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

Monday, January 12, 2015

Step 1: Just Calm Down ({Day 11})

I'm still trying to calm down about this whole situation. I feel like its so hard to make plans for anything in the future because I have no idea of when my treatments will be. But I'm just going to keep. going. Friday, January 9th was my first appointment with a hematological Oncologist. I am happy to now say he is my oncologist. He has quite the personality ((for a doctor)) and I felt very confident with him. He knows his shit too so of course that's great. 

I imagined sitting in an office on the other side of a super expensive dark espresso Oak desk, with tall shelves full of books around us, with family pictures and college degrees hanging all over. Nope, not like that at all. The Cancer Center I'm going too is quite new and really big. The first part where we met with my Oncologist was in just a pretty normal doctor office type room. We met for about an hour and I brought my note book with a page front and back full of questions. He gave me his schpheel and really wrote down and visually helped me understand what we knew so far was going on. He also explained that we still don't know much about what was going on with me since we still only have my biopsy results to go off of. He's just guessing Stage II and I really hope he's right... he did tell me that if he had to pick a type of Cancer to get that Hodgkins Lymphoma would be at the top of the list. That made me feel pretty good. Then I had some blood taken, met with a bunch of other staff and met with the scheduler to get my first appointments. They don't even let you choose they just hand you a calender with your appointments. I also got about 25 different books/pamphlets about cancer and different things. My bag was so heavy! This day was very hard for me. It was just emotionally draining and basically a harsh reality check. I never thought I would be in this position, especially SO young. I never thought that I, a healthy 28 year old woman who has changed her unhealthy habits would get Cancer. Anyway, onto the schedule...

All this week and the first part of next week I have tests:

Monday: Pulmonary Function Test-This is to make sure my heart is strong enough for the Chemo drugs. If I have a weaker heart there is a chance one of the drugs can make it weaker. If I have a normal heart he said not to worry.

Tuesday: Pulmonary Function Test and "Chemo Class"- the first part is a test to see if my lungs are strong and if I have any allergic reaction to one of the drugs in my chemotherapy regimen. Then later my hubby and I will go to a class and learn everything we need to know about chemo and ask all my questions. 

Friday: More blood work and BONE MARROW BIOPSY- the first is self explanatory. But then, they have to take a sample of my bone marrow from my hip to make sure that the Cancer cells haven't spread to my bone marrow. Heard this hurts a bit, but I'm ready.
Tuesday (20th): PET Scan  & appointment with Onc: A Pet scan is where you have to drink a radio active dye that basically goes to any part of your body where there is cancer. Its at 1:00 in the afternoon and I get the pleasure of fasting until then and very low carbs the day fun! THEN the moment I've been waiting for. I will meet with my oncologist and we will go over all the results and find out what stage I'm at. I will find out how many courses of chemo therapy I will need and what else is going to happen...we will also schedule my chemo sessions.

So basically I now know my schedule until the 20th which is nice. I'm sad because my ladies day Ski class that I'm doing with a friend is Tuesday's but beating this and getting my life put back together comes first! ALSO, I'm so happy he said he doesn't see anything wrong with me still going on our Florida Vacation in February. So pumped, but slightly nervous! If I don't feel comfortable with it I won't go. But we just have to wait and see.

I was very very anxious this past week, almost devastatingly anxious. My chest was so tight all the time and sometimes I felt like I couldn't breath. My onc prescribed me a low dose anxiety pill I can take when I feel really anxious but I will use it sparingly. I've only taken it once and it did help A LOT. I am going to live my life as normal as possible. That's all I can do. I do feel like I have no control over anything and can't make any plans because I only know my schedule a week and a half out for now.  However, I feel like I'm starting to come to terms with this a little more each day. There is nothing I can do to change my diagnosis, but there is PLENTY I can do to make my time FIGHTING this better. I am looking so so so forward to starting treatment and beating this bastard inside of me (thats what she said ha!) I know their will be side effects but those are minimal compared to the side effect of the option of no chemo!

Here are a few fun pics from Hunter's birthday party! I just can't believe how fast my boys are growing.

i'm in the pink


I will also list each day of my journey this is with each post. Day 1 is Dec 29, 2014 the day I was diagnosed. I saw this on another lymphoma fighters blog and I really like the idea.

ALSO, don't be mad that I haven't responded to blog comments I've had the wrong email on their! Changing it now!

Lots of love xoxo- Annie

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Blessed Beyond Measure

 WARNING: super sappy post!

Wait...what? You have Cancer how could YOU even think your blessed in any way whatsoever??? To anyone thinking that I say obviously you don't know me, and although the past week has been interesting to say the least I cannot and will not lose my outlook on life. I found this unbelievably awesome prayer on pinterest and after praying together with my husband last night we had an amazing conversation. Basically, God has control. He is in charge. I'm giving everything to him while fighting the hardest I can. I know he is SO GOOD and I know everything will be okay. With God and some amazing oncologists on my side nothing can stop me.
Why else am I so lucky? I have the BEST support system anyone could ever ask for! My husband will be with me at every treatment, My kids will be so happy that my Mom will be with them while I'm getting my treatments and recovering (they won't want her to leave), my in laws are always ALWAYS helping in so many ways even though they are farther away. My church is so incredible I feel like I have a second family. And lastly my friends. Even ones I haven't known very long have shown so much love and support. My in town friends got together and surprised me Friday night...I was having such a rough day and this made it SO much better. I have felt sometimes that I don't deserve all of this love coming my way. I know I'm not always the best of friends or can be flaky, but this shows that I am going to be the best friend I can be. Showing my love to others even if I don't know them is my new purpose because everyone deserves to know this feeling. I'm tearing up right now just thinking of all of the people who have reached out. Thank you so much for all the kind thoughts and especially prayers. I love everyone of you.
I love my friends, and I ate all the cookies in the box haha!
Group pic except for Lacey

NYE FUN! Shanica, Caitlin, Me and Brittney and photobomber haha!

This week I plan to write about how I was diagnosed and what I found that made me call the doctor...if you are also going through something like this please reach out!

xoxo Annie

Saturday, January 3, 2015

I Can't Believe I am Writing This...

About a month ago my biggest worries were of course that my kids were always happy and continuing on my weight loss journey. A few weeks ago this all changed. On December 29, 2014 I was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. Words can't even describe what I'm going through. If I had to pick one it would be overwhelmed if I had to pick another it would be anxious. But those are just two of the one zillion feelings I'm going through right now. I've been balling my eyes out and getting so angry at times I've thrown things. I don't even think I've fully accepted it yet. I'm not even sure what to write, right now because I don't know anything about it except for that I have it. I don't know what stage and I'm not even sure what treatment I will go through. The "standard" treatment is chemotherapy (usually 12 rounds) and possibly radiation. Starting at the end of this week I will be getting tests to determine what stage I'm in. One of those tests will be obtaining a bone marrow sample and I am pretty freaked for that one. So if you're wondering what it is here you go:
Hodgkin's lymphoma — formerly known as Hodgkin's disease — is a cancer of the lymphatic system, which is part of your immune system. In Hodgkin's lymphoma, cells in the lymphatic system grow abnormally and may spread beyond the lymphatic system. As Hodgkin's lymphoma progresses, it compromises your body's ability to fight infection. Hodgkin's lymphoma is one of two common types of cancers of the lymphatic system. The other type, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, is far more common. Advances in diagnosis and treatment of Hodgkin's lymphoma have helped give people with this diagnosis the chance for a full recovery. The prognosis continues to improve for people with Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Source: Mayo Clinic

  I have done more than enough research and have heard SO many stories from so many people who have gone through this or something similar. Sometimes, its hard to hear stories and sometimes it makes me feel better. I prefer to hear directly from the person who has had this because I feel some sort of "mutual understanding" with them. Like they know what I'm going through and no one else has a clue. I'm so glad I live in this "digital age" because their are facebook groups where I can meet others going through this. Sometimes reading through them scares me but most of the time I feel better seeing all these strong people.

 Most people who know anything about this type of cancer know it is one of the most common forms in young adults and one of the most curable types of cancers of the lymphatic system. I guess you could say I won the "cancer lottery" because the prognosis is fairly "good." I'm really really scared to go through treatment. I'm scared to miss out on so many moments with my boys, but I know that getting myself well is the most important thing for them. I want to show them how strong their Mommy really is. I also want to keep their life as normal as possible, but I know it will be very different for a while. I also had so many fitness goals to accomplish that are going to be much harder now but I will keep going. I know that there will be lots of days that I will be too weak to workout but on the days that I can you know I will be pushing play! I lost 30 lbs the past 6 months and I plan on continuing an even cleaner healthy lifestyle even more so now with all of this in front of me. I really wish I could fast forward to fall of this year, when I WILL be in remission!!

 The first thing I know is I am going to be the strongest I have ever been through all of this. Am I scared? Hell yeah! This is going to be the hardest year of my life, but I think it will be the most life changing. I WILL beat Cancer is my only resolution of 2015. The next thing I know is that I am so blessed to have the best support system around. My husband and my Mom will be with me through all my treatments and the rest of my extended family and in laws are available at any time! The out pour of love from my friends has been amazing, my local friends even through me a surprise "Kick Cancer's Butt Party" last night that made me feel SO good (I will share pictures in my next post!) The last and most important thing I know that through all of this I will get my strength and keep my faith through God. "I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS ME." -Phillipians 4:13 So even though I have sadly let my blog go I will be updating through the process on here. It is almost like therapy for me to get things out through writing. I hope this will also help anyone going through a similar situation.