A LOOK INSIDE ST. JUDE WITH CANCER SURVIVOR JO MEAGAN GARNER

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At this point, in 2018, we’ve all known someone who’s been diagnosed with cancer or even experienced it ourselves. Cancer is, unfortunately, a common word in today’s society. But what gives us hope about the future is knowing that there are people in our world who are working tirelessly to find a cure for this disease.

Meet Jo Meagan.

Jo (as I like to call her) and I grew up together in our small hometown of Huntingdon, Tennessee, but didn’t become fast friends until high school when, she claims, I complimented her on her makeup in Yearbook class. The compliment must have worked, because we quickly developed a tight-knit friendship that withstood me moving to college while she finished out her senior year. Even though there was now a new distance between our friendship, we’d hang out on weekends and over holiday breaks.

But then my sophomore year rolled around with some unusual news.

Jo called one night and shared with me that she had been diagnosed with cancer.

How, at age 18, could someone be diagnosed with cancer? It was such an uncommon phrase to hear an 18-year old utter. College years were about staying up until 3am, meeting new friends, and dealing with homesickness... not trying to figure out how to fight cancer.

But, thanks to St. Jude, Jo fought hard and won.

Because of the St. Jude Marathon quickly approaching, I reached out to Jo Meagan to see if she would mind sharing a little bit of insider’s scoop about St. Jude and her experience there, and she graciously said yes.

Read more about Jo Meagan and St. Jude below:

  1. Tell me a little bit about what brought you to St.Jude. At 18 in my first semester of college, I dealt with Mono-like symptoms and treatment for months before getting a lymph-node biopsy done. I was then diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, and my family chose to pursue treatment at St. Jude.

  2. What was the environment like? With a lot of heavy hearts from families, I just remember there still being so much activity. Kids riding down colorful hallways on tricycles and parents pulling more along in wagons. There was just a general sense of comradery that everyone was there to fight.

  3. How did you feel when you entered St. Jude? I was initially overwhelmed, but it quickly felt like family. I had a nurse, medical oncologist and radiation oncologist that I saw every visit and thoroughly explained my plan and everything along the way. They gave me hope from the very beginning and have continued to encourage me throughout school and my career to this day.

  4. Can you tell us about the process + experience of being a patient at St. Jude? Did you stay there 24/7, go a few times a week, etc, and what did receiving chemo look like there? My treatment regimen was over 6 months, with 5 months of weekly chemo and 1 month of daily radiation. During my months of chemo, I was able to maintain a pretty normal life going to college part-time and staying at what was the St. Jude Grizzlies House once a week. During the month long radiation, I stayed at the St. Jude Target House and went home on weekends. Any costs for treatment not covered by insurance, travel, and housing was fully provided for by St. Jude. I maintained annual check-ups for 10 years, and I am now a volunteer for the St. Jude Life program where they research childhood cancer survivors with follow-ups every 5 years.

  5. How has surviving cancer + being a part of St. Jude changed your life? My diagnosis and time at St. Jude completely redirected my life at that time and still motivates me today. When I completed therapy and returned to college, I changed my major from Finance to Biochemistry to pursue a career in cancer research. I was able to go onto get a PhD in Cancer Biology from the University of Tennessee while doing research at the very place that saved my life. To see first hand the every day passion and advances made toward increasing survival rates for childhood cancer is really indescribable. Thankfully I have been able to maintain my ties, and I now work for an Oncology pharmaceutical company collaborating closely with doctors at St. Jude on clinical trials for pediatric solid tumors. To this day every time I walk through those doors there's an overwhelming feeling of gratitude and a humbling reminder of why I do what I do.

  6. What are the biggest things you wish you could tell people about St. Jude? Being a part of St. Jude as a patient as well as a scientist has truly been a blessing. They are at the front line of the newest and best therapies for their patients, and the research being done is unmatched. In such a trying time for families, they really do go above and beyond to remove as much stress as possible whether that be financial or other support.


I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about Jo and her courageous fight and how she continues to change lives because of her experience.

If you feel inclined to support to St.Jude to help fight off childhood cancer, I’ve listed several ways below!

Donate directly to St.Jude through a hero who’s running the race! I’ve listed my Mom’s account where ALL donations go directly to St.Jude:

Purchase a St.Jude shirt I hand-lettered to help raise money for the St.Jude Marathon! (limited sizes available!)

Don’t have money to donate right now? Sign up for our “Love Runs the World” St.Jude event on Facebook to help cheer on those running on race day!

A big THANK YOU to Jo Meagan for this interview, and a big THANK YOU to those who are supporting St.Jude in whatever way you can.

With love,

Rosemary

A WEEK IN LONDON

Just a few days ago I landed safely back here in Nashville after a week across the pond. To say that London was a huge source of inspiration for me is an understatement. From the people, to the sites, stores, and restaurants, each had an expressive style all their own and I fell in love with their uniqueness.

It seemed like a daunting feat to try and get a taste of the city in a week when I booked my trip, but luckily for me I was visiting my friend Hillari who moved to England two years ago so she knew all the ways to squeeze in as much of the city in 7 days as possible.

With that being said, here are my top sites, stops, and stores for a week in London:

1) AFTERNOON TEA AT SKETCH
**reservations recommended**
Sketch is a restaurant located in the Mayfair area of London. With a simple exterior, the outside of the building is much more reserved than the interior. Once you enter inside, you're greeted by a staircase covered in dripping pink paint, and art exhibits adorn the walls. Once you've passed the staircase, you enter into a room filled with a variety of greens and blues. Music plays softly in the background as you pass by velvet curtains to enter the Gallery Room in the back. The Gallery Room is covered in a palette of soft pinks and filled with hundreds of black and white illustrations that cover the walls like wallpaper. The chairs are a matching pink velour that coordinates with the wall color.

The afternoon tea comes with a complimentary caviar tasting and a tray filled to the brim of miniature sandwiches and colorful desserts. The tea is presented in a teapot labeled "ghosts" with the sugar cubes in an "its gonna be okay" bowl and the tea cups with a "forget about it" message at the bottom. These little sayings along with the illustrations on the wall made the room definitely feel a little more light-hearted.

To me the most important stop at Sketch is the restrooms (or as they say in London, "toilets"). Once you walk through the back door, you're greeted with two white staircases. The one on the left is lit by small blue lights, representing the men's staircase. The right, red. As you walk up the stairs, you start to get a peek of the colorful rainbow tiles that fill the ceiling and seconds later, the egg pods. These are actually the toilets, and they are quite the experience.

Be sure to not forget to take a bathroom selfie while you're there so people will believe you when you tell them you went to an egg-shaped toilet.

2) ALICE'S ADVENTURES UNDERGROUND
**reservations recommended**
We actually stumbled across this experience when my friend Kristen mentioned the ad in the tube and thought it would be a fun source of entertainment our last night in London. When I say we had no idea what to expect, we literally had NO clue.

Alice's Adventures Underground is located in a somewhat hidden spot at the end of a street in Waterloo. Once you enter the main doors, you're greeted with the most whimsical, floral illustrations that adorn the walls. You can purchase tickets here, as well as eat dinner, have a few drinks, and play croquet with the flamingos. There's even a photo booth to snap a few pics in if you'd like.

When it's time for your showing, you and your group will enter through to an extraordinary land. The front room is filled with antiques, photos, and oddities and you might notice a rather eery music playing. There's definitely a sense of anticipation in this room because you know that something's going to happen, but you don't know what...

There's a rule that no photography or videography is allowed in Alice's Adventures, and even though I wish I could show you pictures of the detailed, colorful sets, it's something you must see for yourself! The talented actors + actresses do an incredible job of telling the story of Alice, and the plot twists make the story even more exciting. It's a must-do if you're brave enough to try something totally unexpected.

3) BIG BUS TOUR
The Big Bus Tour is the perfect way to get to see a great amount of the city without wearing yourself out. There are multiple ticket options, but it pays to get the premium ticket which is about £43. The premium ticket is a 48-hour tour which allows you to travel around London on the river cruise and the night tour, so you can see the city in all of its lit-up glory (which is breathtaking!).

4) A WALK IN WINDSOR
Windsor is about an hour train ride from London. Not only does Windsor welcome you with a glorious view of the the Windsor Castle, but it has plenty of castle-themed stores wrapped around its surrounding streets. From fudge shops, to restaurants, to small boutiques, there's plenty for everyone! One of our favorite things was the Funkywood restaurant and the mile-long walk right outside the castle's gate. (Shhh- I've heard that the Queen occasionally joins in for a stroll down the walk.)

5) A DAY IN BRIGHTON
For all of the free-spirited travelers, this little sunshine city is for you. Brighton is about an hour and a half train ride from London. As soon as you enter the city, you get an idea of its authenticity- the people are very eclectic and the stores are too. If you're interested in bringing home unique souvenirs, I highly suggest shopping in Brighton. There are vintage stores galore, clothing stores, and even tattoo parlors if you're wanting a permanent piece of memorabilia.

About a mile from the train station is the Brighton Pier. The Brighton Pier has everything from an arcade and ice cream shop to a small amusement park at the end of the pier. And if you're hungry, be sure to stop in at the restaurant for a great serving of fish 'n chips.

Don't forget to dip your toes into the water before you head back to London!
 

6) SHOPPING IN SOHO
Soho is the perfect place for shopping high-end fashion. From Burberry to Coach and Anthropologie, they've got it all. The streets are lined with all of these incredible stores, along with some great pubs for a quick drink or food, too. If you have time, be sure to walk over to Chinatown and hit up Hamley's Toystore on your way- it's filled with toys for all ages!

7) AN ENGLISH BREAKFAST
If I'm honest I had never even heard of an English Breakfast until about two weeks before my trip. For those of you who haven't had the chance to try one, the majority of them include bacon, sausage, eggs, tomatoes, baked beans, black pudding, and mushrooms. Before we headed out on a day's adventures, we stopped in at Plum + Spilt Milk for breakfast. Although I opted for their advocado toast (I just couldn't turn down the avocado!), there were definitely elements of the English Breakfast - eggs, sausage, and tomatoes. My friend ordered the English Breakfast, so I enjoyed seeing how it was presented. 

8) DINNER AT WAHACA + DESSERT AT SNOGS IN SOUTHBANK
Southbank was the first place that we went to when we arrived in London because of its many attractions (markets, London Eye, views of Big Ben, etc), and we went back a few times. Nested in its own corner in Southbank is Wahaca, a Mexican-inspired restaurant that, according to my friend Hillari, is hard to come by in London. Wahaca features a colorful setting and their a la carte options are great to share with friends. I highly suggest their hibiscus margaritas, too. YUM!

Just a few hundred feet from Wahaca is Snogs. Snogs are located all over London, but this one specifically is pretty special -- it's a double decker bus! I highly recommend taking the stairs to the top to get a great view of the skyline. It's pretty epic (and not to mention eating ice cream on a double decker bus!).

9) NIGHT TOUR OF THE TOWER BRIDGE
I've always thought that the London Bridge would be the picture-worthy bridge that I'd have to capture when I visited the city, but as soon as I got to London, Hillari shared that the Tower Bridge is much more famous than the London Bridge.  We took a tour of the bridge at night, and it was pretty incredible. With lights highlighting all of the architectural details, the bridge was pretty incredible to see as cars passed below the main tower. If you decide to take a stroll across the bridge, be sure to take notice of the Tower of London where the royal jewels are kept and a lot of history has happened. There's even a tour available if you're interested in learning more.

10) BUCKINGHAM PALACE
Who can visit London and *not* see Buckingham Palace? Buckingham Palace is located right off of the Green Park line and through the Green Park walkway. With it's gold-encrested gates and crests, it's simple but elegant. The atmosphere is very reserved and quite other than the tourists taking pictures outside of the gate. 

A really great opportunity happens when the changing of the guards happen. You can view the schedule here if you're interested in viewing. You can also take a tour of Buckingham Palace July through the beginning of October if you'd like to see the interior.

Well, friends, that's a wrap on my top things for London. I can't wait to go back and explore some more and share with you even more experiences! And stay tuned for a recap video of our amazing trip.

Cheers to travels!
Rosemary

 

BLINDED BY BEAUTY

 

Okay, so I have a little bit of a secret to admit to you guys. I've developed a major love of the show "Little Big Shots".  I bring it up in conversations way too often, and I've been watching it so much lately that it's kind of embarrassing.

In fact, it's been my incentive to get back to the gym. Going to the gym = Little Big Shots viewing party. (Whoop whoop!)

But, seriously, it's such a great show! Not only is it so fun to see the talents that these kids have at such young ages, and the hilarious things that come out of their mouths (if I were one of their parents, I swear I'd be terrified of what they'd say on live tv!), but the main thing that draws me in is the way that these children see the world. They still see the world in such a genuinely beautiful, naive way.

So, gym night rolled around a few nights ago and I plugged in my ipad and started getting myself pumped for the next hour on the treadmill.  The show starts, and after a few acts, this little fella who has been blind since he was born appears on stage. They show clips of his extraordinary singing talents and interview him for a few minutes.

Check out the clip below:

So, I'm sure you can guess, as soon as he says "Mr. Harvey... I love you" my eyes start to get a little teary-eyed. I knew I was in for one of those "Rosemary-please-don't-cry-on-the-treadmill" moments. But it happened. And I let it.

If you didn't watch the clip, I guess I should tell you that Steve responds with 3 reasons why he loves him too. And Steve says this "I love you because your soul judges people for who they are and not what they look like. You just judge people the right way. See, most people don't have that type of soul. They're so busy looking at them, that they're coming away with the wrong opinion without even getting to know them."

And then it hit me. This little guy can only "see" beauty. He might hear bad things that people say to him and others, but he only SEES good things. Like Steve said, he sees people for who they are. WOW. How beautiful, right?

So I had this epiphany while trying to wipe away my treadmill tears-- what if we all were blinded by beauty? How much negativity and judgment would be tossed out the window if we could only see the good in things? In people? In situations?

It'd be a pretty great world, huh?

Although I never would wish blindness upon anyone, I do hope that you get something from this post --- remember to evaluate the situations that you're in and find the beauty in them. EVERY situation has a positive, and I hope you always remember to look for it.

 

 
 

 

 

TRENDY BRIDE FEATURE

A few months ago my friend Elizabeth Ulrich asked if I'd be interested in doing lettering for a shoot she was styling in a few weeks. Elizabeth, being one of my all-time favorite stylists, had mentioned that this particular shoot's theme was based around real bugs and butterflies, and I was beyond honored to be asked to be a part of something so intricate and unique.

I spent that weekend lettering a few envelop options and the bride's vow book, which was covered in the most beautiful crushed velvet (talk about a dream!).  To say that I was ecstatic to see what Elizabeth would do to style my work is an understatement. She has such a way of telling a story through her art of styling - every ribbon perfectly placed, every pop of color perfectly paired.

Well this week, the images finally made their debut on the shelves of Barnes and Noble in the Trendy Bride magazine! I drove to the store the day I heard the news so I could see the shoot for myself. And there it was, in the middle of the magazine, the beautifully curated and captured shoot - with vivid colors, beautiful models, and real bugs and butterflies.

Below are a few of my favorite images that Maile shot that day.. just stunning if I say so myself!