Forty-Four and So Much More!
Happy 44th Birthday to Me!
Today is my 44th birthday and I could not be more excited to be celebrating one more year of life. It drives me crazy to hear people say they don’t want to celebrate another birthday because they are getting old or those that decide to stop counting because getting old is something they are not ready to have happen. Getting older is a LUXURY, one that so many people never get the opportunity to enjoy. We should be embracing our birthdays and the fact that we are so lucky to be experiencing life for another year, another day, another moment. I want to invite each and every one of you to celebrate your birthday and let go of the judgements of growing older, because who the hell needs judgements, not me, not you, not anybody. EMBRACE YOUR BIRTHDAY, OWN IT, LOVE IT, CELEBRATE IT!
It’s been a while since I posted and I found a half way written post from June so I will start from there.
On Thursday June 16th, I headed to Cottage Imaging for a scan of my chest, abdomen and pelvis. I was not nervous for this scan because I thought it was going to be clear and I would get the call saying there was no evidence of disease. I’ve been in so many times that I now know most of the nurses and they make the process as pleasant as possible. I walked in and the nurse recognized me not only from the last scan but from the end of the year Washington party, which by the way was excellent. I laid down on the table and they began to check out my port and get ready to hook me up to the contrast. I don’t know if many of you have had a CT with contrast but when they push the contrast you get a metallic taste in your mouth followed by the sensation of peeing your pants. Good times. At least you know the contrast is going in and doing what it is supposed to do. After the scan was finished I immediately let Dr. Woliver know that my scan was done and to be on the lookout for results. By the end of the day Dr. Woliver sent me my results. Did you know that there are people around the country that wait weeks to hear news about a scan? I am so incredibly lucky to work with a doctor that realizes waiting is like torture. The results were all POSITIVE, nothing new, nothing grew, shrinkage across the board, and enlarged lymph nodes have resolved. Unfortunately 6 of these little suckers (lung nodules) are still hanging on for dear life. Not the news I was hoping for but really how can I complain everything is headed in the right direction.
Round 11 and Doctor Woliver’s Retirement
Wednesday, June 22, I headed into the Cancer Center to meet with Dr. Woliver to discuss the scan results and treatment going forward. He was happy with the results since everything is looking better. We do have to monitor my lab work closely now that we have cut out the oxaliplatin. The chemo regimen that I am currently on is more of a maintenance chemo than a knock it out chemo and the fear is that it won’t be enough to keep me stable or make additional progress. I’m not worried because during battle #1, I was only able to do 6 rounds of oxaliplatin but the “maintenance” kept knocking things down getting me to the point where a resection was possible. I truly believe it was the alternative medicine coupled with the chemo that got me to the finish line last time and will get me there once again.
In July, Dr. Woliver retired. When I found out he was retiring I was devastated. I just lost Dr. Han and now I was losing another key player on my team. What was I going to do? He assured me that I was going to like the new doctor taking his place and he hoped that I would be able to meet with both of them before he left. Alas, that was not meant to be as the corporate higher ups decided that was not how the transition would happen instead they wouldn’t have the new doctor start seeing patients until after Dr. Woliver’s last day. We are only cancer patients so the hell with smooth transitions and making the patients feel confident as they lose the doctor that has been forging the path for their cancer journey. He has been on this journey with me since the very beginning. I met him in the hospital just after having my first surgery in November 2012. I knew right away that he was going to be my local oncologist. His calming demeanor and energy were just what I needed as we were facing a diagnosis that no one ever wants to hear. He was on board with my plan to look into alternative treatments and integrate Eastern medicine. He gave me all the time I needed during appointments. I never felt rushed. He responded immediately to my emails and never kept me waiting for scan results. I know I am not the only patient missing him as he was a blessing to all of his patients. I can only hope that Dr. Sekhon will be just as compassionate and open as Dr. Woliver.
Fast Forward to September
Yesterday I had chemo and found out that a couple of my labs are out of whack. Dehydration could be part of the issue so if you see me taking down a gallon of water you know why. I started my morning out feeling extremely stressed. As I sat in the chemo chair and listened to the most beautiful meditation music I realized that being stressed was not going to help my situation it was only going to hinder my body as it clears out the remaining cancer. I certainly do not need any impediments, so I chose laughter and smiling. When dealing with cancer you become obsessed with your labs and every little jump in the wrong direction makes you question your treatment but the funny thing is it could also just be nothing, a blip in the system. I’m choosing to go with the blip in the system and know that my upcoming scan will confirm my belief and even if something comes up in the scan it will just be another blip to clear out over the coming months. I have decided my focus shall be on optimal health, already having what I need for optimal health and what I want for my body, which is a body at the optimal level of living. The scans and labs can do what they want but my body will find its optimum place. I am confident that I am not meant to move on from this life anytime soon and although my body may continue to throw me curveballs I will continue to find the best in it all.
Here is a picture of my fabulous chemo nurses sporting some TSFC swag. They are amazing!
I’ve decided to get back on CBD oil. Many of you know I started taking it when I was working with Dr. Han but then we lost him and I was not sure what I should be doing so I just stopped. After meeting with a friend and confirming that everything I was doing with Dr. Han is exactly what the research is showing as working, I decided to get back to it. I’m taking a very small amount and adding a little more each day to build up my tolerance. It is high CBD 60-70% and low THC 4-10% so there is not a feeling of being high. I take it at night right before I go to bed and have not found there to be any side effects. There is more and more research being done and more and more people opting to add it to there treatment protocols as well as opting out of chemo and going just for CBD. The more I learn about CBD the more I am convinced it is going to assist in the final slaying of cancer for me. I will be adding a page to my website in the coming months on CBD and posting all of the information I find so others out there thinking about taking the plunge can easily find out more about it, its use and successes.
Friendship Paddle 2016 Honoring Ethan Stewart
Last week I met Ethan and his wife for the first time. They are a beautiful young couple with a one year old. Three years ago Ethan was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and he keeps forging forward and kicking cancer’s ass. Ethan is a reporter and writer and wrote a beautiful story about the beginning of his cancer journey: http://www.independent.com/news/2013/dec/19/my-life-paddling-through-storm/. Ethan has decided to forgo chemo and radiation for the time being and clear out the cancer through alternative medicine. I had the honor of spending a few hours with Ethan last week even though he really only had 45 minutes. I could have spent the entire day with him talking not only about cancer but life in general. He gets it. There was no bullshit. There was no small talk. There was a genuine authentic connection. These are the connections that we all need to build and the relationships we need to forge. Clear out the bullshit and only let in the good shit.
This will be my 4th year of being involved with the Friendship Paddle. In 2013, I was lucky enough to be selected as the beneficiary and formed lifelong friendships with this amazing group of people. Now I get to keep coming back to support others dealing with life altering illnesses. Every year is its own magical journey. I will be paddling once again with my Paddle Girls, April Medina-Watson, Serena Weddle, Kristie Chapman, Nicole Herlihy, and Cara Chiarappa (Team TSFC). I would love your support as we paddle across the channel for Ethan and his family. Donating is quick and easy and can be done at: http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/tara-haaland-ford/the-friendship-paddle-2016.
If you want to catch a glimpse into the magic that happens on these paddles please watch this beautiful video made for my family by our dear friend Paul Westmacott, http://Friendship paddle 2013 vimeo.
I will leave you with this birthday quote:
“Youth is a gift of nature but age is a work of art.”
Hugs & Kisses,