Posts Tagged ‘Neuro Endocrine’

Family, Fundraiser, and Feelings

So much has happened! I can happily report, that lately it’s been several days of GOOD! Of course, as I’ve been thinking about writing an entry these past few days, on the day that I planned to update, my good days slowly turned south. Today was a not-so-good one. But first, let me share the great moments I’ve had. God is creating miracles in my life. Every good day is a miraculous gift from Him. Keep in mind, I have been told to expect the worst (vomiting, exhaustion, neuropathy, etc). And although I am fairly tired every day, the other symptoms have not shown themselves. Praise God! In the time that I have not updated y’all, many things have happened. Let me begin:

1. My incredibly hilarious, kind-hearted, and funtastic aunt came to visit. Our time together was a blast, filled with much laughter and conversation. She’s truly someone I can spill my guts to. Thank God for cool aunts! In addition, she helped immensely with our fundraiser, and was there making sure I was drinking enough water and constantly had sunscreen on my baldalicous dome.

2. We had our Baldalicious Bandwagon fundraiser, and the turn out was jaw-dropping! I still can not believe how many of you came to be a part of that fun day with us. And not only how many people came to support us, but how many guys shaved (and I mean with shaving cream) their heads. Seriously, it was over 20 guys from ages 4 to 57. Amazing. For those who chose to support me by rocking the same invisible hairstyle, my deepest and most heartfelt thanks. Without going into a long rant, I will try to explain how it touched my heart. Before I lost all my hair, I didn’t expect to feel alone once my hair was gone. However, it was indeed the case once the locks disappeared. Fact is, you don’t see many bald people in public. As a stylist, I do notice wigs, but women rarely rock the shiny dome. I quickly felt like the only one. Luckily, my husband went bald before me, which made my transition a lot easier. And now to see the amount of other people willing to shave their hair off, to stand next to me in this battle, was a huge visual reminder that I am not alone. I’m not the only bald person walking around. If you ever get the opportunity to show support to someone going through cancer, shaving your head is an enormous gift to give.

Not only was there immense support via head-shaving, but so many of you made generous donations. And when I say “generous”, I mean, “gargantuan generosity”. Generosity that I had no concept of, prior to this event. Generosity that continues to bring tears to my eyes. Generosity that has filled our lives with hope and has taken away some of the fears we had financially. With your help, we raised a great amount of money. Let me assure you, we have put aside this money and all of your future donations, into a special account. Your donations will help us pay our never-ending large medical bills. Yesterday, we received a huge medical bill in the mail, and initially the number brought immediate stress. However, now, because of so many of you, my stress has dissipated. Because of you, we can more easily pay these medical bills. A humongous “thank you” to all who so graciously and generously donated. You have touched us dramatically.

Overall, our Baldalicious Bandwagon fundraiser was a huge hit! I enjoyed it so much. Thankfully, I had energy, was feeling really good that day and was able to participate. I was able to meet so many new people, spend time with old friends whom I hadn’t seen in years, and see the amount of love you all have for me. The love and support were visual and apparent. I can’t express my gratitude in words.

3. We officially moved into my mom and step-dad’s basement. Although we both prided ourselves on and promised each other we would never move in with our parents after marriage…things change. We have to continually remind ourselves that it’s not because we were financially irresponsible or moochers. Yes, we do pay rent. Let’s just consider them, “room mates”. Cancer became a part of our lives. And with cancer, all of our plans have changed. This transition will allow us to save some money, and when Matt is at work, my mom will be able to help me when need be.

4. One of my awesome sisters came to visit! She was here this past Monday through yesterday, and we had a great time. Like I mentioned before, I have been having really good days, and because of this, her and I were able to spend quality time together. We had time to catch up and share about the current events in our lives. In addition, we enjoyed a day of shopping, and another day at the zoo. Both typically great activities, but with your sister, they are even better. Having out-of-town family here, makes this journey a lot easier.

5. I celebrated the completion of my 3rd round of chemotherapy! Hallelujah! I am now officially about 1/3 of the way through my treatment plan. Although a seemingly small step, if I view it correctly, it’s a big deal. Any progress is good progress! And progress, this is indeed. Until today, my days during this cycle have been really great. My days were full of energy, no nausea, and a strong body. I continue to pray that God releases his miracles upon me, and that I continue to experience his supernatural healing powers. Feel free to pray with me on that!

Now, I’ll update you to the current day. Like I mentioned in the above statements, I have felt really good in this cycle until now. Well, that’s a partial truth. Really, I’ve experienced a headache for the last 4 days non-stop, but, hey… that’s not too bad. This morning I woke up with extreme body aches and soreness, and symptoms of a bad head cold. However, I don’t believe these words fully encompass the way my body is reacting. I’ll try my best at making it a little more realistic and understandable for you. My muscles and bones ache as though someone has beaten my entire body with an aluminum bat. OR- You know when you whack your knee into something very hard, and it leaves a gigantic sore bruise for days? Imagine that sore bruise (minus the color) covering every inch of your being. Even the muscles behind my eyes hurt. Yes, that makes even looking around painful. My bones feel brittle, and my ankles actually feel as though they may break when I walk up and down the stairs. That’s what I’m experiencing today. So much so, that my husband had to literally help me out of bed this morning. Helped me out of bed to the couch, to lay right back down. And until 6:30pm, there I lay. The Rockies are playing tonight, so my husband and I came upstairs to watch the game with my step-dad, one of our “roomies”. Fingers crossed they’ll pull it out and win one. (I am so looking forward to making it to a game this season!)

Physically bad days aren’t just a physical battle… my emotions love to join in on the fun. Those two go hand in hand and, as I’m learning more and more, are very dependent on the other. For example, if I’m having a great day physically and my emotions are a wreck, so is my day. And, likewise, if I’m physically hurting, but in a good mood, my days aren’t very cheery either. So when I say I had a “good day”, you can almost guarantee my physical body and emotional spirit are hypothetically holding hands and frolicking through a field of wildflowers. Oh, how I enjoy those days. Today, not only did my body hurt, but my emotions took a dive. Not in the deep end of the pool, but deeper than I like. I found myself crying. Crying because I hate feeling like this. Crying because I have such an immense love/hate relationship for chemo. Crying because I sometimes feel like a burden on those I love, specifically my husband. Crying because I hate not being able to control my body. Crying because, dammit, this whole thing sucks. It’s okay for me to cry, though. In fact, it’s good for me to cry. Because I don’t do it very often, when I do it’s a good release. I feel cleansed after a good cry. And, God gave us tear ducts for a reason, right? Might as well put them to good use.

Some of you may think that when I have bummer days like today, that I may lose faith. But it’s actually in fact the opposite. I trust my God so much, that I know these “bad days” are just another part of His story. Yes, they suck. Yes, I wish I didn’t have to experience pain behind my eyeballs and in every inch of my body. But you know what? God is still the same God. He is still good, and always will be. He wants the best for me, and knows that I must endure this in order to learn what He is teaching me. His hands are on me. He is fighting this fight with me. Battles are hard, gritty, difficult, and engulfing. And, you know what? He didn’t place this cancer in my life, He allowed it. I fully believe that the devil went to Jesus and asked Him if he could place this speed bump in our lives. My savior said, “Yes, because I know she can do this. You can’t take her down.” God’s bets are on me. And that’s awesome to think about. God is for me. Not against me. And, when I get down, that’s all I need to think about. Although my body and emotions may fail me, my heart, spirit, and faith remain strong.

Psalm 112: 6-8 (ESV)

“For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever.  He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.  His heart is steady; he will not be afraid, until he looks in triumph on his adversaries.”

Baldalicious Bandwagon Fundraiser

It’s official! We are having a support rally and fundraiser, and it’s in a week! A lot of you have continued to show your gracious hearts and giving spirits, and I can’t express to you how thankful we are. This continues to be a journey for all of us, and to have unending support means the world to us. Below I have attached an image of our custom-made poster (courtesy of my incredible and talented designer husband), so feel free to share the good news!

At this fundraiser, we will have our specially designed “Baldalicious Bandwagon” t-shirts, derailingmydiagnosis bracelets, delicious eats, and more! In addition, we didn’t name it “Baldalicious Bandwagon” for no reason… If you or your friends feel compelled to join me in this bald journey by shaving your heads, we will have stylists to assist you in your new do! Feel free to raise support from your friends and family to go bald. For a donation of $20 or more, you will receive an awesome “Baldalicious Bandwagon” t-shirt. For a donation of $5 or more, you will receive a derailingmydiagnosis wristband. Please don’t let these numbers limit your giving; it’s a good cause, for a stellar chick!

As we are continually learning, cancer is expensive. Thankfully, God has placed His perfect timing on this situation, and we are blessed to have insurance which helps a great deal. However, the bills will continue to show up in our mailbox. Any donation is appreciated. No matter the size, we urge you to share and help us in this fight. Cancer is so many things: hideous, aggressive, expensive, mean, and uncaring. Luckily, there are so many things that cancer is not. Some of you have heard this poem, and as a cancer fighter, I have become very familiar with it. Let’s not give cancer more credit than it deserves.

“Cancer is so limited…
It cannot cripple love.
It cannot shatter hope.
It cannot corrode faith.
It cannot eat away peace.
It cannot destroy confidence.
It cannot kill friendship.
It cannot shut out memories.
It cannot silence courage.
It cannot reduce eternal life.
It cannot quench the Spirit.”

For more information, please contact me at

Romans 12:10 (NIV)

“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves”

What’s Happened These Past 2 Weeks?

(Written on Sunday, 3/11)

Hello to all! I’m sure you’ve noticed that I haven’t posted in a couple weeks. Thank you for being patient with me during this time; I have had many ups and downs. As you know, if you’ve been keeping up with my treatment schedule, I’ve been “enjoying” my two weeks off.  Wait, “enjoying” is not the right word. However, the first week off went by pretty smoothly. I had a few down moments and times of exhaustion, although, for the most part I was feeling pretty good. This second week hit me the hardest. I was astounded at how bad I felt.

My nurses initially told me that because of the two specific chemo drugs I was on, I would experience a lot of vomiting. I can proudly say, to this day I have not yet thrown up! Although I haven’t  barfed, hurled, heaved, or upchucked, I still felt pretty lousy. In fact, this is the first full day that I have felt really good. Genuinely good. Not, “My whole body aches, but I’m fine”. Or, “My stomach is pretty sore, but I’ll be ok”. I’m honestly feeling good. The fact of the matter is, I’m barely a month out from having my radical hysterectomy. I can expect to feel sore. That part won’t go away for a while.  But as for achey, fever, nausea, and other side effects, today I have steered clear of them. Praise God.

Because this was my first round of chemo, I had no idea how my body would react. Like I said before, I went through a multitude of ups and downs. I was on a mountain one moment, and at the bottom of the ocean the next. In addition, because I experienced a gamut of emotions and variety of pain levels, I wasn’t able to sit down and take time to update my blog.  I’ve been “gone” a while so let me recap this past week for you. This will help you better grasp this portion of my journey…

Friday the 2nd, I went in for another blood draw and found out that all of my levels, white and red blood cells included, were extremely low. Out of the normal range, low. So low, that my chemo nurse gave me shots to take home so that I could self inject a special type of medicine. (If I have not yet explained how I dislike self-injections, let me do so now. I strongly detest them. They are never fun. They always hurt. End rant.) This medicine boosted my bone marrow to produce more white blood cells. White blood cells are good, folks. Especially when you are fighting cancer.

From Saturday (3/3) through Monday (3/5), I felt like I had the flu. Complete with a very high fever, body aches, muscle soreness, and skin sensitivity. In fact, I had to call my doctor on one of those nights because my fever went past 100.8, which is, according to my nurses, not good. After following instructions to take 1000 mg of Tylenol, my fever broke, and I began to feel better.  Matt and I made it home, and settled in again. However, by Wednesday (3/7), I was an emotional wreck. When you have cancer, these things happen. You can’t rely on the self-control of emotions any longer. If I feel sad, I must cry. If I feel happy, I laugh. It’s okay. And, it’s extremely acceptable. I mean, come on, I have cancer.  I’m allowed to be crumpled on the floor of the shower sobbing like a 2 year old baby. Oh yes, that definitely did happen. Wednesday, was one of my lowest points thus far. Not only did I experience true, deep, heart wrenching sadness for the first time in my life, I also began losing my hair. That story, I will save for another blog.

As the week progressed, I slowly began to feel a little better. Better, as in, I was able to get out of bed and think of other things, unrelated to cancer. Last night (Saturday, 3/10) I felt pretty good. In fact, I felt good enough to venture out of the house with my adoring husband and attend the performance of wonderful students of my step-dad. They put on a play titled “Resurrection Remixed”. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was eye-opening, and it really touched my heart. High school kids don’t get enough credit sometimes.

Today was a good day. However, good doesn’t fully define it. It was more like a great day. I woke up and felt good. You know, among the million other things you take for granted before you are diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, one of them includes deciphering if your day is good or bad. That’s my life now. I wake up and have a conversation with myself  in regards to how I’m feeling. (Not out loud, friends… I’m not crazy; I just have cancer.) Prior to my diagnosis and beginning of treatment, I would wake up, like most of you, and decide what I would do that day. Never once did I consciously have to stop and decide if I was feeling good enough to take a shower, let alone go grocery shopping, attend church, hang out with friends, cook a meal, or any other daily activities. That’s my reality now. I base my days on how I’m feeling, and I take it one day at a time. I don’t worry about tomorrow, I worry about today. And a good day involves less worrying. In addition, I now officially suck at making and keeping plans. Don’t take this personally.

Again, I thank you for being patient with me during this dry spell. After all, this past cycle was my very first time receiving chemo. I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t know I would feel this lousy. And I definitely didn’t expect my good moments to only last a few hours at first. Please continue to be patient with me as I will be starting my next round of chemo tomorrow (Monday, 3/12). Unfortunately, not all cycles are the same, and during  my treatment, there won’t be any predicting how I will feel. I may feel the same, I may feel worse. In fact, I might actually get nauseous this time. However, pray that I don’t.

Without going into a life lesson schpeel, I will try to touch your hearts and open your minds in this way: Don’t take your moments for granted. Be thankful when you wake up in the morning and don’t have to worry about how your body is feeling. Be happy in the seemingly mundane moments. Smile when you’re at the grocery store. Smile when you’re at the bank. Smile at the waitress who is taking time out of her life to serve you. Serve someone else. Everyone has a story. And friends, just because I have cancer, does not make me oblivious to life’s smaller troubles. Everyone is going through something rough. Whether it be not getting a close parking spot, receiving a bad grade on a test, arguing with your spouse, searching for a job, or desperately trying to make ends meet, we are all going through something. Keep that in mind when someone cuts you off in traffic. Who knows where they might be racing to.

Isaiah 40:28-31 (Message Version)

“Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening? God doesn’t come and go. God lasts. He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath. And he knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles. They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.”

Emotional Deflation

Another day in the life of a chemo patient here, friends. I got a blood draw today, and the results came back good! It’s a great day over here when any results are positive ones.

Now you know I can’t just be super happy and cheery all of the time, don’t you? Here’s the hard facts. I got some news today that traveled differently through my system than it had before. I say it like that, because I was given this news back when I was rediagnosed with neuro-endocrine cancer, however, it didn’t register completely then. Mind you, when someone tells you that you have a way worse scenario, one that is “hard to cure” and “resistant to treatment”, most other things fly right by your senses.

Today, as I was rescheduling another blood draw, getting filled up on prescriptions, and asking questions about this annoying stomach queasiness that’s been haunting me in the mornings, I learned the true extent of my treatment. This isn’t going to be as short of a journey as I thought it would be. Well, truth be told, I never thought it would be “short”, per se. But I wasn’t expecting this to be a 6 month process just to get to remission. That’s what it’s going to be. At least 6 months… if I remain healthy and don’t have any set-backs during that period. Because it was hard for me to even comprehend what my next 6 months will look like without a visual, I will generously supply you with one.

Again, below is a schedule of what my treatment will look like, as long as I remain healthy. Of course, this could change as the time goes on. Praying for miracles, though!

3 Days Chemo

2 Weeks Off

3 Days Chemo

2 Weeks Off

3 Days Chemo

2 Weeks Off

6 Weeks Radiation with Chemo 1/week

2 Weeks Off

3 Days Chemo

2 Weeks Off

3 Days Chemo

2 Weeks Off

3 Days Chemo

2 Weeks off

The End of Treatment!

Doesn’t that just look like a hell-of-a-road? Ugh, I can’t tell you how deflated I was when I heard the news in depth. When I heard that treatment wouldn’t even be complete until July 30, as long as I remain healthy, it was a punch to the gut. 6 months?! I don’t want to go through this that long! God is teaching me perseverance, patience, and endurance. Why give me an easy struggle? Is there even such a thing? He’s making me work for the finish line, and for that, I’m surprisingly grateful. I can’t imagine what better qualities I will have by the fall.

God’s still with me on this one. One incredibly obvious way can be noted through my lack of projectiles. He has held me firmly in His grip, and has not allowed any sickness (besides the minor queasiness) to enter my body. Hallelujah. The nurses told me to expect vomiting last Friday through this Wednesday, and I am here to happily report, I haven’t thrown up once! My God is still a BIG God. He is here with me. He is listening to me. He is cheering for me. He will heal me. He is for me. WOW. As easy as it would be to fall flat, and question where God is through all of this, I am only drawn closer to Him. I feel His presence stronger than I ever have, and for that I can’t begin to express my gratitude. Feeling His presence is overwhelming, and it’s simple to receive. Just ask. I promise.

Romans 8:31-39 (The Message Version)

“So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: 

   They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. 
   We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.

None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.”

Chemo Cocktails

I had another good couple of days, friends! Reason to celebrate! Today I had my second day of chemotherapy, and it went well. Before my chemo treatments, I truly had no idea what to expect, but now I’m much relieved. However, I know that rougher days are to come. For now though, I live in the present. I rejoice in the good days. I laugh when something is funny. I cry when I need to. And I hug everyone. I’ve learned that’s the only way I can be nowadays. Living in the now. Not worrying about what scary days might be ahead of me. Living in this day, not tomorrow.

I, myself, always wondered what chemo was like. Does it hurt? Can you feel it? Do you get sick immediately? Does it make you tired? Now, that I am experiencing it, I can share my knowledge! I will answer these questions with the statement “so far” before them, because frankly, these answers might change the deeper I get into treatment. Chemo does not hurt, nor can I feel it. Even though, they hook up all of these bags of liquid poison to my body, I truly can’t tell the difference. Well, that might be a little white lie, because now that I’m writing this, I remember that when my IV is filled with Benedryl or Zofran, I do feel a little cross-eyed and slightly loopy. But those two meds are given in the beginning of my sessions for anti-nausea purposes, and they wear off fairly quickly. I, praise the Lord, have not gotten sick. This morning I woke up with a small quiver in my stomach, but I can attribute that to not having eaten much. I hadn’t even eaten breakfast yet, folks! Once I did, I assure you, the quiver went away. The main side effect that I’m experience from these chemotherapy sessions are the exhaustion. I feel wiped out all of the time. I feel like I can never get enough sleep. It’s almost as if, instead of pumping fluids into me, they are sucking out all of my energy. By the time my sessions are complete, I just want to take a nap. If only it was that simple… These past 2 days, I haven’t been able to shut my mind off. No matter how tired I am, I seem to stay awake and find things to do. I know I need to quit that, and just give into the sleep. My white blood cells need a break, after all. They are fighting awfully hard.

Chemo sessions are cleansing. Wow, that’s weird to even admit. I know that by the end of them, I will be over it and ready to move on, but for now it’s the truth. The room in which I get these treatments is positive. The other women who ingest these cocktails beside me are positive. And the nurses are extremely positive. When I enter, I am greeted with smiles. Always. Every patients’ chemo schedules are different, so within these past couple of days, I have not been met by the same patients. The nurses however, remain the same. I can honestly say, I love them. I adore my nurses. They are so happy, exuberant, calming, and positive. I’m sure they have their own life troubles going on behind the scenes, but they always put them aside to take care of us. I will also say that I love my fellow cancer fighters. These women are all so strong, and there is an air of encouragement, that I drench myself in when I am in their presence. Our treatment room is a decent size, filled with about 8 recliners. Typically, it’s me and 5-6 other women receiving treatment at the same time. We all have different mixtures of medicinal poison, but no matter the drink, we refer to them as our cocktails. The first time I heard one of the women say that, I was shocked, but dang, isn’t it the truth!? And such a fun way to spin the current circumstance!

Tomorrow will be my last day of this 3 day stint of chemotherapy. That’s very exciting! Just one more step to recovery. Each step, no matter how difficult or different than the previous, is totally worth it. I have cancer, and I will do whatever it takes to fight this damn thing. Let’s just get it out, no matter how painful or tiring the process may be. I will succeed. Cancer will not.

Romans 12:12

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”

A Day in the Books With Dad

There aren’t many bummers about my dad living in Hawaii (I mean, come on!), but one of the biggest  is that he’s not always as close as I’d like him to be. However, being the wonderful father that he is, he flew out to be with me before and during my chemotherapy. Chemo started on Wednesday, and he arrived on Monday morning. During these past couple of days, we have shared many laughs. I can always count on him to add humor to my life! He, like many others, asked what I would like to do before the chemo and sick battle begins. My answer is always the same. Let’s just hang out! We don’t have to be doing anything. Just being together, and sharing these moments is more than enough.

Tuesday we were at the book store. Perusing through books, browsing around online, and chatting. As I was sharing my Pinterest obsession with Dad, another idea popped in my mind. My fellow pinners understand that creativity is at a high when pinning is present. I started searching online for cancer jokes. I found some really funny ones on a site called, and I want to share my favorites with you.

Now, please try not to be offended. Please understand that humor is a priority in my life. Please respect my way of coping. You might find it helps you get through this in a smoother way, as well!

“Reasons that chemo-induced baldness is awesome!”

  1. Blonde jokes no longer apply to you.
  2. Time to get a new driver’s license. (Hair color: Invisible)

“Worst ways to break cancer diagnosis news to your family”

  1. Wear an I’ve Got Cancer t-shirt around the house
  2. (Using overly intricate means): Spouse- “Honey, you don’t look so well. Are you feeling alright?” Response- “Well, if by ‘are’ you mean ‘do’, and if by ‘feeling’ you mean ‘have’, and if by ‘alright’ you mean ‘cancer’…then, yes I most certainly do!”
  3. “Alright, everyone! Raise your hand if you don’t have cancer!” (Leave your hand down.)

Proverbs 15:13 (Message Version)

“A cheerful heart brings a smile to your face; a sad heart makes it hard to get through the day.”

Port Procedure

Today has been the first day since diagnosis that I have felt like an actual human! Sounds odd I’m sure, but with the amounts of tests and doctors’ visits I’ve had, lately I’d more accurately describe myself as an experiment. Not to mention undergoing invasive surgery and a minor surgery within a week of each other. Life has been so busy and chaotic physically and emotionally, so getting a day where I wake up feeling wonderful and rejuvenated is a welcomed change! I felt so great today, that my mom and I even went around town to do some shopping. We came home empty-handed, but the excursion itself was such a treat for me.

Not only is a day like today a treat, but considering its only a day after my port placement procedure, it’s a true blessing. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned since diagnosis has been that plans can no longer be “set in stone”.  You just can’t do it. Well, let me rephrase: the only definite planning that my life contains now is planning for treatment. It’s number one. But as far as planning anything even as minor as running to the grocery store or the bank, it’s now up in the air. Scheduling events is even more of a challenge. My days have recently consisted of resting, taking medication, speaking with doctors over the phone or in person at appointments, chatting with my out-of-state family via phone and FaceTime, and spending time with my mom, step-dad, pup, and most of all, my adored husband. Therefore, scheduling hangouts with our closest friends has proven an extreme challenge. My body gets tired at all the wrong moments, my pain kicks in right when I think I’m feeling good, and just when I think I’m getting settled into the current nest of immediate cancer news, more updates appear. This, however, will not be forever. Today has proven that. I will not always be stuck at home. I will not always be sick. I will not always be tired. I will not always be in pain. I will not. I refuse. That’s not how I’m going to live my life. It’s an oxymoron in itself: living life tired? Doesn’t sound like really living to me. It’s not only a good lesson to those of us affected with cancer, but also to everyone, no matter the circumstance.

As most know, I was at the hospital again yesterday. The occasion this time was to receive my port. It’s actually referred to as a “power port”, and that in itself makes me feel powerful. Assuming most of you are like me (pre-diagnosis), cancer terms are not in your vocabulary. So, let me explain. I was given a pamphlet that informs me all about my port, so I will be quoting directly from it. “Your Bard PowerPort device is a small device (about the size of a quarter) used to carry medicine into the bloodstream. It has one or two small basins that are sealed with a soft silicone top, called a septum. The port is placed under the skin on your chest or arm. The port connects to a small, soft tube called a catheter. The catheter is placed inside one of the large central veins that take blood to your heart. When a special needle is put into the septum, it creates ‘access’ to your bloodstream. Medicine and fluids can be given through the needle and blood samples can be withdrawn.” I’ve included a couple of pictures, to better illustrate my device. In case you are wondering, yes my port is purple. It’s actually more of a fuchsia purple in person, but regardless. Those who know me, know that girly is my thing. If I’m having a device implanted in my skin, it better be a girly color.
The procedure itself was only 8 minutes long. That was shocking to me. 8 minutes to implant a device under my skin? Seems a little rushed, don’t you think Doc? (Apparently, that’s why I’m a patient and not a doctor…) I checked into the hospital at 11am, and was not allowed any food past midnight. I, however, could take my prescribed medicine and drink water up until check-in. No big deal right? Wrong. My last dose of pain meds was at 8am the morning of my procedure. Check in was at 11am and the surgery didn’t begin until 2pm. That’s more than 6 hours since my last dose. That’s 3 hours past my scheduled dose, therefore, I was in the most pain I had been in since my hysterectomy. It was excruciating. By the time I was hooked up to my IV, wheeled into the operating room, and told to shimmy onto the operating table I was nearly in tears. I’ve been on a very scheduled pain management regimen, so I hadn’t had much time to experience the depth of pain that my hysterectomy surgery was causing me. This lack of medicinal intervention quickly put the pain on the forefront of my mind.

Once I got onto the operating table, and the nurses prepped me for surgery, my lovely pain management nurse asked me if I had ever had a margarita. Why, yes I’ve had a margarita, Nurse! Why would you ask me such a question before I am to be cut open; interesting conversation starter, don’t you think? She soon informed me that she would be giving me the equivalent of 2 margaritas through my IV. Oh, joy! This is going to be fun. I was given what is called “conscious sedation”, which means I am awake and alert throughout the entirety of the procedure. This frightened me greatly before surgery, but 2 margaritas in, I was fine with it. They placed what appeared to me like a small blue tarp over my face, and I was told to look to my left. They inserted a numbing injection to my right collarbone area, which took effect pretty quickly. Then my doctor walked in, whom I met in pre-op, and he quickly began the implantation. Not only did he start the procedure, but he also started up conversation with me. What a nice guy. Just another nice doctor in my cancer adventure. It’s been amazing. We talked about how long I had lived in Denver, but mostly about my immense love for my husband. How we met. How long we had been together. How I knew by our second date that I wanted to marry him. Friends, I deeply adore my husband. This wasn’t just the margaritas talking. He is my best friend, my encourager, my lover, my rock, my support, my personal comedian, my teammate, and my heart. Pretty soon, I was interrupted and told that I was done. My surgery was complete. What? Dang, that was quick!

This surgery did not hurt at all. It wasn’t even uncomfortable. Thus far, this has been one of the easiest things I have undergone since diagnosis. I merely felt pressure in the area in which my doctor was pushing my port and catheter under my skin. What a relief! Praise God for allowing some of these procedures to be easy! What I’m realizing, the deeper and deeper I get into treatment, is that the peace and grace of God is all I need. Not to say that I don’t get nervous, anxious, and afraid before all treatments (that’s my flesh, folks), but my spirit is continually drenched in the calm of Jesus. He has gone before me on this one. Just like everything before. He has always been here for me, and He will never leave me. He has my back. He has scouted the road ahead to make sure I can handle it. And, even though at times I don’t think I can, with God all things are possible. I will conquer this battle. But, ultimately it’s not just me. It’s Him. He is ever-working through me to fight this enemy. He will succeed. He has promised me that. Hallelujah.

Exodus 14:14 (NIV)

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Tooting Travels

I figured I should share one of the most memorable moments in the hospital with you all. This special occasion was tooting. You see, I needed to complete this action before I was to be discharged. Passing gas doesn’t seem like too big of a feat to many of you, does it? I assure you though, if that is how you think, in my perspective you are highly incorrect.

Immediately after surgery, and still to this day, my stomach looks distended. A couple of days after the procedure, one of my nurses informed me why. It’s gas. During the surgery, my doctors had to put air inside of me to expand the areas in order to get a better view of what they needed to move and remove. Once they sewed me back up, some of the air remained, and transformed into body gas. All gas in your body needs to exit at some point. Burping and farting (more politely referred to as “tooting” by my nurses), is very natural. We all do it. Men and women. Old and young. It’s a common occurrence of the human biology. Many people find humor in it. Which makes sense, because when flatulence is lacking, it is all but humorous…

Let me just jump right to the main show. I began experiencing pain mid afternoon on Friday. Once I informed my nurses, they explained the reasoning behind my pain. Simply put, it was the build up of gas. And it needed to come out. The only way it could be released was through me tooting. Seems easy enough, huh? Wrong. I never knew passing gas could be so difficult. It just wasn’t happening. I could audibly hear my stomach churning, gurgling, and moaning, but nothing was making it’s way to the exit sign. The pain that continued to build was becoming nearly unbearable.

Fortunately for him, my husband was out that night with my step-dad and papa. I had told him to have a night with the guys to get out and take a break. I can only imagine how draining it is for someone to take care of me 24/7. Typically, he would’ve resisted my requests, but he came to the conclusion that I was probably right. All 3 guys enjoyed a  much needed fun night at a little bar downtown, playing pool and drinking beer. Guy stuff. Because he was out that night, my lovely and beautiful mom took his place. She and my step-dad visited with us a lot during my stay at the hospital, but we usually gave them the boot in the evening so we could have our private time. No naughty thoughts, people. Major surgery doesn’t allow for much physical intimacy like you’re imagining. I wish.

About an hour after Matt had left, or at least according to my “Delaudid time frame”, my stomach felt like it was a ticking time bomb. It appeared to have grown double the size, felt rock solid and protruded even further than the regular distend. I was describing it to my nurses and mom that there could easily be 3 or 4 balloons full of air inside all the spaces of my abdomen. They didn’t feel like they would pop. Rather, that more air would fill them, and they would continue to grow and grow.

My night nurse made the decision to give me Gas-X to relieve the pain. This specific medication breaks up the gas into smaller pockets, so they can be released easier. Still, nothing. The war in my stomach was not being called off any time soon. The nurse soon gave me directions to help assist the gas outwards. These steps included rolling from side to side, sitting up, and walking around. If you’ve read my previous entry about movement in the hospital, you know that it would be appropriate to laugh at that. HA, you want me to not just move, but roll around from side to side!? Oh I don’t think so. But, soon enough, my pain led me to it.

I felt awful for my poor mom who could only sit and watch. There was physically nothing she could do for me. There was nothing anyone could do for me, it had to be done on my own behalf. Another dammit, and multiple other expletives escaped my mouth during these throes of agony, as I’m sure you can imagine. I was writhing in my hospital bed. Rocking back and forth slowly, because any movement caused other areas to hurt. I would sit up just to lay right back down. Sometimes with the amazing help of my mom, I would get out of bed and walk around my room, hunched over holding my stomach. In my mind, all I needed was for someone to jump on my belly and all the gas would burst out of me, and all would be well. But, wait. That wasn’t possible. I had a fresh incision that would most definitely not be happy with that.

After hours of tears, writhing, moaning, complaining, walking, rocking, and moving around, no toots. I felt defeated. Defeated by flatulence, folks. How pathetic! My night nurse stopped by and assessed my situation again, and decided to give me a different type of medicine, a muscle relaxer. Through my expedition and determination to release gas, I had the rest of my body worked up and achingly sore. Within 2 minutes of administering Ativan, I was out like a light. What I remember her saying before I drifted off to sleep was, “This seems to be the problem on the floor tonight, many other women are experiencing the same thing. But the good news is, 2 other women just tooted! And I’m betting you’re next!”

I awoke to find my mom gone, and my husband in his little recliner that had transformed into his bed during our stay at the hospital hotel. Feeling a little more relaxed, I got up by myself as to not wake my sleeping love, and walked around a little. I slowly but surely began noticing the gas finding the exit sign. Ladies and gentlemen, it did not happen all at once. A teensy weensy tiny little bitty toot departed from my body. This for me was reason to dance and praise God! Finally! One toot leads to many others, and in my case it did. Over the course of the next 2 days, my gas had nearly completely dissipated and I was relieved! Now, I could really focus on the main thing: my incision and it’s healing.

It may seem funny to us to pray to God for certian requests, but He doesn’t find them humorous. He takes to heart every prayer you send to him, every desire of your heart. Even prayers for toots do not go unheard.

Psalm 107:28-31 (Message Version)

“Then you called out to God in your desperate condition; He got you out in the nick of time. He quieted the wind down to a whisper, put a muzzle on all the big waves. And you were so glad when the storm died down, and He led you safely back to the harbor. So thank God for his marvelous love, for his miracle mercy to the children He loves.”

Things Happen So Quickly

Right when I feel like I’m settling into the current circumstances, things change. In fact, it’s been the pattern. With every doctors appointment I attend, I leave cradling worse news. I was not looking forward to my appointment with my oncologist yesterday. My husband and parents were trying to encourage me to continue seeing the positive side, but I just felt I wouldn’t come home with good news.

My feeling was right.

Like I’ve mentioned before, I appreciate my oncologist’s personality. She is straight and to the point, but not harsh. She is compassionate, but not overly emotional. My husband and mom accompanied me into her office, and we all sat down. My doctor began by saying they have further identified the actual type of cancer cells I have.  Below I will list the straight facts of what I’ve learned. I’m extremely exhausted today, so I won’t be able to put as much emotion into my writing, like I typically do. Maybe, once I’m up and energized, I will add my response. Point is, this is crappy news. It changes the whole ball game. It’s like going onto the baseball field expecting to play the Astros (no offense) and finding out you’ll be playing the Yankees. It’s still a game, but you practiced and were prepared for playing against one specific team. Suddenly, a new team shows up and you’re left thinking… Dammit, this truly is going to be a battle. The difference is, God is still by my side and will fight hard on my front line. I am more and more thankful for Him everyday.

Here are the facts:

  1. The results of the biopsies came back and show that the other lymph nodes have not yet been affected by the cancer. This is good news. This means that the doctor removed the cancerous cervix and lymph node, and no other area is showing positive for cancer. Praise God.
  2. Because of the biopsies, they were further able to identify my specific type of cancer cells. Originally I was diagnosed with squamous cell cancer. There are 2 very common cancer types, one being squamous cell carcinoma, and the other being adenocarcinoma. Typically those are the most common cancers seen. However, there are a bunch of other little random and very rare types. Neuroendocrine cancer is an extremely rare type. That’s what I’ve been re-diagnosed with.
  3. Neuroendocrine cancer is an SOB cancer. This monstrous cancer is far worse and meaner than the 2 most common types. My doctor informed me that neuroendocrine cancer is very difficult to cure, and is extremely resistant to treatment.

Because my cancer is hard to cure and resists treatment, we have to get the treatment ball rolling a LOT quicker than we had planned. I start chemo next Wednesday (2/22). My port is being surgically placed under my skin this Friday (2/17). This first round of chemo will be for 3 straight days. Wednesday I will receive 5-6 hours of chemo, and both Thursday and Friday I will receive 3-4 hours of treatment.

After my 3 days of chemo, I will get a 2 week break to rest. Then my radiation/chemo program begins. It’s the same as I stated before. For 5 1/2 weeks, I’ll go in 5 days a week (M-F) to receive radiation. Once a week during that time, I will receive a shot of chemo.

Once the radiation/chemo program is complete, I will have another 2 weeks off from treatment. Then I will begin my next set of chemo rounds. 3 days in a row. Similar to the first time. After this sandwich effect of treatment is complete, they will reassess me, and see what we need to do from then on.

Here are some personal thoughts that I dwell on. I will definitely lose all of my hair within a month. I’m actually not too frightened by this. I’m thankful for a pretty face, and nice skin. And even more thankful that I’m a makeup artist and can make even a bald woman look hot. My husband’s an artist and we’ve already talked about some artwork he could draw on my head… Ya know, like a baseball, football helmet, or field of flowers. Just comedic ideas, friends. I also know that I’m going to be very sick and weak pretty soon. I won’t be able to do much of anything. That’s a bummer. Being as independent as I am, this will be a huge adjustment. I am going to have to completely rely on my husband and family for any needs I might have. But it’s a good thing I’ve got a stellar husband and incredible family to help me with this!

Like I said before, today is a day full of exhaustion. I really need to rest. My incision pain is bad and my intestines have remembered how to work, so I’ve got a little stomach ache. My apologies for not being as fun as I typically am in my entires. But I’ll be back to posting soon. Just need to lay down and catch up on my ZZZ’s. Thank you all for your understanding, support, prayers, and encouragement. You all rock.

2 Chronicles 20:15-17 (Message Version)

“He said, ‘Attention everyone- all of you from out of town, all you from Jerusalem, and you King Jehosaphat-God’s word: Don’t be afraid; don’t pay any mind to this vandal horde. This is God’s war, not yours. Tomorrow you’ll go after them; see, they’re already on their way up the slopes of Ziz; you’ll meet them at the end of the ravine near the wilderness of Jeruel. You won’t have to lift a hand in this battle; just stand firm, Judah and Jerusalem, and watch God’s saving work for you take shape. Don’t be afraid, don’t waver. March out boldly tomorrow-God is with you.'”

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