Thursday, September 30, 2010

The one where I kicked Cancers Ass

Well the day has finally arrived. A) i am updating my blog but B) im updating because I have sooo much to say. So be aware, this may be long.

It's been about 2 months since I last updated and its been a rough past 2 months. More weight gain dragging me down and becoming really sick to where my bloodcounts were so low, my chemo had to be postponed. BUT, with that said, today, I had my very LAST CHEMO! I cannot believe I actually survived 6 months of chemotherapy. I've been sick, i've gained 60 pounds, I lost my hair, I lost my mind, BUT..... I got so many other good things as well. (more on those in a few). I got the results of my latest PET scan on monday and the tumors have still shrunk even more. The largest one in my chest that was the size of a grapefruit is not the size of a golf ball. Even better news is that the cancer appears to no longer be active! WHAT??? yes, Herbie Hodgkins has officially had his ass kicked! With that said, the PET scan is not infallible so I must still have 4 weeks of radiation to make sure it is completely gone and to decrease my chances of a Hodgkins recurrence. Side effects of radiation are mild including a sunburn, a hard time swallowing, fatigue, and a cough. I can handle those. The major side effects i'll be looking for 10 years from now which is a higher occurrence of breast cancer. giddy up!

Radiation should begin in the middle of October and I should be done by Thanksgiving. After that Im' hoping that I can finally get my port-a-cath out. I hate this thing with a passion. I'm all robotish and it just freaks me out.

Today my emotions were running very high. As soon as I sat down in my chemo chair and my chemo nurse said "last one!" i just lost it and started crying. They were tears of joy and tears of a struggle. The only saving grace was that my boyfriend Michael was there and I just didn't want to lose it in front of him.

So on to the good things. I've learned i'm a lot stronger than I thought I was. I can't believe I made it through this. I've gotten closer to so many family members and have reconnected with many old friends. All of my friends and family have been so supportive this year with kind words of encouragement or just a simple comment to make me laugh. This year was about lots of laughs. Through all the nights I cried myself to sleep and the mornings when I woke up crying and thinking I couldn't go another day like this, there was a message waiting for me when I woke up. Someone telling me that I could totally rock the GI Jane look for Halloween or someone giving me an uplifting scripture message. Without all of you, I would never have made it in one piece.

I've talked about this months ago, and that was how cancer actually was able to put a lot of things in perspective. It also helped me heal a broken heart oddly enough. That was completely unexpected. What was even more unexpected was me falling in love. I didn't think my heart would ever open up to anyone ever again, let alone while I had cancer. All I could think was "who's going to love me now?' After losing my hair, being tired with no energy, being grumpy alot, and the weight gain. But I did find someone. Someone who makes me soooo happy and someone who has been by my side the past 2 months. Going to me with chemo and enduring hours of boring poison injecting! I love you so much mr. michael! SOOO much!

So yeah, this is my update. Life is good.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The One Where The FDA Does Not Approve My Diet Plan

I think it just occurred to me that prior to diagnosis, when I was losing all this weight (100lbs), it really had nothing to do with my sudden mastery of dieting and my attempt at running. All that time, I really thought that I had worked hard to lose weight and to change my life, but really it was Henry Hodgkins and his persistence to grow inside of me and tease me with a life I've always wanted. So, thank you Henry Hodgkins for at least giving me a glimpse of what life could be like skinnier. But in order to kill you and for me to live, I have to chemo your ass. On one hand, I guess it is better to be alive. But on the other hand living a life of being the fat girl again is pretty depressing. As of date, I have gained 40 lbs in 3 months and I'm only getting fatter.

There is part of me that really thinks that when this is all over, I can go back to dieting and go back to working out and I can lose it again. At the same time it seems like something I just can't do. For my entire life, I was always the fat kid. Then when I suddenly started losing the weight, life seemed to really change for the better for me. Then The cancer struck and just ruined everything.

I know I shouldn't be as lame as to complain about weight gain when it is saving my life, BUT.....

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The One Where Strangers Are My Best Friends

So the past few weeks have probably been the worst so far for me during this whole process. I haven't slept more than 4 or 5 hours a night for weeks and I am constantly having sever joint pain. It has become unbearable and all the medicine I have been taking does not seem to help. With that being said, i've been really cranky lately and probably really unpleasant to be around. I snapped at my mom earlier in the week and she did not deserve it. She has done everything she possibly can for me to make me comfortable and to make me happy. This whole cancer thing isn't on me, but its really not easy on my mom or those closest to me. I honestly can't imagine being in my mothers shoes and having to deal with me!

Also, throughout all of this, i've said it over and over again that as much as everyone tries to understand what I'm going through, they just can't. But there are people that do understand. And these people are my best friends, who happen to be complete strangers. I've made quite a few friends through the Cancers Survivor Network. It's a great place to meet people who have been through or are going through this exact same thing. I've met so many people who are around my age and that in itself is a blessing. No offense to my companions at the UT Cancer institute, but I don't have much to talk about with my 70 year old companions, other than a love of The Price is Right. Anyways, I digress. Some of my friends have been in remission for 20 years, some have just finished treatment, and others are still fighting away. Everytime I get to hear the wonderful news that someone's cancer is gone, I truly get so excited for them. I know my day is right around the corner and i know they will be right there cheering me on as well. So thanks!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The One Where Kristen Bailey is gone too soon

This deserves a post all in its own.

On June 17th one of my dearest friends Kristen Bailey passed away. It came as a complete shock to me. I had just gotten home from chemo when I talked to her mom. What happened to her is still unclear, but we know that she died in her sleep while on a business trip in Missouri. I had just spoken to her a few days before she passed. We were talking about my newly found bald hair cut and she was telling me how excited she was to go on her trip. She was so happy, happier than she had been in such a long time. Her masters was completed, she had a great new job, and a super hot new car.

Now my dear friend is gone too soon. I met Kristen at MTSU back in 2004. She was energetic and silly and I was instantly drawn to her. One day she sat down with me and told me how much she admired me. I thought it was a strange thing to say and i asked her why. She told me that she admired me because I was so confident and seemingly didn't care what people thought and was true to myself no matter what. She said that she admired that because when she was heavier she didn't feel those things. Her telling me this was a shock, as she was a tiny little thing and I was, well, quite the opposite. I told her that I couldn't imagine her not being confident, as knowing her for a few short months, she seemed to have everything under control. She was full of life, and smart. so smart (i def copied off a few of her tests in int'l biz). From that moment I knew that I would have a friend that could understand the things that I was going through and that I could learn from her. In fact, she was my main motivation to start losing weight. I looked at her and said if she can do it so can I.

Over the years we had some awesome times together. She eventually became a neighbor to me in our apartment community and there were nights when I was upset and she always offered a shoulder to cry on. She was the least selfish person I have ever met in my life. She would sit there and listen to me, even when I was blabbing about the same thing over and over again.

In February, Kristen called me and was in a great deal of pain. She asked me if i could take her to the emergency room and of course i did not hesitate. While we were sitting in the Triage area, the doc was asking her all kinds of questions about her medical past and surgeries and what not. It blew my mind how much she had really been through. I knew that she had been sick a lot but she never really spoke about it too much. She was always so positive and didn't let it get her down. Anyways, I sat there with her for almost 8 hours. I know she was in terrible pain, but I didn't hear her complain at all. Never. We actually had a blast in there. Talking about boys and watching Hoarders.

A month later, I was diagnosed with Hodgkins. Kristen was immediately one of the first people I wanted to call. We went to dinner and she listened to me and she comforted me. I was scared. So scared. All she did was tell me that It will be ok and to be strong. I think her influence is one of the reasons I've been so strong during all of this. I just remember that Kristen had been through such similar pain and she was so strong through it all. After all my surgeries and after chemo she called to check on me.

Now more than ever, I just want to talk to her. I miss her silly voice. I cry myself to sleep most nights thinking about her. I know I shouldn't be sad because I know she is in a better place. But I'm selfish and I want her here. I wonder when it gets easier. I really feel like it is surreal. I can't believe that at 26, she's just gone. I really miss my friend.

The One Where I'm Halfway There

I know it's been a while. I am halfway done with my chemo treatments. Yay. I guess. I had a chest xray a few weeks ago and the doc told me that the tumor is shrinking significantly. He did say however that I will probably still have to have radiation when it is all said and done. So yes, it was a good visit, but at the same time it just made me sad that I still have a long ways to go. I'm sure when I'm all done, i'll look back and think "wow, what a short amount of time it was."

Things have been really rough for me the past month though. I am so emotionally and physically exhausted I can barely stand it. I'm getting weaker as the weeks go by. I'm bald. I've gained about 40 lbs from the chemo. That has been one of the most annoying parts. Working so hard to lose so much's all just down the drain. I've felt really depressed. It's a lonely time for me even though i'm surrounded by people all the time, and all the time I just wish to be alone. It's weird really. I know i've said it over and over again, but people just don't understand. As much as they want to understand, they can't. You just can't imagine what it's like to be tired all the time. To barely have the energy to get up and go pee. My joints have been hurting so bad lately. I can't sleep the pain is so bad.

I've had a lot of good experiences though. I went to Pittsburgh to see Suzie and I had such a great time up there. It was so beautiful and we ate some truly amazing food. I could maybe see myself living there. Or maybe not. Maybe Chicago is in order. Maybe back to Nashville. It all seems so far away. Getting back to normalcy. I hate that I have such a defeatist attitude lately. I feel like I have to put on such a strong face all the time because I hate when people pity me. Yeah my life sucks, but it sucks even more when people go "awwww, or how are you feeling?, or your hair looks great" blah blah blah. I am really thankful for all the people that care and support me but it's really overwhelming sometimes. Getting asked how i'm doing 20 times a day gets really tiring. I'm terrible, i feel like crap, and somedays it's just more than I can take. All I have are my thoughts all day long. Nothing more. They are crazy thoughts. Scatterbrained, sad, depressed, anxious.

This was probably the most unproductive post, but there it is.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The One Where my Hair is on the fritz!

Yep. My hair has finally started coming out. I'm not losing a whole lot as of yet, but none the less it is coming out. I am very ok with it though. I had my fourth round of chemo today and it's kicking my butt. Today i'm vomiting and I'm already extremely tired. My taste buds have really been effected lately. I can barely stomach spicy foods which is a bummer because I love them. They burn my mouth so bad, plus I get really sweaty and dizzy. Other foods taste really plain. I cannot stomach the taste of Coke, which is probably a good thing. The only think I've really been able to drink is lemonade. I think the sweetness helps.

Today while I was in the waiting room before chemo, I suddenly just started crying uncontrollably. I was getting stares. I just am so over this. It is really starting to take it's toll on me. Mentally and Physically. I know it will be over soon enough and it will soon be a thing in the past, but I'm ready to get there already.

The past 2 weeks were extremely taxing because I had a cold along with the chemo. My cough has resurfaced and that is making me pretty cranky. I haven't had a decent nights sleep in weeks. I'm assuming I'll sleep great tonight due to the drugs though.

I'm really too tired to keep updating with all the other things I want to get off my chest. I'll save it for next week when i'm feeling better, even though i'm sure I won't remember what I wanted to say. Dang chemo brain is killing me!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The One Where I Have Doubts

For the first time today, it suddenly occurred to me: what if i'm one of those unlucky ones where the chemo doesn't work, and my cancer isn't cured??? It just hit me like a pile of bricks. I mean the thought never even crossed my mind and I'm not sure what made me think of it. Hodgkins is generally thought of as "the good cancer" and is typically curable and treatable, so I don't know why I have my doubts. I guess I'm just anxious for a few more treatments and for my first PET scan to occur to find out if the cancer is fading and if I will have to have radiation. Seems like it is so far away, the end seems so far away but i know the next 10 rounds of chemo will fly by. It's just hard to picture myself there.

I"m also watching The Biggest Loser which doesn't help matters. every Tuesday night I sit on my couch and ball my eyes out. I used to cry because I wished that one day I would get off my butt and make this weight loss happen. Then I finally did it. Not quite to where I want to be, but I"m so beyond happy with where I"m at right now. Now I cry because it just brings back all the pain that I've gone through my whole life battling my weight. I'm not sure that pain ever goes away. It feels like one obstacle was so close to being overcame, and now this whole cancer bit. Puts a kink in the plans. At the beginning of 2010, when the future seemed so bright, I had plans to run a half marathon. Those plans got shot to hell, but I'm 2011 will be my year. I'll have my energy back. I'll have my breath back. It's so hard to not be able to breath. It's so hard to not have control over what my body can do. It's frustrating. i'm frustrated!

On another note, my awesome Aunt Donna sent me some of her wigs. My hair hasn't started coming out yet, but I"m getting prepared. Check this bad boy out!