Thank you ♡

IMG_3971

I am so appreciative and thankful for the support I have received from family, friends and strangers as I battle this epic disease that is cancer. Not but a month ago I started this blog as a platform of therapy and to share my story. Thank you for being a part of my journey and caring enough to read my scattered thoughts through this process.

Love,

Britt x

☯ Expectations vs. Reality ☯

As promised to myself, I am channeling the good, the bad and the ugly through means of therapy in writing this blog. The “ugly” materialized upon me earlier this week and it succeeded in its endeavor by assembling my feelings to a condensed state. I struggled with publishing this post, as it was a deeply personal and dark emotional frame of mind. But, unfortunately, much like anything in life, cancer is not all sunshine and rainbows. In an effort to support myself, with the possibility of other’s through my experience with cancer, I have opted to share some of my murkiest moments as I continue on this path and the affect this past week had on me.

Sleep, in it’s unvarying form, has been lackluster, but more particularly so, as I knew that my Oncologist would convey the awaited PET scan results when I would see her on Monday afternoon. Noticeably, I have come to have an aversion to any and all activities concerning appointments, as the time consumed in a Doctor’s office is suiting to become more common than time spent at home. Perhaps that’s an exaggeration, but incontestably it feels as though they are the local haunts these days and not by my election. I digress; although not keen, I attended the appointment with an assurance, a positive induced expectation as to what the results would indicate. In my pipedream it went a little something like this, “Britt, after Radiology reviewed the PET, you are clear of any remaining cancer cells….”

Quite the contrary to my expectation, the reality promptly infected the idea that my hopes could not have been reasoned to be correct. Resolutely, the epic tale of expectations versus reality was my front and center. Per the norm, the moment I heard, “we found a….”, I transcended into the first law of nature, self-preservation. As it turns out, through all of the clicks and whistles I heard thereafter, the synopsis was that another diseased formation was living in my body, rent-free. This particular invader is making up a new colony of cancer cells, outside of the originating habitat on my colon and ovary. The Oncologist said that the precise dwelling is ambiguous, but it appears to be in the stomach region.

As my Doctor is becoming more personal with me, she grasped to touch my knee in a form of comfort as she was relaying the disappointing information. It was as though I was reliving the lurid pangs of the initial diagnosis and the news was pummeling me in the gut, yet again. This time, I didn’t go straight into business mode, as per my initial reaction when being diagnosed as I lay in the hospital bed, just hours out of my invasive, unpredictable surgery. Now I departed into the dimmest part of my brain and felt vacant. The Oncologist proceeded to share her thoughts on the newfound formation and the lack of measures that could be done, outside of chemo. However, as I was drenched in the residue of the new proceedings, all I could hear was the inaudible voice of Mrs. Donovan, the teacher in Charlie Brown (wah, wah, wah, wahh, wahhh).

In all fairness to the Doctor, my zoning out was to no fault of her own. She cordially and candidly provided me with the thorough details of what the PET scan had to offer and simply advised that being that my diagnosis is already Stage IV, there is nothing outside of the already planned chemo treatments to fix it. Of course, there was always a chance that there were remaining cancer cells, post surgery, but to hear of new cancer cells was the glorious fact that sent the alarm bells ringing. Customarily, Steve and my Nan were there, the glue holding me together and of course questioning the Doctor and the next steps, where I could not in my trance like state. The only question, or demand rather, was that I be prescribed anti-depression medication. I was there, I had irreversibly exhausted my positivity at that moment and my mind was seeking numbness out of the teeny white pill. In concluding with the Oncologist, she said that she would continue to monitor me and check in after my first chemo treatment to see how well I did, or lack thereof.

Seizing every fiber of my being to hold it together during the walk out of the Doctor’s office and into the parking lot, I finally fell apart as we reached the blackening hot asphalt. Steve and my Nan both held me, with reassurance that it would all be okay after chemo. The truth is, I know it will all be okay. Very few times have I truly questioned the alternative, but this time I was pushed into anger. For weeks now I have been a poster child for the brave and the positive. Reassuring other people that yes, I will be just fine and more importantly reassuring myself that the PET scan results would come back perfect. Then I started to question my positive mentality. Is there such thing as being too positive and optimistic? After all, everyone says attitude is everything and positivity is half the battle. But what’s the catch? In that moment I felt trapped in my own hopefulness and it became clear that there was a huge difference between expectation and reality.

Expecting one thing and receiving a different outcome, in any situation can be gravely disappointing. Walking into a Doctor’s office, awaiting the nature of your future health and expecting to walk out scotch free is a colossal mistake in the realm of expectations. My two lovely supporters expressed that they were happy with the results. Not of course that another cancer cell was found, but that it was just one, instead of the many that it could have possibly been. They viewed it as a fortunate outcome, while I viewed it as a partial death sentence.

The moral of the story is that this is all a learning experience. You can’t help how you feel, whether it is good, bad or ugly. I walked into the Doctor’s office with an upbeat approach that I would be clear of any additional cancer cells, to what I already had. My expectation was that I would be unblemished of any disease but the reality turned out to be misrepresented. Could my results have been worse? Absolutely! But, the reality is, I am going to be undergoing chemo treatments next week and my expectation and reality will be that I will make it through triumphantly and one day merge my expectations with reality by dubbing myself a cancer survivor.

Love,

Britt x

Right on Target… ➳◎

As I conclude today, I feel a sense of accomplishment.  I have successfully completed the IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) shots required in order to preserve and harvest our embryos for our future family.  Thus far, having cancer has been an immeasurable waiting game and I have felt as though we have been stuck in limbo for two months.  Although we have been going to incredible amounts of Doctor’s appointments each day, we have not successfully crossed a milestone within the process as a whole.  Saturday will mark the day in which I will undergo the operation for retrieval of the eggs, in which case Steve will also be required to supply his half (if you know what I mean…).  Needless to say, it’s been a jagged two weeks experiencing IVF, but I am anxious and excited for Saturday to get here so we can officially cross something off of the long list of cancer “to-do’s”.  Everything is right on target…

Love, Britt x

[IVF]- Is.Very.Fun? ⚤

IVF Shots IMG_3993

It’s a difficult pill to swallow, that your ability to procreate on a natural, organic level is in peril and even at times unachievable.  Once I knew that I’d have to go through IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) for the means of fertility preservation, many audacious women reached out to me with their stories.  To say that I was converged by their stories would be a muted statement.  Prior to this experience, I comprehended the minimal amount of information about infertility and truly how many women, men and couples alike were affected by it.

Today, as I sat in the passenger seat of Steve’s bumpy Jeep Wrangler, I conveyed how I never imagined having to go through such lengths to have children.  In fact, I always knew I wanted a child (singular), but there was never an emphasis of urgency behind it, as I assumed it would be as easy as one, two, three.  This being my third day undergoing IVF, I am becoming more equipped mentally to the idea behind it, as well as more stable at giving myself a daily shot.  Currently, my shots are limited to one daily, in the stomach.  Lucky for me, I have a bit of cushion in the tummy area so it feels less than painless.  Contrariwise, the residual affects of the shot bring forth heightened emotions and moodiness, nausea, headaches and tenderness all around.  Within the next week, the shots will double, as I will have to have three total shots per day; two in the stomach and one in the back.  Once again, I am going to use the cushion for the pushin’.

Presently, my fertility Doctor appointments are averaging every other day.  The Doctors have to take blood and ultra sounds bi-daily to ensure that all is going as planned and everything is on track with our schedule. The Fertility Dr. and my Oncologist have been in communication and my Oncologist has stressed the importance of time behind my chemotherapy treatments starting, although I am undergoing IVF beforehand due to the affects chemo may have on my fertility subsequently. Being that I have not yet received the results of my PET scan, I found this meridian information to be a tad unsettling.  Nevertheless, I am accepting that “no news is good news”, until my follow-up Oncology appointment next Monday.  Low and behold, I am forming a relationship with the staff at the fertility Doctor’s office and feel contented by their professionalism and amiable guidance.

This process certainly has more pros than con’s.  We’ll continue to manage the shots on a daily basis for the next two weeks.  IVF is certainly not an inexpensive treat; however due to the fact that I have cancer I have not paid a single penny towards this practice.  Appreciatively, my insurance is covering the retrieval (extraction of the eggs), while Walgreens h.e.a.r.t. BEAT program has fully assisted in covering the cost of all the required drugs.  Considerably, this has been the most important item on our agenda, aside from my getting better.  Steve and I want to be able to have the peace of mind that our future family is not at risk and by having expenses covered, this has provided us the opportunity to take charge and safeguard preserving our future.

Retrieval will take place on August 26th, where I will be placed under anesthesia for approximately two hours, while the Doctor vaginally extracts the available eggs.  Once that has been completed, my husband will be responsible for supplying sperm, in which they will then create embryos.  The importance behind the preservation of embryo’s, as opposed to just my eggs, is that we are going an additional step by having the embryo’s examined for Lynch Syndrome, or the mutant gene that I may carry, which is genetic. Lynch Syndrome is a gene in which is an inherited condition that causes an increased risk of cancer.  Due to the fact that my Nan had colon cancer, as well as other members of my extended family, it is assumed by the Oncologist that I carry such syndrome.  To be certain, I will be going through genetics testing in early September for an official determination.  Regardless, it is important for Steve and I to take advantage of the science we have at our fingertips and ensure that the professionals can detect the specific embryo’s that may also carry the gene.  It is vital that we do all that we can to bring a child into this world and take preventative measures for their future.

Perceptive now to how mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting fertility can be, my heart goes out to all of the fervent, avid and valiant women who have gone through this process.  At times it is not always successful, but each person who goes through IVF can appreciate the degree of desire behind doing all that you can to reproduce.   Although I will not be able to get pregnant until at least two years after completing chemotherapy, it is a safe haven knowing that we have babies waiting for us, babies that will be free of Lynch Syndrome and ready to conquer the world.  Bring on the three shots per day and all of the outstanding side affects, for it will all be worth it when I can be called Mom and Steve, Dad.

 ***For more information on IVF, please visit:  http://americanpregnancy.org/infertility/ivf.html

 ***For more information on Walgreens h.e.a.r.t. BEAT program, please visit: https://www.ferringfertility.com/heartbeatprogram/heartbeatprogram.pdf

 Love,

Britt x

-Plan in Motion-

On a typical Thursday I would generally have 3 or 4 meetings to fill my busy day. A day that seemed packed full of things to do, with not nearly enough hours to safeguard completion.  Now I find myself waking every morning with a few precious milliseconds before reality sets in, before I remember that I have cancer, then it all comes crashing like a titan wave.

This Thursday happened to be far from typical, as I had my first Oncology appointment since my initial introduction with my treating Doctor in the hospital.  Attempting to fall asleep the night prior was futile.  I felt as though I was 8 years old again on Christmas Eve, awaiting Santa Claus to arrive with presents.  But instead of opening cabbage patch dolls and a Barbie dream house, I was waiting to unwrap my unavoidable future relationship with chemotherapy. Thursday was the fateful day where the plans would start in motion with regards to my pet-scan, chemo port operation and then eventually my chemo treatments.  It all became a little more real, as prior to this not so typical Thursday, chemo was just a distant thought, an unfriendly, yet obligatory “thing” that I had to do in the future.

Upon meeting with my Oncologist, she immediately went into business mode, after kindly telling me how well I was looking since the last time she had seen me.  The first question of the hour was regarding the stimulation/IVF and if I was on the medication to begin that process.  Confused by the disconnects between she and my Fertility Doctor, I advised her that we had been waiting on this particular appointment before we were able to move forward with anything IVF related.   This was the determining appointment where the time line of proceedings to take place would finally come cooperatively together.

Apprehensively, the Doctor informed me that in good conscious she would not “allow” me to get pregnant for at least two years to follow my chemotherapy.   Not shocked by the news, I knew that pregnancy would be something that would not take place in the immediate future for Steve and I.  However, I was not prepared for what the Doctor said next.  “Surrogacy”, she murmured.  Immediately the tears welled up in my eyes, until I was no longer able to gracefully contain them.  What happened to being a perfectly young, capable and usually healthy woman, per the Fertility Doctor?  Why was the tune now changing, did they know something I did not?  My breathing became more demanding and my thoughts out of focus.

The Doctor quickly moved on, as her participation in my treatment is not so much the IVF and baby talk, but the chemotherapy and cancer chatter.  Elucidating that colon cancer has 5 stages, 0-4, mine reached the supreme level of threat within the disease and the vilest prognosis.  Due to the fact that I had not exhibited symptoms to detect the cancer before it had metastasized, chemotherapy treatments are a must and chemo is expected to be administered once every two weeks, for approximately six months.

Centered on my pet-scan results, this may all be adjusted and changed based on the evidence of any cancer cells that the scan may detect.  Per the Oncologist, it takes thousands of cancer cells to showcase one infinitesimal spot on the scan itself.  That said, additional measures are taken in addition to the scan through means of conjoint tests to ensure that the cancerous cells are uncovered.  Fortunately, the Doctor was able to answer a bustle of our pressing questions, which somehow did not seem to ease my mind, even still.

Enlightened that although I may go through chemotherapy for approximately 6 months, it is highly possible that through scans thereafter, I may be cleared with the possibility that cancer cells could turn up again.  While the Doctor did not have any concrete test results whilst our discussion on this not so average Thursday, I found myself dejected and doleful.  Perhaps I was grasping to those few milliseconds in the morning before reality strikes and the notion of my cancerous state kicks in.  I’m not sure what I was expecting to hear out of the appointment, maybe a miracle.  Imaginably, to walk into the Doctor’s office and be told that there has been a terrible mistake and this is not the outcome.

So, in the meantime, I will move forward with gearing up for my pet-scan and then inevitably the results to come, followed by the chemo port implantation and then chemo itself.  For a Thursday that I so eagerly awaited, I precipitously wanted to revert back to an unaware state of mind during those milliseconds of the morning where my cancerous comprehension was unabridged.

Timeline of events:

  • Monday, 07/29/2013:  Pet Scan
  • Week of 07/29/2013-08/10/2013:  IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) stimulation, 10-14 day process for medication, then extraction.
  • Week of 08/11/2013:  Chemo port procedure (outpatient)
  • Week of 08/19/2013:  Possible beginning to chemotherapy treatments

Until next time…

Slide1