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

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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

Easing Back Into Working Out

It’s been two and a half weeks since my last chemo treatment and one week since my last radiation. I’m feeling pretty good and back to eating almost normal. I am not loving meat as much as I used to. I’ll eat a couple bites and then not able to do anymore. I had a moment of panic last week at a friend’s dinner when I tried red wine and thought it tasted horrible. I was devastated. I had been looking forward to red wine for months! But luckily the same friend came over last night and brought red wine and it was delicious. Whew. I still don’t like beer, but… I suppose that’s better for my waist line?

But back to the main topic; I’ve been trying to get back on the workout bandwagon. The first week after chemo I did a yoga class, and I’m pretty sure the instructor, a friend who knows what I’ve gone through, did a pretty easy class to help me ease back in. There was also only four people in class so it was easier. This past week though, class was full and it was pretty difficult. Near the end I started to feel faint and had to stop mid-pose to regain my composure and catch my breath.

I also went on a couple “runs” last week. I took Fred who stopped me every 3 minutes, and I had to do a run/walk combination, plus I could only go a little over a mile. The smoke has been really bad here lately, making it even harder to run and motivate myself to get out there. It’s slowly clearing out, so I might I try to give it a go today.

I have also been doing some biking which I’m new to. After years of owning my bike, I finally got it fitted this summer so I have better posture, and bought clip-ins so I have more power biking. The routes I’ve gone on have been around 13-16 miles at around 11-12 mph, which apparently  is slow. But whatever, I’m getting a good workout! My legs have been tired. On Wednesday I got home from a bike ride and was exhausted, and felt the sort of sick I get after a long run. It’s hard to remember that I’m not at the same fitness level as before.

It’s nice getting back to normal life. I can clean the house now, and do other things besides sit on the couch, curled in a ball watching tv. I spent yesterday evening prepping for a BBQ we’re hosting today, and three hours in the kitchen wore me out. My legs are still sore from all the standing and walking around! My weight has stayed the same, so now I’m just trying to tone everything, and as always, get rid of that extra pooge that hangs around my tummy and thighs.

Have a great Labor Day weekend!

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 4; Radiation Day 14

Hello! Sorry I missed last week’s update. I was all set for my friend to fly out and come visit on Friday afternoon, when I received a text from a different friend Thursday evening saying she was on the plane and excited to see me soon.

Me: Wait, you’re not coming next weekend!?!?

Kim: No… I’m on the plane. What should I do?

Me: Stay on the plane! Obviously!

So even though I had just arrived home from radiation, Dan and I turned around to go back to Missoula. Apparently, I mixed-up weekends and my Friday friend wasn’t coming for two weeks! Can we blame chemo brain?

It was a fun weekend and I was so happy to see my sorority sister. I felt bad because I went to bed early on Friday, and took multiple naps on Saturday. I made up for it though by being DD for Beerfest that evening, and we floated the Bitterroot River with friends on Sunday.

Treatment continues to go well. I learned from my mistake of not eating that first round, and have been forcing myself to eat. This has helped immensely. I still have some nausea, but nothing like that first weekend. If you’re reading this and going through chemo: EAT. Eat whatever you can, whenever you can. Thank goodness it’s summer, because all I want is fruit. I eat cherries, grapes, watermelon, and pineapple. I eat white carbs when I can. If it sounds good, I eat it. Even if it’s not great (like a plate of nachos from a restaurant I was sooooo looking forward to), I eat as much as I can. Without a doubt this has saved me. Also the ginger tea my mom made, but… Eating is key.

On the other hand, I had been experiencing excruciating pain in my lower pelvic region, so Dr. Goff and Dr. Menendez ordered a CAT scan. And because I thought I was picking up my friend at 1pm on Friday, I agreed to the 6:30am scan, but at least I could get radiation directly after so we could head home after.

Friday morning we got up at 5am, then drove up for my CAT scan. They asked for my previous scans from UW which made me nervous, but they just wanted to compare. Jokes on them though as I’m missing a few organs now! Happily, my scan came back negative.

Less happily, the radiation machine was broken. Hours after trying, they called the maintenance guy, who was two hours away in Kalispell. Six hours and one nap later, I finally got my scan. I could have gone home and extended treatment by one day, but I was insistent on not having to make ANOTHER trip up for radiation.

For some reason this week, I was really dreading chemo. I don’t know why, but the idea of the Cisplatin dripping into my system really upset me. I don’t know if I’m scared of side effects or what, but I was like a toddler being told it was nap time. It actually felt like mile 20 of a marathon; I know the end is in sight, but I’m just so tired and want to sit down and have an ambulance take me in. Chemo was fine of course, the lab got blood on the first draw (first time), but the IV took two tries to get in (last week it was one try). She made it in the vein, but when she tried to thread it, my vein puffed up and said “Hellllll no.” It still is a little puffy.

I’m over halfway done with treatment though. Only two more rounds of chemo, 11 radiations, and two rounds of brachytherapy. Which is a whole other thing.

I should probably go to bed, but I feel a little amped up. I’m not sure if it’s the coffee ice cream I just had, or the steroids from treatment, but I’m just not tired. Hopefully once I lay down and play some Words With Friends and do some BuzzFeed quizzes I’ll pass out.

Cheers!

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

The Surgery Results

It’s official. I’m uterus-less. And fallopian tube-less. And appendix-less. Wait, what?!?! The day after the surgery, when my favorite resident was sitting down and chatting with my mom and I, she casually mentioned taking out my appendix. Somehow my mom knew, but this was brand-new information to me.

“Wait, you took my appendix out?!”

“Yes. Dr. Goff said it had high risk of perforation, so she took it out so you wouldn’t need another surgery.”

Apparently there was some stuff on my appendix that could make it burst. Also, my appendix was super long, much longer than normal, and Dr. Goff didn’t want it to get radiated and also burst. Essentially, my appendix would have burst some day and emergency surgery is never fun. This also goes to prove that my body is just greaaaaaaaat at growing things. Babies, cancer, organs, etc.

But back to the surgery. Dr. Goff said everything went great. At least, as well as a radical hysterectomy could go for a 32 year-old who can never have a baby. All my margins came back negative and the lymph node she took was negative as well. There was still cancer in what was left of my cervix, so she was 100% confident that this surgery was the correct decision.

I’m actually doing pretty well a week-and-half later. I almost have feeling back in  my stomach. It’s the strangest feeling. I can put my hand on where it’s numb, or coming back, and I can tell something is there but I can’t feel anything. I’m sleeping pretty well now. The first week was painful, it hurt to roll over, to lay down, to lay on a certain side, but it’s better now. Not 100%, but maybe 90%. I’m probably not walking as much as I should, but I went on a walk Monday after work and made it half the block before I needed to turn around. I couldn’t even make it to the mailbox. Tomorrow we’re going to Missoula though, so wish me luck there.

It’s a little hard realizing the surgery has come and gone. I spent so much of my time fearing the hysterectomy. Losing the ability to carry a baby is heartbreaking and I never thought it would happen to me. When it finally happened though, I felt ready. Ready to close this chapter and start the next one. It showed during the anesthesia as well. I vaguely remember crying on the way to surgery, but I didn’t cry when I came out of it. To be fair, whatever anesthetic concoction they  mixed for me this time was a doozy. I felt sleepy even before Dan left pre-op, and I don’t remember coming out of it at all. I can’t remember post-op, and I sort of remember being in my room with my parents, best friend, and Dan. Dan went to Din Tai Fung with his parents and tried to feed me some fried rice, which I gagged on and demanded a popsicle. Apparently I was also demanding popsicles in post-op. I turn into a 5-year-old in the hospital.

I’ve been back at work since Monday so that has helped keep my mind off things. Even if Monday was a lot of cringing and staring at the computer screen wondering what I was doing. My mother-in-law has also offered to take us on a South American cruise in February, which is beyond amazing. I have put a ton of effort into research cruises and itineraries. It’s helped me not to focus on our journey to have a baby.

Our next step is chemo and radiation. I have an appointment on Monday, June 26 to discuss chemo, and another one Friday, June 30 for radiation treatment. This is when I learned that a) they’re different doctors, b) the universe wants me to support the oil industry by making my appointments in Missoula on two different days. I have a follow-up appointment in Seattle on July 10.

Ah Seattle. I miss Seattle, and my friends. While Montana is beautiful, I’ve learned I’m a city girl at heart and can’t wait to get back home some day.

Until then…

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Confession

Hello!

Can I make a confession? I’ve never actually seen Gossip Girl. I was trying to think up a name for this blog, “Dear Diary”, “Gossett Life”, “Life Without Utero”, something to do with cancer… Somehow “XOXO Gossip Girl” popped into my head, even though I’m much more Pretty Little Liars. I guess cancer could be A/Uber A/Whatever A is called now?

I thought I’d start this blog as a record of everything we’ve been through and will go through. Hopefully someday I can look back at this period and reflect on everything without tears and anger, though I’m sure sadness will always be around.

I was 13 weeks pregnant (our first! So excited!) when I learned I had cervical cancer. I spent week 14 of the pregnancy traveling to Seattle and Houston for consults on how to deal with the cancer while pregnant. During week 15, I fell sick with the flu, ended up in the hospital, had to be medevaced from Montana to Seattle where I landed in the ICU with sepsis. Week 16 we lost our baby to subchorionic hematoma that had caused the blood infection in the first place. We held onto hope that doing a cone biopsy would clear me of cancer and we would be able to try again. Sadly, the margins came back positive and I would need to undergo a radical hysterectomy and chemo/radiation treatment. I sprinted through IVF treatment in hopes to create some embryos before the chance of losing all my eggs. And now, I’m just waiting for the surgery and treatment. I’ve spent the last 6 weeks away from home, and I’m finally headed back tomorrow for 2 weeks before coming back to Seattle for the surgery.

That’s my current story, and I’ll fill you in on all the details as this journey goes on.

Stay tuned.

XOXO,

Gossett Girl (Gina)

PS – This photo is from our wedding (husband: Dan) over two and a half years ago!