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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Dealing with loss

Two weeks ago I logged into Facebook and saw the devastating news that a friend had passed away. Her name was Rebekah Furey and I call her my friend because even though we only saw each other twice in person, she has given me so much support and guidance over the past 5 years I've been dealing with cancer. Bekah is the reason I know my current doctor and his fabulous medical team and she was always a beacon of light and positivity for me and so many others. She was super smart and knew way more than I could ever know about our disease--she kept up to date on all the clinical trials and drug protocols that were available. I belong to a Facebook group for relapsed or refractory Hodgkin's lymphoma patients (another thing Bekah taught me -- refractory--a word I had never heard my old medical team use, but it's someone who is resistant to chemo or continues to relapse) and over the past few months several members have passed away. It's always disheartening to hear that another cancer patients passed away, but when I read about Bekah I immediately burst into tears.

Beautiful Bekah
She fought for 8 long years and (like me) desired to hold off on an allo transplant as long as possible. Unfortunately she was also diagnosed with MDS (Myelodysplastic Syndrome, the disease that Robin Roberts had) and an allo transplant is the only cure for that disease. So in May, Bekah made the decision to move forward with the allo in hopes of curing both the MDS and the Hodgkins. I knew she would have a tough road ahead of her, but it was a shock to learn of her passing. Although she was only 30 years old, I thought of her as the "leader" of the Facebook group, as she was the one who informed us when others were sick, spread the news when people received good scans, and even organized a card drive to send to those who needed support. Even when she was hurting herself, she was such a bright person who made everyone in the group feel supported.

Bekah's blog True Beauty Never Hurries was super informative for Hodgkin's patients and really showcased the type of person she was. She always laid out all her options and really sought to make her readers understand what she was going through.

There's this thing in the cancer community called "survivor's guilt' and while I've always assumed it was for people who achieved remission and went on to live long and happy lives, I've realized it can be for anyone who gets to live another day on this earth while someone else doesn't. Although I've experienced some horrible things during this cancer journey and I mourn for my old life, because so many things will never be the same, there are people who have had it much worse. And while I do feel guilty that I look so healthy and have had a relatively easy time with most treatments, with each passing of a fellow Hodgkins warrior, I can't help but get scared and wonder when my time will be. I have seen so many young people with so much life to live pass away from this awful disease, that I can't help but think when my turn will be. Once again, I think "why me?" why am I still here, alive, living a fairly normal life? Is it only a matter of time before cancer takes me too?

Last night I spent a few hours reading Bekah's blog and because she was so close with so many warriors, she often posted links to their blogs. So I clicked on the links, only to find out that so many of them have also passed away. It's devastating and scares me to my core to think that one day someone could write a post on my blog that I passed away. Part of me wants to know where I will be a year from now, 5 years from now, but part of me doesn't want to know. So much can happen with this disease and everyone's body is different.

As for me, since April I've been in a holding pattern. My insurance company didn't want to approve Revlimid and made my medical team jump through hoops to get it approved. So I have been suffering with the side effects of the disease without a new treatment. The worst is the constant itching and drenching night sweats every night. I never had the itching side effect when I was first diagnosed, so this has been so frustrating. Literally, my entire body itches and I want to jump out of my skin. And then the night sweats wake me up every night, leave my sheets soaked and make me feel disgusting every morning. Needless to say, I haven't been sleeping very well. Thankfully a few weeks ago it was finally approved, and I just started taking the meds, so hopefully it stops these side effects soon!

I have thought about Bekah a lot over the past week and continue to be in denial that she no longer walks this earth. I can't justify her death or make sense of it at all, and I can only imagine how her sweet family feels. Life is not fair...it's something I was told at a young age, but find to be true more and more.


Monday, April 28, 2014

Drumroll please...No change!

Two weeks ago I sat in my doctor's office, half nervous and half ambivalent about my latest PET scan results. I don't care how many scans you've had (and I've had more than I want to count without getting severely depressed), the "scaniexty" always kicks in. Sometimes it starts the moment a scan is scheduled. Sometimes it waits until I'm in the PET/CT machine feeling the cold contrast fluid flow through my body. And sometimes it doesn't grab hold of me until I arrive at my doctor's office...desperately searching the nurse's faces for a clue of what the results are. I've come to realize that trying to deduce the results from whether a nurse smiles at me or avoids my eyes is fruitless because usually they don't have the opportunity to review the scan with my doctor until right before he sees me, but I still let myself be convinced of good or bad results based on how a nurse may greet me.

This time I tried not to be too nervous because I assumed the clinical trial from hell worked on me...secretly I also hoped it didn't work so I could be taken off the trial...it's the first time in my almost 5 years of dealing with a this disease that I hoped a treatment didn't work. That was a really weird feeling. However I have always responded to the first cycle of a new drug protocol, so I thought my chances of staying on the trial were pretty good. So imagine my surprise when my doctor said there was NO CHANGE in the disease, and in fact one lymph node had the nerve to get slightly bigger! He said they spoke to the trial's manufacturer about my "case" to see if there was any way I could stay on the trial, but the answer was no. Any form of progression meant I was kicked off.

And just like that I let out the breath I had been holding. I honestly thought that this drug would be the silver bullet, the one that FINALLY got me to remission. I mean, I was really sick. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I was nauseous, in pain, endlessly tired and lost 10 pounds in a month. What were the drugs from hell doing if they weren't killing the cancer? Ruining my life? After the initial shock I started to feel relief. It was over. I didn't have to experience these debilitating side effects anymore! I was free!

My medical team knows the drama I've been going through on the clinical trial from hell, so when I told them that I was annoyed it didn't work but also kind of happy, they understood. So what's next? For the 10th million time we went through my options. It's always depressing to feel like you're back to the drawing board, but it's also uplifting to see how many new options are out there for people like me...options that weren't even there a few months ago.

My doctor did a great job of walking me through the options and his thought process for which one he believed is best for me. Then he mentioned a drug I was on in 2012 for one year...the longest time I've ever been on one drug protocol. The drug, Revlimid, was one of my first forays into drug treatments that allowed me to live a normal life, have energy and just feel like me. The disease did start to progress after that amazing year so I had to stop it. But the team told me that it was possible that one day I could take the medicine again. And my doc said now was the time. He believes that the clinical trial from hell could have "primed" my system ("Ahh, I get it! Just like the NARS Pore Refining Primer I use before I apply my foundation?" I asked. "Uh, yeah...sure...just like it," he chuckled, trying to humor me) to allow Revlimid to work again on the disease. Obviously there are no guarantees, but I can't help feeling really hopeful.

I'm a true believer in the phrase, "everything happens for a reason" and suddenly it became clear to me why I suffered for a month and a half on the clinical trial from hell...to get back on Revlimid. My path was clear and all my suffering wasn't for nothing. I'm aware that I could sound somewhat delusional and desperate to find meaning in all of this, but for every bad turn I've had, I've been able to find a way to recognize the silver lining...and usually without searching for it. This moment was no different.

So the plan is to start Revlimid this week...there's a few pre-tests I've been doing before I can start....and see how I do. I honestly feel 80% better since stopping the clinical trial from hell. It severely lowered my appetite (there were days I only ate breakfast) and the morning after I stopped taking the drugs, I woke up starving! It was like my stomach came back to life.

I'm trying to manage my expectations but I'm hoping that I get a good run with Revlimid again. Summer is coming and I was really worried I wouldn't be able to enjoy it. But last week I went out for my friend's birthday and I felt "me" coming back. I really missed seeing my friends, leaving my house on the weekends instead of laying on the couch, and if I'm being honest...I missed having an alcoholic beverage! (I mean, it's the little things! #nojudgement) The two times I attempted to sip alcohol, it only exasperated my side effects. My energy is still low and I do find myself getting out of breathe easily if I walk up stairs or walk fast, so I'm hoping Revlimid will help with that as well. I haven't seen the inside of a gym for months, so I know I need to slowly build my muscles back up.

Hello lover! Hopefully I will see you this summer


Here's to a happy, healthy, high-energy, warm and (hopefully) margarita-filled summer!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

My Month of Hell

"It gets better" is not just the mantra of the LGBT community to gay youth, it's also the mantra of my medical team of doctors and nurses. "It gets better" they say, over and over. And it has. But as soon as it gets better, it gets worse.

Since the first week of March 2014 I have been on a new clinical trial and it's been kicking my a$$. Out of a list of 28 possible side effects, I have experienced 18. Want me to list them for you? Sure! They include: low red blood cell count, low platelets, feeling week and unwell (ha!), infection, constipation, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, abnormal liver function, ECG changes, salt imbalance, change of taste, shortness, itchiness, low white blood cell count, pain, fever, abnormal heart beats, diarrhea, stomatisis, chills, swelling, changes in blood work, weight decreased - anorexia, headache, cough, rash, low blood pressure. So when one side effect gets better, another one comes in it's place. It's like they know I have relief before the next one steps in, and it's so frustrating.

I was hoping that at this point I would have some sense of normality or routine. But I still feel so out of it, so "off" from my normal life that it fuels my frustration and sadness. I feel stupid for being so cocky that I could conquer this cancer thing...I preached to anyone that asked that I could live my life and even thrive despite cancer. It rang true at the time, but now I feel like the rug has been yanked from under my feet and I'm left graveling on the floor. In the matter of a few days I went from feeling almost to (dare I say it) completely normal to feeling like complete crap.

When I embark upon each new clinical trial I'm given a packet that I have to sign, full of medical jargon and side effects. But in the past I never experienced side effects that were too debilitating so I foolishly thought I would be the same for this trial. Although as I mentioned below I was informed about the possible nausea but I just knew that wouldn't affect me. And now I'm paying for it.

One of the hardest parts are the reactions from others. People aren't used to seeing me feel unwell, so they assume I will get better within a few days or surely a week. But it's not a cold, it doesn't work like that. I have absolutely no idea when I will feel better and I feel worse when someone asks if I feel better, only to disappoint them with the same old response: "No, but hopefully soon." It's crushing me and I feel angry that it's so hard for people to understand how things with me can change so dramatically. These drugs are poison and even though the current drugs are supposed to be less toxic, they can still change your body in an instant. It just reminds me how different I am from everyone else, how alone I feel because no one understands. I know I can't expect them to understand, but I just wish they could.

The emotional part of this experience continues to haunt me. I literally cry everyday because I feel so uncomfortable in my own body. As I wiped my tears and my mascara on Ross's fresh white t-shirt (sorry!) one night, he reminded me that I've been through worse, I've felt worse, and I've experienced much worse. I know that logically, but honestly it's hard for me remember. I suppose its the same memory loss that women have after having a baby...they forget how much it hurts that they are shocked by the pain during baby #2. I honestly can't believe what I've been through before, I can't believe I survived so many different types of chemo and continued to work.

This may seem silly, but I feel like I'm weaker now then when I started this journey. I feel so worn down and low at times, that I admittedly have those deep dark thoughts that crept into my mind back in 2009. There are times when I'm in such extreme pain and feel so lost that I think to not exist would be better than this. Now death has been my greatest fear since a very young age when I would have anxiety attacks about dying and creep into my parents' bed for comfort. But when your body betrays you and nothing seems to make it better, you just want the pain to stop. Just for a second you can allow your mind to go there, to wonder what it would be like to not be here anymore. And then you acknowledge the fact that for you, yes the pain would be over. But for your friends and family, it would just begin. I often think about the fact that I came so close to dying after my blood clot and how Ross was this close to coming home to an empty house without me, with wedding presents still to be opened, thank you notes still to be written, and I remember how selfish I'm being. It's not just about me, it's about the people who love me.

I feel ashamed of those thoughts, for not wanting to be a "cancer warrior" anymore, for not wanting to be strong. I want to push through, I desperately do, but it's hard. A few months ago I felt strong and confident that I could go to work, hang out with my friends, be a good wife, think about starting a family, and living my life. Now I feel foolish at the idea I could handle starting a family, haven't seen my friends in weeks, rely on Ross to handle all the household work, and barely function at work. I would scream out loud if I didn't feel like I wanted to throw up.

I hate being such a downer and truly hope that in the next few weeks it truly will get better.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Hollywood Highs and Lows

I've realized that when things are going well in my life and cancerland, I tend to post less because life is good and there's not much to say...but when things are going not-so-well, I want to vent to my faithful readers and let the world know how crappy I feel. So this is one of those posts. Beware, it's a little long...

The last few weeks (I'm not sure how many, I've been telling Ross that I feel like I've lost my sense of time since starting this new trial) have basically sucked. I started the new clinical trial and this one requires a 4-hour infusion of one chemo drug once a week and a daily oral pill of a second chemo drug. Usually I'm all about an oral mediciation. In the past oral drugs have meant low maintenance, easy breezy, and side effect free. This one, ahhhh not so much. I was warned that the biggest side effect from this new drug combo was nausea, but my medical team had figured out how to control it with anti-nausea meds, so I really didn't worry. However, mere hours after taking my first oral pill, I was hugging the toilet bowl for dear life as I proceeded to "release" everything I had eaten that day. Unfortunately I was also on my cell phone headset with my mother at the time, and there was no time to tell her to hold on, rip out the headset and get down to business before I vomited 10 times in a row, so she got a nice soundtrack of my experience right in her ear. I know. EWWWW. If I were her, I would have hung up. But she was a trooper and stayed right there, telling me it was going to be ok. (Later my dad got on the phone and I had another episode, and he said, "Ahh, call us back when you can" LOL. Men. They can't handle it. Poor Ross is completely helpless when I puke, trying to comfort me while simultaneously not looking at the contents of the toilet).

The next day I promptly filled my anti-nausea medication (yeah I know, I should have already had it, but I didn't think it would be a big deal!) and thought that would be it. Well I didn't throw up anymore, but instead I had this thick layer of nausea overshadowing my life. Everywhere I went, nausea followed. I felt like the character from the Peanuts comics with the rain cloud over my head. I hadn't felt this consistently nauseous since 2010 and it really messed with my head. Plus, this month at work has been super busy with lots of travel, so there was no time to be sick. I literally had three breakdowns in one day as I struggled to figure out how to cope.

So my doctors and nurses gave me like five different anti-nausea medications so we could figure out which combo worked. Unfortunately the two I choose to take together put me in a loopy, out of my mind state where I didn't know which way was up or down. It was like I was high, but not in a good way. Oh and I was at work when the loopiness kicked in. Oh and I stilllll felt nauseous! Oh and to make it even more fun, I had bouts of stomach and back pain from the cancer cells dying...which is good news, but it hurt like a #%&*$!!! So I became paranoid that I appeared crazy, couldn't keep my eyes open at my desk, and was frantically trying to wrap things up at work because Ross and I were scheduled to fly to Los Angeles for our friends' wedding that weekend.

Our friends Debbie and O'Neil were getting married and I had really been looking forward to the wedding. The date has changed several times due to the fact that the bride is the personal chef to a huge pop star that shall not be named (Rihanna!) and was on tour with said pop star for over a year. So once the date was finally confirmed and flights were booked, I was going to LA, no matter what.

The night before we left was tortuous. I am the kind of packer that has to try on every outfit before I pack it (shoes and accessories too) so I don't forget anything. In fact, that's what I was doing the night of my massive blood clot...trying on clothes and packing for the Hamptons. Ross doesn't get it...he's all like, "you already know what the clothes look like." But it's just my packing process. I'm committed to it. It's my thing. So there I was, crawling around on our bedroom floor picking out clothes, half trying them on and then collapsing on the bed in pain/nausea. It was a long night but I made it...although I still forgot a sparkly clutch and shaw for the wedding! But worse things have happened.

The next day we were on the 7am flight to LA and the first few hours of the flight were ok, but the last 45 minutes I felt like I was going to scream if I didn't get off the plane. I couldn't get comfy and the nausea had it's hold of me. I knew I looked like crap (I mean who looks great off a 6 hour flight? Except for Ross. He annoyingly looks exactly the same) so when we arrived at LAX and met up with our friends, I was ready for them to say that I looked tired. And Ross's cousin Nyema did not disappoint. We had barely rounded the corner before he said, "Man, you look tired!" Argh! So I responded, "I'm not tired! I'm sick. SICK!," giving him a knowing look like, "You know--CANCER SICK!" It wasn't his fault though. Everyone is so used to me looking and feeling fine, so no one expects me to confess that I am actually feeling the effects of cancer treatment. But this time I was, and I wanted everyone to feel sorry for me, damnit!

We made it to the hotel where I tried to rest, but then I noticed a new affliction had taken over. Smells. Everything smelled the same. My clothes, my hair, my skin, Ross. And this smell made me feel even more nauseous. For the next few days I tried to pull it together and put my best face forward as everyone around me partied, drank and celebrated Debbie and O'Neil. It was good to escape the polar vortex of NYC and get some good ol' Vitamin D by the pool, but it made me really sad that a trip I had been looking forward to for so long was runined beacuse of stupid cancer. I hadn't felt like this in a longgggg time and it really messed with my head. The "why me's" found their way back in...especially when I found out that a few ladies at the wedding were pregnant. That was another dagger in my stomach because here I was with nausea, pain in the stomach and senstivity to smell...classic preggo symptoms...but I wouldn't have a bundle of joy in 9 months. So I really started to feel sorry for myself.

The night of the wedding I rested all day in the hopes I could feel well enough to hit the dance floor, and I'm ashamed to admit it but I asked God to have Rihanna appear (she was rumored to come to the wedding) as I knew a celeb sighting would instantly make me feel better, lol! Rih Rih didn't make it, but her band performed which made it feel like a real live concert. From the pictures you can't even tell I'm sick (I know how to give good face when I need to) and Debbie and O'Neil were beautiful and happy. I also got to see my cousin Melvin who lives in LA and meet his daughter Dakota who is the cutest thing in the world...and has the same curls as me!

Debbie and O'Neil make it official! #hollywoodwedding


"I woke up like this" Uh no, sorry Beyonce I did not.
My back and stomach hurt but I'll never turn down a photo op on the Penthouse floor of a posh Hollywood hotel. And doesn't Ross look smashing in his tux?
Cousins! There's nothing like a child to make you smile 
We took the red eye back to NYC and I went directly to my doctor's office where I burst into tears and begged them to do something. I hated the way I felt so much that I even asked to get off the trial. My doctor promised me that it does get better and they can figure out how to manage my nausea, so I should hang in there. This week I had a break from the oral pill, so I did feel much better. But I start taking the pill again next week and I'm a little nervous. I can't go through this again, I need to have some semblance of a normal life.

This was a really hard lesson...realizing that I'm not in control of this cancer thing and side effects can still mess with me. Here I was, thinking that I had everything under control and it's not always that simple. I have a PET scan in April and that will determine if I stay on the trial or not, and I just pray if I do stay on it, things truly get better.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Delicate Balancing Act

It's been months since an update and I promise that I've been writing blog posts in my head but they never made it to this blog! (Don't you hate when that happens?) I think it's because I've been living this delicate balancing act of work, cancer treatment, my TV hosting career and oh yeah, trying to have a personal life. It's a lot. A. Lot. And most days I think that everything will be fine, it's good to be busy, I have less time to think about cancer, but a few days ago I almost starting crying while walking to work (which is always so embarrassing) and I wanted to yell at myself to pull it together because frankly I was running late and had no time to feel sorry for myself. I have an annoying habit of feeling really sorry for myself an inopportune times (i.e., at my desk, on the subway, when the pizza delivery guy shows up, etc.) instead of crying alone in bed or the shower like a normal person.
This photo doesn't have anything to do with anything, except that
I like it, it's fierce, and cancer can't take away my SMIZE (Hey Tyra!)

I think the fact that I've been living with cancer for 4 1/2 years is either something I don't think about or it suddenly weighs on me so hard that I think I can't breathe and I literally want to shut down, fall to the floor and break into a million pieces. Oh yeah, and stand in the middle of Times Square and have a temper tantrum. Damn that would feel good. But most days I try to shove it out of my mind and just live my life and think of cancer as something on my to-do list...frankly my doctors have said that I've done so well because my life is so full and I don't dwell on the sad stuff, but every now and then it catches up with me.

Even so, after I have a breakdown I can turn on the TV or pick up a magazine or chat with a friend abut the most inconsequential thing in the world (what will Lupita Nyong'o wear to the Oscars? Is Lisa from RHOBH really that conniving?) and I laugh to myself because I realize that I'm still ME. Even though I get REALLY pissed off that I'm still dealing with cancer and clinical trials, and not celebrating my 4th year of remission, I just have to accept this is what my new life is--post cancer diagnosis. This is the new Morgan and she's pretty amazing. How do I do it? I have no freaking idea. I just do.

On the treatment front, a month ago we found out the latest treatment stopped being as effective. Again, on to a new medication. This one is an oral pill and IV medication that my doctor promised wouldn't make my hair fall out--there goes old Morgan again! It's frustrating, it's sad, but it's not devastating. I'm used to hearing yay and nay every few months and I'm just thankful to God that there are other options for me. Right now I'm in LA for work so life goes on! I'll just keep balancing.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Coffee and Conversation

This past week I had the opportunity to speak as part of "Coffee and Conversation," a breakfast event in conjunction with the Southern Women's Show in my hometown of Charlotte. Coffee and Conversation is part of the Belva Wallace Greenage Cancer Foundation, founded by Belva Wallace Greenage, a two-time cancer survivor who is living (and thriving!) with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer....talk about inspiration!

Coffee and Conversation program


Belva asked that I share my story as part of the Coffee and Conversation event because the theme was "claiming your best life" and that's what I try to do with my blog. I spoke alongside Moira Quinn, a breast cancer survivor, and Dr Russ Greenfield, an integrated medicine doctor...and it went really well. Although my father did tell me I went a little long (lol, thanks Daddy!) but truthfully I could have talked for days...for some reason when I get started talking about this cancer journey, I can't shut up!

It's strange...sometimes I do still feel ashamed about it, but once it's out in the open I can talk about every little scary, sad, funny, crazy, ridiculous thing I've been through...and trust me, there have been a lot. Sometimes I worry I sound too blase about it, because I can say I had a stem cell transplant, a massive blood clot and 4 years of chemo without batting an eye...and I forget how horrifying it can sound to someone who is hearing it for the first time. I often say that it doesn't sound real...it sounds like a book or a movie, but in fact it's 4 years of my life! Which is both really sad and really amazing.

Mid speech


And that juxtaposition was the spirit of my speech and the event...learning the deal with this awful circumstance and (hopefully) showing that you don't have to let it define you. I always laugh to myself when people say, "how do you do it?" because I think, "what other choice do I have?" I'm still me. I still have hopes and dreams and plans for the future. Frankly, I don't know what else to do but try and live my life. That doesn't mean it's always easy...some days I feel like I am the saddest person on Earth. But other days I realize how blessed I truly am. It's a constant battle for me every day as I struggle to not feel so sorry for myself and try to find the good in my life...through this awful situation I've gained a new platform and way to connect with other people. So for that I am grateful.

My parents support means the world to me


Unfortunately as I was getting on the plane to leave Charlotte after a great weekend with my parents, I checked my Facebook and saw that a fellow Hodgkin's lymphoma warrior had passed away. I never met Karin Diamond in person, but her story connected with me as we are the same age and diagnosed the same year. We also have the same doctor in NYC, so I kept up with her that way. I remember reading her blog when I was in Greece on my honeymoon and crying with a mixture of happiness and fear, as Karin was about to began an allo with her sister's stem cells. Since the allo, Karin has had a rough road. She was in and out of the hospital and dealt with a lot of pain and other issues. Her husband Craig was there every step of the way, and she wrote of how wonderful their relationship was, and what a great partner he was. I stood in the airport in shock on Sunday as I read Craig's farewell post on Karin's blog. He said she passed away at home, and she is finally at peace. Although I'm grateful she is no longer in pain, it just does not seem fair! I want to shout and scream about how unfair it is. And how scary it is. Why her? Why do things like this have to happen? How is she gone and I am still here? We have the same disease and it's just awful. She had so much life to live and seemed to be a wonderful person. I do take comfort in the fact that Karin traveled to Rhode Island for a vacation a few weeks before she passed...something she was determined to do and our doctor/medical team wanted her to do. She had a smile on her face as she went to the beach with family and friends and she had joy in her life...she truly did everything she could to "claim her best life" and for that I am grateful. Rest in peace Karin.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Missing In Action



I know, I know, I’ve been a neglectful blogger! But no news is good news right?
And for the most part, it’s all good news. Since my last post in April, I’ve started a new job at a new magazine and I’ve been spending a lot of time at work, getting used to everything. But I’m really excited! The job is fun and I get to do a lot of interesting things, which is great. Plus, my new boss is a breast cancer survivor…and she worked throughout her diagnosis and treatment while planning her wedding…just like me! Imagine that? So it’s nice to come into a new job where someone really, truly understands what it’s like to balance your real, normal life with your not-so-normal, cancer patient life.

So that’s my official excuse for my long absence from my blog (and the one that I’ve been telling my mother every time she asked me why I haven’t posted) and it’s true! A new job has given me something entirely new to focus, worry and stress about that some days, (can’t believe I’m writing this) I don’t even think about cancer! So weird. It does cross my mind every once and a while of course, especially when dealing with new co workers who want to know why I’m not in the office some days. At my old job, I was already working there for a year before I was diagnosed, so I didn’t have to explain myself to everyone…so it’s definitely awkward when it comes up. My shameful secret (yes, I still feel that way…will it ever not be shameful?).

The other reason I’ve been MIA is because there wasn’t too much report. Up until July I was continuing on with the NAE trial and had two good scans in a row…although I didn’t want to make too much of deal about good scans, for fear that I would jinx myself. Then the other shoe dropped. My good luck ran out and the cancer started to grow again. Damnit! But, for the 2nd time after receiving bad news, I didn’t cry! Once again, I expected it…I got 7 good months out of the NAE trial with only a headache from the crazy schedule and a little bit of pain from the drug…but in the weeks leading up to the scan, my lower back hurt and I just didn’t feel like I was going to get good news.

And so we start again…this time I started a trial called TGTR, which is an oral medication! When my doctor said that, I didn’t even care about the bad news, because “Hallelujah” I was going back to an oral medicine! But before I could get too excited, he reminded me that I’m on a clinical trial, so it still requires a lot of time in the doctor’s office for blood work, tests and other fun stuff. Ugh, annoying schedule again! But virtually no side effects from this new med! Except that I have to fast before and after taking the meds and this girl likes to eat, but now I’m just really complaining.

I started the TGTR trial in August and so far so good…I have a scan in October, but I’m trying to stay positive that everything will be fine. Ironically, when I came in for my first day of TGTR, my nurse practitioner told me that a new scan I had the day earlier showed the cancer had decreased since my bad scan in July! I think the words, “it’s a miracle!” actually came out of my mouth as I mentally explored the idea that I.Had.Cured.Myself! As it turns out, I had an upper respiratory infection when I did the latest scan and apparently when your immune system fights an infection, it can inadvertently fight the cancer too! So why can’t they just inject me with the common cold you ask? Yes, I asked that too…not even joking. Researchers are actually working on this idea, so who knows what the future holds!

But as of now, I’ll stick with TGTR and the oral medication. And I promise to keep everyone updated as to how I’m doing…a little sooner this time!