Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Tests are In!

It's been a while since my latest post. What a whirlwind these last two weeks have been. I finally got the GREAT news that I am in 100% REMISSION!! Praise God! I didn't want to post the results on here until I got the confirmation and actually read the Pet and CT Scan results from my doctor. My Physician Assistant, Amy told me two weeks ago!After reading the scan results its confirmed there are no active cancer cells!! I have 2 more treatments to go and will be fininshed in 24 days! Its like a HUGE Christmas present! After the last treatment I will be able to have my Infusion Port removed. A quick 30 minute surgery. Follow up will be 3 month visits and scans every 6 months for 3 years.

This has been quite the year for me, my fiance, Richard, my Family and my Friends. Looking back to the day when I was diagnosed I thought my life was over. I can't explain how it feels to hear that you are a cancer patient. I hope and pray that none of you ever have to hear those words. I can explain how it feels to be a cancer Survivor! Cancer has been the hardest obstacle that I have ever had to deal with. I am thankful I am healthy enough to push through treatment without problems. For a long time I felt that I would never be "normal" again. I don't want to be normal again. I will always have this in my past. This has made me stronger Spiritually. There is power behind prayer trust me! I have a lots of people in my corner. I never thought that I could become closer with my family but I have. I have gotten to know them on a deeper level. We have real meaningful talks, walks, and I have learned more about each of them during this journey. Cancer has taught me about the most valuable part of life, Relationships. Surviving it has taught me to cherish every moment of this sweet life we have.

I have been so fortunate to meet some amazing young fighters and survivors. Ashleigh, Rachel, Tara, Michelle. Thank you for all of your support. It has been amazing to have you as my "Crazy Sexy Cancer" fighter friends! Girls, you are in my heart always!!

For all of you reading this I hope that you live in every moment. Don't get in a routine. Talk to people. Enjoy your life and do what you want to do with it. Its yours, live it up!

Although this is not over yet. I feel like I'm over it. I am ready to move on. I am ready to marry the man of my dreams in front of my family and friends. I am ready for new life experiences ( Rachel's trapeze class this month! Can't wait!!) Most importantly, I am ready for this crazy cancer surviving life ahead of me.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

"Fight Like a Girl," A Day in the life of a temporary cancer patient...

Over the last few months I have had so many people ask me what it is like on chemo day. I decided to take you on a little tour. First of all, thank you nurses and docs who let me take your pictures... You are awesome! For all of you who are going through treatment or about to start I hope this helps ease your mind. It is nowhere close to what I imagined.

From day one Richard and I have started a little pre-chemo breakfast ritual to Einstein Brother's Bagels. If you know me then you know my passion. Honey wheat with strawberry cream cheese, toasted. Gosh, I love you. This is our every two week treat. Although I have been known to sneak one in on a bad day.. Richard's favorite is the Power Bagel with Strawberry, meet his little friend, "crabby."

When we arrive I stop by the pharmacy and pick up my anti-nausea meds. Emmend. It works wonders. I haven't gotten sick one time since I started chemo. I blame it on the meds . They are great! The cancer center has a great little pharmacy dedicated to "us" the cancer peeps.

Then we head back for the office visit. Each time I go back they do the regular check up things like blood pressure, temp, and weight. They draw about 3 viles and check my "counts." The blood is drawn from my port which was surgically inserted in my chest. This prevents them from damaging my veins in my arm. The medication is so strong that they recommend the port.
If you have an option please go with the port!
"Mr. Curtis" "The weigh in" " "Ouch"

This is one of my nurse 's Curtis..He is always into something crazy! One of Peidmont's best!

There are many many needles involved in chemo. All blood draws and chemo goes through my chest. I numb it up with lidocaine and don't feel a thing except for the time I did the bone marrow biopsy. I won't go into that one... After the results from the blood work comes back they decide whether I am well enough to do chemo. I have had good counts everytime so my chemo has stayed on track. We discuss any questions, drug reactions etc. They also feel my neck and underarms for any swollen nodes. After the first treatment all of my swollen lymph nodes have disappeared!! This is how they tell the chemo is working... :)

After the port is accessed. He flushes it with saline. I swear this is the worst part. I feel like I swallowed a glass of salt water. For some reason I can taste it.. OMGOSH it is so gross. Chew some candy it helps.

After all the check ups its off to the infusion suite for a little "juice." We have renamed it the "Big Ass Recliner." BAR for short. When I saw this room for the first time I lost it. I couldn't believe I was having to do this. I remember when my grandfather was going through his treatments. I seemed way too young. I have met so many great people in here including patients and nurses. There is such a stigma with cancer. I am really fortunate. Now I am really living and I know how important it is to be in every moment. I Love my Life!)

I sit in the infusion room for about 4 hours every 15 days. Total of 12 treatments over 6 months. I have knocked out 8 with 4 more to go. For the last 4 treatments they are removing one drug since I am responding well. Next week is the PET scan and CT scan. This is when I find out if I am cancer free. Keep me in your prayers!!! I have been waiting for this moment everyday.

These are my "Nurse Angels." They have been with me since day1. Eight more weeks to go!! Thank you everyone who has sent me cards, letters, etc! I love ya'll. This keeps my spirits up while getting through this last bit of treatment. August 1 will be my last treatment and hopefully the last time I see the cancer center. Hodgkin's Lymphoma was the scariest thing that has ever happened to me . I put up the fight and I am ready move on to a awesome life! Here I come:0 )

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

4 mo to go!

Here I am coming up on treatment 8. When I was diagnosed I thought this was going to be a never-ending bad dream. Actually it is kind of a bad dream but its almost over. These last 4 months have flown by. I feel great. I don't understand why I feel better as the treatment is accumulating. For all of you going through treatment I hope that yours goes as smoothly as mine has been. My hair is thinning even more. Maybe the drugs have killed the roots and now its finally "releasing" as they call it... I really don't care now. I am going to LIVE! God, Thank you.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

My Cancer Chics!

If this would have never happened to me then I would not have been blessed enough to have met these 2 awesome friends of mine.

Ashleigh is just Awesome!! She is Richard's old roomates sister. 24 years old and diagnosed last year. I finally met her a few weeks ago when she visited Atlanta to see her brother. She lives in Seattle. Such a neat girl. She started her own coffee shop business when she was 21. So full of life and so positive! I wish she lived in Atl!! Please check out her website at

I met Rachel on the Hodgkin's facebook page. She wrote something about being a health nut so I felt like I should contact her. She is Awesome! She is 28 years, same college degree as I have, she is and I was a personal trainer. She was diagnosed exactly 1 month after me. We have treatment on the same days. So much in common. She has been a great sound board when you need to talk with someone who has been there. I haven't met her yet in person. I can't wait! She lives in Washington, DC. Please check out her website at:

Hair Loss Hot Flashes Oh My!!

Chemotherapy has not been that bad but the Lupron shot has been the devil. For those of you who don't know what Lupron is; it is hell on wheels. They wanted me to take this drug to try an prevent as much damage as they could in my ovaries. "Save the Babies." I am not worried about not being able to have children but this is just another preventative measure that comes with a couple of side effects... Poor Richard!

First of all, the hot flashes. OMG! I can be driving down the road and all the sudden sweat start pouring down my back. Not to mention the constant throwing off the covers one minute and freezing the next. I am in full blown menopause. I take back all those things I said about how hot flashes where a crock.. never mind. just kidding. They are for real.

Mmmmooooddd swings. I try to limit to one per week. That way Richard wont think I am psycho and leave me... just kidding y'all... He loves me and gosh I am SO lucky to have him..

Hair Loss.....hmm this just plain sucks!

I have always had a lions mane; now I look like I have a birds nest on my head. I chopped it off so it would be a bit less traumatic. I am desperately staking my claim in every bit that's left. I will not shave it. I can't let go of it. So I was supposed to be bald by my second treatment. Lets just hope it makes it through 5 more. Although I have met some stunning people with bald heads. Eyelashes, eyebrows are still intact . The hair is falling out exactly like my plan; legs and underarms. This is a great alternative to waxing.

In my opinion these are the worst things that happen.....

Excuse me one minute while I beat the shit out of cancer....

So what do I do now? I have the best doctors around. I am ready to fight this little battle and marry the man of my dreams. It doesn't sound too hard does it?
The Plan:
6 Cycles of ABVD- 12 treatments 15 days apart. NO RADIATION!!))

ABVD is now one of the most common chemotherapy regimens for treating Hodgkin's Disease.Regimen Drugs:The following are the drugs used in the regimen. Select a drug to see pertinent information:
Adriamycin (generic name Doxorubicin) • Bleomycin (common brand name: blenoxane)• Vinblastine (common brand names: velban, velsar, velbe) • Dacarbazine (common brand name: DTIC, DTIC-Dome)


• These drugs can cause nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. There are medications your doctor can prescribe such as Zofran or Kytril that may lessen chemotherapy induced nausea.• Fatigue is common during chemotherapy treatment. Proper rest and pacing oneself may be helpful. • Treatments can be delayed if the patient has a low white blood cell count (neutropenia). Blood counts can be raised by drugs such as Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor (G-CSF, brand name Neupogen ®) - a drug used to stimulate the production of granulocytes in the bone marrow. • The drugs will make your hair tend to fall out (alopecia) - you might consider headcoverings.

Sounds a little scary, but this is the least invasive chemotherapy out there. I don't mean its easy but compared to others I will take it. I just finished round #7 with 5 to go. It has been relatively easy for me. I take a nap during the day for a few days after treatment. Fatigue has really been the only side effect. I have not been sick at all. I consider myself extremely lucky! My fiance Richard kicks my butt up and down the trail about every day for 5 miles. I think this helps tremendously but its not the most fun thing when you feel like you have been hit by a Mack truck. Exercise and diet have made me feel good while going through this. I have turned into a organic hippie. Although I have lost quite a bit of weight (Richard too) I feel its the diet not the chemotherapy.( If you want a copy of my nutritionist notes please email me your email address.)

My Cancer Killing Homeboys

Dr. Shepherd Dunlieve, Internal Medicine, MD

S. Sheppard Dunlevie, Jr., M.D.Internal Medicine(404) 350-1122

Dr. Dunlevie, a native of Atlanta, received his medical degree from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine at Chapel Hill. While in medical school, Dr. Dunlevie received several distinguished awards recognizing his academic and personal achievements. He completed his internship and residency at the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. A member of the American College of Physicians and the American Medical Association, Dr. Dunlevie is board certified in internal medicine.

"This man pretty much saved my life. He found the cancer after many months of being "overlooked" because I was so young and looked healthy. He also referred me to one of the Top Oncologist in America. Dr. Perry Ballard."

Dr Perry Ballard, III, MD

Dr. Ballard graduated from Emory University School of Medicine in 1978 where he was a member of Alpha Omega Alpha. He completed his internship and residency at the New York Hospital – Cornell Medical Center and the Memorial Sloan – Kettering Cancer Center. After residency, he did a yearlong fellowship in Infectious Disease at the Tufts – New England Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts. He then returned to New York where he did a three year fellowship in Hematology and Oncology at Cornell. He is a Diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine and is Board certified in both Hematology and Medical Oncology.

Dr. Ballard has been elected to represent the medical staff on the Piedmont Medical Center Board of Trustees. He has served as Secretary of the Medical Staff of Piedmont Hospital as well as the Chairman of the Cancer Committee. He has also served as a member of the Advisory Board of the American Cancer Society. On numerous occasions, he has been listed as one of the “Top Doctors” in his field in Atlanta Magazine as well as being listed in the directory of “Best Doctors in America”.

"Dr. Ballard is Awesome! From day 1 I immediately felt like I could talk to him about anything. He took time to spend with me and my family to explain everything that was going on and how he was going to fix it. I would recommend him to anyone going through this."

JOSEPH P. MIMS, MD, FACS is a graduate of The Medical College of Georgia and is Board Certified in General Surgery. Dr. Mims serves as managing partner for Piedmont Surgical Associates and has been in practice at Piedmont Hospital since 1993. Dr. Mims was named one of Atlanta's top physicians by Atlanta Magazine.

"Dr Mims biopsied my lymph node and found the cancer. He knew when I first met him that something wasn't right. He was diligent in getting me right in for my biopsy. He has been wonderful. Dr. Mims also put in my infusion port in my chest. He hid it perfectly. It just makes my boobs look a little bigger! Ha! Thanks I defiantly need that. Looking forward to seeing him again in August to get this thing out."