Friday, May 1, 2015

don't give up, you've got a reason to live. can't forget, we only get what we give...

Today, May 1, marks my one year "cancerversary". It's a little bit hard for me to wrap my brain around the fact that 1) this even happened at all and 2) I spent 7 of the last 12 months completely bald. Was that really me? Did I really lose every last eyelash? Sometimes I think it was all a dream.

is this real life?

When I blogged after my mastectomy I reported to you that my body had a PCR (pathological complete response) to the chemo, which is what my doctor told me. About an hour after I posted that blog, however, I started to have doubts about what she told me because of some of the research I had done. Why was she so confident that all the cells were gone? How could she possibly know? Then it dawned on me. She probably didn't remember that we had removed my tumor in a lumpectomy before chemo had even started. Before we even knew it was cancer. She was thinking that the chemo had gotten rid of it, instead of the knife.

I allowed these thoughts to consume me for about a week. I had a follow up appointment with my surgeon, who said she would ask my oncologist and report back to me. No answer. I asked the nurse practitioner, who said she would ask my Dr. and report back to me. Again no answer. So I decided to forget about it until my 3 month follow up. The appointment came in April, and yes, she had forgotten about the lumpectomy, but it hardly seems to matter anymore. PCR or not, there are no guarantees.

Nothing can take away the good news we received which was that there were zero cancer cells left in my tissue or lymph nodes that they were able to get to. But are there cancerous cells in the lymph node they couldn't get to? Specifically the one that glowed hot on the PET scan last summer? Or somewhere else remote in my body, lurking? We can't know, until we know.... so no news is good news. Truly.

Over the past year, I've met many new friends who are in similar situations. Some of them have gotten great news at the end of treatment, and others have gotten not so great news. It is sobering. More and more I am reminded that I have no control over this disease. We do everything we can to beat it, but in the end, the cancer is going to do it's thing. Sometimes chemo works and sometimes it doesn't. When it doesn't work, it doesn't mean you didn't fight hard enough. It means that cancer sucks.

When Stuart Scott died earlier this year, his speech from the ESPY's was all over the internet. The only sports I watch are Texas Tech football (and we don't make ESPN very often...), so I wasn't very familiar with him or the fact that he had cancer. I love love love that speech though.

cool as the other side of the pillow

What a legacy. If there is one thing cancer has taught me, it's to live a joyful life. No more fear of the unknown. No more stressing about trivial matters. No more worrying about things that may or may not happen... it simply isn't worth it. Choose joy. Choose love. Choose forgiveness. Build others up rather than tear down. Start from within, and the rest will fall into place.

basking in a gardening high, 51 weeks after cancer. y'all should have seen how awesome my new hair looked when I took off the headband..... it was all Bride of Frankenstein up in here.
I can't say if I will continue to blog or not. Seems I have less to say these days. Although, there may come a time when I decide to pick it up again... we will see. Until then, thanks for dancing with me.

Love y'all oh so much.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

whoa oh oh oh oh... whoa oh oh oh I'm radioactive, radioactive...

Hello friends. Long time no blog. It has come to my attention that some of you (most of you?) thought I was the kind of girl that would proudly show off pit hair. While yes, my armpit hair has started to grow again, that is not what I was flashing in the picture I posted on facebook last week.

The reason my arm was up like that is because I was trying to show my neon red radiation burn, which in my mind was completely obvious. That's the position I have to hold my arm in during treatment. Please note the perfectly straight burn line which indicates precisely the area being treated. What's funny is that I made sure that my armpits were freshly shaved prior to taking this picture to avoid this very confusion. FAIL. Ever since the surgery, the tendon (I think it's a tendon...? I didn't take anatomy) that connects my chest to my arm has been super tight resulting in an actual pit in my armpit, that apparently likes to live in the shadows and look like pit hair. SIGH.

Anyway, I hope you weren't too grossed out, like my mother. I thought at the ripe old age of 31, that I was out of the phase of being embarrassed by my parents... turns out, all it takes is accusations of distracting pit hair in one of your photos. Who knew.

So, for a real update.... I have now finished 25 out of 33 rads. (That's street lingo for radiation.) The radiation itself only takes about 10 minutes, but driving out there every week day, changing into a gown, getting my tattoos lined up, and waiting my turn when they are inevitably running behind takes about an hour and a half each day. I will be glad to be done with it on February 18th!! It's time to get the heck out of DFW, since I have been tethered to Baylor Downtown for the last 9 months.

In other news, I am very seriously considering turning my radiation tattoos into a real tattoo. Currently, I have 4 tiny blue freckles in the locations shown below. Any ideas? I want it to be subtle and meaningful, but I haven't been able to come up with anything good...

*'s indicate radiation tattoo locations. Let me know if you think of something brilliant.

I may end up doing something not connected to the freckle tats, because I don't really want to turn my entire chest into a canvas... and how else would you use dots in those locations. My favorite idea so far is three tiny little birds on the inside of my right ring finger, so I can remember to not worry about a single thing. Subtle, yet something I can always sneak a peak at when I need a little boost. Anyway, stay tuned for that.

Man oh man, I am so excited to be almost done with treatment. It feels so good to feel good again. You know what I mean? I love the feeling of being wide awake! I love going out and about with my ultra pixie cut! I love waking up in the morning with bed head. I love getting to wear scarves around my neck again. Life is good, friends.

Love y'all,