The Waiting Game

Tomorrow I will finally get to hear about tumor board! I am incredibly nervous about it because at this point I have no idea about what to expect. I am hoping that I am eligible for a lot more radiation along with my chemo. Having surgery as an option would also be reassuring. I always freak out and get worried about being disappointed by the results, but I feel it is better to be well-informed when it comes to my disease and health rather than to be ignorant. Sure, I strongly believe that ignorance is bliss, but when it comes to my health I need to know about everything that is going on inside me. If I stay in the loop I can be more proactive towards getting rid of the tumors who call inside of my chest their home. I am lucky enough to have friends, family, and numerous strangers who have been affected by the disease letting me know about possible treatment ideas. I have gone to my doctors asking about stem cell transplants and various other treatments, but for the most part more research needs to be done to make the treatments more effective.

I am fortunate that I have such a strong body and mind going into this. I believe that because of being stubborn helps me not give in to the hardships of cancer. I turn the drive of wanting to win in my races into the drive to survive and thrive. I refuse to lose the war, even if I do lose some battles. That is how I felt in swimming, even if someone had a better time than I did, I would improve on my time and feel accomplished. If I did not better my time, I could brush it off (well, I would not dwell on it for more than a few minutes) and say that at least I tried my hardest and there are always things I can improve on. I think taking life with a light heart is what more people need to do. Problems can always be solved one way or another, so no need to dwell on them. Even the hardest math problems can be solved with time and effort, and I believe this can be related to real life problems. As much as I hate saying and thinking about this because it makes me feel guilty- things can ALWAYS be worse. Always. I hate to admit that I often find me comparing my life to the shell of other people’s lives (what I can see from the outside). I tell myself that I could have an auto-immune disease along with my cancer. I could have serious friend issues. I could be uncomfortable in my own skin. This makes me thankful for what I have and for who I am. On the other hand, I do look at those who are healthy and wish that I could get back to my normal life. No use of crying over spilled milk, right? 

I also have had many opportunities come my way through my disease. Sounds weird, but it is true. As many times that I wish I could go back and somehow not have the problem with my chromosome number 22, I also do not know who I would be if I were to not have dealt with this disease. I like to think that I am a better person and am able to do more good because I have cancer. I have met so many great people who have changed my life forever. I have touched the lives of other people as well have had my life touched by many. I got my drive back for swimming, even though I may not be able to dominate the competition in the pool right now, I no longer have a mental block about it. I got my wish granted to go to the Olympic Trials in Omaha, Nebraska and met Summer Sanders (who has visited me in the hospital and has been a great friend) and Conor Dwyer. I am even more driven in my daily life than I have been. I got a knack for cooking and can look at recipes all day. To go along with my obsession with food, I was given the opportunity to cook in an actual restaurant kitchen and “meet” two all-star celebrity chefs. I am closer to my family because we know how fragile life can be and we cherish our time together. As much as I am more independent to the point of getting annoyed by people in general sometimes, everyone around me understands that I need my alone time and gives it to me. I have become more expressive with my facial expressions while not talking about what bothers me. If I get irritated by someone my face just shows it most of the time, which is awful to say but it kind of saves my breath and sometimes save the sting of words if I am really cranky. What is good about being more expressive is that I am able to talk out my real issues so that I am able to move past them. My mom has been doing a good job of keeping me in check with not dwelling on past problems that I have had with people- friends or not. I figure that talking problems out and getting both party’s stories is of utmost importance in every kind of relationship. It never hurts to hear another side of the story to better understand how a friend, relative, coworker, etc. ticks. That way we learn the soft spots that friends have as well as their buttons so that we never push them. No point in purposely pushing someone’s buttons or hitting their insecurities. I don’t care how much someone dislikes me or I dislike them, I never say the things that would hurt them the most. Do I think about them? Yes, but no one deserves to hear them. I hate it when people point out my flaws so why would I purposely hurt someone else by pointing out their flaws? I guess I should give an example of why I really hate this. When I was younger my face was a pretty darn obvious shade of pink. Working out, being embarrassed, almost everything uncovered this flaw. Instead of having the bronze undertones to the face, mine was pink/red. I had so many people point it out to me that I tried and looked up everything that could possibly help. I put on lots of foundation, yellow primer to cool down the reds, even tried green face correcter. Nothing quite helped my face to not look sunburned all the time. I am still insecure about it even though it has toned down to the point where it looks normal- I had to grow out of it. Sure, it comes out when I am working out really hard and overheat, but this is no big deal. 

I have decided that this post is going to consist of mostly positive subjects, so I am going to give a few weird facts about chemo that I have known to be true. There are so many chemo drugs, but here are some of the funny things that have happened because of the combination of mine:

  • My nails are super strong and grow fast, which normally I hate but I figure I will look more girly (and feel more girly) with long nails. Plus it gives me a good medium for creativity with my bright nail polish colors.
  • My skin gets baby soft. I often have skin that peels all over and this makes my skin soft to the touch.
  • Here is one of the parts of being a cancer patient that is universal: whenever we go in for a checkup, we are asked a very embarrassing question. I am embarrassed to even be posting about it, but now I am a little desensitized because of how often I am asked this question. So, here is the question: How is your poop? Chemo does a number on your body in every way possible and even in ways that you don’t think about, so questions like that are necessary, even though it is an uncomfortable question when asked in front of anyone.
  • Last time I was going through chemo I no longer needed deodorant. Weird, right? I suddenly stopped smelling, which was fantastic because I have still not found out what my favorite deodorant is and I have been searching for years. It is some sort of clinical strength that smells like baby powder, but I cannot remember the stupid brand. I am hoping that the chemo will make this happen again!
  • Here is a fact that most people know about, but it is still interesting. Hair falls out, obviously on the head, but eventually leg hair ceases to grow, armpit hair stops growing, I can pull out arm hair, etc. It makes showers take even less time!
  • Sense of smell is heightened to much that I can smell even the slightest scents. This kind of means that I don’t need to use much perfume at all, making even my shampoo and body wash work well enough for my likes. On the other hand, I can smell Panda’s breath after he has eaten his wet food in the garage, from about 7 feet away. My mom definitely cannot smell that, but I can always tell when he has eaten.
  • My temperature, as in how warm or cold I feel (not actual internal body temperature) changes drastically. I seem to be either really cold or really hot and sweating. My feet also get extremely cold or at least feel that way to me, even with them not being cold to the touch. I can be wearing the warmest slipper-socks and still have them be freezing to me. I have had my mom warm them up for me in the past because they were bothering me.
  • I get weird cravings, I imagine it is kind of the same as pregnant people get. I get a certain food on my mind that I need to eat otherwise I am not satisfied. I often have that craving for a few days and will eat that item for a few days. In the past it has been the Habit, Tapioca Express, I Love Teriyaki, and Outback. Right now the “tempura” shrimp from Teriyaki sounds extremely good. I put the quotations around “tempura” because at the Laguna location it is not tempura but panko-breaded shrimp. I love that crunch of the panko! I also had a hankering for mashed potatoes, so on Sunday my dad went out to the store and got me 5 potatoes and cooked them all up, I have eaten them every day since! It will make me fatten up a bit because of all the butter I put in it!

So this is all I am going to write about for now, I hope you enjoy the little facts at the end, it easily made my mind wander away from my anxiety over the results of tumor board tomorrow. Oh, and I am also going to fill out some paperwork for SSI with my social worker tomorrow. I have gotten much closer to her during this diagnosis and am thankful for that. I know the paperwork will be accepted, especially considering that I would not be able to hold a job down for six months. If I am unable to even go to school or have an online class at this point, I am deserving of it in my opinion. This will help with all of my random cravings that I have!

P.S. I post on Instagram more often than on my facebook, so if you want a better idea of how I am feeling based on my appearance, you can add me on that: swimchicklauren

I also created a twitter and am still getting the hang of that: swimchickLM

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