Tuesday, March 25, 2014

"Linkages commencing .... now."

I wrote my will at 26. by Kevin Lankes
His blog is amazing. And I can relate to this particular post.

PS: I'm going to start linking to other blogs a lot. I'm finding some really good stuff to read online, now that I know where to look.

Carry on,

Saturday, March 22, 2014

"Seven down, five to go in Chemotopia."

I'm officially going downhill on my 12-treatment chemo adventure. It feels nice. My last treatment was okay, okay in that I tolerated everything pretty well. My hands are stable, my left foot looks better with each passing day, I'm controlling the pain most of the time, and my spirits are good. All little victories that will hopefully make the next five treatments just as tolerable as the last one was.
As much as I gripe about treatment, I'm still very grateful to be able to get treatment in the first place. I've been asked a handful of times, "Why did you chose to do chemo?"
Seriously? The answer is kind of simple. Chemo chose me. I've got late-stage cancer in my gut ... I didn't have a choice in the matter, really. I'm not against alternate medicine, I just don't think it's the smartest, safest, most reasonable route for me at this stage of my disease. And believe it or not, there are some benefits to being stuck in "Chemotopia".

~ Food awareness. I haven't eaten as much junk food as I did before my diagnosis. This is a good thing. And although I'm still losing weight, I'm much more conscientious about what I put in my stomach now.
~ Relationship awareness. I'm much more aware of the people in my life and how I treat them. I cherish time spent laughing with my dear friends and family, visits from my sister-in-law every Tuesday, phone calls from my mother-in-law, messages from my siblings, and holding hands with my mom. I cherish every second I get to spend with my kids and husband. They have all been so good to me. I'm so lucky to have the support system that I have. And in the same breath, I've been much more honest about relationships that aren't good for me. And although it's hard sometimes, I stick up for myself like I never have before.
~ Health awareness. I'm much more in-tune with my overall physical health because, duh. I have cancer. But now I'm more aware of how much sleep I get, how much walking I do, how many vitamins I take, etc. My body is going through the ringer every two weeks. Chemo is very hard on it. I'm very aware of how I'm feeling and I've learned valuable tricks to help me deal with my treatments as best as I can.
~ Time awareness. Before cancer, time was a commodity I never stopped to think about. Now, time is a very large part of most every decision I make. Do I have time for this? Do I want to spent X-amount of time on that? In the long run, will I look back and consider that time well spent? These are questions that I ask myself now that I didn't ask myself before.
~ Attitude awareness. Negativity affects me so much more now. I can't stand it. I hear complaints about trivial things and I want to grab the person complaining and smack them around a little bit. I'm much more aware of my attitude now. I'm not half as quick to complain about superficialities as I was before.

There are other benefits to chemo, like the fact that it is killing the cancer that is trying to kill me. So today, tomorrow, every day for the rest of my life, I will be grateful to be in Chemotopia and for the awareness it has brought to me.

Carry on,

On my way ... half way done!

Saturday, March 8, 2014


It's been a little while since my lost post. I went back to treatment last week. I went in with such a strong, good attitude following my heavenly chemocation that I was sure my chemo-cocktail would be more tolerable. I was kind of wrong. The hand-foot syndrome (the side effect that interrupted my treatment schedule), came on quick and fierce during treatment. I received 2 liters of fluids on Wednesday. When it was time to have Merle (5-FU pump) removed on Friday, I could hardly walk. I had another 2 liters of fluid. Saturday I limped into the clinic for my Neulasta injection, and even with another liter of fluids, I was in bad shape. I was floating, but really really sick. I ended up in the ER hours later with what I was certain was a bowel obstruction.
What a frustrating time for me. I was so sick, puking and in such pain, but I was being treated by people that knew very little about my situation. A radiation oncologist that consulted with the ER doc was certain that I had an acute infection. Forget about the 5 pounds of stool plugging up my gut ... the docs at the hospital were way more concerned with my white blood count. And even after myself, my mom, and my husband all told them that it was going to be really high due to the Neulasta injection I had had a few hours before, they still admitted me.
At first I was like, "Yeah, a restful, quiet night alone in the hospital." What a joke. The nurses, CNAs, and housekeeping staff were in and out of my room throughout the night. And I was across the hall from the service elevator. And I was on a floor with a couple of combative patients. And My IV kept kinking and setting off alarms. And ...
I could keep going but I just summarize by saying that two nights in the hospital and over 14 rounds of IV antibiotics later, I was finally released to go home. And the "#2" issue? Was never even addressed. Thank God it resolved on it's own, yes?

I came home feeling good, although laying in that hospital bed for 48 hours did a real number on my psyche. I imagined things about my cancer, dark things, good things, finite things that shot my already intense case of "cancersumption" to a whole new level. You see, I went from living a normal life ... to Cancerland. The day before Thanksgiving, I'm diagnosed with late stage cancer and then catapulted into Cancerland just one week later with a port and my first round of chemo. It was quick. It felt violent. And ever since, most of my waking moments, I'm consumed with my cancer.
I worry about it. I worry that I'll never worry about it. I stress over my future and all the things I need to get done. Cancersumption doesn't just take up most of my mental energy. It creates this ongoing feeling of urgency that has been hard for me to deal with. I feel like I need to get as much done as I can, as quickly as I can. My bucket list was overwhelming before my diagnosis. Now ... it's a monster with a time limit. Not much can tame this particular beast. But little victories sure do help.

I'm feeling really really good. Little victory. Even though not a single blood culture taken during my hospital stay came back positive for infection, I'm thinking that the gallons of antibiotics I was given actually cleared up my hands and feet. Another little victory. I had a shamrock shake last night. A creamy little victory right there. I've started a NEW bucket list, a more manageable, reasonable one. BIG little victory. My CEA marker is at 3.06. Little victory? I vote yes!
And they all add up. I've decided that during my inevitable state of cancersumption, I'm going to try to focus on the little victories in my life more that what I need to get done.

After all, just waking up in the morning, having my husband, mom, kids, family, and dear friends in my life, listening to good music, watching my favorite shows, and indulging in a sweet treat now and then ... those are all little victories that make Cancerland/real life a happier place.

Carry on,
The only pic I took of my hospital stay. I think I ate this???