Sunday.

I think I may have created some misconceptions about how I have been handling all of this. How cancer has been for me. You see, cancer isn’t a derby party on the lawn with sun hats and mint juleps and gossip. I crack jokes about my circumstance sometimes because that is how I deal. That is the only way to get through the day sometimes.

I leave the house with a full face of make up on and a hat or headband to cover the fact that you can almost see the whole top of my head. I smile and make small talk. I say things like “Well, it’s one day at a time” or “I’m hanging on” because those things are true but they just cover the surface. I try to spare the people I am talking to because…cancer is scary and you never really understand just how much until you are in the thick of it.

Here is what I don’t say to people. I cry when I look in the mirror because I almost don’t recognize myself. My hair is scraggly. My skin is dull. I break out in weird bumps and rashes. My lips are almost always chapped. I hate shopping now because all of the clothes I want to wear won’t look good on me. I tried wearing my wig one day. Not only was it scratchy as hell but it didn’t feel right. Meaning, it didn’t look right. I felt like the whole time I was wearing it people were thinking “OH SNAP THAT IS A WIG ON HER HEAD”. Which I know isn’t true but it is how it felt.  I don’t say how I would give anything, anything, to have control over my life and my time again. My life is dictated by doctor’s appointments and whether or not I will have the energy. I can’t even pursue careers right now because I don’t know when this will be over. How do I interview for a job and tell them “well I don’t know when I will be able to start because…cancer”? So, to all my peers graduating this semester- you’re welcome? One less competitor, right? Sometimes sitting through a 75 minute class on real estate investments feels more like four hours. Confession: Sometimes I can only pay attention to the girls who are sitting in front of me with perfect, thick, beautiful hair.

So no. Life isn’t always easy. But I also firmly believe that how you react to situations is a choice.  

Just so no one takes this post as all gloom and doom and gets concerned, I’m going to share about some happiness I got to take part in. Some magic.

Last weekend on Sunday afternoon Thomas and I decided to go to Orlando for the night. It was already 4:00pm but Monday was a holiday and we have season passes to Universal so why not? That’s usually how things go with us. It’s spur of the moment, where ever our hearts take us. We dive head first. It’s one of my very favorite things about our relationship. Anyway, we rounded up a couple other friends and got on the road by 7:00pm. We flew into Disney Springs on two wheels just in time to make dinner at the T-Rex restaurant. I also ran away (literally ran) to the Christmas store before they closed to get a new ornament. That is one of my traditions. The next morning we woke up with not much of a plan of what we were going to do that day. We were sitting around discussing ideas when a rare opportunity arose. Our friend who works at EPCOT rounded up some tickets for us. The day was spent eating around the world and eating every thirty minutes, riding roller coasters and playing games and laughing with some of the best people I know. We went to three parks that day, walked over ten miles and ended with the Magic Kingdom fireworks show. Seriously, if you have never seen Celebrate the Magic or Wishes at Magic Kingdom you are missing out. I tear up every time. We got home super late on Monday night but it was so worth it. That day I got to breathe and smile and feel like just another normal person. There is an undeniable magic about Disney that you never outgrow.

I have been dealt a hand of cards I have no idea how to play. There is no strategy. We dive head first.

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The Situation.

This post comes with a few disclaimers. If you are easily offended, if you do not like potty humor, if you are my mother, do not read the text below. I am mildly embarrassed that this is  on the internet but…to not share is to leave out a huge part of my cancer experience. So, to heck with it!

I need to start by finishing the story from last Thursday. As if the day wasn’t going badly enough, I started throwing up late in the afternoon. I then found myself at the cancer center hooked up to an IV getting fluids and pain medication and nausea meds. I got three doses of morphine and was still in so much pain that my teeth were chattering and tears were rolling down my cheeks. Not one of my best moments. My favorite nurse, Nancy, came to see me and told me not to be brave. To ask for help sooner. To take more medicine than I have been and that is ok. They ended up writing me a higher dose of narcotics and that did the trick. I was feeling a great deal better. I actually got sleep that night.

All of this has a purpose I promise.

Pain medicine works by doing something to your nerves so you don’t feel the pain. Even the nerves you want to feel- like the ones in your intestines. Nausea medicine works by not letting anything come up and out of your stomach but it also stops things from coming out of the other end. ( Do not take my word for any of that, I could have totally made it up. I am not a doctor.) Having said that, I found myself in quite the situation on Saturday…if you know what I mean.

After having so much medicine on Thursday and Friday, I woke up Saturday with a very sad stomach. That annoying and unwelcome bloaty, crampy feeling. I tried it all. Apples, hot coffee, apple juice, prunes, prune juice, gatorade, drinking lots of water, actual stool softener, a heating pad. Nothing was working. I.Could.Not.Go.

The time came. The final destination, last resort, plan Z. Imagine the big red button under the glass box that Mr. President presses when aliens have invaded and the whole world is exploding.

 

 

If you don’t know what these are…ask your mom. Why are they shaped like bullets?! (No one answer that) It went 0 to 60 very quickly. Funny story actually. Later than night I went out with some friends for a birthday party and I brought a spare change of clothes with me because I was almost guaranteed to need them.

Every thing all worked out in the end. Just FYI.

It is one of the worst side effects of cancer I have experienced. It’s something I didn’t really ever think about being an issue. There are actually a great number of things I didn’t think about. Every ones sees cancer as throwing up and losing your hair. But what about my inability to fight infections if I got a sinus infection? Bad tastes in my mouth? Mouth sores from chemo? My worsening allergies? Acid reflux? Constipation? I have my normal prescriptions that I call my “pharmacy”. Pain medications, nausea medications, and steroids.

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But then there is my supplemental pharmacy to fill in the gaps that my body can’t handle on it’s own right now or to combat the negative side effects from chemo or related medication.

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I am someone who barely ever even took Tylenol for a headache before all this. I am also someone who will barely ever even take Tylenol for a headache after all this.

Neulasta Thoughts

Today is not a good day.

It started last night. A deep, throbbing, shooting pain in my lower back. The Neulasta has finally shown its ugly face. I didn’t sleep. I couldn’t. I laid in my bed and my body shook from the pain. It was unlike anything I have ever felt. The doctor told me that the symptoms I am having and the pain I am feeling are very typical for people who show reactions to the Neulasta (not every one has a reaction. I’m just lucky). I am now on Percocet and ibuprofen and confined to my bed watching Tiny House Hunters while falling in and out of sleep.

Being stuck in bed and feeling like heck, you have plenty of time to think. Here is what I have come up with. Before I got sick I never really took great care of myself. I wasn’t overweight or anything but I ate whatever fried, greasy food I wanted. I stayed out late. I drank semi- regularly. Sometimes I even had a cigarette with my friends *gasp*. I rarely went to the gym or did anything active (I did run three half marathons but that is a different story). WHY? This all goes back to my previous theory of feeling invincible. No one thinks they are going to be the one to have cancer until they actually do have cancer. Myself included. My joints hurt most days, I’m nauseous and my energy is on the ground. I would give anything to feel like going for a run or to be up to having an intense workout at the gym.

Your health is a precious, precious gift. There are no excuses for abusing it. So instead of waiting until some specified time to get yourself in check, do it now. Now is the perfect time to quit smoking and develop better eating habits. Now is the perfect time to train for a princess themed half marathon. I’m not saying that doing these things will keep you from ever getting sick or being diagnosed with cancer. I am saying why not feel the absolute best you can while you can? You never know when your whole life is going to change.

Your body is important. Treat it that way.

Chemo #2

Yesterday was pretty uneventful. I already knew what to expect. The only new bit of info was my white blood cell count. It tanked after my first treatment. A normal level is 1000, mine was 90. Due to this, I got sent home with an alien on my arm. It is a little device that injects Neulasta into my arm 27 hours after my chemo treatment. Neulasta is the drug that stimulates your bone marrow to produce more white blood cells. It is also going to cause a lot of bone pain in the coming week. I can’t wait. When they put it on, it beeped for three minutes then sounded like a toy gun when it stabbed me. I made Thomas hold my hand and it make me jump but it didn’t really hurt.

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My port also wasn’t working very well yesterday again. Finally the nurse discovered that if I was laying flat on my back they could get a good blood return. Who would have know? Thomas had the week off because of our Seattle trip so he got to come to this one. His first experience at a chemo and I also had a surprise visitor. My oldest brother, Christian.

I felt pretty good when I got home until a few hours later when I was leaned over a trash can ready to throw up. Never did though. Sleep is my best friend in these situations. If I can sleep through the yucky stuff I will be ok.

Wig Shopping.

My mom got us an appointment at the American Cancer Society to look at and try on wigs this past Wednesday. It was a bitter sweet experience. Some of the wigs are just TERRIBLE, some were really cute. A lovely lady, Mrs. Vera, was there to help me out and to help me find something that would help me feel most like myself. The American Cancer Society provides these wigs to patients at no cost. I didn’t have to provide a doctor’s note or proof of insurance. What a wonderful gift that is? Of all of the hoops I have to jump through and the sucky stuff I have to deal with, this organization takes the pain out of one experience of having cancer. Anyway, what everyone has been wanting to see. Wig pics.

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This one reminds me a great deal of Michael Cera.

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I really liked this one but I couldn’t wrap my head around being this blonde all of the time. It was very cute though. I felt like Taylor Swift.

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This one made me feel ready for a Mayday Parade concert.

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The Little Mermaid.

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Last but not least, this is the one I decided on and took home with me.

Georgia.

So much has happened since my last chemo treatment so I am going to take this quiet Saturday morning to catch up my blog.

The week after my first chemo was rough. Not going to lie. Saturday and Sunday were GREAT but then Monday- Thursday were just really rough. I didn’t work anywhere near thirty hours at my job because I literally couldn’t. I didn’t make it through a day without a nap. I went to bed one night at 7:30pm and woke up for work the next morning at 7:00. I was in pain. I cried a lot. There was one night at dinner with my family where I felt like I couldn’t even hold my head up. It was the first time in this whole thing where I told myself, I really don’t want to do this.

Friday was a new day. My very close friend from St. Pete, Courtney, was in town. She came and picked me up and we had a day of great food, shopping, laughs and quality time. She is one of the best people I know. It made me feel normal. We also went and saw Bad Moms at AMC. I cried from laughter.

Sunday I left for vacation with my boo. This week we should have been in Seattle but since that plan got ruined we had to settle on somewhere much closer. We chose to go explore Atlanta and Savannah. Sunday was spent at the Georgia Aquarium (after a hot dog at the Varsity). I thoroughly enjoyed getting to see the different exhibits and different kinds of creatures. My favorite thing was the dolphin show. It is so amazing to me all the things they can teach animals to do. After we has done and see it all, we went across the street to Olympic Park. We caught lots of Pokemon and tried to stay out of the heat. Lucky for us, there was a Ruth’s Chris right at the park and I don’t turn down steak so that is where we decided on for dinner. I love eating at fancy restaurants every once in a while. It makes me feel…fancy. We split a giant ribeye that comes out on a 500 degree plate with sizzling hot butter. No lie. I highly recommend. After dinner I was on the hunt for peach cobbler so after some research on our phones we found a place close by that was highly praised for their peach cobbler. Sweet Georgia’a Juke Joint. We ordered our desserts to go but the venue was very cool. They had live jazz music and everyone was dressed in their absolute best.

Monday we did even more touristy things. We went to the Dwarf House. For those of you who don’t know- I went to the OG Chick-fil-a. The place life began. After lunch we went to Ikea. I’m a sucker for a good Ikea trip. This Ikea was in a super cool neighborhood called Atlantic Station. Its a newly developed shopping, office and residential area. I bought a new bathrobe and some silverware for my brother who recently moved into his own place. LOVE Ikea. After Ikea we loaded up back into the car and jetted off to Savannah ( I wore my robe in the car). The thing I like about Savannah is how yo can walk to wherever you need to go. It’s a beautiful, historic town. It reminds me of a mix of St. Augustine minus the ocean and a cleaner New Orleans ( don’t get me wrong, I LOVE New Orleans). We walked around River Street going in and out of little shops. One was a candy store. They made homemade pralines and chocolate covered strawberries. Naturally, we got some of each. DELICIOUS. But afterwards we were in need of some air conditioning and something salty so we found our way into Barracuda Bob’s. Let me just tell you, some of the best crab cakes I have ever had in my life. Two words: Old Bay. After a little more walking around it was dinner time. We decided on River House Seafood. I can’t turn down fresh seafood. Another plus, one of my best friends recently moved to Statesboro which is just a short drive away from Savannah so he met us for dinner that night.

Tuesday we started the day with a nice brunch in Savannah at B. Matthews Eatery. It was exactly my kind of brunch. A pancake, sausage patties and biscuits and gravy. After brunch we headed to Forsyth park. A beautiful park in historic Savannah with nature trails and canopy walk ways, lined with some of Savannah’s most beautiful homes.

We decided to head back to Tallahassee after that but not without stopping in Jacksonville first. We ate a Angie’s subs and went and put out feet in the Atlantic.

Traveling has become our “thing”. Some couples have a TV show that they watch together and talk about or collect something together. Ours is going places. It is what gives me something to look forward to. It is what  enjoy spending my money on. It makes me feel thrilled and excited and most of all, through all of this, it makes me feel normal.

1000 Words

I asked my big brother a couple days ago if we could take some pictures before my hair fell out, before I actually looked sick. I wanted something that could serve as a reminder on my worst and dark days that the sun still shines. Here is what we were able to come up with. Just a little silliness and fun in our backyard.

 

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