Tag Archives: ovarian cancer

Congrats on the Baby! ps: YOU HAVE CANCER. Balancing Cancer and a Newborn

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post surgery

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Okay, I can’t nurse Grace anymore. Must find the best formula on the market and deal with it.
  4. I am going to be in chemotherapy 8-5, M-F for 3-4 months. Make sure Grace can be with me.
  5. Keep moving so I have energy for Grace.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

Reality changed!

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. :)

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Who has her pre-cancer hair back?! This girl!!

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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.

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A Different Kind of Mommy – Mother’s Day

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Mother's Day 2013

Today is Mother’s Day. As I reflect on this past year of being a mom, I realize being diagnosed with cancer makes you a different kind of mom. My prognosis was and still is great but hearing you have cancer three weeks post-delivery of your first baby does something to you. It is like a switch turns on and you feel the need to experience and expose your little one to as much as possible all the while absorbing as much as possible – immediately.

Last year on Mother’s Day I didn’t feel so good. I was in my third round of BEP chemotherapy and it was starting to catch up with me. Up until that point I had been feeling pretty good in general. Mother’s Day was so important to me, after all it was my very first Mother’s Day and a lot had happened since having Grace that in some ways it made me feel like I was cheated and in other ways made me feel like super mom. For my first Mother’s Day, we went to brunch, which I was worried about making it through because I was having some pretty bad digestive issues that set in with round 3. I did pretty good. Good enough to make it to a picnic Ryan planned later in the day. In general the day was a success and I made it through.

Here it is Mother’s Day again and I feel like a completely different person. I actually feel better than ever. If you would have asked me last year at this time if I thought I would be saying that now I probably would have responded with a bit of doubt that I would be feeling better than ever. All in all I am very thankful for my cancer and it’s timing, it made me a different kind of mom.

How has cancer made me a different kind of mom than I thought I would be?

  • Slowing down- absorbing life: Cancer slowed me down and made me realize that I wasn’t absorbing the great moments in life like I wanted to. I really focus on absorbing every moment with Grace which I am so thankful for. Everyone says “doesn’t it fly by?”. Yeah, your baby growing up does fly by but when you are present, in the moment and absorbing those precious minutes, hours, and days of time, you realize how amazing the process is and it seems to slow things down a bit.
  • Remembering special moments- even in a fog: With chemo came a bit of “chemo fog”. It was important to me to remember Gracie’s special moments and all the little things that make me so proud to be her mom every day. So when my memory began to slip I started keeping a daily calendar of little things she did or new milestones. I would read them over and over again at the end of the week and it would make me remember and smile. Even though I am out of my chemo fog this is still something I do every day and probably will continue to do until she is off to college. It is so cool to look back at the day to day.
  • The Jolt: Time is precious: Cancer jolted me and made me realize that time is precious. I honestly spent the last year trying to do as much as possible with Grace all while taking a lot of pictures along the way. Creating memories for her through pictures. She is pretty young to remember this time when she is older but if anything ever did happen to me she will have an awesome set of pictures to look back on. Oh how cool and amazing this year has been with her. We have taken many, many trips large and small, more than most kids do before they leave for college. Friends laugh and ask “How do you do that with a baby?” “How do you do that with a baby being sick?”. I just do. I have to.
  • A different kind of role model: I believe one of the most important parts of motherhood is leading by example. You have an awesome ability to form and mold a child into anything. You have an attitude, your child will have an attitude. You roll your eyes, your child will roll their eyes. You treat others poorly, so will your child. All simple things, really. I am so focused on leading by example for Grace, I have been since the beginning. What I didn’t know is that I was going to have a less simple example to set. I was going to immediately have to show her strength, grace and joyfulness through cancer. I could have never imagined this would be my first example of being a role model to her.
  • Making up for lost time: I didn’t really miss out on much with Grace. It just didn’t start out so easy and at times I long for those precious alone, one-on-one mommy times with her that I didn’t get at the beginning of her life. Trying to make up for this has been a lot of fun. We have gone on a couple trips together across the country just the two of us in the car, bonding and giggling. She is my very fun little travel buddy. Lost time? What lost time?

I love being a mom. It is so much more spectacular than I could have ever imagined. This Mother’s Day, today I am full of energy- like a little kid! I ran a race, my first race since Grace and cancer yesterday and it went really well. Today we are off to brunch again and I am not worrying about keeping my food down. I have a wonderful, happy baby and I feel like an awesome mom. In fact, I feel like super mom to have made it through all of this with a new baby. What a difference a year makes. There is light on the other side of cancer.

Mother’s Day 2013

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Mother’s Day 2012

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My First Race Post Baby and Cancer 10k!!

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First race post cancer

Pre-race: What a day!! Perfect running weather! As many of you know I have been training for the Sunburst Marathon on June 1st, 2013, to mark exactly 1 year post the completion of chemotherapy and I am SO EXCITED! I promised Ryan I would attempt one shorter race before attempting a marathon. He worries about me, it’s cute. :) Today is the day! My “prove-I-can-do-it” day. I am running with my sister who is also a cancer survivor! 10 year survivor and going strong!! Woooo Hoooo! You go girl! We are doing the 10k at the 5/3 Riverbank Run in Grand Rapids, MI. Start time: 8:00am!!

It’s go time! Off to the races!!!

Post-race reflections: There is something so special about the running community. It is such a great group of people. It was such an awesome feeling to run this race today. There were people cheering for the runners all along the route and I couldn’t help but smile the whole time I ran. I was so, so happy. At the 4 mile marker there was my hubby and little Gracie. I yelled “MY FAMILY” and Gracie let out a big laugh! :) What a joy it was to show her mommy is okay and doing something that requires good health. The last quarter mile I had tears of joy in my eyes. I was really doing this and it was a piece of cake! Holy Cow! Am I really this okay? It’s been a lot of hard work but I feel like I am very strong again and it hasn’t even been a year post-chemo!

Every time I see someone struggling to begin a journey to health out on my training route I want to yell, “YOU CAN DO IT!!!!”. I just had a baby, surgery, cancer, chemo, and a pulmonary embolism, and I’m doing it. YOU CAN DO IT!! YOU CAN DO IT!! YOU CAN DO IT!!!

ps: Big congrats to my sister for running and completing her longest race ever!

IMG_2937First race post cancer

Chemotherapy is Done – Now the Hard Part

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last day of chemo

I thought I would be so overjoyed upon completion of chemotherapy instead it was quite the opposite. After all when you go to chemo M-F 8-5 you can’t help but have it become part of your routine. More than that chemo had become my sense of security and I didn’t even realize that until I was done. What I didn’t prepare myself for was what I feel was the hardest part of my journey. Post chemo, post constant care.

On my last day of chemo I got a card from my husband and my mom along with many, many praises of support, happiness, and relief from a close watching family and friends on social media. I walked out feeling great, went to lunch with Ryan and Gracie and had a glass of wine!! I chose not to drink much during chemo because I thought it would be best for me and I had just gone 9 months without drinking. What’s a few more? This glass of wine was my celebration. Later that day we went to dinner with my mom and some family friends. It was a nice evening.

All seemed to be going well until later in the week when I went from feeling very positive to very disconnected, worried, and lost. I didn’t have these feelings while battling. Not once. I always felt like everything was going just as it should and I was under the best care I could ever ask for. I felt like the pilar of positivity and strength. What was this new feeling? Is this normal? Why do I feel lost? Why at the end when it is all over? Despite these feelings I tried to maintain positive lifestyle behavior in an effort to not let myself spiral out of control.

After several weeks trying to rationalize my thoughts I came up with a list of what I was feeling which really helped my healing:

  • I was worried that I was no longer under constant supervision. What if it came back?
  • My stomach hurts. Should I call the doctor? Maybe it’s just gas and I’m being dumb. Maybe it’s not. Maybe it is. Back and forth, back and forth.
  • Should I call my oncologist for all my problems?
  • I’m terrified of another pulmonary embolism. To the point it’s crippling. Am I sleeping too long, sitting too long, traveling too long?
  • I have spent all my time either in the hospital, being taken care of at home, or being taken care of at the treatment center. That isn’t the case now.
  • I was in my cycle of sickness. Everywhere I went was where I was sick. The people I was surrounded by were people I were sick with.

What to do? What to do? Well darn it!!!!! Conquer this list! I conquered cancer, I can conquer this.

Item 1: I was worried that I was no longer under constant supervision. What if it came back?

This is not a controllable. I need to learn what I can and can’t control. This was an awesome realization and has helped me in so many aspects of my life. To read more on this subject you can read my previous post, controlling the controllable.

Item 2: My stomach hurts. Should I call the doctor? Maybe it’s just gas and I’m being dumb. Maybe it’s not. Maybe it is. Back and forth, back and forth.

I quickly learned that my body was healing and I was going to feel aches and pains as I return to daily life. My strategy for not obsessing about every ached and pain in my stomach was to give it a day or two. If it was still bad and out of character I called the doctor. With a couple minor exceptions this always worked for me. Usually the pain went away and with that, the worry. I wasn’t going to die if I waited a day or two to see if it resolved itself. I did however tell my husband every ache and pain which in retrospect had to have been very hard on him. He never got upset with me for sharing and took all my complaints seriously which I am eternally grateful for. I think every survivor needs that support person to listen to their concern and take them seriously and not make them feel silly.

Item 3: Should I call my oncologist for all my problems?

I really struggled letting go of my oncologist. I still do. When you find a gem of a doctor it is hard to let them go and know they only handle what they handle. At my last major appointment I asked him what I should and should not be calling him for. He was very kind and explained that I should call him regarding anything to do with issues in the area he treated. It seemed like common sense to me but every time I had something I thought was related to the treatment I had I felt compelled to call him. Like my itching and etc. I still sometimes call his office with a problem I am having and the nurse always kindly reroutes me to my family physician. I’m getting better at resisting the urge to call the oncologist which makes me feel like I am learning to let go.

Item 4: I’m terrified of another pulmonary embolism. To the point was crippling. Was I sleeping too long, sitting too long, traveling too long, crossing my legs too long?

Major need to pull the reigns in on this line item! First of all, this is uncontrollable. Secondly, I got a pulmonary embolism because I had a major surgery and cancer. I can control this like I can control the weather. I can’t. I can’t control if my cancer comes back and I can’t control this. I needed to plunge forward and live.

Item 5: I have spent all my time either in the hospital, being taken care of at home, or being taken care of at the treatment center. That isn’t the case now and I have a newborn.

I have never been one to let others take care of me. I am pretty independent in that way. It was very hard for me to let go and be taken care of. Once I did it was a very nice feeling and I could rely on it. I needed the help. When chemo ended I ended up at home with a newborn and a husband that had to return to normal too. I was worried I couldn’t do it. I was worried that I wasn’t strong enough and I was also pretty fatigued by the end of my treatments. To conquer this I started taking it day by day rather than looking at weeks and months at a time. The things I couldn’t do because I was plunging all of my energy into Gracie during the day I left for Ryan to assist with when he was done with his work day. I even made a list of things that needed to be done that I needed help with and began to ask family to come over and assist. This was very helpful in my adjustment period. I think it is important to explain to your support system that even though you are done, you still need them. Keep them on stand by and don’t feel guilty about it. I know you may think they helped you for months and months and it’s hard to ask for more but you can. This is your time to heal.

Item 6: I was in my cycle of sickness. Everywhere I went was where I was sick. The people I was surrounded by were people I were sick with.

I needed to break my cycle post chemo. I needed to do something different somewhere new. If you are healthy enough I highly suggest taking a trip somewhere by yourself to see friends or just get away post chemo. I chose to take Gracie on a little trip to see friends in Canada. I felt like I had some one-on-one mommy daughter time I needed to steal back :). I used our travel time to bond, be silly, laugh and dance without anybody else being there to monitor. Gracie was by my side the whole way but I never got those precious mommy daughter moments alone with her that I so desperately wanted as a first time mom. This was my chance. We travelled, had a blast then saw some awesome friends for some silliness and much needed relaxation away from home and the cycle. I needed this time as much as I needed chemo to make sure I was okay. It broke my cycle and I came back myself again. My “non-sick” self.

I firmly believe all the feelings I was having post chemotherapy were completely normal. I just didn’t talk to anybody before I went through the phase to be prepared. I wish I would have. Talking to survivors now I realize many have this time period post chemo that they too didn’t know what to do with. I hope this entry provides comfort to anyone starting post chemo life to know that they are not alone in how they are feeling. If I would have known these feelings were normal I really believe it would have been an easier time and I would have reached out and talked to someone who had gone through it.

Stay well mentally and physically friends. My thoughts and prayers are always with anyone in this fight.

World Ovarian Cancer Day

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WOCD

This year marks the first ever World Ovarian Cancer Day. I am so happy to have a step in the right direction for raising awareness of Ovarian Cancer. My dream is to have just as much awareness as breast cancer does. This will be a big feat but I do believe it will happen someday.

What is World Ovarian Cancer Day (WOCD) all about?

Ovarian cancer has the lowest survival rate of all gynecologic cancers, and is characterized around the world by a lack of awareness of symptoms and late stage diagnosis. May 8th, 2013, is the first World Ovarian Cancer Day. On this day, Ovarian Cancer organizations from around the world will unite to educate their communities about Ovarian Cancer and its symptoms. For women living with the disease, and their families and friends, World Ovarian Cancer Day will build a sense of solidarity in the fight against the disease. To read more: http://ovariancancerday.org/about-wocd/.

I am very happy to be a part of this community and am looking forward to making a positive impact on awareness and fundraising in hopes that there will be many more survivors out there.

Ovarian cancer symptoms are quite often confused with gastrointestinal issues and therefore go undiagnosed. Here is a list of symptoms to watch for:

If a woman experiences one or more of the following symptoms on most days within a three week period, they should discuss their concerns with their doctor:

  • Increased abdominal size / persistent bloating (not bloating that comes and goes)
  • Difficulty eating/feeling full quickly
  • Abdominal or pelvic pain
  • Needing to pass urine more urgently or more frequently

WOCD

Nutrition During Chemotherapy

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eating healthy during chemotherapy

It is very important to keep your system as healthy as possible during chemotherapy. With all the advances in chemotherapy side effect prevention, it is becoming increasingly easier to eat a wide variety of foods without “tossing your cookies”. I always had this vision of people withering away to nothing when facing cancer. I think it really is a thing of the past or at least I think it is for people facing my cancer. Either way, I remember saying to my family the day I started chemotherapy, “Okay everyone!”, “I am 127 pounds today”,  “If I drop below that at any point get on my butt about eating.” After day 1 of chemotherapy I didn’t see 127 pounds again until a good month after the completion of my treatments. My weight actually shot through the roof. I was so surprised. I never fluctuate in weight and I thought for sure, if anything, I would lose weight.

My focus during chemotherapy was taking care of Gracie, staying fit, staying very well hydrated, and eating the right foods. Eating good food, especially the foods I like was very difficult for me because I was on Coumadin. Virtually all of my favorite foods were on the list of items to “avoid” when on Coumadin. My oncologist actually encouraged me to eat these foods because they are an important part of a healthy diet. He just stressed the importance of consistently eating anything on the list and we would adapt the dosage of the Coumadin as we went along. The more consistent I was about my diet, the better and the less adjusting we had to do. After a few weeks of my PT-INR levels being all over the board I came up with a consistent plan of attack for eating “greens”. I am so thankful my doctor wanted to take this approach. I believe this is why I stayed so healthy.

The following is a sample of what worked for me during my treatments. It kept my energy levels up and blood counts in the normal range.

Breakfast:
2    16 ounce glasses of water
1     8 ounce cup of coffee
2    organic oranges
1     packet of organic apple oatmeal
1    organic apple

Lunch:
2    16 ounce glasses of water
2    organic carrots
3    organic celery
1     serving of spinach salad, bean salad, or a pasta salad loaded with tomatoes, avocados, and cucumbers

Pre-Dinner:
1     can of FRS, apricot nectarine
1    16 ounce glasses of water

Dinner:
2    16 ounce glasses of water
2     servings of organic broccoli
1     serving of chicken or a super food packed soup
1     serving of sweet potatoes

Bed:
1     8 ounce mug of chamomile tea
2    16 ounce glasses of water

Recipes to be posted soon. Stay tuned.

Cancer Support “Coffee and Cancer”

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Cancer Support Video Chat

I am always available to talk if you are a woman facing Ovarian Dysgerminoma or a new mom facing cancer. It is always nice to talk to someone who has been through the process. I will be here to listen to your fears, your triumphs, your hurdles, your set backs, to share my experience if you would like or to give you information and other resources. Support groups are not for everybody. Sometimes it is nice to sit and have a cup of coffee with someone on video chat and just talk about things. Send me an email at mommybeatscancer@gmail.com or leave a comment below and we can schedule a “Google Hangout”. If you don’t know how to work a Google Hangout I will be happy to assist you in getting started.

The American Cancer Society is a wonderful resource to find support groups in your area, talk to a cancer specialist, or talk to a peer about your cancer 24/7.

Website: http://www.cancer.org/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AmericanCancerSociety

More Resources to come in the next few days. Stay tuned. :)

Fertility Post BEP Chemotherapy

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acupuncture for fertility

Back to the oncologist I go!!! Something isn’t right.

My symptoms:
Extreme hot flashes 10-15 an hour
High Irritability
Joint / Bone Pain
Voice that Sounds Like a Prepubescent Teenager When Singing
Sudden Fuzzy Hairs on my Face
Vaginal Dryness (Man I hope these symptoms help someone because I totally just broadcasted that!)

Silly me! These are the classic symptoms of menopause! WAIT!!!!??WHAT???!!!!

The backstory: There wasn’t enough time between pregnancy, surgery, and the start of chemotherapy for my cycle to kick up again. My reproductive system was kind of hit three times in a very short amount of time but I didn’t ever think that I would lose my fertility. The only talk of fertility pre tumor removal and start of chemotherapy was that I would be losing an ovary and we were not going to do radiation in an effort to preserve my fertility.

There I was approximately four months post the completion of chemotherapy sitting in my oncologists office, talking to the nurse practitioner about my symptoms and she said, “You haven’t started your period yet?”. She recommended we do a blood test. The results, absolutely no trace of estrogen in my body. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I left so frazzled and upset. This to me was WAY worse than cancer.

I no longer had the say of whether or not I could bare children. I felt like I lost my youth. I felt less feminine. I suddenly realized that I may never feel like myself again. That this was the new me. I didn’t like this me. I felt like I was always angry (lack of estrogen). I felt like I looked like I was aging (lack of estrogen drying up my skin). I felt like I was ruining my marriage by uncontrollably treating my husband like a piece of dirt on occasion. I would feel the words coming out of my mouth and I honestly felt like I couldn’t stop them. He didn’t deserve this. We didn’t deserve this. I felt so out of whack in so many ways I couldn’t accurately describe it to anyone.

For a week after that appointment I balled my eyes out. You would have thought the world had ended. COULD I BE MORE OF A SPOILED BRAT OR WHAT?????!!!!! I have a beautiful child, loving husband, great family, and MY LIFE. For the love of GOD! I needed to stop crying and look at what I had, not what I lost. Just about the time I came to this realization I got a call from my oncologist to come in and see him. This wonderful, wonderful man knew I was upset and wanted to put my mind at ease. He told me that this is normal and it may be 6 months to a year or more until I regain my cycle. I felt even better with this knowledge. Later that day I called my sister and told her what the doctor said and she said “Yeah, I didn’t start mine until a year post chemotherapy.” very nonchalantly. If I could have slapped her through the phone I would have. :) That turd!! She knew how upset I was and she didn’t share that tidbit of information. Man, I gave her the what for. She’s not really a talker, I forgive her. Haha! My point is, I wish I would have been armed with this information going in. It would have saved me a lot of heartache.

A few more months passed with no signs of a period. I NEVER thought I would be wishing for a period, EVER. I decided to start acupuncture for my itching in November. A couple of sessions in I noticed I was no longer dry, my irritability was going away, and so were my hot flashes. Going in I gave them a list of things I wanted help with never thinking that acupuncture could help all of my aliments but I thought I might as well put it all out there. Why not? I couldn’t believe I was starting to feel like myself again. Holy cow I will never regret the decision to start this process.

November passed and most of December with still no signs of a period. Christmas morning, yes Christmas morning I woke up and said to my husband, “Well I guess I didn’t get my Christmas wish.”. He said, “What was that?” I said, “To get my period.” I kid you not, 10 minutes later and 7 months post the completion of chemotherapy my period started. IT WAS A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE!!!!!

Ladies, three departing messages:
If you never regain fertility, it will be okay. You have your life.
Try acupuncture to ease menopausal symptoms and kick start your system.
Keep faith. It takes a while for your body to start working again. In reality we have such a smart system. Periods drain you and you are already drained. I believe it waits to come back when your body is ready to handle it.

Itching Post Chemotherapy Follow Up

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My silly little companion for the dermatologist today.

As you may have read previously, I have been suffering from chronic itching and hives post chemotherapy. My previous post, Itching Post Chemotherapy has been very popular in search engine results so I know there are other people out there looking for answers. I will continue to update my progress in hopes I will find an answer that will help anyone looking for one.

I went back to the dermatologist today. Back to the Atarax and now Zyrtec three times a day along with Pepcid. This is such a frustrating process and I am hoping a new strategy will work. On a lighter note, I have this amazing child sitting and grinning at me. I want to burst into tears because I feel like my body is under attack. Then I look at her and laugh. Haha! What a roller coaster of emotions.

My silly little companion for the dermatologist today.

My silly little companion for the dermatologist today.