Friday, June 29, 2012

I Am 30

I turned 30 years old today. What an excellent-sounding milestone. At this very moment I feel positive and strong with so much to look forward to. I have many strong feelings that my 30s are going to bring some wonderful things: perfect health? baby Diamonds? I don't know, but I believe that it will be good. Thirty sounds so grown, so established, so confident, and I love it. I feel that I'm at an age where I can be proud of where I've been, proud of where I'm going, and most importantly proud of who I am in each moment of each day.

I was talking with our next door neighbor – a sprightly woman who is a former nun converted to an atheist (the holder of many fantastic stories). I was telling her how I love how "30" sounds. How it seems like it will be a great age. Knowing the death-facing realities I've been through, she looked at me and said: "Well, you know as good as anyone that any age is a good age. I'm doing pretty well for being in my 80s." And it's so true. Any age is a good age because it means we're here and able to enjoy this wild, crazy and amazing life.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


I’m feeling rather “chemoey” today. That’s probably because I had my third infusion of SGN-35 chemotherapy at Sloan yesterday. So, for today, and probably at least another day, I’ll feel rather blah.

When I say “chemoey” it means lethargic, achy, distracted, pain in my tumor sites, cranky, bleary-eyed, exhausted, and weak. I’m a real crowd pleaser. My side effects seem a little worse this time around, and I’m wondering if there might be a cumulative effect. Even so, how I feel right now is nothing compared to how much other drugs have wrecked me, so I catch myself before I start complaining. I just need to rest and ride this initial body shock wave.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Tuesday/Friday Blog Schedule Announcement

Looking forward. 
Starting this coming Tuesday, June 26, I'll be blogging every Tuesday and Friday on a regular schedule. The challenge and pressure of making this happen will do me good. I'm a deadline girl (and seasoned procrastinator), so why not create a rigid deadline for one the things I enjoy doing most? Here goes.

This will be challenging no doubt, but the only way to become better at anything is to practice the art, right? So I must write. The goal is to take this Tuesday/Friday gig through the end of 2012, then reassess. I've put it out the public now, so I have to deliver. I'm sure the blog will continually evolve in post topic and length, in focus and style, and I look forward to seeing where we end up together – you know, me and my peeled eyes.

This hefty blogging commitment was spurred from a few deeply moving comments and compliments I've received over the past few months. Most amazingly, I got a blog comment from a woman in Ireland who told me how much reading my blog has helped her to help her best friend who is currently undergoing treatment for Hodgkin Lymphoma. The thought of that worldwide connectedness is just what I needed to kick my rear into gear. I have many gaps to fill about my spring and summer adventures and many new stories to write and topics to ponder on. I hope you'll come along with me on the journey.

Catch ya on Tuesday!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

ReBirth Day 2012

June babies blowing out the candles to mark our dirty 30.
I turned one year old this past Saturday, June 16. One year old about three or four times over now? I feel so mature in my old age having survived one year post donor stem cell transplant, never mind my two autologous transplants in 2010. In the eloquently raunchy lyrics of Eminem’s “Cinderella Man” – a line that’s been stuck in my head for months now: “By the skin on my teeth and the hair on my nuts I skated by.” So true, Marshall, so true. Thank the universe for that figurative teeth skin and nut hair because sometimes I felt that was all I could hold onto.

The whole week leading up to the anniversary of my Day Zero – the day my sister’s stem cells were sent into my blood stream – was very emotionally draining. I didn’t expect to have such a hard time with the approaching day, but in reality I lost much sleep over it. I had restless nightmares with flashbacks of last year at this time when my mouth was so full of open sores from the chemo that it was pooled with blood for days, smears of red coating my teeth. I’d bolt up in bed with my heart pounding remembering waking up from the anesthesia too early and hearing the rush around me as interventional radiologists worked to jam a new catheter down a vein in my chest yelling for pressure and a transfer table as a bag of my mother’s donated platelets dripped into me in an attempt to clot my blood.

To say I went through some trauma would be to put it mildly. Unfortunately, those memories still haunt me, and I don’t know that I’ll ever process it all. Fortunately, I have so many positive memories of this past year that most of the time they overshadow the scary parts. It was those memories and the immense amount of gratitude and disbelief I feel that I gave attention to on my first re-birthday.

Friday, June 1, 2012

SGN-35: Second Try

Contrary to how long it's been since I've updated, I am still blogging. Life has become very busy – a good busy – and kept me away from it, but I miss it and look forward to coming back. But full-out blogging will have to wait another week as tomorrow I fly to the Outer Banks in North Carolina for five days at Surf Camp with an incredible organization that offers adventure camps for young adult cancer survivors: First Descents.

In ultra summary fashion: I started SGN-35 on May 18 after my PET Scan revealed some new areas of involvement and some reduced areas (not yet clear enough to go untreated). Since then I've had two doctor-visit-free weeks of bliss. This week will be my last week of freedom before my next infusion, which I'll head back to NYC for the day after I return home from my adventures.

Except for some fatigue and fogginess a couple of days after the infusion, I've had virtually no side effects. I've been feeling better than I've felt in a very long time. When I say life has been busy, it's been busy with barbecues, kayaking, gardening, a Dave Matthews Band concert, stand up paddle boarding on the river, birthday parties, working out with LIVESTRONG at the YMCA, and even some small and greatly satisfying reporting and writing projects for work. I'll take that over hospital visits and endless bloodwork appointments any day. I am relishing in this freedom and newly recaptured strength.