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

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

Third Cancerversary and More

Three years ago today, on February 5, 2010, I saw a 6.5 cm mass on the CT scan of my abdomen and knew that my life was suddenly changed.  Cancer.  No warning, no prep.  Just wham, down for the count.

The months of chemo, surgeries, sweat, tears and trips to Houston and the fantastic folks at MD Anderson are a blur from this vantage point. (I do have a 6-month check-up in April.)

Today, I’m much more at ease cancer-wise than at this time last year or two years ago.  I’m so very thankful to still be here!  I am a three-year cancer survivor.  There was a time that I didn’t think I’d be here to say that.

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Second Cancerversary: Mental Gymnastics

Sunday, February 5, 2012 was my second cancerversary.  The day back in 2010 when I had a CT scan that revealed the 6.5 cm mass in my abdomen.  My ob/gyn thought it was probably ovarian cancer but it was not that dreaded disease.  Just a very rare and aggressive cancer: non-mucinous colonic-type appendiceal adeoncarcinoma.  Two years later, I am still on the planet and have no evidence of disease.  Cause for celebration, right?  On my first cancerversary, I was definitely more upbeat.  But this year, I was filled with intense mixed emotions.

My husband and kids woke me up on Sunday morning to breakfast in bed, a candle in an almond croissant and yummy coffee.  They made cards celebrating “Super Mom,”  “Happy 2nd Cancerversary,”  “in awe of your awesomeness,” and “Congrats on another year on the planet.”  Wow!  They were so excited that I had made it through two more years. Continue reading