The last week of chemotherapy I didn’t feel much peripheral neuropathy pain. My fingers were slightly painful and hard to use but after taking some B6 recommended by my oncologist the pain quickly went away. A couple weeks after that, and the completion of my BEP chemotherapy, my feet and hands started to tingle and go numb. This slowly progressed to awful, sharp pain like glass shards with every step. One of the things I will be forever grateful for is the ability of my oncologist to not only help me with his specialty but also find me excellent resources to recover from treatment side effects. I suppose when you are as good as he is you know all the right people. More on him in a future post :). Read more
A very dear friend of mine circulated this essay while I was sick and she was facing the reality of a second child diagnosed with CF. It was SO impactful and something I think everyone should read. It doesn’t just have to pertain to having a kid with disabilities.
Life isn’t always as planned but takes you in amazingly wonderful directions if you are open to looking for the good. I truly believe the way to face tough challenges is head on with an open heart and open mind. I will talk about my “Italy” after the essay. Read more
Hi all! Today I will be doing a commercial at the request of my neurologist. I am very excited to release an upcoming post on neuropathy because I know there are a lot of fellow neuropathy sufferers out there that can benefit from the therapy I had. It is taking me a while to get the neuropathy post written because I find it to be a very important post and I want it to be as complete and accurate as possible. I’m a very private person, or at least I was until this blog and the thought of being on camera is a little scary. However, what Dr. Carney did for my quality of life makes it well worth it. It is amazing to me that just months ago I felt like I was walking on glass and he got me to the point of being able to run a marathon. When I get a copy of the spot I will post it on the blog for you all to see. It will explain what I had done and how it helped.
Questions. Questions. Questions.
Questions circling through my mind like a horse on a racetrack.
- How will I get back in shape after cancer?
- How will I be strong after cancer?
- How will I turn this experience into something good?
- How will I inspire others to go through cancer with strength and grace and come out a powerhouse?
- What have I always wanted to do but haven’t? (Many, many things! Haha! I’m a typical Pisces dreamer. Stay on track- focus on physical feats!)
- What will make me feel like I am okay again?
- Most importantly, how can I teach others cancer isn’t a roadblock to your life or dreams? Read more
One of the most common questions I get when talking to people about to embark on chemotherapy is, “How long did it take for your hair to grow back after chemotherapy?”. I had the same question when I was going through chemo. I loved my lack of hair but was looking forward to some fun, funky stages that I would not have normally tried out. I always thought it would be so helpful to have a visual guide of what to expect and I never found anything. So!!! Here it is!
It is surprising how fast your hair grows back. Within a week and a half of the completion of my BEP chemotherapy I had a ton of “sprouts”. For more on my thoughts about hair loss please read my previous post, Goodbye Hair! See You Next Year!
My hair one day before losing it!
Bald and Beautiful- My favorite accessories when I lost my hair, my bald head, my favorite Life is Good hat, and Gracie of course!
Hair Length 1 Month Post BEP Chemotherapy- I loved, loved, loved this stage!! My head was so soft and fuzzy!
Hair Length 2 Months Post BEP Chemotherapy- Starting to see where my waves stem from! A lot of swirly hair showing up this month.
Hair Length 3 Months Post BEP Chemotherapy- I had a lot of growth this month. These shots are from the beginning to the end of the month. Mid month I could spike it up a bit.
Hair Length 4 Months Post BEP Chemotherapy- This was my most favorite stage!!!
Hair Length 5 Months Post BEP Chemotherapy-
Hair Length 6 Months Post BEP Chemotherapy-
Hair Length 7 Months Post BEP Chemotherapy-
Hair Length 8 Months Post BEP Chemotherapy-
Hair Length 9 Months Post BEP Chemotherapy-
Hair Length 10 Months Post BEP Chemotherapy-
Hair Length 11 Months Post BEP Chemotherapy-
Hair Length 1 Year Post BEP Chemotherapy-
Happy National Cancer Survivors Day fellow and future survivors!
Always remember cancer is not a road block to life. You can achieve your dreams and it’s never too early to start!
The real glory is being knocked to your knees & then coming back. That’s real glory.”
— Trish Corliss (@mommybeatcancer) June 2, 2013
It’s the night before the Sunburst marathon and I just picked up my packet! This is going to be AWESOME!! All of my tooth and nail fighting to return to the healthy person I used to be will be tested tomorrow. It is unbelievable I finished chemotherapy one year ago today.
I run to regain strength.
I run to give strength to others to know you can recover after cancer and be STRONGER than ever if you are willing to fight for it.
I run to raise money for cancer research.
I run to show my little girl mommy is okay.
I run to inspire anyone who thinks they can’t do something. I had a baby, major tumor removal surgery, a pulmonary embolism, and aggressive chemotherapy last year. If I can do it anyone can! Never give up! Never, ever, ever give up.
Old post! Better late than never!
Last year at this time we were up early with the whole family in town and it was our first major holiday with Gracie. This was her first Easter and she was 2 months old. I woke up pretty sick but insisted I get Gracie dressed up in her best Easter outfit. No matter how I felt I always pushed through because I didn’t want to miss out on anything with Grace.
It was chilly so I opted to wear my favorite hat to church. I walked into the church with three things on my mind. Is it okay to have a hat on in church? Am I going to get sick during this mass? Will Grace decide this is the moment she will become a crier? I decided to leave all of those thoughts at the door because they were just worries and I wanted to have a good day with my family and what would be, would be. After all, in my opinion it was pretty spectacular I made it to mass in the first place. I only had two episodes of getting sick during chemotherapy. The first episode was two days before Easter when I insisted on getting Ryan a tie at Macy’s to match our outfits. Ryan, Grace, and I went out shopping to find one and I could not believe what a task it was! I remember running to the trash can outside the door then coming back in and saying “I can do it, I can do it.”. Then running upstairs to the bathroom where I spent quite a bit of time. I wasn’t sure I could leave the bathroom so I sat on a couch near the exit door and this wonderful woman came and sat with me and asked if I was okay. She knew I had cancer, it was obvious with my lack of hair and newly ensued nausea. She said she had been there and it would pass. She was so sweet and just what I needed at that moment. It’s funny how people just drop in at the right moment sometimes. My other bout of getting sick with chemotherapy was toward the end of my treatments and it was long lasting. I will discuss that in another post. All in all I Easter was a success and I was just fine. I had a wonderful day with my family celebrating and no sickness. They all made wonderful toasts to my health and in a little sisterly fun I actually made my sister sick! HAHA! It was so funny. I put some slimy fish scales on her arm and she had to leave the table. (Not nice I know, but really funny. I know she can kick my butt these days so I might as well take advantage while I’m sick because I know she won’t retaliate! Man, another thing I can thank cancer for!!!!)
And this year, I opted to wear the same outfit I did last year. I never do that for Easter. I am always so excited to go get a new Easter dress and a matching tie for Ryan. I guess in some way I wanted to not forget last year. It is so shocking to me how different I feel this year, how I have recovered, how something seemingly so, so big can be a memory so quickly. How has it been almost a year since this has all happened? I cannot wrap my mind around the magnitude of last year and it’s impact on every facet of my life. It was a quiet Easter dinner this year with Ryan, Gracie, my mom and I. Proudly I can say we continued our healthy family journey and the four of us took a very long walk before dinner.
All was perfect in my world at 10:45pm, 02/03/12. You see, because that marked the birth of our first baby – Grace. Until you have a baby I honestly believe you don’t really understand life the way a parent does. I was immediately blown away with my emotions around this little bundle of joy. She was so quiet, peaceful, and naïve to all the joys and heartache of the world. The enormous feeling of responsibility to protect this child and start her off on the right foot, was with me right away. Little did I know, my power and ability to protect my baby Grace was going to be so quickly and so mercilessly taken away from me…or so I thought.
I will NEVER, NEVER forget the extreme fatigue I felt when returning home from the hospital with Grace. I will NEVER, NEVER forget how ill I was in the middle of the night – the night before going to the emergency room. I felt so helpless. I was sitting on the bathroom floor, nursing Grace, balling my eyes out, feverishly on fire, trying to clean up my mess from getting sick and thinking- I CAN’T DO THIS!! I am not a “can’t” person. My mom and husband can attest to this. I always astound them with the things I say I am going to do and actually accomplish but this felt hopeless to me. I had never had that feeling before.
Everyone kept telling me that being tired was normal. I knew this was not anywhere close to a normal-new-mom-tired. The fatigue came on in October 2011. I remember trying to make it to work an hour away and it took me sometimes up to three hours because I had to stop and sleep several times just to make it. Many nights would pass at the end of my pregnancy with lifting my head long enough to literally scoop the dinner Ryan made me into my mouth and then, as if I were as helpless as Sleeping Beauty, crashing back down to the pillow in complete surrender. I kept thinking man, I hope this goes away with birth. How can I ever take care of a newborn when I can’t even take care of myself? Birth came, my body blew up even more like a balloon, my fatigue got worse, and I felt like a crazy person the first two weeks trying to take care of Grace. Soon after a cascade of events featured in Something was Wrong led me to being without Grace for the first time.
The night before my surgery Grace was not allowed to stay with me. My mind kept racing in this endless sad loop of my first night in the hospital:
- Where’s Grace?
Safe with my mom and Ryan’s parents.
- How’s she eating? I’m nursing her and don’t have any reserves built up yet.
Formula and a bottle. AHHHHHHHH! More on this in another post.
- Are people letting the kids hold her? They’re only 5 and 3 and I don’t feel comfortable about it yet.
Yes. Dammit! That was my one request going into surgery- please don’t let the kids hold her. I felt very betrayed as I was helpless and it was my only request.
- Is everyone washing their hands? She is being dragged in and out of doctor’s offices and a hospital. Is she going to get sick?
Everyone was hand washing to the point of their hands bleeding. Yikes. Gracie never got sick though! YAY!
- Grace needs her mom’s heartbeat to sooth her. Is this messing up a critical mother-daughter bonding time? Will there always be a disconnect because of this?
In retrospect, it was one night without her mommy and she was and still is okay. Grace was with me everyday of my ten day hospital stay except one. Most of the time she was under my arm and bonding with me. I think it is me that initially felt like I missed out. I don’t remember those days. I was very drugged and my only memory of them is in pictures that are pretty painful to look at. I say they are painful but at the same time it is pretty damn cool that little Gracie, three weeks old, was as quiet as a mouse for nine days so she could be by her mommy. Pretty incredible in my opinion. My first real memories coming out of my drugged state were so bizarre. Ryan was wheeling me around the hospital and I had Gracie in my lap. People kept congratulating me on the birth of my baby. It was a really odd feeling because that was not why I was there and at that point I knew the result of my surgery and it was cancer.
- I am in the hospital being sent pictures of my baby. I AM SUPPOSED TO BE SENDING THE PICTURES.
It was so sweet that I was getting pictures while Grace wasn’t with me but it was very hard for me. I didn’t know what time was going to bring. I didn’t know if I was going to make it out of surgery okay. I didn’t know if she was going to have her mommy and if I would be going out looking at a picture.
The balancing act was about to begin. A few days into my hospital stay the doctor came in and gave me the results of my surgery. All my mind heard was you can no longer nurse then it reverted to the thought, Congrats on the baby! ps: YOU HAVE CANCER. All of the above racing thoughts switched off and I went into some sort of bizarre survival mode. I started making one of my silly lists in my mind again.
- Number one priority…ME. WHAT? WHAT!? I have never made myself the priority. Now I have a child and my first thought is, I have to be the priority! Yes, harsh reality but – yes! If I don’t make myself and my health number one Grace and Ryan will never get the opportunity to be number one priority in my life because I won’t make it through this and be healthy for them.
- Maintain a positive attitude and happiness. It is critical to a child’s development to be surrounded with positivity and happiness. I want a happy child. Must keep Grace happy. Must teach her strength and grace through the hard times. I want her to look back at pictures of this time and know that she made it grand and gave me incredible strength to conquer this hurdle. I want it imprinted in her mind that you don’t have to let illness consume you. You can make a choice to have your reality play out in a positive light even though it may initially seem devastating.
- Okay, I can’t nurse Grace anymore. Must find the best formula on the market and deal with it.
- I am going to be in chemotherapy 8-5, M-F for 3-4 months. Make sure Grace can be with me.
- Keep moving so I have energy for Grace.
- Be with Grace as much as I possibly can. Don’t let others take over unless needed. This is going to be hard enough, I don’t want to add the feeling of not being able to raise my child.
- Expose, experience, and teach Grace as much as possible. Make awesome memories with her. Take a lot of pictures. Take a lot of pictures. Take a LOT of pictures.
- Regain my sense of power to protect my little one, raise her, and nurture her NOW. Nothing is being taken away from me. I am being given an enormous gift in disguise.
Surgery, chemotherapy, and a newborn were all very challenging but we had a lot of help and support (to be written about at a later time) that made it not so bad. Looking back, this has made us a very, very strong family. I feel like my cancer was a success and a blessing. I concentrated so hard on my list and it worked. I plunged forward and have my health and the most awesome little girl I could have ever asked for.
Congrats on the baby! ps: YOU HAVE CANCER is now……
Congrats on the baby!! ps: SHE IS SO, SO COOL!!!!
Congrats on beating cancer!! ps: YOU WERE SO STRONG, POSITIVE, AND DID A DAMN GOOD JOB WITH YOUR KID!!
Everyone has the power to change their reality. Whether you are able to get out and muster up the energy to be active or you are bound to bed. Make your list. Empower yourself with the ability to change your reality. There are many things you can do from a hospital bed or a chemo chair. There are many ways to find happiness and a positive light even in seemingly dark situations. Empowering yourself to change your reality may just shock the hell out of you. You will see things in yourself and others you never thought was possible. I think this applies to everything in life.
Here are some photos from our hospital stay. The last one is celebrating Grace’s 4 week birthday. Every week we celebrated on the Friday she was born at 10:45pm. I would make her balloons out of straws and Kleenex :). It’s all I had access to. :)
Just about a year out from losing my hair and I went to the salon to see the always wonderful Kristin today and…
Drum roll please…
I HAVE MY PRE-CANCER haircut back! Pretty close anyway. :) I actually enjoyed my lack of hair but am happy to have my old haircut back. Now back to reality! I’m headed to the neurologist to have my follow up nerve conduction study tests to see if the combined electro-chemical block therapy worked on my neuropathy. It certainly feels like it did but I’m curious what the testing will show.