Monday, March 27, 2017

A fellow Warrior touches my heart...

I read this a while ago on The Lymphoma Club facebook page and asked for permission to post here.  What Erin says touches my heart in it's deepest spot:  "As of today 1-11-17 I'm done with chemo. I'm not yours anymore cancer. I'm free of you. Free of your fatigue. Free of the pain you caused me. No more inconveniences. No more stealing my time and life. I am in control now. I can do whatever I want with no resistance.
These last six months have been the most difficult and challenging of my life. I've had to deal with loosing my hair and my freedom. I had to restrict my activities to barely nothing. I had to stop my schooling which I am so in love with. I have worked to hard to get to where I am academically. I had to pause my relationships with my friends, boyfriend and family. Which my whole life revolved around. Cancer caused me to take care of myself which I never did when I was not sick. It was a huge adjustment.
I want to thank everyone sincerely for checking in on me when they did. I want to thank everyone who sent me gifts to keep my spirits high when I felt so low. I couldn't get through this with out them. I also want to thank everyone who donated to my gofundme. It has helped in more ways than one. I struggled with staying happy in my darkest times. Which was hard for me because before all this I was happy and busy all the time. I'm a changed person because of cancer. I know my life is forever in a different direction and I've learned so much about myself. I'm thankful for a clean scan which will be happening on February and I'm confident my cancer will never come back. I'm thankful of all of the doctors, nurses and different teams that helped me get to the place I'm in now. Remission. Remission. It's so strange to say. This seemed so far away in the beginning. I missed a lot of time. My whole birthday basically. A holiday. And I can't get that back. But I can live in the moment and not take any day for granted from here on out.
I love all of you and if I can give any advice to anyone it's don't ignore any strange occurrences in your life. Be cautious and do what ever you can to get to the bottom of it. Don't stop just because some doctors don't know what's going on with you. Don't listen to them. Be your own advocate. Research and get on top of it because no one else will. Take your health into you own hands. And above all know you can get through anything with your own inner strength." ~Erin

I am VERY thankful for Lymphoma facebook pages, and fellow Warriors like Erin.

Always forward, never back,

Sunday, March 19, 2017

It's GREAT to be alive! (And still driving....)

It feels SOOOOOO good to feel like myself again!  Holy smokes!  I went on a little trip this past weekend to celebrate my birthday AND the fact that Bertha is GONE!  We walked a LOT, and my body did not let me down!  WOO HOO!  

Had one little incident on the way home.  I was supposed to take the ferry from Hatteras to Okracoke then to Swan Quarter but it was too windy.  Ferries cancelled.  WHAT?!?  How do I get home?  Had to drive up the coast a bit then they told me to look for a KFC/Taco Bell, then turn left to go inland....  About 10 minutes into the trip I look behind me and there are blue lights.  Oh shit.  This lady Sheriff comes up to me and says I was going 40 in a 25 MPH zone.  Oh Shit.  She takes my license and registration and goes back to her car.  A couple minutes later she walks back to me and says "Ma'am, your license expired 2 days ago.  Do you have any relatives in the area?  I can't let you drive."  
I explained my situation to her....about my last 9 months being a blurrrrr....and that I probably got a reminder about my license but I was too focused on surviving to notice.  And then I was in a tizzy when I learned that I couldn't take the ferry and I didn't notice that it was 25MPH and I was just trying to get home......and....and....and (....all 4 dogs are being total angels, even Keeper.  They were just sitting still.  I think they had their paws crossed.)

She responded with "Let me go call my supervisor."

She walked back a couple minutes later with a ticket for the expired license and explained.... "I'm not going to give you a ticket for the speeding.  Here's a ticket for the expired license but if you call the Clerk's office once you renew your license, they will take care of this for you.  Now, I can't legally watch you drive because you have an expired license, but if you go park and wait for me to leave, I will never know if you got back on the highway and drove yourself home.  Do you need help with directions?".

Angels.  They are always there when I need them.  You know, if she hadn't pulled me over, who knows when I would have realized that my license expired.  I did renew it ONLINE while I was all is good in the world again.  

Always forward, never back,

Friday, March 10, 2017

5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Chemo

I found this and loved it.  Wise words.
5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Chemo

When facing a diagnosis of lymphoma, it can be difficult to know what to expect. I didn’t know how chemo would impact my life, and there was no way for me to know how chemo would affect me first-hand. Although there is lots of information available about chemo, and how to prepare for it, going through it is completely different.
Following are five things I wish someone had told me before I started chemo. I hope these five things I learned (plus one bonus!) will be insightful to anyone starting chemo.
1. Set reasonable expectations for yourself
It’s probably best that you only plan to do one or two things a day. If you exert yourself too much and do not feel well or energetic enough to fulfill other plans, don’t be hard on yourself. Your body is going through so much and the last thing you should stress about are the plans you are not able to fulfill. Take it slow. Your friends will understand completely if you would rather veg out and watch Netflix.
2. Listen to your body/report to your doctor
This a big one for me. I say this to my friends who don’t even have cancer. You should always be listening to your body. Our bodies are designed to fight for us, and they will always speak up when something isn’t right. We just have to listen close enough.
Listening to your body becomes very important because the chemo will affect our bodies in ways that we’ve never experienced. For me, most chemo weeks came with their own set of side effects.
Chest pain was the big one for me, which eventually led to being diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism (the scariest part of my treatment.) But because I listened to my body (and reported to my doctor), I was able to catch the embolism in time.
*I found it helpful to keep a journal or note of each chemo week’s side effects and then send them to my doctor, or sharing the list with him at my next appointment.
3. Playing the cancer card is OK
I always thought it was super awkward to play the card, and wasn’t sure how to even introduce the topic. Eventually, I figured it out, as I think you will, too. Sometimes you really have no other choice but to play the cancer card. And that’s okay. I believe we got dealt this card, and it’s only fair if we get to use it every now and then!
4. Give your body a fighting chance
Cravings aside, make sure that what you are putting in your body benefits you in some way. The stuff you are being injected with, although fighting the cancer cells, is not strengthening your body’s natural resources. Do what you can to consume the things your body loves and will benefit from. In contrast, I also say that by listening to your body’s cravings (my craving was Sour Patch Kids!) you are giving your body what it needs in that moment. We can talk about cravings more later.
5. Temper your expectations of your friends (and even your family)
I cover this briefly in a video on my youtube channel. I’m not sure what you can make of my tears in the video, and it’s been a while since I re-watched it, but friends are going to let you down. Family is going to let you down. Going into treatment and your cancer diagnosis, I recommend tempering your expectations of who you think will pull through and be there for you. In most cases, the people you expect to be there for you are the ones who can’t, and the people that you don’t expect at all come out of the woodwork and bring their “A game.”
I find that this filtering of the friends who didn’t stick around is a blessing in disguise, and I’m actually pretty happy about learning these things sooner rather than later.
One part I really have trouble with when it comes to the friends department post-chemo, is remembering that it’s OK for friendships to fall through with friends who were there for you during treatment.
Plan for life after cancer!
Once treatment ends, you are entering a totally “new normal.” Life as you knew it will be very much different. You probably will have different outlooks, you may be dealing with PTSD, and you will not feel like yourself. No one mentioned this to me when I was diagnosed, or started treatment.
Prepare for this. Set goals for some things you want to accomplish post-cancer. Changing your career path? That’s okay. I did, too!
Preparing for chemo won’t make it go away, but you’ll be ready for it. And that’s half the battle!

There's another Bertha in town

I belong to this facebook group specifically for people with follicular NHL.  IT IS PHENOMENAL.  I love it.  It includes a VERY diverse set of people from all over the world.  It is amazing.  (And confirms that Cancer does NOT discriminate.  AT ALL.)

Anyway, I posted about my scan being clear and Bertha being gone.  The responses immediately started pouring in and my heart just got bigger and bigger.  

One of my favorite posts was "Good Luck Bubb" with a smiley and thumb up! LOL!  LOVE IT!

Then there was my absolute favorite....from someone recently diagnosed:  "Since Bertha is gone from you I might adopt the name for my tumor, I got my port today and start treatment next Friday, hopefully Bertha will move out of me too!!"  

Now *THAT* is totally awesome!  Of course I immediately responded and told her that was a super fantastic idea and to consider me one of her Warriors.  And you know, I don't even know this lady AT ALL, but I would do anything for her to make her battle easier.  I think ALL the people in this group would.  It's amazing.  This is the good stuff about facebook.  

Always forward, never back,

Maintenance Treatment #1 DONE!


Maintenance Treatment #1 is DONE!  It took a little longer than we thought it would, but it's all good.  It did my heart good to see all the nurses again!  THEY ROCK!  

Sissy was with me today too.  I think I had to pee 6 times so that's a LOT of getting up and down for her to unplug my IV stand...but she just did it without even thinking about it. 

It's a little overwhelming to think that I have to do these treatments for 2 years, every 2 months.  Actually, make that VERY OVERWHELMING.  Ugh.  I had no idea that this was going to happen....I don't remember this being something that my mom did....but if that's what I gotta do, that's what I'll do.  

I was thinking about it last night and remembered something that helped me when I was doing stairs at work.  It was easier to do 15 flights of stairs if I counted DOWN vs. UP.  That way when I was close to reaching the top, I was saying to myself 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1!!!  It motivated me.  ESPECIALLY when I would say ONE!!  So now that I'm doing these maintenance treatments, I think I will just focus on ONE at a time.  Just ONE.  That's it.  I just need to get thru ONE.  And then I'll be ONE closer to the finish line.  Ok.  Cool.  THAT I can wrap my head around!


Thank you, Denise and Devinder and Chris for taking super fantastic care of me today....

 That's a BIG bag of Rituxan!  It took 3 hours to administer.  BUH BYE LYMPHOMA!

 Me explaining my "ONE" concept to Denise....

Always forward, never back,

Wednesday, March 8, 2017


I just got a call from Dr. Kritz.  He presented my case to a board of Oncologists to make sure maintenance Rituxan was the best route to take.  There is also an option to do radiation. 

The board consensus was NO radiation.  YAY!

Always forward, never back,

Tuesday, March 7, 2017



Loving life!

Next Steps

My battle has not ended.  Follicular Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma (I'm Stage 3A, Grade 2) is not curable.  It's easy to treat but chances of re-occurrence are high.  It will probably come back.  Not sure when.  Not sure where.  AAAAAND, there is always the chance of a miracle!   Dr. Kritz was VERY impressed with how well I've done so anything can happen. 

I'm trying really hard not to think of the future and just focus on living in the moment.  I used to do that pretty good, but now I'm going to become an expert!  

My next steps are to do maintenance Rituxan for 2 years.  Every 2 months I'll get to go see my favorite nurses, spend a couple hours getting an infusion, then boogie on outta there to seize what's left of the day.  I'll keep seeing Dr. Kritz, and he'll keep monitoring me.  I'll probably get another scan of some sort in 6 months or so, just to make sure there are no Bertha-wannabee's starting to form.  

There are things that I can do to help make treatments more effective, like eating healthy and exercising.  I've also got to keep my stress levels to a bare minimum.  These things aren't really that different from before I had Cancer...but now I have a little more motivation to make them a priority. 

First maintenance treatment is this coming Friday @ 10A.  Hoping for no side effects!  And it will be good to see my nurses again!

Always forward, never back,

My Warriors ROCK!

Thinking back to when I was first diagnosed...I was so shocked....and scared....and completely lost.  All I could think of was my Mom's battle, which was not fun at all.  I remember thinking to myself...I gotta get help with this fight.  I cannot do this alone.  No way.  It's too big.  I remember deciding to do this blog....

Fast forward to today.....


The support I've received has been phenomenal.  It has given me the strength I need to fight this fight.  And whenever I would hit a low moment....all I had to do was look on my walls to see this...

Thank you Warriors!  

Always forward, never back,


Buh Bye Bertha is now a reality!

It's been a whirlwind since I found out last week that Bertha is gone!  

BUBBA:    1

WOW!  To be completely honest, I was expecting there to be some sort of little something light up on the Pet Scan, but there was NOTHING.  NOT A THING!  HOLY SHIT!  I did a Snoopy Happy Dance, of course!  Right there in Dr. Kritz's office!  LOL!  

I owe this HUMONGOUS success to my Warriors!  YOU ROCK!  I absolutely COULD NOT HAVE DONE THIS WITHOUT YOU!

Here's some pictures of my cube the next day after I found out the news....

 Can you believe these were my calendars?!?!!!  The bottom one, in case you can't read it, says "Stop to look fear in the face.  You must do the thing which you think you cannot do. - Eleanor Roosevelt"  HOLY SHIT EVEN THE UNIVERSE WAS ALIGNED WITH ME!!  



Wednesday, March 1, 2017