In April of 2015, I lie in a hospital bed with a body that was failing me. I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, bone marrow blood cancer.
By the time I came home to begin my cancer journey of weekly chemo and steroid treatments, which would lead up to a Stem Cell Transplant, I went from an active 54 year old woman to one who was bloated, hunched over, in pain and could barely walk.
I love fashion! It’s not the event, but what I’m going to wear that has always excited me and cancer was trying to steal my mojo! I was not going to fight back wearing a jogging suit!
So here began my cancer fashion journey, getting up everyday and fighting my way back by presenting myself the way that made me feel like me and to shout out to the world, F.U. Cancer!!!!
Here is my journey of fighting cancer, one outfit at a time.
A dear Multiple Myeloma friend passed this along to me for she knows we are often asked this very question as though we are special and have the secret to continuing life after cancer.
Now I do believe this friend might have angel wings, because I wonder myself how she does it.
I often think when I see people with challenges that I’ve not or will never experience in my own life, what keeps them going with convictions, strengths and the will to inspire others, often times with love in their hearts and encouragement to share.
And then I had my answer.
There is no secret of how you do it, but accepting you must.
You discover parts of yourself that need to become stronger or ones you never knew you had.
I’m strong willed.
I want to give.
I want to live.
I want to stay positive.
I can handle this.
AND I MUST.
I just returned home from an adventure that included 17 members of my family gathering for a remarkable 5 days in Oakley, Utah on a ranch.
Everyday included adventures such as white water rafting, skeet shooting, horseback riding and just about anything the 17 of us could think of doing while gathering at Twilight Moon Ranch.
I relished every moment with my own family, so happy that my three children could be together with their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, playing like they did when they were younger.
And there was no talk of cancer.
I was free, not from chemo and side effects, but from thinking about it.
Sure there was some long naps and some queasy moments, but not once did I think I was a weak link, nor did anyone else.
We hadn’t even left when talk of where our next adventure would be, because for all of us, no matter what each one of us is going through…
It’s all about family.
It really does see us through.
It only took, a week and a half, two phone calls, a text, a ton of worry and one visit to my Doctor to finally get the results of my Bone Marrow Biopsy.
The new test can track all the way to residual sequences detected per million nucleated cells and I have 2,799 lingering F***ers per million cells still residing somewhere in my body.
This new test concludes that I have not achieved remission, but hold your horses, that’s not what the standard test reveals, so we are going with that.
My Doctor along with other clinicians still do not know what to do with these new detailed test except to up our chemo doses and hope that in 6 months I will have another Bone Marrow Biopsy that will be clear.
And I am relieved.
I’d like to hear that no cancer can be detected, but I am one of the lucky ones. My body has responded to a Stem Cell Transplant and being on a chemo maintenance program, so there is so much to be grateful for.
I just refuse to give those residual F***ers any more of my energy, instead focusing on what a miracle the rest of my good cells are.
So here’s to hope for a great future and I’m thinking a new pair of shoes, to celebrate that this fashionista still has many new outfits ahead!
There’s a day each one of us cancer patients dreads…
Bone Marrow Biopsy Day!
A procedure where they drill down into your hip bone to retrieve marrow and possibly a fragment of bone for testing to see if there are any cancer cells creeping around in your system.
I’ve had too many to count. Some I’ve chosen to be knocked out for, some with oral drugs, but all with the same anxiety that seems to creep up on me when I’m due for one.
I’m not sure if all my anxiety is from the prospect of having a drill penetrate my bone or that in a few weeks I’ll have the results.
City Of Hope now has the technology to test all the way to the molecule, so in a few weeks I will know if the 19 molecules out of a million cells I was told I had before will have been killed off by the amount of chemo I’ve been taking.
I use to wish away weeks to get to what I wanted before, I try not to do that anymore as each week is so precious to me now.
So while it’s the waiting that is the hardest part right now, I’m going to enjoy each day, keep a positive attitude and maybe only call a few times this week to see if the results are in.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, when you get cancer in your family there should be a pass for all other medical problems.
This isn’t working out so well for me because 30 years ago I decided to marry a man so unlike myself, who’s motto is “Go Big or Go Home” and he’s passed his dare devil ways unto my children. They love sports with wheels, engines, mountains and travel that takes them to places I’ve never dreamt of going.
This handsome devil in the picture is my son Hunter, who rides his BMX bike everyday after work with the pros and challenges himself like he’s partaking in their next big tournament. Last week had him landing on his stomach and rupturing his spleen.
Just like their father, they have the will and strength to brush off these injuries and make it their mission to get back to adventure.
Mom here as always played it safe, lectured it’s time to quit and has tried any way I can to guilt them into taking up chess.
I know there has to be a lesson in this somewhere, because Ms Safe here is the one who got cancer doing nothing. I’m hoping they now see, that I too am forging ahead with what life is throwing at me and I don’t even have a great tale to tell about what got me on this adventure to begin with.
Hunter is going to make a full recovery, Mom’s emotions are trying to do so too.
I’m beginning to let go of the bubble I’d like the whole family to be in. We all want to live forever and we know how that goes, so maybe the Zip Line isn’t such a bad idea on our next family vacation.
While I’d like for everyone to just make life about me, I do believe the only where that is going to happen is on this blog.
I never understood the pain couples who were having trouble conceiving had. Many times in articles they would state how hard it was being happy for their friends who were having babies. And the baby showers, those poor women would be so sad.
But I’m beginning to understand.
It seems everywhere I look, my age group is becoming grandparents. The pictures and tales and happiness and love, you get my drift.
So you’re probably wondering, where’s my pain in this? I’m so frightened I won’t live to see my grandchildren.
Oh such the dreamer I am and grandkids, well I’ve been dreaming about them since my 28 year old had his first date.
I do not foresee any grandkids in the near future as my 18 year old is the only child with a steady boyfriend (please don’t do Mommy any favors) and my two sons are relishing their bachelor statuses.
And I’ve been sad.
I hate this part of cancer. The part that makes you stop believing in your dreams.
So I decided to make my dreams come true, kinda like those parents who were childless. Adoption!!!!!
The papers are signed and we are awaiting approval. Our grandchild is not what I pictured, he’s a little furry with whiskers, but we will love him just the same. My sweet niece is fostering him for a few more weeks before hopefully he can come home with us.
And I have a new dream now.
One day I will introduce Frank Sinatra adopted grandcat to all my grandkids with two legs and hopefully no whiskers.
It always takes me a couple of weeks to recover from a set back, not just physically but emotionally too.
This past week has seen me rather grouchy, feeling isolated, feeling a lot of self pity and a whole lot of thinking about cancer.
Oh and lets not forget to mention manic. I’ve run more nonsense errands, cleaned more deep corners and purchased way too much in what I believe to be an effort to once again take control of my life. Kind of a “see look what I can do cancer, you can’t keep me down with pneumonia and don’t even think about rearing your ugly head”.
I needed a purpose to the madness again and this came in the form of speaking to Spectrum Pharmaceuticals, the company that manufactures the cancer drug that made my transplant possible.
It is so wonderful that the medical community wants to hear from us patients, when so often our voice is lost in trying to save our lives.
I felt so empowered sharing what I and many others patients go through in having a transplant and the company was so gracious wanting to put a face on the people they work endlessly to save.
So maybe there is a purpose to the madness, I’m beginning to feel this way again.
There might be a few more pity party shopping deliveries coming to my door, but the only nonsense errands I’ll be running in the next week is returning them. Ok, maybe I’ll keep a few!