Thursday, November 5, 2015

Whats Going On Now...

Hi All! Man its been a LONG time since I wrote anything. First off my lap top decided to break up with me and I hate typing posts on my iPad. So now that I have a new lap top I can write again! Also ((honestly)) I am really tired and blogging didn't sound appealing the past two months.

On September 15th I left the hospital after being their for almost 3 weeks. I handled the transplant well and got out a bit earlier than expected. Now, even though I handled it well it does not mean it was easy. It was HARD! The hardest part of course was being away from my boys and home. That mentally drained me...I was down and depressed the whole time. Then their were the physical side effects which were not pretty or fun at all. I won't go into detail about those. When I got out of the hospital I had to be extremely careful and stay in Salt Lake City for a couple more weeks to be close to the hospital. Just a few days before I was supposed to return home I got sick and had a fever and had to get admitted again. It was awful. BUT It only put my going home off by a day so it wasn't too bad in the end.

Saturday, October 3rd was an amazing day! I got to go home FINALLY. I hadn't seen my boys since August 24th. I got home and they looked SO BIG. They had grown so much while I was gone. Hugging and kissing them was the best feeling in the world. Even though, I was allowed to go home I was still pretty weak I slept (and still do) a lot. I felt nauseas and just run down. I'm on day 66 since transplant and still feel tired and ill sometimes. The docs say by day 100 I'll be doing a lot better and by a year out I will feel normal again. This has been hard to get used too. I hate not feeling like my normal self and being so out of shape. However, I need to look at the positives and that is I'm ALIVE and get to be with my babies. I'm staying with my Mom and she helps me SO much with the kids, I don't know what I would do without her. I literally go to bed at 7 pm some nights because I'm so run down.

What's Coming up Next:

- Currently I'm going through Radiation to the following: Neck, Armpit, Chest (Around my heart) and part of my lungs. Yes, that is ALOT of places but I chose the most agressive route possible. Radiation kills all the cancer cells that can't be seen on a scan. So if I did  have any left in me this is getting rid of those. One million cancer cells can fit on the tip of a pen and can't be seen in a scan (scary right?) Radiation is an insurance policy to help avoid a relapse. I only have to do 12 sessions and have 4 left! So far no side effects besides just being tired.

-Nope, I'm not done after radiation. Since my type of Hodgkins was so resistant and aggressive I am going to be taking a new drug called Brentuximab that specifically targets Hodgkins cells. I will take it through an IV drip every 3 weeks for a year. It's technically a type of chemo but with minimal side effects compared to standard chemo. My hair SHOULD continue to grow back during this time. This is my second insurance policy to make sure my disease is GONE and stays that way. I will start this after we move to Boise sometime end of November.

My plan from now on is living life as normally as possible. We are moving to Boise November 15th and I'm really excited to be in a new place, but will miss the friends I've made in the Burley/Rupert area tremendously. I know I will still see them though! It's not THAT far. I'm really looking forward to a new healthy year and to say good bye to 2015 since it was hell for me.

Here's to a New Year coming!!

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Monday, August 17, 2015

How to do Winged Eyeliner Tutorial {Video}

Well, I finally got around to making a YouTube video. Did you know that it takes a LOT of time?! Holy cow. I suppose I might get better at the process as time goes on though!

Anyway, for my first video, I filmed a tutorial on How to do Winged Eyeliner. I get a lot of compliments on my eyeliner day-to-day, and I find that this is probably one of the more difficult makeup tricks for people to figure out. However, it doesn't need to be that way! It's actually super easy once you get the hang of it. (I have confidence in you!)

So please, pardon my poor lighting and nervousness, and check it out! I really hope that this is something I can get the hang of and start doing more often. Feel free to drop me some constructive criticism, subscribe to my channel, share my tutorial, or comment on the video and tell me what you'd like to see next!

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Here We Go...

So last week I completed my fourth and LAST round of ICE chemo. I am so glad to be done with that part! Even though I'm done I am still feeling so tired and beat down, more than normal. But my doctor said I have had more chemo than the average person so that is to be expected. Yesterday, I found out that I will be admitted to the Huntsman Cancer Hospital on August 28th to begin my stem cell transplant. Everything (testing doctors visits etc) will start on the 24th of that week. At first I cried because I only have two weeks left with my boys before everything goes down. They're my world and I'm going to miss seeing them every day. But then after talking with my Mom I was relieved because its finally going to happen; the first day of the rest of my Cancer free life is coming soon. 

Now don't get me wrong I'm still terrified for the whole "transplant" and what I'm going to endure during my hospital stay. In fact, writing this is bringing up a whole slew of emotions that I don't want to deal with. I want to just pinch myself and wake up from this nightmare, but unfortunately that's not possible so I just need to deal with it. I've been enjoying being with my two little monsters and trying just to be as normal as possible. When I feel myself getting upset or impatient with them I hold myself back because I know soon I will be missing them so badly.

So here in 11 days I will be headed back down to Salt Lake for just a bunch of annoying testing and physicals to double check that my body can handle a transplant. We will be back and forth from home that week and then the 28th will be my first official day in the hospital. On that day they will start the chemo called "BEAM" that takes 6 days to administer and will literally kill all of my bone marrow/stem cells and any remaining cancer cells left in me. Since it kills all of my bone marrow/Stem Cells they have to go in and rescue my system by "putting back" the stem cells that I had collected a few weeks ago. When they do that the stem cells find their way back into my bone marrow and then my body will start making new cells again but I will have literally NO immune system for a little while so I will have to stay in the hospital until my immune system starts building back up. I'm not looking forward to being in a hospital for 3 weeks, but I'm hoping it will go by fast. Afterwards, we have to stay in the area around the hospital for 2 weeks so Ian and I will be at a hotel nearby the hospital. I won't really be able to go anywhere so that should be fun...not. After all of this, I've decided I will stay with my Mom and family for a couple months so I have family around to help with the boys since Ian will definitely need to get back to work. I will come home on the weekends or Ian will come to us in Pocatello so we can still be together as much as possible as a family. I have no idea when I'll start radiation after but I'm just going to take this one step at a time by getting through the transplant first and then going from there.

Well thats pretty much all the updates I have for now, I'm hoping to be able to write posts while in the hospital but who knows how I'll be feeling! Again, I want to thank all my family and friends for all of the support I get every day. I couldn't do this without you.

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Sunday, August 2, 2015

In the Beginning...

I had a relatively normal 2nd pregnancy. We had a couple extra ultrasounds, and everything looked ok. Baby Scarlett was growing at the rate she should, and was born full-term.
And that's where the normalcy ended.

From the moment she was born - the doctor held her up to show her to me - I knew something was wrong. Sure, the baby doesn't usually breathe right away - but she REALLY wasn't breathing. She was the deepest shade of purple/black I've ever seen on a person. I yelled to the doctor, "She isn't breathing!" He insisted she was ok, to just wait a second. But I knew - I could feel something wasn't right. I persisted, again. And before I even knew what happened, they whisked her away to a corner of the room, called in multiple people, and had to resuscitate her. I only caught a glimpse of her for a minute before she was wheeled away into another room. I hadn't even touched my new baby, and here I was, being informed that she was fully on oxygen.
Two hours passed, and just as they were about to life flight her away, she started breathing on her own a little. They cut down her oxygen a bit, and decided to let her stay. When I first met Scarlett, she had two IVs, an oxygen monitor, and bruising all down her back (we never were sure why - I pushed her out in less than 5 minutes, with no help,) but she was beautiful. And I was so happy to be with my little redhead.

Scarlett with her IVs

We ended up having to stay in the hospital about a week. She had low blood sugar constantly, and high jaundice levels.  After being discharged, we were readmitted two other times that month for jaundice.

Under the billi lights - you can see the bruises on her back

A rash from the lights

For the next three months, Scarlett was still extremely orange. She was an incredibly poor nurser, and at three months old, weighed as much as she did at birth. There was also the vomiting. It NEVER stopped. This poor baby would projectile vomit, even when she wasn't eating. Not only that, but my husband and I were worried - she never seemed to look us in the eye. We would take her outside into the sun, and she wouldn't wince. We would flip on a light at night time, and she didn't seem to notice. He and I brought it up a few times, wondering. We even brought it up with our doctor, but were reassured that as a newborn, sometimes they have a hard time focusing on things.

My tiny, orange baby

Regardless, he referred us to a pediatrician for the vomitting (because we had previously tried everything we could think of.) The pediatrician took some blood tests, and as soon as we got home, he called us, sounding panicked, saying she needed to be admitted into the E.R. as soon as possible. She had rocket-high sodium levels - which was deadly. While trying to get an IV in Scarlett, a nurse had flicked on a flashlight and accidentally had the beam go on Scarlett's face - and the nurse noticed that Scarlett did not react. She shined the light back and forth over Scarlett's eyes, and said to the doctor, "I don't think she can see." My heart dropped. I had suspected something like that as well...

IV in head, feeding tube in nose

Getting ready to be lifeflighted

Her heel from all of the blood draws - they
both looked like this

They ordered more blood tests and an MRI, and many more things I'm sure (but can no longer remember.) She eventually had to be lifeflighted 2 1/2 hours away, and assigned 8 different doctors. This is where I was told that Scarlett is completely blind, and that she had a laundry list of diagnoses:

-Septo Optic Dysplasia/Optic Nerve Hypoplasia: the reason she is blind - she is missing a part of her brain, has extremely small optic nerves, and pituitary problems.

-Hypoplasia of the Corpus Callosum: the part of her brain that connects the left and right hemispheres in almost non-existent.

-Diabetes Insipidus: the reason for her high sodium levels. Her body cannot regulate water, and it goes straight through her, leaving her constantly dehydrated.

-Schizencephaly: her brain is malformed (it kind of looks like Pac-Man, if you will.)

     *Adrenal Insufficiency: her body does not produce enough cortisol
     *Sex Hormone Deficiency: she will need to be placed on steriods and medicines later in life that will allow her to grow curves, have a period, have children (if possible,) etc.
     *Growth Hormone Deficiency: her body does not produce enough growth hormone; this is a "curable" type of Dwarfism, with help from medication.
     *Hypothyroidism: Scarlett's body doesn't produce enough thyroid hormone.

-Cerebral Palsy: because of the Schizencephaly, Scarlett has right-sided Hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy, meaning that the right side of her body has stiffness and weakness.

Because of Scarlett's multiple brain conditions, it makes it hard for Scarlett to understand that she needs to eat to live; she does not seem to have that instinct or interest. After much fighting and a lot of weight loss, a G-Tube (feeding tube) was placed in Scarlett's stomach. She now only eats through there, although we are trying to teach her to eat orally now.

Her first G-Tube

She has had 6 surgeries in 2 years - this was
for a Nissen Fundoplication (to stop her vomiting.)

And there you have it. If you're still reading, you're quite the trooper to put up with my medical jargon! I just wanted to give a summarized (believe it or not) version of how we came to find out about Scarlett's conditions, and what she was diagnosed with, as I am asked often.

I hope this may answer any questions you may have, or, if you are a mother to a Special Needs child, maybe you will see some similarities to yours in this story. Let me know!

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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Meet Cait

Hey there!
I'm Caitlin (Cait,) Annie's newest blogging partner in-crime! I'm so excited that she brought me on to the blog - we're going to have a lot of fun!
Annie and I have know each other for around 4 years - through births, deaths, triumphs, and tragedy, you get to have quite the bond with someone. She and I have a few things in common - we share the same sister-in-law, we both are married with two children (she has two boys; I have two girls,) we both share the same faith, and we both are going through a hard time in our lives right now.

As you know (or if you're just joining us, and you don't,) Annie has Hodgkin's Lymphoma, which is a type of cancer, that she is battling right now. Her fight to recovery hasn't been easy, and it's not over yet, but she is determined to kick cancers butt!
As for me, my youngest daughter, Scarlett (age 2,) is disabled and has special needs. To give you the shorter version, Scarlett is completely blind, has cerebral palsy, has a type of dwarfism, is tube-fed, and deals with hypopituitarism, adrenal insufficiency, and hypothyroidism. And that's just the tip of the iceberg! I'll delve into more detail in another post, but as you can see, I, like Annie, have been given a challenging part of life, and although these things cannot be changed about Scarlett, I'm determined to give her the best life possible.

Photo by Cherish Me Studios

While I'm here, I'll also be blogging about beauty - makeup tutorials, hair tips and tricks, and sometimes, pageants. I also might throw in the occasional healthy (or not-so-healthy) recipe, or workout post along with Annie (another thing we have in common - we both would like to be a bit lighter and healthier!)

So there you have it! If you'd like to learn more about me and my quirks, feel free to check out our new and improved "About Us" section.
I'm so excited to meet you all!

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Dear Cancer, Go F**ck Yourself

I want to apologize in advance for the sailor mouth nature of this post...I have been waiting to publish this  because I was unsure about that part. But I want to be as real and as raw as possible so I'm going for it!

Dear Cancer,

When I first was diagnosed I got a key chain from a good friend that had the following on it...

All of that is absolutely true...but what Cancer CAN do is go f**ck itself. (I'm sorry about the language but stay with me here).

Cancer, you've tried your hardest to take away all that you've could from me but your operation is weak. I should have been done with treatment by now but you've had other "plans." What is with this not going away bull shit? You think you're a bad ass because you were resistant to my first go around at chemo? Not so fast, your are shrinking down to nothing inside of me and I don't have any room for you to come back. Not only that, but by making my life more difficult you are only egging me on. You see, every little thing that doesn't go right only makes me that much STRONGER. Now, I'm pulling out the big guns. You're taking me away from my babies for FIVE WEEKS. While that hurts me more than anyone can imagine you are not the winner of this fight, I AM. You'll see I will come out of this even stronger than I ever was. You are teaching me my greatest life lesson. Every day I am learning more and more about not taking any single moment for granted. About being the best Mom and Wife I ever could be, instead of letting you take over my life. Cancer, I am not a slave to you and never will be. Yes, the rest of this year will be hard but you know what...I can take it! You've taught me that I'm pretty much a bad ass and you are not as powerful as you think you are. 

Yes, the rest of my life I will be monitored and scanned more than the average person, but you know what? Good! I will know whats going on and will be able to count the years of remission and to remember how strong I am. You have brought me close with others who have fought or are fighting this battle, each one teaching me something new. We all have a common bond of being bad asses for life. You're time in me is short lived, Cancer. All I have left to say is good riddance. 

Yours Truly,

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Sunday, July 5, 2015


First off notice anything different??? One of my best friends and I have decided to blog together because two is so much better than one right?? Introducing, Cait who is awesome and I know she will add great content to the blog. I really wanted to bring her in because she too is facing challenges and everyday overcomes them with positivity and grace and that's what I want this blog of ours to be about (plus she is AMAZING at make up so watch for great tutorials). But seriously, she has inspired me so much during my trials and I know she will do the same for all of you. We will have a longer post with more info soon once our blog design is finished!

Five months. Five months is how long it took me to finally reach the acceptance phase in this whole f'd up process. It took my diagnosis completely changing from Good to ehh not so good to be at peace with this situation. As of now I've had two of the harsher chemotherapy's and let me tell you YES they have been harder but NO they aren't bringing me down. What sucks is being in the hospital for 2 days during it. It is so boring. I better get used to it because I'll be in the hospital for 3 weeks during my bone marrow transplant. I'm also noticeably more fatigued after and the nausea breaks through a little more, but its all manageable. I have a lot of help with my kids so I am able to rest up and recover. Tomorrow (Monday) begins my "good week" so I'll be on my own with the kids and be able to just do normal fun summer stuff with them before my next dose! 

This coming Thursday (July 9) is a big big day for me. I have a PET scan to see how the Cancer is responding to this new chemo. I hope and pray to have a CR (complete response), but am expecting the worst so I won't be to let down if that's not the case. If it's not responding at all then we will have to find a different chemo that it will respond too. But the odds are pretty decent, there is about a 70% chance that it WILL respond to my current chemo.  If it is a PR (partial response) I will have two more doses of this chemo and then another scan to make sure it's gone before the transplant. If its a CR than I will just have one more dose of this chemo before transplant. 

Lastly, I'm scheduled to start the harvesting process on July 22nd after my third round of ICE. I'm nervous for all the transplant stuff because it is so much STUFF. Some days I just have to be content with knowing how up in the air things are going to be during/after but its so hard for a control freak like me. Plus I'm going to miss my kids like crazy. 

Anyway, hope this little update was informative! Keep watching for more info on all the new stuff! I hope y'all like it. Also new web address is: :)

Thursday, June 4, 2015

I Can't Believe I'm Writing This...(Again)

Recently, A LOT of things have changed. And not in a good way. When I was diagnosed I was breathing easy because everyone told me this was this "easy" or "good" kind of Cancer. But this just in their is not any type of Cancer that is "easy" or "good." First off, Hodgkins Lymphoma as curable as it is, is very rare. There are only 7 to 8000 cases a year. So mine already being rare has gotten even rarer. I am now a part of the unlucky minority that has Primary Refractory Hodgkins. What is that? Basically, my cancer is resistant to the ABVD chemo treatment that I'm on, and not going away like it should be. It should be gone by now. But unfortunately its not. 

Let me back track a bit. This past Tuesday we went down to Salt Lake City to visit the Huntsman Cancer Institute and see a Lymphoma Specialist. This lady was awesome and I feel very lucky that she is on my team now. However, she delivered the very bad news. I was a bawling mess and luckily my husband was there to ask all the right questions. So what happens now? I still have to get my biopsy done (tomorrow), and then meet with my doctor next Wednesday to go over results. But no matter what the results I have a new much longer journey ahead of me. 

Here's whats going to happen:
Monday, June 15th: I will start a harder chemotherapy called ICE. For this you have to be admitted into the hospital and it takes three days to complete. I am going to have to find some good books and shows on Net Flix to get through these. (My awesome neighbor let me borrow the book "Unbroken" and I'm pumped to start that!) I will have 3 to 4 of these treatments and they are every two weeks.

-After 2 rounds of ICE I will get another PET Scan to see how its working. Then keep trucking along with the chemo. If I have four cycles I will have the last one July 27th. 

-After 3 ICE treatments my Stem Cells will be harvested from my bone marrow and frozen for transplant. I'm not sure of the process of this but I meet with the transplant team in Salt Lake on June 22nd to learn more and start the process.

-Wait what??? Did she just say transplant? Yes, I'll be getting a Stem Cell Transplant. This is what I'm most scared for. Scared shitless actually. Basically what will happen is I will be admitted to the hospital (Huntsman) and started on the hardest course of Chemotherapy anyone could imagine. It is going to kill every last cell inside of me. This last 6 days and I'm in the hospital the whole time. Then comes "Day 0" transplant day AKA my "RE BIRTH" day. I will get those harvested stem cells put back in and have a whole new immune system starting to develop inside of me. For the next 3 weeks I will remain in the hospital because my immunue system wont be able to handle the outside world. Its going to be hard and I won't be back to normal for months or even a year but it will all be worth it.It also usually causes infertility, but I am at peace with that and will look to God for guidance. It will be a whole new chance at this BEAUTIFUL life. I'm thankful that God and modern science have given me this "opportunity" or a whole new chance at a wonderful CANCER FREE life afterwards.

-A few months after that I will still go through radiation and then on day +100 from my transplant I will get a PET Scan which WILL be clean and Cancer free. That should be around New Years and I should be a whole new Woman by then!

Honestly, this all really sucks. And I was so mad/sad/frustrated/pissed at first. But I CAN do this. This will be (hopefully) the hardest thing I have to face in life. All I know is that my two boys and my wonderful hubby are going to have their healthy Mommy back and I can't freakin wait. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Hurry up and WAIT

A lot of friends have been wondering why I'm getting another biopsy on my neck this time. I'll go back and update on everything that has happened the past few weeks. It's honestly almost been *too* much for me. Notice how I said ALMOST. I've pushed through and am stronger every day even when life is not going in the best way possible.

Anyway, a couple weeks ago I had my re staging PET Scan to see how well the chemo has been destroying the Cancer.
  • The Good News: It is almost gone in my chest and lungs and completely gone in my arm pit.
  • Not So Good News: Some lymph nodes in my neck are still "lighting up" the same amount as in my first scan. We need to find out why they are still so bright. I found out that Cancer is not the only thing that lights up in these scans. It's actually any form of "energy." So they could be lighting up still due to infection or a variety of other reasons. This is *most likely* the case. So they need to remove a few of the "hot" lymph nodes in my neck. I thought this would be a simple little surgery but it turns out since the lymph nodes are NOT swollen they need to first have me do a CAT Scan right before surgery. During the CAT scan they will place needle markers in the "hot" lymph nodes to point out which ones to remove. These needles will stick out of my neck (I will try and get a selfie) until I get them removed during surgery (I'm thinking Ill look like Frankenstein!) Within a couple days after that I will find out whether they are positive or negative for lymphoma (or heaven forbid a different type of Cancer). If they are negative then I will just continue on my treatment plan. If they are positive then I will have to see a lymphoma specialist and do a different treatment (most likely a harder chemo regimen). Please pray it is negative. If anything counts I'm feeling really good about this and my instincts tell me its going to be negative. My surgery is Wednesday June 10th so hopefully we will know about that Friday. I'm continuing with my normal chemo *tomorrow* and then the day after surgery. I only have three more after this one as long as everything goes as hoped!
    As you can see it does look WAY better. It's hard to see the hot spots in my neck in this picture.
Like I wrote above even with this curve ball I am feeling good. Whatever happens it will work out. My oncologist even told me he has a gut feeling its all going to be ok, and that no matter what the outcome of the biopsy we will beat this! Right now its just a "hurry up and wait" situation. I'm getting kind of used to that! I know God has a plan and he knows all so I'm trusting him, and honestly that makes me feel AMAZING. I'm in perfect hands. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Just Wait ({Day 106})

I'm sitting here in front of my computer not even sure what to write about. The little dude is napping and my big guy and the hubs are out camping. The house is so quiet so I'd thought I'd try and get in a blog post since lately it has been super low on my to do list. Which has turned into my "some f'n day i'll get this done list" because most of it really doesn't matter anyway. With my life in "stand by mode" I've identified what is important and pretty much stick with that. My family and friends keep me sane. I don't know what I would do without them. My online friends are incredible sending me cards and gifts to cheer me up as if they know the exact time I need them. (Word for the pregnant mamas: Join an online birth month group through the bump or something. The friends I've made through that are AMAZING). My friends I've made that are going through this same journey are life savers too. They help me feel not alone in all of this. On my off weeks I do get back into fitness mode and try and fit in a workout and prep my meals for the week. It's nice and it feels normal. I hate my chemo weeks. It's so depressing just laying in bed being tired. But I try and make the most of it by watching Lifetime Movies and The Vampire Diaries. And it's not only the laying in bed that gets to me its the gross taste I have in my mouth all week, the steroids that make me super hungry and my heart beat out of my chest and the plethora of nausea pills that I have to take at certain times every day. But then day 5 comes around and I start to feel better. I get my energy back and all is right with the world again. I still get weird aches or bouts of tiredness but its really not too bad. And then I think "it could be WAY worse, Annie so stop complaining." So I'll stop. :) EVEN though I'm counting down the days until chemo is over...79 days to be exact!
they love taking selfies a new wig :)

I'm glad I'll be finishing chemo on July 6th while there is still some summer left! Yes, I will have radiation but that is only a few weeks and will hopefully start it pretty shortly after chemo so for the latter part of August and September I can enjoy the warmth and just be with my kiddos. I also want to get back on a normal schedule and get my old body back. The steroids have not done me well and I hate it. My clothes don't fit right and I threw out all of my clothes from before I lost weight so I just wear leggings and baggy clothes. thankfully shorts with elastic waists are in style this summer ;) I gotta laugh just writing that! I can't wait to be posting about weight loss again and not cancer!

my new motto.

I have been making some pretty yummy recipes lately so I need to get those together and share them! The hubby has really been enjoying it and most of them are healthy!

Also, one last huge thing is that their are going to be **BIG** changes to this blog coming soon! Super exciting changes that I can't even post about yet. I can't wait to let you all know!!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

({Healthy}) Spicy Asian Chicken Meatballs

Since my taste buds are all out of whack from my treatments I have been really craving and enjoying spicy foods! I buy jars of jalapenos just to put them on pretty much everything! :)

Here is a recipe I whipped up for my weekly meal prep. I will probably count 2 to 3 of these as a serving and serve them with either spaghetti squash or quinoa this week. 

  • 1 lb ground chicken (or turkey)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 3 tblsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tblsp Taste of Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce (or you could use honey)
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder (or you could chop up onion)
  • 3tblsp apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
Preheat oven to 375. Combine all ingredients. There is really no particular order at all. I used my hands to do it yes its gross but it gets it mixed well! Then cover a baking sheet with foil and spray with a non stick spray. Form meat mixture into balls and arrange onto sheet. Bake for about 35 minutes. 
These were seriously so so easy to whip up! And I've already eaten two as a snack! They are full of protein and a great part of any meal plan.

Hope you enjoy these as much as I did! 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

untitled ({Day 86})

Lately, thankfully time is going by a little faster. Much faster than the first month after diagnosis. I've had my ups and downs and am starting to feel more balanced with everything. I don't know if I will ever fully figure out how to just be normal while going through this, or I guess by normal I mean how I used to be. I start to tear up that I will probably always live with fear in the back of my mind that something could be wrong. I talk to people that have been through this (my Mom mainly) and she said that it does fade, but it is a real struggle. (See what I'm doing...already worrying about the future!)

I just finished chemo number 5 out of 12 today. It feels good to be almost half way. There is still a part of me that thinks I **might** be done after 8 but we will see how my scan goes and what my Oncologist says. I will do whatever he says, hands down. If that's 2 rounds (4 more cycles 1 every 2 weeks) of chemo and then radiation then I will do it. If he says lets go straight to radiation I will GLADLY do it! I will get another scan after 2 or 3 more cycles (so after number 7 or 8). It's very possible that the Cancer will be completely gone. I'm praying for this so bad. I know whatever happens that God has a perfect plan for me.

My last treatment was pretty rough on me so I'm hoping its not like that this time. I also got a stomach bug just a few days before chemo 5 which was NOT fun at all. I still pushed through chemo. We are staying on schedule unless something major is wrong. I love my doctor, he knows how much I need to stick to the plan.

I have been pretty hard on myself the past few weeks. I've gained 10 lbs of the 30 I've lost (mainly from steroids that I'm on.) It sucks big time but I know It's MUCH better to gain weight on chemo than lose. I need to remember that my focus is getting better not losing weight right now. It's hard because being healthy and losing weight (besides being a mommy/wife) were my main priorities before this. I have to trust in myself that I will get to a point after this is over where I will be back to measuring portions and working out daily. Now is not the time. I'm jealous of my friends who are able too (don't worry I love you all tons) but its hard sitting on the side lines. Really hard. I need to get over that. I almost feel like I've let people down. But what can I do? Fighting this is my main concern and that's what I am going to continue doing. Now this is not an excuse to binge on junk food or sweets. Definitely not. I need to treat my body kindly but I definitely can't be on my 1400 calorie plan anymore or push myself to the limits in workouts. I'm getting winded so easy now its awful, so I might just go back to walking on the treadmill and 21 day fix. Insanity and 21 day fix extreme are just too much right now.

Pretty much that's all that's new right are some recent pictures
My reason for everything :)
Before chemo

During chemo

Lots of love, Annie

Monday, March 2, 2015

Side Effects...({Day 58})

I haven’t written in weeks (hello captain obvious) but while I was on vacation, living the island life gave me the inspiration I needed. I am so beyond happy that I decided to still go on vacation even while on chemo treatments. My oncologist gave me the go ahead. Yes, there was risk on the plane of catching something but not enough to not enjoy a vacation. We are diligent in watching for a fever or anything like that in which I would head straight to the hospital. Basically, the pros outweigh all the “what if’s.” The main thing I hate about Cancer is all of the stupid “what ifs” and “ can I’s?”… It’s like your life is one big guessing game. What if I do that? Can I even do that? Can I eat that? Can I TOUCH that? Oh shit I forgot to wash my hands for the one freaking millionth time today! Honestly, I can’t live scared of the what if’s. The first night we got to beautiful Clearwater Beach we dropped off our bags and headed straight down the pristine white sand beach. We were in sandals but it’s hard to walk in sand with shoes so I took mine off. My hubby says “I’m surprised your walking bare feet in this there is a lot of bacteria.” What the hell? I said I’m going to enjoy my vacation and put my feet in the sand. He totally understood of course and agreed with me.  I’ve also enjoyed some alcoholic bevs I mean who couldn’t? It’s actually been great but not something I’ll do when I get back, I need to be as healthy as possible through treatment. However, the amazing thing is that before and when  I was diagnosed if I drank even half a glass of wine my lump under my arm pit and whole arm would itch and hurt SO bad…bad enough I would feel like chopping my arm off. It’s a side effect of drinking alcohol when you have lymphoma. So of course  I was nervous to try a drink here. BUT AMAZINGLY I had no bad effects. The chemo is working so well! After only two treatments my mass in my arm pit is SO small and my chronic cough is GONE. I’m looking forward to the third (today) to see if we can get rid of the arm pit mass all the way! It’s these victories against this evil disease that really keep me going. I know here in a few treatments everything I can feel will be gone and I will be wondering why we still need to finish them but I will keep going…keep pushing through. I mean I’ve only done two (three by the time I get this posted) and have most likely 12 treatments total (possibly only eight if I’m lucky but I almost WANT to have all 12 to nip this in the bud permanently).
Everyone asks me about my hair. I mean the week before we left on vacation I still had all of mine. My oncologist said I WILL DEFINITELY lose my hair (Usually between day 10 through 17 after my first treatment.) Well it was day 17 ish and my hair had been so lifeless  and dull and starting to thin out and shed and I decided to shave it off before we left. I didn’t want clumps to be falling out on the plane. Most of all I wanted to stop worrying about it and hearing about it all the time from other people. It was constantly on my mind. I was even dreaming about losing my hair. I had already chopped it pretty short so why not go all the way now and not worry anymore? I can’t even tell you how FREEING that moment was when Ian was shaving my head. Yes, I cried. Yes, it was emotional. But I was FREE. I took control and told Cancer to shove it. I took control of my body. I did it, not chemo. I have a great wig that I am growing to love, but as much as I love it it is uncomfortable after several hours. So I mostly wear it out but at home I wear scarves.  I’ve been walking on the beach every morning. The first one I wore my wig. The past 4 I wore a scarf and it was MUCH more comfortable. It is scary but every time I wear it my confidence grows. The main reason it is scary is because it screams to strangers “I HAVE CANCER.” I don’t want people to feel sorry for me or treat me different. I don’t want people to take that extra glance or stare at me when I’m at the grocery store with my boys, and feel sorry for them because their Mother has Cancer. It’s like ok my secret is out to the WHOLE world to people I don’t know and who don’t read this little blog. To every Joe and Jane that passes by on the street. I need to get over it but for now most of the time I will wear my wig. My comfort zone. Some time on here I will post a picture of me bald, but for now you will just get my first scarf picture and some wig shots. I had a lot of pictures of the shaving process I was going to share (my husband shaved his head too hehe) and my phone got stolen the second day of Vacation. I’m not sure if those pictures are backed up or not because I think as of two weeks ago my cloud was full. So those are gone for good. The pictures from my last chemo are gone as well but I have plenty of times to take more to share. The hubs has two phones one personal one for work so I’ve at least had a phone while here to get me by. He doesn’t have facebook or any social media on it though so I have been WAY unplugged which has actually been a blessing in disguise! It’s been nice not constantly checking when I get notifications. But of course I will have it on my new phone I’m not getting THAT unplugged! 
I wear my scarf in a giant bow
I'm really starting to grow fond of my wig.

Anyways beaches (hahahaha pun intended) I better go soak up the sun while I can. Thank you for reading my vents and thoughts. I appreciate all the love and support I get. I feel so very grateful and blessed. I will write a post with more about vacation but I figure I should wait until it is over to do that.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Me: 1 Cancer: 0 ({Day 32})

This past Friday (Jan 30) I had my first chemotherapy treatment! I was BEYOND nervous for the big day. Since my diagnosis on Dec. 29 I had been WAITING to start fighting this bastard known as Hodgkins. My lump in my arm pit was getting bigger and more painful and I was just ready to get going. The staging phase wore me out. I was tired of hearing and seeing what I had and how bad it was and wanted to just get rid of it. It doesn't feel good living life knowing you have something horrible growing inside of you. It sucks. But now that I'm fighting I almost feel renewed! 
Wednesday I got a little surgery to put my power port in my chest. It's so I won't have to be stabbed repeatedly in my arms with IV needles when getting chemo. This is a MUCH easier way to get chemo then just an IV. Chemo is very hard on veins and I would probably have scars all over my arms if I went that route. This way I will just have two smaller incision scars on my chest. Here is a diagram to explain how the port works:
This is all under my skin. There are no tubes or anything like that, that sticks out.

They stick the needle through the middle of the port and can draw blood or put the chemicals through.
It was a same day surgery. Pretty easy. Just was sore after! 

On Thursday night I took a sleeping pill and had some of the best sleep I've had in a LONG time. I woke up Friday morning and got up not knowing what to expect. We had to be there by 9 am. The hospital I go to is 48 miles each way so we left at 8. So when you first get to the hospital for chemo they have to take your blood to check your cell counts and a whole bunch of other stuff I don't really care to understand. Since it was my first time my blood cells were good to go. For subsequent trips they check your blood to see how low your counts are because the chemo drugs basically kill most of your cells (to kill the cancer). They have to make sure your counts aren't TOO low to receive chemo. If they're too low they will either give me a shot too boost my immune system (Nuelsta) and still do it that day or send me home and check again in a day or two. My oncologist said he doesn't like to put off chemo so if that happens we will go the shot route.

Anyway, then I met with the pharmacist so they could get information from me about my history with nausea and get me a cocktail to help with that. They put me in the high risk category for it due to my 9 months of "all day sickness" with each category. I got the best drugs for it. Yay me, haha. But seriously, I have had such little nausea through this I feel that they were miracle workers. 

I am on the ABVD chemo regimen. Each letter stands for a particular drug. I will tell you the "A" drug is the one that will make me lose my hair. My regimen took about 3 ish hours after I got the IV of nausea meds. The "A" drug was pushed through the IV and it was red. The other ones looked pretty "normal." I had no pain or anything with chemo. I was mostly sore from just sitting in a recliner all morning/afternoon. So honestly, it was super uneventful. And for that I am thankful. Day 1 and 2 I was tired and a little sick, but Day 3 is where it all hit me like a truck. I could barely get up and move my limbs felt SO heavy and I just was so foggy feeling. But by day 4 (yesterday) I felt a little better. My mom was still here so I napped a couple times but felt WAY better than day 3. Today I'm on my own with the kids and am feeling at abut 80% a little tired but am handling the kids well. I couldn't go and clean my house too but right now I only care about playing with kiddos (and laying on the couch while they play....) I'm REALLY hoping that I keep reacting to chemo this way. I know it does get a little harder towards the end, but I am a true believer in positive thinking. Between that and my kids I know I will keep fighting like a bad ass (even if I don't feel like it). I will get a treatment every other week for four to six months.

I know I'm going to be losing my hair soon so I decided to chop it off, and add some crazy purple in...I really like it and hope my hair holds out for at least another month.

I feel like it is going to be FOREVER and a day until I am done with all of this. I still can't believe this is happening sometimes. I'm still pissed about it, BUT I am happy I am fighting it finally! I know that their is some reason God puts people through trials like this and I'm hoping to find my reason soon!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Step 2: Finding My New Normal ({Day 24})

In my eyes things are chaotic. 
To others it probably doesn't look that way.
 I'm really good at holding things in, which is not a good thing in itself. That is why I love writing. I feel like I can clear my mind without speaking. If that even makes sense. I do know that I need to accept that things aren't going to be how they were for a while. I need to learn things will be different BUT they will be okay. Things WILL be HARD but I know I will fight it.

Last week all of my staging tests were pretty really ****** tiring. Friday's bone marrow test was the roughest. I took a double dose of anxiety pills before that one so I wouldn't scream throughout the whole thing. Tuesday January 20th I had a PET scan which basically scans an almost 3d image of my body so we could see where the Lymphoma has spread. It blows. The day before you can't have any carbs at all and the day of you have to fast. My test wasn't until 12:45 and it took two hours to perform the scan. After we went to Panda Express and I scarfed down. Then we met up with my Oncologist who had all of my results. I was so anxious...

The Good News:
  • The cancer is only in places above my diaphragm so I am Stage 2A (early stage yay!)
  •  It is NOT in my bone marrow (based off of early test results. There is slight possibility they could still find something when the other centers test it but probably not).

The Not So Good News:
Besides the swollen lymph nodes in my armpit (that are full of cancer cells) I have lymph nodes in my neck that have it. Its also in my lung tissue. And lastly I have a bigger than 10 cm mass around my heart. Since the mass in my chest is bigger than 10 cm it is considered 2A Bulky. That means a longer treatment than normal. I was REALLY upset about this. But when I think logically about this I know that it is very common in Hodgkin's lymphoma (or any type) for it to be all over like this. Yeah its more chemo treatment and now most likely radiation but if that's what I have to do I will do it!

When I met with the surgeon today (consultation about my power port for chemo) he said that my type of Cancer is so rare he has only seen half a dozen cases in the past 10 years but it is still the Cancer of choice (I hear that all the time now). He said my case was presented at their board meeting and that I have a lot of doctors and other medical staff on my side all people with tons of experience with this. They are the best around and I am so glad I chose the hospital I did.

I also had ANOTHER scan today. This time a Cat scan. I've never had one of these either and it was weird. I felt like I was in a movie or something. I still can't believe this is my life now. The man that did my scan was a little crazy. I was closing my eyes through the whole thing and I when I opened them he was literally right over me and said "how'd ya do?" in a creepy voice. hahahah I literally laughed out loud and almost peed my pants. Then he said he was "sorry I'm having all these troubles it just doesn't seem right for someone so young." I said "Life's not fair but I'll get through it." What else do you say to that? I have no idea,  and it is hard having to find responses for things people say lately. Sometimes online I don't respond because its just hard. I'm planning on it and I hope I don't come across as a brat. I just can't sometimes. I have a million and one different feelings every single day. I'm happy then I'm crying then I'm mad then I'm happy again. I'm happiest with my boys. It's been so hard being away from them for all these appointments. The good news is my most common feeling is still happy. I know it will all be OK.

Upcoming schedule:

Wednesday January 28: Same day surgery to get my Power Port put in. It is a port that will be placed under my skin in my chest area so that they don't have to stab me with IV's for chemo every time. It will come out 6 to 12 months after I'm done with treatment. It will look like a bump on my chest but no big deal.

Friday January 30th: First round of ABVD chemo. I will get more into this in a later post. I am so so excited to start as weird as that sounds. I'm ready to feel better. My treatments will be every 2 weeks for 4 months. Then we will do another scan and see. After that I may need 2 more months of chemo and then a few weeks of radiation. But right now I'm just going to focus on getting through the next four months! So I will be counting down my next 8 chemo sessions like crazy!

Lots of love! xoxo-Annie

Monday, January 19, 2015

Lets Not Talk About It...

Some days I feel like I forget that I have all of this going on. BUT I think that's a good thing. I need to keep living life as much as I can especially while my immune system isn't compromised from chemo. I've been getting so encouraged from survivors and current fighters on Instagram. They seem to live pretty normal lives even with treatments and low immune systems....which is what I want...normal. 

So true! I want to write about something different. I don't want to be defined by Cancer. Yes, I will write about it a lot but its not me it's not my whole life. So lets do something different...
  Before "IT" I used to write about my fitness journey. I haven't posted for MONTHS so A LOT has been going on with that. I'm still obsessed with working out. I finished all three levels of T 25 and started and finished the first month of Insanity: Max 30. In 2014 I lost a total of 29 lbs. I feel so much more comfortable in my skin but I would still like to lose 20 to 25 more. I have to put my weight loss on hold until "IT" is over but I will still be working out and eating healthy (just more healthy foods so I don't "try" to lose weight during treatment). The nutritionist said I will recover and bounce back MUCH faster if I don't lose weight during my treatment. My body needs all the nutrition it can get. My doctor did say exercising will make me feel better but probably not something as intense as Insanity so I am going to be combining 21 day fix and PiYO for my workouts. I plan on working out on my "off weeks" of chemo (I will have it every other week). If I feel like more I will work out more than that but I won't push it.

Hobbies. What else have I been up to? Besides chasing around two very active boys I have been enjoying my Silhouette Cameo. I LOVE it. I have been making workout shirts and just fun shirts in general with heat transfer vinyl that the cameo cuts. I was actually thinking of starting a little online shop but it's going to have to wait until I'm in remission. I think I'm going to make some leggings with a fun saying down the leg later this week. Hmmm...I don't have many other hobbies unless you count working out. I did finish two 5k's at the end of the year that were tons of fun. The Santa Run my friend and I ran the whole time and we weren't even running often. It made me feel pretty awesome to accomplish that because I'm not a runner at ALL!

Here is a shirt I made today...It looks a bit glossy because I haven't heat pressed the vinyl on.
I'm sure since I won't have any hair soon that I'm going to get more and more into doing makeup. Right now I'm pretty natural most the time. I LIKE wearing makeup I just don't have much time and choose straightening and doing my hair instead. Yesterday, my friend helped me try on a bunch of fun lip stick colors. I think it will help brighten up my face! Next stop she is going to teach me eyes (Caitlin see what you're getting into?!) What are some other hobbies I could start up while going through this? Ones that don't require much energy....haha!

my normal natural look hahaha

My boys are growing TOO fast and doing great. Aren't they the cutest??? (I'm not partial at ALL).

Tomorrow (Tuesday) I have a big day. I have my PET scan at 12:45 (full body scan) and then have an appointment with my doc after. We will go over all the tests I've done the past week and the scan to see what stage I'm at. Prayers for an early stage would be much appreciated.

Lots of love, and THANK YOU for all of the support.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

How this all Started...

((Note: This post is really poorly written, its just free hand on the events leading up to my diagnosis))

A lot of people ask how I discovered this. Let me tell you, it took me a while to realize something was off with me. We'll just get right into it...

Back in early November my left arm pit starting having little "twinges" of pain. I thought I had an ingrown hair at first or it was from my workouts. The pain continued for a few weeks and their was no sign of an ingrown hair, and it was not a "work outy" type of pain. In the shower I started pressing around in that arm pit and feel something hard. At first I thought it was part of a bone but then after thinking about it there was no way a bone was right there. Then I felt the other arm pit to compare and felt nothing like that. So later that week I asked my husband to feel it and he definitely did right away. He pushed me to get a doctor appointment. I knew I was already past due on my annual appointment so I called and made that appointment for the next week. The pain and throbbing was really starting to bug me so I called back and talked to the nurse practitioner about it who scheduled me to get an ultra sound the day before so we knew what it was. 

Anyway, the next week I go into my ultra sound (this was the second WORST ultra sound of my life not fun like when you are pregnant obviously). My husband was out of town because his Mom was getting surgery so I went in on my own. I wasn't thinking it was a big deal, until the ultra sound tech was like wow I haven't seen these this big. The "these" she was referring to were my lymph nodes and  she went and got the radiologist. At that point I was crying a bit because I know when they call in the doctor its not good. He couldn't tell me anything besides saying its either an infection or lymphoma so I'm going to suggest to your doctor to have you get a biopsy. After that I just automatically assumed it was an infection. I of course researched it and most resources said that Lymhoma  lymph nodes were not painful like mine were so I still assumed an infection. 

Fast forward, had my appointment with my doc and we scheduled a biopsy for the next day. When the radiologist looked at the ultra sound again he said "she needs to get a mammogram" ugh. I was so caught off guard. So I did that, and the mammo came back completely normal so I felt better. Then they did a core needle biopsy of my group of swollen lymph nodes. He basically stuck a long needle into a few of the biggest lymph nodes and grabbed a chunk out. I was numbed up and didn't feel anything. Still sure this was just an infection going on. 

Then they told me just a few days for the results. They said Monday or Tuesday (the ones right before Christmas). I called Tuesday and she checked and informed me that they had sent the samples to a bigger lab in Salt Lake City. I was so angry that I had to wait longer. I wanted to know what was going on. But it was Christmas in a couple days so I decided to just chill out about it. The Monday after Christmas (Dec 29) I called the radiology department again and they said they would call me back. Well then 5 minutes later the receptionist at my doctor office calls and said my doctor wanted me to come in to go over the results. I was literally in shock. I knew that was bad. Luckily, a good friend of mine came right over to watch the kids and the hubs got off work early. Who would have known that, that afternoon we would find out I had Cancer.... 

If there is ANYTHING I can stress it is, if you feel something is not right or a lump or a bump ANYWHERE please get it checked out. I'm so glad I caught this and we're hoping its still an early stage. 

Lots of Love - Annie