“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.

Friday Night Fever

I’m back! I’ve got an exciting story, too, so grab a beverage and get comfortable.

This past Friday, I went to MUSC for an EKG/Echocargiogram (to see how my heart is functioning with all of the chemo) and then some labs in clinic. In clinic, my labs called for a transfusion: 1 unit of blood and 1 unit of platelets. Since the previous evening, I had had a headache and was sporting a particularly sour mood. Finding out that my morning visit to the hospital was going to become an all day stay upset me even more. I had planned a nap for my afternoon. Anyway, I didn’t feel as rejuvenated as I normally do following the transfusion, but at the time I didn’t think much of it. I went to bed as soon as I got home, chilled to the bone. My mom woke me up at about 11 that evening, wondering why I had slept so long. We took my temperature, and sure enough, I had a fever of 102.6 and a raging headache. Back to MUSC for me. To make a long, arduous story short, I was admitted to the hospital until Monday morning. The doctor on call was actually surprised that I hadn’t already had to come in with a fever. This can apparently be a recurring problem for some kids. The main concern is bacterial infection, so for my entire stay I was kept on two antibiotics. By the end of my stay I had been given three more units of blood and two more units of platelets. My fever broke on Saturday night if I remember correctly, but I had to be fever-free for 48 hours before I could be discharged.

Bonus story: When I got my first dose of one antibiotic, I had a reaction called Red Man Syndrome. My face got incredibly red, and my entire scalp itched like wildfire. It’s a common reaction, but if the antibiotic is administered at half the speed it typically doesn’t happen again. Pretty scary, though, at the time.

That’s enough for the huge blocks of text. Tomorrow I return to MUSC for my first session of my third cycle if my body is ready for it. After my third cycle, it’s surgery time. Right now that’s scheduled for mid to late August, but that could change if chemo is pushed back too much.

I’ll end this with my regular thank you to everyone. You have all continued to support me and keep me going, and I could not be more grateful. My oncologist was surprised at how much the tumor has disappeared, but I was not. I attribute it to your prayers and your continuous love. Thank you so much.

A Blanket “Thank You” Post

It’s time for me to actually update this poor blog. And it’s also time for me to thank you properly.

I haven’t been responding or updating or doing anything a decent person would do because I was genuinely overwhelmed by the amount of love and support I was and am still receiving. I was literally paralyzed by the comments and likes and profile pictures and gifts and cards and flowers and text messages and prayers…and I don’t say “literally” because I’m hip with the cool words, I say “literally” because I couldn’t have responded appropriately if I wanted to. Now, though, I think I am ready to attempt to show my gratitude.

Thank you so much. Yes, you. You reading this. I feel every ounce of your support and your love and I don’t know how to reciprocate accordingly, which drives me crazy. I never saw this cancer coming, and I never thought (in the 10 minutes between receiving the news and receiving the first messages) that I would be as supported and as prayed for as I am. I can only hope that there is an opportunity in the future for me to return the favor and to make a difference for you.

I’ve added a picture of the boat at Folly that my amazing cousins painted for me. So many people have changed their profile picture on Facebook to the boat to show support, and I haven’t been able to comment on each picture to thank them. I HAVEN’T BEEN ABLE TO THANK EVERYONE! THANK YOU EVERYONE!!!! Anyway, here’s the picture.



Mini update: Last Thursday I had one last biopsy for a spot on my pelvis called the right iliac crest that showed up hot on the PET/CT scan. Many things can show up hot on this type of scan, which is why I had a biopsy. The results have not come in as of right now, but once they do we will be able to determine what type of chemo I’ll be treated with and when I’ll start.