Thursday, July 31, 2014

and she wishes she was a dancer, and that she'd never heard of cancer...

Today is one of those days when I can't help but think about how incredibly scary this thing is. As I mentioned in the last post, one thing about Triple Negative Breast Cancer is that there are no drugs that can help you prevent recurrence like other types of breast cancers. Once you finish chemo, you just have to hope and pray that the chemo did it's thing.

I'm trying to do everything I can to limit toxins in my life. Better diet, organic foods, little to no sugar and alcohol. I am already getting overwhelmed. Right now I'm just trying to find foods that don't want to make me vom, or make my throat catch on fire. Trying to also get your nutrients in is a whole other challenge. Oh, also I'm too tired to go to the grocery store. Is there a handbook for this? Oh yeah, there are about a million, but really what I need is a personal chef/shopper and life coach.

Anyway, I'm sitting here listening to my playlist, and the song that Connor and I danced to after the wedding and before our grand exit just came on. I immediately started thinking about the promise of that time. Of the life we were starting together. Of the relief of finally getting to just be together without driving back and forth between Dallas and Fort Worth. Of being done with wedding planning. Of figuring out how to be married to each other. Ugly cry.

Seems like I always hear how hard the first year of marriage is... but it really wasn't for us. At least for me, it wasn't. Was it hard for you, Connor? This is the hard part. I hate this feeling of unshakeable guilt. That I somehow messed everything up. All of our plans. I know it's not "my fault" but I can't help but think how I wish things were normal...

Here are my prayer requests for today and always:
  1. Pray for my mind to relax and not be constantly thinking about what I'm up against.
  2. Pray that the chemo COMPLETELY knocks this thing out.
  3. Pray that this cancer will not recur somewhere else in my body.

Ok tangent... I wrote all of the above separately, and now I just need to take a minute to say something about the incredible power of kind words from kind people. As I was wrapping up this blog post, I got an alert on my phone saying I had a new facebook message. It was from my middle school librarian, Mrs. Sessler. She found my blog through my mom, who also works in the Grand Prairie libraries.

The note Mrs. Sessler wrote was exactly what I needed to hear today. She told me how she survived ovarian cancer after being diagnosed the year after she got married. She reminded me how important attitude is, and to think about surviving, not being scared. Gosh, I feel like a million percent better right now. Here's to the future! And to taking what life gives you and making the absolute best of it!!

Love y'all,

Sunday, July 27, 2014

I get knocked down, but I get up again, you're never gonna keep me down...

So we are no longer halfway done with chemo. :(

When we first met Dr. O and she was explaining the treatment regimen she told us that there was a possibility that she would want to make the 2nd regimen of chemo drugs a combination of drugs (taxol and carboplatin) rather than just taxol. She told me on Friday before chemo that she had decided it was in my best interest to go ahead and add the carboplatin since we know there is a lymph node that is involved (which means the cancer is Stage 3). We didn't have the information about the lymph node when we first met.

The biggest blow is this means rather than 4 more "dose dense" rounds every two weeks, my chemo regimen will now be 12 less intense weekly sessions of taxol with a round of the carboplatin thrown in there every third week. All of that adds up to an extra month of chemo. Blech indeed.

Here's the the thing though... What this also means is that we are fighting this with literally EVERYTHING we can, and that makes me feel good. For those of you that don't know, there are several types of breast cancer. Some are fueled by the hormones estrogen, progesterone, Her2, or a combination of the above. Mine is what they call "triple negative" which means the extra hormone therapies (pills taken for a number of years after chemo to prevent reoccurrence) won't work for me. Chemo is all I have to fight this, so we have to go at this very aggressively.

So, I am taking this extra experimental drug as a blessing. This gives me one more thing I can use to fight, and I will gladly take one extra month of treatment if that means I have the upper hand over this unwelcome invasion.

So thankful to live in a time when there is so much research available and there are new treatments we are learning about all the time.

In other good news, we are still done with the Adriamycin. Hallelujah!

Love y'all,

Thursday, July 24, 2014

what a feeling, being's believing, I can have it all, now I'm dancing for my life... take your passion, and make it happen, pictures come alive, you can dance right through your life...

Tomorrow is my FINAL round of Adriamycin and Cytoxan, and marks the halfway point of chemo. Can you hear the excitement in my voice? Imagine it! For the uninitiated, adriamycin is just about the worst. They call it "the red devil". It's responsible for the hair loss, and a lot of the harder symptoms associated with chemo. The next four rounds after tomorrow will be Taxol, which I am told is much easier to take. Still no walk in the park, and really the symptoms vary from person to person, but I am excited just thinking about the milestone of being halfway! Let's say it again, HALFWAY!

Last time I was equal parts dreading/anticipating chemo, but this time, I am ready! I've been eating spinach like Popeye, and even found a magical chalky liquid that helps with the acid reflux, which really for me, has been the worst thing. Heinous acid reflux.

Ok, it isn't that tasty, but the sweet relief that comes over your throat as it goes down is more than worth the price of admission. I didn't learn about this sorcery until after my "bad" days last time, so it hasn't been war tested yet. I am weirdly excited to see how it goes this time. Bring it on!!! (British fireman, I'm counting on you.)

So, my last post, I was feeling pretty down. I was expecting Friday to be my bounce back day, and when it wasn't I kind of lost it. On Saturday, I was still pretty weak and tired, but I was able to see the light at the end of the tunnel again. I never really fully recovered from the fatigue this week, but I am so encouraged by all of you who are standing behind me, praying, and sending positive energy. Y'all really know how to make a girl feel loved. Thank you for carrying me over the hump, and helping me to switch my attitude from pity party to leading the parade. I am channeling Fanny Brice! Nobody is gonna rain on my parade, y'all. The bad days don't seem so bad in retrospect, and I am excited to conquer the next ones with new tools in my arsenal.

In other news, today was my first day venturing to work with the wig on. I have been trying to build up tolerance to wearing it, and truly have been a little nervous about it. I don't want people to think that I think this is real hair... believe me I KNOW! This morning though, I just wasn't feeling any of my scarf options. I took the wig down off of the top shelf in my closet (yes, I am now the proud owner of a Styrofoam head), and pulled it over my head. I have learned it's never a good idea to do this without makeup on. Your hair is perfectly fixed, and your no makeup, chemo fatigued face is just bedraggled. BAD COMBO. I'm not even a "I have to wear makeup to go outside of the house" kinda girl... Something about the perfectly coiffed newscaster hair makes you feel the need for makeup. So anyway, I decided to go for it. I even got a compliment on the elevator on my new haircut from someone who didn't know!

wigging out!

Of course I then, immediately awkwardly ruined it, and told her it was a wig and that I had cancer. :( Why am I so hopelessly awkward? She totally made my day though. I made sure she knew that.

By about lunch time the wig was driving me crazy, but I powered through the afternoon. Once I got out of the parking lot though, all bets were off.


Alright y'all. LAST ADRIAMYCIN TOMORROW!!!!!!!!!! Get excited! Go gaviscon!

Love y'all,

Friday, July 18, 2014

with a taste of your lips i'm on a ride, you're toxic i'm slipping under...

The best things about being bald...
  1. Save money on shampoo!
  2. No more greys! Instantly!
  3. Takes zero minutes to dry your hair!
  4. Bad hair days? Not anymore!
  5. No more vacuuming the spot on the floor behind where I fix my hair!
  6. That feeling you get when there is a hair stuck in your shirt, and you can't contort your body enough to free it! Yeah I can't remember what that's like...
  7. No more shaving! Well almost... legs are still hanging in there a little bit. But no pits!
Weird things about being bald...
  1. There's always a rush of air you get over your head when you open up a doorway into another room. 
  2. Arguing with your spouse over how high of a rotation the fan should be spinning at.
  3. Forgetting to wash your head because your old routine always started with shampoo/conditioner.
  4. Always having to cover up to go outside. There's no way I'm trusting this noggin' with SPF alone!
  5. Making sure your wig or scarf is on straight.
  6. Getting "chills" from  your scarf or wig brushing your neck in just the right way.

So... this week has been rough. It's like you know chemo is tough, but you don't KNOW until you KNOW. It's just so hard. I'm trying to do everything right. I'm eating the right foods, drinking lots of water, and alcohol doesn't even sound remotely appealing. I'm trying to stay active and go on my jog/walks... but it just isn't enough to overcome the chemo. I mean, I get it. They are pumping toxic chemicals into my body every two weeks to kill bad cells. I just wish it would only kill the bad cells, and leave the rest of me alone.

It's strange to think about how before we started the chemo I just had this cancer inside me, silently dividing and wreaking havoc, however I felt perfectly fine and healthy. It wasn't until the chemo that I felt sick.

Today (Friday) is usually my "back to normal" day, but it's not here yet. I am scared that as the chemo builds up in my system that it's going to be harder and harder for me to bounce back. I'm supposed to be young and invincible, right? I am not. This is beyond humbling.

Prayers and vibes, please. I am in need.

Love y'all,

Saturday, July 12, 2014

i would like you to dance (birthday) take a cha-cha-cha-chance (birthday) i would like you to dance (birthday) oh dance! dance...

Dear Blake,

This time last year I was overjoyed with the news that you had just been born, on your due date, no less. I was kind of hoping you would make an early appearance and be a 4th of July baby. Can you imagine, fireworks on your birthday, every year! Mostly I was just anxious to meet you.

At your family baby shower hosted by "the Great Aunts" (I'm the Aunt now!)

I was so proud of your mama for doing such a great job and delivering you without drugs. I was so thankful for your daddy, who took such wonderful care of your mama, (and you!). They were so ecstatic and overcome with love to have you become part of their family that day. They made a wonderful team.


I didn't get to meet you til you were already 4 weeks old, but I can tell you that I fell in love instantly. Unless you count me falling in love with the photo above. I think it counts.

At 4 weeks, things had settled down a little. The grandparents had left, and your parents were starting to find their groove. Uncle Connor and I drove up from Texas to make sure you weren't just a figment of our imagination. You weren't. You were perfect. Except for the receding hairline, which was precious. And really... who am I to talk about good hair right now? You totally have me beat in the hair department. :)

Hard to believe how something so tiny can fill your heart so completely.
So Blake, it has now been a year. You are One. You are cruising, and clapping, and touching your nose, and roaring like a lion, and waving goodbye. You always light up when we get to face time, which makes me feel oh so loved. Here's the thing, Blake. It doesn't have to be this way. You can move back home to Texas. Try to convince your parents. (It will be our little secret.)

I am hoping to be able to road trip to see you in August after they switch out my chemo drugs. I can't wait to see what you're up to by then. Surely you will be running around your Aunt Jess in circles. :) Hoping and praying that the next set of drugs will allow me to do this!!

precious little nugget!

As for an update on me. I just finished my 3rd round of chemo yesterday. That's 75% done with the "hard" drugs, and 37.5% done altogether. Whew! This is flying by. When it's getting close to time for chemo day, I equally dread it and look forward to it. I think that's probably pretty normal... Strong desire to check another treatment off the list, low desire to experience it!

Acid reflux was a little better this time, but still bad. They are suggesting more drugs which makes me wary, so they said for me to tell them quickly if it's not helping. We will see. For now I have learned, no tomatoes. At all. Doesn't matter if you're feeling good, don't even try it. They will knock you down. Life lessons!

The other thing that I am dealing with is pre-anemia. They are shutting down my ovaries, plus I am going through chemo, so all of that adds up to me needing more iron in my diet. She suggested leafy greens (especially spinach) every day, so right now I am drinking down a spinach smoothie. She also suggested more beef! and more liver (WHAT?) I don't typically eat a lot of beef, so that will be tricky to figure out how to incorporate that. I don't know that I'm even going to go there with liver, unless one of you comes out of the woodwork with some amazingly good and not weird recipe for liver.... any takers!?

I asked her to set me up with a nutritionist to help me figure all of this out. I need all the help I can get!

Truly though... let me know if you have any good recipes for iron rich foods. I want to dazzle them with my blood counts in two weeks!

Love y'all,

bonus: Blake says "every little thing is gonna be alright"

Friday, July 4, 2014

birds flying high, you know how i feel. sun in the sky, you know how i feel. breeze driftin' on by, you know how I feel. it's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life for me...

The first morning of waking up and feeling good again after chemo is just THE BEST. I've had Michael Buble - Feeling Good in my head ALL DAY, and surprisingly, I'm not completely annoyed by it! Happy birthday, America!

I've been pretty cooped up all week due to losing my hair. (Today is the first day I've been in a car since Sunday...) I was originally planning to take Monday and Tuesday and work from home while I got used to my buzz cut, but turns out that once your hair starts going, it keeps going. I have been an itchy mess all week, and it was better for all parties concerned if I stayed put and shed the buzz cut at home.

Finally on Wednesday afternoon, I was getting really sick of it. At the end of the day, I went outside and sat on our deck, and just rubbed and rubbed my head until almost all the hair was gone. It was a little shocking when I went inside and saw myself in a mirror. I don't know what I was expecting... but it was shocking just the same. Good news is, I have a completely symmetrical head. Bad news is, I am a Warder AND a Wells, which means I have a giant mole from one of those sides on the side of my skull. FAIL. Also my ears don't match, and this is becoming more and more apparent without hair! Le sigh. Love me anyway, people.

I'm starting to feel more comfortable with the whole situation though... Turns out, people mostly treat you the same when you are out and about whether you've got hair or not. Strangely comforting to be ignored... feels ordinary. And good.

So today, to celebrate feeling good, we went out to lunch. In public. Sporting my Team USA Olympics shirt, and a blue and white chevron headband tube thing that doubles as a head wrap that I found in my closet. Looking forward to fireworks and friends tonight!

Love y'all,