Tuesday, December 31, 2013

auld lang syne

2013 is drawing to a close. I have been so contemplative today. I went back to work earlier this month, and it has been utter chaos. I am feeling much, much better, and stronger every day. I still have days that knock me down, and they surprise me. Anyone who knows me, knows I don't do well with limitations. So, I am learning. Learning to let go. Learning to let others bear some of the load for me. Which others did a lot of in 2013. I want to thank all of my readers, first of all. On the days I was feeling down or sad or angry, I came on here and was uplifted by your comments and views. Thank you for walking through this journey with me. Thank you to my husband and son, the best guys ever. I love you.



Thank you to the rest of my family, those of you who were there. I love you all too.

All day, I have been feeling the most amazing spectrum of emotions. I feel like I can't talk smack about 2013. After all, it brought me the most amazing gift I have ever been given, my son, Jack. It made me a mommy and it made me an orphan. It brought me to a new place in my relationship with my husband's family. My mother in law, Sandy and I became tied together by an invisible, unbreakable cord when she was in the room as my son took his first breath. With that first breath, that first beat of Jack's heart, we all became a little more complete. He is truly the best thing I have ever done.

This year made me stronger and it brought me literally to my knees with weakness. I broke into a million tiny pieces, and slowly began to piece them back together. I remember the days and weeks following my diagnosis where my husband and I would just look to each other and stare. We didn't know what was going to happen. I was so afraid I was going to die.

This year, this journey has taught me that no matter what I do, no matter what I say, and no matter who I am, my husband will continue to love me. Maybe I was afraid before that he was not, but I'm not anymore.

On my third wedding anniversary, bleary eyed and terrified, clutching my husbands hand, I met Doctor Sehbai. This began a relationship with the kindest, gentlest, most amazing physician I have ever known. His compassion and understanding, and the kind staff he is surrounded by made the process bearable. Some days, I even felt like I was having fun. If I had to have cancer to meet this amazing man, then I'm ok with that.

I lost all of my hair and got puffy and weird and my skin was red all over, and I felt like the ugliest person on earth, and realized that everyone I love still thought I was pretty on the inside, which is what matters most. Of course, thank you to those of you who lied to me and told me how pretty I still looked. Skin deep, indeed.

I met people online and in support groups where I shared things that, believe it or not, I was not even able to share with you. These women have lifted me up every single time I felt down. For that I am eternally grateful. Especially to Laura, Crystal and Emily, who feel like my soul sisters, thank you all for helping me not to feel so alone. Laura sent me a card every single week, and on the days when I could barely walk, I still made it to that damn mailbox to see the cards and letters that she (and many others) sent. It meant more to me than any of you could ever know.

I tried to reply to each and every one of you with holiday cards. If I missed you, please tell me in the comments or email me at kathleenkolkmann@gmail.com. Or find me on Facebook. I was too sick to respond to most everything this summer, but I am obsessive about correspondence and would love to share the card with you, even belated.

I reconnected with friends from home that were going through things that were even harder than what I was, and we found strength in each other. Here's looking at you, Melissa and Sabrina. Here's to Dan, whom I totally let down by not going to my high school reunion (mainly because I could not get drunk, as I was pregnant,) who shaved his head on a whim after seeing my YouTube video while sitting in traffic. Hometown love... Buffalove.

I turned thirty and felt grateful for every breath of air I have been allowed to take. In the words of Sara Bareilles: "and the gift of my heartbeat sounds like a symphony." I stopped taking everything - stopped taking anything for granted and learned to start living again now. But I also learned that its ok to simply try again tomorrow. I see so much love and promise in the eyes of my son and I can't wait for the rest of my life.

I learned more about myself in this past year than I did in the entire 29 years I spent on this earth before Jack and my choriocarcinoma. And I would not change one single thing. I would walk through hell and back a million times to see this little boy smile just once.




Early in my journey, I was having a conversation with my brother. He told me that by the time this year was over, I was going to have had a brand new baby, and beaten cancer's ass. He said that I would look back on this, and look to others and say, well, what did you do with your life this year?

And he was right. 

Bring it, 2014! 


Friday, December 6, 2013

Life "after" the big C

Life after cancer will never be the same as it was before. I have spoken to a few survivors, and their post-cancer thoughts and experiences all vary wildly. I have one friend who told me that she feels like there will be a "black cloud," hovering over her for the rest of her life. I met a woman at a wedding this summer whom I could only describe as a stone cold bad ass, breast cancer survivor. She said that ever since she beat cancer, she wonders, "whats going to get me next?" She said that when she goes to the doctor, she is filled with dread, and yet, she continues to live life to the fullest and embrace it. I "met" a young lady who had the same cancer as I did on social networking. She told me that, post treatment, she feels ugly, depressed, and not the same. Me, personally? I've been riding the denial express for about 8 straight months. In case you couldn't tell by my rapid decline in blogging, then my all-out avoidance for the past month or so. It is almost as if, during treatment, you have this amazing defense mechanism in your psyche. This, at least in my case, causes you to develop the personality of a fighter. To adopt the mentality that what is happening to you is ok, you have no control over it, but that you have the ability to be cheerful while it is happening. There are two people I have met, one, a volunteer at the cancer center, and another a reporter who interviewed me about placental disease; both have called me "the world's happiest cancer patient." If only they knew what happens in the dark corners of my mind. Or how I treated my husband some days, when I was dealing with the worst of it. I am not the worlds happiest cancer patient, and I am not as strong as some of you may think. That does not mean that I am not strong. It turns out, I have my own inner "stone cold bad ass," and she is pretty epic. But I am also human. I fail. I make mistakes. I say things to the people I love that I do not mean. It feels good to get that out. After treatment, everything changed. Suddenly, I felt like it was finally real. I was terrified to stop chemo, knowing that the cancer would come back. Not that it might, but feeling, knowing inside that it would. Thankfully, it hasn't. I started mouring things that I had lost. I got weepy when I saw things on social networking or online about breastfeeding. I started to feel angry; really fucking angry. I started to grieve because I was robbed of the normal postpartum experience. And worst of all, I did not start to feel better. Sure, my hair has grown 1/4 inch. But strangers still stare. And since my last treatment on October 15, I have had some really, seriously, amazing days. But a lot of days I still feel sick. A lot of days, I continue to be frustrated by my limitations. It is still difficult for me to climb stairs. I am ready for bed at 2 pm, no matter how much I slept the night before. No amount of caffeine helps with this. In the first few weeks I struggled with worsening nausea and vomiting, and continued to use anti-emetics to deal with this. That frustrasted me. I kept thinking to myself, I thought I was DONE. Worst of all, my number climbed. Although it never went above 5, it was slowly but surely rising for about 3 weeks. I was so scared. And yet, because I was done, because I was cured, I did not reach out for help. I did not come on here and share with you, dear readers, my fear, anxiety and apprehension about life after cancer. For that, I apologize. My number has since declined, and is down to .8 as of my last blood draw. Now this, I have to share. I found out about that beta hCg because my amazing, dedicated doctor texted it to me. He had left work for the day, was feeling sick, and yet, out of curiosity, checked my number. When he saw it was .8, he let me know and Jim and I celebrated by dancing and high-fiving in the kitchen. Jack supervised from his high chair. I want to share with you something my husband read in a magazine and cut out for me. It was found in Backpacker magazine, and it written by Casey Lyons. I removed a small excerpt from it, but here is most of it: 
 survival, defined 
I once knew a guy, an inexperienced hiker, who went out for an overnight on the Appalachian Trail, got left behind by his hiking buddy, and panicked. A trail-runner found him 15 minutes later, broken, blubbering, and gearless on a blue-blaze trail. He ditched his pack because he thought it would slow his escape. He was crying because he wasn't ready to die. That's not survival. Sprained your ankle and forced to hobble out using a tree branch for a crutch? That's not survival either. That's a mishap, a blip, a frightening but ultimately funny story.So what is survival? Here's an easy baseline: You'll know it when you're eating the weakest sled dog. In a survival situation, if you come back at all, you come back without something dear to you. Maybe it's a finger, or a friend, but more likely something that was once glued to your psyche, so close you never realized it was there: The belief that the world is forever filled with warm beds, warm partners, and happy endings for all the pretty-much good enough people like you. Survival changes that. It cleaves your life into two: before it happened and after it happened. And in the middle is a gigantic monument that casts a shadow from which you may never emerge. You'll know survival is at stake when you ifnd your faith. Then lose your fiath. Then come to a haunting realization: You are going to die. You might live yet, thanks to luck or skill or probably both, but you will stare your own mortality ub uts oake and hollowed-out face, and if that image doesn't stalk you by day, you can count on seeing it in your dreams. Such life-or-death situations can materialize out of the night and set upon you. If you're still not sizing up the sled dogs or family pet, don't worry: You'll know what's at stake when you realize that the wolrd, with all its near-infinite beauty, doesn't give a damn about your good times, your feelings, or your sense of fairness. Of course, you've always known that- in an airy, detached sort of way- because you've heard about it happening to other people and you've thought to yourself "I'm too smart/prepared/careful for that." But now, for the first time ever, you'll feel it-subtle as a rasping and unanswered scream for help- right down into your bone marrow. That is survival. May you never know it.

I have never before read something that I identified with quite so powerfully. The author was able to sum up my feelings far better than I could at the time. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The big 3-0

Today is my thirtieth birthday. 

Cheers! I am so grateful I made it here. I can admit, now that it's over, I was scared a few times I might not. Thanks to everyone who has been here with me every step of the way. 


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Last Day

I can't believe it, even as I am writing it, but today is finally, really, actually, FULLY, my very last day of chemo. Its hard to believe that less than 5 months ago, my life was changed forever. It still doesn't seem real. Its like there is this part of me that shut down inside and refused to believe it was even happening to me, and that part of me is still very much there. When I woke up this morning, it felt so different than any other chemo day. I haven't blogged in so long, and I am feeling rusty.

Part of the last day seems overshadowed, since my hCG had a small rise last week from 2.8 to 3.2. Dr. Sehbai is not concerned, and I actually emailed Dr. Goldstein, who is the medical director of the Dana Farber Institute. Dana Farber is the most advanced GTD center in the country, and I really trust Dr. Goldstein's opinion. The most amazing thing about him, is he has been emailing and talking on the phone with us with absolutely no way to bill for his services all along. I plan to follow up with him once I am done with chemo, and I can't wait to meet the man to whom treatment of GTD seems to be so important. I can't help wondering how he was touched by this horrible disease and what made him so dedicated to treating it. ANY-WHO.... Both Dr. Sehbai and Dr. Goldstein and Dr. Cowabunga agree that small rises in hCG are normal. It is still scary as hell, for sure. But, as long as there is not a trend upward, I am still in the clear. I think it's better that it happened while I still had one round of chemo to go, because I can still anticipate a drop in my number. So for now it is 3.2 and thats a hell of a lot better than where I started (over 300,000.)

We are planning on stopping in at Jim's work today before chemo with Jack to visit, so I can meet some of his coworkers. I have met a lot of them, but some of the administrators I haven't had the chance to meet yet. His work shift is throwing a benefit for our family to help us with the costs associated with treatment and from me not working all this time. The whole group at Sussex County EMS has been so tremendously understanding and supportive, I don't know what we would have done with out them. Jim received a crazy amount of donated leave from his coworkers, and has been able to stay home with me and help care for Jack this entire time. Sometimes, the goodness of people just surprises you. We are so lucky to have this extended family.

I can't even believe I did not lead with this, since the biggest deal today is........ Jim shaving his beard! He stopped shaving because I made some comment about wanting him to be like Gandolf in the early days, when my hair first started falling out. All along, I have sort of regretted making that comment, since the beard kind of makes him look like a crazy mountain man. But Jim loves it. In honor of the last day, he is going back to being my babyfaced sweetie. I will add pics a little later.

For now, Jack has systematically thrown each and every toy I have given him to occupy himself while I blog on the floor, so mommy duty awaits. The only big question is: should I don my tutu, as promised, for my last day of chemo?

You'll have to wait and see what happens, I guess. :)




Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Round Ten.

Jim just unhooked my infusion pump for THE LAST TIME EVER!!!! Goodbye, methotrexate. You've been good to me and all, killing this cancer, but I gotta say, you've worn out your welcome. Up for today: my final two doses of Etopiside, which I lovingly refer to as, "the hair taker," and Dactinomyacin, a "tumor inhibiting antibiotic." 


A week from then are my final doses of Cyclophosphamide and Oncvorin (Vincristine,) which do the most damage to my liver. 


My ANC was low today but high enough to get chemo. I met with Dr. Sehbai for the last time while actively in treatment and he said I can get my port out in November. I simply can't wait. That thing is driving me nuts. 


That's all to update for now, it's 6 am and my cell is only at 3% battery. I will check in with you kittens later! Have a great day. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

I'm Ok?

Hey guys. Just a quick update. Jack has been far more active lately, and taking up SO MUCH time! He's started on solid foods, and I'm having tons of fun making different purées for him. So far, sweet potatoes are the fave. 
Here he is hanging in the high chair. 

We also have had some visitors. Jamie, Olivia and Drake were here this past weekend. 

This is Olivia and Drake with Jack and I at Cape Henlopen State Park on Sunday. We had the best time with them this weekend. 

My dad is in town, too. Get ready for cuteness overload! 



Grandpa is all about stories and teaching Jack about tools. He's also built me a shelf in my laundry room and bathroom that pretty much made my day. Or week. Or month. Because everyone needs good storage solutions. He's also installing a few extra towel bars in my bathrooms. Swoon. 

I'm blogging from chemo right now, just waiting for my "chemistries" to come back to tell me if it's safe for me to get chemo. Last week my liver was improved enough to start another round. It looks like, if all goes well, I'll be tying up my last day of chemo October 15. I hope everything is ok and I get my chemo today. If any delays happen it's really going to mess with my 30th birthday and my plans to be done with chemo that week before. My birthday is the 23rd! My dad is here with me today and Jim is too. Can't wait to get out of here and get a cheeseburger or something. 

My hcg continues to fall, and the Mayo value was measured at 3.6 as of last Monday. I was nervous it wouldn't fall or maybe had spiked in the week I took off, but it was down by .3. 

Thanks to those of you who have come by the check on me and sent emails/comments.  It means so much to me even though I don't always respond quickly enough to let you know. Don't stop doing what you're doing, cause it's helping me!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Wtf

Yet another frustrating roadblock .... I have two rounds of EMACO to go, went today and was told my liver enzymes are up and it's too risky to give chemo .... So a week delay at least, watching the liver because obviously liver failure would be terrible. I'm still having a blood transfusion tomorrow.... So disappointed because I just want this nightmare to end. 

I made it

Hey, kittens. This is going to be a short post - I've been feeling pretty exhausted lately and my brain just can't come up with lots of cleverness. But I got a lot of comments today so I wanted to update you guys, I'm still here and everything is ok. I completed my 15 calendar days of work yesterday. My short term disability claim has already been approved and the best part? My coworkers alone donated over 200 hours of leave to cover my elimination period. That's the first 30 days I will be out, where I needed leave to cover due to no longer having FMLA. FMLA is only 12 weeks per year, and I used mine when Jack was born and in the first few weeks of being diagnosed. But, now I have nothing to worry about because I have so much leave. I needed 165 hours, and they haven't even tallied up the amounts of leave from our upstate unit, so, I'm more than ok. People were so generous and I am truly lucky. 

I have chemo today so maybe I will blog a bit more from there. Tomorrow is going to be a long chemo day, since I'm having a blood transfusion first thing. I'm getting more anemic, but have been getting neupogen after each round of chemo, which has really improved the white cell count situation. Before chemo, Sandy (Jim's mom,) is making us peanut butter and jelly pancakes. So, I should probably get off my lazy bum and shower so I can head over there. 

Thanks to everyone for reading and for checking in with me today -- it really means more to me than you could possibly know. Sorry I've been such a remiss blogger. I'm trying to be better. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Back to the Grind

I came back to work this week. All I can say about going to work full time, being a mommy, and having chemotherapy treatments, plus traveling to the cancer center an extra 3 days for neupogen is.... DAYUM. I can't believe how exhausting it is! Not to mention, how hard it is to leave my little Jackleberry. I just called Jim to check in and he put the bay on speakerphone. Apparently, in addition to making the cutest, most heart string tuggin' noises ever, he attempted to eat the phone. Although eating any object placed within his reach is his big, new move these days. Jim said he was looking around for me. Cue the mommy tears.... So, please forgive me for not bloggins. I have been a bit busy. I just wanted to write a quick update to let you know I am still here, trucking along. The deal on work is, after working 15 days, if I feel like I am not handling it, I can go back out on a new short term disability claim. Unfortunately, I have used up all of my FMLA time, between baby and you know, cancer. So, if I am unable to obtain enough donated leave time, I will be forced into long term disability (again, which means I lose my position.) So, that pretty much is a big old ball of stink a roo! So if you live in Delaware, and work for the state, and want to give me time, hit me up! I'm just hoping it all works out. I can go back to work after I'm done with chemo, and I want to. Isn't it sad when the system screws over someone who is just trying to get well and go back to work? Tonight I am on 4pm-12am and its about halfway through my shift. I am actually blogging from my desk, and we are pretty busy tonight, so I'm the only one at the office right now, covering the phones. My boss has been very accomodating and let me know that I can try to lay back and take the phones at the office, whenever possible, on account of the lacking white cells and such. I know you guys are dying for the dish on how it is being back and how everyone is treating me, and the deal there is everyone has been very kind. It is sort of awkward though! Some people want to hear all about my story and I can tell, others are just plain freaked out and seem to almost avoid me. So far, the hardest part is wearing a scarf or hat. My head gets really warm, but I'm not bold enough to go bald just yet. I just want chemo to be over so I can get 1/4 inch of hair all over my head and start using my fab scarf collection as it is intended- jazzing up my work uniform!! I hope everyone is geared up for a fun weekend. I'll be working 1pm-9pm tomorrow, but off Sunday for the start of football. I can't wait for a little sleeping in, followed by watching football and snacking with my best boys, Jim and Jack. Go Bills! PS, sorry for the formatting of the blog. Since I am using my work computer, its making it look a little funny and I am trying to figure out how to fix it but am totally technologically challanged! xo

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Five Guys

I walk slowly, my infusion bag hanging over my belly and chest. Every few seconds the pump audibly activates, slowly pushing highlighter yellow fluid through a port (also visible,) in my chest. I can feel their eyes on me and its strange, because people don't usually stare. I just wanted to get a cheeseburger in peace. I don't think it's fair to make my husband buy me a burger, and hide in the car, or find a way to hide my pump, so I don't make others uncomfortable. I'm uncomfortable, ok? It's bad enough feeling it. When people stare like that, I wish I had business cards. I would tell them about my blog, explain a bit of the story. I would say, it's ok to be curious, but please, stop staring at me. And if I catch you, smile. Please smile at me, because I could use the love. I'm not a monster, I'm a human being just like you. And I really, really like cheeseburgers and Mr. Pibb, which I can get in obscene amounts thanks to Five Guys Coke freestyle machine. Obscene, I tell ya.....

So I self consciously slide the bag to the side, trying to pull the line so no one else notices, and slip it under my purse before I order. Even though its hot, I pull my sweatshirt over the tagaderm covering the needle in my chest. I find myself doing that a lot. Feeling hot or uncomfortable so people don't see the new me. The bald, fat, scary looking cancer patient. But what I can't stand the most is the pity. Trust me, I have plenty of self pity. Enough for the whole world. So you, dear strangers, can save it and send me your love instead. Mmmmmkay?

Yesterday, I had my first of the rounds I never thought would happen. Technically, treatment plan wise, its my 2nd (of 4,) consolidation round. But it feels like the first since last week was, for so long, what we were told was the finish line. Now, its six weeks from yesterday. Plus back to work full time, possibly the entire six weeks. So yes, a bit challenging. I've been feeling, physically, a lot of the effects of the chemo a little more strongly. They include mild neuropathy- numbness and tingling in my fingers, increased fatigue, general weakness, sore all over. The steroids have given me my least favorite side effects actually: thinning of the skin (really attractive,) to the point where you can see my veins and actually the grey of my port. It's disgusting furreal. I also have what's called a "buffalo hump," a redistribution of fat on the back of my neck which I try not to look at in the mirror. Weight gain is also courtesy of the steroids. Like its not bad enough to be bald, I have to be uglier, too. But.... Alas, treatment is saving my life. I'm grateful. The hair will grow back, and with a little discipline, those extra pounds can be taken care of too. I'm also amassing a majorly gorgeous scarf collection, which should transition nicely into my fall wardrobe once I have some hair and no longer need them. 

More good news is, some friends here are having a benefit. This is going to help us tremendously, emotionally and financially. The bad news is, my friends and family from home pretty much suck. Oh, there are a select few. If you're reading this, you're probably one of them. You know who you are. Those who are brave enough to actually pick up the phone. Friends get a pass on visiting, but family does not. And I have yet to receive one family visit. It's fine, its cool, its just fucking goddamned cancer. No bigs! I'll be just fine! (Is the sarcasm shining through effectively?) 

After I wrote my last blog, the response was overwhelming. Every single comment surprised and touched me in a special way. It made me realize there are a lot more out there of you than I knew, and that means more than any words I could possibly spin to explain. I am humbled, and "thank you," is the best I have. With each and every additional comment, tears were welling in my eyes. To know you're still here and pulling for me, means the world to me. 

Tonight, I'm blogging from the guest bed. Jack has developed a penchant for sleeping with mommy and daddy, and since I have the infusion pump/huber needle situation going on, I don't want to risk him pulling it out and/or a leak situation, which could be really harmful. He normally sleeps within inches of the site. So, he's with Daddy, and I'm over here cuddling my fur baby Beau. Lola is also banned, although she's a great cuddle buddy, because she gets a little thrashy and could pull out the line. Actually, come to think of it, Lola is the number one candidate for accidental chemo rippage and spillage. So, she's downstairs in the princess suite.

 I've been up since my four am bathroom break, when a case of the "what ifs," got me and I lay here worrying. My metho is set to stop this time at 6:15 so by the time it was 5:30 sleep was no longer an option. So I came here to talk to you guys about it. I haven't blogged as much since there is little to report. I am definitely experiencing more sadness and frustration as we near the end. It was probably impossible to maintain such a cheery attitude all along, but I'm still trying to stay positive. I know I can beat this and I've been able to avoid the "why me," kind of BS sadness. But I have a little daily cry. And I say its not fair once in awhile. But then I look at baby Jack and this all seems worth it. I would do it all again for that amazing little boy. 

It's time for my infusion to stop, so I gotta go wake up Jim and have him unhook me and flush out my port and all that good stuff. Then, I'm hoping to catch some zzz's before my visiting nurse gets here at 7:30. 

They did a blood draw yesterday, so I will have a number to post from the home lab tomorrow, but not the Mayo until later in the week. I will update as soon as I know. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Expert Opinions, or My New Treatment Plan.

Slacker-town, USA: population, me. Sorry for the long wait between postings. Things have been... just, crazy. First with the Mayo number, then trying to figure out the best way to deal with it.... its just been wild lately. So, I know I can't make up for making you wait so long, but maybe giving you all the dirty deets will help.

After we found out the Mayo number was 10, a lot of things happened. I went for chemo last Thursday, and I was even more neutropenic than I had been the past round, when I posted about it. In case you don't remember, or aren't into re-reading every blog I've ever written, (I mean, I know, I'm brilliant, but that might be kinda boring...) that ANC (remember, that stands for allover neutrophil count, or the amount of white blood cells I have to fight off disease,) was 560. This time, it was 240. Pretty scary stuff. My hemoglobin was low too, around 9. They couldn't give me chemo again, and delayed it until this past Monday. They scheduled another 3 days of neupogen and told me when and if I get more chemo, I will get neupogen every time, since my body has just not been able to recover. The best part? I'm going back to work for at least two weeks, so I get to self administer the neupogen. I'm not actually going to do that, though. My mother in law and Jim are going to give the shots. They also scheduled me for a blood transfusion the following day, because of the low hemoglobin.

It.
Was.
Crazy!!!
I've never had a transfusion before, and I'm not sure if many of my readers have, but it is quite the experience. First thing they do is give you this bracelet for "type and cross." Like three nurses have to sign off on it, and its all very serious. When they gave me the blood, both Jim and Jack were there. At the infusion center, most patients sit in recliners in groups of four in an open air suite, but they have two private rooms with beds, so they put me in the princess suite. Kim was my nurse, and she is really comforting and amazing and knows me pretty well. Since the whole thing grossed me out so bad, she covered the blood with paper so I couldn't even see the bag. They gave me a shit ton of Benadryl in my IV, which, along with the Ativan I took, made me like "wheeeeeeeee," then, "zzzzzzzz." I actually went home and slept like 6 more hours, too. It was the first time since before I had my son that I just went to bed. I just came home and was like, byeeeee Jim, see ya, I'm out. It was lovely. I didn't feel better right away, but I have noticed in the days following that I am less short of breath and have a bit more energy. I'm experiencing some pretty intense physical exhaustion, though. Every round kicks my ass a little bit more.

Speaking of rounds.....

We met with Dr. Sehbai yesterday to discuss the therapy I will need in light of this Mayo number. When we spoke on Thursday, Dr. Sehbai suggested he reach out via email to some of the world's experts in treating GTD (gestational trophoblastic disease, or the class of disease that my cancer belongs to.) So, we got the information from them and the consensus is 3 more rounds.

Arrrrrrrgggggghhhhh.

I thought I was done, so it is frustrating. On top of that, it seems that this setback has caused me to finally start to feel some of the things I was eventually going to have to- sadness, anger, and the "why me," type thinking. Its healthy, and normal, but hard. I have been feeling totally discouraged. It doesn't hurt that when I "was cured," that a lot of my readers/supporters kind of disappeared. My readership has slowed down, and even my Facebook support seems to have taken a nosedive. I feel like I was getting a lot of support from blogging, and feedback from it, and now that this is gone, I am feeling a bit lost. I gotta say, it wasn't my idea to blog about this. I've been feeling discouraged because of it, and when I mentioned it to Clare, the therapist I am seeing, she said that it may be beneficial for me to write about it and let people know. I know my readers are the best people ever, and they wouldn't make me feel bad if they knew. And honesty is the best policy. And stuff. Still, I feel a bit vulnerable, and hesitant to post like this and ask for help. You see, I'm not the best at that. So be gentle on me. I promise not to wait between posting next time.







Monday, August 19, 2013

How is This Even Possible....

Hey, kittens! How's tricks? We have had a busy week here. Christa, my sister in law, was here, plus we  (and when I say we I mean my family and friends,) participated in the run or dye event in Dover this Saturday.

I also got some more discouraging news on Friday. It turns out, once my hCg got to <5 according to my home lab, it needed to be sent out to the Mayo Clinic, the closest place that is able to measure the quantitative, or quant for short, value. When we asked to have the quant run, we were assuming the value would come back 4, 3, 2, etc. Since I was supposed to finish my last round for hitting undetectable this coming Thursday, I guess we just assumed everything was fine. But when we asked for the bloodwork, they said the doctor needed to review it first. Dr. Sehbai was out of town at a conference. So, they sent an email asking him to release the results. The following day, another oncologist released them.

It.
Was.
Ten.

We were absolutely floored. The first reaction, of course, is, what the hell does this mean? Is it a lab error? Typo? Am I dreaming? Because this feels a bit like a nightmare! So, we called Dr. Sehbai, the kindest, most dedicated doctor there is, and he tells me not to freak out (not in so many words, but you get the idea.) So, the next step is to determine if there was a rise in hCg. I also contacted Dr. Cadungog, who explained that if there was a rise, this would mean I am chemo resistant, and need a different protocol, EMA/EP.

The following day, they tested my hCg and sent to the lab I have been using all along. It determined that my hCg is still <5. So, no rise. But, ten is ten is ten. If the Mayo Clinic, which has apparently more sensitive equipment, says ten, I'm not cured.

I'm not cured?

What?

Again, when I posted my last blog, I was filled with anger and frustration. I thought that this was the worst it could get, a delay in my last round. As it turns out, I now am more than likely going to be needing more chemo. And the kicker? I have run out of short term disability days at work. So, for my next round, I will have to be actively working while getting chemo. Fortunately, after working 14 consecutive days, I can open up another short term claim and go out of work for another 6 months. I have no idea how I am going to get through those two weeks, though. I am exhausted as is.

It was really important to update my readers, but I am just not sure at this point what is happening or where we are going with this. I am going to try to get a blood draw ordered and sent back to Mayo sometime before the day I am due to see Dr. S and have chemo again (this coming Thursday.) I wish I didn't have to do any of this, because my charming cousin Tammy invited me to visit her and her son, James, this week. I am so ready to get in the car and just disappear for awhile..... Run away....

I will update as soon as we know more.

xo

























Friday, August 16, 2013

Setbacks

Woke up (at 315) totally confused on couch. I don't want to wake baby so I'm face booking and chilling down here until 445 am when my home chemo infusion bag is empty and Jim unhooks me for now. If you don't recall, I keep the needle in and return for day 2 of the EMA portion tomorrow, well, today. I will also have a home nurse at 8 am to flush my port.  

Hopefully this is the last time we ever need to do this, but my numbers were screwy today. Feeling so anxious because we don't know what it means and need to redraw and wait to know things. I just want this to be done! 

Basically, what happened is they sent my labs to the Mayo clinic, since our local lab is only able to determine that it is <5, not 4,3,2, etc. Well, it came back 10. Ten isn't remission and would require more chemo. Or, if I'm trending up, I'm chemo resistant and need a new regimen. 

Unfortunately for me, Dr. Sehbai is on vacation. I did speak with him and Dr. Cowabunga on the phone. Both agree that variations in labs are normal and that I should stay calm until we know what the truth/real value is. But I already know ten is ten is ten. So, what's the point in being optimistic that another lab thinks its less. Unless that ten is truly an error. I guess, I am just feeling discouraged from the whole process for the first time. I'm so frustrated and angry. I even took a sedative, enough to sleep on the couch and away from my boys. That's huge for me. I just want to sleep until this is over. I even slept though my infusion yesterday. 

Sorry for the lame-o blog, just wanted to update. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Setback

I am literally stunned, speechless. My jaw is slack, and the nurse is peering expectantly, almost impatiently at me. Five hundred and sixty.

Five hundred and freaken' sixty.

That is my ANC this week, or all over neutrophil count. Those are white blood cells. You probably have an ANC of at least 2,000. I had 7,000 when I started chemo. So, there's that.

Kathy, the nurse, is patiently, calmly, clinically explaining to me that chemo "just caught up to you." That I have been lucky up until this point. And then, the blow. You can't have chemo today.

It was supposed to be my last day. Or the start of my last day. Now, Kathy is explaining that I will need not only two, but three days of neupogen. The neupogen that had me near crawling up the stairs, clinging to the bannister for dear life. The neupogen that had me with tears in my eyes from pain at my friend's wedding from standing. The neupogen which caused pain that was immune to DILAUDID. I try to take it in stride, but my eyes fill with tears when Kathy walks away. I look to my husband and see the pain reflected there. I feel my sister in law rubbing my arm, and her pain is palpable too.

It feels like I'm dying. Seriously. And I know I just need some perspective here, because I walked into this cancer center today cocky as hell. I was so happy. It was bound to end at some point. That same morning, actually, we noticed there was a banking error and everything was screwed up. My husband was, naturally, wigging out. I told him, Jim, there are big things in this world, and little things, and this banking issue (which is actually a huge, complicated issue involving about a million overdrafts due to a hotel's billing error,) is a small thing. When I was saying it, I was really thinking, holy crap, how are we ever going to fix this and pay our bills? But, it turns out I was right. That was not the worst thing to happen to us that day.

Dr. Sehbai comes to see me and there is pain in his eyes, too. I tell the nurse I am crushed and she confesses that the doctor is too. Just writing this, my eyes are filling with tears, thinking about all the support and love that surrounds me. I am so truly blessed. Dr. S explains that with a count this low, I should not be going out to restaurants and stuff. Bummerrrrrrrrrr. We totally had dinner plans! He says if they give me chemo, I could drop down to having no white cells at all, and end up in the hospital with an infection. I really don't want to risk my life, so I think I'll listen to the good doctor. Besides, what else am I going to do? Hold a nurse hostage and force her to infuse my chemo? Yeah, don't think so. But you have to admit, its a funny mental image. THIS IS A STICK UP! GIMME MY CHEMOS!!!! Hah! I'm here all night, folks.

So, what are ya gunna do? No chemo, no problem!

They wind up giving me the neupogen and scheduling my chemo for Thursday. It is less of an issue to delay chemotherapy, since I am in remission and undetectable (YES!) But, it is still a hassle. I have to go back to work on the same day, regardless, so it increases my chances of being neutropenic when I return, which is kind of hard. I would wear a mask and wash hands like crazy, but, like, its not bad enough I have to wear hats to hide my bald head? Let's add one more thing that makes it look like I had cancer. Ugh. Oh well, I should really stop being such an ego maniac! No one cares if I am wearing a mask. Although it does get warm under there. They will check my ANC again Thursday and possibly give me chemo then. It is planned for me to have chemo that day, but I say possibly because, well, look at what happened Monday.

I was flying so high! The worst part is, we had friends who were going to visit this weekend, dear Lisa and Irving. One of our favorite couples. Here they are at our wedding:


In the interest of not, you know, killing me with some life threatening tiny infection that they do not even know they are carrying, they cancelled their trip. They are so cool though, they were going to ride their motorcycle here! They are going to Vermont now, instead, I think. We love them and will miss them so much, and hope to see them after I finish chemo!

So for now I am hiding in my house. My in laws are coming over today. Christa is in town and is really enjoying spending time with her nephew. I'm going to finish this blog on a happy note, by posting a few pics of her visit and Jack. Because sometimes, you have to laugh to keep from crying. And that is okay.


Here is Jack, watching some preseason Bills football. He's got his beer, remote, and snacks. He actually screamed through the first quarter, slept the second, and played with his Aunty the second half. So, a great time was had by all!






Nice hair, Jim.











Friday, August 9, 2013

Ramadan... and a Lesson

Gratitude. Respect. Honesty.

What do those words mean to you? I feel like they are floating around in my world an awful lot lately. Today, I'm going to focus on respect. Something that happened to me, and actually, my husband more than me the other day inspired this. I asked him what word came to mind when it occurred and respect is what he came up with. So, I googled "respect quotes," and found this, from a book that I loved:

“Respect was invented to cover the empty place where love should be.” 
 Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

So, heres the story, morning glories:

A few weeks ago, Jim happened to mention to Dr. Sehbai that he had once observed Ramadan. This was during the time or before the time that Ramadan occurred this year, which Dr. Sehbai observes due to his religion. After we left the appointment, Jim was very curious as to how the good doctor had responded. He was concerned that Dr. Sehbai may have been insulted! Now, for those of you who do not know my husband, he is very sensitive. And that's a good thing!


Look at that cutie!

He was torn up worrying about it. The last thing Jim would ever want to do is reject or insult another man's cultural or religious beliefs. So, we talked about it, and, not knowing Dr. Sehbai as well as we do now, came to the conclusion on my behalf that Dr. S was interested, not insulted. Jim was probably on the fence, still!

After my appointment this past Monday, during which a LOT was discussed; more on that later, Dr. Sehbai mentioned he wanted us to wait before going back to the chemo suite for me to get my infusion. I had to use the bathroom and when I came out, Jim was holding this:



And beaming from ear to ear! Jim was so pleased that Dr. Sehbai gave him this, I thought he was going to float away.

So, its easy to find respect, once you have earned it. I believe it was the following day that Ramadan, for this year, ended. So, as the doctor explains to me, you are not expected to binge, but continue observing discipline throughout the year. You are, however, allowed to eat and have water again during the day. I was so worried about my top guy, who works so hard, being hungry all day! To observe a holiday such as this, with discipline and dedication, to me, deserves the ultimate respect! And yet, he gives it to my husband and I.

We are truly lucky.









Monday, August 5, 2013

Truly Undetectable

I'm really excited for you, and ima let you finish, but....

I WENT UNDETECTABLE TODAY!!!! 


The screen shot says it all. How cute my son is, how great my Doctor is, and how truly bad ass I am because I kicked cancers ASS! Today was just.... The best  . Even though both Jack and I got shots. Daddy's diploma came in the mail today too, his Bachelors of Science. And Jack ate peas! 

Is my Kanye joke too late to the party? Are you psyched I finally made it?! I know I am. 

I promise to blog later when I've gotten some rest. I finished a round of EMA/CO today, and have one to go. That's Two. More. Weeks. I'm tired and my tummy is upset today so its bath and bedtime for mommy and Jack. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

For Real Real

I feel like shit for real, man. I just need to say it. It's not like me, I know. But the past few days, side effects wise, have been difficult. I knew it might happen, but its kind of unfair that it happens now. Right? 

This is what I'm doing as I'm blogging tonight, 1:00 am to start. I have no clue when I will finish this actual entry. It's Sunday evening or, more accurately, Monday (chemo Monday, ugh) morning. WTF, man. All I can really think in my negative state of mind is, "home stretch, my ass." 

I'm having this pain in my legs, something fierce. That's me with ice packs to the knees, chillin on the couch. Notice the two freezey pops. It is a two freezey pop minimum kind of night. If I could stand without my knees buckling beneath me and feeling like someone has taken an ice pick (literally) to them, I would be abusing this even more. But I can't. I can barely stand and it hurts to walk and every single time I move it starts throbbing. It also hurts in my tummy and low back. Oh and the best part? I've taken dilaudid (earlier today and yesterday,) and it doesn't even touch it. That's a very strong, very narcotic painkiller. I was loathe to take it at all, given my fear of all things sleep and drowsiness and/or addictive related. But I had to. 

I took the first dose of giving up, ahem, I mean pain management last night while we were still at our bed and breakfast, after the wedding we attended. It was the nicest place, with the steepest stairs, like woah. The pain began sometime on Saturday, I think. I was so scared and hurt as it intensified I started crying. I remember saying to Jim, "if you can't walk you can't dance, and I'm not sure if I can walk." He told me not to worry because it is going to get better. 

Only it did not. 

I tried Tylenol at first, but what shocked me was taking that dilaudid and having it not work. I finally resorted to that yesterday evening, the Saturday or night of the wedding I was attending. It. Did. Nothing. 

Nothing. 

I felt calmer, maybe. Possibly a bit less stiff. Maybe, drowsy enough to care less about the pain. But, still pain. Still whimpering from it. After the first doss of meds, I was just lying there with tears streaming down my face and Jim just held me. During the day, Jim kept saying "what is it," naturally being concerned, when I would yelp or grimace, and I would just snap at him that it was pain, what else could it be? <<Insert plug for Jim for being such a good man and putting up with me. I love you baby.>>

We started our weekend adventure on Thursday afternoon-ish. I had my neupogen, which is the first runner up to blame for this pain, btw, at 9:45. Chemo could be the culprit, or all the driving, or I'm crazy, or a neat little combo! We got on the road and drove well over halfway to our destination. It was pretty easy and Jack: 
was so well behaved in the car! We made it to Oneanta and stayed at a motel there. Adventure! I was still feeling fine at this point. On Friday, I bought a pair of new sneaks cause I forgot mine. We hit up the Neptune Diner, then we got on the road and checked into our b&b, about a 2 hour leisurely drive. The B&B was a really cute place. The food wound up being incredible. Think chocolate cream pie as a snack, and a gorgeous, home grown veggie filled quiche for breakfast. 

We enjoyed a rehearsal dinner Friday night where they had do it yourself outdoor brick oven pizza making! So cool. So Graham and Nitya. That's the couple who were getting married. I felt ok at the rehearsal and it was really great to get to know some people. We even met another baby named Ivo. There were lots of babies! Here's Jack with one of them, during the ceremony:


On Saturday before the wedding, we joined Jack's godparents, Keven and Jess, to go diamond mining in Herkimer, just for fun. 
Here's Keven and Jess with Jack! 

Yep, you read that right. Diamond mining! That was the day my legs started feeling really stiff and painful, so I mostly sat back with Jack and watched. But it was so much fun and Jessica found a really pretty, if tiny, clear diamond. My tenacious, task oriented husband mined plenty as well. He is truly task oriented. Give that man a mission and he will finish it. Here's Jack, aka Thor, mining diamonds:



Much later, during the ceremony, in true baby fashion, Jack over-wet his diaper, but the daddy in the photo was kind enough to help me out. I tried to stand for the ceremony, but at that point the pain had really started throbbing in earnest and I was feeling kind of weak. So, we sat in the grass and just listened. One of my favorite parts of the ceremony was when this was said: "all that I need is already there." 

I thought to myself, that is so powerful. At the end of the ceremony, the wind started to pick up. It was so beautiful (soo beautiful!) and powerful and spiritual. It made me feel so happy and at peace. My husband stood in the ceremony, so he made a speech at the reception. It was amazing. 

Another thing that was really cool is I got to meet some cancer survivors. The first I met was Susan, Graham's aunt. She owns the farm the wedding was on. Cancer was the topic of discussion a lot this weekend, because Jodi, the bride's mom, is newly diagnosed. She wasn't able to be there, so they used FaceTime. (I bawled.) 

Words cannot describe the incredible spirit I saw when I met these two families. They were truly so inspiring and amazing; to myself and my own family, and, I'm sure to the other guests as well. And it wasn't just family that brought this feeling around. All of the guests were a part of it. It was a spirit, an undercurrent, and a theme that was floating through the air like the lightest, sun kissed, first breeze of spring. It was like something I read once in A Tree Grows In Brooklyn (irony not intended, folks, as they live in Brooklyn) where Betty Smith writes:

“Those were the Rommely women: Mary, the mother, Evy, Sissy, and Katie, her daughters, and Francie, who would grow up to be a Rommely woman even though her name was Nolan. They were all slender, frail creatures with wondering eyes and soft fluttery voices. But they were made out of thin invisible steel.”

That's the best way I could describe the women I had the pleasure of meeting this weekend. All of them, related, family, non family, and otherwise. And that is how I choose to describe Jodi, and especially her daughter, Nitya. I have absolutely no right to complain about some stupid sore knees when there is strength like that to be found in this world. I'm just lucky that this weekend I was able to witness it. 

My only regret is that I was unable to dance the night away. We left much earlier than pre-baby, pre-cancer fun Kat and Jim would have stayed and I feel just terrible. But I know that a great time was had by all and our friends danced the night away, and for me that is enough. We did get to see them off in the morning before getting on the road for what wound up being about an 8 hour trip, with good stoppage on the way home. 

I finished up my trip at home with a bowl of mac and cheese and getting in bed early. The pain woke me, but its 3 am now and I've just taken another dose to try and take the edge off of the pain. In between writing this blog I managed to ice the knees more, which isn't helping much but some. I also took a break to feed Jack magic. He has his 4 month shots at 8:30, so I need some shut eye!

I'm trying to stay positive about chemo tomorrow and know that Dr. Sehbai will at least have some insight into the cause if not treatment of this pain. Cause walking is important. 

What a weekend.  

Thanks for listening, guys. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Haven't Forgotten

Haven't forgotten you guys! Taking a few days off from blogging and traveling to a wedding. Keep it cool and we shall chat soon... Have a few things brewin. Thanks for the support and being a part of my journey. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Next Step

Hey, all!!! No cancer! I wanted to drop in and write a quickie, just to say how grateful I am to each and every one of you who has been a part of our journey. Thank you for your support, prayers, thoughts, juju, cupcakes, cookies, hats, cards, letters, and most of all, love. I'm not big on praying but I know a lot of you are and have done so for my family and I. I know that has made a difference cause many of you are in good with the big guy and he clearly took a shine to me. Hugs!

Thank you especially to my family; Jim and Jack and Sandy and Mike, my brother and Dad. Tammy and Alexis, my sisters no matter where we are or who's blood is pumping through our veins. My aunts and uncles, checking in, especially Denelle and Annie. My sister in law, Christa, helping from afar with FaceTime, recipes and love. My sorority sisters, especially my big Hawk, and her sister and mommy for adopting me. Everyone who has rallied around me, and it means the world to us.

I type this from bed with tears in my eyes (again?!?!) because I am simply overwhelmed. I cannot wait for the next leg of my journey. I hope you are all along for the ride to see what happens next. 

There are no words right now, so I will say, simply this: thank you, and......

FUCK CANCER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ahem. Addendum to blog. In order to celebrate we had a little pancake party! 


First I made them for Jim. 

Then he made some for me! 

Jack supervised. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Chemo Grumble Grumble

I am so scratchy today. I borrowed that term from my cousin, Tammy. It's British, apparently. It means cranky. I am at chemo right now, and they say I'm neutropenic. I'm ticked off because I need neupogen. The side effects suck. So at first I was like:


Then, I was like: 


But they said, girlfriend, you needs the neupogen. So I was like:


But, I still don't have a choice. Dr. Sehbai sent me a proxy hug from my nurse, I call her Syracuse, shes cool. So I gotta forgive the doc. He's trying to help me, you know, not get infections or something from my low white cells. 

So I was like. Ok. I'll take neupogen. 

Fine. Give it to me. Bring on the neups. 

My ALT is back down, so that's good news. Bring on the Tylenol! 

They sent my blood work already, and we are still hoping for the zero, but as long as I've fallen below five I'm in remission. So, 'cured.' I can't even imagine that. I have no words. 

Will update here when I get my number! 

So, this just happened: 


I just kicked cancers ass. So there! 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Six to Zero

It's like zero to sixty in....
Anyways. 
I'm hoping for the big zero tomorrow and wanted to share with you guys. Jack is hoping for it too, but he's busy teething so, we are both cranky tonight. 

Oh boy. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

5K or NO WAY?

So, I visited the boardwalk the other day. I was watching all the joggers, and I'm sloughing along, just walking, enjoying the ocean. But the whole time I am thinking, OMG, I can never run. I will never be able to run again. I am so exhausted right now .... 

The next day, I felt so much better and had much more energy. I was thinking I could maybe make it to the gym sometime this century, once I am cleared to officially work out work out. As in jog and really sweat, etc. In fact, my back has been hurting and I think I need to do some yoga or light stretching because it is probably from being soooo lazy.

So, I am going to need my blog readers to go ahead and give me some motivation here! Maybe I should have thought about wanting to bitch out before I told my readers (and I keep track here, over 30,000 views can't lie....) I was going to run a 5k?

A lunch run? I hope so!

Call me out, people!

It's Sunday today. We have plans to have lunch with an AST sister of mine I actually met a long time ago at a sorority convention. Her name is Kat, too, and she's awesome. She has a lovely fiancé and an adorable little boy. I love mom friends! After lunch, I'm not sure what's on tap. Prob just chillin more with this guy, duh:

That's Jack with his new Sophie! 

I always feel a bit anxious on Sundays. I was saying to Jim yesterday, "tomorrow, chemo is tomorrow, I hate tomorrow." Then, I felt guilty. Who am I to hate, or forsake, or take for granted, even for a moment, any day of my life?! I am so lucky just to be on this earth ..... 

Oh, well. It does sum up how I feel. And it is what it is. Tomorrow is an EMA day. That means infusing methotrexate for 12 hours at home and very limited contact with baby boy. Y'all know how much I hate that. I'm so resentful of methotrexate now that I have been told its the only one excreted in urine and it could hurt my family. It causes mouth sores as well. And I'm angry, too. But what's the point of being mad, especially at a drug that's saving my life. ): 

Until then, I'm going to distract myself and have an amazing day! I hope all of my readers do the same. 
Xoxoxo. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Another Mail Call!

I had to add another gift/mail blog. I received more packages the last few days, and I have been seriously slacking on showing off the love. I know I have mentioned it before, but part of my problem is that my iPhone camera is perpetually full. I cannot, and I mean seriously cannot figure out how to get those pictures off of my phone! And I'm not 100% sure if the photos are in my iPhoto, and I love the photos. Ahhhhhhhhh. Can someone please come over to my house and troubleshoot this? Or send me a 64 GB iPhone? Hello? Steve Jobs had cancer...... maybe Apple will take pity on my poor ass and send me a bigger iPhone?

Anywhoo, I digress..... 

TIM HORTONS!!!! This comes from my high school BFF, Kristen. Xo baby. 


For those of you who don't know, Buffalonians (and Canadians,) love their Tim's. I just wish I were drinking with her!

Here is a package from my friend Kimmie. She is one of my Alpha Sigma Tau sisters. These ladies have been great at showin' the love. Check it out: 


Plus a hat for Jack which I am obsessing over


Say it with me: "awwwwwww!!!"
Thanks for the loving, Kim. Xoxo. 

Speaking of AST, I actuslly got a second package with this shirt in it. 


At first it was a mystery who sent it, because the name was missing on the card! But then I learned it came from another lovely AST lady, my sisTAU, Rachel. Thanks Rachel for the lovings!!! I adore the shirt. 


I got an amazing package from our cousin, Sal. It had a lot of amazing stuff in it not pictured, but we were most excited of course about the hat for Jack. It also had a gift card to Starbucks, iTunes, a coffee mug, picture frame, shirt for Jack, two DVDS, and ELVIS CD (*see pic, ha ha ha, it is a running joke with this kid because I like to listen to Schwayze,) TUMS (which amazed me that he somehow knew how obsessed I am with them....) My memory is doing a number on me here, so I hope I remembered everything here. If not, sorry, Sal. Love you anyways. Here's some pics of the love here:

Can this baby rock a hat or what? 


Here I am opening the gifts. Jack decided to fall asleep on my during.

I had a really good time, thanks Sal!

I also got a package chock fulla love from Olivia and Jamie. I took a lot more pics, because my phone actually died in the process. In this case, I am going to let the photos do the talking. They just picked the most amazing assortment of things, food, a pom pom, bracelets, a pendant.... all sorts of amazing things with letters on them detailing why they were chosen. Even a little doll to take to chemo to create a chemo warrior. Here goes: