another clean scan!

Brett and I recently traveled down to St. Louis for another scan.  After being labeled a fall risk last time, I answered their now routine Have you fallen in the past 6 months? question with a quick, No!  🙂

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This scan marks another official clear of cancer milestone on this journey.  I have scans for the next few years, so until 2016 Brett and I will have these bi-yearly trips to St. Louis in our schedule.  Next time I’ll take you all on a tour of what a scan day looks like for us, but until then…

Here is to another 6 months of living…. and to a lifetime of it too

 

Chicago Marathon Charity Fundraising!

Brett and I are running the Chicago Marathon 2013!  We are in the big countdown until the race on October 13th.  We have sent our fundraising websites out to you all, our wonderful friends, families, and acquaintances once before…but the end is approaching!  If you said to yourself, “self, I’d really like to donate but I’ll just do it later,” now is the time!  🙂  We have just a few more weeks of prime fundraising time before all of the money needs to be in!  I am running for the American Brain Tumor Association in memory of my mother and Brett is running for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in honor of our own battle and in memory of his father.  These races mean so much to us because of the wonderful causes that we help to support along the way.  We cannot accomplish what we do though without your help.

Here is the link to Mallory’s fundraising site and the link to Brett’s fundraising site.  Please help us reach our goals!  Every little bit helps!  Thank you!

Love,

Mallory & Brett

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Girly Wednesday ~ xix ~ musings on a buzz cut

How do we define femininity?

I’ve been thinking about how we (we as individuals and we as a society) define something or someone as being feminine.  When my hair started falling out a few weeks into chemo treatments, I buzzed it off.  Brett, Raj, and Fred joined in on the hair-cutting fun and we made an entire night of it 🙂  Some women experience hair loss as a fairly dramatic and emotional experience attached to their cancer treatments so it was really nice having such an awesome set of roommates to back me up.

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During the weeks when my hair was very very short, I was surprised by the comments that I received.  I would get comments from people who knew exactly what was going on saying “yea…you’re hair is cute short…But it is just so pretty long too!”  On the flip side, I would sometimes not get any comments or questions from people who had no idea what was happening with my health…even though I obviously now had a buzz cut.  I guess I expected comments but at least ones that came from a place of curiosity (not judgement)…and were friendly 🙂

I started thinking about some of these comments that I received with a buzzed head when I read this article the other day.  The article describes how not to say the wrong thing to people going through a tough time.  I experienced those types of ‘wrong’ comments as marks against me being feminine because my hair was so short.  I even received comments that challenged whether I looked like a woman at all with my buzz cut.

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Is hair really something that defines whether one is feminine?  Is femininity as simple as a single feature?  I’ve been using the label ‘girly’ for these Wednesday posts, but I discussed here about how I use this label as an homage to the parts of life that favor whimsy, feel-good movies, and make up…among other things.  An important distinction to make, is that liking the things that society has marked as girly is not a way into woman-hood or into being considered feminine NOR is it a way out of woman-hood or out of being considered feminine.  I know plenty of feminine women who don’t wear make up at all for instance….or feel perfectly happy wearing a simple pony tail every day to work or class.  People should be free to take or leave whatever aspects society imposes upon us, picking and choosing which ones we adopt, without fear of being marked as un-feminine or less of a woman…without fear of being marked as un-anything or less of anything!

Honestly, having a buzz cut is completely awesome.  Besides the side effects of shampoo and sweat more easily running in your eyes, the hair cut is freeing.  No fuss…ever!  I’m pretty sure I will buzz my hair again at some point in my life.  I’m positive that I will chop off most of my hair at another time in my life…I have a secret crush (maybe not so secret?) for short, punky hair cuts.  My favorite right now is from a character, Claire Underwood, in the show House of Cards on Netflix.

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So go forth and be feminine however you choose 🙂

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Cancer Free for 2 years!

This past Saturday (July 20th) marked my 2 year cancer free milestone!  These past two years have been full of lots of emotions and lots of life.  I know that many people who may not have experienced cancer first hand like to believe that the whole scary rollercoaster stops right after chemo does….Let me tell you, this cannot be further from the truth.  It took a while to get back on my feet (some days I think I’m still trying to do just that) but here we are, 2 years past the end of chemo.

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I can remember quite clearly the day this photo was taken.  It was my second round of chemo…the last round where they used the veins in my arms to inject the chemotherapy drugs.  One of the drugs burned so badly when it was injected that they had to administer it slowly over the course of almost an hour and a half.  Another one of the four drugs that I was given every 2 weeks started giving me a rash along my arm and the nurses had to help relieve that before continuing on.  Brett and I stayed for over 7 hours in the chemo area that day.  The next week I had a port installed into one of the arteries in my neck that they then used to administer the remaining rounds of chemo.  I stayed awake the entire time while they installed the port once I heard from one of the doctors that some people are able to do so…I’m pretty sure I asked the doctor the same question more than once in my narcotic induced stupor but I remember him being very nice about it.  Afterwards I reacted the way I normally do to large doses of narcotics.  That may be a story for another day though.  😉

Last summer I got to say that I was 1 year cancer free, yet I was still dealing with a lot of anxiety that originated during my mother’s sickness and my own.  I took baby steps to take care of myself…the pups and I went for walks or runs almost every night, I kept myself busy in the evenings after work, I took deep breaths and tried to think calm thoughts, and I spent A LOT of time finishing up preparations for our wedding.  I think that know that I had the hardest time with the lack of control I felt I had over my life…so much had been taken from me without my ‘ok’, without my willingness to move forward in a new reality.  But my mother always said (have I said this to you before?) that we often have two options:  We can hide under the table and cry OR We can move forward with courage.  So with the help of Brett, our lovely pups, and my awesome family and friends, I have been doing my very best to move forward and to figure out this new life of mine….it’s a life where I cannot easily call my mom if I need her for something, and its a life where I still cannot be awarded life insurance, but its also a life where I am married to my best friend and where I still have an amazing support system behind me.  So that will have to do 🙂

Doctor visits and Scans

About two weeks ago, I had my latest hospital check up.  It seems inevitable that Brett and I drive down to St. Louis for my check up scans in icky weather.

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But drive down to St. Louis we did.  For the first year after my treatment ended I had CT scans every 3 months.  In October of 2012, this frequency changed to every 6 months.  The not eating for 8 hours prior to each scan makes me a little giggly and a lot uncomfortable.  The hospitals tend to be cold but the nurses and office staff are always as friendly as can be.  There is even a woman who works the front desk of the CT waiting room who now knows me by name.  🙂

Not having had a scan for 6 months now, I was a little nervous about whether something had cropped up during all of that time away from my friend the CT scanner.  I’ve found myself feeling around on my neck the past few weeks thinking about whether I can detect anything abnormal or anything larger than normal.  I have dreams sometimes about what my life would be like if I were facing another round of chemo…about how I would change my life and what this new life would look like.  The formality and the coldness (literally, these places are always soo cold!) of the hospital never seems to be comforting and the process of getting the IV started and getting scanned are lonely.

This time though, almost right off the bat, the ice was broken and all worries needed to be thrown out the window.  Due to a new CT area protocol, because I have fallen in the last 30 days (and even though I fell on ICE), I was deemed a ‘fall risk’ and made to wear this ridiculous bracelet around the hospital.  It is just hard to feel as nervous about the consequences of having a new CT scan with that goofy bracelet around your wrist!  I proudly told everyone I came into contact with about why I was deemed a fall risk and to let me know if they spotted any ice in the hospital that I should watch out for.  🙂

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In the end, the scan was clean!  Brett and I met with my oncologist and everything looks fine.  We scheduled my next scan for 6 months from now and the four of us drove back to Champaign.  And whenever Brett forgets his sunglasses and needs to wear mine, the drive is that much more entertaining 🙂

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