Teal Power Canuck

Sharing My Journey & Raising Cervical Awareness in Canada

Take 2 – We’ve Hit A Bend on this Cancer Road

55 Comments

It’s been a tough couple of months. I knew the best place for me would be to come back here and write, but things kept changing, it never seemed like the right time, or I wasn’t ready.

Once you have cancer and beat it, your biggest fear everyday is that the cancer will come back. Unfortunately I have come to a bend on my cancer road – I found out in March my cervical cancer had returned.

I had been experiencing back pain and digestive issues since the late fall, early December. I thought – as someone who had gone thru chemo and radiation earlier that year – it was side effects from my treatment. I went to my doctor, went thru various tests, changed my diet, tried acupuncture, massage therapy, went to a gastrointestinal specialist – even went back in November for my regular scans and follow ups at Princess Margaret – nothing showing any signs of cancer. In February the back pain became unbearable. I was unable to run or go to the gym or stand up long enough to cook a meal. It was heartbreaking. Luckily I knew I had another follow up coming up at Princess Margaret. I expressed my concerns about the pain and they sent me in for an MRI and CT scan.

March 17 – St. Patrick’s Day – Tyler and I were sitting in the waiting room to get the results from my scans. We were feeling pretty positive – it can’t be cancer again, my scans came back clear in November – hopefully the tests would be able to tell us what was causing the pain so we could fix it. And then BOOM — they found a tumor on my cervix again – bigger this time and on the surrounding tissues. The back pain was basically being caused by the tumor pushing on surrounding areas and it’s inoperable… shitty! Tyler sat silent and in shock – I started making little jokes to lighten the mood (like I do)… and then the doctors and nurses left us alone for a second and I started to cry. How can we be back here? What are we going to do? How can this be happening again… and so soon? 2015 was supposed to be so much better for us than 2014. We left the hospital and went home and just sat in silence on the couch all night in a hug with the occasional crying session. I also decided – no more results appointments on holidays – my first diagnosis came on Halloween 2013… at least I wasn’t alone this time.

This time around has been a lot scarier. There isn’t a lot of information available about recurrent cervical cancer. The fear of dying comes into my mind everyday, but I try not to let it overcome my feelings of fighting this. Unfortunately things in life happen that are beyond our control – some shittier than others. I’m choosing to roll with the punches and try to go into this as positive as I can. What else can I do? I am thankful I kept on top of how I was feeling and didn’t let it just slip as post-cancer pains.

It has taken us a long time to accept and tell our close friends and family because we were scared – it’s more real when people know – hence why it has been hard for me to come back here to write about it. One thing I did feel confident about was that I was in the best care possible. Again – I would be treated by one of the top 5 cancers hospitals in the world… And I LOVE my oncologist. It took us a month and multiple doctor’s appointments to decide the best treatment plan. After months of trying not to think of cancer it felt surreal that the language was back in our vernacular. Chemotherapy was really the only option at this point – but which drugs would I be taking, what works best for recurrent cervical cancer in a patient my age, what does the tumor board think, were there alternative treatment plans available that could help stop this cancer? We read so much, my sister brought over her old anatomy books – we took in all the information we could.

On April 20 I started chemo. Full blown chemo this time – 2 drugs for the first session and my next session, which is actually happening right now is 3 drugs. Tyler came with me for the long eight hour first session as I was hooked up to an IV. My nurse Rosalie was awesome – she is Filipino and reminded me of my mom – I took a lot of comfort in that. Thank God for Netflix and episodes of Friday Night Lights – it helped make the day go by faster. The nurses gave Tyler and I the cuteness award that day and for being so well prepared for a long day.

First chemo session back at PMH. The beginning of a long 8 hour session. Bring on the drugs!!

First chemo session back at PMH. The beginning of a long 8 hour session. Bring on the drugs!!

Two things you will notice when you see me next – I lost a bunch of weight and I don’t have hair – consider this your warning so you’re not so shocked. I’ll go through 6-8 cycles of chemo every three weeks – it’s going to be a long year. My hair will fall out – it already has started so Tyler shaved my head to avoid the traumatic experience of seeing clumps come out. I wanted to be in control of something. Two days after I got diagnosed this time I made my sister take me to get my hair cut. I have had long hair pretty much my whole life. If I was going to lose my hair, there was no way my long locks were going to go wasted. I chopped 13 inches off and donated it to a foundation that makes wigs for kids with cancer. Our world was spinning out of control – but again, I needed to be in control of something. It made me feel good – something good was going to come out of this situation.

March 19 - 2 days after I found out my cancer had returned I decided I needed something good to come out of this so I chopped my hair and donated it. Best feeling!

March 19 – 2 days after I found out my cancer had returned I decided I needed something good to come out of this so I chopped my hair and donated it. Best feeling!

So far what I have learned – Chemo SUCKS!! I feel the systemic side effects from my first treatment in my legs and digestive system. I wasn’t nauseous this cycle – but I didn’t want to eat anything the first week and I lost way too much weight. I’ve been trying to recover these last two weeks before my next treatment and I have to go through it all again. I ordered a smoothie the other day and asked for the full fat frozen yogurt in it – I NEVER get frozen yogurt in my smoothies, but now all those extra calories I have been avoiding for years, I need to help get my body stronger to fight for the next round.

It’s been a terrible couple of months, but again I am reminded of how amazing the people in my life are, and how lucky I am to not have to go through this alone – because I’m not going through this alone. I would be lost without the advice and support from a very dear and close friend who went through something similar last year – my cancer sister. I wouldn’t have been able to get through the days that first week without my amazing mom making the trek out to the “country house” everyday to make sure I ate something – anything, while Tyler was at work. I am so thankful for the texts from my friends and family who would check up on me or send me a laugh each day. And Tyler – I can’t even write something here that would even justify how amazing he has been, and what a light he is during the dark moments – I am the luckiest.

So we’re back here – #TEALPOWER is back and in full force. One of the heartbreaking things for me was I was starting to train to be able to do the Ride to Conquer Cancer this year. I wanted to be one of those survivor cyclists with the yellow flag – it had been my goal since I finished treatment last year. I bought a new road bike and gear – but it will have to wait til after my treatment. Tyler and Chris will be riding again this year – and I look forward to being there during their journey again – it means so much more now. I don’t want gifts or flowers – the scent of the flowers kind of bugs me on my weak days – but would love if you could help support the Team #TEALPOWER in this year’s ride. All the proceeds go to Princess Margaret Hospital and more specifically – the clinic that is helping me: http://www.conquercancer.ca/goto/tealpower2015

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55 thoughts on “Take 2 – We’ve Hit A Bend on this Cancer Road

  1. I’ve been sitting in this comment window for 10 minutes, staring at it – just not knowing what to write. So here is what I’ll say.
    Your positivity, determination, caring for others, and overall outlook on life will allow you to beat this, as you have before. I will wake up each morning thinking of you and sending you my thoughts and wishes.
    neil

  2. Alison I had no idea that you were going through this again. I cannot imagine how scary this most be for you and your family. However, you seem to be taking charge of this and facing it head on. You are a brave and strong woman. Know that you are never alone. You have surrounded yourself with good friends and family. they will be in your corner no matter what. They will be there to give support, guidance and strength should you need them. Be aware too that you are an inspiration to many as you shine a light on this disease and the processes you are going thru. Continue to be strong and know we all keep you in our thoughts and prayers.

  3. You got this. Kick its ass!

  4. I’m sending you virtual hugs, Ali! Stay strong you amazing woman.

  5. My Dear, Dear, Dear Alison. You have your army right behind you. We are all in this fight with you. We will pray, love, and think of you until this Battle is over! We are all here with our arms wide open for you with plenty of smiles and laughs to share. We love you Alison. WE ARE ALL WITH YOU!!!

  6. HAPPY THOUGHTS ALI!!! WOOO. There are times when I’m down and I honest to God think of you and your positivity and it makes me feel better. If you have that power then you can beat this again. Can’t wait to read that success story.

  7. Dear Ali,

    You are one of the strongest ladies I know. You’ve got this my friend.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you every single day.

    Love
    Elizabeth.

  8. You are a beautiful person inside and out. You are in my thoughts. Keep fighting.

  9. Alison, I am so sorry to hear this and am sending you all my thoughts and prayers. You are definitely not alone; so many people care very much about you.

  10. Dear Ali
    I’m so sorry you are going through this again. I think blogging about it is such a great idea and give people just a glimpse of what you are going through even though most of us will never be able to fully comprehend. I read your blogs to my class last year and I think you really inspired them to raise money for our yearly fundraising campaign. You are making a difference. You are an amazing woman and clearly will kick this cancers ass I have no doubt. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

    Allie Dwyer

  11. xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

  12. You inspiring beautiful woman. Cancer is stupid and didn’t learn its lesson. Kick its arse. Much love.

  13. Your words convey strength and optimism. Thank you for inspiring in so many ways by sharing yor story. Sending you good vibes!

  14. Dear Ali
    I am so sorry to hear of this latest turn. Always remember that the strength that we both used to get through our battles the first time. As this time your body already knows how to beat this. As its not two seperate fights just part 2 of the same struggle. now it has to face the stronger tougher more positive you. We will beat this all of us.

  15. I have never met someone so positive, caring, thoughtful and loving. We are in this with you. Like Paul said, your army is right behind you with an incredible amount of love and support. Let’s kick the shit outta this cancer!! WE LOVE YOU!

  16. Alison! Hearts! Sending you lot of love, light and positivity!!! You can do this and we’re all behind you! xoxo

  17. I love you so much. I am so happy you wrote this and are sharing with us because you are not alone! Even if I’m on the other side of the country, I am there with you girl. You are gonna kick this F*&@ing cancer’s ASS. #TEALPOWER. I am forever and always your cheerleader – love love love love youuuuuu!!!!!

  18. Ali, I am having difficulty putting my thoughts and feelings into words. Many people have so eloquently expressed their support and love for you. Just know that you are so loved and admired for your strength, positivity and courage. I am so glad that you listened to your body and that you are in tune with it physically and emotionally. The power of the mind is an amazing phenomenon and your attitude will help you tremendously. I know that you have a wonderful family and so many friends that you can lean on for support. Thank you for sharing yourself in this blog – that in itself is an act of bravery. Love you, Ali!! Thinking of you!!!

  19. Hi Alison. I’m so sorry to hear about your recurrence… didn’t realize you had a blog, but just saw PMH post it on FB, which I’m glad they did! Maybe one day if you’re up to it, you, me and Amanda can meet up for a smoothie or something. Sending lots of love!

  20. Dear Alison… XOXOX.. can i come visit and bring balloons?

  21. So sorry Alison that you have to go through this again but it sounds to me like cancer has met its match! Arthur and I are thinking about you and praying for you. We are Amy’s parents and she has been telling us a little bit about the struggle you are having. Sounds like you have lots of great people in your corner. We will be looking forward to hearing when you are cancer free and meanwhile we are sending you some loving energy. Henrietta & Arthur

    • I love Henrietta & Arthur! Thank you for all the kind words and for dropping by the blog. You guys have always been so supportive and I love your family very much. Thank you!

  22. After everything you have already been through, it is heartbreaking to hear of its return and what you will have to go through again. Stay Strong and go kick it’s ass again..

  23. I just wanted to wish you all the best, Alison. I haven’t seen you in ages and didn’t realize what you are going through. Sending you all the very best thoughts and wishes. My father is a cancer survivor, and you already are too, so I know you will beat it again.

  24. Sending you lots of love! Thinking about you! Xxxx

  25. Hi alison my name is hardy and a month ago i was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma. My tumor was removed a week ago, but i am still having problems coming to terms with having cancer. I was sitting at home thinking about everything at once, like loosing my job, my girlfriend, my friends, and my own strength to make all the changes that need to happen for me to live. I just felt i needed to talk to someone or just read about people just like yourself to get me to understand how incredible of a person you must be, to continue to fight for your life. After reading about what you are going through, you are an inspiration to so many including myself. I feel myself sinking fast and i have no idea where my life is going to take me, but rest assured i will always remember, That there is a woman and her name is Alison, and she is a fighter not a quitter, all i have to do is think like you do and i will have a better chance of beating this cancer. I will pray for you to get better.

    • Hi Hardy – thanks for the kind words. its hard for people to understand what people like us are going thru – often the only people who really do understand are people like us. i am glad you found some comfort and inspiration in my words. I hope you continue to stay strong and fight this horrible disease. The power of positive thinking can get you thru the most darkest of moments. we may not be able to control our disease, but we can control how we move forward from it. Never give up. #tealpower

  26. Allison, wow. I had no idea until I saw your amazing smile on Twitter today! I’m so sorry that you’re going through this. I see in the comments, I see that your journey is also inspiring so many. I have no doubt that you’ll someday complete the Ride to Conquer Cancer! We’re cheering for you out here in Calgary! Lots of love! #teampower

  27. Hey Alison,

    I saw you speak at this past weekend’s RTCC. I was so inspired by your amazing outlook on life and positive attitude. Thank you for sharing your story with those at the event and everyone here online. Your research and distribution of facts about cervical cancer will go a long way in helping others come to grips with their own bout of cancer and make them feel the love of the community.

    I wish you the absolute best for your treatment and your life in general. I can’t wait to read the post that says that you kicked cancers butt!

    Emma

  28. Alison, I was in the tent this weekend when you spoke to the Ride to Conquer Cancer and was so profoundly touched by your courage, your strength and your amazing attitude. You are so inspiring! Thank you for sharing your journey and for bringing important conversations to the forefront. I hope to ride with you next year! In the meantime, I’ll follow your blog, so let us know what you need.
    Val

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