Guts (but not the Aggro Crag kind)

To start off, if you grew up in the early 90’s you may enjoy the beautiful ‘Guts’ reference in the above title. If you do not fall into that category, the ‘Aggro Crag’ was the coveted trophy awarded to the 1st place winner of the Nickelodeon show ‘Guts’. BEHOLD:

If you think this post is about that beautiful, green, glowing piece of greatness, it’s not. It’s about actual guts, my guts. Sorry…

I’ll understand if you decide to stop reading here.

For those of you that don’t care about 90’s pop culture references, let’s carry on shall we?

Today I visited my gastroenterologist, Dr. Fayek. Since before the bowel obstruction there has been talk of me having a colonoscopy due to thickening of the colon seen on January’s CT scan. My doctors are unsure as to what this means but the Boston doctors would like me to have the colonoscopy as a precaution as it has been seen that the study drug can cause colitis (inflammation of the colon).

It has been a few weeks since I was discharged from the hospital for the bowel obstruction so the consult was for Dr. Fayek to examine me and see if I was in good shape to follow through with the colonoscopy. After feeling my abdomen she said that she still felt some distention and was very concerned about performing a colonoscopy.

In the event that my guts are still jacked up and she were to perform a colonoscopy it could be dangerous. The result could be possibly triggering another bowel obstruction or perforation (which is super scary and could lead to surgery/infection/extreme unpleasantness). In order to perform a colonoscopy your doctor pumps air into your colon in order for the camera to get a comprehensive view (fun right? you suckers should have stopped reading when I told you to).

The colonoscopy is scheduled for Friday, March 13th at Women and Infants but we will have another consult before that to determine if it is safe or not. Dr. Fayek consulted with Dr. Robison and they both tend to agree that it may not be the best time for this kind of procedure.

I am appreciative that Dr. Fayek is erring on the side of caution and being very conservative when weighing the cost/benefit of this procedure. Ever since the FIRST surgery in December 2012, my intestines have never been quite right. Who would have thought that cutting them in half and sewing them back together would make them angry? Is there such a thing as colon-karma? Hmm…

As details unfold about the fate of this procedure, I shall let you know.

In other news…

1.) I’ve been back on the trial for a couple weeks now. It still makes me feel crummy and I still hate it. I am due for a CT scan in April and will weigh out my options at that time. For now I’m working on incorporating some more holistic/healthy practices into my life, abstaining from alcohol (wahhh wine, I still love you), eating VERY well thanks to the generosity of many, and sweating it out in hot yoga/beasting it weight training with Matt. All of this helps, I just need to keep the momentum going to maintain healthy behaviors.

2.) I’ve been receiving a boat-load of extra help lately. Thank you for everyone that has signed up/cooked a meal for me through the CaringBridge page or sent a donation through Young & Brave or otherwise 🙂 Between my cousins alone, I think I have enough individually portioned, healthy, tasty freezer meals to last me another month! (Sara and Teri, you seriously need to quit your jobs and go into business!).

Additionally, I have received many thoughtful gifts, cards, and treats that melt my heart. These acts of kindness resonate with me deeply.

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THANK-YOU!

Love & gratitude 🙂

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“You’re doing a good job at having cancer” -Big Brother

Some days Most days, I feel like my life is spinning out of control and I would like nothing more than to hide under the covers until its all over. Today is not one of those days. Today I feel strong, optimistic, and oh so grateful. So yes Adam, I agree that I am doing a DAMN good job. I mean look at me- rocking the shit out of that wig for my beautiful roomie’s 25th birthday this past weekend. Not bad for a “make a wish kid” (as one of my best friends so eloquently puts it).

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Today I had my scheduled pre-chemo exam with Dr. Robison. I am happy to report that she gave me nothing but optimistic news. She examined my abdomen and told me that she heard good bowel sounds and that it looked soft and normal. I haven’t had any abdominal pain since I left the hospital so it looks like the obstruction has resolved itself for the time being. I also asked her about my chemo schedule. If my CA125 levels continue to go down like they have been, normalize, and don’t start to creep back up there shouldn’t be any reason that we need to continue chemo beyond the scheduled 6 cycles. The goal is to get my CA125 levels below 21. Right now I’m down to 64 from 1600- woo-hoo! If I am able to stay on track with chemo as planned, I will finish chemo the last week of April. AMAZING. In terms of aftercare there are a few options but the one that Dr. Robison is leaning toward is a monthly injection that would help prevent a reoccurrence. The plan would be to have this treatment for the next year. This means that my abdominal port would come out at the end of chemo but my other port would need to stay in for a year. A small price to pay to be cancer free.

Due to the unpredictability of this disease I have learned that I can’t count on anything so I have to be prepared for everything. So much can happen in the next few months but after talking to my oncologist about where we are headed, I am truly starting to see the light at the end of the chemo tunnel. I still have three more, achey, pukey, cranky, miserable rounds but in a few days I will be more than halfway done! (At least it gives me an excuse to curl up on the couch with my amazing roommate and watch more Lifetime movies than we’re both willing to admit)

I don’t know how I would make it this far without the support and faith of everyone in my life right now (especially the Kaplan Clan this week 😉 You know what’s up). Cancer has taken away my ovaries, many organs, the ability to bear children, and my hair. Cancer has not and will never be able to take away the love and warmth that has surrounded me by family, friends, co-workers, acquaintances, and complete strangers. If I don’t acknowledge you in this particular post please know that you are NOT forgotten. The gifts, cards, messages and loving gestures will stay with me eternally.

I feel compelled to highlight my colleagues this time around because they have been so essential in this recovery process. I feel normal at work. I come alive at work. I’m pretty sure I smile more and worry less between the hours of 8:30 and 4:30 Monday through Friday. I am incredibly lucky to work where I do simply because I work amongst such thoughtful, understanding and inspiring people.This is a group that I have only known since July of this year yet without a second thought they have met with my students, run my reports, covered my presentations, fed me, made me laugh, hugged me when I needed to cry, visited me in the hospital, driven me to work, driven me to support groups, and in return I have driven them crazy 🙂 kidding! I think? I hope? Right guys? Guys…?

(I hope I am not embarrassing my office by posting this picture. Steph made it the Advising Office cover photo on facebook so blame her! Sidenote- The fine people of Academic Records, The Registrar and Study Abroad are not pictured but equally loved and adored)
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Sorry for all of the rambling (not actually sorry) but I want to share one more story while I continue my gratitude kick:

Since my diagnosis I feel like I have connected with people on a more intimate level. For example today I went back to my gym to reactivate my membership and inquire about personal training (It’s time to get jacked!!! Ok maybe not but some light exercise couldn’t kill me). I explained to the BSC staff member why I had to freeze my membership and that lead to me to spilling my guts about whole saga. It must have been fate that brought me to my gym on this particular night, at this particular time, to speak with THIS particular person because we instantly connected. It turns out that this girl has been through a series of unimaginable life challenges herself. Even though our experiences were very different from one another, it was as if our struggles granted us permission to open up and have a very human moment in a very unlikely setting.

The next time you open a newspaper and read about a shooting or international conflict remember that in the midst of such chaos this is still a kind and gentle world. I know this because I wouldn’t have come so far in this disease had I not been on the receiving end of infinite love and compassion on a daily basis.