Dr. Fabianna Marie

@drfab | contributor
I am a 15 year Triple Negative Metastatic Breast Cancer Fighter. I have turned my journey into a way to help others. I am a Naturopathic Doctor specializing in BioPhenotpye practice. I am the CEO of Fabulously Fighting, a company that puts education, empathy, and honesty at the forefront of it's mission.
Dr. Fabianna Marie

Photos Shows the Reality of Life With Chronic Illness

Truth be told, sometimes the hardest lessons to learn are the ones your spirit needs the most. These two pictures are 48 hours apart. That’s how quickly life can change. That is how quickly life with cancer and invisible illness can change. At the beginning of the week, I posted a video explaining the chemotherapy I had been on was no longer working. The tumor on my brain has grown and stopped responding to treatment. I woke up that morning, put on a full face of makeup and a cute pair of jeans, and headed into a “normal” scan appointment. Within six hours I was home after undergoing a new course of invasive direct tumor chemotherapy. My bright eyes and pink skin turned grey and pale within hours. My spirit was shaken and my soul was grieving to turn back the clock back 48 hours. Dressed to the nines, holding my glass of champagne by the water, without fearing cancer test results. I wanted to go back in time. But sometimes the future changes quickly. And we are left with only one choice…. what to do next. We can choose to be afraid of it, assuming the worst. Or we can step forward into the unknown and assume it will be fabulous. Knowing there is one constant in life and that is change. We can try and resist, we can try and turn back the clock and cling to yesterday. Or we can lean into faith knowing that our stories have a purpose. I choose to share my story to help demystify cancer, autoimmune and even life. This week I had to look at life’s lessons and let go. I had to allow life’s lessons to strengthen my soul, my virtues and my beliefs. Freeing myself from the past I cannot change or go back to. Looking ahead and focusing on just one step at a time. Recognizing I don’t need to conquer the entire mountain right now. I will continue to wade in the discomfort of the unknown with vulnerability and truth. I will be brave and face my fears so they don’t become my limits. A diagnosis doesn’t come with an instruction booklet. No one tells you how to handle or manage your days. Most days we push through the pain, the exhaustion, the fatigue, the brain fog, the fear and mountains of guilt. In the blink of an eye our life can change because of our disease. Our goals, dreams and priorities are forced to take a different turn. So we become grateful for the little things and worry less about the big things. We leave behind the history of yesterday and determine how we will use today’s energy. This is life with chronic illness.

Community Voices

Stop Fighting your Body

Being sick sucks, there I said it. There are times I don’t handle being sick well.  My way of coping is so hide how sick and tired I am of being sick and tired.   When you have a chronic condition or for me, many chronic conditions, you don’t want to be that person. You don’t want to be thought of as “The sick person” I don’t want to be pitied or placated. I want to be “normal”

Three months I have been dealing with vertigo, sinus infections, and lethargy.  I have been working through the symptoms, continuing the pace of “healthy” me, and ignoring how tired I really am.

Two weeks ago I was put on medication for a sinus infection, with no relief of my symptoms I waited it out. The vertigo continued, I walked around in a fog, and was still hopeful I would wake up and miraculously I would feel better.

Three days ago I started with a low grade fever, which did get my attention. My first thought was, how in the world did I contract COVID?   Every few hours I was rechecking my temperature. I was googling the signs and symptoms of which I only had the low grade fever.  I was ignoring that I was still taking Sudafed, Tylenol, and mondo doses of Meclizine, to combat the sinus pressure, ears full of fluid, the butterfly rash across my cheeks, many bouts with vertigo throughout the day, and the complete lack of energy.

Today however I could no longer ignore the symptoms and called the doctor.  As COVID is rampant and my immune system is trash they did all they could so I wouldn’t have to be seen but there was no  other choice.  An hour drive to the Urgent Care where the doctor who knows me and my case met us.  Triaged over the phone and assessed in the parking lot with masks on, other than looking up my nose and into my throat.  Everything ran through my head. What if I have to be admitted? What if I have COVID? What if, What if, What if?  After the examination she knew exactly what was happening.  I am having a bad lupus flare and along with that the Ménière’s disease is also having a flare. My body is actually fighting itself.  She explained why the antibiotic didn’t work and explained why I needed to be put on a steroid. I have had lupus for over 15 years, I have refused steroids for many of those years.  But today I understood and felt ok with using this tool to hopefully feel better. Her last words to me where, “Stop fighting your body, listen to what it needs.” And while I hated to hear that I need to be on steroids, and bed rest, and really take care of myself. I know she is right.

I’m sure many will ask why I hate to admit that I need to take care of myself or take it easy, or even have a few days of bed rest. The truth is, because I am admitting I am chronically sick. And being chronically ill means by body always feels like it is trapped. I feel like a prisoner in my own body, all day everyday. From cancer to lupus to Meniere’s diseases- I am always trapped in THIS body like a prisoner behind bars.  Only I didn’t do the crime for this time spent. I will never be free from this body that holds me captive to these diseases.

I don’t often explain or complain about the deep dark things that keep me awake at night.  But chronic disease can take their toll on a person and today I am feeling that toll.   I am feeling that pain within my body, mind and soul.  Most days I accept the reality of living with my illness, I adapt to my limitations. Most Days….But not today.

Today I am grieving the person I should be. Today I want to give up. But I won’t because most days I am stronger than I am today. And that’s ok, because tomorrow is a new day.

Tomorrow I will choose to be stronger, knowing that tough situations don’t last, but tough people do.

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Community Voices

I'm scared, How bout you?

I’m scared. Yes I said it. I am scared. Not for the reasons most are thinking. Which I am sure is health concerns. Is this health crisis scary? Absolutely. Is it the main reason I am scared? NO. I have watched  the internet, news and media reek havoc on our world. Remember the game telephone? That is what I am watching…. One person whispers something to the next and down the line it goes until the sentence that was first said, is no longer the sentence is was intended to be.  A horrible game of telephone is being played with our lives from “Supposed” credible sources. Who do you listen to? Who do you trust? what is this showing our children?  We are failing as a Nation to LISTEN!!!! This is why I am scared.

Today I had to put my hand over my own heart, to feel it beating, to listen in complete silence of the purpose that it holds.   I am a strong believer that there is a spiritual purpose behind everything, whether it be good or bad. Well, here we all are, staring down the barrel of divine intervention.

What is the purpose of this major shift?  To slow us down and reevaluate our life?  Is this a reminder that we are all connected no matter who we are or where we come from?  Is our beating hearts reminding us of how precious life really is?  I believe it is all of it. I believe we are standing in front of a mirror and it is reflecting all of this.  As a collective Nation we are fixers and doers, but as a community we look deeply into the flaws instead of exploring the potential. Instead of practicing patience we inflict panic. We fail to remember we are divinely made beings with unlimited possibilities.

This isn’t the first crisis we have seen or been witness to.  So why is the universe yet again showing us the signs that something is wrong?  Are we a nation of insanity. Because the definition of insanity is to repeat the same mistakes hoping for a better outcome.  There will be no better outcome unless the lessons we learn now, stay with us.  We forget when we are going 1000 miles an hour trying to be the best, that life is a precious gift and none of us are immune to a disaster.

cancer by definition is, “a disease caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of the body.”  For those of you who don’t have cancer….. This is now your cancer. We are ALL living in an uncontrolled division of abnormal circumstance.  But this cancer can be fixed. This cancer can be controlled if we LISTEN and come together as a community.  We MUST put in the work NOW, to look after each other and benefit from each and everyones strengths and abilities. This doesn’t have to be how our story is written in the history books. We get to write it with the heart that beats in everyones chest. The heart of a Nation that is strong and resilient. I want to be a part in that story. How about you?

Dr. Fabianna Marie

Why Reaching Out Is Important When Depression Leaves You Feeling Stuck

The overwhelming feeling of the winter blues is in full-force. Some may even say it’s seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Over the past few months, I have pulled way back from social media, from my writing and from the social scene. I know it may not seem it to those who follow me, but I have been struggling in a major way. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I have been depressed, lethargic, angry at times, moody, tired and an emotional mess. Yes, I have cancer and continue to take daily chemo. Yes, I have lupus, and my flares have been extremely tiring. But it has been more than that. I don’t want to get out of bed, I don’t want to be social, I don’t want to write and share my feelings, I don’t want to be judged for my social media presence. I just don’t. Well now that that’s off my chest, let’s chat about how I want to fix this and recognize there is a problem and I know I am not alone. I have always said I love living in New England. The change of the seasons, the beautiful landscapes, the temperature change. Everyone has been commenting on the mild winter we have experienced, and they are right. But the lack of sunshine and exorbitant amount of gloomy days has this gal spinning like a hamster in its wheel. The same gloominess and lack of energy day in and day out , the same mundane schedule, the same grey skies and political who-ha (yes, I am now making up words) plastered all over the news. How do we pull ourselves out of this funk and get off the hamster wheel? Maybe it’s knowing we are not alone, maybe it’s recognizing the problem and asking for help, maybe it’s both. As I have struggled, I also have taken inventory of my emotions and the “whys.” Why am I feeling this way? Why am I struggling to share my feelings? Why is the sky grey and no longer blue? (Sounds like a bad country song.) The answer has been right in front of me and I failed to accept I was burnt out. Completely and utterly burnt out! In the past five years of running Fabulously Fighting, I have created over 750 website posts. From articles, to recipes, to interviews and so much more. 750!  That is a lot of work, time, effort and emotional expenditure. The problem began when I would look at my weekly numbers and feel discouraged. I would look at the stats of followers and beat myself up over the low following. I played a bad game with myself worrying about who I was touching and making a difference. Instead of allowing myself to be completely enthralled with loving my work and let the rest fall into place, I belittled myself because of a silly graph of demographics and numbers. I completely lost sight of the big picture. Just as I have lost sight of the big picture when it comes to SAD. Depression is tough, even on those of us who have multiple ailments. When you struggle daily, it’s hard to put into words the feelings that come along with depression and sadness. But we must recognize everything alive blooms again. That includes us. We may have hibernated for a while, but we are just about to blossom again. Shed the old and renew ourselves with a better outlook. Life is all about transformation, sometimes we just get caught on the wheel a little too long. Listen, I am not saying this will be a light switch and everything old will be new again. It takes a while for the trees and flowers to bloom, just as it takes time to recognize when we have been spinning on our wheel for way too long. I wish I had a magic wand to wave around and make the world a bit less scary. To end world hunger, to find a cure for cancer, to heal the sick and wrap you in a blanket of peace. But all I can do is understand and tell you, you are not alone. None of us are. We just have to make that first step in asking for help and accept the gift of friendship. Knowing we are worthy of the love we so freely give to others. My first step was speaking to a few friends the past few days, who get it and understand. Step two was writing this article and dusting off my typing fingers. The next step is to accept where I am, continue to have conversations with people who lift me up and return to running Fabulously Fighting with the love, honesty and integrity it was built on. So, my Fabulous Fighters, do something different today, think something different today, get off the hamster wheel and push back on life a little. Stretch yourself and allow others to help. We truly are in this together.

Community Voices

Today I find out I have cancer

So, today I find out I have cancer. I'm not sure how to feel. I'm sad, mad, frustrated, tired...but I chose to be grateful! I am grateful it was found. I am grateful I have great Doctors. I am grateful I have a wonderful family. I'm giving this to God. I know, somehow I will be ok!
#Cancer

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Community Voices

You have an hour of free time! ⏱ How do you spend it?

<p>You have an hour of free time! ⏱ How do you spend it?</p>
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Dr. Fabianna Marie

This Is Why I’m Not a ‘Conventional’ Breast Cancer Patient

I often get comments from people about how I choose to live my life while battling cancer. Some ask, how I do it all? Some make comments about living my life to the fullest and taking chances, some even make snide comments here and there about burning the candle at both ends, and that I don’t conventionally live as a cancer patient. Honesty I don’t even know what to say about that because the question becomes, how is a cancer patient supposed to live her life? Am I supposed to look and act a certain way to have the label of “cancer patient?” Here is my take on life and I how I choose to live it. “A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.”  To continue to grow and transform as a person, I choose to live outside of my comfort zone. I truly believe this is what keeps me alive — and not just alive, but thriving. I choose to not let fear control me; I choose to say “yes” to things that push the envelope of excitement and flood my belly with butterflies. To live in the moments of life that push the envelope of my talents and even my weaknesses. For so long, I put my happiness on hold because I let fear and cancer control me. It wasn’t until I let go of the need to control every bit of my life, wanting to live to another day, instead of living for today. I found my inner lion and took control over living in moment to moment joy. I took the leap of faith believing in myself and the unstoppable force of thriving. I no longer put myself in a “cancer box.” I decided to unwrap the joys of living. Knowing at the end of it all I will have no regrets for the chances I took, the people I met, the friendships I made and the memories I have. Am I a “conventional” cancer patient? I am for me, and that’s all that matters. So let me give some advice before you tell others how they “should” act, look, or behave… No one in this world is pure and perfect, yet we judge and form opinions as if we are. Casting your judgment on their decisions or lives will leave you alone in this world. So how about we judge less and live more? The words you speak can hurt, heal, motivate, inspire and even change the world. Never forget the responsibility you have over those words you speak and the opinions you form. We are all living life our own way; there is no road map or perfect way. I choose to live outside my comfort zone, and whether I am here for two more days, two more years or two more decades, I know I will have no regrets. So, my Fabulous Fighters, live your life for you.  Like the saying goes, “Do you, Boo.” Follow this journey on Fabulously Fighting.

Community Voices

The Dark side of living in pain

This week for lack of a better word, SUCKED! A few months back I started with a lupus flare, and was able to work through most of the pain. I was able to keep it at bay with diet, supplements, ayurvedic practice, and healing oils. This week, however my body had a mind of its own and decided to really give me a run for my money. In fact I was on the phone with my doctor more than once asking questions, frighteningly wondering how to get through this and if these symptoms where more than just a flare. I was having almost complete paralysis in my right arm and hand. Swelling in my feet and legs along with sheer agony of stepping on glass every time I walked. This is the picture of a flare. While this is not a pretty picture this is the look inside my life. More often than not I choose to post the lighter side of living with an autoimmune disease and cancer. But tonight I am choosing to open up about the darker side of my illness.  Not because I don’t believe in Fabulously Fighting , but choosing to be open about how this affects my daily life.

I want to be open about the dark thoughts that come along with bearing an illness for so long.  Over 14 years of fighting these diseases and the symptoms that come along with them.  I have learned to have the dark thoughts is normal, how can in not be?  To stay in the dark place and unpack, is not.

The mental part of this disease can take its toll. Can make you go to that place and make it very difficult to hurdle over.  This week was a hurdle, a boulder,  a freaking mountain that I just couldn’t seem to clime over.   I’ve cried, I’ve been angry and yes I went to that very dark place.  I allowed myself to stay there and ponder the after life, ponder living in no pain, ponder what my life would be like without this ginormous daily health hurdle.

I found myself  throwing my hands in the air and putting it in Gods hands.  Asking and praying for him to bear the weight of this pain and take it away.  It became a game of bargaining with God- and I know you know what I mean- But we all know that is not how life or God works.  I did however pray more often, read from the scriptures, and lean into my faith.  It did not take the pain away but it did shower me with a calmness I needed and realigned my thoughts, which put me in a better headspace to handle the pain.

Living with these diseases is scary, but the fear of not living at all, is scarier. So I remind myself of the good days, relish in the support of my amazing family & friends, and wrap myself in the comfort of the love I feel from so many.

Fabulously Fighting is a mind set and somedays I forget that. Somedays I forget choosing to be authentic and honest about the pain is still considered Fabulously Fighting.

I want you all to know it’s ok to feel these feelings of disparity and question how you move forward.  Sometimes the pain can take your breath away and make you go to that deep dark place.  My hope  is that you know we are all here to lift you up from the depths of darkness. We are in this together. I hope by sharing my very vulnerable  emotions, this will help someone.

So tonight as I end this article I want to leave you with these thoughts; it is during times of trouble and dispair you will be strengthened, not weakened. We often believe that when the rush of overwhelming negative emotions wash over us, we are weak. When in fact life’s trials will make us stronger. How we choose to look at the situation will be the outcome. But it is your choice. And I don’t know about you, but I want to believe and I choose to believe that my struggles have a purpose. We all have a purpose and are worthy of life’s greatest moments.

Wrapping you in Fabulous Love and Light,

xoxo-Fab

2 people are talking about this
Community Voices

The Dark side of living in pain

This week for lack of a better word, SUCKED! A few months back I started with a lupus flare, and was able to work through most of the pain. I was able to keep it at bay with diet, supplements, ayurvedic practice, and healing oils. This week, however my body had a mind of its own and decided to really give me a run for my money. In fact I was on the phone with my doctor more than once asking questions, frighteningly wondering how to get through this and if these symptoms where more than just a flare. I was having almost complete paralysis in my right arm and hand. Swelling in my feet and legs along with sheer agony of stepping on glass every time I walked. This is the picture of a flare. While this is not a pretty picture this is the look inside my life. More often than not I choose to post the lighter side of living with an autoimmune disease and cancer. But tonight I am choosing to open up about the darker side of my illness.  Not because I don’t believe in Fabulously Fighting , but choosing to be open about how this affects my daily life.

I want to be open about the dark thoughts that come along with bearing an illness for so long.  Over 14 years of fighting these diseases and the symptoms that come along with them.  I have learned to have the dark thoughts is normal, how can in not be?  To stay in the dark place and unpack, is not.

The mental part of this disease can take its toll. Can make you go to that place and make it very difficult to hurdle over.  This week was a hurdle, a boulder,  a freaking mountain that I just couldn’t seem to clime over.   I’ve cried, I’ve been angry and yes I went to that very dark place.  I allowed myself to stay there and ponder the after life, ponder living in no pain, ponder what my life would be like without this ginormous daily health hurdle.

I found myself  throwing my hands in the air and putting it in Gods hands.  Asking and praying for him to bear the weight of this pain and take it away.  It became a game of bargaining with God- and I know you know what I mean- But we all know that is not how life or God works.  I did however pray more often, read from the scriptures, and lean into my faith.  It did not take the pain away but it did shower me with a calmness I needed and realigned my thoughts, which put me in a better headspace to handle the pain.

Living with these diseases is scary, but the fear of not living at all, is scarier. So I remind myself of the good days, relish in the support of my amazing family & friends, and wrap myself in the comfort of the love I feel from so many.

Fabulously Fighting is a mind set and somedays I forget that. Somedays I forget choosing to be authentic and honest about the pain is still considered Fabulously Fighting.

I want you all to know it’s ok to feel these feelings of disparity and question how you move forward.  Sometimes the pain can take your breath away and make you go to that deep dark place.  My hope  is that you know we are all here to lift you up from the depths of darkness. We are in this together. I hope by sharing my very vulnerable  emotions, this will help someone.

So tonight as I end this article I want to leave you with these thoughts; it is during times of trouble and dispair you will be strengthened, not weakened. We often believe that when the rush of overwhelming negative emotions wash over us, we are weak. When in fact life’s trials will make us stronger. How we choose to look at the situation will be the outcome. But it is your choice. And I don’t know about you, but I want to believe and I choose to believe that my struggles have a purpose. We all have a purpose and are worthy of life’s greatest moments.

Wrapping you in Fabulous Love and Light,

xoxo-Fab

2 people are talking about this
Dr. Fabianna Marie

Fighting Cancer and Time

No matter how hard we try, we can’t stop time. We can’t go back and change the past and we can’t skip forward and try and change the future. So we are destined to live in the moment. The here and now. Unfortunately, at some point we all wish to go back or to move ahead in order to change circumstances. This week I have fought time, I have fought fate and continue to fight cancer. I have prayed for the minutes to move quicker wishing the pain to go away. I have silently asked God to take me back in time and change my diagnosis. I have even pleaded for more minutes to be able to spend with my family. The push and pull for time is fickle. Some days I am wishing the minutes away and some days I want more of them. Cancer is a sneaky bastard. Cancer makes you analyze and re-analyze your life — past, present and future. It forces you to think about time. It tries to steal seconds, minutes, hours and sometimes your whole world. “Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.”– Harvey MacKay What I’ve had to learn is time gives before it takes, so every moment is truly a gift. It is a choice, my choice how I live those minutes. I can live those minutes wanting more, or live in the moments just as they are. Truly appreciating the time I share with loved ones and truly appreciating the time I am given here on earth. I have learned that time is not my enemy; it is a mirror I look into every day. Every line on my face is caused by the laughter I have been privileged enough to abundantly have. Every hair on my head is from the growth that time has allowed. Every sparkle in my eye is from the many moments of joy I have been blessed by. You see, my beautiful friends, we choose how we spend, share and think about time. Every clock tic is a moment you will never get back. Enjoy it, share it with others and bask in the seconds that turn to hours, to years, to a life time of cherished memories. “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”– Henry David Thoreau