Grateful. Thankful. Blessed.
Updated: Nov 26, 2019
Hello everyone…finally—an update. To be honest, my brain has had soooooo many thoughts running through it over the past couple of months—from fear, to thanks, to more and more research, to backing off the research because too much can be overwhelming, to trying to remember day to day stuff, to the many appointments, etc. etc. etc. I’ve sat down several times in the past month to actually write and release some thoughts….but it ended up either me just staring at a blank screen, getting something down but just all sorts of jumbled because of ALL THE THOUGHTS, or my kids decided to grace me with their presence in the early morning. Early morning writing is my favorite, by the way. There’s something to be said about waking up, pouring your heart out, releasing, and going on about your day that so good.
So.. what’s been going on over here? A lot. A lot a lot a lot. Just a quick recap if you missed it on my “Just Jess” Facebook post (I sometimes post quick little updates on that page)… Back in August, I had my first Y90 treatment done to the right lobe of my liver. The hope is/was, that the right lobe would completely die off eventually and we could then hack it off after the left lobe grew to the point that I could live with just that portion. The liver really is an incredible organ, by the way. Just incredible.
Well, the time after Y90 was probably the toughest fatigue and not feeling well wise—even compared to chemo which is just crazy. Did I ever mention that I’m pretty sure my body is just freak? You can ask my family Dr., right Tif? 😉 Well anyways….I’m very in tune with my body and I just kept telling my husband that “something just isn’t right…I can feel it.” Fast forward 9 weeks to scan time, and what do ya know. While the right lobe did remain stable, the left lobe basically exploded with cancer growth. There was quite a significant difference between the scan pre Y90 treatment and after. We met with a radiologist after the MRI (in Madison) and she said with the extra blood flow to the liver, there could be extra blood flow to the tumors—which, in turn, feeds them. We met with my oncologist in Madison after that appt and he didn’t seem to think that would be the case…so, honestly, who the heck knows and it’s neither here or there. It is…what it is. And to say it was a bummer…is a major understatement.
In that same appointment with my UW oncologist, we made the decision to try the very first chemo that I was on. It was very effective and got me to the point of my colon resection back in June of 2018, so he thought we might as well give it another go to see if it might still be effective. I had just told Steve on the way to Madison that I had a feeling I would be going back on that chemo… he hates when I’m right. 😉 This particular chemo can be very nasty. The side effect that was the worst for me was neuropathy. And not the neuropathy of my hands and feet…that is manageable. It’s my throat that takes a beating. I lose my voice (which is hard because I sing…every darn day…it’s what I love and it makes me feel good), and I cannot drink anything cold—even room temperature stuff is too cold. If I do, it feels like razor blades. It’s awful. But, as a positive side not, it’s something I have not taken for granted since experiencing it—I’ve honestly been thankful every day since, that I could drink something cold. Warm and hot stuff just does not quench thirst so it can be tough! But I’ve done it before so I can do it again.
This chemo, however, cannot go through my veins like the last 2 regimens I had been on over the last year have. It hurts like a son of a gun. That being said, I had a PICC line placed in my left upper arm to receive this chemo and while I’m thankful for that, I was also nervous/worried about a foreign object like this in my body again. When I was first diagnosed, I had a port placed in my chest. Nifty little buggers, but my body DOES NOT agree with them. The first port, my body literally was pushing it out. It was breaking through the skin, so it had to removed and another one was placed on the other side of my chest. Well… I ended up with a severe, nasty blood infection that landed me in the hospital for a few days….and that one was removed as well. So—no more ports for me. I had 2 in and out within 4 months. The PICC is good so far, and is going to be easier to identify if infected right away—but I was very uncomfortable and not positive about it. I’m getting better about it though! All you can ask for, really.
Another difference? When I first did this regimen, I opted to take chemo pills for 2 weeks on, 1 week off. Now that my kids are a bit older and I don’t do as much lifting, the PICC line is okay AND instead of the pills—I now have a nifty little fanny pack that’s pumping me full of chemo for 46 hours straight (I have about 12 more hours left until I go back tomorrow to get disconnected from it. While it can be a pain, it’s nice to not have to take the chemo pills that I’ve been taking for the last 2 years—with that 5 month break from chemo I had in the mix.
I had my second treatment of this regimen yesterday (Monday, the 25th) and we’ll be monitoring tumor markers closely as always as they have been a solid indicator of how things are working since the very beginning. And, quite frankly, I don’t want to have to do one more of this treatment than I absolutely have to. There are some side effects I forgot about that when they reappeared I was like, “Ohhhh yeah..forgot about this one!” But… nothing I haven’t been through before, so I know I can do it again.
Dr .D (UW oncologist) also wanted to recheck genetic mutations as there’s a specific protein that some of my cancer cells were releasing last summer called KRAS—apparently it’s very rare, but there happens to be a clinical trial that specifically targets KRAS. He asked if I would be willing to participate in it if the genetic tests showed that that KRAS protein was still there—these buggers mutate so you just never know, which is why he wanted to test again. He said there are other standard treatment options to try yet, but he would like me to do the clinical trial if I qualify. So I’m just waiting on those results yet to see what’s up. I’ve been asked by several people what I’m hoping for—postiive or negative for this rare protein—and honestly? Either way. Whatever. That’s how I feel about it. I’ll look at it the same way either way. Both of my oncologists that I work with closely are in agreeance—and I love that that has always been the case thus far. It makes life easier—and I’m so grateful for them and their teams, including all the nurses and CMAs. I adore them here—they take such good care of me.
There you have it…that’s what’s going on in the Western medicine side of things. Now…to my non-Western medicine peeps. 😊 First, I want to say something about them that I don’t think I’ve ever shared and I think it’s a common misconception that many have when it comes to functional medicine dr’s, chiropractors, acupuncturists, nutritionists, naturopaths, etc. How to say this…. They DO NOT necessarily disagree with modern medicine. I think people can be under the assumption that when you work with experts in these particular fields, that they are going to tell you, ‘NO. you do NOT WANT CHEMO. EVER.’ Totally not the case. You will always have some out there that will be like this, yes. But my experience in the people I work with or have spoken to, this is definitely not that. In fact, complete opposite. I’ve heard nothing but, “we need chemo to get ahead of this and then we need to repair, repair, repair,” or “I’m okay with you doing chemo since it’s not confined in the just the colon anymore,” or “I would do whatever it takes—surgery, chemo, etc. whatever it takes.’ Their main focus has always been getting ahead, fueling your body right now with everything good you can because your body is literally being poisoned with chemo and your body is being stripped of all the good stuff as well. So we need to repair—getting to the root cause of why and getting my body repaired so it can naturally do what it’s supposed to do. Not once have I been told “don’t do chemo.” Chemo is not a cure (your oncologist will tell you this flat out) so when I was first diagnosed, I was and have been on a mission to do whatever I can to build my body up through nutrition and supplements, as well as eeeeverything else I do to feel as good as possible.
NOOOOW one of my favorite functional medicine chiropractors whom we absolutely love (and I have been working with closely since I was first diagnosed) recommended I go see another functional medicine chiropractor in Nevada since he won't be certified in this particular area until next November. I truly love when Dr’s are so willing to pass you along to others because they truly want you to heal. When you trust your Dr. this much, anything he says—you do. Period. And he is that man for me. Quite honestly if I had to choose one person I had to work with..it would be Dr. Jay. Hands down. So when he told me "this is where I would go if I had something serious," it was an easy decision. I saw him two Fridays ago and when he walked in and started telling me about his grandma and her little quirks like “when your nose itches it means someone is thinking of you” and then he looks and says, “Was your nose itching like crazy a few weeks ago?” Um… I...don’t..know? To which he responds, “I was at a really, really interesting conference and I must have written your name down about 50 times.” Me, “I love you.” Haha! But I do…I so appreciate the time he takes for his patients and it never gets old hearing that, “thought of you when I heard or read this. You should read this book—I was reading it thinking, 'Jess would really like this.'" And he’s right. The book is about the correlation between stress and disease—and I absolutely LOVE learning this stuff and find it completely fascinating.
The Nevada doctor (Dr. Robert Demartino) is also a very kind, passionate, dedicated doctor who has done amazing things and continues to, and I loved our conversation during my phone consult on Friday. All in all….it’s been very good as of late. The last thing he said to me, “Well I’m sorry we had to meet under these circumstances but I’m excited to work with you. I'm excited to get you on the healing path and back to your family.” And me, “Oh it’s okay—I’m just glad to have talked to you and I’m just…excited. This excites me. Possibility….excites me.” He treats many who have autoimmune diseases (Lyme, Lupus, Hashimoto's, Multiple Sclerosis, to name a few) but I was interested in his cancer patients, obviously, so I asked a little about it. He explained to me that 50% of his cancer patients work with him while going through conventional treatment as well (like myself), and the other 50% of his cancer patients come to him when they were at the end of their rope--no more treatment options available to them. I was SO HAPPY when he mentioned that he saw I was using Mistletoe--he knew all about it! He said not a lot of people know about it even though it's been around for many, many years and he went into explaining it in a way I hadn't read or heard about before. This was extremely reassuring for me. So incredibly grateful for amazing people in my life. I will definitely be sharing more on this experience as I get into it. I kind of feel like I made myself a guinea pig in a way as I don't know of anyone, personally, to go about healing in the ways that I have...so I definitely feel the need to share as who knows who might be reading this, needing some hope of more options.
I believe the world was created. I believe we were created. I believe….that God created us to be so incredible…our bodies nothing short of amazing. I carried and brought into this world, 3 beautiful babies for example. My body (along with just a liiiiiittle help from my hubby 😉😉) was able to do that. Craaaazy miracle. Seriously. I believe the earth offers way more than a majority of us know of and even believe in. I believe it has the title “Mother Earth” for very good reason—God created it to nurture, help us flourish, help us to SURVIVE, it’s there for you. There’s a lot to learn about all of the amazing benefits around us. A lot. I’m just scratching the surface in all of my experience over the past 2 years.
I also believe God has blessed many with talents and gifts that make up the Western medicine world. He allows passion, patience, perseverance, intelligence, love, etc. and we’re blessed by all of this as well. I utilize both worlds, I’m super thankful for both, and I’m blessed to have those I work with in my life, on my team. So thankful
This set aside week of Thanksgiving is so important. It’s important to be thankful and grateful for life—it really is. I do realize and completely understand that certain circumstances---it’s super hard to see anything good. But I’d be willing to bet….there is something there. If you just ‘be still,’ think about it, look around…look deep in your heart…you can find something. And that something can lead to hope. And hope….can lead you anywhere. <3
This Thanksgiving season, I’m thankful for many things—family, friends, prayers, support, love, my health (might sound weird considering that well, I have Stage 4 ‘incurable’ cancer...but I’m thankful for what it has brought into my life…not cancer itself really, ha😉..and I’m thankful I have felt the way I have for the past 2 years while going through so much—able to do the things I love and want to do), my FAITH is the thing I am MOST thankful for. I don’t know where I’d be without and I honestly never want to know. My faith in God being bigger than anything and knowing that He knows what He’s doing and it’s none of my business to know…is my greatest blessing. I know it’s because of this faith that no matter what happens, I can rest assured that I will one day be up there—and it’s because of amazing grace. <3
Grateful. Thankful. Blessed.
Thank you all for everything you have given to me and my family—words, prayers, love, the tshirts, the very unexpected, generous gifts, and your friendship. LOVE YOU ALL.
Hope & Pray