Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Boy Band to Mr. Clean

So I'm bald now.  There's that.  It's weird.  It's cold.  But it also makes for a quicker shower and I get to wear fun hats - that wasn't always an option with a giant mop of curls on my head.

December has flown right by.  I dropped the cancer bomb on everyone and then I got so caught up in the magic of Christmas that I didn't have time to update!  That's not a complaint.  Christmas was great.  Super great.  Watching my kids was like watching Ralphie and his brother Randy open their gifts on Christmas morning...."Wow" "Whoopie"....Toby didn't get a red ryder bb gun, but he got a Nerf gun which might have won Christmas.

Since we last chatted, I flew to NYC for a second opinion, I've started chemo at Roswell, I chopped all my hair off and donated it, what hair I had left then started to fall out, and then I had it shaved off.  Oh, and in there was work, shopping, wrapping, parties, welcoming a new member into the family (I'm an aunt again, yay!!)'s been a busy month.

I think I'll save the chemo talk for another time and skip straight to hair talk.  It's more fun and it's impacted my life in the past month way more than the chemo has.

I started the month with my usual full head of curls.  Knowing I was going to lose those locks soon, I upped my selfie game to get some last shots. Why not?  I thought about doing a tour of Buffalo with my hair in different locations around the city....but that's weird.  Who would do that?  I'm not normal.  Luckily, there's an incredibly talented photographer at Roswell by the name of Ben Richey who has challenged himself with documenting my cancer journey through the lens of his camera.  How cool is that? Not only can I update everyone here, but now you'll be able to see the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of this shitty adventure.  You can check out his work on Instragram: @benricheycreative.

I met Ben on my first day of chemo.  The Buffalo Sabres were in the building visiting patients for Christmas.  Super cool.  They came by my chair and took some pics and signed some autographs.  My first day of chemo didn't suck.  Later that day, Ben returned and we had our first photoshoot....while I was being pumped full of chemo drugs.  Me, my curls, my red chucks, and my chemo pump.  Living the dream.

My chemo nurse had warned me that because my "cocktail" was going to be so strong, I would most likely lose my hair before I made it to my second treatment.  So just a week after my first treatment, I beat the chemo and chopped my hair off before it was gone on its own. I've always wanted to donate my hair.  I was actually planning on participating in the Bald for Bucks program through Roswell in March.  Even though I didn't make it to March, I was still able to donate through Roswell and I donated over a foot of hair!  My friend Tamera, who cuts my hair regularly, was able to meet me that Wednesday morning and, in a studio in Roswell, she cut off my curls while Ben and his partner Tony filmed and took pictures.  It was a pretty special day.  Here I was losing my hair because I had cancer, but it was one of my happiest days.  Tamera and I grew up down the street from each other.  She and her sister and I used to play hide and seek in my front yard and I would swim in their pool in the summer.  And here she was playing this important role in my journey.  My husband, the captain of my support team was there to stand by me as I lost such a strong piece of my identity.  My friend Ashley was also there.  Ashley and I have been friends since before we even started kindergarten.  She had one of the most important roles - she made sure the Christmas music was playing, she danced in the background, and she kept a smile on my face the whole time.  What a day.

Since I still had a week or two before it started to fall out, I took advantage and had Tamera do a fun short haircut.  I have NEVER had hair that short.  This was an adventure in itself.  It took me a day or so to get used to it, but once I got over the fact that I could double for the Biebs, I actually really liked it.  I was told I looked like a brunette Pink.  I'll take that!

Fast forward to Christmas.  My hair was falling out pretty heavily but I thought it would make Christmas less awkward if I kept my rockstar hair versus being a Christmas baldy.  Then 2 days later it was time.  I couldn't take it anymore, I was making a mess.  There was hair everywhere...time to shave.  Again, Tamera to the rescue!  This time I met her at her at work - Corto's Salon in Hamburg. My friends Anne & Emily were by my side - and my new personal paparazzi.  Tamera buzzed all my hair off.  I didn't think I'd get emotional, since I didn't the first time she cut it but seeing her buzz it off got to me.  There were tears.  Once she was done, I still had some "fuzz" - but it was splotchy fuzz since some had fallen out.  We needed one more step - the razor.  Into the barber seat I went for a clean shave!  I was treated like a queen every step of the way.  It was a little emotional, but like before, I was surrounded by people who made it special.  And after we were done, we went hat shopping!

So in the matter of about 3 weeks, I went from long curly locks to Justin Bieber look alike to Mrs. Clean.  I think I can rock this.  I mean I have no choice, so I HAVE to rock this.  And if nothing else, there's hats!
Day 1 of chemo. December 8, 2016
Photo courtesy of Ben Richey, Roswell Park

Hair donation day. December 14, 2016
Photo courtesy of Ben Richey, Roswell Park

The day I became a rock star!

Bald Day. December 27, 2016
Photo courtesy of Anne McIntosh

Photo courtesy of Anne McIntosh

Thursday, December 1, 2016


My kids and I were in the car a couple weeks ago and we were pointing out Christmas decorations.  If you've met me, you know I LOVE Christmas and I get so excited that I just can't hide it.  If you've met my kids, you know they can't pass a Christmas tree or Christmas light without declaring it loudly.  This was the perfect time to happily turn on some festive tunes.  Toby, my son, asked me from the backseat, "Mommy, why do you love Christmas so much?".  First panic set in because my full answer would've taken the entire car ride home to explain and his attention span is only about 4 seconds.  So I decided on, "Because it's magical".  His response?  "There's no magic, Mommy.  Santa just puts all the toys on his sled and delivers them to the kids!".


Stop it.

I teared up and my heart smiled it's biggest smile.  Magical.

I had no idea how to start this blog post, so I chose my favorite recent kid story.  How I really wanted to start it was....I have cancer again.  (Seemed a bit harsh. It's the holidays.) For those of you keeping track, Santa has now given me the wrong gift 2 years in a row.  It's true.  It's back.  It's not in the same place, but it's in the same general area.  I won't go into detail because it involves the word vagina and that makes people uncomfortable.  There are typically 3 ways that cancer is fought: surgery, radiation, and chemo.  Unfortunately due to the location of the new tumor, surgery is not an option.  Radiation is not an option either, as you can't radiate the same area twice.  That leaves chemo.  My oncologist set me up to start chemo today.  One 8-hour round of a three drug cocktail every 21 days for 6 cycles.  The thing about the chemo is there's only a 20% chance it'll work.  20%.  Not great.

There's something I don't think I've shared on this little blog yet.  Which is surprising because I share pretty much everything.  The type of cancer I have is called Glassy Cell.  Why does that matter? With a quick google search, you'll see that Glassy Cell is no good.  The kind of cancer you don't want.  Not that you want any.  It's exceptionally rare and extremely aggressive.  Of all cervical cancer patients, less than 1% have this type.  It is also one of the types of cervical cancer not caused by HPV.  Yes, it's possible to get cervical cancer without having HPV.  Little known fact.  You're welcome.

I've know I've had Glassy Cell since day 1 which means I've known it was a possibility it was going to return at some point after I beat it.  Thanksgiving would've been my 6 month cancer free anniversary.  I expected it to wait a bit longer.

So in a turn of events, yesterday I was given an opportunity to go for a second opinion and I've decided to take it.  I did not start treatment today and have put it on hold so I can travel to Sloan-Kettering to see what they have to say.  I was nervous that my doctor wouldn't want me to delay treatment for a week because what we're looking at it is so serious. But I've been given the green light and I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity.

How did we get to this point?

After my last battle, I was set up on a 3-month plan.  Every 3 months I would get a check up at Roswell.  (I'm much better at making these appointments than I am at the oil change ones)  My last check up was in October.  They found something. At the time, in the office, it was hard to tell exactly what they found.  Could just be bad tissue from the radiation.  Could be cancer.  Could be nothing.  They did a quick biopsy there and that came back clear.  The doc sent me for a scan juuuuust in case.  Good thing.  You light up in scans when you have cancer.  I was lit.  Still, we needed to be sure.  This could be a false positive.  They sent me into the operating room and took "lots" of biopsies.  Now as I'm writing this I'm realizing I never asked how many they took and I'm curious.  These showed cancer.  That made it official.

Lots of emotions.  I haven't really cried a lot.  It's weird.  I'm an emotional person usually, but this doesn't do it for me.  I'm just annoyed.  Like stop it.  I want to live my happy little life without worrying if this is my last Christmas.  This also makes me feel super awkward.  I hate telling people that my cancer is back.  Unfortunately for most, I'm fairly blunt in my delivery of this news and people don't handle that very well.  Sorry.  I'm a realist, not a dreamer.  No puppies and rainbows here. I know what I'm up against.  This made telling family and friends way harder than the first time.  Most people I told found out via text.  And a lot of my friends are finding out right now.  Modern technology kind of made me an asshole and I apologize.  But it also is giving me this outlet and opportunity to share my story.  And that's amazing.  

Thank you, All.  Thank you for being with me on my adventures over the last year.  My support system is the best on the planet and I appreciate every single bit of support you've shared with my family and I.

Round 2.  

Monday, October 10, 2016

Cancer? What cancer?

You know what my favorite one-liner is? I'm X months cancer free. Seriously, it has not gotten old. 

A couple weeks ago I applied and was picked to be part of a Leadership program at work.  The company chose 2 or 3 people at each of its locations and shipped us all to Ohio to spend a week in the woods at a leadership camp. This entire process was outside my comfort zone from the beginning.  But as cliche as it sounds, cancer reminds you that life is short, so I might as well go on as many adventures as I can. To apply, you had to make a 2 minute video of yourself explaining why you wanted to be a Leadership Champion.  You know how many takes it took me? About 27. That's not an exaggeration. It got to the point where I filled the memory on my phone and couldn't record anymore.  Then with the video you had to submit a paragraph also explaining why you wanted to be Leadership Champion. I'm fine writing a blog. My real life writing skills? Not the greatest.

So here I am, in the middle of the woods, with 60 people I don't know - except for Hannah, my co-champion from Buffalo. Not nerve-wracking at all. We did an ice breaker to give everyone a chance to introduce themselves. We tossed this ball around that had lots of questions on it.  When you caught it, you had to answer the question under your thumb.  Mine was: What makes you happiest? So many things. But I decided to share THE thing. The Saturday following camp was going to mark my four month anniversary of being cancer free. Later on I was able to share with my little group the story of my red shoes.  Of course I had worn them on my first day at camp - it was a new adventure! 

Throughout the week we learned how to facilitate leadership seminars, did group activities, and on the last day we did a high ropes course - I looked forward to this part all week. On the ropes course I was paired up with a man named Greg.  He's a morning show host at a radio station out in Tucson. We made a great match - we were both up for trying anything. After we had our training and were suited up and strapped in, we made our way up to the top. We crossed some swinging steps and made our way to the zip line. I was so stinking excited. But as we stood there waiting for our turn I kind of lost it. I got super emotional and I couldn't even control it. How embarrassing. This poor guy was stuck with the crying girl. I wasn't scared though. It definitely wasn't fear. It was like everything in that moment was perfect. Here I was about to be 4 months cancer free and I got to fly.  Fly through the air as free as a bird.  And I was so grateful to have a partner who enjoyed the moment with me.  Definitely a moment I won't ever forget.

So to officially celebrate being cancer free, I decided - at a moment of insanity - that I should run a half marathon on my anniversary. 12 hours after landing in Buffalo after a week in the woods, I was standing at the start line of the Mighty Niagara Half Marathon.  I can't even tell you how many excuses I gave myself to not run this race.  I was exhausted. I hadn't trained well enough.  I had been down and out from fighting off shingles just a few weeks prior. SHINGLES! (I thought only old people get shingles.)  I needed to do this. I needed to prove to myself that I could do it. I wasn't dead. Just a little beat up.

My first half mile was like the scene of a movie. I got a bit emotional. I mean, I was running a freaking half marathon...after kicking cancer's ass. Then just ahead of me I saw a woman running wearing a pink breast cancer cape. How cool is that? She's like a cancer superhero! So I'm already emotional and then I see her and THEN "Seize the Day" from Newsies comes on my playlist...
"Now is the time to seize the day
Stare down the odds and seize the day"
Seriously, it was like I was set up or something.  (Yes, I'm ignoring the fact that your making fun of my music selection. It's my favorite musical, ok?) I catch up to the superhero and we run the first few miles together.  Here I was so proud because I was doing this race post cancer and she tells me she's currently being treated for breast cancer.  Her name is Janice and she's amazing.  Just amazing. 

Here is where the embarrassing part happened.  It's me. There's an embarrassing part to all my adventures. Turns out the digestion issues don't go away after you finish treatment.  Now they're not nearly as bad as they were during treatment, but I'm definitely not 100%. You know when a really bad time to have to "go" is?  When you're about 7 miles in to a 13 mile race and the next potty stop isn't for another 1.5 miles.  If you've never done this race or you don't live on the race route, you probably didn't know that some people tailgate in their front yards to watch and cheer the runners.  Its pretty great.  So I asked a tailgater if I could use their bathroom. And they said yes! These poor people let me into their beautiful Victorian poop. They're my heroes. 

After that, I finished the second half of the race and finished strong with a time of just over 3 hours.  For you non-running people, that's REALLY slow.  But this was the one race I didn't care about beating any records. I just needed to finish. I'm so thankful for my husband and sister who were there cheering me on throughout the race, offering to pick me up when they found out I was in a stranger's house, and letting me cry on their shoulders after I crossed the finish line.  I'm a survivor, guys.  I did it.

And the people who let me poo at their house? I wrote down their name and address and the next week I sent them a pack of toilet paper and an air freshener.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Buh Bye, Roid!

In case you haven't heard.....I'm cancer free!!!!

5 days ago, on the 5 month anniversary of finding out my hoo hoo had been invaded by an evil monster, I found out the monster had officially been defeated.  Roid is dead.

I went in for my PET scan at 7:45 am and just hours later my doc called to give me the awesome news.

As you read in my last post, this definitely isn't the end of my journey, but it's the part of my journey I've been looking forward to the most.  Captain Obvious.  I know.

I have a lot of people to thank for all the support I've received and that will happen soon, but for now I'd like to send out a blanket Thank You to everyone who follows this blog and who has sent encouraging words.  The support - even from complete strangers - has been incredible.  Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

I have an idea for those curious minds of yours.  I get asked a lot of questions about my journey.  So my next blog post is going to be a Q & A.  I want you to send me any questions you have about my diagnosis, my treatment, my recovery....anything.  You should know by now that I'm not one to hold back, so you can make the questions as personal as you'd like.  You can comment on this post, post a question on the Red Shoe Adventures Facebook page, send me a private message....whatever floats your boat!

Thank you for all your support! 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Warning: Embarrassing details inside

So here I sit.  I've just been injected with radioactive fluid that will turn me into Spider-Man.  Ok, maybe not, but the metal container it comes in makes me feel like a science experiment. Anywho, I'm lounging for the next hour until the fluid works it's way through my bloodstream.  Then I'll sit in a machine for 45 minutes and the results from that will tell my doctor whether the chemo and radiation treatments worked or not. 

It's PET scan day. 

I asked my doc yesterday to confirm that he'll call me when he gets the results.  I don't see him for another 2 weeks and I can pretty much guarantee I can't wait that long to find out what's going on.  I'm not a worrier, but I'm a tad bit anxious about where I stand in the cancer game.

Life has been kind of getting back to normal.  From talking to family and friends, I've found that everyone thinks I'm back to the same ol Lesley.  I'm not there yet, but I'm working on it!

The weeks following treatment, even though you're not physically receiving treatment, the treatment you had is still working on your body.  I'm told this is why you don't get scanned immediately after treatment ends.  When treatment is over, they pretty much send you on your way and you recover....and wait.

You know what prescription the doctors did give me after my treatment was done?  Not drugs....but sex.  Because that's just what I want to jump into after putting my lady parts through all that hell.  Awesome. Sign me up.  You know what happens if I don't "fill my prescription"? My hoo hoo closes.  Yup.  You read that right.  That's a thing.  Seriously.  Nobody wants that. 

I know you're dying for more embarrassing details and frankly that's what I'm here embarrass myself.  At the last meeting with my radiation crew they gave me a gift.  The gift being a dialator.  It was like a sex toy party with every ounce of fun sucked out of it.  Like your parent giving you the sex talk and you just want to sit there with your fingers in your ears saying "lalalalala".  Yeah. Thanks.  I'll just stick that in my purse and be on my way. 

I know it sounds like it should be fun.  And, really, who doesn't want to be prescribed that?  But simply said, without going into details, it's not fun for me.  At all.  This part of the cancer game is going to be a long road.

In other news....

Turns out I have quite a bit of scar tissue that's wreaking havoc on my lower back.  I'm still trying to figure this part out.  I knew when I was done with treatment that my muscles around my lower back and abdomen (the radiation sites) just felt different.  I still can't explain it.  It feels really tight, but not just overuse/sore muscle tight.  Just different.  I started out seeing a physical therapist.  She gave me many, many stretches to do and those have been helping, but just a little. The first time she touched my lower back, she immediately told me how bad it was and said I could benefit from massage (who couldn't?). 

My next step was seeing a personal trainer.  I lost about 25 lbs during my 7 weeks of treatment.  Pretty sure it was all muscle.  I wanted to start working out again but I was a little afraid as my body felt so much different.  It was important to me that I found someone that has experience with cancer patients - that knows that my body is different.  I found her and she's kicking my butt and it's fabulous.  But we're still having issues with getting my back feeling good.  She too has said that she can feel the tightness in my back.  Unfortunately it's my way lower back that's pretty darn hard to stretch.

Sooooo my next call went to a massage therapist.  I'm still researching my options here.  When I asked my insurance company about massage therapy, they said it's not covered so....yeah.  That's next on my list of things to do.

So while from the outside it looks like I'm totally back to normal, I'm not quite there yet.  I didn't finish treatment and boom, life is perfect again.  I'll get there though.  For now, I need to just think of more embarrassing stories for you.

Oh!  Like the one where I had radiation burns so bad on my bum that they were open sores.  At one point they told me to make sure I keep the cream on it or my butt cheeks will stick together and heal that way.  While that was pretty terrifying at the time, it's a great story to hold on to and tell the grandkids someday.  And it goes over great in a bar when you're out drinking with your friends.

Speaking of drinking....we haven't really celebrated the completion of treatment yet.  I'm due for a party.  Hopefully the results from this scan will warrant a celebration as well.  And hey my birthday is coming so I'm not lacking reasons to have some fun. 

Fingers crossed for good results.  Here we go!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Out of hiding

I know, I know I kind of went into hiding there for a while, huh? To tell you the truth I went quiet for a few weeks to spare you from my crankiness. I was pretty darn miserable and I was afraid I'd only write mean things. To sum up the last few weeks of treatment: cancer f*cking sucks. And not so much the cancer, but the side effects of the treatment you're suffering through. Did you know that radiation burns you? Like leaves marks, burns you? Like need to use creams in places only babies should need creams, burns you? Reason #284 why Lesley will never be a bikini model. Throughout all this miserableness no matter what advice anyone gave me, nothing was helping. I just had to wait it out. So I did. And here I am. Burned parts and all.

The good news is I'm using less toilet paper these days....if you get my drift. The doc said to slowly introduce foods back in my diet to see what I can tolerate. I took that as go eat everything you've been craving for the last 2 months but couldn't eat (I might not be great at following directions). I just look at it as celebratory gluttony.

Because of my increased visits to the potty, I've lost a considerable amount of weight. Listen, I've been walking the fine line between being obese and overweight most my life, so normally losing 25 lbs in a matter of weeks would be cause for celebration. Losing 25 lbs from having stupid cancer mess with your insides? Not cause for celebration. This may be why when people see me now and say "You've lost so much weight! You look great!", I cringe. I know it's a gut reaction (pun not intended, but I'm keeping it) to say this to overweight people who have lost weight....I know, I've said it before too. But don't say it to normally overweight people who lost weight because they've been through 7 weeks of hell.  I'd rather be fat. Take this as a public service announcement. Please.

So what's the plan for the future, you ask? (You didn't ask, but I wasn't sure how to segway from fat talk to....anything else). It's been about 2.5 weeks since my last treatment. I meet with my oncologist in about a week and as long as everything looks as it should, I'll go for a scan in a few months and cross my fingers that Roid hasn't returned. As for the immediate future, I'll be returning to work soon. I miss interacting with adults. Being a stay at home mom while trying to rest and recover was not an easy gig. I think my kids are ready to get rid of me.

I haven't explained much to my kids about what's going on. My 5 year old just knows that mommy went to the doctor everyday and that something is wrong with her belly. Even though they didn't know, they helped me celebrate on my last day of treatment - along with my husband, my parents, my partner in crime - Aunt Jean, and 2 of my amazing friends. There is a bell in the lobby of Roswell for patients to ring on their last day of treatment. On the first day of my journey at Roswell, I took a picture of this bell. I took it so I could have it with me as something to work towards - someday I'd ring that sucker. But then in the beginning of my journey, part of me wanted to skip the bell because I thought it would be mean to other patients who had a longer journey than I did - those who wanted to ring, but couldn't. But as I progressed and met other patients, I saw how supportive of one another we were. And as I neared the end of my treatment, at my most miserable point, all I could think about was that damn bell. I would ring it for me and for my pals I waited in the radiation waiting room with - day after day. I would ring it for all the amazing staff that helped me every day. I'd ring it for my supportive family and friends. Being able to walk out of the radiation department and ring it in front of my family and friends and have everyone in the lobby cheer as I did it - Best. Feeling. Ever.

I wish I could end this lengthy post with "and that's how I beat cancer"....but I didn't...yet. I survived treatment, that's what I did. I'm so happy it's over for now. I'm not sure why I got this rare form of cervical cancer....but I did. Did it make me stronger? I'm not sure. It definitely taught me a lot. I know/have known way too many people with cancer. I can safely safe that until you go through this yourself, you just have no idea. I had no idea. 

Friday, February 19, 2016


Forgive me for not posting last week?  Happy Belated Valentine's Day!  We didn't go out for a big dinner but I bought new underwear!  Ha!  We'll just pretend it was a normal Valentine's Day.  The woman that checked me out at the store even gave me a sneaky look and wished me a Happy Valentine's Day when I was buying them.  Sorry, lady, while I'd like to say I bought them for the holiday of love, in reality, I have to drop my pants for a group of strangers on a daily basis and something needed to be done. Romantic, eh?

Ever wonder what radiation treatment is like for a cervical cancer patient?  I walk in, drop my pants, lay on a table, and a giant machine rotates around me and zaps in just the right places.  The picture below is of my actual treatment room.  They gave me 3 tattoos around my belly (my first ink!) before I started treatment so they know where to line me up.  Then they make sure I'm in the right position using lasers and machines in the room. I have a wonderful crew that sets me up each day and gets to hit the magic buttons.  They're kind of my personal batch of super heroes.  They get to shoot the bad guy every day!  They're after you, Roid!

So this is the eve of week 5.  4 weeks complete!  Yahoo!  Yippee!  According to the current plan, tomorrow will be my last chemo treatment and I'll finish up with about 3 more weeks of radiation.  While it sounds downhill, we start a new adventure next week.  These past 4 weeks I've been receiving external radiation.  Starting next week, 1 to 2 times a week, I'll be receiving internal radiation - also known as brachytherapy.  Unlike my current quick and easy daily morning zaps, these treatments will take hours and involve me getting anesthesia - like the epidurals I had with the kiddos.  It's called internal they're going in!  Ugh.  I'm not thrilled.  I'll let you know how it goes!

Also, in case you're keeping tabs...still not keeping any food in.  I'm looking forward to being done with treatment and being able to eat.  This is ridiculous.

Monday, February 8, 2016

"Every Party Has A Pooper....

....that's why we invited you! Party Pooper! Party Pooper!"  -Franck Eggelhoffer, Father of the Bride II

It's my blog.  I can talk about poop if I want to. 

Turns out when the blast zone of your radiation is around a good part of your digestive system, it wreaks a little havoc.  Cool.  Awesome.

So weekend #2 turned out to be a dud.  I'm 0 for 2.  Maybe the 3rd time is a charm.  Here's the deal - I like to eat.  I used to weigh over 250 lbs.  The fact that I like to eat shouldn't be a shocker.  When you have to leave a fun taco fiesta with super fun people on Saturday and then can't take part in the fun junk food festivities of Super Bowl Sunday because your stomach HATES you, it's quite disappointing.  There actually came a point in the weekend where I was talking to myself - out loud - telling myself, "Self, this will stop sucking soon. You can do this."  Luckily I listened.  It always gets better.

There also came a point in the weekend where I told my husband that I think child birth was easier than this.  I seem to keep comparing this adventure to child birth.  Maybe because it's happening "down there"? Maybe because that's the only other major trauma my body has gone through?  Who knows.  When I was pregnant the 1st time, my friend's mother told me child birth was the easiest pain to forget.  She was spot on.  Hell while it's happening, yet as soon as it's done, I wanted to sign up again.  Maybe that's why I always wanted to be a surrogate.  That dream is out the window now, but I'd sign up for that a million times if I were able to.  OK, maybe not a million, but you get the idea.

So here it is Monday again.  My 3rd chemo is done!  If all goes according to my current schedule, there should only be 2 more...but there's a possibility for more, so I'm not getting my hopes up yet.  Like the last 2 Mondays, I'm a fan of the chemicals and steroids making me feel like Superwoman.  I'm taking it easy with the chow, though.  (Not to say I didn't finish off a good chunk of my Mom's homemade apple crisp a little while ago - Thanks, Mommy)

Unfortunately there's no set formula for this.  There's no magic list of foods that will agree with what's going on in there.  I'm told it's trial and error.  Everyone reacts differently.  I'll have to think of it as an adventure within my adventure!  We'll see how this goes.  1 ticket to Blandville, please.  I'd like a window seat.

This picture was an accident. I have no idea why it changed color on me, but the awareness ribbon color for cervical cancer is teal and white.  Pretty darn cool coincidence, if you ask me.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

This is stupid.

You didn't think I'd be sunshine and rainbows ALL the time, did you??  I've had some bad days. (Cue: Daniel Powter)  Friday was my official first crap day.  Here I was all excited I had finished my first full week of treatment.  Yahoo!  And then Friday afternoon I got this chill I just couldn't shake.  Uh-oh.  No good, Batman. Turns out my body was trying to tell me I had me a little infection.  By the end of the day, I had crazy chills and body aches and a fever...and it was making me feel a little looney.  To the ER I went!

You know what's fun?  Sitting in the ER waiting room trying to figure out the correct way to write that you feel looney on your registration form....without looking...well...looney.  No worries.  I got through it.  Luckily I had other symptoms haha.

So a few blood tests, an x-ray, and a good ol' cup full later, they were able to tell me I had an infection. They gave me some antibiotics and sent me on my way.  Sounds too simple for an ER visit, right?  I may have simplified. It was an ER visit so there was a lot of waiting and it took 3 or 4 hours.  Also in that time I had to convince them I wasn't pregnant and that it was safe for me to have an x-ray.  It's a golf ball size tumor, folks, not a fetus....but thanks for being concerned.  Speaking of not being pregnant, one of  the nurses at Roswell today reminded me (again) that I shouldn't be having "relations" right now.  Yup. Thanks.  Got it. No need to keep reminding me.  I'm right on top of that, Rose.

So about that infection...I got a LOT of rest over the weekend and that helped a bit.  It really knocked me on my ass.  When I met with the first doctor this morning at Roswell, she said there was a possibility they'd hold off treatment today because of the infection.  What? No No. When my oncologist came in he asked me how I felt and I just said fine.  He said, "Really fine or are you just saying fine because you don't want us to hold up your treatment?". I mean, come on. You've known me for a month now, am I that easy to read?!?  Guess so. Haha

I'm having another issue.  It's called neuropathy.  It basically feels like my fingers and toes are falling asleep.  It's awesome, really, because who actually wants to be able to feel their toes 24 hours a day.  Way overrated, right?  I'm not a fan of this.  At all.  And it could get worse.  Cool.  Ugh.

So I ended up getting my treatment today.  And I'm seeing a pattern.  Pump Lesley full of chemicals and steroids....Lesley eats like a maniac.  My wonderful aunts made me brownies.  They're wonderful - (Both my aunts and the brownies). Those chocolate goodies won't live to see tomorrow.  Yum!

Shout out to my Aunt Jean for being my pilot/aide/entertainment today. #support #amazingfamily #redshoesupport

Monday, January 25, 2016

Day 1 - One Down!

You know when you're pregnant for the first time and you subscribe to all those web sites that tell you what size fruit your baby is and what is happening to your body that particular week?  (If no, then just pretend you know what I'm talking about - or go ask a pregnant friend) Some people like to read ahead and see what size their baby will be and what their symptoms might be in the coming weeks.  I never liked to do this.  Why?  If it told me that the 3rd Tuesday of my second trimester, my left earlobe would itch at 4pm, I'd wonder if it really itched or of I just had it in my head because these crazy baby people told me it may happen. I'd rather just see what happened to me. Everyone is different. Life is an adventure!

Today I started chemo and radiation.  You know how many times the word nausea was brought up?  I could be nauseous all day every day.  I could not be nauseous at all.  As I sit here and write this, I feel completely fine....except for the impending doom of nausea.  Will I have to stop writing because I'll feel sick in 5 minutes?  Will I be sick tonight?  Will I feel ok? Will I wake up feeling like crap?  The possibilities are endless....and none are definite. While I appreciate the warning, part of me just wants to be surprised.  I know that's not a thing. Side effects are a thing.  But which ones will happen and when?!?  Life is an adventure.

Here is another issue.  I haven't had an appetite for months.  I normally like to eat.  Obviously.  It's one of my favorite hobbies. So this no appetite part sucks.  If the devil wore red Prada, I guess you could say I'm one battle with cancer away from my goal weight.  (Please find that funny.  It's funny.  I promise cancer wasn't in my original weight loss plan haha)  Aaaaanyway, today - on the last day I ever thought this would happen - my appetite mysteriously made a dramatic return.  And to celebrate, I ate enough to make up for my weeks of not eating.  Really.  I may be slightly embarrassed by the amount of food I consumed haha.  So here's the dilemma - if I get sick later....will it be because I had chemo today....or will it be because I stuffed my face like it was my last meal?  Smart move for Lesley? No, not really.  But I have stupid cancer and I get to do stupid things.  Life is an adventure. 

On another note, a shout out to a cool little dude named Ethan Franks.  His mommy was making us some meals for our freezer and he thought we needed some chocolate chip cookies.  Ethan is a super smart little boy :)

Friday, January 15, 2016

Work Family

Sometimes I have days at work that make me feel like I'm starring in an After School Special.  Today was one of those days.

I was asked by my oncologist to be his guest on AM Buffalo.  They were doing a segment about Cervical Cancer Awareness Month and he needed a patient that was willing to talk about her diagnosis. Go on live tv and talk about your hoohoo? Who would do that? I said yes.

It made it easier to say yes because I knew what I was getting in to. I work at Channel 7.  I've seen live tapings of the show.  I know Linda is a fabulous host that makes you feel like you're chatting with a friend, not being interviewed on live tv.  She's been in my shoes.  I knew I was safe.

I think I was fine and excited about my decision to do this until I walked in the studio.  I didn't know my heart could beat so fast.  Besides having to be on live tv, I was wearing adult clothes so i was uncomfortable.  'Why are you telling us this?', you ask? I had surgery last Friday.  This was the first day since then that I wasn't wearing elastic waisted comfy pants AND I was wearing high heels.  Silly me thought I should look professional on tv.  It wasn't until my coworkers started trickling into the studio and each one asked me where my red shoes were that I regretted dressing like an adult.  They know.  They're amazing. That was all it took-I needed my red shoes.

This is where the After School Special portion of my day kicked in.  Picture little Susie sitting on the sidelines at her first basketball game. Her friends bring her these red shoes and then she magically plays the best game ever as her friends cheer her on.

In real life, my entire sales team came down to the studio before the interview.  They saw I didn't have my red shoes on, so someone ran up to my desk to get them - They know how much these silly shoes mean to me. Then they all stuck around to watch their little assistant talk about having cancer on live TV. Its not just at home, from family and friends, that I have support.  I have support from these crazy kids at work and I'm super grateful.

They care.  They're not coworkers.  They're friends. They're my work family.  I'm a lucky girl.

And when you're done watching, call and make a Dr. appointment.  It could save your life.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Moving On Up

In preparation for my treatment, some changes needed to be made to my "real estate".  Yesterday I had a little surgery done.  The doctors want to keep my ovaries healthy.  If anything happens to them it could send me in to early menopause.  Nobody wants that. In order to save them, they needed to be moved up and out of the radiation zone.  I can't exactly explain where they're living at the moment, but they're in there and I'm hoping they're enjoying their new neighborhood.

The bad news in all of this is I'm going to have to give up my dream of being a bikini model. Between the incision scars from this surgery, the incision scars from my gall bladder surgery, and the giant scar from my c-section, I have one heck of a distorted smiley face going on on my belly. It's quite ridiculous.  Like an eight-eyed smiling monster.

I've had a few visits to Roswell so far, but this was my first big procedure.  I came in contact with so many doctors and nurses before and after my surgery. It really takes a special person to do these jobs. The picture below was taken just before I left. This is my nurse from recovery. Her name is Maureen. She was fantastic - kind, gentle, friendly. Everyone was amazing. My Dr. had a great team that day and I am very grateful.  I'm sore, but on the mend.  Glad this is out of the way now....literally.

Friday, January 8, 2016

And The Adventures Begin

On December 16th, I went to my annual checkup "down there". Like most women, I find these appointments annoying. I mean...they're kind of a hassle, they're intrusive, they're just not fun.

It was a good thing I went to my annoying appointment because 8 days later, on Christmas Eve, I was told I had cancer.  Excuse me? Me? No. This was not on my Christmas list. I'm 33. I'm fairly healthy. I ran a half marathon 3 months ago, for the love of pete. But, yes, it's true.

Now that we have the biopsy and scan results, I know I have Stage 1 Cervical Cancer. There is a golf ball size mass inhabiting my cervix.  His name is Roid, by the way. Roid is a jerk. We're not friends. Due to the size of Roid, surgical removal is not an option so I will be starting Chemotherapy and Radiation treatments in the next few weeks.

This is not the kind of adventure I envisioned for 2016, but you know what?  Bring it on, Roid. You're going down. You don't know who you're messing with.

I invite you to join me on my adventure. There's no worrying though....we got this.

I'm at Roswell today for my "quick and easy" surgery. 

Here we go.

Friday, January 1, 2016

There's a big adventure in the works...

I have cancer.

I thought long and hard about how I'd start this post.  There it is.  Three words.  I used to have this blog for silly everyday thoughts, but stopped writing a few years ago.  I'm back.  I have a story to tell.

Here it goes....In a routine check up, my gyn/ob found what she thought was a fibroid on either my cervix or uterus.  At the time that she found it, she wasn't sure where it was originating because it was so large.  She decided to do a D & C to remove it.  Turns out, when she got in there, things weren't going to go as planned.  It didn't look right and it was even larger than she had anticipated.  She ended up leaving it where it was and doing a biopsy instead.

You know what takes long?  Biopsy results....around Christmas time.  Three days after the surgery/biopsy, I went to the emergency room because I was having some heavy bleeding.  Four days after the surgery/biopsy, I was admitted to the hospital.  I lost so much blood that I passed out....twice.  Four blood transfusions later, it was Christmas Eve morning and I was sitting in a hospital bed.  That sucks.

My doctor that did the surgery/biopsy came in to my room bright and early to let me know I was being discharged.  Yahoo!  But there was bad news, too.  The preliminary results from the biopsy came back and the cells were abnormal...cancer.  That was the first mention of the C-word.  Here it is Christmas Eve and my Dr. is sitting on the edge of my bed, wearing an obnoxious Santa Christmas sweater (it was fantastic), telling me she's made me an appointment with a gynecologic oncologist at Roswell.  Merry Friggin Christmas.

This definitely wasn't my most favorite Christmas ever.  Let's be honest, Santa was kind of a dick this year.  Luckily, I have the cutest kids ever (ages 1 & 5) and the magic was not lost.  If anything makes your heart smile, it's watching your kids come downstairs on Christmas morning.

Three days after Christmas I made my first trip to Roswell and had my first visit with my oncologist.  I had an oncologist.  This is real.  Unfortunately, because of the holiday season, they STILL didn't have my biopsy results.  The Dr. did an exam and then we had a chat.  He's assuming it's cervical cancer.  We set up a hypothetical plan around his hypothetical diagnosis - we'll do radiation with a hint of chemotherapy to shrink the mass.  First, we'll start with a "quick and easy" surgery.  They need to move my ovaries up and out of the radiation zone.  They want to keep those safe and un-radiated.  I'm not sure why, but I wasn't scared.  That's weird.  The Dr. was optimistic, so I was, too.

Next week, I'll get a PET scan that will check me out from head to toe (well, technically not toe, more like mid-thigh) and that will tell them whether the cancer is anywhere else in my body.  They assure me those results will come a lot faster than the biopsy results.  They better.  I'm an impatient person.  I'm not a good wait-er.

So there it is.  My 2016 will be full of adventures.  I'm Lesley Maloney and I have cancer.