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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thankful






My favorite time of the year is here....the holidays! Cue the Donny Hathaway music! Thanksgiving was wonderful. Ross came to town and he and I cooked dinner for my parents and my brother in New York. And it turned out really well, if I do say so myself. Ross and I were each in charge of several dishes (Ross was in charge of the turkey and it was amazing!) and we were in the kitchen till 1am the night before Thanksgiving cooking and preparing food. The next day I was on my feet all day until we ate dinner. I can't believe my mother has been doing this every holiday for years, I was exhausted!! But everything was delicious and for some reason my father got a kick out of seeing me in the kitchen with an apron on and a spatula in my hand...hey I can cook! What's so funny about that? He was pleasantly surprised (does that mean he doubted my skills??) when he tasted my homemade red velvet cake. Sooo yummy! It was nice for all of us to spend the holiday together and the weekend served as a taste of what's to come after Ross and I get married.

Each year at Thanksgiving we usually go around the table and say what we are thankful for, and normally I say something about being thankful for my family, friends, health, job, life, etc. It's nice but as soon the words were out of my mouth, they were usually forgotten and I was on to the food consumption portion of the evening. This year was very different as Thanksgiving took on a whole new meaning and feeling for me. I'm thankful to be alive for one. I never viewed my cancer as a death sentence, but I recognize the fact that it can be deadly and I am soo thankful that I have had the opportunity to live my life as I always have with a few trips to the hospital in between. I'm thankful that although this journey has been hard and will continue to be hard, I am strong enough to handle it and it hasn't knocked me down. I'm thankful for everyone who has ever prayed for me or thought about me or sent good vibes my way. I'm so thankful for my family, my fiance, my friends and loved ones who have been there for me. And of course, as I said at the dinner table, I'm thankful for my hair :)

Tomorrow is a big day for me. It's the day I have my 2nd PET scan and it will determine if the cancer is gone. I'm so scared and I just want to know now. I want to be cancer-free soo bad, more than anything I want to shout those words out loud. I want to type those words on this blog and have them be true instead of just hoping and wishing. It's hard not to let your mind go to a dark place and think the worst, especially because I know positivity breeds good things, so I'm trying my best. But this is the day I have been looking forward to because it means everything else I've gone through was worth it. So, wish me luck!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Isn't it ironic...don't ya think?




Alanis Morrisette really said it best in her song "Ironic". Song lyrics are here if you're unfamilar :) I'm feeling like my life is really ironic right now. Physically I'm doing well...I finished my 4th treatment today and although I feel a little achy in my back and neck (a new symptom of chemo....it's never boring I'll tell you that), I'm doing ok. Emotionally though I find myself feeling angry. It was hard to make the walk to the hospital today and I'm consistently struggling to get my attitude in check when I think about what I have to deal with. I think it really comes down to being scared at this point in the journey.

The end of the 4th treatment means that it's time for another PET scan. A PET scan is where I go lie in a big machine and it creates a 3-D image of my body so they can see everything that's going on inside of me. I drink a radioactive tracer so it can highlight any bad stuff AKA cancer in my body. The first time I had one was before I had any treatments and it solidified my diagnosis, so my doctor is hopeful that this one shows the cancer is all gone. I want to believe its gone, I need to believe its gone, hell it needs to be gone!!! So its scary and exciting, the time is here to determine if the past 3 months of yuckiness has worked. And it betta! The PET scan is scheduled for Nov 30th, much to me and my mom's dismay because we hoped to celebrate the cancer's death at Thanksgiving but that's ok, because we can celebrate at Christmas, New Years, MLK Day, President's Day, etc... Shoot, everyday from here on out I might be doing a little jig just walking down the street!

Luckily my mom's sister, my Aunt Claire came to be with me this weekend (she reminds me so much of my mom, so it felt like she was there too) and my friend Christa and my family friend Michelle were also part of the "entourage" today so we had a good time in chemo.

My body appears to be responding when I get my biweekly checkups but only the PET scan can show for sure. Other than my emotional turmoil, my last treatment went really well. I was a cancer jet-setter, jumping on a plane straight from chemo to attend my college's homecoming in Chapel Hill, NC. It was the 1st day with chemo where I had absolutely no nausea...amazing!! My friend Eboni picked me up from the airport and we drove to the hotel to meet my other friend Nichelle and we quickly got dressed, went to dinner with about 20 other girls and then to a party. It was surreal to be back on campus 5 years after graduating and be dealing with this disease, because its definitely not anything I imagined my future would be like when I was in undergrad, but it was a fun experience. First of all, we all looked amazing since graduating if I do say so myself (keeping it fabulous of course..see pics above) and it's always interesting to catch up with people you haven't seen in a while. It was odd when I was asked what new is going on in my life (besides my engagement) and I immediately think "Cancer!" but who wants to say that and ruin the festive mood, so I just said, "oh you know, work and stuff" and kept it moving. I also caught up with my "little" brother Garrett (yeah he's 22 and 6'5" but I still call him little) who is in the area at law school. I felt a little nausea on Sat and Sun but nothing extreme.

The irony is that this is the scariest time of my life and the happiest time of my life. As I flip through wedding books while sitting in chemo, I'm like, wow, really?? Because if this had to happen to me, this was the perfect timing because its before I'm getting married, before I have responsibilities of a husband and children, and before I move on to the next chapter in my life. And if I had to get cancer, this is the cancer to get. So I'm blessed! But in an ironic state of mind.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Why Me?

I like to think of myself as a unique person that doesn't necessarily follow the same path as everyone else, so when I find myself having the typical "Why Me?" moments throughout this experience I get mad because its so cliche. And I'm anything but cliche! Lol. Understandably though, it's a natural reaction, so I try not to beat myself up about it.

Recently I've had a couple of emotional "Why Me?" moments and it will just hit me out of nowhere. I'll be watching TV or listening to a friend tell a story and I'll think, "Man, why do I have to deal with this horrible thing in my life? Why me? Why me? Why me??". I'll cry and feel sorry for myself and it will feel good to let it out, but then I have to tell myself to pull it together and move on. I think at this point I'm just tired of the whole cancer/chemo thing....it's not new and interesting anymore...I'm soo over it! Even when I physically feel ok, emotionally at times I feel drained and become overwhelmed just thinking about it, I just want to be done!

Yesterday I felt a little sick and I got really upset because it wasn't a chemo week and normally I should be back to my same ol' self by now. I don't know whether it was the sausage I ate that morning or the chemo still flowing through my veins but I just felt a little crappy and I started feeling sad because I don't want to feel crappy, I just want to be fine. However, I was at work so it wasn't really the best time for a pity party, so as the tears started to come to my eyes I felt like an idiot because I cant just sit at my desk crying--especially when I really didn't feel that bad! So I had to chant to myself "Get it together!!" (which interestingly enough was part of a cheer from my high school cheerleading squad so that made me smile a bit). It worked and then I felt much better (and a little silly) but it's like you never know when these moments are gonna sneak up on you and ruin your perfectly applied navy eyeliner.

I know its ok to have "Why Me?" moments and cry a little bit, although I'm tired of crying because it always makes my nose run too and that's no fun. I can only feel sad for so long so I try not to wallow in the emotion too long. Because really, why not me? I've read that 1 in 5 people get cancer in their lifetime so the chances are alarmingly high. It really really sucks, but I know I can handle it and I am one of the lucky ones with a highly treatable form of the disease so part of me feels like I was chosen to go through this for some bigger purpose. I don't know what that is yet, but I'll let you know when I figure it out.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Patience is a Virtue

"Let me hurry up and take your blood pressure so I can get to Morgan next, because if I don't, she's gonna kill me." My nurse said this to another patient yesterday as I was waiting to get my blood drawn. Oops! I didn't realize that she saw the irritated look on my face as I sat in the blood draw room...waiting...and...waiting for someone to draw my blood. I swear I could do it myself if they would let me, I've watched them do it enough times! I've come to realize that I don't do a very good job of hiding my frustration when things take longer than expected. I am always shocked how long it takes to get things done in a hospital and I am silently cursing people out in my head whenever I feel like I've been waiting too long...and I guess it's starting to show. C'mon people! I have things to do, places to go, cancer to kill, lets get it moving!!

I'm not a very patient person in general, and I blame New York. Before moving to the big bad city, I was a nice, sweet girl :) But you move here and you adapt the "take no prisoners" attitude that my beloved city is known for. I have no patience for tourists who stand in the middle of the sidewalks, people who take too long to make their order at Starbucks and anyone who gets in my way as I run to get on the subway. Get Out Of My Way! Hurry Up! Move! This are the thoughts running through my head on a daily basis as I live, work and play in NYC. I don't know what's happened to me! Yet, the hospital is no different. I get my blood drawn on Thursdays before my chemo appts and I usually walk from my office to the hospital during lunch, so I always feel as though I'm in a hurry, and usually the people around me are not. Hence the looks I shoot at the nurses as I will them to call my name, take my blood and get me outta there (plus its lunchtime and I'm hungry!).

And apparently my looks haven't gotten unnoticed. The 2 main nurses in the blood draw room often kid me about how I always have to "get back to the office" (but I do! I'm a busy lady) and how I'm always running through the hospital in my heels. I try to smile and be nice but sometimes my crazy side takes over and I demand to know what's taking so long. I know its probably not the best approach and I feel bad afterwards...until it happens again that is!

The other thing that irritates me about hospitals is the administration people. I feel like a lot of the hospital assistants and secretaries hate their jobs. One of the assistants I have to deal with every time I need to schedule an appt always is complaining. Her stomach hurts, she's hungry, she left her phone at home that day. And she's complaining to me, a cancer patient! Honey, I know I look fine, but don't complain to me, I'd take a stomach ache over chemo anyday...wanna trade? Ugh. I have no time for this, just schedule my appt! I don't think I'll ever get used to coming to a hospital every other week, making appts for scans, being checked out by a doctor and getting my blood drawn. I thought it would be no biggie by now, but it still feels surreal. Like, am I really in the oncology wing? So weird.

I would love to say that I am working on my patience as I know its probably not good for my stress level, but that would be a flat out lie. Because I'm sitting in chemo now, waiting for the last drug to finish dripping and I'm already thinking about how long I've been here. Relax, release, breatheeeeeeee....

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween Wishes and Birthday Dreams







My 27th birthday wasn't as painful as I thought (although I did find myself waking up at the unGodly hour of 9:30am one morning which to me is a surefire sign of age). But in fact my whole weekend was really good. Ross and I hit up a Halloween party Saturday night and I dressed up as a leopard and he was a safari hunter...AKA "Indiana Jenkins"...lol! I thought the couple theme was nice since last time we tried it (at my 24th bday party where I forced all my friends to wear costumes), I was Beyonce and Ross was Jay Z but he didn't wear his Yankees hat so he just looked like a guy in a blazer and jeans. However this time our outfits were a hit, the night was fun and it ended at a Pittsburgh diner with lots of good food.

We also saw the Michael Jackson "This Is It" movie and it was a-maz-ing! I sang along with MJ. I received great gifts (thanks Mommie/Daddy/Ross), Ross cooked me dinner (isn't he the best?!) and we ate a yummy chocolate birthday cake.

At one point I ran into Barnes &Noble and bought 2 books: Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips, this sort of life-with-cancer survival guide and the Anti-Bride Wedding Planner (thanks Eboni for the rec!), a really cute wedding planner guide. If someone had told me that on my 27th birthday I would be buying a book about cancer AND a wedding planning book, I'd probably say, "Say what??" but that's what my life is right now...this weird dichotomy of disease and love. It's kinda crazy.

Next up...part 1 of cycle 4. I'm soo glad a chemo treatment didn't fall on my birthday weekend, that was such a blessing. I told Ross I actually felt like a "normal" girl because I allowed myself to flat iron my hair (I try to stay away from using heat on it), dress up, go out and not think about cancer for a night...simple things but they made me happy. However, maybe I should stop using that word because the Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips book says, "Normal--why would you want to be that?" which made me think, "Hell yeah, I'm not just normal, I'm fabulous!" LOL.