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!!

1/2 way done with radiation!

Today i am 1/2 way done!

I have had 14 of 28 radiation treatments for my colorectal cancer. So strange because i feel like it is flying by but also taking forever to complete.

I am doing Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) which is a high precision radiotherapy that delivers a precise radiation doses to my tumor. IMRT also allows higher doses of radiation focused on the tumor while minimizing the dose to the surrounding normal structures (although it is inevitable that i will be put into menopause because of the location and the fact that my ovaries are right there too- so yay me 😐).

Each treatment lasts 106 seconds (yes, i count each day) and that is it. It is important for me to count each day because i know I’m 106 seconds closer to the finish line (for this part at least). So i have had 1484 seconds of radiation since starting. After today, i have another 1484 seconds to go. Doesn’t seem like a lot of time in the long run.

Also to update everyone, I’m doing ok. I am a bit more tired but that is to be expected. I am enjoying the days where i can sleep in (usually til 7:30 which is late for me) but i also like getting up early and going to Orange Theory to work out before i go to radiation and then work. I’m trying to stay as active as possible because i know that will help my recovery from surgery. I have no radiation burns (yay!) but i do have some pain in my lower back/bum from the radiation but it is manageable. So when i say I’m ok, i am really ok!

Thank you to everyone checking on me and sending me prayers. It is much appreciated. 💙

I waited….you shouldn’t

So i’m going to be honest about my diagnosis, which is really hard to do because this is the thing that crushes me when it comes to my cancer story. But if me being honest helps ONE person, then there is a reason why i am going through this.

I had colorectal cancer symptoms for over two years.

There it is. I shook my head as i wrote that. I also can see people’s eyes when i tell them that. And i hear “Oh Lara….” when i say it. I had symptoms for over two years. And i didn’t go to my doctor about it. Because why would a young, healthy DOCTOR believe she had cancer. I thought i was stressed. I thought i had IBS. Cancer was not a thought in my mind.

I started having blood in my stool (very little) when i was studying for an exam 2.5 years ago. I was stressed out to the max and figured it was that. Then the blood went away once i finished studying and life was normal. See, it was the stress (that’s what i told myself). The blood came back a couple months later but was very little and then it was gone again. I never had constipation or pain and being a physician, we see blood in stool ALL THE TIME. Guess what it usually is? Not cancer. And so my symptoms went on like that for two years, but got a little worse over the past holiday season. So when i saw my PCP this February i told her and she urged me to get a colonoscopy.

I sometimes go down the path of “what if i had gone earlier?” What stage would i be? Or if had gone right when it started, would it just have been a pre-cancerous polyp that was removed? And alternatively, what if i waited even longer? I was (well still am) a busy physician who felt like i didn’t have the time to take TWO days off for a colonoscopy. My life would be so different when i think about all of these things. But i cannot dwell on that part. I cannot change my past and can only control my future. So here i am, battling Stage 3 cancer, for better or for worse.

So i’m once again sharing symptoms because Colorectal cancer (cancer in the colon or rectum) first develops with few, if any, symptoms. Please be proactive and talk to your doctor and don’t wait like i did. If symptoms are present, they may include:

  1. A Change in Bowel Habits, including diarrhea, constipation, a change in the consistency of your stool or finding your stools are narrower than usual
  2. Persistent Abdominal Discomfort, such as cramps, gas, or pain and/or feeling full, bloated or that your bowel does not empty completely
  3. Rectal Bleeding- finding blood (either bright red or very dark) in your stool
  4. Weakness or Fatigue- can also accompany losing weight for no known reason, nausea or vomiting

Additionally, the American Cancer Society recently recommended that adults without a family history should begin colorectal cancer screening at age 45. This is a change as of this year- it use to be 50, so take note!

Thankful

I just wanted to come on here quickly and let y’all know what i am thankful for at this moment.

1st- i’m thankful it is the weekend and i’m getting a break from chemo and radiation. It really is draining and although it is daunting that i am only on radiation 9/28, i know i can make it through this part.

2nd- i’m thankful for people continuing to ask how i am and if i need anything. Right now i don’t need anything except prayers….i’m sure that will change and it will shock y’all when i actually have something that i need someone to do. But for now, i’m ok.

3rd- i’m thankful for my work family at the VA. They give me hugs when they see me, they offer to see patients for me (which i totally am capable of doing but they are trying to make me REST), and they have rallied around me and some are offering to transfer some of their time off to my time off when i have surgery and undergo IV chemo. I’m so humbled by this action and would have never asked for them to do this, but appreciate it more than they know. Oh- and the rumor going around the hospital is that i have PANCREATIC cancer. I laughed when i heard this and said that i was not Alex Trabek and politely told them that i had colorectal cancer. 😉

4th-i’m thankful for my family- my rocks, my support, my steadfast loves. I would not be able to make it on this journey without them.

What are YOU thankful for?

My 7th day of treatment

I’m about to head to Hollings Cancer Center for my 7th radiation treatment. Today i am officially 1/4th of the way through treatment.

I really don’t have much to say today. I’m on a long stretch of work days so i’m approaching the next two weeks as a marathon and not a sprint. I actually feel ok. That is what i am saying a lot. “Ok.” I feel a little different- maybe a little (more) tired than normal, a little nauseated (but i take medication and it is totally fine), and my backside, where the radiation beam is pointed directly, is getting more sore. I’ve bought bottles and bottles of Aquaphore to help with skin changes. And I’m trying to keep life as normal as possible…..i’m working, working out, binge watching (re-watching) Big Little Lies and Handmaids Tail to prepare for the upcoming seasons, and doing some wedding planning.

Oh yeah, I’m getting married in 51 days! July 26th, 2019 is the big day. July 26th is actually the 5 year anniversary of our first date, and we will be on vacation with Carson’s family in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina that week, so we just decided to go ahead and do it. Also, to be completely honest, our previous wedding date (02/22/20) is right in the middle of my 6 months of chemo and i really really really didn’t want to be a bald bride. Hahaha. So on July 26th, while standing on the dock at our rental beach house, in front of our families and my best friend and her family, our sweet friends Lisa and Duane Price, will marry us in a quiet ceremony. Trust me, i really wanted to have a large party/reception for my family and friends and co-workers but all of that is being put on hold. Maybe next year when i’m done with treatment we can celebrate being done and our marriage, and have the reception we wanted to host….i wanted a brunch reception…..mimosas, bloody marys, chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits…it would have been glorious. But that will be for another time. And a honeymoon will have to be next year as well, but that is ok too.

Ok, i need to get ready to head to treatment. Hope everyone has a wonderful day!

Mini Vacation

This weekend is a rare weekend where Carson and i didn’t have anything to do. I didn’t have to work either of my jobs and he didn’t have his girls, so we decided to take a road trip. And this might be my last weekend where i can tolerate sitting for longer than a hour (damn you radiation to my butt)!

We ended up driving 2 hours down the road to a cute little beach town, Hilton Head, South Carolina. And before you ask, yes i know we went to the beach when we already live at the beach. But while we are here, we are staying at a lovely resort, enjoying a lot of time by the pool on lounge chairs, and the best part is that we don’t have day to day responsibilities (like getting up early to feed the dogs- which reminds me, THANK YOU Beth for staying with the dogs, especially when Sam doesn’t behave😜). It is like a mini-Mexico vacation….except no all day mimosas since i can’t drink while on chemo. Well, they say one drink a week which is really just a tease.

Radiation and oral chemo are Monday through Friday so i get a little bit of a break this weekend. And a break from the nausea from the oral chemo is definitely welcome. The nausea isn’t bad but it is pretty constant (nagging). Hopefully it won’t be there the entire time of treatment. And for those who are asking, yes, i am still trying to do Keto/low carb throughout all of this. My plan is to incorporate more fruits and veggies but still stay low carb. This is one reason why:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5842847/

And now for fun pictures of the weekend!

We have enjoyed walks on the beach, relaxing by the pool, mini golf (my fav) and lots of food, including ONE margarita!!

Our plan for today is to climb the lighthouse, have some brunch, and then head back to Charleston- stopping if we find something interesting.

It’s been a fun, relaxing, and much needed time away from the “real world.”