Sweet Baby, Sour Cancer

My journey through cancer and pregnancy, twice.

On my 21st birthday, my oldest brother took me, his wife and my parents to Foxwoods Casino to celebrate. He handed me a stack full of cash or at least that’s how I remember it, but I was 21 and poor so any money then seemed like a lot… but anyways, he handed me some money and said, “Have fun tonight, you’re never going to be this lucky again”. I made my way around the casino trying different games and ended up finding my fortune playing Let It Ride. It is a form of 5 stud poker where you wager an intial bet based your 3 cards you can see and 2 house cards that you don’t see right away.  The distinguishing feature of the game is you are given two opportunities to retract 1/3 of your initial bet. The 1st based on your hand and then the 2nd after the first house card is flipped OR you can let your full bet ride for the big daddy payout at the end or complete lose it all by Letting It Ride. I did have beginners luck that night and I went home with full pockets. 

It has been a long time since my last super coherent blog post, but here I am.  I am back friends, and I realize, we have a lot to talk about.  I’ll jump right in rather than a long recap: Calvin is doing fantastic and Cora is loving being a big sister. Me?  Well, today… today, I look good, today I feel good.  I am not immediately dying. I am living life and still have lots of life to live. So, for now, my intial cards look good, I am going to Let It Ride. 

Sooooo, I have been taking a lot of ‘flack’ from some people because they keep saying they don’t understand what is going on with my cancer treatment, where I am “at”. Some people are asking if I am all done or if I have beat this beast yet. I suppose I didn’t realize how big of a deal this would seem to others in my life, and I am learning a lot as I grapple with some big questions. Everyone seems to want to know how far the cancer has spread in my body and if it has, what am I going to do about it.

Well, this is information that falls into a grey category. It’s not that I do not want to know, it’s just for now, knowing if the cancer has spread further or where … well, this information doesn’t change anything. I could have a PET scan or bone scan but after talking with my team, we (Nate, myself and my doctor) decided that having these tests wouldn’t change anything except knowing that my disease has gone from potentially curable to not curable. We know the previous chemo didn’t work via the pathology results from surgery. The cancer that I have now does not respond to traditional chemo. My 35 rounds of daily radiation which I am now DONE with, definitely served it’s purpose. All you have to do is take a look at my discolored and burned skin for proof of that. So now we attack the cancer by starving it to death and providing an uninhabitable place for it to thrive in. I will continue to be on different chemotherapy and also what is called endocrine-therapy indefinitely (both IV and pill form) and other meds that make my bones and cells inhabitable for cancer to live in. Also, my recent labs results came back not favorably so now I am deciding between an imminent hysterectomy or oophorectomy (as my cancer is hormone receptive and the medication we’ve been trying to turn off my hormones with, isn’t working).

My team of oncologists are onboard with this plan and with the decision to not have any scans. My treatment plan is currently what they would do for any advanced stage patient, my doc says the treatment won’t change, so what good would taking  PET scan do at this point?  If I’m already getting stage IV treatment, what difference would a PET scan make? My doctor is pretty friggin smart. I trust her and I assure you I may be her only patient who has had cancer twice while pregnant… but I am not her first cancer patient. My hand is looking good, no need to retract my wager and waiting for the house to flip it’s first card. 

That age old question, if you could know when you were going to die, would you? Would you want to know that you could be approaching those pearly gates sooner than expected? My answer is no; for now. What would your answer be? I’m serious. I’m curious to know, comment below. I think this is a situation where you think you would act one way until you were actually put into it and you might surprise yourself at how it actually goes down. I’m realizing that there are quite a lot of opinions out there, and I’m sure it’s a hard answer to make public but it’s honestly where I’m at right now. To my sisters in pink or to my other cancer peeps reading this blog I know you deal with this question as well as other types of big life altering questions, daily!!! And for the record, putting myself out there honestly does not mean I will get 100% approval from everyone on my choices and the path that I am taking, but this is my poker hand, and I get to choose how I play my cards.

I started this journey years ago in my first blog post. You all are along for this ride with me and I want to be open every step of the way.  Thank you for being along for this ride with me. If my symptoms change, then I feel like we will address that when and if it happens or maybe once things settle down and I can handle more news I will go for those scans.  Right now, like I said, I am living life and still have lots of life to live, my cards look good… I am Letting It Ride.

16 thoughts on “Let It Ride

  1. cyndimom says:

    Jodi, I’m sorry but if your saying people are questioning what treatment your getting or how your handling all of this, I say shame on them. Each cancer case is different, each treatment is unique to the person. Certainly, you have to trust your doctors and go with the options they give you and recommend. I pray that whatever is done, it will improve the quality and length of your life.


    1. Robin says:

      As always, very well written. With 33 years as an oncology nurse, sadly it does not surprise me one bit that people have all kinds of opinions and advice for you. The decisions you make are the right ones for you and Nathan, Cora and Calvin. You keeping living your life! If scans and testing would not change the course of treatment, why put your body through it and why spend one more precious minute away from your life and beautiful family! And to answer your question, my answer is no. I do not want to know when I’m going to die. I’d rather just live each day as it comes.


      1. My good friend Robin… I knew you would have something great to say about this. Thanks for always being supportive and answering all my oncology nursing questions. love ya!!!


    2. Thanks Cyndi and thanks for all your prayers and support.


  2. Becky Lord says:

    Jodi, thank you so much for sharing this. I too have been wondering and now I have a much better understanding of what you’re going through and where you are at. I’ve never really given it much thought, but right now I’m thinking I’d hold on to the hope of life over the alternative any day. Love you!! And I’m thinking we should really do a spa day soon…


    1. SPA DAY SOUNDS AMAZING!!! I need it! Love you Becky


  3. Ericka says:

    I’ve learned with cancer it’s an emotional roller coaster along with the physical hell it can bring. When my father told me he would never tell anyone if his cancer came back because he won’t get treatment and he doesn’t want to hear others tell him how to live his life… I accepted that because we all die someday and what business do I have controlling someone’s life. I’ve learned sudden death and knowing it’s coming are equally heart breaking on those left behind and grief sucks more when you love more. Do you Jodi and it’s more than ok to let people know you won’t tell, even if you do know. As my grandmother used to say “we all get our turn, so what’s the use worrying about it?” But if you need to know then find out. And you do what you want with that information. Me, I think I’d like to know because I’d probably write my own obituary (I believe in celebrating life and laughing so that shit needs to be funny & encouraging) and I’d want to make a video for my family so they know I’m ok and I’ve lived a truly fantastic life! While id want them to work through their grief I wouldn’t want them to get stuck in it cuz that’s not healthy. Death is as much a part of life as living and I’m pretty ok with that…or so I say for now. I’m sure I’ll crap my pants and pray for God to let me stay a little longer when my time comes but hey, I’m human so it’s allowed. Keep playing your hand honey! It sounds like you know exactly what is best for you and that’s all that really matters. My prayers and love are sent daily! xoxo


  4. Trish says:

    Your strength and positive attitude continue to amaze me. Love those babies!


    1. Thanks Trish. Thanks for commenting and your support through out all this.


  5. Dave Altrich says:

    You are one of the strongest people I have had the pleasure of knowing, god bless you! When you ask if folks want to know when it is they would die I would say no to that question. After my wife suffered a stroke that almost took her life last year I realized life is about the journey not the final destination. I try to enjoy everyday to the fullest the best that I can. #Letitride everything happens for a reason for good and for bad. Sometimes it takes time to realize what the reason is in a tough situation. I can say this though, you have touched and helped so many lives through your experience. That’s pretty amazing! God bless you and I wish you the best!


    1. It IS about the journey and not the destination. I would rather a short time of awesomeness verses a lifetime of nothing. Cheers to #letitride and enjoy life to the fullest. God bless you and your family as well.


  6. Jean O’Halloran says:

    Jodi, I understand your line of thinking and action 100%! While I can’t say for certain what I’d do or wouldn’t do, pretty sure I’d fall into the “if it won’t change anything don’t tell me” camp. Whatever you need to do to thrive mentally is the right thing. I’m glad you have plenty of distractions. Newborns don’t typically allow for much time to dwell, do they?! 😜 I’m sorry you have felt pressure to disclose your status, even if the questions come from a caring place. Hopefully getting all this out in the open will give you the space you need now to go on enjoying your family, one day at a time. Thank you for the update. Always praying for you, friend. ❤️❤️❤️


    1. Hi Jean,
      Thanks for your input. I was curious how my pink sisters would respond.As always thank you for always being there and offering your support and of course your prayers. And yes, now back to taking care of that baby…no time for rest or time to dwell. moving right along…. 🙂


  7. Debra Toner says:

    Jodi, I’m so touched by your blog. You are in my prayers all the time. This is your life to live with Nathan, Cora and Calvin and absolutely no one should be dictating to you how to live it. I say to heck with the PET scans. It’s a mute point and why cause yourself more angst? We all need to take a lesson from you. Live life as if it were your last day on earth. You have an extremely positive mental attitude and we nurses both know that gets you very far. The power of positivity and prayer are magical and I believe in my heart that you will beat this thing!!! Have a beautiful Thanksgiving, Christmas and May the New Year bring you all the blessings you so deserve. Love and hugs, Deb


  8. Jessica says:

    Thanks for sharing this Jodi. You really are a gifted writer and I think your blog is helping so many people – those with cancer to feel more understood and less alone; those without to understand what your journey is like and how to be more sensitive. Like the other commenters, I agree that the decision is yours alone and I admire you for the one you’ve made and the way you’ve made it and come to peace with it. I think I probably would have been one of the people who had to know everything — connected, of course, to my obsession w certainty and control. But then I read a book that changed some of those needs called “When the heart waits” by sue monk Kidd. I think you and Sue would get along. She helped me through a time of Great Uncertainty and fear. If you haven’t read it already, I’d recommend it and could loan you my copy. Thanks again for sharing this blog and for letting us into a part of your beautiful heart.


  9. Heather says:

    Jodi I really am in awe of you and I’m reminded of that every time I read one of your posts. The grace, intelligence, and eloquence with which you have carried yourself and handled your cancer… and then described it for others through this blog…. blows me away. First of all, it is your body and I’m so sorry you feel any pressure at all from others about what to do about the cancer or what to disclose.

    To answer your question, I’m a journalist. I’m trained to seek out answers and not stop until I’ve gotten answers. It’s ingrained in me. And now it’s something I am struggling with because my son has an autism diagnosis, but we’ll never get answers about what caused his developmental disability. I have to live with never having an answer to the most nagging question in my mind: what did this to my beautiful son? That is eating away at me — making me crazy.

    So, going back to you and your choice, is it ok to share (even though it might not be the popular opinion), that given what I just told you about myself and my background, I might opt to do the PET scan and try to get answers? BUT THEN WHAT? What if the PET scan is wrong. Surely, there are cases where a patient defies the odds. Or the PET scan might lead a doctor to give a patient a certain window left to live and that window is way off. But you’ve already planned for a certain window and now you have less time or more time, so that answer wasn’t really the helpful guide you were hoping for, at all. Or the PET scan comes back clear, and then a few weeks later you get hit by a driver texting behind the wheel. My point is there are no guarantees in life, you can never really know, so I can fully appreciate and admire your decision to not want to open that can of worms. I only wish I could get an answer from a higher power about why terrible things like this happen to such good people like you. This all is so unfair. It pains me to think about all of the pain you are in. I think about you and we pray for you all of the time. Give Cora and Calvin a big hug and a kiss from me and Brooks!


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