Sunday, January 22, 2012

Prayers Answered!

After months and months of floating from one person's home to the next, being homeless and praying praying praying for a home of our own, God has given us one. And it is perfect. Exactly what we needed. So check it out! We are remodeling it before we move in but hopefully it will be done in a few weeks! :)

Monday, January 16, 2012

It's Going to Be Another FD Summer!

It's springtime and time to start getting pumped about "cancer camp" this summer! I'm not exaggerating when I say that the week I attend FD camp is always the best week of my year. Seeing old friends, making new ones, and feeling normal and understood for 7 days of the year is just amazing. I can't even explain what these camps have done for my recovery from cancer. And it's not just me... I have NEVER met anyone who wasn't changed there... in fact, everyone I know has devoted alot of their spare time to raising money for the organization. It addresses a need that no other cancer organization address fully... and it's a need that is huge.

I am attending an FDX camp in Idaho... we are spending 7 days whitewater kayaking the Main Salmon river. Camping on the shores, playing silly campfire games, eating terrific food... it's going to be awesome! Check out all of the programs First Descents offers... it is so so so worth it if you are ages 18-39 and have ever been diagnosed with cancer. You will be amazed at how it changes your life. And after you attend 2 camps you have the opportunity to attend FDX camps, some of which are in places like Costa Rica and Peru!

As a part of attending FDX we are asked to try to raise money to send one camper to camp... well I really would LOVE to send at LEAST three, which means I am trying to raise $3000. I would so much appreciate the support and I know the cancer patients/ survivors that will attend camp because of you appreciate it as well. I have a fundraising page I have started and I hope you will take the time to view it and read about why I feel First Descents is worth supporting.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Revisiting Our Own Mortality

Oh what can I say... it's been a hard week. As a survivor, it's always hard when you have friends get diagnosed or re-diagnosed. Well, this semester has been a really bad time for that, and this past week I found out about yet another friend. In total I know 6 people right now that are fighting, most for the second time. 4 with breast cancer, 1 with thyroid cancer, and 1 with brain cancer. It's heartbreaking. But it's a different kind of heartbreaking... most people look at those of us who have been diagnosed with sympathy, they feel sorry for us, or sad for us. But fellow fighters/ survivors look at others with empathy... we feel their diagnosis almost as if it's our own... mostly because we know that it always could be. We know what they are about to go through and we hurt for them. We know the pain cancer brings to our families, the way it puts a stop on our lives, and the physical pain that comes with it. I hurt for my friends. I remember all to well the havoc that this disease wreaks on its victims. Yet, none of the people I know fighting cancer are victims. They are strong, compassionate, and amazing people. I'll never understand why these great friends of mine are having to go through so much. But each time I hear of someone else getting sick it brings me back to those days when I didn't know how much time I had left. That could happen again anytime, I will never know when or how long or how fast cancer will come back to my body and steal time from me. As such, life is precious. Life is short. Prayers and lots of love to my friends and everyone else who is in the fight.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

New Gene Mutation Found to be Associated with Colorectal Cancers

This article discusses a mutation in the gene TFAP2E that has been discovered to play a role in resistance to certain types of chemotherapy treatments. Check it out!

Genetic testing of tumors is so important for individualizing treatments. Every cancer is molecularly different and knowing if your tumor exhibits any form of mutation could really help you in making your treatment decisions. For example, it is not uncommon for tumors to have a mutation in the p53 gene. Sometimes tumors have also been found to have a deletion in the ERCC1 gene, and research has recently shown that this gene might play a role in chemotherapy resistance, especially in ovarian cancers. So don't be afraid to talk to your doctor about genetic testing and how it might help in deciding which chemotherapy is right for you!

Also, as a specific side note, if you have Lynch Syndrome like I do (I have an MLH1 deletion), there are certain chemos that have been found to not work as well on tumors with mismatch repair deletions.

Break Through in Cancer Research for Blood Cancers!

I saw this article several months ago and I have no idea why it took so long for me to post it. I try to follow breakthroughs in cancer research as much as possible (not sure if I've ever posted this, but I actually am involved in cancer research and hope to start my PhD in the fall) and this is one that I found incredibly exciting... probably the most exciting I've ever read actually. Essentially, the researchers at the University of Pennsylvania cured 3 people of a rare form of leukemia by the use of gene therapy. Check out the article, it explains it way better than I would.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2012 "To-Dos"

I hate New Years resolutions. Seriously, they never work. But nevertheless, every year I find myself making them. And I'm always determined to do them. Yet rarely does it ever happen. Sad huh? For example, no, I did not lose the 30lbs in 2011 that I set out to... instead I gained 10... *sigh*.

So this time around I am not making resolutions... I am making a "to-do" list. Mostly because I make one of these lists almost every week and it usually actually gets done. So maybe calling it something different than a New Years resolution will help (long shot, I know, but I gotta try something!).

So here is my "To-Do" List:

1. Get published in a cancer research journal.
2. Lose 20 lbs (I know, I know...)
3. Get on a healthy diet & exercise regiment.
4. Organize my new house so there is no chaos!
5. Continue working on my novel, and hopefully finish it!
6. Read at least 10 new books.
7. Kayak more and perfect my roll.
8. Bike at least 5 days a week.
9. Be a better wife.
10. Travel more... even if just short weekend trips.
11. Find a church that I enjoy going to every week.
12. Visit as many of my friends who have cancer as I can.
13. Save money! Mostly by eating out less.
14. Get back into oil painting.
15. Be a better person. Love more. Empathize with people. Share Christ. Be selfless.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

In Sickness and In Health

Going into surgery this time I expected everything to be about the same as my first operations... this was #5 and I was pretty sure I had everything down to an art. But there was one thing that was majorly different this time around, and it was a very welcome surprise.

When I was diagnosed back in 2008 I was married. I'm not interested in bashing anyone, but the simple fact was he just didn't show up for me. My mom took care of me; stayed with me, clothed me, bathed me, everything. He pouted, complained, and acted like he didn't care how I was doing. A month after my diagnosis we were getting divorced. I was still using a walker when I signed the papers. I went through that divorce knowing that no one would probably ever want me... I was physically scarred, probably wouldn't be able to have kids, and I would always be at high risk for getting cancer again. Who would want to be with someone like that at my age?

This surgery, three years later, I'm married again. But this time, my mom stayed home. My husband spent every night in the hospital with me, waking up constantly to help me get out of bed, bring me water, wiping my face as I threw up, yelling at nurses who weren't doing their job, and making sure I got the medicine I needed. He was loving, compassionate, and nurturing; everything a husband should be in that situation. He showed me what it really meant to be there in sickness and in health. He demonstrated a concept of marriage that I had never fully understood before and it made me love him more than I ever have. I thank God every day for bringing him into my life. I honestly don't know how I would have gotten through this surgery without him. My mom broke a rib right after and was unable to help much (although even if she could have I don't think David would have let her). But if he hadn't been there I wouldn't have had anyone. It felt really good to have a husband that I could rely on, lean on, and turn to when I really needed him. He was there for me physically, emotionally, and financially... he really took care of me, above and beyond.

There are men out there that will love you no matter what. There are men that will be there for you during your cancer. The idea that a young adult with cancer is undateable is a lie. David proved that to me, and I love him for it. I pray every day that God will never take him away from me. He is the first man I have ever truly needed. The world needs more men like him.

"Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting..... 'WHAT A RIDE!'"