Cancer Journal (original post from 2011)


Top 10 Reasons That Chemo-Induced Baldness is Awesome

#10  Blonde jokes no longer apply

#09  Increased Aerodynamics(important for runners, skydivers, human projectiles)
#08  You can finally drive your convertible to work(no more “wind tunnel” hairdos)
#07  You’ve got a blank canvas for a new tattoo
#06  You’re now ready to audition for the Blue Man Group
#05  Time to get a new drivers license – Hair color:  Invisible.  (see how that one goes over with the cop next time you’re pulled over)
#04  Think of the money you’ll save…no more barber/hairdresser, shampoo, hairspray, dandruff medication, hair dye, etc.
#03  Everyone knows that bald people make better lovers, and if they don’t maybe it’s time you showed them.
#02  It distracts attention from your face (ok, that was just uncalled for)
And the #01 reason that chemo-induced baldness is awesome:
Bald = Sexy (just look at my gorgeous husband, my mbff Richard Goodwin, and actors such as Bruce Willis, Vin Diesel, Natalie Portman, and Britney Spears…o.k. she’s hot in a bald and crazy kind of way)
So, this is not my list, but one I found on If I didn’t have my sense of humor, this thing would have beaten me to a bloody pulp early on.
That being said, yesterday was a bad day.  The badness actually started this weekend, but it came to a head(no pun intended) yesterday evening.  The day started off well.  We walked my son to his first day of second grade, and he promised he was going to have a good year.  As I was sitting at home, I kept picturing the petri dish that is elementary school.  As most of you know, chemo disrupts the immune system, so hypochondriac that I am, I started to worry.  After getting some advice on how I should approach this, I went up to the school to speak with the principal.   After breaking down while telling her about our situation, I was assured that she would let the staff that needs to know(ie. vice principal, counselor, teacher, and nurse) about everything.  She also told me that her sister in law went through treatment last year, which soothed me, because I knew that she would be sympathetic to my plight.
After leaving the school, I got to do my favorite activity!!! I got to pay bills.  Woo hoo!! Hip hip hooray!  It was just my daughter and me, so that was a good thing.  It’s been a while since we had mommy/Cordelia time.  I went to the Wendy’s drive thru for lunch, but was informed that the princess wanted to eat inside. As we are eating our lunch, several of the older patrons stopped by to tell me what a beautiful girl I had…aww.  Hmmm, 12 o’clock. Gotta get home, so we will be on time to pick up Jacob.
We get home, and I notice the apron that a good friend ordered for me.  I had promised the company that I would send them a picture of me wearing it, so I go to get dolled up.  As I am creating my victory rolls, I notice that I am shedding…A LOT!  Well, I knew the day would come, and thought i was prepared.  My running joke has been that I can’t wait for my hair to fall out, so I can quit shaving.  I’ve also said that when it happens, I’m just gonna shave it all off.  Well, the leg hair hasn’t stopped growing, and I chose to get a really short cut instead of looking like daddy(as Cordelia has said I would).  Let me say, nothing prepares a woman for losing her hair.  It’s dramatic, and it hurts your feelings.  Just like a man(j/k honey).  As I was doing my hair for the pictures, I would brush my hair, and with one sweep, it was full.  I was still ok, though.  It’s not like it was falling out in clumps, it was just super shedding.  So, I get it done, and take the pictures, and yes, they are cute.  I called my mom to let her know, and tell her that I am going to have my hair cut that evening.  Thankfully, she offered to come watch the kids, because I hate leaving them sitting alone in the salon.
I get to Great Clips(yes, I know it’s not a “salon”…sue me).  45 minute wait!!!  I need to get it done, so I tell them I will wait.  I knew my husband would be home soon, so my parents wouldn’t have to stay the whole time.  Time goes by, and the place is packed.  I am sitting in a corner when a woman and her teenage son come in.  The only seats available are right next to me.  On the other side is a mom, her son, and daughter.  Her other daughter is getting her hair cut.  They call the sitting daughter, and the mom goes over with her.  The seats are vacated, and I move over.  “I’ll give you a little more elbow room” I say to the mom next to me.  “Thank you so much” she replies.  A father and his two sons come in, so I scoot back to give them seats together.  I play musical chairs until a single seat on the other side of the room opens up.  I am doing perfectly fine this whole time, and then they call the teenage son up. He is right before me.  I feel a tickle.  My throat closes up.  The waterworks begin.  I hate, hate, hate crying in front of people.  I have the same problem as my mother.  We are pretty women, but UGLY criers.  My nose turns bright red, I get splotchy, and my eyes look evil(bloodshot with red eyebrows). I get myself under control, and continue waiting.  Did I mention they have easy listening on?  While I am crying, I have to listen to Arms of an Angel by Sarah McLachlan…fun, huh?  Five minutes, and some other depressing song later, and the stylist calls me up.  I inform her that I will need a shampoo and cut.  Then I explain that when she washes my hair, a lot will come out.  She gives me the pity look, and I let her know that yes, I am going through treatment.  Of course, I am not as cool about it as I make it sound.  I am blubbering the whole time.  She takes me back, washes my hair, and when done, tells me that it isn’t that bad.  Then she proceeds to scoop out what looks like a drowned rat, and throw it in the trash.  She leads me to her chair, and I show her a picture of what I would like done.  She is very hesitant to cut it as short as I want it, but I told her to go for it, and I didn’t want to have to come back in a week(wishful thinking) to have it cut shorter.  We’re about to the halfway point in my haircut, when she is called to the register.  Much discussion ensues, and then she is back.  I didn’t notice who she was talking to, as my back was to the register.  Apparently, dear reader, the mom was listening the whole time, and decided out of the kindness of her heart to take care of my cut + tip.  People never cease to amaze me.  I was humbled, and of course started to cry again.  Heck! I’m crying as I’m typing this.  I wish I could see her, so I could thank her personally.  I know that I will make it a point to pay it forward in some manner.  My family, my friends, and perfect strangers have shown me so much love, and given me renewed hope in mankind.  I love you all for everything you have done, and all of the beautiful, kind thoughts you are sending my way.  Keep praying for me, and I will keep my faith.
This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. – John 15:12
You must not lose faith in humanity.  Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty. – Mahatma Ghandi

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


“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.
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.

Day 20: Your fears


If you’ve read any of my former posts, you will know that I was diagnosed and went through treatment for a very rare, aggressive cancer, Small Cell Neuroendocrine Cervical Carcinoma. The five year survival rate is approximately 50%, if you were diagnosed at 1b1 or below. My diagnosis was 1b2, and I’m at 3 years post treatment.

I’m 37 years old with a 10 year old son and 7 year old daughter. My biggest fear is that I won’t see them become the people I know they can grow up to be.

The crazy thing about cancer, or any terminal disease, really, is that you are NEVER TRULY CURED. Sure, the physical illness may be cured, but you are never without the fear. I may not look sick anymore, but every time I have some strange pain, I’m absolutely positive it’s the monster come back to take me away from my babies. Every time I have a cough that lasts just a little too long, I’m sure that it has taken over my lungs. When I’m a little more fatigued than normal, my first thought is metastasis to the brain. I’ve been called a drama queen (which hurt), but until you can take a stroll in my brain, you should probably keep the judgement to a minimum.

I know a lot of people who have had cancer, and they all confirm that my feelings are not crazy. They have all had moments of weakness, where their positivity has run on empty, and they have given in to their fears.

This is my new normal. This is where I’ll be until my dying day. Whether that is in my near future or distant future, only God knows.

2012-09-28 21.01.08

More Cancerific Caringbridge Posts (original posts from 2011)


My name is Shanna, and I am a carboholic!

The first step is to admit you have a problem, right?  I go in for my pet scan tomorrow, and I am on a no carb/no sugar diet until then.  No carbs?!? No sugar?!?  I really didn’t realize how addicted I was, until it was taken away.  How many times do I reach for potato chips when I want to snack?  How often do I grab a glass of tea when I’m thirsty?  Peanut butter and jelly sandwich?  Not today, sista!  It’s like Adkins on crack in this house!  On the bright side, I can have as much water as I want.

I’m worried about what they will find tomorrow, but I am so ready.  I am very thankful to those of you who have taken a moment to read my journals.  I am also very excited to know that my story has gotten the attention of several of my girlfriends who were putting off their check ups.  Keep the prayers coming, and I will keep my faith.
My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken. (Psalm 62: 1-2)

Barium liquid…need I say more?

I had my first ever cat scan yesterday.  I was quite impressed with the tasty drink they gave me beforehand….that was sarcasm.  Two cups of “mocha” flavored barium liquid, yumm-o!  The tech did tell me that had I been scheduled for a cat scan only, it would have been worse.  They are allowed to water down the liquid for pet scans, so hey, bright side!

The cat scan wasn’t that bad.  If I were slightly more claustrophobic, I probably would have had issues, but I only had slight chest pressure going into my sarcophagus.

Afterwards, I was treated to a carb-filled lunch at Olive Garden.  My mom is THE BEST!  She also said that my children behaved themselves, which was a relief.  I can’t explain my children.  They mean the world to me, but they are an acquired taste to many of my friends.  My mother says I expect too much of them, but I just want them to be liked.  I have had too many friends who are a little annoyed by them, and it hurts me.  I completely understand, because there are some children that I can’t tolerate, but I try to not let it show.  Everyone has their own personality, and my kiddos definitely push the boundaries.
Ugh, I digress.  The oncologist’s office called me today, and informed me that they have received the images, and there is definite activity on the cervix, but there are also 2 enlarged lymph nodes in my pelvic area.  They cannot tell if they are due to metastasis, though.  Ever hopeful, I am trying to imagine them to be like my tonsils…extra large.  I will go to see Dr. Loar tomorrow, so we can figure out my “game plan”.
So far, I am looking at surgery and chemo with a possible radiation chaser.  Now that the waiting is basically over, I am freaking out a little more, but my mother and I have an ongoing wager.  Whoever breaks down the most during the week has to buy the other one Baskin Robbins ice cream.  I win this week!
Keep the prayers coming, and I’ll keep my faith(I think this will be my regular sign off).
These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world. John 16:33  

Countdown to wellness!

Tomorrow is the big day!  I am on a liquid diet today, so that I can be prepared for my surgery tomorrow at 1:30.  I am having a radical hysterectomy(which I call a totally radical hysterectomy, in my best surfer tone).  My doctor has said that we should be able to do this laparoscopically, and I should be out the next day, so fingers crossed.

Today is gonna be a rough one….for one thing, I have to be on a liquid diet, and this girl likes to eat! The other thing is the medication that I will have to take to “cleanse” before surgery.  Ick, ew, gross!  I’ll spare you all the details.
I spoke to my children today, but I don’t think they really get it.  My son was a little concerned, but he saw something shiny and got distracted.  They know that mommy is sick, and she will be going to the hospital tomorrow, so the doctor can take the bad stuff out, but that’s about it. I told them they can ask me anything they want, and the main thing they wanted to know was if it was going to hurt me. I told them that I was going to be asleep, so I wouldn’t feel a thing, but I might hurt a little after, so they were going to have to be very careful with me.  Of course they promised to take really good care of me:)
I seem to be slightly more scared than I have been, but I guess that is to be expected.  This is all getting real for me now.  I am praying for an easy recovery, and that the hospital food won’t suck too bad.  Just kidding, I know that is more than anyone can hope for.
Keep the prayers coming, and I will keep my faith.
The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe. – Proverbs 29:25

My Journey pt. 2



This is the next excerpt, taken from my Caring Bridge blog.  



Life is funny that way

Written June 28, 2011 12:12pm

It’s amazing what will shake our faith in God.  Debt, relationships, work, etc.  The funny thing is, since I received this devastating news, my faith has grown.  I have my moments of melancholy, but I am truly not afraid.  I am not afraid of what is to come, be it procedures or the end.  Don’t get me wrong, I have my worries. I worry about my husband and children.  I worry about my family and friends.  I worry about the women who have not gotten checked up, so don’t have any knowledge of the beast that may be lurking within.  

I was not brought up in a faith based household, and I am still learning, but I do know that He wants me to give my worries to Him, and that is what I am trying to do.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13

Holy Cow!

Written June 30, 2011 2:27pm

So, tomorrow is the big day!  I will find out all(hopefully) of the things that I have been fretting about.  What stage am I?  Has it spread?  What is my outlook?  These 3 things have become sort of a mantra, as they are what I hear repeatedly in my head. I know that these are not the positive messages I should be thinking, but when you are in the dark about the seriousness of an illness, it’s hard to stay positive.  I am hoping for the best, but am anticipating the worst.  For those that don’t know me, this is my normal way of thinking.  I like to call myself a cynical optimist. 

I keep telling everyone that I am prepared for whatever happens.  I guess I feel like if I say it often enough, I’ll start to believe it.  I feel at a loss, and I hate that feeling. I am used to feeling in control, and it is hard for me to let God take the pilot seat.  I’ve always been sort of a moment to moment type of person, but this has definitely made me not want to look too far into the future.  The few times that I have, I broke down because of all the things that I would like to see.  Nobody is guaranteed tomorrow, but we all wish that we were…

Not quite, but almost as confused as I was before

Written July 1, 2011 2:04pm

I met my gyn-onc today, and he seems like a really nice guy(is it sick that I noticed how handsome he is?).  I had a full pelvic exam(not for the weak hearted), and had him answer some questions. 

As of right now, it is still a waiting game.  I will have a pt/ct scan next week, to make sure the cancer has not metastasized. Once he has those results, and the results from the blood they drew today, we can discuss which will be done first, the surgery or the chemo/radiation.  Yes, folks, I will have to have the whole enchilada.  If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well, right?
He did say that from the pathology report, and what he viewed today, it looks like I have Stage 1B1 or 1B2.  In layman’s terms, these are cancers that can be seen without a microscope, but have not reached the lymph nodes.  This is very reassuring to me, and other than them telling me “Hey! We made a mistake! There’s no cancer here!!”, this was the worst that I was hoping it would be. 
So, my friends and family, this is the update for now.  As soon as I get more info, I will let you all know.  Keep the prayers coming, and don’t write me off, yet.  I am strong.  I am a fighter.  I will get through this!

My journey(as promised)


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.