Hello, 2018!

We made it.

2017 chewed us up and spit us out. January grabbed us and twisted our mental capacity and patience nearly to our snapping point. February hit us hard, but we’ve since (mostly) been on the downhill slide of chaos since November.

So, here’s where Blake and I are, after all the madness and change that’s engulfed us the last few months.

We’re still living in Grand Island (about 25 minutes away from Hastings). We’ve been working with a realtor in Hastings and seen a few houses on the market, but are anxious to see what the spring brings before committing to anything.

I’ve started my job at IdeaBank in Hastings. It’s been good so far, I’m only in my 3rd week, and still getting acclimated. Though, I’m already busy working out details on some of the new processes and support I hope to integrate here.

Blake is still with SiteOne. Late in December after he resigned, his company offered him a new role in sales based out of the Grand Island store. He’s currently shadowing the current sales representative, and spending much time traveling between Lincoln and North Platte making contacts with clients.

Fozzie and Jack are getting by. The cold temperatures in the area have keep us all inside, and for Fozzie, that means being a little wound up.

With the other major changes settling down, we’ve made preliminary baby steps toward wedding planning. And I mean baby steps, nothing confirmed or established yet! We’re both happy to have capacity and time to put towards making plans.

So, things have been going well overall. We are adjusting and settling into our new area and enjoying seeing some faces more, but are missing those that we aren’t seeing as often.

Hopefully we see you all soon! Please come visit soon (though you may not have a bed with us)!

And, of course, New Zealand and Australia were beautiful. I’m still working on photos, but here’s a few of my favorites!

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Wrapping up 2017

I started a post like I’ve done in years past, outlining the major events and memories from each month. I realized how lop-sided my year has been with news, and that life updates are beginning to pile up. So, here’s a list in no particular order of the good things that have happened prior to October, when things started getting crazy, and a list of all the things that have followed!

Prior to October:

  • Became a godmother
  • Celebrated my grandpa’s 90th birthday
  • Watched a ‘once in a lifetime’ solar eclipse, and in the most random way possible
  • Played violin in a recital
  • Paddled the Niobrara
  • Traveled to Montana and Laramie with Blake
  • Brought home the new Fozzie addition to the family

Here’s what’s happened since October:

  • I’ve accepted a new job in Hastings, Nebraska
  • I’ve accepted an offer on my house, and am near the final stages of closing.
  • Blake and I have moved almost half of our Lincoln house to Grand Island.
  • My oncologist results came back clear, and as of my cancer-free-iversary on Christmas, I am officially on to beginning my 4th year of being in remission.
  • My dad has moved back home after being in the hospital and therapy for over two months.
  • I’ve almost finalized my agenda to Australia and New Zealand, and am finishing packing.
  • Blake and I are engaged. 

I apologize if this is the first you’ve heard about some of these things. Life has been just moving faster and faster. Know that this is my attempt to update those of you who have opted to follow me and stay close over the years. I appreciate you, and all of the support you’ve shown!

Here’s a little more context on some of our plans for 2018:

I’ve accepted a digital strategy position at a marketing agency, and will begin work Feb. 1. My last day at my current job will be Jan. 5, before I leave for my 30th birthday trip to New Zealand (Jan. 7 – Jan. 24). Blake is continuing conversations with job leads, and planning on making his career shift toward the middle or end of January. We’ve already accepted an offer on our Lincoln home, and have started moving to a temporary house in Grand Island as we get comfortable in our new surroundings. Our closing day is scheduled for Jan. 29.

As we reflect on the year of 2017, the primary tone was that it was a very difficult and strenuous year, and continues to be so even through these final weeks. We are so grateful for our friends and family that supported us and carried us through hard times, and continue to surround us as we push ourselves into the new year.

We are hopeful for fresh and exciting beginnings in 2018; new experiences, new jobs, new relationships, new futures. We look forward to sharing our new adventures with you in 2018! 

 

FDX New Zealand

It’s been a little over a month since I verbally confirmed my spot to fulfill my 30th birthday present: an FDX trip – to NEW ZEALAND.

It was a little anti-climatic; while I knew there was a trip and that I wanted to go, at the time there was no formal agenda. Just trust in a great organization and knowing that it would be sometime in January. Since then, agenda has been released, Facebook Groups set up, and I’ve slowly been booking flights to the other side of the world.

Today, I committed to another idea I had been mulling on – seeing the Great Barrier Reef. I was hesitant; it will add quite a few additional travel days, and I planned for two full days in the area, in case one had bad weather. But knowing it will be some time before I’m on this side of the planet, and the speed at which the reef is dying, I had to fit it in.

So, I’ve condensed my agenda to the outline below. I still have a lot of work to do to get forms submitted, renew my passport (it expires 4 days before I leave), and flush out the other details of what I plan to do (when I’m not with the FD family). As I start checking off this bigger pieces, I get more and more excited.

I’m posting this because I still am so grateful for all the support everyone showed leading up to my birthday last November. I think it would be a loss to not inform everyone who gifted what their donations culminated to.

Thank you again, everyone! I entered my 30th year humbled and supported to pursue this goal, and I will be leaving it making plans and wrapping up agendas to fulfill it!

January 2018

  • 1/7: Depart Omaha in PM
  • 1/9: Arrive Sydney, Aus in the early AM
    • Visit harbor and Opera House
    • Depart Sydney in PM
    • Arrive Cairns, Aus in the late PM
  • 1/10 – 1/11: Cairns, Aus
    • Snorkel/scuba the Great Barrier Reef*
    • Lodging TBD*
  • 1/12: Depart Cairns in PM
  • 1/13: Arrive Christchurch, NZ early AM
    • Explore area
    • Meet with FD, settle in
  • 1/14 – 1/16: Depart Christchurch for Murchison
    • NZ Kayak School
    • Whitewater Kayaking
    • Lodging @ Murchinson Lodge
  • 1/17: Depart Murchinson for Queenstown
    • Roadtrip
    • Lodging @ Pinewood Lodge
  • 1/18: Queenstown Free Day
    • Activity of my choice*
  • 1/19: Depart Queenstown for Milford Sounds
    • Fiordland National Park
    • Road trip: stops for hiking, swimming, exploring
    • Lodging @ Milford Sound Lodge
  • 1/19 – 1/22: Milford Sounds
    • Gertude Saddle Hike
    • Hikes and swims
    • Sea Kayaking
    • Lodging @ Milford Sound Lodge
  • 1/23: Depart Milford Sounds for Queenstown
    • 3:20: Depart Auckland, NZ
    • 6:15: Arrive Omaha

*plans not finalized/secured

Young Adult Survivorship / FDX

Thursday I had received the call I’ve had marked on my calendar for months. I have been formally added to the First Descents FDX to New Zealand in January 2018! Not many details have been released, other than the description on the site. I will post more information when I have it!

we’re setting our sights on the magnificent mountains and rivers of New Zealand! The name of our game this time around is primarily hiking and kayaking, both on the river and on the sea.


During my oncologist appointments last week, I found myself standing in front of a woman my age who was pregnant. She complimented my purse. Very conscious that we were two of three people in the room under 50 (Blake was on the other side of the room), I asked if she was there for herself or something different.

She was having a C-section tomorrow and needed to do final blood work to make sure things were in line. I eventually asked what her history with cancer was.

Five years ago, they removed a tumor from her ovaries that was larger than any of the kids she’s had. When they found it, everyone thought she was six months pregnant.

We moved from the waiting line, to the infusion waiting room, and gushed so openly and so bluntly about the details of our diagnosis, surgeries, the unpleasant complications, like we were old friends catching up.

I told her that her initial doctor’s recommendation of a hysterectomy, through her journey to being on the eve of her 4th child, gave me hope that I haven’t been robbed of my chance of having kids.

At 1:59, she had to leave the waiting room to run across the street for an OBGYN final check up. This round of appointments lifted my spirits much more than I had anticipated!

July MRI Results

Hello! I quick post, as I’m battling an ongoing headache (I think the heat is drying me out).

I had my follow-up MRI today. In January, my CT results noted enlarge lymph nodes in my pelvis. My MRI results described no change in size in my node. While I was hoping they would have returned to a normal size, my oncologist assured me it is good news the size hasn’t changed, and that my body might just have larger nodes due to the treatment I’ve received. She felt good enough, in fact, that she will only have me do blood work in January, and is moving my annual CT scan to July.

So this is good news! I can move forward to next July without worry (pending January lab results), and will then be just 6 months shy of my 5-year cancer-free-iversary.

Conversations with Strangers

Lately, I’ve been experiencing glimpses into who a used to be. A younger, innocent, more naive me. A me not in my 30’s. Occasionally I’ve attributed this to maintaining long-term friendships and seeing old parts of me reflected back, but I’m starting to think it’s this new thing I’ve been doing.

Last Wednesday, I was at the grocery store to pick up a few things to get us to the weekend, and throughout my short visit I had three meaningful relationships with complete strangers.

The first was the friendly pizza sample lady, aka “the top seller in the region” as she boasted. Who, after a few connections shared some extremely personal health details she is worried about. Another, in the checkout lane was a dark man, wearing a leather hat, with even fewer items in his cart than mine. He asked me to read the price on a WWI magazine to him. From there, we started talking about the civil war and some other facts I had recently learned. Then, as I was checking out, I talked with the cashier, a junior in high school who was stressing about the ACT and starting to face the realities of growing up.

So what was it that lead me to really start talking with these strangers. I think back to my 20’s, and I was so open. So, happy.

I’ve started a new supplement / health program. My first two weeks I shed 10 pounds (and have kept them off). I’ve had more energy to finish chores. I feel sharper and clearer at work. I’ve been more happy and goofy in all aspects of my life, apparently even at the grocery store.

With my health history, I’ve tried several health trends. I was ‘athletic’ through high school and college. I got into distance running in my mid-twenties which led to a lot of knee and hip pain. I switched to a diet containing mostly juice and fresh vegetables when I was diagnosed, which left me weak enough I could hardly play sand volleyball, and led to sharp pain in my joints. I got into essential oils, and found only limited results compared to the prices charged. I have a cabinet of multi-vitamins and probiotics, which never really made me feel better, but did cause my pee to turn neon yellow. I spent almost a year home-brewing my own kombucha, and then read about how dangerous the bacteria growth can be, on top of not really feeling any different. Earlier this year, I was practicing fasting days, which usually involved me curling up in bed by 8 pm with no energy.

Now, just a week shy of starting this program, I can feel and see a difference. When picking out outfits, belts fall from my waist to my hips, skirts I ordered online that I failed to return after deeming them too tight actually fit.

So what is this program? From a high-level, it’s meal replacement shakes 6 days a week, and a cleanse day once a week (you don’t have to strictly adhere to this program). While being able to pull back on calories is a major player in the weight loss side, the program is about feeding your body nutrients to keep it balanced.Many studies are testing the quality of foods we eat now, and finding they just aren’t as rich as they probably once were. This program strives to re-add these missing nutrients. Throughout all my health endeavors, I’ve just never been able to get it right on my own. All these healthy things I thought I was doing weren’t making me feel any better.

The cleanse days are to give your system a rest to detoxify. Every day, there is an “elixir” – a shot of nutrients to feed your system. Sources of nutrients is important to the company, with the back of the bars boasting the products came from “happy cows”. There are bars and snacks to eat throughout the day to stay satisfied.

Are the product perfect? I don’t think so. But they better than me eating pizza and mac and cheese and adding a side salad so I can tell myself I ate something healthy. Do they have sugar? Yes, but less than a single-serve container of yogurt, and many granola bars. Do they taste good? I think so! But I’ve never been one to hop on board with a supplement/shake program like this.

It’s also been a burden off my shoulders to not worry about food. Getting groceries, planning recipes for every meal of the day. Prepping leftovers. Products ship right to my front door on a recurring cycle. I don’t get distracted by junk food at the grocery store, and know exactly what my budget is for the month. It keeps me accountable to not eat snacks throughout the day. If anything, it’s let Blake and I focus on enjoying our one meal a day together. We actually get excited to pick something and cook together, or cherish something new at a restaurant. I savor food, rather than trying to just satisfy hunger.

I would highly encourage anyone looking to feel better to consider trying this system out. Please reach out directly if you are interested!

I do have a website through this company to order from (prepare yourself for some tacky marketing pieces here). But please contact me first prior to ordering anything! I want to help you get the best deal and setup for your first go-round. Learn more and place an order online.

Update – The Swollen Nodes

I posted earlier this year about my CT Scan results not being great. I set an appointment with my general practitioner earlier in January. Since then, I’ve gone through several follow-ups, and they found abnormal cells in my cervix, which hopefully explains why those lymph nodes were swollen in my scan – they were fighting off these new cells.

I had those cells frozen, using Cryotherapy. Literally, they put a tool inside of me, froze me for 3 minutes, rest for 3 minutes, and then re-freeze again for 3 minutes. The second round wasn’t as painful, all the cells were killed during the first round. I’ll have a follow up in 3 months, but this procedure has a 90-95% success rate.

I’ve been healing for the last 3-4 weeks. It’s a pretty routine procedure; I drove myself there and home, no fasting, no prep. However, it’s affected my spirits much more than I thought.

This condition is common in women who went through menopause – which I did when elected to take protective drugs during chemo. It’s also common in people who have immune deficiencies – which I did when my immune system was destroyed by chemo. I’ve had to carry extra “supplies” with me this entire time, reminiscent of my colostomy bag.

Since the procedure, I’ve had several dreams (nightmares) where I had a colostomy bag again. In all occurrences, it was leaking. I was re-experiencing the horror of seeing my human waste saturate the sticky bandage on my stomach, the sting of having stomach acid sit on and erode flesh, and the panic of not knowing where to get more supplies.

Old memories since have haunted me, specifically one of the first times I went back home to Lincoln after surgery. I hadn’t quite gotten the routine of managing my colostomy supplies, and early one Saturday morning I had a catastrophic leak. With no pharmacies in Lincoln carrying supplies, I had to jump in my car with a roll of paper towels and drive an hour to Omaha to my parents house. By the time I got there, my bag wasn’t even stuck to my skin any more because the bandage had gotten so saturated. I had wads of paper towel held to my stomach to collect the constant stream of shit spewing from my stomach. I knew my parents were out of town, but we hadn’t realized the garage pad on the house had run out of batteries. Frantic, I ran around the house testing all the locked doors, before having to punch a hole in the front door screen to get in.

By that time, my waste was uncontrollable. I had shit running down my body, soaking my shoes as I ran from the back of the house to the front.

Trama.

This recent minor procedure put me in a situation where I just feel sick again, my body is failing, and my own cells are trying to destroy me. I wonder if I hadn’t had cancer, if I would have had this either. If the side effects from chemo didn’t align to cause this abnormality.

Although I’m only 3 years out from finishing treatment, it feels like a world away. Then things like this happen, and cause me to question if my body will ever be recovered.

My general practitioner follow up is in June, where they will repeat a pap. My next oncologist appointment is in July, where they will have me do an MRI to track my nodes. The timing works out well; if these new cells where the problem, and my pap is clean, my nodes should return to normal.

If my pap is clean, and they have’t returned to normal size, or worse, grown, that might be a problem.