Sometimes I just need a reminder

I am the type of person that needs a reminder for everything. Even though I have a date book I still write myself a note the day before an appointment or I keep my appointment card. I have to write a list for the grocery store or any shopping for that matter. Sometimes I even write myself a to-do list for the next day. One thing I never thought I would have to be reminded of was why I wanted to become a mother.

After infertility struggles and losing our son I never in a million years dreamed of how many times parenting can be so frustrating. I guess I was so naïve to think  I would be living in this dream world where my baby/toddler would be perfect and always behave. I would get plenty of sleep and have tons of patience. Then came my Avery and she tests my limits quite a bit. Oh and she doesn’t sleep much either. It seems like every time I am at the end of my rope I get a reminder of how lucky I am to be able to have a baby and bring her home.

My first big reminder that I can remember was when we first brought Avery home from the NICU. I was going through my second round of chemo and I was exhausted and feeling like I was hit by a bus. Maybe it was the chemo or the hormones but I was a wreck. I was sobbing and just pleading for some sleep and relief from feeling sick all of the time. Once I got Avery to lay down I was so ready for a short nap before her next feeding. I was flipping through the guide looking for something to watch until I fell asleep when a show caught my eye. It was about a famous couple that had gone through infertility struggles and was finally able to have a baby of their own via surrogate. The episode that was on was the one where they had the baby. Before the episode was over I found myself running to Avery’s bassinet to pick her up and hold her. Watching the flashbacks of their infertility struggle and the joy of finally having their own baby gave me a huge reminder. I fought so hard to have my little gal and now all I could do was feel sorry for myself. Of course there was a lot of cuddling after that and more tears. But this time it was happy tears and I was reminded how lucky I was to have my own miracle to snuggle and love.

Today I had another reminder. I have an impending scan looming in my future which always makes me a ball of nerves. The closer the scan gets the more my patience wears thin. I know it sounds weird but sometimes I forget that I had cancer. I guess I should say I don’t forget but it gets pushed to the side until a scan comes. We have had a couple long nights due to Avery’s molars coming in and me being up all night thinking about all of the types of cancer I could have. So when we got an invite to go and play outside with a friend I gladly accepted. I knew Avery wasn’t feeling the best but I thought maybe getting outside would be good for both of us. Of course my little spitfire proved me wrong. She threw a fit in the restaurant and was really testing what little patience I have left. Of course she was elated to go and play on the toys but once we got home again it was back to the cranky toddler business. After an interesting bath followed by more toddler behavior we moved to the living room. For some reason I decided to check my appointment letter because I keep getting the times messed up. The second I picked my letter up Avery started screaming on the couch. When I looked over she had her hands shoved in her mouth and she was saying “Mom!” Oh I felt so bad for her. She was in tons of pain because of her teeth. I kept looking at the letter and then at her . That’s when the reminder came. I could have not been here to take care of her when she needs me. I could have gotten cancer before I became pregnant with her and would not have been able to have her.

I am sure there will be more hard days but I welcome the reminders. Even though we have struggles a smile from my little miracle can make those struggles fade away. Sometimes I just need a reminder.

009

Advertisement

Why you need to go to the Doctor; even if it is scary

Today was one of the three most dreaded days for me during the year. It was my day to go and have a physical. Ugh. I hate going to the Doctor. Not because I dislike my Doctor or the staff I actually really like them a lot and they are former co-workers of mine. The reason I hate going to the Doctor is because I think I will be told the dreaded words again; “I am sorry I have to tell you this, you have cancer.” I am usually forced against my will to go to the Doctor three times a year. I have to see my Oncologist twice a year for a CT Scan, Lab work and an office visit. Then once a year to my Family Practice Physician for my physical.

It probably sounds silly that I have to be dragged into the Doctor kicking and screaming but it’s true. It usually creeps into my mind about a month before the appointment. Then the assumptions start. I come up with the darndest reasons as to why I have cancer again. After I start assuming then I start bugging those closest to me. “Feel my neck; I am sure there is a lump.” “Look at this spot on my leg that has been on there since I was born.” The list and demands goes on and on. After I have bothered everyone so much that they want to choke me it is appointment time.

Physicals are a little easier on me than scan day. Because during a physical they are probably not going to be looking inside of my body. (Unless they find something suspicious) In preparation for what I was sure would be one of my last days with hair; I spent an hour straightening it last night. Since I have been left with crazy curly hair (which I do like) it makes straightening a hot sweaty mess. After blow drying my bathroom is already a balmy 80 degrees. When you add a very hot straightening iron to that you might as well have a gallon of water and a cold compress on standby. After the hair prep it is on to life prep. Making bills out, cleaning and laundry. I always want to make sure I have my ducks in a row when I find out “the news”  Then it’s a Sprite treat to relax and off to bed.

Scan day is a whole different world. I know they are actually going to be looking inside of me and I am always sure that some type of cancer has developed. Plus I don’t get my coffee that morning and that makes for a foggy and crabby morning. After my scan and labs it is typically a four-hour wait until I get my results. Even though it is an excruciating wait I am lucky that I receive my results the same day. So I will take the four hours over a day or longer. I think another reason scan day is scary is because if I hear the dreaded words again depending on what that entails I could be starting treatment asap. At least after a physical I have a little time to prepare.

Even though these days are scary and stressful they are so worth it. The relief I feel after knowing I am okay is wonderful! I typically have a great day after learning I am good for another couple of months. One of my oncologists said to me “I don’t know why you worry so much; I told you the cancer is gone.” She is right. When we figured out what stage I was (stage 1b) after surgery they said I would be fine with the four rounds of chemo. They called my chemo an “insurance policy”  in case a small amount of cancer got into my blood that they weren’t able to detect. So yes going to the Doctor is totally worth it. Even if I do hear the dreaded words again I have to remind myself that early detection is the key. If you let things go and appointments pass you are really doing yourself a disservice. Get your physical every year. If you feel like something is going on with your body make an appointment. You know your body better than anyone so listen to your body. If you get blown off be persistent until you are satisfied with the answer you are given. You are your own advocate sometimes. If you are lucky enough to have a great Doctor stick with them. Even if you’re a ball of nerves like me and drive your family and friends nuts just remember that they are pretty much forced to listen to you and comply with your demands. Go to the Doctor and get yourself checked; even if it scares you.

You don’t have to give up hope

During the struggles of life it is hard not to give up hope. It is actually very easy to give up; but don’t. Please don’t give up hope. Through all of the infertility, loss and cancer I wanted to give up so many times but I didn’t. And now I get to watch my daughter grow up; which at one time I didn’t think it would be possible.

Today as I gave my daughter a bath watching the foam letters float around; all I could think about was how four years ago I really didn’t think this would be possible. All of the little things that I get to do with her that would have never happened if I would have given up hope.

After we lost our son there was still hope. Hope for peace and hope for another baby. We were lucky to receive both.

When I think back to those dark days of chemo there was hope. Hope to be cured and hope to never have to go through it again. So far it has come true.

Whether you hope, wish, pray or do all three keep on. Whatever anyone tells you keep hoping for the best possible outcome. You may be surprised how truly wonderful that outcome can be 🙂

Edited Blog pic

Chemo aka rat poison

Chemo sucks. I hated it and still have very strong feelings of dislike for it. I am not even sure where to start on the long list of reasons why it sucks. Yes it did help save my life, I will give it that but that’s it. I am 100% positive that anyone that has had chemo or knows someone who has will agree with me. A little history on my chemo; my “cocktail” consisted of  Cisplatin and Etoposide. I had chemo every three weeks, three times a week for four months. The day after chemo I would go back and get a shot of Pegfilgrastim which helps your body make more white blood cells.

First reason I hate it is because you feel like dog shit. Sorry for the swearing but chemo deserves a swear word. It feels like you have the flu x 100 all of the time. After a couple of days out from a round of chemo you start to feel a smidgen better but then it’s usually time for more. I also had a lot of soreness. Everything hurt from my limbs to what little hair I had on the top of my head. Yes my hair hurt, well I guess it was more like my scalp but whatever. One of the nurses compared it to having fibromyalgia. Those of you that have that I totally feel for you. It sucks. I was pretty much forced to pretend I felt okay because I had a little that needed attention and to be fed every three hours. But there was one day that I literally could not get off of the couch. Thank God my husband was home because I don’t know what I would have done without him that day.  I was supposed to go and get my shot for my white blood cell count but we were in the midst of a snow storm so I had to reschedule. It was the day after my third round of chemo so I was feeling crappy anyway.  I am not even sure how long I slept that day I just laid on the couch in and out of consciousness. I remember one of the times I did get up and it literally hurt to walk to the bathroom. I am still a little sore and depending on the weather I still have some bad days but I am so glad that I am not in as much pain as I was during chemo.

Another little wonderful thing that happened to me was I did have some hearing loss. I can thank the Cisplatin for that. I started having some ringing in my ears during chemo and that is a side effect of Cisplatin. I did get the amount of Cisplatin I was receiving reduced by 10% and it took care of the ringing. The hearing loss is not severe at all I mostly have a problem hearing someone talking to me if we are in a large crowd. (Which probably happens to a lot of people) It is kind of comical to listen to my husband and I when we go to a restaurant because he also has a hard time hearing in crowds.

The last reason is the most obvious. The hair loss. I know I will probably sound vain but that was the hardest part. I tear up thinking about it even now. My hair was kinda my “thing” I am not a size two and I don’t have a gorgeous face but my hair kicked some serious butt. It was long, thick and beautiful. I could curl it and straighten it and it looked good both ways. People would always say to me “People pay a lot of money to have their hair look like yours.” When those luscious locks started to fall out I had a small mental breakdown. I think some of it was it kind of cemented to me that yes, I did have cancer. By looking at me before my hair loss people probably just thought I was sick with the flu or something. But now everyone would now. They do make some great wigs but I couldn’t afford them. I did receive a free wig from the American Cancer Society and my dad bought me one for Christmas. Some people told me I should just shave my head right away so I wouldn’t have to go through losing it. I wish I would have listened. When you have cancer you lose control of a lot of things. Your whole life is based around surgeries, chemo and other treatment. Your hair falls out, your body hurts and you feel like crap. So to have some control and be in the driver’s seat again is a good feeling. When my hair started to fall out it ended up getting tangled in my other hair so I looked like I had a rat’s nest on my head. So one day I decided I was going to cut it shorter and donate it. So I did and then two days later my husband shaved my head. I will never forget that night. I went to take a shower and I could barely wash my hair. There was just gobs and gobs of hair all over the shower. After a cry fest in the shower I decided I had enough; I wanted to be in control. I got out of the shower and told my husband tonight was the night. He kept asking me if I was sure because he knew how much I loved my hair. I told him I was more than sure because I knew I could not have another shower like that again. So the shaving began. First I had to see what I would look like with bangs. I had never had them before and I discovered why that night. Then I gave myself a mullet. I kinda wish I would have taken pictures of my different hairstyles 😉 Then it was shaving time. My husband shaved my head for me and finally I was in control. (Well technically he was in the driver’s seat cause he had the clippers) I was so glad I did it! No more hair falling out. A couple of days later he shaved his own head and so did my dad. I wish we would have taken a picture together.

After my hair was gone I got to enter the wide world of hats, scarves and wigs. Kind of a cool world; there are so many different colors and styles. I also realized something; I was okay with looking like a cancer patient. My hair was gone and there was nothing I could do about it but that was okay because I was still here; ready to raise my daughter and spend time with my friends and family. To all of the people out there that have lost their hair due to cancer or something else I admire each and every one of you. It is hard to step outside with no hair everyday and walk around on this earth. I wish I would have done it more. Looking back I wish I would have taken more pictures and just plain went out of my house without a wig. If you are in the process of losing your hair or you have lost it don’t be embarrassed.  You are beautiful and if you have the guts to show off that beautiful bald head you are awesome in my book!!

SAM_0273
One of my wigs.
SAM_0384
Hair starting to come back 🙂
SAM_0179
The only pic I can find with my bald head. As you can see what I did have left was gray.