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Update June 7th

June 8, 2014

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The last few weeks have been overwhelming to say the least. I went from surfing in Hawaii, finally almost feeling like myself again, back full time to yoga, getting back on my feet enough to start to look for an apartment…and then back pain. First, I thought I had overdone it, which is not unlike me if you know me:) then it started waking me up at night and all of a sudden I just felt really off- it’s hard to explain, but I just knew something was off. So I went for a ct scan- the results came back and were a mixed bag- my lymph nodes that have been active and enlarged had almost shrunk to nothing but there was a lesion on my spine. No matter all the possible metastasis I had tried to prepare for, this was definitely not one I ever even considered. We followed it up with a pet scan, which confirmed the lesion is in fact a tumor of some kind, they are 95% sure it is cancer, and on top of that, even though my lymph nodes have shrunk, they are actually more active than they have been in the last nine months. It is all so confusing because it doesn’t make sense for them to shrink and be more active and it also doesn’t make sense that my brain, lungs and liver are clear yet the cancer has made it to my spine. Even though it all seems unlikely, somehow the cancer is in my bloodstream, surpassed my organs, and made it to my spine. Hello stage IV cancer….you really are keeping me on my fucking toes the last 26 months. So decision time once again, discussions about options, discussions about odds….conversations I still sometimes can not believe I am having. There were a few “options” on the table-
1- radiation- they think it could help shrink the tumor, but after all the radiation I had last year this would be a dangerous choice
2-chemo. The chemo they would want to give me would possibly help shrink the tumor and possibly help those lymph nodes become less active-key word is possibly. Now, some people have said to me,why are you not doing chemo? Why would you choose to not do it? If chemo cures cancer, then why would you stupidly decide against it? Let me start by saying this is not an easy choice because mainstream medicine says this is the most viable option- but NOT in the case of my cancer right now. It would help keep it under control, but it will NEVER cure it. Ever. My oncologist is straight forward about that fact. From my perspective, the toll it takes on the body, six months of torture…..I have finally begun to feel like myself again and I believe in my soul I would not be able to recover as easily the next time from all the side effects and late effects of chemo. Also, in this case, it is about 90% certain that once we stop chemo, the cancer will take advantage of my weakened immune system and trample all over it. I will not let that happen to my body right now- I just can’t.
3- the third option, the one I am going with, is something called thermal ablation. This will directly destroy the tumor in my spine. They go in through my back, heat the tumor from the inside out as they destroy it. While they are doing that, they will fill the empty space in my spine with cement. This procedure has been done in Europe on the spine, at the mayo clinic and Minnesota, and on Monday, my surgeon will be doing the first one in New York. My surgery is scheduled for Tuesday, so hopefully he does a really good job on Monday:) It is definitely frightening, but out of my three options, this one seems to be the best fit for right now. The issue is, this will not address the lymph nodes or the bloodstream.

I am at a little of a loss, because I know all the holistic things I have done in the past 15 months since stopping”traditional” treatments (and for the 12 months in addition to traditional) has kept me alive. And above that, this approach has enabled me to truly live- I have traveled, spent time with family and friends, my head is finally clear from chemo brain, I have been able to do the job I love and be me. Not just a cancer patient, not sick at home unable to move from all the medicine,not completely exhausted all of the time- I have been able to truly be me.

I have been regimented and disciplined in all areas of my life: herbs, nutrition, exercise, etc. I have a few more tricks up my sleeve that I will put in full effect this summer, and we will keep an even closer eye on the cancer. Instead of three month scans, we will scan every six weeks.

I honestly don’t know what is in store for me, but I know that I have lived and continue to live remarkably with stage IV cancer. The road has been a hard one, and often I come to a crossroads and need to figure out where I stand-but I am still standing. Day by day, that’s all I can do.

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2 Comments
  1. Fran Fitzgerald permalink

    Kristen, we are so very proud of you & love you dearly. Our thoughts & prayers are always with you. Continue to be brave & strong…we are here for you. Xoxox

    Like

  2. Shanna permalink

    You are one to be admired and I am in awe of your strength and spirit.

    Like

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