Friday, July 30, 2010

A Health Revolution

I'm hearing words like "warrior", "strong", and "brave". I wasn't sure how I related to those words at first. They are just so BIG. So important. But then I remembered the meaning of my name. Valerie means strong, brave, valor and in some definitions, health. Wow. Now to live up to it. I do feel like a warrior sometimes, and other times I feel beaten up. But I know I will prevail. I have always been a warrior for health. Mine and others. I think all people deserve to work to live their best life. Notice that I said "work". It isn't always easy to live your best life. But I if I could force people to feel one thing it would be to feel like they are worth it! It's worth the work and struggle. Heath is priceless. Please know that you are so special and so worth health. Even as I am MADE to feel ill through this I will NEVER stop fighting for health. Join me! Small, attainable steps. You can do it, and share your victories with me as I win my cancer fight. Lets start a health revolution!!!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

My LastTwo Weeks In Cancerland

Wow. What a crazy 2 weeks it's been. Unlike Disneyland and Legoland, Cancerland isn't somewhere anyone ever wants to go. I have been thrown in head first. Dr appointments every day are a reminder that things aren't right. My health is a concern to all of the professionals that see me. Time has been in a strange kind of warp where one day feels like 3 and yet there is not enough time to get things done. I was officially diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma on July 23, 2010. I was kind of expecting the diagnosis after going to urgent care for some chest discomfort on the 18th, being admitted to the hospital in the 19th and staying for a few days in the hospital. I had my first surgery to remove a lymph node and some bone marrow, plus a whole bunch of other diagnostic tests. I knew there was something very serious wrong with me. Even though I thought I knew, I have always felt positive about the outcome.

Some of the great people that visited me. My friends and family were my strength.

Some of the beautiful gifts that brought my room to life and filled it with love.

Pre-op to get a lymph node biopsy and a bone marrow biopsy. (I swallowed my pride and put these pics are always so unflattering)

All done, feeling like crap and mad that Jess is taking my picture. ;)

So after being diagnosed, I wanted to cut my hair. As an act of power over the cancer. Anyone who knows me know that I LOVE my long hair, and have never considered going short. Well, I wanted to take control of something I guess, and I decided my hair was going to go because I said so...not cancer. Well that turned out to be a very empowering day. On the Sunday after I was diagnosed my friend and hairdresser, Brandi, came over to cut my hair. A wonderful part about that day is that I had some special people with me that wanted to be a part of it. One of my sisters flew in from Utah, my other sister and my mom drove in from California, and one of my closest friends came to get in on the hair party. What an emotionally empowering experience that was! I had no idea cutting my hair would be so scary, and so powerful for me. I really got a boost to my self esteem. I really like my hair short. Pretty cool. THANK YOU BRANDI!!! Here are all of us before the haircuts....

Oh it goes....

The big reveal....

Love Brandi!

All of us hot chicks with shorter hair. Everyone looks great!

I felt so special that both of my sisters came to support me. <3>

The next big step was to have another surgery to get my port placed in my chest. Not so cool. Another surgery, but they say it will make it all a lot easier. I had the port surgery on Monday, July26. I don't like the port at all. It is very uncomfortable. I have to take Vicodin to be able to function. I don't like Vicodin either. Today was my first day with no pain meds and I am very proud of that! Here is the device that is in my chest, my port.

Again...pre-op is so stylish...

"Stop taking pics of me on drugs!!!"

The port is in my chest on the bottom and the top incision is where it goes into the main artery in my neck. Ouch! Trying to smile, but when I see this pic I think "heavy pain meds".

Today was also another HUGE milestone...I started chemo today. I had mixed feelings about it. Everything from "bring it on", to "hide me I want to pretend this isn't happening". I took a nap right before we left and my mom woke me up to get ready to go and I felt like I was going to pass out. I was feeling so anxious about it. So I pulled myself together enough to get ready and drop Lily off at a friends house. I was just in kind of a daze. Everything was just kind of fuzzy and blurry around me. I got there with my support team, and together we experienced chemotherapy for the first time. Kind of surreal to see all of the medicines going into my body. I didn't feel it, so it kind of seemed like an out of body experience because I guess I expected to feel something. Then after about 2 hours we were done.

With the people that make everything easier. Jess and my dad were there too. :)

Plugging into the port didn't feel good at all, but it's supposed to get easier each time.

I had to power up with my jewelery. A necklace I wore when my mom had breast cancer, one my best friend, Kerry gave me, and a necklace my parents gave me. Then the bracelets the boys made for me for Mother's Day. I had to wear them all.

Nail salon/chemo treatment.....multitasking. :)

Weird black stuff. Eeww!!!

I've been home now for about 2 1/2 hours. I feel...weird. I don't feel normal. I feel off. As I type this my heart feels like it is beating harder, my head is starting to feel fuzzy and my eyelids are getting heavy. I'm not sure how much of that is chemo and how much is just the stress of my day. I will soon find out how I will react to the treatments, probably in an hour or so...with that said. I am going to rest and wait for an angel to bring my dinner. I hope I have an appetite. Eating sounds so nice right does sleep.

So while Cancerland isn't a place anyone seeks out, I do see how this experience will strengthen me and change who I am for the better. I am amazed at the outpouring of support, love and help. I could not do this without my support team. I feel strengthened through your prayers and positive thoughts. Keep them coming. <3>