I had an echo cardiogram today at 11:30 to check up on my heart after my disappointing and frankly unexpected news from last week. The radiologist popped in “The Princess Diaries” for my dad and I to watch as these tests go on for quite a while. An echo cardiogram takes at least thirty minutes, so I guess you could say I got to watch the movie with a good reason. I would say this test took about 40 minutes and we got through just a little bit of the movie because of the freakishly long commercials that came with the DVD. The pediatric cardiologist came in after I was pretty much done with the tests and he made sure that everything was conclusive, took a few more images and told me the news. While I still do have liquid on the left lateral side of my heart, which can only be seen through certain views, my heart is stable. I guess you could say that my heart is extremely strong because of all of the athletics I have participated in within the past many years and that it keeps ticking away faithfully no matter what life (or the poison that cancer is) throws at it. The cardiologist checked my pulse and heart rate to see if it was okay, and for me it was. My oncologist, Dr. Jolly, then came in to talk to me along with the cardiologist to discuss my future treatment options. He said that since I recovered so well from my last chemo session and that I showed enough of a reaction to it, that we could do more of the heavy ICE chemo. I was honestly very relieved to hear this, it was just the news that I was hoping to hear. I have done so well with chemo in the past and have handled all of the side effects in stride that I knew that I could deal with some more of it. I also did not want to have to lose my hair and be a baldy for just one measly, three day stint of chemo. I wanted it to make a difference and I did not want my hasty decision to start chemo a month ago to be one that I would regret. Thankfully, it was the right decision for myself to make. I know my body better than anyone else does, and responding so quickly with that first round of chemo was the right choice, so following up with more chemo is again the best choice for myself. As long as I can keep things at bay, I am okay with doing whatever treatment that it takes to keep myself relatively healthy, well healthy in my terms.
I have to say that I am so thankful that I have kept so athletic for the past few years and that my drive to win has crept into this fight for my life. Because of the hard practices that take both a physical and mental toll on me that I volunteer for, making the choice to continue on treatment was an easy choice for me. Giving up has never been an option for me. Even in the hardest practices that I have ever had- year round swimming, wrestling with Sac City, killer drylands- I have never given up. I will keep on going and not let that weakness get to me. I may have been the slowest practicer on my year round swim team, but I certainly worked hard. I would just keep swimming on, attempting to make intervals that were impossible for me. I guess it might also be an ego thing, but I have always refused to give into what my body wants to do (maybe once or twice). I have never understood those people who will just give up in the middle of a set and complain the whole time when they are on the team for a reason. They chose to be there and to spend their time in the practice, so why not make the most of it? It kind of reminds me of when a few friends and I wrestled with Sacramento City College in the pliometrics class during my senior year. I had not participated in high school wrestling that year and this was after the season and was actually during high school swim season. Every Tuesday and Thursday, my friends and I went to practice from around 6PM to 9PM to the wrestling class. This was after I had already gone to swim practice. I was amazed when the class first started because there were so many people trying to get into it. There might have been 100 people during the first day or so of class. After three weeks, it got so intense that I would say 30 or so people were left- all of them wrestlers. DeAngela and I were the only women left and I have to say, we kept up very nicely with the guys. We could do all of the workouts that the guys did and completed everything. I was only in the class because DeAngela needed a partner for the practice and I quickly volunteered because I knew that she could not rely on any other girls to be there consistently.
Now, with all of the practice and pain that my body has had to deal with, chemo and whatever other treatments that I have to go through are a piece of cake. I have become mentally hardened after working out to my limit, and even past my limit. If you do not keep a clear head to get through whatever hardships you face, you will not get through them very smoothly. I may have my health scares, but I always manage to push through them. I always manage to get in a stable position even when it seems like my body has been through all that it can and that there is not too much hope for recovery. Just remember to keep a level head no matter what situation you are faced, be realistic but optimistic, and learn to cope no matter what life throws at you. You are always stronger than you think you are. My body consistently seems to get back up from the worst issues and I believe that being mentally fit is part of it. Strong mind, strong body. They both go hand in hand! I promise!
So tomorrow I am going to go up to the Bay Area to go to my grandparents because I have a busy Saturday coming up! My cousin will be in from SLO and this will be probably her last outing due to her being pregnant. I haven’t seen her in quite a while, so this is perfect timing. I also have quite a few swim teammates from Diablo Valley College who I cannot wait to see during the day. I haven’t been up there in maybe two months, it seems like forever. I then am going to go to a lacrosse cancer benefit game at DVC. It will be at 7PM on Saturday at DVC, with the proceeds going to the American Cancer Society. This game is partially being put on because of me, my school is really behind me in my fight against cancer. The programs for it have my name and I believe my blog on it, and it is going to be a perfect opportunity to spread awareness of childhood cancer! If more people knew about how this horrific disease does not discriminate for any reason, even age, then I know more people would get behind funding research for these awful diagnoses. With the research, more kids will be able to live onto adulthood and have full lives, as well as not having many of their years taken away by long treatments. So spread the awareness in any way possible, no matter how uncomfortable it makes people! It IS an uncomfortable subject, but sometimes those are the ones that need to be stressed the most.
Oh, and I am so excited to hang out with some other swim teammates after the game! I need to get my full weekend in so I can gush to all of my nurses about my adventures while I am in the hospital getting chemo.
So if you can make it out to Diablo Valley College (in Pleasant Hill, CA) then please go to the lacrosse game on Saturday at 7PM! Spread the awareness of childhood cancer!
Lauren, Can’t wait to see you at the game on Saturday. Really looking forward to listening to what you have to say to us, the audience. We will have a microphone on the field. We will test the wireless and also have a hard-wired (as a backup). The lacrosse community has been pushing this event hard too, so we hope to have a lot of folks out, including many of our current athletes (we do have a lot of teams competing on Saturday with post-season). we will have prize drawings of, I believe 10 items (folks will get a ticket when they make their donation at the entrance), and they will be able to buy more chances too (again all going to ACS). This event was completely inspired by your desire to get the word out, so don’t sell yourself short on the lacrosse team’s desire to do this event. Many of the lacrosse players now are following your blog and have been deeply touched and inspired. We are still trying to work out some last minute details. I will email you when we have it sorted out. Cheers!!!! Terry
Lauren – you just continue to impress me with your thoughtful, unbelievable strength. You understand and deal with life in an unimaginable but completely honest way. You know your body and with all my years in health care you understand the intangible strength that ONLY comes from within. I pray for you, should say we pray for you and your family. I believe in miracles so go live your life. Love you.
STRONG is what you are. Life is so very Precious, and you seem to have more of it in you, than individuals with out any illnesses!. Continue to Live, Laugh, and Love. #THUMBSUPTOYOU# Trigger Edwards……..