Posts filed under ‘Colon Stories’

Holding It Through Costco

For those of you who missed my poop posts, well here ya go.

So I made it through Costco tonight. We’ll just leave it at that. For those of you who also suffer from, er, urgency issues, you know what I mean. And all in the Crohn’s club yells “yeahhhh baby.” Tonight’s episode of trying to make it through the store gave me flashbacks to last Christmas. Let’s just say that I have used every restroom between Springfield and Clinton. And I’ve never been more thankful my hubby had family in Clinton. Ahh memories. His grandpa had to give me his prescription anti-crap pills. Now when I’m taking that sort of stuff, it’s bad.

So why bore you (or I guess for some of you this is interesting) with my poop-a-palooza stories? Well, it’s just to push myself to keep bringing such an uncomfortable, unwanted topic out in the open. Because for years I wouldn’t talk about poop. I couldn’t imagine being married and pooping in the same house as someone. And my phobia of poop wound me up with stage III colon cancer because I wouldn’t talk about it.

So there ya go, a poop post. Oh – and here’s a baby picture, just for making it through all of this bathroom humor. HAHA – get it. Man I crack myself up. HAHA get it, crack? Ok I’m done.

 

I bet I get this look more and more as she realizes her mama's a poop blogger....


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September 9, 2011 at 9:34 pm Leave a comment

New Leaves in My Medical World

I’m happy to report that my colonoscopy on Friday showed that all was well in my rear. No signs of polyps, no signs of complications – it was as pretty as a colon could be. And lucky for you, in just a short time, you’ll be able to see it. In an effort to save lives and show people that getting a colonoscopy isn’t all that bad, I had my friend film my colonoscopy process from start to finish. I turned over a new leaf, and added a new notch to my “colonoscopy veteran” belt.  It’s been great to watch Katie Couric and Dr. Oz go on TV and do the same thing, but I wanted to give everyone in Kansas City a very local look at what a colonoscopy is like. So – we taped my scope. And my prep. (Well not the actual prep, but what I took and how it works.) And soon, you’ll be able to see it. It’s in post”erior”- production right now. HAHA. Oh man I’m funny.

Another fun new leaf that’s been turned for me over the past two weeks is (what I feel) a unique understanding of my doctors. Or at least they’re just now starting to communicate in a new way. In the past, if I entered the office with anxiety or fear, they’d try to tell me I had nothing to worry about. And I did appreciate that since the whole cancer thing is sort of big and scary. But the past two visits I’ve had this month, both of my doctors have made mention that they understand how I feel – or that at least they can see that I enter their office with anxiety and occasional fear. Although they are still confident that I shouldn’t really have anything to worry about, at least they do see that from my perspective, it is unsettling to face scan after scan, scope after scope, never knowing how they will turn out. It’s a constant struggle to find faith and peace in the midst of routine follow-ups. So it’s been really nice to have their understanding. Makes me realize even more that I’ve got a great team of physicians who don’t only care about my charts, but care about me as a person.

August 30, 2011 at 9:58 am 1 comment

Flower Shower

A few weeks ago, I alluded to having a supportive husband in my “10 years Chemo-Free” post. Little did I know that while I sat here and blogged about emotions involved in being a 10-year cancer survivor, Mike had a full-blown plan underway to help me celebrate.

Thank you to everyone for the “flower shower.” I was blessed, broken, humbled and in awe. All I can really say is God be Glorified. Enjoy…

You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.

Isaiah 55:12

August 21, 2011 at 5:07 pm Leave a comment

Rocking The Medical Routine Boat

So yesterday I had a challenging experience. I had to visit my oncologist. At his new clinic.

Hopefully some other long-time survivors can relate with me so I don’t sound like a total patient-snob. But, after you’ve gotten used to your “medical routine,” it’s hard when it’s changed. Whether you’re going to a new place, have a new nurse, or heaven forbid, get a new doctor – those changes are hard. And although I knew to expect changes yesterday, I didn’t expect to be affected by them so much.

There were probably some really legitimate changes that can be made to the new clinic to make the patient experience better. I’ve got a great doctor who actually took down notes after he saw the flustered look on my face as he walked in the exam room. But even getting past some of those things, I tried to really figure out why I was so startled yesterday. And I decided this:  The reason I’m there in the first place is unsettling enough.

I try to be go-with-the-flow as much as I can. But for some reason I was really, really not up for changes yesterday. I didn’t like going to a new office, nor the new check-in procedure. I wasn’t crazy about anything really – and I knew my poor attitude was stemming from something bigger than the fact there were no magazines in my patient room. I was struggling because I like security, and the reason I’m sitting there is very insecure.

Thankfully, my doctor is a gem and he really did care about my experience and will try to make it better. Having him come in, know my past 10 years history and tell me what’s next, was comforting. And to add another positive – a nurse came in and remembered me from when I was 17, so I didn’t have to explain why I was a 27-year-old colon cancer patient – major bonus points.

In the end, I guess my hope for sharing my story is two-fold:

– For any medical practitioners out there to see the patient’s point of view sometimes. Remember that while you may be making small changes in your world, they may be big changes in your patient’s world. You and your staff offer security to your patients and their families, security that they may not be feeling anywhere else. So while you have all rights to make changes to anything, make them slowly, communicate a lot, and be understanding at how it’s taken. And make sure it’s very clear how much they will owe at the time of their visit.

– To kick myself in the butt, and challenge myself to be more flexible. To find my security in things outside of my medical routine. And to remind myself that although I’m driving to a new clinic with new people and  new routine, that doesn’t mean that my whole world has to turn upside down. Maybe I’ll actually come to like this new place one day.

 

August 20, 2011 at 10:22 pm 1 comment

10 Years Chemo-Free

They say that a blog can be therapeutic, and a great way to process raw feelings and emotions. Well, this is one of those posts. At least I gave you a heads up. Sorry, no baby photos or poop jokes today. Maybe next time.

On this cancer journey, several of us have special milestone days each year that take us back to when we were in the midst of our fight. Here are a few of mine:

  • January 23 – the day I was diagnosed, how long I’ve been fighting this bad boy cancer.
  • The two weeks between January 23 – Feb 2 – it’s like this shadow hangs over me these weeks as I remember the journey from being diagnosed, to finding doctors, to finally having my first major surgery.
  • June 9 – my new date I have to go off to consider myself “cancer free.” I’m at 2 years.
  • July 24 – my original “survivor day” that my family and I celebrated on the glorious day I was released from cancer treatments and finished with chemo all together!

I know it’s a lot, it is for me too. But these are my special cancer days that I remember each year. I don’t do big celebrations or even really recognize them all each year  (although my husband typically does, bless his heart) but as each one of these days comes, it’s a time for me to reflect – or as it has been in the past, push away the rush of emotions that come with the reality of this cancer game.

Today is one of the days along my journey that always means something special to me, July 24. I hope I never forget what it was like to walk into my oncologist’s office 10 years ago. I was supposed to have a treatment, one of my last. They drew my blood and saw that I was absolutely too weak to take the next chemo treatment. My white blood counts were way too low. Six months of chemo and a month of radiation had been enough. Instead of heading for the chemo room, I got to go into the physician’s room where he explained that I was done, I didn’t have to finish my remaining two treatments, and that I was released from treatment.

While I walked in there without any strength, I nearly floated out of the office. Finally after several months of living through one of the horrors that comes on this side of heaven, at age 17 nonetheless, I was free. My parents took me to Eskews Fine Jewelry to get a watch – and had it engraved “SURVIVOR” and the date, 7-24-01. I still wear it every year on this day. We went out to dinner at Gojos to celebrate. It was a huge day for me.

Just like the Sunday morning earlier this year on January 23, I had a rush of emotions come over me this morning. It’s funny because during the first years of being in remission, I don’t think I really had it all sink in yet. I would be so excited to reach my cancer mile-markers, and just be pumped to celebrate. I even made a homemade t-shirt and wore it for a few years. I was on cloud nine.

survivordayyear1

My homemade "Survivor" t-shirt I sported for years - in 2002

Maybe it’s because my cancer HAS come back once that I find it hard to joyously celebrate now, or maybe it’s because I’m older, I’m married, I have a kiddo – and the actuality of what I went through has just begun to hit me. But instead of breaking out my old shirt today and sporting the town with it – proudly showing I am a survivor – I had to make myself get out of bed, go through my typical Sunday routine and not break down bawling along the way. God bless my friends and family who showed up with flowers today, and my hubby who splurged on delicious cupcakes. He knows the way to my heart.

Although I hate that I feel like crying rather than celebrating as each one of my “Year 10” mile markers has come, I actually think it’s a good thing. Last year when I went through counseling, I learned that instead of processing my emotions, I’ve developed a pattern to unplug from them and disconnect with how I really feel. I’ve slowly started to “plug back in” throughout the year, and the raw emotions of fear, sadness, grief, loss and more have rushed in as I’ve dealt with the cancer face-to-face.While it’s not been fun, it is nice to actually feel again and get real with what I’ve faced throughout the years.

So, today hits 10 years for me that I’ve been “chemo-free” and my original Survivor Day. And while I’ve got a train of emotions hitting me, I’m so, so grateful for them. Not only am I grateful for the ability to feel the emotions, but for life and how God is using my story even 10 years later. I could have easily not made it 10 years ago. But He chose to heal me so that His glory would be made known through me and my story. Why that’s not been the case for everyone who has faced this disease, I don’t understand – but I have faith that it’s all for a reason, and I will continue to point people to hope as long as I’m still here. As hard as it is to face the fears, side effects and impacts that surviving cancer so young has had – I absolutely feel blessed to be part of the bigger picture and do my part in pointing people upwards to Him.

So on that note, a huge “hurray” that I’ve been off the chemo for 10 years now. A huge thank you to everyone who has prayed for me, supported us and walked with us through this journey over the years. I can only pray that there are many more days full of flowers and cupcakes ahead.

July 24, 2011 at 9:47 pm 8 comments

Fireworks in the Sky

I admittedly have a really crappy memory. It’s actually never really been that great, but I like to use the excuse of “chemo brain” when I really can’t remember things. Who knows if it’s the chemo or not… but that makes since so I’m going with it.

While I struggle recalling events in the past, the six months that I was on cancer treatment 10 years ago remain very vivid. And one night that is particularly clear is the evening I tried to rejoin my life on the 4th of July weekend.

I was at the tail end of my radiation treatments and the hopes of “normal life” were starting to appear. I hadn’t hung out with my friends in months due to my illness. My butt was raw from 30 days of radiation, and I was just plain tired of wearing that stupid, ugly continuous infusion chemo pack everywhere I went. Nicknaming it “Chester” had only helped in the beginning. By the end of those four weeks, I was ready for “Chester” to meet Jesus and get the heck off of me.

I had been invited to my friend Meagan’s house to celebrate the Fourth of July. She lived on a lake within my suburb, and although I was not much of a lake person even back then – not to mention extremely intimidated by the lakeside neighborhoods with their narrow, windy roads and zero parking – I went for it and joined my friends. I had a big group of girlfriends when I was diagnosed, and this was one of the first nights that we were all together since I’d been sick.

We weren’t the drinking kind, nor did we find a lot of fun in rebelling against our parents. So, our high school version of hanging out was pretty low-key. Some had brought fireworks and were starting to shoot them off by the time I arrived. I remember slowly walking down to the water and watching my friends float on rafts and flirt with boys. I carefully dipped my feet into the lake – opting not to swim since lake water wouldn’t quite agree with my immune system. I laughed with my friends. I tried to fit in. I even had a red, white and blue tank-top on to prove it.

There was nothing magical about that night. But for some reason I remember it like it was yesterday. I remember being happy that I could fit into tiny jean shorts. I remember being jealous of my friend’s gorgeous tan and sparkly pink bikini. I remember the sparklers, having fun drawing pictures in the air. I remember trying to fit in with the jokes and flirting, yet not, and while the group hung back to talk and laugh, I went off by myself and gazed at the fireworks above the lake in an “I really feel older than 17” moment.

Life has a funny way of coming in and out, and making you realize that what seemed like a passing moment in time was actually a mile marker in the journey. That night 10 years ago as I watched fireworks above the lake, I cracked open the realization that I was different… and I would never be the same again. My experience with cancer had not only scarred my body and interrupted my calendar. It had changed the dynamics of my friendships and how I would relate to others for the rest of my life.

Surviving cancer doesn’t make one an obvious alien this world, although it too often feels like it. The secret aches from past surgeries and scar tissues, the quiet worries of what will happen next or why that pain just shot through your body, the unspoken questions of how much longer you have or if your kids have your genes – thus is the mindset of a survivor. And while we try to brush it off and fit in most days, it’s often what’s running through our minds when we’re staring off into space… or up at the fireworks in the sky.

When life crisis hits, you don’t always realize all of the areas it will impact until enough time has gone by and then you start to “get it.” That moment on the lake 10 years ago was just a momentary peek into the types of issues I would process in the coming decade. And while the gravity of the situation has come over the years, I’m thankful that it’s been over time. Even more, I’m thankful that despite my moment of seriousness as I slipped away from my friends only to quickly rejoin them that Fourth of July weekend – what really was was going through my head was where I could get another sparkler and how I had managed to fit into my jean shorts that night.

July 4, 2011 at 12:06 am Leave a comment

Bucket Lists

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day, and bucket lists came up. As a cancer survivor, I have a handful of opinions when it comes to certain topics. And while I like to think I’m pretty easy-going, for some reason, these I have a very clear, passionate view on at least four things:  the need for colonoscopy,  cancer crawls, breast cancer awareness month and bucket lists.

I’m not Down on Bucket Lists

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not down on bucket lists. I actually think they’re great… for most people. Especially when the “Bucket List” movie came out and raised awareness about the whole idea. I think it’s great that people start thinking about what they’d like to do in life. Bucket lists stir passions in people. They motivate people to go get all that life has to offer, at least as much as they possibly can. So while I think bucket lists are great.. they’re just not for me.

Why I don’t have a Bucket List

I don’t have a bucket list. I think it’s mainly because the idea that life is short is all too real for me. Maybe it’s unhealthy and out of fear that I won’t create a bucket list. I mean, I don’t want to create a list that I have no way of achieving. I know that’s how it works for everyone (not everyone can always get to everything on their bucket list)… but that possibility is all too real for me. And although it’s a daily process for me to not live out of fear, I think there are some healthy reasons I don’t have a bucket list. I really do try to live each day realizing that it could be my last … or at least as best I can. I try to cram as much as I can into life just because I’m very aware that life is short. And while I don’t have a long list of big things I’d love to do before I die, I do try to take each opportunity that comes to me. I feel blessed that I’ve gotten to do, see and experience a ton of things already, and that as I continue to follow my heart and passions, that will only increase.

So Should you Have a Bucket List?

I’m not the one to say if you should have a bucket list or not. I think they’re great for so many people, even though I don’t have one. I’d say what is important more than a bucket list is an awareness that life is short. We were all put here for a reason and with a purpose, and so why not find that reason and what drives our passion. We’ll all have the opportunity to do things we dream of doing throughout life, so if it takes a bucket list to realize them – then go for it. Or, if you’re like me and refuse to make a list (but still have a few things you’d love to do in your life in the back of your mind) – do that too. Life is short, so let’s make it count.

May 27, 2011 at 3:31 pm Leave a comment

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