The Shitshow

I started out yesterday psyching myself up, thinking- it’s just one more.  You have done this before Jodi, this should be a cakewalk. You got this!  Just do what you did last time when you were preggers with Cora. No surprises right?  At least I know what to expect. These are the mantras people have been telling me, and what I’ve been telling myself. Well… guess what!  We were all wrong people, ALL WRONG!!! My cycle 2 chemo session was nothing like last time. Nothing at all.

Yesterday was a complete and total shit show. Nothing, absolutely nothing went as planned. I didn’t get to finish the chemo session because I kept having a reaction to it. At one point my throat had become all scratchy and phlegmy. I had never experienced an anaphylaxis reaction.  But I guess now I know— an itchy, scratchy throat is no good. That whole, my throat is closing up on me feeling is no good.  My nurse Sandy stopped the infusion.  The medical team didn’t want to push it and see what would happen.  So they pumped me full of even more steroids and Benadryl. We waited an hour and then tried restarted the chemo again. This time my heart started racing.  We then had to stop the chemo all together.  At that point I was on the verge of some serious ‘roid rage. Of course my heart rate was elevated! I had more steroids in me than Derek friggin’ Jeter or A-Rod or whoever.  I knew the steroids were meant to enhance my performance but instead all they did was jack me up so much I felt like my heart was going to burst out of my chest.  The team said we had to stop because the baby’s health was in danger at that point.

And while all this was happening my veins were totally blowing it.   Trying to get an IV in my teeny tiny Jodi sized veins was no picnic. Dana Farber actually has a limit as to how many sticks you can give someone. I had limited out for the day. So, now I need a port. A port (which can be hooked into any time without a new needle stick) is usually something simple, but because I am pregnant, not so much.  I can’t get the ‘twilight meds’ (think Michael Jackson) that keep you awake but In La-La Land.  So now I get to have my port surgically installed. Flippin’ great!

My heart rate wouldn’t come down for the longest time.   I almost won myself a night in the cardiac ward…gurrr. Like I said, total shit show. The cancer monkey was flinging it everywhere! I did get to leave the hospital though.  I left feeling discouraged, defeated.  I left with a whole new set of anxieties. Yesterday (for the first time ever in the last 4 years) I felt like the cancer won. I have never felt this way.

When I was in the waiting room yesterday, before chemo, there was a woman who was also waiting.  I noticed her right when she was wheeled in by her husband (I assume its her husband, or male companion of some sort). I noticed she had no hair; she was covered in blankets and could barely speak. Her lips were dry and cracked. She had no fat on her body. I could see all the bones in her face. I could see her cheek bones, her temporal bones. I could see the outline of her jaw bone. I’m could see she was close to my age, maybe a little older. I know I have bitched about how awful my chemo day was. I know that for now, I will be ok. My chemo day was just bumps in the road, getting things off to a rocky, extra spicy start.  I know that I’m not out of tricks.  But, I could see the woman in the waiting room’s bag of tricks was almost, if not completely empty. I could really see her.  SHE is fighting for just one more day to be with her husband, to be with her kids, her family. Just one more. I’m asking everyone reading this to pray today (now!) for that woman and not me.  I don’t know her name but God does and I’m sure he is listening. I know my chemo day didn’t go to plan, but I believe I’ve got plenty more than one day left.  I hoping I have thousands and thousands more.  Time is precious people. You never know when you might be praying for just one more. 

Dr Google….

Last night I was thinking about today. I went to write and the page just came up blank. I couldn’t find any words that made sense. My head was swimming with endless thoughts. These thoughts, they bubbled up quick and then scattered only to be replaced by another thought, another feeling, another angle to this predicament in which we find ourselves. My head was spinning…going too fast for me to grasp one concept or one feeling and just write it. I had so many racing, compounding thoughts and feelings and they all needed me to hear them, feel them. Last night, while I contemplated today, I was afraid, unsure, confident, strong, feeble and weak all at once. So I just went with it. I gave each restless thought it’s time, time to be felt and acknowledged, then onto the next one. A pool full of next ones, and somehow I eventually drifted off to sleep.

Then I woke up to chemo, day one. I’m home now, and we officially have one round of chemo on the books — only 15 more to go! Woot woot!!! It was a loooong day. We left the house at 6am and walked in the door around 6 pm.

Here’s the rundown—

7:30 am: labs,

8:30: oncologist visit to review the master plan,

9:40: 19 week ultra sound to measure the baby for growth (and see if it’s a boy or a girl)

10:45: visit with high-risk OB

11:30: chemo

Needless to say, we are wiped out. Over all, things went well. The baby is growing and is right on schedule. No issues there at all. The chemo went smoothly. And by smoothly I mean, I had a reaction to one of the drug components in the chemo… that was fun. My nurse pushed the “oh crap” button and people came running. Poor Nate got kicked out of the room, I hate when that happens. I had no clue what was going on. I kept asking the nurse, and she kept saying “you will be ok, this is just protocol”. They gave me more Benadryl, more steroids, and restarted the infusion 30 minutes later. Yeah so, at least they figured that out on this first round. It went GREAT!

We are home now, resting. I have a new arsenal of mess (I mean meds) to take to help fight the side effects. I like a clean bedside table and these pill bottles aren’t helping with that. You know, the type of meds that when you google the name, Dr. Google says none of them are safe during pregnancy. Well Dr. Google, I’m pregnant and I have to take them you asshole. Damnit Dr. Google, I was pregnant before and took the same meds then. My child is just fine—she is perfect, a little miracle. Dr. Google doesn’t know shit!

For all you ladies who don’t eat lunch meats during pregnancy… well, here are my thoughts: if I can get chemo, take all these meds and still have a perfectly fine (even perfect) baby… a #7 turkey sub done ‘Mike’s way’ with lettuce, pickles, no cheese no onion is the last thing I or you need to worry about. So if anyone wants to bring me Jerseys Mikes for lunch! YES PLEASE!

So enough… I’m pretty tired and maybe a little wasted off of Benadryl and steroids, and who knows, maybe the chemo too. Probably best to put this down and get some rest.

Our prayer for tonight: that this chemo stamps out this nasty cancer tramp inside of me. Be gone you nasty parasitic hobo! We’re done with you! Thanks for listening everyone. Lots of love, and goodnight!

The Waiting Room.

So how are we doing? Seems to be the next big question folks are asking me. My answer: I have no clue how we are doing. I really can’t answer, because it depends when you ask me and what emotion I am feeling at the time. We are seriously on a bipolar roller-coaster of emotions. They are everywhere. 

I remember sitting in the waiting room last week. We were waiting for the scan results, my doctor was running over an hour behind. The waiting room is always a weird quiet. No one wants to talk because we all know someone there has received bad news, about to receive bad news or just plain doesn’t want to be there because at some point they received bad news. There are only chairs and big floor to ceiling windows over looking the roof tops of the other hospitals that surround us. No tv, no fish tank nothing for some distraction. I could hear the fan in the ceiling… never heard it before, but last week it was howling, running a high pitch noise. Trying to keep my fear in check. At one point I leaned over to Nate and I said ‘ how about, lets just leave. Let’s just walk out and pretend this isn’t happening’. Do any of you like roller coasters? Remember my blog from years back about roller coaster face? Well Nate and I were rocking the full on roller coaster face waiting for the results. 

Neither one of wanted to be on the ride.  We were sitting there, in the waiting room, going up that first big hill, listening to the clickity clack of the track pulling us up, thinking to ourselves, “I made a mistake, I want off. I don’t really like this as much as I thought… it’s to late to get off now… bad idea, bad idea”. We were about to crest the hill, 400ft in the sky before we just fall…fall straight down and we’re just praying that the ride down wouldn’t be too terrifying.

We got the results… stage 3 cancer. We were ‘enjoying’ the ride down the roller coaster! Nate and myself were high fiveing  each other on our way out of the hospital. As my friend put it “best BAD news ever”. We had never been so happy to only have stage 3 cancer.  At least we think it’s stage 3. Because I’m pregnant, they couldn’t do a PET scan to say really for sure, but hack – stage 3 sounds better than the alternatives.

So here it is Tuesday, 1 week from the second diagnosis. We start chemo on Thursday. The excitement from last week is wearing off as we are gearing up to start chemo. The plan is chemo for 12 weeks. However that brings me up to 31 weeks in my pregnancy. My doctor does not want any dead time in my treatment. So what do we do with the weeks from 32-38??? Maybe try to squeeze in surgery to remove the tumors?  That’s fun… surgery on my lymph nodes to hurry up and heal to then have a c-section 2 weeks later. Or we have the option of 4 more weeks of chemo? But who knows where I will be and if I can tolerate 4 more weeks of chemo after 12 weeks already! 

There is so much in the air right now. Waiting for everything to start and the pieces to fall into place, the rollercoaster to glide out onto the track. 

Same day service

I will admit, the thrill of same day service is wonderful. Door dash, flowers or even pipes gone leaky and the plumber happens to be 5 minutes away? Score. Body going haywire, and the doctors are bouncing you from machine to tech to new machine, than to another doctor all in the same day? Not so wonderful.  I guess it was the best, worst kind of efficient same day service that landed me back in cancer land.

Can anyone believe that this is happening again?!?!!! I certainly can’t. Total BS if you ask me. This isn’t how this pregnancy was suppose to go. This was our chance at total redemption to do this over again and have it done the way everyone else gets to do it. Giving the old F- you to cancer. 

So how did I get here? Well, we all know how babies are made so I don’t have to explain that part. I didn’t have any of what I would consider to be typical cancer symptoms. I mean, maybe I did, but they also coincided with pregnancy. I’ve had fatigue and breast (in the feeling side) pain.  Some people who are pregnant get carpal tunnel (Ya know, when you hand goes numb).

When I got pregnant, my armpit on the mastectomy side started to ache. Since I don’t have any feeling in my “foob” (aka fake boob) I figured the pain was deferring to my armpit. When I would sleep, my arm on that same side kept getting numb. Finally one night, 2 weeks ago it was so bad I couldn’t sleep. I’m talking my arm was all propped up on a pillow, it was so numb, and it hurt damnit. I called my OB to ask if I could get a lidocaine patch to help with the numbness. 

She booked me to see a neurologist at 8am the next morning, and that day was full of same day service. 

Wow! What service, all in a day! I just felt privileged at that point, maybe I couldn’t allow the thought of cancer to occur to me. The neurologist mentioned a reoccurrence but I was like no way. I’m pregnant. I’m fine lady. Give me a patch and send me the heck home. Oh no! Not so easy. She booked me for an MRI and and ultrasound (of my armpit) and got me an appointment for my Oncologist later the same day.  I was getting a ‘little’ nervous to say the least.  

The day progressed, people started acting really, really nice to me. I immediately thought, I know this! It’s a familiar manner– the same way I treat my patients when something is wrong, and they don’t quite know about, yet. Cue my anxiety at this point, like a Space X rocket. 

I talk with my oncologist, who is now suggesting to biopsy these masses found on the MRI in my lymph nodes (and on the ultrasound), all same day. They told me that it ‘could’ or ‘couldn’t’ be ‘scar tissue’ or ‘cancer again’. I’m balling at this point. All she says is I’m sorry. I was waiting for her to give me a “let’s see what the biopsy says” or “we don’t know anything definitive yet, let’s not get upset”. But no, She knew and I knew … it was back. Although you never lose hope till you hear those words “it’s cancer”. But we knew. And so begins the longest two weeks of my life…. 5 grueling days later was the biopsy. 5 days trying to grapple with the thoughts this was happening again. I didn’t even want to use the “C” word in these thoughts but it kept coming up as a no brainer. We still held onto hope.

Biopsy went fine and we waited again… 6 days! 6 agonizing, looooong, days where you are your worst enemy. You see breast cancer is sneaky, cancer wants to kill you. It’s not forgiving, it doesn’t care you have a family or are pregnant or have a career. She is a ruthless bitch set out to destroy – destroy everything in her path. It’s a like a cancer volcano that was exploded 4 years ago in my breast… the hot lava from the cancer flowing out, engulfing everything in its path leaving only ashes and dust behind, nothing living. And at any given time another cancer volcano can pop up and this time usually angrier than the first and even more destructive. Meaning it comes back in your organs, bones or even brain again leaving only ashes and dust behind and lots of sad people missing their loved one.

And mine came back- the cancer was back. Biopsy was positive for malignant cells. No words.

We were scared, nope that doesn’t quite describe it…. were terrified… hmm, nope, still doesn’t touch it. There are no words to explain to you all what was running through our heads and the feelings we were having. Was I going to be ashes and dust?

Next was scans… scans to see where the cancer lava had flowed to. Scans were 3 days later and we got the results the following day. And we all know the results because I had you all praying like crazy which in eternally grateful for.

So what’s next? What’s ahead? We waste no time and I start chemo this Thursday. I get to lose my hair all over again that I just grew back. I get weeks of side effects from poison running through my body putting out the lava fires praying it is contained to its area. I get to do everything all over again, WE get to do everything all over again. And I will say this… having cancer was terrible. But the friends I made, the love I felt, the support I had was remarkable. I NEVER would have experienced such sincere love if I didn’t have cancer. My relationships grew, made amazing news friends and was blessed in ways I could have never imagined. It blew my mind how such good could come from something so bad. We wouldn’t have been able to make it through with out the help and love from my family and friends. That is all you wonderful people who are reading this. So thank you. Thank you for then and thank you for now and thanks you for what’s ahead.

The results….

The results….

First off, I just want to say how loved and supported everyone has made me feel. All of the texts, responses and prayers were so overwhelming. You all really blew me away. I couldn’t possibly respond to everyone but I am very aware of all the shares and prayer requests made on my behalf . They carried me through one tough day. But, as tough as it was, I consider it a win. We heard good news!!! The prayers worked! We found out that my scans were clean and that the cancer has not spread and is contained! Can I get an AMEN?!! WHOOT WHOOT!! OH YEAH!!! Never been so happy to celebrate stage 3 cancer… feels so wrong but so right at the same time. 

I don’t know if you all believe in the power of prayer but after todays, well now yesterdays impressive surge on my behalf and then getting the good news…. we must of done something right! And just to confirm we did do it right we got a little sign … as I am typing now the bible verse of the day just popped up on my phone. Guess what it says??? I kid you not. It reads: When you pray go away and shut the door, pray to your Father in private. Then the father who sees everything will reward you.” I have goose bumps! What are the chances that’s the verse that pops up? I was rewarded alright… rewarded with my life! Although the cancer was upgraded from a previous stage 2 to a stage 3… I will take a stage 3 over a stage 4! I am virtually high fiving every one of you right now. Nice work people. 

It doesn’t stop here though…. we have another battle ahead of us and a long road to travel. I know you all are saying I beat this once, I will do it again… well, its back. So either 1. I clearly didn’t do a good job fighting last time or 2. I didn’t really beat it or 3. Cancer is sneaky little bi-atch so this fight is going to be even harder. Stronger meds, intense chemo-therapy, more surgery and lots of other “fun” stuff. Yes, I have been down this road before and know it all too well. And just because I have been down it before does not make it any easier the second time around. Knowing what’s ahead may even be a little scarier than going into this blind. It’s kind of like having a bone re-set that was once already broken. Not fun. We have a plan and I will fill you all in later . But I wanted to share the good news with you all before I went to sleep and sincerely thank everyone from the bottom of my heart. The world is still a good place because of people like you. May God bless you all. We are the storm!!!!

Prayers needed please!

On March 28, exactly 4 years ago today I was told the dreadful words “I’m sorry, it’s cancer”. F¥%#!!!! I remember everything about that day so clearly. The weather, where I was, what I had on and what I was doing. I was 16 weeks pregnant with Cora and terrified about my fragile pregnancy. I hung up the phone and as tears filled my eyes I knew my life would never be the same. I had no idea the challenges that we were about to face, head on. Fast forward 4 years to now and I am sorry to say after sharing such wonderful news that I am pregnant a few days ago, just like last time I am following up with some not so good news and that we about to face some of the same challenges. Today, Nate and I are headed back to my home away from home, Dana Farber to make a plan to cure my cancer just as we did 4 years ago. And again, just like before, I am 18 weeks pregnant this time around too!

Jaw drop, no words, silence………. Right?!?!! I need to insert a GIF or a meme here. I should have you all comment with one below…. ha! Now, pick your self up off the ground, shake off the shock and continue reading…. next comes… OMG, holy shit, fuck no, No way, I’m soooo sorry…. just a few of the reactions I have received so far from the few people who know what’s happening. Most don’t know what to say and ya know what … I don’t know what to say either. We are stunned, bug eyed, dismayed, floored as well. It doesn’t seem real At. All. or like this actually could be happening AGAIN. I have to tell myself multiple times this is real, this is happening now. And I am telling you guys, it is real people, so buckle up… we going for another ride on the cancer merry go round. Who wins this at this kind of crappy cancer lottery? HA, I guess me! I don’t even know how we got here again. I went in to see my OB for a simple complaint and came home that night thinking “Crap, they think I have have cancer again. No way! I’m fine. I feel great. I’m pregnant. No way this could happen again.” Less than a week later, after a few tests, a biopsy, my worst fear has come true. I have cancer again. What the heck?!?!!! So what do we do next??

We make it simple… we go by the standard rule to take it one day at a time. So, for today we are asking for prayer. Lots of prayer… today we find out if the cancer has spread or if it is contained in my lymph nodes. One is curable and one is not. Today we make a plan to kick cancer ass once again. If your not a person who prays, I ask that just today you say one. Please, pray for me, pray for my husband who is just as important in all of this, he is what I call a silent survivor and can be easily overlooked but a much needed and valued key player. We all love Natey! And please, most of all please pray for my sweet, sweet babies. Pray that this sour thing called cancer goes away. Pray that their Mom gets to live a long life and raise them to be wonderful God loving humans and I get to watch them grow and do good in this world. That I get love them, kiss their boo-boos and guide them through their teenage years (Lord help me), watch them grow into their own families and have grand babies of my own. AMEN!

I never would have made it through my last fight with cancer with out the support of prayer. I literally had thousands of people praying for me all over the world and I felt it. And it helped. We went through sooo much in the past 4 years that would break people down, tear families apart and put people away in looney bins. I truly believe because of prayer and the power it has we made it through and by the grace of God came out stronger. And we will make it through again. So today is game day… let’s start now, together.

Cora’s surgery part 2 

On our way home- we almost won a night stay for a fever and some minor respiratory issues … after some sleep and a huge IV she perked right up and they let us go home. Cora did amazing and she is chomping down on some snacks. Thank you for all your prayers, well wishes and positive energy that was sent our way. We appreciate it more then you know. They didn’t get to remove 100% of the Nevis but we will deal with that later. Home bound for some serious deep couch sitting and watching Barney and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse over and over and over again.