Ummm because I kicked cancer's ass!
What Kind Of Cancer Did You Have?
I had Stage 3B Cervical Cancer. I received my diagnosis in February 2007 at 28 years old.
Where Did you Receive Treatment?
Do You Still Have Cancer?
NO! I am now cancer free! I really did Kick Cancer's @ss. Only 5 months after diagnosis I was totally cancer free. The doctors were pleasantly surprised.
What Treatment Did You Receive?
Chemotherapy (Cisplatin), External Radiation & Internal Radiation (Brachytherapy)
What Are You Doing Now?
Finishing up law school. I came back only months after my treatments ended. Its been a year and a half and I will be graduating December 2008. I also started an online coffee shop with my boyfriend, Get The Bean. We sell coffee, tea, chai etc...and raise money through Get The Bean to fight cancer.
Why Did You Start This Blog?
So many reasons! First I started it for therapeutic reasons. My insurance company dropped me the minute they found out I had cancer. I was too busy fighting for my life to fight for insurance. Because I returned to South Florida to finish my degree that meant I would be away from the Cancer Institute and without the ability to have health care access. Because of this I decided to create my own therapy through blogging.
Second, I wanted to create a safe haven for others like me, battling against cancer. I felt so alone when I fought. Yes I was surrounded by many family and friends but they couldn't answer all my questions or even begin to understand what I was experiencing. I searched online for others like me but found no one. This blog has only been existence since July 08 and have since received numerous emails from others who found me, thanking me for creating this blog and giving them a place where they could find themselves.
Third, I also wanted to share my experience with others so they could understand the devastation that is cancer. I never imagined this could happen to me, but it did. I think its important for everyone to understand what cancer is and what it does to those touched by it. Many who fight cancer do not want to talk about it, I don't blame them. However, I believe this happened to me for a reason, so that I could be a voice for the many who suffer.
Are You Done With Treatments?
Not really. Yes I am cancer free but there was permanent damage which means I need constant surgeries. My tumor crushed my ureters causing my kidney to rip. I had nephrostomy tubes placed for several months but eventually they were removed. Then I had stents placed and those need to be changed out every three months. That means I fly up to Massachusettes, go under general anestheisa and have the stents removed and replaced. It is difficult to lead a "normal" life like this and I am hoping things will eventually change.A Loved One of Mine Has Cancer Should I Send Something?
To Send or Not to Send……the answer is SEND! This is a very emotional topic for me, probably the most. When I arrived at Dana Farber I started to get very sad. I was away from all my friends, in a hospital room and afraid. At first I got lots of cards, flowers, stuffed animals etc…I distinctly remember thinking to myself, “everyone is sending things now but I know in a month the cards, flowers, gifts will stop and everyone will have forgotten about me” This made me so sad. I felt as though by being absent everyone would forget about me. I WAS WRONG! During my four months of treatment I received at least one card, package or flower delivery a day. This truly was what allowed me to make it through a horrible experience. I felt so loved, missed and inspired. I fought hard against cancer because I knew I would be missed and I felt I owed it to everyone who was supporting me to fight and live!! Each card & gift brought a smile to my face, something that was rare during my treatments. The only time I felt warmth in my heart was when I opened a package or card. It had very little to do with what I got but rather the escape from focusing on cancer & the knowledge that so many people were routing for me.A Loved One of Mine Has Cancer What Should I Avoid Doing?
- Doing Nothing. Whatever you do DO NOT do nothing! I was very aware of what family and friends never sent cards, packages, flowers etc...It hurt! Sorry if I hurt anyone feelings by saying that but I am here to be HONEST! I noticed when someone acted as though nothing had happened to me. If you're not sure what to do I can tell you anything is better than doing nothing!
- Try to avoid calling ( So many people called me but honestly the last thing I wanted to do was talk on the phone!! I felt guilty when I didn't take calls but when I did take the call I was miserable). Every person is different so check with the caregiver to see if phone calls or good or not
- Nothing with an odor if your loved one is having chemo treatments
- Nothing that takes work/concentration (no crossword puzzles or project. Treatment drain you and its frustrating not being able to do things)
- Don’t ask them what they want maybe ask family member but don’t bother friend they don’t know what they want, they want to not have cancer.
- Don’t sit by there bed side and try and figure out why is happened, because cancer is random and cruel and can strike anyone (added in a comment by a reader)
- don't wait for your loved one to contact you. They aren't feeling well and won't for some time. To say 'call me when you're up to it' means you will NOT get a call.
- Don't get upset when they don't answer your call. They are tired and aren't up to talking, but they do very much appreciate hearing a loved ones voice on the other end say "I'm thinking of you".
- Ask us to call you and give you updates. We're a little preoccupied.
- Tell us you feel left out of the process because you haven't been called with regular updates.
- Grill us about why we're not pursuing alternative courses of treatment instead of traditional western medicine. You can trust that we've been doing our homework on this one. And we're both too tired for the debate.
- Assume that any healthy meal will be good for the patient. If the patient is going through chemo, ask the caregiver what they can eat and follow those guidelines.
- Tell us that you can relate because you once had "lasik surgery" and it was very traumatic. (a true story!)
- Stay too long. If we beg you to stay, then that's another matter, but after 15 minutes offer to leave. The caregiver might be more honest than the patient.
- Get too focused on coming to the hospital. Many hospital days are packed full of grueling and exhausting procedures. There maybe only a small window of time when the patient is comfortable enough to see anyone or not going through some kind of terrible ordeal. There is plenty of recovery time at home. Also, hospital stays are filled with leaking body fluids and bags that might be embarrassing to the patient.
- Unless you have had cancer or been the spouse of someone with cancer, there are few comparisons that will be comforting. So be careful about cancer anecdotes! We didn't want to hear about anybody who had died, or anybody who had an easier time of it. We only want to hear about the ones on death's door step 20 years ago who now have 10 children and a multi-national company.
- NEVER EVER say "you have to be brave" to a person with cancer OR their spouse. That's just rude. We have to be brave sometimes and then other times we have to crumple up into little balls and cry and be cowards. Other times we have to be really, really fucking pissed off. Keep your stupid platitudes to yourself.
Do You Have Any Good Cancer Patient Gift Ideas?
- click on some of the gift ideas to be brought to sites where you can purchase them!
- Don't forget the Care Giver, they may need your help and support too! You can always buy them some coffee or tea from Get The Bean
- Cards→ cheap, easy & so important!! I got multiple cards from the same people so don't think, I already sent a card, send another!! Home made cards are great too if you are on a tight budget.
- Food (depending on the situation. When I was in the hospital before chemo and during the very beginning my friend Laura would go to cheesecake factory and bring me food, that was great)
- Books (depends on your loved ones situation. I couldn’t read because my eye sight started to fail from all the medications I was on)
- Read books/magazines to them or get books on CD(during chemo or at the hospital but ask first because many times I felt so nauseous that I wanted to be in silence)
- Write on Caringbridge or blogs (depending on whether your loved one has one of these. Caringbridge is a program at Dana Farber but your loved one's hospital may have a similar program set up)
- Flowers (Again this depends. If your loved one is having Chemo the smell may bother them. If you're not sure call your loved one's family or friends and ask them, do not ask your loved one)
- Games ( I loved scrabble and played hours on end with visitors in the hospital and at home)
- Chapstick (many times I had chapped lips from treatments and medications)
- Pajamas (I lost so much weight nothing fit me. People sent me smaller sized pj’s that were soft and plush. Call a family member who would know what size your friend is now, probably a small!)
- Angel statue (This was one of my favorite gifts given to me by my aunt. I linked this so you can click on Angel Statue to get to the site)
- Pillows (I got a plush heart pillow and took it to chemo treatments with me every Friday. It was nice to have something soft to lay my head on, treatments make you very sleepy!)
- Blankets (Three friends sent me plush blankets and I loved them. If I got admitted to the hospital b/c I was doing bad I would bring them and feel at home. They were also great when I was at home b/c I slept all the time!)
- Stuffed animals (I don't know about other people but when I was sick I reverted back to being a kid! My stuffed animals help keep me company in hospital and during chemo)
- CDs/music (I got some CD's after my treatment was over and I was recovering. During treatment I didn't listen to music at all b/c it made me feel sick)
- DVDs (depending on your loved one. For a while I couldn't watch tv b/c that made me sick too but during recovery the CDs were great! You get bored laying in bed day after day.)
- Inspirational Jewelry (One of my best friends gave me a beautiful necklace that had a cross and heart. Then when I found out I was cancer free she got me a charm that said survivor and had a ribbon. If your loved one does not have breast cancer do not send them a pink ribbon necklace! )
- Fruit basket or Edible Arrangement (Personally I was obsessed, seriously OBSESSED, with fruit while I was sick.)
- Lotion (if your loved one is having chemo don’t give them anything that smells)
- Fancy Shmansy Water bottle (for those who have to drink all the time like I did. A cool water container could add a little brightness to their day)
- Cancer books
If I have a Question Not Listed Here How Can I Ask You?
All you have to do is send me an email and I will answer your question(s). You can email me by clicking on "Contact" located on the top right side of the main page. Or you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
I Have An Etsy Store or Other Products Can I Help The Fight?
Many people have wonderful products that they make and/or sell. There are also many cancer patients and survivors who could use a present to lift their spirits. If you would like to donate something I will be happy to provide you with a very special someone who could use the surprise. So many wonderful men and women who are battling cancer or who have survived and still struggle have contacted me. I give my words of advice, my ear of understand and my heart full of love but due to the financial disaster cancer has left me in I can't send them all gifts. If you would be interested in giving please email me email@example.com and I will set you up with a person who would be beyond grateful for the gift.
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