Monday, September 26, 2011

September 26

I am home, sweet home. Yesterday my white blood cell count was over 5,000, and since all of my blood work is looking good, and I am not having too many side effects, they are letting me stay at home and go back each day for labs and monitoring. It is one of the many perks of being local. I am still technically an in-patient and am just out on pass when I’m at home, because I will have to go back to stay if anything does happen. So I still have my room, which makes it really convenient when I go back in for labs each day – I just go back to my same room and tell the nurses I am there. They let me go , so last yesterday afternoon, so last night was my first sleep in my own bed in what seems like a really long time. Yesterday and Saturday, I had a completely debilitating headache, unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, but it is better today and now I am mainly just very, very tired. I haven’t yet gotten the high fever that they are still expecting, but who knows, maybe I won’t get it. They said it usually happens between day 8 and day 14 after receiving the new cells. This coming Thursday will be day 14, we shall see what happens. The fatigue is overwhelming; there’s not a lot I can do other than lay on the couch or the floor (or, of course, the bed, but I’m trying to at least stay downstairs where I can see Kai, even if I can’t take care of him or play with him as usual).  I am so thankful for our parents who have been doing just about everything for us as we get through this treatment. Jeff’s parents left on Saturday, and my mom and step-dad took over. Thank goodness for parents; I can’t imagine how we would ever be able to do this without them. While I’m not a mind reader, and as perfect as he is Kai does not yet wax philosophical, but I have to believe that allowing Kai to stick to his normal routine, at home, with his grandparents is making a world of difference for him during all of this chaos. And for that, I am thankful.
So that is my update. Nothing too exciting is happening right now. We will be going back and forth to the Clinical Center every day until my doctors are confident that I am stable. And if I experience any additional side effects, I will have to go back to stay until they pass. But for now, I am happily exhausted at home with my family, confident that my new super cells are flying around killing tumors, while the rest of my body recovers from the harshness of this treatment (that is not a criticism, it is just a fact, I am thankful for the extremes my doctors are going to to cure me and I am thankful to my body for taking it all like a champ). As I said previously, it is difficult for me to be still and rest, so I guess I am grateful that my body isn’t giving me much of a choice right now, even though my mind would like it to hurry up and recover. Although I guess that’s always the case – the mind would always like to move more quickly than possible. And patience is one of the most important lessons I am learning on this journey.
Tonight I put baby Kai to bed for the first time in weeks. He was asleep in my arms before he even finished his bottle, with his sweet little body all warm and cuddly against me. I continued to hold and rock him for longer than I should, but sleep books be damned, I miss my baby. We rocked in silence, at the end of his song, with his head resting gently on my shoulder, his arms wrapped tightly around my neck, and my arms clinging just as tightly to his warm little body. These days my tears flow more freely, but tonight as they fell they did not fall from sadness or worry or fear. They feel from an overwhelming sense of relief and gratitude that we are through the worst of this treatment, and that I am once again given the privilege of holding my baby close as he drifts off to sleep, secure in knowing that I will be here for him when he awakes. With his little chest pressed against mine, our hearts beat together to the rhythm of unconditional love, and our breath flowed in and out in perfect synchronicity as I inhaled his innocent perfection to expedite my cure.  And for that, I am thankful.
Today I am thankful for rocking chairs everywhere; I am thankful for my continued care by my fabulous doctors and nurses; I am thankful for the constant cards, e-mails, phone calls, and text messages from all of the amazing people who continue to support us; I am thankful for our wonderful MMG family and the bi-weekly, much-need and much-appreciated dinners they provide; I am thankful for my mom and Bill who have taken over our and baby Kai’s daily care; I am thankful for all of our amazing friends and family; and, as always, I am thankful for my sweet sweet Jeff whose natural loving actions remind me every second that we are true partners in this journey, and our perfect baby Kai. Every hour of pain is worth just one second of your embrace. I would gladly endure these treatments a hundred times over, for the privilege of one extra minute with you in my arms.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

September 22

Everything has been going very smoothly so far. I am severely neutrapenic, but the only thing I really feel from that is fatigue. On Sunday, Drs. Phan, Miller, and Rosenberg came into my room, all with huge smiles on their faces. They said that I was doing wonderfully and that I could go home for a few hours each day to see Kai! So Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday I spent about 5 hours at home with my baby. But on Tuesday, just about when it was time to come back, I crashed with fatigue. I was so tired I couldn’t even move for a few minutes. I’m not good at the in-between time, the time where I’m not totally incapacitated but I’m also not normal. I always try to over-extend myself during those times. Mainly because I’m stubborn, but also because when I am home I want Kai to see me acting normally. He doesn’t seem to be bothered by my new hair (or lack thereof) or that I have to wear a mask. His smiles are as big as ever and he shows me all of his new tricks – like high-fiving, crawling everywhere, feeding himself with a spoon, and imitating others’ actions. Yesterday I couldn’t go home because I needed blood transfusions, so Jeff and his parents brought Kai in to see me.  Of course he was a big hit with the doctors and nurses. It’s so great to get daily Kai snuggles; I’m sure it’s making my new cells work extra hard.
So the last few days have been pretty busy. I am on one antibiotic given IV every 6 hours, and another given IV every 12 hours, which they just changed today to every 8 hours. I had been leaving for home as soon as my noon-ish antibiotic was finished and getting back around 5:30 to start the 6:00 dose, but now the timing will be different (not as much time between medications) and I may not make it home as often. I didn’t get to go home today because one of the side effects I am having is horrible pain in my teeth. They think it is most likely from the neupogen shots they give me each day to boost my white blood cells. It works through stimulation of bone marrow and can cause bone pain, so for some reason I’m experiencing that pain my teeth. But to rule out infection or abscess, I had dental x-rays and an exam (all clear). Over the past couple of days I have had five blood transfusions: three sets of platelets and two sets of red blood cells. Before the first set of platelets I was very hesitant. The idea of someone else’s matter in my person was a bit disconcerting. Also I was afraid that my new cells might not like this other person’s platelets and it would somehow interfere with the efficacy of the treatment. But Dr. Hessman spoke with me at length and assured me that would not be the case. She said my new cells would not even notice the platelets, because by now the new cells should be traveling through tissue looking for tumors and aren’t worried about what is going on in my bloodstream. So I got over my hesitation and did what was best for my body. That was Tuesday evening. On Wednesday, Dr. Phan told me I needed another set of platelets and two units of red blood cells. Between all of that and all of the antibiotics, I was basically hooked up to the IV all day, which is why Kai came to me instead of me going to him (also I was exhausted). There are some things I can taste when given through the IV. I can always taste the saline they use to flush my line and I can always taste the benedryl. I could also taste the red blood cells.  It was a very odd sensation. It was like the back of my throat was bleeding (but it wasn’t painful, more of a warm waterfall sensation), and knowing that it was someone else’s blood made it even stranger. But after getting the blood, I felt much less tired, so it was definitely a good thing. Today I received another set of platelets. Both Dr. Miller and Dr. Hessman have said that almost everyone who gets the chemo regime that I did requires blood products at least once, and that the amount I am getting is totally normal. I get medicines and vital sign readings all through the night, but my night nurses and I have a great system going where they put me to sleep with benedryl and ativan around 10:00, then I don’t even wake up when they hang my 12:00am antibiotics or take vital signs, then I do all of my morning blood draws and vital signs around 4:30am, and then they put me right back to sleep and I wake up naturally around 8:00, just about in time to see all of my doctors on their morning rounds. It’s a good system and I have some amazingly stealthy night nurses. While I have a relatively high tolerance for pain, don’t mess with my sleep. So my nighttime healing goddesses are particularly important, and for their wonderfulnesss, I am very thankful.
I am just starting to lose my hair. I noticed it today in the shower and now on my pillow. It’s not too noticeable yet, but will be soon. Earlier in the week, I asked Dr. Miller when she thought I would lose it and she said Thursday, so she was spot on.  I might also start experiencing some side-effects from the IL-12 once my cell counts come back up (because until then I don’t have an immune system to respond to anything), including a high fever, which Dr. Miller anticipates might happen this weekend. Dr. Phan said it will probably be about 5 more days until my counts start to come up and they have to be over 1,000 for 3 days in a row (after hovering around 0.03 for a few days, they are up to 0.3 today) before I can stay at home (and just come back each day for blood draws and monitoring).
While I am so happy to get to go home and spend time with Kai, it leaves me exhausted and with almost no energy by the time I get back. The lack of posts these past days are for that reason only; the extreme fatigue. Everything is going very well and the doctors seem very pleased so far. Of course, they can’t tell if anything is working yet, but all of my lab values and vital sign readings have been perfect, so that’s what makes them happy. Dr. Miller said that it will be my second-month scan that will really be important in terms of gauging the success of the treatment. She said it can take a while for the tumors to die and for the cells to be reabsorbed into my body. The second-month scan will be in November, so I am still sure that I will be cancer free before the end of this year.
Our fabulous MMG family delivers meals to our home every Monday and Thursday. On Monday, I happened to be home when our friend/co-workers, Shani, came to deliver our meal. She also brought me a book of crossword puzzles and a card. On the card is written one of the most fittingly inspirational messages I have ever seen. It is not attributed to anyone, so I’m not sure who should get the credit for writing this, but I want to share it because, while it certainly hits home for me, I am sure it will also for many others as they stand strong while their own winds blow. My melanoma wind is making me stronger than I’ve ever been, and for that I am thankful.
A mighty wind blew night and day.
It stole the oak tree’s leaves away,
Then snapped its boughs and pulled its bark
Until the oak was tired and stark.
But still the oak tree held its ground
While other trees fell all around.
The weary wind gave up and spoke,
“How can you still be standing, Oak?”
The oak tree said, “I know that you
Can break each branch of mine in two,
Carry every leaf away,
Shake my limbs, and make me sway.
But I have roots stretched in the earth,
Growing stronger since my birth.
You’ll never touch them, for you see,
They are the deepest part of me.
Until today, I wasn’t sure
Of just how much I could endure.
But now I’ve found, with thanks to you, I’m stronger than I ever knew.”

Today I am thankful for my wind; I am thankful that everything is going so well; I am thankful for the ability to see my baby as much as possible; I am thankful for my fabulous healing goddesses who amaze me every day with their caring and support; I am thankful for a visit from my mom and Bill  on Monday and from Renee today; I am thankful for everything Jeff’s parents are doing for us while they stay with us to care for Kai and so much more; I am thankful for the continue support of our MMG family and all of the wonderful dinners they are providing; I am thankful for our fabulous family and friends who support us every minute of every day; and, as always, I am thankful for my wonderful Jeff who must be exhausted going back and forth multiple times each day in addition to caring for me and working, you deserve a vacation my love, and for my perfect baby Kai. You are my roots, the deepest part of me, and for you I can endure anything.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

September 17

I miss my baby. I miss him with a force that brings a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes when I look at his pictures. I want to run home and scoop him up and hold him tight for hours. He is crawling all over the place now (which I haven’t seen), getting into everything. Looks like we have our work cut out for us with some serious baby-proofing. He just grows so quickly and learns new things every day and thinking about not being there to see them first, makes me feel sorrier for myself than anything else related to this cancer. But it is not a pity in which I indulge for more than a few seconds, and I remind myself that I could just as easy be on a business trip or even a vacation. He is having a wonderful time with his grandparents and no part of me is worried about him. I just miss him. I miss him so very much. But I have no doubt that this treatment will be my cure and we will find out soon that the cancer is gone. In that case, we will have traded 1 year for 50, and I’ll take that swap any day.
I got my new cells on Thursday. It was a somewhat anticlimactic 20-minute IV infusion. Knowing how much care and work went into creating the cells specifically for me, I thought there should be balloons, and confetti, and “I’m a Survivor” blasting throughout the unit. So I gave my new cells that party in my head and continue to visualize them flying around in tiny fighter jets, zapping the tumors one by one. These are my warriors, my heroes, my saviors and I am just here to cheer them on. That is a strange distinction, that between body and mind. I consider my “me” to live inside my mind and it is that me that I am trying to save by curing my body. Otherwise my body is just a machine that functions automatically, with no goal or meaning or thought of any kind. So we’re working together, these two components of me – body and mind – because we depend on each other to win this fight. My body to respond to treatment, and my mind to never give up.  And I speak for all of me when I say that cancer better run and hide because we are out with a vengeance and we are pissed. And, thanks to my super bionic warrior cells, there is no place you can run where we can’t find you and defeat you. Clearly you didn’t know what you were getting yourself into when you decided to mess with me because love conquers all, and I am encased in an impenetrable shield of pure love made from thousands of hearts shining brilliant light to cheer me on.  And for that I am thankful.
Other than getting the cells, not too much is going on. We are now just waiting for my cell counts to come back up to an acceptable level so I can go home and snuggle my baby. I’m not even hooked up to the IV anymore, so that’s a nice freedom.  I can walk around the clinical center as long as I wear a mask, although I try not to leave my room too much since my cell counts are down so low (today they are 160, which is the lowest they have been so far). My dad and step-mom are coming today. I’m excited to show them this amazing Clinical Center. Its sheer size elicits admiration enough, but seeing all of the pieces/departments who work together seamlessly to save lives is truly awe-inspiring. Hopefully they will even meet Drs. Miller and Phan (since it’s a weekend, fewer doctors come to visit during the day). I really like the new Fellows, Drs. Miller (my primary doctor), Hessmen, and Stewart. In addition to being on their way to becoming brilliant oncologists, they are also fun and full of life, quick to laugh, and very easy to talk to. As much as I will always love Dr. Schaub, there is a different kind of freeness in speaking about certain side effects to a group of women. Especially since they are all just about my age, and are definitely people I would want to be friends with on the outside. So for now we are waiting, waiting, waiting. Cheering on my superhero cells and remaining unbendingly confident in my cure.
Today I am thankful for my superhero cells who are flying their little planes all throughout my body; I am thankful for the continued personal care of my phenomenal doctors and nurses; I am thankful for all the fun Kai is having with his grandparents and for all they are doing to help us; I am thankful for a visit from my dad and step-mom; I am thankful for the continued overwhelming support of our MMG family, as well as all of our family and friends; and, as always, I am thankful for my sweet Jeff who is truly my partner in this battle, and our perfect baby Kai. I cannot wait to see all of your exciting new skills, sweet baby, and most of all I cannot wait to hold you close with the knowledge that I will be here for all of the rest of your firsts.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

September 14

Today was a very exciting day. First, we took a tour of the lab where they grew my cells and even got to see my cells under the microscope. I told them we were ready for them and that I promised to fight right alongside with them. Although the science is greatly above me, it is really an amazing orchestration of cell generation and manipulation. The people in the lab have been working with my cells for months (considering they began with the original harvest from the liver biopsy and then created brand new cells from the tumor on my neck). They know my name and our story. It was really humbling to have the chance to meet them in person and see where all of the magic happens. And now my cells are sleeping peacefully, dreaming victorious dreams, and preparing to fight to the death tomorrow. I love you little cells, you are my salvation.  And for that, I am thankful.
The second exciting thing we did today was get our heads shaved.  That’s right, I said our heads. My dear, sweet, wonderful Jeff shaved his head as an act of love and solidarity. He said, “This is our cancer and this is our baldness.” If you know him, I’m sure you are not surprised; he is one of the most (the absolute most in my opinion) caring, loving, generous, loyal men you’ll ever meet. I cannot believe that I am so lucky as to be his wife. I promise you, my love, I will fight with everything I have and I will win this battle. And after I do, I will devote the rest of our long lives to ensuring you are happy and you are loved every second of every day. And for now, we will wear our baldness proudly and beautifully together. It is our badge and our shield, and it will soon be our winning trophy, for there is no doubt that this is our fight.
Other than those two fantastically exciting events, this day was uneventful. I didn’t receive any treatment today because it was the rest between the last dose of chemo (yesterday) and receiving the new cells (tomorrow). I’m feeling tired and sometimes nauseous, but otherwise great and ready to kick some cancer butt tomorrow. Tomorrow is when it all begins. Tomorrow is the first day of my cure. Dr. Yang, one of the attending physicians, told us that a woman who recently participated in this study is almost completely disease free after just one month. Just one month. That will be me too, but without the “almost.” I think that by Christmas the cancer will be gone. We will greet 2012 with overflowing gratitude, full of love, and with renewed energy to fight for others using all of the strength we gained fighting for ourselves.  It’s going to be a glorious year, of that I am sure.
Today I am thankful for my new warrior cells who are going to rush in fighting and finish this chaos; I am thankful for the brilliant scientists and doctors who created my new cells and this treatment; I am thankful for my loving healing goddesses who make each day here a joy; I am thankful for Leah and Christine who shaved our heads with dignity and made us beautiful and proud; I am thankful for the continued support of our amazing family and friends; and, as always, I am thankful more than words can say for my sweet, sweet Jeff and our perfect baby Kai. If you grow up to be half the man your father is, sweet baby, you will be quite a man indeed.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

September 13

The past few days have been a whirlwind of going back and forth between the Clinical Center and home.  Because of the toxicity of the cytoxin, I had to be on prophylactic IV bladder medication for 48 hours (and had to continue to pee every 2 hours until the medication finished). That finished at 7:00pm on Sunday and then I could go home to sleep, which was fabulous. I got to snuggle baby Kai and sleep in my own bed. I then came back to the Clinical Center on Monday late morning to receive the fludarabine and a few hours after that I could go home again for a few hours. I then came back last night to sleep because my last dose of fludarabine was at 5:00am this morning (with labs and premeds starting around 4:00am). The plan was that I would be able to go home afterwards and stay there until tomorrow evening. But plans have changed because my cell counts have started to go down (which is what they want them to do – my white blood cells need to be at zero before I get my new cells) and baby Kai has a cold. It was too risky to be home with him while he is sick and I have a decreased (on its way to zero) immune system. So here I am, back at the Clinical Center for the duration of treatment.  The good news is that the chemo is finished. It wasn’t something I would choose to do for fun, but it wasn’t as terrible as I expected. I am tired and nauseous, but otherwise doing well.  I haven’t lost my hair yet. Dr. Miller told me it will happen all at once, in one fell swoop, rather than gradually, so I’ll probably get it shaved tomorrow or Thursday so it’s less dramatic when it does happen. Tomorrow we are going to the TIL lab to visit my new cells and give them a pep talk. It will be really exciting to see the amazing facility and people who created them and to get to see them before they comprise me. I’m not sure what I’m going to say to my cells yet; I think I have to meet them first. That’s about all the news from here. I will get my new cells on Thursday around noon. In the meantime, I will just hang out here, not catching any colds. With fabulous nurses to talk to, Jeff to watch movies with, and an unending amount of side-effect medications at my disposal, it’s comfortable here and we make the best of it.
I brought some things from home to decorate my room. Mainly pictures of Kai to tape to the walls, but also pictures of Jeff and Kai in frames; a sign made and signed by everyone at MMG from last time I was getting treatment; a beautiful picture my friend/co-worker, Angelica, made me for my birthday, which reads “Girl meets boy. They fall in love. Get married. Have a perfect baby boy. Watch him get big. Grow old together. Very very old;” and pictures drawn by my cousins, Max and Grace. One of the pictures drawn by Max has my name on it across the top and the word “love” down the side. However, my name is written backwards. I’m not sure if Max is infinitely wiser than any 7-year old should be or if the backwards writing was not entirely on purpose, but either way, it’s correct. That’s what I am right now. I am Jamie backwards. And my doctors are going to turn me right-side-up and inside-out to cure me. So maybe even by Christmas, dear Max, I will be Jamie the right-way-across again. But it is taking me a lot of lessons in flexibility to get from backwards to forwards. And when I am not feeling well and I look at this picture, I remember, oh that’s right, I’m just backwards right now, but still there is love. And for that I am thankful.
Today I am thankful for the wisdom of my doctors making me stay here rather than risk catching Kai’s cold (as much as I would rather be snuggling him tight instead); I am thankful for the wonderful care he is getting from his grandparents; I am thankful for a wonderful dinner from Karen; I am thankful for the continued support of our incredible MMG family; I am thankful for our amazing family and friends; and, as always, I am thankful for my sweet sweet Jeff who carries so much of this stress and deserves so much more than I can give him right now, and our perfect baby Kai. Happy 11-month birthday little one. Next month we will be celebrating your first year, which has been the happiest year of my life.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

September 10

Today has not been as horrible as I expected. I am nauseaus and very tired, and I have to pee every two hours (they come and wake me up to do it) which adds to the tiredness.  But overall, no where near the awfulness of IL-2 and for that I am thankful. Nothing much happened today. I had my first dose of cytoxin last night at 6:45pm and my last dose just ended now and that is it for the cytoxin, thankfully. The day basically comprised getting medications for nausea and sleeping and peeing, repeat cycle. And poor Jeff has been sitting by my side the whole time. Although it wasn't as bad as I expected, I still feel very sick, but just wanted to write a quick update for today.

Today I am thankful for love. I love you my sweet Jeff.

Friday, September 9, 2011

September 9

Once more into the breach, dear friends, once more. Here we are, at the Clinical Center again, just a few hours to go until treatment begins. I arrived yesterday.  I had to stay overnight last night to be hydrated. Now we are all clear and the pharmacy will soon be notified to mix the chemotherapy. In just a few hours I will willingly, purposefully, and hopefully inject poison directly into my blood stream with the sole purpose of killing part of myself. My chemo regimen comprises two drugs, cyclophosphamide and fludarabine. Cyclophosphamide is given today and tomorrow. Fludarabine will be given for 5 days starting today. The doctors and nurses tell us that the cyclophosphamide is extremely toxic and can be difficult to handle (which is magnified by the enormous doses they will give me to make me neutrapenic so quickly), but that the fludarabine is much easier on the system. My understanding is that the cyclophosphamide kills my blood cells and fludarabine kills my bone marrow. I have a one-day break between the last dose of fludarabine and receiving my new, improved cells, and then 10 to 20 days until my cell counts return to an acceptable level. It feels like we are about to embark on an epic journey.  I have no idea what to expect other than I won’t feel well and then I’ll be cured. I am scared of the pain. I am hopeful that this will be my cure. I am thankful for this incredible treatment. And regardless of which emotion rules at any given time, I cannot go back, so therefore I go ever forward toward my cure. Smiles and tears mix together to create a serum of hope.  And the knowledge that I am about to receive such an amazing treatment at such an amazing place soothes my worries and quells the worst of my fears.
Because if its toxicity, I have to stay in the Clinical Center while receiving the cyclophosphamide and for 24 hours after the last dose.  I also have to pee every 2 hours around the clock while I’m here because it is possible for “waste” chemo to accumulate in my bladder and cause it to shut down forever (possible, but extremely unlikely). Doesn’t sound like fun – being sick and having to get up every 2 hours, but I have a baby and I am used to sleep deprivation so I’m sure I’ll get through it just fine (and either way, I have no choice so I will sleep soundly after I am victorious).  So, whatever, it’s only 3 days and I have endured more than that through the IL-2 treatment. Because the fludarabine is well-tolerated, I will most likely be able to go home to stay during the remaining 3 days before I get my new cells, which is fabulous because I’ll be with Kai. I’ll have to come back every day to receive the fludarabine and be monitored, but I can sleep at home with my husband and my baby. I have no idea how long I’ll be here after I receive the cells, but hopefully I’ll be able to go back and forth from here and home at some point during recovery. Dr. Miller said I will lose my hair around the same time I receive my new cells and she will shave my head then. I’m okay with losing my hair. It’s become thin and gross anyway, so now I get a re-do and hopefully it will come back better than ever. My mother-in-law and her friend made me a cache of beautiful head scarves, and a good friend from work lent me some from her recent victory over breast cancer. I also bought a wig for special occasions, which is straight (rather than my normally curly hair) and I’m somewhat excited to have “hair” I can brush (my curly-haired sisters know what I mean by that I am sure). So that’s what I know and that’s all that I know. I feel like I’m about to jump off of a cliff into a void that is swarming with possibilities. I will try my best to let the pain whoosh past quickly as I fall directly into the rest of my long, glorious life.
The doctors just came to see me and tell me that we will soon get started. Dr. Rosenberg said, “We have terrific cells for you.” And they all admired the 13 pictures of baby Kai that are hung across my wall where I can see them from my bed.  I know they are doing everything they can to cure me. I know they have a personal stake in my cure. I know that I am in the best possible hands.  So I embrace the pain with one look at Kai’s smiling face, and I look forward to being made of superhero cells.
We recently had the privilege of meeting a fellow Melanoma Warrior (in fact that is what the T-shirt he was wearing said) and his fabulous family a couple of weeks ago. He, Jake, was coming to NCI to screen for a study and has since been accept into the TIL study, which he will probably be starting just as I am finishing (you can read his story at Jake and his family (his wife, son, and daughter) came to our house for dinner while they were here and we had a great time getting to know them and their journey. Like me, I have no doubt that Jake will be cured and that this is just a mind-opening bump in the road for him too. While we were eating, Jake asked me if I speak with many others with melanoma, and I told him that I don’t really, especially in the beginning, but that I’m starting to do more now. Later that night, I was thinking about my response and why it was true and I realized something extremely important. At that moment I realized that somewhere along the road, I have stopped feeling sorry for my cancer brothers and sisters. I have stopped pitying them (us) and feeling sad when I see them. Instead I have an incredible respect for their bravery, their strength, and their will. I will never again feel sorry for fighters of cancer. They, and their loved ones, are the strongest people I know. They have looked their own mortality in the face and have told it to go F itself.  They have endured more emotional and physical pain than most people can imagine. They have been poisoned, and mutilated, and burned by choice. They fight, and scream, and claw their way to the light. And they come out grateful and full of life. I am honored to count myself among their ranks and they would be my first pick for any team.
I will try my very best to blog each day of this treatment. I have no real idea of what to expect, so I’ll write it as it comes. I will use all of the love we are given as my shield and I will spear my tumors one by one until they are gone forever. No matter what happens during this treatment, I can take it and I will come out better for it. And for that I am thankful.
Today I am thankful for the treatment I am about to begin, which will be my cure; I am thankful for my loving nurses and expert doctors; I am thankful for my fabulous in-laws who are taking care of Kai while we are at the hospital; I am thankful for our amazing MMG family who has begun again their incredible circle of support; I am thankful for our extraordinary friends and family who reach out to us daily to offer love and hope; and I am thankful most of all for my wonderful Jeff who sits by me and feels my (and his own) pain every second, and for our perfect baby Kai. I miss you with a pain that brings tears to my eyes. I love you more than I could have ever imagined. I promise I will win for you, my baby, my love, my soul, my life.