Friday, June 26, 2015

PET

Another PET scan down, my 3rd in 11 months.  I guess that makes me a regular as my nurse recognized me.  I asked her if it was my eyes or hair or perhaps the fact that I wear the same outfit to every scan as to why she recognized me! She might think I wear the same baggy stretchy dress for luck but I actually wear it to avoid wearing the oh so lovely hospital gown! Carly 1, hospital gown 0.....gotta have a win somewhere!

The waiting lobby was quite full and as much as you don't listen in on others, it's hard not to hear what's being said. A woman I'd guess to be in her 70's was chatting with her daughter and anxious for her first PET scan.  She was right beside me so I said hello and offered some comfort.  I told her the only pain she'd have was the needle.  I told her to turn off the lights in the room and take a nap during the 45 min waiting period. I told her to close her eyes while on the scanning bed and picture her favourite place.  I told her there was no physical pain but the results waiting game wasn't fun.  I got called in and never saw her again. I hope my words helped her....I hope she'll be ok. She has lung cancer which is the #1 cancer causing death in women a fact not known to many. 

After my PET scan I headed to the 2nd floor for my biopsy.  My Dr is amazing but I was scared, so she called in a nurse to help me cope.  I will not lie, tears were rolling down and I might have sworn once....or twice!  The cramping was awful and I can only imagine how childbirth must feel...you poor women but at least you get a reward!  I didn't budge but unfortunately she couldn't get the sample. Nothing I did wrong, just anatomy stuff. 

July 3rd at 9am I'll undergo a day surgery where I'll be sedated and the Dr can get all she wants and needs without any pain coming my way.  She'll also take a better look at surgical areas to ensure things are healed proper. I'll be picked up at noon & recover at home. We don't expect any trauma, mostly I'll just be coming off the anesthetic and tired. There's always the chance of complication but that goes without saying & my surgical odds are good.  If my PET scan results come back prior to Friday and show improvement since the last scan, then most likely surgery will be cancelled.  If the uterus still shows a marker then we continue. 

After the bleeding and some discomfort over the last couple weeks, hearing my Dr say she thinks things look good was music to my ears.  I felt so much better leaving as I did arriving.  I had to call my dad prior to my scan as I was scared, or as he would say I had a panic attack.  Silly dad, no panic attack just a reality slap in the face. Mom & auntie Shelly met me post biopsy as I needed someone to drive Snowflake home. Thanks AS, hope Snowflake made you proud!  

My last blog expressed that I was needing some support, like therapy.  I signed on with Inspire Health and attended their introduction meeting. A 2 day seminar is to follow July 8-9 where I'll hear all about what they have to offer.  Therapy, meditation, nutrition, yoga and more are just a few points offered to cancer patients as well as their supporters. If you know of anyone who needs help on any level, please tell them to check out their web site.  This service is now of no cost in thanks to funding and donations. 

My 1 year diagnosis date is creeping up in July. So much has happened this past year and you've been along for the journey with me. My hope is that the cancer stays away and that I can make a career change where I'll be able to support others going through cancer.  I've always stayed as positive as I could and believed this was happening for a reason, and now it's becoming more clear.  Over 30,000 views on this blog and 30,000 thank you's sent back your way!

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C


Friday, June 19, 2015

Cloudy

When I was first diagnosed I was a lot of things.  Scared...angry but I had purpose which was to wake up everyday and fight Cancer. I had no choice, it had to happen. So many people told me how brave I was, how strong I was and wished me well.  For being a very sick young woman I felt so very blessed. 

When I got news 101 days ago that I was cancer free I felt like the Triple Crown winner (horseracing recent champ Pharoah).  I was on a winning streak and was so inspired and happy, nothing could get me down.  Eventually the winner will lose and looks like it's that time for me. 

I think I've hit my recovery rock bottom, sounds scary but I need to admit I'm a bit of a mess. At least I've got good hair & lipstick... Gotta have a win somewhere right?  As you can see my humour is still around so I'm not a goner quite yet!

Cancer took away many things and I'm struggling at getting them back and redefining myself. Yes nothing happens overnight but being sick is hard.  I'm trying to keep that positive attitude & drive but man it's tough. 

Not sure if you watched Dancing With The Stars this past season, but the gentleman who placed 3rd was missing a leg & an arm. His name is Noah Galloway and you should read his story.  He said he was mad and angry but after he mourned his injury & change, he picked himself up and transformed to who he is today.  I think of him as tears roll down my cheeks when I'm sad and in pain. I need to be like him...strong. 

I'm thinking it might be time I see a therapist.  I know loads of people who do, it's almost weird if you don't have a therapist in Vancouver. Lots of things make me sad or angry from my bad leg, to being alone a lot, to Crohn's struggles, sore body and just being a survivor.  Nobody ever said surviving was easy and it's not.  I feel disconnected from people and life and I want that to change. Being sick is almost like moving across the country.  You don't see people as much and you don't know as much of the daily.  Not saying they don't care, I just wish they cared more. 

This past week with the bleeding has taken me back to the beginning. Last time I had a biopsy I was told I had cancer. A flashback I don't really need or want but unfortunetly it probably won't be my last flashback Friday!  My energy has been really low so if this is to continue I need to find a way to push thorough.  Maybe I should put up a photo of Noah as inspiration. 

With all this said, I wouldn't change a thing.  This is part of my path but right now it's just a little bumpy. I've got a few months to get strong & healthy so maybe talking to someone can help me get there a bit easier.  I know what I want so now I've got to make it happen with help and on my own. 

Two sentences that help me often:

1) one day at a time and 2) this too shall pass

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Hurdles

I understand the feeling a track star who jumps hurdles must feel.  There's always one more hurdle no matter how well you do or how many times you win the race.   I relate this to my Cancer & Crohn's.   Each time I felt better or finished a treatment or the pain seemed to stop, another hurdle popped up. I wasn't always jumping over that hurdle on my first try but eventually made it over. Good thing is....when a real life track stars misses a hurdle they get bruised ankles and mine seem just fine!

All-in-all this last while I was feeling progress physically & emotionally. I was doing my best with exercise to help strengthen my sore body and doing way better with food relating to Crohn's.  I haven't had raw veggies since April which was hard for me but now it's just a new normal, another hurdle overcome. 

For the past 6 days I've been having some bleeding similar to that of a menstrual cycle. Common for someone my age however I haven't had "the pleasure" since the start of my radiation treatment.  I was told I'd never go through this again and placed on hormones to balance out my body as it's too early in life for this to usually stop.  I did have one of my medications changed a bit ago which could be why this has happened, but Dr Lee thinks it would have occurred earlier on.  

All my previous PET scans have alerted the Drs to something on my uterus. It wasn't a huge concern in the past and so they monitored it closely.  With my recent trip to the cancer agency a few weeks back and now the bleeding, Dr Lee will be doing a biopsy to rule out any issues. It's done easily at the agency so don't need to be sedated or anything of similar nature.  Just a bit of pain and it'll be over. Pain is something I've come to know well this past year so I'll just jump that hurdle no problem.  This biopsy will be right after my PET scan on the 24th, so next Wednesday. 

I'm hoping to hear that the change in my hormone medication is the reason for the bleeding.  To be quite honest, I've been happy not having a menstrual cycle anymore!  It was the only "cancer perk" I got.  Some people get curly hair or a little skinnier....those didn't happen to me but this instead.  If for any reason my cycle has come back it would be a medical miracle.  The amount of radiation & chemotherapy my pelvis received...they never would have seen this happen to a patient like me.  This is one miracle I'm not praying for LOL

No need to talk worst case scenarios because we don't have the facts.  If they want my uterus gone they can take it...as long as it's no more cancer I'll jump as many more hurdles I need to!

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C

Monday, June 8, 2015

90 days!

When this journey first started the last thing I could think about was reaching 90 days cancer free.  You always stay positive and hope for the best, but when I went in to find out my results three months ago I truly didn't think I'd hear the words "cancer free". I'm happy to report that today, June 08, 2015, I reached 90 days.  

As I've said in previous blogs cancer free doesn't mean you're totally out of the clear or back to the good ol' life.  For me, my body has been through incredible trauma and recovery is ongoing.  I remain high risk and closely monitored so being told I have cancer again is always on my mind. I've learned not to let this feeling control or limit me and to do my best at enjoying each day I have, be it for another 90 days or another 40 years.  I've still got a lot ahead of me but I'm excited to go there, excited to make my new normal. 

You've all been so amazing riding this roller coaster with me.  The Marine Drive ladies, my dearest friends, my fantastic family but most importantly my mother. Not saying my dad hasn't been a whole lot of awesome, but mom has been with me every step of the way.  I think my parents know Shane and I will do anything for them in their times of need but mom has really set the bar high.  I don't need a guardian angel because mine lives 500 yards away.  

I can't wait to get this next PET scan behind me and hear more cancer free results.  The more you hear it...the more you believe it.  Thanks to all of you for believing in me!

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Tides out

Seems every time I head to Centennial Beach the tide is out.  Maybe this is a sign of sorts?  Ah who am I kidding I'm not a mambo-jumbo kind of gal, I just need to pay attention or read a chart and know when the tide is in!

Today Sarah, aka Frenchie, came out to Tsawwassen for a visit.  En route to picking her up at the River Rock Casino skytrain station, I noticed a big delay coming back via the tunnel as a result of an accident, so we took the long way home but made it nonetheless.  I don't think Sarah, a Vancouver downtown native, has ever seen the Alex Fraser Bridge so a little geography lesson was added in to our day.

It was nice to catch up with an old friend and we found ourselves reminiscing on how we met to how old Simba is...he's gonna be 14...we sat at the beach and then came back home for dinner on my patio.  It was such an easy day.  No cancer worries, no Crohn's flares....and I was happy, however I was in pain.

For the last while I've been doing my best at being active somehow everyday and decided to add sit ups in to my exercise routine.  I use a medice ball to do these sit ups and now I can barely sit up...literally!  Just laughing hurts for crying out loud but I'll take this pain as a win.  Think there's some sort of slogan..oh yeah....no pain no gain!!!

I went to the cancer agency for a checkup Wednesday as I wasn't feeling quite right close to where my lymph nodes were removed.   I was super scared and might have cried with Dr Haywood....and the intern too poor girl!  But he reassured me that what I'm feeling is healing tissue from surgery and radiation.  My upcoming PET scan will confirm but he thinks all looks good. 

As happy as I was to hear this news I was really emotional.  Thank goodness for sunglasses as I cried the whole way home.  I think I was so busy being strong while in treatment I didn't really let myself  feel how serious things were and can be.  Surgery can happen if cancer comes back almost anywhere except my groin, so I just felt so mortal and helpless. I drove straight to my mom and hugged her while I cried and things got better.  Then I had a huge change of scenery as it was Eli's 8th birthday so went over the celebrate how cool he is.

This recovery process is hard and we all handle things differently.  I accepted I didn't want to have kids years ago but found myself in tears the other day not knowing what a skinnier version of me would look like.  (insert laughter here). But that only lasted for a minute and all is well again.

I sure sound like a cry baby in this blog don't I!!  I'll blame it on my hormones and to be honest I usually feel better after a good cry.  You do too right?  Right???? Lol 

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C



Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Judgement day

I've been thinking long & hard about judgement lately as some has come my way.  We're all guilty of judging others and if you really pay attention you do it multiple times a day. Maybe it's what someone's wearing, a news hot topic, or how the clerk bagged your groceries. Some things we judge are visible and others aren't. 

When I was in the thick of my illness you could look at me and know I was ill no matter how much lipstick I'd apply!  As I got better I started to look better but what people don't see are the hidden changes.  Today was day 84 since I heard I was cancer free but it's also day 84 of extreme leg pain, constant fatigue, a sore body and emotional stress. 

Some people who have cancer don't have much pain but I had pain for nearly one year.  I think as we heal it's easy to forget how bad it really was.  I was curled up in my bed crying calling friends and family asking them to tell me jokes to take my mind somewhere else, even for just a minute.  Then treatment came and this blog was born documenting my journey. How can one be "normal" just 84 days after being told you're cancer free....you can't, or at least I can't. 

Everyday I wake up and give myself a task.  It could be as simple as cleaning my floors or going out for a good bike ride. I want to get stronger so I can be normal again or my new version of normal as I am forever changed. Big Kahuna might be gone but he's left a mark never to go away.  Some days I struggle with this and other days I might say a curse word or 2 and tell myself to keep on conquering. 

Scary thing is not knowing if I'm ok.  When I was in the hospital after Christmas my surgeon explained that if the cancer comes back in my groin there is no further treatment.  I've had lymph nodes removed, chemotherapy and radiation, as much treatment as possible. The last couple days my groin surgical area has been sensitive so needless to say I'm worried. I'm going to call the cancer agency and get an appointment sooner than what's scheduled for early July. My PET scan is June 23. I don't think I should wait but I'm scared, so scared. Hopefully my bike rides are to blame but I've got to get checked. 

I apologize to anyone who has judged me of late.  Maybe my photos of me smiling isn't representing my actual reality. I've just had it so bad this last year I've wanted to show a happier me.  Am I not allowed to get prettied up?  Riding my bike is something I'm very proud of.  Not only for the exercise portion but just to be able to sit on a seat and go.  When something so simple was taken away, you just want to celebrate every day you can do it again. Perhaps I'm living as much as I can right now until my next results come back. 

I wear the Fuck Cancer t-shirt all the time. I have 2 now and I wear them because it's how I feel and how so many others do too. 

XOXO 

#carly2conquercancer

C

Update Dec 5th

Sorry I am a day late! This is from Carly yesterday :) Pic 1 was taken months ago and shows how big my hernia was. It was even bigger at...