So in case some of you were wondering why it has taken me a while to post another blog, I was not feeling well at all due to radiation- yes, radiation again. This time it was about my throat being raw and burnt over and over again through my 10 rounds of radiation. Literally swallowing my own spit was excruciatingly painful, so imagine how bad drinking anything, taking pills, and eating felt. It was miserable. I was prescribed some “Magic Mouthwash” to numb my mouth and throat, however it literally lasted two minutes and was not a very good relief for me at all, I still was hardly eating and drinking, and pills were so painful. I had to admit to my case manager at Kaiser that the medicine was not working at all and literally an hour later, she came back from a meeting and called me telling me that one of my oncologists put in an order for liquid morphine, and that it would be ready to pick up. Much to my relief, the liquid morphine worked pretty much right away. My parents could tell that I was feeling so much better and that I was happy to be able to eat mushy food, such as mashed potatoes, with more ease and less pain than I was in previously.
Last Sunday, one of my friends offered to get me a photoshoot to help me with my bucket list. Danielle King, my friend, is also a model so she had no problem finding people willing to take a part of my journey. Shelly Charshaf Lange,Gabriela Michanie, Laurie Hunt Theriault, Robin Hagy and Jennifer DuVoe were my photographers and Melissa Vandemark did my makeup. I have to say, I had so much fun getting all dolled up for the photoshoot, as the only other time I had a real photoshoot was at my wedding. I modeled in three different outfits, my first being an animal print nightgown. I felt so pretty in it, and took some amazing pictures on an outside bed (yes, it was pretty epic and I was jealous of the backyard where we were shooting) and on a couch that was outside. Oh, and did I mention that DeAngela came with me and also got to do some modeling with me for best friend pictures? Yeah, that made it even more fun! My second outfit was a maxi dress, which fit me really well. I took some pictures on stairs, on a cute swing, and standing with DeAngela. My favorite part of the shoot by far was being in the pool modeling. Naturally, being a swimmer, I feel the most comfortable in the water. I also feel confident in the water and I know how my body moves in the water and how to manipulate it well. What made the shoot unique was that I was in the pool working with a sheer netting that looked gorgeous in the water. It was such a boost of confidence seeing my pictures!
Oh, and I guess I got a little ahead of myself. On the Saturday (not this weekend, but last weekend), I went floating with my friend Micaela from my Roots of Hell class at DVC. It was really ironic that she would be spending quite a bit of time in Sacramento when we both were going to school in the Concord area. I was originally going to meet up with one of my friends, Jacob, from my high school swim team, but I did not communicate with him that I would be making it to his 22nd birthday celebration on the river. I got to the raft rental place and met up with Micaela, and could not find my friends anywhere, so we were going to rent a raft ourselves and float anyways. What we were not prepared for was the price of renting a raft. It was $60 for a 4-person raft, along with a $100 deposit for the raft. Now, we were not going to pay that much to rent a raft for just two people, not to mention that we would not be able to carry it all the way down to the river. We were wandering around the start of the river for a good thirty minutes trying to figure out what to do. And I am sure that you readers know I have a sense of adventure, due to my multiple lectures about my jumping off the patio stunt, so it should come to no surprise to you that I jumped off of a 20 foot bridge into the river. Yeah, I am pretty savage. I only had a little trouble with the current because I had flip flops still on and had to get them with my hands to swim well. A little while after, I was a little more dry and still in my bikini, I decided that we just had to ask to get a ride with someone on their rafts. Micaela was a little too shy to do the asking, so I proposed that we ask this one group that looked like they had plenty of rafts and could fit two petite girls. Micaela was unsure because the guys were “hot” (and I would agree, quite a few of them were pretty attractive) but I asked them anyways. The guys said it was not up to them, but to another guy, so I had to wait about a minute until the guy came around, and I asked him, and of course he said yes. I mean, Micaela and I are cute with lean bodies, so I figured they wouldn’t mind us riding with them. There were literally 9 guys in the group with just us two girls. I was not intimidated at all because I can always get to chatting no problem, the hardest part for me is first approaching someone. Turns out that some of the guys graduated the same class as I did, but from different schools in Sacramento, and some of the guys had already finished college, so they were in the perfect, college-aged group for us to find. We floated with them for literally 5 hours. I only got annoyed with one of the guys, and he was pretty much white-boy-wasted. He was hitting on Micaela and I a little bit too much, constantly splashing and shooting water at us. Not to mention, he did not know when to quit playing around. Maybe I would have been a little more tolerant of his behavior if he would have been attractive, but unfortunately for him, he was the oddball out of the good-looking group. But at least he was harmless! We had a stereo blasting music all of the way, until the guy I mentioned splashed it with water repeatedly while trying to get some people wet. We took a little break on a beach to jump off of a rock and snack on some chips. We encountered a guy who was clearly not in the right state of mind, as he was dancing and saying things that did not make any sense. And he was bizarre looking: he must have once been fat because he had a lot of extra skin around his midsection. After jumping off of the rock a few times and witnessing this lady freak out because she thought that someone was going to drown. She was really overreacting to the whole situation, especially considering that the area where the guys were was shallow enough for them to stand, even with the current. So we left and kept on going for a while, and stopped at this rope swing. Normally I would be all over the opportunity to go on a rope swing and jump into the water, but this one was super sketchy. There was little margin for error, and we saw plenty of people eat dirt. I would not have even been tall enough to get a running start, I would have had to be pushed, and the waterline was really low, which made us even more nervous. Only two or three of the guys in our group went off of the rope swing because it just was not safe at all. So we left and then some of the guys saw their friends on this island, so we tried to get over there. Micaela and one of the other guys swam to the island, while the rest of us were trying so hard against the current to get our raft to the island, we ended up pretty far from where we wanted to land. Not only that, but Micaela was nowhere to be found. This really scared me, and I felt so bad for the guys because we were just hitchhikers whom they had picked up, and this must have them worried too. We looked everywhere on the island and around the beach, and I was starting to fear for the worst, well not really, I was told by the guy who swam with her to the island said she started swimming back for us, so we all figured she was further downstream. Just as we were leaving, someone says “Hey, there is your friend, Lauren.” The first thing that I thought was, “No, stop kidding around, she is so not in the bushes over there.” And to my relief, she was there! Turns out that she had accidentally followed the wrong raft group because she thought that they were our newfound friends, but no, it was a group of Asian chicks. So Micaela ended up walking all the way back to us, which took thirty minutes. After that we decided against having any more pitstops! We all had a ton of fun throughout the day, the boys were drinking beer and I was drinking water, as I absolutely hate beer! I finally got more of my tan back, but along with that I got sunburned really badly on my hands/wrists, my feet, the top of my nose, about one centimeter of my forehead, a little on my chest and back, a slight bit on my legs, and worst of all on the top of my head. So now I am peeling all over, and I find my head peeling really embarrassing because it looks like I have really bad dandruff, which is not cute!
I had chemo all last week, and it was not a very good week for me due to my throat hurting. I did puke on that Monday, but that was surely due to anxiety from my earlier stresses in the day. So I will let you know what stressed me out to the point of a breakdown. I went into the clinic just go get a checkup and pick up my chemo drugs for the week. When I got down to the downstairs pharmacy, I was pleased to see my name on the board already. Too bad that they only gave me two out of my three medications. So the pharmacist said she had to get a hard copy from my doctor to fill my prescription. (What?) So I went up 15 minutes later and she told me the same thing, she needed the hard copy from my doctor. I was getting really tired of all of this, so I went back up to the counter and saw a different tech. She gave me AMBIEN. Now, I asked for just my chemo drugs. Everyone knows what ambien is, it makes you sleep, and I certainly did not ask for that drug, so I was pissed. So I had to explain, yet again, that I needed my liquid chemo drug. They kept on making excuses so i started to get really upset because I just wanted to go home. I started tearing up and crying, and made my way upstairs to talk to my doctor to try to find out what was going on. He told me that the downstairs pharmacy needed to send someone up to the upstairs pharmacy to get my chemo drug. The liquid chemo drug was made upstairs and was waiting for me. My doctor apologized for the pharmacy issues, even though it was not his fault. So I went back downstairs and made my plea again, this time I was still tearing up and I was aggravated, giving the techs attitude because they were not listening to me at all. I used aggressive hand signals and whatever else I could so that they would get the picture. Eventually, two hours later, I talked to a different pharmacist (my fourth one I believe) and he actually looked and made sure that something was being done about my chemo. He said to wait just a few more minutes, and that my medication was right there and they were labeling it. And he was right, he called me up a few minutes later and I got my drug. Finally! When I got home, I was really hungry, but I was way too drained and stressed so I took a very long nap, which is what I needed. Panda kept me company throughout my whole nap. Later in the night when I was trying to take my liquid chemo, I felt the urge to puke and had to run to the toilet. Yeah, not fun! And it was even more not fun because of my throat issues and lack of food in my stomach, so basically there was a bunch of acid coming up. But at least I was not nauseous throughout the whole chemo treatment.
Last weekend was really rough for me. I was in so much pain, had the shakes, would sweat profusely- especially at night, was nauseous, and had abdominal pain. Turns out all of this was because I was going through withdrawal from BOTH my liquid morphine and methadone, which I had stopped cold turkey. So I had to call my nurse practitioner, Tamara, and told her how bad I was feeling. So she kind of slapped me on my wrists and told me that I cannot stop methadone cold turkey. So she made me start back on methadone and morphine right away. I immediately felt 1000x better after taking my liquid morphine. Even my demeanor was changed. I had felt like crying just five minutes before, and then I felt energized and perked up and got out of my bad mood. My dad came over to take me to get my blood drawn and then took me to get some weed to help me eat. (I weighed in at 116, which was troubling for both myself and them) So I have to say, I am not intimidated to get marijuana by myself. My dad was not allowed in the room where all of the products were anyways. The lady who helped me out with my first-time purchases was absolutely amazing. She gave me the types that will make me hungry, and told me the difference between sativas and indigas/os; one is for during the day use and the other helps with falling asleep. I ended up getting a little bit of both kinds, and also got a vaporizer pen (which is awesome and looks techy as it has a usb drive) that uses oil. After the trip there, I went to a smoke shop, again, with my dad, to pick out a pipe of some sort. When we got there, to my surprise, I saw my old swimming buddy Andrey and his friend Hunter. I am very sure they were shocked to see me go into the smoke shop with my dad, so that was hilarious. I ended up choosing a small water pipe that looks like a snake, so I named it The Green-Eyed Beast. It is pretty and sparkly and shiny!
On Tuesday, I had the pleasure to Skype with the one and only Gordon Ramsay. When I was first told that my cancer was terminal, my social worker got me hooked up with The Dream Foundation, an organization that grants wishes for those of all ages who are going through life-threatening diseases (or for people who have terminal diseases). Kind of like Make-A-Wish-Foundation, except they have an age limit of 17, so I was never eligible for a wish granted by them to begin with. Luckily, for my first diagnosis I was granted my wish to go to the Olympic Swim Trials in Nebraska by Kids Wish Network. Ok, I had to give a little back story, now back to Chef Ramsay. We Skyped at 9 in the morning, and I was full of nervous energy before I got to talking to him. Once I saw him, my anxiety was put to rest. Gordon Ramsay introduced me to his wife and two of his daughters, and said that his whole family are supporters of me, which I thought was the sweetest thing that someone could say. We talked for a total of 23 minutes, and I only know that it was this long because we recorded it to keep it in our memories, and as well to send a copy to The Dream Foundation. Honestly, when I was talking to Ramsay, it was like he was a regular person, he is that down to earth. We talked about his shows, and he asked me who I thought was going to win Masterchef, and I told him the annoying chick, to where he laughed and told me that everyone was annoying. I finally remembered her name was Krissy, and he agreed with me that she is annoying, but she can really cook. I asked him what his favorite show that he participates in was, and he told me Great Escapes, as he was living in an Indian tribe for two months and learned to cook their food with them. Ramsay also stated that he had cooked for the troops in Iraq to support them, and stated that the other food they had to eat was just awful, so I know the soldiers appreciated a meal from such a renowned chef. We ended up laughing about a bunch of different things, such as when he smashes an undercooked or severely overcooked piece of fish with his palm- sending bits of fish flying everywhere. We think a lot alike, such as our frustrations that all of the competitors on Hell’s Kitchen smoke, and the smoke totally kills taste buds! I thought it was amazing that he brought it up, cuz I always think the same thing. Great minds think alike I guess! Since my wish was to have Gordon cook for me, he said he plans on getting that done soon, oh say, in September for an episode of Hell’s Kitchen! He will give me a table in the kitchen (I believe) and will personally cook whatever I want him to cook for me. That for sure is going to be duck, because that is my absolute favorite protein. And yes, it will be during a taping of Hell’s Kitchen, so I will be on film. I hope to further reach out to people that there is childhood cancer and to be aware of all of these deadly diseases. With so many little children dying from leukemia, brain tumors, osteosarcomas, there is just no way that we should be overlooked by society. Childhood cancer needs more recognition, such as having an awareness month just like breast cancer does. I did research on sarcomas, and they have a much higher percentage of deaths than breast cancer does. Just saying the hard facts, so I want more research to be done to help these poor kids who haven’t even been given a chance to have children of their own. I mean, I am very sure that at this point I will not be able to give birth to a child of my own, however, I plan on beating this cancer and being able to go back to school, having a legit wedding (sorry Egor lol but I doubt the ceremony will be nearly as good as ours was) and then adopt a child. I still have plans, I would not say that my plans are dead, I would say that they are just being put on hold for a while. I am sure a lot of people are wondering how I feel about seeing my friends go off to college while I am staying at home. Well, I am honestly extremely jealous. I want to go to school so bad, and it infuriates me when people constantly skip classes and come late to class every day. Like, you are lucky to even be in school, whether it is a community college, university, state college, or a prestigious private college. That does not make a difference to me. You are bettering yourself nevertheless. I am going to have to find ways to keep myself busy during the day. Maybe I will volunteer an old folks home, write the book that everyone is begging me to write: How I Planned My Wedding in Three Weeks… Two Spent in the Pediatric Oncology Ward. Yeah, I might have to work on that title, but it really does capture everything! So if you have any ideas about a better name for my book, please contact me and tell me! It would be greatly appreciated.
Today I received a lovely box in the mail containing clothing from Hollister. I was so happy when it came, because I wanted to have new clothes to wear down to San Diego for the weekend. Yes, I am going on a roadtrip with my brother and DeAngela down to San Diego on Friday morning and then leave San Diego on Monday morning. We all really want to see my “husband”, my best friend, really badly. We haven’t seen him since the day after we got “married”. So that was in July. It is about time for us to see him again. We are so excited, and I get to take the roadtrip off of my bucketlist! Yay! Egor’s mom is going to cook some Russian food for us to take to Egor, and I know he will be so happy with them! She is so thoughtful and nice. (Oh, and to add to my “mother-in-law”s total awesomeness, she brought over sushi and cakes for me when I wasn’t feeling so good. It was just the nicest thing ever!
Please Note: Egor and I are not an actual couple. We were not, and are not dating. He married me (unofficially of course) because my prognosis was so bad. He and I are just best friends, and both of us love it that way. So yes, I do love him, but its the friend/family love for him. And he feels the same way. I just had to clear that out for some people who misinterpreted the whole situation. Egor is just that great of a person to marry me in a time of great need, I owe a lot to him because of this. So I am going to try to make it up to him by letting him be my dinner “date” to Hell’s Kitchen, besides, it will be so fun and I will get to spend time with one of my best friends who I don’t get to see as much.
So I guess I am going to go to bed now, Ive spent a good 1 1/2 hours writing and I am going to need some sleep. I think I need to be pestered to write here more often! But until next time!
Thank you for reading my blog. If you like it then please subscribe to it, and please just try to get this blog out to as many people as possible. So if you could share this on your facebook, that would be so appreciated. Or post it on twitter, and I think I am going to have to get one to help spread awareness of childhood cancer and how dangerous it is. Is it considered being conceited if I want to become instagram, twitter, and wordpress popular? That way I would be able to reach many more people! I kind of would like to be a voice of childhood cancer. That is a good goal, I believe. Oh, and my goal is to try to get into a trial study next year, so hopefully that will get rid of my cancer! So my goals are to be a spokesperson of childhood and young adult cancer; last but certainly not least, I want to kick my ewing’s sarcoma cancerous tumors’ asses! Wahoo I am tough so that is a reachable goal!
Sorry about bombarding you guys with pictures at the end, I just want to show you guys that I am feeling good and have done some fun things!
So good to read an update! I was just thinking about you last night as I went to sleep and wondering how you were doing. I was extremely delughted to wake up this morning and see an update. KEEP WRITING, we love hearing what you have to say.
Glad to see you are able to get out and about. Ashleigh has a couple more rounds of chemo and then she is supposed to be done with treatment. She has mentioned wanting to get together and hang out with you. Hopefully we can make that happen soon.
We completely get how you feel with people going off to college while you sit home! Having cancer has such an impact on every area of your life! Seeing people not value and appreciate the things they are able to do is so frustrating! Sometimes it’s almost laughable to read Ashleigh’s twitter feed……bad hair days, pissed at parents for stupid things, drama with friends etc etc. You girls are unfortunately part of an exclusive club that has given you a very real perspective on LIFE.
Have a great time in San Diego! Hopefully we can get you two together when you get back.
Mandy Ritchie (Ashleigh Thornburg’s mom)
What! Just read this part of your blog, Jacob mentioned to me but I had no idea.. What a true inspiration you are Lauren~ consider yourself a true gift to all! I’ll look forward to reading the rest of you blogs… You need anything, just ask:)
Hi Lauren, Janice here from DVC (Sports Nutrition). First, I’m so impressed with all of your adventures & activities. Second, I applaud your ideas of being a spokesperson for childhood cancers & for getting on any possible clinical trials. I would be happy to help you in any way I can & have some ideas for you that I’d rather not post publicly. If you are interested, get in touch any time at JLitvin (at) aol (dot) com. Lauren, you are truly an inspiration about overcoming personal adversity & I do think you have an important message to convey.
Oh my goodness Lauren your pics are absolutely stunningly beautiful! I wish I could see bigger versions – are you going to put them on FB? Maybe i could get full screen on my ipad then.
Your courage inspires me and i thank you for writing such interesting and thought-provoking blogs. Hang in there!
I just wanted to send u my prayers. I’m friends with Linda & David your dads employee. I been reading your blog & think your a beauiful amazing young lady I can’t wait to meet u & show u how to mix up the cocktails I’m open when ever your ready & would be so honered to be your teacher. I pray every night & include u in my prayers. May god bless u 🙏