Author Archives: Kylene Almeida

Wig Party!

My mom’s best friend, Beth Johnson, approached me about throwing a wig party for me and I was a bit hesitant, but she was so excited about it, the idea became infectious. She and my best friend, Megan Reynolds, planned the whole evening.

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I walked up with my neon pink wig and was greeted by a sea of loving people decked out in the most brightly colored wigs you can imagine. Beth’s wig was baby pink with pigtails -totally anime. My mom’s wig was long and bright blue -it looked adorable on her! One girl came up to me and I didn’t recognize her, she had this auburn red wig. She spoke and I exclaimed, “Sara!” The girl rocks red hair, she should definitely go red sometime in the near future. Nicki Minaj came too or my friend Sheena in a light pink wig, but wow!

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There was a massive amount of food and desert for everyone. I think people went home with bags of food. I know my best friend, Stephanie (wearing a bright purple wig) just mentioned she had liked the chips and was gifted a huge bag of them. The atmosphere was so incredibly festive.

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Some people came that I haven’t seen in years. Shari Russel was my mom’s friend at Sandy Pines when I was a kid. Other people couldn’t make it, but still donated. I felt so overwhelmingly blessed. It is really sweet to see people like my Aunt Deb and Uncle Gary or Saul and Beth Gamboa who have been through hard times themselves and hear their encouragement.

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The first few days after surgery and treatment on Monday sent me into waves of nausea and sleep so I felt like just curling up into a black hole. The wig party was on Friday and it gave me something to look forward to. By the time the day arrived I was feeling more like myself and so ready to do something fun.

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One of the best parts about the party was a little photo booth section they set up. Callie Schilds took pictures of us and one of my favorite photos was of my siblings, myself and our whole growing family. There was a whole box of zany accessories. We all posed the night away and laughed. It felt good to laugh.

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This week I was able to purchase a real hair wig for almost the exact amount that was raised. I never thought I would be able to get one, so thank you soooooo much to everyone that donated. This wig won’t singe when you open the dish washer and you can style it so I am pretty excited. It will be perfect for my sister’s wedding coming up in June!

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Thank you to all of my friends and family that participated and acted silly and zany with me through this fight with cancer. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support, prayers and putting a smile on my face.

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Hair Donation Day!

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13″ of hair cut off and I am left with a really cute bob thanks to Legend’s Design. A while ago, Wes suggested that since I was going to loose my hair, I might consider donating it to a good cause. I mentioned it to my friend Megan and she got the ball rolling right away! She found a great organization called “Children With Hair Loss” that makes wigs for kids with cancer. We both loved their slogan “Covering young heads to heal young hearts.” Meg works for Legend’s Design so she set up an appointment for me to have Kaylee Hoekman cut my hair.

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I arrived with my entourage, Jessica, Sophia and Ava because I needed Jess to drive and the girls to watch Fierce. They were so adorable and kept him a busy, happy baby. When I sat down, Meg gave me a card from the whole staff and let me know that Jennifer Becksvoort, the owner, was giving me a complimentary service. Thank you so much!

You could really notice their Christ centered salon through their decor proclaiming it and the music playing throughout. That day, one of my favorite songs by Casting Crowns was on and I really appreciated the words: “I will praise you in this storm, I will lift my hands, You are who You are, no matter where I am.”

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Chemo Round 1

My first Chemotherapy treatment was on Monday. My sister-in-law, Sara, had packed me a really cute coral (not pink) bag full of goodies she had researched were nice for cancer patients. I am a cold person, so the blanket got used right away! My friend, Jessica put together a coloring book gift set for me, I brought it but ended up sleeping so I will for sure use it next time. Thanks girls!

The day actually started out with surgery at 6am to put in a port on the right side of my chest just under my clavicle bone. The nurses were really sweet and let Wes and Fierce visit with me up until the time I had to go into the surgical room. Wes brought Fierce to my mom’s after that so he could come back and sit with me during the chemo part. I was glad he was there because at first they put me in a wide open room with many other cancer patients. This wouldn’t have bothered me if everyone talked to each other, but basically they just sat next to you hooked up to their machines and pretended you were not there. Wes asked if we could have a private room so we could talk to each other without having the room overhear our conversation and the nurse gave us our own room. Honestly, anything you ask for if it is available, they really accommodate the patients. Then, I got a Lupron shot (supposed to save my ovaries). Around 11am they gave me some anti-nausea medicine then the chemo drugs.

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I felt great almost like nothing happened. Then 3pm came around and my body flipped a switch. We had planned on going to grab a bite to eat before we went home, but I told him I wasn’t going to make it so we just went straight home and Wes picked up some food later. The nurse had told me that I wouldn’t get nauseated until 2 or 3 days after treatment, but I think because I couldn’t eat before the surgery and I only had a granola bar during the chemo treatment that my stomach was just not well nourished. So, note to my future self: Eat before treatment!

Since then I feel like I am on a roller coaster of nausea bouts. I lay down and feel good, get a few things done or play with Fierce and then back to bed. So many people have really blessed me during this unplanned time of needing help. My mom helped me clean, my dad brought over a new toy for Fierce, my cousin JoDe did my dishes, my aunt Deb will be coming tomorrow and my cousin Jessica will be here on Thursday while I get my hair cut. Thanks everyone!

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St. John: Last Day

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My dad called ahead and asked if we could use The Westin’s pool if we bought lunch. They agreed and we had a very chill day. I was trying to stay out of the sun so I treated myself to a deep tissue massage. Fierce had fun with grandma and grandpa in the pool.

Later in the day we went to Mongoose Junction and other little shops. I bought Fierce a pirate book and a few other touristy items. We (my Mom, Blake, Tatum and I) ended our day at Woody’s. It is a tiny little space to get drinks and bar food. My mom ordered us some conch fritters. Honestly, I have yet to have anything with conch in it that I didn’t like. I should really try to make it at home. Anyways, we fly home tomorrow so see you all soon!

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Jost Van Dyke

Today, we left the US of A and headed for Britain. Passports packed, my dad chartered a boat named Gypsea Girl to take us all to Jost Van Dyke, a British island. What a blast! It was the perfect sunny day with the waves splashing up and spraying our faces. Fierce wasn’t too sure about it so he cuddled in and took a nap.

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Our first stop was still in St. John because our guide, Mindy, had to fill out the entry paperwork in order to enter British territory. We stopped at Moho Bay and snorkeled. I saw two big tortoises and one baby one came up to get air not five feet from my face! Blake and Tatum said they saw stingray and a fish that looked like a baby shark.

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Next we stopped at a 100′ island beach called Sand Spit. It looked like the sand just peaked out of the water to take a quick look around.

 

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Once we got to Jost Van Dyke, Mindy filed the paperwork and we looked around for a bit. At the dock we saw two little island boys catching fish and pretty proud of their latest catch 😉 We met up for lunch in a cute little blue roofed building. I just love all of the vibrant colors the architecture boasts of here. Behind this restaurant was a trail that wound along the beach shore and up through a small rocky area to end at the Bubbly Pool. The waves from the ocean crash into a split rock structure making the waves squeeze through and creating a bubble effect in the “pool.” It was pretty cool. Almost everyone climbed the rock structure. My dad went right to the center to let the waves hit him as he braced himself not to get thrown backward. Fierce and I enjoyed the pool area 😉

 

 

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My mom and dad talk about Soggy Dollar Bar all the time so us kids were pretty excited to finally see it for our own eyes. In order to get to shore, you have to swim. We put Fierce in a beer cooler tube and floated him ashore. Everyone on the beach thought this was the coolest thing ever. The beach itself is really nice here and Soggy Dollar did not disappoint. It is just a tiny beach hut where everyone offers up their soggy dollars for food and drinks. Gotta love island life.

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St. John: Petroglyphs

I would just like to say that there was a baby lizard in my shower today. AAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Hiking was on the agenda today. We started down the Reef Bay trail and ended at a rocky beach next to a sugar mill ruin. This is not a little hike, by the way. It is only 2 miles or so down, but you have to watch your footing because roots grow wild over the trail and the path itself is full of loose rock. I had Fierce in a carrier first in front of me, then on my back and finally I just carried him because he was tired of being in that thing. I am so glad I have built up my arm strength from carrying him through the mall, etc 😉 About 1/2 way on the way up, John and Blake took turns carrying him as well. Thanks guys!

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If you take a detour about 3/4 of the way down to the water, you end up at the Petroglyphs. Carved into the huge rocks next to a tiny pool of water that remains at the same height all year round are these little symbols done by the Taino people. It was well worth the hike to see such old, historical remnants of a culture that once lived on this tiny island.

St. John don’t pass up the rickety side street restaurant with the almost falling down roof. It is gooooooo—–oooood!

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We were exhausted by the time we got back to the top. Not going to lie, every corner seemed to produce another 1/2 mile of trail. We were going to grab food back in town, but I asked that we stop at the first opportunity. Chester’s Place came up first and we pulled into a place that advertized fish fry nights and pig roasts. There were roaming pigs and I think those might be next Friday nights dinner. So glad I don’t eat pork 😉 My mom was not sure we should eat here, but we were hungry. I got a mahi fish burger and it was the best food I have had yet. It was simply grilled and then covered in a delicious cheese and pepper sauce. Everyone else really liked their food as well. So, if you ever go to

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St. John: Annaberg Ruins

The morning started with eggs -scrambled with spinach…according to everyone else 😉 Fierce and I were up and ready to go long before that.
Our first stop was to the Anniberg Ruins. The beginning of the trail started at the slave quarters and then went up to where the horses would walk in a circle to move the sugar cane crusher. They later built a windmill, but when there was no wind they still used the slaves and horses. Around the back of the ruins a man named Charles was breaking coconuts for everyone to try the meat. He gave my mom some coconut oil and said it was good for red bumps on the skin and sun burn. He also pointed out a plant called Morenga. He cut some down for us and said we should steam it and make a tea. He said it was a miracle worker. If you have ever heard of Zenga, it is the main ingredient in one of their products.

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Stop #2 was the famous Skinny Legs. Literally a shack in the middle of nowhere with great food. My dad bought Fierce his first Skinny Legs onsie and was a proud grandpa 😉 While we waited for our meal, my dad took Fierce to a ‘Backyard’ and played with trucks. I think Fierce could find wheels anywhere. After our food arrived, Fierce was eating part of my hamburger bun on John’s lap and fell asleep mid bite- just completely zonked out.
From Salt Pond there is a path to Drunk Bay. You really have to believe something cool is going to be around the corner because you have to pass a lake that looks dirty. Nonetheless, Drunk Bay is a rocky area where people arrange the rocks, coconut shells, seaweed and shells into little figurines or write messages using the smaller coral. We each made one before we left to add our mark. It felt so good when it began to rain a bit. We were pretty sticky by the time we got back to Salt Pond so we all went for a swim. Everyone saw a tortoise, but I missed it 🙁 I really wish we would have brought our snorkel gear.

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I was pretty exhausted by the time we got back and my dad offered to take Fierce to the downtown area while I took a nap…Thanks dad!

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St. John: Relaxation Begins

Fierce woke up with the sun and I would have been disappointed, but wow, it was gorgeous! My Mom and Dad joined me and we all had coffee on the deck while Fierce played with a few sand toys. Lynnae and Tatum were up next because they were much more motivated than the rest of us and ran up and down the stone steps that go from the house to the beach. This is no easy feat. These stairs have a few landings to rest on the way down and they are rough and jagged. Go girls!

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We all went to Trunk Bay today. It was a bright sunny day so I set up a baby tent for Fierce when he napped. He was so darn cute. He played his little heart out in the sand and LOVED splashing in the water. Blake, Tatum and I all went snorkeling. I forgot my gear, but you can rent it for $5. We saw some teal and purple almost neon fish as well as a few giant sea urchins and little white fish that blend in with the rocky coral. My mom and I went for our traditional walk on the beach. We have to touch each end before we head back 😉

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We headed back to the house to get ready and afterwards I got to drive on the left side of the road for the first time in my life! I even had to do a left round-about…ahhhh! No, it really wasn’t that bad. The scary part is that driving on an island is like driving a roller coaster left, hairpin right, up a hill and then at the top you realize you have to make a crazy left on the way down. This is all happening at 20 mph and it feels like you are going 100 mph. You have to gun it to make it up the hill and ride the brakes the whole way down. I am so glad I brought Fierce’s car seat 🙂

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We went to Mongoose Junction which is a really pretty shopping area where all of the walls are concrete, but covered in large rough stones and sea shells. I found freshwater pearl bracelets and talked the girls into all getting them. Photo -op! 😉 Afterwards we headed to dinner. We ate outside where there was live music. They were allowing guests to come up and sing so we all talked Tatum into going up there. She sang beautifully.

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St. John, We Have Arrived!

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Fierce took his first flight yesterday!
There were several layovers so I made sure he got his wiggles out by having him “walk” the halls. In the NY airport on the way to San Juan there was a little treasure chest play area for kids. He leaned up against the bottom of the slide and had a blast watching the older kids zoom past him. Some of the kids tried to speak to me, but they all spoke Spanish and I am a little (a lot) rusty.
Fierce waves at just about everyone going by and people just melt. I think they forget that they have their own gate to get to entirely. One passenger even handed their phone over so Fierce could make it light up. By the time we sat in our seats each time, Fierce was out cold and slept almost the whole flight. He would wake up about 20 minutes before landing, but he played and ate puffs 😉 On the 2nd flight a stewardess just loved him. She told me I could walk the isles and then later she gave him is first wings.
During the last layover, Fierce discovered the handicap transport golfcart. First he played with the wheels and then I let him turn the steering wheel. He was belly laughing as he turned it left and right. Then he found the lever and the red button to make it go and it was time to stop playing with the cart 😉
Fierce also loved watching the city lights during the plane landings. The lady sitting next to the window was reading a kindle and Fierce would move his head up and down to see past her.
The last flight was just a little puddle jumper from San Juan to St. Thomas. It felt like we just flew 10 ft off the water the whole time. I enjoyed this one the most…20 min and done!
From St. Thomas airport, we took a taxi to Red Hook to catch a ferry. I put Fierce in a life jacket and he didn’t mind at all. I was shocked. We stepped off the ferry in St. John and Lynnae and I felt a renewed energy wash over us. We made it! Our first stop was to grab a bite to eat at a local breakfast spot while we waited for a lady named Kathy to show us the ropes. When she arrived, she took John and the luggage to the house we all rented and then showed us where to pick up our rental car. When John got back he asked us if we wanted the good news or the bad. Lynnae and I both simultaneously said “Bad.” He explained that the rental car was far away. The good news was that the house was “Unbelievable!” He and Lynnae walked to get the car. Fierce and I stayed behind and he played in the sand for the first time. He was soooo adorable. He patted it, let the sand flow through his fingers and then ate some. He looked up at me after about 5 min and a smile grew till it lit up his eyes. He looked like he wanted to say, “Have you seen this stuff?”
When Lynnae and John got back, Lynnae told me that it was only a long way to the car rental because John took them in a big circle. It was actually just around the corner from where we were…lol.
The house truly was unbelievable. Every room as a deck that looks out over the ocean.
That night we all went to Lime Inn for dinner. Pretty sure we all got some variety of fish. My mahi came with a pineapple salsa…mmm mmm.

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Introducing Mr. & Mrs. Tate & Samantha Kalawart

Today was the big day! Amid the ocean breezes, Tate and Samantha said their vows to each other.
The whole day was truly beautiful. My dad & John babysat Fierce so I could take pictures of them getting ready and Lynnae could do Sam’s makeup. Sam looked stunning. She didn’t seem stressed at all, simply giddy with excitement. I loved her dress that flowed with the wind and her flower halo. With the setting sun, she just seemed radiant. My brother, Tate, looked so proud to become her husband. Their destination wedding to St. Thomas couldn’t have been any better. My parents soaked in every moment and kept repeating what a wonderful evening it had been. At the rehearsal dinner my brother, Blake, gave a heartfelt speech with timely humor.

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As kids I remember riding around on golf carts shooting bottle rockets off at each other, we almost started a lady’s garden on fire…Those were good times both of us growing up at sandy pines barefoot and free from noon until curfew. Noon because we’d sleep in forever back then and wake up and play halo when we weren’t herassing the rangers. I believe we could still argue who was better at halo but believe it or not as much as we would argue I would always look up to you and that will continue as you’re 6″4 and I’m just shy at 6″2. Back then I would never admit it but when you got a new haircut I got the same one. When you started skateboarding I started skateboarding. I guess you could say I credit you for my competitive attitude always trying to one up you. Anyways now that we’re older you’ve achieved a lot of great things and I’m proud of you. You found yourself a great girl that will always keep you moving and push you forward. You’ve made it seven years so shit why not 70 more. And to Sam you’ve become a very driven and successful woman and I have no doubt that you’ll be a great mother someday. You’re kids will definitely be eating weird healthy things and always feel loved. I love you both very much. God bless you both on your new adventure through life. May the wind be at your backs and the sparkle in your eyes never fade, cheers!–Blake

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The whole evening was stunning, beautiful and certainly memorable. I pray that they are blessed and remember this day as a beginning to a very enriched life together.

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