Finish, Process, Prepare

Hello!

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted anything. The past few weeks have been my time to finish, process, and try to prepare as much as possible. That’s how life goes. You’re always trying to complete or finish a task at hand. You’re always trying to process your current situation, good or bad. You are always trying to prepare for the future, whether it’s known or not.

May 11, at 8 AM, I completed the last final of the sophomore year; I had four finals that week. This final was for Anatomy and Physiology: Head, Neck, and Thorax. I put hours I couldn’t even count into studying for this final and hoping for the magical 75% on the final to keep a B in the class. A 75% may seem easy, but I had a 60-something on all of my lab exams, and my lecture exams were in the 70s. The only grades that kept me at an 80.5% in the class were my intro exam, quizzes, and bonus points. In the weeks approaching my final, I was the student walking laps around campus while talking to myself to review for this final. I did every suggested study technique I could think of because I was going to achieve that grade. I went to the class to take the test with my hundreds of flash cards in hand prepared as best as possible to pass this test. When I completed it, I turned it in and walked out feeling exhausted. It wasn’t even a sense of relief. It wasn’t until the following day that I received the email that grades were posted; this was the moment of truth. At this point, I received the grades for the three other classes I took, and I got As in all three. I logged into BOLT where grades are posted and learned that I got an 84%! This was where relief set in. I just passed A&P with a B! This professor even suggested after I explained my cancer situation at the beginning of the semester, that I should drop the course as I would not have been able to handle it. Well, I just handled it. This past year has been the farthest from easy as I spent only a handful of weeks not pumping poison into me, yet I ended the year with a 3.5 GPA. Life may not be easy, but there are still accomplishments to be made.

So if anyone is following along, you may have realized from my previous post that I relapsed the week before finals week. Not the best timing of news. My oncology team pushed to discuss treatment options right away, but I decided against and to wait until after finals week. At this point I wasn’t sure what my future was going to look like. I knew I needed to focus on my academics before I scheduled anything for treatment. So an appointment was scheduled for May 11 in the afternoon to discuss my treatment options. After I completed my final, I packed up my remaining things in my apartment and sent off for home. I got home around lunch and dropped my things off at my mom’s house before heading to the front street of Harrisburg to walk and process. There were so many questions: Why me? Why now? Did I miss something? Could I have done more? Is this how my life will end? I know the last may seem dramatic, but at this point in my life, I’ve faced too many negatives and trauma that I didn’t know how much more my body could take. The time comes for everyone, whether it be age, illness, or something else. The questions previously mentioned constantly run through my mind and still do with an end that probably won’t come. I spent about 2 hours on front street until I found my car and made my way to my appointment. The options provided were previously discussed when I was first diagnosed: either some form of treatment or no treatment at all. I’ve always been and will always be a fighter, so the later option was really not an option for me. I will fight for my life. So, with the decision to continue treatment, chemo and surgery were scheduled with another PET scan and more blood work to check for any changes. The scan and blood work came back with the same results which provided some relief that it hasn’t metastasized more. With that, my “first” chemo was scheduled for this past Friday, May 18. I felt so defeated walking back into the clinic for treatment. I knew my chances of returning were high, but it’s only been about 2 months. This chemo really kicked my ass. It was the heaviest I’ve ever faced and it really took a toll on my body through this past weekend. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I know none of this will be easy. I DO know that I will fight and do everything I’m told and everything I can do to make it to the end. I will get through however many chemo treatments it takes (number isn’t set yet) and I will go through surgery next Thursday. I will constantly be trying to process all of this, but I have a wonderful support system in my life that I know will be there for me throughout this process.

With everything that I have faced (more will be discussed in the future), there is always something to prepare for, whether it’s academically, health, or life in general. You can never prepare for everything. No one knows what life will hold next. So when I say I’m preparing, I mean I’m preparing for what I know. I know I’ll have more treatment to go through. I have accepted this for what it is. I have gone through treatment before, so I have an idea of what to expect. I can mentally prepare for the toll this will take on me. I know there’s a chance I will be attending college in the fall, so I am preparing by planning my apartment and the things I’ll need to complete another year. I also know there’s a chance that I won’t be able to attend college in the fall, so I am also preparing for that by discussing my options with my advisor. I’m the President of the Student Veterans Association on campus, so I’m also preparing for that by scheduling the events and preparing the Vice President in case I can’t be there. Then there’s the filler events that I know and can prepare for like work, birthdays, and trips. There is always something in life to prepare for; it’s just never known until you get there if life allows for it to happen.

Finish, Process, Prepare

We all do these three things, whether they’re noticeable or not. And we all do things differently. Life is filled with so many ups and downs that we can’t all finish, process or prepare, but as long as you keep fighting to get through, then I think you’re doing it right.

Relapse…

I don’t know how to start this blog. My mind is running a-mile-a-minute, and I am trying to comprehend things. This is not an easy conversation, and I am flooded with emotions, so please stay with me as this will not be my best writing.

There are words that no one ever wants to hear: death, infertility, and cancer are just a few. June 1, 2017, I heard the word cancer come from my doctor. I had no clue how to take it, and I was in such shock that it took a few weeks for it to fully sink in. When it finally sank in, it hit me hard.

In the beginning, I was diagnosed with stage I ovarian cancer. After going through 2 hormone transfusions and 2 laser therapies, I was rediagnosed to stage II ovarian cancer. After receiving the new diagnosis and beginning the multiple rounds of chemo and radiation was when the reality hit me: I have cancer…

Since the final diagnosis, I have undergone 17 PICC line chemo transfusions, 10 oral chemo treatments, and 13 radiation treatments. None of it was easy. I was in pain, couldn’t eat anything and had to get an NG tube, couldn’t keep myself hydrated and became IV fluid dependent, and I felt so alone at the beginning of it.

I never had support at home, and I have always struggled trusting people. It wasn’t until halfway through my fall semester when I realized that I may not physically be able to stay the whole semester. I might have to drop out. That was when I finally started talking to people and letting them in. That decision has changed everything for the better; I now have a support system that I could not go without. They have supported me through all of my treatment and continue to stand with me.

March 30, 2018, I finally reached remission! After 43 weeks, I was in remission!

I had two weeks after the news that I struggled with acceptance of what my life now consisted of including infertility and an overly high possibility of relapse. After those two weeks, I felt myself again. I was able to eat actual food and hydrate myself with drinking water. I was getting more sleep than I did before. I was not in pain anymore. I was finally in relief from the hell I faced. These two weeks of relief were well cherished.

May 1, 2018, I received the news that I relapsed…

First of all, I am beyond livid.

Second, is this real?

I feel defeated. I am not sure there is really another word to encompass how I feel right now. I am trying to just deny it for the next two weeks to get through my finals, but how? I did everything right. I did everything I was told to do and then some. I took multiple loans out to cover extra costs of suggestions that weren’t covered by insurance. I have 10s of thousands of dollars in loans to cover everything I went through, and I relapse?! How? This isn’t right. This isn’t fair. This is not how it should be. So why is it? Were 43 weeks not enough?! What did I do to deserve this? There are so many questions that run through my head with this news, but I know that they don’t have an answer. Why now? What did I do wrong? WHY ME?!

There are all these emotions rushing through me that I don’t know how to cope with: anger, confusion, denial, and lost are a few. I need to focus on my studies because I need to do well on my finals, I just can’t get myself to focus. How can I?

There is so much more that can be said about my current situation, but I am struggling to find words to honestly describe how I feel. For now, this is all I have to say. With time, I will be in a better mental state where I can express more of my feelings and be able to better describe what I am facing. If you have any suggestions or questions, please leave a comment.

Until next time, thank you for reading.

The Journey Begins

This is something I have never done: write a blog. It was suggested by two good friends of mine to start a blog and share my story with others. So, let’s see how this goes.

I am 20 years old and am currently a college student making her way to a bachelor’s degree. At the end of my college degree, I hope to obtain my doctorate degree in Audiology. I still have some years to go for that achievement, but it is a goal nonetheless. Through this journey called life, I, like everyone else, have faced many trials and triumphs that have all been learning experiences for me. I have learned who will stay by my side and who I really am. Life is one big learning lesson; it may not all be enjoyable, but there is always something to learn.

I plan to use this blog as a way for me to talk about the trials and triumphs in my life in hopes to help myself and/or others. Some topics may lead to laughter while others may lead to tears, but I am tired of putting on a mask and acting like everything is great. Life is not always easy, and it’s not fair. We have all faced some sort of challenge in our life that made us question “why?” or “how?” and those questions don’t always get an answer. I know I don’t always want the answer, but there is always a positive that comes out of every experience.

This blog is not a means for me to complain, nor is it my way to put myself in the spotlight. I am writing this blog in hopes to help myself or someone who can relate to anything I post. It can be terrifying to say, “yes, I went through that, too, but I feel so alone.” You are not alone, and I say that because I am here, and I am sure that I am not the only one. We can get through this thing called “life” together.

So, with that being said, please feel free to follow along. I cannot guarantee a blog every week or every month as I do not know what life has in store, but I am ready to give this a shot.

Thanks for joining me!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

post