Mommy-Daughter Cancer Checkup Vacation

When I was a kid, my mom and I would go on long walks with friends every Saturday in the Sierra Nevadas near Yosemite and often go camping. Or we would take road trips together to visit old friends in a different part of California, about 8 hours away from where we lived. We enjoyed these periods of time where we could hang out and just relax.

Fast forward to today, and it’s always a treat when my mom, who lives 1800 miles away, comes into town for a visit. These mommy-daughter visits typically include nice lunches, walks around the hike-and-bike trail with the dogs, and time spent with my kids, husband, and  friends.

But 2-3 times a year over the past four years, we’ve lined up our mommy-daughter “vacations” at MD Anderson for our respective cancer checkups, scheduling our CT scans back-to-back and spending a few days in Houston. We’re both blessed to be on relatively uneventful survivorship paths. Yes, we get together for fun trips as well, but the steady drumbeat of cancer checkups seems to dominate our visits. Continue reading

RIP Stuart Scott – You Lived!

On Sunday, January 4th, 2015, we lost Stuart Scott of ESPN fame to a rare type of cancer – appendiceal or appendix cancer. He was only 49. Stuart never gave up fighting after his initial cancer diagnosis in 2007 and two recurrences.  He didn’t often mention his type of cancer but he briefly referenced it in an interview with Men’s Health magazine.  Before Stuart Scott, I was aware of only one other celebrity, Audrey Hepburn, who battled with appendix cancer. Continue reading

Gratitude

Today, November 30, 2014, is my FOURTH anniversary with NED (no evidence of disease) after my journey with appendiceal adenocarcinoma. I still find it miraculous to be on the planet.

Each year, the days leading up to Thanksgiving are especially reflective for me. Thanksgiving is when I definitely stop to take inventory of what I have and what I don’t have. No cancer! Continue reading

Clean Again

It has been confirmed that NED  (no evidence of disease) is still my friend after my latest visit to MD Anderson.  What a pal!

My mom’s follicular lymphoma is also stable so she does not need any treatment yet. Fantastic!

This is incredible news for both of us.

I’m wondering why I took so long to post about it (our visits were back in April). Life keeps throwing curve balls and I think blogging was low on the list of things to do.

I’ve also been a bit sensitive to shouting out good news (as crazy as that might seem) because a few friends have just been diagnosed with appendix cancer or are struggling through treatment or have relapsed.  It is difficult to make sense of it all.

 

Three Candles

Today (November 30) is my “new birthday.”  Three years ago today, I had a massive surgery at MD Anderson to remove the remaining cancer tumor (appendiceal adenocarcinoma) in my abdomen that six months of weekly chemo had reduced to a pulp.

None of the doctors were certain how the surgery would turn out but it went well.  I even escaped the need for the HIPEC and was declared to have “no evidence of disease (NED)!” Since then, my visits to MDA for checkup scans have moved from 3-month to 6-month intervals, giving me (and my family) peace of mind with each clean scan and NED result.   Continue reading

Remember What is Most Important

My youngest daughter showed me a quote this morning that I just love. Wise little one.

It’s not having everything go right; it’s facing whatever goes wrong.

It’s not being without fear; it’s having the determination to go on in spite of it.

It’s not where you stand, but the direction you’re going in.

It’s more than never having bad moments; it’s knowing you are always bigger than the moment.

It’s believing you have already been given everything you need to handle life.

It’s not being able to rid the world of all its injustices; it’s being able to rise above them.

It’s the belief in your heart that there will always be more good than bad in the world.

Remember to live just this one day and not add tomorrow’s troubles to today’s load.

Remember that every day ends and brings a new tomorrow full of exciting new things.

Love what you do, do the best you can and remember how much you are loved.

-Vickie M. Worsham

I had to share this especially for my friends who are dealing with things they didn’t ask for.

Survivor’s Guilt

Each time I’m down at MDA, I find myself noticing the patients who are in various forms of treatment in a deeper and even more compassionate way. Particularly those who are undergoing chemotherapy. I am all too familiar with the pale, yellowish-colored skin, lack of hair or thinning hair and the fatigue in their eyes. During my mom’s and my check-ups last week, seeing the patients in the hallways and waiting rooms hit me hard. I found it heartbreaking because I remember all too well that I was in similar shoes for a long while. Often it was the little things that reminded me of those days. For example, when at the hotel restaurant for breakfast or dinner, I was keenly aware of my good appetite and could order anything I wanted off the menu. The days of searching the menu and only ordering broth and tea are past for now. Continue reading