Reclaiming my power

I’m feeling very inspired lately, my urge to make a difference is strong.

I sometimes get an overwhelming feeling of responsibility to prevent what happened to me, from happening to someone else.

I know I can’t save the world, I know I can’t prevent every terminal diagnosis, misdiagnosis, and suffering.

That’s not going to stop me from trying.

There’s a number of things I’ve learned over the past year or so, my brain is more awake. I’ve come to realize there are so many important aspects of healing, and improving quality of life.

The issue started with the moment I was diagnosed with terminal illness, it was like my life became less important. That my life was no longer going to be about living, but dying.

I don’t accept this view, this is why I’m challenging the way terminal illness is viewed. Even by ourselves.

The purpose of this post was to share some specific points of my treatment and management journey, so that maybe someone who’s living with metastatic pheochromocytoma or similar, can maybe take something from my experience. As we know, there’s no cure. Only symptom management.

But as I write, it’s become more powerful than just a bullet point list of things that have helped me.

Treatment isn’t a one size fits all, nor can it happen overnight.

I’ve suffered, I’ve triumphed, I’ve lost hope, regained hope, fought for my life, and continue to keep living. Really living. I’ve accepted that I’ll never ring a bell that tells the world “I’m cured!”

So I’m going to share with you a recap of my treatment journey, and then I’m going to expand into what I’ve learned about healing and improving my overall quality of life.

Feel free to get lost in the highlighted linked words and read detailed past experiences

Keep reading, it gets good.

October 2014diagnosed with terminal metastatic pheochromocytoma after being misdiagnosed with anxiety for 4 years

November 2014– changed doctors and formed an entire medical team specializing in rare neuroendocrine tumors

I didn’t know why, but I felt that overwhelming urge to share. To document. I wanted my misdiagnosis to have purpose. I wanted to be heard. I wanted it to matter.

April 2015– started my blog, sharing my experience, channeling my anger into helping others.

May 2015- first treatment effort: had a massive surgery to de-bulk the amount of disease

(I had over 50 tumors at this time)

November 2015- started losing my hair, no known reason at the time other than stress on the body, started to see more physical impact of the disease

Exactly one year later after my terminal diagnosis, I received another life changing diagnosis.

My remaining adrenal died. I was now going to be reliant on steroids to live for the remainder of my life. I was now adrenal insufficient.

Atleast this explained the hair loss and not being able to keep my eyes open for more than 30 seconds at a time. Problem solved.

Not quite… but more on that later

January 2016- happy new year! Just kidding, time for my introduction to specialized radiotherapy. This is not radiation, this is direct radioactive poison into your blood stream.

Things would move quickly now, my symptoms were out of control. They needed to intervene, and quickly. But there’s a lot of prep to do for a serious procedure like this safely.

Within the first 20 days of January:

Bone marrow transplant: This was one of the most uncomfortable things I did, as far as pain. Who knew I’d have to go through several procedures just to get ONE treatment? It’s a stem cell transfer where you donate your bone marrow to yourself in case of failure after radiotherapy treatment. It’s quite genius actually. I highly recommend doing this, because if your marrow fails, you need to find a transplant match. In my case, it was just waiting for me on ice in a special vault. Cool, right?

pharmaceutical blockade: preparing my body for the extreme dose of poison. Trying to get my vitals to a low level so that when my tumors explode adrenaline during treatment, I won’t die.

Complications: my thyroid stopped working. More medication for life. But atleast I won’t keep suffering from all those weird unexplained symptoms, right? Wrong, my adrenal insufficiency would continuously be an issue with all of the stress on my body, I could never get enough cortisol. I was burning it too quickly, my body was too stressed from all of the prep, I hadn’t even done the treatment yet.

Well now that I’m ready for MIBG, it’s time to administer the treatment.

January 20th: 3:30pm-5:30pm I became a medical experiment, a spectacle. One of the first to undergo such a treatment at the hospital for this disease. A scary, and confusing time for everyone involved. You can read about my experience here

All better. Just kidding, I actually felt a lot worse. I was in so much pain, and I couldn’t get my attacks under control. The MIBG treatment actually set off my tumors more, so I was suffering greatly. I was praying every day for a moment of reprieve. I thought I’d never see a good day again. I didn’t know what it felt like to be normal anymore. I just knew pain.

March 2016– “I don’t know what to do next…” this is not something you want to hear from your highly specialized doctor. But even the best doctors become perplexed when it comes to such a rare disease. Especially when it’s not cooperating. At all. It was just getting worse. It would be a bit of time before I’d get the official round of data compiled to know whether or not it had worked. Let’s stay hopeful

May 2016- it had kind of made a difference, but the results were ‘disappointing’. Great. Now what do we do? More tests of course.

June 2016– test month. Sooo many tests. So much travel. We are exhausted 😢

July 2016- it can’t get worse? Can it? Until it did. Chemo is being discussed. No no no, chemo is the last option. That’s what I was told in the beginning and it never left my mind. “Chemo is only something we do when there’s nothing left, it’s not a very effective option for this type of cancer”. So why are we doing it now?! It’s not the end. I’ll keep fighting. I promise! I’ll do anything.

Too bad, it’s time to introduce another team member: an oncologist.

July 27 2016- the oncologist. I actually really liked him, I still do. He’s an essential part of my team. Every mind is better than one. But I didn’t agree with his ideas at the time. I did NOT want to chemo, I did however that day learn about immunotherapy, TK inhibitor therapies, and so much more.

August 2016: new plan. I want PRRT. I heard about it from a support group, yes that’s right. A potential radiotherapy experimental treatment I was betting my future on, I heard from another thriver. See the importance of sharing? So we pushed heavily for this treatment, but it was still in clinical trial phase, oh boy. I’d need to meet a lot of requirements, only 50 people were being accepted.. only 4 places in the world were doing it.. ok my odds aren’t looking great.

You haven’t met doctor cupcakes.

Within 24 hours I was accepted into the testing for the clinical trial. My husband is a miracle worker, or he just really loves me. This is only part 1, a highly specialized scan that can look at the tumors at a cellular level. This was considered the gold standard. I wanted it, I needed it. I was getting it!

Here’s the thing with the scan, it’s not like a regular CT scan or MRI. These types of scans are specific to neuroendocrine tumors like mine. It won’t pick up a regular cancer. It also requires your tumors to be receptive. Still following me?

In order for your tumors to light up on the scan, a gallium scan is designed to be highly sensitive to somatostatin receptors. If your tumors don’t have this, they won’t light up. And you can’t get the PRRT treatment.

Lucky for me… my tumors lit up like a Christmas tree.

Accepted!

Isn’t it weird you can be excited to see an abundance of tumors on a scan? This disease is weird.

I’m getting tired, so please read about my PRRT experience here. In one year I did 3 super high doses of radiotherapy, different treatments entirely, and so many tests your head would literally spin.

January 2017- I still needed 2 more rounds of PRRT. It was so hard on me. It seemed like I had every side effect possible. My experience wasn’t going as smoothly as others. I kept wondering 💭 why do I always have it so much worse? Am I weaker? Do I just complain more? No, it can’t be. This is too much.

Fast forward

I had completed the 2 more rounds of PRRT. I had such high hopes. It was getting more difficult to live, to function, stairs were impossible, I was living in the main room of my house, in a hospital bed. My life was very different now.

We sold our home, I moved into my dream condo. No stairs, open concept, cozy, peaceful view, everything I ever wanted to be comfortable and continue to find a way to live with this disease. You have to find ways to adapt. This was ours.

November 2017- I spent my first night on my new condo, I slept beside my husband for the first time in months. Since the bedroom was accessible now.

I received a phone call, unknown caller. I always know that’s bad news. It’s the hospital.

“Can no longer participate in the clinical trial…”

Tumors not responding…”

Palliative care…”

Just keep her comfortable”

This is what I remember. I’m sure there was a lot more to it. But what I took from it, I’m dying. I’m being told this is the end of my road over the phone. There’s no more hope. I politely asked my husband and my mom to give me some time to myself. I locked myself in my room. This seemed like another moment I should document. I felt I should grieve privately, but my heart was telling me I should share my raw feelings and reaction. I thought of all the other people who had been in this situation, and I felt that urge to share again. It was bigger than me. So I filmed my initial thoughts.

Palliative– I went down a very confusing road, it all seemed to blur together. The only time I got out was to go to hospital appts. I could barely make it to the bathroom alone. My home care team always wanted to talk about ‘my wishes’. My wish is to live, for as long as possible. My wish is to not talk about dying. But that’s apparently not an appropriate wish when you’re palliative.

Unbelievable things started happening.. I started to realize what it really was like the moment your status changes to ‘palliative’

You’re seen differently. You no longer get the same options. Your life becomes about dying. When to die. How to die. Where to die.

It was when I was kicked out of my local hospital for refusing to sign a DNR (do not resuscitate) that I realized… I’m in trouble. This is no joke. I need to get better, I need to show them! I’m still here, I’m not dying, I have so much life in me, please listen!

My husband and I started to feel very overwhelmed and for the first time… unsafe. Unsettled. We no longer felt protected. Nothing made sense. He would keep me alive with breathing machines we bought ourself, to treat my pneumonia at home.

We clung to each other, we held onto our last shreds of hope, we would lay down in my twin sized hospital bed that made its way back into my living room. We would hold each other so damn tight, as if I’d disappear if he let go, the tears falling on one another, reminding us that I’m still alive. I’m still here. You can feel me. My heart is beating against yours, my tears are warm, only he could see it.

Everyone else was giving up on me.

The trauma we went through during this period… it’s indescribable. So much happened. I’m not going to go into it, you can choose to look further into my blog, but this post isn’t for that.

My pain was out of control, despite “keeping me comfortable”, home care was unable to get my pain under control. My medications kept increasing, the pain would get worse.

Any time we would call for advise, they’d say to give more medication. Get me out of pain. The cycle would repeat, and I’d be in more pain.

What is happening? Is this what dying feels like? You’re just in a constant state of pain? I thought it was supposed to be comfortable.

Maybe I wasn’t ready to die

I will quote myself from a previous blog entry:

“As my limbs become so weak I can no longer walk around, touch becomes unbearable, my speech is becoming more strained, my brain becoming mush. The pain is excruciating. My doses become even more frequent”

“So tired. So so tired”

“As my breath becomes more and more painful, more shallow, harder to gasp for air, my skin begins to heat up so much that it starts to fall off. Why is this happening? It has to be the cancer. Time for more medication”

“Miranda is having a lot of breathing troubles, what do I do??”

“She’s unable to walk or and can barely form a sentence, she’s passing out ALL the time, can’t keep her eyes open! What do I do??”

More medication.

November 2018- if we weren’t going to get the proper help locally, it was time to get me to my super doctors. The ones who kept me alive before all of this palliative care nonsense. If my husband had to carry me on his shoulders to the car, he would have. Luckily I had a wheelchair. We drove to Montreal, I was admitted immediately. No one could figure out why I was so damn sick. Why I was in so much pain. How could I be on so much pain controlling medication, but be suffering THIS much? I was a medical mystery, sometimes a zebra is a unicorn.

Every.single.day was a guessing game, what’s wrong with Miranda?

I will quote myself again from a previous blog post …

The one thing I knew so far: every nurse, doctor, and specialist could not believe how much pain medication I was taking. Some didn’t even want to administer it. I was getting worried, it’s the one thing that gives me relief, why are they so against it?”

My nurse, we will call her Angel, she outright said to Serge that the medication is what’s causing all of my pain. She said that some people react differently to opioids, and that not everything meant to help you is going to. Sometimes it can be the problem, and you can have a reverse effect. Just like that, mind blown”

But it can’t be that. I have cancer, it’s what’s causing my pain. I’m dying. They told me. All my doctors told me. That’s what everyone has been saying for years now, take more medication to be comfortable”

I was so angry at Nurse Angel, what did she know? Medication, bullshit

Fast forward two months in the hospital 🏥

It was my medication, kind of. What no one knew at this time was that I had suspected mast cell disease. Even as I’m writing this I am not officially diagnosed but being actively treated.

Since the very beginning, the unknown sensitivity to treatment, to chemicals, my amplified side effects, my heightened symptoms, the unexplained pain, the inability to breathe, the declining unexplained health… it all makes sense suddenly

My master cells were being attacked by the disease, causing them to be broken. High levels of mast cells mediators were being released into my system, similar to my tumors, bursting chemicals into my system that make you flare up into extreme reactions.

The pain medication was making everything worse, since it was making the mast cell flares worse and more frequent. It was just a vicious cycle that wouldn’t end.

Until we fought like hell for answers. Until we demanded that I wouldn’t die like this. Until we changed the narrative. We saved my life. You can read about that part here

The funny part? I wouldn’t have known about mast cell disease had it not been for another patient/friend/advocate. I was too sick and confused to understand it at the time. So I didn’t push for answers.

I accepted that it was the medication causing it, and I moved on.

It would be an incredibly long road of healing, it still is.

Healing – we moved away, we moved to the city that saved me. We wanted to be close to the hospital that saved my life. We wanted to feel safe. So we left our friends and family, took our life savings, and we moved to what I imagined would be my ‘retirement home’. I still thought I was going to die soon, but I was happy to do it in peace. Without pain. With a clear mind.

But that’s not what happened is it?

I started walking to the elevator, using my legs, my muscles had completely died at this point. So I walked little steps every day. I finally made it to the door of my building. Then outside to the street. Then around the block. Then down to the water.

My body was healing, it was slowly recovering from all of the trauma. I was reconnecting with myself. We were finally able to take a breath.

Remember that moment when I started writing this, when I said I never thought I’d have a moment of reprieve? Well I did. I finally experienced it that day I made it to the water.

My mind was next, I was healing physically, but now I needed to heal mentally. We both did. We had gone through so much, how do you come back from that?

I was unable to share for quite some time during this period, I lost my ability to share my story.

The minute I got my voice back, I started sharing slowly, cautiously. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t understand it myself.

I didn’t understand how this could happen to me. How something could go so wrong. How I could be so close to death… but be so alive. I could have died because of a lack of knowledge.

I don’t like to blame, it’s not healthy for my mental well being. The lack of knowledge that exists is not a fault of anyone, it’s a flaw in our medical system that exists because of the rareness of this disease. It’s not fair, but it’s real.

Why do I share? Because it’s going to educate whoever reads this.

It’s going to push boundaries of the rules we are supposed to follow. We are supposed to be good patients and accept our fate.

Well I’m reclaiming my power, I’m slowly every day working on myself mentally and physically.

I’m doing things that bring me joy, I’m sharing things that make others aware, I’m connecting with who I’ve always been, I’m learning why I started this blog in the first place.

It wasn’t a choice, it was my purpose, it was a promise.

I promised I wouldn’t let this cancer take my fabulous, “Fabulous is your light, your smile, your energy, your positivity, your willfulness, your vitality, passion, excitement, beauty, laugh, and how you share it!” –

What you’re about to read is the very first statement I made when I started this blog. The blog that changed my life and so many others.

“This is my very first post, my first time writing a blog, and my first time speaking freely about my personal journey with pheochromocytoma cancer…. and staying fabulous while doing it!

Pheo VS Fabulous was born from the promise that I would never let this disease take away the one thing I could control, and I’ve labeled that my fabulous. When I became ill I realized how much we take for granted, and it started with how day to day tasks are so challenging when you’re battling an illness like pheochromocytoma cancer, that’s when I decided I wouldn’t let it that away from me. It’s more than just looking a certain way, it’s about BEING fabulous, strong, and positive when you have every reason not to be.

The danger of something being so rare is that it goes undetected, unrecognized, and is one of the most misdiagnosed conditions. Leaving many of us undiagnosed, and looking for answers.

If you’re reading this, you might still be looking for some…

My goal is through sharing my vulnerabilities with all of you, finding the courage to share something so painfully personal, someone else may have less of a challenge in the future of being diagnosed, treated, and living with this disease, #pheochromocytoma – or any other ‘neuroendocrine cancers. #netcancer  #raredisease

The idea is that the more I share, the more information there will be available for a disease where this is so much lacking. Every procedure, every test, every treatment I will suffer through – I will continue to share my experiences so that others don’t have to keep grasping for answers like I did.

Although there is so much to cover… first off, pheo-chromo-cy-whatta?! We will get there darlings, I just want to say…

This blog is meant for awareness:

Awareness for a disease that only a handful of people in this massive universe know about, probably only because they were diagnosed”

—————————————————-

Isn’t that incredible? I told you, it was my purpose. Before I even knew what was I was talking about, why I was saying it, and what it would mean. I knew.

NOW – I’m finally in a place where I feel things are improved and better controlled. I have good days, I never thought I’d say that.

I think the most important aspect is treating comorbidity, if you have other illnesses going on, and they’re not being treated as effectively or focused on as much as the main cancer, the issue is it exhausts the nervous system and keeps triggering the Pheo episodes. Everything from the adrenals, the thyroid, mast cells, anything that can be impacted, make sure it’s being properly treated. Even my endometriosis finally being diagnosed and treated has helped, because it took so much pain and stress off my body. Pheo is so triggered by stress, so the more stress we can eliminate from our bodies physically, the better quality of life we will have.

I started this blog post wanted to share a bullet point list of what has helped me, my meds, my treatments, but I think my heart needed to share, and my soul needed to be emptied of everything I’ve been holding onto.

I started this entry by saying I sometimes get an overwhelming feeling of responsibility to prevent what happened to me, from happening to someone else. So now I’ve shared everything I possibly can to do that. Even after I’m gone, my story and my information will remain available forever.

I will continue to share, every experience, every new piece of the puzzle, but most of all… I’ll continue to share why I have hope.

We can’t heal until we are treated, so hopefully this will help you begin your journey for better treatment. I truly hope you will be able to feel that moment of reprieve I described.

I am terminal, and I am thriving.

I still have bad days, but more importantly… I have goood days!

I still have attacks almost every day, and mast cell flares, but I live with hope, happiness, faith, love, and I control what I can. I no longer live in fear, I am in control, I decide.

I live with a new mindset, I see clearly, I live purposefully, and I remember who I am.

More importantly, I want to help you do the same. That’s my purpose.

The rest is out of my hands, the rest i cope with. The rest I made peace with.

My terminal cancer and I live in peace with one another.

I live in peace

Your Questions…

A few weeks ago I asked you guys to ask me anything, I’m so happy to share with you the answers to your questions!

Watch below 🎬

Like and share!

Follow me on Facebook & Instagram: @pheovsfabulous

I have news …

Five years ago I was told I had 1-5 years to live. I sat in a white office with the same diabetes posters and bland medical facts I had looked at several times, and contemplated how angry I was. Angry because had I not been so ‘rare’, something might be different. Perhaps someone might have listened to me, instead of blaming my symptoms on anxiety. This was the worst day of my life.

If someone had just listened to me while I complained of symptoms for years, I would not be sitting here listening to how I had 18 tumors that metastasized all over my organs, and were now killing me at an aggressive rate.

I left the office that day SO angry, but that anger turned into determination. The fiercest determination I could have ever felt, I was not going to die because I wasn’t heard.

I would be heard.

For the last five years, I’ve been heard. I may have suffered along the way, I may have had to do every form of treatment possible, but I’ve been heard.

Not accepting my fate was one of the best decisions I could have made, even after countless disappointments and setbacks, despite being told again and again mountains of bad news, I didn’t give up.

We didn’t give up.

I have news …

 

Today I sat in a white office, waiting to see my oncologist to hear an update of my cancer progression. For the first time in the last five years, I held onto the hope I felt countless times, and waited for news.

It’s always bad news …

 

Not this time.

Today, for the first time since my diagnosis, I was told I was stable.

Stable

There’s no cure for the cancer I have, not at this stage. I was given palliative care, and supposed to await death. I was sent away to die at 24 years old.

I didn’t accept that, I fought. Hard.

Now I’m stable!!! DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS?

Stable means that for now I don’t have to continue treatment, I can take a break. Stable means I don’t have to go do any more scans for 6 whole months, 6 months! Stable means I can be in less pain, it means less attacks.

It means hope...

I’m writing this with tears in my eyes, because when I started this journey I just wanted to make a difference in as many peoples lives possible. To prevent suffering like mine. Today I feel that I can finally GIVE hope, the hope I’ve been clinging to so hard for the last few years.

Many of you have followed my journey from the beginning, clinging onto that hope just as hard. I’m finally able to tell you that I have good news, and it feels incredible.

If you’re reading this and you’re going through treatment, if you’re in pain, if you’re suffering, if you’ve just received your diagnosis, wherever you are in your journey… just know that I’ve been there.

Now I’m here.

It’s an amazing thing.

My life will never be normal, and I’m certainly not cured, but this is the first time I can say that I’m able to breathe a little. I don’t have to plan my life around what treatment is next, wondering if it will work, or what side effects it will have. I can just live. For now, I can breathe again.

If you’d like to see more of my journey, and learn about what treatments I’ve done… take a look around my blog. My most recent treatment plan was PRRT, although scary, it definitely made a difference in my condition.

Not giving up saved my life, being heard by the best of doctors for this condition… changed everything.

Never, ever, give up.

Hope is the hardest thing to have, but it’s worth it.

Pheo VS Fabulous 💖

Facebook & instagram: @pheovsfabulous

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

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Round 2 -Clinical Trial

It’s that time again…

Trying to figure out how we will pack all of my comforts into a couple of bags, and how we will leave behind everything important to me in my life.

Secretly wondering in the back of my mind… Will I return?

Catching glimpses at one another, knowing we’re thinking the same thing. Instead, distracting ourselves by packing those couple of bags… hating that it’s ‘that’ time again. 

 

It’s been a really tough couple of months, since the first treatment.

Specifically the last couple of weeks have been especially hard. I don’t know why, and we have not been able to figure it out. Going into treatment in this condition? Not the most comforting feeling, I’ve never went into a treatment feeling physically inadequate, this will be a first. I’ve never went into a procedure with a mystery looming over me, wondering…

“What’s wrong with me?”

“Why do I feel like this?”

It’s different. 

We’re close to leaving now, I can hear Serge packing the last few things in the truck, the dogs nervous feet scampering around, so many hours ahead of us to go…

Treatment will be administered on Tuesday, and then all of the protocols will be followed the rest of the week, scans, scans, and more extremely long and painfully still scans. Putting us leaving around Saturday a week later.

This is what I know for now, I am still gathering information for my longer informative post about PRRT. I figured since I’m doing the second round maybe it’s best I wait. Also, I just haven’t felt well enough to write anything remotely informative 😂🤓 that requires brain power = brain shut down= eyes go bye bye.

Okay, time for me to get dressed, and that includes putting my smile on. It’s time for a ROAD TRIP!!! 😁

Talk to y’all later 😝👻💀💩☠

Pheo VS Fabulous

XOX

 

 

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)…

_________________________________________________________________

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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