Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween Decor 2013

I can't believe another Halloween has come and gone!  This weekend I'll be working on taking down the decor and cleaning up from all of the festivities.  Here are a few pictures of my Halloween decor for the year.  I made a few changes to the mantle because I've been moving things around as I finish rooms.  

The mantle during the day.



And at night.



A few closeups of my old Dollar Tree crows:



 And my fuzzy new owl.  Also from Dollar Tree!

 


I hope you had a fun Halloween.  Happy November!


 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

My Story: Part 2

After I finished treatments, I focused on cleaning up my diet and exercising more. I wanted to do everything in my power to stay in remission. My oncologist was so pleased with my results, that he was encouraging me to move on and start a family. Something inside of me knew that it wasn't the right timing. My body needed to heal, and every other report said to wait 2 years.
I had a scan in early May 2012. After drinking 64 ounces of oral contrast and being injected with iodine (which makes you feel like you're peeing your pants..) it was all clear! I was so confident that my battle was over, that I was ready to sell my wig and all of it's very expensive accessories. I even got the go ahead to get my wisdom teeth cut out. Dental work is typically forbidden during and shortly after chemo because of the risk for infection. So I spent my 27th birthday with major chipmunk cheeks and a hematoma from the lidocaine injections, awkwardly stuffing pad thai into my mouth. I even had HAIR!
 
I thrust myself back into my old life as much as possible; rejoining social activities and covering a maternity leave at work. I didn't have a single doctor appointment that June.
I was feeling fatigued, but pushed forward not wanting to miss any opportunity that got me out of the house. I also had a few low grade fevers, so when I went to get my port flushed in July, I requested a blood draw for lab work. My oncologist and nurses joked around calling me "Doctor Sarah", but they obliged and my blood work was just fine.
 
August was another doctor free month. I was still having intermittent low grade fevers, so by the first weekend in September, my husband made a worried phone call to my oncologist. My nurse called me back, asking questions and trying to determine what might be the cause. She asked if I had any swelling, thinking that there might be a clot in my port line. I stood in front of a mirror, phone in one hand, and tilted my head back. As I did, a small lymph node became visible on the left side of my neck. My right hand clutched at my throat, trying to palpate every structure. The lump was hard, just like before, only in a new spot.
 
The nurse made a call to my oncologist, who was vacationing for the holiday. She called me back to let me know that there was "no way" it could be cancer, my main tumor had been in-between my lungs! So I started antibiotics, only told my mom and husband, and went away for the weekend.
 
 
You can read part 1 HERE.

 

 

Monday, August 26, 2013

My Story: Part 1

I have been working on retelling my story to help raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  I will be participating in the Light the Night Walk on September 27th, and will include the link if you are interested in making a donation.  The research that has been funded by LLS has saved my life.  Donate Here.
 
 
Here is Part 1:
As most of you know, I have been battling Hodgkin's Lymphoma for over 2 years now. I was first diagnosed July 27, 2011 after suffering through the many "B symptoms" for almost a year. After several rounds of antibiotics, the fever and cough remained, joined by chest pain, night sweats, severe itching, and finally the noticeable growth of the lymph nodes in my neck. By the time my diagnosis was confirmed, I was on a strictly liquid diet and had difficulty breathing due to the bulky and fast-growing nature of my tumors. I started chemotherapy that August, after what I call "Hell Week". Each day was spent being poked and prodded, surgery to place my port, and bone marrow removed from my hip.
 
I was admitted to the hospital for my first round of chemotherapy drugs because they were afraid my kidneys would shut down due to the extremely large mass in my chest. I went through 12 of these treatments over a period of 6 months, my symptoms getting worse each time with less and less cancer cells to absorb the toxins. Which was great! My body was responding well to treatment and my PET scans were clear. I still had a 5cm mass in my chest of "residual" tissue. Mostly scarring from the lymph node being overstretched for so long. That lead to a 2 hour long consultation with a radiation oncologist to discuss further treatment to prevent cancer from returning. Unfortunately, radiation can cause secondary cancers and damage to the surrounding tissue. After weighing the risks, we decided to only radiate the residual mass in my chest.
 
I went every day for 15 treatments. Radiation was much easier for me than chemotherapy. It would zap my energy for the day, and left me with a slight burn in the treated area, but there was no nausea, or body aches, hair loss or weak immune system.
It was March of 2012 by the time I was finally done with treatments. I had to get my port flushed every 6 weeks to prevent blood clots from forming, but other than that I tried to jump back into a "normal" life as much as possible. And for anyone who has had cancer, you know that is easier said than done.
 
 
 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Quick Update!

 
I just wanted to drop a quick line to let my sweet followers know that I am still alive and hanging in there!  I will post a more thorough update soon on everything (ok, I'll leave some stuff out) that has happened since I last posted. 
 
I've finished cancer treatments and have been working on getting my home back in order.  I'll leave you with a hair update:
 
 
 
 
 
 
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