When my hot flashes were actually fevers…..

So i got married on July 26th and didn’t go on a honeymoon (mistake number 1) and went back to work on the 29th. As a physician in the ER, i see patients with a myriad of complaints, most commonly back pain, cough, shortness of breath, and chest pain. Well, somewhere over the first day or two of my work week, someone coughed on me (at least that is what i’m thinking).

By Thursday (Aug 1), i had body aches and muscle soreness and thought that i was just struggling getting back into an Orange Theory routine and was sore from working out (mistake number 2). I continued to work out and went to bed early the next couple of nights. Then Saturday (Aug 3), i developed right sided chest pain, worse when i took a breath in. And i was still having body aches and pains. And at night i would cough (not a big deal) and would be hot and then cold, which i thought were just the joys of my new menopause (mistake number 3). I continued to have the chest pain on Sunday while at work and decided that i had a Pulmonary Embolism (blood clot).

I already had a CT scan set up on Monday, the 5th, from my oncologist to look to see if there was any metastatic disease that had occurred while i was getting treatment. After the scan was done, i asked them if i could take a look at it.

My pneumonia

So there it is in all its glory (this is just one picture, and it is a bit larger than it looks in this picture). Oh, and for those of you who are not radiologists or pulmonologists or trained to read CT scans, you are looking at a slice of the thorax. The black is air, the heart is in the middle, and on the left side of the screen, there is my pneumonia in my right lung. The CT scan is read opposite of real life, so when you look at the picture and it looks like the pneumonia is on the left side, that is actually the right side. Picture a person laying in front of you, with their head up top and their feet closest to you) and you start slicing them like bread. When you look at them, what you are seeing on the left side, is actually THE PATIENT’S RIGHT SIDE. Make sense?

So i have a pneumonia. Not a blood clot. Not cancer in my lungs. Just an infection, which by the way, is easy to treat. 5 days of antibiotics. In hindsight, my body aches and fevers (not hot flashes) should have triggered me to think i might have had an infection. And my chest pain was actually pleursy, also from the infection. But now i know and have a plan for treatment and will most likely get an xray prior to surgery to make sure it is gone.

Isn’t cancer a wild ride?

One Week Anniversary

I have not done a good job keeping up with updates. I am sorry. I was busy with work. And then went on vacation. And then got married. And now i have been married for a whole week. People ask “how is married life?” And i tell them, that it is exactly like non-married life, except we are now married and not living in sin. 🙂

Carson and i were married on July 26th, which was our 5 year anniversary of meeting on Tinder. Yes, we met on Tinder. We both swiped right and talked that night (he was walking home from the bar after being dumped by not one, but two girls….he was dating both, and i was working overnight at the VA and it was slow), only to set up a date on July 31st at Edmund’s Oast. That night we ordered WAY too much food, had some good drinks, and made out in the parking lot. Classy, i know.

Fast forward almost 5 years later to February 2019, when we got engaged while on vacation in Mexico. Our plan then was to get married the following February at my parents house, having a large brunch reception for friends and family afterwards. We all know that my diagnosis changed those plans a little, as February 2020 would put me right in the middle of chemotherapy and i did NOT want to be a bald bride. We toyed with the idea of getting married at the courthouse but it seemed too impersonal for me. So we decided to get married on the 26th of this month, on our 5 year anniversary, surrounded by immediate family and loved ones. We were already going to be on vacation with his family, and my family (parents, sister, and brother and his wife and their two kids) came up for the celebration. And our good friends Duane and Lisa Price married us- DP got ordained on the internet and Lisa already had her South Carolina notary (DP likes to say he is “Holy AF” haha).

My life has felt like a roller coaster over the past three months, with dips and hills and flips, all while dealing with the emotional side effects of being diagnosed with cancer (and thinking i might die) and then starting treatment with radiation and xeloda. I am now currently awaiting surgery and my body is healing from the previous 6 weeks of treatment. However, on my wedding day, my rollercoaster ride stopped at the top of the hill and allowed me to view everything around me and enjoy. I was happy and carefree and married the love of my life- and not once during that day did i think about cancer. It was a perfect day.

I wanted to share these wedding pictures with y’all. I hope you enjoy them and can see/feel the love we shared that day.

My 1/2 birthday

Today i am 40 and a 1/2 years old. I usually celebrate my half birthday, as it was a tradition in our family when we were kids. But i actually didn’t realize it was my half birthday until i looked at my Facebook memories and saw that 11 years ago i announced that i was 29 1/2 years old, and 10 years ago i announced that i was 30 1/2 years old. Ahhh, to be young again. 🙂

And now today i’m 40 and a 1/2 years old. And i have cancer. That is all that i can think about now.

I know i will make it to 41 and then 41 and a 1/2 and so on and so forth, but my perspective is different. Unfortunately cancer makes you worry that you wont see those years. I do have my fears but most of them are irrational and i have to be talked down from a ledge that i shouldn’t be on in the first place. Carson has been a source of strength and tolerance/patience that i don’t always feel like i deserve….i go down this rabbit hole of “doom and gloom” and have to be pulled out.

Anyway, today i’m 40 and a 1/2 years old. I am fortunate to be here. I am looking forward to many many years of celebrating 1/2 birthdays in the future.

28/28

Today was my last day of radiation.

28 days of burning my tumor and lymph nodes (in the most simple of terms) and also taking oral chemotherapy twice a day.

The last treatment turned out to be pretty uneventful but also didn’t go as planned at the same time. I am dehydrated (GI issues) and my bladder wasn’t full, so treatment was delayed while i chugged water. And once i did that, i climbed on that table for my last time (106 seconds), and then it was over and i was done. I got a certificate of completion (which i will hang on my fridge), hugged my radiation therapist girls (who have been a wonderful source of encouragement and laughter), and walked out. In my own stubborn style, i refused to ring the bell. 😜

I am thankful for my family and friends, who have been an ever constant support over the past six weeks. I am thankful for the hospital staff, the radiation therapists and my physician who came up with my treatment plan. This was the first big hurdle i had to overcome with this cancer diagnosis. But it is not the last.

I now have 8 weeks of “rest” while my body recovers from radiation and then the next step is surgery on September 3rd. From now until then, i will be working on getting my body back to normal and being as healthy as possible.

Thank you for accompanying me on this journey and for your continued thoughts and prayers. 💙

Two. More. Treatments.

I know it has been a bit since i last posted.

Nothing really has been happening. I’ve been working. Working out. And sleeping. A lot. Radiation makes me really tired and i have found that a new bedtime of 9:30 pm is glorious….and also makes me feel like an 80 year old lady.

Today’s radiation treatment (and the next two days) are considered “booster” days. This means that while previously the radiation was focused at all of my tumor and the area around it, including my lymph nodes that look cancerous, the booster treatment is just aimed at the tumor itself. So a smaller area. Basically clean up of the area. The length of treatment is the same (106 seconds) but the field of treatment is smaller. It means we have come to an end.

I cannot believe that i have gone through 26 treatments. It has flown by but also has gone by slowly. I can’t really explain it except to say that life moves quickly (how is it even July?!?!) but sometimes when things are stressful like this, it feels like it is dragging by. This morning i woke up and wished that my diagnosis on May 8th was just a dream (well, nightmare). But that isn’t the case. Instead of being a normal 40 year old with a kid and dogs and a fiancee and a career, i’m a cancer-ass-kicking 40 year old with a kid and dogs and a fiancee and a career. 😉

Also, let me take a second to remind people to get their bums checked! 45 is the age to now get a screening colonoscopy (unless there is a colorectal cancer family history). Don’t wait like i did!!

I’m late for Father’s Day!

Wanted to write quickly to say that i hope all the fathers out there had a wonderful Father’s Day.

I was able to have brunch with Carson and his girls that morning. We went to Rutledge Cab Company and unfortunately didn’t see Bill Murray (he is a co-owner of the restaurant).

Carson has been an amazing and supportive fiancée. He’s always been calm and understanding (very opposite of me) and i hate that we are starting out our marriage with this diagnosis hanging over our heads. But it has brought us closer (funny how that happens) and I’m thankful that he is walking this path with me.

And that evening i was able to have dinner with my parents.

My father is an amazing, God fearing, man. He taught me the value of hard work at a young age (he use to bring me to the hospital before church on Sundays while he did rounds). He has been a pillar of support and encouragement throughout my life. And now, while trying to find a balance between a father and a surgeon and daughter and physician, our relationship has grown and i am so thankful that we have grown closer (despite a cancer diagnosis).

And let’s not forget Tiberius, as he has been the man in my life for the past 11 years. And he did father six puppies, so he is celebrated on Father’s Day too.

Tiberius is my sweet old man. I got him as a present for my ex-husband 11 years ago and he was meant to be a hunting dog. Well, how many times do you think he has been hunting? ZERO! He’s been a momma’s boy from day one. He’s been my steadfast love and although he can be grouchy in his old age, he unconditionally loves me. 💙

In other news, I’m done with 16/28 radiation treatments. Not much new to report from that standpoint. I still have some nausea and now some GI distress. But I’m keeping hydrated and taking care of myself as much as possible. They say this is the easy part. Let’s hope it stays that way!!