I went to see a therapist for the first time today.

Within minutes of walking into her cosy office—complete with a box of tissues on each table—and taking a seat on the armchair, I started crying. I was explaining my recent medical history, and combined with my funky mood this morning, tears were inevitable.

This therapist, referred to me by the Ulman Foundation for young adults with cancer, happens to run free monthly Ulman support groups, but I had wanted to meet her before starting chemo, because the upcoming meetup comes right after three days of chemo and there are no guarantees I’ll be up for it. It turns out that Ulman provides three free sessions with this therapist, and given my pending hospitalization, she even offered FaceTime sessions, if needed.

It felt good walking out of there knowing that I had another resource, especially when tears have been flowing much more frequently lately, and especially when talking with the sources of those stresses has become increasingly difficult.

Somewhat unfortunate tidbit I learned: Most of her cancer patients have said they also hated Hopkins. She brought it up after I had only briefly mentioned how I like University of Maryland more, so to hear that other people have actually had bad experiences makes me want to know more and somehow feel better that it wasn’t just all in my head. So FYI, in the unlikely event you or anyone else may need to go to the hospital, avoid Hopkins at all costs. You heard it from me—and apparently most of the patients this therapist has seen in more than 15 years of experience with cancer patients specifically. (She herself has been practicing since the ’80s). That says something.

Anyway, it certainly will take time to have the capacity to feel better and to understand my emotions in a way that does not make me feel as terrible. I realized today that I learn things about myself when sharing them verbally with someone, which has always been difficult for me as someone who was raised in a family that hardly had time to eat meals together. I think it helps with mindfulness, despite it being an “overused” term, as she said.

In preparation for hospitalization, I visited Roots market in Clarksville to stock up on some healthy snacks and bars, and then picked up a delicious pierogi quesadilla from Great Sage next door. It was four big slices of mashed potatoes with sauerkraut, caraway, and smoked paprika with smoked chipotle-cashew gouda and caramelized onions in a grilled flour tortilla, served with a side of dill-ranch and Russian dressing. All organic vegan yumminess to help feed the soul.

The wooden bar at Great Sage restaurant in Clarksville, MD.