One Year

One year ago today, I received a call from my doctor asking if Dan and I could come into the office ASAP. One year ago today we sat in her office and I blatantly asked if I had cancer because she was describing things, but not using the word. One year ago today our world turned upside down.

This past year has seemed to crawl by. It seems like ages ago Dan and I were traveling to Seattle and Houston to decide my treatment plan. Chemo and radiation seem like a distant memory from years past, not something I just went through six months ago.

Today though, I am spending the day biking around Montevideo with Dan and spending time with his mom and stepdad. I thought by this point we would have a six-month old taking over our life, but instead it’s just me and Dan. Life may not be where I thought it would at 33, but I’m taking what I have and trying to make the most of it.

I feel better and am getting stronger. I recently ran 5.5 miles at a 9:18 pace, then ran three miles under a 9 minute pace the next day. I’ve started doing spin, yoga, hot yoga, and rock climbing.

Dan and I have booked a trip to Europe over Christmas and will have that to look forward to once we’re back from South America. While Dan and I have traveled a lot this past year, minus a work trip to Boston, everything has been for health reasons. We haven’t seen his siblings in over a year since his youngest sister got married last September. We’re hoping to meet up with them, his dad, and stepmom in Seattle in April, and we’ll be doing a week in Hawaii to celebrate his stepmom’s birthday.

We’re trying very hard to make up for all that was lost last year. While I know nothing will take away the pain that we have gone through, trying to enjoy what we do have helps to ease some of it. Here’s looking to future adventures.

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

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February Bake – Ombre Ruffle Cake

We head out for vacation this weekend and won’t be back until the 28th, which left me this past weekend to do my February Great British Bake Off challenge. At first I thought I was going to bring the cake to a Super Bowl party, and then figured I would bring it to a King Cake party held at our wine bar, then last minute, my friend came through with movie night that we hosted so there was no transporting this cake anywhere!

I made the chocolate cake Friday night. It was easy enough,  minus trying to portion out the three layers. I only had one pan, and thought I did enough math to get the proper ratios for equal cakes, but definitely didn’t. My first layer was huge, the second layer was a flat disk, and the third layer was a perfect combination of the two.

On Saturday I started on the icing. Four sticks of butter and 8 cups of confectioner’s sugar. I ended up with so much, there was no way I thought I was going to use it all. I was super wrong though and ran out of icing and couldn’t complete piping all the layers. I was able to do some nice ombre color though. Unfortunately, my piping skills need work.

Would I make this cake again? Definitely. The cake was so delicious and not too sweet. Next time, I’ll only ice between the layers of the cake and do the crumb layer going for that “naked” effect to cut down on all the sugar and sweetness. And maybe next time I’ll use the correct icing tips and get flowers to properly decorate!

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

January Bake – Mallorcas

As I mentioned in my New Year post, my friend gave me the Great British Bake Off calendar for my birthday, and my New Year’s Resolution is to bake the monthly recipe. This month was mallorcas.

Mallorcas, as seen in the calendar picture above, are delicious, fluffy, spiraled breakfast buns that are topped with confectioners sugar and amazing with jam. The friend who gave me the calendar actually made these for my birthday brunch and they looked exactly like the photo and were divine.

My mallorcas on the other hand, came out looking like hockey pucks and a little bit denser than what they should have been. The taste was still there though.

What do I think went wrong with my bake? My instructions said I could use the dough hook attachment on a slow speed, but my friend had done everything by hand. I think I relied too much on my Kitchenaid and should have used my hands. I ended up finding chunks of butter the next morning when I went to roll out the dough. My dough was also very sticky and I don’t think it rised like it was supposed to.

It was still quite delicious, and I’m definitely going to try these again. At least there was no soggy bottom?

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Monday Giggles

My sorority and now cancer-sister sent me this last week. It made me giggle uncontrollably in front of friends at a wine bar and they wanted me to share what was so funny. They didn’t get it. Neither did my best friend. It must be a cancer thing.

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As a huge Potter-head/nerd I loved this more than anything. Gryffindor forever!

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Serena Williams

A few years ago, I had the TV running in the background when my normal programming was interrupted by the French Open women’s final. I found myself getting sucked in watching Serena Williams rally to win the French Open while fighting the flu, and I’m pretty sure throwing up in a towel.

That got me hooked on tennis and Andy Murray (sorry Dan). I started following multiple tennis players on Instagram and wanted to learn how to play. I won a tennis lesson at an auction over a year ago, but when I finally got around to scheduling my lesson, everything went downhill with my cancer diagnosis and I didn’t get to take my lesson until October this past year. While I would love to continue taking tennis lessons, time and money are always fleeting. Maybe when I retire?

But back to the main subject: Serena Williams. Serena Williams is an amazing woman. She is so strong, talented, and BFF with Beyonce. She was also due to give birth a week after me.

It was painful to see all the media outlets talking about her pregnancy while I was dealing with the loss of our baby and the upcoming loss of my uterus. The wound was ripped open again with the birth announcement of her daughter a week after our due date and finishing chemo instead. She’s back in the news now on the cover of Vogue with her baby and talking about the horrific ordeal she went through after the birth.

While I’m glad the topic of birth complications have been brought back into the conversation, it’s still a little painful to see her as a joyful mother and her smiling daughter. It also makes me think of of my two friends who gave birth to their daughters a month after our due date. I still haven’t spoken to either of them. Short emails and cards were all I could manage. Random thoughts of them and their perfect families pop up into my head, and while I’m extremely happy for them, it makes me sad for the life we don’t have. Jealous even.

Am I a bad person for thinking this? Probably. Why can’t I just be happy for other people? I mean, I get why I can’t be 100% happy, but I would like to be. I want to let last year and all the emotions go. It’s hard to see any family with their kids. I find myself still nodding and smiling when someone brings up someone else’s kid, or quickly scrolling through Instagram when friend’s post their children. I’m hopeful that one of these days that will be Dan and I. And if not, then I hope the pain and sadness go away and we can be 100% content for those who have what we could not.

Am I going to regret being this open about my feelings in the future? Maybe. But this blog was created so I could share my experience as a now 33-year-old woman dealing with cancer and cancer-caused infertility.

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Three Month Check-up

I got back from a quick Seattle trip late last night (early this morning technically). I had my three month follow-up with Dr. Goff’s nurse practitioner. The exam was short, fast, and only slightly painful. The exam was good though, nothing out of sorts. It’s always nerve-wrecking going into these things. My next follow-up is in April, when I’ll do another scan.

Less than two years to go of every three month check-ups. I’m looking forward to that time! While I love visiting my friends in Seattle, it’d be nice to use that airplane ticket to go somewhere else… We haven’t visited family in almost a year. The only trip we went on last year (minus NYC which was planned before pregnancy and cancer) was to Boston, and that was tacking on to my work trip. We’re headed to South America next month and can’t wait for that trip to happen.

I went out for a friend’s birthday on Saturday, and after a few too many drinks, I broke down crying. I have been so stressed out over last year and lost my ability to cry things out. While I feel bad for crying to all my friends (and being a hot mess), I woke up Sunday with a weight off my shoulders. It was nice to get all that emotion out. Though, it would be nicer if I could cry like I used to instead of holding everything in. I used to be one of those people who cried at the smallest things like commercials. I’ve found myself to be more cynical after last year and having trouble with letting go of emotions (unless apparently there is wine involved).

I am hoping to return to my old self, even if it means going back to silly things like crying at Google and Maxwell House commercials. 2018 is already starting to look up, so I’m hopeful that the old Gina will return.

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Hello 2018!

Happy New Year! As with everything I do, this message comes a little late. But at least it showed up, right? I hope you had a great Christmas and New Year. I had time off between the two holidays and had grand plans for reading, cooking, blogging, and binge-watching Big Little Lies, but instead I got sucked into reading the new Dan Brown novel, Origin, and then began re-reading the Robert Langdon series. Should I have read something a little more thought-provoking? Maybe. But it was a fun way to finish out the year — A little European, art history adventure.

Dan and I hosted Christmas dinner for friends who were staying in Montana which was a fun evening filled with good food (crab over-nighted from Seattle!) and lots of wine and bourbon. New Years Eve was spent in Spokane at our new favorite bar, Durkins. We sipped French 75s and champagne all night. I may have fallen asleep at our hotel before the fireworks went off.

2017 was a horrible year, but it also brought a lot of support and love. I’m hopeful for 2018. I am going to try and spend this year enjoying life and doing more things. I want to make up for things that didn’t happen last year: travel, cooking, baking, reading, outdoor adventures, and more.

We are headed to South America next month, and are planning on running the Calgary marathon/half marathon (and hopefully the Lululemon SeaWheeze half marathon in Vancouver). We’re hoping for another big trip around Christmas as well. And of course, my every 3-month follow-ups in Seattle start up again next week. We’ve talked to family about doing a weekend meet-up in Seattle for one of these trips.

My friend gave me a Great British Bake Off calendar for my birthday, and I plan on making the baked good on the calendar each month. Great for dusting off my baking pans, maybe not so great for my waistline, but definitely worth it! I have also started borrowing cookbooks from the library to try different recipes. I was barely in the kitchen last year, and this year I’m going to make up for it.

As for reading, I should challenge myself to read books with a purpose. I love a good dystopian novel, perhaps throwing in a book about finance or self-betterment wouldn’t hurt. I’m also hoping to spend more time reading instead of watching TV shows that I don’t even like.

And finally, I’m sure outdoor adventures will come. Our love of trying new things and living in Montana, I have no fear we’ll get out and do things.

Here’s to a great 2018!

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Thirty-three

Ever since I was little, I had always thought 32 would be my year. My mom had me the year she turned 32, and in my mind, I always thought I would be 32 when I had my own child. Life has a way of letting you know you’re not in charge, and obviously that didn’t happen.

Last year  we celebrated my birthday with an evening party, watched the Sounders win the MLS Cup, and I was pregnant and didn’t know it. This year we celebrated with brunch, and watched the Sounders lose the MLS Cup. We went XC skiing on my birthday again which is always a fun time.

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It was so cold I couldn’t do a real smile.

A year ago I thought we would possibly be celebrating as a little family. It was bittersweet to try and celebrate, but also wondering what could have been. I have definitely felt supported by all my friends this year, and that means a lot.

I’m hopeful for 33. I look forward to what it will bring. I already know we are going to South America and most likely Hawaii. We have a ton of Seattle trips planned, and it will be good to spend time with friends.

Goodbye 32, hello 33.

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Giving Thanks

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We celebrated with two Thanksgiving dinners (that included a turkducken and prime rib plus the regular turkey and sides). I’m thankful that we have found so many friends here, we get to do two Thanksgivings! My jeans on the other hand, not so thankful.

We started the day with our local Turkey Trot, and I’m happy to say that I was able to run the three a 9:51 pace (while slightly hungover). That’s the fastest I’ve gone in a really long time. I ran four miles yesterday at a 9:40 pace, slowly getting faster! I’m definitely feeling it today though. I’m thankful for my body starting to finally pick-up the pace.

I had my follow up appointments on Friday with my hematologist and radiologists and they said everything looked good. My blood tests came back with a normal white blood cell count, meaning my immune system should be back to normal. My hematologist did say that it would take 6-12 for my hair to start growing back normally, and that it will take at least six months for my body to get back to working out normally. I’m thankful for normal test results!

I’m thankful for friends who have gotten me through this year. From those here in Montana who house/pet-sat at a drop of the hat when I was hospitalized and took care of us during my treatment, to those in Seattle who drove me everywhere and let us stay with them whenever we need to. I’m also thankful to friends from afar who offer a shoulder to cry on and thoughtful gifts to cheer us up.

I’m thankful for family who support and love us, taking care of us through treatment, and through all the awful things we’ve been through this year.

And most importantly, I’m thankful for Dan, who is an amazing support and rock through this. He has always been great at taking care of me, from donut and cereal runs during the pregnancy, to donut and cereal runs during treatment. Without him, I’d probably still be in a ball refusing to get out of bed.

Dan and I are especially thankful for our Gestational Carrier. Hopefully she is able to help us on our journey to becoming parents. We’re still in the holding stages on this part, but we’re thankful that she offered to give us this great gift.

And with that, I hope you had a great Thanksgiving, and are looking forward to a great holiday season!

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Cisplatin and Hair Loss

When I was told I needed to go through chemo, my oncologist told me it wouldn’t cause me to lose my hair. My hematologist echoed her statement, saying that my dosage of Cisplatin was so low I shouldn’t have many side effects (so wrong, so much nausea). While I was relieved, they did add there might be some thinning.

I already have pretty thin hair. My ponytails are tiny, and I have to keep my hair a certain length or else it’ll all fall out. I was dreading the thought of losing my hair.

During treatment I was more concerned with nausea than hair loss. When treatment ended and the nausea subsided, I thought I had gotten away without any other side effects. I waited for pre-menopause to hit and it didn’t. And then my hair started coming out.

I know hair falling out is natural, but I realized, my hair isn’t growing back. I am used to having all sorts of fine baby hair growing along my part, but I only have a few hairs there now. When I pull my hair back, so much more of my scalp is visible. I have to readjust what little hair I have to try and cover patches of scalp. I used to be able to wrap a hair tie around my ponytail three times, but now it’s four.

When I went to see my oncologist last month, she said that hair thinning and delayed growing could definitely be a side effect from the Cisplatin. She suggested adding more iron into my diet. I’m also trying to cut sugar out to keep my hair from falling out (something I’ve done in the past). I am debating buying Nioxin and seeing if that will help promote hair growth. I’ve also read a lot of forums where many people have had hair thinning due to Cisplatin, but their hair would come back about six months later. Thicker for some people! Fingers crossed I get so lucky. Truthfully though, I would just like my hair to start growing back. And to be able to run like I used to. Is this all too much to ask?

XOXO,

Gossett Girl