Sunday, August 3, 2014


My greatest fear in life is death. While I do understand that ultimately we all die, I have a difficult time accepting it. Part of the reason why I’m afraid is because I haven’t lived a full life yet. It’s funny because I’m not entirely sure what a “full life” means.

Before I was diagnosed with cancer, I thought having a “full life” meant finishing my Ph.D, getting married, having children, and traveling the world. I realize now that there’s a possibility that I may not live long enough to complete these things, but that doesn't mean that I can’t live a full life. My friend, Jamie Schou taught me this. Sadly, he passed away this summer, and it wasn't until then did I realize what an impact he had on my life.

Jamie Schou was diagnosed in Spring of 2012 with Synovial Sarcoma, and I met him at Stanford Hospital while we were both undergoing treatment. What I first noticed was how much he was loved by his family. Every time I saw him, he was surrounded by his family, and oftentimes they were talking, smiling, and occasionally laughing. I found it refreshing considering F-Ground isn't necessarily the cheeriest place in the world.

We kept in contact in and out of our chemo treatments. Sometimes our cycles would sync up, and we would catch up in the hospital. When our cycles didn't match up, we would update the other on the latest adventure through messages. He loved skiing, biking, paddling, and sailing, and incorporated his passion for the outdoors through his non-profit, Send It. He saw the beauty that life had to offer, and faced life’s adversity with unparalleled optimism, traits which I've tried very hard to mirror.

Jamie making some turns for me while I underwent Cycle 2. 

Although my friendship with Jamie was brief, my life is richer for having known him. Through him, I've discovered that having a “full life” means following your heart and doing what you love, and living each and every day with great passion and purpose. What makes me the most happiest is when I’m spending time with my loved ones, being outdoors, and traveling. Ultimately, the more that I’m able to do these things, the less afraid of death I am.

Thank you for your friendship Jamie Schou. You were loved by so many, and I’m certain that your legacy will live on forever in the hearts of your family, and friends. Cheers to a life well lived.

Eric "Jamie" Schou
August 31, 1978 - July 12, 2014

To learn more about what an extraordinary person Jamie was, 
please visit his blog, Between the Chemos, and his foundation, Send It.

Donner Memorial State Park and Emigrant Trail Museum, Truckee CA

In April 1846, Captain George Donner led a group of pioneers from Illinois to 
California via the Truckee Pass Emigrant Road. 90 people were in the party, 
and 42 perished from starvation and exposure to extreme snow conditions.

 Donner Lake, Truckee CA

Donner Lake is home to some of the biggest Lake Trout in California. 

Martis Peak Fire Lookout, Truckee CA (2 miles)

The fire lookout was originally constructed in 1914, and 
was added to the National Historic Lookout Register in 1998. 

There was a beautiful sunset over the Tahoe Basin and surrounding region. 

Vikingsholm, Tahoma CA

Vikingsholm is one of the finest examples of Scandinavian 
architecture in the western hemisphere.

The projecting balcony on the second floor is constructed without pegs or spikes.

The antique furniture was inspired by Stockholm's Nordic Museum. 

This was a pretty strange clock. 

These bold design wood carvings are similar to ones 
found on 11th century wooden churches in Norway. 

Lower Eagles Falls (2.2 miles; 350 ft elevation gain)

The 140 ft. falls were more of a trickle since all the snow had already melted. 
Looks like we'll just have to come back in the spring!


  1. Hello Vy,
    I'm Marcela Santos' older sister, Louigene. She told me about your condition. I too was diagnosed with cancer. In 11/12/2011 before moving to Sacramento I went for a doc visit at Tri-City Health in Fremont for a sore throat and cold that just wouldn't go away. Also I was always feelin fatigued. A few weeks later the Tri-City nurse practitioner phoned me back and urged me to go to the emergency because my lab tests showed my white count to be too low. So I decided to humor my parents and checked myself into ER thinking I just had the flew or some bug. Well I ended up being admitted immediately and was stunned when I noticed that they were wheeling me onto the oncology and hematology floor...and was told the next day by the attending on call oncologist that I have Acute Multiple Myeloma which later was changed to (Acute Myeloid Leukemia)... Huh!? Cancer?! What?!  ← My reaction.

    I have been following your blog since Marcela shared your site with me. I don't want to be creeping so I thought I'd introduce myself. You might remember me, I was the one who drove her to school and picked her up everyday after school at the pool.

    I just wanted to let you know that your blog is inspiring. No, in fact, YOU are an inspiration. You inspire me to get out more and be more adventurous and not let this "illnesses" define me. I had/have a blog too and reading yours inspires me to continue on with mine as well. Around the same time last year I went through a very trying time in the hospital during my treatment. I was in for approximately 3 months during the whole holiday season. I had some reactions to some medications after my second bm transplant. Might have been the dye when I got an mri. My brain decided to check out. I lost cognation, didn't know who I was or who my family members were. I had no idea what was going on. I was confused. I ended up with c-dif and became basically a vegetable. I became bed ridden and lost the ability to walk in a matter of a couple weeks. When I finally came to I had no memory of what happened and lost my short term memory. I was constantly asking where I was and what happened and even didn't recognise my own parents or my sisters. Dark days. But it's better now. I relapsed again for the third time though. Stayed in the hospital again for another 99 days. Only got chemotherapy treatment this time. In fact my doc said it was a 50/50 chance I might not make it through because my body was week, but I'm still here thank heavens. It has been a very trying journey indeed. I'm very thankful for my family and for my wonderful team of medical professionals at Sutter Medical Sacramento.

    Below is a link to my neglected blog. When I remember my password I'll try again.

    Cheers!   ;-)

  2. Hi Louigene,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to reach out to me! Yes, I do remember you, and I'm saddened to hear that you've had a trying time with cancer as well. I had the exact same reaction as you when I learned I had cancer, “WHAT?!”

    In any case, I'm very happy to hear that you’ve enjoy reading my blog. Your words have truly humbled me. When I started writing, I didn't really thing anyone was interested in my life, and it touches my heart to learn that I inspire you.

    I had a chance to read through your entire blog, and I was captivated by your raw emotions. I feel that we share a lot of the same feelings, and I’d love to meet with you if you’re willing. I know that I would be able to learn a lot from you.

    I wish you and your family a very Happy Holiday Season. Thank you for sharing your story with me Louigene. You are the inspiration!


  3. Hi, I stumbled upon your blog while searching for my high school friend,and same class, Jamie Schou. I recently learned that he passed away. I was lucky to be part of his school friend. I hope that you are doing fine, and had overcome the illness. Take care, Leo