Category Archives: cancer

Breaking up with Cancer-#neverstop

Breaking up with Cancer…

….._What to consider when ending your relationship

(Oh wait…that is for the Astrological Cancer sign)

I’m calling it. Over….done….owarimashtahallasfinito

  • How do you know when the end is really the end? Actually, you don’t. Move forward anyway!
  • What to consider
    • Yes, Cancer will always carry emotions….beginning, middle and end. Allow yourself to feel the emotions. Each time a new friend or friend of a friend is diagnosed or re-diagnosed, you re-live the shock and awe of the original diagnosis all over again. Even when it’s over, it doesn’t feel like it’s over. Making a clean break is a good plan. You may have to go back in the relationship, but isn’t it better just to be over and done?
  • Screen Shot 2017-12-08 at 11.08.46 AM
    How to keep going? Keep moving!
  • Get your port out!
  • What?
  • Yes, get your port out!
  • Maybe losing the port is like getting rid of crutches…
IMG_3707
Power Port

Yes, it will leave a scar.

Yes, it is a minor surgery.

No, general anesthesia is not required.

When should we do it? December 22….Christmas gift!

We keep moving forward! Motivation is seeing my 84 year-old father fishing in 25 degree weather. #Neverstop

BobL

2018 will be a positive year of good health, family, and friendships!

IMG_3714 2
Grab life by the handlebars. 

 

#neverstop

Advertisements

Health is the Crown

Health is the crown on the well person’s head that only the ill person can see.”-Robin Sharma

From this…

IMG_0004
Medications, masks and chemo

To this…

IMG_1123
Healthy!

Latest monthly blood-work shows my CA level (Cancer Antigen marker) has gone down to 6.0, the lowest it has been in over a year! I’m up for my 6 month mammogram in September (high risk for Breast Cancer).

Ten things I’m grateful for:

  • Travel-California, Oregon, Washington, and Mexico. Saw great friends, ate great food, drank delicious wine and Mexican-made margaritas
  • Friends-all of you who have been there by my side during this 5 year journey
  • Fight club-this rock solid group of supporters
  • Family-the whole crew! Most especially my husband and children. You have seen the good, bad, and ugly of cancer.
  • Faith-the many prayers from all over the world!
  • My Bullet Journal– a place to track all of my healthy habits-I’m now two years without eating red meat
  • #midpacific Five years ago on August 6, 2012,  I had just started work and three days later was diagnosed with Stage 3C Ovarian Cancer. My school supported me through it all-the surgeries, the chemotherapy, the radiation, and recovery!
  • IB Coordinator position and USAFA liaison
  • Walking partners!
  • ENERGY!

I’m so excited for what is yet to come!

 

Fight Club

First was the  shock

Hit by a truck

Statistics grim

Prognosis-yuck

We fought together, you and I

Persistence, humor, a dollop of grit

Defiant battle cries as we took the hits

Some came and fought a battle or two

Many the whole time…the one’s like you

Round two-a surprise…..I’ve often asked why

A protracted war…it made me cry

Our fight club continues in this roundabout way 

We lost another sister just the other day

“How can you go-it’s just so sad?”

But being with these women actually makes me glad

They never give up

Play on

Play on

Radiant faces in various stages

Fighting the ravages-cancer’s wages

Support and prayer

An idea or two

These women in earnest

Elevate you

What is your fight club?

Where do you go?

Who are the people who raise your bar?

I think if you’ll look it won’t be too far.

Health update! #ovariancancer

The question was…Do you call on Friday afternoon and possibly get the bad news, or wait until Monday for that same possibly bad news? Is knowledge power?  Or, do you shift your paradigm and call as soon as humanly possible and hope for the best of all news? My philosophy during this entire “journey” has been “head down and power through.” I’m happy to report that my cancer number (CA125) has actually dropped from a brief uptick last month. Good-to-go until the next test in 6 weeks (which in itself creates its own form of stress)!

Screen Shot 2017-04-29 at 6.56.38 AM
Is our health binary?

One of the concepts I’ve throwing around in my head is the idea that our health is not binary. We are not just a “0” for everything is perfect, or a “1” for everything is fail. You’re never “just sick” or “just well”- there is a large continuum in which we all fall.

Ellen J Langer says it much more artfully than I in the book Counter Clockwise

Screen Shot 2017-04-29 at 7.02.48 AM

“Just as we like to imagine that the mind and body are separate, so we imagine that at any one point in time we are healthy or we are not, and attitude that brings unexpected consequences. When we are healthy , we imagine we don’t need to pay much attention to our health. When we are sick, we imagine that we should be able to find expert information that cures us.”

It’s tough to live in the moment…neither speculating ahead or reflecting back, but right now, that is exactly where I am. Savoring this great moment! Thank you all for your continued well wishes being sent my way!

Cancer treatment-Top 6 Life hacks!

….So, you or someone you care about has been diagnosed with Cancer….now what? Remember how you made all those plans on January 1 to get organized? This time, it’s real. Successful treatment means being your own best advocate. It means getting the best information and the best treatment you can possibly get. This is not the time to be a shrinking Violet,afraid to offend-you must speak up. Your survival may depend on it!
Before you do this….
radiation-2
Radiation Treatment at Tripler Army Medical Center
Or this…
IMG_3226
Getting ready for Chemotherapy Infusion
Do This.
 1.  Buy this book….(I read it both times I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Ovarian Cancer)
Cancer: 50 essential things to do Cancer 50 Essential Things by Greg Anderson. Practical and important advice for the newly diagnosed and those recurring.
screen-shot-2016-10-06-at-6-50-01-pm
2.  Organize!
Get your major appointments, scans, chemotherapy treatments, radiation treatments, and tests written down in one location. You may need it in a year from now or two, or three, or 10! I like a three year calendar or even a five year calendar, because I plan to be around a long time!  Miles Kimball Three Year Calendar or go big and get a five year calendar!
This is only for big ticket items…not daily symptoms or questions. Dream big! You plan to be around for a long time!
screen-shot-2016-10-06-at-7-09-25-pm
3.  Start a bullet journal
-Keep in this your list of questions for upcoming doctors appointments (even when they pop into your head at 3 in the morning!) 
-Track side effects from chemo and medication
-Migraines? Track the onset symptoms and medications that work
-Find those motivational quotes that keep you going!
-Track exercise! (Yes, you still have to exercise.)
-Track medications!
img_1881
4. The American Red Cross gave me an accordion folder that I keep paper test results and informative literature and paper copies of articles on the forefront of cancer research. I used to print off articles and ask my doctor about them at appointments.
5.  EVERY time you see your doctor, ask for a copy of your lab results. Every single time!
6. Don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion! Doctors expect it. This is your life!! Take ownership of your treatment. Shed that reticence to be “that” patient. Ask for information from your doctor on why he/she wants to do specific tests and what he/she hopes to learn. Your strength comes from your willingness to speak up!! This may be your only chance. This is not a polite dinner party, but it is your very existence!
7. Bring a friend or family member to your appointments with you. Your friend can take notes and ask clarifying questions. (Bring that low maintenance friend who is happy if you talk all the way to the appointment, or if you want to be silent the whole time.)
IMG_2381
Hanging with the kids at treatment

This month is Breast Cancer Awareness and last month was Ovarian Cancer Awareness!

Please share this valuable information with your friends and family. Someone might be waiting for this article right now!
screen-shot-2016-10-05-at-6-59-48-pm
Now!! Spread the word!

Graduation 2016 “Sto1k6d”Mid-Pacific Institute

I was diagnosed August 6, 2012 with Stage 3C Ovarian Cancer and now almost 4 years later (3.789 years but who’s counting?)…I am watching my son graduate. Two surgeries, countless chemotherapy infusions (Carboplatin, taxol, Gemcitabine, and Avastin), and 25 radiation treatments, but our family finally made it. There are no words that can completely describe our joy…so I’ll do it with pictures.

Friday, May 27, 2016-Baccalaureate Service Central Union Church

13248357_10154020959156418_2657253532433214803_o
Baccalaureate at Central Union Church in Honolulu

May 28, 2016, the Big Day arrives-“light” showers and then sun on campus

IMG_0702
Mid-Pacific Institute Campus in Manoa Valley

In the words of AJR….”I’m Ready”

 

The stage is set….to hear “Benjamin Robert Roley”

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, the fun!

IMG_0780
Ben, Marvin, Kyler, and Christine
IMG_0778
Ben and Marvin…friends since 4th grade

and more friends…

IMG_0722
GK and Ben…friends since preschool!
IMG_0783
C. Roscoe has taught all three Roley kids!

And sister Rachel

IMG_0721
Rachel made the “Ben there done that” sign

Mom and dad…

IMG_0732
Ross and Kym and Ben

Traditional Lei giving Post Graduation….Grandparents…

IMG_0736
Grandma Joan
IMG_0738
Gpa Bob and Gma Shirley
IMG_0762
Good luck Ben!!

 

Mele Kalikimaka

Great news!! (definitely worth two exclamation points) Another clean PET scan! Diagnosed in 2012 Stage 3C…Three and a half years later…2 surgeries, countless chemotherapy infusions, 25 radiation treatments and a year of maintenance. Finals are graded and it’s time to enjoy the family and a much needed relaxation time.

Mele Kalikimaka to you and yours!

Stay tuned in 2016!

From this…

IMG_0079
PET scan at Tripler Army Medical Center

to this…

IMG_0083.JPG
Shopping at Pearlridge Center-Hawaii

 

What’s Up?

A few decades ago What’s Up? was one of my favorite songs and it accompanied me on many a walk?

….”trying to get up that great big hill of hope…for a destination

I am so close to my destination! Two more maintenance treatments of Avastin left! Trying to take a breath and reflect on it all. The ubiquitous “Journey” doesn’t quite do this process full justice. It’s been three years since I heard Dr. D introduce himself as the Cancer doctor…Three years since I met the amazing nurses Jackie and Cindy.

I’ve had two surgeries, 25 radiation treatments, and countless chemo treatments (Carbo, Taxol, Taxetere, Gemzar, and Avastin). Don’t forget the two Ovarian Oncologists, one rheumatologist, one neurologist, one Radiation Oncologist, and a sprinkle of radiation from MRI’s and PET scans.  Three years since family and friends rallied around me with support in all forms to beat this nasty disease.

Today, I do wonder why I am still here when many of my “cancer” friends are not. I couldn’t come up with an answer to that question, but I know that I’m thankful for my luck. I do think my positive attitude has made a difference in my survival. I’m grateful that I have an opportunity to have time and health to do the things that matter to me.

I took that thankfulness on the road this summer with a family trip to New York.  If you look carefully in the picture below, you can see The National September 11 Memorial and Museum. The view from One World Trade Center is amazing, but you can’t help but look down at the emptiness that was once the footprint to the Twin Towers. New York City was buzzing all around us, but nestled among busy blocks is an oasis.

The view from One World Trade Center...overlooking Ground Zero
The view from One World Trade Center…overlooking Ground Zero-by Mark Sugino

What fascinated me was the story of the Survivor Tree. This is the impossible story of survival of a single tree that was crushed beneath the rubble of 9/11. This was the one and only tree from the plaza that survived. The tree was nursed back to health and is itself a story of perseverance and resilience. As a side note, it survived Hurricane Sandy as well. That is one tough tree!

Survivor Tree

The take-away lessons for me and although I am a little weathered, I keep going. The permanent issues are livable, so I live with them….and survive. My message?

  • Don’t wait till you get sick to remember what matters
  • A “can-do” attitude is a much needed prescription for any struggle
  • When you get knocked down, get back up, and then do it again. Repeat as necessary.

What are you reflecting on in your life right now?

PET SCAN-I’m Ready!

Do you remember in the early 90’s when “Take Your Daughter to Work Day” became a thing?

Today, you (and the kids) get to come with me to my PET scan and see what it’s all about! First, get to the hospital early and look for parking! (Create a parking spot in the grass on the hill.)

Tripler Army Medical Center
Tripler Army Medical Center-No Parking

Rush to get to the Nuclear Medicine Clinic-then wait!

FullSizeRender-4
Nuclear Medicine Clinic at TAMC

and wait…

FullSizeRender-4 copy 2
Waiting room fun with the kids

The day prior to the scan: Prep instructions for PET scans. Basically, no carbs, no exercise, no alcohol, no nothing. In my house, we call that a “potato” day because we just sit around and do nothing.

The morning of the PET scan. Nothing but water. Drink it from a fun mug though!

Lucy Mug
Lucy Mug from Jan E.

Fill out all the paperwork!

FullSizeRender-4
Surgeries? Radiation? Chemotherapy? Neulasta?

Check blood sugar! They ask if you’ve been fasting and this will prove it. Numbers must be between 80-200 to proceed. Whew, I passed! (No food or caffeine after midnight!)

Bloodsugar
Fasting range should be between 80-200. I passed!

Next up! Radioactive dye injection. The radioactive sugar solution will migrate to the areas of “hyper-metabolic” activity (in other words, seeing something light up is bad!)

Dyejpg
Glucose Solution of Radioactive Dye (note the nice carrying case)

I’ve already been to the chemo room to get my port accessed! I’m Ready!

FullSizeRender-4 copy 3
Port accessed and ready to go! “I’m ready.”

After the radioactive dye…more waiting…45 minutes for the dye to circulate throughout your system. (My 45 minutes turned into an hour.) 

Finally!

PET
Fancy new PET scan machine at Tripler

The whole process takes about 3 hours. The actual scan only takes about 25 minutes! Then, off to lunch!

…and wait for results!

http://www.yelp.com/biz/hale-vietnam-honolulu

Are you still doing that?

The early thrill of a new habit wears off after about a month and according to Franklin Covey only 23% of people see their resolutions to completion. Any time someone says I’m never going to do “X” again, there is a part of me that wonders how long their forever will be.  When the doctor told me that my cancer treatment could be “forever,”  I wondered the same thing.  In college we studied Greek Mythology and Sisyphus (the man doomed for all eternity to push a boulder up a hill and then watch it roll back down again).  I wonder what his attitude was. How did he feel about it? Were some days better than others? Did he have coworkers with their own rocks to push up their own hills? Did they get together on weekends to commiserate over rock pushing? Did he try to get it done first thing in the morning or procrastinate till late afternoon? How do you handle those perpetual tasks that never go away?

Get this party started!

Today marks my 9th maintenance treatment of Avastin for recurrent Ovarian Cancer. I almost can’t imagine not seeing my doctor every 3rd Tuesday and my fabulous nurses Jacqui, Cindy, and Jodi every 3rd Friday. Jacqui is even in my “favorites” in my phone contacts. It’s like making the top ten of speed-dialed numbers!

I have my own little Ground Hog Day of doctor visits and treatments.

Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 11.40.34 AM
Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell

 I have a favorite chair!

Save my spot! Heated recliner chemo chair

And my own little TV and blankie!

Watching Living 808! They have TV up in here!

I told a coworker that I would be out Friday for chemo and she said, “Are you still doing that?” The answer is yes, but I’m pushing my “rock” in style. I may not get to choose if I push my rock but I get to choose how I’ll push it! We all have some form of rocks we’re pushing, but the trick is enjoy the journey. Plus, I get to see some pretty awesome people.