Friday, 15 November 2013

Health Update :)

Hi everyone,

I know many of you are patiently waiting for news on how I am and how my chemotherapy treatments went. I finished my last round, 8/8 at the end of Sept.  I then had a CT scan done a few weeks ago, and went for my follow-up with my doctor yesterday.

And I am happy to report that it's very good news.  I have started my remission, a "good remission" as my doctor calls it, but not a full remission just yet.  The chemotherapy did its job well and most of my lymph nodes were significantly reduced.  There are a few still lingering, but they are small, and the chemo is technically still working away at them.
I now begin the maintenance stage, where I go every 3 months for 2 years to get Rituximab, which is an anti body to help my immune system push me further into remission and keep me there longer. In 6 months we check to see if anything is growing again..and go from there.
Though my cancer is hard to cure, it is manageable. And along with the medicine science has brought, and the health care regime my husband devised for me, I am positive that my health will only get better.

I want to thank everyone who took the time to put me in their thoughts and prayers.   To my close friends and family who helped with the day to day.  I couldn't have done it without you.
And above all, to my husband, who took the time to create a system of whole health for me. Without you, I am certain I would have had a completely different cancer journey, and for this, words will never be able to express my love and gratitude.

Let's move on with life, shall we?  xo

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Update Before Round 2!

As I sit here prepping for Round 2 this morning...and from the indication of my phone alerts and Facebook messages over the last few weeks, I believe that an update on how I'm doing is in order.

Well, it's been 3 weeks since my first round of Chemo (R-CVP), and I have to say that, due to my husband's holistic plan, I'm feeling pretty darn good.

I thought that the days of treatment and the few after would be horrendous.  ALL medical staff really emphasize that you're going to be sick...sicker than you've ever been, so be be sick.  Which in some cases is very true, depending on the course of treatment you're put on.  There are many different kinds of chemo, many different people, and many different kinds of reactions and side effects.  So, my question is, if everyone reacts as an individual, why is there no individualized care?
I of course can only speak for myself.  During treatment I drank insane amounts of water, ate when I felt hungry (mostly sandwiches and Boost) and had the benefit of having acupuncture administered. (During and after treatment) Once back at the hotel, I drank some healthy shakes full of fruits/veggies/protein/immune boosters and zeolite.
My side effects were mild, some nausea (not constant), insomnia (due to all the pre/post-meds they had me on), headaches, mouth soreness/tenderness and light-headness (due to the post-meds).  My appetite comes and goes (starving to no thanks.)  All in all, not what I was told would happen.  I did crash for 2 days after finishing my course of Predinisone, but I quickly bounced back.

I spoke to my nurse during my follow up visit last week in Sudbury and she even asked me what I was doing.  She was happy to hear my plan and even informed me that my doctor was an advocate of chiropractic and acupuncture to complement the treatment plan.  (Although I would have never known it from him, as he's never in the room longer than 2 minutes. )  I told her about the supplements as well, and she told me just to stay away from high-dose Vitamin C, but otherwise to keep on course.  Seems to be working.
I can't tell you how many people over the last 3 weeks were surprised, amazed and inspired to see how good (I prefer the word awesome) I looked and how positive I am. And I'll tell you what I told them...I am not leaving my health and future in the hands of a severely flawed medical system.  My husband and I are empowering ourselves with our own knowledge and taking control.  And this blog is us sharing that knowledge with others going through the same thing.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

My Inconvenient Journey Pt 2

So I was referred to a Hematologist (blood dr) in Sudbury.  I go get an insane amount of blood work done and I patiently wait my turn to see him.  I'm also told on the spot that a bone marrow biopsy will be done during this visit as well.  Extremely painful, don't recommend it.
While there, I'm told that a Watch and Wait approach will be taken as I'm not showing symptoms and chemo will only make me sicker.  They will get bigger and then get smaller depending on what you're doing.  So...we'll see you in 3 months...try not to focus on it.  Yeah right!!!

All I can do now, is focus on it.  Feeling the lymph nodes all day everyday.  Are they getting bigger?  There's another one?  What does that mean?  I feel fine, why is this happening to me?  I'm a good person, what did I do to deserve this?  I feel off today, does that mean I'm getting sick?  Do I have a fever?  I sweated in bed last night that my cancer progressing to the next stage?  Wtf? Why can't I simply focus on life instead of this? Needless to say over the last 5 months I've been driving myself insane and into a moderate depression.   No amount of talking to me could get me to stop focussing on those growing lymph nodes.  Which in turn was probably making them grow. 

Circumstances such as work and weather kept me away from my 3 month follow-up until last week.  When I went in asking to have one of the lymph nodes removed because it's rubbing on my jaw and quite painful at times.  The doctor's solution...Chemo!  I of course had a million questions, why now if you first told me that unless I had "the other" symptoms it would be a watch and wait?  How does it work?  What are the alternatives?  What can I do on top of that to make sure I stay healthy?  Nutrition? Supplements?  Exercise?  The only answer I got was, chemo, chemo chemo.  (I wonder if the doctors get a kickback for signing up cancer patients to chemo?)  Regardless...that doctor had no answers.  And I don't think it was because he didn't want to give them, but because he literally didn't know the answers.
Which boggles my mind.
So as he's standing there, offering no other solutions, with one foot out the door, not bothering to sit down and talk to me.  I shut down.
Let's go.  I told my husband.  I'm done here.  I need time to think about this.

So...I spent the weekend thinking about it.  Really, already knowing that I was going to do it.  The remission rate for my cancer is 80% for a minimum of 5 years.  Who wouldn't want to be cancer free for 5 years and not have to worry?  Duh! 
So next weekend I start my chemo, 8 rounds, once every 3 weeks...and yes, it'll suckballs.  But once I'm done, and my hair grows back, I'll have the knowledge that sharing my story might help someone out there, going through the same thing.  Being able to identify with my inconvenient journey. 

So stay tuned for more posts...cause like it or not, you're ALL coming on this journey with me :)  No pity please!!!  Only real smiles and positivity!!!

My Inconvenient Journey Pt 1

Next week marks the beginning of, to quote a friend who's been through it, an inconvenient journey.

Last October, I was diagnosed with LG SIV FNHL.  (Low Grade, Stage 4 Follicular Non-Hogkin's Lymphoma)  Yes folks, that's cancer.  Now before you start flooding my inbox with questions...keep reading.

For those that see me often... I know I don't look sick and to tell you the truth I'm not.  I feel great.  I'm only showing signs of the disease (swollen lymph nodes) and not symptoms (night sweats, weight loss, fever...).  Which is great.  I've actually had signs for years, just didn't know it.  This lymphoma, to be clear, is very lazy, non-aggressive and takes years to develop and grow.

Back in Oct '11, before I moved to Brampton and met my husband and got married and... (read Solid Ground part 1 & 2), I had a lymph node check out at the ER.  Was told, you're fine...just fighting off a cold or a bug, eat lots of veggies and drink lots of water.  It'll be fine.  So I move on with life.  But, I have to say, I wasn't entirely convinced.  You know how sometimes you go through life and your just know.  Well, this was one of those times.  I knew that after years of always being sick, chronic stress and poor eating habits...that ER visit wouldn't be the last one.

But I tried to ignore my little voice (why do we do that?).  Until last summer when my husband took ill and I had to take over the household duties and the business duties and everything else in between.  Stress!!!  So my lymph nodes started multiplying and growing.  Early April...head off to get them check. Oh don't worry about it.  You're blood work is ok.  You've been under a lot of stress, they'll go down eventually.  Again, I was turned away.
Not until Sept when I was having terrible pain in my jaw and my throat felt like it's closing in on me, did my husband (all better now), take me to the ER and demanded we have x-rays and a CAT Scan done.  Meanwhile, all my blood work is still good.
Weeks later, the results we're devastating.  I had swollen lymph nodes (fairly large ones too) next to my abdomen and lungs.

Time for a biopsy to be sure.  Alas...