“Like a Baby”: My New Normal/FAQ

Hey kids! This is that one post where I asked for questions in a Facebook status, and then like two people actually asked questions. I get a lot of repeat questions, though, so I do have some other ones I can answer.

When are you coming back to school? Right now I’m on track to be back at school around the beginning of February. While I’m out I’ll be taking the last English course I need to graduate online, and when I’m back at school I can take the semester courses I need for graduation.

What can/do you eat? What are your top 5 foods? What I can eat depends on when I last had chemo. 2-3 days after chemo, my most exciting cuisine is maybe a bagel or something bland and simple. When I am out of chemo for around a week, though, my appetite is entirely normal. My taste buds have changed: where I previously loved red meat, soda, and chocolate, I can now only eat these things on occasion. I prefer sour candy and foods only children like, such as Easy Mac and pizza rolls. I really do eat like a third grader. I would say my top 5 favorite foods are, in no particular order: potato salad, ramen noodles, iced coffee (this absolutely counts), Ye Ole Fashioned peanut butter chocolate swirl ice cream, and pad see ew (it’s Thai).

What is chemotherapy like? Chemotherapy is like having life sucked out of you through a needle, to be completely honest with you. Receiving it is not that bad for me. The overall weakness and nausea are the real problem. For a few days after chemo, you feel like a zombie if you get out of bed at all. Walking long distances is not an option; stairs are the worst. However, it gets better each day and because I have to wait on my blood to be ready for chemo again, I often have a week or so of time where I feel entirely normal. Those weeks are the best weeks.

How can I help? I honestly feel conceited even answering this question, because you don’t need to do a thing. Your prayers are enough and they HAVE been working, so please do keep praying. I receive so many cards and gifts and I love them all, but don’t feel like you ever have to do something like that. I never feel like I can thank you properly.

Could you imagine going through this without your faith? No. If you don’t have faith, what do you have? I’ve always been very private about my faith, and my philosophy has always been very simple. Give your problems to God and don’t worry about them, and if you don’t love everybody you’re doing it wrong. I’m not angry, I’m not confused, I just keep moving forward.

I must think I’m something special, interviewing myself like that. I thought y’all were gonna ask weird questions like do I still have arm hair (I don’t), but I guess that’s only something I would do. I hope you got something out of this, and still ask questions if you have them! I’m an open book.

And So It Begins

Last week, my hip area ached so badly that we went back to the hospital for some imaging (I had had a biopsy on my pelvis there the Thursday before) to figure out why the area had begun to hurt so intensely a week after the procedure. We waited for 4 hours for the insurance company to approve the CT scan, and I was on the table for 5 minutes. Super awesome. The radiologist said she didn’t really see anything overtly wrong, and we were free to go. I say this only because I promised to capture my journey on this blog, and this is what happened. I also wanted to mention that I had the most amazing smoothie from the MUSC cafeteria…it was so tasty. Mmm.

The results of the biopsy came back inconclusive a few days ago (the pelvis one). The tissue was found to be necrotic, which essentially means it’s dead. There were cells that could either be lymphocytes or Ewing cells. Knowing this, the doctors have chosen a more aggressive track of chemotherapy. That chemotherapy begins tomorrow.

The time is now. Matthew and Katie brought me lots of cool stuff that will make the chemo suck less, and in doing so they’ve given me the illusion that I’m going on a trip. That’s how I see it right now. I’m just packing up all my cool new stuff and going on a field trip to the hospital.

I’ll post again when I can regarding the chemo itself. I have no idea what I’ll feel like, but hopefully I’ll be able to post a thing or two about how I’m feeling mid-treatment. Anyway, thanks for reading my rambling. I hope you’re doing well.

The Situation: A Summary

Hello! Matthew made me this rad blog, so I’m going to use it to keep a running log of everything that’s happening. This post, though, is merely a rundown of my situation for those who have not heard a lot.

About three weeks ago I was waiting for my shower to get warm, and bent to scratch my back. I noticed a lump on my lower left back, told my mom about it, had an appointment later that day, got an MRI that evening, and quickly realized we weren’t dealing with a lypoma or hematoma like we had thought. I had a biopsy of the lump soon after this, which was pretty cool since I got to watch it on the ultrasound while it happened. (If you don’t like needles, don’t get cancerous tumors.) To make a long story short: the lump is a Ewing sarcoma, which is cancerous but curable. It’s found mostly in children and teenagers, and the cause is entirely unknown. I thought it was a dragon egg, but for some reason that was ruled out fairly quickly. Hmm.

To be frank, I don’t really remember dates or anything like that. There was a CT scan, where the radiologists and other doctors that looked at the images saw some teensy nodules on the lungs that concerned them. I was then scheduled for a surgery which would include a lung biopsy, bone marrow aspiration, and the installation of my chest port. The lung biopsy was planned to be done thoracoscopically, but because the nodules are so small a thoracotomy was also a possibility. Luckily, only part of the biopsy had to be done through thoracotomy (thoracoscopic surgery is much less invasive).

I spent 3 days recovering in the hospital following the procedure, two of which I spent very much drug-addled. I thought I was cognizant, but apparently I was not. If you came to see me in the hospital, I apologize for failing to converse with you. I hope I thanked you though…if I didn’t, then thank you. One thing I did that I remember was ask for “liquid water.” Everyone thinks this is riotously funny, but honestly I just didn’t want ice chips again. One must be very specific sometimes. In terms of anesthesia before the procedure, I remember giggling a lot and also some bright lights. That is literally it.

The future as it stands includes about 9 months of chemotherapy, including surgery to remove the lump. I’m vain: the hair loss is going to be the hardest part.

Sappy part:

So now, on Easter 2014, I look to the future with the same emotion an inexperienced and untrained runner might feel if forced to run a marathon. The road is a long one, but it is one that can be traveled. And though I am nowhere near ready to travel it, I will. A long time ago I decided that I if given the option to do something or stay home, I would do that thing. I always chose the uncertain over the comfortable. I did so because I live by the mentality that no moment is guaranteed. I am glad that I live this way: I have had more fun than I deserve to have, and I have enough amazing memories to span three people. Now, facing this challenge, I am not regretful. There are no “if only…”‘s. No day but today.