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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Falling Leaves and Falling Temperatures

Yes Fall is in full swing right now. The leaves continue to fall. I will post updated pics probably tomorrow. I see some yellows and purples now in what were once green leaves. I find it so beautiful. I do enjoy the fall but along with it comes allergies. Ragweed is a nasty little weed this time of year. I do enjoy the chill in the air and the crunch of the leaves under my feet though. I am not really a huge fan of cold weather but until it gets to be around 20 degrees I am ok. I do enjoy a good snow sitting on the couch with a warm cup of hot chocolate and a good book. :) What is your favorite season?

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Fear of the "C" Word

Yes....even I referred to it that way in the beginning. When I was first sent to a cancer center I was in HUGE denial. I was convinced it was just my thyroid and why not? That's what they kept telling me. I saw people in there sitting in the chairs waiting, and I told myself firmly and kind of smugly that I was NOT one of them. I was here by mistake. I swear to you. I thought these words.

They took me back to a room where I waited so long for that doctor. I try not to blame him considering I had no appointment but rather was kind of rushed over there. That's never a good thing. He told me it appeared to be a lymphoma but not to worry because this kind is very curable, very treatable. That's one thing about Hodgkin's. If you get it, the cure rate is pretty high. Some people though will be dumb enough to tell you that you are lucky because you got that one. Ok. I do feel glad it wasn't a terminal cancer or something that had really low cure rates but the fact is real that people can and do die from it and I felt awful. I couldn't breathe and without treatment wouldn't have lasted too much longer. I didn't feel too lucky at that point, not to mention I knew I was pregnant too.

For the first month or so I referred to it as the "C" word and though I was laid up in bed I didn't tell my older children what I had. I talked to a woman at the Cancer Center who told me I needed to tell my kids, don't be afraid of it. I realized something. It's true that fear of the word increases fear of the thing itself. I wasn't going to let cancer bully me and fear the word anymore. I lost an uncle to leukemia and an aunt to another kind of cancer all in a few years. My diagnosis was right about a year or so after my aunt died. This was very fresh in the mind of my family members. I was irritated because I was treated as though I were dying by some people or that I already had. That's a whole other blog post though. =/

My whole point here is that once I stopped fearing the "C" word and just realized it was something I had and something I was going to deal with I felt better. I wasn't so scared anymore. I can't take that fear away from others but I so wish I could. I am no more afraid of the "C" word itself than I am of any other word. The disease is a whole other story but I know I'm strong enough now. I can face it head on and that's enough for me.

What Gabriella Has Done For Me

28 Weeks Pregnant in this Pic

A comment on my blog just recently made me think of how others might perceive my story. One thing I really want to stress is my story is one of hope and happiness. We have a happy ending. No pregnant woman would ever imagine having cancer while pregnant, much less enduring chemo during your pregnancy when you are already cutting off everything from aspirin to cough medicine. I know I talk about the bad side but let's face it, cancer is never something happy to talk about. I was very sick. But let me tell you, from day one Gabriella did wonderfully. Everyone expected something to go wrong really. It didn't. I think the doctors did. I had everything from anesthesia, surgeries, vicodin (which I rarely took), heparin, and various chemo drugs. I even had a blood transfusion after my surgery. All this stuff is going through my body but still, I just had a very strong peace that she would be ok. I prayed hard through it all. I had a lot of others praying for us too. I saw high risk doctors and had non stress tests on baby and they were all perfect. Gabriella was born and she was perfect. She didn't have any ill effects from the chemo or other drugs. She is almost one now and she's still doing great. I am in remission and I feel wonderful. I worry sometimes but that is so normal. I really thank Gabriella for saving my life. I know it sounds strange but it's true. My pregnancy that was totally unplanned by the way, saved my life. The mild symptoms I had had for years become so much worse. The hormones from pregnancy among other things made it harder to breathe. I didn't expect to have another child but I believe her life was meant to be whether I planned it or not. I am thankful for each and every breath I take. I know what's important in life and I have grown and learned so much from the experience that I had. I look into my little girl's eyes and we share a special bond. We'll always have that...forever. One day she'll know her story and she'll know just how amazing she is. I know already how very strong she is. I can't imagine my life without my little miracle baby.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Feels Like Saturday

Well the kids didn't have school today because of Parent/Teach conferences. I am glad because Gabriella has caught my cold. She's not feeling well at all. I was awoken at around 4 a.m. and then again at 6 and never went back to sleep at all. I assume she has a sore throat because I did. Now she has a low grade fever. Poor baby. I am still not feeling too great but it's that time of year. I hope Gabbi feels better soon! I keep convincing myself it's Saturday then remember no, it's still Friday! We have another football game tonight. Tonight is the last game, then playoffs. I'm proud of our team as we are still undefeated!

For Those Who Never Saw It

I was featured on the news with my daughter Gabriella a few months after her birth. I recorded it with my digital camera off the tv so sorry for the poor quality.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

And the Results Are In

It was a long drive. It's almost a four hour drive. I was running a bit behind today. I picked the girls up from school and we started off. We got there and as usual Gabriella is quite the star. Those doctors and nurses watched me go from around 92 pounds, frail and sick to around 127 pounds round and pregnant. Now I am back down around a comfy 102. They saw Gabbi grow from a tiny little baby to a big 11 month old little girl. One of the nurses snatched her right away and started walking her around showing her off. She loved it and was waving at everyone! It was so cute.

Now yes...I know I am making you all wait for the news. haha I have to. The doc came in and I told him about the pressure of course. We discussed this and basically, I do have scar tissue but when my veins got pretty much blocked off from the tumor he said my veins started to reroute or move and the blood flow tried to go other ways. I know our blood will do this, such as in when someone has a stroke. The vessels can find new paths...maybe even create new paths. I am not 100% positive. I do feel pressure but usually when doing things like singing, talking a lot, crying, or anything involving the upper chest area. Doc said I may always have it, I may not and maybe I'll just get used to it. I may just not ever be normal like I used to. Things aren't the same and he did notice the veins in my neck as I always do. I hate them. He felt my lymph nodes, and they were perfect. He said I am so skinny that he'd feel even a slight swelling. hee hee. I tell you, he always talks about how skinny I am. =/ I don't necessarily mind really. haha My blood work came back great. My checkup went perfectly. STILL in remission!!! Thank God! I am really relieved. I started to get worried. This pressure has always been on the back of my mind. If I wear shirts that tie around the neck, I feel it. It's never been like what it was when I was sick. Yet it is there on occasion and it makes me very nervous.
Now to top the day off we decided to go out to dinner at TGI Fridays. I loved it. We haven't gone out to eat in so long. It was so wonderful. Then we stopped later to get gas and some drinks. I saw a breast cancer lottery ticket. All proceeds benefit breast cancer so I thought, I'm gonna do it. I'll buy one. I am feeling lucky. I also felt good that my money would go somewhere good even if I lose, the money goes somewhere good. You match your winning numbers or get a 10 and win all ten prizes. I got a 10!!! I won $25. Yeah! :) I never win on scratch tickets. I am happy, relieved and glad that long drive is over. My next appointment is January 23rd. I'm sure I'll get this way again. I always do. I appreciate so much all the comments and words of support. It's so hard doing this. I know in 5 years I will be considered cured. I have to be in remission for 5 years. So, as of February 2009 it will be just one year. I found badges online for each year of remission. I hope to continue adding badges each year!

Today is the Day!

My third three month follow up is today. I have been in remission since February 2007. I go every 3 months to make sure I still am! I get so nervous around these times and this time has been no exception. I have read you have to be Hodgkin's free for 5 years to be considered *cured*. At this point I am in remission. As I said I still have pressure in my veins but not on a regular basis. I hate that feeling and plan on talking to the doc. I think it may be due to all the scar tissue in my body. I know the tumor was wrapped around the veins going up into my neck. They couldn't remove anything surgically. The doc said I would always have scar tissue in there. He said no x-ray or scan would ever look *normal* for me. That's always nice to know. haha Anyway it's a pretty long drive. About 4 hours one way. So I'll be leaving around 11 a.m. I think for a cancer survivor it's really scary to say "I beat it." It's hard because you just can't believe it and yes you don't want to tempt fate. It sounds so wrong, I know. I am definitely MORE nervous now than I was when I was sick. When you are sick though, you have doctors everywhere helping you, listening to you. You are getting treatment all the time, being checked frequently. Then, all the sudden, it's quiet. You aren't seeing any more doctors. You go every 3 months and in between then, it's just you. It's scary. It definitely takes some getting used to! Since I was pregnant during it all I cannot explain to you how many doctors I had. I was being checked all the time for something! Think of me today! :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Does Anyone Watch The Biggest Loser?

I haven't watched as much this year, I admit, but last year I was faithful. I never missed an episode. The reason being a close friend of my husband's was on the show. Actually my hubby was his boss. We moved and things changed, so he is not his boss anymore. Who? Jerry Lisenby. Do you all remember he was the oldest contestant up to that point. He did well. My 11 year old daughter was star struck. We told her we knew him and she was just amazed. We went to his house and he was so sweet. He gave her a t-shirt he got from the show and took a pic with her. He lost so much weight. He reminds me so much of my husband it's not funny. I think personality wise they are the same. I am proud of him for the great shape he got himself in. What an inspiration to everyone! Here is the pic he took with my daughter after he gave her the shirt. Can you not see stars in her eyes??? lol

Check out his site.

Well I am on the very bottom!

I need you all to click or I fall off the list forever. I think I lasted maybe a week :( I want to stay on top but I need more clicks. I didn't know it would be so hard. haha

I'm a Top Mommma!

Just click my picture when you get there. If you add your blog I promise to click for you too! Just let me know.

Laryngitis Among Other Things

Well, today really didn't start off right. I overslept first of all. I guess I forgot to set my alarm clock. I lost my voice Saturday, about an hour before my sister's birthday party. It's a bad time to lose your voice because my sister loves to sing, as do I and I'm sure I would have tried to sing a tune with her. That of course couldn't happen. I am waiting for my voice to come back but to no avail. It's still gone. I woke up today with terrible upper back pain. I get this from time to time...especially if I spend time drawing, which I did yesterday. I lean over too long and don't stretch enough. I blame only myself. So I have a sore throat this morning as well, combined with a head cold, upper back pain and no voice. I overslept so I kept the kids home. I didn't really want to, but I also felt pretty awful and didn't want to have to go in to the school and explain we overslept. I decided this one time, to stay home. I hope tomorrow I feel better!

It's not all awful. I am sitting here curled up with my 8 year old. It puts a smile on my face. I'm including a picture of my sis and I at her birthday party.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Appointment On Thursday

It's almost here and it's a pretty good thing. I think the anxiety is finally getting to the hubby too. I don't know what it is but I think I start to actually FEEL symptoms the closer I get to the appointments. I really do think at least some of that is in my head so I don't let myself get crazy with worry but it is stressful. We were watching that movie with Harry Connick Jr. last night. I forgot the name of it. He finds a medicine for breast cancer that saves lives. I thought it was wonderful but it still put me in a mood. I get so sad and it reminds me of how I felt. I am thankful for how I feel now! I feel good and that's a wonderful thing.

I enjoy the drive to my doctor. We moved in February a good four hours away. It used to be about an hour and a half. After much debate we decided to not switch doctors. I have been going to him since the beginning and I just trust him. He knows my whole situation from top to bottom and that gives me comfort. My situation was unique so I just didn't feel comfortable switching. I would have, if my appointments were more frequent. I would have no choice with the cost of gas but since it's just every 3 months we decided to do it. I will definitely post an update when I get back! It's a beautiful drive. I hope to get some good pics of the fall leaves. Here's another old pic of Gabbi at birth. She wasn't bad zized for four weeks early. Oh and please don't forget to click the top momma thing every day! I am falling off the top of the list. Just click the top momma banner over on the right and click my pic. Sign up for yourself too. See how long you stay on top!!

The Questions is, What Doesn't Cause Cancer?

I get tired of hearing it. I really do. Every day, something else causes cancer. Or so they say. I have been warned for years about saccharin. Stay away from artificial sweeteners! Then I hear drinks with sugar in it can cause cancer. So, I can't drink anything sweet? Don't even get me started on the whole deodorant thing. I get tired of rumors. I get tired of hearing cell phones cause cancer, diet sodas may cause cancer, and something about air fresheners now. Is it really possibly to avoid all risk? It's not. I quit smoking when I was a young girl. The thought of it disgusts me now but yes I did smoke for a couple of years when I was about 20. The thought of smoking actually hurts. I avoid smoke as much as I can. I actually am not too surprised about air fresheners because they hurt to breathe in when I was sick. Seriously. We had bought a lot of those oil kind. At my worst when I came around them it burned my throat when I breathed in around them. I went around my house pulling them out of the plugs. Then again, it hurt to breathe in dust or to be around the dog too. It's odd. I am not really sure why.

I can't forget cooking meats might cause cancer. I read something about grilling food and nonstick pans too. How are we supposed to realistically avoid these things? I am not going to stop living. I am not going to eat plates of rabbit food every single day. I'll take a vitamin and I'll do my best but I will not stop living.

Of course, my very own cancer treatments can cause cancer. So, especially since they have no clue what causes Hodgkin's it bothers me. I can't avoid what causes it because they don't know. Then again, I suppose there are many cancers like this. I have had people message me about natural remedies and all that. I was much too sick to be helped by anything other than chemo when I had it. I was informed I would not last three weeks. No amount of vegetables would have kept me from dying. I needed that treatment and it worked. I admit I need to improve my diet and I am a strong advocate of trying to eat right but I don't think we can all live our lives based on what new thing is a carcinogen. I honestly ask myself why they tell us what causes cancer. Tell us what DOESN'T because in this day and age it seems like everything causes it. Or maybe that's just me.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I Received Two Blog Awards Today!

Thanks to On the Verge for giving me these awesome Blog Awards today!

I want to give both of these awards to:

Tammy at Pink Stinx

Searching for my Inner


Random Ramblings

Following My Calling

Lady Banana

Mommy Confessions

My Lymphoma Story

So here is what you do:

1. Slap this baby up on your blog. Don’t be shy.
2. Link to the giver.
3. Nominate up to seven other fab blogs.
4. Post links to those super fly blogs your nominating.
5. Leave messages for your recipients on their blogs…so they can feel as special as you.

New Template

I changed my template so that all the extras, widgets and what not are on the right side. I wasn't sure about the old template. It's a pretty basic one and I've seen it several other times on other blogs. I don't have the knowledge to add a homemade template....because I'd lose any widgets I have on here. I could copy and paste them all but way too time consuming and I know I'd delete some on accident. question is, do you like this template, or the old one better? This is directed at those that have seen it of course. :)

More Bad Dreams

Well, it seems I am creating a pattern with myself. When my appointment was scheduled for October 9th, I hadn't had any worry, or anxiety about my follow up. I was actually doing pretty well. They rescheduled my follow up for the 23rd and now it's getting to me. I think what worries me the most, is that we don't do any kinds of scans at all. I guess unless I have symptoms the benefits don't outweigh the risks. I don't want to get to the point where I have symptoms like before. I also do not want to deal with the risks of too many scans so it's such a confusing feeling. I have pressure in my veins in my neck. But then again, that never really went all the way away and could be explained by the scar tissue and enlarged thyroid. The pressure comes and goes. Still I better inform the doc just in case. I just hate being obsessive! haha I am so silly that way. Still, I guess you can't be too careful right? I had another bad dream last night. I did this the night before my LAST follow up. I had a dream they took a test...a blood test and it was much like a pregnancy test would be. Positive for my cancer coming back. I swear and my doctor was telling me "oh don't worry about that." This whole thing is getting annoying. I want my follow up to hurry up and get here. I'm chuckling at myself. It's so typical of me to get like this the closer we get to that appointment.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Blame it on Chemo Brain

I'd like to blame it on chemo brain anyway. Chemotherapy can make you forgetful. It can cause brain fog....or make you forget things in general. I definitely see this in myself and as a person who loves to read and learn I find this really hard. I went back to college a couple of years ago and took courses I would never have wanted anything to do with when I was 16. I took chemistry and microbiology. Science is now a favorite of mine. It's good since I want to be an RN. I have taken some time off obviously and I think it's for the best at the moment. I find myself getting jumbled up in my thoughts on occasion. I am good at math but must have paper and pencil to do it. Don't ask me to do too much in my head because I can't hold onto the numbers. It's like they float right on out. I actually forgot what a *diaper bag* was called. It was funny, yet scary. I asked my daughter to bring me the uh....uh....the um, thing with all the baby stuff in it? I swear. I did this a month or two ago. I remembered and was just in awe at my forgetfulness. Those moments happen occasionally, not constantly. Here is something I recently read at Science Daily:

UCLA study shows that chemotherapy causes changes to the brain's metabolism and blood flow that can linger at least 10 years after treatment. Reported Oct. 5 in the online edition of the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, the findings may help to explain the disrupted thought processes and confusion that plague many chemotherapy patients. "People with 'chemo brain' often can't focus, remember things or multitask the way they did before chemotherapy," explained Dr. Daniel Silverman, head of neuronuclear imaging and associate professor of molecular and medical pharmacology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "Our study demonstrates for the first time that patients suffering from these cognitive symptoms have specific alterations in brain metabolism."

It's such a real thing and I can't explain how frustrating it is. It can linger for 10 years? That's a depressing thought to me. I can only say I'll fight it by pushing my brain harder than ever. I read a lot and I plan on taking more classes this spring so it will force my brain to focus, hopefully. I hate the fog...or feeling of having to think harder to get an answer. I can usually get the answer, but it just takes more effort than before.

A funny note, I know it's not unusual for moms to call their children by the wrong name. You start with one kid's name and go through them all before you finally say the right one. I do this a lot. Well my 8 year old is Mikayla. So, if I start with her everyone in my house sounds like a McDonald's entree. For example:

Miklexi! I mean...Lexi. MikLexAngel...I mean Angel! So yeah. My girls are Lexi, Mikayla and Angel and the baby is Gabriella. So I am sure one day a MikGabbi will be added to the menu.