The Perfect Storm

Having a neuroendocrine tumor is complicated, we hear this all the time.

I’d like to break down a few topics that are well.. yes, complicated.. but can be better understood in order for us to enjoy a better quality of life.

Before I explain where I’m going, let me tell you where this all began…

It all started when I was hospitalized for 2 whole months, one of the symptoms I was having was extreme facial flushing. I was literally roasting like a turkey. My skin was peeling off, I was so uncomfortable and in pain.

 

This was a side effect from my tumors secreting their awful hormones. No one could seem to offer me any solution, until one day…

I met one of the endocrinologists on staff and he immediately said he would start me on this magic pill that would get rid of my flushing. I thought he was crazy, how could there be such a thing that exists and NO ONE mentioned it before? How can so many other people I know be suffering and no one knows about this?

Little did I know, this magic pill was ALSO going to balance my moods, by reducing the amount of serotonin in my body. Bingo, so many complicated topics are now so easy! 

Taking medication isn’t really a choice when you have a neuroendocrine tumor, but certain types of medications can be dangerous, even fatal. This isn’t always explained in detail, or at all. Why? Because our tumors secrete hormones that make it difficult to be matched with certain drugs. A lot of medications actually cause the same type of secretion as our tumors, making it the perfect storm.

I don’t normally like getting too scientific, or talking about specific drugs, but if it can help so many people with this disease be more comfortable… I’ll take the risk.

Have you ever heard of the term serotonin storm? Who here has been told that they can’t take an anti-depressant, or that it’s dangerous with our disease? Who is currently suffering with depression and can no longer take their medication?

Let me be the one to explain why these medications can be dangerous:

I’ve heard of a lot of people suffering with depression with this disease, but the problem is… most typical anti-depressants produce serotonin. (The same hormone that our tumors produce), making a serotonin storm! This can be fatal, or just extremely dangerous to the body. Which is why they say to avoid SSRI medication when you have a neuroendocrine tumor.

What did any of this have to do with my flushing I was talking about earlier?

Well, that’s why I call it the magic pill…

Most people who have a neuroendocrine tumor that is secreting serotonin will experience flushing, following so far? 

These tumors also secrete a lot of other hormones, throwing off our moods. Creating a chemical imbalance in the body. Causing depression. But since we can’t take regular anti-depressants that doctors will prescribe, what can be done?

Aha! The magic pill. Chlorpromazine is considered a serotonin antagonist, it inhibits the action of serotonin receptors. Without getting too scientific, it also works similarly for dopamine, another hormone that’s secreted by our tumors.

This one pill that was prescribed for my facial flushing, happened to take care of several other issues for me, because of its root purpose, balancing out that ‘perfect storm’. 

I’ve heard so many people lost hope because of their depression and not being able to properly treat it. I myself was at my end with my mood swings, as well as the most uncomfortable side effect – facial flushing. Until I began this medication, it changed everything for me.

It may not be for everyone, and I’m certainly no doctor… but I thought it would be best to share this little bit of knowledge with my fellow zebras. Maybe, just maybe, it can help you too.

Pheo VS Fabulous ❤

Zebra or Unicorn 🦄

If you have been in the “rare disease” world with us, you may wonder what the reference is to the zebra.

When you hear hoofbeats, we are trained to think horses, not zebras … 🦓

This means that in a world full of thinkers where the first answer is always to rule out the “obvious” answers first, us “rare” zebras often get misdiagnosed because it’s just too bizarre or too complex to possibly be real. Right? Wrong. We are real, we are rare, but we’re there.

NOW, imagine living in a world where you’ve only JUST started to find ways of settling in becoming a zebra, but now….. you’ve become even more confusing that even that doesn’t fit – Shall we say….. exhausted? Now you must be a unicorn 🦄

As much as I LOVE unicorns, it’s not something I wish to be health wise. However, we don’t always get what we wish for…

Or else I wouldn’t be a continuous medical mystery. A zebra, a unicorn, stomping my hooves as loudly as I can to no avail… A very complicated, extremely complex little unicorn. So desperate to be figured out but constantly misheard, misunderstood, and continuously misdiagnosed.

I was able to begin discussing this journey when I began to regain my mental stamina a few days ago here, thanks to my amazing specialists who are working towards figuring out what I am now referring to as my puzzle 🧩

With so many pieces (symptoms), and crisis’ happening – it’s proved difficult to sort out another compounding diagnosis when already living with such a rare disease.

Does that excuse make it okay for our hooves to be ignored? No. It clouds what is potentially a more potent and dangerous lurking enemy. So, what does one do? Well I’m not going to lie. It’s been a hell of a ride, it’s been isolating, I’ve felt ways I can’t begin or want to describe right now, but what I’m here to say right NOW is that we are still fighting. 

I’ve said it now and I’ll say it again, if you don’t fight for yourself… who’s going to fight for you?

It’s the unfortunate truth.

This is your life. It’s yours to save.

We have come to realize this through a series of challenges I’d prefer to have not had to endure, but change is the only constant so we are now looking ahead to the journey we are choosing to see as a positive one. Because that’s how you get through this, often we talk about ‘fighting it’ but we don’t talk about how to beat it. 

We have to, because to us we see it as an opportunity FOR change, for answers. We just want answers. No matter what they are. Going back to basics and feeling helpless is certainly not the answer.

Going backwards when you have already been robbed of the ability to move forwards is one of the most helpless feelings to have in the world.

We are coming on 3 weeks in the hospital, with the help of my incredible team I am functioning at a much more tolerable level so far – so that I can actually do plenty of testing in order to get these answers. This journey is tough, but we are fighting our hearts out. I hope you will be alongside with us, because I have a feeling we might just need that little extra bit of prayer and pixie dust

🌎✨🌈

Remember that gold standard Gallium-68 super amazing impossible-to-get fancy scan I got in order to get accepted to this clinical trial a while back? Well…

My amazing husband Doctor cupcakes was able to get me in AGAIN directly from the hospital on a day pass to get that super amazing scan today. What would normally take 4-6 weeks, took 48 hours, so a huge huge huge thank you to everyone in Sherbrooke, QC. You guys truly were my angels and we are so grateful for everything you did for my situation. Thank you for understanding and extreme considerations 😭😷

My heart is so full of gratitude, and I wanted to take this opportunity to share that.

Here’s a little glimpse of our radioactive day pass mission, a day in the life of a hospitalized unicorn 🦄 😂

https://youtu.be/AHerMoNa9AY

Pheo VS Fabulous

XOX

I will try & update as much as I can, (on my good days) 😘

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A zebra can be a unicorn

Pheo VS Fabulous 🚨 Coming to you live from the comforts of her 15×25 hospital suite 🏥

It’s incredible when the mental fog begins to clear just a touch and you’re able to begin to make the smallest of revelations.

Such as, did I just type a sentence?

Or spell revelation without going into one of my “coma like states”?

Or the bigger ones…like, it truly has been exactly a year since I fell off the planet. But did you guys really think it was by choice 😐 ?!

Warning: things may get a bit sassy while my brain function is working, I’m not letting this opportunity waste ⚠️

Do you think I would devote my entire personal life to opening up about this disease and then suddenly withdraw that responsibility unless it was for the fact that I was too sick myself? …

I made a promise, a vow if you will, and I HAVE every intention of keeping it: to not let this cancer take my “Fabulous

….Then, what good is it if there’s no one to share it with? PheoVSFab was started for others like me, and others like me seeking guidance for the ones who SO desperately need it. My greatest devastation over the last year has been losing the ability to communicate, not knowing why, and being so confused all the time that I didn’t know how or where to even begin.

Yes, that’s right, updating a status, sending a text message, menial tasks sent me into a 🆕 full “crisis” mode. Eventually leaving it impossible to do just about anything. Depressing much?

You’re telling me.

I’m just beginning to talk about menial tasks that have to do with blogging, but that was my direct connection with the outside world, also my outlet. I’m not even skimming the surface on how it’s felt to lose further mobility, forget the days of bathing yourself, most recently even the bathroom became a hot date between my husband and I, sometimes even breathing was a chore. When you can no longer sit on your couch, or touch your legs at ALL because you’re in so much pain, when your facial “flushing” is so bad that you feel you’re in an actual oven because your skin literally comes off like an inside out sunburn 🥵 , you start to question WTF IS HAPPENING TO ME!

This isn’t Just MY disease anymore.

This can’t be happening.

This can’t be happening.

This can’t be happening.

This disease, my already very weak body, and what will be known as incredibly sneaky symptoms are responsible for yet another impossibly long road to a complicated diagnosis.

But before I get into any of that..

I just want to share one very important thing, without support we are nothing, and over the years I’ve come to have such a massive family throughout the PHEO VS FAB network. YOU guys have kept us alive, and full of hope.

It has killed me every day to not be able to actively participate in helping others. Without being able to do this, I had never felt so isolated. This isn’t me.

I would never distance myself like this by choice.

So, if you DO know someone who’s sick, do everything you can to adapt to them, with them, and for them. Even if it seems they don’t want to, or can’t, they do. They maybe can’t tell you, like literally physically cannot tell you, but they need you. Everybody needs someone. No one can do this alone.

Most importantly, never ever ever ever, give up hope. No matter how bad it gets. Hope is one of the scariest things to have – but it’s the only thing worth holding onto, and when everyone & everything else is gone, it will be the only thing you have left.

Hope is something no one can take away from you. Not even cancer.

This disease can change your sight, your mental capacity, your ability to walk, it can put you into so much pain you can no longer move, it will even change who you are as a human being via a shit load of foreign hormones everyday that don’t belong, but it can’t change deep down who you are in your soul. Who I will always be is fabulous – Broken, scarred, bruised, but fab AF and ready to say F you to whatever this new chapter is going to be.

That’s the thing when you come after a fighter, eventually they WILL find a way to fight back.

Although we are still very early days and don’t have answers just yet — the fact that I am finally in my “super hospital” surrounded by my angels, being taken care of by my specialists, being HEARD, contributing, they’ve already given me the ability to write this blog post.

I’ve been in the hospital now (2018/11/30) for 2 weeks and we are slowly on a road to a very complex and delicate recovery, yet also a diagnosis progress.

Yes, you heard me. A diagnosis. What? Don’t you already have 17 diseases some may ask?

*insert laughter attempt here*

I thought I had enough as well.

WELL Apparently not.

This is what I’ve been getting at.

Some may be thinking, how come no one helped sooner?

WELCOME TO THE DANGERS OF BEING RARE

I have never been sent home so many times to die in my life.

That part was a little depressing.

One year, a lot of Dejavu, endless suffering pain, new fun attacks and a long- but -urgent -semi -coherent drive to Montreal in the end of it all ➡️ …..

…. We are now safe in the Montreal hospital, where they are amazing, and actually treat their patients 🧩

Thanks to MY own personal doctor cupcakes. My Superman. Who I think hasn’t slept in the last year in order to keep me alive and also smiling every day despite the screaming in between.

If you’re going through something similar, whether you’re in early stages of diagnosis, newly diagnosed, or like me, being diagnosed again, and again, and AGAIN.. remember this one thing – no matter how difficult, or how unexpected, eventually… things WILL come together, and when they do, only YOU have the ability to decide what you make of the rest of your story.

Through my suffering I’ve been able to reach out into so many people’s hearts and lives:

Through my pain I’ve been able to see humanity like you wouldn’t believe. Through all of the trial and tortures I’ve been able to treasure other people’s proper diagnosis and the removal of suffering.

Through the tears I’ve laughed harder than I’ve cried, and seen more beauty in darkness than I can ever describe. There is so much in the world that is to be discovered through these miracles, we just have to be mindful.

https://youtu.be/9LJGcxTB4u0

I love all of you more than I could ever describe my beautiful zebra unicorns 🦄✨

Read my other pages for more information or visit my Facebook to say hi & sometimes quick updates 💋

📸 @pheovsfabulous

THE Unicorn 🦄

Create your own Fabulous

Instead of running around for last minute gifts, decorating the tree, attending fabulous parties…

The tradition we have manufactured the last three years is driving through snow storms hours away, telling each other everything will be okay, waiting for treatments that will dominate the rest of our year to come… and hoping the magic of Christmas will just somehow make everything better.

Each year I watch the first snow and it’s my symbol of hope…

I imagine that snow falling on me and just washing away everything I’ve been through in the previous year, starting anew.

Each year I wait for Christmas to allow those new beginnings; a new chance for me to heal, be in less pain, for my husband to suffer a little less.

…Back to reality

Like clockwork, my cancer always progresses to its worst state in the months following up to the end of the year, until I can’t take it anymore, and we are forced to take action. Most likely because I’ve done treatment all year long, and it’s my body’s way of saying enough is enough … or hey, why did we stop?

Either way

All of the tests, pain, investigations, right before Christmas.

“Do I really have to travel now? we’re days away!”
“We also need to know what’s wrong with you, and we’re not taking any chances, your condition has been too bad lately”
“I know. It’s just so frustrating how this happens every year”

True. I’ve felt awful as of late. Actually, Awful can’t sum up how I’ve felt.

This year is a little different…

I’ve done a year of (P.R.R.T) treatment that’s made my cancer worse.

That was a hard one. ⬅️

This IS the time to go and figure out what to do, where to go from here, there could be NO options for me, but I simply don’t believe in that 💫🙃

…There’s so many quotes out there

“Create your own happiness”

“Be your own sunshine”…

Well, I say Create your own Fabulous.

There’s ALWAYS something else, the question that always remains… are YOU willing to fight?

The answer is always yes.

The days leading up to my appointment…

I made a choice; my body had been fighting me hard, new chest pains, breathing trouble, my tumors alternating between pain crisis and adrenaline outbursts every hour.

….I was done

Which led me to my choice, do I abandon who I am, use the one opportunity I have to leave my house in weeks and go out looking as shitty as I FEEL?

Why should my outside match my insides?

Do I say F you Pheo and try and feel like my normal self as much as I know how? As much as every part of my body is telling me I can’t, what’s the point, just go like you are, it doesn’t matter.

The ‘normal’ me that brightens up those cold white walls, the me that regardless of the dark cold stormy weather, I bring that sunshine, the me that laughs off anything because I’m ready for everything?!

THAT is MY cancer.

Being prepared for just about anything..

Being fabulous despite the odds

I created.my own.fabulous

Why?

Because morale is everything.

Cancer is still going to be there despite the way I look, but it makes me FEEL a heck of a lot better when I don’t look like I have cancer 💋

So the next time you’re dreading those cold white walls surrounding you, you’re anxious for that inevitable news, you don’t want to get that scan…

  • Don’t take that extra hour of sleep
  • put on that darker shade of lipstick
  • curl your hair
  • throw on a bit of mascara
  • gurrrl contour and bake that face if you feel up to it

Go all out! 😂✨💖

I didn’t forget about my guys!
  • Give yourself a nice shave
  • wear that new dress shirt you were saving
  • gel your hair
  • put on a light (hospital friendly) cologne 😅

Do whatever it is that makes YOU have a bit of extra confidence & less sicky feeling 😉😷❤️

Most importantly, remember….

“Fabulous is your light, your smile, your energy, your positivity, your willfulness, your vitality, passion, excitement, beauty, laugh, and how you share it!” – Pheo VS Fabulous

Are you guys following my new FACEBOOK and INSTAGRAM?! 🙏🏼💖✨💄➡️👤 FB: Link ➡️📸 Insta: Link @mirandasimard

Merry Christmas my loves ❤️

I said I would never do that again 😭

But I learned something new again yesterday

these bodies we think are ours?

They’re not.

We think they own them, we signed them over the moment we agreed to save our selves from the disease that’s killing us every day, see how that works?

Cancer: you get to kill me.

Doctors: you get to save me by any means necessary

Me: I TECHNICALLY have a say… but…

Believe me, there is ALWAYS a but

If you start saying no to things, how can they save you by any means necessary?

Anyone can go on from the outside and say there’s always a choice etc etc, and yes there absolutely is. We always have choices, mine often look something like this:

your veins aren’t working for the 189th time in your life, let’s rush you off to a secret room after after having poked you 7 times – and we will surprise you with a procedure you swore you would NEVER.EVER.EVER do Again – (text here)  I wrote about in previous times to GREAT lengths because it caused you such trauma the last therapy during MIBG (and out of all the things you’ve had done.. that’s saying a lot), just the mention of it is traumatic. 

My words aren’t coming out, no one is listening to me. What good would it do anyways? It’s now my only alternative to receive the treatment I’m here for. 

Ever wonder why the term cancer sucks is so popular? Why so many people want to say fuck cancer? ….

this is why. 

It’s because of situations like this, when you are no longer a person, when you no longer have a say in your own body in order to save yourself.. because you know that you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. 



Facetune

Part 1: 05/23/2017 – PRRT treatment prep

jugular insertion 



Facetune

But I’m tired now

Facetune

I’ll leave you with something good, as I always do… I was greeted with my Doctor cupcakes (my husband), after some kisses 💋, and pain control, I was ready to start my treatment in a little less agony.

(My clinical trial doctor) is amazing, and does everything to administer the treatment in a comfortable fashion.

The treatment itself was a bit improved VS the last few times.

More on that later once I’m not so traumatized from the morning, and tired & in pain.

FABULLLLUS IS EXHAUSTED. 🖐🏼🏥

more fun trial stuff soon, byeeeeee

#pheovsfabulous

4th..5th time? I’ve lost count! IS a charm 💛✨

There are two things this disease has made me become an expert with:

learning how to be okay with never leaving your little comfy space (or rather being confined to it). 

or

constantly leaving that comfort zone you’ve been confined to for the purpose of being EVERYTHING but comfortable. 

Luckily I’ve acquired the most important lesson of my own, & that was to stay fabulous no matter what. Have YOU guys figured out the meaning of ‘Staying Fabulous’ yet?

This past year my health has declined significantly despite doing the most treatments packed into one time frame ever. 

With that said, my wardrobe mostly consists of comfy pyjamas, my hair is done by my husband (bless his heart). Speaking of hair, let’s be real… I can’t even wash my own hair, there I go again painting a whole different picture for you guys. I have care almost every day, and a lot of things I’m unable to do. Fabulous means SO many different things, but I still haven’t lost my fabulous, even if I’ve lost my ability to do all of these things by myself.

When I choose to do my makeup it takes me sometimes close to 5 hours or more, but I don’t mind because it’s every couple of months or so – and it makes me SO happy! Despite what I share in photos, we create a picture to make others happy as well.

What matters is the love, the laughter, the same outlook I’ve promised to have from the beginning hasn’t changed.

My message is being delivered with the same sparkle (most days)  ☺️✨ because that’s what PHEO VS FABULOUS is all about.

Regardless of everything that we have been going through to make it here, we’re here, and we feel just as grateful as ever.

When we were challenged, we leaned on each other for the support we so badly needed.

We felt so blessed for the support we constantly receive.

It isn’t in me to give up, the only thing to do now is move forward. To unfortunately just keep receiving another treatment and see what’s next.


What IS next you ask? 

Remember option 1 or 2? Well, today is # 2. Actually this week is a bit of both… except today is …

leaving the spot I’m most comfortable in. (You know, normally I’m confined to my house)

AND, this week is being confined to a space … but unfortunately not the space I’m most comfortable in, quite the opposite actually – I wouldn’t call the hospital or a radiation room my comfort zone. 🏥☠️

BUT that’s the life of being terminally ill 😷 treatments, clinical trials, being radioactive, a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do! ✌🏼🏥👸🏻

After all that jazz I will be laying in the big spaceship scans later in the week… pretending I’m getting a facial in my Dream bungalow house in the trees that has NO stairs, one of those swim spa pools where my poor body can float all year round, and a little all year round sunroom for my puppies & me to relax when I’m feeling down  🏡 sounds wonderful right? My mind is escaping there already. 

Dreaming, dreaming, dreaming ✨✨✨

Ok, time to glow friends 👋🏽😄

Tuesday is the actual day for treatment, PS 🏥☢️ In case you guys forgot what treatment it is, it’s the PRRT clinical trial  – this will be my fourth round.

(Which also happens to be serge and my 7 year anniversary 😑, which also happens to somehow ALWAYS be spent in the hospital 😪😭)

Bye everybody!

🛣🚘

IMG_5823

The things canc… (or maybe just me) sometimes don’t want to admit.

Where did all my time go?

I woke up this morning having gone through the day quite upset, I’ve had a couple of consecutive days like this. This is really unlike me, but there is a reason leading up to this sudden feeling of sadness.

Why?

Because I’ve come to the realization that my cancer is invading my body at a much quicker pace than I expected, causing me to become a person that I woke up this morning and hardly recognize.

((When I say the cancer is invading my body, it doesn’t mean the disease necessarily, yes in some cases it has, but it’s also the act of trying to make it go away and the side effects, the subsequent diseases of the cancer, living with cancer doesn’t always mean “THIS LITERAL cancer” that will make you sick))

I talk about adapting, staying positive, and not losing hope.

We can put those things aside for a second, I’m talking about literally having to accept the fact that who I was 1 year ago, NO forget that… even…. 2-6 months ago, is a COMPLETE and utter distant memory of who I am right now today.

How is this possible?

Do you wake up and have that happen to YOU?

The rate of which I have to keep up with the changing dynamic of my body is unfair, in fact I don’t even have the proper words for it. Unfair doesn’t sum up the right amount of feeling I have towards it.

I feel the only proof I have of who I am are the photographs I am incessantly taking and even then it doesn’t prove anything because sometimes I have better days than others and can make myself look like an entirely different non-cancer having person in a photo, which is the point. I want to look like a healthy person, not a sick person for a day when I get all make-up’d and ‘pretty’. So that leaves me with nothing.

Just the sudden wake up call that “wasn’t I able to do this this this AND THIS 1 month ago and now I can’t even get a glass of water from the fridge without it being a massive ordeal afterwards?!

Wasn’t I able to do this or that 2 weeks ago?

Hey when did I start having to use the wheelchair all the time outside of the house?

Do you remember? Neither do I.

Why is everything happening so quickly? If it keeps happening at this rate, what will it look like in another 6 months?

I’m scared to ask that question, but I did. Now I can’t stop thinking about it.

I don’t want to say it’s normal – maybe a better term would be inevitable, but I’ve talked about this many times before.

What’s not normal, is it happening again and again… what I didn’t realize is that I’ve been forced to become so different yet again in such a scarcely short period of time, I’ve no choice but to wonder what’s next for me in the near future if this is now my reality?


Not being able to use the stairs regularly in my house and sometimes having to use a wheelchair……

to being bed ridden and the only activity you have and can’t even look forward to is the bathroom because it sets off your worst attacks?

Now you’re being moved to the main floor, goodbye upstairs, see you only for bathtimes. Goodbye Barbie room, master closet, bedroom, sleeping with your husband, all of the ‘normal’ things you had left’. BYE 👋🏼

This isn’t so bad, the adaptive side you talked about – the good perspective? Until the good things went away. Now you can’t even do a few steps in your own house without a dreaded pheo attack. A few steps and you’re a goner, time for that bathroom routine again. Even then, it’s dangerous. 🚽⛔️ now you need assistance, because you know you’re going to have some kind of heart or blood pressure crisis just taking a few steps from your bed to any direction and it’s terrifying. 

You know you will need pain intervention every couple of hours because your body is finding ways of becoming even more disagreeable, and your just suffering at all times now.




Treatment is in a couple of days, and all I can think about it is …

“more pain, more complications to add”

Of course then I snap out of it, I have no choice.

I’m in this situation, the only opportunity I have for a change is this treatment. It’s a potential chance for me to be able to have a difference short term outcome, each time I go it’s a chance to be different, less pain, less crisis, back to ‘normal’ within my self, so I need to have hope.

You always have to find hope someplace. This is where mine is currently coming from. Although right now I have very little, it’s being replaced with fear. I know that’s horrible to say – but that’s what this post was for, to admit things people normally don’t say.

I get hope every day from my god, my husband, and my family & friends.

I may not always admit that I’m scared, that things are moving too quickly, that my life is spiraling out of control… but I’m just like everyone else, a 26 year old woman who’s suffering like crazy with a cancer that’s taking over at a rate that I don’t know how to control that runs into doctors that don’t listen to me because I’m too ‘complicated’!

Sometimes the Pheo is a little more in charge than you might think…

F*?k you cancer, & YOU pheo.

xox

Fabulous

 IMG_4884.JPG

I really need your help…Rare Disease Day

I’m dying

but you already knew that – I just had to grab your attention

The number one complaint you will hear from patients who suffered from being misdiagnosed or being undiagnosed is that nobody listened to them

Why?

Because they were “too rare” 

These are the people who then had to hear these words, the diagnosis that shattered their entire world… Just much too late for it to count …

There’s no cure, we can only manage the symptoms and pain ”

“With the limited information we have.. People live for about 1-5 years” 

“it’s 1 in 5 million once it spreads, I’ve never seen it personally, you’re very rare!” 



It’s Rare Disease Day

I thought that I would offer a different perspective – one that could explain what this day means better than anyone, and why it’s so important to share this message.

Today is rare disease day, they call them zebras. 
Zebras are the last diseases that doctors look for. The obvious ones are called Horses, those are the ones the Doctors are used too. So they get to cure those on time.

I have a Zebra at home so it’s the one the doctors didn’t catch in time. She is my beautiful wife 26 years old she is what we call paleative.

My wish is that the doctors would of listened when she was telling them that her illness was back and did proper testing instead of blaming it on anxiety, it would of been treatable she would of had 1 thumor instead of 16 impossible to treat.

So please doctors I beg you to listen to your Zebras when they say they know their illness is back and don’t look at the ‘Horse’ if they are Zebras. Continue on treating them like Zebras.

If you have a Zebra in your family fight for them don’t let the doctors see them as Horses.

I’m very happy of how I’ve taken care of you since you were diagnosed butt I really regret the way I did not react before. If I would of known better it would of been different. I know it’s not just my fault but I still carry with me a lot of blame, I always think if I had known more back then I would have fought harder for you, if I just would have known there were more tests, I trusted in them and I shouldn’t have. I would have never taken no for an answer, we just didn’t know what more to do. We didn’t know what to research for, we didn’t know we had to. And I’m so Sorry baby😪

Now we are doing everything we didn’t know how to do back then, and it’s helping others. I’m so proud of you. You will help so many other people not feel the way we did that day. I love you so much!!

Thank you for reading!!!

This is what it’s all about, to hopefully help rare diseases like mine (pheochromocytoma) cancer become less of an unknown disease to all involved. Eventually making these misdiagnoses, and undiagnosed patients less of a problem.

Help us become less rare.

Help keep sharing the information. 

Every day I struggle through my pain to write any little detail so that there will finally be information available – any information available to others about this rare disease. Explain what it is to participate in treatments, procedures, and rare trials real time…I patiently repeat myself as I explain what pheochromocytoma is over and over again to anyone and everyone.

All I ask is that you share my message further, just SHARE!

I have one common goal in mind… help make this disease less painful for the next person. Make this disease less of a struggle for the next family, less of a mystery for the next patient, more information available to the next medical team, and hopefully…

Whatever they can do to give us with more time, and better quality of life.

I know there’s no cure, but it would be really nice to not suffer so much while we’re waiting.

There’s one single day for thousands of rare diseases to become less rare and get the awareness, funding, and exposure they are looking for – all crammed into one 24 hour period. Why is that? 


Are we less important than someone who has a different disease? Am I dying any differently? 

This is why I need your help, today and everyday… but ESPECIALLY today, let’s make today count for all of us zebras.

Let’s make our February 28th 2017 Rare Disease Day worth it!

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Share to become less rare !

Pheo VS Fabulous

#pheovsfabulous

 

 

 

 

 

“Just Stay Fabulous”…

Just Stay Fabulous…

I am so honored to finally share some very exciting news right before Rare Disease Day.

Seeing as though I am just about to enter into my third consecutive round of treatment, it’s about time we see a little positive news and opportunity for awareness…

I have been featured in Health Monitor’s “Guide to Metastatic Cancer” magazine!

I was contacted to share my tips on how to make life a little bit more enjoyable while living with cancer… or rather just having done harsh treatments.

What an incredible thing to be asked, what do I know better than the next person? I’m just taking things one day at a time, having my share of awful days. I guess the difference is I’ve chosen to share most of my journey on a platform for all to read, which is how they found me. I may not have a very fortunate outcome, but I am blessed to be able to help so many others get through theirs with the honesty of mine.

I have attached the screen shots as well as the FULL PDF version of the entire magazine just below 🙂

I really hope many of you can connect to some element of it, it’s not pheo specific – so hopefully everyone can take something out of my ‘guide’.

I’d like to say here that the most important point I forgot was helping others like me, bringing them joy and information, it will now and forever be my most rewarding experience. It’s what makes ME ‘thrive during treatment’.

Love you all,

Thank you Kathleen for connecting with me and helping me share my message ❤

cover-health-monitorindex-health-monitorthrive-during-treatment
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Pheo VS Fabulous 

XOX

#pheovsfabulous

Can·cer & Quality of Life

can·cer
ˈkansər/ – disease; causing the body and mind to adapt, overcome, and embrace change.
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Quality of life: What do these three seemingly simple words mean to you? 

Someone who is living with a permanent illness which will impact their ‘quality of life’, will hear this phrase from time to time.

Someone like me who is considered a ‘palliative care patient’, which is a polite way of saying my disease will eventually kill me, this term gets thrown around a lot, but do we ever stop to think about what it truly means?

I used to just see it as phrase.
I actually used to see many things as just phrases, words put together to fill silences in sterile rooms to allow for some sort of relief from the inevitable uncomfortable points of cancer.

Until you live them, you are intimate with each word, and you get to know what each one will mean to you… you get to appreciate what kind of quality you’d like to live, and start to live it.

 

I am going to share my perception of these words, and hopefully..
they will not just be words to you either.

 

This phrase, ‘quality of life’, it’s meant to bring a sense of comfort, a level of respect,
a sign that no matter what the cancer is going to take from you – we are going to do our best to keep you comfortable while all of these changes take place, and most importantly…
just keep you who you are.

There’s the first problem: expectations. If we don’t adjust our own expectations and EXPECT this disease to change us, this will be the first disappointment, the very first of many tears, and the beginning of the harsh reality which is called life with cancer.

We cannot simply continue to live our pre-cancer, pre-adrenal insufficiency, post surgery, post treatment, etc etc, the exact same way we did before…
right?

Well, I kinda did. I think we all do in some respects, and that’s normal.
The difficulty is realizing where you can no longer do so,
and where you need to adjust your expectations.

I didn’t say give up there, did I? …

Time to ADAPT

So here comes the hard part, once you start to change… no one but you can prepare you for this.

The next time you hear “You’re so strong!”, don’t shy away from it when someone admires your strength. Think about what it means to them, what it means to you, and how you have truly earned it.

So, you start changing, and this ‘quality of life’ thing everyone keeps talking about, seems like a very far away ideal at this point…

How am I supposed to have any sort of Quality of Life when this disease is doing nothing but take take take? “

I don’t even have a life anymore, so how am I supposed to have a ‘quality’ one…?

Everything I am doing is supposed to ‘provide me with better quality of life’, but after procedure I’m left feeling worse and can do less…

How am I not supposed to lose hope?

FAST FORWARD a few months… 

My disease moves quickly, sometimes it seems like I can blink and not recognize myself physically, or suddenly go from walking around seemingly ‘normal’ to being completely bed ridden for months and needing a wheelchair the rest of the time. THAT was the most surprising, and still is…

OVERCOME

 Did I tell you how wonderful it feels to simply be a little more kind to yourself? 


After all… how am I supposed to have any sort of life if I am not going to accept the fact that my life is different? Change is constant, and I need to be willing to accept that although my life is very different, it’s mine.

The fact that I wake up every day, is a beautiful thing. 


The fact that I have woken up each day with a smile, and gone to bed each night the same way…

ADAPTING to each new circumstance, OVERCOMING each new situation.

Most importantly, understanding that even the smallest victories are worth celebrating, simple joys are to be found and appreciated everyday, because these ‘small’ and ‘simple’ things to someone else… probably mean the world to you.

Remember, although your life is different… it’s YOUR life, and these are the things that make the quality of your living.

Embracing Change …

Throughout most of my story, I’ve chosen to share personal aspects of my life to help others come to the same realizations and places I am, but hopefully not have to suffer quite as much to get there.

Just in the last two months, having another treatment to control my disease has confined me to my upstairs floor, i’ve suffered the worst pain so far this disease has given me. It’s made me question my quality of life, since being palliative, I’m supposed to be as comfortable as possible, and enjoy my quality of life. Instead I’ve been writhing in pain, stuck in a bed, unable to leave the upstairs floor of my house, lonely, defeated.

It made me question…
“Now how will we get through this one?”

And we did.

Because…

Cancer makes you… ADAPT, OVERCOME.

Months ago, my perception of having home care and setting up a bedroom on my bottom floor?

My response would have been: ARE YOU NUTS? I’m not doing that! Why would I do that!?
Now!? I’m only 25 years old, I’m not putting a hospital bed in my living room, that will never go with my decor! (priorities, jeeze)…

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Remember those simple joys? Small victories?

Well THIS was the greatest joy, a godsend, a MASSIVE victory!

_________________________________________________________________

I can now see out a window, I have LIFE fluttering around me, I can see my husband cooking in the kitchen, I can see my dogs run around the house, I could go and choose a very pink blanket for my new bed (ha!)
I can actually walk to the kitchen and serve myself a drink or snack when I’m feeling well,
I was able to have a christmas tree, I can drift off to sleep right in front of my fire-place,
watch the snow fall down… 

_________________________________________________________________

 

That smile? It was fading slightly for the first time when I was confined upstairs for all those days, it was still there… but it just wasn’t quite as bright.

That’s what quality of life is

Those aren’t just words, This is MY life

And this smile? It’s brighter than ever now…

You too will be able to adapt to your new changing situation, overcome your new challenges, and embrace the changes as they come. You just have to remember… your new life is exactly that, a new life. You must explore the beauty it has to show, the joy it has to give, and the blessings it has to offer.

Just remember, there’s no right or wrong when it comes to your life.

 

As long as you’re the one who’s smiling at the beginning and end of it 🙂

Pheo VS Fabulous ❤
xox

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 42, M.I.A

I really must apologize for those of you who follow my blog, and expect a semi regular posting of updates. I honestly do get an overwhelming feeling of responsibility towards my blog, to the people who I am sharing with. My goal was to be able to share EVERY part of my journey while it was happening.

I think I was a bit ambitious… as most things are that I set out to do.
Not realizing that every year, month, even days, cancer will continue to make my life and the things in it that I once thought ‘simple’…a little more of a challenge. 

Most of you have probably gathered from my last couple of posts
“Leaving Today” & “What’s going on – 2016” that I am participating
in a radiotherapy clinical trial, called PRRT. As of October, things got a little bit busy…
When November hit, it was like an instant ON switch flipped, then someone pressed GO!
Everything just got out of control, things got real. 

You never know just how difficult something will be until you actually go through it,
that’s why here I am writing to you all 42 days post treatment, only now having the mental stamina and energy in order to begin sharing, thinking, or doing anything besides …. well, suffering. Did I say suffering? I meant convalescing. Hehe.. I may even be getting some of my sarcasm back.

So, the point is… I wanted to let everyone know that although I am not what you would call ‘okay’, I am here, and doing my best to adapt to this new phase of treatment. I figured since I am now in a place where I can finally see the screen without the words being blurry, or stay awake for more than 5 minutes in a row, and not be distracted by the pain of my kidneys feeling like they’re going to erupt… I should give a small update of where I am currently. That might be nice, since I am not quite at the point where I am able to give the breakdown of what PRRT therapy IS yet & all of the details of what it entails
(future post *coming soon* I PROMISE!) 

Update:
Since getting home from having radioactive therapy mid November… 
 
-I’ve been bed ridden
-Unable to leave my upper floor
(well, I’ve managed to now leave the upstairs a total of 3 times in 42 days)
-My body has went through every side effect and stage of pain imaginable listed as a potential option, and I think made up it’s own list to add 
-We have had to get a team of people to help with my care 
-I am starting to feel a tiny bit better, I’m no longer having pheo attacks every half hour (*more like every few hours now*) and I can eat now without nausea most of the time, I am able to go pee without feeling like I’m going to have a heart attack afterwards (well, SOMETIMES)…!, we are making a bit of progress. I won’t get too far ahead of myself here. 

Of course when I give my detailed post about PRRT I will write way more about my symptoms, side effects, and current state, super in depth by date and comparisons. Right now I just wanted to let everyone know that this has been incredibly tough on me and this is the reason why I have been completely unable to communicate.

This treatment is done in rounds, which means I am coming up on my next one in January, probably why I am starting to feel a little bit better, ha! My body is finally to begin to have a bit of strength for the next blast.

Nonetheless, this is where we are currently, and why I have been unable to communicate with the rest of the world. Those of you who have kept in contact with me despite my hiding out, bless you and your concerns

If I haven’t been able to answer you or gotten back to you, please know that I am thinking about you and appreciate your words, prayers, and messages so so much.
I have read every single one of them.

I love you all, 

Fabulous 
XOX 

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Coming soon… 
A detailed overview of my PRRT clinical trial

Remedy for the rare: PRRT (Overview) 

Leaving today…

Oh hey guys 👋🏼

You may have to do a slight refresher from my last post, but otherwise I’m going to keep it short. I will definitely go more in detail about what’s to come soon…

I’m just so exhausted and can barely keep my eyes open while I’m typing and covered in my favorite fuzzy blankets and every pink and purple unicorn pillow/stuffed animal I own

🦄✨💜

You guessed it…… LONG DISTANCE ROAD TRIP!

To where you ask? To do what you might be wondering? We will get to all of that!

First off, I’m kind of sorry and not sorry for dropping off the planet for a little while. Since I’ve started at home chemo that is EVERYDAY, twice a day, it’s a bit hard to want to then blog about cancer when you have very little left to give. What I did have left, I ended up having to use to prepare for the upcoming cancer CLINICAL TRIAL 👏🏼  Yes, that’s a whole lot of cancer. Which we will get more into when I have more time/energy. So you can see why I am sooooo sleepy 😴😷😪

Remember back when we discussed doing the first clinical trial? The very exclusive nuclear scan that was only being done on a limited group of people to see if their tumors would light up and be eligible for ANOTHER clinical trial?

Basically, it was a special scan to see if you could participate in another form of radiation type therapy. Well… Here’s a recap of everything.

So I did that, and passed the test! My tumors lit up, lots of them, so… That means I can have the special radiation called PRRT radiotherapy. (Similar to what I did back in January, the MIBG radiotherapy) but still different.

Don’t worry, I’ll be writing all about this when I’m not so depleted.

I just wanted everyone to know what was happening so far. This week has been very overwhelming, everything has been so last minute, we were informed of my acceptance within a few days of admittance, and all I can say is how grateful I am to not be a beginner at this whole treatment thing. This last minute…. We would be FREAKING out way more, but we’re veterans, so we’re only freaking out on the inside….. A little…. Ha

-This morning we left, today is a hours and hours full of travel where we will eventually make it to our hotel and check in, and spend our last night together  😰😝

– Tomorrow (Monday) I unfortunately get checked into the hospital, alone. A new unknown hospital….! 😳🏥

(I have to start getting prepped with special meds, since the treatment will make my pheo tumors angry. Hopefully by being admitted into the hospital and being prepped with special medications, this will lessen my chances of complications)

– Tuesday @ 7:30am I begin to get prepped for treatment ⚗☠

-Tuesday @ 9am treatment commence! 🎉✨☠

The rest of the week is unknown, I do know I will be less radioactive this time in comparison to last time’s treatment. Which means I shouldn’t be isolated as long.

That’s all for now.

Will share more about our previous trip to Quebec City to prep for the trial, acceptance, and WHAT IS PRRT?

Until then…

Stay fab

💖

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MIBG & Iodine Allergy

You can kind of call me a pro scanner by now, I’ve only done like a thousand. (Okay, maybe not 1000, but A LOT)

My insides like taking pictures just as much as my outside.

It’s that time again, MIBG time! An MIBG is specifically designed to visualize certain types of neuroendocrine tumors like mine, pheochromocytoma being the focus of my discussion as this is the cancer I have.

As many of you know – MIBG is also used as a therapeutic agent as well, I just had my radioactive treatment in January, and this scan is just another segment of my follow up protocol before we dive into the next steps of my treatment.

For those of you who are about to have an MIBG scan and are wondering what it’s all about, I figured I would give you the deets! I even make it more fun and complicates as always as I have an allergy to iodine & contrast – so I’ll explain what the protocol is when this is the case.



MIBG Scan 

Alright pheo friends, your nuclear medical centre or cancer centre should call you and book a date for your injection, and then you will have your scan date booked anywhere from 2-3 days later.

Example:

Monday – Injection     Thursday – MIBG Scan

Why?

The MIBG product takes time to attach to the tumor cells.

BEFORE you go in for your injection they will need to send a prescription of thyroid blocker to your local pharmacy.

The protocol for the thyroid blocker varies depending on the type given, for example – because I have an allergy to iodine – I am given potassium perchlorate and so the timing and protocol differs for this product from Lugol’s iodine. Please refer to your doctor’s instruction when taking your thyroid blocker, but ALWAYS ensure you take your thyroid blocker before your scan!!!  

NO EXCEPTIONS! 

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Day 1: Go into receive your dose of radioactive “glow” as I like to call it, ha! We have to think positive now don’t we?  I have to start taking Benadryl early in the morning (around 6am) for a 10pm injection, and then continue taking 50mg doses every 6hours for 24-48hours. I have to stay and be monitored after receiving my injection for at least an hour and make sure I don’t have any initial reaction while at the hospital, and if I am okay, I can go home and continue with my allergy protocol.

You won’t be scanned on this day, just poked and injected with some good old radioactive mixtures, it will do it’s magic and hopefully find it’s way to your tumor cells… and then you will go back in 2-3 days (whenever your appt is) and complete your actual scanning portion!

(Edit- Question answered: This portion isn’t like a PET scan where you will spend at least an hour with a warm blanket in that beautiful reclining chair, it is a very quick injection of radioactive material, (in a comfy recliner though!) 😜

There is no fasting required for an MIBG scan, or injection, neither part 1 or 2 requires fasting protocol unless your doctor instructs otherwise, but out of the 5+ times, I have never.

There are SOME medications they may require you stop taking before your scan, the nuclear medicine team will discuss this with your endocrinologist, surgeon, oncologist, whoever ordered the scan for you. Some medications can interfere with the result of the scan, it can lead to false results as the test relies on norepinephrine uptake and some medications can interfere with this pathway. They will inform you if you need to or not.

I’m sure you can ask for a blanket if you’re cold, they’re always such sweethearts. The only “waiting period” is for when you have an allergy, they typically ask you to wait to be monitored, because my nuclear medicine team is amazing, I get a comfy stretcher and a warm blanket 😉 I hope this answers your questions Cathy!  💛

Tomorrow (or today rather, as I have to be up in a couple of hours to go…!) I will be doing part 2 of my MIBG scan, I will update you on the exciting details of the scanning portion.

If you have questions, leave them down below!

I forgot the most important part… don’t forget to smile, laugh, and stay fab!

MIBG - Injection