Sunday, November 26, 2017

Pregnancy feels familiar...

Who here remembers that phase in my life where I shaved my head, gained a lot of weight and pumped my body full of toxic drugs? Ah yes, that time I danced with the C word. Cancer! Yes I'm sure you all remember that, I pretty much shoved it down your throats with my blogs and pictures. But I was just keeping it real for y'all. Now you are probably asking yourself what does that have to do with being pregnant? Well besides the fact it is a tiny miracle that between mine and my husbands radiated and medicated pasts that we could even create a human, but how reminiscent all these doctors appointments are.

Here we are again seeing the doctor so frequently, blood tests left and right, vitamins, iron deficiencies, fatigue, constipation, diarrhea. I would say vomiting but I did get lucky and not get any of that with chemo or pregnancy! Its my bowels that take the hit. Hey you know me, never one to shy away from the truth no matter how crude.

Besides the similar symptoms being pregnant also has similar limitations. And I want to clarify that I am in no way comparing my little bean sprout to having a tumor or two. I am simply pointing out similarities as they were intriguing to me. For example the easy one was of course no alcohol. Although I did cheat on that one during chemo, it helped my white blood cell count! Science. I have to eat healthy foods. Thoroughly cooked foods. No raw sushi or undercooked meat. Lots of water. Try to stay active for as much as your body allows. You know, the usual.

Again before someone thinks I'm comparing the large plum in my belly to the bulky tumors in my chest I am not. I love the little thumb sucking magic bean and am thankful for it everyday.

As my belly grows and my body stretches the body pain reminds me of 2014 chemo pains. Its like a whole body ache occasionally. Most of the time I am plagued with back pain and migraines. Luckily my doctor prescribed me massages. These don't seem to really help but I'll take a relaxing massage covered by insurance any day. The best medicine seems to be a cup of coffee (doctor said it was okay) and some yoga.

With that note I think I am starting a new book in my life, not just a chapter but a whole new book. This part of my life is not over but it is in the past and one I want to move forward from. I will be starting a new blog for this next book. A new story to follow. A new set of crude gruesome stories, and probably a lot of cute motherly stories as well.

Hope to see you there!!

"Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny." -C.S. Lewis.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Out Living It...A week in the Outer Banks

Here we are a few days from my 3 year chemoversary, well 3 years since my last chemo. Is that the chemoversary? I guess I can make my own rules on what I want to celebrate and what those celebrations will be called. Anyways, here we are, a few days away from my 3 year chemoversary and I have just returned from a grand adventure where I was Out Living It!

I spent the week in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Sun beating down on my pale Washington skin. Hot sand in-between my toes and a salty ocean breeze blowing through my hair. A 3 story beach house with a glorious view of the east coast filled with strangers. Thats correct I spent a week with complete strangers. I disappeared from the real world and entered into a summer wonderland with fellow strangers seeking the same adventure. Introduced with newly discovered nick names but feeling I knew these strangers deep down. I may not know their real names but I know these people. These are not strangers after all! How can 10 people fill this beach house and yet I feel right at home? Well we all have one thing in common that links us in a deep way. We are all young adult cancer survivors and fighters. 

First Descents is what brought us all together and I can't thank them enough. My week spent in the Outer Banks of North Carolina was life changing. We may have arrived feeling depressed or defeated. We may have arrived feeling scared and weak. We may have arrived with determination in our hearts or perhaps hope for some magic. No matter how we arrived I think its safe to say we all left with a new sense of life and adventure. 

My new friends and I learned to surf, most of us for the very first time. The amazingly patient people at Farm Dog Surf School taught all of us some amazing skills. Taught us Don't Just Lay There and Take It! Taught us to paddle paddle paddle. Taught us to stand on our own two feet in imperfect conditions. Taught us to not give up because there will be another wave and you can try again and again. Then theres that first moment you jump up, your toes grip the board and you feel the power of the wave push you along. The air blowing in your face, the surreal moment when you are flying over the water.  Then you let your high carry you down to the water in slow motion. Just to paddle paddle paddle and do it again. 

I know I pushed the limits of my body. By the end of the week my already brittle knees were throbbing from all their hard work. My pale pacific north west skin was crispy and red. My desk job arms used muscles they didn't know existed. But I survived. I made it out stronger than when I went in. Physically and mentally. 

Each amazing day after surfing was spent hanging out with my new friends and the staff who put this all together. The staff was amazing, they cooked, they talked, they lead great conversations and activities. It was a safe, comfortable place. There were times when we went from laughing to crying. These people became my tribe, my friends, my family. Cancer perk I guess. 

Someone (Ruh Roh) had mentioned in one of our great talks that he would tell people, "I hope you get cancer." Not to wish the illness on others but the feeling that comes after the diagnosis. The feeling that life is to be lived. The Hakuna Matata feeling, no worries. I didn't totally feel that after my diagnosis. But after my eye opening week I feel liberated. I feel like I need to be Out Living It more. I need to worry less and adventure more. Even if that means just taking a weekend trip to visit my tribe. 

I wish you all could feel the high I had during my week in the Outer Banks. I forgot about real world troubles. I forgot about all the small things that were boggling my mind. I forgot about my desk job and what would be waiting for me when I returned. I just let the ocean air clear my mind and the lovely words of friends flow in. 

Here we are back to the real world and I am trying to live by the Don't Just Lay There and Take It motto of the previous week. You should do the same.

Yours truly, 


Image may contain: 16 people, people smiling, people standing, ocean, sky and outdoor

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, ocean, sky, beach, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: 1 person, ocean, sky, outdoor, nature and water

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Less About Cancer, More About The Future

I read a cheesy internet article recently that quoted something Tom Hanks said, "I hope the president-elect does such a great job that I vote for his re-election in four years." Now why would I start a posting in my cancer blog with something presidential? Because its positive in a world of negativity.

As we edge closer and closer to inauguration day my fear of what is to come increases. Not only because of the soon to be president but the things that are already at jeopardy. Like Healthcare. I have been lucky enough to be employed by companies that provide healthcare but I have plenty of friends and family that do not. They relied on the Affordable Care Act to help them through their cancer treatments. Without it many would not have made it.

I will admit I am not a very informed American when it comes to this stuff. I research what I need to and what I want to. So I will not preach about things I have no knowledge on. I do know what I have seen and witnessed and that is a world that is crumbling around us. Not just because of who we chose to lead us but how we treat each other.

I lived in fear for almost a year while I was battling cancer. I didn't know if I would live to see another year let alone another presidential election. But here I am 2.5 years cancer free. I still live in fear of relapse but that is something I am working on. Instead of worrying if I will get cancer again I think about what adventure to go on next. But lately I find myself worrying about my future not because of cancer but because of people.

A day does not go by where I don't hear, see or read about hate crimes, shootings, stabbings or any violent or criminal act. It is being shoved down my throat. It has me down right scared to do anything. I don't want to live a life in fear that the person in the car next to me might have a road rage fit and decide to ram me off the road or follow me home.

Bottom line is I want us to all get along. I want us to hope that our president does good things and amazes those who voted against him. I want him to succeed as he is our leader and well, he's the Pilot. If he crashes we all go down with him. Instead of blaming each other and hating on those who had different opinions, lets hope for the best. Everyone cannot win and you cannot please everyone. It happens every election, every day, in every life. You lose sometimes but thats why you become a good sport and just try harder next time. Hey I got cancer at 24 and was not pleased, I focused on the end result which was me making it out alive. Thats what we have to do, focus on the happy ending and do your best to make it happen.

Say hi, give a compliment, do a good deed and pass it on. We only get one life, lets make it a good one!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Club Cancer

"I'm sorry but you have cancer." Hearing that from your doctor could immediately ruin anybodies  day. But before you go and get all depressed because you have a life threatening disease, just remember you are now a part of an elite club. Club Cancer. Thats right, welcome to the club my friends. We aren't picky about who can enter. Only requirement is that your body tried to kill you! Now you may think what a small club, it can't be cool. Wrong-o! This club is huge! So huge I meet new members all the time. So yes don't be down about having cancer, be happy you're apart of an exclusive club!

Most of my friends these days are cancer survivors like myself. I was new to town when I was diagnosed so the first way I had to meet people was through cancer groups and meet ups and support groups. So those club members became friends and eventually family. 

Being apart of Club Cancer has opened so many doors for new adventures and opportunities to meet others in the same boat. First Descents is one of those doors. First Descents is a group that offers free outdoor adventures to young adult Club Cancer members. How neat is that! When I first was introduced to them I was very intimidated. The adventures they offered seemed way out of my league and skill set and even physical ability. I thought I would never actually participate. They offer small events as well as week long adventures. I have started with the smaller ones to see what it is all about and let me just say: WOW! I have gone indoor rock climbing, to kayaking on the ocean with whales and on the lakes with seals. I have hit pinatas on a porch and gotten my very own baci bracelet (or two.) Things I never thought I would do. Because of these experiences it has opened my mind to new and exciting things. I now own my own kayak so I can float with the seals any time I want. I know I am capable of so much more. I would never have gone on a 2 day, 20 mile, open ocean whale watching kayak trip on my own. But when given the opportunity to do it with a dozen other members of Club Cancer, why the hell not!

So yes, I went on a 2 day, 20 mile, open ocean kayaking trip. I saw the back and tale of a whale, some otters, seals, jelly fish, eagles and deer, amongst some pretty amazing views. I did that with people who have been in the same boat as me (no pun intended.) We could laugh and joke about what we all have been through. We can share stories and compare battle scars. And walk away from the trip friends. Some of these people I may have never met in day to day life but because we share something so deep there are instant friendships made. 

I must add a disclaimer however. This club does have a downside. That downside is the loss of friends and family. We all know how cancer can get and we all hope for the best. Appreciate your friends and family while you can as there may not be a tomorrow. To anybody dealing with the dark side of this disease, I am sorry. All we can do is honor and remember those we have lost. Get lost in memories and remember they wouldn't want us to be sad they are gone, they would want us to get busy living. They are watching and enjoying the view. 

No person is ever truly alone. Those who live no more, whom we loved, echo still within our thoughts, our words, our hearts.

Some moments caught from one of the wild trips!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Am I Surviving Wrong?

"I knew someone that had cancer and when they beat it they had a new outlook on life." That is something that is said to me quite often. Not exactly that way every time but that general idea. I personally know people that have taken life by the horns after their diagnoses and never looked back. There are some that are taking their experiences and helping others. There are some who said fuck it and are traveling the world and saying YES to every opportunity. There are some that just see the happiness in the world and no longer fret the little things because they lived, they survived. There is no greater gift than a second chance.

What about me? What about the others? I also know my fare share of those who look at their diagnoses like why me? What the fuck did I do to deserve cancer? Some remain bitter. Some can't find that new sense of normal. Some are permanently damaged. Am I one of those permanently damaged cancer survivors? I didn't have it too bad. I did my year of time and I bounced back pretty well. It looks like I bounced back anyways. I almost have that pre cancer body but I credit that to my metabolism. I went back to work. I joined sports teams. I dated (and eventually got engaged!) But in the back of my mind I know I am not the same as I was before. And I had hoped all through my treatment that I would come out of it a changed and more grateful person. I beat cancer I should have had an epiphany or realized my dreams and went after them. I should enjoy the sun rising and I should be grateful I woke up this morning. I should. But sometimes I'm miserable. Am I surviving wrong?

Some might think so. Some might think I am not enjoying my 2nd chance and that someone else who didn't get one would have enjoyed it more than me. Is this survivors guilt I feel? I have no right to complain because I survived. If I walked by you on the crowded street you wouldn't know I had cancer and almost died. So why am I upset? I should have dropped everything and ran to another country, explored something new and celebrated my 2nd chance. Instead I was eager to get back to normal but that normal I remember isn't my normal anymore. And now that I have that "normal" I can't help but think I'm surviving wrong. I am plagued with thoughts of reoccurrence daily. Followed by guilt that I have no right to think that because my cancer was the good kind and I'll be fine. Which comes to a screeching halt when I realize my thoughts are valid because I had cancer dammit. Then I tell myself to stop being a drama queen.

Then I think of people who have had cancer and hide it away like it never happened. Once again I feel guilty and think that I am just seeking attention and I should hide it away and never talk about it. But then those freaking thoughts come back and it starts the vicious cycle all over agin. I remember how the chemo tasted. I remember having a weird reaction to the Zofran which I dreaded more than the chemo. I remember the aches all over my body and it hurt to lay down. It hurt to be hugged. It just hurt. I don't want to do that again. I wouldn't wish that on anybody let alone someone who already went through it and knows what to be scared of.

After all of that I should be a giant ball of light and joy. But I am not. Am I surviving wrong? Or am I surviving the best I can. And you are surviving the best you can. And we are all doing our very best and doing what we think is right. There are no right or wrong ways to survive. Each person battles their own demons and it is up to them to conquer those demons. Life is just one epic war and we fight battles along the way and hope to see another day. Life is precious. Whether you have had cancer or not, make sure you are surviving and thriving. Just remember how you survive may not be the way the person next to you survives. If I must have a gloomy day here and there and let the bad thoughts take over then I will. I will write a blog about it and share it and hope that there is someone out there reading this and they say "So I'm not the only one, this is normal." I hope those questioning if they are surviving right realize its okay to have the guilt. Its okay to not be a ball of light and joy after surviving cancer. Cancer is a big deal and unfortunately a lot of our dear friends don't win the battle but those of us that do we are plagued with the memories and reminders. Sometimes we are reminded to cherish life and live to the fullest. And sometimes, just sometimes, we are reminded that death is lurking in the shadows and what happens if we bump into each other again?

"There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds."

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Two years later...

Here we are two years after my last chemo, two and half years since I was diagnosed and about 3 years since I started noticing weird symptoms. At that time of course cancer was the furtherest thing from my mind. I guess we should take a few steps back...

Almost 3 years ago exactly I had ACL reconstructive surgery on my left knee due to a soccer injury. I  had the basic tests run to make sure I was healthy enough to be put under for a few hours. No concerns so we went ahead with surgery. A few weeks pass and I am healing from a semi major knee surgery when I start noticing lumps on my neck. They would come and go and doctors advised it was because I was sick (with colds) and thats just how my body was dealing. Well that has never happened before in my 24 years of life but who am I to question them, they are the professionals after all. My legs were also super itchy. Itchy to the point I would scratch them so hard they would bleed. I had a ton of ideas of what the cause was and just didn't worry about it, itchy legs aren't life threatening. Soon I get a lump on my neck that decides to make its permanent home on my collar bone. I went to another doctor who recommended a ear nose and throat doctor. By the time I get in to see this ENT I am two weeks away from moving from Southern California to Seattle Washington to start a new exciting journey. As usual he said it was probably nothing and because I was moving there was no time for extensive testing. He offered to do a needle biopsy right then and there and said we should hopefully have results before I left the state. Sure enough a few days later he calls to say they were, wait for it, inconclusive. He advised to enjoy my move and if it got any worse to see a doctor in Washington.

So I moved. Started my life in Washington and was getting settled. I found a doctor to recommend a physical therapist so I could continue my PT for my recently operated on knee. He also was performing an insurance required physical for my new medical insurance. He did the usual testing and commented on how extremely healthy I was. Until I mentioned I had had a cold for about two weeks that didn't seem to shake. Then pointed out the giant golf ball sized lump living on my collar bone. Then he asked if I was having night sweats and sure enough I was! I had just figured I had the heater up to high while I was sleeping. I slept a lot because I was ALWAYS tired. Turns out itchy skin, commonly itchy legs, are a symptom of Lymphoma as well. Of course I didn't put all the pieces together till after I was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. At that point I was given so much reading material and had googled so many things and read so many blogs that I was now a self proclaimed Hodgy expert.

All that has brought me to here and now and what is on my mind. Here we are 3 years almost to the day since my last ACL surgery and guess what? I am currently recovering from ACL reconstructive surgery on my right knee. Soccer. Soccer is how I keep tearing and breaking things in my body for those that are wondering. Any who, so as I am having the biggest case of De Ja Vu in history or just plain ol' repeating history, I couldn't help but wonder if all of 2013 was going to take place again? The beginning of 2013 had its ups and downs that I account towards being a young adult and nothing special but to have a first major surgery, move two states away and get diagnosed with cancer all in a matter of 6 months, man did I hit the mental and physical breakdown jackpot!

I have an itch on my leg. I have a lot of itches on my leg. Both of my legs are super itchy. I scratch them to the point of no return. De Ja Vu.  I'm tired. So tired. Did I sweat last night because it was hot? Yeah it was just hot in the apartment last night thats all it is, I'll turn the fan on higher tonight. Let me caress my neck ever so cautiously. Whats that? Is that a lump, no thats supposed to be there. How about the arm pits? Feel, tickle, poke..whats that? Nothing, its nothing. Let me email my doctor and see when he can squeeze me in for my next scan or a blood test or maybe he can just feel this thing on my neck that isn't anything at all. Or is it? Whats that pain in my throat? Cough Cough. I have a cold, no its something in my throat. A tumor? No. Its nothing.

Here I am two years out from my last chemo and I feel the things I felt 3 years ago. Does it ever really go away? I don't think so. My new normal is worrying about every itch and every ache and every tingle somewhere in or on my body. My new normal is talking myself out of the thought I could have a relapse followed by the very real confirmation that people relapse all the time. It could happen. I have accepted there is no real rhyme or reason for getting cancer. Yes, some you can trace to an exact cause but most is just the luck of the draw. As my doctor said I was "extremely healthy," followed by wait whats that lump on your neck, followed up with "you have cancer."

Don't get me wrong, my life is not consumed with thoughts that I will relapse. They come and go, its all part of that magical roller coaster ride that I will never be able to get off of. I enjoy life to the best of my ability. I also know I have a higher risk of getting cancer again or even a secondary cancer and that I do need to be weary and cautious. The whole "is that a lump?" panic mode is something every cancer survivor is all too familiar with. Lets just hope my itchy legs are caused by the change in weather...

Heres to hoping friends!!

Monday, November 16, 2015


Here we are again! Its been a long time since my last post. I have just been busy getting back to real life and getting back on track. I have had a lot of time to ponder things and life and changes and people. I have recently been through some big events in my life. One as you all know was a cancer diagnoses and most recently I have gotten engaged! As you all know a lot of my previous blogs were about me dying alone, which was almost true. But here we are 1.5 years post chemo and I am engaged. Who would have thunk it!

Now this gets me to one of the many things I had pondered. I of course started my planning right away and one of the major things is the guest list. I bought a book on wedding planning and it gives you a break down on how to pick guests but even with that it is hard. We are planning a smaller wedding and so we have to be picky with our guest list. But upon licking the envelopes to send out the save the dates, I realized I had a much smaller pile than my fiancé'. Is he cooler than me? (He is pretty cool!) One of my excuses was that I had moved away from my home town and lost touch with people. But that couldn't be it because he had done the same thing at the same time. Bottom line is he probably is cooler than me and is better at keeping in touch with people. But I also remember while going through my diagnosis I was miss popular! Where did all those people go? I had messages and texts and letters on a daily basis. And now that I am better and happy and living life with no sign of cancer all the people have vanished. Was I the hot fad of the season? Was I the juicy gossip at the time? Was I that charity case that everyone wanted to know about?

After I didn't die and my hair grew back the people faded away. They moved on to the next big thing. But when I announced that I will be getting married....those people were no where to be found. I guess that just teaches me a lot about people in general. You can interpret how you will. I guess that could be taken a few different ways. But to me it shows people care about your worst times to make themselves feel better. But when it comes to someone else's happiness they don't care. That is ok. In the end I know who is truly there for me in my best and worst times and that is a pretty good gift to come out of all of this.

Cheers to those people who have been around thick and thin, bald and hairy! You the real MVP!!