Archive for the ‘Cancer’ Category

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 31st, 2007

Oh, 2007. It was quite an interesting year. A lot of events and people have changed my life. I fell in love, and felt my first real heartbreak. I made new friends, and lost touch with others. I celebrated my 1,000th day of being cancer-free. I discovered Apples to Apples, Seamless Web, Philadelphia rolls, PaperbackSwap.com and Cover Girl LashExact mascara. I traveled far and (U.S.) wide, and discovered places like San Francisco, Hoboken and Port Henry. I finally got my new bedroom after years of planning, and painted it to match my blog (seriously, I tested out the color scheme here first). I learned that I am a really good bullshitter, yet I still can’t hide my emotions. I finally let my sister cut and color my hair. I watched my favorite band can yet another lead singer and find #6… off of YouTube, no less.

I turned 25 -Â quarter of a century – and no longer have to pay crazy age-based premiums on car rentals. I’ve found it to be an otherwise uneventful age. But, yikes, I’m in my mid-twenties. My friends are getting engaged, married and having babies. When did I get so old?

2008. Will it be even better? I know I have lots of things to work on, but I’m not going to make any resolutions (wait, is saying that I’m not going to make any resolutions a resolution?), just to set myself up for disappointment like I did in 2007, 2006, 2005 … all the way until 1988 (I figure that’s the first year I actually understood what resolutions are). But I really should work on getting healthier, more organized and maintain better relationships with my family and friends. And maybe update this blog more.

Happy New Year!

Quite the Busy Bees

Sunday, September 30th, 2007

It’s been quite a busy weekend so far: Friday was the Light the Night Walk; yesterday was spent at South Street Seaport and meeting some of my Journey-fan friends for dinner and an Evolution concert; and today was spent sleeping way too late, bowling and eating frozen tomatoes. (more…)

Two-Year Triumph

Monday, September 10th, 2007

I’ve jumped another hurdle in cancer – I’ve officially passed the two-year mark of being in remission. I went to the oncologist today and all results were clear, my blood work was normal and he gave his official seal of approval – “Sweet!”

 So, what does this mean?

  • I’m out of the clear when patients with my specific subset (Non-Hodgkin’s Primary Medistinal Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma) tend to relapse.
  • I only have to get PET scans and check-ups twice a year now, instead of every three months.

I am quite excited. In fact, I think I’ll just throw another party. Details to come.

However, in the mean time, on September 28, I’m walking in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light The Night Walk at Citibank Park in Central Islip. Last year, my team, Squash Lymphoma, raised over $2,000 and I will be donating a DVD/VCR combo I received as a prize to the BMT ward at Stony Brook University Medical Center.

If you’d like to donate for the walk, my page is here: Light The Night Donation Page

If you’d like to join me for the walk, the team page is here: Squash Lymphoma

I hope you can join me!

Earwig Attack

Monday, August 27th, 2007

Ever have a song stuck in your head all day, and no matter what you tried to do, it never went away?

Well, today I had another PET/CT scan. Stony Brook Medical Center now has Sirius satellite radio, and the station was set to soft adult contemporary.  I swear, it was the DW Power Hour. Dionne Warwick and Diane Warren. Over, and over. This was the type of music even my mother would skip on the radio.

Every single song I heard has been stuck in my head at some point today. I tried listening to Journey. I tried listening to Def Leppard. I tried listening to Spice Girls, for goodness’ sake. Nothing seems to work.

So keep smiling, keep shining, knowing you can always count on me, for sure…

Edit: Lexcie just fixed the problem with “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”

Alphabet Soup

Monday, August 13th, 2007

So, I spoke to soon with the bronchitis and went in to work today, coughing up a storm. Wound up leaving a few hours early because I couldn’t take it anymore.

When I was there, however, one of my co-workers – another frequent sufferer of bronchitis – asked why the doctor hadn’t prescribed Levaquin verus the Zitrhomax for an antibiotic. I said thanks and that I would ask the doctor tomorrow. So, I walked back to my desk, pulled up Google, and typed in L-E-V – and promptly forgot the rest of the name. Suddenly the name came to me – Levitra! So I typed that in, and instead got pop-ups (no pun intended) for erectile dysfunction medication. Whoops.

Why do so many medications sound the same? It’s like all the drug companies shake up a box of Scrabble tiles, pick out a few letters and then name the medication. When I had cancer, I used to take Neulasta, a white blood cell booster injection, after every treatment. My mom would ask the nurses if they remembered to give me Lunesta. The nurses then would ask, “Amanda’s taking Lunesta? That’s not on the presciption list.” Then Mom would argue that it was. Then I’d have to straighten it out, but at that point, I would get my Ls and Ns mixed up.

Here’s a list of soundalike drug names. There were even more than I imagined!

The Survey Says…

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

PET/CT scan was clear, so my oncologist is considering it normal. There was activity in one of my neck’s lymph nodes, but since the cancer wasn’t there, he thinks it’s from all the sinus and allergy issues I’ve been having lately. I took some blood tests to be sure, but I’m positive that everything will come out just fine.  All is good! My next scan/oncology appointment will be in August.

I can’t believe that it’s almost been two years since I’ve been diagnosed already! Tempus fugit. At least it’s been good.

The nurse who took my blood this morning had a bad case of the hiccups. So I told her she had blood all down the leg of her pants. She began to freak out, and I said, “No, you really don’t have blood on your pants. But your hiccups are gone, aren’t they?” And sure enough, they were. She was absolutely amazed.

The scare tactic was a trick I learned from my Aunt Rita, God rest her soul. I had the worst case of hiccups when I was about 10 years old. She came up to me and said, “Amanda, after you left last time you visited, I noticed my favorite gold bracelet was missing from my jewelry box. You were the only one in my bedroom before I noticed it missing.” I told her I didn’t touch her jewelry box, but she pressed on, saying that she knew I took the gold bracelet. I began to cry, then she laughed and said, “I know you didn’t take it, but your hiccups are gone, aren’t they?” And sure enough, they were. It’s the best trick to get rid of hiccups, but only works if the other person is not suspecting that you’re going to scare him.

Oooh, That Smell

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

I don’t know it it is some lasting effect from chemotherapy, but smells have been bothering me for quite a while, and it seems to be getting even worse. The worst offender seems to be female perfume, especially one with musky notes. Unfortuantely, it seems that fragrance is quite popular at both the office and on the LIRR. Anytime I smell this type of perfume, I automatically get sick to my stomach. My tolerence has been drastically reduced; a few days ago, I told my mom that her perfume was overkill, but she told me she just spritzed it once on her wrist. Some days it’s so bad on the train that I have to move seats.

On the other hand, my tolerence for soup smells seems to be getting better. That, I know, was a chemotherapy-related problem. It was so bad that nurses had to stop bringing me hot food trays when I was undergoing treatment. Even a year later, every time someone made soup at home or the office, I’d have to run outside for fresh air or else I’d get physically ill.

Oy.

Home and Roam

Monday, May 21st, 2007

House is nearing completion; there is finally a shell in which I could walk around in. My bedroom is now significantly larger, and I welcome the fact that I will now have a double bed, bookshelves, and a desk. Obi has already claimed the room as her own. Perhaps I shall get her a doggie bed to sleep on, but she sure as heck ain’t sleeping on my bed. She’s a space hog and licks all the blankets.

This past weekend in the city was quite a nice one and someone knows why 🙂 Took the Q down to Coney Island and sauntered down the boardwalk for a bit. The area is quite a sad state of affairs with attractions and buildings beginning to close in anticipation of Thor Equities’ redevelopment. Eh, I’m just too damned nostalgic.

Then we met quite a few R-40 Slants at Stillwell, allowing for a nice view of the Sea Beach line. However, we were kicked out of the prime viewing spot by a five-year-old halfway through the trip back to Manhattan. Got off at 8th Street, stopped at my office (which was very creepy on a Saturday) and grabbed lunch/dinner (linner? dunch?) at Max Brenner’s Chocolate By The Bald Man. It was quite the kooky place, but heaven for a chocoholic like me. Day ended with a trip on the Staten Island Ferry, a quite empty Staten Island Railway train, walking through Tottenville in the pouring rain, and then back to Manhattan to catch my train home. It was the perfect start for many adventures to come :) On a side note, the San Francisco trip is less than two months away now, and has suddenly become more anticipated than ever.

Today, I had my 12th-ish PET/CT scan. This time, it was in Stony Brook Medical Center’s new cancer center. Despite all the newness and less crowding, the scan took longer than usual, which didn’t make me very happy. My appointment was at 9:30. I didn’t get injected with the radioactive glucose until 10:30, and didn’t get in the machine until 12:15. By the time I finished, it was almost 1:00. I was in pain from having my arms over my head and staying completely still during that time, and my blood sugar had taken a nose dive from fasting since 9:00 the night before.  Oh well, so is life – but sure beats having cancer. I have my follow-up appointment with my oncologist next week, but I’m sure the results are going to be just fine.

Light The Night Walk

Sunday, October 8th, 2006

Last night was the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night. It was the first one I participated in since being diagnosed with lymphoma… last year I was too weak to walk even a block, let alone a mile. I had a whole bunch of friends and family walk with me, and together, we raised about $2,600 for the society. It ended with the most amazing fireworks I have ever seen.We also wore team t-shirts with a jack-o-lantern on the front and “Squash Lymphoma” on the back, harking back to last Halloween, when I had painted my chemo-bald head orange, glued on a stem to the top, and went to my oncology appointment dressed up as pumpkin.

I had gotten a fever that Halloween, all though I was feeling fine. However, having a fever while I had cancer meant one thing – a blood transfusion. Two pints, to be exact. While I was being transfused in the outpatient hematology center, I met a girl named Sara. She was a few years older than me, but had just gotten diagnosed with the same exact lymphoma. She was also starting her chemotherapy treatments just as I was finishing mine.

We talked for a while and I told her my story. We also exchanged contact information, and I told her to call me if she had any questions or needed to vent, because I knew what she was going through. We saw each other time to time in the hospital, but around December, I didn’t see her anymore. I e-mailed her, but never received a response back. I let it go, figuring she didn’t want to talk – sometimes you just want to be left alone when you’re sick. About a month after, I asked one of the nurses how she was doing, and she told me that she had stopped going to that particular hospital. I never heard from her again.

I always wondered what happened to Sara. Last night, I found out. Before the walk started, I was walking by the memory banner, where people write names of people who had died of leukemia and lymphoma. I saw her name. I must have made a face, because one of the volunteers asked if I was all right. I burst out crying and blubbered something about knowing her and that she had the same exact cancer as me. The volunteer took my hand and said, “Honey, sometimes people do die of this. You were lucky. You’re a survivor.”

All the feelings of invincibility I once had had just washed away at that point. It suddenly made cancer very, very real to me. People could die from this. Why didn’t it feel this real when I was actually sick? It felt like a punch to the gut.

Yes, I am lucky. I went into remission quickly and kicked cancer’s ass. I’m also lucky that almost all of the people close to me who’ve had cancer also survived. I always knew I was going to be all right. And since I knew I was going to be all right, it just felt like everyone else was going to be all right, as well.

As we walked last night, I saw Sara’s family. I ran over to them to give my condolences, and her mother just hugged me tight and cried.

I don’t even know what to think and feel anymore. I just want to go outside, scream at the top of my lungs and make all the sadness and anger go away. I want to stop thinking of what could have been, what should have been, and why it always happens to good people. This is the first time I’ve gotten exteremely upset over this. CANCER, YOU %$#!ING SUCK.

Rest in peace, Sara.

A Milestone

Friday, July 7th, 2006

I have a knot in my hair!