Thursday, December 25, 2008

2008 Christmas is so much different from 2007 Christmas

First some really exciting blog news. I changed it so anyone can post a comment without signing in. I think you'll have to write your name at the bottom of your comment unless you want it to be anonymous. We'll see how this goes. It's super easy now. Try it out and let me know if you like this better. There is a (subscribe by email) link there too, but I DO NOT recommend doing this because it sends you an email every time someone posts a comment and not when I write a new blog. Still though, I need to figure out how you can subscribe to get the notification that I wrote a new blog. For now, if you want to get the blog notification send me an email with the address you want it to go to and I'll add it to the list. It's really no trouble for me.

Here is the Cut It Out shirt my sister got me for Christmas. Like it Uncle David?
I got my nephew, Drew a kids Sigg water bottle. He used to steal mine every time I came over. I think it was one of his favorite Christmas presents.
My sister Paige and nephew Miles hanging out.
Okay, now my blog
Christmas was different this year. Well, first I didn't have to wear a wig and I would consider that a huge difference. While we were visiting with the family I kept thinking about about how this Christmas was so different from last year. A year ago we we had just settled into our new house. In December we had to live at my dad and step-mom's house for a couple weeks as we waited for our new house to become vacant for us. We had about 10 days in the new house before Christmas. I remember last year we got the huge snow storms as well, but I was on chemo and could not help Kevin with the shoveling because I was pretty weak. Poor guy. This year I feel good and strong and I shoveled a lot of snow so far.

Last year, the main thing on my mind was how I hated drawing on my eyebrows and eyelashes because I didn't have any of my own. I also hated to have to wear my wig. My eyes were also running with tears constantly. It's a chemo side effect and the dry winter winds didn't help the situation at all. My feet and hands were getting numb and tingly from Taxol. My face was getting the dark spots along with my arms. I kind of felt like crap and thought I looked hideous. Now I feel a lot better and look better. My hair has finally gotten to the length where I can put barrettes in it. That was a pretty huge day and I was very excited when the barrettes went in. Now, we're styling.

Kevin and I now feel at home in Michigan. Our house is all set and it is a healthy haven for me. I got the sauna, my super juicer, a huge fridge to house all my veggies, the huge jetted tub to do my soaks in, my yoga room, and the basement is turned into our wellness room with the rebounder the elliptical machine, our perfect push up things, weights, yoga mats (even though I do all my yoga in the yoga room), the infrared sauna, and our vision boards are on the wall to remind us to go after what we want in life. We spend a lot of time down there watching 24 and Alias on DVD while working out and sweating in the sauna.

I love our house and I love being back in Michigan. It's been a year and we're not packing up to go back to Texas. I also got reconnected with so many friends from school which has made it so much more enjoyable being back in Michigan.

My nephew, Miles was born and I got to witness it. He has already grown and changed so much. He is making all sorts of noises because I think he discovered his voice. My other nephew, Drew has grown so much too. He walks around and pretends to make juice and says "Juice, Shannon, Juice" It's so cute that he associates me with juice. My sister, Paige has grown so much too. She is so much fun to play with. Our niece Lauren is a year older as well. She talks so much more now and she really likes me. We have fun playing together. I love watching all the kids grow up without having to say "they've gotten so big" every time we see them.

Well, another year is wrapping up. We all have a little less (or a lot) money thanks to the stinking economy, but somehow we have all united in this struggle together. I'm glad we all remember what is important in life like our health and friends and family. A year is passed and I am a year closer to passing the 1-2 years I was originally given to live from my doctors. Yep, I had to bring that up again. I know I am supposed to forget that number and remember that it is just some crazy estimate based on people who are not ME, but I will never really get it out of my head until that day is passed. Crazy enough it lands on my Dad's birthday, June 6th. Kevin and I were married July 6th (1 month after my re-diagnosis on June 6th). Once my dad's birthday comes and goes a huge weight will be lifted off my chest. Last year I was scared about making it to this day. This year I am confident that June 6th will come with no troubles at all. (maybe a port area infection or something, but nothing too serious)

Last thing to discuss......what is my New Year's resolution???? I have so many rules for myself that I try to enforce on a daily basis, I honestly don't know what to make my resolution. I know.....less TV (except for work out time). That's a good resolution. I never feel like I am living my life to the fullest when I watch TV, but I sure do when I am out interacting with people or being physically active. Okay, I think I got it. Less TV. Okay, now I got the ideas rolling off my brain. The other resolution I want to try is to try one new raw food recipe a week. I never make something unless I have don it before and am confident that I will make it right. I need to learn some raw recipes so I can eat stuff other than salad and zucchini pasta. maybe I'll write about the new ones I like.
Kevin and I are doing nothing tonight for New Years eve, so we've left it up to our own imaginations. I'm sure we'll have fun hanging out together. Kevin is looking forward to not working tomorrow.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I cannot wait for an even better 2009. 2008 was a wonderful year and I enjoyed it so much.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Stevia Approved BY FDA!!!!!

As I am typing right now, we are getting even more snow. About 3 more inches and it's still coming down. This was the day of our first big storm. Our backs hurt the following day.
Kevin and I are responsible for this mountain of snow.Oh My God and Holy Crap!!

The FDA Approved Stevia as an additive in all foods as a sweetener. And guess who was responsible?????? Not me (Mrs. Stevia lover and preacher) I'm glad you all think that highly of me where I could have that much influence. lol. No. Would you believe it that Coke and Pepsi were the ones who pressured the FDA to make this monumental decision? They were.
Read this article. It's not long and it's an easy read. It explains how unfortunately the FDA did not make this decision to benefit consumers. They made this decision because big money (Coke and Pepsi) pressured them. Aspartame used to have the FDA right where they wanted them where they were rejecting all proposals to approve Stevia. Thank you Coke and Pepsi for stepping in and pushing their dollars around (also not for our best interest and only for their profits, but I'll take the decision any way I can get it)

Do you understand how HUGE this is????? This is HUGE. This is the biggest step in getting America healthier I think I will ever see. Why didn't I put this on my bucket list? Probably because I thought I would never see the day. Now people with Diabetes can eat all sorts of food that is sweet and not have their insulin rise at ALL from the sweetener. People with cancer can eat without the same worries.

NOW, I am not saying that processed foods are good. They're not. I will still maintain the same diet and it won't really change things for me too much. I do not drink pop. (yes, Texas people, I said pop) These processed foods will be a hell of a lot better than processed foods with sugar or cancer causing Aspartame. I wonder how long it will take before we see the products on the shelves? Goodbye Aspartame and synthetic chemical sweeteners. Coke and Pepsi have patented the Stevia and call it Truvia so that is the additive name you will look for. Now I'm sure they won't grow it organically, but we'll take this big step they have made to squash Aspartame once and for all. Yeah!!

I hope this drives down the price of Stevia. Most importantly, this will make Stevia popular. So many people have never heard of it and it is HEALTHY for you as the supplement. Go back and read my entry on SUGAR for the recap on Stevia and the health benefits of it. I'm always preaching Stevia, Stevia, Stevia, and now the general public will know what I have been talking about.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

I will leave you with a picture of my sister and I planting my latest batch of wheatgrass.

Friday, December 19, 2008

SNOW SNOW and more SNOW... And Cancer Christmas

Holy Snow!! Yep, it's that time of year again in Michigan. I was planning on going snowboarding today, but we got about 10 inches of snow and it finally just stopped. That means the roads are a crazy mess right now. If I wanted to make it to the mountain (or small hill is a better description) it would take me hours to get there. Never mind that. I'm not leaving the house for the rest of the day.....well, until we go to the Piston's game tonight. (Thanks Kevin and Wendy!)

Cancer Christmas!! This is the best looking group of cancer survivors ever.
Last weekend we had some super fun Christmas parties. I had one with the Young Adults group I am a part of at Gilda's Club. We called it "Cancer Christmas". I love this group so much. We are a melting pot of different kinds of cancers. Brain, lymphomas, sarcomas, thoracic, stomach. My breast cancer seems pretty simple compared to the rest. I quickly learned that even though I consider myself a genius on breast cancer, I know next to nothing about other types of cancer. It's a great learning process being at the meetings. This group is super cool. I love hanging out with them outside of the walls of Gilda's as sometimes, but the walls of Gilda's is what brought us all together. There are even boys in the group which I thought was very exciting the first meeting I went to. That was when I realized I had been to way too many breast cancer groups.

Me and Jessica

Honestly. Isn't this a great looking group?

Kevin and I also got to go to his work Christmas party. It was much more fun this year since I knew everyone better (last year he was brand new). We had been on trips to New Orleans and Chicago with everyone together and hopefully will be going on other trips soon. I got to hear all about how great Kevin is doing at his job now. Go Kevin! Nice timing. I am so proud of him and of course we all know that he deserves only the best in his life.

Love you Kevin!

Here is Kevin's awesome boss, Sean, rocking out on Guitar Hero at the party. The leg kick was his trademark move. The fans loved it.

Last night I joined the local toastmasters group. I want to get better at public speaking and what better way to do it than with a bunch of strangers. I had to do an impromptu speech for 2 minutes. I was scared, but before I went up there I recited The Greatest Salesman Scroll #2 to myself. It's about greeting the day with love in your heart and loving all manners of men. Once I applied that to how I was feeling, I was instantly more comfortable with everyone in the room. I think I did just fine and came across as a likable person. The one thing I will have to work on is my filler words. I think I say "um" and "you know" a lot. I bet if I did a planned speech I would use a lot less filler words though. Anyway, I'm moving forward to crossing off one more thing from my bucket list (Become a good public speaker)

Health update: Well, the old port area is infected AGAIN. Not where the port was, but where the tube went up from the port and connected to my vein. The tube is gone but there is scar tissue making a tube shape still inside me. Inside that area there was infection brewing again. So this morning I drove all the way to Beaumont Royal Oak in this terrible snow storm to see my surgeon. She had to give me a shot to numb me up (OUCH!!!! I guess it burns way more when you have a bad infection) and then she made a little slice in my skin where the tube area is and she let all the yucky infection stuff drain out. Then she pushed and squeezed and took a syringe to suck out the rest (OUCH AGAIN!!!) I love her to death but have a bad association with every time I see her. I drive through all that crap for an experience like that??? Not a fun morning. I now just have a bandage over it and hopefully I will get better. Once again, I have antibiotics because I could get a blood infection. Sucks. I really hope this is the end of it and I can completely heal. It's been months for crying out loud (literally)

That's about all for now. I'll write soon....Oh, I found Halls Natural. Check it out at CVS or Wallgreens. The ingredients are all natural compared to the regular Halls with Asparthame and other stuff I cannot pronounce. Yeah Halls! Good job!

Love you all. Drive safe you crazy Michiganders

Shannon : )

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sick in Austin

(I have MD Anderson pictures up on the post before this one if you want to check them out)

All my old Riata Apartment Complex friends. This was right before I got REALLY sick.
Scott and Cole. I'm a sucker for super cute kids.
Here is how I spent all my money in Austin. Puffs Plus, Riccola, Halls, Cold Eze, Emergen-C, Garlic, Lip Medix, Netti Pot, Epsom Salt and I also got hand sanitizer which didn't make the picture.
Well, I went to Austin and man did I get sick. I need to watch myself when I say I am really sick or got really sick. A lot of people immediately think “Oh No!! Did she have to go to the hospital” Yeah, when you are a cancer girl just saying your sick can make the imaginations run wild. People are wondering if I am puking from chemo, do I have a fever and need to go to the hospital because my blood count is so low I might die?? I don’t know what saying “I’m really sick” is making people think but I could tell from the reactions that they weren’t thinking really bad cold. Then I would say it’s a cold and they would look relieved.

Honestly, I would have rather been puking from chemo. Seriously. This cold was NOTHING to mess with. I felt like HELL. I was starting to wonder if I would ever feel good again. Right after I wrote from MD Anderson everything went down hill. Go figure, with no sleep for that long, airplanes and hospital marathons I was asking to get sick. All of a sudden I had pounds of snot all stuck in my nose and my brain. I sneezed all day long. My throat was raw and so was my nose from blowing it. I had a fever, a headache, and my whole body hurt. I barely wanted to move. Call me a wimp, but colds are a sickness I am not cut out for. So the whole time I was in Austin I was sick like this. Sucks. I wanted to do the rounds and see everyone. Instead I was on a relentless search for the natural cure to a cold. I didn’t want to take medicine but wanted so badly to get better.

I went to CVS and first bought Puffs Plus with ALOE. VERY IMPORTANT to do this early on. If you don’t you will blow your nose on the other sandpaper tissue and rub your nose raw. Then it will get aggravated and it will make you sneeze starting the whole vicious cycle. Then I got Riccola (says natural and herbal) for my soar throat, but it didn’t do the trick. I needed straight up Halls with the vapors. I got another Netti Pot to try and wash out my sinuses. That helped, but they would fill back up a half hour later. Angela and Kasey fed me a steady diet of Emergen-C. That stuff is really good (raspberry and Tangerine). It’s a fizzy drink and for some reason drinking it made me feel good, plus I was getting extra Vitamin C to fight off the cold. I stopped the trial drug for one day because I couldn’t imagine putting my body through any more. I kept up my supplements (probiodics, sea weed extract (minerals), multivitamin, enzymes, my homemade turmeric supplements, ) Then, I bought some garlic supplements because garlic is wonderful for you body and works really good to fight infection if I had any in my body. I also bought Epsom salt and did a soak to pull toxins out, warm up and relax my achy body. I also got one of my monthly massages, but the snot kept draining forward as I was laying there, so I had to keep asking for Kleenex during the massage and blowing my nose. Not sure if the massage was a smart decision. I don't think the therapist enjoyed giving me a massage at all.

I remembered when I was at Hippocrates we were being taught about fasting. Brian Clement (the head honcho) was telling us that when animals are sick they don’t eat until they are better. (They fast) When your digestive system doesn’t have to work on breaking down food you body can use its power to fight off sickness. He told us that our instincts were right as a kid. When we were sick as kids we never wanted to eat, but people would always be concerned and say “eat, eat, eat!” So, I didn’t have an appetite the whole time in Austin, but I didn’t let it bother me. I drank an excessive amount of water, green (powder) drink because I was too lazy to get juicing ingredients, and ate fruit throughout the trip. I snacked a little bit on some other foods, but decided to let my body heal if it needed. After the first day when I got lunch with friends I had no meals the entire time in Austin.

I also went in the sauna with Angela and Michele’s Gold’s memberships. I had a fever and wanted to break it. Without overheating my body I was looking to burn off the virus or infection that took over my body with the fever and I was going to help my fever with the sauna. I think because I had the fever, 170 degrees in the sauna felt wonderful to me. I was in there 15 minutes and barely sweat when people around me were soaking wet. Finally I broke a sweat the second time in there. It wasn’t until a really good night sleep until I really broke the fever and began getting slowly better though.

Which brings me to the two most important parts of getting well naturally: Almost everyone takes both of these for granted. The first is water. You are supposed to drink 2 liters of water daily if you are healthy. Who does that??? I do, but I have that crazy water bottle I bring everywhere and I obsess about drinking water. Plus, I basically only drink water or green juice. So, if you are sick, you should drink more water than that. That is step uno of getting better. The second and equally important step is sleep. Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. Our body HEALS when we sleep. That is a known fact. Make sense to sleep when we are sick then huh? The most important thing to do when we are sick is get really self absorbed. Your sleep schedule should be more important than any to do list, friends you have to meet up with, or party you have to host. The world needs to revolve around your sleep schedule if you want to get better. This is the one I am the worst about (to do lists and hanging with friends is always important to me) I think sleep and water alone can cure you from any cold, but no one sleeps enough to let it happen. I couldn’t sleep because my nose and throat were keeping me up all night. I broke down and took a Nyquil after 2 weeks of not good sleep every night. Finally I slept 10 hours, slept through the night and broke my fever. Sleep was the magical touch. I got off the Nyquil (1/2 dose each night) after 2 nights.

Anyway, I wrote this because a lot of people are getting NASTY colds and I can relate. I just wanted to remind people about the two most important things to do to help your body do what it does. Heal.

I wish I could have felt better when I was in Austin so I could have made the most out of my time. I barely got pictures with all of the great wonderful friends I had been looking forward to seeing for months. I feel like I need a redo.The timing was really crappy. We need to take care of ourselves so we can get through the holidays healthy. We don’t want to have our heads in the clouds for some quality visiting time like I did. We also want to be able to give hugs and kisses without getting people sick.

Take care of yourselves
Drink lots of water
SLEEP. Because your body needs it
I miss all of you in Austin and wish I could be there again.
Feeling much better
AND here is the absolutely cutest version of the ABCs by Cole (my friend Cindy and Scott's boy)....... Click the play button to watch the video.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Jaded because of MD Anderson and Scans

Here are some MD Anderson pictures as promised. This is the HUGE granite fountain. I'm sure that didn't cost a lot.
I LOVE sitting by these bubbles in the breast center. The sound is very relaxing and they have recliners in front of them. It's hard to get up when they call your name.
This is the famous tree sculpture. I don't know the story behind it. This is where Paul always meets me when he has to pick me up from MD Anderson. He always says "I'm by that crazy looking "tree" thing in the lobby"

They had a silent auction of decorated wreaths. I loved this Beatles one. Gets my vote. There were about 100 of these, so I got to check them all out with all my down time.
This wreath made me think of my little sister. She would like the Hannah Montana wreath.

Just want to write a post because a few things are on my mind and I have some time to kill here at MD Anderson on their computers. My prescription takes over an hour to fill and I now have an hour to kill. Earlier, I had to wait over an hour to get my name called for my appointment and then finally "Shannon (long pause) EZZZI???" All I have to do is hear Shannon and a long pause and I know it's me they are attempting to call. I haven't yet changed my name here because I have seen what has happened here when you change just a medication. Getting any information changed is this messed up maze of a computer system they have here at MD Anderson (or any hospital for that matter) is a near disaster I wish to avoid. Then, after I got called I got weighed (take off a pound because I have my big boots on), got my temperature and blood pressure taken and then back out to the waiting room to wait for yet another hour.

This was nothing compared to the marathon day I had of scans on Tuesday. I got to Houston at 2am and got to Paul's at 3am. On the plane I realized that they scheduled my first check in for 6:30am the next day. Thankfully the appointment times are more like suggestions here at MD Anderson. I took the suggestion into consideration and showed up at 7am tired as hell. I had a bone scan, then got some blood work done, then I got my MRI done, then had a chest X-ray and finally a CT scan at 7pm. Yep. I got done at 8pm. 13 hour marathon of waiting rooms, needles and scans. The CT was the worst. I waited for 1 1/2 hours while drinking banana flavored barium (BARF!!!) then they called me back and I was so excited to get the last scan done. All to find another waiting room they dropped me off in with 12 other people, some of whom had been waiting there 1 1/2 hours as well. And that is just what I did. Luckily I had my computer and dvds. There are other reasons that the CT is the worst. I never told you all this before because it is kind of private and has to do with private parts but the CT scans that I get for the sake of the trial involves rectal contrast. They violate me. Yep, I have to get a barium enema contrast to get a nice look at my colon in the scan. You honestly do a walk of shame out of the scanning room. I hate these CTs.

As this day dragged on I kept thinking about how over-scanned I was. CT, MRI, Bone Scan, Chest x-ray every two months??? Whatever good this new drug was doing for my body could very well be completely cancelled out from all the radiation being put into my body from all these scans. I know the trial sponsor (who has STILL not paid me back a single dollar of the $5,000 I am out on traveling costs) has no interest in doing what is better for me. All these scans are way too much for me, but all this info is huge in the trial for getting this new drug approved by the FDA (I won't even go into what BS FDA drug approvals are. Anyone remember Vioxx?) Even the oncologist I saw today thought it was ridiculous how often they were scanning me. And he also thought it was really shady that I hadn't gotten paid yet. At least someone in this building understands me.

Test Results: My blood test went down to 276 which is the biggest drop yet and that's really good. All the tumors are stable (no bigger no smaller) there are a couple bone spots that I am concerned about. One on my ribs that was new last time but looks a little bigger. Another new spot on my spine. Both are very small. Scary to have a spot on my spine. I understand that when the bone heals and gets rid of cancer it gets bigger and looks worse while it gets better because the bone heals around it. This is what the doc seems to think is happening. I could have had this spot on my spine before but it isn't showing until now because it is in the healing process. Still, this doesn't make me feel any better.

I'm starting to wonder if staying on this study is right for me. My results are good but not amazing. I could get results like this from hormone therapy potentially. Also, I could drastically cut down the scans, travel, and money that is also affecting my well being. I don't know. I have to fly out again on Jan 1st New Years Day. Awesome huh? I'm getting pretty jaded with all of this. But, if this is going to extend my life, isn't it worth it? Ahh the wonderful world of cancer and NEVER knowing what the right decision is. I hope the trial ends soon. If it does, I can continue getting the medication minus all the scans and trips to Houston. Cross your fingers. This is the scenario I need to play out.

Well, I messed around enough and I hope my prescription is ready. In a couple days I'll post some nice MD Anderson pictures. I will be driving to Austin as soon as I leave and I am so excited to go. I love hanging with Paul in Houston but I am always so tired and grossed out from my day of scans (especially after the CT) that I'm not much fun. We were all excited to watch the MSU vs North Carolina basketball game last night and it was terrible. I have never seen State play so bad. North Carolina is awesome, but man, it was a tough game to watch. Paul got on Facebook and we were hooked on that all night. He's only the most popular person on Facebook EVER.

Starting fresh as soon as I walk out of this building.
I promise

darker pink dots