Thursday, September 24, 2009


Deep sigh.......
My self esteem is close to hitting bottom, maybe more like the bottom of a pool's deep end bottom, not bottom of a deep canyon bottom, but it's still the bottom of something. While on the subject, I feel like my bottom is doubling as you read this. As I eat, and am forbidden to exercise. I feel lazy and lethargic. My arm has an ugly picc line in it (it no longer hurts thought and shout out to Ashley Paige - I now have vet's plastic sleeves for the shower! Work great!). I'm breaking out on my face from the fertility dr's hormones plus they say I look 2-3 months pregnant (I'm not) because my ovaries are almost triple in size right now. I'm Casper-ly pale from lack of sunlight (a push to ensure I don't get skin cancer), and since I'll be losing my hair in a few mere weeks - I haven't cut or colored it and let's just say the roots aren't pretty. Needless to say, I'm a little down and totally insecure. Please don't think I'm vain, I just don't feel so awesome.

Friday, September 18, 2009

My light at the end of the tunnel

Over the past 3 weeks (yes! It has been 3 weeks), I have experienced humanity at it's finest. Friends, family and complete and utter strangers have offered their support, thoughts, and prayers. This warms my heart and comforts my soul to know that people are genuinely good. An example, a 70ish year old woman approached Glenda in the Cancer Center's boutique (we were hat shopping) and asked who was sick. Glenda explained that it was me. The woman told Glenda that from the moment I walked into the shop, she was praying for me. Then she came and found me in the bathroom to give me a big hug and tell me that I would soon be a beautiful cancer survivor. Wow.

So in the continued spirit of support and inspiration, Glenda gave me an inspiration board to post pictures and things that will be my light at the end of the tunnel - places I'd like to go, things to do, things I love...

So, I want to hear from you....Other than the wonderful people in theis world...What do you love in this life? (a favorite vacation spot, a hobby, a cinematic masterpiece?)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My TiVo has been returned

TiVo Consumer satisfaction: Low
A detailed update is called for as I have failed to inform you that TiVo is so last season.

We, as society, hold physicians (and lawyers) up as idols. Mothers want their daughters to marry one, parents are proud of the children for being one, and the community recognizes their dedication and determination in the field. I think this contributes to the amount of trust and leeway we give to our doctors. My entourage was referred to TiVo through another physician, and we immediately bit on the opportunity to get into an oncologist so quickly. Our experience with our initial meeting went just fine, with some minor irritations. Refer to my previous post for a detailed explanation of the visit. Although it wasn't the best visit, it didn't really occur to me that in this country, under our current health care - I can CHOOSE to see a different oncologist (This can also be considered a battle cry to not have government health care). I just accepted what I had. Then, Dashing's Dean of the Medical School suggested we seek a second opinion from a contact of his; we jumped on board (another example of how humanity is good - the Dean of a medical school helping me?? Wow, I am so thankful).

We had a fantastic visit at the University of Arizona Cancer Center in Tucson with Dr. Thomas Miller, a lymphoma specialist. Literally - he only treats lymphoma. He is THE expert in this, and not only does he have the knowledge and experience, but he is also caring, explains everything, and is willing to chat! This wonderful experience showed me that TiVo was vastly under-performing in his duties to see me as a young woman battling cancer, but instead as just another patient whom he needs to quickly see and move on. ICK. The Tucson center is beautiful and has a lot of perks that TiVo's office couldn't offer (like having someone sit with me during Chemo - TiVo didn't have this feature).

My point is, do not settle on anything in life if it isn't in your best interest. Hence, my TiVo has been returned.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

5 things I never though would happen at 25

5. Inquire about wigs and Rogaine
4. Be on church prayer lists
3. Talk about my eggs over omelets
2. Move into my boyfriend's parents house
1. Be told I'm an inspiration

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A new day, A new do

I have accepted the cruel fact that I will lose my hair. So, Glenda and I went wig shopping on Friday (aka Cranial Prosthesis). We had a fabulous time trying them on; most of them look SO REAL! I've selected one special wig (not shown - being ordered) that I'm so looking forward to sharing with you all at the beginning of October when it arrives. In the meantime, please enjoy the hair fashion show!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Introducing Mr. Picc

Doctor's appointments, procedures, and tests from 7:30am - 6pm is spelled EXHAUSTION. That was my Tuesday. So what did Tuesday include? Well, I would like to introduce my new friend, Mr. Picc. (AKA PICC Line)

Mr. Picc will be with me for the next 6 months of my life. He has two tubes that rest on my arm with a line that is threaded through my veins to my heart. He wasted no time stealing my heart, matter of fact, he got there in about 30 minutes flat! He will be there to help administer my chemo, draw blood, inject fluids, and anything else I may need. Did I mention... I hate Mr. Picc.

Mr. Picc doesn't like water, so I have to hold him outside the shower to be sure he doesn't get wet. He also is always nagging me - like a dull ache in my side; literally the side of my left arm. And, he doesn't clean up after himself, his tubie things flop all over my arm and I have to secure him down with a sleeve thing that makes me itch.

Oh, Mr. Picc. I can't live with you, and I really can't live without you.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Relaxing weekend, Realizations, and Religion

I had a wonderful weekend away! Lots of food, fun, and CRAFTING! I made these cute note cards for friends, check them out!

The pink ones are for Miss E, Dashing's sister.

The travel ones are for a secret friend who doesn't know they are coming her way yet! She is a jet setter getting ready to move...

Can't wait to see if these ladies like the note cards! I sure do :)

So, onto the update... I have found that almost no conversation happens without the mention of at least one of the following words: cancer, lymphoma, chemo, doctor. No one is dwelling on it, but you can't make any kind of plans without addressing it. No, we can't do that next week because we have a doctor's appointment at that time. Let's plan the holidays this way because Sara Cate will still be on chemotherapy then. I think we all try to have "normal" (if that is even possible) conversations, but all talk consists of this. Cancer is not only invading my body, it's invading everything I and everyone else does. I challenged myself not to bring it up for 30 minutes. I barely made it. Unbelievable how life changes.

THE HONEST TRUTH: I've been facing this lymphoma head to head with as much strength and positivity (wink wink to the CDCs) as possible. However, I do want you to know that I do have my nights/days when I break. I am not Mother Theresa, and I bet she had her days too! This is what makes us human - I just wanted to share that I am human too and have a sea of emotions that I'm trying to navigate. I had some this weekend. It's when your feelings of scared, anxiety, trapped, lost, broken overwhelm you. Dashing does such a wonderful job listening and supporting me through this - I don't know where he gets his strength and wisdom. He wrote me this cute message using delicious alphabet cookies...
Then, I ate them. I think I've gained a few pounds this week...with the entourage whipping up all kinds of family meals and a do not exercise order, I'm loading up on calories. I'll just tally it up to caloric storage for the journey ahead. HOWEVER, I will NEVER resort to eating Paula Dean's "sandwich." You have to see this video at You will feel sick to your stomach.

The other topic I want to be honest about is faith. I have an unexplainable sense of calmness within me. As Dashing's mom, Glenda, and I discussed, it's about how God will use my lymphoma as a vehicle to make me and those around me better people with more compassion, understanding, and awareness. I hope it provides others opportunities to reconnect, learn to live and love life, and recognize how each one of us are blessed in so many ways.

In honor of my Delta Gamma roots, I have to also mention this about faith. Just as I received word via phone on Friday that my PET scan showed no signs of tumors below my diaphragm (which puts me at a stage 2 ...fantastic!), I took my last sip of water at a local restaurant only to find the glass engraved on the bottom with an anchor and an 'H' (symbols of hope). Faith and hope will show up in the craziest of places if you just keep your heart and eyes open. TDH.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Things that can be symptomatic, problematic, and automatic

~~First off, I want to THANK ALL OF YOU who have sent me well wishes, prayers, flowers, and supportive quotes. You are all amazing and it truly brightens my day. I thank God everyday for all the support I have around me. ~~

Yesterday consisted of my first trip to my oncologist, whom we will refer to as TiVo as we can never remember how to pronounce his name and it comes out sounding like TiVo. I was surprisingly chipper yesterday, so it made for a good day to start my oncology journey. As I sat in the waiting room with my entourage (Dashing & his parents and my dad), I filled out more paperwork. I have felt like a secretary recently with this duty. So on page number 6,000 5, the form asked me for my name, job title, and chief complaint. Did you catch the irony in this as quickly as I did. Let's brainstorm here, chief complaint for seeing an oncologist...hmmm...I don't know, cancer maybe??!! So maybe I'm being harsh...but I at least got a good laugh out of it!

My actual appointment was, I'll be honest, not the best. After being examined ALL OVER, I had the pleasure of having a bone marrow biopsy. This is where TiVo has you you lie in a fetal position because you will be crying like a baby and hammers tools into your Iliac Crest (part of your hip) to remove marrow and a chunk of bone. This is to test if the cancer has crept into your bones too. Dashing gracefully held my hand and stroked my head and neck as I broke his hand, twice.

Later, a nurse came in and started to explain the treatment and symptoms. So after the painful procedure, I'm hearing about diarrhea, nausea, fevers...."Oh the hair loss will begin about 21 days after you begin treatment... you can wear things such as a turban..." Yes this was her solution at one point. I have to stop her and say..."I'm not feeling so well, is that normal?" I had worked myself up, gotten flush in the face, and needed to lie down and have some crackers before I fainted. Ugh - this is a lot more than I thought.

I move on to my next appointment... Today, I had a PET scan to identify areas in my body where the crazy cells are. Seems like they are contained in my chest - which a very very good thing. This means I'll probably be diagnosed at stage 2a Hodgkin's Lymphoma - which in the end is just a number, but it makes me feel better about it.

The problematic thing now includes that I'm starting to have symptoms. Today I started having shortness of breath and pressure in my throat. This is probably because my tumors are pressing against my right lung, trachea, and neck (so that frog I thought I had in my throat may actual be another tumor - thank you PET scan for this notification). No need to worry about these things - just minor symptoms that make me feel winded after I chatter. They say that this will subside once I start chemotherapy, which could be as early as next Wednesday.

The entourage and I are heading up to northern Arizona for the weekend to get away. Dashing and I had a little time yesterday to do 'normal' errands together - so I'm hoping the same for this weekend. One more appointment before we get to leave town....cannot wait!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

There's a FROG in my throat

Today was tough - tougher than I though. Was that enough Ts for you? My good morning chat with the family was over a breakfast that I couldn't eat because of my "do not eat or drink" order for my CT scan at 11:30am today. The conversation consisted of everything from freezing eggs to my oncology appointment tomorrow. What a wake up call.

My scan went well. Period. After some more needle sticks, they pushed some contrast into my veins to take the scan - OUCH - the needle drove into my arm and I winced with tears dripping down my face. Afterwards, they wrapped my arm in a cool purple band; at least it matched my shirt. Fashion still matters - it makes you feel a little bit better :) Dr. Dashing, his dad, and my dad were in the waiting room. I think Dashing was holding his breath the whole time as this scan would be the beginning of identifying how bad the cancer is right now. I was lucky enough to then have Dashing's dad work a little physician magic and immediately scoot in with the radiologist to get a quick pre-write up look. Dashing got to go too. They came back blank slates. Dashing explained that it looks like it is contained to my chest cavity (which is great!), but this isn't for sure. My one large mass, however, is much bigger than he had expected, he said. I guess it's about the size of an adult man's fist. WHAT? That's in my neck/chest area? How does that even fit in there! Apparently, this kind of cancer just pushes other things aside to make room - what squatters!

The rest of the day has been hard. More conversations that are heavy, serious, and things I didn't think I'd be talking about this week at all. I feel like I constantly have a frog in my throat, always wondering what is going to come up next. I sometimes even freak myself out thinking it's the tumor growing up through my neck pressing on my esophagus. [Bad Sara Cate, get those thoughts out!] It's hard to think about, talk about, and I am shedding tears at the mention of the C word - that's cancer. I'm an emotional wreck holding it together. What's just as bad is as I'm on the phone sharing this news with distant friends, my ATT service drops my calls. Over and over and over again. I'm like "so, they've told me I have lym......." CALL DROPPED. What! We're both crying. I'm telling someone I love I have cancer and you're going to drop my call. I am really thinking about flushing my pretty iPhone down the toilet.

I'm off to break the news to some of my in-town girlfriends. Wish me luck as this is not an easy thing to bring up with anyone. I'm sure this will involve many tears and hugs. I'm determined to beat this though - watch out cancer. I'm here to stay.

My distant and close friends and family that know have been so supportive sending thoughtful texts, flowers, voicemails, emails, comments.....THANK YOU. These seem like little things, but I promise you that they make my day brighter (tears are running down my cheek as I write this part). I thank God every day that you are all in my life.

Ribbit, ribbit....dang it! That frog is still here. (crying more)

One day at a time

My blog post sabbatical has come from a whirlwind of events - so this is going to be a long post so those who know me can understand what is going on. The "important" stuff is after the cake....

On Friday AND Saturday night I saw Julie and Julia, beautiful movie that has rejuvenated my love for baking. On Sunday, we celebrated Dashing's aunt's birthday and the baking got out of hand. See photo below...

German chocolate bundt cake with coconut glaze (left)
Creamy red velvet cake with home-made cream cheese frosting (center)
Extra chocolate devil's food cake with chocolate ganache icing (right)

After the baking festival, we sat down to play a game of 313, a card game, with 10 people. This makes the game last forever. So, in the meantime, I what Julia Child learned to "breast your cards." It was then that I noticed my right collar bone didn't feel like my left. I figured it was my posture, but I said something in passing at the enormous card table and Dashing and his father (a physician) froze. Me, oblivious to what was going on said, "sure, feel my bones." What I didn't realize was that Dashing and his dad felt three tumors.

This is when the whirlwind began. Remember that was Sunday evening around 6pm. I went to work as usual on Monday morning; finished a report, read some articles and then got a phone call. Dashing's dad has scheduled me for a doctor's appointment at 12noon. This appointment was to include a chest x-ray and meeting with my internal medicine doctor. Wow, now that was fast. Getting a little more worried about what was to come, I gave myself a migraine - great. Thank you stress.
Before I knew it, Monday morning I saw a radiologist for x-rays, my internal medicine doctor for an overview of what was going on, and a general surgeon to review. By Tuesday morning I was in the operating room having a lymph node removed. I am happy to report the surgery went well and I've been out of the hospital for about 20 hours now. However, they did find what they predicted - I was just diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma (a form of cancer) today. I was strong enough after wards to even make everyone go out for post-op breakfast - I may be crazy, but that's ok. I even had a big omelet!
See, this is all hard to swallow (not the food, the news) for me as I have shown no symptoms of illness; no fevers, weight loss, night sweats, bruising......etc. I'm active, in the gym, eating healthy and feeling fine. I've gone from a healthy, Sunday's Julie and Julia gal to a cancer patient in 36 hours. (BREATHE). I'll be having more scans, test, and workups throughout the week and have my first appointment with my oncologist on Thursday when I'll find out my radiation/chemotherapy plan. In the meantime (of course there always seems to be more with medical conditions), I'm beginning to work with a fertility clinic because I'm encourage to harvest some of my eggs for future conception. This is just precautionary they say (from the drugs)

I am currently staying with Dashing's parents. He has taken some time off of medical school. My dad has flown out from Indiana to stay with me too. I can say I am in the best care with wonderful support. With Dashing's dad being a doctor and mom a nurse - they haven't missed a beat (and have called in many a favors from others). My internal medicine Dr. has been a gem - calling all of his contacts to make this as smooth of a transition - diagnosis as possible. As for my kind of cancer - Hodgkin's Lymphoma, there is a VERY HIGH SUCCESS RATE FOR TREATMENT - which is great to hear. This kind of cancer is the one that makes people say the ridiculous phrase "If I were to have cancer, this is the one I'd want to have" - yes, like you would really say that...but they do!

I'll be continuously posting updates on my symptoms, feelings, tests, etc. If you know anyone else who is going through this - I hope you can pass on this blog to them and show them they are not the only ones out there. I hope I can provide information for my family and support for others out there.

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