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

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 🦄

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!

🛣🚘

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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!

 img_4599


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
metacancer_winter17

Pheo VS Fabulous 

XOX

#pheovsfabulous