Friday, May 31, 2013



Is anyone reading this???

I can't believe I've been home for six weeks... Clearly, I've felt pretty uninspired to write. I am basking in the comfort of being home, near my people, my family, my puppy, my mountain, my trails and my ocean. I've been busy with treatments and surgeries. And of course, I've missed New Zealand. I still haven't really processed everything that it was, and to be honest - that part is confusing to me.

I flew home on a Sunday. By Tuesday morning I was back in the oncologists office. A harsh reminder that reality was upon me. I am so grateful for an oncologist who believes in a cancer/life balance and was 100% supportive of me being a "Great Walker." He checked me out, gave me the "all clear" and sent me on to the treatment center for a two hour infusion of "light" chemo. This is a treatment I'd been receiving every three weeks from May 1, 2012 until the Tuesday before I left for New Zealand. Dr Vandermolen (my oncologist) tried to figure our how I could receive treatments in New Zealand, but wasn't able to work it out with the insurance/Dr situation and our crazy schedule.

I knew I would walk back into a treatment center within 48 hours of returning home from my mecca. I didn't realize the impact it would have...

I LOVE my chemo nurse. I don't have negative residual feelings about the treatment center or even my time receiving chemotherapy, I was so well cared for. So I was surprised when I walked into the treatment center that Tuesday morning and found myself being drained of life. It was palpable given the contrast to what life had granted me for the nine weeks prior.

The room is large and contains rows of reclining chairs, each chair has its own infusion pump and bags of poison dangle from them like ornaments on a christmas tree. Every person in a chair is receiving chemotherapy. Every person in a chair is fighting for life. I realized when I walked into the treatment center after a 10 week break that it seemed like every person in that room was dying. I felt like I mocked them with my vitality and life and then I felt guilty and tried to contain my energy and then I felt sad. Not all of them will die. But as I watched them, their veins being fed the medicine that is hopeful to kill the weed that grows inside them, I realized that I used to be them. I was puffy and green and drooling in those chairs just a few months ago. Then I felt weird. Really weird, like I didn't understand reality anymore...

Treatments don't bother me, they have very little affect on the way I feel and I really do love spending time with my chemo nurse (Carrie) and my "peeps" - the friends I've made who are also going through the treatment process.

The next day, Wednesday, I was scheduled to visit my plastic surgeon. Since end of September when I had my mastectomies, I have had tissue expanders acting as breasts. While they serve a great purpose, they're crazy hard and ultimately very uncomfortable. I had to wait for four to six months after receiving radiation (for my skin to heal) before I could have tissue expanders switched out for implants.

To say that I love my plastic surgeon is the understatement of the year. Respect is probably a better word, but even then - not strong enough. She is wonderful... such a light in all of this cancer madness. She looked at my skin, gave me the "all clear" and we set a surgery day for May 14th.

Fast forward a few weeks... I never had an ounce of nervousness about the surgery, and I didn't need to. It was very easy. Too easy. I had zero nausea and zero pain. I came home a couple hours after the procedure totally happy with my new, soft, squishy breasts.

Ok so I might have come out of the surgery chute too quickly. Apparently, this "Great Walker" walked too much, too soon, and 10 days after my procedure, I started bleeding internally. Within a couple of hours, my right breast puffed up to three times the size of the implant (puffed up with blood). I was sent to the ER via text from my plastic surgeon. She met me at the hospital and performed emergency surgery to stop the bleeding and clean up my mess. I came home that night and continue to feel great (too great). I want to run and ride and swim and climb. I can't. I've learned, I can't. The whole thing scared me enough to get me to sit down for a while... And now, I am (mostly) patiently waiting for the day that I can go for a run.

Somehow, I managed to land a contract position as a Compensation Analyst with a great company here in Orange County. So, after a year and a half of being "off," I am returning to the workforce on June 10th. I'm excited. And nervous.

So, in the last six weeks I've had three chemo treatments, two surgeries, and managed to find a job. Not bad!

Ashley (my amazing friend who has let me live on her couch for the last six months) and I are looking for places to live together (where I will actually have a room, and a bed!)... and so it seems, I life is slowly but surely returning to "normal."

The last few years of my life have been so unpredictable, sometimes volatile, and sometimes amazing. I remember saying several times that all I wanted was some stability, some structure... normalcy. Now, as things seem to be falling into place, I find myself surprisingly uncomfortable. I've become used to being a nomad, to being in unfamiliar places, to not having a bed, to having my belongings scattered all over the place... I'm actually a little afraid of all this normalcy. But of course, life moves on. Chin up, eyes forward to the next chapter...

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Old News...


But I need to put it here for posterity...

I was on live, national (in NZ) tv on my birthday. Pretty rad!

Click the here to see the video. :)