teamslugslayer

With too much to share in the last couple of months, it’s suffice to say it has been a very difficult time… But by the grace of God I feel like a new woman and have not felt so good in so long. Today I am in total awe of my life, of the beings that overflow it with love and peace and sincerity. Today I face the biggest challenges of my life but I am grateful because my life has been touched by God and I am in awe. Thank you God, thank you. Here I am in hospital following a procedure… And then my sister from NYC walks in. She is one of my life’s biggest blessings. God bless Orly and God bless my life Lord. Thank you. #blessedbeyond #awe #MyLifeTheWonderful #teamslugslayer #neverforgettosaythankyou (at blessed beyond)

I am saddened to hear about the passing of Yosra El-Essawy from Cancer. Her images will live on forever. Below are the words from her last post on Facebook along with this image. With too much to share in the last couple of months, it’s suffice to say it has been a very difficult time… But by the grace of God I feel like a new woman and have not felt so good in so long. Today I am in total awe of my life, of the beings that overflow it with love and peace and sincerity. Today I face the biggest challenges of my life but I am grateful because my life has been touched by God and I am in awe. Thank you God, thank you. Here I am in hospital following a procedure… And then my sister from NYC walks in. She is one of my life’s biggest blessings. God bless Orly and God bless my life Lord. Thank you. #blessedbeyond <https://www.facebook.com/hashtag/blessedbeyond> #awe <https://www.facebook.com/hashtag/awe> #MyLifeTheWonderful <https://www.facebook.com/hashtag/mylifethewonderful> #teamslugslayer #ripyosra #wwsicon #wwswomen #wwsbeauty #wwstalent

This image is dedicated to Yosra!
I didn’t know this angel. But the times I came across any of her posts, I was in awe of her courage and fervor to live!! One image that made such an impact in my life was while she was on tour photographing for Beyonce. She called herself ‘Lara Croft’ with cameras strapped to her body in warrior stance. What an inspiration!!! Her spirit, her humility, her beauty, she radiated light. Just from her online feeds..! By coincidence, I did the pose on my job yesterday at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, a reminder to self that I’m right on track. But why did I come home to find out that she lost her battle to cancer?!! This is for you Yosra El-Essawy!
You’ve touched us all with your beautiful spirit… Rest in peace and THANK YOU! #NeverForgetToSayThankYou #teamslugslayer #FuckCancer #photographer #laracroft #liveyourlife #liveyourdream (at Brooklyn Botanic Garden)

Thank you to so many of you who continue to send love and well wishes despite my absence and request updates when I fall silent.

I saw a post today, that inspired me to write and share, something that has not come easy in recent weeks. This beautiful young lady, Taylon, is a 12 year old girl who was diagnosed with cancer 12 months ago and despite having battled through chemo, radiation, multiple surgeries including a leg amputation and a newly found brain tumour, she has found the strength and determination to keep fighting and maintain A’s in her studies. One of her dreams came true at the #MrsCarterShow in Vegas last night, as she met #Beyonce and sang and danced with her during the show. @4ivmac, one of the beautiful souls responsible for #beygood, has requested that, if you can, you write a note to Taylon on her instagram page, using the hashtag #Luv4Taylon and she will direct it all to Taylon’s mother.

I’ve thought about what I would have said to Taylon had I met her at the show and what I should say now, given that I too have cancer. The truth is, I don’t know what to say, i don’t know what she may or may not want to hear but I can share with her what I’ve learnt on my journey… No one knows what tomorrow brings but today is a gift and what we do with it is up to us. I have always hoped that I may leave this world a little better than how I found it and inspire others to do the same and that is what you have done Taylon. It’s not easy but remember that you are not dying of cancer, you are living with cancer, so keep living, keep believing, keep smiling and #NeverForgetToSayThankYou. #Luv4Taylon #Blessed #WelcomeFellowSlugSlayer #TeamSlugSlayer #WeArePossible

You guys may not know this woman but her name is Yosra. She was a photographer for Beyoncé and traveled the world snapping pictures during her shows, but had to resign after she was diagnosed with cancer and today she unfortunately lost her battle. Rest in paradise baby girl. Heaven couldn’t wait for you 😢 #teamslugslayer #neverforgettosaythankyou

“Suck it up and roll with it (get it?!)”


There’s this misconception that cancer is the cause of many of the problems and discomforts that cancer patients endure. Of course cancer is the source but unless it is so advanced that it becomes the problem in and of itself, it’s actually (at least in my experience so far) the side effects of cancer treatment (chemo) that are the real culprits, as they affect your immunity, leaving your body unable to defend itself in the way it normally would.


I am currently having to be pushed about in a wheelchair due to some side effects I am experiencing that make it difficult to walk and I have to say, I’ve not taken to it too well, though it highlights yet another valuable lesson to be learnt.


I was an active, independent woman who always scheduled way too much running around in my day to day and until recently I have been lucky enough to escape many outward signs that I am in fact sick. I’ve continued to be a medical marvel, defying the odds and straying outside of the confines of ‘statistics’ but now, I look sick and I don’t like it, continuously insisting on walking distances I later regret, just to avoid sitting in the chair.


But as with this whole experience, I’m trying to learn the lesson that’s presenting itself to me and as I do, I realise that this is just about my ego. I feel self-conscious and I feel defeated. But it is what it is. This is not who I am, this is just where I am right now and where I am meant to be and I just have to accept it. Roll with it. Pun intended. This too shall pass. Roll on.


#RollWithIt
#ThisTooShallPass
#Acceptance
#GetOverYourEgo and
#NeverForgetToSayThankYou
#TeamSlugSlayer

I do this thing when I’m really emotional, I get extremely quiet and stare into space for hours. Tears get temporarily obstructed and my mind becomes still before a sense of clarify takes over. Then I promptly fall asleep. Last night, I was sent this video, that Beyoncé and my tour/Parkwood family made for me and I am so deeply touched by their love, that I am really struggling to find the words… so I’ll just tell you a story…

Just before I got the job as Beyoncé’s photographer, my life was a mess. For years I had been that quintessential hippie artist, determined to follow the direction of my heart, with little clue as to where it was taking me. I always thought I was meant to be a painter but then this annoying thing called photography came into my life and it just wouldn’t leave me alone, no matter how hard I tried to push it away. I grew to resent the endless hours I would voluntarily spend editing my photos in the middle of the night whilst my canvases lay dry in the corner, yet I couldn’t stop. Then one day earlier this year, when I could no longer afford to pay my rent, I decided I was done. Done fighting it. So I packed up my studio and my apartment and asked God to catch me as I surrendered to him and I gave myself until April 15th to leave New York. Meanwhile, Beyoncé was looking for a photographer for her upcoming world tour. I was asked to audition and I got the job of a lifetime. 5 days later, on April 12th we left for Europe. I was home.

Whilst on tour, my health was deteriorating but I was too busy to notice. Alarm came when I could no longer swallow and I stopped eating altogether, whilst working around the clock. Yvette, Beyoncé’s faithful publicist and my guardian angel, hadn’t seen me for a couple of weeks but when she saw me in Milan, she rushed to me, hugged me and said “I’m going to cry. You have to go to the doctor” and she arranged to send me home. Through that act of love alone, she saved my life. Then the diagnosis came and I had to accept that my time on tour was over.

Doctors said they couldn’t cure me, that they could only hope to maintain my cancer, yet 3 days ago, we found out that it has reduced by 30% in just 3 chemo cycles. Shocked and perplexed, my doctors hugged and high fived me, looking at me with confused smiles on their faces. I am the talk of the department. Of course they may put it down to my cocktail of daily drugs and yes, they certainly have a big part to play in my treatment but what I have always known in my heart is that love and acceptance has been my biggest healer. I have always had tremendous love in my life but since my diagnosis, it has reached such overwhelming heights, that even I am in disbelief. Team Slug Slayer is a movement, a collection of beautiful hearts who with no desire but to express their humanity, have lifted me beyond any illness or circumstance. Cancer is just a word, just a name given to something that needs love and I have always believed, that with the love that you, my slug slayer super crew have given me, I am healed. If I was meant to go through this, in order to show the world what the power of love can do, then I would do it again. And again.

I am so eternally grateful to all you who are healing me each and every day. We are powerful beyond our wildest imaginations.

To follow my journey, we have set up a blog www.teamslugslayer.com, where I will document my story and share with you all everything that has helped me, with the hopes that it too may inspire you to turn to love for your healing, whatever your inner slug may be.

With infinite love and gratitude,
Yosra.

You can watch the video my tour fam made for me at www.beyonce.com/news/were-with-you-yosra and on my blog.

#IWillNeverBeOKWithSeeingMyselfOnAScreen #TryingNotToCringe #ManILookedSickOnTour #JustBelieve #WeArePossible #AllYouNeedIsLove #Faith #Prayer #LoveReallyDoesConquerAll #CancerIsJustAWord #SlayYourInnerSlug #Community #Healing #TeamSlugSlayer #SlugSlayerSuperCrew #Blessed #neverforgettosaythankyou

Results are in… Not only is there NO new disease, but there is a 30% reduction in my tumour size!!! 30% with 3 rounds of chemo alone!!!! AND I’m heavier than when I started AND my hair isn’t going anywhere AND I can jump high and touch the sky. THANK YOU GOD!!! And THANK YOU #teamslugslayer!!! Don’t ever let anyone discourage you or tell you you can’t do something. WE ARE POSSIBLE!!! #loveisallyouneed #teamwork #teamslugslayer #believe #accept #faith #trust #peace #blessed #neverforgettosaythankyou

I’ve had a hard time lately, with low energy and mood following my time in hospital. I’ve always lived a fast paced life and getting used to the slower pace I am now forced to live has not come without it’s challenges. But what has been most difficult for me, is my lack of creativity and the subsequent lack of motivation to create. But this week, my soul has been lifted because my Mrs Carter Tour family have been in London and I’ve been reminded of who I am and what drives me.

Last night I vowed to only shoot a little bit because my stomach was cramping and causing me pain, yet when I held my cameras in my hands, I forgot my pain, focussing only on the beauty I saw through my lens. I was home.

Today I am emotional and thankful to beyonce and my whole tour family, for boosting my spirit and reminding me of the passion that lies within me, even on those tired and sad days. That my creativity is my power, my peace and my happiness.

#soblessed #thankful #neverforgettosaythankyou #beyonce #mrscartershow #teamslugslayer

Before this last year, I had always had a huge, unique mane of tight, corkscrew hair. Though I often craved a radical change, it felt like such a big part of my identity that I could never quite grant myself such a departure from the familiar. But being an impulsive and adventurous person in general, looking back I think it odd that I wasn’t more adventurous with my hair. I suppose it was just so ‘big’ and seemingly took so long to grow, that taking that risk and it failing would entail years of recovery. So I didn’t. Fear won and my hair remained so 'interesting’ it became boring.

Now, enter the probability that you may lose it all… Suddenly that fear becomes a reality and you realise that it’s the fear of something that gives it power, not the thing itself. Suddenly, you are free and whether it paid off or not is irrelevant because your life just got better for trying.

#LessonsForASlugSlayer
#AreYouAliveOrAreYouJustLiving?
#NeverHadSoMuchHairFunInMyLife
#DontWait
#WhenDidIStartTakingSelfies?
#WhatevsImHavingFun
#ItsJustHair
#ItsJustNotThatDeep
#WhatWouldYouDoIfYouWerentScared?
#DoWhatYouMostFear
#JumpAndTheNetWillAppear
and most importantly
#NeverForgetToSayThankYou

#TeamSlugSlayer

“Now Sossa if you don’t like him, we can send him back. What do you think, shall we keep him?”


My dad relishes in re-telling this story, about the first time I saw my brother Belal, as my parents brought him home from the hospital. I was 3 years old and daddy’s little girl and I didn’t want someone to take my place but as he held me in his arms, I contemplated his proposal, paused for a moment and pushed him away, lunging towards my baby with open arms. “He’s mine” I said.


As a child, Belal was my shadow and I was fiercely protective over him. He went everywhere that I went and following my parents’ divorce, we grew even closer. Then one day he became this man, no longer timid but charismatic and confident. Though creative, he went down the practical/responsible route and became a doctor and an avid traveller, traveled the world at every opportunity. And now he takes care of me.


When I got diagnosed with cancer last June, Belal quit his job without hesitation and there was nothing I could say that would convince him to do otherwise. 9 months later, he has been to every clinic appointment, he has sat with me beyond visitation hours in the hospital, he organizes all my medical appointments, he prepares my medications, he cooks for me, he cleans the house, he even does my laundry. Quite simply, my little brother has sacrificed his own life and plans, in order to make mine better and though he insists that that is what anyone in his position would do, he fails to realize just how incredibly rare and special he truly is. That’s why we call him “super bro” and why he is my life’s biggest blessing.


#happybirthday #AllGrownUp #RareBeing #MyHero #SuperBro #love #neverforgettosaythankyou #teamslugslayer

Tomorrow morning, Wednesday September 18th is a big day, our first milestone since chemo began, where we will discover how my body is responding to my treatment. As someone with stage 4 cancer, statistically the doctors do not expect to cure me but hope that with continued treatment, they may alleviate my symptoms and prolong my life. However, what they don’t take into account is that your physical being only makes up a fraction of your health, in that your state of mind, both mentally and emotionally, are what truly determine your wealth.

At around 8:30pm on Sunday just gone, we held a multi faith prayer circle, the coming together of friends from different cultures and backgrounds, in person, on skype and around the world, to ask for my healing. We gathered together, held hands and we prayed and as the sounds of tears filled the room, I felt free, free from anxiety and fear, as I realized that through love alone, I am already healing, regardless of what tomorrow brings.

To everyone on #teamslugslayer, you are my greatest gift.

I will upload my prayer and video soon.

#allyouneedislove #healing #blessed #prayer #GodIsGreat #bestfriends #gift #slugslayersupercrew #teamslugslayer #neverforgettosaythankyou

Chemo 6 went down yesterday after an unexpected, perhaps even miraculous turn of events…

I was meant to have chemo last week but once again, my neutrophils (component of white blood cells responsible for immunity) were too low. A usual reading for neutrophils in a healthy person is above 3 and the minimum required for chemo to go ahead is 1.5 but on tues 3rd dec my counts were 0.7, lower than they have ever been. Of course I was disappointed but accepted that it just is the way it is, continued with my alternative therapies and started planning another trip while my counts came up, which the doctors expected would take a couple of weeks. Super Bro however, decided to take my bloods on sat dec 7th, to ensure my counts weren’t dropping further (because any further and it would be too dangerous to travel abroad) and totally unexpectedly, only 4 days later, my neutrophils were 1.5!!!! This test was repeated the following tues dec 10th and… wait for it… they were 1.9, the highest they’ve ever been!! From the all time lowest to the all time highest in just a week! Proof that there are NO RULES, WE ARE NOT STATISTICS and ANYTHING is POSSIBLE. WE are possible, just BELIEVE.

On top of that, I’ve also gained another kg in the last month, a very positive and again, unexpected result. My Dietician hugs me every time, shocked that my weight gain is with food alone and no nutritional supplements. All praises due to the almighty. God is a goody and for that, no matter what happens, I #NeverForgetToSayThankYou.

#WeArePossible #LetsGoChemo6 #GodIsGood #blessed #believe #Love #faith #IAmNotAStatistic #DefyingTheOddsIsAwesome #Superbro #SlayYourSlug #TeamSlugSlayer

Great news, my white blood cell counts are up and almost 7 weeks since my last cycle, round 4 chemo is finally about to go dowwwn. Time to love this slug back to health. We got some catchin up to do! Let’s GO!

THANK YOU ALL for your prayers, love and support. I can’t write back to you all but know how beautiful all you slug slayers are to me. There are so many of you that I’ve never even met, reinforcing the beauty that I’ve always believed the human race to possess. If only i could share you with every other person in this room and beyond having chemo…

#wearepossible #spreadthemessage #poweroflove #powerofprayer #community #teamwork #roughwiththesmoothe #easeafterhardship #letgoletGod, go on holiday and get a tan while you’re at it. #blessed #neverforgettosaythankyou #teamslugslayer #slugslayersupercrew

Round 3 chemo was Friday just gone and this round’s fight is dedicated to the safe and healthy arrival of my beautiful nephew Damien, his new mama/my sister @orlysandelowsky and his new papa/my brother @jaredweinryt. He was face timed in to chemo and beamed his first smile for me (or a big poo). Round 3 has come quickly with little respite from round 2 which was riddled with a few physical discomforts/side effects which to be honest, the worst of which were no more awful than what the average pregnant woman/woman who has just given birth has to endure. I say this to remind us that the incidence of pregnancy/birth is not THAT much more common than cancer these days and of course not trying to liken the two, both are everyday fights yet the former are unsung daily heroes, devoting their bodies selflessly to bearing new life.

I go into chemo every 3 weeks and witness people go through their treatment alone, whilst I have visitors waiting outside and an army of support from such beautiful people around me, many of whom I know but many of whom I don’t and whilst it makes my heart swell to witness such everyday kindness and beauty of humanity, it does break my heart to see so many going through so much more hardship than I, alone. So if this post can remind even just a few of us to remember people suffering behind closed doors or under the guise of the everyday, I will feel better about my own. #unsungheroes #remember #dailysuffering #pregnancy #birth #illness #war #poverty #countyourblessings #eyeswideopen #teamslugslayer #slugslayersupercrew #neverforgettosaythankyou (at where we’re meant to be)