This past week has bought me extreme highs and some weird, unexpected lows. There were some amazing moments, but still a lot of things felt like they were out of my control – and when you have a disease you have no control over, you try to grasp for anything you can keep some control over. I actually found it hard to write over the last week cause I felt like things were a bit out of control – but I’m back.
Last week was week 5 of treatment. It started off on a high note – The Huffington Post picked up my blog and will be following my journey through their blog here. And then on Tuesday, I had my last chemo treatment! As many of you know my treatment plan is mostly radiation, but I had 5 weekly chemo treatments to help the radiation along. Even though I go to radiation everyday and it is pretty aggressive, the chemo and its effects are the most taxing on my body so I was happy to finish. In one of my last posts I talked about the Bravery Bell. Here is the vid of me ringing it in true Ali style.
The man in the vid was my RN on my first day. He helped me feel so comfortable with what was going on – he even schooled me in Filipino, which won my mom over instantly. I saw him around almost every week, which was comforting so it was fitting that he was there on my last day – and he really wanted to be with me when I rang the bell. The nurses from the pods nearby, a couple of them who actually had me as their patient over the last month and a bit, came by and cheered me on. It was really nice. I can’t say enough how amazing the nurses in this unit are. Have no clue where I had the energy to do that high kick, guess I was really excited. Right after I rang the bell, I broke out into tears with my mom in the halls of the chemo floor. Although there were still a couple of weeks of radiation treatment, I was starting to mark the end of things in this journey. It was pretty emotional, but so symbolic. I will always remember that moment, mama.
The next day I had my final weekly appointment with my chemo oncologist. He was so happy with my counts and how my body stood up to the treatments. He even used the term “resilient” when describing my body – as a person who prides herself on being healthy (other than the cancer of course) this made me very happy. He gave me big hugs and sent me on my way. As I walked back through the waiting area I saw a friend I met a few weeks back in the same waiting room. She is a little bit older than me, but we connected instantly and usually see each other at least once a week. I was leery about making “cancer friends” – as amazing a facility we were in with all the treatments and meds we have access to – there is a chance that friend could lose their battle. On Wednesday I found my friend in tears in the waiting room. She did not get great news from the same doctor that day. It broke my heart. It wasn’t fair that I coasted through chemo treatments and she was suffering. I would give anything to give her some of my “resilience” so she doesn’t have to feel pain. I stayed with her for a bit and then drove her home so she can get back comfortably. I think about her a lot. It helps bring perspective about this disease and how lucky I am I caught my case early.
Thursday I found out that I needed to have a few external radiation sessions added to my schedule. Bummer, but you gotta do what you gotta do. And then I learned a little bit more about what should be the last stage of my treatment – the internal radiation – or the “big zap” as I keep referring to it. The medical term is Brachytherapy and I’ll be in the hospital for 4 or 5 days next week basically hooked up to a radiation machine for a total of 60 hours. I have to admit, I’m pretty scared. They broke down what the beginning of the process entails, showed me how everything works, showed me how I will actually be attached to the machine. It’s all pretty scary, but the scariest part is that I won’t be able to really move during that time. Should be interesting. What will be the most interesting is that I may have to watch the Super Bowl in the hospital. Not only does this suck cause I won’t be able to make or eat killer Super Bowl eats, anyone who has watched football with me knows that I don’t watch football sitting still.
Ok, that’s enough bad and sad that I can handle in one post – here are some things that have kept me happy this week.
I found out my brother, my boyfriend and some of my friends have been teaming up to get the #TEALPOWER word out. My bro got custom wristbands done up with #TEALPOWER on them to sell through him and a group of my nearest and dearest a) to help raise awareness for Cervical Cancer b) raise some money for the cause. If you look up the hashtag on FB, Twitter, or Instagram you’ll see a whole bunch of awesome people in my life wearing the wristbands in support. It’s been really amazing to see the love, especially on my rough days. Thank you to all those who have contributed and supported already. The wristbands are available through my bro. You can PM him on FB to find out who to get them off of around the GTA. The money raised will be going to Princess Margaret through my amazing, amazing boyfriend who is taking part in the Ride to Conquer Cancer in June. Tyler, along with one of his best buds Chris, will be riding from Toronto to Niagara Falls (that’s 200+ kms) in honour of me and all those recently diagnosed, who are currently fighting, and for those who have lost their long tough battle. For more details and how to donate go here.
I wanted to give a special thank you to my friends from The Buried Life who helped get the word out about my blog last week to their almost 200,000 followers. These guys have always inspired me to do good things… the lessons I have learned from them inspired me to do this blog. Thanks loves!
On Monday I was asked to speak to the Federation of Medical Women in Canada Toronto Chapter. The topic of the day was cervical cancer and I was asked to share my personal story with physicians, residents, and med students. Thanks Dr. Brown (and Tim) for the amazing experience. What a great group of ladies. Special shout out to Ty who came with me for moral support and was the only dude in the room.
A dear friend and former co-worker Lori Williamson asked me to be a guest on her Google+ Hangout – The Lori and Cher show. These ladies really know how to hack into awesome!! I had such a great time. Check out the show. I’m the first guest in at about the 5:30 min mark.