Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Day 1 VLOG: Stem Cell Transplant Update from the Hospital

So hey guys!

Here's my VLOG within a BLOG...

I got here yesterday so I guess it's technically "day 2." It was a rough day yesterday and I've been really frustrated, annoyed and not feeling too perky so I'm just in a SHIT mood.

Sorry bout the cursing, but it's truth. It's not a fantastic update or anything that took too much time, so don't expect much. Maybe on the next one, I'll go all like Steven Spielberg and earn an Oscar. But until then, it is what it is.

So here it is... My first loner VLOG from the hospital. I'm balding out and I have a runny nose, but it doesn't get more real than that. #donthate

If someone would give me some IV meds that would be make me sleepy, I would be a much nicer person. I'm just not there. These nurses probably hate me, but I can't help it. I've been hungry, hurting and sleepy for the past two days. Feed me and knock me out. Is that too much to ask?

Please share, comment and pray for me and my family during this time. We really need all of your prayers and I need your encouragement to get through the next three weeks.

In other news, I'll be ordering this tee this week. #thuglife

One hungry mama,

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Why I'm Thankful I Have Cancer

So tonight I'm just sitting here thinking about why I'm really grateful I was diagnosed with cancer.

Life On Cass Lane | Life with AML

Sounds like an odd choice of words to put together, huh?

There is no doubt that hearing "you've got acute myeloid leukemia" was one of the scariest moments of my life, but I've come to realize this experience is one that should truly be cherished.

The truth is I've gained a lot from this entire process.

I've witnessed things I never thought I'd witness.

I've proved to myself how strong I can be throughout this process. (I mean, do I have to say it again? Natural child labor was the most painful and rewarding experience of my life. I pushed a 3 lb 8 oz human being out of my lady parts with no pain med. And I'm pretty proud of that).

My family and friends have shown their support for me in so many ways and I know how much I mean to them and they know how much they mean to me.

I was on the Kidd Kraddick Morning Show (which is pretty awesome). #famouskinda

But the most rewarding blessing from this experience are the people I've met and the friends I've gained. I'm not in any way, shape or form saying being diagnosed this disease doesn't suck, or you should wish it happened to you, but I feel like I've grown so much and a light has been shed on the way I'll live my life that I'm forever thankful to be a part of such a grueling, life-altering process.

Sure, there are times when I've just bawled my eyes out and wondered "why me?"

I mean I go through about 50 different emotions on the daily. I know, I know. I have more issues than "Vogue"... just last week I blogged about the fear I felt and some anger just trying to understand why it had to be me that is going through all of this...

I'm a hot mess and melting pot of emotions. I guess that's to be expected when you have the big "C."

"It's freaking cancer, yo," as Jesse from "Breaking Bad" would say. I had to throw in a "Breaking Bad" reference after binge watching this recently; I just loved that show.

Anyway, looking at all of the smiling faces I've met and the other people who have been infected by such a powerful disease (AML or any other type of cancer), I really feel like I found some purpose in life by talking to those who share this title with me.

I know now and accept now that I was supposed to go through this.

I accept that I have leukemia.
I accept that it's hard.
I accept that things can turn bad or get worse.
I accept that things can get better.
I accept that I'm bald.
I accept these next 6-12 months are going to blow big toes.
I accept that I'm a mother of two and I'm battling for my life.
I'm OK with that.
I'm OK with you, cancer.

You've taught me so much.
You taught me how selfish I was before.
You showed me to how to never stop fighting.
You've shown me how to push aside the little things and be thankful for all that I have.
You've given me new partners for life, new friends and a renewed way to view life.

It's odd because month's prior to my diagnosis I had this "intuition" that something was off. It was like I knew something was going to happen to me. My brain knew it before my body.

I never dreamed something so serious (medically) would happen to me so early in life. I'm only 27 years old and I was diagnosed with AML which mainly effects people 60 years plus. It just seems so strange how cancer works, how it evolves, how some people get it and others don't.

Many times I've sat in the waiting room at the doctor's office looking around at those much older than me, who are fighting for their lives and struggling so much more with this disease than I am. I have my youth on my side, and they don't.

But we are all fighting this fight together. It's tough on our body and a lot of things aren't going to go our way, but we are coming out stronger because of this.

We were the ones chosen to go weather through this storm for some reason or another.
And I finally landed on the answer to the "why me" question.

If you know me personally, you know I WILL talk to anyone--all ages, all colors, all species--it's just what I do. I talk.

That's probably why I blog to. I always feel like I have something to say. I've always been good at coming up with an answer to a question, even if I don't know the real answer. I just always talk my way through it.

And so I think that with the people I've met, I was supposed to talk to them. I was supposed to share my story and listen to theirs. And everyone has a story to tell, you just have to know what to listen for.

I feel like I was supposed to talk to all of these people, make them feel a better about their day, let them know they aren't alone in their situation and share my experiences with them as well.

My story may be laced with cancer jokes, playing the "cancer card," or pretty much only talking about my life with "CANCER," and right now, that's what my life is about--this "cancer" thing is a big thing in my life. My life revolves around it until I get healthy again. And I have to make sure that I keep "cancer" a priority so I can be there for my boys in the future. And that's what we are doing--everything we can so I can get better.

Today, I went back to the doctor to talk to him about transplant stuff, what's to be expected and where the numbers fall for my prognosis statistics-wise. As tough as it is to sit and hear the numbers, I just really didn't care too much to hear them. Yes, I wanted to know them because it's the way I am, but the numbers don't matter to me either way. Science only goes so far and then comes God. And that's what I'm sticking with.

The fact is I have high-risk leukemia, meaning I have a really high-risk to relapse. And I'm finally there; I'm to the point with this cancer sitch that I ACCEPT IT.

It is what it is. There is nothing I can do to change it. I'm continuing to fight this fight and have the best doctors and staff behind me doing everything I can to get better. I'm never giving up, but I needed to really stop partially being in denial.

Accepting you have cancer doesn't just happen in a split second. It's very hard to swallow.

I'm so happy right now in my life.

From what I understand from my oncologist, I have a 60-70% chance that I'll be cured after the transplant. I have a 30-35% chance to relapse post-transplant with my FLT3 mutation, which makes my leukemia high-risk. The other 15% basically means the transplant could do more harm than good.

And I'm OK with that. I'm happy with that news.

I love my life. I'm happier than most people have ever been in a lifetime and I've accomplished that at 27 years of my life. I have married my soul mate and have two beautiful children and I have so many family and friends who love and support me. How could I not be happy?

Having leukemia has only made that more of a fact--my happiness is there and I feel lucky to be going through what I'm going through. I really do. Isn't that strange? It's truly a blessing. I was supposed to go through this. And it's making me stronger every day.

My doctor got a little concerned about my counts today, so on top of having another lumbar puncture w/ chemo I also got a bone marrow biopsy done in the clinic. And this time I wasn't knocked out on propofol, so I did feel it. I always heard nightmares about how painful it was, but honestly it wasn't bad at all. LIKE AT ALL. It hurt for like three seconds and it was over. Done. #crushedit #ballastatus

I should get the results by tomorrow, so we will see what they say, hopefully all is good and we will move forward with the transplant process next week. We just need to double check everything to ensure that I'm still in remission for the transplant (I have to be in remission to get the transplant). As of today (March 26), I'm supposed to go in Monday (3/30) to have my line placement put in and start chemo next week.

I wanted to share with you guys the amazing things through this process, as well as the not-s0-fortunate and fun stuff.

Throughout the past four months, I've made friends with many strangers, a ton of nurses, doctors and medical staff. I've befriended people that I've met in the waiting room, people I've met at Target, and people online whom I've never met.

I just want to take a second to tell you about a few people I've met in the past few months that I know I will stay forever friends with and forever made me grateful to be going through this journey.

  • Emily -- My nurse at Presby. You, woman, are a Godsend. I simply love and adore you and you're the first person I connected with through this entire process. You were there when I was diagnosed and there for me all the days afterward. We are forever sisters. Thank you for being there for me and letting me cry to you (and you know I mean really cry) when I had to just get out the tears and the fear for the first time. And, you were just about to get off work and I lost my shit, going all Sally Fields in "Steel Magnolias" kind-of-meltdown and you stayed and listened. I felt so bad, but showed me how much you do care about not only me, but all of your patients. Thanks for letting me show you my bald head for the first time. You were the person I chose to show it to first (who'd seen me with hair and knew me pre-cancer and that wasn't family), and that was a big moment for me. I wanted to share it with you because I felt we had a connection like no other. I love you, Em!
  • Neha, Susan, Amber & my 4North Girls -- No one quite kicks some ass the way my girls at 4N do. I honestly was so lifted spiritually, mentally and emotionally by you ladies through this process and when I was at Presby, I don't know how I'd ever be able to truly thank you. You guys decorated my room when I moved to the oncology building and visited me, left notes, cookies and just came to chat when you could. I honestly felt so loved, and as you guys know, it was so hard to leave you and go to another unit. I just wish I could have done my chemo there with all of you; the experience would have been so much better and more uplifting. You guys boosted my spirits in no way anyone else could. Thank you for that.

  • Dr. P -- OK, she delivered Brody too so technically I didn't meet her through this process but she was my rock every step of the way. She cared for me and supported me when we got my diagnosis and worked with so many other doctors to make sure I had Bex safely and when I needed to. Dr. P, you're the best OBGYN doctor around. I'd like to say you've been through more with me and my vagina than Klay has, but that may not be completely true. But we've been through a lot together. I love you. You're encouragement and motivation helped me make it through the tough part of the process--having a baby. I could have never done it without your support. I wanted to hear your thoughts on everything, even the cancer stuff, which I know isn't your area of expertise. But you were so compassionate and wanted to check on me every step of the way to make sure I was getting the best care possible. Ultimately, you gave me the best care possible and I had a successful, quick birth. Your kindness in getting the cord blood registry donated to us was so unexpected but just shows how passionate you are about your patient's their health and the health of their families. Thank you for being such an amazing doctor. 

  • Melissa -- You know I loved you long before this cancer mess. I couldn't wait to come to my OBGYN appointments just so I could see and chat with you and Dr. P. I loved that you came to check on me all the time, as much as you could, throughout the whole process. You came in one time, and I was having a mini-meltdown, but it was like God sent you in my room just at the time I needed you most. You talked me through it and helped me relax and overcome the thoughts and fears I was dealing with at the time. There is no way that people ever know the right thing to say in a situation like mine, but it always seemed like you had the right words. Thank you for caring so much about me and my family. I know Dr. P knows this already, but there is no one better than Melissa! 

  • Devora -- Instantly when you walked in my room the first time, I knew you were my soul sister. I'm so comforted and instantly feel so much happier when you'd walk in the room. You, my friend, were made for your job. You brighten up every room you walk through and light up every soul you touch. I'm so grateful I met you. You battled a tough disease and are proof that things get better. Your positivity is infectious. I honestly looked forward to being in the hospital just so I could see you and my soul was not as bright when you weren't around. And that's the truth. Thank you for making such a terrible experience a great one and a fun one at that. I truly admire your spunk and spirit and I hope I can be more like you. Love you!

  • Jo-Ann -- The day you walked in my hospital room, I was pretty down. But instantly your sweet words, kind heart and family story took me over and lightened my mood. I'm so grateful you volunteer at the hospital and happened to walk through my room that day. Those blankets and gifts you give may warm our bodies but you warmed my heart and took my mind off of so many things I didn't even want to think about. You boosted by spirits and I really needed you that day and God sent you to me. Thank you for continuing to be a friend to me and caring so much to follow my journey.

  • Linda & Judge -- To the loveliest couple on the block... I simply adore you two. I'm so thankful you decided to ask me about my hat that day in the waiting room. It sparked up a conversation and a friendship that I will always hold dear to my heart. You guys are truly exceptional in every way. The other day I was so down and a bit upset but I talked to you two and you let me know we were all going through this together. I instantly felt better after talking to you both and knowing that you guys were by my side. And sometimes you need to hear that from people who are going through the same things as you. I love you guys.

  • Dr. B -- I know you won't read this because you're insanely busy, but he is the smartest guy I know. When I met him the first time I knew he had to be my doctor. He knows his stuff and is so educated, I'm just blown away by how brilliant he is and how much he cares for his patients. This man must work around the clock. His passion for his patients and his compassion for life makes him a world-class doctor. He also has a gift in talking to be people about such a scary disease. He knows just what to say and how to make you feel comfortable with the truth of the situation. He's given me so much more reason to hope, to fight and to keep moving forward. Thanks for being so incredible. I hope one day to bless as many lives as you've done throughout your career.

  • Katie -- My little bundle of sunshine! You are my girl forever. I just love love love you. I honestly enjoy my doctor appointments cause I know I get to see you and talk to you a bit. You make this process so much easier, and even fun when it's never supposed to be--believe it or not. I'm blown away by how smart and intelligent you are and you always reassure me that things are going to be OK. You know I start to freak out, but it seems like you always know what I can handle and how much I can take. I'm so grateful that you are in my life and I just know we will remain friends forever. You've truly been my rock and answered questions, and given me the confidence I need get through this "cancer" season. I get excited every time I see you and I'm a little bummed I won't see you as much the next three weeks cause I'll be in the hospital for the transplant. But you found your calling in what you do and make all those lives around you so much brighter and the day so much better after we see you. 

These are just some of the people that I've met. But I feel so lucky to have met all of these wonderful people who have not only impacted my life in such a short time, but who will forever hold a place in my heart.

Although I have a plot twist to my story now--and maybe one day I'll write a book (which is my ultimate dream by the way)--I think this is just a chapter in a long story ahead. I finally found my calling--to care and talk to people about this process. I hope to one day be able to work or find more ways to impact the lives of those effected by this disease.

Feeling blessed, lucky and grateful,

Saturday, March 21, 2015

No Sleep Tonight

***Please note this post was written two weeks ago, and I was just having a bad day. This was pre-wreck and pre-lumbar puncture.***

Acute Myeloid Leukemia | Life On Cass Lane

My chest is tight, almost like a heavy rock is sitting on it.
I have restricted breathing.

Something isn't wrong medically, at least I don't think so. It's my brain that has my body all twisted up in knots.

It's 11:41 pm and I'm wide awake... wide awake thinking.

Normally I don't go to bed before 11, but Klay has to get up crazy early in the morning, so I was trying to get as much sleep as possible before Beckham woke up for a late night feeding.

But somehow, even after taking an Ambien, I'm still awake.

My mind is racing and tonight is just one of those nights I feel legitimately scared.

I read an email earlier about my stem cell transplant. It seems that the transplant won't happen until mid-April because my donor is unavailable 'til then.

So then I start thinking... what if the cancer comes back before then?

I can only do the transplant while in remission. I'm scared it will resurface and then everything will be put on hold.

And my mind keeps going...

You're going to have to be away from your kids for a while.
Your kids are going to be bouncing around from house to house while I'm stuck in the hospital.
The road to recovery after the transplant is a long one--one year or more, they say. But for most up to six months, I have to be super careful.

I just attended a transplant class to learn more about the transplant and procedure along with a whole list of things they will tell me I can't do.

We learned a lot, but the main thing I realized is we are going to need a lot of help from my caregivers. Klay is going to school, working full-time and goes to the USAF Reserves one weekend a month. He does all of these things for us. The school helps better his future, but we also get some money for rent while he attends, and the Reserves is strictly for us to have good insurance, which we clearly need right now.

I feel so bad because I can't contribute. It would be absolutely incredible if somehow I could grow this blog and make even just a little money off of it. Though, if I don't make money, it's not going to change how or the reasons for me blogging. I will continue to do this as long as people are reading. I love doing it--money or not.

But you know who all of this is unfair to when it comes to the transplant?

My kids.

"Mommy will not be normal for a long time," I have to tell them.
"Mommy will be in the hospital for a while, so things are going to be different for a long time."
"Mommy won't probably be able to take care of you when you're sick, if you get sick before mommy gets better."

For three weeks, I won't be able to kiss them goodnight.
For three weeks, I won't be able to sing my "good morning" song to them.
For three weeks, I won't say "OK, Bro. What's for breakfast?"
For three weeks, I won't be able to bathe them, change diapers, or snuggle with them when they cry.

And that's just a guess for how long I will be in the hospital. It could be longer if there are complications and maybe a few days shorter if I just kick some straight up transplant ass.

I just hate it. I feel like a caged animal. And I haven't even started the transplant process yet.

And then I start thinking about the lumbar puncture I'm supposed to have (where they will run chemo up my spinal canal and brain to make sure no leukemia cells are hiding out). I was told yesterday that I would have to have that procedure w/ chemo done four times. FOUR.

My chest is getting tighter right now.

What if something happens to me?
What if my kids are left without a mommy?
What if I'm so sick I don't get to do normal things with my children?
What if the cancer comes back? I know I said that already but what if it does?
The "what if's" can drive anyone crazy.

I know I can't dwell on that, and I know I must stay positive, but some days I just want to cry.
This can't be my life. It can't. It just can't.

Why would God do this to me?
If it was to save my children from any type of illness like this, I'm all for it.
But I just can't understand the WHY, the reasoning, and I know no one does but Him. But why?

I know I will get a lot of comments telling me "only God knows," but it still doesn't make this fair. It still doesn't explain "why me?" It still doesn't explain why my family has to go through this.

Did I do something wrong in this life to deserve this?

These are some of the questions and thoughts that keep me awake at night.

My life has been turned upside down in three months.
My family's lives have been turned upside down too.
I'm so tired all time.
I'm so physically tired that today I could barely keep my eyes open and was just praying Bex would sleep for a while so I could nap. But then I have Brody to take care of, and it's not fair that I'm napping while he's watching cartoons. I should be playing cars with him on the floor or being active with him in some way. I should be taking him outside to see the sun because it's been way too long with all this crappy, cold, icy weather we've been having in Texas.

I'm tired of the appointments; there are so many appointments.
I hated going to the doctor before, but now I really hate it.
I'm there two-three times a week, at least. And next week, if platelets are high enough, they will schedule the first lumbar puncture (this post was written two weeks ago, so I just completed my first lumbar puncture yesterday, March 19. I'll talk more about this in a later post).

I'm tired of driving all the way out to Dallas. I'm tired of having to leave my kids at home because they aren't allowed in the office because other patients are neutropenic. I'm tired of only getting out when I have a doctor appointment. Otherwise, I stay home with the kids because I'm too tired to take them both somewhere. And any exposure to strangers or groups of people puts me at risks for infections.

I'm tired of taking this Nexavar pills. It make my neck and face all bumpy/rash-like and I have to take it so many hours before I eat or so many after. Coordinating my food around that medicine is the most infuriating thing because I like to snack. (But since I wrote this post, my doctor took me off! Virtual high-five!)

I just cannot believe all of this.
It's so difficult to process.

The only way I can stay sane sometimes is to joke about it.
Just to really just laugh about what is going on.
Just laugh about being bald.
Laugh about having no eyelashes.
Laugh about looking like a bruised banana.
Laugh about trying to get a "cancer discount" every where I go.

I just try to get through this in any way I can.
Tonight is just one of those nights I'm letting myself really feel the weight of it all.

I honestly don't care any more that I'm bald; that doesn't hold me back anymore. Whatever. It's who I am now; it shows the struggle I'm going through.

I just want a normal life again.
I want to be with my kids.
I want to be with my husband.
I want to be with my family.

That's all I want.
And I want this fear to go away, so I can breathe again.

I'm eagerly waiting to start the transplant, but I'm equally dreading it at the same time. I dread being away from my boys, from my dogs, from my home but I know I have to do this to get better and have the best chance at this.

Right now, they have me scheduled to go into the hospital March 30 to get a tri-fusion thingy put in my chest to infuse the stem cells through. I'll talk more about this and the timeline of the transplant in a future post. I've learned a lot about the process since the class this Thursday.

I was very nervous about the lumbar puncture and chemo, but now the anticipation for the transplant is keeping me awake at night.

I hate how much I won't be able to contribute to help out because I'm the one going through this mess. I hate that I won't be a "normal" Cass for my kids and family. I just want to be normal again.

On the plus side, I'll be getting some good drugs soon when I get admitted in the hospital... that should help me get some legitimate rest. Amen for some good drugs!

Drug me up and knock me out,

PS. The next week I got into a wreck. I guess things can get worse, but I feel a lot better mentally right now. I'm ready to kick some cancer butt and move on from this part of my life.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


In a split second, I lost control.

My car hit a concrete wall barrier and then bounced off and hit the other wall on the passenger side.

Everything crumbled, crushed and flashed in front of my face.
I felt like my car had rolled over, but it hadn't.
The airbags deployed punching me in the face.
My eyes and brain couldn't comprehend all that happened in a matter of seconds.

I was about to merge onto a bridge just before it happened.
It was a cloudy, wet and just an all around crappy day.

I was on my way to my oncology appointment and talking to Klay on the phone letting him know where I was. He'd just gotten out of class and was going to meet me at my appointment. I was trying to decide whether or not to take Highway 635 from I-20 or take 75. For those of you who don't live in Texas, they are both crappy options which normally are traffic-filled and wreck-attracting highways.

I decided to go 635 and got on the bridge when my car hit leftover gravel from a winter storm. The roads were slick and my car already needed new tires, so they weren't exactly in the best shape.

I'm not making excuses for the wreck; I honestly felt like an idiot afterward. Luckily, the kids weren't with me and I was by myself.

After my car hit the left side of the concrete bridge wall and then ricocheted and hit the right side, it came to a stop. The car was now wedged against the right wall (on the shoulder of the bridge) and the passenger side was pressed right up against the wall.

I came in like a wrecking ball #likemiley

The car hissed and smoked at me. I knew the damage to my car had to be bad, but at the time I just felt how badly I was jerked and pushed around during the commotion.

Klay said I was talking and then he heard me scream when he a lot of banging around and then the phone went dead.

Once I was able to take in what had just happened, I found my phone in the floor board and called Klay back to let him know I was OK.

He was pretty freaked out and was already heading to where I just told him I was. He asked repeatedly if I was OK and I told him I thought I was, but I just cried.

"My nose is bleeding," I cried.

"Cass, just calm down. I'll be there soon. Is anyone stopping?"

It took nearly 20 cars to pass before a nice man pulled over to check on me, call the paramedics, and move pieces of my car out of the center of the bridge. He wanted me to stay in the car and told me to try to stay calm.

In the past 10 or 11 years I've been driving, I've never been in an accident. And that one was terrifying enough, I'll never want to experience anything like that again.

Thankfully no one was behind me, so it was just my vehicle that was messed up. It was just me. No one wrecked in to me, so no one else to blame I suppose, except for the roads and maybe my tires...

My platelets were low so if I would have been cut in any way, I would have been dangerously injured. The normal is anywhere above 140-150K--I was at 30,000.

After the paramedics got there, my friend's fiance who lives down the street from me got there, and Klay and my bro-in-law, I was KIND OF looked over by the paramedics.

My hat had been knocked off my head in all of the chaos, and the cop that came up to ask me for my license and insurance info didn't even ask if I was OK. He just asked me for that info and where I was going. Clearly he could see I was bald, and most likely had cancer, but he didn't bother to ask if I was alright or anything. Douche monkey.

Klay and I decided to just go to my appointment to still get checked out. The oncology doctor knows everything going on with me medically, obviously, so we thought that was our best option especially with the platelet sitch.

I wasn't seriously hurt, but I'm pretty bruised up. My bruises look worse than they are, but they are everywhere--my legs, ankle, arms, hips, back, under my eye and I even had a busted lip.

My 2006 Nissan Murano is totaled; she's a goner.

I've had that car for nine great years and it was an amazing car with a lot of memories.

It was my graduation present from my parents and was my first "new, new" car... EVER. I was so stoked. We even took "selfies" before they were cool and without using our phones. #ballastatus

It still opened it's trunk for me even though I got married in a dress that resembled a white restaurant napkin.

Klay and I had many arguments, serious and hilarious talks, and some not-so-great fights in that ride. But we also had some--ahem--great "making up" times in there too. 

It was the car that I had with me in Alaska. I repped those "TEXAS" plates in AK fro 3 1/2 years without 4WD or studded tires. #boom

We trekked 6,000 miles from Alaska, through Canada and all the way back to Texas in that ride with two weenie dogs and one other male weenie, aka the hubs.

It saw beautiful lakes in Canada, almost ran out of gas in the middle of no where, which would have left us stranded, and held on during a 14-hour drive to Vancouver... which landed us downtown at 2 a.m. frustrated, tired and in search of a hotel.

My white beauty traveled through the Redwood National Forest, the world's curviest street in San Fran, through the most beautiful beaches in Oregon, down to Buffy's High School and even Qualcomm stadium in San Diego.

It navigated through the crazy streets of Vegas, survived me almost peeing in it on the way to the Hoover Dam and even managed to not get any blood on it when Klay's nose started to bleed at the Grand Canyon.

It got "the boot" in NOLA all because we forgot to pay for parking on Day 2 (and we weren't too happy about it; see photo below).

We brought both our beautiful baby boys home from the hospital in that car.

Experienced Brody's second febrile seizure in it (that's a terrible memory).

The radio continued to play even though the car heard me try to sing like Whitney, rap like Eminem and rock out like Kings Of Leon.

It survived the snowy roads, -40 degree temps we experienced near Denali Park, and even managed to make it with no serious problems after being exposed to a volcanic explosion (more like an "ash explosion" in Alaska, but a little rain and gravel managed to take her out. Figures.

RIP Murano. 
You were good to me and you will be missed.

Now I'm going to listen to *NSYNC's "Gone," Master P's "I Miss My Homies," and poor some beer on the driveway and probably cry.


Crash? or Eddie? from AnimateIt.net

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Knocked Down

There are days where I truly think I have this cancer thing down.

I mean I'm tired of going to the doctor every few days and having to be admitted into the hospital for blood transfusions, platelets, magnesium and potassium like twice a week, but I just keep thinking "I'm almost there," and I may actually beat AML.

Then a day like yesterday happens.

Life On Cass Lane | Battling AML

There were a few things that happened at this particular doctor appointment that got me down, but when I went, though I was super tired and exhausted, I was smiling and laughing and even made some new friends in the waiting room.

And, I thought, maybe this is what I should do? Work in oncology somehow after all of this is over and help boost people's spirits and make them feel like they aren't alone going through this. I mean I do know how they feel... I'm going through it too.

This sweet couple I met had found out about the wife's diagnosis in January. So they asked a few questions and I talked a bit on how things went with me (chemo, being pregnant while finding out, and transplant stuff). They were still learning, and I am too, but I was able to provide a little insight on what's to come for her.

So, I was feeling pretty good.

Then, my doctor comes in and asks me if I was told about the "lumbar puncture."

I told him "no," and he goes on to explain.

For those of you who may not know, a lumbar puncture or spinal tap is a minimally invasive procedure where they put a needle into the lower part of your back between two lumbar bones to draw cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). They will do this to make sure no leukemic cells are present and then they will run chemo through the spinal tap. It's a procedure that takes about 30 minutes and I believe he said it can be done in his office.

He basically said this is precautionary. We just need to do it to make sure nothing is hiding anywhere (particularly my spinal canal and brain) and to reduce the chances of the AML coming back.

I get that.
I do.

But when you're talking about running chemo through my spinal canal and I'm assuming that goes up to the fluid around the brain, that scares me.

My doctor acted like it was no big deal, which of course, is the way my husband took it. But now that's just one more thing I have to do and this is particularly scary. I don't want to even think about the things that could go wrong.

That's my brain we are talking about messing with. I know I don't have much up there, but it still is my brain.

I just wasn't ready for that news.

I don't know when that procedure will be done. I do know he said he would do it when my counts started to come back up.

Then when I was leaving their office, about to checkout, I just looked around at the people who are also sick with AML or ALL and I start to think not all of us are going to make it.

And everyday I go to the doctor, that waiting room is full of cancer patients and according to a nurse, his patient intake is only increasing. I mean it's good for him business-wise, but it saddens me that so many are effected by this disease.

Through all of this, I still can't believe this happening to me. It seems so unreal. But then there are days I don't know what the hell I did before being diagnosed. It's honestly taken over my life.

I'm actually in the hospital now getting blood, platelets, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium. I'm low on everything. It's almost 2 p.m. I'm sure I won't leave here til 8 or so.

I hate this too. Everything takes so much time.

I just want to be home with my kids.

I may be heading in for a transplant in two or three weeks so this crap takes away my time with them.

Of course, I do need a break from them from time to time since I keep them by myself everyday, but I miss them when I'm not around them. That's the curse of being a mom--you need a break, but when you take one, you miss and think about them the whole time.

Anyway back to yesterday. The spinal tap wasn't the only thing I was upset about. I'd talked to his assistant about the possibility having another baby the week prior. They said the probability of being sterile--especially after transplant--is 80-90%.

They let me know that freezing my eggs would take too much time to do, and we'd have to do it pre-transplant, and they don't recommend postponing my treatment any longer.

Then, they told me about a shot they can give me before my next round of chemo that can shut down my ovaries so that they aren't further damaged and then they should start operating again in 3-5 years, if I understood them correctly.

Klay and I really wanted to do the shot. He didn't want to have the option of another baby ripped off the table either. We figured at least with the shot we will have tried, and they told me it will up my chances to conceive to about 50%.

So I was pretty excited about that when I went to the doctor last Thursday.

Then, yesterday happened.

"How badly do you want to have another baby?" my doctor asked.

Uh oh. Doesn't sound like this is going in a good direction.

"Why?" I asked.

He asked because the type of chemo he planned to give me prior to the transplant is the one that does the most "damage" to your ovaries or has the highest percentage that I will be sterile following treatment. He said he could change my chemo to something less harsh, but he would rather use this "ovary killer" kind. (I'm not quoting him there, just telling you how I feel.)

My heart sank.

I know I have to do what is necessary to beat this, but cancer has taken so much away from me already, and now it wants to take my ovaries and eggs with it?

And I know I have two beautiful boys and I should be so thankful for that; other people out there have a lot less and aren't so fortunate. But I just hate that this cancer is determining my future and our future as a family.

It makes me feel guilty that I most likely won't be able to produce another baby for Klay and for the boys. It makes me feel worthless.

I mean how am I ever going to feel like a woman again? If I can't have babies, I have no hair and no eyelashes, plus I just had a baby and I can't exercise, so my body doesn't feel womanly at all. I feel stripped of my womanhood.

And I'm not ready to let go of the baby stage yet. Little Bex is doing so good, and all I want to do it snuggle with him and smell him.

Needless to say, I left the appointment feeling defeated and not wanting to talk.

Klay and I went to grab some dinner and sat down in our booth, and as soon as I started talking about everything, tears just poured of my eyes. I couldn't stop.

I feel like I have handle on it all and then something like this happens. Two things thrown at me at once and I feel like I'm knocked back down again. I mean physically I am beat down, but mentally too.

When I think of all of this, I just want to cry.

I'm scared of the lumbar puncture and chemo through the spine and its side effects. Primarily, they say the main one is headaches, like a 20 or 25% chance for headaches and a 20% for really bad headaches. Um. THAT will be me. I get headaches all the time, so I guarantee it will be bad.

I know Klay, you're reading this and thinking "Cass, why do you always think the worst?"

Babe, it's just in my DNA. I'm sorry, but that's where my mind goes.

But if I expect the worst and it ends up being a cake-walk then I'll be like "hey, that wasn't so bad after all."

And today, I just feel like I could sleep all day. I mean it makes sense because my body is low on everything. But I'm just run down, beat down and knocked down today and not just physically.

I know I'm doing a lot better than others with AML. I found a donor and I need to keep that in mind. But I can't help the hurt and fear I feel.

This isn't over yet.
I still have a long road ahead.

At least I have these three nerds stopping by to keep my spirits up! Officer Logan, Lauren and my hubs.

And these two cuties to go home to...

How can life be so good but suck so bad at the same time?

Confused, Happy, Sad, Scared and Grateful,