Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The new Harvey Dent

I've seriously put off updating my blog for the simple reason that I did not want to cause anyone I love any sadness. The last 7 weeks have been the most difficult and life changing since being diagnosed August 20th, 2008. And the worst part is that it's not over. For the first time ever I have reached a pretty dark place. Full of anger, lashing out, tears, shouting, frustration, downright bitterness, and blatant jealousy.

7 weeks ago, October 18th, I was in chapel hill to get and begin my new experimental medicine (it has no name but has been well received in the countries in Europe that are testing it also). Before beginning the medicine they want test results of all kinds, so I spent two days in Chapel Hill doing every test they required and being tortured in the process. (the torture should have been foreshadowing... oh, that was me foreshadowing that it gets even worse)

On day 1 I was at the hospital for 8 and a half hours. In the process I yelled at a little asian man, told a noisy group of what looked to be season one of grey's anatomy that I hated them, and said fuck a lot. I was not on my best behavior by any means but I was tired, hungry, and very angry that I had been stuck at least 6 times in various vein finding expeditions.

On day 2 I made amends with the little asian man when he was the poor unfortunate soul in charge of doing my bone scan (he looked ready to cry when he called my name and Alas, it was me coming towards him from the waiting room, his very own personal Ursula) and that bone scan lasted about three hours. But I was nice to him. We cracked jokes.

So on the 18th, I knew I'd be getting these test's results back. and Granted I'd been on a treatment hiatus for a few months, but I wasn't really prepared for what the scans showed. Which tells me that my mother was very unprepared for what the scans showed and with my dad at work it was just the two of us sitting in the room staring dumbly at Dr. C as she listed off all of the places I had cancer unaware that this list was much longer than the one we had heard in May from Dr. K. So i ask her to tell us all the places she has on her scans so we can be completely informed about what I've got going on cancer wise.
Shoulder Blades -Both Sides
Left armpit lymph node
Ribs -Both Sides
Hips -Both Sides
Right arm
Possible spots in the Lung but they're too small to tell and regardless this medicine will treat whatever cancer I've got.

Well, hmm. That's a whole lot of cancer that I've got going on. So I begin the medication.

In the beginning it's not so bad.
Then it gets worse.
Then it gets much worse.
Then it gets better.
Then it gets worse again.
and before I know it week 8 is beginning and I've got my fingers and toes crossed that we'll find out after a CT and Bone scan on friday that this DAMNED drug is doing what it's supposed to.

I started out achy. Never comforable. Sleeping entire days away. I stopped eating and drinking. Ended up nearly dehydrated. Have recently started barfing up neon yellow medication reminents. I lost energy for doing the simplest task. Walking down stairs, walking to the car, walking to the bathroom, walking to the closet. Putting on clothes, showering, leaving the house, going to work, driving across the street to meet Misha for a bagel. These things should be a breeze. Instead after attempting or doing any of the above it feels like i've been trying to do them all in gale force winds. Just standing sometimes makes me feel ill. I look terrible. Lack of nutrients has made my hair disgusting, my skin disgusting and pale, I've lost over 25 pounds and can't bring myself to really wear anything other than pajamas for what will surely be another fun-filled day watching terrible television at my parents house either on the couch or in my parents room.

I tried to work. Just two hours. enough to get me out of the house. but I couldn't do it. and the last day that I worked, I couldn't even make it a full hour. I came home and cried and yelled at anyone (or any family pet) that came in my direction. It was sad and pathetic.

My real dad and I started a weekly outing on Thursdays. He takes me to Barnes and Noble, just so I can get out of the house. But just getting dressed to go wipes me out.

My dad and I made plans this past sunday. We were going to go see the Harry Potter movie at 4. The attempt at getting ready to leave the house had me exhausted and frustrated by 330. We couldn't go because my stomach hurt, I was emotionally drained and so physically incapable of just getting myself downstairs. It was also hard for him to see me so upset and feel so useless in the situation. (which he isn't. Love is never useless)

My friends are all busy with their own lives (thank heavens) But social outlets have become a burden. I avoid my phone like the plague. I act selfishly and keep to myself. Because I can't stand listening to their future plans while I'm throwing a pity party in my living room. Because I don't want them to know how unhappy I am or how exhausting it is trying to sound upbeat and happy and healthy on the phone for fear that I make one of them sad during this holiday season. I am jealous of the lives they are leading. I'm angry that I'm not making plans for New Years Eve that don't include my couch and mom. I don't return calls, I don't make them. I'm just waiting for the one that tells me that Mary Adelaide is having her baby. So I can be thankful for one joyous moment in the midst of the black cloud i've surrounded myself with.
P.S. this blog does not accurately describe the struggle I'm having with being happy and supportive for my friends and wanting to tell them the truth about how terrible I'm feeling from this medicine but don't due to shielding them from the more negative aspects of what has mostly been a pretty painless experience until recently.

And yes I am aware how absent God has been in this post. He knows how angry I am. I'm more than sure that he is well aware. But I can't lie. I know there are people incredibly less fortunate than I. and I should have so much to be thankful for. But I'm not feeling so thankful today. And I'm not feeling so Blessed. And you can't lie to God. He knows. No matter how happy the right side of my face is, God knows the left is twisted with anger.

A couple of months ago Cancer hadn't really stolen that much from me.
Today it feels like it has robbed me of a future. Or at least the Future I had planned for myself.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Blame it on the Rain

Today was a lonely day. It rained cats and dogs and I spent my afternoon after work sitting on the couch reading a depressing book while my mom sat in the chair next to me reading something that looked beach chair appropriate. I spent this past weekend either at work or at home sitting around (granted I was kinda sick and was appreciative for some quiet time but it was still just staying around the house)

I am currently crying because I am lonely. Which is crazy because I know that I am not alone. I have the world's most amazing family and friends. And I literally have two dogs squishing me into one corner of my bed as they take up all the remaining space. And my parents will be home from the grocery store anytime now. And my grandparents are just next door. But I'm feeling kinda alone.

I could call any of my friends on the phone and contently listen to them tell me about their lives and what they've been up to or are currently doing or will soon be doing. But my end of the conversation is always the same. I feel like Cancer has put my life on pause. There is never anything new and exciting happening.

...depressing post interlude...
currently fb chatting chrissy and she sent me a link to a baby porcupine eating a banana with the hicccups. slight chuckle followed.

Lately cancer has had me straddling a fence.
on one side there is experimental medication that would allow me to possibly pursue a job in broadcast...but may not work long, if at all.
on the other side there is chemo. in all of its side effect glory. known and familiar in the medical world it would be a safe bet.

so which to choose.
my original plan: Experimental...if I am even a candidate.

however, after a successful Radiation run and an intense need to rid myself of cancer I'm beginning to lean toward just going ahead and doing the Chemo. (Doing the Chemo...sounds like a new dance move..."I'm doing the chemooooo whoo hoo" It probably comes with a song that sings the directions to you like the cupid shuffle)

This is a decision that I feel like I must make by myself. It is my body. It is my quality of life.

Do I rock out on an experimental pill NOW then do chemo when it stops working?
Do I do "the chemo" NOW then rock out on pills later?

I've been listening at closed doors and open windows for any hint or indication at what is best. And God hasn't really been answering my question in the glaringly obvious way I'd like him too. Instead he has given me two weekends in Chapel Hill with Chrissy, Jamie and Mary Adelaide and a Homecoming reunion with my ALL of my ECU Loves. Which I am completely grateful for. So freaking excited for. Jumping up and down, flailing arms and going bananas.

But some direction would be nice. (Hint Hint Big Guy)

I know that as alone as I may feel. I never really actually am.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I got tattooed. Permanently.

to make up for the fact that I've been pretty boring in the actual cancer update department life decided to give me a whole lot of cancery things that would be updatable. whoo- hoo.

but first I would like to acknowledge my Cancerversary which was on friday.
Thank You to Mary Adelaide and Biffy for coming to see me and letting me feel what was either the skull or butt of our teeny tiny baby Biffy and for also cooking delicious banana and chocolate chip pancakes. Thank You to Chrissy for the Scrumptious cookie cake (with it's pink ribbon sprinkles) and my pink and silver balloons. Overall it was a successful, low-key, lazily lounging on the couch, thankfully uneventful cancerversary. Yay!

Well let's dive right on in...
In the Grand Scheme of things:
The Xeloda (chemo pill) stopped working.
We are going to Chapel Hill on September 2nd to talk with the doctor up there about some good treatment options that they may have available in the more experimental studies side of things. On the 3rd, we meet with Doc K to cement a new treatment plan that will be put into action after our family vacation. This will probably involve the kind of chemotherapy that requires sitting in a recliner for hours with side effects that go beyond your generic "fatigue."
However, I no longer really care about what the side effects are. I'd really like to get some of this cancery stuff under control. I'd also like for my body to stop acting like I'm Humptey Dumptey and I've fallen over the wall AGAIN.

So for the short term:
I start Radiation for my hip tomorrow (monday).
What's that you say? When did all of this happen? How did it happen? What have you missed?
Honestly? not much.

We all know that my back isn't my biggest fan. So when it decides to bother me usually i just suck it up and deal with it. occasionally it gets bad enough that I have to go to the chiropractor... so I went a few weeks ago and had to tell him that I hurt it lifting a box that had a couple hundred hot dogs in it. (sounds sexy doesn't it) long story shorter...my leg started to bother me also. all on the right side. the real tumor-y side. So on monday I was at work and realized that I was almost to the point where it hurt my leg to just support my own weight. and that walking was becoming almost unbearable. (this is not good in the restaurant world...movable legs are a must). Had a bone scan and a CT scan on tuesday (these were scheduled before the leg thing)

Oh GOOD news:
I have no new tumors.

and no, the technician did not ask if i knew i was only 25 with breast cancer...we'd had that conversation the last time i was there.
however, she did stick me with the needle twice and left bruises in both locations. (I did not cry. and she wasn't a nurse Satan. which almost makes it worse I'm afraid...She was so nice and I was soooo cranky, especially after the first stick.)

So I was at Doc K's office on thursday to get my scan results and we were talking about my leg and the doctor asked me to go that day to the radiologist's office to see about getting some treatment so my vacation wouldn't be terrible and spent doped up on pain meds.
So we went. And the radiologist wanted me to come back on Friday for a CAT scan that would show him exactly where he needed to radiate.
In other exciting news I officially left the world of menopause on thursday. Mother Nature sent me her very special gift. Unfortunately you cannot Elvis it and return to sender.

So i go to get my CAT scan on friday and they put me on the little skinny tray that whisks you in and out of the black hole in the universe. AND they give me a bright blue squishy oval ring to hold "so my hands will be out of the way" and they out a piece of styrofoam between my feet then RUBBERBAND THEM TOGETHER.
What in the world?! Um pardon? what are you doing with my toes? Excuse me? my feet do not need to be in a pony tail. My feet aren't going to fall off of my body in this black hole are they? if so...I'm out of here. because that is dangerous. and I like my feet attatched. Is this so I won't kick you? are you going to be torturing me while i'm in there? otherwise I don't kick very much there is no need for restraints.
apparently it's so your legs are lined up directly with your hips. which is apparently important when you are being marked for when you begin radiation.
and do you know how you are marked? with markers. like cray-ola. or sharpies. I'm guessing sharpies since they didn't wash off in the shower. So they "X"ed me. 3 times. then they consulted their picture then called out what i'm guessing were coordinates and marked me three more times. then do you know what they did?
They stabbed me with a needle in the center of those "X"es and TATTOOED me. seriously. I now have three random blue dots. and they did not feel nice. and my only warning was that I would feel a pinch. and These are PERMANENT. I'd like my tattoos to have more meaning than "i was attacked by a marker and a needle after a CAT scan by a seemingly nice nurse" it's like something out of a prison movie.

oh well. it was a nice way to commemorate my second cancerversary.

oh and radiation starts tomorrow. slightly nervous. shouldn't be a big deal.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

From Beefy to Biffy

ok let me explain what was a teeny bit of a source of inspiration for my last blog.

Mary Adelaide is having a baby. a GIRL baby. And that beautiful baby (saw 3-d video and even at 9 ounces and looking slightly like she just stepped off a UFO, she is still beautiful.) is going to be so loved by her mom's best friends.

Her BFFs if you will. Best Friends Forever. it sounds so cheesy, so middle school. But it just happens to be what we are. So when the news of MA's pregnancy reached The Usuals (we like naming ourselves...it is comprised of Me, Chrissy, MA, Michelle, Drew and Taylor) immediately began looking for nicknames for the gift that the stork brought Mary Adelaide and Mike. Chrissy's email was first (iPhone addiction) and after tossing out a few ideas mentioned BFFY.

Best Friend Forever's Young.

Pronounced BEEFY. Jokingly.

Until I also e-mailed and cemented Beefy as a term of endearment.

Then we found out it was a girl. and Beefy for a girl would have become incredibly traumatizing and she would have stopped loving her Aunt Usuals. and had severe esteem issues I'm sure.

So we switched up the vowel and got Biffy.

Alas, we are not strange. We'd already planned on calling MA Bink whenever she became a grandmother and she was throwing the name Grimes out there as a possibility for the Baby. Biffy in comparison is really not that bad. But only we can call it Biffy. Get your own nicknames for the baby.

I cannot wait for this baby. The first in a new generation of Usuals...a Usualette, if you will. it's like the movie Ya-Ya Sisterhood...when she's old enough we'll tell her about all the crazy things her mom did then make her wear a silly hat. YAY. We are well on our way to becoming grown-ups. This past weekend The Usuals (minus Drew, who was very very missed) went to the outer banks for one last beach weekend before Taylor starts her new job, Chrissy goes back to law school, and soon MA will have birthed a child and can no longer just pick up and go when she wants. Ugh responsibility is starting to weigh upon us. And it is soooo heavyyyy.

luckily I have been able to cast it aside for one last summer of fun before heading towards the real world. (this may seem to be in contradiction with my last post but my moods are like the tides...changing daily, then changing back again)

In the car on the way to and from the beach Chrissy and I said a lot of things to one another (obviously...it is called conversation) that resonated with me all of tonight. And in my present cancery state gave me some ideas to chew on.

1. we touched briefly on religion. I said, "I think if I didn't believe in God I would be a very angry person." Now, I'm thinking that most people would probably guess that I would be angry WITH God. Not angry without him. But in the midst of all of the bad things that have happened I've been blessed with so many GOOD things. Like family, friends, BABIES, opening my eyes every morning to a new day, laughing until I cry...If I were keeping tabs the positives would certainly outweigh the negatives in my life. and I think I have God to thank for that.

2. Life is too short to not be Happy. Seriously.

3. A friend is easy to find. A good friend is even harder. A best friend is a rarity meant to be treasured. As we get older we find its the Quality and not the Quantity that matters. I must be one of God's favorites (i mean really why wouldn't I be...I'm pretty awesome) bc he gave me Chrissy, Mary Adelaide AND Hannah as best friends. that's as close to the holy trinity as you can get in the best friend forever department. Read through past blogs...those are friends that are there for you no matter what. Like when you get diagnosed with Stage Four Cancer and they race to wilmington as soon as they are able, plan cancerversaries with delish cupcakes and cookie cakes with balloons, stay at the hospital overnight smuggling cookies and show up before the moon has left the sky to give you a pre-surgery hug (or attempt to.). Their displays of support and love have been unparalleled.
However, I hope that I have been just as there for them as they have been for me. Because that is really what makes a BFF a forever friend. Reciprocality. Compromise.

it was a long drive...can you tell?

All I wanted to say was that Biffy marks a certain milestone in our lives. A crossover from college graduates into adult-dom. A cross from Beefy to Biffy. we're maturing.
since Biffy is such a mature name for our future BFFY.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

an untidy future

Little Girls do a lot of the following:
(or at least I did)
1. playing house...usually involves a kitchen set of some sort and an apron
2. gearing up for the fairy tale ending...something to do with prince charming and feet sweeping
3. walking around with Dolls...in my case barbies, wasn't big on dolls...but they were dressed, fed, enjoying pool parties and their corvette, and dating ken.

Big Girls do a lot of the following:
(or at least attempt)
1. trying to find a suitable place to work and live, some place of my own with a big closet.
2. wondering if every dude encountered could be THE prince charming
3. listening to the ticks of the biological clock.

Cancer has made all of the above much more complicated than I would care to admit. Or even would admit out loud. And i'd appreciate no one actually talking about this post with me in person. Lately I've felt the effects cancer will have on my future more keenly.

and I am also aware of how skewed my personal perspective is. but this is how I feel about my future. and the picture one normally has of what their future will be.

I've always envisioned that I would have kids. and we'd be like the Gilmore Girls (with a much wider age gap). Fast, witty talkers that are pretty and avid readers with good musical taste.
But you know what you need to produce offspring?
a dude.
pleasant to look at, smart, funny, doesn't like long walks, but does enjoy doing dishes, appreciates good literature and bad acting, doesn't mind that I only like pepperoni on my pizza and cannot cook, does not talk during movies unless I initiate conversation, knows who Rivers Cuomo is, loves the ocean, gets along with Chrissy, Loves my family and etc.
(Fairly certain this guy does not exist)
I wage an internal war daily on the topic of dating.

Yes, boyfriends aren't that bad. And can probably reach things in cabinets that I can't
I've got cancer. slap a damaged sticker across my forehead please.

Boyfriends make excellent dates to things.
I'm busy trying to kickstart a big girl future for myself.

seriously, who would want to date me? I'm all cancery and stuff.
talk about some heavy baggage.

"oh yeah...I've got stage four cancer"

you know what's sexy?
having only one real boob.

you know what's not sexy?
hot flashes.

How am I supposed to attract Prince Charming while still in MENOPAUSE?
(Honestly it would probably help if I cared a little bit more about trying to attract PC...i've become lazy and indifferent.)

my room has been roped off by caution tape this week due to reorganizing, unpacking, and general cleaning mayhem. I feel like my future is like that.
reorganizing, packing and repacking, picking up pieces of (cheesy line approaching) hopes and dreams and making them fit into what Big Girl me is trying to do with her life post graduation.

being a grownup is an untidy business. luckily i like wading around in the mess.

Monday, May 10, 2010


Currently there are some bands out there that have names pertaining to Bells. there is the band Broken Bells (stellar music) and there is the band Sleigh Bells (not pertaining to Christmas). Other bell references usually conjure up Christmas Carols (a personal favorite “Jingle Bell Rock”). Or maybe you think of Bell and think of Saved by the Bell and how cute Zack Morris was (or Screech if he’s more your type).

Technically the Dictionary defines a Bell as:


1. a hollow instrument of cast metal, typically cup-shaped with a flaring mouth, suspended from the vertex and rung by the strokes of a clapper, hammer, or the like.

(I deleted 2 and 3…they were not relevant)

4. the large end of a funnel, or the end of a pipe, tube, or any musical wind instrument, when its edge is turned out and enlarged.

But I define a Bell much differently. To me they are a species of best friend. They are intelligent, beautiful, outspoken, opinionated, persistent, and loyal. They are funny and witty, yet serious and hardworking. So imagine when there are TWO of them. One on either side of you. Arguing a very valid point, expressing concern in a way that makes you afraid to argue. (Taylor Von Trap I'm talking to you) What do you do? What do you say? Because you know they only want what's best for you. and they want the best because they Love you.

Let’s start at the beginning. Four weeks ago was my monthly oncology appointment. As soon as Dr. K sat down he looked like he had a lot to say. My tumor marker was still refusing to go down. It looked as though Hormonal Treatment and I were about to part ways as he began delving a little deeper into possibly switching to a Chemotherapy based treatment.

Here is how the conversation went…

Dr. K- I want you to do chemotherapy

Me- Dude you’re killing me.

Rewind to my initial diagnosis and remember my absolute refusal to not have my beautiful, long, silky, sun-kissed, wavy locks. Double this seeing as graduation was May 7th, Amy’s wedding is May 22nd, Bonnaroo is June 10th, and Mary Adelaide’s wedding is June 19th. There will be a ridiculous amount of pictures taken. I’m already kinda weird as is. Why add to my freak show with a baldhead? It just isn’t happening. Not on my watch. No siree.

Here is where he added in that I could do chemotherapy in Pill form. I could continue trying to finally get my college degree, I could keep working at PT’s, I could look pretty in all the pictures and STILL fight cancer. Whoo Hoo.

So I began taking Xeloda the following Friday and here is how it works…

Three pills in the morning. Three pills in the evening. I must take them at the same time everyday. I must take them within thirty minutes of eating. Dose one is at 9am. Dose two is at 7pm. As of yet I have had no side effects. I take it for 14 days then I get 7 days off. Then they mail me another bottle and the cycle starts all over again.

Also, I will stop getting the Lupron shot. This means my ovaries will turn back on, hot flashes should cease to exist, and menopause will wait for a couple more decades before haunting me again.

The following weekend was Amy’s Bachelorette in Myrtle Beach. I now have a legit tan.

The next weekend (this past weekend…we’re catching up to the present) was Graduation Weekend. I was allowed to clothe myself in the purple cap and gown and walk across the stage. It only took seven years. Oh, and I still have one summer session left until I have a degree. My wonderful family roadtripped it to Greenville for the occasion. Thank you to:

Myra, Christy, Darren, Chuck, Gail, Colby, Grandma, Papa, Stacy, Lindsey, Jennifer, Dad and Mom (even though I know mom doesn’t read these) for (cheesy thank you ahead…you can skip if you’re uninterested) all the love and support a 25 year old cancer patient would need to finally make it through her senior year. I love you guys. As luck would have it I sat in the Aisle seat only a row ahead of the fam. Dad and I occasionally whispered to one another we were that close. Every time I turned around 8 different cameras (and a video camera) were all immediately picked up to take another photo. I sat through our ceremony picking at my cuticles worrying, not about tripping, or how my toes hurt, but about the future. Am I ready? Am I prepared enough? And as my name was called I walked across the stage passing professors who went out of their way to help me in my quest for a degree, smiling for photos that I knew were being taken, hoping my ears weren’t sticking out from under my cap in a weird elf-like way and knowing that the future and I will rumble some other time. I had some celebrating to do. Because along with my family, the Deaver sisters had also made the trip to see me graduate and to help me celebrate in a more age appropriate fashion. (not at Ruby Tuesday eating broccoli off Lindsey’s plate.)

Also graduating that day was my fellow cancer survivor and GF, Taylor Bell. So the Deaver sisters and the Bell sisters and I got to spend some time together. Saturday afternoon while watching the discovery channel, it was some show about catching swordfish (dangerous business) I found myself on the couch with Taylor to my Left and Mary Adelaide to my Right. I’m not sure how it happened by my current treatment was somehow brought to the forefront of conversation. (It may have been MA petting me or perhaps it was me complaining about my armpit)

They wanted to know why I wasn’t doing the chemo that is done via vein…especially since it works faster. I mentioned my hair, and quality of life and they mentioned shaving their heads in solidarity. It wasn’t a long conversation but it felt long to me because I honestly didn’t know how to respond to their questions and concerns. (I will be asking a million questions at my appointment Friday should this ever happen again). There is so much happening in the world of science. What treatment is best? What does that treatment do exactly? Why are we doing this one over that one? Are the risks and side effects ever worth it? Does this work just as well? AHHHHH my poor head is about to explode.

And I know that Mary Adelaide checks my blog. So I just wanted to say one thing to her. (Taylor too if she’s reading by chance):

I love you. And I’m doing everything I can to win this fight. Don’t you worry, you’ll be having to put up with me and my antics for years to come.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I won

So i have much to catch you up on. There have been some ups. There have been some downs. There have been some even downer downs. But first I want to share a paragraph from the book I am reading with you. As I was reading it I immediately felt my heart make a connection with what the narrator was saying.

On the girl's brown legs there were many small white scars. I was thinking, Do those scars cover the whole of you, like the stars and the moons on your dress? I thought that would be pretty too, and I ask you right here please to agree with me that a scar is never ugly. That is what the scar makers want us to think. But you and I, we must make an agreement to defy them. We must see all scars as beauty. Okay? This will be our secret. Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived.

I read that last line and felt my heart surge with gratitude that someone else recognized the same things I did within the white or pink or red lines that decorate my chest. Most of my scars are hidden, so the average passerby does not know or see the trophies I carry for winning the battle. Because really, that's what this is...a war. And every battle takes some sort of toll on me. Some seen. Some not. And I try to not let the battles weigh on me and my attitude too much. But sometimes I get tired of having to fight so hard just to have one day that I'm not tired, one day that something doesn't hurt, one day without a doctor appointment, one day without thinking about cancer.

Today has been that day.

I woke up today and I felt good.

Something so many people take for granted everyday. I wish I could go back to "good" being the norm...but lately more often than not I feel like not getting out of bed.

Let me give you a recap of what has been going on cancer-wise.

A few months ago my tumor marker number started to creep back up. slowly at first, then it became a steady climb upwards, it eventually passed the number that we started at back in 2008. The doctor took this as a sign that maybe it was time to quit the Tamoxifen. (He's a smart man.) It did it's job for quite some time but if you'll recall i was a poor processor and wasn't really getting the full benefit of the medicine from the beginning. So as with most medicines my body became used to it and eventually the meds weren't working. So six weeks ago we changed to Femara. This medicine seems to be more common amongst other breast cancer survivors and has a smaller set of side effects. The main one being joint aches.
So during the first week i was on Femara i was having a serious sleeping problem. As in I was sleeping the majority of my day away. I could not get enough sleep. If i was awake I wanted to be sleeping...if i was sleeping I stayed that way for hours and hours.
As a student and a restaurant manager this is a very ANNOYING state of being.

Then I went on Spring Break. (my last one EVER)
First I drove to Chapel Hill to collect chrissy and relocate into her automobile.
Equipped with my new Garmin we made our way north towards Baltimore. Of course hilarity insued during our hours trapped inside the salsa red toyota (insert toyata recall joke here).
for chrissy: Totes-nift. Joe likes Mountain Dew. CRAZY TOWN.
We reached Brad and Aaron's with little trouble.
Baltimore Highlights: Harbor is beautiful. Barnes and Noble is a three story warehouse. Best italian food of all time. Wii Bowling wars...at least the guys didn't completely dominate. Magic show not so awesome. Other bar awesome. We have no keys.
Then we headed off to the mountains of New Jersey to see a baby. (and some more of Chrissy's family.)
Then we continued on to Brooklyn. NY recap
Wine party at Kate and Leah's. Day drinking and games at a bar. Lunch with Aaron. Dinner at Chelsea Pier Brewery (awesome cherry beer). Shopping. Tim Burton exhibit at MoMA (he was off his rocker at a young age). Phantom of the Opera front row seats (no show will ever top this). I slept as much as possible (this is out of sequence). Had lunch with Caitlin (yay!). Never made it to closing time.
Then Chrissy drove me to DC.
DC recap. Delicious burgers with Mark and Alli. Spent entire next day on the couch in the dark with Alli (it was amazing). Polli and Heather came. We went out danced all night to great band. Next day went on Saint Patrick's Day bus tour slash pub crawl with Alli and Sarah Polli. BEST AFTERNOON EVER. First sign of this were the mimosas we had at bar one.
Then Chrissy picked me up and we drove back to NC.
for Chrissy: out of bananas? nope out of smoothie ingredients. Geoffrey. Geoffrey hates us. an ingrid sing a long. Need you now. JASON DERULO. I love you.

That monday after spring break i was in wilm because of the Bone scan and CT scan I was scheduled to have. as you all know...there is no eating before the ct scan. and they make you drink that disgusting sludge that is berry flavored. so naturally that morning i was starving. I think i actually asked for some hot dogs at 8:3o in the morning. The nurse gives me the rundown of how the ct works and i think i mention something about this not being my first rodeo. Not even my second. Maybe my third or fourth.
we continue with the predictable when she is aghast at my age. and my diagnosis.
yes. i know that i'm 25, yes i know that i have breast cancer. no i do not have a family history.
these appointments all go the same. CT scan ends. Time for the nuclear waste shot for my bone scan. I go home for two hours. I go back get the scan that takes FOREVER. but you have all read about a bone scan before. So i'll just say that it still feels like that thing is going to crush my skull in and i'll be a goner before they know what is happening.
Back to school and that Friday I get my scan results.
You know it's going to be one of those days when he begins with
"well it could have been worse."
yes, that is true. It could always be worse I suppose. But is that really supposed to brighten my day? Make me feel better? Hell no. Not even close.
"the good news is it hasn't moved to any vital organs"
Aren't all organs VITAL?! This is me quickly compiling a list of all unvital organs.
it seems to be quite short. this is again NOT helpful.
So he talks about the bone tumors...yes we know there is one on my right upper arm. yes there is one on my right back rib. oh wait there's a new one on my right pelvis bone (hip area). and oh hello another on my left armpit lymph node. well, isn't that lovely.
solves the mystery of the shooting pain in my hip when i walk long distances.
and i can't feel that armpit anyway because of the mastectomy. so yay.
it could have been worse. and it could have been on vital things. whoo.

this is where you can insert my frustration. my anger. my finger shaking. my clenched fists. my eye rolling. my kicking at imaginary objects. my arms crossing defiantly. my sarcasm barreling forward full steam ahead.

but nothing comes of any of these things.

fruitless. all of these gestures. if only sarcasm could cure cancer....i'd be so cancer free it would be ridiculous!

ok so the Femara and I got along ok until last tuesday when I woke up with pain all over the place. my back, arms, shoulders, neck, head, stomach, chest....it was terrible.
couldn't eat, couldn't sleep (my two favorite past times...life was awful) this lasted for a full week. and you know what happened when I woke up today?


my professors noticed. I noticed. I am not a walking zombie. I am awake and alert.
I am feeling like the old me. the uncancery one. I got to talk to Hannah and Chrissy today for an extended period of time. The sun is shining. Life is looking pretty good. HIGH FIVES ALL AROUND!

Today I won the battle.

Monday, February 8, 2010

its only a quarter or two dimes and a nickel

I recently had a birthday. And i heard the same things every time someone heard that i was twenty five.
"oh that's a quarter of a century"
"do you feel old"
"how does it feel to be a quarter of a century?"

it feels pretty damn awesome.

I know i talk about the fact my cancer is stage four a lot in my blogs. Probably because I don't talk about it at all in real life. It's depressing and morbid and any person in their right mind would try to forget about that tiny detail. So it gets glossed over and pushed to the back of minds but on days like January 25th when I am celebrating another year of life I am grateful. I am grateful for every day (even the sucky ones). And I will take everyday that's given to me. And I will try to live them the way I think God would want me to.
This excludes days like last week when I did a lot of staying in bed because I had a terrible cold and sinus infection. And days where I am in a bad mood with a even badder attitude.
But most of them I try to live to the fullest. Honestly.
Hey you read the last post...I've got some accomplishments to accomplish.

Moving on to the latest cancer news
just a warning it's not the best of news

so over the past few months my tumor marker has been behaving badly.
it keeps creeping up and the last time it doubled. So the morning of my birthday Dr. K called (obscenely early) and to tell me that the tumor marker had doubled and that he was thinking about changing my medicine but wanted to do one last blood test to see if this high tumor marker was just a fluke. Did the blood test friday morning and actually just got the voicemail about an hour ago that the marker was still high and that he wanted to call the specialist at UNC to see what she had to say before changing me from tamoxifen to something else.

So here's hoping that these docs make good decisions.
and that I can catch up on all the schoolwork I missed this past week....

Sunday, January 3, 2010

I have REAL issues but no RESOLUTIONS

So another year is upon us and I'd like to say that with that new year comes a new outlook...
however, I am pretty fond of my current outlook so i see no reason to change it.
As I am frequently told much to my chagrin, I have a wonderful outlook and attitude and am an inspiration to many.
Thank heavens this is mostly by accident...my carefree lifestyle has come in handy for once. Meaning, i'm rolling with the punches and trying to keep a smile on my face (for the most part anyway) Because as much as I can't change what has happened to me since August of 2008, I can change how it affects my life. And I'm hoping that it affects it for the better or the positive or for the half is glass full side of things.
I just reread that.
Switch half and glass and the sentence should make much more sense.

I spoke to my friend Misha on the phone last night and he asked if I had made any resolutions for the new year...so off the cuff I named the obvious "graduate from college (finally)" and he pointed out that that would only take until may and that still left over half of the year...So today while I was sitting on the couch eating my aunt Myra's cookies I thought about what I would like to accomplish this year.

Now the fact that I have stage four cancer is not lost on me. I try to treat everyday like the gift that it is. No one is guaranteed a tomorrow.
With that said...Ten Accomplishments I would like to Accomplish Are:

Accomplishment #1 - Don't Die from Cancer
Accomplishment #2 - Don't Die from Anything Cancer Related
Accomplishment #3 - Become Pirate Alumni
Accomplishment #4 - Move out of my parents' house
Accomplishment #5 - Try really hard to not just move in with my Grandma
Accomplishment #6 - Wash my feet every night while at Bonnaroo (the mud buildup last year was heinous)
Accomplishment #7 - Reconnect with a few choice people that really need reconnecting
Accomplishment #8 - Go on a real Spring Break (Girls Gone Wild Style)
Accomplishment #9 - Pursue jobs, especially ones that seem too far out of reach
Accomplishment #10 - Have the most kickass Bachelorette parties for Mary Adelaide and Amy

They all seem very doable. Which I feel will work in my favor.

So, I have two boobs...again.
Surgery number two was on the 21st of December and was a cakewalk compared to the first one. That monday went a little something like this.
I woke up having one of the best hairdays of my life...I hope the anesthesioligist (spelling is wrong) and nurses enjoyed being the ones to see it.
When called back to go into my little curtained cubbie there was a girl is spongebob footie pajamies.
The nurse asked about veins...I said good luck. She said I'll need it. Found one in my hand, used it. I said it hurts. She said they usually do if in the hand. This was accompanied by her smoothing the tape down ontop of the needle digging it further into my hand. PAINFUL. had a bruise for a week.
Plastic Surgeon arrived and drew on me in marker.
Went into surgery.
45 Minutes later was out of surgery back in my cubbie. This time there was a girl crying and screaming in the cubbie next door. I kindly asked if someone would "shut that kid up."
Apparently I asked repeatedly. And not very nicely...whoops.
I then tried to stick my pointer fingers in my ears. Was unable to get finger into left ear due to the clip thing they had on it. So i asked mom or Chrissy to stick their finger in my ear. Apparently Chrissy tried recommending using any of the other fingers on that hand to do the job. I just kept trying to get my pointer finger in there. I then asked for my Dad knowing that he would put his finger in my ear...and when he got there...He did.
That is love. Sticking your finger in your kid's ear.
Anyway, found out the crying kid was the spongebob pj kid...still asked for her to pipe down as i was being wheeled to the car.
In the car, sitting in the backseat wearing my aviators asking for hot chocolate from PCJ and guess what happens. My favorite Christmas song comes on the radio. Mariah Carey...All I Want For Christmas Is You. And obviously I sing along. And obviously my dad records it on his cell phone.
That is also love. Recording your high as a kite kid singing mariah badly.
FALSE....that is not love. That is blackmail.
Anyway, we went home and chrissy and I had the traditional thin crust pepperoni pizza hut pizza and breadsticks before I fell asleep.
The next day dad and I hit up a couple doc appointments and the next day I stopped taking the heavy duty meds because it was making me itchy. Hot flashes plus Itchy do not equal a happy Kim. So the next day mom let me drive to do my christmas shopping. Since in typical Kim fashion I put it off...not thinking about, you know, SURGERY or anything.
But it got done and we had a wonderful Christmas. It should be a crime how blessed I am to have this family. Because they are the cream of the crop, the bee's knees, the best and so on and so forth. (Can't rave for too long...their egos are far too large as it is) But you get it. So yes Christmas was a completely successful endeavor.

I can also say the same for New Years.
Chrissy and I decided to head to Chapel Hill and do our own thing at our favorite bar on Franklin. So with the help of Brad, David and Amy we rang in the new year...then spent the next two days on her couch watching season one of True Blood.

But the holiday is over and Tomorrow I begin another grueling week of serving up the best burgers in wilmington before heading back to Greenville for what is Hopefully my last semester of College!

Hope you all were as Blessed this holiday season as I was.
And I'll let you guys know how taking Tennis goes.