Infusion Celebration

Hello Friends!

I am so sorry about the delay in writing. Infusion 4 started out well and then took a turn earlier in the week. I got sick this week. It was the first illness I have had since starting chemo and let me tell you what, I have new found respect for anyone that is immune comprised.

What should have been a bug I could easily have gotten over and maybe not even gotten sick from, turned into a five day sickness that made life very uncomfortable.. I could feel how hard my body was trying to fight this bug and how little I had in terms of energy to fight it. I can’t imagine having to deal with Flu season every year. It was scary to realize how weak my body is and how careful I need to be to avoid getting sick again. Not having the ability to fight off germs is a hard way to live. I will not be getting the flu shot until next year so thank you to everyone that gets the flu shot this year!

I am finally feeling better and back to my cheerful self. I am still trying to live as normally as possible. Seeing friends, doing small errands, taking Ahmi for walks. Some days are better than others but through it all, I am still smiling.

Tomorrow I will be going to my friends log cabin to celebrate the end of the Red Devil chemo and the start of a lighter and easier chemo. I will still be bald but I should have more energy during the day. I am also starting to meet with doctors about my upcoming surgery. Slowly, we are working towards this healthier version of myself.

One thing I am grateful for is the chemo has allowed me to feel and experience food in a new way. I can better gauge how I feel after eating food than before chemo. I am in awe of this experience. Just like the compassion I have for immune compromised people, I now feel like I understand my relationship with food more. I know what foods help me to feel healthy and alive and I am learning what foods bring my body down and forces it to work harder. Throughout this process I am taking away the bad foods and replacing them with good ones. I can’t wait until I have the energy to be able to explore this relationship more and write about it.

All in all, it’s been a hard week but one that is still not as bad as it could have been. My chemo experience so far has not been terrible. My doctor even calls me her super star patient and my sister mentioned how healthy I look at the moment. I am always smiling when I see my doctor. She is helping to keep me alive I did get confirmation this week my tumors are officially responding to the chemo! This news gave me some relief and energy to keep moving forward.

Have a great week!

Nature Bathing

Today I spent the day at the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island.

I am so grateful for today. I am finally starting to have the energy to do things besides just managing the side effects from Chemo after this last infusion. This healing from cancer thing is a full time job! I went to the reserve with a good friend to help her celebrate a new job and we both loved it. We walked among the trees and ferns taking photos and talking about life.

It was beautiful.

The air was thick with magic.

There’s an amazing house that you can tour in the middle of the property. While we were visiting the house the rain started to come down hard and it turned out to be perfect timing. We just happened to be sitting in the living room and looking out the window at the beautiful view of the Sound. We were able to wait the rain out and just relax in this beautiful and healing environment. They had the Lord of the Rings soundtrack playing in the background and even that music fit the environment perfectly.

If you ever get a chance to check out the Reserve, I highly recommend it. They have immaculate gardens and so much nature within this special place.

I am now in preparation mode. Next week is my final infusion of the Red Devil. It feels so good to almost be done with this phase of my treatment. The red devil is very strong and intense. I hear it’s one of the strongest mixes you can have. I have been managing my symptoms and I am doing well but some days it feels like a full time job. After a short break, I will start 3 months of the next chemo mixture which is supposed to be easier on the body. I am looking forward to a lighter chemo.

Preparation mode includes getting my body and physical space ready for healing mode. I took very detailed notes for each infusion so I know what to expect but it’s always nice to prepare for my sessions. I have found that drinking a lot of liquids and focusing on fresh foods before my infusions helps me post infusion to manage the nausea.

Cancer has been such a beautiful teacher in so many ways. Most of all, I am learning about how to fully care for myself and my needs. It has been a hard lesson some days and some days it feels so simple and easy. I am really trying to remain open to learning about this experience can teach me. Today was a good day in the lesson of Forest Bathing and being flexible. Even when it rains.

Little miracles everywhere

One of the most beautiful parts of my infusion on Wednesday was how loved my nurse made me feel. She told me after our first meeting together that she signed herself up to be my main nurse for the infusions. I felt so seen and loved in that moment. She has been reading my charts and keeping an eye on my progress.

I am so excited that I will get to spend another three to four months with her. I hope to bring her baked treats and flowers to show her I appreciate her. It’s the people that are helping me to heal.

I was also able to go out for dinner with a guy friend this week. I only get to see him when a tour brings him through town so it’s about once a year. For those few hours I felt good to be out and about. I am a little weaker for the evening but seeing this friend warmed my heart up so much, it was worth it. I can’t wait to visit him and his wife in LA once my chemo is over and I need some sun!

So much love to you all!

Infusion #3

Lately I am witnessing changes in my mind. Writing has become a little more tiresome. Conversations can take fun and new directions. I am forgetting a lot of things. I never knew what “chemo brain” meant but I now have a very good idea of what it is like. It’s like my brain is moving slowly and on it’s own track.

In other news, the infusions have been very manageable. I have been able to go out and about in the world this change of seasons. I’ve been watching the leaves turn colors while I walk in the parks with friends. I have been able to have a delightful afternoon lunches with friends. I feel like a normal person for a few hours out of the day. In these moments, they are times when my cancer is not on the top of my mind. These moments are so important to my healing.

Another way I have managing my infusions is by being active in my garden. I was able to plant 80 or more daffodils in anticipation of the spring this week. Gardening has become obsession. Growing food for my community in on my mind. This includes humans and nature, birds, bees and all the insects we need to survive. With each season there are things to do. It has become my meditation and therapy. Turning the gardens over and making notes of the lessons I have learned. It is a beautiful hobby.

Lastly, I am so excited to attend the Jubilee Seattle event happening in November. I'm excited to finally be ready to start on my website Home Cook Traveler. It’s my passion project. Jubilee Seattle will introduce me to women that are creating much needed change in the food industry. I am looking forward to being a part of this change.

Needless to say, things are well aside of my slower mind. A slower mind that is learning new things everyday.

Chemo was fun!

Someone asked me yesterday how my 2nd chemo infusion was and I answered truthfully,

“Chemo was fun!”

This is actually how I felt. My friend Kim sat with me and the nurse we had that night was really fun. We laughed the whole time and talked about life. I really can see how this decision of mine to heal my cancer with laughter is working.

My first post chemo day this week was not bad at all. I was able to do a couple of things are the house and I walked 3 miles with ahmi. I laughed with friends on the phone and generally had a good day.

I also read a report from the NIH that said Hibiscus can aid in helping the chemo do it’s job against some of the cancers I have. I am sure the dosage they were talking about are much higher than my tea intake but it confirmed my intuition is still strong. Why would I crave hibiscus tea so much these last few weeks? I love it when my body speaks to me. Chai Tea and Hibiscus tea are going on my list of cancer important steps to help against side effects.

Have a great day!

Its a Friday the 13th Full Moon.

Get dreamy today. Move slow and in the flow. Laugh as much as you can and dream big!

Infusion #2

Today is the second infusion of a four infusion plan with what the cancer patients call “ The Red Devil”. It is one of the strongest chemo medications out there. I am calling it the red sunset instead because it sounds a little more relaxing that way. Though the red devil does kind of make me giggle when I say it. Such an old time description of something.

Yesterday I wanted to have a day where I did not worry or stress out about my next infusion so I packed my car up with my friend Chris and we drove up to Crista’s cabin in the woods. I laughed almost the whole day with Chris and Crista. We worked in her garden, sat on the deck, listened to vintage 80’s music and drank Kombucha. It was such a perfect day that all I could say to my friends was “ I just want everyday of my life to be like today”. Spending time outside with good friends and enjoying each others company. To me, that is a perfect day.

I woke up early today to prepare for a 10 hour day at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. I have various appointments and then a bit of a break before the second infusion. I have been preparing for this next round as much as I can over the last few days. Stocking up on small things to eat that are easy and bland. Cleaning my room and bathroom and everything that goes along with that. Seeing people before I disappear for about a week while the infusion does it magic. All of these little things will make the next week of my life so much easier.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about how Cancer has helped me to become so grateful in life. Every little action that someone does to help me is noticed and appreciated. This extends as far as a simple text or note from someone. These actions mean the world to me right now. I feel like I have a new lease on life in many ways. Though I do wish my brain would work a little better. I definitely now understand what they mean by “chemo brain”. It’s like a good chunk of my brain has gone on vacation. Simple things like figuring out what to leave for a tip is no longer something my brain can handle at the moment. But then I consider what a small thing that is to worry about and I let go. So my brain needs simple things at the moment, I think that’s okay considering what I am dealing with. I am giving myself permission to just be and I have never felt better.

Love to you all!

Little Inspirations

I can’t believe another week has gone by!

I successfully completed my first week of chemotherapy. I’m actually getting my second infusion this Wednesday, so week two is almost in the books. Time feels like it is going so fast and slow right now.

Managing my symptoms and side effects of the treatments feels like a full time job right now. Everyday is different and unexpected. I have been keeping a medical diary each day so that I can understand how I feel each day. I heard that the side effects you feel after your first treatment will be what you feel each time and each time it will be slightly stronger. It also helps me keep track of any issues I need to address with my doctor. I would highly recommend this Ritual to anyone going through chemotherapy. It’s so helpful to look back at each day and see how you felt. It will also help when the side effects becoming stronger and I can’t remember what things felt like.

I have also been digging into historical documentaries. For some reason watching vintage footage and hearing about historical events is very soothing for my brain. I started with the Ken Burns documentary on Jazz music. It’s such a good mini series and should be required watching for everyone. Watching it reminds me so much of my stepfather Pat. I wish I could talk with him about the musicians I am learning about. He had such knowledge about American musical history. It feels good to honor him in this way.

This week also allowed me to leave the house a couple of days to see friends and run some errands. It felt so good to be out and about and doing normal things. The weather is starting to cool down here in Seattle so I have been able to pull out my favorite sweaters and hats. I am so grateful for this change in the weather. My sister even knitted a cashmere hat for me that I will wear with pride once my hair falls out. I will try to post a photo soon on Instagram.

Today I start my pre-chemotherapy rituals. These include adding mineral broth to my diet and increasing my smoothies. I also will slowly lighten up on my meals to prepare my body. I increase my fruits and veggies and decrease my carbs. I will also prepare my room for a couple of days where I will be resting and unable to do much.

Have a great week!

Please bring me all the Hibiscus Tea

Please bring me all the Hibiscus Tea

I feel like I am emerging from the first chemo infusion.  I almost feeling normal again.  I realized it was not just the chemo that had been causing me to struggle but also all the procedures leading up to the first infusion.  But today, today I celebrate.  I feel like I am coming out of the fog and I feel not too bad.

I woke up early and walked Ahmi.  We are on a strange early to bed, early to rise program.  It’s East Coast time for a West Coast girl.  After walking ahmi, I was able do some chores which is a huge deal for me at the moment and now I am writing.   It’s all mundane stuff but it’s the stuff I have been craving.

I keep thinking about Julia Louis Dreyfus and how important keeping her life, work and her comedy were for her.  I am trying to adopt this approach as well.  I am going to give my body what it needs but I also want to keep moving forward with my interests in life.  I don’t want this experience to cause me to come to a screeching halt.

Balance is another thing I am thinking about. I will have about eight different days all within a day of my life. This means my energy will go up and drop numerous times over the course of the day depending on the medication. It’s a roller-coaster of all your senses. I can’t make any declarations because within an hour , I will say the exact opposite thing. So it all requires me to focus on balance. How can I feel better without tiring myself out? How can I keep calm so that I don’t exhaust myself with emotions?

All of this is to say, I think things are going pretty good considering everything. I feel good some moments, some moments I feel sick mostly I am just grateful to be alive and able to heal..

First Chemo Done

This past week marked my first chemo infusion.

It was not as bad as I thought it would be. I did feel ill but I was also able to give my body what it needed. Bland foods, smoothies, rest, walks and some Norther Exposure. My cure-all show.

My mom came out to help me prepare for chemo and stayed for my first infusion. She is one organized Goddess. I was sad to see her leave. It’s always nice to have people that can come in and do all the things you don’t realize you need, like a medicine wall calendar. I had no idea how mushy my brain would become on Chemo.

I am coming off the steroids tomorrow which worries me a bit. I was finally able to eat today so I don’t want to lose my appetite by coming off the steroids but I think it will be OK.

My big realization of the week?

The fact that chemo felt just like a college hangover. I can’t believe I poisoned myself so much in college! Whoa nelly.

Port Placement and the Power of the Voice

It’s been another busy week.

I finalized my Chemotherapy schedule and started the last of my pre-chemo appointments. This included getting a port placed on my chest. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be. Physically and emotionally.

The neck is a sensitive area and I now realize it more than ever. I left the Cancer center yesterday in pain and with medications that I know make me sick. I have taken them in the past and have had about a 40-60% chance they would make me ill. I was in so much pain that I needed the medications but was scared to take them. I was right. I ended up being very sick which landed me in the ER.

I will spare you guys the details but needless to say, I am now aware at how much I need to advocate for myself in the medical system. I need to be very clear with the health care professionals about what I can and can not take or do. I never want to burden people when I am receiving help nor do I want to trigger the them because at times I require pain medications but this is causing me to get sicker as I go deeper into this medical journey.

How can I approach people in the medical field and explain my body and situation in a way that they care hear me. I am a unique person that knows her body and yet, I constantly feel ignored or challenged. I want this to be a group project where I am seen and heard. This had made me realize that I need to do some work around my throat chakra this weekend. I need to learn to learn to speak up for myself and my needs. I want to go deep into this neck surgery experience so I can understand why this was such a triggering experience for me, mentally and physically.

But today I rest.

I am not sure if my body will accept the port or if I will need to get it removed. I am so aware of the device and the bruising that I can’t separate what is hurting and how long it will hurt. So I will spend the day drinking tea and healing smoothies. I will give myself permission to just rest.

Cancer is a real journey.

It tests you and helps you to crystal clear on the areas where you need growth. And as we all know, growing pains are real.

Short Hair Don't Care

Last week I cut my long hair off.

I needed to have my hair short so I could prepare mentally for what’s going to happen next. The haircut was a wonderful experience with my friends and I am forever grateful for their support. We made a party out of it. I brought a large amount of fresh fruits and veggies from the local Co-Op and some amazing cheeses. We also brought a couple of freshly made donuts as a special treat. My friend hosted a little gathering at her cabin in the woods which is a place I love. She picked the perfect time where we were laughing and telling stories to announce that it was time to cut it all off.

I was worried I was going to cry. This cancer thing is starting to get very real and small little things seem to move me more than they used too. But, this party with my best friends was such a loving experience that I came away feeling strong. I cut my hair as a choice before the chemo could take it from me. I did it right before the full moon and with people I love.

In medical news, I received some important information this week that has given me a lot of answers to why all of this is happening. It turns out I have a rare genetic mutation that has most likely caused this. For some reason just knowing this information has helped me to feel better. I know a little more about what I am up against and what I need to do to take care of myself once this health crisis is over. I also found out this week that I have more than one type of cancer going on. In fact, I have three. Three different types of cancers that need to be treated all in different ways. It feels overwhelming to think about it but luckily the doctor had already told me the plan if this scenario was to happen.

Sometimes it feels like every worse case scenario is happening. Hidden breast cancers, different kinds of cancer, genetic mutation that will most likely cause re-occurrence. It all feels like so much but then I also have this rule for myself. The only way I will survive this is with humor. I have to be able to laugh and see the positives of this situation. I need people to laugh with me. This isn’t a death sentence right now, its a situation that will cause me to take a year off from most things.

As I told my friend last night, “It won’t be my favorite year of my life, but I will make it through and be fine”.

Then we cheered to a glass half-full mindset. Yes, I have cancer. Yes, I have a hard road ahead. No, I will not let this take away my sense of humor, my cheerfulness, my kindness or my optimism. I plan on watching nothing but comedy specials and comedy entertainment. I want and need to laugh as much as possible during this time. The new doctor I saw on Friday even commented on how positive I was. She said if I can maintain this level of humor, acceptance and determination to heal; that I will be just fine. In fact, I plan on being more than just fine. I plan on coming out of this a better and happier person.

My new cancer hero is Julia Louie Dreyfus. I admire the way she was able to weave her work and love of comedy throughout her treatments and cancer experience. It gives me hope. Someone that can do what she loves and still laugh through this kind of situation is someone that I admire greatly.

I have another big week ahead of finalizing the chemo plan, getting a port placed into my chest and then my first chemo session. My mother is coming out to help me prepare. I am also obsessing over all the hats and turbans I want to buy from this site . I plan on hats and turbans only during my treatment. When I am awake with insomnia at night I can be found googling Turbans in Hollywood from the 30’s to the 70’s.

I also have a birthday coming up. It’s hard to think that my birthday this year will revolve around my first chemo treatment. I just keep reminding myself how grateful I am that this was caught so early and that I live in an amazing city for people with Cancer. Seattle really is wonderful in that way. I have a large cancer team that is helping to keep me alive.

Changing For The Better

Dare I say that cancer has changed my life for the better?

I know I am still very early in the treatment for this condition and I might be singing a different tune as I go through treatment, but what I have learned over these last few weeks is, this condition has lead to me being happier.  I am more joy filled and appreciate all these small things that I never thought about before this diagnosis.

Every call from a loved one, every trip to the farmers market with a friend is something to celebrate.  I am more grateful and laugh more now than I ever have.  No more time for holding onto pain, anger or sadness.  I want to embrace all the goodness of life before it's too late.

Yes, I am scared and I am in pain and have to take care of my body.  Every hug hurts but I wouldn't give them up for the world.  I am choosing to embrace the fear of this diagnosis and to find the goodness out of it.

So here I am, newly diagnosed with cancer and ready to embrace the changes my body needs to beat this thing.   With a smile on my face.

Tests results are arriving this week and I will be getting the port put in soon.  The heart scan last week was clear and my lymph system still looks good.  So only a few more steps until I start treatment.

I am going to a friends house today to cut all my hair off.  I need the short hair to happen sooner than later.  I do not want to lose my long hair due to chemo and it feels like it is a good rite of passage.  I am sure tears will be shed because this condition is quickly becoming real but I also think it will be a good change.  A fresh start to a healthier life.

So Many Things To Consider

It's been one week since I met my Cancer care team and two weeks since the diagnosis.  It feels like the longest two weeks of my life and yet all of this feels totally....normal?

I can't believe I was on the east coast three weeks ago and four weeks ago I was at my family reunion. 

I have never experienced a month like this before in my life.

There was good news at the meeting last week and bad news.  The bad news first.  I have cancer in both breasts.  This was unexpected since the cancer was not showing up in my mammogram in the other breast. It has caused a bit of a delay in my treatment because we need to find out what kind of cancer the newly found tumor is.  I had not expected this news and it feels slightly overwhelming.  I agreed to the genetic testing because more and more we go down the cancer rabbit hole, it feels like genetics are playing a bigger part. Because of these unknown parts, I don't know what kind of surgery will be required or what chemo treatment I will need.  I will learn more next week.

The good news that makes the bad news easier to deal with is, it appears to be stage one at this point.  I have another ultrasound this Friday but from what the team saw, it has not reached my lymph system yet.  It is a very aggressive form of cancer and I will need to go through chemo but it sounds like I caught it early and I will be able to manage it.

Every once in a while I stop and cry but for the most part, I am okay.  I am still slightly in shock that this is happening to me.  It turns out when you look young and healthy and you tell people that you have cancer, they get very emotional.   I do have to remind people that I am older than I look but I can't explain the healthy part.  I know I didn't care enough about my health at a younger age but the last few years I have changed all that and yet, it wasn't soon enough.

The only thing I feel like explains what is happening along with genetics, is inflammation and stress.   My health  has not always been super easy to do deal with but I always wanted to keep going and make life better.  Now more important than ever.  How can I relax more, learn to deal with my stress in a more constructive way?  This is the question I will be asking myself often as I go through this experience.

While I wait for the rest of the tests to come in, I am focused on keeping my immune system strong and my stress levels low.  My whole life is dedicated to appointments, healthy eating, keeping myself moving and resting when I need it.  I have never loved or taken care of myself this much before.  I know this whole experience will be a life pivot for me. How can I take care of myself and beat this situation to come out a better and healthier person?  Join me as I learn to answer these questions.

First Week of Cancer

August 02, 2019

I have Cancer.

That's cancer with the big C.  The kind of cancer that when they tell you that it is present, you can't hear anything else after that word.  The kind of cancer where you get exhausted from trying to convince people that you are going to be okay.  

That kind of Cancer.  

I feel too young.  I feel guilty for every piece of candy I have eaten.  I feel dumb for not realizing cancer was so present in my genetics.  

I want to laugh more.  I want to dream again.  I want to travel and to see the world.  I want to spend every morning having a cup of coffee outside in nature.  I want write, enjoy the comedy of life and to spend time with my family.

So that my first week of cancer.