You can’t say “Bomb” on an airplane!!

Bomb Bomb Bomb…..Bomb Bomba Bomb! When I was thinking of how I was going to barf out this blog post all I was thinking about was the scene in Meet The Fockers when Ben Stiller is on the airplane and flips out about having to check his luggage!

Image result for ben stiller bomb bomb bomb

SUCH a great movie! Anywho! I got my CT scan results yesterday! ALL CLEAR! Thank goodness! I had my CT scan last Tuesday and waiting 10 days for the results was just about the most excruciating experience of my life! UGH! Good lord! But they were all good…..minus the fractured L1 vertebrae that was discovered – WTF!

I was in a really strange funk in the weeks leading up to the results. Expecting the worst, but hoping for the best. I’ve mentioned this in previous posts, but when you get cancer you make cancer friends. Lots of them. And when you have cancer friends, they don’t all get great news. They get sick again, or become resistant to treatment. And i’ve had a couple people whom I REALLY just love to bits get some real shitty news the past few months. And I don’t really know if it’s that is the main culprit or the fact that i’ve got this 24 month ticking time BOMB in my brain that I just can’t drown out. I’ve got 16 more months until i’m “danger zone” free-ish and my chances of relapse drastically decrease. OH! And I also get to give Felicia Volder-port her eviction notice, too! But in the days and weeks leading up to my scan i’d have a lot of my friends ask for an update on how I was feeling and when was my next appt. Yadda Yadda Yadda…. and every time you get the response of “oh, well you are just doing SO well i’m sure everything will be just fine.” And I speak for ALL of my friends who have had cancer….especially blood cancers you want to call all of those people F****** Num Skulls and tell them to zip their face. Because it’s extremely rare to have symptoms when you have blood cancer. So it could pop back up unannounced AT ANY SECOND! WITH NO SYMPTOMS! But then you get snapped back to reality and realize that they are just trying to be kind….and then you promptly feel like an asshole for thinking that way. But oh well!

So, that brings me to present day. Actually not today….yesterday. The very friggin’ second I got into the car to drive to Lubbock the nerves and feelings of dread started. Thankfully Zach was the DJ and we were lip syncing to some old school rap music to distract me. We arrived in the parking lot and I swear to God it took every fiber of my being to even walk in that damn building! Do I go in? Do I stay here? What happens if we just go back home?Do I want the results? Do I not want the results? What happens if the news is bad? What do we do next?

Kahuna rolls in, eyes closed (per usual) and immediately says “I can tell you are stressed!! What is wrong with you? Why are you so worried??” (which is unbelievable because the guy literally walks around most of the time with his eyes almost shut) I was like, listen man…. have YOU ever had cancer? We ended the visit with him telling me that the highlights in my now brown very thick hair (thanks chemo!) looked as though “I’ve been kissed by an Angel” to which I promptly let out a very loud snorty laugh. Do you even know me, Bro? So anyway…. the results were good! But it’s hard to celebrate knowing i’m back on the hamster wheel and the 120 day countdown starts all over again. Talk about Groundhog Day of the worst kind! But none the less we celebrated! And by celebrated I mean we went to breakfast in the big city, went to Target AND DSW and I bought nothing (that never happens), did a little grocery shopping, I fell asleep in the car, and slept on the couch the rest of the day. There was very short sleeps had by me this week so I was wiped.

 

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The other “R” word

Post numero uno of 2018! Hot dog!! So, tell me……on a scale of 1 – 173 how many times have you wrote 2017 instead of 2018? Just asking for a friend….

Anyway! Happy New Year to YOU! I hope you whooped it up and got a big smooch at midnight (if that’s your thing) or the alternative is being in your pj’s at 11:17pm (points at myself….because um… beauty sleep! Hello!) because you thought staying up that late was ridiculous! Why waste precious moments of zzzz’s! No matter how you spent it, I hope it was just fabulous!

Things have been pretty status quo around the Hildebrand household….no news is good news I suppose! I have quickly been hitting my “year of firsts” as I like to call it since I got diagnosed. Soon i’ll be hitting the year mark since my first chemo, 1 year since I “braved the shave” etc. And all the while i’ve been hitting and celebrating these “remission” milestones i’m reminded daily that I could be hit with bad news at any moment.

When you get sick with cancer and you meet people who have had cancer or bonus are actually going thru treatment at the same time as you…..you’re automatically connected. You’re connected in a way that you can’t really explain. You’re bonded because at that moment in time you’ve basically told death to go f*** itself. I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by people who have helped me with my struggle and i’ve been lucky enough to help them at the same time. So when one of your people gets sick again and you hear that nasty word RELAPSE, it’s stop you. Dead in your frickin’ tracks. It’s that sucker punch that snaps you right back into reality. This person in particular was someone who started treatment just a few months behind me. I was the person he was asking ALL the questions to. What’s chemo like? How quickly did you lose your hair? How’s your appetite? Can you still work? I’ll never forget the feeling I had when I hung up the phone with him! It was so gratifying to be able to spit some serious cancer knowledge! To help someone who is just as freaked out as I was a few months prior. And because my oncologist is UBER friggin’ aggressive with treatment he tacked on two extra rounds of chemo (you can read all about it on my post from May 15th) and I am not one to back down from a challenge, said cancer friend and I got to ring the bell just 3 weeks apart from each other! And for the past 5 months we’ve been back and forth with all the cool shit we are doing since we were deemed “in remission” but all that came to a screeching hault last week. It’s back. And it’s more rare, and he’s most likely going to go thru chemo again and get ready for a bone marrow transplant. Heavy. Shit.

And it brings you back to square one. I had a cousin who had her hip replaced and my Mom and I were chatting about her odds or survival. My Mom mentioned that her surgeon said she had like a 90% chance of making it thru the surgery. Most people would be like 90%?? Listen, mofo you better give me better odds than that! But i’d take those odds any day of the week! I have a 30% chance of getting sick again. 70% chance of living for 5 more years. Let that marinate for a second. It’s almost like you have a ticking time bomb in your brain. Any day you could get whacked again! It’s not a comforting feeling i’ll tell you what! But it’s my reality. And it’s also why I just had to fill my xanax prescription today. Thank you Lordt! I needs to have my calmin’ pills, honey!

So I have no words of wisdom or affirmation. No motivational quote to send you off onto the rest of your day. Cancer sucks, man! TBH I just hopped on here to get some shit off my chest. If you’re the praying kind…. send a few quick ones to the big guns upstairs on behalf of my friend. And if praying isn’t your thing, then just send him and his family some good vibes as they try and navigate the shit storm that’s about to surround them.

Ok that’s all! kthanksbye!

Remember Remember the 5th of December…..

Yea, I know that’s not exactly how the saying goes, and NO this isn’t a post about the movie V for Vendetta. Although Natalie Portman and I did have matching hair do’s! I mean I think I wore mine a little better, whatever…….

So it’s December! I can’t really believe it. For me, December 5th is 365 days from when my world came crashing down in front of me. Followed by a CT scan that didn’t have better news…..then came my abdominal biopsy on December 27th, and on December 29th we got confirmation of what we already knew. Cancer.

This year is a different story! We are used to life on the 90-day hamster wheel. I’m not going to lie, there are days when I have to pop a xanax or two to kinda get me through the day without having a meltdown, but that’s ok! It’s our new normal and i’m all for it! It’s certainly better than the alternative!

It’s sort of weird now though….I look “normal” the hair is growing back thick AF and the prednisone pudge is wearing off (thank god). It’s always an awkward conversation when I first meet someone and they compliment me on my haircut. Because let’s be honest….i’m really rocking this whole pixie thing. Do I say thanks and move on? Do I say “Oh thanks! I’m growing it out after beating cancer.” and watch them squirm? I mean what’s a girl to do? Say “oh shit you shoulda seen me 6 months ago! Here….wait, I have a picture!” More squirming.

I’ve started working out fast and furious again and joined my local Crossfit gym.  Humble pie. Humble pie is what I eat on the reg now that i’m back at it. Holy. Shit. I will NEVER take my fitness for granted EVER again. Anyway. I try to cover up my port as much as possible, but you know i’m just so chesty……wait, that’s not true. Not true at all. I try to cover it up, but it’s inevitable that Felicia will pop out if i’m wearing a tank top and people will sneak a glance. And then you have to have the Ako-Taco conversation about “Oh yea! That’s Felicia. She’s my port. My chemo port. I had cancer. NBD.” And they begin to squirm again.

Today starts my year of firsts! Soon it’ll be 1 year from diagnosis, 1 year since the dreaded bone marrow biopsy, port placement, and 1 year from my first chemo treatment. I was BS’ing with my Mom when I was back home in KC for Thanksgiving and we were talking about how we couldn’t believe that it’s been a year already! The last 365 days have been the worst, saddest, scariest, blurriest, fastest, but slowest days i’ve ever experienced in my 36 years.

This is probably where i’m supposed to write something inspirational about forging ahead and making the most of each day. But to be honest I did a really frickin’ hard workout at the gym last night and i’m having trouble just sitting down to go to the bathroom so my brain ain’t working. And truth be told i’ve been kicking life in the ass lately which is a big reason why i’ve not been keeping up with the blog. That’s gonna be my bad, folks. I’ll do better! I promise!

 

 

Urban Dictionary says…..

While I was going thru treatment Zach and I kinda got the hiking bug since I had to quarantine myself for almost 6 months, but I couldn’t friggin’ stand to spend one more minute on the couch. So we hit up Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Taos, and some canyons in Texas on the weekends to get out, get some fresh air, and get the feck out of Clovis. So, a rad ass group of my gal pals from KC decided that we’d all get together for a week in Colorado and go hiking!  Perrrrrrfect! I get outside, I get to see my girlfriends, we get a great Air bnb in Breckenridge complete with our own private hot tub. I mean life is GOOOOD! In the weeks leading up to the trip we started discussing what trails we were going to hike on which days etc etc. I hadn’t been to Colorado in the summertime so I was basically leaving it up to these broads to plan. I was up for ANYTHING. Including a “14 er” that i’ll focus on more later.

So we all arrive in Breckenridge. Naturally our first stop is the Dillon Brewery for some eats and dranks! I haven’t seen these gals in over a year so there were lots of hugs and tears! We arrive at our mountain condo and decide that we should go for a little jaunt to open up our lungs and get used to the altitude.

Here’s our crew for day 1 and 2       ^^^ Me, Heather, Stacie, Jamie, and Lori (My best gal, and maid of honor. She’s the saucy little minx who encouraged me to start this bloggy blog) Rad. Ass. Day hikes! As you can see the weather was perfection, the scenery was perfection, and the company was even better! So as we were planning this trip Stacie kept talking about a 14er. And I have to be totally honest we were all in a FB messenger chat and I wasn’t even really paying attention to what that meant. I was just frickin excited about the trip so I was like “Yaaaas! Let’s do that! Whatever it is, let’s do it.” Famous last words. Honestly, when I heard the term “14er” I thought she was talking about miles. Which was NO Problemo, Man! Like, i’m totes down! I gots me a new fancy style camelpack, i’ll bring snacks….it’ll be fine! Basically it’s like a picnic in the trees! I’m totally prepared. Until I figured out a 14er isn’t miles. It’s altitude. Like 14,000 feet UP! We hit up Natural Grocers the night before and we start chatting it up with this real crunchy cashier who tells us that we should start “As early as possible” for said hike because “The mountains get angry in the afternoon” HA! Ok, fella…… pump the brakes. I don’t need your negativity. So we sorta take his advice. Wake up as the ass crack of dawn and head to the trailhead. The Quandary Peak trailhead to be exact. Now…. let me hit you with a little knowledge. The Urban Dictionary says the definition of Quandary is: A State of Perplexity. I don’t know who came up with the name of this specific trail, but they hit it on the head. Get it? Hit it the trail on the head? Funny? Yes? No? Ok, whatever…. We are on the trail at 7am. Here we are at the start. All smiles and dumb faces…..not even having a clue what the day is going to bring us..

Quandary 7

If you think you’re seeing double, you are. Heather is a triplet and it just so happens that her sister lives in Colorado Springs so she was able to join us for the madness! As the hike starts out, we are still in the trees but it’s rocky as hell. We walk for a good 90 minutes until we break out of the treeline into what (in my opinion) looked like friggin mars!

It was windy and cold as shit! There was no place to pee so I had to basically just suck it up and pee off the side of the trail twice in front of god and everyone else on the mountain. The smiles that Lori have on our face in that photo got wiped off REAL quick! The mountain got angry. Outside of kicking cancers ass, is definitely the most grueling thing i’ve ever put myself through. As we all reached closer and closer to the top we would have to psych each other up and say “OK! 10 more steps and we’ll take a break!” “We can do this!” I don’t know if I was in some temporary state of psychosis, but I would laugh hysterically one minute, and then the next minute I would just bust out crying. I kept thinking to myself “Lindsay, WTF are you doing?!?! You are like 8 weeks out from chemotherapy and you’re trying to traverse this mountain! IDIOT!” And once I was done crying I would let out like these crazy primal screams just to get all my feels out of my system. It was insane. I’m not a super religious person….i’d say i’m more spiritual than anything else. And this hike was as close to a spiritual awakening as i’ve ever had. Voluntarily allowing myself to suffer was almost cleansing in a way. You’re with your best friends, on the side of a fucking mountain with NOTHING around you….except suffering. You realize that you… YES YOU are an incredibly small cog in a REALLY REALLY big wheel. The universe doesn’t owe you shit. And it can wipe you out in the snap of a finger! I was thinking about all of these things while I was giving the universe a big middle finger for taking a swing at me, but missing!

So when you do a big ass hike like this it’s pretty standard to take a congratulatory photo at the top documenting the madness. But on this day, I didn’t make it to the top. The peak of this monster is at 14,265 feet and I climbed up to 14,065 and I shit you not some may be reading this thinking “Oh my gawd you couldn’t have climbed 200 more feet” and to that comment I answer no. Not only no, but HELL NO. Not on that day. My friend Jamie and I were the last 2 in our caravan and we were WAY behind the pack. Truth be told with all the switchbacks on that last 200 feet it probably would have taken me another 45 minutes…..and I was spent. I should also mention that I was out of water and we were up above the cloud line and I could see lightning in the clouds….which later turned into a freak snow storm that we got stuck in. Not cool. So Jamie and I talked it over for about 20 seconds and both agreed to get TF out of Dodge! It took us 6 hours to get up that bad boy, but only 2 to get down….we were CRUISING baby! I should also mention that I fell asleep in the parking lot of the trailhead while we were waiting for the rest of the gals to descend. I was POOOOOPED!

Since December 29, 2016 (the day of my diagnosis) i’ve had my head down and have been in over drive. I had one goal and basically ignored all of the emotions that come along with a cancer diagnosis because I wouldn’t allow it to deter me from my goal. But I left some heavy shit on the (almost) peak of Quandary mountain. Even in the weeks after my last treatment I don’t think it really sank  in what I did. It feels premature to say “I beat cancer” because there is no cure for what I have. There is no cure for cancer. I left all the sadness, and anger up there. I brought home peace and stillness. And most importantly I brought home an experience that I shared with an amazing…..I mean FRICKIN amazing group of women that i’ll cherish for the rest of my days!

 

So what now?

It’s been a while, peeps! Sorry about my lack of attentiveness to the blog! So maybe you’re all wondering what’s going on with me now…..or maybe not! But i’ll give you an update anyway! I am 13 weeks out from my last chemo and 8 weeks out from my official “remission” appt. I don’t know which date you’re supposed to celebrate so i’ll just celebrate them both. Kind of like celebrating all 31 days in August since that’s the month when my parents birthed a super human.

How am I feeling you ask? Welp, i’m feeling pretty alright all things considered! At my last appointment with the Kahuna I asked a bunch of questions like “When will the feeling in my fingers come back?” “Will I ever have a normal period again?” Because my periods finally stopped after round #7 and there was absolutely NO signs of Aunt Flow at that time. “When will my legs stop feeling like they are at a delay?” And his response? I’m sure you can all guess if you’ve been following along. “Everyone is different!” He said that some day….may 6 months from now, maybe longer i’ll just wake up and the symptoms will be gone, and to basically stop being such an asshole and enjoy life. Noted. And you know what? He was right. The guy really knows his shit!

Aunt Flow has returned a few times! Although she did sniper me 9 days early this week, but the bitch is back! And I realized just last week that I can feel my finger tips! Holy Shit I can feel my fingers! Some of you might think that’s not a huge deal, but it IS! I can hold onto stuff now! Like my phone in the mornings when I need to check social media instantly and not drop it on my face and fracture my nose! AMAZING! The delay in my legs is coming back! I still notice it when I get tired, but it’s manageable!

Some of you might be thinking what’s next? What am I going to do with my new found freedom from chemo?? Well, i’m still on lock down with the Cancer Center. I have to go monthly for Felicia Volderport to be flushed, and every 3 months for bloodwork, and echo cardiogram and a CT Scan. My next scan is November 9th and i’ll get my results November 16th. I can hear the countdown ticking away in my head. Scan-xiety is real, friends. It’s real and alive in my brain hole. And i’ve been writing like 78 blogs in my head and i’m finally getting around to putting them in print. But to answer your question….I’ve been doing all the things. Saying no to nothing. Yes, to a 14er. (even though I had no idea what that was until 24 hours before – stay tuned) Yes, to 10k. (even though I dislike running. Like the most ever) Yes, to SUPER expensive Chris Stapleton tickets in Nashville with our best friends. Yes to it all. Wasting no time enjoying life.

So stay tuned! There is so much saying yes coming your way!

Pick a spot on the map! Let’s go!

I’ve been writing this post in my head for a few days…..so I figured it was finally time to get it out there! Let’s start with an update, shall we? I had bloodwork, port flush, echocardiogram, and CT scan done on Aug 17 and went back for my results last Thursday. And we got good news! It appears that the little nubbins that are hanging out in my belly are scar tissue and the cancer is GONE GIRL! My white blood cells have bounced back to the low end of the normal range, and my heart function is still kind of ehh, but getting better! However, Felicia Volderport is a bit of a different story. It seems she may have created a sort of film on the back side of the entry point, OR perhaps she grew a blood clot…..either way the bitch won’t return any blood. She’ll accept all the saline and blood thinners she can handle, but she’s not giving up the good stuff. As of right now Kahuna isn’t too alarmed. I’ll go back to the cancer center once a month for a good flushin’ and they’ll try to draw blood from it each time. IF I relapse (knock on wood) then they’ll have some decisions to make. 1. Perform a dye study to see if it’s a clot or film, or maybe she was jarred out of place. or 2. Take her out and put in her step sister (yet to be named) on the other side. You see…..when they put ports in they do an ultrasound on the vessels in your chest to see which ones are the best looking and big enough. In my case, the right side was the right side. Once they place a port that site can NEVER be used again. They gotta go to the other side or put in a PICC line in your arm….which can never get wet and it generally a huge pain in the ass.  Hence the reason why Kahuna wants to keep Felicia around for a few years so people can do a double take when they see me in a tank top. HOTNESS!

You know it’s pretty funny…..and irritating at the amount of people who think that because i’m done with chemo that i’m ALL BETTER! Oh! I thought you were done with treatment! OH! I can’t believe you have to continue to go back so often! These people…..some are great friends of mine! And my first instinct is to hulk smash them because they are so naive. They don’t get it. You think i’m done with this? You think I can just put this all behind me in a snap? Idiots! But then reality hulk smashes me and makes me realize how lucky they are! They are ignorant to this nasty disease. And not ignorant in a bad way…..they just don’t know. They don’t realize that this isn’t something that’s over for me, or for Zach, or for my parents…… it’s something that’s hanging over our head like that shitty little cloud in the Charlie Brown cartoon. We celebrate every day, but know that tomorrow could be a completely different story. This ain’t over!

So, speaking of Zach…… I don’t do a good enough job of talking about my dude on my blog. It’s ALL ME ME ME! But it’s my blog so whateves. I feel like i’m finally in a head space now where I can talk about all the other bullshit that’s going on with us OTHER THAN CANCER!

Back Story: About 2 years ago Zach was having some vision issues in his left eye. He went in for a very routine eye exam which was the beginning of the other shit storm we’re in now. He was diagnosed with a macular adema – which essentially is a build up of fluid in his macula which sits right behind his retina. When you take a look at a normal eye, the veins that are coming from the middle of the eye are fairly straight, but because there was so much fluid build-up in Zach’s eye his veins looked like a half eaten bowl of spaghetti. (delicious) Typically this disease happens to 1. people over 60 2. people with diabetes 3. older people who are overweight and with high blood pressure. Now, for those of you who know Zach, you know he’s got a prop bod…..a little on the husky side, but he’s SUPER active…..avid cyclist, weightlifter, etc etc. He’s NONE of those things. Basically he’s a unicorn. The course of treatment for this is eye drops daily, and every 4-8 weeks he has to go in for an injection……IN HIS EYE BALL! It’s horrific. TOTALLY horrific, but he is a champion. So, fast forward to last fall…….. The Air Force decides to push with a process called a “med board” which is essentially the AF trying to decide if Zach is “fit” to remain active duty. Which is completely ridiculous because he can do his job just fine….he’s even deployed with this condition. But…..the Air Force (in this case) sucks. It sucks real hard. The process of the medboard has taken just about as long as it’s taken me to get done with cancer treatment…..and earlier this month they gave us their final answer. They want to “Medically Separate” Zach from the Air Force (after 14 years of service) with NO benefits, and NO retirement. They’ll offer a severance package but after that we are on our own. We have appealed their decision and next week Zach will travel to San Antonio for his formal hearing to sort of plead his case. When we were in the thick of cancer treatments we were both shitting our pants because losing medical benefits in the middle of chemo would have been less that ideal. When he told the folks pushing this process that I had just been diagnosed with cancer their response was “Your wife has cancer, you do not.” These people are straight gangster. They don’t give 2 shits about how bad Zach wants to complete his career in the Air Force…..they don’t give 2 shits about all of the awards and letters of recommendations he’s received. This is all he’s ever known. There is no standard to this process. We know people who have lost limbs, gotten cancer, on and friggin’ on and the Air Force has retained them. But because Zach has to have routine eye injections he’s not “deployable”. It’s horse shit. And I do realize that this sort of thing happens in the “real” world all the time…..people get laid off, lose insurance, etc…..but our situation has left Zach’s doctors, squadron leadership, and on up the ladder scratching their heads. This isn’t necessary and they’ve all recommended that he return to total active duty. However, the attorney they’ve assigned to us hasn’t painted a pretty picture for us. Our chances are pretty slim of them returning him to duty.

So, in the next few weeks we’ll have some big decisions to make if they do move forward with separating him. What’s next? Where do we want to live? I mean we can go ANYWHERE! Zach has to make the transition to civilian life, and we’ll both have to find new careers. Which means new insurance, new oncologist, new set of issues due now to my “pre-existing” condition. But, we are keeping our eye on the prize. Getting out of here. It’s incredibly exciting, but also terrifying at the same time. We thought we’d have a little more time……a little more reassurance that a relapse isn’t in our future. But Kahuna gave me some solid advice last week. “Go live your life as normal as possible. Try not to wake up everyday and worry” he said. Because I had questions about “how long do I wait to do this…..” “or do this…..” and really there are no right answers because cancer and chemotherapy is all a big science experiment. And as my Dad likes to say, i’m just a small number in the cog of “BIG DATA”. There are no right answers because they haven’t been treating this for long enough to know…..and there is no cure. YET! So, we are going forward and trying to live as normal and un-scared as possible. I really feel like this is the universes way of pushing us to something different. It’s giving us what we asked for, which was to GTFO out of this place. The circumstances are shitty….let’s be honest. The financial aspect alone of not knowing if I can get insurance coverage and IF I relapse, how are we going to pay for it is weighing heavy on us both, but I just have to keep reminding myself that this happens to people ALL. THE. TIME.

There will absolutely be no love lost when we leave this place…..hopefully sooner rather than later. We live in a SUPER small town and on an even smaller air base and it’s just not my style. And although Zach is pretty heartbroken about not finishing his career in the Air Force, I could not be happier about putting this place in our rear view.

 

Not my favorite sandwich…..

Well hey, friends! I’ve been meaning to put my post-chemo feels out for the world to view, but have kind of had a bit of trouble getting them out of my brain. So, 19 days since my very last treatment and life is getting back to normal. I mean I think it’s getting back to normal? I don’t really know what that feels like anymore. Physically….emotionally….mentally. It’s been 8 months since this all started. Which is freaking crazy to me because it still stings just as much as it did the day I got the initial call. It’s weird. I never thought it was going to end when I was in the trenches, but now I look back and think “Holy. Shit. I did that. ALL OF THAT” But I still feel kind of blank. I got all the typical responses when I wrapped up treatment. Congrats! You’re such a warrior! You kicked it’s ass! Which don’t get me wrong I absolutely appreciate, but I haven’t let my brain come down from overdrive. I feel like i’m still in the mode of being blank…… still just putting one foot in front of the other and getting through the day. And maybe that’s because on the outside I look fine….minus the hair. I don’t know if people are just being nice by saying “Oh! But you don’t look sick!” but they don’t know what it’s like on the inside. My fingers and toes are still numb and tingly, my legs are still on a delay from the rest of my body. If I sit for too long I have to kind of take a second before I stand up otherwise I lose my balance because my legs just don’t respond as quick. I still have a wicked case of chemo brain. I forget so much shit! Like when I paid my credit card bill twice and freaked out because I had $23 in my checking account. I set-up an automatic payment and then forgot that I set-up an auto payment and scheduled another. My life is full of calendar reminders and sticky notes. I’m starting to move more…..I don’t dare say workout more because i’m just trying to get my body moving, but my lungs. Holy. Shit. My lungs…..and my heart. I can feel the struggle in my chest when I exercise. So yea….i’m done with chemo now. And people think Oh! She’s done with treatment so everything must be back to normal for her! And they go about their merry way. But on my inside my body is still saying FUCK YOU! And I don’t say much about how i’m feeling…..because I feel like i’ve been bitching for months! I mean I get sick of complaining about it so everyone around me probably stopped listening months ago. I have no outlet…..cause I don’t want to deal with it. And I don’t particularly want to burden anyone else with my bullshit either.

So, we continue on. One day at a time. Thankfully the Kahuna gave me 6 weeks off until I go back for more pokes, and scans. And hopefully 6 weeks is long enough to know if this little spot in my belly is in fact scar tissue…..or, on the flip side 6 weeks is a sufficient amount of time for it to grow if it’s cancer and from there we start Plan B. So any sense of normalcy for me will have to wait….until when I don’t know. Maybe never. If there is one thing i’ve learned about life with cancer is that there is no rule book. There is no statue of limitations on feeling the anxiety and fear that this shit might come back. I’ll use a quote from my very first (and favorite) boss, Kurt. He said to me multiple times “Lindsay, sometimes you just have to eat a shit sandwich and like it!” I just embrace the suck and know that each day it will get better! August 1

Ohhhh Emmm Geeeee Yous Guys! I’m Done!

220 days since I got the call about the tumors. 197 days since I got the diagnosis. 147 days since I started chemo. And it’s done. I’m still in disbelief. I’m obviously still kind of in my prednisone haze so I don’t have anything witty to say. But wow. I’ve had a lot of Best Day Evers……. I mean I celebrate my parents best day ever on August 7th when I celebrate my birthday. You’re welcome, rents! The day I got hitched to my side piece was pretty rad, too! But HOLY COW! Last chemo day…..that kinda tops the cake! My Mom was there….Grandpa, Cancer Babes, our besties/neighbors (just missing my Dad, but he was too busy drinking beer in Germany -_-). I’m almost certain we annoyed the shit out of everyone who was still getting infusion because we were SO loud, but no regrets. Not one. Not one letter. It was a spectacular. And now we wait……for 6 weeks until I have a follow-up CT Scan. Kahuna says he’d rather do a CT Scan instead of a PET scan because PET’s cause a lot of false positives (they’ll pick up on ANY sort of inflammation in your body and flag it as the bad stuff) so, his plan is to give me a CT scan next month and if the little itty bitty spot (scar tissue) that that’s still hanging out in my abdomen is the same size/location then I’ll be in the “R” word. I’m kinda even hesitant to type it because I don’t want to jinx it or jump the gun. But if i’m in the “R” word then i’ll have CT scans every 90 days for the next 730. Yea….730 days, or 2 years. OH! And my main B, Felicia VolderPORT gets to stay put for that long as well. SUPER!

So, now i’m kind of processing…. processing what my new normal is. Letting my body heal up recover from all this bulllllshit i’ve put it thru the last few months. And of course trying to get my thoughts together on how i’m going to move forward and manage the Scan-xiety that everyone talks about. Which i’ll blog about of course….it’s in progress I promise! But until then i’ll leave you with some photos of my day! Enjoy!

 

Leaving it up to the big guns? Nah….no thanks.

Howdy y’all! Well I had this whole surprise planned out for you guys this week, but of course when you have cancer NOTHING goes according to plan. Back story: A week ago this past Friday I got a call from the infusion center scheduling a “routine follow-up CT scan” on Wednesday last week (the day before what was to be my 7th infusion). I called the radiology center on Monday to ask what type of prep I needed for the scan and of course they didn’t have me on the schedule. Ugh. So, I called the cancer center and spoke to Chat (Kahuna’s nurse) and she got it all squared away. While I was on the phone with her I wanted to confirm that I wasn’t completely crazy and Kahuna did tell me during infusion #6 that he would NOT schedule a CT scan until after all 8 rounds were complete. She confirmed that I indeed was not a lunatic, but due to a large decrease in my heart function (ejection fraction) Kahuna wanted to schedule a CT scan to see how my last tumor was doing because there was a good chance that if it was gone, I may be done with chemo. Record scratch. What? Did you just say NO MORE CHEMO?? I almost peed myself. The seconds ticked by ever so slowly on Monday, and Tuesday……Wednesday morning we were off to Lubbock to get my cat scanned. Followed by a date night……we saw Wonder Woman at the Alamo Drafthouse which kinda bored me! Not gonna lie! I almost fell asleep! Anyway, that’s besides the point.

Fast forward to Thursday morning……Zach and I do everything the same as we normally do. Coffee and a bagel sammich at Einsein Bros. and we park in our same parking spot at the infusion center. NOTHING out of the ordinary. We were playing it cool, but on the inside we were both about to burst at the idea of FINALLY being done with chemo! They shuffle us back to the exam room…..I don’t get my port accessed so i’m automatically giddy….could it be? Could I be done? OMG they didn’t access my port. I AM DONE! We hang in the exam room and I can hear Kahuna, Sheree, and Chat in the hallways talking about each patient. I have my hand cupped over my ear to try and listen closer. Then they finally come into my room. Hand shakes, and hugs like normal…..because I do love these people. And then Kahuha drops the hammer. Yes, your EF did drop significantly, but there is still a 1 cm x 1 cm spot where your cancer started. Same size, same location as your CT scan that was done after #3. I’m trying to hold back my scream. This. Cannot. Be. Happening. After my 3rd round of chemo every one of my tumors was gone, with the exception of this little bastard hanging out near my aorta. This thing needs to vacate the premises STAT. And then Kahuna says that there is a chance….not a good chance, just a chance that the spot could be scar tissue because it’s stable, and it’s in the same place. I asked 2 questions after that and shut my mouth because there were tears already welling up in my eyes. 1. Am I having chemo today? Yes. FML 2. Do you think it’s scar tissue? I don’t know. But we will go forward with 7 & 8 and then we will leave it up to god. Errr…what? FML again. Leave it up to god? Like isn’t that kind of a cliche thing to say when you don’t have an answer to something?  Especially when it comes to people who are sick and you can’t help? Welp, leave it up to the big guns upstairs. Ahhh how bout no. That’s really not gonna work for me. I can honestly say that since I got diagnosed and knew that this shit was treatable, I haven’t been scared. I’ve been pissed. My mortality hasn’t even been on my brain. It’s one step in front of the other to get this shit over with. This cancer has a really high survival rate, and i’ve never allowed myself to consider that I might be a statistic. Until last Thursday.

So, away we went with infusion #7…..we did everything the same. Sat in the same spot, requested my same nurse and got on with our day. The drug that has messed with my heart function just so happens to be the same stuff that that turns me into a velociraptor for 48 hours after infusion so Kahuna will leave that out of my cocktail for 7 & 8. That’s also the strongest chemo drug in my regimen which drastically jacks with my white blood cells so he did give me the option to refuse my Neulasta injection which I  jumped on like a hobo on a ham sandwich. So hallelujah no crushing bone pain anymore! No falling down the stairs when they sniper me. No waking up in the middle of the night feeling like my friggin’ ribs are crushing my lungs!

Kahuna does keep things close to the vest…..I couldn’t get a good read on him when I asked his opinion on whether or not the spot was scar tissue. However, I have done a lot of research on my own (shocker) and it’s pretty normal to have scar tissue in your lymph nodes, lungs, etc. And because my spot hasn’t changed size or location after 5 rounds of chemo i’m trying to set my mind at ease that it’s scar tissue. But I don’t know. The plan now is to have infusion #8 on July 13th and i’ll have a PET scan after that. I WISH Kahuna would have scheduled a PET scan instead of a CT because of how specific the test is, but such is life.

So away we go! One more round til I get some firm answers. It very well could be that my cancer has been gone since #3 and i’ve just been getting chemotherapy and it has nothing to attack! SOOO comforting! The plan is still to ring the bell off the damn wall and wait patiently until my PET scan all while keeping all my fingers, toes, legs, and arm crossed at all times until I get the results. 17 days! I know I’ve done a shit-tastic job of keeping you guys updated, but honestly the more treatments I get the less my brain works….and i’m damn tired. But we’re almost to the finish line! Hopefully!

Just call me Cinderella!

I had every intention of publishing this post yesterday for National Cancer Survivors Day, but hubs and I got sucked into binge watching the latest season of House of Cards. Are you guys as obsessed with that show as I am? UGH! We binged watched it and now i’m quickly spiraling into a deep depression because I have to wait until next year for another season. Spoiler Alert! I fist pumped BIG TIME at the ending when Claire was like “MY TURN!” Friggin’ GOOSEBUMPS! One nation UNDERWOOD! Claire Underwood! Ya heard! SO GOOD!

Anyway I had treatment #6 last Thursday – nothing earth shattering to report this round. Although I did have a period! Which was SUPER exciting! It’s so funny to look at my text messages with my parents about my chemo updates. It’s nothing but period and poop chatter. If you’d like to completely smash any personal boundaries with your parents then just do what I did….get cancer. There is no topic that is off the discussion table. You’re welcome Mom and Dad!

So it’s been a pretty shitty few weeks since my last treatment. If you’re all following along like I KNOW you are then you know that the Big Kahuna added 2 more treatments to finish off my chemo. When he broke the news to me last time I was mid-infusion and was basically a zombie so I of course start balling like an idiot. And I THOUGHT he said it would reduce my chances of a relapse to have 2 more rounds. Well, Sheree his PA hit me with a bit of knowledge last week. There is NO change in my probability of relapse if I have 6 or 8 rounds of treatment. She said that normally their patients with my type of NHL are older and don’t tolerate the treatment as well as I have so they stopped at 6. No such luck for this girl. My chances are still holding strong at 30% and the most common occurrences happen in the first 12 months. FUCKING SWEET! So i’ll get whacked with 2 more and have no reassurance that it’ll reduce my chances….he’s confident the tumors are gone NOW so i’ll have 2 more just for good fun! I do go back to the cancer center on Wednesday to have my heart checked to ensure that the chemo isn’t jacking with my heart function TOO much. Those results will be the only thing stopping me from having my extra 2.

You know it’s a weird feeling…. to be super pissed off about my situation, but super thankful at the very same time. I’m going to beat this shit, but I just want to be done! I’m not good at feeling bad! But I know I have a super talented medical team behind me and i’m 100% confident in their decisions, but SHIIIIIIT this is getting old! I kinda feel like the Kahuna has thrown down the gauntlet in a way. Like “Hey….you’re almost doing too well. So let me just add a little more torture to the program to see how you do.” And i’m not one to back down from a challenge! Unless it’s skydiving, bungee jumping, being within a 50 meter radius of a snake or swimming with sharks. Those are all gonna be a no from me. But 2 extra rounds of chemo? Ohhh you done did it now, sucka! Bring. It.

So, now I can officially say that I have 38 days remaining until I am DONE with chemo. No more surprises! I only have remission on my mind. I’ve been reading this book that was given to me by some great girlfriends from back in KC and it’s called “The Subtle Art Of Not Giving a F***”. It’s kind of nice to have a reminder once in a while after losing your self-identity to cancer……Cancer is exhausting. Not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. You try and maintain as much normalcy as you can, but here’s the facts. When I was initially diagnosed it was of course fresh in everyone’s mind and everyone around us was in the loop. But the nasty truth is people forget. Zach and I talk frequently about the incredibly small group of people who have stuck by our sides for the last 7 months. And it’s gotten smaller and smaller since we’ve been on this journey. And to no fault of our friends (Seriously, i’m not calling anyone out here) but the cold hard truth is we’ve had to isolate ourselves. I have to really pick and choose things that I can do today depending on how it will make me feel tomorrow. We always have to think days in advance. We’ve stopped getting invited to stuff with our friends because likely they’ll know our answer will be a “Nope, that’s quarantine week” or “Ehh.. Gotta see how Lindsay feels” And even if we do attend shindigs with our friends my chariot turns into a pumpkin about 8pm anyway so I can’t hang on the fun bus for long. So reading this book has been the snap back to reality that I needed to know that I’m still in there. WE ARE STILL IN THERE! And that once i’m done with this bullshit Zach and I can both get back to our normal selves. And we’ll be able to reflect back on the last 7 months and know that NONE of this shit has been in vain. We’ve done something extraordinary!