Monday, January 30, 2012

Sick again...

I hate colds. I also hate that I pick up every little cold I run in to because I have absolutely no defense to them anymore. I will have to work on that. Put that on the to do list with the detox and organic living. 

On another note, I really fell like I have gotten some energy back. I still have moments (especially with this stupid cold) that I run out, but I have been doing a lot of walking recently, and I haven't been so tired. Exercise does a body good, right? Now to focusing on more fruits and veggies.....

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


One year ago we were given the news we thought would be the worst we could hear - I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin's Lymphoma. I had Cancer. At age 26. We were devastated. This was our life until 2011. 

Timeline of an American Dream

2005: Fall in Love

2006: Graduate College

2007: Get Engaged

2008: Get Married

2009: Buy a House 

2010: Have a Baby


2011: Fight Cancer with your Baby - Win your Battle! Loose your Baby

2012: ..............................

I hope that 2011 is a glitch in the timeline, and that 2012 will bring nothing but positive milestones back to our life. I'll take one a year. Two seems to be too much to handle. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Organic Living

I think I'm going to start writing about our forays into organic living. I have to figure out if I can post a second blog on this page. Or I might just make a second page and link to it. So far our pantry is empty. I'll have to take a picture of the emptiness and post it on my first post. I can't wait to share some of the stuff I've found out about. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Oh Wait....Yup Me Too...

With our life lately, it's been sort of a whirl wind. Changed treatment plans, set backs, relapse, new plan, progression, fear, loss, grief... Our life was 24/7 Saoirse, and really it still is. She took all of our focus and attention and care for 8 long months, and we were lucky to be able to focus on her so completely. 

I think I forgot that I had my own six month battle that I went through. Mine was so comparatively easy, that I keep forgetting that it happened. I feel good, my hair is coming back, I've (sadly) gained back all the weight I had lost, and now with Saoirse gone, and no more baby to take care of, I almost feel as if the past year and a half never happened. (ok, so this is a whole other can of worms that needs its own post... I'll get to that later.) Time is kind of stopped, and the world around me just sort of exists. 

But then, all of a sudden, something will remind me. Usually its a mirror, as I still have a giantly obvious port in the middle of my chest. Or Mike will bring up the fact that he still worries about me. My first reaction is always "why," and then I say, "well, duh." Did I forget about those 6 months of chemo already? Was it so benign that it just doesn't even matter? Then I give myself a little mental slap and say "um hello! What is wrong with you? Did you forget or something?" I'm not sure how you forget that you had cancer. It seems like something that wouldn't get overshadowed by something else, unless that something else was pretty life changing - oh wait, I guess that was 2011 for the Fitzgeralds. 

I feel like I was rudely reminded of my ill health status last week when I all of a sudden became very sick. Now don't freak out, not hospital runs or even doctors visits, "very sick" in my relative book means a stomach bug. I know what you're thinking... "What? she had cancer, what does a stomach bug have to do with anything?" But that's just it. I always have had an INSANE immune system. Mike, who picks up any bug and germ that walks by, hardly ever passed things on to me, and if he did, with much less severity. The last time I threw up before last Thursday (yes, this is a real stat, including through a pregnancy and chemo) was in 2005, when myself, Mike and a whole table of people from a gala event ended up with either food poisoning or the flu from the same source. Now colds, sure! I've had my fair share of those, maybe one or two a year, and a couple bouts with bronchitis due to complications from asthma, but considering that I had been working in a retail environment for quite some time, and before that in a school environment, I'm pretty sure I was exposed to many more germs than that. So, to my surprise last Thursday night, after having a lovely afternoon and evening with some friends, my body boycotted and emptied itself all at once over the course of about three hours. (To my rescue was a little Ativan that was so nicely in my medicine cabinet left over from my apparently forgotten treatment.) At first I thought "food poisoning!" as I literally had just eaten dinner at a restaurant. However, we had all shared dishes, and everyone had eaten the same things, and no one else was ill at all. Then I read some Facebook posts from my lovely mommy friends who I had partied with on Wednesday. Two babies, one mommy, and one daddy, all with the same bug! So apparently, while I was running around, snuggling up and playing with all my adorable little "baby fixers," I picked up a horrible baby belly bug which hit me like a ton of bricks in less than 24 hours. (I'm pretty sure it stewed in these other babies much longer than that.) Yup, no immune system. Forgot about that one. I had been protected in the hospital with the baby, if not by the fact that we were in an almost sterile environment, at least by the fact that Purell was everywhere. But now, no hospital, and no undying urge to sanitize every five minutes. Whoops! forgot about me and my negative immune system. Good thing I didn't encounter anyone with chicken pox. (I'm not sure how long it takes for my old immunities from vaccines, etc. to re-activate.) 

So now I'm focusing on detoxing my system, and rebuilding my immune system. I think I will search out a naturopathic doctor to work with. I have done some very interesting reading, and I'm looking forward to what, I think, will be an amazing feeling of health once I achieve all the steps. We have already cleared out the pantry of all non-oranic foods (we donated them to the Ronald McDonald house in Boston, which makes me feel a little guilty as I am removing them so I don't eat them as a cancer patient, but at least they will be greatly appreciated). Next will be the fridge and freezer (ahhhh! it's scary in there!). We have been looking around at the local grocery stores and are finding where to get organic groceries easily and cheaply (not usually paired together, but cheap is winning over ease I think). We also signed up for a local farm share co-op, and will be looking forward to our organic produce and herbs coming over the spring, summer and fall! With all this organic food, we will be focusing on a more plant based diet (although I'm pretty sure we won't be cutting out animal products completely, we will be greatly cutting back). We trashed ALL the harsh chemicals in the house and I found a book called "Green Cleaning" by Briggs and Head that tells you how to clean your entire house and keep your house and yard maintained using 6 common and non toxic ingredients (vinegar, baking soda, lemon, salt, tea tree oil, and borax - ok, this one not so "non toxic" but non chemical none the less). We are now using natural soaps - Dr. Bronner's all natural - and my skin and hair have never felt better! They make laundry soap too, which I have, but haven't done a load yet. We got an under sink water filter for Christmas, and I'm considering having a whole house filter installed (we will be having our water tested). The final step will be some heavy metal detoxing for me. Chemotherapy puts horrible amounts of chemicals and metals into your system, bogging down your body and making it unable to function properly and detox itself. I've been juicing, which is a good start, and I've been reading up on some things that I can eat that will help to remove metals out of my system. But having had so many toxins pumped in, I'm looking to do some serious chelation, and I'll work with a doctor (probably naturopathic) on that one so that it's done safely. 

So, kind of extreme, but we have done some startling research and hope that this is a road that will keep us away from the "C" word for the rest of our lives. One big driving force is wanting to have more kids. We want to make sure that I am healthy and stable and strong enough to have a healthy and normal pregnancy. We also want to make sure that I don't pass any residuals on to a new baby in the womb, and heavy metals are a big concern there. Plus, a fresh start is a great way to cleanse and move forward, and work on positive energy in a new, and hopefully enjoyable year ahead. 

So here's to new beginnings, new horizons, and hopefully not having so many reminders that I am (technically) still a cancer patient. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Oh, the Places You'll Go!

by Dr. Seuss

Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go.

You'll look up and down streets. Look 'em over with care.
About some you will say, "I don't choose to go there."
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you're too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

And you may not find any
you'll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you'll head straight out of town.

It's opener there
in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.

And then things start to happen,
don't worry. Don't stew.
Just go right along.
You'll start happening too.

You'll be on your way up!
You'll be seeing great sights!
You'll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.
You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed.
You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you'll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don't.
Because, sometimes, you won't.
I'm sorry to say so
but, sadly, it's true
that Bang-ups
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.
You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You'll be left in a Lurch.
You'll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you'll be in a Slump.
And when you're in a Slump,
you're not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.
You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they're darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?
And IF you go in, should you turn left or right...
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it's not, I'm afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.
You can get so confused
that you'll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles cross weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place...
...for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or the waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for the wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

That's not for you!
Somehow you'll escape
all that waiting and staying
You'll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.
With banner flip-flapping,
once more you'll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you're that kind of a guy!
Oh, the places you'll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. There are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You'll be as famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don't
Because, sometimes they won't.
I'm afraid that some times
you'll play lonely games too.
Games you can't win
'cause you'll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you'll be quite a lot.
And when you're alone, there's a very good chance
you'll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won't want to go on.
But on you will go
though the weather be foul.
On you will go
though your enemies prowl.
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl.
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.
On and on you will hike,
And I know you'll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.
You'll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You'll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life's
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never foget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.
And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)

be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea,
You're off the Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So...get on your way!

*** The above text was copyrighted in 1990 . 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Cleansing Breaths

As we move into the new year, I feel the need to make changes that will improve the health of ourselves and our home. 

First on the docket: we threw out ALL our cleaning chemicals. I found a book that tells how to clean using 4 ingredients: Vinegar, Lemon, Baking Soda, and Salt. I also found a recipe to make fabric refresher using Vodka. I'm looking forward to not having the caustic chemicals anywhere in the house. 

Second up: eating organic. This is proving to be a more complicated decision. I refuse to go full fledged into Whole Foods land, as I feel like their price point is purposefully high, and I want to do "organic on a budget." I am working on hitting up the local grocery stores to see what kind of options they offer in organic, and how hard it is to find what they have. We are getting organic fruit delivered (which I will most likely switch to fruit and veggies), and I think produce is the hardest to find variety in, so hopefully that will keep the frustration down. Market Basket (the local bargain store where we usually shop), has organic, but you have to search for it. Its not separated at all, so you really have to search your sections and target what's there. This is complicated and time consuming at the beginning, but I think as time goes on, and we have targeted our brands of choice, we might be able to make it work. Today we hit up Stop and Shop. They have some stuff separated. They have a "natural and organic" food section. This seemed good, but I think that they put all the name brands there. The nice thing about stop and shop is that they have a store organic brand. I hate the fact that normal things are more expensive there, but the organic store brand seems to not bee too far off. They even have free range meats. So, the search and figure out continues, and the next stop will be Shaws. We have a Trader Joe's too, so I'll probably have to go in there and see what they have. Baby steps. 

Third on the list: Detox. This may seem extreme, but in reality, chemo puts tons of toxins in your system, and heavy metals, and I want to try and clear out my system to help it function in a healthier way. I also think it will help with energy and nutritional absorption, now that I'm going to be focusing on nutrition. 

So anyway, those are the projects in the works. Cleansing home, body, and hopefully spirit. That, will take the most effort, but in the end will be the most rewarding. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Stuck in the Past

A new start for a new year. This was my hope. I believed that we would be together, cancer free and moving up toward our new life as a family. So now I am stuck. I can't get past the days when she was declared NED by her doctors at children's. I can't get past the ill advice that we received from them about treating her in the last month, and I can't get past the miscommunication that happened throughout her treatment after her surgery. 
What's the worst is the guilt I feel for not being more clear minded when we were trying to switch protocols. Two things stick out in my mind that I feel would have kept her alive. The first was when she was having her bone marrow biopsy at children's after her induction therapy was done. Mike asked if they could do the four site biopsy in preparation for going to sloan. They advised no, but said we could if we really wanted to. I said no. If I had said yes, we could have possibly avoided the second biopsy, or could have known earlier and asked better questions when we were at sloan. The second is when we found out about her second biopsy from Sloan. I still felt that antibody would have been the key to clearing her bone marrow for good, and when I asked about the protocol for refractory/residual disease, I was told "we like to make sure it's resistant." If I had simply asked "is she qualified as of now," we would have gotten a different answer (as she was technically qualified), and we could have had a choice to do or not do the chemo. 
What makes me the most mad and frustrated is that doctors make you beg, plead, and argue with them to get more information than "well, that's not the normal thing to do." They are the ones we look to to for answers, for suggestions, for new ideas. We bring them information that we have found to find out if our child qualifies, and rather than giving us the straight answer, they bog it down with "well everyone else does this." I thought peer pressure was supposed to be done after high school! She was our child; we had to make decisions that were right for her, not because everyone else was doing it. We were in the right place, and making the right decisions, and her doctors were pushing against us forcing us into treatment we didn't want and didn't feel was right for her. How can they do that to families?! 
My baby should have been here now. She should have gotten the treatment we wanted her to get. She should have been accepted the first time we asked. This is traumatic for a parent to go through. No one wants to hear bad news, and doctors should not be making a traumatized parent repeat themselves multiple times in order to do as they wish. We were bullied by her doctors into doing treatment that we didn't want, and weren't informed that she was qualified for the treatment we did want. Their "agenda" caused my baby her life. And now, my biggest fear, is that they are still doing it to other families.