Sunday, December 31, 2006

A year ago today

It is almost 2007 and I cannot let the day pass without reflecting on all the changes 2006 brought my way. It was a year ago today that I happily celebrated Lee's 4th birthday and rang in the new year with Dave. It was this night a year ago that we conceived Alex and I had no real worries in the world. Man have things changed.

I am blessed with 3 healthy kids, a great husband, and a wonderful family. Unfortunately getting diagnosed with this crappy disease has made me understand this more than ever. I am so much more grateful for life and appreciate every day god gives me; something I had no clue about a year ago today.

I am ready to kick this cancer and look back on 2007 as one (in many) of the most triumphant years of my life. I will not let cancer beat me; I have too much to live for to let go.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Yet another bump in the road for me; my white blood cells are not bouncing back fast enough to harvest my stem cells this week. They performed a bone marrow biopsy yesterday to determine if my cells are damaged from all the chemo. If that is the case then there will be no transplant. I should find out the results next week after the long weekend.

Gratefully the doctors think they are not damaged and this is just a routine check. They think my body is slow to bounce back since I have had so much chemo and that my body is fighting off potential bugs the kids have had lately. I am praying this is the reason and my body will begin to grow white blood cells fast!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Fungus among us

Yesterday was a rather disapointind day at Hopkins. As you may or may not know I have been going up daily (7:30 AM) to see if my stem cells have mobilized. Unfortunately my stem cells have not mobilzed off of the ICE chemoherapy. It is odd but I have learned that I am not the normal cancer patient when it comes to the odd's game.

My nurse practioner thinks it is my fungus that is holding up the show. My doctor disagres and thinks I am just simply not mobilizing - possibly becuase I have had too much chemotherapy to date. They have put me on oral medication to try to clear up the fungus. In the meantime they will have another conference about my case on Tuesday and come up with a game plan. It will either include removing the cells directly from my bone marrow in the OR or postponing the transplant until the fungus clears up. The second option would mean I would go on some new chemotherapy while I wait to get rid of this thing.

I vote for moving forward and my doctor is leaning towards this as well. A fungal infection is very serious when my immune system hits rock bottom but they hope it's not systemic and won't be that big of a deal for me. However if this infection gets out of hand it can be bad even a small percent of people die from fungal infections post transplant.

So we wait and see if the fungus clears up and I will possibly go in this week to harvest or the following week. The silver lining in all of this is that I might be home for Christmas. We just told the kids I would be in the hospital for the holidays so we are waiting until my doctors are 110% that I will be home. I hate jerking them around.


My diagnosis was a journey in itself since I was also pregnant. I have a mediastinal mass that was pressing upon my airway and veins causing my chest, neck, and face to swell. I was having difficulty breathing, eating, itchy, and night sweats. Because I was pregnant I naturally went to my OB concerned it was pregnancy related. He sent me to my doctor suggesting it was an allergic reaction assuring me everything was normal with the pregnancy. My primary doctor sent me to an allergist – no allergies. She ran bloodwork thinking I had an auto immune disease – none. I continued to bounce around between doctors until I ended up in the ER not being able to breathe. Although I despise being in the hospital I must admit it really does get the ball rolling for a diagnosis. The doctor’s started me on steroids which brought my swelling down and I could finally eat and breathe normally again. Little did I know that a good response to steroids is a sign on Hodgkin’s Disease. I had 2 fine needle biopsy and the labs were conclusive that I had HD. Thinking back that stay in the hospital was a blur. I had a feeling I had cancer before I was actually delivered the news. I had told my husband (Dave) a week prior that I thought it was so. He is the eternal optimist and just couldn’t believe that would be the case. I was sitting in the hospital with my family and was suddenly faced with terminating my pregnancy or undergo chemo while pregnant. This was the hardest decision Dave and I had to make. We took a leap of faith and kept the pregnancy. Keeping the pregnancy meant I couldn’t have a PET scan, they limited my CT’s overall, and I had to do a lot of procedures (biopsy’s & port) without the full amount of drugs a normal person would get. That first biopsy was the worst and still haunts me. I am pretty much a tough cookie when it comes to all this crap but that one had me in tears afterwards. I remember feeling overall that I was lucky that I had the “good cancer” and a very high survival rate. My oncologist signed me up for ABVD and suggested follow up radiation. Before I was discharged I had my first cycle of ABVD. I wasn’t sick; just tired. Who wouldn’t be pregnant on chemo! Little did I know what a long journey I was in for.