Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What To Do When You're Expecting

Anyone who's had a child is familar with the book, What to Expect When You're Expecting. Here is one thing to consider doing while expecting: investigate cord blood banking.

It is unlikely that your future child will ever be afflicted with any of the conditions a cache of stem cells could mitigate/cure. Plus, the initial cost and yearly storage fee is material. My family has learned, however, that the unlikely can happen.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Worthy Causes

Since my initial diagnosis, I've learned the importance of a support network, resources, and cancer research. Millions of cancer patients benefit from all three. Below I've outlined some great ways to help in the fight against cancer.

  • Support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society - Tammy, a friend of my good friend Michele, is raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training. She will be running the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco in October. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has been a tremendous resource for me. Its educational materials helped me understand my diagnosis and prognosis. In two weeks, I will be attending a support group meeting organized by the society. And of course, they fund research.

  • Support the American Cancer Society - My dear friend, Sarah, who was a bridesmaid in my wedding, will be running the Chicago Rock and Roll Half Marathon on behalf of the American Cancer Society in August. She chose this as her cause because of my battle. She's such a sweetheart. My Aunt Laura works for the American Cancer Society, and has been providing me with connections and resources available through this amazing organization.

  • Help Jeff's Fight Against Leukemia - Yesterday I learned of a fellow Wisconsin native and University of Minnesota alum who was recently diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), with the Philadelphia strand. I was devastated by the news. Jeff Tomczek is in the hospital now. He is 27. My heart goes out to him and his family, and I hope that I am able to connect with him to offer my support. A few years ago, his prognosis would have been dim. However, according to my oncologist, there have been recent advancements in treatment that make his outlook much brighter. Unfortunately, Jeff is a self-employed entrepreneur, who does not have health insurance. I am so fortunate to work for a great company with a very good insurance plan. I can't imagine what it would be like to have financial angst on top of the health angst. His treatment regimen will be somewhat similar to mine, except different drugs. In some cases, stronger, more expensive drugs.

I've added a section of Links in the left-hand column,which includes the oranizations and ways to donate referenced above. If any other runners or fundraisers out there would like me to add links to their pages, I'd be pleased to do so.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Day at the Beach (without the beach)

After tomorrow, I will have completed three of the ten weeks of the Arsenic Trioxide (not including the two week break in the middle). I've been asked how the daily IV infusion makes me feel, and I've finally found the right metaphor to describe it:

When I leave the oncologist's office each afternoon, I feel like I've spent the day at the beach. It's that sunburned, dehydrated, woozy, exhausted feeling that's normally cured with a pina colada and a lounge chair positioned to face the sunset. Except I don't actually have the sunburn, and I didn't actually play in the surf and sand.

I haven't tried the pina colada and lounge chair remedy yet. Maybe I should, though I am not complaining about this day-at-the-beach side effect. It is nothing compared to what chemo can do. I'm making the most of my Summer at the Beach (without the beach) before the season ends and I begin two more rounds of stronger chemo (Daunarubicin).

In my first post, I'd hoped to be walking on a white sandy beach by August. That won't be happening. But it will eventually, and I'll relish that exhausted feeling at the end of the day.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


This morning I woke up early and went to the gym, per doctors' orders. The objective was to strengthen my bones, which have been weakened by the Idarubicin that targeted my bone marrow. During that workout, I achieved more than my original goal. I enjoyed a moment of self righteousness, and I refuse to feel guilty about it.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to all the fathers, and especially to my dad and husband.

If you haven't seen the Dad Life rap video, it's worth watching today.

Dad Life YouTube Video

The dads rap about minivans, hydrangeas, and "shootin' vids of the kids."

As funny as this video is, it rings true.

The lyrics capture the everyday antics of the Dad Life, but there is so much more to being a dad. This spring, Katelyn and I saw just how strong dads can be when their children need them. While my dad was sitting with me by my hospital bed, Ryan was at home taking care of Katelyn. Three decades apart in age, we both needed our dads, and they were there for us. Thank you, from both of us.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bob Marley and Practical Paranoia

Bob Marley died from malignant melanoma at the age of 36. The cancer started under his right big toenail and spread throughout his body.

You might be wondering why I am thinking about a reggae singer who died from skin cancer in 1981.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Survivors' Tricks of the Trade

Thank you to those who responded to my “Wanted” post. The survivor stories, advice, blogs, and new connections have been inspiring and reassuring.
The common theme of the advice I’ve received is mindset, and how much of a difference it can make. Mindset, both in terms of staying positive during the treatment process and any potential setbacks, as well as general outlook on life.
When you fight for your life, you reflect on what you’re fighting for. The biggest prize is being there for your family. But life’s small pleasures are spoils of the war as well. Cancer survivors appreciate each day, instead of always thinking about tomorrow. They are spontaneous and choose to be happy.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Giggle It, Just a Little Bit

This morning I forwarded Ryan an email from What to Expect, which is a website filled with useful tips for parenting during a child's first years. Any time the daily email's topic is relevant, I forward. Today, when I saw the subject line, I laughed, and forwarded. My objective in sending this particular email had nothing to do with improving our parenting skills. 

I hoped a colleague of Ryan's, preferably his boss, would be hovering over Ryan's desk when the email's embarrassing subject line appeared in his Outlook Inbox. Yes, I admit, I was looking for a laugh at my husband's expense. These days, I look for any opportunity to laugh. 

Unfortunately, the prank backfired on me.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Miss Scarlet, in the Drawing Room, with the Arsenic...

Arsenic is a classic murder weapon. The height of its popularity occurred in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Today, it mainly lives on in murder-mystery novels and the game of Clue.

Later today, arsenic will also be flowing through my veins. Although receiving 50 doses of what has traditionally been considered a poison is a little disconcerting, it is better than having Prof. Plum or Col. Mustard wack me 50 times with the lead pipe or the candlestick to knock out my disease. I continue to be amazed by the medical advances that have been made for a condition that only strikes 800 people in the U.S. each year.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

A Bald New Approach

While in the hospital, having no hair was the "in" thing for the leukemia wing. Since I've returned home, I've been more conscious of it. Before I share my thoughts on the looks' pros and cons, here's a review of my hair's history and future: