5 Years Is Like Being Crowned Miss America
and then giving the hodge the finger!
Wow. What a difference 5 years makes. Today marks my 5 year chemo-versary, and Flag Day for any of those of you looking at the calendar. Yes, 5 years ago, on June 14, 2007 I finished 6 months of ABVD and officially called cancer my BITCH! This is the only real day I get to celebrate, because I unfortunately never had an official remission date. But hell yeah, I'll take 5 years under my belt.
Just writing this, it feels like it was yesterday I was bringing in cupcakes and celebrating with my nurses the joyus occassion of putting the chemo battle behind me. I actually had to look at my blog to remember if it was 4 or 5 years ago that I finished... because to me, it was yesterday!
Thankfully, I'm happy to report that I am no longer a frequent lurker of the Hodge message boards, nor do I spend the majority of my day reading cancer blogs - or even posting on mine. I think of it as more like 4 times a year for Chemopalooza and I'm a-okay with that!
Just think about it, 5 years ago I coined the term "Chemopalooza" and before I made my website purchase, I scoured the web and found only 1 weird reference to do with a football team. Now, go give it a whirl, you'll find 160+ results. Yes, some are my blog, but I'm happy to report just on the first results page, I found someone throwing themselves a pre-chemopalooza party! Who's a trendsetter? This girl!
Anywho, thank you to everyone who was there for me during my battle. I think and reflect on those that didn't make it as far as me, and think of them often.
Thank you for checkin' in on me and rooting for me to still be alive and kickin'!
When I was battling The dreaded Hodge 5 years ago... hiding under the covers miserable looking for people on the Internet experiencing the same things I was, I stumbled across the most hilarious blog name ever... the title was, "I'm Not An Asshole Surgically Speaking."
The blog was owned by a saucy young woman named Becca Babcock who was struggling to pay her doctor bills and beat Colorectal cancer, live life and was just two years older than me. Once I read that blog title I knew we had to be cancer pals, afterall, if you don't have funny during cancer, the battle is so much harder. Dealing with the difficult side effects of Colorectal cancer is no easy feat, yet, Becca always tried to find the humor in life.
Here's a blurb I just found on her blog from 2008:
I love to laugh. Despite all my dry deadpan wit and sarcasm, I love goofy things. I would much rather see a comedy than a drama. And we all know (well, maybe we don't but we should) that laughter sure does help get through a tough time.
Pretty much sums things up, huh?
Unfortunately, after several years battling Colorectal cancer, Becca passed away this weekend. It truly breaks my heart when people like her pass away to stupid, lame, annoying and miserable cancer. Becca's humor definitely helped me find strength during my own battle with cancer. While we never met in person, I honestly counted her as one of my friends. We're a strong bunch, us warriors. It's a bond like nothing else.
I'll leave you with this amazingly inspiring photo her friends have been posting on Facebook this week. She was part of a colon cancer (Colondar) calendar to raise money and awareness.
Also, I found this inspiring video update from her last year. Quite touching.
Wow. It's been six months since my last post. I'm beyond overdue, yet not really at all. I mean, let's face it, if cancer reared it's ugly head again, there would be bountiful updates... but since it hasn't, it's really a good thing that I haven't posted.
This December actually marks 5 years since diagnosis. It's funny how some people remember and even celebrate certain dates. Some celebrate remission, some celebrate the last day of their chemo hell, some reflect on their diagnosis day... and of course, some are still battling the beast. For me, there was really never a calendar day that I remembered being told I was in remission. Finding out I had cancer and finishing chemo were two milestones -- err um something. They are two specific dates that don't seem to leave my brain. As I'm typing this up, I'm realizing I'm two days away from my five year diagnosis. It's weird how similar my life is to five years ago. Like eerily similar. I'm back working at a PR firm, doing the hussle bussle thing. Keeping suuuuper busy in my personal life too... happy as can be... I'm almost waiting for the other shoe to drop. But I it won't and can't. I'm hauling ass to June 14 2012, the official 5 year mark... or at least what I'm going to focus on and strive for. Perhaps I should start planning a party or a trip or something for it. Yes, I think something is in order.
It's sad, I'm slowly losing touch with my hodge friends. I mean, it's to be expected. But it's so sad how life gets in the way of keeping touch and remembering cancer. I still think about it daily. It shapes who I am. I wonder when that daily will be weekly, then monthly and then... I've come a long way from being bedridden and miserable and staying at my parents house because I didn't even want to leave to grocery shop. My hair is curlier, but still pretty close to its normal orignial state. My hodge homeys will always be part of me, just a more distant part from time to time.
Well this blog didn't go as deep as I planned. I have a little writers block or something... still it was a necessary update and slightly cathartic as always :)
Last night, I was out with some friends. Someone asked me how the hodge was treating me -- or in my case, not fucking with me ;) And all of a sudden, I pulled out my cell phone and looked at the calendar... a couple days from June 14. What's June 14th? Well, it's Flag Day, my friends. What else is it? It's the day I like to celebrate beating cancer since it was my last chemo treatment, ever.
This will be the fourth year. I finished treatment back in 2007. It seems as the years get further away, I almost forget dates of things. Yet, I still think of the hodge, and how I've changed since then. Usually daily I remember something about that dark time in my life, and think, what a huge feat, and I did it. I won.
Yet, four years later, I often wonder.... should I have dramatically changed my life? Afterall, some people I know weren't so lucky.
I didn't change much about myself from a physical stand point. In fact, I actually put on a few, taunting, post-chemo pounds. But I didn't pick up and travel the world. In fact, I'm still trying to dig out of chemo debt and haven't been able to afford much of a different lifestyle.
I'd like to think from an internal perspective, I've changed. I have a different view of life that I didn't have before. My fearlessness has dwindled a bit, however. My humbleness and compassion has grown. I don't know if that's a win-win or not.
I recently started reading this book, and the writer talked about how she was happy with her life, but always wondered, is this it? Or is there more to my life other than the monotonous of everyday. I often wonder those same things every day. Am I just here to be the person I am today, or do I have some bigger purpose that I haven't realized yet? I think it's kind of like the childhood thoughts of there being one person, a soul mate, waiting in the world for you, and your goal is to find them. Yes, I secretly think like that, but haven't found said person in my 28 years. Is there some special purpose I was put on this earth for? Or just monotony? Of course, I'm still figuring things out.
Anywho, think of me on Tuesday and don your anti-chemo flags, folks.
Let's face it, cancer is expensive and being out of work while battling it is even more expensive.
I recently met a friend of a friend that is battling the dreaded hodge. A few years back I gathered financial assistance details only to find out now that some of the info is out of date now. If you know of a helpful resource page, please let me know, of just leave comments of good financial assistance resources :)
I often get emails from people in the cancer industry - PR firms, analysts, pseudo doctors trying to sell me crap, people trying to get me to review a book on breast cancer (which I never had), etc. etc.
Like many people in the cancer community, I really do want to help people. Afterall, I beat the hodge, I get it. And of course I volunteered for a year talking with cancer patients. But now, I work full-time (and then some) and have other things on my plate.
Good News: If you're dealing with the hodge and you've got questions for me, I'm happy to help! If you just want to tell me my blog inspired you or helped you through a difficult time - email me, I'd love to hear that!
Bad News: But... if you want me to help your client, I probably don't have the time or interest to help (unless you're offering a paying job, of course). I rarely blog on here anymore, and it's tough to respond to every PR pitch I recieve, let along follow their requests.
So please please please, NO PR pitches on Chemopalooza. I work in PR, I get the need for media coverage, but that's not what my blog is about - at all. I list a ton of great resources on here to help patients and medical professionals navigate the cancer interwebs, use 'em!
My buddy Ry Ry has become quite the photog over the past couple years since we both beat The Hodge (aka Hodgkin's Lymphoma). In whatever he does, he always shares proceeds with a great charity. This year he came out with a calendar of Boudoir Pinups and all proceeds go to one of my favorite charities - the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society!
I found this while I was searching for funny birthday cards for a co-worker today and had to share! I know, I need a lamb intervention! My mom event bought me Noah's Arch cookie cutters for Christmas, mostly because they came with a lamb! :)
One of the things I love about the holiday season is everyone's caring nature. One thing I dread, is everyone's greed. I'm old now, okay I'm not that old. But I don't need presents to feel loved. I'd prefer kind gestures and friendship and doing nice things for others. It goes much further than some gift that I probably didn't need anyways.
My parents are great, and the past couple holidays they've gotten me extravagant gifts that I couldn't afford on my own. Last year was a wonderful television that I love, but wouldn't have bought myself because, I'm cheap. Now that I'm paying for my new car this year, money is even tighter and I'm trying to be creative with gifts - eventhough the few people I buy gifts for have everything they need.
Although I don't have the money to donate to struggling non-profits, I have volunteered my time and I hope that's enough. Remember folks, it's not about how much you spend, but how you treat others. Pay it forward and try to avoid your greed this holiday season and instead think of something nice to do for someone.
I'm sitting home with some free time and my laptop open. Perfect time to catch up on my blog a bit. I just went through some comments that had been stuck in my spam filter dating back to August. I had saved one comment that I had meant to follow up on but never had time to actually call the person that left it. Yes, that's right, he left his phone number. He stated that he was a doctor and that he could help me cure my cancer by changing my diet, not letting me take drugs or radiation. Funny thing is, I haven't had cancer in years. Nearly 4 years to be exact. Of course, this guy didn't read that here, or anything about me. I had multiple comments from him which I deleted so you guys wouldn't get sucked in.
I understand that there really are good people out there that want to help others. That's great! I wish there were more people like that. On many occassions, I have been that person, emailing with people struggling with the hodge and stumbling across my blog and I am happy to. But there are also people that are sneaky and out to potentially scam people. After our 11 minute phone conversation, I wasn't convinced this guy was an actual doctor or looking to help cancer patients, he seemed instead interested in possiblly preying on the weak, and uneducated, which I am neither. And to top it off, I Googled him and just found random comments of his, including ones that had been deleted by webmasters for my same concerns.
Trust your instincts, folks. Beware of people that will prey on your weak and hopeless feelings.
If you're new to this page, you might want to start by reading My Story
My chemo countdown was completed on June 14, 2007.
I've still got some spots on my chest, but have been it's just thymic rebound. On October 25, 2007 I was told that I'm officially in Remission.
My next scans are scheduled for NEVER! I'm done with scans! Only on the yearly blood work program!
Suck it cancer!
Welcome to Chemopalooza!
Hi Everyone. I hope you enjoy reading my rants, raves and lunacy about living with Hodgkins Lymphoma. I was diagnosed on December 21, 2006 and did 6 months of ABVD. I still try to update this site on a regular basis so keep checking for updates. And I love reading your comments, so keep them coming!