oncology & fertility preservation

The big appointments came this week, so wordless Wednesday will have to wait.

Oncology:

CLEAR SCANS! The sleepless nights are over – at least for six months. I met with Dr. T again, and again she was amazing. She always knows what to say. We discussed unusual spikes she saw in my levels – my red blood cells are abnormally larger than they were at my last scan, but my oncology team is going to keep an eye on that for now – they explained it is somewhat normal to have this happen when I’m taking chemo. If those specific levels change in May when I go back, there will be some discussion.

Dr. T & I also talked about pregnancy and what to expect at my second appointment (with reproductive endocrinology). One of the bittersweet moments of the day was during this discussion. Dr. T said that after my three year mark on chemo, there is still not enough data to determine that I would be safe off of chemo for the time needed to carry a baby. She followed up with saying ‘I know being able to experience pregnancy is important to you, so we will still give you all the information you need at the end of your three years for you to make that decision. But we do want you around for your babies.”

Translation – it will be a risk. Cancer could creep back into my body, (and most likely, it would), during a pregnancy. Dr. T reminded me GIST works and operates at different levels of risk, and my tumor – size, location, & mitotic rate, (how quickly the cancer cells were dividing), qualifies as high in every category.

That hit home to me.

On to the second appointment of the day.

Reproductive Endocrinology:

I met with Dr. Delaney; another amazing woman. My time with her was not cut short – a two hour appointment. I am so lucky I have so many professionals willing to keep me healthy and do their best to help me reach my goal of having a family.

Dr. Delaney told Tony, my mom, and I that she tried to prepare for my appointment my researching and finding all the information she could on my cancer and pregnancy – she found ten articles total. And of these ten articles, NONE pertained to a woman wanting to get pregnant while on or after my taking my chemo pill, Gleevec.

NONE.

She was baffled as a doctor of reproductive endocrinology.

However, that did not stop her from creating a plan for me.

I had to explain to her that three years on Gleevec, (my chemo), has no wiggle room. This statement was directly from Dr. T. I cannot be taken off of my chemo for at least three year, regardless of any procedures or testing she would need to do. Dr. Delaney seemed to understand this rule, and her and the other partner in the office seemed to think I could harvest my eggs while still taking my chemo, (which I guess is good news?).

After three years, we can fertilize these eggs harvested and freeze them to decide what would be the best options for us – use a surrogate or, with the assistance of In Vitro Fertilization, I could carry our baby. Both doctors seemed to lean towards using a surrogate.

Bittersweet moment number two.

So, the next steps:

1. Blood work at a clinic nearby to check hormone levels – to make sure my ovaries are 28 years old & not 40 because of my chemo pill.

2. Return to Mayo in December for an ultrasound & a meeting with ‘high risk’ section of Gynecology team (I guess I am a good candidate for a case study at the Mayo. Well, you know, given that my cancer is extremely rare and when found, is usually found in older males).

3. Realize that this is my realty, for life & to have a baby – stop feeling sorry for myself, pouting, crying, etc…

Sorry for the language, but this picture says it all – I’m sure some can relate.

image1

writing through it

Well, it’s that time of year. The time of year when my stomach starts turning into knots, I snap at people easily, & I don’t sleep. It’s the time of year Bon Iver is heard in my classroom, when I relax at home, and when I blog. It’s the time of year when I cry at something as simple as dropping my new mitten in the snow, (yes, it happened this morning).

My six month scans are approaching.

Am I going to go through this the rest of my life? Am I always going to have to worry and wonder what will they find? My life goes so smoothly until these appointments approach. Sure, I have my moments, but overall, I lead a happy life. It’s simple, full of love, and it’s passionate. But these scans, bring the darkest thoughts. These scans remind me that I have no control over certain aspects of my life, important aspects. They pull me apart, slowly.

I can feel my mind beginning to loose control. It all starts with night; sleep. My sleep is restless and I have vivid dreams. I never normally remember the dreams I have, but the past couple nights I have remembered them all. Last night my tattoo, (the one that I don’t have, but want), started to crawl off my arm during my CT scan, so that I wasn’t able to see it, and I was left to stare at the IV in my arm. While the awful humming sound of the machine and the agitating voice, “take a breath….. and hold……” continued, I was short of breath because I couldn’t see my focus – be brave. It sounds like the dumbest dream EVER re-telling it now, but I woke up in a bone-chilling sweat. My t-shirt was drenched, as if I had just ran a 13k and my hair was matted around my face. Why had I felt so scared?

Sleep; it all starts with sleep.

I think that creates everything else to go to hell – even dropping my new mitten in the snow. I’m walking around like a zombie, and it’s only going to get worse as my appointments get closer.

Sometimes letting out a good cry helps, it did today. Sometimes I know it’s okay to feel scared. I know it’s not realistic for anyone to keep it together all the time. This week I’m going to try to make things easier – bed early, Bon Iver, making out with Tony :), a couple good runs on the treadmill while listening to some hip-hop, & relax.

I need to relax; especially my mind.

a day in the life

A typical day consists of multiple activities. Today, for example, a wonderful Sunday, is no exception.

Today was one of the first days that I had absolutely NO PLANS. Since mid-July there has been an event on the calendar every weekend; from weddings, engagement parties, showers – baby & wedding – reunions, family birthdays, etc… Don’t get me wrong, they are all fabulous events and so much fun; however, weekends are busy.

Today started with an 8 AM wake up lick on the face from Ace. One would think this means he needs to be let outside, but they’d be mistaken. The little whine and face lick translates to – “let me in!” Ace crawls under the comforter and likes to curl up right next to my stomach. It doesn’t last long, but I enjoy these few minutes in the mornings.

Tony had a travel day so he had a bag packed, made eggs, and was lounging on the couch by nine. Ace and I take our time climbing out of the covers; we made our way slowly downstairs around 9:30.

Like stated previously, today there was nothing on the calendar – it was beautiful! Tony took off for work, laundry was thrown in, and to-do lists were made.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetOne of the things I’m known for around our household is watching mindless chick flicks. It’s absolutely true and I’m proud of it! I love putting in a feel good movie and getting things done. Today started with vacuuming & the romantic comedy – The Other Woman. Leslie Mann literally makes me lough out loud. I think she’s hilarious & she  ALWAYS gets me in a good mood.

I look forward to these days Ace and I have. We have a good vibe for one another – he seems to know that I’m trying to get our house clean and is usually a very good boy while I’m cleaning. There are very few times I have to worry about what he may be doing while I’m dusting around the picture frames in our family room.

Next on my to-do list was a little baking. I was on my third load of laundry and before I took to vacuuming the kitchen floor, I wanted to whip up some banana bread. I am a sucker for banana bread – I keep EVERY banana that begins to turn brown.. just so I can mash them into some yummy goodness.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetI used to try to make my grandma’s banana bread recipe, but it’s way too hard for me. I can’t bare to look at the recipe card I have in her handwriting. The last time I tried, I ended up sobbing in a corner on my kitchen floor & the bananas ended up in the garbage. The recipe card is now framed on the buffet in my kitchen. It was the last amazing memory I had with my grandma before she died. My sister, Alissa and I, went to their house last April, (before she passed in May), to visit & make her something yummy to eat – we picked banana bread.

She sat in the living room telling us when to mix certain ingredients for the ‘best banana bread.’ We chatted while it cooked in the oven and we all ate a couple slices when it was finished. She was my grandma  – didn’t seem sick, she was making feisty comments at my grandpa, and was smiling at the stories we told her.

My heart hurts when I think of her. So I can’t.

Long story short – I made two loaves of chocolate chip banana bread & my kitchen smelled delicious for most of the afternoon.

Next, while The Five Year Engagement was playing on the TV, and Ace snoozed by the fire, I finished up vacuuming and cleaning the kitchen floors.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetToday, I pumped out five loads of laundry, ran some laps with Ace in the backyard, made some yummy breakfast breads, and definitely relaxed.

Sundays are my favorite. The only thing that would have made today better would have been for Tony to be home and to have watched a Vikings victory, (it’s bye week, so there was no heartache of a loss today).

Happy Sunday (night) :) Here’s to hoping there’s not 8 inches of snow tomorrow morning, like predicted!

xo

staying thankful

This month I have made it a goal to stay thankful.

A couple times over the past few weeks I had to stop and think, “what am I doing?” A couple times I got caught up being negative at work, a couple times I got catty right along with my girlfriends, a couple times I made an excuse to not give someone a call back, a couple times I lost patience with a student, a couple times…

A couple times is all it takes. A couple times will cause you to get stuck – stuck in excuses, negativity, and just plain old yuckiness.

My goal for the month of November is to stay thankful. Thankful for a beautiful house, (I will NOT complain about anything I don’t like about my home!), thankful for my husband, (DO NOT NAG), thankful for my puppy, (he is not naughty and he does not have too much energy), & thankful for my students, (they are not lazy!).

I am thankful for my family, (call each one more frequently), thankful for my girlfriends, (I will not complain about any of the above mentioned items at girls dinner :) ), thankful for my job, (i do not have too much grading), & I am thankful for chemo, (it kills cancer, ’nuff said).

I am thankful for this beautiful, chaotic life.

This month I made a goal…to stay thankful.

hello, november

I can’t believe it’s already November.

Where has fall gone? Pretty soon I’ll be eating Turkey and Christmas shopping and my favorite season will be over. Time goes by too fast.

The past couple weekends Tony and I have had a lot going on – a wedding in California & a HALLOwedding at a theatre! Both events were so special for very different reasons.

Last weekend we were in San Diego for a wedding for Tony’s cousin. It was awesome because we don’t get many opportunities to see Tony’s family who live in California. We were able to enjoy the sunshine; it was around 85 degrees and not a cloud in the sky, we explored the Gas Lamp District in down town San Diego, and lunched on fish tacos looking over a vineyard for the wedding reception. It was amazing.

CaliforniaWeddingLast night we attended a Halloween themed wedding – a HALLOwedding to be correct :) Tony was the best man, so the entire night meant a lot to him. The ceremony was filled with memorable facts and stories about the bride and groom, during cocktail hour guests got CRAZY with their costumes – (there was a very creepy Lord Voldemort & two members of KISS) – and the reception had fist pumping music, sprinkled with some hits from the 90s; it was so much fun!

halloweenpiconeLife is busy, but I’m okay with that.  I’m enjoying the moments with family and friends & getting anxious for my next six month scan – Nov 17/18 – BIG DAYS AHEAD!

xo