Chemo Butterflies: Finding Your Well-Being

 As I closed my eyes last night, I had the butterflies. You know, the rush of what’s to come with the new day ahead. Like going to Disneyland or the thrill of waking up on Christmas morning, anticipation met with flutters. Naturally I knew that the following day I would have to wake up and begin chemo yet again, but I was greeted with those same feelings. A bizarre excitement but nonetheless, I am that girl that shows up and never gives up. The girl that believes anything is possible and willing to work damn hard for it.

There I was the following morning at 7:45a. The sun splashed into every dark thought I had on the way to the clinic. I was in an accepting mind frame that made me realize that I must be grateful for the means at my disposal, to work out my destiny. It was also so clearly apparent on the drive to Mayo Clinic, that I have been given a mind and will power for this very purpose. Chemo is not my enemy; chemo is in fact my saving grace, my hero, my best friend.

Certain experiences have an affect on you, as does all experiences in life.   When the experiences are forged by the wisdom of pain, it can be a total awakening, opening your eyes, and naturally restructuring you. When you have that, I truly believe that the universe aligns you with what you need in that moment, raising your vibration to see things clearly and allowing you to see what is beneficial to your well-being. For me, that is chemotherapy.

It might not be a dream job, but it’s what is going to hold those vile tumors at bay and for that, sign me up. Of course, ego kicks in and some of the side affects are not so glamorous, one being an “acne like rash.” Seemingly they have creams and things to manage it, however it makes me giggle. The one nice thing that I have had since having cancer is my appearance. Not in vain way, but in the sense that I can slap on a cute outfit, some lippie and look healthy and alive, even with my buzz cut. However, this just sounds painful and I have to avoid the sun like a bat. Yet, somehow at the end of the day, none of that rubbish matters. I’d rather have a face full of acne or rashes and be around, than the alternative.

Immediately when the chemotherapy hit my veins it was an instant peace of mind. The venom that is going to get those bastard tumors and cells was now running free inside of me. Hell was about to be raised and to my surprise my Oncologist also added an immunotherapy drug which fights for your white blood cells/immunity to stay tip top, while also targeting the specific areas wherein the tumors reside. On the other hand, the chemotherapy will be attacking all of the cells and with the two combined; the battle in my guts will be under brutal attack. It was a long day, but I tolerated it like a champ, other than a bit of fatigue.

Healing is not linear; I will of course have my bad days as I go through this yet again. I was born to do hard things and I will never forget how far I have come, all of the things I have gotten through, all the times I’ve pushed on even when it seemed impossible. All the times that getting out of bed seemed like lassoing the moon and when I wanted to give up, but got through yet another day and another. And at the end of my day today, it truly was my version of Disneyland or Christmas morning, for it’s giving me the best gift, which is my life.

PS- I felt all of the love and vibes today — thank you to all! xx

Britt xx

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Hello, From the Other Side:

 

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The best thing about life is that everyday is a new opportunity.  As cliché as that may sound, it rings true.  Many of you know that on December 12, 2016, I underwent a rare procedure called HIPEC in an effort to provide myself with a greater opportunity to live.

There were many risks involved in having this operation, but without risk comes little reward.  I had to take that leap of faith in order to provide myself with more time and quality at that.  No doubt I had my reservations and up until the night before I was having serious second thoughts.

I’m signing up to be cut in half.”

 “Can I even endure this again, will my body be able to handle another major operation for the third time in three years?” I asked myself. My mind would not and could not stop operating on all cylinders.

Saturday, December 10 I had just been out with my Mum for a lovely day of brunch and pedicures.  It was special, quality, time before I was going to go into the hospital in just two short days.  After our pleasant day she dropped me off and Steve was at his parents house.  I lay on my bed as I was pretty worn out from the whole day and was going to try to catch a nap, when suddenly something came over me and I began thinking about the last few weeks prior and how I’d spent time with the people I love most; quality one on one time.  Were those my goodbyes?  I immediately began to shiver, my lips turned blue, my breathing became increasingly difficult and my body tense.  I thought I was dying right then and there.

As quickly as I could I called my Nan and word travelled fast.  She along with my Mum and Auntie Bev were on their way, as well as one of my very best friends, Allison.  Steve, too immediately left his parents.  No one truly knew what the situation was but knew in any case I needed immediate attention as my normally ever so strong brick walls had come crashing in on me.

Once they had arrived, I was clearly still very much alive but also in a state of panic and still freezing and stiff. They comforted me and Allison even called her brother with whom is an ER Doctor to get some medical advice on what they should do since I was refusing to go to the hospital.  If it actually was my time, I wanted it to be in my own home, not the cold hospital.  Her kind brother suggested that I meet everyone halfway and allow the paramedics to come and assess the situation and I obliged, particularly because those were Steve’s wishes as well.

Long story short, there were about five paramedics that came and determined I was having a forceful anxiety attack and low and behold my walls did cave in on me.  After awhile I calmed down and I was so grateful to have them by my side.  And I was happy that it happened when it did and not the morning of the surgery. For some reason I believe that, that freak out needed to happen in order for me to actually go through with the surgery, for me to know that everything was going to turn out okay in the end.

It was now time to be the queen I know I can be.  It was Monday and it was show time.  I rolled into that operating room feeling free of anxiety or fear, but instead excited for what was on the other side, post operation, despite the brutal recovery.

The Doctors practiced their magic and before I knew it, I woke up in the intermediate care unit.  I felt fabulous as the drugs from the operation were still in my system, even making a video of the news that had been shared with me that I was “CANCER FREE!” It felt so good to say those words, even if I was in la-la-land.

However, as the course of my stay at the hospital got longer and longer, the Doctors became less and less liberal with that word.  In turn leaving me to wonder what any of it really meant, even having it reiterated today at my follow-up visit with my surgeon now that I’m completely clear headed.  Where do I go from here and am I free of cancer?

The truth is, I’ve won the battle but not the war.  By having this surgery they have removed any and all signs of tumor that currently exists in my body, by cutting me open to remove them, scraping my insides and attacking with chemotherapy.  Therefore at this time I’m free of cancer.  However, I still remain a Stage IV cancer patient as I have had recurrences in the past, ones which have recurred rather quickly I might add, so I am considered a VERY HIGH RISK patient.  My cancer could come back tomorrow, next month or two years from now.  The moral of the story is I will be under surveillance non-stop by my Oncologist and looked after by the pros.  Naturally we all are hoping for the best-case scenario, but he kept it real with me, which I appreciate.

In the meantime, I’ve been home for the last week and a half recovering and it’s going well.  Slowly but surely I’m getting back to my old self.  I cannot express the gratitude I have for all of the love I’ve received leading up to the surgery, during and after.  It truly warms the cockles of my heart.  Now we are just trying to get through the holidays and get back into our routine.  When things get too routine, I just need to keep myself humble and remember that everyday is a new opportunity.

Happy New Year, my loves.

Love,

Britt x

Video: Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy

For better explanation of what the Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC) is all about, I have included a video.  Personally, once I saw the video I had a much better understanding as to what this crazy, invasive procedure is all about.  The days are getting closer and closer and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous for what’s to come and the thought of being cut open again. But, as I said before I am hoping for the best!  Hopefully this video helps for better understanding.

 

Love,

Britt x

Alternative Perspective: Cancer Update

c3e53bd414afd33598432884f003101aAt times I feel I have such a casual approach to cancer and other times I’m in complete hysteria, where it plagues my every thought. Tonight is one of those nights.

When I had my hysterectomy in December I was supposed to be completely gutted, at least from a gynecological perspective.  Yet, due to the surgeon that performed my hysterectomy (not the GI surgeon, whom I loved) unbeknownst to me, until recently, he made the decision not to remove my cervix.  With my history of colorectal cancer, it tends to be attracted as far as metastasis to the gynecological areas; therefore the cervix should have been included when I had the hysterectomy.  In my humble opinion, I believe that it was left in an effort to have another operation down the line, thus requiring another insurance claim, leading to more money for the Doctor.  Simply disgusting, if you ask me.  It’s not fact, but simply an opinion.

With this, I consulted with my current Oncologist at Mayo who respectfully agreed towards the subject matter.  From there I was referred to a Gynecology Oncologist to determine if a surgery would even be applicable being that I am currently undergoing my third round of chemotherapy treatment.  An operation could mean a number of things, causing high risk and putting me in danger of not being able to administer treatment as needed. Expressing my concerns to the Doctor for the fact that my cancer seems to be attracted to those areas of my body, as well as having my worst nightmare in December and never wanting to be in that situation again.

The thing is, prior to December, I knew something was wrong.  I pushed and pushed and kept telling my previous Doctor that something was wrong and that I should have been on treatment only to be told I was practically insane.  No one knows your body better than you and that is a lesson I have come to learn all too well.  Always trust your gut.  But with that, this time around I wasn’t about to be dismissed.  I wanted to be heard and I actually felt that they were listening.

When I met with the Gynecology Oncologist, he confirmed that indeed my cervix was left and to his surprise, given his expertise.  Yet, he confirmed that any kind of surgery would not be wise given that going off of chemotherapy at this point in the game would be “life ending”. I have three tumors at this point that the chemo is trying to zap.

No matter how many times I hear that death could be that close never gets easy.  In fact, it gets more and more difficult.  How many times does a thirty year old have to hear she could be so close to death?

At first it didn’t quite sink in. But either way, I’m stuck.  I’m stuck with a cervix that I’m terrified my cancer will spread to and I’m stuck on chemo because the alternative is most definitely life ending.

What’s strange about it all though is that I’ve never been happier.  Things have never been clearer.  I know who I am, I know who has my back, I know what I want, I know what I have to do to get through each day and most importantly I know how to love and be loved.  Life is not so bad after all.  I’ll live with my cervix, I’ll live with having chemo because the point is that with both of those things, at least I’ll be ALIVE and living. I’ll take both of those things over the alternative any day. Sometimes you just have to put things into perspective and it just takes a little while for things to shape and shift and mold itself into a beautiful sculpture, something that you can handle looking at day after day. Cancer is something I can handle looking at and the journey is becoming less and less ugly and rather more beautiful than ever. It’s all in how you look at it.

Happy Monday. Enjoy your week, friends.

PS- My next scan will be May 4th.  I will update as soon as I have results!

-Britt xx

 

Like Watson Loves Sherlock…

Hands

Growing up with a realist viewpoint on relationships, I was never into mushy-gushy romances. I grew up with strong women around me, preaching that you don’t need a man to feel loved, beautiful or smart. It so happens that I felt all of those things on my own. By nature, I am Scorpio – needless to say, I am very passionate about most things and extremely independent. As a child, I could not have imagined the feeling I’d have of love from my future partner and as it would turn out he exceeded my expectations.

It seems like a lifetime ago that I met my now husband. Within the spectrum of six years, we’ve had our blissful moments of being young and in love, as well down on our luck, scraping for rent money and arguing over what now seems so silly. There was a certain innocence to our early days, both with hearts that were wild and free. My new boyfriend, fresh out of the military and myself, a go-getter and a good time, we shared an instant connection and within a matter of days after meeting, we were an instantaneous team. We were like minded in may ways, both independent and cultured, we shared our travel stories that came before one another and bonded over a variety of things that stimulated us in this world. We knew we wanted to make our way to a life worth living and together at that.

Undoubtedly as time passed and our “honeymoon” stage came to an end, we learned more about what made us tick, living habits and moved in together and shared a small place that we called home. Over the course of what I call, “Part I”, we encountered many twists and turns and the growing pains of where our relationship was headed.

Two short years after being in a relationship, we felt it was time we took our bond to the next level; marriage. Our engagement was stressful, we fought like cats and dogs and it was fair to say that people were questioning our union. Although hectic and demanding, we made it through our engagement and had a shit show of a wedding (yes, it was a shit show). However, none of that mattered because all that stood out on that day and every day thereafter, was the fact that my hand was in his hand and our souls were jointly on fire. If only we knew then what we know now. Our lives took a sharp turn when a year into our marriage, I was diagnosed with Stage IV Colon Cancer at age 27.

I read an article the other day that inspired me to write this, as Steve and I are on a journey that we never expected, much like many other forks in the road, but this time it was life and death. Steve at the age of 28 had to take on a responsibility that didn’t seem possible in the marriage clause. Yet, from day one he managed to take the bull by the horns and build me into the warrior he always knew I was. Making it his personal mission to assist me in getting well, there were many sacrifices that had to be made. We had it all, lost it all and slowly he’s working tirelessly to ensure that we have whatever we desire, but most of all, health.

What I’ve realized is that Steve doesn’t shower me with compliments on a daily basis and sometimes his sarcasm goes too far. There are days when I’m too tired or lazy to get out of bed and he holds me accountable. At times he makes me get out of the house despite how poorly I feel, just so I can get some fresh air and a little sunshine. And other times, he is so into watching Discovery Channel that he doesn’t glance up when I walk out of a room. We shift and we shape and marriage isn’t always made up of kisses, flowers and dreamy gazes into each other’s eyes. Instead, it’s about being real with one another, loyalty and having the best interest of yourself and your partner, as a unit.

Life since being with Steve has been far from perfect. We love hard, we fight hard and by no means is our life sensationalized. We’ve had down right shit times and then the simplest of moments can bring us pure ecstasy. We are each other’s echo through everything in life and when you strip away all of the “things”, love still holds no bounds.

Out of our six-year relationship, the past two years have been my favorite. Of course it may sound sullen, as I have been battling cancer for the last two years, yet we have formed an even closer, fiercer, unbreakable declaration to walk through this life together. We have had the best and worst of each other and at the end of the day, I chose it all. I believe in my husband and he has without a doubt shown his very own belief in me, his warrior. The rest of our lives may be trying and forgiving, but we’ll always be in it together.

Thank you, Steve for being the biggest pain in my ass and my best friend, forever. I love you like Watson loves Sherlock.

Love, Britt x