Friday, July 31, 2009

recycling our pain

it doesn't get any better than soaring through the sky hanging by your knees. trapeze school. who would've thought. i went on a good day, gave it my all, and felt like i got hit by a truck when i woke up the next day...but, in a good way. what an amazing experience. this is the first of many classes, so let me know if you wanna come with next won't regret it. i'm taking my little brother, seth, and my nephew, josh, this coming week...and it's gonna be awesome. i've also recruited my chemo nurses, theresa and kissen, to come...can't wait!

wednesday was my 10th chemo treatment. i have 2 more to go. i thought it would never end and now it's finally almost here. my doctor is leaning towards radiation because the main tumor in my chest cavity was quite large and they want to ensure that i don't have a recurrence. the plan is to get a PET/CT scan (yes, this is the one that i have to drink all that nasty liquid and then try not to pee my pants...don't think i'm above wearing an adult diaper) the week of september 14th and then meet with my doctor and the radiology oncologist the following week. they will then decide whether or not we move forward with radiation. the risks include the possibility of damage to my heart and lungs, so there's a lot to consider. radiation usually lasts 3-5 weeks and is everyday, but i don't think the side effects are like chemo. i think it just causes extreme fatigue and skin irritation. i'm completely at peace with radiation because i never want to go through chemo ever again. i felt amazing yesterday and now today, not so much. as much as i try to figure out a pattern, one never seems to form. i'm definitely ready to feel normal again.

"kill bad stuff" is my new baby. lindsey and i officially have a bigtime pro-bono lawyer and are on our way to becoming a non-profit corporation...soon to be "kill bad stuff, inc." we placed our first order of tank tops, men's, women's, and kid's tshirts...along with water bottles, car magnets, reusable grocery bags, pens, etc... we are constantly coming up with new designs, but because we are a non-profit, we are pinching our few pennies that we have. the website should be ready to take orders in about a week or so. it feels so amazing to do something that will encourage cancer patients to take a positive approach to their battle...and all the proceeds will go to helping those patients in financial need. we still haven't decided which charity our proceeds should go to, suggestions welcome. we are looking for one that specifically helps cancer patients and their families pay co-pays, deductibles, and other medical expenses. our goal is to create a contagious attitude and passion for life, no matter what obstacles we may face...and have fun while doing so.

our most recent stop on the kill cancer summer tour '09 brought us to Lake Norman, which is about 20 minutes outside of Charlotte, NC. We hung out with great friends, JoJo and Stephen, and experienced a beautiful part of the country...we even extended our trip a day. thanks guys for an amazing weekend!!

i have to take a time out right now to discuss something very near and dear to my heart, something i live with everyday, and something i am extremely disgusted with...chemo brain. if you think i'm making it up, google it. i had to write about it right now or i would forget. months back, i asked my nurse, theresa, if stupid was a side effect of chemo. turns out it is. i have issues with speaking because it's hard for me to get my words out properly, i forget what i'm saying mid-sentence, as well as forgetting everything in general. i have never had to write down things in my life. now, i don't know anything that's going on if it's not written down. the fun part is that i get to open my calendar and see what's on tap each day...not always a good surprise. i don't remember to call people back, i don't remember who i told what to, and i certainly can't remember if i've blogged about chemo brain before or not. it can last up until a year after treatment, thank God it's just temporary...but, it's official. i'm stupid.

kristin and i went to see billy joel/elton john at the Nats stadium where we had amazing seats on the field...and belted out all of billy's songs like good long island girls should.

we also had tim, vanessa, and baby makayla come visit from long island. they have an amazing story of love, generosity, and patience. vanessa donated her kidney to tim shortly after they were married. after many years of trying to have a baby and several rounds of in vitro, makayla joy finally arrived. i know every parent is in love with their child, but the look on tim's face when he looks at his baby girl is priceless. they have taught me about patience. joey and tim golfed while us girls got pedicures and caught up on life. we know it wasn't easy to travel with a new baby, but it meant the world to us.

i've been up for five hours now...trying to convince myself to drink the 48 oz of water sitting in front of me. i drink about 120 oz everyday and yet my cotton mouth never seems to go away. i could really use a nap right about now, but the steroids have me wired. not a fun combination. i won't get into any gross details, but it's funny how excited you can get over some things. it's crazy that this is my life when i really stop and think about it. i don't diminish cancer in the least. i call mine the "easy cancer" because i know how my story ends. i don't worry about the future, upcoming treatments, getting sick, or the possibility of dying...and yet i know that reality is all too evident in other cancer patients' lives. my heart truly goes out to them. just 2 days ago, jay's father, who had cancer and some heart problems, passed away. joey and jay grew up on the same block on the eastside of seattle most of their lives. i can't even begin to comprehend the pain that he must be feeling right now.

too often we take life for granted. we aren't owed a long prosperous life with a happy ending. we have to take what we get and make the most of it. that's easy to say coming from the girl with the "easy cancer," but i truly believe it.

No one rolls out the red carpet and invites tragedy into their life, but our greatest gifts and passions are often the byproduct of our worst tragedies and failures. Trials have a way of helping us rediscover our purpose in life. -Mark Batterson


  1. Rachel
    Hi - I am a friend of Colleen's and have been stalking your blog and story and checking in on how you are doing -- I just want to tell you how truly amazing you are, I admire your strength and your faith - I feel like I would have been cursing God big time and your steadfastness is amazing. Hope to get the opportunity to meet you someday!
    Peace out,

  2. Radiotherapy's not that bad.... worse thing is trying to think of something new to say to the radiographers every day!! :D oh and the sore throat is a bit of a bummer but aside from that all is well! i'm drinking a lot of smoothies... xx

  3. Rachel, thinking of you and prayin for you....
    Then, I remember to check your blog !! :) That way, I don't bug your Mom all the time to ask her how you are. :)
    I think you are amazing. Keep fighting!!
    Pray for my Mom if you think of her. Her name is Susan... still battling cancer, pain and not being able to walk, or do much of anything at this point. It's awful. :( I will send her your blog; you are inspiring ! :)

  4. Rachel, your so amazingly strong. Stuart and I are thinking of and praying for you. Stuart says to tell Joey HI and asks if he has seen an ponies lately? (Get him to explain that one to you, if you dont already know)
    I laughed when I read the part about you being "stupid" not because it is funny, but because I dont see it at all through what you write. I come to your blog to be uplifted and enlightened. In fact, I think I am going to borrow this quote for my facebook..."too often we take life for granted. we aren't owed a long prosperous life with a happy ending. we have to take what we get and make the most of it."

    Thanks for being the little shiny light on my gray days :0)

    -Heather Leake