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

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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

Happy Halloween!

Santa and the Cereal Killer
Santa and the Cereal Killer

My original plan this Halloween was to be Moana, but alas, I was too late to the game and everything that was left online was only shipping in December, or more money than I wanted to spend on a costume. I really need to work on this procrastination thing.

I was trying to figure out if I could make a Moana costume (nope, not that talented), do Rosie the Riveter (it should be easy to find a red bandana, right?), or pull out one of two Halloween costumes I have: PBR fairy (though now it’s just fairy since I lost all the PBR things) or sexy Santa. That’s right, sexy Santa, the one costume I bought in college.

Since chemo helped me lose some weight this year, and I currently weigh less than I did in college (binge drinking and drunk eating really aren’t great for the body…), I thought, why  not turn lemons into lemonade and pull out my college costume?!? I paid good money for this costume, and pretty sure this is the last year “sexy anything” will be any part of my costume, so why not? I knew I couldn’t go full-force college costume though, so I tamed it down with flats, black tights, and a black sweater. A conservative sexy-Santa if you will.

We had a great Saturday night with friends. I started off riding in the Witches Brigade around town, then we went to a Halloween party, and ended up at the sketchy dive bar in town that everybody loves for dancing and bad-life choices. Tonight, we’re going to a friend’s house to pass out candy and I’ll be a yoga instructor, because we’re heading straight there after yoga, I’m lazy, and pretty sure my Santa costume is not kid-friendly.

When life gives you chemo, you pull out your sexy college costume. And make lemonade with lots of vodka.

Hope you have a Happy Halloween!

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Update

Hello!

It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? My bad. Dan and I went to Boston at the end of September/beginning of October for my work conference (which I’ll make another post on), then he went to Belgium for work and I went to Seattle for my three month check up.

Great news: my PET/CT scan and exam came back clean!

I flew to Seattle on a late Wednesday night so I could go to a dress rehearsal of the Barber of Seville on Thursday night with a friend, then have my PET/CT scan on Friday morning. Side note: the Barber of Seville is amazing and if you get the chance to see it, you should. 

While I was pretty sure my scan would be good, there’s always that underlying fear that they would find something. It was also a very emotional day for me. Two days before, I had sent flowers to a friend who had had a baby, but I just wanted to let her and her husband know that we were happy for them and thinking about them. She responded with a picture of them and their baby and an update, which I apparently wasn’t ready for. I ended up crying on the flight over. The next day, a friend informed me another friend that I had planned on seeing during my trip was pregnant, and without meaning to, I started crying again. I was happy for my friend, but sad for our loss and for my pregnancy that would never be. Then I was angry at myself for being so upset over a friend’s happy news. And then I was stressed out about whether I should see my friend or not.

When I got to my scan, they had to ask the question: Are you pregnant or breastfeeding? And I lost it. I started crying and replied, “Can you please make sure that this question isn’t asked again?” The tech was so kind and said she would try her best to make sure notes would show up so this wouldn’t show up on my normal questionnaire.

I thought about my MRI in Houston during my Pet/CT scan. I remember Dan being in the room with me, his hand on my foot the whole time, trying to comfort me during everything. I remembered looking at our baby on the screen, and the tech trying to show us what she thought was the best angle. I remembered her making a comment of the baby not moving that much, even though before the scan she said babies usually moved a lot. I remembered wondering if that was the first sign that things weren’t going to end well.

It was hard to go back to that day. A couple tears rolled from my eyes, but I couldn’t move to dry my face and it was so cold. I said to the tech, “I know you’re not supposed to say anything, but can you tell me anything?” and she answered, “Well, I could see you bladder filling during the scan, and normally if I see something that’s worrisome I would have asked you to empty your bladder again. I didn’t do that, so… Take that as you will.”

I was so relieved and I texted Dan who was flying back from Belgium at that moment. He flew out for the day that Monday when we had an appointment with Dr. Goff. We sat in the waiting room nervously, and I was trying to get work done while we waited. When they called us back, we passed Dr. Goff who was sitting at her computer and had just dialed a number on her phone.

“I have good news for you!” she yelled as we walked down the hall. What an amazing feeling. Dan and I looked at each other and smiled, we both felt a hundred pounds lighter. Apparently we both looked so scared and sad, that she needed to relieve our fears before our appointment. I reminded her of our April appointment when the first thing she said to us was, “I have bad news.”

When she came in for my exam, she said the scan was clean. She did an exam and said everything looked good there as well. She did let us know that because one of my lymph nodes from the April biopsy was positive, I am at a 20-25% chance of the cancer coming back. We will monitor it by going back every three months for an exam with Dr. Goff, and every six months we will add a CT scan as well.

Is it possible that we have gotten through the worst? That I am now cancer-free? I’m cautious to be so excited, but hopeful that the worst is behind us.

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

PMS-ing Without the Period

A couple of days ago I could feel myself starting to get cranky. I was disinterested in everything and getting annoyed at the smallest things. I was hungry and craving sugar. The next day, I snapped at Dan like I haven’t in almost a year, and got inexplicably angry about something dumb that isn’t worth mentioning (ok, it was because our Tablo was freezing during the American Ninja Warrior finale).

I haven’t had my period or PMS in almost a year, though there was a point last month where it felt like I might be PMS-ing.  It’s strange to get the symptoms, but not have any hard evidence that it’s that time of the month. Maybe I am just turning into a cranky old woman? Though the bloating and sugar craving makes me think otherwise.

I’m happy to know that pre-menopause hasn’t kicked in yet due to chemo, but it is a little strange to know that I’ll never have a period again. On a positive note, no more awkward moments of buying tampons and pads at the store?

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Fork to Farm

Remember in my last post when I said it was way too smoky to workout? Well, apparently the weather gods were listening and now there is snow on the mountains a couple miles away and the temperature has been in the 40s. It’s so cold. What happened to fall???

After a couple days of rain and freezing cold, we got a quick reprieve on Sunday just in time for a 40-mile bike ride called Form to Farm. We rode around the Bitterroot Valley to four different farms where we got to tour each one (including farms where we get our CSA and milk from) and get snacks. It was a great ride, but exhausting. 40 miles is harder than one thinks. I thought I’d be ok with breaks in between, but man, were my legs tired. Luckily, one of my friends have ibuprofen and that helped me get through the last 15 miles.

The doctors told me working out wouldn’t be the same as before, and while I believed them, it’s still frustrating to live out. I can now run a mile without stopping, but it’s at an 11-minute pace. I can do a yoga class without going into child’s pose, but my body shakes while holding poses (ok, I’m pretty sure it did that before as well). We started doing spin class and I feel like I’m lagging behind everyone when we’re sprinting or trying to “climb that mountain.” At least I’m getting out there though, right? #smallvictories

I should actually be out for a run right now because the sun is out, there is blue sky mixed with clouds, and it’s 52-degrees. Instead I did some housework, prepped dinner, and am trying to keep this blog alive. I also think that I’m pms-ing right now, or supposed to be on my period because man, do I have that period feeling of lead-legs and exhaustion.

Here are some photos from Sunday’s ride. Mostly Dan eating food.

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Dan enjoying frittata at stop SweetRoot Farm (where we get our CSA box).
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Dan enjoying some local bread, passing on the ratatouille.
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Piglets!
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The cow our future milk will come from at Lifeline Farm.
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Last glimpse of summer.
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Local cheese and honey. But seriously, that cheese (from Tucker Farm and Lifeline).

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Radiation Treatment: Check!

You can mark radiation as completed! On my list of “Things I never imagined I would have to do”, radiation and chemotherapy have both been checked off. This week I completed two rounds of brachytherapy.

Brachytherapy, for those of you lucky enough to not be in the know, is a type of radiation in which a plastic tube called a dilator is inserted vaginally and the radiation comes from a source, and specifically targets a certain area, in my case, the apex of the vagina. The dilator looks like a church altar candle, and is closed on the end that is inserted, but has an opening on the other side that the source is fed into through a wire. You awkwardly lay on a gurney while they insert the dilator and make sure that the angle is correct, and hold it in place with an intense looking metal device. The device reminded me of the Black Widow scene in the Avengers when she’s being sterilized, guess it’s a good thing that doesn’t effect me anymore! They then take a CAT scan to ensure everything looks good, then moved me to a room that the source is held in.

What is the source you ask? That’s a great question. I am not 100% sure, but I know it’s held in a radiation specific box, that’s not that big, and just hangs out in a room by itself. It goes through a wire that gets fed through the dilator. It’s not painful, but you definitely feel a weird thump during it. Well, it is painful, because there is a lot of pressure on a sensitive spot, but not any sort of burning sensation.

The first day, the whole process takes about 45 minutes with the angling, measuring, CAT scan, moving to another room, waiting for the program to give all the information needed for the treatment, and then treatment was three minutes. The second day, I went straight to the source room, had the measuring and angling, then had the treatment, so about 15 minutes all together. Not too bad.

It feels amazing to finally be finished. I have my follow up appointment in Seattle in October with a PET scan. I’m a little scared something will grow between now and then, but one cannot focus on that. I’m still trying to recover from chemo, my appetite is slowly coming back, but I’m still sensitive to certain foods and smells. I went to yoga on Tuesday which felt amazing, and tried to “run” a mile on Wednesday which was painful. Not sure how this half marathon in 3 weeks is going to go… Hopefully I can try another “run” this weekend. I use quotes, because honestly, it’s more a shuffle than an actual run.

It’s bittersweet celebrating this moment. We should be celebrating something else tomorrow instead. I’m trying to stay positive and not focus on my alternate reality, but it’s hard. It will continue to be hard. I’ve been dreading this weekend for months. I’m hoping if I surround myself with friends and keep myself busy, it will make it easier. I’m sure it won’t be though. I know the moment that silence hits or that I’m alone I’ll start crying. And that will be ok when that happens.

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Chemo Day 6; Radiation Day 25

You guys. It’s official. I’m done with chemo and my daily drive to radiation! I would be celebrating more if chemo wasn’t having one last go at my stomach. I have two rounds of brachytherapy next week, and after that I’ll be completely finished with my treatment!

It’s been a very long six weeks filled with nausea and sleeping. Having our parents here really helped out with driving me every day and helping around the house. I haven’t had any energy to do anything. I can’t even muster up enough energy to feed the pets, but maybe part of that is hearing my mom feed the animals. I pretty much grew up without a pet, and seeing my parents with Fred makes me think we should have had an indoor dog. They spoil him like non-other. I cannot imagine what life will be like if we’re able to have our own child. She also coos over our persnickety kitty as well.

Our friends here have been amazing as well, dropping of dinner, driving me to Missoula. It’s been wonderful. I haven’t seen a lot of them in awhile, and I look forward to hanging out again. I’m hopeful that I can get through this weekend of sickness and then everything will be better. I am having some radiation side effects though, the kind that needs Immodium, not Docusate. Apparently that might stick around for awhile. I also need to wait a couple months and see if I go into pre-menopause thanks to the chemo. I guess I’m not completely out of the woods yet, but I am so happy I made it through chemo.

I hate chemo. I’m very lucky that I only had to be on Cisplatin, and not a combination of other drugs that could potentially send me to the ER, or cause my kidneys to not function properly making me miss a treatment. It was a rough six weeks, but it was only six weeks. I spoke to a few other patients during treatment, and they had all been going through this for a few years. Not everyone had weekly treatments like me, but theirs was ongoing, no real end in sight. I feel horrible for complaining when mine was short lived.

I asked my hematologist what would happen if the cancer came back and I had to go through this again.

“It won’t come back.”

My doctors are so certain that they got the cancer and I should be in the clear. I want to trust them, but it’s scary. What if a rogue cancer cell escaped and is ldormant until I have another hormone surge? I know I can’t think like that, but once you go through this, the idea lingers.

And with that, I’m spending one last couch-ridden weekend (from chemo at least, hopefully never from a hangover again…) stalking cruise forums to learn as much as I can about our upcoming cruise.

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Chemo Day 5; Radiation Day 21

It’s the final week! Well ok, the final week of both chemo and radiation. Next week I’ll do two rounds of brachytherapy. I cannot wait to get my life back to normal, where I have a normal appetite and don’t spend the weekends sleeping.

It was great having my friend out this weekend, we watched some Harry Potter, marathoned House Hunters International, and Real Housewives. I slept more than I had hoped, and my appetite wasn’t great. I’ve been eating a lot of simple carbs and fruit.

My weight is still dropping a little, but nothing too drastic. I wouldn’t mind staying at this weight after treatment, but let’s be honest. As as soon as I get my normal appetite back, it’ll be fall and I’ll want to bake all the things and make delicious fall foods. I almost tried my wedding dress on last week, but I was too exhausted to try and take it out of the bag. Maybe this week?

Fingers crossed this week goes by quickly and my last round of chemo isn’t horrible!

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Is chemo brain a thing?

I’m pretty sure it is. And Dr. Google apparently agrees. After my friend mix-up a couple of weeks ago, I knew my brain was pretty fuzzy. Fast-forward to Monday a couple of days later when I show up at my doctor’s office for an 8:45am appointment, just to find out my appointment was the following Monday. At 10am.

What is going on with my brain? Probably a combination of exhaustion, nausea, drugs, stress, life, and everything else. It’s frustrating to feel like you never know what’s going on anymore, but what can you do but laugh? Thankfully nobody got left at the airport, and I haven’t missed anything important, but I wonder if I should just carry a stack of Post-Its around to write notes to myself.

I can’t wait for this all to be over. Only 9 more days, but two more chemo treatments. I didn’t do so great after this last round, a lot of nausea and sleeping. I couldn’t even go with my father-in-law to the airport on Saturday because I was so tired. I ended up sleeping until 3pm.

I hope it’s better this weekend, my best friend is ACTUALLY coming into town (I have triple-checked the itinerary plus she texted a reminder) and it’s her first time visiting so I want to hang out! The wildfires have been horrible though, so the valley is filled with smoke. Just another reminder of why I can’t wait for fall!

And with chemo brain, I’m signing off.

XOXO,

Gossett Girl