Sunday, September 20, 2009

I'll Begin bracing myself now *gulp*

grumble grumble, growl growl...

So I realized today after a stop in walgreens to grab a bottle of water, that I should really begin to ready myself for the onslaught of Breast Cancer promotional collaborations every where I look. From pink-ribbon shaped cranberry bagels at Panera to pink-ribboned batteries from Duracell, the omnipresent pink ribbon will be infiltrating even more aspects of my consumer life during the month of October.

October, friends, is of course, Breast Cancer Awareness month. Now, I am all for dedicating months to various different issues in which awareness should be gently nudged forward. Buuuuut, in my humble observation, Breast Cancer Awareness is never over. It lasts all year round. I know for certain that in Chicago there are plenty more walk/runs for Breast Cancer throughout the year than are just in October. And I am rarely far from some sort of pink-themed product in almost any given store I frequent.
I suppose the reason I really get so irritated is not that I feel Breast Cancer is not an important issue. I think any and all cancers are evil, horrid, and awful. As far as I am aware every cancer there is can kill you. People should definitely be aware, vigilant, and proactive in their health in general. I guess that I worry how much breast cancer awareness campaigns focus on that one specific cancer as if its the only cancer that a woman can get.

Or is it that I fear the possibility that breast cancer awareness campaigns have gotten so incredibly large and successful that it could be detracting potential funding for research on other types of cancers? I do not want to try and imply that Colon Cancer should be getting the same recognition as Breast Cancer (I mean, theoretically, I could stick to that argument purely based on my own personal experience and based on the fact that colon cancer is a possibility in both men AND women, young AND old, bbuuuuuut, i digress).
Do any of you guys readily off the top of your heads know what the ribbon color or designated awareness month for Lung Cancer is?
Answers: Pearl and November. Learn something new every day. I believe it has also surpassed Breast Cancer as the number 1 leading cancer-related death in women. So maybe we should have some more walk/runs and fundraisers for lung cancer awareness and patients? It'd be lovely to have pretty pearlized frying pans where 10% of proceeds of my purchasing them will go towards Lung Cancer awareness.
Rightfully, the whole designated months for various causes can get out of control, there's a day for absolutely everything. from "National Health Care Professional Day" to "National Root Beer Float Day", it begins to not have any real meaning at some point. But I use that more just for example.
Why am I whining about it anyway?
I don't really know. It all just seems to irk me. Maybe its not right that I'm agitated by it. Maybe I'm just over sensitive due to my own experience with cancer and far too many times having the assumption or misperception if I'm a "cancer-survivor" it must've been Breast Cancer (or even more commonly, lymphoma or luekemia). Maybe it doesn't matter. Who knows. Ideally I'm not sure if there is an answer that would make me get off my soapbox and just shut my trap about it. More walk/runs for more causes? Seem like it'd be overkill. Maybe just less focus on one cancer in particular and more evenly distributed funding towards all cancers? But then, the argument could be raised that they can't equally fund every cancer b/c some are indeed so incredibly rare, that the time and expense would be better served for those cancers that are more prevalant? (heh, which just may be breast cancer). A short fairly interesting article about the top myths concerning cancer would suggest that funding should maybe go towards making sure people who are "ignorant about cancer" are better educated.
Needless to say, I mean no slight towards any one particular person battling cancer, no matter what part of you its affecting. Like my very first post in this blog, it's not a matter of "my cancer is better than your cancer". But rather that I'm just sick to death of the color PINK!! sorry

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I guess my left foot has a pretty big ego

Cuz it sure is all puffed up. Pfff.

So, Monday evening while sitting in my room, I happened to glance down and notice that my foot seemed pretty fat. I glance at my other foot and my observation is confirmed. b/c my other foot is decidedly thin and much more 'normal' looking.
I figure this can't be good. And proceed to freak out in my head. I racked my brain (and the brains of those around me) to figure out what the cause could possibly be. It hasn't gone down. but there's no pain, no discoloration, i can feel my feet and move them around just fine. it's just ugly, and very worrisome to me. And even more worrisome that I seem to be freaked out about it, and yet noone else seems to want to acknowledge the potential fucked-upness of this.
I tell my doc, they do a doppler ultrasound, they find no clots. and so that's that. I'm told to just elevate my foot. keep an eye on it. and if anything changes, let them know. That's it? Well, I already know its not normal. and there has to be a reason. And given all I've gone through and the fact that it's NEVER just 'nothing' that goes away with no further ramifications. Nothing has ever just gone smoothly for me throughout this all. I'm really tired, it turns out to be anemia and i'm damn near out of blood. I am short of breath, and can barely walk up stairs...turns out to be spiking liver enzymes and potential toxicity to chemo. I'm trying to be as proactive as possible, and yet seem to get nowhere. i'm extremely aggravated and upset.
So, does THIS look 'normal' to any of you? What the hell else can I tell my doc to do? I'm supposed to be able to go to my doctor and HE'S supposed to be the one who works to figure out the source.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Much needed update (sorry. spank me later)

Hey friends and loved ones. I'd just like to clarify that i have ideas that i want to get out on my blog daily. Sometimes multiple times a day. And for some reason or another, I never seem to get to my computer when I have those ideas, and be the time I do, Facebook suddenly eats all my time.
So, with that excuse put out there for my poor updating ability, let me just launch into where I've been hiding. But first, a teeny update on livingSTRONG. In the summer, July I believe, LiveSTRONG and Nike had a street chalking event in front of the Taste of Chicago downtown. So of course...I had to flex my supreme lettering and spelling skillz!

(feel free to click on any of the photos to enlarge them for a better look)

I just had to knock one out for my buddies over at Imerman Angels, giving em some representation (was actually really impressed with my ability to recreate their logo freehand with chalk on asphalt)
And even Ro-Ro got in on the chalky love, giving some representation to her Aunt(s) and many others we know affected by Boob Cancer. (she definitely got some stops and stares at those killer titties!)

And of course, there where plenty of super talented artists who pulled off pretty massive and, detailed pieces.
But more recently, for the past few weeks (almost a month now) I was fighting more acutely for my health as I seemed to have a sudden, rapid, and intense adverse reaction to the chemo drugs (at least they think that's the cause)
Three weeks ago I went in to see my doc and things didn't look good. My eyes and face were sunken in, my skin was grey almost, but definintely sallow. And I literally wasn't able to do anything but sleep. My liver enzymes spiked up to crazy high levels. as well as my potassium level went way down. I lost a ton of weight. I dropped down to 98 pounds. But in the midst of all this, I had planned to attend the "Colon Cancer is a Big Dam Problem Walkathon" in Little Rock AR. I got the ok from my doc to go, probably mostly because my mom was going with, and two friends. so I had mom there to be my nurse. I wasn't even able to walk i was so weak, thin, and lethargic, so pretty much the whole road trip, i was in a wheelchair. But I was determined to go. It was great fun. And even though I barely look like i'm having a good time, I truly enjoyed meeting so many new awesome folk, specially all those newbie colondar models from the upcoming 2010 issue.
However, seeing photos showing up from that weekend on facebook, I was a bit horrified at how I looked. I know its trivial to talk about physical effects, but you all have to understand, I freak out when something odd happens to me physically because it just serves as an obvious visual reminder of the cancer I try to avoid for little bits of a time.

Making my entrance to Little Rock, don't i look like one happy camper?

Team Babcock rocks the house though!

Bam! Check out them backs!

All the past, present, and future Colondar Models that came back to walk the bridge.
Now, I got bag upon bag upon bag of IV Hydration, with Potassium, Magnesium, and other Electrolytes dripped into me, was taken off Chemo for a bit. I was taking potassium tablets, and just tryiung to eat and gain weight. So, I am pretty positive that I'm on the mend. I feel WAY more energy, and don't need a wheelchair to get around now. That was a scary and hard to deal with moment. To have to depend on everyone around you to push you around in your chair, it was hard for me to just accept it. The doc's can't think of anything to account for my sudden change, after ct scans, gallbladder/liver ultrasound, small bowel follow through, and upper GI xrays, CBC's, and CMP's they don't know for sure what it was. Our general theory is toxicity to chemo, in some form or way. But, before deciding to take a break, I did get the news that my CEA tumor marker levels had gone way down to 8, from somewhere in the 20's before (and ideally you want to get down to nothing. But colon cancer patients sometimes never get down to 'normal' even if they're cancer is technically gone. So I'm a bit relieved to hear that at least the drugs where working to some degree.
I'm taking this "break" to recoup, strengthen myself, and get ready for whatever plan they come up with next. And FULLY taking advantage of the last days of summer. Smoothies, ice cream cones, milkshakes, italian ice....if its cold and delicious, I'm ingesting it!

In other areas, my mom finally got her blue colon star tattoo touched up:
and then my two female cousinds Katie and Jenny both got matching tatt's as me n my mom, in the same spots. I'm recruiting and initiating my army. and these ladies have been official card carying members since day one. but now they can drop the card, cuz they're wearing it on their skin!That felt really nice, to have my mom and my cousins showing their support for me (not that I needed validation, but its a good feeling to have).

And finally, proof that I am feeling waaaaayyy better, this past saturday my grammar school had an unofficial mini-reunion. I haven't seen most all of these folks for about 15 years!! All I knew, is I didn't want to show up looking visibly on deaths door. Sooooo, I think I did a good job cleaning up, and steppin out for a night on the town.

My docs work wonders down they? ;)

Alright, thats part of why I hadn't updated, just wanted to get that out of the way. I have more blog posts written and saved, and just waiting to publish very shortly. So stay tuned, recruit friends to read, spread the word. I want to gain some readers!