Sunday, November 19, 2017

5 YEARS

November 19, 2017

Five years ago today I was told I had two types of cancer, both in my appendix. I was a 31 year old, healthy mom of two.  And 5 years ago I was completely blindsided by this news. I spent that day in shock, completely rattled by the most intense fear one can experience. I remember praying to God to just let me live 5 more years. I had no idea how much my life was about to change.

I endured 3 surgeries, one requiring a vertical incision that left a large scar down my abdomen. I went to countless doctors appointment, have had countless blood draws and scans every 3-6 months followed by semi-annual then annual scans and now finally every two years.  I had my most recent scan in September of this year which was No Evidence of Disease.

I changed the way I lived. I learned how to breathe through life's toughest moments. I learned that fear is only a lie that robs us of life. And I learned how to live big every single day.

We've moved 3 times.

I met the most amazing man almost 3 years after my divorce.  I took my time and waited patiently for the right guy and I am thankful every day that I found him.  We were blessed with a baby on July 2nd. My heart burst with gratitude as I introduce Easton, my sweet little miracle.

image by http://stacylarsenphotography.com




images by https://courtneybiancophotography.shootproof.com



I look back on these last 5 years with a sense of peace.  No one deserves to go through cancer but I know that without going through it, I wouldn't have the life I have today.  I am so happy.




Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Miracle

A surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency. 

That's the official definition of - Miracle.  And as silly as it feels to claim that I have experienced a miracle, I don't know what else to call it.


I'm pregnant, expecting a perfect, healthy baby this summer.  Jeremy and I, as well as Ava and Liam, are thrilled.     


I was told that I had two types of primary cancer, both in my appendix almost 4.5 years ago and with that was also told that my right fallopian tube was completely clogged (from the mucin from one of the tumors) and my left tube was partially clogged.  Take that, mixed with the scar tissue from the 3 surgeries I had in the following 13 months and the chance of conceiving naturally was unlikely. Then, add in a divorce. I had always wanted 3 or 4 children but I came to terms that additional children just wasn't in the cards for me.  And I was completely ok with that.... Ava and Liam have been my world. 


I am so lucky to have met Jeremy. We have such a good relationship and are really happy together.  We both talked of expanding our family but knew that it could be challenging without medical intervention, not to mention I'm 35 now.  


Yet somehow, the stars aligned.  In the midst of life's crazy timing and against all odds, we have been so blessed with a new life.  Our little miracle baby.   





Friday, November 18, 2016

4 years

It just dawned on my that tomorrow is November 19th, which means it has been 4 years since my diagnosis.  Any let me tell you..... these 4 years have been packed full of the craziest roller coaster ride of life possible. But today I am healthy, happy and living life every single day.

There was an appendix cancer walk in Tampa a few weeks ago.  It was so nice to connect with other survivors and see friends that I had met through a private appendix cancer Facebook group. It's so interesting that there's really no rhyme or reason between the people who have been diagnosed.... no common age, gender, ethnicity..... so bizarre.  My mom, Sister, Uncle and Bob, Jeremy and the kiddos all walked with me.  It meant so much having them all there.  Here are a few photos from the event.







The walk happened to be on Dr. Bartlett's birthday and the 4 of us are all his patient and all doing well.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Almost time again

It's almost scan time again.  I cannot believe it's been (almost) a year since I had a scan.  That.Is.Crazy!!  There was a time were I wanted to be checked every three months and could barely make it 6 months without worrying myself to extreme emotional anxiety.  But, life has been so good. 2016 has been very busy but so full of happiness and newness and excitement.

The highlights:
-Ava and Liam are great. They're growing up so quickly and blossoming into these amazing people.  I love them so, so much.
-Work is good.  I'm in a new position which is more clinical and more responsibility. I am in procedures with physicians and often find myself witnessing a patient getting diagnosed with cancer. It rocks me every single time.
-I have a boyfriend.  We've been together 6 months. I feel lucky to have met a man that is so wonderful.  He's funny and smart and we have the best time together.
-Everything about my life is so good right now. Today I have this life that I never could have expected a few years ago.  I have the best of friends; many longtime friendships but also many people I didn't know 4 years ago or barely knew.  My family is amazing. I have my health and my children are happy and healthy. I have a great job.  I have been able to travel. I am still so humbled by how fortunate I am.  I give thanks every single day. I am truly a lucky one.

So scan day is August 8th.  If I stop and really think about it, I'm very nervous.  This is technically my year 4 scan.  That's a big milestone.  I definitely have some anxiety about it BUT I'm not thinking about it.  Not because I'm trying not to but because I have learned that thinking about it and worrying about it does NOTHING.  I intend on enjoying July and the first 7 days of August.  I'll  do the scan on 8/8 and go from there. I feel very confident that I am healthy and cancer free and all is good in this body of mine.  As always, send some prayers my way in August and I'll update with the results.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Ava's sweet story

It's interesting to be monitored so closely. I imagine that if everyone had routine scans and tumor marker blood work and all the other random tests I have done, most people could relate to what I have gone through and will continue to go through indefinitely and most people would have occasional "things" show up that are benign. I recently had blood work run looking at all sorts of things but I was most interested in 5 tumor markers and 1 urine test.  CEA, CA-125, CA19-9, Chromogranin A, Serotonin and 5 HIAA (the 24 hour urine test) CEA and CA19-9 are broad GI tumor markers, CA-125 is pelvic/abdominal and Chromogranin A, Serotonin and 5 HIAA are all specific to a Neuroendocrine Carcinoid.  Great news is that CEA, CA 19-9, CA 125 were all "normal" and the lowest or close to the lowest they have ever been.  As for the Carcinoid markers,  2 of the 3 are VERY sensitive and can give a false positive from eating a variety of foods, drinking alcohol, tea, coffee and taking certain medications.  I do my best to stay away from the restricted foods (like avocado, banana, walnut, tomato, coffee, etc) but it's difficult AND they don't know everything that gives those false positives.  The Serotonin level and the Chromogranin A level both came back in the normal range and are both blood tests.  The 5 HIAA 24 hour urine test came back slightly elevated.  Normal is <6 and mine was a 10.  My local oncologist was certain that it was a false positive so I didn't freak out... until a couple hours later.  Luckily my freak outs now a days are very controlled and non emotional but I've been battling fear, again.  I understand that things will show up occasionally and that it is most likely nothing!  But it's hard to not have a min pity party that I have to deal with this.  I'm blessed with this amazing life that is currently the best it's been and I selfishly don't want any speed bumps.  Dr. Blanco, my local oncologist wants to wait and retest in August when I have my next scan and recheck for all of the other tumor markers. Surprise, Surprise, I've decided to get a second opinion.  I made an appointment to meet with Dr. Strasberg at Moffitt.  He is the Carcinoid specialist I met with after I was diagnosed and he is one of the best Carcinoid doctors in the USA.  I just want his opinion before I sweep things under the rug for 7 months.

Life has been so great though.  December was so much fun.  It was my first holiday season in years that I didn't have to deal with a scan, blood work or anything medical and I got to enjoy the festivities.  I had my munchkins this year on Christmas Eve and Christmas Morning.  They both woke up at 3:45AM on Christmas morning so we opened presents when most people were sleeping.  It was really cute.  January has flown by and was also full of fun.  This past weekend Ava and Liam met the man I've been dating  (J) and Ava did the sweetest thing I have ever seen.  We were at Busch Gardens eating lunch.  J loves Busch Garden's bread pudding, so I tried one bite of and didn't like it.  When he asked why, Ava immediately said, "I know why".  She turned to me and said, "Mommy, may I tell him your story" and I said, "of course".  She then said, "When Mommy was younger she didn't eat organic and ate a lot of sweets and sugar.  And then she got the cancer  She was very sick and very sad.  But now, she eats organic and doesn't eat sugar or sweets very often"  J said, " and now she's all better" and Ava said, "yes".  My eyes filled with tears.  It was really emotional to hear her perspective of what happened and that she remembers despite it being 3 years ago and her being 4 (almost 5) when it all happened.  I hate that she has that memory but I'm so thankful that we've had 3 more years of happy memories and many, many many more years to come.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 ----------> 2016

Happy New Years everyone!

What a year this has been for me.  2015 was a year of personal growth and little journeys. It sounds ridiculously morbid but it's so humbling and emotional when you live through years you at one point thought you wouldn't experience.  After a very busy 2014, I decided to soak life in at a much slower pace.  I stayed in Tampa more and made new friends, strengthened existing friendships and spent a lot of time by myself.  I learned to live in the grey.  Rather than being consumed by living and being a certain way, I acted on what feels right.  This year is ending on such a high note for me.  Lots of great things are brewing and happening and I am excited for what will be going through my mind when I type this post next New Years Eve.

Cheers to a happy and healthy 2016 filled with laughter and adventure.