Monday, March 16, 2015

It's Not a Tumor!

Good news everyone! Good news! It's NOT a tumor! Last week I received a call from my doctor's office. Shelly called me and left a message while I was at work. On my way home I listened to her message and ran through many different scenarios before calling her back. This is how it played back in my mind:
Shelly? Who is Shelly? Normally I hear back from Giselle. Why would Shelly be calling me? Is she the cancer nurse? The nurse who gives the bad news?
But at the end of the message she said I could speak to either her or one of the other nurse practitioners in the office.
Oh! Good! If she were giving me bad news I don't think she would just pass me along to someone else. It's probably not cancer then!
So I called Shelly. She did have good news for me. The doctor has classified the persistent cyst as endometrioma.  Endometrioma is just a fancy term for endometriosis that has formed a cyst on an ovary or ovaries. So there ya have it! It's not a tumor. It's endometrioma and a diagnosis that I can handle. I am so relieved. I've never wanted to hear the word endometriosis as badly as I wanted to hear it then.

The MRI went better than I had thought. I actually got to go in feet first again. My head was still in the MRI machine, but at least I knew it was towards the opening. The machine clunked and clanged and made the same noise it made when I first had my breast MRI, which was strangely comforting. I just closed my eyes, thought about where I wanted to go for dinner, made plans, and kept myself distracted. It didn't seem to take too long. The contrast was a piece of cake, and I was outta there within 45 minutes. Not bad.

I am so relieved. I was so nervous. I am so thankful that I am able to have these tests and ease my mind of all the horrible cancer thoughts. Now on to more important things!

- J.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Persistent Cyst

Hey! What did you call me?! Oh, you're not talking to me, you're talking to that little annoying cyst just hanging out on my right ovary. Yeah, that cyst sure is persistent.

I had an ultrasound in October and my gyno saw a cyst on my right ovary. I had a followup ultrasound last month and he said it's still there. Just hanging out. So now I have to go for an MRI so he can "classify" it. It could be anything! And that's a little frightening. It could be a benign ovarian cyst which so many women get throughout their lifetime. It could be endometriosis, which I suspect is throughout my body making my life miserable. And then it could certainly be a cancerous tumor. Ah, life, you sure like to keep me on my toes.

My CA-125 has remained stable throughout all my blood work checks so that gives me some hope that it's not cancerous.  My MRI is scheduled for next week. I'm not super stoked about hanging out in a tube while contrast gets shot in to my body, but what can ya do? I've never gone in head first to an MRI machine, just feet first. Does anyone have any tips / tricks to help me pass the time while I find out if I'm claustrophobic or not? Last MRI I tried to rap along with the loud banging and thumping of the machine, but that only passes a short amount of time. I'll take any suggestions!

- J

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Another Cancerversary Down!

Guess what everyone?! It's my 3 year cancerversary!! That's right, 3 years since I was diagnosed and I'm still going strong.

Actually, this day almost passed me by without any notice. I've been busy. Changes are coming as I close up my last week of work and begin a new job on January 20th. I'll never forget my old job though, my coworkers were tremendous as I went through my whole ordeal. I was lucky to be where I was in my life at that moment I was diagnosed. Does that even make sense? But now it's on to bigger and better things!

I still have my worries, my health concerns. My OBGYN is keeping a close eye on my high (but stable) CA-125. A little wrench was thrown into the mix when he told me he saw a cyst on one of my ovaries after an ultrasound in October. I'm going back this month for another CA-125 and ultrasound to check up on everything.

I'd be lying if I didn't admit I am a bit scared. I try to fool myself into thinking that I don't care, that everything is fine, and how unfair it would be if things got any worse than the breat cancer. It would be unfair! But in reality it could happen. Anything can happen. Anything does happen! But thank god I have amazingly capable doctors in my corner. Doctors I trust. They monitor me closely and I trust that if anything should arise they'd be just as capable to take care of me.

It's always been a big scary world out there, but I'm happy to say, that today, I am 3 years cancer free!

- J.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Operation Polyp: Success!

Operation Polyp has long been over, but it's taken me some time to post to my blog. I apologize! Operation Polyp was a big success. I had my second follow up with the ENT this past Monday and he told me everything is perfect and it looks like I never even had surgery. My singing career can commence! ha.

The morning of my surgery I felt pretty good, but when I was called in to pre-op my nerves started to kick in. Getting one's self ready for surgery is such a scary experience. Take off all your clothes. Put on two different gowns, one opens in the front, one in the back. Put on the grippy socks (which I actually adore and like to take home). And then put on the stylish hairnet. Nice.

The nurse was extremely nice, very comforting and positive. She took all my vitals. My blood pressure was a little high (but who can really blame my blood pressure?), but everything else was great. It was now IV time. I outstretched my right arm (because remember, left arm LIMB ALERT!) and she had such trouble sticking my vein. She told me I had rolling veins, which I've never heard before, but she kept poking and prodding, trying her best. She then had to give up and put the IV in my wrist! EEK! I hate that so much. It grosses me out. She was able to do it, but then I became really anxious. What if she missed the vein? What if the anesthesia can't go through it? What if my vein rolls out of the needle? What if what if what if? I was what if-ing even as I could feel the IV fluid entering my body.

Kevin came in to sit with me as I waited my turn for the operation room. I spoke with the Anesthesiologist. He was very nice and didn't tell me that I could die like the last one. (Whew). Then I was called in! I walked my nervous little self in to the operating room and climbed on to the table. Everyone was extremely comforting and reassuring, telling me it would go by quickly. My doctor asked me what I will dream about and I told him unicorns of course (though that sadly did not happen).

And everyone was right. It was quick! I woke up in the recovery room and asked the nurse for water. That always seems to be my main concern when I come out of anethesia. Where is the water?! She got me some and told me not to speak any more. The doctor also gave me pictures of my vocal cords before and after the surgery. They are pretty gross, but pretty neat at the same time. I want to hang them on my fridge, but that's probably a bad idea.

The worst part of the whole thing was not being able to talk, but I took that very seriously. I wanted to heal perfectly and not have to go through this again. I used a white board to communicate most of the time and it was rather effective. Once I was able to talk my voice was a little weak, but back to normal! I can still feel my vocal cords strain if I have to talk loudly, but my doctor said that this is normal and should be better after a couple of months.

It feels good to be able to talk again and to actually sound like myself. It's the little things we take for granted.

- J.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Operation Polyp: Commence!

You know, it's been awhile since I've had surgery. It's also been some time since I've gone under anesthesia. I think my body was getting a little bored and thought to itself, "I'm getting a little bored, why don't I create a polyp in J's vocal cords? That sounds like a blast!"

And thus, it was born. My vocal cord polyp. For a long time I thought I just had laryngitis. Dr. Google told me that laryngitis lasts about two weeks and clears up on its own. Well, two weeks came and went and I STILL had a hoarse voice, yet I still decided to ignore it. Listen body, I'm busy! Leave me alone OK?

After a month went by I could ignore it no longer and I made myself an appointment at the ENT. I got to experience the joy of a camera up my nose. That was a treat! It actually wasn't that bad. My doctor numbed my nose, numbed my throat, let it soak it, and then had at it. He told me I have a polyp on my left vocal cord and it is irritating the right side as well. He was quick to tell me that it's most likely benign (but haven't I heard that before somewhere else?). Also, the only way to get rid of it is surgery, under general anesthesia. Boo.

At first, I was scared and a bit nervous. More so for the anesthesia than the actual surgery itself. But I will only be out for 25 minutes, and the surgery takes 15 minutes at best. This will be like a walk in the park compared to everything else I went through. It's also a day procedure so I can go home afterwards which is nice. The catch? I need to be on vocal rest - for a WEEK! Well, maybe not THAT long, but at least 3 days. I can't talk. My vocal cords should not be hitting each other. I can not talk, laugh, cry, cough, sneeze, nothing! I don't know how to do that, but I will certainly try my best... though I do talk to myself even when I'm alone (learned from my video editing days).

If anything, all my social media personalities are going to blow up. I'm also going to text like crazy. AND I found an app that will read what you type, so I will be sure to annoy everyone with that.

Type to you all soon!

- J.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Creative Cups is Back!

Yes! It's true! Creative Cups is back!

Remember this post back in March of 2013? Remember the good time my co-workers, friends, and I had? Remember how you wished you knew about this fundraising event earlier so you could participate? Now you can. Creative Cups 2015 is here.

"Creative Cups is a thought-provoking art exhibition and fundraising event to benefit the Adelphi NY Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline & Support Program. This life-affirming celebration features bras that are transformed by their creators into works of art. We invite individuals of all ages and levels of artistic talent to Build the Perfect Bra."

Would you like a little more information? Watch this segment on NBC with Pat Battle - Creative Cups Fundraiser.

You can register your bra HERE for a $25.00 fee. Make sure to register soon, only the first 200 registered bras will be accepted.
Final Submission of Bras: October 15, 2014
Creative Cups Auction & Reception: March 19, 2015

I had such a blast creating my bra with my co-workers. The Auction & Reception was such a fun and empowering evening that it should not be missed. I am looking forward to this up-coming Creative Cups event. Please consider joining, and if you do, let me know, I'd love to see your masterpiece!

- J.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day

I know you can tell from many of my previous posts that my mom was all sorts of awesome. Well, guess what? My dad is all sorts of awesome too and today this post celebrates all he has done for me.

Ever since an early age my dad encouraged me to try different things. To me, that translated into sports. I wanted to play any and every sport I could. The sports I enjoyed, I excelled at. I absolutely enjoyed softball and my dad would go outside with me to throw the ball around. I enjoyed basketball (though it certainly was not my strong suit) and he would shoot hoops with me. He also encouraged me to pursue things I didn't enjoy (like the piano), but I don't hold that against him. He always pushed me to be my best wether it was in the sports world, in the academic world, or in the work world.

Speaking of the academic world, I remember sitting at the dinner table with him for hours on end as he tried patiently to explain mathematic word problems to me. I'm sure I wasn't the only one suffering during those times. Oh, and when I would write papers for school? My thoughts were always all over the place and he would try to reel me in. And once again, that would take hours.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I knew he would be right there, encouraging me, cheering me on, supporting me. Unfortunately, he had a lot of practice with my mom, but I knew he was up for the challenge. As you know, when anyone is first diagnosed with cancer, there is a whirlwind of emotions, doctor appointments, and research. Your mind is racing and you just want to make sure you are making the right decisions. The day I found out of my diagnosis I went right to my dad's house and just cried. He held me as I literally cried on his shoulder, but that's exactly what I needed at that time. My dad accompanied me to many of my doctor appointments and biopsies. He was there when I was in surgery and for my recovery. He was the one who told me that we'd take care of this, words that made me feel strong and powerful, like breast cancer messed with the wrong person. 

Thanks for being there for me every step of the way dad. Thanks for letting me grow to the person I am today. I know I certainly didn't make it easy for you at times, but I'm so grateful every day that YOU are my dad. I love you lots.

- J.