Summer of Senior Year: Cancer and Chemo

Someone once quoted the infamous sanity quote, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.” The words melted to my soul like butter. July will mark my fourth year as a forever changed mind, body and soul.

Four years — does this mean I am a mature cancer patient? Someone on the brink of their senior year…in cancer? I’m not sure. It’s difficult at times for me to keep my blog updated simply because when you have nothing to say, add, update about, life as a cancer patient can be pretty boring. I mean, there is the possibility of keeping a consistently updated log of my Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Amazon and overall storage of my Apple TV. But, that would just further prove that I am a hermit that rarely leaves the house.

As of late, I am a little quieter. I like staying in, not in a depressive way, but in a sanctuary sort of way. I’ve become more introverted in my older days. But, needless to say, without continuing to ramble— it’s good to be back.

And the truth is, I’m sick. I’ve been doing the same things for the past four years. Four years of chemo, four years of life altering surgeries, four years of telling my story, sharing my life and trying to figure it all out, while entering my thirties. I don’t regret any of the things I have chosen to do in terms of treatment for the past four years, nor do I regret any of the surgeries I have opted to have as a risk to save my life. Longevity, qualities of life are all things I’ve strived for in the past few years, an A+ student in the school of cancer. A peer group I never expected to be a part of, and then I was and I couldn’t imagine my life otherwise. Certain surgeries were more difficult to have, one being the hysterectomy I had thirty days after my thirtieth birthday. I laugh at myself now, because that was only the beginning.

How can it get much worse than having finality to your reproductive capabilities at the start of my third decade? My rock bottom was yet to come and would make my hysterectomy trauma seem like it was two foot small.

December, as many of you who keep up with me know that I took a huge chance with a surgery called HIPEC. Sorry, I can’t remember what it stands for, nor could I be bothered to “Google IT”. So, that said HIPEC was done in December of 2016 and I have spent the last four to five months recovering. I’ve been dealing with an array of issues. You could pretty much say I was sliced down the center, again and scar tissue from other surgeries had settled in, making my recovery even more painful. There was a collection of other issues peppered in, as my lower abdominal muscles were in a constant state of spasm, working against each other, thus creating a war on the inside. This lead to a number of bladder issues, as in, I constantly feel like I have a UTI when I in fact do not. Basically, I’m your average shit-show.

However, as time would have it I began to heal. From the inside out and I was feeling pretty f*cking groovy. Lighter, leaner, more energized, free. It was a feeling that was so nostalgic but also so unfamiliar. FOUR YEARS! I forgot what it was like to feel slightly healthy and normal.   It nearly felt too good to be true. And it was. The sensation didn’t last long. The OCD cleaning and tidying habits that I had suddenly formed began to fade, as my loss of control was again getting the best of me.   Something was up, and surprise, I was due for my first post surgery pet scan. It had been nearly five months at this point. New evidence of disease was a high possibility, but I was feeling so good. So well. So me.

It wasn’t until the night before the results, when I bent over to pick up one of Zoila’s toys from the floor. I had a twinge of pain in my lower left abdominal area; think of where ovaries would be, if I still had them. It was all too familiar and a feeling that I had felt in the past when there had been tumors residing in that very spot. The very next day, I followed up with my Oncologist who confirmed that the PET Scan did indicate evidence of disease in my lower left abdominal area. Bingo! As per usual, my gut was telling me the truth, physically and intuitively. He said I would immediately need to begin chemo in an effort to diminish it. When he walked in the door his face said it all. He believed, like so many of us that this HIPEC surgery was going to potentially provide me with an opportunity to stay off of chemo for some time, even perhaps making my cancer disappear altogether. We were all hopeful, but unfortunately it was back and apparently unbeknownst to me at this point, it was back with a vengeance. Rock bottom was right around the corner.

The beginning of summer beckons for graduations, pool parties, friends and family gathering and obviously a new outfit for each of the occasions. I was feeling summer in my bones, but it wasn’t about to feel me.   The first party of the summer season and I spent 99% of it with my head over the porcelain throne. Thankfully the hosts and their guests were gracious and kind, but certainly not the way I wanted or had expected to be starting out the summer. The summertime just before I was hoping to graduate from cancer. Move on and up— get some freedom, go college bound with this thing.

Unexpectedly, but expectedly all at the very same time, everything was the same as it had been.   Nothing was going to change in the maturity I was feeling with my cancer path. I knew nothing that was ahead and needed to buckle up because as intuition would have it, my current stock was about to plummet.

After being unable to keep anything, including water down, it was decided that entering Mayo Hospital would be the best next step. At this point I knew there was cancer activity on my left side. Chemo was set to begin that Monday and it was now Sunday in the Emergency Department. Immediately, the Doctor’s admitted me into the hospital, yet it remained unclear as to what exactly what was wrong. They didn’t take long to figure it out. My colon had collapsed onto itself, not allowing for proper ventilation to go through. My body was getting to a point where it didn’t know what to do with food. It would reject everything because the colon was collapsed and nothing could pass. Bile was exiting in the opposite direction and it was becoming septic and toxic.

Once they cracked that part of the case, they followed up to tell me that my cancer has metastasized to the lower part of my liver, a first for that spot, and then also on my lower back lymph nodes.   This was a shock to hear. Hadn’t I only just found out that it was back in the first place and now these additional places? Pure devastation ensued. The Doctors then had to implant a gastro tube in my stomach, where I would be able to “ventilate” the broth I would be drinking until the end of time. Not to mention the TPN (Total Parenteral Nutrition) — pretty much intravenous feeding that provides patients with all the fluid and the essential nutrients they need when they are unable to feed themselves by mouth.

Boom! Rock bottom. There, I felt it.

Eating can be one of my favorite past times. How long was this dreadful nightmare going to continue? FOOOOOODDDDD.

It’s been two weeks since I have had a solid meal. I feel the most inhuman I have felt thus far in my cancer sitch. They are expecting it to be at least another few weeks, two months, maximum. It all comes down to how I respond to treatment, as chemo begins next week. It reeks of freshman year of cancer all over again.

Essentially, I had a good month where I was feeling like my old self. Now my reality is that chemo is going to be in my life yet again. But, needless to say, even with this shit-show that I call my life, I know I am going to be okay. Nothing’s going to change my world. I’m going to continue to get out of bed every morning, slap on a smile and enjoy the blazing summer sunshine. I may not be able to meet up at a restaurant hot spot with friends for a while, or wear my cutest bikini to the next summer bash, but I am going to be the BEAST that I am and knock cancer out this round as well.

Imma’ graduate this next year. So long, cancer. You’ll see.

Britt xx

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Back from the Atmosphere: 🌏 

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Real talk, I’ve been a tad on the emosh lately — for so many reasons.  The teeniest, tiniest things have the power to set me off in an array of passions and personalities that I didn’t know exist.  Lets face it, it’s been a long time since I’ve lived, instead of existing to survive.  Naturally overwhelmed by my affections, I’ve realized I’ve been covering up my scars with paint and I’m finally ready to wash away its taint. The very same taint that tortured me for the past three, almost four years.  Yet, in its wonder I have continuously been learning that my most painful trials can be rewarded with the most salient growth.

I have failed to balance my writing, or, rather share my writing because I felt stuck on a road with no end. No end to the endless days of pain, but keeping hope in my mind that life could once again be kind.  It seemed like a dream, a place far away from my reality, as I was encased in flesh and bones, yet desperate for life in my veins.

Month after month following my HIPEC surgery were spent under the covers. Forgetting all of the faces and all the different places I have been. It made no sense in my mind that I should feel lucky to be alive, while dealing with such agony.  In my dreams my tears were chilled to the bone, I couldn’t remember what it was to feel alive.

The brilliant medical team at Mayo would remind me that patience is a virtue and that my body has been sliced, diced and poisoned to the nth degree.  It seemed as though  I was walking alone, and no one was following. It wasn’t just pain from the recovery — my body was telling me something wasn’t right.  Just like every other instance, my body was insistent on a pain so severe that it made me call for the man in the sky.

Friends would ask, “How are you?”

Great, fine. Just not healing as fast as I’d hope,” I’d reply practically lying through my teeth because I didn’t have any answers.  The fib would then be followed by an exclaiming, happy heart face emoji.  This all in an effort to indicate that I wasn’t hiding inside a cage, but was instead a warrior. The way so many seem to view me.

Meanwhile I hated leaving the house, much less get out of my infamous monogrammed, “B.K.O.”, black robe. I only wanted to be home, where I belonged, where I could put sorrow on the record player and smoke until I found a heavenly place to fall from grace.

.It was now March and by this point I had a decent amount of post op appointments with “da team.”

“Doc, I literally feel World War III erupting in my insides.”

I wasn’t saying that loosely, or to be insensitive given the current political climate, but quite frankly I felt that after months of bitching and getting nowhere, it was an obligatory analogy.  Even if my example was a bit crass, it turns out that I got my point across and at last the Doc’s realized I wasn’t complaining because it was good for my health. Okay, bad pun.  Yet, they actually began to understand and realize the severity of my pangs. I was no longer drowning under their belief that my body was behaving “normally,“

I digress — off to the Urologist. Let me tell you, I’ve never met a man more in love with his job. Urine banter and all that it entails to “void,” is his pride and joy and I had a feeling that just maybe, just maybe, he’d magic up the culprit to my evils.

Sure enough, he did. I was having issues doing one of the most basic human bodily functions, i.e. wee, wee-wee, number one, pee, piss, U-R-I-N-A-T-E — g*ddamnit.

“I mean, WTF is wrong with me now?”, I would scream to myself.

Nevertheless and lucky for me, after months of complaining, it only took two appointments with, Dr.Piddle for him to solve the current mystery this body of mine riddled.

A Magician, perhaps — or just a man so passionate about liquid body waste that he becomes golden, baby. Of course it took several uncomfortable and down right miserable tests that forced me into a state of meditation that my mere existence relied upon.

Once the worse was over, the mystery was revealed. My abdomen/pelvic region had been so invaded over the course of the past few years that my muscles, including my bladder, is in a constant spasm state. Suddenly the hell I had been enduring made perfect sense — I was practically having constant f*cking contractions.

The real rabbit out of the hat was that there is no magic cure — except six months of physical therapy. Annoyed by the lack of instant gratification, I made the offering and obliged under his respective Doctor order.

Right after my first session of “PT”, as the cool kids call it, I decided that my body deserved physical therapy. It was time to let go of all the marks that have settled in my skin. Knead out the all of the suffering, trauma to my guts and the scar tissue both mentally and physically.

Since then I have returned to yoga, wake up during daylight, clean the house without paying for it later and come together with my mains for cocktails and a good old fashion gossip sesh’. Best of all, I have released the pause button on feeling secure enough in my health to make future life plans with my loving and endlessly supportive husband.

When you look at me, you wouldn’t know that I am lucky to be alive. You’d think I was the picture of perfect health. The long and short of it is that each day brings its own sets of challenges and I am privy to the fact that healing is a life long endeavor.  Even so, maybe this time it worked.

Updates to follow…

Love,
Britt x

New Year’s Resolutions: 17 for 2017

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Hiya!  I can’t believe December is nearly over. Where has this year gone? I am sure you’re asking yourself the same question. I think this year has been the fastest of my life thus far and it frightens me. They say the older you get the faster the years go and I’m starting to believe whoever “they” are. For as long as I can remember I’ve stuck to one resolution and one resolution only when it comes to New Year’s, however I’m feeling a little sparky this year and thought I’d mix up the bag. Some of these are unique to me and others are some I’ve seen floating around in the abyss. Either way, I hope you can enjoy and perhaps foster them into some of your rezzy’s for this 2017!

  1.  Set up a recurring donation:  If there is something that is close to your heart, perhaps you could have a few bucks deducted from each paycheck to go towards your favorite charity.  You won’t even know the money is missing and you’ll be doing something wonderful!
  2. Boost Positive Daily Thoughts:  This is a fun one!  Sign up for a daily, motivational text through Shine text and you can share the beaming energy with your friends and co-workers.
  3. Provide in Tangible Ways:  We don’t always have an extra $5 to give to every homeless person on the street, but perhaps we can keep a few extra water bottles in our car, a banana, or even a PB&J.  Get creative, help can come in many forms and can be a lot more than money!
  4. Downsize Social Media Time:  This is a big one for moi and for many others, I believe. Social media is just so damn entertaining and it’s fun being nosey and seeing what everyone is up to, but it can also be very time consuming.  Limiting yourself to X amount of time per day will make you feel less tied to your phone, but in case you need a little help…there’s an app (go figure) that lets you know if you’re spending too much time on your phone and kicks you OFF! Check it out for your smartphone.
  5. Get my To-Do-List ON:  I am notorious for procrastination and being scatterbrained.  I want to keep a better check on my schedule and my to-do’s in a proficient way, with the upmost potential to all of my devices and this online to-do-list seems to be the lifesaver that will help me stay afloat…and it’s free, yippee!
  6. Reality TV vs. Educational TV:  Another thing I am notorious for is reality television.  Anything on Bravo, I’m there and hooked, doesn’t matter the show or the plot, all that matters is that Andy Cohen is behind it. However, I’m not learning much other than maybe a few new hot words. So, instead of constantly filling my head with reality TV, I figure I’ll swap that out with something that is more educational, such as a documentary or something along those lines in which I can learn from.
  7. Say No More:  Here’s the deal, I want to say yes to everyone and please everyone, but saying yes isn’t good for anyone involved if you’re being stretched too thin and putting their needs above your own.  Honesty is the best policy and people will respect you so much more if you speak up.
  8. Take Time to Meditate: The practice of meditation can be physically, emotionally and mentally empowering.  Setting time aside for yourself as a body and soul is so important and has the power to improve your whole life if you practice daily.
  9. Drink Hot Water w/ Lemon:  When I was originally diagnosed a friend of mine told me to drink this every morning and I did for a while.  It is tremendously good for your digestive track, amongst other things.  It’s about that time to get back on that wagon.
  10. Learn Another Language:  In High School I took Spanish but I did not retain a thing.  I have quite a bit of time on my hands these days and a spartphone at my disposal with a free app like Duolingo.  Why not brush up on my español?
  11. Get Outside More:  Typically I am such a homebody, this upcoming year I want to start taking advantage of my awesome neighborhood and beautiful city.  Getting outside can clear your head and a bit of fresh air can do you a world of good.
  12. Build More Experiences:  Not to focus on the material aspects of life, but instead the experiences.  The short road trips to California, the weekends up at the cabin, concerts and festivals with friends, the possibilities are endless.  Experiences and memories over things and items will last a lifetime.
  13. Turn Negatives Into Positives:  We live in a world where the negatives seem to outweigh the positives these days.  Instead of looking at the glass half empty, look at the glass half full and your whole perspective on life will change.
  14. Say I Love You More Often:  Since I was diagnosed I have no shame in telling the people that I love that I love them all the time, even at times completely out of the blue.  I’m sure it gets annoying but if it pops into my head, I want them to know it.  Friends or family, it doesn’t matter — don’t carry shame for love, yell it from the rooftops if that’s how you feel.
  15. Show Others Your Appreciation:  I am fortunate enough to constantly have people doing such lovely things for me and I feel inadequate when it comes to showing my appreciation.  This year I want to be sure that I am showing my appreciation in full force.
  16. Don’t Take Anything Too Seriously: Have a laugh, loosen up, be the butt of your own joke.  You can’t take anything in life too seriously, there’s always someone out there that has it worse off than you and you must remind yourself of that.  We’re all pretty fortunate.
  17. Forgive:  Last but not least, forgive those who have hurt your or forgive yourself.  Life is too short and as we know the years are way too short to hold onto anything negative.  Come into the new year with a fresh start and a clean heart.

 

Happy New Year, my loves!

Love,

Britt

Fraudulently Inspiring:

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I wish I could tell you where I go when I go quiet. It’s often when I feel my walls crumbling down around me. Lately I have been struggling to find purpose in my life, but I know my weaknesses and I know my voice and writing happens to be just that. I know I shouldn’t abandon the one thing that gives me purposefulness and solace in my lowest of low. When I feel weak it builds the walls around me up , strengthening the world that I live in.

Pain has been something I’ve been dealing with lately, a lot of cracks in my everyday life that darkness seems to have been setting in much more than light. I’ve needed to find my way back to my latest disgrace. Feeling as though I am a fraud in the light of inspiration that so many find me to be. How can one be inspiring when I can’t even feel my feet below me? I feel lost and sleep the hours away under the spell of depression.

My Doctor gave me a month break from chemo as he sees how tired I have become from all of my treatments. After the month is over I will resume back on chemo as well as begin a clinic trial, which is not approved by the FDA. Of course all of this makes me nervous. It’s a constant reminder that my life is in the hands of medicine, in poison. However, I am going to take full advantage of this month and get plenty of rest, per Doctors orders.

I feel stifled by the air in my chest and the anxiety that I am currently enduring. My heart is flooded with emotion, not with haste but an understanding that I am what I am and my life is how it is. All I can hope is that one-day my scars will be healed and all of this pain will be far away. That I can learn to live with what I am, full-fill my dreams and that this fickle flesh will not go to waste.

The reality is that I have no time to spare, I have to put up a fight and rise to the occasion. Find my purpose in what I love most, which is writing. Get back in touch with my one true love. Find consolation in the people that believe in me, so I can still believe in myself. Coming out of the woods by choice and be sure that I can see a new start.

Thank you for bringing me out of the cold. Let’s hope the darkness in my head is tamed  and the sunshine beams through instead.

Love,

Britt x

For the first time a blind shield was lifted today as I walk across the tight rope that I walk so finely each and every day. Things lately have been ever so windy and I have been dangling from that tight rope, hanging on for life, wishing I could start again or finish quickly. I’ve been absent, hushed from my writings and mum from the world. Many things have been taking place in our lives as of late, we’ve been taking the hits as they’ve been coming, but we have each other.

Through the many storms that I have weathered, I’ve recently allowed them to harden my exterior and becoming a prisoner, trapped, experiencing monsoons eroding from within. This weekend I was finally able to slow it down, realizing that friends and family exist and no matter the troubles that are taking place, there is goodness within the chaos as it churns and its not us against the world.

Britt

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