Wrapping up 2015

Thursday, December 31, 2015

On March 16, 2015, only three months into the year, I wanted the year to be over.

Here we are, NYE 2015 and I am not sure how to properly say goodbye to 2015.

2015 was a lot of things. It was hard. It was sad. It was difficult. It was challenging. It was happy. It was bittersweet. It was good. It was bad. 

If I had to pick one word to describe 2015 it would be defining. This was a defining year for me. Obviously my diagnosis and the way it has changed my life is pretty upsetting, but I would not call this the worst year of my life. I mean, I am still here, still standing (a bit more wobbly than before but standing), and I am looking into a year that only holds good things. 

I learned a lot of things this year. Some were things I could have done without, but they came with the territory so I learned them. I am not the same person I was when 2015 started. That fact is both good and bad, but also a little sad. 

I see pictures from last NYE and it is crazy to think about all I had coming. It almost scares me in a way that the same could be said for this coming year, but I refuse to go there. I truly believe 2016 will be good. Not every moment, but I believe there is good to be had. 

I am not sure why this year happened to me. I kind of want a chance to redo it! I honestly cannot believe all that I went through this year. If someone had told me last year at this time that I would spend the majority of the next year fighting cancer, I would have lost it. At the time, that was my worst nightmare. It isn't anymore. For someone who spent the majority of their life extremely healthy, I feel like I conquered this year quite well. It takes less to scare me now. 

2015 will forever be the year marked by cancer. I don't think there is any escaping that, but there were also good things buried throughout the year. I met some awesome new people who I hope will continue to be my friends. My friends and I were able to do several little trips we had always talked about. I lost some weight (hopefully all you reading this have a sense of humor). I got to be home for my brother's senior year which was unexpected, but ended up being a good thing. I still got to take a little road trip with my mom and see One Direction. I had a really awesome 20th birthday all the way back in January. I got to see my aunt and/or some cousins just about every month after I was diagnosed. I got to see and experience first hand how kind people can be.  I got to see Amy Schumer. Probably the year's biggest highlight was getting Stanley!!! It may sound weird or pathetic, but that little dog did so much for me mentally. It sounds so cheesy, but he really brought so much happiness and laughter to me and my family. I am so thankful for him!

I am sure that I could list more, but you get the point. I would not have gotten this far without my family and all of you. I do want to especially list my mom. She has not left my side (literally) these last 9 months. She spent every night in the hospital with me and never complained when I asked her to get me food. She has done so much for me. I truly would not have gotten through any of this without her. 

I have a lot of hope and peace for 2016. 16 has always been my favorite number. I am not gonna say my family deserves a break because I don't believe that is how it works, but if it is then DO YOU HEAR ME UNIVERSE? I am hopeful that next NYE I will be back to celebrating with my friends in a cute outfit with hair on my head. May 2016 be filled with hair, plenty of eating, and NO hospital visits! As the poster some of my favorite people gave me last Tuesday says: the best is yet to come. I truly believe that. For all of us. 

So peace out 2015. You certainly left your mark but it is time for you to go. Far away. *insert door slamming noise*. 

I wish all of you a very happy and safe NYE! May your 2016 be filled with much love, hope, and good health. 

Ho, Ho, Ho, I am DONE With Chemo

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Where to even start?

I have sat down multiple times to try to figure out what exactly I wanted to say. I am still not sure I am 100% there, but I figured I would give it a shot. 

Many of you are probably expecting to hear how I celebrated being done with chemo. Maybe I threw some big party or had a bunch of friends over. Maybe we had some fancy dinner.

The truth is?

I came home Tuesday and had a mental breakdown and then went to sleep. Not as exciting as you probably expected!

Backing up just a bit, Tuesday was a very, very exciting day. I am not disregarding that fact at all. I am SO INCREDIBLY happy to be done, I don't think I can emphasize that enough. We got to the clinic around 9 and the last push of chemo was done by 10 after 11. I got to ring the "all done" bell. Twice actually. Apparently, the nurses did not think I rang it with enough gusto the first time! 

The head nurse (I don't exactly know her title, but she does all the coordinating and planning aka the hard stuff) gave me the biggest hug and cried. We ADORE her and we definitely would not have made it through this experience without her. It was extremely touching to see all this people be so happy for me. Of course, I am not leaving you guys out either! All the messages I recieved made my day! I did a terribly crappy job of responding, but I read them all. It is so much more exciting to have good news when you have people to share it with! 

After we left the clinic, my mom and I did go to lunch and CVS. I bought a new mascara in preparation for my eyelashes to come back (!!!!!!!) since I haven't worn any in months. It is extremely exciting to think of stuff like that now!

Once we got home, I went a little crazy. I think it was a mixture of so many emotions and exhaustion. It felt like all the emotions of the last 9 months erupted. I haven't had a freak out like that in a long time. I finally just took some nausea stuff and fell asleep. 

This may be hard to understand unless you too have experienced it, but there are just so many emotions that come with treatment ending. Obviously I am more thankful than words can express, but it is also overwhelming. I did not want to enter the cancer world, but I did and now I am not sure where to go. For nine months I have had people telling me what to do and where to go, so to be able to look ahead and not have that is (good), but also scary. I am not going back to my "old" life. Sure, I will definitely get back many aspects of it, but it won't be the same. I was and will be determined to not let cancer define me, but I can't just totally forget it happened. I have to figure out a "new/old" normal. I know I will, it is just going to take some time. 

I don't think it has hit me yet that it is over. I am still dealing with residual side effects from the last few rounds. My hair is coming in, but it isn't obvious. I didn't leave the clinic on Tuesday and automatically resume my old life. I don't think it will hit me till like February that it is over. Just like we couldn't snap in to the cancer world, we can't just snap out of it either. My body doesn't know it is not about to be bombarded with more chemo, so I am still feeling it. It will be awhile before I feel "normal". So, I am closing the chapter on treatment, but not on cancer entirely. 

January will most likely be a month of recovering. I don't think I ever mentioned it, but I am not returning to school. Originally that was all I wanted, but I quickly realized that it wasn't super realistic. I will be taking another online course and may try to get to Columbia later in the spring to finish up some incompletes. Instead, I have plans to find a therapist to talk about everything with. I kind of bottled up all my emotions just to get through this process, but now they are spilling out and I am not above denying my need for help dealing with them. I also already have PT appointments 3 days a week starting in mid-January. While I have made HUGE strides with walking, I still have quite a bit of work to do. I am not sure what my schedule of doctors appointments will be now. I have scans the second week of January and then an appointment following, but I am not sure what happens after that. I have my regular weekly appointment tomorrow, so we may find out then. 

I think a lot of people expect that our lives are back to where we left them in March. That is not the case. Yet anyway. I am not saying we will never get there, but it is going to take time. We have to figure out how to navigate the post cancer world. Of course, my family and I would not have made it this far alone, so thank you (those words seem so small in the scheme of things) for walking along side us this long. I hope you will continue to do so! As for this blog, I have no plans of stopping writing. Clearly I already did a poor job of keeping it updated, but I have lots of thoughts and will need a place to write them. Maybe I will write more now that I will actually have some energy!

I feel like there is tons more to say, but I will save that for another day. Chemo is going out with a bang, so I have felt the last few days feeling kinda crappy. Please excuse any typos in this post....I have been taking Phenergen and am currently inbetween naps! I hope you all had a lovely Christmas! I had a nice one...just a relaxing day on the couch doing nothing. I hate when the holiday season is over! 

Thank you once again for everything. I am so thankful to be on the road to recovery, no matter how long that road is. I hope you will continue to keep everyone battling in your thoughts and prayers. So many are suffering. Cancer is a horrible, terrible disease. I don't know why I had to go through what I have (still cannot even believe it some days), but I want something good to come of it. I have big ideas, just have to figure out how to execute them! 

Sending you all so much love! 

First and last chemo!
Last time leaving the hospital!
First and last inpatient chemo!
Stanley and I on Christmas!

An Updated Thoughts and Feelings

Monday, December 21, 2015

As one can probably imagine, I have tons of emotions regarding the end of my treatment being so near (as in tomorrow). Unless you yourself have experienced this, I am not sure you will understand. I will do my best to share how I feel but, it is definitely complicated.

If you were to look in my brain right now, my thoughts probably look something like this:

**Hooray I finish chemo! I will be able to eat! And brush my teeth! And this will stop hurting! And I will be able to go shopping! I miss shopping. I really want to lighten up my winter wardrobe. I seriously need to clean out my closet before I buy ANYTHING else. Once chemo is done I will have the energy to do that! I really just can't wait to eat. I will never take eating for granted again. How the heck is Christmas in a few days? I am not ready! I didn't even make a list or do any shopping. Probably good because I also haven't made any money since the summer. I miss babysitting. I cannot wait till this is over so I can babysit again. Mouth sores suck my mouth literally is in so much pain. I just want to eat but SO MUCH PAIN. OMG chemo ENDS tomorrow. What am I gonna do. I hope I don't get nauseous. I hope I have the energy to make cupcakes for the clinic people tomorrow. I also hope my mom remembers I want a cookie cake. MY HAIR IS GONNA COME BACK! Gosh cancer sucks so much. Are people really considering voting for Donald Trump? I am so tired. I hope I can walk normally again soon. GOSH my mouth hurts SO BAD. --insert some thought about how attractive Harry Styles is-Stanley is actually the cutest dog ever. We still need a pic of him in front of the tree in his Santa Suit. *already freaking out about scans in January* It is all gonna be good. This is gonna be OVER.  I hope I can work everything out with my school. -CHEMO AND CHRISTMAS!**

Anyway, that is a pretty good summary of my mind at the moment. So many emotions. Obviously, I am SO INCREDBLY BEYOND EXCITED that I get to ring the bell tomorrow and I pray that is the last bit of chemo that EVER enters my body. Once those final side effects are gone I cannot wait to feel like my body is mine again. It feels like it has been forever since March 16, but also in a way it has gone by fast. I am so thankful that I get to be DONE. I just have to figure out where I fit in in the world now.

You see, I am going back to "normal", but it is not the normal I was used to. My mom and I were talking and she put it in a smart way. Before this cancer thing, my biggest thing was a math test. That math test is long over. The world has moved on since March 16, as it should have, I just don't know where I am going back to. I obviously am not going back to March 15. I know I will figure it out, but it is also a little scary. 

Obviously January is going to be a lot of recovery, follow up appts, etc. The world after treatment seems a bit scary! I have had people telling me what to do or where to show up for 9 months and now I will be back on my own. I know I can do it, but the idea is scary. Plus, I have a feeling for awhile every pain or weird thing will freak me out. I know that is normal, but now it is so easy to blame on chemo. My eyes are doing weird things-oh must just be chemo. My skin is really dry-must be chemo. I'm not hungry-must be chemo. What happens when it ISN'T chemo????  It is kinda crazy to think about. You get so immersed in this world (that I thought was scary to join), but now I am kinda scared to leave.

Everyone keeps asking me if I am doing anything to celebrate. At first, I wanted to have a big party, but I am not so sure now. I don't have any plans at all for tomorrow actually. I cannot guarantee how I am going to feel, so I didn't wanna plan anything anyway. Last time I got my outpatient drugs, I actually felt great, but that could change this time. I also feel like it is something that isn't gonna hit me right away. I feel like I am gonna wake up one day in January and then it will hit me. Maybe then I will throw a party or something. I told my mom as soon as my mouth doesn't hurt and I am not nauseous I would like to go out to eat. I also told her I wanted a cookie cake. This is something totally worth celebrating though, so I am sure I will figure something out. 

So this is kind of where my head is at lately. Such a mix of emotions! I am sure I will write more about this as the words come to me. 

I will say leaving the hospital was a lot harder than I thought! Obviously, I could not have been happier to get to leave there for the LAST time, but it was so hard to say bye to all the nurses. I had such awesome nurses and I really love them! I will miss them, but have promise to come visit with snacks! I just hope to never ever be a patient of theirs again (not because they aren't awesome, but you know what I mean). They were all so happy for me which was great to see. I have made some truly awesome friends and I look forward to spending time with them, just outside hospital walls! 

I am sitting at the clinic currently, just waiting to get my chemo. My mouth is literally full of sores, which isn't fun. I just want to eat!! I am praying they go away ASAP and that I never have to deal with them ever again! My mom and I went to see Amy Schumer in Charlotte on Saturday night. It was so fun and nice to be somewhere together that wasn't a hospital! She was hilarious...I could listen to her comedy set for hours! I really rallied though, despite my mouth hurting incredibly and my little hobble walk around the city. I am hoping this chemo doesn't knock me down too much, but have nothing on the calendar for the week! We usually go up north for Christmas, but obviously that isn't happening, so we don't have any plans! It is supposed to be 70, so I told my mom we are gonna turn close the blinds and turn on the heat and pretend it is actually cold! 

I hope you all have a WONDERFUL Christmas Holiday!! If you think about it, please keep everyone fighting cancer in your prayers this holiday. I am SO lucky to be celebrating, but so many others are not. So many are in such awful situations or just stuck in the hospital for Christmas. Cancer is so cruel. I will never understand it. Cancer won't take off just cus it is a holiday. Thank you so much! 

Thank you for all the continued thoughts and prayers! I hope you will keep them up...just cus chemo is over doesn't mean everything just ends. I will still have a lot to deal with emotionally, physically, and mentally. The hardest part will be over, but the road doesn't won't just end! 

Merry, Merry, Christmas to all of you! Sending you so much love! Next time I post I will be DONE with chemo! :)

Never posted about Thanksgiving! We had a FANTASTIC holiday! I as up more on Thanksgiving than I had been in like 9 months haha! But I felt so good and was so happy to have my family here. And look at Stanley and Otto in their matching sweaters :)
Stanley and I went Christmas tree shopping!
Just for comparison, my first High Dose Methotrexate on the left and my LAST on the right :)