There are other cancers besides boob cancer….(original posts from 2011)

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“How, Chemo-sabe”

How, indeed!  I did very well for this being my first day of chemotherapy.  I don’t feel nauseous, just tired, but that could be the Ativan they give during fluids 😉  I was able to see my very good looking doctor beforehand, so yay me!  I was also able to make him jealous, because I told him about my dentist appointment.  I don’t think I have ever made a doctor cuss, so this was a first, as well.  I was totally prepared(well, almost).  I had my phone, my iPod, my laptop, and a word puzzle book….7 hours, man!  The only thing that I should have taken, was a sandwich.  Though they are kind enough to supply snacks, and drinks, the snacks consisted of peanut butter, cheese, or plain crackers.  I had two packs.

Let me just say, I understand that we must face trials during out lifetime, and we are rarely prepared. Do they have to be one on top of the other?  Waking up this morning to an 84 degree house was not fun.  Yes, my dear readers…our a/c went out!  My father went to check it out, and has a friend coming sometime tomorrow, but then it is a matter of getting it fixed. Praying that it only needs to be recharged.
Keep praying for me, and I promise to keep the faith.
Shanna
But let all those who take refuge and put their trust in You rejoice; let them ever sing and shout for joy, because You make a covering over them and defend them; let those also who love Your name be joyful in You and be in high spirits.  Psalm 5:11

Guilt should be a 4 letter word!

I finished my first cycle of chemotherapy last week, and I feel great!  Yes, this is what the title is all about.  I feel great, and so many people just don’t after chemo.  This is not to say that I will feel this way the next time, or even the time after that, but let me take you through this short journey, please?

First, I’d like to say, that no matter what you may think of me or my diagnosis, I have only been scared once or twice during this time.  It has never been a fear of dying, or pain…just the unknown.  Normal, right?  Now, I’ll let you in on a little secret….I hate surprises!  No joke. Ask my husband. I badger him for weeks before my birthday and Christmas, because I want to KNOW what I will be getting. People pleaser that I am, I want to be able to school my features, just in case.
I went in on Tuesday for the first round in my first cycle of chemo.  I felt pretty prepared.  I had my laptop, my iPod, a puzzle book, and my phone. Ya know, just in case I got bored.  My chemotherapy regimen is Cisplatin and Etoposide(vp16). These are the chemo drugs that are used for the hard hitting cancers, ie. lung, testicular, stomach, ovarian….you get the picture.  All cancer’s are hard hitting, but just like a snowflake, no two are created the same. Some are more aggressive, some move faster than others. Nobody knows how they are going to react, and nobody knows what will alleviate the reaction.  I have said it time and time, again, this cancer is a crap shoot, and I’ve never gotten the hang of that game of chance.  So, I get to the doctor’s office…on time…believe me, that is a big deal.  I go in for the exam(that nobody told me would occur), and everything checks out.  Next stop, blood draw.  I’m going to stop right here.  If anyone is going through chemo, or may need to go through something with infusions/blood draws, I highly recommend getting a port!  Any doctor who doesn’t try to get their patient one is a sadistic…well, you know.  O.K. – blood draw.  My blood cells come back at a normal count, so we are good to go.  First, because of the toxicity of the chemo, I need fluids to prevent kidney failure.  This takes about an hour.  As they are giving me the regular fluids, it is infused with a very potent cocktail of Patron, vodka, gin, and a splash of lime, but more than likely, it is Ativan and promethazine.  These are to relax me, and keep me from becoming nauseated.  As this is the complete opposite effect that Patron has on me, I’ll stick with this mixture.  I have roughly 5 milliseconds before this kicks in, so I decide to try my hand at some brain teasers.  Next.  Let me try the laptop.  Nope.  Solitaire?  Huh!  All of these things I have brought with me, hold no interest.  Guess I’ll take a nap.  2 hours later, and I am awakened by the beep of the infusion machine.  Time for a potty break.  Hook me back up, Jim!  I’m ready to get this over with.  What’s that you say?  I have 4 more hours?!?  Oh joy!  Long story, still kinda long, I finish my first day with minimal fuss.
2nd day is much the same, with the exception of time.  My 2nd and 3rd day are comprised only of the Etoposide.  This only takes an hour and a half, at most.  The funny thing is, they dose me with the same amount of relaxant.  Needless to say, I am useless when I get home.  I have a 7 and a 4 year old, they need me, and I am asleep all day!  I go back for my 3rd infusion, and I have a bargain that I would like them to meet.  If they half the dose, I promise I won’t get sick!  Lucky day, they decide that since I am doing so well, we can forgo it altogether!  Thursday was a good day.  I finished in record time(at least in my mind), and went home to take a small nap to prepare myself for Friday. Bum bum buuuum.
Friday was a fun day.  I got to go to the doctor, again!  He and I had discussed what sort of actions could be taken to help boost my white blood cells during the short intermission between cycles.  His suggestion – a shot of Neulasta.  Can I get that straight up, please?  Needless to say, it worked wonders on my energy levels.  Friday evening, my uncle and aunt came into town, just in case I needed help this week.  I was very happy to inform them that I would not need their services, though I appreciate the offer very much(there goes that independence, again!)  In my chemo induced brain fog, I forgot that they were coming in, and also invited some friends to stay with us from out of town.  Luckily, we have plenty of room, and very understanding guests.  I felt well enough to clean the bathrooms and wash some clothes!! This is a really big deal, as I have not felt like cleaning in about 6 months.  I do it, don’t get me wrong, but I actually FELT like doing it.
The only other side effect that I assume is from chemo, is heartburn.  I had it horribly on the second day, but the third day, I took Prilosec, and it seemed to get rid of it.  The nurse informed me that with women, whatever you suffered from during pregnancy will probably be what you suffer from during chemo.  Thankfully, I did not have morning sickness with either child, but I had raging heartburn!! I think I can live with that.
I won’t bore you with the details of my awesome weekend. I did that enough with the details of my chemo.  Suffice it to say, I feel major guilt for feeling so great.  I’ll get over it, don’t you worry, but at this point in time, I just wish that I could will my well being onto others that are not so lucky.  My body is an enigma.  My doctor accused me of having super hero blood, due to the healing process of my incisions.  There is a higher power helping me, I can assure you.  I have never stopped praying, as I am sure most of you are doing, as well.  My wellness is nothing short of a miracle.  I am not healed, but am healing.  I can literally feel it.  Keep the prayers coming, because I am definitely keeping my faith.
 (Jeremiah 17:14 NKJV) Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; Save me, and I shall be saved, For You are my praise.
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Picture this…

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A young black woman and her mother are walking around a primarily white suburban mall. They haven’t seen each other very often since the mother moved to this new city a year ago, so they are completely wrapped up in each other.
As they head to a favorite clothing store, a large group of white teenage boys are walking towards them. As they pass, the boy in front lunges aggressively at the young woman. She jumps. The boys walk away, laughing hysterically at their friend’s antics. The girl is almost in tears, because she doesn’t understand what she did to provoke that kind of behavior.

Are you outraged for that woman? Did those boys do it because she was in “their” mall? Was it due to white male privilege?

Now what if I told you that it was me? I was 18, and had never been in a large city. The group of boys were all black. So, now it’s funny, right? “Make the white girl scared of us urban youths”. I try not to perpetuate stereotypes. I’m the product of a Mexican father and a white mother. I have never “belonged” in either family. Not quite white enough; not quite brown enough. It’s painful. It’s harmful.
It’s been almost 20 years since that experience. You would think I could have gotten over it. I haven’t. I’m angry to this day. The purpose of that boy’s actions was to instill fear and dominance.

I still ask why.

My journey(as promised)

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A funny thing happened on my way to the beach….

Written June 27, 2011 8:35am

I wouldn’t say that I am a completely private person, but I don’t usually broadcast myself, either.  I don’t want to get preachy, nor want to become a poster child for a cause.  I am writing this note for 3 reasons: 1) To get some information out there; 2) To help you learn from my mistakes; and 3) To get as much positive energy, and prayers coming my way.

About 2 months ago, I noticed something very disturbing.  I will not go into detail(for all of my squeamish, male friends on here), suffice it to say, Shanna knew something was wrong.  I went to the doctor, and after several tests, and many weeks of knowing nothing, my doctor(who has excellent timing, btw), called me last Tuesday while I was on my way to the beach.  Now, don’t get indignant on my behalf. He knew I was on vacation, but I had asked(begged) him to call me with any results.  After a short warming up, he told me “Shanna, I am sorry. The pathologist found small cell cancer cells.”  After getting out of the wind tunnel that my mind had become, I asked him what this meant.  Apparently(and according to my best girlfriend), I can’t even get illnesses that anyone else has.  I have to be unique, and not follow the trends.  You see, it is very rare for small cell cancer to develop on one’s “lady parts”, it is usually reserved for lungs.  My doctor had not heard of it, and I believe I heard him say(over the screaming in my head) the pathologist had never seen anything like it.

A little background, to let you know what I meant earlier about learning from my mistakes.  I don’t know how long this has been developing. I haven’t had health insurance for 3 years, and since I passed my last exam, I thought everything was o.k. Am I scared?  Hell yes!  Will I get through this?  As best as I can. Have I learned something? You bet. Things aren’t always what they seem.  Ladies and gentlemen(yes, you too) please go to your regular doctor’s visits. You never know what is lurking about.

The information part of the first paragraph?? Believe me, as soon as I get information, I will be getting it out there.  It is very difficult to find something about this particular type of cancer because it is so uncommon.  I hope that while I am going through this, I will be able to impart some knowledge, so anyone else who gets this prognosis won’t be as in the dark as I am right now.

For any of you who don’t know me well, I have a very dark sense of humor.  If at any time, I make a joke about this that offends you, delete me(because believe me, if you offend me, you will be deleted).  I am not making fun of my disease, I am trying to cope the best way I know how.  I am not asking for any of you to pray that I get well, or even that I beat this. What I would like for you to pray for(to whatever God you worship), is that I have the strength to get through everything that will be coming my way.  I am a fighter, and I am tough, I  just need to be reminded every now and then.  Pray for my children, who are 7 and 4. They will have a hard time trying to figure out what is happening to mommy.  Pray for my husband, who holds his feelings inside, so you never know if he is o.k. or not. Pray for my mom, who is the strongest woman I know, but I am her only child, so this really tests that strength. Also, pray for the friends that are closest to me, who make up my solid support base: *edit: names removed for privacy*. They have promised to go through this Hell with me, and they will need the strength to deal with my whiny butt.

I have my first consultation with an oncologist this Friday, and as soon as I get an update, I will update you all.  Take care of yourselves, and remember, if you think something is wrong…it probably is.