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>


  1. WOW... Fisrt off i want to say i love You and you are an amazing women. I am so glad you are doing this blog. This way i am not texting and calling 50 million times bugging you.:). Now looking at all this, it has brought tears to me eyes. It was hard for me but very inspiring. I am so proud of you val. I am here for you 100 percent and as always i am praying for you.Your hair looks beautiful. Love u babe. Keep it up. I will be your cheerleader:)

  2. Val ... you look way cute with short hair! been praying for you all day. Hope you get some rest tonight and you react well to the chemo.

  3. Val, I loved this post. Thanks so so much for keeping us updated. You've already shown so much strength. Sending you happy thoughts. When I go in my kids rooms after they're asleep, I whisper random different things into their ears so they have good dreams... so here are your sweet dreams...
    Think about baby belly laughs, Dori from Nemo singing "Just keep swimming," big bowls of ice cream, the smell of your kids after they've just had a bath, and lying on the beach listening to the waves.
    Love you girl... go Valerie!

  4. Valeria, GO GIRL GO!!! you will beat this, you had me in tears reading this, but you're such a strong and sweet person... Sending you positive vibes your way.. Rest and smile!! Life awaits for you tomorrow.. and we think of you and love you tons! XOXOXOX

  5. Valerie, thank you for sharing this with us, with me. Your blog is inspiring, and helps me put life in a better perspective and to appreciate the simple things. Thank you for sharing your strength with us. You are simply AMAZING! and I can feel your courage and determination. You and your wonderful family are in our prayers. Love ya!!

  6. You are an amazing inspiration to all of us! Your positive attitude and courage will get you through this as well as your faith! Keep leaning on the Lord and he will make you stronger than you thought you ever could be! Please let us help anyway we can! Don't hesitate to call or send us an email! Your family is in our thoughts and prayers always!!

  7. Valerie... I am a Zin member and a cancer survivor.... big hugs to you and prayers for your successful treatments!!! Message me anytime of facebook or thru the ZIN MB....

    Charise Richards

  8. Val, I am so inspired by your strength and power. I wish I was still in AZ to help in anyway I could. I know you are going to kick this cancers butt. I am here if you ever need me. GO VAL GO! By the way, you look great with short hair. Very stylish!

  9. Valerie,

    My girls and I have always loved you. When ever I see you, your spirit just shines. We pray for you and know we are thinking of you.

    The Lambs

  10. I'm so glad you decided to keep this blog! Take full advantage of the support of everyone & the god impact you're making on the world! I love you! And sit down. ;)

  11. Hi Valarie, wanted you know you are not alone in your journey, I lvoe you!

  12. Hi Valerie! Thank you so much for updating this blog. It sure beats worrying and wondering about how you're doing all the time. Know I haven't known you very long, but you are a true inspiration. I wish like crazy this wasn't happening to you, but also know you will come through shining and HEALTHY. Big hugs!! Go kick cancer's butt the way you do mine in class!!

    Tiffany (Zumba)

  13. Val, you are unbelievable. I do not have the words to say how proud we are of you. When this is all over, you will be such an example for us. We love you and wish we could be there. When you beat this, the inspiration to others will be enormious. But then again I am talking about Valerie aren't I. We love you
    Mark and Judy

  14. What a rock star you are! And, you ladies TOTALLY rock the short 'dos! Thank you for allowing us to share in your life and in this experience. Think of all of the people praying as your cheerleaders and know that the 'Coach' is very mindful of you and your beautiful family. Keep dancing as much as possible! already, you are inspiring!!