Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Radiation results

     I had an appointment with my radiologist Dr. Nedzi (dude that zapped my brain) and when he walked in, his usually somber face broke into a huge smile.  He said "Andrea, I remember when you first came here, and your speech is much, much better."  I replied, "Well, I practice alot." He and Mike chuckled.

     He said it all looks good and he wants to see me in a year.


    

Leaving the past behind

Today I realized that I have some major baggage that I just cannot seem to let go of so I am going to write about it.  Why can't I just walk away?  Leave the past behind me?  Heavens, this cancer is easier to forget than her memory.  I will never see her again I need closure to let this go.  I have no idea how to get closure by myself.  She is attached to a memorable time in my life when I learned ALOT. I learned about myself and how cruel people can be. 

      They say that writing it is cathartic.  I hold firm that they are correct. I will attain closure by expressing my feelings through this blog.  Open to everyone, making me vulnerable as a baby kitten. Probably telling more than you want to know.  More than you need to know is more like it.  Some things must remain private.  "not everyone needs to know everything"  is something she frequently said to me.  OOPS.  Not oops I am not ashamed of my life I will tell anyone anything they want to know. 

     I would give the shirt off my back to someone in need.  I did this in KY while working for brief time at Rood and Riddle, I saw a motorcycle accident and I ripped my long sleeve shirt off and they tied it around his head.  Then I left, shirtless.  I never found out what happened to him but at least I was there to lend a helping shirt,  I looked for a towel but there weren't any in my car.  I am so desperate to help others that I have gotten myself tangled up in messes that I should have just walked away from.  My whole life I have been searching for purpose.

     Now I think I have found my purpose because if this blog helps even 1 person it will all be worth it.  The pain I went through from the cancer and all of the things I have overcome.  My purpose in life is simply to inspire others to help their fellow man.  This world is too full of cruelty and snap judgments.  I know I cannot end all that with just a blog, but this is my part, my contribution to a happier way of life.

     If you read this and you know someone that it could help please pass it along.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The importance of repeating

If you haven't been through the trauma of cancer you just do not understand where we are coming from.  You can sympathize and feel sorry for us, but there is no way you can empathize with us.  We as cancer survivors have come to grips with our own mortality.  That is a very scary thing to do.  But scarier still are the fears of recurrence.  For me the main fear is that I will have a seizure and be home bound for 6 months again.  That is on par with my fears of recurrence.

     Being able to listen to what your body is trying to tell you will save your life.  Don't worry if others call you a hypochondriac.  My immediate family always told me I was a hypochondriac, then when I was diagnosed they said good thing it happened to you because we would have just thought nothing of it.  Apparently they did not realize and to this day don't understand how painful it was.  The tumor was ruining my life, my job, my love for my husband.  Until it was taken out I felt apathetic about everything including my own wedding.  I knew that was not right.  A person should be happy about getting married.  I had feelings about my wedding and I knew that I loved Michael with all my heart, but the fact that in a few weeks I felt apathetic about the wedding, well that's when I knew something was desperately wrong.

     I know, I know, you have heard this story before but it is therapeutic to talk about it.  It is so important to KNOW that some other human hears you and your story.  Even if they get really sick of hearing it the patient needs to talk about their trauma.  Cancer is trauma.  Massive life altering trauma.

   When I started to vomit at work my boss told me to go home.  This happened multiple times until I was sure that I was going to be fired for faking it.  I wasn't listening to my body.  I would get a splitting headache in the morning, go to work, vomit, get sent home but, once at home I would feel better.  (I later learned the headaches are usually worse in the morning and taper off through the day.)  I went to training for my job and was in so much pain I could no longer hide it from people.  Pat, the trainer saw that I was in horrendous pain and about to cry that she just excused and let me go home. I spoke to my boss because she got migraines as well so she advised me to ask for a certain drug.  She said once it dissolved on your tongue you would get IMMEDIATE relief.  So I requested it my doctor obliged.  It didn't work.  So on the 4th or 5th visit I asked for an MRI.  Dr. Wood said he couldn't authorize one unless the symptoms were really really bad. So I told him "With my family history I am afraid that my headaches are a symptom of something bigger and I just want to know for sure if I am actually being a hypochondriac."  To which he replied, "No I don't think you are being a hypochondriac."  Then he coached me through what to say to him so I could get an MRI.  Dr. Wood is an awesome physician that listens to his patients.  My Previous physician Dr.G ignored my concerns and blew them off.  She did a whole battery of other tests but, not an MRI. Alas, there is no use in thinking "what if"  All that matters is Snarla was discovered in time to save my life.

   The surgery was almost an emergency Dr. Lang moved another patient to a different time slot so he could take care of me.  I went to MD Anderson 1 week for the intake, They evaluated me and I guess I was farther along than I realized because like 4 days later I had an awake craniotomy.  Those 4 days were FULL of tests and MRI's  and seeing EXACTLY where the tumor sat (very near my motor cortex) They wanted to get it out as soon as they could so I would be able to function and live a "normal" life I guess they were worried.  The day before the surgery I remember, I cried because they shaved the left side of my head and I had such beautiful hair.  Seems silly now seeing as how my life could have ended that next day on the table. I just realized  that  I am not being a drama queen.  That was some SERIOUS shit, I did not realize how serious it was until after it was over.

     I remember how infuriating not being able to communicate was.  My in laws were there trying to help me.  I was so frustrated that I lashed out at anyone that tried to help me.  Mike's parents got fed up and left and to this day I am sorry that I did not have any control over my impulses.  I mean if it went through my head it came out of my mouth.  That can be BAD, it was horrible.  T my speech therapist helped me learn to speak again.  I am eternally grateful to her, she is an angel among humans.

    Also I took Mike for granted as well.  I feel extra guilty about that because I treated him like dirt.  He was doing everything in his power to make ME comfortable but I could not walk or write or talk so I was really terrified and my new husband took the brunt of my rage.  But he took his vows seriously, marriage is not an institution to enter into lightly.  I love Mike he is MY personal angel.

AJG

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Through Faith ANYTHING is possible

On the first church visit after the diagnosis the reading was "Let Me Die Laughing"  Written by Mark Morrison-Reed, an excerpt from Been in the storm so long, 1991

      It moved me to tears. So I got a copy made and I put it one the cover of the book that Stephanie made me.  On the other side of the book: "Words to live by: ATTITUDE, written by Dr. Charles Swindoll

Will scan and post in the next blog

Monday, April 11, 2011

Blood and water

I have preached this before, however it is so important that it needs to be told again.  When you are diagnosed with cancer (Any type) you will find out who your real friends are.  You may think you know them but you will know you have a good friend if they stick around during your treatment.
I say this because I am having an "I beat cancer, thank you for being there" party and one who shall remain nameless blew me off.  I mean doesn't this person know how lucky they are that they don't have to go to a FUNERAL.  This is a celebration of LIFE.  I don't think this is petty at all.  I think what this person did SUCKS.    But I think what they did was GRADE A Selfish and shitty.



But on a happier note, I just got back from a very pleasant bike ride down preston ridge trail.  Due to the rain last night it was cool weather.  It is a fact that tail wind is much better than head wind.

I was so depressed all last week, it stunk and Mike was really worried about me.  But mood swings come with the territory of cancer.  When I tell people that I finished chemo and am in the monitoring stage most people assume monitoring is remission.  I don't have the heart to tell them that with my type of cancer I will not ever go into remission.  EVER because there are still tumor cells in my brain, and that was confirmed by my oncologist.  But the good thing is that it cannot spread outside my brain.  The bad thing is that if it crosses the blood brain barrier I am dead.  But hopefully that won't happen for a very very long time i.e I will pass of old age first.  The likelihood it will cross over is slim to none.

People that have other types of tumors on the right frontal lobe can go into remission.  People with other types of cancer can go into remission.  Everyone is different and if you are going to get cancer do it in your 20s because our bodies are more resilient and resistant. 

Until next time.....

Friday, April 8, 2011

Cancer has strengthened my faith

So when I was diagnosed I was iffy about God.  I didn't go to church, basically I held a grudge against him for my mother dying when I was still developing mentally.  I was 5 or 6.  I blamed him for all the bad things that had happened in my life and I questioned his very existence.  I believed the world wasn't controlled b y some invisible graceful force.  I thought it was just a higher power fucking with us.  I resented my life and took it for granted.

     Then I met Michael, he brought purpose into my life. After we got married and I was diagnosed with brain cancer  I was convinced that I was too big of a burden for him to carry.  I mean think about it Newlyweds and the wife gets a deadly form of cancer not just any cancer Brain Cancer.  And the choice set before us was a very difficult one.  The surgery could leave me paralyzed or unable to communicate. I was very sorry that I had gotten this disease.  I apologized profusely to him to which he ALWAYS replied, "I take my vows seriously".  
Any other guy I know would have cut and run.  Michael stayed and we are stronger for it.

    The road to recovery was a long and DIFFICULT journey.  One that I couldn't have survived with God and all the people praying for me.  This cancer has actually changed my life in a big way. I now go to church and believe in the power of prayer.  I believe that when more than one person asks for the same thing there is more of a likely hood that it will be done. 

     Now I married into a Catholic/Jewish family and their views are widespread.  I don't judge because all prayers go to the same place. I try not to dwell on the differences in peoples beliefs.  I come from an extremely Christian family.  So as not to offend anyone I will cease the discussion of religion right there.

The point is that with the help and never ending support of countless people I am well again. 


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Cancer survivors still get bullied

I just tried to post my last blog to Facebook.  Now I post on a weekly basis.  However some jerk off flagged it as abusive and or spammy.  Now I understand that once it is out there you can NEVER take it back so I will restrain myself.  The culprit is parading around as one of my "friends"  If they cared enough to look at it and  proceed to FLAG it that is just pathetic.  I have faith in people to look at what they are interested in and skip over the non interesting or relevant stuff.  Why don't they just de-friend me.  It makes me furious and deeply deeply hurts my feelings. 


I am simply a woman trying to share my story through the harrowing and most of the time deadly disease of Brain Cancer.  My question is WHY would someone do this.  If you don't like it or are not interested in the blog then why the f^$# are you taking the time to flag it .  I cannot help but take this personally.  Just so you know I will be fleecing my friends.  So if at some point someone decides to look at their friend count and sees it is lower..... that is why.


It is going to drive up the wall not knowing who did this.  I know I should just let it go because if I don't I give my control to them.  They have made me mad and hurt my feelings. 
     This brings up painful memories of High School. 

Changes

Michael and I epitomize the fact that age does not matter.  We are soulmates and we can finish each others sentences and can have an entire conversation without speaking a word.  In short he is the love of my life.

   So Pam posed the question, "How long had the tumor been there?"  The doctors don't know and there is no way to tell.  However after Grandmama passed from a GBM on the left side, my father took me to have an MRI and they did not find anything.  That was when I was 8.  However 8 years later I began having migraines.  The worst one was at Project SOAR right before we were supposed to leave on a horse packing trip.  Paula took me to the doctor and then made me drink Pedialite.  I was 16.  Anyway the migraines were so bad and I knew when they were coming on because I t always went like this:  1) tunnel vision 2) vomit 3) pass out.  When I woke up it would be gone.  So the doctors said it was stress.  I got so used to them that the symptoms all but disappeared.
     My point is from 16 on I genuinely believe the tumor on my frontal lobe was affecting my impulses.  Causing me to be misdiagnosed by multiple Psychiatrists,  psychtherapists and even My regular doctors.  It took 11 years for me to have it bad enough to ask for an MRI.

     I am not the same person that I was when I was 19 or in Kentucky.  All that time the tumor was pressing against my impulse center.  I wonder how different my life would be if Snarla had been discovered in Kentucky.  I definitely would have made better choices.  However, I am who I am today because of everything I have been through.  Though I have had a rough traumatic life I know it could always be worse and I thank God that it is not.

     There were people in Kentucky who gave a strange girl a chance with their horses. I am very grateful to them.  Then there is one in particular who I am still in contact with she wrote me a recommendation to work with Freya.  There was one foal in particular that I was very close to I called him Rab because when he was born I thought he looked like a rabbit due to his ears.  I don't know what happened to him,  he is probably retired by now.  But that relationship showed me how a bond between a horse and a human can positively influence ones life.