Thursday, June 28, 2012

Healthy and Happy....For now

Today marks exactly 3 weeks since my surgery! I am feeling all healed up and healthy! I think I would say that I feel 100% myself and better now :) I started working out again yesterday, just elliptical, I can't start running till Monday (only 3 1/2 days away!!!) The first time working out was pretty horrible, it was so hard!! I was sucking wind after like 2 minutes. But today felt much better and not nearly as hard. I was able to go for 31 minutes with only one short break! I can't wait to start running Monday.
Hard to get a good picture without being too immodest, but here's my scar all healed up!
I look forward to having a whole entire week next week where I am feeling great and normal. I hope I get a lot of running in and lots of pool time too! I am also currently in school :( Yes I am graduated, but I still have some pre-reqs that need finishing so I can apply to physical therapy school in the fall. I just have a chemistry lab 2 days a week, so its not too bad.

This is a super short post, I just wanted to post an update on how I am feeling :) I know that I probably won't be feeling this great once I start chemo so I have to brag about it while I can!! I also have been practicing my bald look and I'd say I'm going to be pretty awesome. Not sure how I feel about losing my eyebrows though....

Gotta go do the dishes now that I can't blame my laziness on being oh so tired :)

Also here's an awesome happy video to make your day a little better!

What's your favorite part of the video? I can't decide, they all make me laugh!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Fundraiser That Became Legend

I have to start this out by saying I have been so incredibly blessed I cannot thank everybody enough. Thank you so much family, friends, neighbors, strangers, friends of friends of cousins of in-laws......

That being said, I have the coolest, nicest and most thoughtful neighbors out there. Living in a cul-de-sac of 4-plexes has been super fun, and my building takes the cake of awesomeness. As soon as my neighbors found out about my cancer problem they immediately wanted to do something. In passing Rachel mentioned maybe they should do a yard sale or something.....and that was it. They all jumped on the idea and immediately started sending out texts and making phone calls. They made cute fliers and sent them throughout the ward. Rachel made super awesome signs (dang I should get a picture of one....maybe to be added later today). They all called and went to the local businesses asking for donations. I'm not sure all who donated but I'd like to thank Runner's Corner and Murdock Hyundai especially because I know they were very generous.

After more than a week of planning, calling, picking up donations, etc. the yard sale was finally upon us. I stayed inside because I felt weird helping out at a fundraiser for myself ha. But all my neighbors and half the ward spent from 7am till almost 5pm outside supervising and organizing the sales. I couldn't believe how many people came. Lots of people entered the raffles, bought the delicious food made by ward members, and bought all the stuff that was donated. It was amazing. It was also crazy hot, which makes my neighbors even more amazing for sitting outside all day long.
Laura and Rachel: the masterminds behind it all.
Around 6pm there was a knock on our door. There stood our neighbors and friends with the hugest pile of money I have ever seen in my life. I could not believe it. They told us how much it was and I was in shock. Literally speechless! I should have cried or screamed or something but mostly I was so incredibly grateful and humbled I couldn't think of what to do. Sterling and I are so blessed and so lucky to live where we do surrounded by people that love us. Thank you to every single person who donated their time and money to help me. I am also astounded at the amount of cash donations from the people in our ward. I cannot believe how generous they are. Thank you thank you to every one who has helped us. A lot of you want to remain anonymous so I can't write you a personal thank you. I also know that I have forgotten a lot of people who donated that deserve thank you's. So consider this for you. Thank you everybody.
The gang of awesome neighbors.

Enjoy the pictures, courtesy of Laura Graham. You can find more pics of the event on my Facebook.

The two trouble makers

Friday, June 22, 2012

Flowers in the Thorns

I LOVE MONKEYS. Everybody that knows me should know this. I have 9 monkeys. None of them are real :( But I got to feed the real ones at the zoo!!!!!

I was just about to take a nap on Wednesday morning when Sterling called me. He'd only been at work for an hour so I thought it was kinda weird. He told me to be ready to leave in 10 minutes that they had a surprise for me and it was in Salt Lake. I knew that my mom had been planning a surprise cuz she kept talking to Sterling all secretively and stuff. I was really really really hoping it had something to do with monkeys--I figured if they were having a surprise for me it had to since I like them so much.

So Sterling and I drove on up to my house and met my mom. Then when we got off the exit I knew we were going to the zoo and I got super excited and really happy :)

We got to the zoo and the zookeeper lady led us to the monkey cage. We got to meet two spider monkeys, Lemon and Kira. I loved them. They were so cute and so nice and they really loved me and they were so smart and happy and fun and cute :) :) :) :) I didn't get to hold them :( But I don't think the zookeepers even hold them ever. We put peanut butter and honey inside some paper towel tubes and handed them to the monkeys through the fence. Then the monkeys had to figure out how to rip open the tubes to get their yummy treat inside :) It makes them smarter and keeps them from getting bored. The zookeeper lady made them do "tricks" like touch her hand, climb the fence, bend over, etc. They make them do it every day so they can inspect their bodies and make sure the monkeys don't have any cuts or sores or anything. Oh yeah, we had to wear the masks and gloves so we didn't get the monkeys sick and they didn't get us sick.
Lemon and Kira
Getting the tube out of the fence links
So happy :)

It was the coolest funnest thing :) After we helped with the spider monkeys we walked around to the rest of the primate exhibits. I kinda wanted to walk around the rest of the zoo but I was feeling sick and tired-probably because I was still dehydrated from the day before when I had to get an IV at the hospital. So my mom got me a million dollar slurpee and I drank it and felt a little better but then we went home. It was really fun :) And way better than another hospital visit! Hopefully I won't have to see that place again until July 5th!
Almost as huge as a gorilla!
Gorilla sleeping! He was scary and huge but really cute and close to us :)
Yummy slurpee trying to hydrate.
I have been doing pretty good at home :) I am not bored yet, I have been reading most the day. I went to the dentist to get a cleaning yesterday. And my bestest friend visited me today. Tomorrow I hope to maybe go to Seven Peaks! And maybe a rodeo too :) I took off the steri-strips on my cut and its looking pretty good! The scar will be pretty skinny. And my belly button is almost the same as it used to be....they kinda squished it when they were sewing me up so its a little skinnier than it was. But then when they cut me open again for my next surgery it will probably make my scar huger :( How lame. Otherwise, I am doing great! Eating normal again and getting around fine. I feel really good, just kinda tired and lethargic....I'm basically just a lazy couch potato! :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Treatment Plan

This morning I had an appointment with the chemotherapy doctor. Her name is Dr. Warner and she is really really nice. She spent about an hour or longer with us explaining everything and being quite thorough.

I'll start at the beginning though. We got to the hospital and before they even take you back to the doctor they check your vitals. So I stepped on the scale (you don't even want to know...not eating for 9 days did a number on me) and the nurse took my blood pressure. She looked at me kinda weird and did my blood pressure again. Then she asked "Have you been vomiting? Diarrhea? Are you dizzy?" Um no...why? Oh don't worry, my blood pressure was 70/51. And my heart rate was 145. So......they took my blood pressure and heart rate I think 6 more times and sent me straight away to get an IV and some blood tests. Apparently I was crazy dehydrated and they thought I might even need a blood transfusion. Luckily I was fine after a liter of fluid :) Oops!

Dr. Warner's nurse came in first and talked to us a little bit about the chemo and asked me a bunch of questions like family history things and such. Finally after we'd been there at least 5 hours already (probably only 1 hour) Dr. Warner came in to talk to us. We discussed the type of chemo I'll be getting, the side effects and when I'll be starting. I will be getting two drugs: Taxol and Carboplatin with the possibility of a third drug Avastin. The Taxol I will be getting every Monday and it takes about 1 hour. The Carboplatin I will be getting along with the Taxol every 3rd week and it also takes about 1 hour (so every third week I will be there about 2 hours). The reason they want to do it every week is because recent studies have shown that giving a little bit smaller dose, but more often is more effective. When you wait 3 weeks in between treatment it gives the cancer cells time to grow again after the drug starts wearing off. This way the drug won't have time to wear off so it kills the cells more effectively. The third drug, Avastin, is a very new drug and has not yet been approved by the FDA for ovarian cancer treatment. However, all new studies have shown it is very helpful in treatment. Depending if my insurance approves it or not I will also be getting it. It is not a chemo drug, rather it is a protein that helps stop the body from giving cancer cells all my nutrients and it also helps the chemo drugs get delivered better to the cancer cells. It is almost $10,000 for every dose though so if the insurance says no....we won't use it :) Dr. Warner said that yes, it is helpful in treatment, but the advantages are quite small for the amount of money it is.

Also, because my cancer is epithelial ovarian and endometrioid type, they are going to have to do another surgery to take out the rest of my reproductive system and probably remove the two spots on my liver. I can't remember how many rounds of chemotherapy they said they'd do before looking at surgery again. One round of chemo is a 3 week block by the way. So after a few rounds of chemo they are going to do another PET CT scan to see how the spots on my liver are responding and depending on that and stuff then they will schedule another surgery to take out my ovary and uterus. There is not enough time to harvest my eggs because it takes about 1-2 months and I need to start treatment ASAP. I will never have kids so don't ask. And no I don't really want to talk to you about it either so please don't start offering me advice.

Sorry there are no pictures today! I should have taken a picture at the City Creek Mall with my mom. We went there after the appointment to hang out and stuff. It was fun. I will start chemotherapy on July 9th. I will be getting a port placed in me on July 5th. I get to start running in 2 weeks :) I can still go to Lake Powell (I'll get a week off of chemo! Yay!) I will lose my hair sometime between 3-6 weeks after I start treatment. I might gain weight. I will probably be really fatigued. I think that's all the stuff we talked about.

**Update: I didn't really say how I am doing otherwise! I am feeling so much better from surgery! I am moving about basically as normal, just a little slower and not quite as active. I am eating completely normal! Okay Sterling just said I may still look like the Hunchbelly of Notre Dame....I'd say he might be right. But I am feeling really good, no pain and no nausea. I can almost laugh pain free but I can't quite cough yet :) I have gotten good at not using my stomach when I sneeze, so that is not a problem either. Sorry I forgot to add this earlier! Thanks so much for all the support, we really appreciate everyone's prayers and love!**

Saturday, June 16, 2012

I'm Home!

I finally got to come home yesterday afternoon!!!!! It was the best day of my life. I feel so free!! No hospital gown, no IV, no tubes, no nurses waking me up every 2 is so great!! I slept for 7 whole straight hours, record breaking! I am feeling really good today, I haven't been nauseous at all today. I have even been eating a lot! I had like 10 tortilla chips, 5 rice puffs, 1/4 of an oatmeal cookie, a See's chocolate, half a slice of caramel apple and lots of juice. All just today! I know right?

I think on Thursday we got the final pathology report back. What they had previously believed to be germ cell ovarian cancer actually is epithelial ovarian cancer, the more common kind. Prognosis is basically the same for both, but the treatment is much different. Whereas I previously thought I would be staying in the hospital for 3 days at a time getting chemo, I actually will just be doing outpatient chemotherapy!! So just one day, a few hours, every 3 weeks. I was so glad to hear that! I am sick of staying at the hospital. I will still lose my hair and I am not sure of the other side effects.

I have an appointment on Monday at 11 to speak with my gynecological oncologist about some stuff and then another appointment on Tuesday morning with the chemotherapy doctor where I will find out exactly when I start treatment, how long it will take, side effects, etc.

That's all for now, its so good to be home!! I will be back in Orem to my real home probably next Tuesday or so. For now I'm hanging with the family so they can help take care of me :)

Leaving the hospital!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Hospital

I haven't written an update in a few days because there isn't much to say! Today is my 7th day in the hospital and I am sooooo ready to go home. However, I can't go home until my bowels start working (meaning I have to poop or fart) and my bowels must be under Sleeping Beauty's curse cuz they sure are taking their time!!

Sunday was a pretty rough day for me. I woke up feeling okay and around 10am some of my high school teammates brought me the sacrament. They volunteer at the hospital and it was cool to see someone I know. The rest of the day kinda sucked. I was super nauseous and I ended up throwing up all night. They eventually put an NG tube in be which is THE WORST thing in THE WHOLE WORLD.  It goes in your nose and down your throat and they use it to suck up all the junk inside you.
I was so so sad
I had a CT scan to see what was up with my bowels and there was just a small ileus which means part of my colon was squished and not working. The only thing to fix it is time. I got the NG tube out on Monday around 1pm and let me tell you, I was one happy camper. However, since then I have been slightly if not extremely nauseous. Last night I threw up again and one more time this morning so guess what?! I got the NG tube back!!! I could kill someone. It hurts to swallow, it makes me gag and I can't speak with it because it hurts too much. So I have resorted to caveman sign language to communicate with people. Luckily Sterling is an incredible mind reader and pretty much knows everything I am trying to say.
Still so sad.
On Tuesday I was feeling good enough to get out and walk though!! If you do 12 laps around the hospital hallways it is equivalent to one mile. My goal was to be in the miler club before I left this joint and I hunkered down and cracked those babies out. All 12 done! I was quite exhausted after.
Happy walker head
My One Mile Certificate
Another good thing, I was able to pee all by myself today! That means I am a grown up and don't need a catheter anymore. Yay me!!

Lots of people are asking when I am coming home. I thought I'd be home Monday but my body must really like the hospital so its trying to make me stay here longer. Today is Wednesday now and I probably won't get to go home until Friday, unless my sleepy organs wake up. All I really want right now is to get this blasted NG tube out of my stinkin' throat. The doctor said it has to stay in until tomorrow and maybe even longer :( :( :(

When I feel up to it, I can go outside and sit on the large patio and enjoy the fresh air. It is quite nice to feel the sunshine and warm breeze!

Oh, I can't believe I almost forgot to add it. I have the sweetest little cousins in the universe!! My aunt's 11-year old and 8-year old sons decided on Saturday that they wanted to do a fundraiser for me! So they asked their mom to help them get the stuff. They made lemonade and sold candy and suckers. They had a cute little stand and they waved people down as they drove by. They even went knocking door to door telling people my story. And it was all their own idea!! It was just about the nicest thing ever and even made me tear up a bit. Thank you so much you guys! They ended up raising about $100 for me!!

I am doing okay though. Just hanging out. I'm sorry to those of you that have wanted to come visit and I have turned away. I appreciate all your love and support, I really do, its just that when I am feeling so crappy the last thing I want to do is see people. Thank you so much though everybody for showing me so much love. I know that I am incredibly blessed.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Surgery

Hi there! I am writing this from my hospital bed. Surgery on Thursday went great! It took them about 2 hours and they took out two cancers tumors, my left ovary, a large cyst on my right ovary and the omentum. Omentum is a laryer of fatty tissue that keeps your inside organs connected to each other and to the abdominal wall. One of the tumors was set in the omentum so they had to take it out! WIth the cyst on my right ovary they took part of the ovary too, but they said they left about 40% of it and that I should still be fertile with just that much. I didn't realize that you could take just part of an ovary and that it would still work. That was the brief run-down, now for a more detailed account :)

I got to the hospital around 8:40am. I was getting pretty hungry and antsy just sitting at home so we finally just left. After waiting around a bit and filling out some paperwork, they called me back. One of the nurse's aides was a girl I used to be friends with a long time ago! It was cool seeing her. They took my vitals (blood pressure, heart rate, etc) and weighed me. I gained even another 1.5 lbs since they weighed me 2 days before! I'm blaming it all on the tumors because I hadn't been eating very much. After all that I got to get dressed in my sexy hospital gown! I don't know why more people don't wear them, they really are quite stylish.

Before surgery. Still cute and happy! Not even nervous.

A bunch of different doctors, nurses and the anesthesiologist came and talked to me and prepped me. I made sure to as if I would still be able to have a six-pack after they cut me open. Got to make sure to ask the important questions! They started an IV and gave me this awesome blanket thing called a bear hugger. It was just a blow up plastic thing that they ran warm air through. Then, they wheeled me away! I wasn't able to ask the doctor to take a picture of my insides and tumors because they put a face mask on me before I got a chance.

The anesthesiologist explaining things to me.
The last picture before surgery! Lookin' pretty hot right?

About two hours later I woke up in a different room with some nurses standing around. I don't remember much except I was having a really really hard time breathing!! I kept saying, I can't breathe, I can't breathe! They tried to have me cough and finally connected me to oxygen. It was still a little frightening to feel like I couldn't get enough air. I don't remember much from the rest of the day Thursday, just bits and pieces. I know I asked the nurse what my tumors looked like and if they were squishy. I found out that they cut me open above my belly button :( I was really hoping they could keep it low. And I found out all of the stuff they had removed from me! I know I was super sweet and nice as I was coming out of anesthesia. I made it a goal to be happy and nice to everyone while I'm in the hospital, its been good so far!

I thought I was smiling a lot more but I look pretty groggy! Good thing I have monkey to keep me company.

Ever since then I've just been hanging out in the hospital bed! They made me go for a walk Thursday night which hurt like crazy! Yesterday, Friday, I got out of bed 5 or 6 times to walk around and try to pee. This morning when I woke up I felt pretty sore from yesterday! I feels like I did about 10,000 sit-ups! I had lots of visitors yesterday. So many people have been so incredibly considerate and kind to me. Thank you to everyone who has come to visit, sent me stuff and kept me in your prayers. I can definitely feel the faith of everybody that is supporting me and I really appreciate it.

I finally got to talk to a doctor this morning and ask him some more questions about future treatment. I found out that I actually have Stage 3C ovarian cancer. I will probably start chemo in about a month, give or take. When I do start chemo, they will be giving me three different kinds. I will have to stay in the hospital for 3 days at a time as I do chemo. He said it is about 3 weeks in between treatments and one of the kinds of chemo I will be getting will make me lose my hair. So it looks like I am gonna start rocking some awesome head scarfs in a while! I'm gonna be one awesome bald chick :) Also, I've been looking into getting a tattoo to cover my belly scar. I'm thinking a unicorn? My belly button can be the eye, and the scar will be the horn :) I think it will be awesome. 

So, that's the update! Remember if there are any typos or none of my words make sense that I am all drugged up :) I am pretty alert and have been walking around but I keep catching myself making silly mistakes in my typing.

Thank you again to all my family and friends. I love you guys all so much. I have loved seeing and hearing from everybody. Thank you for the support!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Cancer.

I guess it is time to write a post about my news. I want to keep every body as informed and updated as I can and so I will try to do it through my blog. On Wednesday, May 30, I noticed a large lump in my lower abdomen and on Thursday, May 31st I went into the hospital. I got two ultrasounds and then went and got a CT scan. After one more CT scan we had a pretty definitive diagnosis. There were two, possibly three large tumors in my pelvic region that were most likely malignant. My dad called probably every doctor in the state of Utah and after talking to some of the best doctors he knows they decided I have Stage 2 ovarian cancer ***later determined to be Stage 4***. My dad is so awesome, he got me all set up with a doctor at the Hunstman Cancer Institute and I couldn't be in better hands. The facilities are way nice and the staff is super friendly and supportive.

I will be going in for surgery tomorrow, June 7th where they will be removing the tumors. I have to be at the hospital at 8:45am and the surgery will probably be 2-4 hours long. I will most likely be groggy and drugged all day Thursday and not very coherent so don't expect any texts or updates from me then :) After surgery I will be doing probably 6-8 months of chemotherapy. They haven't told me much about the chemo treatments, I think they are waiting till the surgery to see the extent of everything-what it all looks like inside and such. I will post regular updates here for all of my friends and family.

I have already been so incredibly blessed. I have the most amazing family members anyone could dream of. I have received so many well wishes of love and support and am so grateful for each and every one of them. I also have the greatest friends ever. Thank you guys all so much for texting and calling and being so willing to help me with anything I may want or need. I feel so loved and supported.

So...that is my news, but I am doing great! I feel really calm and comforted and I am not worried at all.

If you have ever gotten a CT scan, it is a super weird thing. The give you an IV of iodine or iodide or something and tell you to expect to feel really warm inside in a few seconds. It was so weird! It felt like my blood was boiling inside of me and that I was burning up from the inside out and just as fast as it came on, it was gone. The whole weird feeling probably only lasted 20-30 seconds. It was fun looking at the scans after and seeing what my insides sorta look like. My cute little bladder is all squished and tiny to make room for my evil twin babies. It's pretty crazy, they are about 25cm total in size; that is almost a foot! I feel like I look about 5 months pregnant right now. Imagine either that or the Grinch belly. Right now I'd make a pretty awesome Grinch :)

The doctor is pretty certain that he is going to be able to save my right ovary and uterus, they will just be removing the left one and something on the right one, so I will still be able to reproduce and have little monster Kalina's running all over the world in like 10 years.

The hardest part for me I think is that I am not going to be able to run for at least 6 weeks!!!! Can you believe that? Me sitting around on my tush doing nothing for 6 weeks? Yeah, I am going to go absolutely insane. I have LOTS of books and I will be watching lots of movies I'm sure.

Check back in a few days for the update on how my surgery goes and any other news I find out!

Short Inspirational Quotes