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Showing posts from January, 2012

Sometimes I Have No Idea What To Say.

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Like yesterday, for example.  When my mum emailed to tell me that my (knitting) dad had an unexpected procedure done...

I think I've mentioned before that knitting dad is a cancer survivor himself.  6 years ago, he beat bladder cancer.  But way before that... back when I was still in college, he had skin cancer in his lower lip.  I never told them at the time, but I was so terrified about whether he'd be ok, I dropped out of school for a semester.  I just could not cope with all of my feelings surrounding my dad's mortality.  It scared the crap out of me.

Fast forward to yesterday - over a decade later.  While my dad was here taking care of MY cancery ass, he "burned his lip."  Or so he believed.  Or wanted to believe.  But I guess when the spot from this didn't go away, even now that they've been back home for a couple weeks, it was time to hit the doctor's office.  In the email I got from him, he just said that the doc "took one look at it and …

Warning. This Post Is About Poo.

File Under: Things I Never Thought I'd Do.

Trying to regain my health post-treatment has been an ongoing adventure and education.  I'd reading books, magazines, web articles, blogs, watching videos.  Learning.  Learning about nutrition.  Foods.  Supplements.  Exercise.  Skin care.  Menopause.  Vitamins.  Hormones.  Alkalinity.  And so on. I've learned that despite the fact that I already drink a lot of water (60 to 80 ounces a day), I should actually be drinking more like 90+ ounces a day based on my body.  I've learned that you can't juice spinach or kale without lightly cooking it in real butter or coconut oil first if you expect to get any benefit from it because your body needs those fats to absorb and make use of what's left (interesting info, no, raw food nerds?).  I've learned that dry brushing your skin with a natural brush every day can get rid of icky toxins - your skin is your largest organ, after all.  And I've learned that we are all walkin…

A Realization.

Yesterday I had my yearly review at work.  It was a little strange, timing-wise, since I've only been back a few days.  But at the same time, the odd timing really made me see something.

Over the past year, with my health being what it was... basically being burdened with an unknown illness marked by unexplained symptoms that were not exactly something I was openly talking about with everyone - especially at work, (namely, that I was bleeding uncontrollably for months on end from places you don't talk about at your job unless you're a porn star or Margaret Cho) and being told by doctor after doctor and test after test that nothing was wrong with me ...I was so unhappy!  I felt completely defective.  I was depressed.  I put on weight.  I felt ugly.  My sex life completely disappeared. (Who wants to get it on when you know it's going to end up in humiliating blood all over everyone's... everything?)  I was working fewer hours and making less money.  Self-medicating w…

Holy Hot Flashes, Batman!

If the doctor had not told me that I'd be getting hot flashes due to my treatment-imposed menopause status, I swear I'd think I was about to die.  Out of nowhere, I feel like I need to take off all my clothes at least 10 times a day.  This afternoon at work, I could actually feel my KNEES sweating.  Seriously??  When do these hormone pills start to help with this garbage??  Ugh!
I managed to make it through 7 hours of work both yesterday and today, though, which I find genuinely impressive.  I feel like overall, I feel better than the doctors and I expected me to.  The fatigue is still there.  Like right now, my brain wants to do a quick little gazelle workout before we go to our friends' house for dinner, but my body says, "Are you friggin' kidding me? How about a nap instead?"

And as I've said before, I'm learning to listen to my body...

Xxo, Phoebe

Creepy Dreams.

Last night I dreamed that my parents were back in Cleveland with me.  Because the cancer had spread to my brain.  We were sitting in a waiting room at the hospital, waiting to be called in for my brain surgery.  But the doctors were all running very late and so I ran home to put on my own bathrobe to be more comfortable, but ended up falling asleep on the couch because they'd given me an Ativan at the hospital.  My parents then showed up at the house to wake me and get me back to the hospital in a hurry because the doctors were ready for me and I hadn't been answering me phone.  We returned to the hospital in a taxi because on the way TO my house, my dad had wrecked my aunt's car.

I'm not sure exactly what all that means, but I woke up feeling very anxious.  As I continue to feel better, I realize that there is still a lot of anxiety there.  This morning in the shower, a panic came over me when I realized that I have no doctor's appointments scheduled for the next …

Mmmmm. Hormones.

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After several days of my nurse practitioner and pharmacist working together in ways you really wish everyone in the medical field would to help you out, I finally picked up my prescriptions for hormone replacement pills yesterday, and it only cost me eight bucks (rather than seventy to a hundred) for a month's supply.  I am so grateful to the two of them for taking the time to figure out a solution I could afford.

So starting today, my morning cocktail consists of 10mg of Zyrtec, 50mg of Zoloft, 2.5mg of Provera, and .5mg of Estradiol.  Delicious.  Not to mention the tablespoon of fish oil, the multivitamin, and the probiotics that I take once I get downstairs for breakfast.  Mmmm. Mmmm. Mmmm.  It's funny to think that prior to last year, I was someone who didn't even like to take an Advil if I had a headache for 3 days.  Ryan doesn't like the idea of me taking hormones, though.  I basically just got a lecture about how it's probably bad.  As with most things medi…

I Made It!

Not quite a full day, but I did come damn close to 7 hours before it was time to call it quits today at work!  And it was great to be back!  Everyone seemed happy to see me.  My coworkers did an amazing job of getting my crap done on top of their own crazy workloads.  I felt good.  I didn't get too tired.  It was a definite win!  All of my worrying yesterday was for nothing.  Though I kinda have a feeling that that is going to be a common theme in my life from here on out.

Anyhow.

Today going well has me feeling empowered!  I am going to try to get some filing done here at home that I've been avoiding for, oh, years...  And then I'm going to ride my stationary bike and watch Law & Order S.V.U. and drink a gallon of our delicious new water and go to bed.

Love love, Phoebe

Back to Work.

Today I go back to work.  Yesterday I spent a lot of the day worrying about it.  I'm not even sure WHAT exactly I'm nervous about, but I am definitely nervous.  It's going to feel awkward and foreign and I have no idea how my body is going to react, let alone my brain!  I'm honestly just flat out scared.  I had a huge sobbing breakdown last night.  I had a hard time falling asleep.  And now I'm up and trying to remember how to get ready to go to work, and I'm already tired.

I think the hardest part of this whole experience is just no longer having a "normal" - not in any part of my life.  Everything seems foreign and a lot of times it really feels like no one else can possibly understand how difficult just getting through a regular day can be.

I am heading downtown today with every hope that I can make it at least MOST of the way through the day, but also willing to accept the fact that that may just not be the way it goes.  Like Jennifer said yeste…

Follow-Up #2

This morning I had my follow-up appointment with my second doctor, Dr. Mastroianni.  Radiation Oncology at Moll Pavilion is where I went every day for 5 weeks, so despite the fact that what I went through as a result of those visits was tantamount to torture... it was really nice to see some of the techs and nurses who made that whole process a lot easier on me.  (More on that in a minute...)

Basically, this appointment went well.  Most of the noticeable negative side effects have gone on their way - my skin is looking and feeling almost normal (but smoother and softer - hidden plus), my miserable bowels seem to be getting back to normal, etc. etc.  The go-ahead to go back to work tomorrow was given, with the reminder that I will likely not be able to do as much as I was used to doing right away - and with the advice that that is OK!  Awesome nurse Jen said, "If you can only work 4 hours, then only work 4 hours."  One thing I have learned through all of this is that there is…

Taking the Good with the Bad.

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Overall, our night away at Mohican was nice.  The entire lodge was almost deserted.  Like, seriously, I think there may have been 2 other people staying there.  We arrived about an hour before sunset, so we didn't get to see TOO much before giving up and going to get dinner (in the EMPTY lodge restaurant... where they managed to charge my credit card THREE TIMES for the meal - I am still fighting with them).  After a mediocre overpriced (even at just ONE swipe of the card) dinner and dessert, we just went back to our room to be overwhelmed by the hundreds of channels available on their satellite tv.

What happened after that, I will not go into detail about - although I am sure you can imagine... Suffice it to say that it was the first time in nearly a year that this thing happened.  Between the bleeding leading up to the diagnosis and the discomfort of the treatments that followed it, well, I hadn't been feeling too sexy.  Since this has, however, been a tell-all situation ov…

A Night Away...

Dog sitter? Check.  Bag packed? Check.  And... we're outta here!

Ryan is taking me down to Mohican for the night.  Just a night away.  I'm so excited about it, I can't even tell you.  We've been together for something like 7 years and we have NEVER done this.  It's about time.

Like it says on the front page of Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy Cancer website...

Why, when we are challenged to survive, do we give ourselves permission to truly live?


May this just be the beginning of Ryan and I really LIVING our lives together from now on.

See you tomorrow...

Xxo, Phoebe

T-Shirt!

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My (tattooed) dad's friend, Jim, has been following this blog since my dad first posted about it.  Today, via my dad, he sent me a design he created for me.  I am going to ask my friend Renae (who does screen printing) to make me a t-shirt or two with this graphic... just as soon as I know for sure that I beat the stupid f*cking cancer!

I hope he doesn't mind me posting the graphic here.  I just love it and wanted to share:



Thanks, Jim!  For this and for all of your kind words and support.
Xxo, Phoebe

A Quick "WOW!"

So, I just looked at the hit counter here and realized that in the 74 days since we started this blog, there have been almost 9000 hits!

Thanks, you guys.  I could not feel more loved and supported.  I am getting through this because I have so much goodness in my life.

Lots of Love,
Phoebe

Just Breathe.

This evening, I went to my very first guided meditation class.  I was inspired to give it a try both from something I read in Kris Carr's book "Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips" as well the fact that the teacher is a dear friend and someone I deeply love and respect.  I knew I'd be comfortable with her, so I figured "Why not?".

It was HARD, but I think I did eventually get to a good place.  My brain was still all over the place.  I'd get caught up on the fact that this guy's loud breathing was irritating or the incense was stinky or even just the fact that my thoughts were skipping around in such a random way.

But overall - I really liked it.  I can see myself going back.  It's only twice a month.  I can swing that.  If it makes me feel better, it is totally worth it.  And right now, I do feel better.

Namaste and stuff,
Phoebe

Puttin' the HOT in Hot Flashes.

Yeah.  I had bloodwork done yesterday morning and a few hours later, Dr. Kebria called to let me know that my ovaries have officially closed up shop.  No more period.  Instead I get to trade that for all the fun of menopause:

-Hot flashes? Already happening.
-Night sweats?  Check.
-Loss of libido?  Not yet - it's been so long with all of the treatments and the weirdness leading up to the diagnosis, I finally have little BUT sex on the brain now that I know I can have it again.
-Mood swings / sudden tears?  Uh, I'm  girl.  This is my whole life.
-Fatigue?  We're already well acquainted.
-Decrease in body hair / increase in facial hair?  Well, some of my body hair got decreased already (thank you radiation).  And I already fought with errant chin hairs before this, so it's hard to say if anything has changed... although it does seem like my leg hair is growing sllllowwww.  So that's a plus.
-Sleep disorders?  Already had insomnia issues - apparently they're…

Makeover Time

No, not ME (although I could definitely use one - good grief!).  The blog!  I was getting tired of seeing the same old dismal background on there.  I was ready to spend some time jazzing it up today, making it a happier place to visit.  Because, you know, cancer is so friggin' happy.  ;)

Xxo, Phoebe

Everywhere You Look

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A very wise friend of mine recently blogged that once something that has always been there (and even common) infiltrates your life, suddenly that thing seems to be everywhere you look.
I just opened my new issue of Real Simple magazine to see this ad... I may need the "Survivor" shirt they have on their site...


Xxo, Phoebe

Follow-Up #1

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Today I had my first (of what will be a lifetime of) follow-up appointments.  It was with Dr. Kebria, my main oncologist.  He did an exam, confirmed that everything up in there is looking as it should, no problems, yadda yadda.  We won't have a "for sure" answer as to whether the cancer is all gone until the first post-treatment PET scan, which is getting scheduled for the beginning of April.

While that means 3 months of uncertainty and probably occasional anxiety, it also means that the trip to Italy my mum had planned to take me on is a GO!  I'm a little nervous about what my stamina will be like in just 63 days, but because this idea originated last March (after the first exam that indicated there may be something really wrong...) it's something that is still really important to me.  Seeing Italy with my mother (and MAYBE my sister... HOPEFULLY my sister...) is pretty exciting.  It's been 20 years since I last crossed the ocean.  Vacations just haven'…

"Better" Does Not Equal "Normal"

Over the past week or so, I'm finally starting to get OUT and see people again.  (Well... people other than Ryan and my parents - who have been my entire social world for a couple months now.)  And getting out and seeing people has made me more aware of how I feel.  It took seeing various friends to really get that I am looking and doing a lot better.  But it's also hard because, as this post title says, better is a long-ass way from normal.

This is something that I had not realized would be so difficult to convey to... well... everyone.  I think it has to do with the fact that the people in your life who love and care about you - they WANT you to be "OK."  They feel better if they think you are better.  And that's not a bad thing, but it IS a difficult thing to try to live up to.

I mean, sure.  I didn't lose my hair, so when people see me and I look relatively like me old normal self, they are happy.  I keep hearing "You look so good,"  "You…

Why the Wait?

I received a comment on my last post about why it is that I have to wait to find out anything...

We were baffled by this in the beginning, too...  I'll do my best to explain why it's really not as big a deal as it seems, so that everyone (including my adorable anonymous comment poster) will understand (at least as well as I understand and can remember with my cloudy brains).

First off, Dr. Fleming DID peep my cervix during each of my five brachytherapy sessions.  And every time he said things were looking better and better.  But I guess the deal is, the tumor is still there.  And that is NORMAL.  It's there, but it is in the process of dying.  The brachy nurse practitioner told Ryan that even when they look at it at my follow-up with them in February, it will still be there, just looking all gross and necrotic and dying and stuff.  The radiation, both the external and the brachy, continue to work for weeks after the treatments are over.  The gift that keeps on giving, they…

Treatments? Done... Now what???

Tuesday was, as I posted, my final brachytherapy.  I am officially DONE with my cancer treatments.

And now.  Now I'm friggin' terrified.

During the treatments, I had a goal.  I felt like I was contributing to kicking the tumor's ugly ass right outta there.  I got up every day, and no matter how busted I felt, I went to chemo, I went to radiation, I went to brachy.  And now... now I do nothing.  I wait.  And god help me... I THINK.

As of right now, I have NO idea WHEN I will find out if everything we've done, you know, WORKED.  I have "follow-up" appointments scheduled over the next two weeks with Dr. Kebria and Dr. Mastrioanni. But I don't know if either of them will tell me what's next?  How long?  Did it work?  Yadda yadda.  And I'm scared.  And I hate it.

I know we have to wait a certain amount of time until they CAN re-scan me to see if it's gone or dead or whatever.  But I don't know how long that is.  And I'm depressed about n…

Tomorrow, Tomorrow, I Love Ya Tomorrow

Yep.  Tomorrow is my LAST brachytherapy.  My last treatment.

It'll be at least a month or so before the doctors can re-scan me and make sure that stupid cancer has shriveled up and died in there, but just having the constant stuff done will be more than a little awesome.

I'm still fatigued (yet having major trouble sleeping - weird) but I am definitely starting to really GET how much better I've been feeling.  My parents and Ryan have noticed it more than I have, I think, because I still just don't feel "right".  I don't feel like myself.  Everything is kooky and it's still really hard to deal with everyday everything, even though I supposedly "look good" and whatnot.

But I'm trying.

Today, Ryan made organic pancakes and super-loved, cage-free, drug-free, bullshit-free egss for brunch and then went to Earth Fare (our new favorite grocery store) and got some gorgeous antibiotic-free, grass-fed, yadda-yadda steaks (which are marinading n…