When Life Gives You Lemons: Measured in Months

Hi friends. I've been pretty absent lately and this post is actually to explain why. Typically with health update posts, I have an idea of what I'm going to say and it's pretty easy to write it all out, but with this one I'm kind of stumped.

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind. I honestly don't even know where to begin. I don't want to get into a great deal of detail, but long story short, I had a really scary situation happen due to a mixup with one of my medicines. It was terrifying, warranted a panicked trip to the ER, and ended with a week long stay at the hospital. While in the hospital, the medicine situation got sorted out and I had both a CT scan and MRI on my brain done.

Good news, the tumors that are in my brain have not grown and no new tumors have developed. Bad news part 1, the melanoma in my lungs has come back and spread, meaning my body has started resisting the treatments I'm currently on. We're trying a new dosing approach to see if we can get my body to start responding again - fingers crossed that works. Unfortunately, the options for treating metastatic melanoma are extremely limited, and I'm already on the major treatments to fight this type of cancer. So, we flew out to UCLA and met with their melanoma specialist (he's world renowned and has access to studies and trials, etc. that my doctor here doesn't have full access to) and got a second opinion. There's one study that might be an option, but we won't know for sure yet for a little while longer. Also, this is just a study so there's no guarantee it would even work if I am eligible to participate. Bad news part 2, if I can't do the UCLA trial and my body continues to resist the treatment I'm currently on, my lifespan becomes measured in months and there's a chance I won't make it to the end of the year. I wish I could say that's just me being dramatic, but unfortunately those are words straight from two different doctor's mouths. 

Obviously this is extremely hard news to swallow, and honestly I think I'm still in shock and denial.  It's a weird thing to be told you only have months to live. I mean I'm still in shock and denial that I even have cancer in the first place so adding that I might only have months left to live just makes my head spin. Who knows, maybe I'll get lucky and my odds will change and I'll live to be 121. Here's hoping, right?

I get asked how I'm doing all the time and it honestly depends on the day. Some days are emotionally hard, others are physically hard. I'm definitely having a hard time physically - I guess that's bad news part 3. I've lost so much weight and can't gain any back to save my life. As a result, I feel weak and have little energy. The dumbest things are hard... like bending over to pick something up, or walk a block with a heavy purse. I'm just in a lot of pain all the time and never have energy. It sucks. I've been getting a lot of comments on Instagram from people saying I'm "too skinny" and shouldn't promote being so thin. To that I say, don't judge a book by its cover and be thankful for your good health :)

This whole experience - from diagnosis day to the news I just received, has been so eye opening. Life is short and it's fragile and it's definitely not guaranteed. People will show their true colors, in good ways and bad. The biggest and most important thing that I've felt is love and support. I can't even put into words how wonderful and amazing people have been. I could write an entire post gushing about how appreciative I am for all the love and support I've received and how amazing people are, but instead I'll keep it simple and say thank you. I've never felt so loved and supported in my entire life - and not just by friends and family members, but by complete strangers even. It's an incredible feeling. 

I wish this post were more positive and filled with better news, but cancer is a jerk and just doesn't work that way. Life is precious - don't ever take it for granted. 

When Life Gives You Lemons: Health Update

I know a lot of you have been wondering how I'm doing since announcing my melanoma diagnosis back in October and I wanted to share a little health update for those that are curious. 

If you need a refresher, my initial post is here, and my FAQ post is here

First off, it's been 6 months since my diagnosis.... SIX MONTHS. Holy cow. Where does the time go? It feels like just yesterday I was fighting for answers and trying to process the whole 'I have cancer, like real life cancer' thing. Blows my mind. However, I'm happy to report I'm doing well! So far so good with my treatment. Since starting the medications, my tumors have shrunk significantly and continue to get smaller with every check up. 

For my visual friends, here is a photo showing progress! 

The scan on the left is my initial scan when the melanoma was first discovered. The white hazy stuff circled is active melanoma. The pink arrow is pointing to one of my larger tumors. If you look at the scan on the right, my most recent scan, you'll see the haziness is gone, and the tumor size has shrunk significantly. 

Now for the not so fun news. On top of melanoma, I also have Crohn's disease. Lucky me, right? Unfortunately treating melanoma and treating Crohn's are essentially polar opposite approaches, so finding that balance has been a challenge. I had a major flare recently (hence the slight absence in blogging and social media) that resulted in a 2-week hospital stay. I'm happy to report that I'm out, doing much better, and on a new medicine plan that should give my Crohn's the chill pill it very much needs, without upsetting the progress I've made treating my melanoma. 

Not going to lie, this has been quite the battle that has really tested my strength, but I have to believe that everything happens for a reason and there is a greater purpose for my battle. Thank goodness for great friends and family to pick me up when I'm down. If I've learned anything thus far, it's that attitude is everything. Yes, I've had breakdown moments where I'm frustrated and mad that I've had to deal with so much all the of the sudden, but wallowing gets me nowhere. Everyday is a battle, and I'm going to keep fighting along. 

Thank you all for your continued support and kind words, it really does mean so much to me. Putting this story out there is scary enough in the first place, but my goal is to hopefully inspire others and make a positive impact in some way or another.