A little About myself

My name is Liz Rowan and I am 3X time cancer survivor, currently working on the fourth from Vancouver Washington.
I have an amazing twin sister, who's been my rock. Our mom died from breast cancer when we were 6. We grew up without a MOM, but always knew she was in our hearts.
My cancer battle began when I was 16, I was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma of the jaw then we found out I had two forms of Breast Cancer. Then, on my 21st birthday I ended up in the hospital with low blood counts and two days later I was diagnosed with complex Leukemia.(AML). ...and here we are!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Birthday number 2

Ah, it has arrived like clock work once again. Last night I thought about years past and couldn't help, but let the tears roll down my face. Today a year ago I was at a friends picking up the most wonderful cookies I had ever tasted, from a lady with the biggest, most passionate heart I had ever met. Two years ago today I was sitting at a bar with perfect strangers waiting to meet up with Liz. When I got the call I sat at the bar and once again tears rolled down my face. I couldn't make out the words to the people I was with. They would go on to panic asking whats wrong. I thought to myself maybe if I don't say it out loud it won't happen. I continued to not say anything except for the occasional drink order. I staggered my way home and realized how much my life was about to change.
Those two beautiful people are gone now, but I continue to realize the great abundance of people in my life who bring so much good to it. They claim I'm the inspiration, but their passion and love for life is what helps keep me going.

My poor mind knows this day is particularly hard on me. The thoughts that come with each gift, "wonder if liz would have gotten this many gifts, probably more" Each happy birthday, I don't have anyone to tease. Really a birthday is a very lonely thing once you become twin less. I am so thankful for today and all the beautiful people in my life. I want everyone to know that. Thank you for the sweet birthday wishes. I truly feel loved. Last night I dreamed I was with liz for a period of time, soon it went to waiting for her. She never came back as I waited in a dark, dreary house, with the curtains drawn. I know that part of my life is over. She can't ever be back like she once was. What I do know is all of you today are in my life for a reason. I just want to say thank you.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Scroll through my life

Today was a big day. It was my first nursing school orientation signifying my life is finally on the road to somewhere. However, today when I got home I went about my usual business and something led me to my photos. As I scrolled down the time line of photos I began to cry. I see each picture and a thought pops up. The last this and that with liz. Each picture has become so valuable to my soul. I just thought.. Of everything I'd give up to have her around.. Today I was reading something on the internet and I laughed. As I heard my laugh I realized it was hers.. I guess that is the perk of being a twin. I'd go back to being dirt poor and sharing a bed to have another day with her. Our life together was not easy. We had to push each other to fight.

Somedays I felt like throwing in the towel and other days she did. We supported each other the best way we knew how. Liz used to be cold a lot. I would come home and she would have her heated blanket on and be watching something on Netflix. I'd crawl into bed and she would continue to watch her show, but she would sneak over and rest her head on my chest clinging to the extra warmth. Sometimes I felt silly having her so close to me and other times it was just nice to watch her breathe because I could know she was safe. It has almost been ten months now and the days still haven't gotten any easier. There are certain things I know she would have loved to have been here for.

The other day I became upset because I guess apart of me feels like people want to be close to liz or lizs story.. or hell even my story...Sometimes it feels like my nightmare is a show. I want to scream and say don't try and use this as your claim to whatever makes you feel good. I stopped myself and realized that what I was feeling was quite selfish and ignorant. My life story is something movies and made on, books become prints, because out of the chaotic ugliness comes a tale of a heroic cancer fighter and a sister who refuses to be pushed down. The charisma is something that cannot be made up. I realized I have to not only share the legacy, but also the story. Things move slow in life, but that because the best things are worth waiting for.
Love you all.
Julia

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Six months today

Six Months.. Seems like such an accomplishment, in the worst way of course. Would it be strange if I stated that I am surprised I still stand here today? I guess I started thinking of all the old wives tales after liz died. A couple madly in love for many years will most likely die in months of each other because their true love was unbreakable. I lost a connection so powerful with liz. I thought there was no way I'd make it out this far. It took me till today to realize. I no longer live for myself. I have to live for the legacy of my sister and mother. I have to become something great, live the life they couldn't. Our cards were dealt different and I have to roll with the punches. In a world that has cultivated so much pain and sadness I have to imagine a new beginning. Something so simple, yet pure and magnificent.

I miss the way liz loved and her crazy life. She lived on the edge of madness. I couldn't handle her at times because I'd probably be medicated if I did. I miss her wild texts. If liz texted me.. I never could predict what she say to me. One day I'm sitting in class. My phone started going crazy. Finally I look at it.. and it looked a little something like this..

Julia?!
Are you there?!
I need you!!
The dr. came in and he was talking so damn much.. 
ugh!
Julia!?
I thought it was gas!
BRING NEW PANTS NOW SOS!!!

It was always an adventure with her..
(she'd kill me for posting that, but hey it's a perk of chemo.. )

She told me she'd never leave me. I can still feel her around, but thats different. Her honesty was perfection I'd say "this make me look fat"
she'd laugh.. and respond, "someone throw shamu back in the ocean" She fixed any problem I ever had. She decorated my room even. I miss those days where we'd decide it was a bad day to go out so we would lay in bed all day watching terrifying movies.. (that I secretly loved) I guess I think of all the firsts we won't share anymore. I wish I could've seen her fall in love, go to college, have a baby. She wanted so much out of life and she didn't get much in return. Many things planned for her legacy.
Stay tuned. :)

I love all of you. I love those who have supported me in so much hurt. Most of all I want to thank my boyfriend Zach. This morning I sat crying eating breakfast. He asked what was wrong, but I didn't want to talk about it. He just embraced me with a hug. Through this journey it would have been very easy for him to walk away, but I'm so grateful he is here.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Lucky Girl

Look at this weather we've had this year. The sunshine is so bright and lovely. It keeps me moving. I think it is easy to fall into a well of your own despair. Thankfully, I have an amazing support group surrounding me. I have some of the most amazing friends spread out across the country and vancouver. LUCKY ME!! :) This past week was my birthday.. So crazy not to say "our". The first birthday twinless. The funny thing is Liz and I never went crazy on our birthdays. We almost never got each other anything and it was just a casual high five type of happy birthday. I remember last year on our 21st, I was in tears because she had stolen the show. So many friends were out to celebrate with her and yes, I was jealous. This year, I wished nothing more then for her to steal the show anytime I heard the term happy birthday or that happy birthday song I choked back tears because it didn't seem right.


I just wanted to say I am thankful and I am lucky to have all of you. I could've spent my birthday inside my own party of despair, but those who love me made it awesome.

Who wants to hear a good story?
Ok ok, here it goes...
The other day at work I fell down the stairs actually injuring myself.. (don't text and walk) I snickered to myself after I got up. When liz and I shared a place, my roommate had really upset me. So in an attempt to walk loudly down the stairs I ended up tripping and slamming face first into the wall. Liz thought that was the funniest thing ever.. I think I made her month. So publicly falling down a case of marble stairs at work probably made her year!!!

Missing her everyday.
Love you all :) Enjoy the sunshine because in the words of liz
"I feel so lucky I woke up this morning! I still have got another day in me!"

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Life without my other half


This BLOG was Liz's personal connection to a vast often anonymous, world and I’ve wondered what to do with it now that she is gone. Liz was a passionate soul and I have dreamed of a way to create a legacy that embodies her spirited nature. I know that I cannot replace her, but somehow writing here makes me feel a closeness to her that I tend to be losing these days. The other day I was asked, “What do I do when I miss her the most?” I didn’t know how to answer that question till I chewed on it for a days. the answer it seems, is to write. I will do my best if you’re willing to come along. Also, please share your feedback with me. 

BATTLE - To fight a battle with no tangible opposition is no battle at all, thus does such a wager mean you’re actually fighting a losing effort because that battle lacks outside validation. I guess that is something I’ve felt since we lost Liz. Cancer was such an ominous foe, yet Liz fought it hard and kept a strong spirit. 

Without my twin, I have come to know Grief. Grief is a lonely companion and it never really seems to leave your side or provide a respite from the twirling mindful memories. In ugly terms, grief offers a pissing match between, competing for the highest level of pain that no one else can bear witness to and a void of loneliness that few understand. This is the human experience. I realize it is temporary, but a necessary threshold. 

I have discovered that music has a way of helping. I can hear a song and suddenly my life is transformed. Literally, the brain finds those memories that are joyful and filled with good emotions. I am thankful for that. 

I love the people in my life who truly rose to the occasion and am very grateful. The last few weeks have been overwhelming with other aspects of losing someone so close. My mind has been spinning where peoples kindness almost confuses you, finding words to answer simple questions is a feat, yet the feeling is unbeatable. A perfect storm; beautiful strangers came by my side to help me stand when I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning. 

I never lost hope in my life, I simply lost my rock. Liz wasn’t perfect. She was good at driving me crazy, but she was my crazy. I miss my wild and crazy Liz. My other half. At times liz seemed self centered, but I think that was an act, or a front to hide her pain. The day the doctors wanted to put her back on life support she laid in bed gasping for breath. She looked at the doctor and said she was tired. I had been hiding behind the team of doctors. She then cocked her head to see me. (I thought I was hiding my pain quite well.) She then looked back at the doctor and said, "But I can't leave you see, Julia, she needs me." That is where I lost my strength. That was her equivalent of taking a bullet for me. Offering to keep suffering for a chance at survival, only to be there for me. The sentiment that was offered was truly touching. I could not let her suffer. I urged her to make the decision that was right for her and she did.  She wanted me to tell that world how she never gave up, she always fought and she did. Saturday when I took her to the hospital, the doctor told my father and I she wouldn't make it through the night. She did. She survived through the week. 

I love her for that final gift. I promise this blog will not stay sad because as many of you know she had a rule in her hospital room... NO Tears! Instead I will update with interesting happenings, and the memories of liz that made her so special to all of us. MY promise today is next weeks post will be happy. However, This blog is changing to surviving without my twin.. A deep look at grief. The tone of this blog will be happy, but informative and talk about the debilitating side of grief that seems to be a secret.

Its funny, I used to tell people, "yea, I know Liz will die of cancer... its just simply a question of when"  Boy, I was wrong I knew she would die, yes. However, I never imagined life without her because in doing so it would cause an irrevocable pain. So I simply ignored the future and lived solely in the present. Nothing could've prepared me for the following weeks. That is why I feel this blog has a new importance. Not that you need to relive the pain with me, but simply a look at the ugly face of grief and how each day I learn to overcome it. 

Love all of you, 
Sincerely, 
Julia 

This is a quote that came to me shortly after liz died
 "We didn't lose another person on Nov. 29th, a lighthouse crumbled. A beacon of strength and passion was lost forever"