Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What You Should Know Before You Decide to Get Cancer

I'm sure a lot of you think that having cancer is really fun and rosy because that is the picture I often paint. Okay, so you probably don't really think that, but in case you were considering getting cancer so that you could have more friends and get free things, I thought I should warn you of the things that might not be so great.

I'm going to list the bad things first, but you have to read the good things that come after. There is always a good and bad to every situation.


  • Menopause: its not cool. Unless you are 50 and you are supposed to have it
  • Hot flashes/night sweats: sometimes its so bad I can't sleep.
  • Acne: awesome side effect of the steroid pre-drug I have to get
  • Rash: also an awesome side effect of the steroid. Right now I only have it on my hands, but you can get it on your palms and the bottom of your feet
  • Losing your hair: I mean it was fun for like 2 weeks but I'm kind of tired of being a fuzz monkey. 
  • Losing your eyebrows/nose hair: patchy eyebrows look dumb. Having no nose hair? Your nose constantly is runny. And stuffy. Beats me how it can be both but it is.
  • Bloody noses: the Avastin makes my blood not clot and no nose hairs makes my nose dry so I get at least one bloody nose a day that lasts for 20 minutes or longer
  • Health insurance: like I will ever be able to get any in the future once I am 26 and kicked off my parents
  • Running: I know lots of you still think I am fast, and compared to the general public I guess I sort of am. But to go from a collegiate athlete to barely making it three miles at what I consider a snail's pace....it is really really hard
  • Not having a reproductive system: no kids. no female hormones. No hormone replacement options because my cancer is sensitive to estrogen and progesterone
  • Surgery: one surgery I thought was kind of cool, I mean everyone needs the experience right? And I thought I was going to get awesome yummy food all day and lay in bed and it was going to be fun! It turns out surgery isn't all that fun and I was too sick to eat any yummy food and the big comfy bed isn't all that comfy after nine days.
  • Getting sick: On Saturday the 8th I got a slight headache. Not so big a deal right? Everyone gets a headache once in a while. Wow, no. The slightest sickness of any kind is magnified like 6000x when your body is already weak from chemo. My slight headache turned into extreme hot flashes, cold sweats, runny nose, congested sinuses, a panic attack and a head that I thought was going to explode. Glad it only lasted the night.
  • Butt stomach: even though I am small, having the scar on my stomach still creates an indent that makes me look like I have a butt stomach. Yuck.
I know it seems weird, but there are a lot of good things that have come from having cancer.
  • Losing my hair: I get to experience every length of hair I want, and I get to wear cool wigs!
  • I get to be an example to hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people. I have been so blessed to able to share my experiences with people and it helps me keep a good attitude knowing that people look up to me and are watching me.
  • I get to be the recipient of the INCREDIBLE generosity of people. Its not so much that I like how generous people are, but mostly it is so humbling to feel the love that others have for me. I am humbled every day by how much people are willing to sacrifice, it really is incredible. It reminds me that Heavenly Father does watch over me and cares for me through other people.
    Wizards Hat, Bandon, Oregon
  • New friends: I have met so many new people through this experience. I really admire the other patients, especially Dove. I've talked about him before but he is an inspiration to me. Diagnosed with terminal cancer almost 6 years ago at age 30. He has an amazing attitude and never fails to serve those around him. Every time he comes for chemo he brings treats for all the other patients and he is constantly pulling pranks and making people laugh.
  • Old friends: I have been able to re-become friends with a lot of people. It seems silly that it takes a huge thing like cancer to awaken us to reach out to our old friends, but its okay that it does. I am grateful for the people I've been reacquainted with, it has been a lot of fun.
  • Service: I have had a lot of opportunities to serve others in various capacities. I have also been more desirous to seek out service opportunities. I've been so blessed and taken care of by people that I want to be able to give back just a little bit to those who also need it.
  • Faith: Everyday my faith in my Heavenly Father gets stronger. I always thought I had a testimony before, but now it is 100x better. I would be blind if I didn't see how blessed I am. I am lucky that I have had opportunities to increase my faith and that I have been able to do so. It's funny how much this trial has helped me grow and yet other much easier trials have been such a struggle for me.
    "You don't know how strong you can be until being strong is the only choice you have"
    That quote is so true. Right now being sad or discouraged or whatever emotion I "should" be because I have cancer doesn't even seem like an option. It seems natural to be happy and positive and use this experience to grow. Being sad seems ridiculous almost.
So my con list is longer than my pro list. But the pros far outweigh the cons. The things I have been blessed with are so much more important and so much bigger than the things that kind of suck. However, don't run out and go get cancer. I would still strongly suggest against it. Instead, look at my list of pros. You can have all of those blessings in your life, you just need to seek them out. I will go through cancer, and you can take what I am learning and have those blessings without the crappy cancer side effects :) Seems like a pretty good deal to me. You don't have to have a huge trial in your life to be blessed. Every single person reading this can be an example to those around them. Just remember that especially when you are going through hard things, people are watching you. What an impact you can have even on just one person by being strong in a time of hardship. And how hard it it to call up an old friend today and tell them how much you appreciate them in your life? Even if you guys haven't talked in 5 or 10 years, I guarantee that they would be so happy to hear you tell them what a great friend they were and what an influence they had on your life. As far as making new friends? That one is super hard for me. But since I got cancer I have made it a goal to make one stranger happy a day. Sometimes it just takes a smile as you pass them on the sidewalk. Sometimes a short conversation in the grocery line. It is much easier than I thought to reach out to others. 



  1. Kalina,

    I had a real hard time when I learned you had cancer. Then to find out you had one of the tough ones just made my heart sink even more. I remember one night about a week after your surgery I allowed my self to dwell a little too much on consequences right before bed time and woke to a wet pillow.

    I have come to your blog at the end of many a day to get a little sunshine to lift me up. You have delivered over and over again. I find myself thinking if I lived half as well as you it could be life changing. I wish I knew how to pay that back.

    You have been doing so awesome I had begun to think you would dance through this whole thing singing and smiling the whole way. But honestly, it is so much to bear, even though you shine so much.

    Please don't get discouraged. It may get easier or it may get harder, maybe even both. I know that your sunshine will always be there, even if it occasionally is overcast by a passing storm, I just cannot imagine you ever losing that.

    You are always in my heart and my family prays for you every day.

    Somehow, even though this is the first time I have seen the clouds, it just seems to make the emergence of the sun seem so much more brilliant and amazing.

    (It is a little late so forgive the disjointed rambling. By the way, I am voting for the purple hair next chemo.)

    Luv ya,

    Old bear

  2. You are an inspiration, butt stomach and all (that phrase made me laugh). Keep your chin up, your loved ones close, and God in your heart and I know that no matter what happens you will be okay. "Come what may and love it." you exemplify this quote from Elder Worthlin. I am going to do better to be grateful, sad how we can be so blessed and yet so easily loose sight of it over the little hardships of life... Keep going girl, you got this.


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