having Taxi helped you?

Taxi has made a incredible difference. I received him in June of last year, and he's brought me so much joy. Of course, he helps with the physical tasks (opening/closing doors, turning on lights, retrieving my meds, etc.) but he also is an enormous emotional support for me and my family. He comes and asks to play when I’m anxious, he lays with me on the bad days, and he provides a lot of laughter for my whole family. 

Can you share what the port is for?
I have what's called a portacath, a permanent IV line surgically implanted under the skin, and accessed with a needle once a week. It allows me to receive intravenous medications at home, and to have IV access when I am in the hospital. Over time, my veins have become difficult to access as a result of scarring and malnutrition. I also have a GJ tube (gastrojejunostomy) that feeds me. It goes into my stomach, and then has an extension threaded down past the stomach, into the jejunum. My stomach doesn't process food, and so the tube goes past the stomach into a part of the gut that does function okay. It also helps me receive what's called "elemental" formula, which is hypoallergenic and basically pre digested, so my body isn't allergic to it. 


Does that mean you can't eat food?

I can eat some foods. Pretty much everything I eat makes me sick in some respect, but I can and do try to eat. Apples and potatoes are my main foods at the moment. I love to cook, however, and am constantly trying new recipes, even if I can't eat them! 


What does your life look like now? What do you do for fun?

My life revolves around my health and school. I'm a senior in high school, and my goal is to attend university next year. I take classes twice a week, and then in between that I do work online. I have at least one doctors appointment a week, most more. For fun, I like to train with my service dog (Taxi) and hone the skills he already has, write, and I love brush lettering and calligraphy

What compelled you to share your story?

I’ve been given so much help from others, who have walked this road much longer than I have. Whether it is a hack to carry meds without needles, advice for long hospital stays, the occasional true inspiration that helps drag you out of bed- it has all been invaluable. When I became the veteran of my disease, I wanted to start spreading information, support, and hope- along with the knowledge that you aren’t alone. I wanted the knowledge I'd gained to go somewhere, and to give back the support I had been given in some of my dark days. There’s so many things that I've learned along the way (big and small) and being able to pass that knowledge on has been the greatest gift of all. 


What encouraging words would you tell someone who has a similar story?

To take it one day at a time, and recognize the little victories. Recovery (physical, mental, emotional) is not and will never be a straight shot. One bad day or a bad week does not negate the progress that has been made- it doesn't push you back to square one, or mean that you aren't trying hard enough. It’s difficult to not blame yourself when you’ve been working so hard and can't see the rewards. Progress can be easily measured in the small victories. If you’re only looking for the major landmarks and mountains to summit, you can miss the the daily triumphs on the way. 

How can we follow along with all that you are doing? (ei: blog, social etc?)

You can follow me through social media (@actualmutant on Instagram and Twitter, as well as my blog: actualmutant.wordpress.com. You can also read my full story here: http://www.invisibleproject.org/www/participants/pediatrics/savannah-orth/, or  contact me at savannahorth@gmail.com.