Bald is beautiful: Unveiled

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Everyone already knows beauty comes from within, beauty is not all appearance because there is so much more to it. Beauty is all about perspective, and not one version of beauty is the same as the next. I can go on and on and on as to what beauty really means and how it differs with each viewpoint. Before I get carried away, let me just start from the beginning of our beautiful journey.

The day we had news of Meg’s cancer, the first thoughts out of her mouth were concerning the loss of her hair. Sure everyone’s reaction to this is “it’s just hair…” In actuality, it is so much more than just hair. I understand some people do not know how to respond to this news, and try to use that line in a comforting way, but hair to a woman carries a lot more value than what it actually is. We all knew, including Meg, that the chemotherapy would be taking away her hair temporarily of course.. instead of letting Meghan watch her long, beautiful strands of hair fall out one by one, we decided to take action and not let Cancer take anything away from her.. so we shaved her head (like Britney Spears circa 2007). This wasn’t meant to be scary, sad, or even daunting.. this was just a simple way of dealing with a shitty situation. The way we look at it is you can either make the best of the situation or the worst of the situation… we made the best and had a wonderful time chopping each pony tail and placing them delicately in a baggie to be shipped to a company for use for a wig! Although we aren’t experts with the clippers.. I’d say we did a pretty kick ass job and made Meghan feel like a gorgeous new woman!

So obviously, this was before chemo session one.. her hair was not falling out and it didn’t affect her confidence or self esteem just yet. We aren’t clueless.. we knew the day would come where Meg gets emotional about losing her hair. Yes, we shaved her head so she wouldn’t see hair fall out and allow herself to feel sick.. however, after chemo session two, almost immediately she started pulling her hair out and realized how easily it was to hold a clump in her hand.. obviously this started taking a big toll on her.

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Everyone who knows Meghan knows that she is a blonde bombshell.. she only lets one hair stylist (shout out to Jess Scott Santo from Tangles Salon in Easton, PA) touch her hair because she is so particular with what it looks like! Meghan loves getting ready, curling her entire head of hair, keeping up with her highlights and lowlights, using very expensive products, and most importantly making herself look and feel beautiful. I (Jillian.. just incase you forgot), am just as particular with my hair and only allow Jess to touch it. From the beginning, I told Meg as soon as she gets scared or sad over losing her hair I am shaving my head.. and as soon as I knew, that day came. I too, am guilty of explaining to Meghan that “it is just hair it will grow back.” But sure enough, I am learning every day that it is so much more than that and I am so grateful to be gaining perspective on what beauty really means and what it feels like when your idea of beauty is compromised. I feel like I can truly understand every single emotion a little bit more now that I have shaved my head because Meghan and I share a common view of what beauty is in a woman. We both always have long luscious locks of hair… and even some weave braided in for length because that is just what makes us feel beautiful on the inside, which is reflected on the outside.

I promised Meg that I would share with you all the good, the bad, and the ugly with this entire experience. Let’s start by saying I would have never made another decision than the one I did if I had the chance. If I was given 1000 chances to turn back time and make a different move.. I wouldn’t… I would have shaved my head every single time. I did not shave my head for me, I shaved my head for Meghan- for support both physically and emotionally. I wanted to not only show Meghan she is not alone, that she does not have to feel obligated to wear an itchy and heavy wig if she doesn’t want to, and most importantly to show Meghan the unconditional love and support she has around her. Since it has been a few days since the initial “Jillian goes Britney Spears circa 2007 party” I am able to really understand how I feel emotionally when I look at my reflection. I can relate with Meghan when she feels less like a woman, less beautiful, or just plain simple less feminine. Thankfully, my favorite trait about myself is that I DO NOT GIVE ONE SINGLE FUCK WHAT ANY SINGLE PERSON IN THIS WORLD THINKS OF ME. I swear that makes all the difference. I have realized, I test people in my mind every single day (Thanks to my cousin Cindy Fernandez).. meaning, if someone is shallow enough to see a bald woman and think she is/treat her like she is anything less than what she was with hair… I have no words and absolutely no respect for you. Since I work at as a Manager at an Art Studio, I can totally pull it off and people think I’m just an art freak (cue Mean Girls reference). But let me tell you, I did work an event and the coordinator was like “It’s great to meet you…” and unfortunately it was not our first meeting, she just didn’t take note of my features earlier I guess… yes, I was testing her… 😉 So yeah, that was the most awkward encounter but I handled it appropriately… like making it more awkward by saying nope it’s me!!! LOL 😉

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After conquering the “First day of school as the new student” (aka showing up to work and shocking everyone) I can honestly say I am getting used to this and am starting to feel more and more beautiful. Sure, I don’t have hair… but at the end of the day I have more appreciation and respect for myself when I look into the mirror at the end of the day than most can say for themselves.

New things that I have learned about myself in the last few days:

  1. I cannot walk outside without a beanie on in the Winter because it’s like an instant brain freeze (or freeze brain… whatever works)
  2. I am basically a cat… I LOVE MY HEAD RUBBED
  3. I love showering and getting ready in only 30 minutes.. 20 if I had to
  4. The amount of money I will save on not using hair products is astounding and awesome (Insert money emoji with wings)
  5. I will be a makeup queen because it makes me feel feminine and FLOSSY when bald… thank god for our sister Samii for teaching us everything we need to know
  6. When I am too close to the camera my head looks like it’s taking over the world.. when I am too far away I basically resemble a Q-tip
  7. The bigger the hoop the bigger the hoe… jk I just need hoops all day every day now
  8. I can use a really artsy name when asked my name at Starbucks and they would believe me… 🙂 Hi my name is Petunia… and nobody questions me. BANG BANG!
  9. When a man is asking me for my number I can tell them I do not like men and they won’t question that either… (nobody take offense to that please, just making light of the situation)… In all seriousness, I used that a few weeks ago and it worked but he didn’t believe me
  10. I need a sleeve now.. Amber Rose who?

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So all in all, bald is BEAUTIFUL.. it may just take a few days to believe it 🙂

 

XOXO,

Britney… oh wait I mean Jillian

 

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My Egg Retrieval Revealed

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I’m doing a lot of back posting, but I’ve had so many things happening so quickly and I want to make sure I’m sharing every single experience. So, everyone knows that both John and I went through the fertility clinic to preserve both eggs and embryos. You all heard Johns experience, but I also think its important to hear about mine!

Going and meeting with a fertility doctor was one of the first referrals that was made to me after my formal diagnosis on October 12th. It truthfully never even crossed my mind as something someone would have to do just because of chemo, but it all makes sense now that Im educated on all this crazy stuff.

It was explained to me that my chances of getting pregnant naturally post chemotherapy is very difficult. Different studies and research articles that I have found claim 50/50 chance at best. On my initial meeting and after discussing our options, John and I decided it meant more to us to have the chance at least later down the road and to go ahead with IVF rather than miss our chance completely… And if its not meant to be we would be honored to look into our other options and adopt! Either way, when the time is right we will make wonderful parents and love our babies to the moon and back!

Plain and simple, girls have different parts than boys. How do they put it… “The junk is different under the trunk”, or we have “different plumbing”? Whichever way you want to describe the male and female anatomy, it is all very different. Being a girl I am allowing myself to say that it sucks! Some people may feel that being a woman is beautiful, and childbirth is amazing… Come on people lets be real. This part of being a woman freakin blows! Your vagina is destined fo be ripped open to your butt hole, you are most likely going to get stretch marks, you get your period every month and those chocolate cravings… Oh ya they are real, and all of those extra calories, ya they go right to our ass! Okay, so dont tell me being a woman is beautiful! It does have its perks for clothes and accessories, and id much rather a vagina than a dangly penis between my legs… But thats for another blog post…

Okay, back to the fertility clinic part. So when our lovely guy counter parts simply have to “cum in a cup”, sorry there really isnt a better way to put it… Us ladies have to shoot ourselves in the belly with hormones to hopefully stimulate the follicles on our ovaries so they mature, and if the timing is right and you are  a “fertle mertle” like me… When they shove the long ultra sound wand up you whooha youll have good “numbers”.

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What the heck am I talking about?! For about a week and a half, I was on two different medications to stimulate  my follicle growth: Menopur and Follistim. These two little buggers sucked! They burned every time I injected myself, and frankly I couldnt wait until my poor little belly was done being a pin cusion. Truthfully, if I were doing this for actual fertility right now… I could only imagine how stressful and anxious I would be! So like I said before, timing is absolutely everything! I had to make sure I injected the medicine at the same time everyday or else there was a chance my body wouldnt react therefore my eggs I would shed wouldnt be matured and inessence theyd be a waste!

The average amount of eggs they are able to take retrieve is around 12 on a good day. It could be anywhere from 0-25ish every woman reacts differently. It never even crossed my mind that the “number” could be an issue! Positivity people… Thankfully we did not have a problem with the “numbers”. My follicles seemed to be reacting extremely well to the medications that I had to stab into my stomach multiple times a day! It was like a nightly cocktail that I had to mix up, my little baby making cocktail:)

John absolutely refused to inject me with the shots. Even in April when I went home from my leg surgery on a blood thinner, he refused saying “he could never hurt me like that”. So that left me and a needle… Its kinda like throwing a dart, you just HAVE to do it. Once the needle is in my belly, I would slowly push the medication through. I dont know if it was just me, but if I pushed it too fast, my belly would bubble up under my skin and get red and itchy, so slow and steady wins the race they say!

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The sting lasted anywhere from 30 seconds to 10 minutes or so. I found that the more shots I did, the less tender my skin was during the initial injection… They always burned though down to the very last shot I had to take!  Truthfully, I was counting down the days to be done!

I had to go in almost every morning for blood work and ultrasounds leading up to our wedding day! They would call me to let me know the progress and what adjustments I had to make to my medicine regimen. There was only one day I messed up my injection and took a little more than I was supposed to… Luckily it didn’t effect the end result!

Like ive said a kazillion times now, IVF is all about timing, and being that our wedding was planned in 2 weeks… I gave the doctors even more of a challenge because they had to plan for a retrieval after the wedding! Saturday October 31, 2015 I married the man of my dreams and had my fairy tale wedding, then Sunday morning we had to wake up early for one of my last ultrasounds! We dragged ourselves out of bed and drove to the fertility clinic. Everything was perfectly on schedule, and they planned for me to stop all medications and take my “trigger” medication at 9:00pm that night!

It was getting to be so real! My little egglings were almost ready to make an appearance! The doctor decided it was time, November 3, 2015 I was set for my retrieval!

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John and I showed up at the fertility clinic early on that Tuesday only a few days after our wedding! Still up to that point I really hadn’t felt any real discomfort as some people had to described to me. Supposedly it is very common for women to be extremely uncomfortable and to a point that they can actually feel their ovaries when they sit down and move… Lucky for me I was hardly uncomfortable at all! (Until after my Lupron shot when I triggered again… And let me tell you, huperstimulated ovaries is no fun at all!)

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Once we got to the fertility clinic they walked us back to the surgical waiting room. They had me step into a changing room where I had to place on a hospital gown, hair net, and slippers for my feet. I took off all my jewelry including my brand new sparkly wedding ring, and locked it up in a locker. The nurse walked me back to the Pre-op area and they began my vitals and getting an IV line placed.

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Finally they were ready for John to come back. He was instructed to put on a paper gown, then escorted him back to hold my hand and sit by my side as they got me ready for my procedure. When John came back to me, he told me that in the waiting room he met a guy who initiated a conversation about IVF. Turns out he and his wife (who were probably in their 30s) have been unsuccessful at getting pregnant naturally, so as a last resort have decided on IVF. He explained that all his wife’s tests have come out fine, he has a low sperm count.

Being that John is so young, the man opened up to him not knowing any bit of our unusual circumstance. John talked to him and began to explain how we ended up going through IVF and he said in a way it calmed the man. You just never know how much worse thing can actually be… And it makes me so proud that both John and I now have to opportunity to help other people because we are living this journey right now.

Something that really stuck with John was that the man explained how his family is so against them having a “petri dish child”. They way John explained the story really made my heart ache for this couple. It is so crazy how other people cannot just be supportive when people aren’t able to so things traditionally. I truly hope this couple had a successful retrieval, and whats meant to be will happen for them!

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It was time, they were ready for me in the operating room. I gave John a kiss and hug and he reassured me I would be fine. They walked me back into a room with a bed with stirrups attached for my legs. Just like when they do internal ultrasounds on me, I jumped up on the table, placed my feet into the stirrups and off to dreamland I went.

When I woke up, the procedure was done! John said it only lasted around 20 minutes. They walked me back to the dressing room, I changed and all was well. I had no pain or real discomfort. I still had to be cautious about jumping around and things but other than that the only symptom they said I may experience is some slight bleeding (which I didn’t have at all!)

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All 17 eggs that had been retrieved were removed and useable! We decided to take 7 eggs to mix with sperm in the petri dishes over night in hopes to make embryos, and 10 eggs were set aside for genetic testing and freezing. The next day the fertility office called me and told me that 4/7 eggs were able to mingle and actually take in the petri dish with Johns sperm! We had to wait another day to find out that 3/4 cleared all testing after the cryo preservation process (embryo freezing) so we have a grand total of 3 frozen embryos or “Elsa and Kristoff’s” as I like to refer to them as, and 7 eggs awaiting frozen and stores for the perfect time in the near future to come to life and become baby Koziels!

What I didnt really realize through this whole process until looking back on everything is how “real” and how “serious” this whole process really was! I mean, paperwork alone and making decisions if something were to happen to one or both of us who would get our eggs or embryos… Its very real life decisions that had to be made! The many ultrasounds that weren’t even for a real life baby, but checking to be sure my body is responding to the medications to mature my eggs was fascinating to me.  Hopefully in the end with our “extra” eggs I can help other couples and spread the gift of life, that would be incredible for me!

After my retrieval, the facility staff knowing of my blog allowed me to go into the actual lab where they had John’s sperm under the microscope and I actually got to see them moving! It was absolutely amazing! I mean, who gets the actual very first picture of their kids before their even technically kids! I just find it all to be so absolutely fascinating how science can actually make a baby out of they tiny little swimming sperms and eggs! Its incredible!

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While some religions and ethics make it hard for society to accept IVF and alternatives to having children naturally, When looking back I feel like the entire experience was absolutely incredible! The thought of not being able to conceive naturally or at all has crossed my mind, and at 26 years old and newly married it is upsetting because I know that is a dream of both John and I. No matter what route we must travel, whether these eggs or embryos actually become a real life baby… We will have shared this journey and the journeys to come together. What is meant to be will happen! Whether through this approach or adopting children, or even having children naturally when all os said and done! We will have a beautiful family when the time is right, and we will be the most loving parents!

Until then… Stay warm little Elsa’s and Kristoff’s, we will warm you up soon!

Xoxo Meg

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When will my Reflection Show, Who I am Inside?

  
I had long blonde hair which Ive spent a lot of money on to keep up with my perfect highlights and pureology hair products to enhance the growth. I have green eyes that I describe as “tye dye” because they seem to have hazel speckles and change day by day. Ive always had horrible dark circles, but ive gotten into the habit of wearing really good concealer. Ive always had bad eyebrows because I started plucking them on my own since middle school, so needless to say Ive always had to fill them in on my own. I normally always wear fake eyelashes because I think they are beautiful, and I over draw my lips so I dont have to get filler, DUH!

When I look into the mirror these days, my long blonde hair is gone and simply I feel ugly.  My skin is much more pale, and my dark circles are even darker. My short stubby hair is a drag dirty blonde color and dry fuzzy chemo head has begun in small patches.

   
  Its been amazing to have so much support from John, my sisters, my family and friends… But I still feel ugly. It is so crazy when I step back and wipe the tears out of my eyes, and I look at the reflection in the mirror and I dont see me at first. Its been very hard lately to even look up when im brushing my teeth or walking into my living room and happen to glance up at my huge mirror on the wall, because to me that reflection just isn’t me.

  
Im not the blonde girl with the big butt anymore. Its probably vain of me to actually say this… But im not stupid, people used to make comments, stare, or whistle when I would be in public before. It actually was super annoying and disrespectful at times and I would often times let it be known that people had to “grow up” or “be more respectful”. But, its so different now.  You really just have to understand, whether my hair was natural or fake with extensions… I was always the girl the would get pissed off after a hair trim when a hairdresser would literallly only take off dead ends but to me it was a kazillion inches! Ask my mom, she would never touch my hair because Id hate her for it;) hahaha (OMG thats it! I have to learn to not be a brat!) 😎

  
When I go out in public without my wig and makeup, I feel like a bald 12 year old boy. With makeup, I feel like a short haired more masculine or “badass” woman. With my wig, I feel like eveyones staring because they know my hair is fake. None of these stares are because im the pretty little blonde girl anymore.

  
Maybe I just took my physical appearance for granted. I mean, I dont think I ever flaunted that I was pretty. I hardly posted selfies by myself, I never thought I was like the definition of gorgeous but I mean for the most part, my face was symmetric (aside from my homemade dimple) and  I mean I wore makeup daily so some may consider me higher maintence. I worked hard to feel good about my reflection in the mirror… I considered that reflection to be pretty.

Everyone has their own views on beauty, and I know beauty comes from within… But come on people, the truth is that people do notice physical beauty before any other sort of beauty. Sorry but its fact! When someone walks in the room, before they even say a word, its the physical beauty that you notice. 

I never ever had a problem with feeling ugly, or not liking my physical appearance (aside from my small boobs… But hopefully out of all this, I atleast get  a newer bigger set of those;) I am actually understanding a little better how people can and do suffer from low self esteem and take drastic measures because of the reflection they see in the mirror isnt what they find to be beautiful.

    
When I was told I have breast cancer, I cried because that “Cancer” word is so scary.  Im sure we’ve all known or atleast heard of someone that became an angel because of the aweful disease… And we’ve all know amazing warriors and survivors who have kicked cancers butt👊🏻 Aside from just the diagnosis name and “fear of the unknowns”… Aside from knowing chemo is going to make me feel like shit, I was most upset about losing my hair. I literally just got my hair to grow like Rapunzel and found the perfect products to keep my hair glowing… And it all gets taken away, but not exactly because I took it away myself!

At night when John and I would talk in bed, I became most upset when I talked about losing my hair. I talked a little bit about this in my hair cutting post, which I still cannot believe I actually went through wit it!! To me, my hair is what made me beautiful. This probably sounds so stupid to those of you that are reading this…

 My hair boosted my confidence. To me, I feel like a woman with long flowey hair is so feminine. Its just the look I find to be beautiful. Ive kept my hair a gorgeous golden blonde for years… Im naturally dirty blonde, but the highlights to me, made me feel shimmery in the sunlight and that made me feel  special and beautiful.

  
I am absolutely not saying that short hair isnt beautiful. My sister Samii Ryan is a model and is stunning with her shaved head and side extensions… But she also dresses and styles herself to be a “bad ass chick”. When I put on her clothes, i look like a fool… Its just our styles are different… I was always a “Becky” as my sisters would say. I dress like a barbie girl, in pink, sparkles, heels when my knees arent bad, cute skinny jeans or leggings with long sweaters and uggs in winter and cute booty shorts with my MK sequin sandals in summer. Im like an all american girl ya know! I never ever wear hats or t shirts or sneakers… No no no! ☝🏻️  

 
I guess right now, there is nothing I can really do about my reflection but think and hope and dream that this is all temporary. Everything happens for a reason, maybe this is a lesson I have to be taught! Deep down my biggest upset is that John will be embarrased of me or think that I am ugly:( Hes such an unbelievable guy, morning/night and all throughout the day he will tell me how beautiful I am… But I just feel bad because to me i’m ugly. I dont want his friends to see me without a wig and like think hes stuck with this like she-man looking person. I feel sick now looking at my wedding pictures and seeing how gorgeous we both look and now 2 weeks later I look like this…

I knew this was going to be hard and suck. Its just so so so so heart breaking how aside from being sick, feeling like crap, having to go through treatments… on top of emotional and physical stress… Cancer also takes away that one thing that can keep you going. For me, thats my beauty. 

  
I said from the beginning I absolutely refuse to “look sick” and from today on, this promise is whats going to get me through all this! I will be doing my makeup each and every day, I will spend money on clothes that are fashionable, and I will be wearing wigs that make me feel beautiful when I look in that damn mirror! Sorry Cancer… You may have taken my hair which to me was so beautiful, but you will NOT take my spirit. This is the LAST time I cry about stupid hair! Wake up Meghan👊🏻 

Xoxo Meg

  
Click here to see how I feel, Disney style of course!

My 1st Chemo Experience and Intro to Reiki with Bob!

IMG_3514So, I totally just realized I never actually wrote a post on my first chemotherapy treatment! I wanted to give you guys specifics including my medications and things which I finally got together so without further ado 😉

Okay, so my very first chemo treatment as you all know didn’t go as planned and was aboarded like a mission space game as soon as my heart decided to go all cooky… Sooooo, I had to have surgery on my port and the next day was scheduled for another attempt of filling my body with poison in hopes to kill all those little mutated possessed cells of mine. (This is what I actually picture going on in my boob… I have a bunch of beautiful cells, moseying along living the life that cells do, then these possessed almost zombie like cells moved on in and decided to wreck the place and every normal cell they decided to bite into became mutated and now i have just a really scary horror movie going on in my titty!)

Anyways… So November 10th is the day… Almost a month from my formal diagnosis (October 12,2015) the time had come to kick cancers butt! Luckily, because I already had my bloodwork and tests done the week prior, no more needles for once… All we had to do was show up, pick a chair, and get the drugs a flowing! Literally thats all chemo entails..

I’m not sure if I already told you about the treatment room… But I’ll tell you again. So, I check in at the front desk of my lovely oncologists office (Dr. Raymond with Allegheny General Hospital for anyone who wants to know), and the amazingly friendly receptionists check me in then tells me a treatment room number (1 or 2). I’ve been getting sent back to treatment area 1 which works for me because I really enjoy consistency.

I walked in and they instructed me to pick any chair. Basically the treatment rooms have a long desk nursing station in the middle then on the outside of the room is lined with about 15 green and pink recliners, then along the outside of the nurse’s desk are visitor chairs that are moveable to the little recliner stations. The treatment room is rather open, so yes… If i wanted to talk to other patients I guess I could but, the past two times I’ve been scheduled it’s me and a bunch of grandmas and grandpas so i’m not really sure what we’d talk about.

I always try to get the recliner near the wall and the bathroom… Reason being, my hubby, family and I tend to get a little rowdy:) Okay, not too crazy but really, I’m getting meds for like 3-4 hours… We have to entertain ourselves someway! Also, Its’ much more convenient for me to be near the bathroom because with every medicine I practically get a bag of sodium chloride (basically fluid overload) and I literally have to pee a kazillion times! It’s basically like an aerobic workout in itself because I practically never sit still.

I did have a couple concerns when I first got to chemo.  Over the weekend I had an episode with  my dad and sisters when we went out to eat and to watch the Steelers game, I got really over heated and went to the bathroom.  Once I sat down I literally almost passed out, I was so nauseous and just praying someone would walk into the bathroom to help.  Somehow I was able to stand and wobble out to doorway when my sisters and dad saw me and helped me get outside for cool air.  I was expecting some hot flashes and things due to 1. my fertility treatments and recent egg retrieval, and 2. at my last anticipated chemo treatment I had a shot (yes in my butt cheek that hurt hella bad!) call Lupron.  This drug in laymen terms shuts down my ovaries and basically puts me in menopause during chemo in hopes to preserve their function so I can have natural babies when chemo is over and the time is right… we shall see!

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Anyways back to the belly issues. My stomach all weekend was huge and so sore.  The above picture of those of you that know me should be shocking! My stomach is bigger than my butt!!!! <<<< This is a problem!  I told the nurse who went over and got my doctor.  I had good bowel sounds so she recommended I called the fertility clinic.  I got them on the phone and set up an appointment for right after my chemo treatment.

My nurse was Trudy and she was so pleasant, calm, and most importantly educated and was so kind to share all her knowledge with me for every single step of the chemo treatment process! What I am truthfully so impressed with throughout this entire process thus far is how thorough my team has been– its soooo encouraging that they are comfortable enough to tell me every single thing! Trudy has the most darling of accents, of course I started talking to her about her history and it turns out she’s from Germany! So interesting… But shes been a specialised oncology nurse for many years and just was able to set aside most of my anxiety from my prior session as she began my treatment.

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The scariest thing for me was her accessing my port. Now let me mind you… The last time I hardly flinched but it was also 2 weeks after my port placement, so it had time to heal. This time, my port had me up all night with burning pain across my clavicle and sternum and I was sooooo scared for her to jab a freakin needle into a wound that basically was just chopped open the day prior. She talked me through it and although there is other options (ie: calling the PICC team and having them place a site in my forearm) there is a really high chance that my vein can seep and the chemicals from the chemo could chemically burn my tissue of my arm— thus my response: “um no thank you”. And in the next second, I was awaiting her jab into my chest.

So, like the last time they accessed my port, it was the same thing it’s a sterile procedure. My head had to remain turned the whole time away from my port. They clean the site for like a minute then wait until it dries.She then accesses the port by jabbing a needle into the site that is already in the vein of my heart:) they explain it to me as a codfee. Can lid with skin over too. Thus, its a bigger and stronger site and tends to work much better than the smaller veins in my arms.

Trudy gave me a countdown and as I was nearly hyperventilating, anticipating severe pain, she jabbed me for one second, I let out a slight shriek (I really couldn’t help it.. it hurt!) but then the pain was gone! She pushed some saline through the line and it worked perfectly! No racing heart beat (aside from my anxious little self) and no bubbling in my chest! Thank the Lord!

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As Trudy began hanging my pre-chemo treatments which consist of multiple anti nausea meds, a steroid and fluids… With John sitting across from me and my mom just entering because she was talking to my doctor in the hallway, I instantly began to cry. I think it was moreso just being overwhelmed but my port hurt, I was anxious and at that point I actuallly wanted to just give up! John to the rescue, he came over and held my hand, and my mom started crying which doesnt help the situation… But thats what moms do I guess!

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The urge to pee started and I swear every like 15 minutes I was unplugging my IV to go pee. Trudy instructed me that after the chemo meds are pushed I have to flush the toilet twice every time I go to the bathroom to be sure not to get anyone else sick. Basically, I’m like a walking toxic individual smothering from the inside out I guess;) I was also told to not be alarmed but my pee may be pink for a while! I mean I guess it could be a worse color like green or blue… I can totally handle pink pee!

I got comfy under my fuzzy blanket and pulled out a stocking that Ive been making in preparation for hours of boredom. Actually, its not entirely boring, I get really caught up in talking to my family, the nurses, and people watching of course! That was when I laid eyes on a volunteer with a red vest on visiting with some of the other patients. I figured he might be some type of clergy or something because working in a hospital myself I’ve talked to a number of the volunteers and they are always just so friendly and helpful. There was something different about this guy though! 

I was so intrigued by his look. He was sitting on a bench so to me he looked short, had a bald head, a dangling earing, and i instantly noticed his stone necklace and big rings on his hands. I didnt wanna be too nosey so I started my stocking and just kept talking to John and my mom as we planned what I should eat for dinner.

Back to my chemo talk… So something I’ve been told that really helps with nausea is staying hydrated. So yes, i am allowed to eat and drink during treatments, actually its encourgaed. They have a little kitchen set up with all sorts of snacks, teas, cofee and juices and the so kind nurses are always making runs and offering to grab me a snack! Around 11:30-12:00 ish they even bring around little boxed lunches for patients and family members! How sweet is that. I mean, I am a little pre-madonna and would rather make John go fetch me some soup from the cafe 😉 but hey… He chose to marry me:)

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As I started eating some soup the man in the red vest made his way over to my little corner! He introduced himself as Bob. He then handed me a pamphlet describing his service… Reiki! How freakin cool that my hospital offers this! I was simply floored because I’m actually certified in level 1 reiki so I of course was instantly interested. Those of you that know my mom… She on the other hand was almost as excited as a kid on Christmas morning! This is like her thing… Poor Bob, now hes gonna have to deal with her;) kidding!

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Bob explained that there are about 20 volunteers that do reiki in the hospital and of course my mom was then talking about his classes etc that he does outside the hospital… Looks like my mom found her Pittsburgh groupies ;). It’s so weird because in this last month every single person i’ve met from medical professionals to vendors through Jamies Dream Team have had some kind of weird connection to my life.  So, we were talking with Bob about his family and life and he was going on and on about his granddaughter “Sasha’s” wedding and how she wouldn’t let him marry her but they allowed him to pray  over the meal.

The conversation went on and on as he talked about his prayer and when he was presenting it he kept making up more to the prayer because he couldn’t remember her new last name.  He decided to just end the prayer without a formal announcement of the bride and groom by last name… and everyone raved about how great the prayer was.  Turns out someone later mentioned the new couples last name as “Hall”.  — This is all super significant because I instantly put two and two together. “Sasha Hall!” I immediately stopped him from his rather entertaining story telling and said “wait is your grand daughter Sasha Danielle Hall”, his response was YES! Sasha is the photographer of my wedding!!!!!! Such a small world!

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My chemo treatment went on and the nurse had to manually push my 1st chemo medication through so Bob finished up his chat and we swapped contact information and he went on with his day.  When the nurse brought over this medication, she gowned up, had gloves sonned, and opened up a sealed bag with the medication contained inside. This made me a little nervous because this is it… I am officially a chemo patient. 

 Thankfully I didn’t feel much of anything as it was pushed through.  It took maybe 15 minutes of the nurse slowly pushing the syringe then she flushed it and I had to be connected by another chemo medication hanging on the IV.  All together I believe my season took around 3 hours including the pre chemo medications.

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Other than me having to pee every 15 minutes and after the pushing of the red chemo med through my port, I did indeed have pink pee.  I was a little more woozy in my head as I describe it but I didn’t have any instant nausea, aches, or fatigue.  They hung the last bag of fluids, reaccessed my port and I was ready to go home!

Next stop was to the fertility clinic. My fertility clinic is in Penn Hills so we were hoping to make this quick as to not hit soo much traffic on the way home, but it is what it is… I had to be seen because my stomach was too uncomfortable.  John went home quick and grabbed all my left over refrigerator fertility medications to donate back to the clinic, and we were on our way for my appointment.

The fertility office is always so kind.  All the workers from the secretary in the front is always so friendly and asks me about the wedding and to see pictures… they’re just so amazing.  I got there in about 20 minutes and they got me straight back for the ultrasound.  I got so lucky because after taking blood work, my ultrasound was performed externally!  Thank GOD because it would have been soooooo uncomfortable just because I was so tender, having the ultrasound shoced up my whooha would have hurt soooo bad!  

Turns out the Lupron shot that my oncologist provided basically made me “trigger” again so my ovaries were hyper stimulated for like the 2nd time in 2 weeks and my abdomen actually filled with fluid because the follicles were bursting! OUCHY… so what to do.  Basically I was placed on “near bedrest” because my ovaries were so big that if I jump around too much they can actually flip and cut off their blood supply!  Oh and “no intercourse”—poor John this married life is NOT what we had expected… but as soon as I’m better I’m sure our love life with flourish:) Technically they can’t really do anything else aside from just letting my body get rid of all the extra estrogen.

With that being said, I figured hey, I just finished chemo i’ll probably be tired for the next couple of days anyway… so I’ll “try” to follow the doctors orders… which is very hard for me because I can’t really sit still!  I had to be very strict with my intake of liquids and output of urine and I was also instructed to weigh myself and measure my abdomen everyday then report in to the clinic daily.  Looks like the next stop is Wal Mart because I don’t even own a scale!

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Turns out we finished up the appointment at rush hour.  We were all starving at this point and if my sister Samii didn’t get food soon, she may just take back all her kind feelings toward John and turn into Godzilla and kill him 🙂 kidding kidding… but she was about to turn really bitchy!  John was driving and it just started drizzling.  I actually remember him saying”i’m going to slow down” then he switched into the right lane when I heard my mom shriek and John slam on his brakes.  I look around the front seat and saw a huge tractor trailer jack knife and a mini van crashed into and was stuck under the truck!

We were literally three cars back.  John stops the car and it was so unreal nobody moved for a couple seconds.  Instantly my first response was to check if the person in the van was alright. John, my sister and I jump out of the car.  Me, the girl who just finished chemo and was placed on “near bed rest” runs over to the van to check on the driver.  I open the door to find a dazed and sore older man.  It was kind of funny because when we opened the door Samii little miss pre Madonna was standing next to me and all these DVDs fell out of the mans car… she looks at the titles and they were PORNOS! Hhahahha it added a little bit of awkward humor to the whole event… she ever so quietly just placed them back in the door of the van:) The airbags didn’t go off and he was very sore so I didn’t want to move him but at the very least I was there to check his vitals and keep him concisous.

We called 911 and the emergency team was there in minutes.  It was absolutely surreal that this happened literally right in front of us.  Samii ran back to my car to grab a water bottle for the man in the van and this craZy,psychotic, road raged man comes running at her screaming to move the car because… get this, he wanted to drive around the accident and over the medium to get through traffic! 

How freakin discusting is the human race! There is a man hurt and van literally under a jack knifed freaking MAC truck and youuuuuu think you can just go around it… Freaking discusting.  

Anyways, the guy starts screaming at my sister and calling her names.  She in return exchanged her choice of words telling the guy he was a “poor excuse of a man” #girlpower… and out of nowhere John comes running at the guy and screaming to protect Samii of course.  Like really, it was like a TV show. Don’t worry they didn’t actually get into a fist fight or anything but when a 6’4″ guy comes at you… typically smaller guys will back up just like the crazy man did and that was the end of that (you go babe!).

The medics arrived and we helped to sorta play Jenga with cars to get the ambulance through. About 20 minutes later traffic was moving and we were actually the first people through the tunnel so we hit NO traffic.  It is soon weird how things end up! Best wishes for all involved in the accident… hopefully the man in the van wasn’t hurt too badly.

I truly believe everything happens for a reason. I wasn’t just given breast cancer… there is a reason at the age of 26, when I am young and have this amazing relationship with an incredible guy, we have a beautiful house and crazy puppy:)… theres a reason this all happened now.  A part of me is so grateful it did because right now I do have the energy to kick cancers A$$ and I know in my heart that everything is going to be just fine*

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So, as a quick wrap up for tonights post— Love life!  Love life for all the lemons and limes it throws in your way because everything is for a reason. Cherish the good times and the bad because no matter what, there is a lesson to be learned, or in my case… amazing people brought into my life and I will forever be thankful for that!

 

XOXO

Mego Koziel

 

My Body May Be Sick… But My Mind is Forever Healthy❤️

  
After my miserable night with anxiety and allergic reactions… It was so relieving to sleep in till 10am! I am so thankful and blessed that my mom was fired from her job because she came to my wedding (so everyone should STOP shopping at Lowes because they are heartless assholes… Just saying) But guess what, everything happens for a reason! It has been so amazing having her here with me.

My mom woke up early, took Izzy for a walk, and she came in to check on me around 10am because i’m typically such an early riser! In my defense, I was up itching and taking a bath during the night… Then I woke up around 6am to pack Johns lunch! Okay okay, I slept in:) but supposibly sleep is a good thing.

  
As soon as I forced my eyes open and reached up for a morning stretch, my body told me for the very first time… “Meghan, you’re sick”. After my first day of chemo on Tuesday, the nurses told me that by the third day I would start to feel a little sicker. The reason behind this is that during my “pre-chemo” medications, they pump my body with a lot of anti nausea and steroids. By day 3, normally the steroids start to wear off thus patients feel like crap and feel nauseous etc.

This morning, I literally felt like I was hit by a MACK truck. To even bend my fingers took sooooo much energy! I dragged myself out of bed to find that my entire body was aching. Sort of the feeling when you have the flu, and you just wanna curl back up under your warm blanket and watch Lifetime movies all day. From the very beginning of my diagnosis I made a promise… I will not allow myself to look sick! So up I had to go!

My mom made me some warm tea and steel cut oatmeal aka “buggies” (thats what I call it because it feels like i’m biting into little bugs and their heads are popping off in my mouth haha). I slowly began to wake up as my mom called my oncologists office to make them aware of my allergic reaction through the night. I am now to increase my Ativan from .5 mg to 1 mg tablets to be taken around 6:00pm so hopefully my anxiety will be less tonight. We shall see…

The oncologist wanted me to go to my PCP to have a rapid strep throat test done because my throat was sore once I woke up. My dad called me that he was at his PCP with a sore throat and my mom has been complaining of a scratchy  throat… So better to be safe than sorry! My amazing PCP (also the woman who practically diagnosed my breast cancer) got me right in for a check up!

  

  
I sat down at the table to put on my new makeup (compliments of my sister Samii Ryan for always making sure I’m gorgeous haha). I mean, considering I’m practically bald and look like a 12 year old boy… Its the very least I can do to put on some lashes and lip stick! This morning as my boyish reflection stared back at me was the first time I realized that my rather fluffy hair that I shaved a week ago is starting to look dull, burnt, and slowly but surely falling out. As of right now, its primarily a patch toward the right front of my head… Its just a little upsetting that this is happening so quick because I was told it would start the 2nd or 3rd session… ;( okay, changing the subject because I dont want to cry.

I got my wig on, got into some comfy but stylish clothes and out the door we were to the PCPs. It is so weird how these muscle aches literally kill every part of my body. The tiniest pot hole sends a surge of pain up my back and down my limbs… Hopefully this doesnt last too long. Some other symptoms i’ve started to notice is my taste buds are beginning to be much more dull. My mom has been cooking many of my favorite dishes and something as tasty as chicken chili is still good… But in my mouth it is all just so bland. My hands also feel like they have a constant powder on them. Ive been lathering in cocoa butter and drinking ALOT of flyids… So hopefully that helps!

It was so nice to see my PCP Dr. Dutta considering the last time I saw her was that Thursday she rushed me in to take a peek at my boob then ordered all the STAT testing to finally get me answers. She is just such an absolutely amazing, caring person! I am soooo thankful to have her as a part of my medical team! 

I had a strep culture taken… Were hoping its just residual of my allergic reaction over night! Thats the absolute last thing I need is to get sick when my immune system is already compromised. My mom and I finished our day with some more organic food shopping then I am to camp out of the couch and just rest! Fingers crossed my achiness goes away soon… Either way, im still smiling from the inside out and enjoying this beautiful (non snowy) November day! 
Xoxo Meg

The Monster Inside Me

   
Last night I had yet another anxiety attack around 9:30 pm when we were getting ready to go to bed. It seems that every time I go to lay down flat on my back, my heart beat is accelerated and so strong that I get nervous Im going into AFIB or some crazy cardiac arrhythmia again. I also noticed some head fog and slight spinning/ dizziness. Im guessing this is why they warned me that the first and second days would be the best after chemo. I took another Ativan and one of my nausea pill before bed just in case any of those feelings turned up.

I feel so much more emotional and susceptible lately. Today, all of Johns little cousins came over to help us with the lawn, weeding, raking, mowing, and Izzy poo gathering. It literally brought tears to my eyes that an entire family would come together for us and simply get the job done. It broke my heart when they wouldn’t take money for it! Im just really not used to people doing things for me or giving me things and it makes me feel awful. Dinner on us next time at the very least!

My mom and John walked me through some deep breathing, and with some pillow repositioning my torso upright, i was able to relax and fall into a sleep. It felt like almost immediately that I fell asleep, john jumps up grabbing me and shaking me “am I Ok”! I of course scream and my heart starts racing again. Supposedly a car drove by were guessing and the light must of caught his eye and he thought i was sitting up crying so he instinctively yelled and grabbed me. Lordy lordy! No One was hurt thus far tonight… But you may just wanna put me in a bubble anyways. I did some more deep breathing and got a little shut eye… Until! 

Around 1:20 am my skin started crawling. Still in a light sleep, I guess I started dreaming about getting chemo and the nurse pushed a new medicine. I immediately sat up screaming and itching from head to toe! It literally felt like colonies of ants with their prickley little legs were running in lines down my legs, arms, Back, stomach, head, butt! I began to panic and ran to get my mom because I know johns exhausted and has work at 6am tomorrow. Mommy always knows best…. Thank God she reads all my prescription paperwork, she said she expected this to happen and had a bottle of Benedryl right by her bedside patiently awaiting me, the red, itchy, night walker in need!

  
Turns out… Around 5:20 pm, my Nuelasta patch which is a little activating needle in my arm set to activate at a specific time after my initial chemo. What the drug does is boosts my white blood cell count to keep my immune system up and make it so i don’t have to go to the hospital for many blood draws or bags of medicine! Its a really neat sorta clip. Its just a sticker with a plastic like turtle shell on it. The nurse applied it the day prior at chemo and I just had to have my family be sure i was blinking like ET the whole next day. Green in good, red is bad! Thank god it was green the whole time it was on.

  
When the medicine began to activate… I instantly got freezing cold! I literally felt ice cubes being rubbed up and down my body. My mom bundles me up because john was at night class and made me a warm cup of tea. I had to lay still for the 45 mins that the medicine was activating through my body— this is the hardest part for me!

My appetite seems to not be affected at all this far! Im on this “See Food” diet… Get it, i see it and I eat it;)I have switched to a primarily organic diet so I’m not totally eating crappy, but an organic ice cream cone here and there simply works wonders;) My mom has been incredible cooking large bouts of whatever organic meal she wants to whip up, the we’ve been freezing leftovers so when she does leave… We will be set and I wont HAVE to cook for a while… Even though knowing me I probably will anyways!

Im still strictly measuring my “input and output values” for my urine. My ovaries continue to be hyper stimulated so my belly is distended and remains slightly uncomfortable. I have to check in with my fertility clinic daily with measurements of my urine, how much I drink, and my width of my lower abdomen. I cannot imagine how women that go through IVF by choice actually have to go through all of this stuff… And I thought the needles sucked! Plain and simple… Being a woman is a curse— Eff you Adam and Eve! Aside from playing with makeup, fixing your hair when you have some, and wearing gorgeous clothes… I guess most guys do get the short end of the stick there.

Oh well, anywayssss… John was to the rescue once again! I was able to take a first “soak” in our brandy new whirlpool tub! Being that the bathroom is still under renovation, he so graciously got out of bed and placed me so pleasantly into the new deep tub, and controlled all the dials until the water was just perfect to soak in. Giving the Benedryl a little bit of time to work through my body, slowly the ants crawling up and down my body turned into more of a muscle ache sort of sensation.

I dried off completely then went to my mom to help apply lotions to all my skin. She said my back was filled with little red dots… Im so shocked the rest of my body was simply just scorn from my nails gouging down my arms and legs! 

Anyways… Looks like the Benedryl is kicking in and I can hardly keep my eyes open… Pinkies crossed I can actually get some sleep! Sparkleon!✨
Xoxo Meg

Port Reconstruction

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After my first attempt at chemo on November 5th, and after my heart fluttering in between funky arrythmias, the nursing staff decided that I was having too much symptomology from cardiac to “bubbling sensations” in my chest so my chemo was immediately cancelled. Thankfully, they had about an hour and a half of pre-chemo drugs from different nausea medications, flushes of saline, to steroids to help with symptoms post chemo. I was scheduled for a port reconstruction at West Penn hospital in Pittsburgh for the following Monday November 9th and if all goes well they’d be able to start my chemo the following day!

I was scheduled for a very early time slot on Monday, we had to be at the hospital at 6:45am after a long Sunday night of John and his friends renovating our main bathroom (that’s for another rant!) I am sooo very lucky at this time to have my mom be here in Pittsburgh after a sudden change in her work place, and my sister Samii was still in from LA! We are incredibly thankful for John’s employer and union hall to be so understanding because having him at all these appointments, consultations, surgeries and treatments is so important! It does really mean a lot.

Okay enough of the sappy stuff! So, we left our house around 6ish and made it to the hospital with time to spare for check-in. Now, side note: I’ve never been to this hospital for anything other than an MRI on my leg in April when I had issues with insurance etc… In the back of my mind I didn’t have the highest of expectations, but all of my doctors float between the big and small hospitals of the system… So it should be fine, right!

We follow the directions that the secretary gave me to the short stay surgery waiting room. There was a small desk along a back wall with a hand written letter for directions on what to do. This is my biggest petpeeve working in a hospital! 1. Pay for a staff member or have a volunteer greet people that are coming for surgery, 2. Get with the times… Use a system that is organized so things stay on time! 3. Gosh can’t you at least provide recliners or couches in a waiting room… Sorry your old grannies left over hard wooden rockers and hard back chairs aren’t the comfiest to get some shut eye when you make me show up at 6:45 am! Grrrrr.

So, I sign-in, then of course I have to go to the bathroom… Oh guess what! Another hand written sign on the door that says “please go to the nursing station and request the key”. Come on now, is this a 7-11 gas station?! Needless to say… I did not get the warm and fuzzys from this place. We all ended up sitting in the middle of the room at a round table with hard back chairs, john pulled his hat over his eyes and passed out, Samii was curled up in a ball with her head on the table… And I just wanted my name to be called already! 8:00 am rolls around and finally they call me back to get checked in. This woman comes in, calls my name, and brings me to her office to obviously take my insurance and copay then escorts me back to the waiting room saying the nurse will come to get me for my intake and vitals.

Another hour goes by and I lift my head off the table, my sister and John are passed out, my mom’s ready and the place is empty! Why haven’t I been called yet! Finally a young woman comes in and says “Is there a Meghan here?” My response didn’t come out so kindly after waiting for 3 hours “finally!”. She responds “oh we’ve been trying to find you, the doctor came in looking for a girl in gold pants”. To which my response was “well I haven’t moved from this table all morning, perhaps you guys need a better system!” This is going to be fun!

She took me back, did my vitals, then escorted my family and I back to a hospital room awaiting my IV placement and meeting with the radiologist. The nurse came in friendly with a smile… But things drastically changed when she couldnt get my IV inserted and had to call for the “IV team”. Grrrrrr…

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The friendy radiologist walked in and finally set some of my fears aside because he atleast came off as he knew what he was talking about. He explained the different between surgeons perspectives to port placements and radiologists approach and nothing was wrong with the technique of my original port, it just didn’t work for my body.

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So what initially went wrong? My port was placed subclavicularly and the tail of the port ended up migrating into the ventricle of my heart. When the medicines were pushed through my heart reacted with an irregular heart rate and we still don’t know that the bubbling sensation was that I felt in my chest. SOLUTION: to either replace the entire port, or because my radiologist was so fantastic… He was able to shift it just enough to be out of my ventricle and trim the tip of the port so I can take it home as a souvenir!;)

The procedure all together took maybe 20 minutes, which was kind of annoying considering I waited like 3 hours in the waiting room! But the radiologist was absolutely fabulous, he had very comforting bed side manner, and most importantly, was educated and able to describe things to me in a more professional manner being that I am in the medical field, so I guess it’s easy to forgive them;)

They placed me only under twilight anesthesia so basically I talked to the surgeon during the whole procedure. I guess the “twilight” part worked because nothing ever hurt too badly… I mean I felt pressure where he was working but that was to be expected when their taking a line out of my heart! They drapped a paper sheet over me, which was a little weird because it was like i was a dead corpse. It was a little odd to me, maybe because I’ve always been totally out under anesthesia… I kept like coughing and making noises so they knew I was alive! Hahaha! The radiologist finally came over and pulled the sheet off my face and pulled it higher up atleast to be a sort of tent. I was instructed to keep my head turned to the right (opposite of my port) through the entire procedure, so that is what I did.

Through the procedure, the radiologist was talking me through the what he was doing but also about my job and his wife who is a physical therapist. It was so comforting to have a doctor working on me where I wasn’t just “the girl with the port”, “surgery 3”, or “26 year old with breast cancer”. He made me feel like the person I am which made me feel good! After I was all glued up, he showed me the radiology and said it was “perfect placement”. Thank GOD! Once they removed the surgical tent off of my very lively body;) the radiologist actually wheeled a computer in and went onto my blog! I told him i’d give him a shout out so here it is! Thank you so much Dr. ______ for not only giving me a perfectly working port, but making me feel special and much more than just another patient! You truly are one of those people that I am soooo very grateful to have met, stay true to you and keep healing!:)

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They transported me back to my room as I was sitting upright on the gernet, i jumped up showing off my new souvenier that they gave me! In a sealed cup laid the tip of my port that migrated into my ventricle and caused me a whole bunch of issues that first day of chemo. Some people may think its weird I asked for it… But I think it is sooo cool! One day itll be something I can pull out to my kids and tell them all about how I kicked cancers butt and this thing was inside of me! Hahaha. Oh well, i think its cool.

I was cleared to start chemo the following day. That night I had a lot of burning pain along my incision, with a little bit of CBD run and tylenol, i slept on my back and prepared for chemo the following day.

Hopefully no more hiccups for a while… Sparkle on✨

Xoxo Meg

Side Effects Effin Suck! 😤

  
So I have made a promise to provide all the dirty dirty secrets of this journey I’ve been thrown, and that is exactly what I am going to do! It is currently 2:20 am and for everyone that knows me they’d say “hey sleeping beauty, why havent you been asleep since 9:30”! Right before bed I had a very not so fun anxiety attack. I laid on my back because right now I can’t lay on my left side due to my new port (its just uncomfortable) and my new med patch “nuelasta” and could literally feel my heart pumping out of my chest. With everything going on, I start thinking of every ailment I could possibly have… Bottom line I thought “im definitely dying now” hahaha— if you know me im joking, get it… Im not dying its funny😆

Anyways, I’ve been prescribed some Ativan tablets because this is a normal side effect to my high dose chemo. I actually just told the nurse this morning that i’m not an anxious person And I probably wont need the pills! Hahaha WRONG! Give me those pillllllllls😆. With my loving hubby at my side, of course he was able to walk me into meditation and visualization and with deep breathing I was out like a light in a couple minutes. (My mom has totally gotten to him, now not only is he a doctor but he’s psychic too!) 

  
After such an eventful day, it really is nice to relax though. Other side effects to note, I literally feel like a sponge! Actually like Spongebob when he gets washed to shore… Thats me! The one chemo drug I am on makes it very important for me to drink drink and drink so I dont get dehydrated. I’m currently on a strict “ins and outs” measurement system because all weekend my stomach was causing me stabbing pains, then Sunday  I had a near passing out event when my dad and my sisters and I were watching the Steeler game. John to the rescue again… He came flying down to swoop me up in the Challenger, no big deal! Sometimes these things are just really unpredictable.

* Another interesting fact I found out today… i have to take precautions when I pee now! Basically my chemo drugs are so strong they can make people sick I guess if your a messy pee-er and like miss the huge hole a toilet has to offer… So if you hear me double flushing, its not due to a ginormo poo💩 its because I care about you😍

  
So whats up with this stomach talk. First off… The above picture is aweful! Where is my cute little stomach… Where are you hiding it! My bubble butt must be found! Send out an amber alert!😆 In a nut shell, my ovaries are hyperstimulated and ginormo and now ai look pregnant but we all know thats not the case unless im Mother Mary which I may be… So stay tuned🙏🏻

  
Okay, because I am younger and have to go through intensive chemo there is a risk that with the medications I will be taking that when I am healthy again and ready to think about my babykins, my ovaries may not work to put things simply. This being said, is why both John and I had to go to a fertlitiy clinic and I was on so many fertility medications to mature my eggs and follicles in preparation for my egg retrieval (so yes women are much more complicated when it comes to that aspect vs. the more anxious based route of cumming in a cup in a guys case). 

Everything went well with my retrieval but two days following I had to receive another “Trigger” medication they call it, Lupron which throws my body into menopause in order to shut doen my ovaries in hopes they’ll wake up at true loves first kiss😘!

  
 So Obviously I know this chemo stuff isnt going to be easy, but holy shit why must I be a girl! My poor mother and older women surrounding my life! Hot flashes fucking suck! End of story. Ive had about 4 so far and once again, I just feel like Im dying! (I’m known for being dramatic sometimes…so here, ill walk you through this) 

1. They are sort of like Sour Patch Kids, highly unpredictable and sneak up during the most inopportune times like when your out shopping, or your in a meeting. They attack from the inside out and cause embarrassment! (Little brats😈)

2. Its literally like the devil 😡 is inside you and he may have temporarily turned you into a volcano with your innerds boiling from the inside out, and you could possible erupt at any second, or in my case I seem to just get lightheaded and black out😎

3. Okay, I normally sparkle not sweat✨ but DAMNNN this girl pours during a hot flash! So raunch! My shirts are usually drenched and the only thing that makes me feel comfy is a cool cloth on my neck.

  
In a nutshell… This whole being a girl, going through menospause thing blows😤 but… Pain is temporary, and I will take the cards I am dealt and make a card house then blow it down over and over again just for fun ☺️ aka. Im @Franzgirlstrong and I got this👊🏻
Off to try to get some beauty rest… ZzZZzzzzz😴
Xoxo Meg

John’s “SeaMen”: Fertility from the Guy’s Perspective

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So where do I begin besides telling my side of what a perfect life I had been living for the past 25 years. At such a young age I had it all, a career, a loving family, a house, a dog, and well the most important part of my life, Meghan. She and I have been living what seemed to be the American dream since moving into our house in the beginning of the year. Everything in our lives was going accordingly as planned, we both recently went back to work after Meghan’s leg surgery earlier this year requiring recovery all summer, and me going back to work from what was a far to short of a lay off. I had finally decided to get rid of my old red Grand Am and splurged on a brand new Dodge Challenger. Life was just amazing and seemed to be predictable until I got a text from Meghan that literally said, “I have cancer”.

Our plans had suddenly took a turn down new roads, but I was prepared to stand by her side from the very second I opened that text. After learning that Meghan’s ovaries could stop working after all of her chemo treatments, we found our selves almost instantly being referred to a local fertility clinic. So yes, at the age of 25 I had my first appointment scheduled to turn over my sperm to a lab!

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Of course we were joking around all week and laughing about how I get to “jizz in a cup” on Thursday so needless to say, many thoughts were running through my mind. Just to put all things out on the table, since Meghan was diagnosed she had to be taken off of her birth control and when your doing fertility treatments you cannot have sex, so with this being said, I needed mental preparation. There were so many questions that were running through my head, “what does the room look like that I have to perform the deed?”  “Was Meghan allowed to help me out?” “Would there be porn in the rooms?”  I mean this is all pretty new to  me.

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After the nurse performed my bloodwork, she took  Meghan for an ultrasound and I was off to the “specimen collection room”.  I was led down a couple hallways and was guided to a little window that looked like the drive through window at McDonalds. A girl came to the window and was very informative with what to do. She read me instructions on how to fill out the paperwork, and I was instructed to knock on the window when I finished “the deed” so I could drop off my cup of sperm to them. She gave me a specimen cup and told me I would be in room 1, which was right behind me, within two feet of the window, and was next to a main hall way— talk about awkward.

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This would be that SENSORED part Meghan tells me to warn people when I get a little R rated so reader beware! I walked into the room that was filled with a reclining hospital chair, sink, and TV stand that had a stack of playboys just like the one your dad hides from you as a child. A clipboard filled with instructions ordered me to wash my hands before and after filling my specimen cup, place a white paper blanket under me where ever I was planning on filling my cup, and to place a sticker with my information on both the specimen cup and the white bag you place the cup in. A cold room and the ability to hear everyone walk by, made for a very uncomfortable setting. I refused to sit in the chair and touch any of the magazines because I can only imagine all the guys who are in there flipping through the pages of the playboys while touching themselves. So the big question that everyone wants me to answer is how did I do the deed! Instead of using the materials provided in the room, I turned to a sort of meditation. I concentrated on deep thought and in my mind replaying of a past experiences. With this deep thought I was able to get myself going and actually feel as I did that night. Butterflies, tingles, and just a sudden urge to be intimate with Meghan had me ready to fill my cup.

Standing over the paper blanket, cup in my hand, it was just about 15 minutes in that I deposited my first ever sperm. I then screwed the lid back onto the container, pulled my pants back up, washed my hands, and then placed my stickers on to both the cup and the bag that the cup was placed into. I walked out of the room and knocked on the window for the lab to take my paperwork and specimen bag, and the awkward feeling took over my body that this lady knew I just rubbed one off. It was kind of like the walk of shame after a one-night stand. But regardless it happens everyday there so there was no need to feel weird or ashamed.

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I was led back to Meghan who was waiting for me in a conference room, of course she  knew I just dropped my future kids off at the lab. Overall, it was an experience that’s funny to talk about, but also in reality it is so crazy because this is our future for having our own kids.  I never in my life thought at 25 years old I would be at a fertility clinic! No matter what is happening in our life, I know that its nothing we cant handle because God only gives us things that he knows we can handle. If Meghan and I cannot have children naturally, and our frozen children are not working either, I know in my heart there are no better parents for adopting a couple children and giving them the love they deserve than us.

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Until then, my sperm is a swimming and ready to mingle with Meghan’s eggs.
(yes those are actual pictures of my sperm swimming under the microscope that they let Meghan take)

-John

Problematic Port: Cancelled Chemo Session #1

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This past Thursday, I was prepared to begin my first chemo treatment. John was able to take off work, my sister Samii was still in town, and my mom drove up just to be here and hold my hand.  I had a 10:45 am seat, however was instructed to show up an hour early so they could do my blood work and test my port being that this would be the first time it would be used. This was also the first time I decided to wear my wig in public! Lets just say it was a big day! As I entered my oncologists office in Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh PA, the fear of the unknown began to take over.

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We were on our way driving to the hospital in John’s “baby” aka “Riot” aka the Challenger with the music playing in the background.  We were about 5 minutes from the hospital and one song after another began playing on the radio. Whenever I find my self to be nervous or ready to face one of life’s unexpected events, my friend Ben who passed away when I was a Sophomore in high school always seems to let me know that everything is going to be okay through music.  As we approached the hospital, song after song boosted my confidence and settled all my nerves– thanks Ben for always being there for me!

As we exited the car and walked up to the hospital elevators, it was real life… I was heading to the Cancer Center for chemo! Me, Meghan Franz, and my 26 year old self… with my new husband and sister carrying all my bags for the anticipated day of my body being pumped with poison!  It is still so completely unreal to me.  We went up the elevator and walked into my oncologist, Dr. Raymond’s office.  It was still rather early so only a few other patients were also seated in the waiting area.  In that moment I became so self conscious like everyone was looking at me.  Did I look sick?  Could they tell my hair was a wig?

The truth is, I act strong because I don’t have a choice right now.  I mean, my sisters and I haven’t had the easiest of lives and thats the way I’ve always survived… to just be strong and get through things.  It wasn’t until I sat next to John and he grabbed my hand that I was able to calm down and let all my anxious thoughts subside.

I was called back and they initially took all my vitals.  I have lost more weight– initially I weighted around 130 lbs when all of this began, and now i’m down to 124 lbs (this seems to be one of the things that I am going to have to really be watching throughout my treatments).  They called my family back and escorted me to a treatment room.  I was greeted by smiling faces of the most pleasant nursing staff, but again I had an overwhelming feeling of insecurity as they sat me in a large green recliner and other older people were in their recliners receiving their treatments.

The first thing I noticed about the treatment room was the ceiling.  When I looked up, that had multiple different ceiling tiles that were engraved with fall leaves, it just added that extra touch of homey comfort.  The nurse came up to me and instantly made me feel comfortable and she invited my family to my side and reported that she would be explaining things in detail  so I wouldn’t have any questions.  She had that touch of being so calming with how she handled me, I was so thankful!

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She told us that she would be accessing my port and it was a sterile procedure so I had to turn my head to the right side away from my left subclavian port site and “not move a muscle”.  She cleansed my port site and although I am still a little tender to touch on my port, it was more so I think I was nervous about it hurting.  After a few minutes of sterilization, she was ready to access the port.  Because I had to maintain my head turned away from the site, I wasn’t able to see exactly what she did but literally it just felt like she pushed a snap button against my skin.  It hardly hurt at all! So much less than an IV, and lord knows my veins were so thankful considering my hands are all blown tender!

Once my port was accessed, I now had little dangling IV’s hanging from my chest.  I guess in this moment it was real, I am a chemo patient.

I had an appointment with my oncologist while they were waiting for my blood work to return for baseline results.  I was greeted by Dr. Raymond with open arms and her eagerness to see our wedding video!  She answered all of my questions and is always just so positive!  It’s been a little overwhelming having such supportive family and friends and everyone seems to want to help by sharing research articles, diets, and fads, so it’s nice to have a doctor who understands how overwhelming it is some times.

I have decided to participate in traditional chemo treatments in order to shrink the size of my tumor and have a way to judge if the treatments are working and inhibit the cancer from spreading.  If I were to decide to do surgical interventions first, there would be no way to judge if the chemo is working because the tumor would be removed.  I am also participating in some holistic treatments including aromatherapy, organic diet and increased protein diet, as well as CBD treatments (blog post to come on more specifics).  Being in the medical field and understanding research etc.  I refuse to only go the non-traditional route for treatments because my cancer has already spread to a lymph node.  I have decided to use nontraditional methods along side with traditional medicine end of story:) (sorry to be a little forward but its been really bothering me how people have been reacting to my treatment decisions lately!).

Finally my blood tests were in and I was ready to begin chemo! They placed me in a seat in the corner of the treatment room, and I was instructed that only two visitors were allowed at a time— this in a way made me upset because I want everyone there with  me!  We tried to follow the rules… but in my world, rules are  meant to be broken :).  Initially my mom and John sat with me a bit as Samii was doing work on her laptop in the waiting room, then they switched out to go get lunch.

The nurses instructed me that I would be going through about an hour and a half of “pre-chemo” medications which included special anti nausea medications, an antibiotic, and steroid treatments.  All medications were run through an IV through my accessed port, and all I had to do was sit there for a kazillion hours!  I packed a bag of different activities to keep me company… one thing that was really annoying is there was no WIFI in the treatment area! Really!!! This must change!

JohnAbout the third bag into my pre-chemo treatments, I was talking to my sister and mom and instantly felt my chest tighten.  I was nibbling on a soft pretzel but at that moment the pretzel was just sitting in my mouth.  I became a little bit anxious, then felt a warm sensation go up my chest and into my cheeks.  I could’t get any words out, but my mom knew something wasn’t right.  My sister Samii, for many of you that know her typically just brushes things under the rug and literally said “oh don’t worry she’s just choking on the pretzel”!  I decided not to instantly tell the nurse of my symptoms because I wasn’t sure if I really was choking or if it was a reaction— yes… i am a bad patient, i will admit! Samii called John and he was instantly by my side. This makes me super anxious because after my leg surgery in April I found out that I am allergic to so many different medications! Its scary!

The nurse walked by to check on me and I asked if there were side effects as to the episode I just had.  The nurses educated me to let them know whenever something “didn’t feel right”, or if I “didn’t feel well”.  She changed my IV bag and I instantly felt a “bubble-like” sensation in the center of my chest.  I explained this to the nursing staff who immediately went out to get a doctor.  It turns out that prior to my treatment they reached out to  my surgical oncologist who placed my port because when the nurse looked at my radiology the tip of my port was laying in the ventricle of my heart— this isn’t a big deal unless someone is symptomatic.  In my case, the nurses instantly began listening to my heart. I was rushed for a STAT chest x-ray and EKG and was diagnosed with cardiac arrhythmias.  All further use of my port was deferred and I was instantly scheduled for OR on Monday to fix my port.

Wish me luck from here on out… Fingers crossed for a few less bumps in the road.

XO Meg