Maximizing Chemocation

As I sip on a delicious Rhody from Vanuatu Coffee Roasters I soak in the last 40 minutes of normalcy before heading into a new chemo cycle. Today is the big one- Taxol and Avastin. I expect to be pretty beat this weekend but as always I am hoping for the best.

To quickly recap last week’s chemocation I REALLY packed it in. I joined Aaron, the Director of Advising, for the 2016 NACADA Region 1 Conference in Portland, Maine. It is always refreshing to see what other schools are up to, absorb new best practices, discuss issues in higher education, and to also see what we’re doing well. As my Instagram account reflected, Aaron and I were pretty damn gluttonous in Portland. You just can’t not be. Our highlight was certainly tasting the tomato fennel soup, poutine, and salted caramel milkshake from Duck Fat.

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Needless to say, my return home has resulted in compensating with a lot  of fruits and vegetables.

Just when I returned home I pretty much unpacked just to pack again. My handsome, intelligent, mancrush everyday- Cory Tysoe had a birthday! He has now reached the ripe age of 28 which means that I am officially no longer a cougar (until January when I turn 29). To celebrate we utilized a holiday present from my parents and headed to Vermont to Mt. Snow. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t totally cooperative so Cory didn’t get much time on the mountain before getting pelted by hail.

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We spent a good majority of our time testing our relationship through Farkle and Risk. Anyone who knows me knows that I am generally not at all competitive. Like for real I bowled a forty the other day. FORTY. And that was better than expected. That said, there are a few things for which I am fiercely competitive- Scrabble, Risk, and Farkle.

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I was happy to cozy up by the fireplace and toss some dice around while ruthlessly talking shit to each other although next year I may join the toddlers on the bunny hill and give skiing a shot. We’ll see…

So that brings us to St. Patrick’s day, yesterday. Sarah, my former coworker Krystal, and I threw a St. Patty’s party in the Izzy Room at Hasbro Children’s Hospital. We decked out the room in festive green, Bob and Timmy’s donated SIX pizzas, and we offered crafts and cookie decorating. Although the party only yielded three physical attendees I would still call it a success. There were several children that were too sick or not allowed to leave their rooms. What we ended up doing was essentially creating a “party on the go”. We delivered pizza and some craft supplies to a mother of an 11 month old in the PIC unit. We also packed up pizza, cookies, st. patty’s swag, and crafts for parents and nurses to bring back to the rooms of families that wanted to be at the party but couldn’t. In any case the Izzy Foundation was able to bring a little cheer to people going through tough time.

The three of us had a blast 🙂

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^ Mine is the one with the fuzzy eyebrows 

Last but not least, I met with Dr. Robison yesterday for the usual chemo exam. She was pleased with the outcome of using the steroid and gave me the green light to keep taking it in line with the chemo cycles if it is helping.

We won’t have an updated CA125 until later today or Monday so I’m not sure where that stands right now but she said that if it made a significant jump upward she would be inclined to scan me. If it is a small increase or lower/unchanged the plan is to scan this summer as we previously discussed.

Soooooo that’s all folks.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy weekend!

 

 

 

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Remember when Christmas wasn’t ruined? HECK YEAH!

So how is everyone holding up post-Christmas/Hanukkah/Holiday madness? We good?

I hope everyone enjoyed some time off, spent quality time with their families, and had a chance to recharge their batteries (or in the case of the Blythe family, got new batteries from Tom Tom).

After my epic, amazing, Hanukkah with family in Connecticut I had to head back to the littlest of Rhodey’s for work on Christmas Eve. Believe it or not I had not one but two student appointments. I was shocked but it certainly helped to move the morning along. Around 11:30am, President Machtley got on the horn and announced that Bryant would be closing at noon (surprise!) and if our supervisors said it was okay, we could leave right then. I’m pretty sure we had the lights off and door locked by 11:32.

Later that evening I was taken in by my second family and spent Christmas Eve with Katie Carlson’s family. Now that I’ve spent Christmas with them, and am basically a cousin, I think it is overdue that I legally change my name to Jessica Gail Sultaire-Blythe-Carlson-Cunha-Hart-O’Hara-Shmase. It has a distinctive ring to it and will secure my place in future secret santa’s. But on a more serious note I am so thrilled to have been included in both the Cunha and Blythe Christmas parties. As always I was made to feel at home like part of the family. I appreciate the warmth and unnecessary gifts (that I love so much!).

Thank you Bear Family!

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The best gift of all was snugs with my love, Major. How hard do you think it is to steal a big, dumb, dog roughly the size of a lion? Hypothetically of course…

I would like to thank everyone else that kindly extended invitations to spend Christmas with them! It was incredibly thoughtful to think of this lil’ jewbie on Christmas.

On Christmas day I turned down the gracious invitations because I had something else in mind. The past two Christmas’ were soured by illness and surgery. I know what it feels like to be in the hospital on Christmas (see last year’s Christmas Entry: Bah Hum Bug). Jewish or not, it sucks. It’s depressing and isolating. So this Christmas I was determined to go back to the hospital so I decided to sled off of my roof…KIDDING!!!!!!! I asked to be a volunteer.

I was hoping to volunteer in women’s oncology but there really was nothing established that I could do. In the future I might try to develop something. This is something I need to remember to tell the oncology advisory council (oh yeah I do that too now. It’s pretty awesome. More on that later). So instead I turned to Dr. Robison and The Izzy Foundation.

The Izzy Foundation built a gorgeous family room on the 5th floor of Hasbro Children’s Hospital that they staff with volunteers regularly for maintenance and periodic activities. My experience there was great but certainly different than I had imagined. There were less children than I anticipated, I only came across 3 in the 4 hours I spent there. It was mostly parents and family that were tired, rundown, and in search of respite (and coffee). I made friends with a 9 year old name Kyle after making him a hot chocolate. He was in and out of the room throughout the day and I was always happy to see him return. He didn’t tell my why he was in the hospital, nor did I ask but it was refreshing to see a smiling face despite his circumstances. Kids are awesome in that way. No matter how sick they are, when push comes to shove they are just kids who laugh and smile and want to play.

Many parents reminded me of my own. Each one was eager to tell their story. They needed to be heard so I listened. Between the burst appendices, mystery diagnoses, flu’s and pneumonia’s, each person had a unique story to share. Each person was stoic and brave for their children but clearly internally exhausted and fearful. I didn’t do anything special that day. I just made sure the room was clean and that patients and families were comfortable but I felt that my time couldn’t possibly be better utilized on that day.

For privacy I did not take photos of the families but I did take some of the room when it wasn’t being used:

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I definitely enjoyed my interactions with the families at Hasbro and certainly intend on volunteering in the Izzy Room for the Izzy Foundation again soon.

On that note I’m off to Connecticut to see a certain, handsome, bearded fellow. Spoiler Alert: It’s Cory. Sorry to everyone that was hoping that I’m secretly dating Gandalf.

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