Sunday, September 23, 2012

Life's Greatest Lessons Aren't Learned in a Book (and other updates)

Friday, September 21st, I had the opportunity to speak at Bingham high school to a group of English students. It was a really awesome experience. I am so grateful that I have had the opportunity to speak to so many people about what I'm going through and how I've been able to deal with things. I also got to speak at Pleasant Grove High School on December 5th

If you want to read the speech I gave, here is a link to it
I wrote down my speech exactly like I would say it if I really were speaking so just read it as such and not like an essay or something.

I created this slideshow that I shared at the end. I think the video means more after you read/hear the speech:

The other update I know many people are dying to find out is how my doctor's appointments went on Friday. They went good. I met with the liver specialist first and after waiting for at least 5 years in the very comfortable exam room *insert dripping sarcasm* she finally came in to talk to us. She was pretty nice and cool. She basically just explained what she would be doing in surgery which is removing two or three (?) spots from my liver. They are both close enough to the surface that they will be easy to wedge out. She gets to pick up my liver and turn it around and cut spots out of it with a cauterizing tool. How cool is that? I asked her to take pictures. It seems so unfair that all these people get to sit around looking at my insides and touching all my organs and all I get from it is a huge scar and 2 weeks in the hospital. Selfish doctors. Oh and they are going to cut me all the way to my sternum. Yucky.

Then I met with my gynecological oncologist (female organ cancer surgeon). He was really nice and took a long time with us. We decided on surgery on Tuesday, October 9th (ninth). All I can say is if I have to get another NG tube, they are going to have to put me under anesthesia to do it.

And I have an awesomely funny idea of what I'm gonna do on surgery day :) But I'm not telling it yet.

Anyway, the rest of the weekend was great. Went to Sterling's cousin's wedding all day Saturday, it was gorgeous. I have a bit of a cold which totally sucks :/ But otherwise, I am doing great. I hope the smog clears out so I can run outside again!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

My First Lecture about a Last Lecture

I was recently asked to be a guest speaker for the 11th grade English students at Bingham High School. There will be about 180 sixteen to seventeen year old kids that are all listening intently to every word I say. Well at least the ones they hear in between sending text messages to each other ;)
The book the students are reading. It's about a guy with terminal cancer and his advice to people. The teacher though I was a good real life example of the words in this book. 
I am speaking on Friday and although I have been contemplating and pondering my speech for at least a week and a half, I have made very little headway. I have never given a speech or talk longer than 10 minutes.

Here's where you guys come in. I have received so many texts, emails and comments about how much you guys appreciate my blog and my willingness to share my story. Is there something specific about what I've said that has been helpful or inspiring? I don't feel inspiring because I am just being me. I just write about whatever I feel like, but I guess when you have cancer even normal things are spotlighted. I would really appreciate if you guys gave me some specifics about what to you has been inspiring. Not because I am looking for compliments, trust me, that is not what this is about, but because I really want to do the best job I can to reach out to these teenagers. It wasn't very long ago that I sat in a high school auditorium wondering where my life would take me and thinking how invincible I was. I want to say things that won't be cliche or unrelatable.

Thanks friends :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

PET Scan Results and more

Hi! I realize it has been quite a while since my last update! Sorry about that. I had a lot going on last week. I guess I will start with the important stuff that people care about like my PET scan.

On Thursday I went in for a routine PET scan (they always do one after 3 rounds of chemo just to check and see if things are working and how everything is looking). PET scans are weird and they did it in combo with a CT scan so I got the weird stuff that makes your body all hot and weird inside. It was boring. They made me wait for about 75 minutes after I drank the CT contrast stuff and they wouldn't let me read or do anything because then the contrast would go to those parts of my body that were working and not to the parts that they needed to go. Lame-o.

Today I had my normal appointment with my doctor (every 3rd week I see her). We went over the results of the PET scan. Basically things are the same. Which isn't bad news, but it's not good news either. Usually they hope that the chemotherapy will shrink any tumors or spots they see in you. Mine stayed the same. They didn't grow which is really good. But the fact that things didn't go away is kind of weird. The two spots on my liver they still aren't really certain what they are. They show up on the PET scan, but that doesn't necessarily mean they are cancerous. There are also some other spots they are curious about. One of the spots is close to some bones so right now I am sitting in the waiting room to get an MRI. They are an HOUR AND A HALF BEHIND. Holy moley. Borrrrriiiinnnggg. On Friday afternoon I will meet with a liver surgeon and my gynecological surgeon to make a plan of action. Right now it is looking like I will be getting surgery in the next two or three weeks :( Yuck. I mean, I have known I was going to have another surgery but its like....really soon. I told them I was busy on the 29th however so they had to wait until after. I'm not going to miss my own party!! Seriously, how lame would that be.
Man these hospital clothes are sexy!
**UPDATE: I was typing this last night, but didn't quite finish it so now it is Tuesday morning and I have a bit more news. My doctor called me this morning to let me know that the preliminary reading on the MRI is negative! They found nothing :) Yay!! This could possibly change in the final report, but its pretty unlikely**

So that is the news I have yesterday and all I know as of right now! I didn't get chemo treatment yesterday either because if they are going to do surgery soon I need to be as healthy as possible and chemo makes all my blood counts and stuff be not healthy.

Now for the fun stuff :) I'll start with yesterday and work backwards. Yesterday I went to the Humane Society to look at PUPPIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love puppies and guess what? I'm gonna get one :) :) :) :) :) :) I am the happiest person in the world. I have to wait until after surgery now though cuz no one wants to take care of him while I am in the hospital :( But I can't wait! There were some pretty cute dogs at the Humane Society, but no young puppies. And it was so sad to go there, the dogs were so sad. They were crying or barking really loud and they all wanted me to play with them! I took the saddest one out of his cage to play with me :) He was a chihuahua mix and soooooo cute. He loved me. But he shed a ton. He really didn't want to go back in his cage and he dragged his feet and rolled on his back and was so sad :( Poor little buddy.
Friday I got to watch my former teammates race at Cascade Golf Course! It was fun and they have such a good team this year. I loved getting to see all my friends again. I miss being on the team for the social part of it, but not having to worry about the stress it brings is kind of nice. And in my situation right now where I am so slow and tired anyway it hasn't been as hard to not be running. If I was healthy and training and running well on my own I think I would miss it more.

After the race Sterling and I took the scooter up Provo Canyon to Bridal Veil falls. The coolest thing ever is there: you can feed the fish!! They stocked the small pond at the bottom of the falls with fishies and set up a gumball machine type thing with fish food. 25 cents is all it takes to have the funnest date night ever! Cool huh.
And then...... this is the best part......I got ice cream from the ice cream man!!!!!!!!!!! I have NEVER ever done that in my whole life. My mom always said you could buy a whole gallon of ice cream for what they charge. She was right. But hey, its the experience right? Sterling and I got a lime popsicle to share.

Thursday I woke up to leave for my PET scan and walked out to find this!:

My awesome neighbor Rachel heart attacked me :) She is so sweet and nice to us. She wrote me the nicest letter and all the hearts have nice things written on them. It really made my day and made me feel loved. I am so lucky to have such great friends and neighbors.

Last night when I got home late from the MRI I had another present!!!!! I seriously have the best friends ever :) Brooke put together a date night chocolate Halloween basket for me and Sterling :) I am so lucky to have such amazing friends!!! Yay!
That about sums up the things that have been happening as of late! Check back soon for MRI results, updates, fun things, etc.

And don't forget to sign up for the Fallen in Chocolate 5k! It's gonna be the funnest 5k you've ever done with the cutest race shirt you'll ever get. And it might be the only chance you ever get to run by or ahead of me ;) hahaha.

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 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. 


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Busy Girl

Sorry I haven't updated the blog all week! I have been so busy it feels like. Wednesday I got to hang out with Cesia again. She's such a good friend, time always flies when we hang out! Thanks for being so willing to drive all the way down to Orem to hang out with me and for always buying me things and being so giving Cesia!

Thursday was an awesome day. A good friend from high school works at Lululemon-cutest running/yoga clothing store EVER. She called me last week and said that they wanted to do something nice for me. So on Thursday I got to go in and choose any short or tank top. They have so many different styles and their clothes are all so freakin cute! I tried on like 10 different outfits and finally decided on some super cute gray/yellow shorts. I love them. they are so comfy and light. As soon as I'm rich, I am decking out in Lululemon gear. And so should you. If you are rich or if you aren't rich but want to be the cutest one at the gym.
modeling my cute Lululemon shorts
Then after Lululemon I went to the Huntsman Center for a free make-up class called Look Good...Feel Better. The Huntsman has such cool resources and so many free classes for cancer patients. I got TONS of really nice free make-up and I learned how to use it all. I was most excited to learn how to draw eyebrows; mine are getting quite patchy and look pretty funny. One of the lamer side effects of losing your hair :( I also learned some cute new ways to tie a scarf and they gave me a free wig! It will be nice to have if I need to go to a job interview or anything, but mostly I feel like a traitor wearing a wig. I mean who am I kidding? I don't have hair, it doesn't look like my hair, why would I pretend to have/be something I'm not?

Another great thing about Thursday night was this:

This rainbow was one of the brightest and fullest rainbows I have ever seen!! I am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who sends us such beautiful reminders of his love for us. It really comforted me and gave me peace.

Friday night Sterling and I went on one of the funnest dates ever! We were heading home after a friend's reception and I had the most brilliant idea ever! Walmart Scavenger Hunt! We made a list of 20 things and had to meet back up in 30 minutes. I obviously won so Sterling had to buy me a hot fudge sundae at McDonald's :) It was a super fun night.
My winning ticket
fat lady with a wedgie was one of the items to find haha
Saturday morning I ran in a 5k for Ovarian Cancer. Its called the Susan Sandoval in memory of a nurse that worked at the Huntsman center that passed away from ovarian cancer like 8 years ago or something. It was fun because I finally got to run with my dad and make up for the half marathon that I didn't get to run with him. Me, Sterling, and my mom and dad all ran it together. I only walked one time which is so good for me now! However it is so annoying to keep getting slower and slower at running :( That has been one of the hardest things for me.

After the 5k my mom, Caden, Sterling and I all went to the Utah State Fair! I have never been to the fair so it was really fun. We watched an Olympic Dive show and walked around all the shops and looked at the cool artwork and stuff. We got to see all the prize dairy cows, beef cows, sheep and goats. It was really fun!
we thought this pumpkin was huge....
...and then I saw this one
Anyway, that is my busy week in short summary! Can't wait for the Fallen in Chocolate 5k. So many people have spent countless hours putting it together and it is coming along pretty nice. We are just looking for a few more sponsors and we'll be set to go. Its going to be tons of fun, so make sure to tell everyone you know!

Tomorrow after chemo I will be halfway done with my treatments!!!!! Thursday I will have a PET scan so I should know those results sometime next week.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Shenanigans: Friends, Chemo, etc.

Last Wednesday I got to come up to Salt Lake and have lunch with some old friends from my neighborhood. We have known each other since elementary and haven't really hung out since high school. It was so much fun seeing them again and catching up!
We had a hard time getting a picture where all three of us looked good. I think we took like 20 and these are the only 2 that we liked :)

After lunch Cesia and I went back to her house. I got to play with and feed her chickens!! Who knew that chickens were really soft and they are actually fairly smart! We also made a craft. It was so fun.
I am so lucky to have great friends. Thank you Cesia for being there for me and being so much fun! Even though we didn't hang out for almost 4 years its like it was yesterday :) Love that.

On Saturday I went waterskiing in the morning at my dad's lake. It was gorgeous! I mean look at this picture, it was such a beautiful peaceful morning.
I got a little frustrated because I got tired so much faster than usual and it just ached all through my body. So I had a good cry and then I was fine and went a little longer, but I was pretty tired. Then I got to go to another one of my good friend from high school's wedding reception. She looked beautiful and they had a chocolate fountain for refreshments :) yummmmm.

The coolest thing I did last week though was a chocolate making class! My mom found an AmazonLocal Deal for it and signed us up a while back. I learned so much there! It was really cool because it was just a small little shop run by 2 guys. It is called The Chocolate Conspiracy. It is an artisan organic all natural chocolate company. I didn't really get to take any pictures while we were there because he just did a demonstration while we watched and there were a lot of people.
I learned a ton about cacao (cocoa..same thing, different spelling). How its grown and how it is eventually made into chocolate. I learned why Hershey's chocolate tastes like wax and kind of gross (they put wax and gross things in it). He only buys cacao beans directly from the farmers and only if they grind it at the farm themselves. He says that way he knows its organic and natural and hasn't been shipped all over the world and gotten gross bugs and diseases. Ghana is the main producer of cacao. Cacao grows 20 degrees north and south of the equator and it grows all year long. So there is no "off" season for it, yay chocolate is always in season!

French chocolate tends to be very roasted (the cacao beans are). It is also fatty and creamy. Italian chocolate tends to be very viscous and smooth. And American chocolate (the new nice chocolate, not Hershey's, Mars, etc.) tends to be simple and of a medium roast. The Chocolate Conspiracy doesn't roast their beans at all. They prefer the more simple and natural flavor. Also, roasting the beans kills some of the vitamins and healthy stuffs in it. He also doesn't add any sugar. He uses either organic honey or pure maple sugar to sweeten it.

We got to try 7 different chocolates while we were there. I was super surprised by them! Last time I tried fancy artisan dark chocolate it was incredibly bitter and tasted really dry and not creamy or smooth. His dark chocolate only has three ingredients: cacao beans, cacao butter and honey. It was pretty good!! Not bitter at all and pretty smooth! We tried dark chocolate, dark chocolate mint, gogi berry, blueberry pistachio, spicy, a hand-rolled coconut truffle and a balsamic vinegar. My favorites were the dark chocoolate, the blueberry pistachio and the truffle. The truffle was AMAZING!!!!!!!! Holy crap I almost died. And then yesterday I made them with my mom!! Coconut oil, cocoa powder and 100% pure maple syrup. That's it. Freakin delicious.

Yesterday I had chemo again in the morning. This time I slept through pretty much the whole thing after the Benadryl! Usually it knocks me out for like 20-30 minutes and then I wake up and do stuff the rest of the time. But not yesterday. Maybe it is starting to get to me....who knows.
Wore the pink wig to chemo :) I think everyone loved it! 
After chemo we went to my house and went on a short hike in the Dimpledell area. It was really pretty! And quite hot. I invited Gizmo (my parent's dog) and he almost died. Poor little guy, he is out of shape! It was funny. We had to carry him a few times haha. Good thing he's so small! Sterling says we have enough pictures of us hiking, but here is another one anyway :)

Remember everyone to sign up for the Fallen in Chocolate 5k!!! Go to to register. It is going to be awesome, you won't want to miss out :) There are lots of people on Facebook who have said they are going but haven't signed up yet....hurry and do it so we can order the shirts!