‘Tis the Season to be Jolly (Even if I am Not Feeling Too Fantastic)

I know that normally I do not post as much when I am feeling well because I am out and about, but this time I haven’t been posting very much because I am feeling too fantastic. I wish that I could report that I am doing well, but that is not the case! I have had a fever for a few days and it turns out that part of it was steroid withdrawal. Yeah, my steroids were tapered just a little too fast and I was going through some insane withdrawal symptoms. My whole body hurt- body aches, headaches, joint aches, and a fever. I went to the doctor on Friday and got some blood tests done and there were no signs that I have an infection or anything. So that is good news! I just got back on my steroids on a low dose and am going to very slowly and gradually decrease my dose because I do not need to have the awful joint aches to where I literally walk like a 90 year old woman. Not the most comfortable thing to have to deal with!

It kind of feels like I have had one healthy, good day for every two bad days since I went through my withdrawal symptoms. I also believe that I do have a little sickness of some sort because I still have my fever, but it is not high enough to have to be admitted for. I also have been coughing up a storm to the point where my chest hurts. My back has been hurting a bit, which I think is due to tumor pain- good thing in about a week is my chemo week! I am pretty disappointed that my health has not been as great as it has been lately, but that is okay. My health has its ups and its downs so I will see what happens!

I write my blogs in one sitting and have to recall what I have done so I tend to miss a few things here and there, so forgive me if I leave something out!

Wednesday was spent with Susette and man, that was a productive day! We decided that we had to get our Christmas shopping done in one big swoop. Our first stop was at Pier One and we had such a trip there! There were so many bright colors there and so many things on sale that it was like heaven to me! I would say we spent just slightly less than an hour there and were successful. We then traveled to Styles For Less, which was a few stores down for some personal shopping. Susette had never been to that store so she was overwhelmed by all of the cute and cheap clothes to choose from! She got some amazing red jeggings and a cute shirt. I kind of got a massive score. I got tons of hats to shelter my little, cold, bald head, some bralettes (basically to wear with my tank tops that are see-through), a vest that looks like a rose in a cool way, a pair of floral leggings, a pair of yoga pants, some Vegas jewelry, and some tops that are perfect for Vegas! I am so excited for the outfits that I have planned for the trip- one of the reasons why I was extra-concerned about being sick because of my plans for Vegas. So after our eventful trip in that store, we went to Tuesday Morning, which was a first for us both. It had a bunch of random knick-knacks and we both found a few little goodies. Then we went to Jamba Juice to refuel before heading to Laguna Creek High School for a wrestling meet. Susette had never been to a wrestling meet and was so excited for it. I got to say hi to my coaches and catch up, as well as see Troy, Tyler, Rajiv, Sean, Thomas, and Herman. Susette and I were talking about the nasty smell that just comes with wrestling- no matter what you do, wrestlers just smell a certain way after practice. Then, DeAngela walked into the gym and I jogged over to see her and she finally noticed me. We hugged and then we sat back down with Susette to watch all of the matches. Although Laguna did not win the meet, I was thoroughly entertained the whole time and saw one really good match! Susette had to go home so at about 8:30pm DeAngela and I went to dinner at Chevy’s so we could catch up- plus I had a hankering for Mexican food. We had some good laughs and good food before we both decided it was time to sleep.

Thursday and Friday were mostly spent at home other than going to the hospital on Friday for being sick. On Saturday, I was supposed to bartend for my babysitting coop for their annual Christmas party, but I was just not feeling well and I did not want to get anyone sick. I was so bummed because I was prepared to make cool drinks for the whole party but I just could not risk it. Instead, my dad came over and we watched movies. That is our thing, we always watch movies together because he can handle scary movies and gory films, whereas my mom gets nightmares from some of my horror flicks.

On Sunday, I went sailing. I had set my alarm for 8:30am so that I could be up and about for long enough for my steroids and pain pills to kick in so I would feel good, considering that every morning I wake up feeling horrible and as the day goes on (or about 30 minutes into the day) I start to feel better because of my meds. Unfortunately, my volume on my phone was not loud enough over my three fans and I did not wake up at 8:30. Instead, my mom came into my room and woke me up at 9. Luckily that was still enough time for me to hustle and get ready and leave. I also had help from my mom, who packed a few snacks for myself. I picked up Job and then we both drove to meet Susette and her dad at her house. Susette’s dad owns two sailboats and sails often, so I was super stoked for my first time sailing. It was Job’s first sailing experience as well, so he was excited as well. Susette was thrilled to be able to offer this experience to me and to spend time with Job and me. We all stopped by Quiznos to get sandwiches for our trip, and I have to say, my sandwich was extremely good- it was my first time and definitely not my last at this place. Oh, I forgot to mention, Susette brought her dog, Cooper, along with us. He is an excellent sailing dog as Susette’s dad has taken him numerous times, you could say that Cooper is a pro when it comes to knowing the drill. It took Susette’s dad about twenty minutes to set up the 50 foot sailboat to make it ready for us to go out, so Job, Susette, and I went exploring around the dock to look at all of the sailboats. Some were dinky, and others were just fantastic. You could live on quite a few of them! So we all got on the boat and were handed life jackets. These ones were inflatable life jackets that you had to pull a string so the life jacket would float. Well, Job’s jacket was one that had a sensor that when touched by water, automatically inflated. He joked about it because he was the only one who couldn’t swim. I was so prepared for cold weather and for the icy wind, but where I sat on the boat there was shelter from the wind. I was wearing just my tank top for the longest time- along with plenty of sunscreen of course. It wasn’t until after we ate our sandwiches down below that I noticed how cold it was outside- that and I was in a different spot from before. I also noticed that I got a little sea sick when I was down in the bottom of the boat, but when I was on deck my stomach was fine. You could say that I made the transition back to the deck really fast and felt better immediately. Soon after I got my sweatshirt, I went back to my spot that blocked the wind and was not freezing. We all had such a great day and talked a lot, and I got some sunshine! I needed that, I have been cooped up indoors for way too long. I also learned a bit about sailing and the different kinds of sails there were and what they did. It was nice seeing how much Susette’s dad enjoyed sailing and that he was happy to see his daughter interact with her friends. Nothing was ever awkward! Oh, and I have to mention, that the sailboat was rigged to steer itself when in the sailing mode (engine off). It was pretty much life an autopilot and it self-adjusted itself to capture the wind coming in from different directions. This made life so much easier for us, so we could all sit down and chat without having to worry about running into anything. Susette also helped us steer in the beginning and in the end when the engine was on, and she did a great job! It was amazing to see Susette’s dad put the sailboat back into its spot- it was all in one smooth move. I was surprised because boats are incredibly difficult to “park” because of the water. So after we left the boat behind and got back to Susette’s house and I dropped off Job, I went back home and rested up because we were going to have a little kickback at Job’s house later. Susette came to my house at around 8:30pm and we left for Job’s at about 9pm, with my specialty beers in hand so that I could try them and then have other people finish them for me. I am not a beer person so a sip is more than enough for me! The group of us: DeAngela, Susette, Job, Amanda, Abe, and Job’s brother, played Apples to Apples. I won very quickly because I somehow got the perfect cards. I then went to the couch and turned my attention to the movie that was playing, Red 2. Oh, and before we watched Hot Rod, which was kind of cute and ridiculous. Everyone else continued on playing Apples to Apples, but I was enjoying my movie. Susette was not sure if I was bored and wanted to leave, but I assured her that I was just into my movie (which I was)! At around 1am we left Job’s house and stopped by Jack in the Box to get some food and then went back to my house. We stayed up for about another hour before going to bed. Susette warned me that she would probably be gone by the time I was awake. She actually ended up leaving at around 6:45am because of her sleep schedule. She is a morning person and is always up and about early, she is the type who studies in the morning instead of staying up late and pulling all-nighters.

I cannot say that any of the rest of the week has been productive- I have just been laying on the couch trying to recover from whatever illness that I have. Today, Christmas day, I watched movies with my dad while my mom and brother went to visit my great grandpa. I decided it would be best not to risk getting everyone else sick and exhausting myself before my big Vegas trip on Friday. I wish I could have seen everyone on this holiday, but that was not the case. My family just kind of goes with the flow, it just comes with the territory of my cancer. I have to say that I am just glad that I am alive to see this Christmas. It could be way worse, and I am at home with my family during this day instead of being in the hospital, as much as I love my nurses.

I know that with the season comes great joy, but for some it brings heartbreak and depression. Some families are without certain family members and some spend their holidays alone. However, I would like to say that no one is ever truly alone- someone always has you in their heart. No matter how many bridges you have burned, how alone and hopeless you feel, someone cares about you. It does not matter if you think that nobody cares about you- because I guarantee that somewhere out there is absolutely crazy about you. Now it might be the crazy cat lady next door, your animals, your coworkers- someone loves you and carries you in their hearts! There is always someone who sees the good in yourself that maybe you do not see, but they are there. Just remember that you are a fantastic person who has people who cares about you and put a smile on your face this season. I know that having cold weather probably makes it more difficult and that depression is worse in winter (as well as there is seasonal depression) but having a smile on makes getting through each day easier. Just smiling, humming, singing, whatever you do that makes yourself happy- do it! It will make a big difference, trust me, I am not a happy camper when it comes to cold weather because I am a summer girl and my body aches so much during the winter. Sunshine is always my best friend! So look at pictures of amazing places and just be happy and smile!

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http://www.childrenscancer.org/

http://www.stbaldricks.org/

http://ewings-sarcoma.org.uk/

http://www.sunbeamfoundation.org/cms/index.php

Here are my social media sites:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thenotdyinggirl

email: shashimi1992@yahoo.com

instagram: swimchicklauren

twitter: swimchickLM

Thanks so much for reading, as always! Please spread childhood cancer awareness!

-Lauren McCullough

There Will Be Blood!

I have had such an eventful weekend! Well, that is pretty much an understatement, I had a blast! I would have to say that this ranks up in the best weekends of my life (so far!)

On Friday, Job came over to my house at around 1pm so that we could go to the UFC weigh-ins and faced-offs at 2:30. The drive up there was pretty uneventful, except that we talked about everything and anything. When we got to Sleeptrain Arena, we walked to the entrance to the stadium and I ended up showing my email from the Vice President of the UFC Reed Harris inviting me to the weigh-ins. I was so thankful that I had kept the emails in a separate folder in my mailbox so that I could find them! Job and I walked into the stadium and found our way to some open seats (there were many because it was during an interview and only those in the fight club were invited) and we watched the interview and then made our way down to the bottom of the seats to meet with Reed Harris and got to our VIP seats to watch the weigh-ins and face-offs. I had talked to Reed on the phone to arrange everything for the weekend, but had not met him until that day. He was all amped up and excited about the event, as were Job and I. The cover for the UFC video game for Xbox was revealed and we got to meet Jon Jones, who will be featured on the cover. He is such a nice guy! Job and I took pictures with him and talked to him for a little bit while wandering through the backstage tour. We also got to meet Urijah Faber (well Job already knew him and Faber did recognize him, which was awesome) and took pictures with him, and also chatted with him for a bit. We also got pictures with Chad Mendes who was all smiley and visibly excited for his fight. I also got to talk with Scott Jorgensen for a while and he was so ready for his fight, as he was going down a weight class and actually looked healthy for going down to flyweight. He was so easy-going and even said that he wished he brought extra t-shirts to give us (they are awesome t-shirts and super soft!) and he has cool, colorful, well-done tattoos. Yeah, I am a bit of a tattoo snob even though I only have one! Job and I also got to meet the President of the UFC, Dana White. I found out that Job and I would be sitting in the seats in his area, so I had to thank him for that! Both Reed Harris and Dana White are just so generous to let Job and I experience what we did, and it was not for publicity or anything, it was to make me happy and to give an experience of a lifetime. As much as I am new to MMA and am still learning about it, I have so much respect for it. I have been around wrestling (and wrestling) since 7th grade, so that part of MMA I know very well. The other styles of fighting, not so much. I am still learning the submission moves, but am just fascinated by them. Okay, back to Friday! Job and I also got to meet Joe Rogan, the host of Fear Factor and commentator for the UFC fights. I will be honest, it was very hard for me to tell Dana White and Joe Rogan apart! They are both short, built, baldies. Their voices are completely different but man, guarenteed that they could have switched places in high schools and not have their teachers notice! (Go baldies!) I also got a picture with the Octagon Girls (who are absolutely gorgeous!) I figure that back when I was in shape I was toned enough to do that, which I think is nice that the girls who are seen as beautiful and kind of represent part of the UFC are muscular and toned. The last person who Job and I met was Demetrious Johnson, who was in the featured fight for Saturday for the World Flyweight Championship. He might only be 5’3″, but he is 5’3″ of pure muscle who could easily beat the crap out of anyone, not to mention that at 125lbs, he is extremely fast. He was also a really nice guy, just like everyone else who I met at the weigh-ins. I loved how down-to-earth everyone was and that they were not the stuck up athletes that are associated with being a professional. They don’t have the sense of entitlement that other top athletes have, and Job was telling me that when you can beat up 99% of the population, there is no need to prove yourself. I think that is perfect! So Job and I got to see everyone face-off after they made their weight on a scale in front of everyone. Pretty much all of the fighters looked emaciated from cutting the weight to make their weight class, but of course, all of them made weight. Not like in high school where some did not make weight and could not wrestle. When this is your livelihood and your love, you make weight. In high school, most of the wrestlers are not nearly as dedicated and are just wrestling to make their parents happy or to make their resumes look better. Everyone in MMA genuinely loves what they do and you can just tell. It was cool to see everyone face-off and meet each other face-to-face and so that I could stack up the competitors and choose who I thought would win just based on their body type. Oh, and Reed Harris sent me home with some goodies! I got a UFC duffle bag, a hoodie, four-tshirts (and one for Job!), two VIP lanyards, a program for the Saturday event, and two posters (one signed by all of the fighers!) You could say that I will be sporting my t-shirts and jacket pretty often.

Saturday could not come fast enough! I was so excited for the day to come! I had my outfit planned out already and could not wait to get ready. I woke up at 11:30am so that I would be out the door at 12:30pm. I took a shower and put on my makeup and dress. My red and black lace dress had a cutout in the back that showcased my scorpion tattoo, and I wore eyeliner and red lipstick, as well as my red and black nails that I did myself the night before. I was planning on wearing an Ariel-red wig that was long and curly, but it would not show my tattoo so I went for my blonde wig that I got when I was first diagnosed in 2011. It looked perfect! So Job came pretty much right at 12:30pm and had to eat, but he was lucky that I was having my wig issues that I was not waiting on him. We ended up arriving at the Sleeptrain Arena at the perfect time and got to our seats (3rd row floor seats!) just in time to watch the first fight, which was scheduled at 1:30pm. After the first fight, Reed Harris met with Job and I and invited us to sit right by the cage and watch the first few fights from there. We got to wear headphones to listen to Joe Rogan talk about what was going on in the fight. We could hear every breath, every punch, every throw that went on in the cage. It was surreal being right there! There was a lot of bloodshed and I can’t say that it grossed me out. I might seem like a sweet, innocent girl but I love my horror movies and I have had my fair share of blood transfusions, so I am very, very used to blood and gore. It was neat, after every fight the cage is cleaned very thoroughly to ensure that the blood was gone from the fight before. Job and I also were basically right there behind the fighter and their team during the between rounds (they get pretty much a minute break in between the three five-minute rounds). We could hear what the team on our side of the ring were saying and their game plans, that was so neat! So after a while, Reed Harris had to kick us out from our cage-side seats so that those who were supposed to sit there could get their seats. But we did not have to return to our 3rd row seats right away, we got to talk to the lead singer of The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Anthony Keidis, as he had 1st row seats (not the cage-side seats) and Reed Harris introduced us to him. He is a really chill guy! He is really into MMA and surfing, and I have to respect that athletic side of him along with the fact that he has quite the voice. When the next fight was about to start, that is when Job and I returned to our actual seats. I had to find a business card in my purse to give to Anthony Keidis, and finally found one and made Job reach over and hand it to him since he has a much longer wingspan than I do. At one point Job and I did get up to go to the restroom, as it was a long day, and I got some coffee drink which was not very good, but very refreshing. I missed most of one of the fights waiting in line for that drink so I was a little sad about that. Oh, and I ate a hotdog and got some popcorn (which I did share with Job) and ordered a margarita just because I could. It was a little too strong for me, so after two sips I gave it to Job because I did not want any more. Just the thought of alcohol makes my stomach upset now, so I am definitely not the average newly 21 year old. When the main two fights were about to start, the whole stadium was filled to the brim! Everyone was so stoked for Urijah to fight and to win! Of course, he did win and knocked out his opponent. The crowd went berserk! Job and I jumped out of our seats and were cheering! We also did the same when Johnson knocked out his opponent- it came so fast and was unexpected! That’s the thing with MMA, one little mistake and someone will capitalize on it. And there are so many mistakes that can be made and so many opportunities, it is crazy. So we jumped out of our seats again and were going wild! Just then, Reed Harris goes to our seats and grabs me and pulls me to near the cageside, and I got to see Jon Jones again, who recognized Job and I from the day before. So anyways, Reed pulled me to the entrance of the cage and hands me the belt for the World Flyweight Championship. He takes pictures of me with my phone and I am just blown away that I am holding something so important (and surprisingly heavy!). He then tells me that I am going to go up in the cage and hand the belt to give to UFC president Dana White to give to the World Flyweight Champion, Demetrious Johnson. Wow! I know I was shaking more than normal due to the excitement. I was going to be on TV! Just in the background, but still! And I was looking all dressed-up and fantastic, I was stoked and slightly nervous. I actually was on the tv, and I had no idea that I would ever in a million years get to go in the cage! Talk about feeling special! So when I exited the cage and walked back to my seat, where Job still was, he had no idea what was going on! He did not know that I went in the cage or anything, he was not paying attention! He saw how jittery I was and had to ask what happened, so I told him. Yeah, he was excited and a little jealous about it, but mostly excited that I got to experience this. We said our goodbyes and thank yous to Reed Harris and everyone else and went to look for my car. It took us twenty minutes to finally find it, as we were looking in the wrong direction. Luckily, I had Job with me so I did not feel uncomfortable walking around, and I can always use a little exercise. I was just relieved when we did find it! Not to mention, some of the cars were cleared out and I could actually back out of the parking space. Always have to look at the positives in every situation!

Sunday was a Susette day! She is back in town for a while for Christmas Break so we just had to squeeze in a day to hang out. She came over and we went to Crazy Sushi to gorge ourselves with food. We went to town on our sushi! On top of the two rolls each that we ate, I also had some miso soup. You could say that we were very satisfied and full by the time we left. When we got back to the house, we had to do our thing and watch horror movies. We ended up watching the original Black Christmas and Rosemary’s Baby. Both classic movies and we did enjoy both of them, although Rosemary’s Baby made us mad and laugh at the same time just because of how ridiculous the outfits and makeup are. We also got to talk and set up to hang out tomorrow! I normally do not get this much Susette time, so I am thrilled about this.

Monday was a relatively lazy day, except that I had to go to the Morse Avenue Kaiser to get my blood drawn and cross-typed and matched in case I needed a blood transfusion on Wednesday. Morse will send over the blood to Roseville so I did not have to make the longer trip down to Roseville to get cross-typed and matched there. Turns out, my blood counts are rising on their own so I do not need to get my blood transfusion tomorrow! I will have to get my blood drawn tomorrow just to check and see if my platelets are rising on their own and are not just the ones that were transfused to me on Thursday, because I did get two units of the yellow stuff. Since I was in the area, I stopped by the Cheesecake Factory to get myself some lunch. I have never been there and decided to give it a try. I ordered some fried zucchini, four-cheese pasta, and Oreo cheesecake. The fried zucchini was mushy and oily because the oil was not hot enough when it was fried (I know this because I watch so much Food Network). The pasta was amazing and the portion was HUGE! I ate it for lunch and dinner, and they gave me some bread with the order. The cheesecake was fantastic too! It turns out that it is the 2nd best-selling cheesecake, so I made the perfect choice. I still have leftover cheesecake too so it was a great deal for me…

Today was a Kevin day! We went back to Huong Lan, the Vietnamese sandwich shop in Sacramento. I got myself another ham, headcheese, and pate banh mi, some shrimp crackers, coconut-flavored rice crackers, pork buns, mocha boba drink, this Vietnamese ham that I had no clue what it was and it surprised me when I bit into it, some custard filled buns that I have yet to try, and my personal favorite, some eggy, pork things. I do not how to describe them other than delicious. I cannot compare them to anything I have ever tried before. Oh, and I brought my mom a BBQ banh mi and made her very happy. So Kevin and I got to see so many weird people just on our way to drop off my mom her sandwich! The most memorable one was this lady in a bright pink outfit and had what I thought were flower sunglasses. Kevin said they were actually “2013” New Years type glasses. That made sense to me, well not really. We both were cracking up at our people-watching skills. When we got back to my house, we started chowing down and turned on Jerry Springer. Man, do I love that show. My dad even loves watching that show with me because it is so ridiculous. We also watched Wife Swap and then Kevin left to walk off his food and to relax some more at his house. We had so many great Lauren and Kevin moments and talks, so it was a great day. As I have been typing this, I was watching Pawn Stars, Chopped, and now The Biggest Loser with my dad.

I have to say, being at the UFC fight event made me feel so normal. It made me forget that I have this horrible disease of cancer for a day. I looked completely normal (and dare I say hot!) and no one stared at me because I was the bald girl. I am so thankful for that, and trust me, any time that I feel healthy (well healthy for me is totally different than being healthy for the average person) is the best moment for me. I love it.

I am also so thankful to everyone who has been supporting me along my journey. Whether you have been there since the start or are just hearing about my story, I am thankful for you being there for me. There is nothing more that I can ask for than support. I need as much help as I can get when it comes to getting the word out about childhood (and young adult) cancer. I WANT as much help as I can get to get this research funded so that so many of us will not die due to this disease. I want the rate of survival for metastatic Ewing’s Sarcoma to rise from around 20% to in the 90s (or 100%). Adults who are diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma already have a lower survival rate so I am already at a disadvantage. I know that this is a scary fact. It terrifies me, but I always remember that I am not just a statistic and I am constantly defeating the odds. I am strong physically and mentally and that helps me tremendously. I want to be one of those few who does come out on top of the disease. I do reach my goals that I set for myself- they might seem tough or even impossible at times, but I work for them and achieve them in the end. I want to get more cures for every childhood cancer (although I do favor cures and research for Ewing’s Sarcoma) because no child or young adult deserves to go through this. No one. I lost a dear friend to Ewing’s Sarcoma and it has taken up too much of my life and is making my life hell so I have a vendetta against it. I take this personally, very personally. Having these low survival rates for youngsters is just unacceptable, so I need all the help I can get to spread the word that this is not okay. Childhood cancer needs a nice kick in the butt!

So my lesson that I learned this weekend was one that I really noticed at the UFC weigh-ins and at the actual fights. I have always felt that having friendly competition is very important. On my team, I had a few girls who were faster than I was in certain events and I would strive to beat them. I let them know that I wanted to beat them because they were better than I was. This would end up pushing all of us, because we could respect the effort put in by each other to be fast. It was also flattering for the people whom I wanted to beat, because that meant that I genuinely thought they were good. I also figure that by expressing my desires to work hard to beat these specific people and by telling them in person, they could know that I was not conspiring against them to steal their spot. This also would get my teammates to work just a bit harder because they knew I was gunning it for them. The thing is, they knew that I was putting in the effort in to try to beat them and that I was not just going to magically get faster than they were. Or that I wanted to beat another girl because I wanted a spot on the “A” relay at state. I sure did work my butt off to get there, and I would have had a spot on at least one “A” relay, had my body cooperated for one more week and decided to not have my lung collapse, but hey, life is unpredictable! This is only going to push me more to get back in the pool and get a better time when I am healthier. I think with this unfriendly competition, things are taken personally and feelings get involved when they really should not be. Seriously! If we are all working hard and putting in the time and effort (Okay, I had unfriendly competition with one girl on our team but we all did with the same one, because she did not come to any practices and was constantly drinking and was still super fast, but that is another story) then may the best person win! This is a competition, a sport, it is not meant for feelings. It is meant for our muscles and mental ability to get us to win. So in the MMA fighters, everyone works so hard and is so dedicated to their sport that they appreciate their opponents. They always learn from each other, and the fighting styles are so different (like every swimmer has a different stroke and body type) so it is not truly a loss when someone loses a fight. They learn and adapt with every fight. One technique will work better against one person than another, and person A can beat person B, person C can beat person A, and person B can beat person C. When a good hit or move is landed, the other person acknowledges it. Even though one has been hit in the face, they nod or smile because they respect the other person. Really interesting to me! MMA is also so unpredictable, one mistake can bring a champion down. That is why there is so much respect within the sport, it is a mental game. I think if people take the fights personally and dislike each other, the fight not be as clean and not as enjoyable. I love seeing people go against each other who are friends, they all shake hands and move on after the fight. There is just something about that that I can relate to. When I have someone who I am friends with (even on another team) who beats me, I take it better than someone who I do not feel deserves it. Oh, and when the nice people who do not walk around like their shit don’t stink win, it just feels better. So moral of the story: be nice and respect the effort of other people. Learn from them and they are probably learning from you!

So here are some videos that I am in, the first is the KCRA interview (which the title says I am 18, but I promise I am 21, they got confused because I was first diagnosed when I was 18 and now I have relapsed at this age, well in May I did) and the second is where you can see me in the background at the UFC World Flyweight Championship belt-giving. (Oh I just added the post-fight interview Youtube video)

http://www.kcra.com/news/18-year-old-girl-finds-hope-while-battling-cancer/-/11797728/23475746/-/jiywe3/-/index.html

http://www.ufc.com/media/FOX9-POST-JOHNSON-BENAVIDEZ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSMYGBsQdXg

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So again, here are a few organizations that you can donate to that fund childhood cancer research:

http://www.stbaldricks.org/

http://www.stjude.org/stjude/

http://esarcoma.com/

http://www.sunbeamfoundation.org/cms/index.php

http://www.childrenscancer.org/

And here are my social networking sites:

https://www.facebook.com/thenotdyinggirl

email: shashimi1992@yahoo.com

instagram: swimchicklauren

twitter: swimchickLM

 

 

 

I Made it to See My 21st Birthday

So it has been a few days since I have posted because my days have been chock full of events! When you don’t hear from me for a while, that means that I am feeling really well and that I have been busy and there is nothing to worry about.

On Sunday, my family and I went to my grandma’s house for Early Christmas. That day is probably the only time of the year that I get to see my extended family because all of our schedules are different. I had such a good time there and was talking to relatives and opening our gifts, it was a fun day.

On Monday, I had to get a platelet transfusion because my counts were so low. I was taken with my dad and since platelet transfusions are notoriously short, we had enough time to hang out and get food afterwards. I had to go for my favorite sushi place, Crazy Sushi, in Elk Grove, to get my fix. I always get a baked roll that has scallops on it and it always makes my tummy very happy. We also got chips and salsa from Chevy’s which we ate all of in one night, I was a little sad because I was hoping for leftovers, but nope! I love leftovers more than anything, it makes my day just knowing that I have good food for me to eat later!

Tuesday I had my radio interview with Beth Ruyak for Capital Public Radio. It was an early start to my day as I woke up at 8am so I could be on the air at 9:30. I was pretty nervous because it was a live interview, but I knew I needed to get awareness out and this was a great opportunity to do so. I put on my makeup and a cute outfit because I figured that pictures would be taken, and they were. It took me a little bit to realize that the station is located on Sacramento State University campus. I found a parking spot and got my parking permit so I would not get a ticket, there is no way that I need to have that problem! I walked into the station and was led into a waiting room and met with a follower of my blog, Melanie. She brought me a peppermint mocha frappachino, which was delicious. We talked for a little bit before it was my turn to go on air. I got to chat with Beth Ruyak for a few minutes to get comfortable before we started the interview. She has a way with putting people at ease! She knew exactly what questions to ask and had comments that really fed the conversation. There was never a dull moment in the 15 minutes that we spent on the air. She was such a doll, very supportive and a positive person! I was so happy that she did her research before we talked so that her questions were inquisitive and well put. She mentioned Andrew Rundle and how he had passed away a few months ago due to Ewing’s Sarcoma. I got a bit emotional at that point, he made such an impact on my life and was such a great guy. He is the only person who I get emotional about and mostly the only cancer-related subject that gets to me. This proves how awful the disease is, more research needs to be done when it comes to childhood cancer. I know that other people at the studio who I met were emotional at my story, and I think getting the word out like I am is making cancer personal. You can put a face to cancer now and see what the life of a cancer patient is really like. We have our ups and downs, but that is our life and we cannot change it. So after the radio interview, I talked with Melanie for a while longer and we stayed long enough that lunch was being served in the studio so we had some awesome pork, couscous, cauliflower, and rolls. My tummy was very happy! I got to see a childhood friend of family from the baby sitting coop as he works for the studio and he shared some drinking stories. Once I left the studio, I headed on over to Arden Fair Mall to go shopping for outfits for the UFC fight and for Vegas, not to mention that I would be turning 21 the next day. I ended up finding the perfect dress to wear to the UFC fight as it would show off my scorpion tattoo- I feel like the event is the perfect place to show it off! I got some head accessories (note, not hair, but head) to wear for the winter and to look extra cute. I ended up getting some other things but I got quite some good exercise. I took four laps in the mall. I walked briskly the whole time and I had parked in the Macy’s upstairs. I always have to get my Cinnabon drink before I go, and it happens to be on the opposite side of the mall. So I walked back there and felt the burn! I also picked up a cinnamon roll for the next morning so my stomach would not be growling during my television interview. On my way back home from the mall I stopped by Walmart for groceries. I got so much food that I cannot wait to try! I got home and just sat for a while and then started cleaning the front room and my bedroom because KCRA would be coming to my house to record the interview. The house has not been this clean in a while! I spend most of my time in the front room on the couch so the table was pretty cluttered- I mean I basically do live on that couch. The only time I spend in my room is when I sleep and when I change my clothes, so to me it does not matter how clean it is or is not. Now it looks super nice at least! I watched the Victoria’s Secret fashion show on tv while wearing a facial mask that made my skin super soft. I really liked some of the outfits that the models were wearing and others were not to my liking. I was kind of surprised that some of the models did not have the womanly shape and were kind of boxy, like myself. I guess everyone has a different body shape, and although everyone on the show was skinny, they were different forms of skinny. I just thought that was interesting! I went to bed a while after that so I could try to get some rest for waking up for my interview in the morning.

I woke up at about 8:00am on Wednesday. KCRA told me that they would be stopping by around 9:30am to 10:00am and would take about thirty minutes of my time. Although the show will only air about one minute and thirty seconds of my story, they needed to get enough footage to get my story across and to be able to edit for the perfect video. The camera man and anchor were both really nice and made me feel at ease. It was nice to talk to them and get the word out about childhood cancer, as well as what I am going through and my perspectives on life. I am not sure exactly what time the interview will air, but it will be on KCRA tomorrow (Friday) in the morning. Which morning news show is beyond me. After the interview was over, I got hydrated so that I could go to get my blood drawn and have them find a vein. I was not prepared for my lab experience. I went to the Elk Grove Kaiser because it was close by, and that was a huge mistake. I normally go to Sacramento to get it drawn because I love my phlebotamists there and they do such a great job there. But no, I was being lazy and did not want to drive as far on my birthday so I drove the ten minutes to Elk Grove Kaiser. I let a student attempt to draw my labs and I really shouldn’t have. He missed the vein in my right arm near the elbow so I offered up my left hand. He proceeded to poke me twice more IN THE HAND and could not get a vein. I have big ‘ol veins in my hands so there is no excuse as to why he had to poke me more than once there. Then, he had an older lady try a big vein in my wrist and she missed it and was pushing it around and it hurt like no other. So she took it out and I started crying. I am not one to cry in public, but when I get frustrated I cry now. It was not about the pain, but I get upset over things that should go one way and go wrong. Tears just streamed down my face and although I was not sobbing or making any noise, I was visibly very emotional and unhappy. I mentioned that it was my birthday and I left with my red eyes from the crying. Luckily, I had made plans with Job to go to lunch and to get my first legal drink. He picked me up at my house probably two minutes after I got back from the hospital. We went to Red Robin as that is what I looked up and decided would be a good place to get a meal. I was put into a much better mood right away and the food helped! I got fried zucchini, a fisherman’s platter, and a grasshopper drink (aka basically an alcoholic mint chocolate chip milkshake) and Job got riblets and mac and cheese and a Blue Moon Beer Milkshake (which was surprisingly good considering that I hate beer and it more of resembled an orange creamcicle). We sat and talked and enjoyed our food for a long while and boy, did I need it after the horrible hospital experience. Job then dropped me off so we both could take naps to prepare for my bartending (YES!) that would happen later in the evening. So I got to rest for about two hours, and I got woken up by my case worker. She gave me the great news that I would not have to get my blood redrawn and that I would still be able to get my platelets without it. I was so relieved! I was going to go get my blood drawn before I would go bartending, but I did not have to do so.

I had to make another paragraph for my bartending adventure! I was given the opportunity to bartend at a restaurant/bar in Sacramento on my birthday! I had just turned 21 and I was about to experience something fantastic. The restaurant is Vallejo’s on O St. I had never been there before that night, and I can tell you I WILL be returning. I got to meet the owner and all of the staff as well as the bartender. They were all so welcoming and told me that I was now a part of their family. I was put immediately to work by Sonia, the bartender. She taught me how to make margaritas like a pro, pouring with both hands (two drink components) at once. I also learned how to pour a good beer (after a little trial and error) that did not have too much of a head. I also made some blueberry lemon drops and watermelon lemon drops, poured shots, made rum and cokes. It was such a cool experience! I learned really fast and learned the counts for the drinks, and I got to taste test the drinks. Oh, and I had some teachers from Laguna Creek High School come out to help me celebrate! I was so happy with my Laguna support! Someone bought a whole round of the blueberry lemon drop cocktails as shots and this bar regular wh0m I had just met made a toast for my birthday as we drank our bright blue shots. They tasted so good! I was proud of myself for learning so fast and getting things down, I mean I did spill a bit at first but I got the hang of it. I think it would have been a very good possibility that I would bartend if I were to be going to college. The owner of Vallejo’s promised me that we would do another fundraiser at the bar for childhood cancer. By the way, did I mention that Sonia let me keep all of the tips? I made $372 that we will be donating to St. Baldrick’s. I would love to do this event again and get the word out so that they will be even more busy and raise even more money next time! Oh, and the staff set up banners with my name on them as the guest bartender on them. Seriously! I felt so special and like I belonged there. All of the regulars were super nice to me and welcoming, one even gave me this absolutely adorable cupcake ornament! I made drinks for the babysitting coop, and boy there were a lot of them there to help me celebrate! They are basically family and I have known all of them for my whole life, so I was happy to see all of them. They always get together and drink and have a blast, so this was perfect! I was also nominated to make the drinks and be bartender for our babysitting coop Christmas party this year. I would love to do it! As much as drinking alcohol or even thinking about drinking alcohol makes my stomach upset (crazy, but yeah) I am fine with making drinks. It was so much fun for me to make the drinks and I now have a new skill that I can show off! My friends ended up coming about twenty minutes after I decided I was done bartending and was sitting down to eat. I was so happy that they all could hang out with me and help celebrate my 21st birthday. I met some new people who were incredibly nice and were gushing about how inspirational I am and whatnot, so that was interesting for me! My group of friends and I got to talk and hang out and goof around. At 10ish we left the restaurant, and while all of my other friends went to Job’s house to hang out afterwards, I was way too tired to go so I just went home. That was the best choice for me because I was seriously pooped! It was such a great 21st, especially considering that I did not think I would make it to see this birthday a few months ago. In June/July, when my prognosis was three weeks to three months to live, my end goal was to somehow make it to my twenty first birthday. I made it to my birthday and I now plan to make it to my 22nd birthday. I will fight with all I have, I have never given up hope. I mean, I had accepted the fact that I was going to die in June and July, but that has changed. I was doing so badly in the summer that I felt it was best to accept my fate (not happily) so that I could be at peace and not be angry for the rest of my days. Well, now I am just going to keep going and hoping for the best and fighting like no other. I do not think about the possibility of not making it, but I am still going to live every day like it is my last, because I really don’t know what each and every day has to offer me. Nothing is given to me and my health is so unpredictable, so I am living each day to the fullest and am doing everything to be happy. I am more vocal now (I am sure you can tell because of how I write in this blog) and do things that I enjoy. No time is wasted! I refuse to do that, I will spend my time with my family and friends. I need to get awareness out and spread my story and that is now my job. I am not working, swimming on a team, or going to school, so this is what I need to do. This is my passion, and if/when I do go back to school, I am going to change my major to journalism. I believe this is where I can accomplish the most and do the most good. The after effects of my treatment has made my hands incredibly shaky, so I could not be a nurse. There is no way that I could hit a vein well with being so shaky! So with journalism, I can get the word out about childhood cancer and really make a difference. I could work for some sort of childhood cancer organization or work somewhere in that field. I think it is a great plan for me!

So today I got two units of platelets because my counts are still really low. I am bruising like no other and bleeding very easily. Even with playing with Panda, I have kind of blood blisters (not blisters, but blood vessels are showing on the surface) which I would never normally get because Panda is so gentle when playing. He never broke the skin, but I have red marks where he put his claws or teeth on. Weird, right? I met up with Michelle (the one I met on Tuesday) and Katie Rundle (Andrew’s sister, whom I absolutely adore) to hang out with them for getting the platelets. I was surprised but happy to get the two units so I do not bruise as easily. I will also be needing a blood transfusion next week because I have been bleeding more easily with the low platelets. My hemoglobin dropped two points since Sunday, so I know I will be getting it next week. It was not low enough today to need one for tomorrow, so I am glad that I do not have to rush around! I also had a great idea right when Katie was leaving, since Beth Ruyak wants me to come back and talk on the radio again with an update in January, I figure that I can bring Katie to speak too, because she has another perspective on childhood cancer. She lost her brother to the same cancer that I have, and she is such a great advocate as to why we need more research done for childhood cancers of all sorts.

Tomorrow I will be attending the UFC fight weigh-ins with Job and I get to meet the fighters. I am so stoked for this, because I appreciate MMA so much. I know how hard they work and how beat up they get, I have mad respect for them. I have always wanted to do some sort of martial art, but I never got the opportunity. I was looking into Brazilian Ju-jitsu (I don’t know if I spelled that right or not) at the end of my senior year right before I graduated, but then I got diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma for the first time. I never got the chance to do it, and with my lung issues and stuff now there is no way that I could, but I love watching the sport either way. I love the unpredictability of it and the different styles. It takes so much discipline to be really good at MMA that I would not have been great at it, it would have been more of for the experience. I will admit that I could not fight in it, I would just do the workouts and learn the moves, that would have been good enough for me. So with watching the fight (which is on Saturday, and I get floor seats with Job) I figure that I will be able to learn how to do certain moves and obviously never use them, but I love learning new moves that look cool and actually work. I am glad that I am going with Job because he appreciates MMA as much as I do and knows more about it and knows who the fighters are. Not to mention that I feel safe being with him and I know that no one would dare mess with me (they don’t as is, but it is nice having a little bit of security knowing I am with someone who can hold his own in a fight and defend me/himself). I am also going to get a behind the scenes tour of the weigh-ins. I cannot wait!

I am so thankful for all of the opportunities that I have been given and I cannot believe the amount of things that I have been able to accomplish at 21 years old. I have learned that sometimes I have to speak up and speak my mind. I never used to do this, but I figure that by saying something everyone around me is benefiting. When something bothers me, I let someone know. That way misunderstandings are aired up and feelings aren’t hurt anymore. I also apologize when I have done something to hurt someone and when I have said something that I did not mean, or if I give attitude for no reason. It happens to everyone! Apologizing and meaning it is such a big deal. It is so important to say “sorry” and actually mean it. I have had people apologize to me for things that happened way in the past and if I know they mean it, I accept it. That is how life should be, we all learn from our mistakes. Everyone has a misunderstanding or mis-communication at some point. I have had my fair share, and talking it out helps you understand what the other person is thinking and where they are coming from. These misunderstandings are often not a big deal at all! I am also more apt to accept an apology from someone who was not friends with me, because it is not like they back-stabbed me. If we were not friends to begin with, they really have not done anything wrong by talking about me. Sure, I don’t like it when someone talks bad about me, but it is way worse when a close friend does it. That is something I do not tolerate! At least with people who aren’t friends, there is no real harm done because they do not know your inner most thoughts and motivations. At least that is how I feel. I only apologize when I mean it and I know when someone else means it, so of course I accept the ones that are heartfelt. That is just the way to be, we need to be forgiving to those who deserve it. There is no reason to hold a grudge to someone who does not know you and who you do not know anything about. That is my thoughts for the night!

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So I have a bit of the steroid chubs going on right now! My face is a bit fatter than it normally is, but it is more swollen than anything because of the steroids. I wish that my cheekbones were more apparent but they will soon enough after the drugs have been completely tapered off. I also have a bit of a bulging tummy compared to what I normally have, but this is all temporary and is something that I can deal with. There is nothing I can do about it and I am just glad that I am not insanely skinny and on the opposite end of the spectrum. Also, with my one side being bigger than the other, I think it might be because my organs are off place now. Since my lung cannot fully expand, my diaphragm has moved up and my stomach has moved up. So my insides are a little out of place, but again, it is something I can deal with. I am so happy that it does not hurt, and although it is obvious that I am lopsided, no biggie. It is just another side effect of my treatments. It is survivable. I just have one side that has a womanly curve to it, a more hourglass shape on one side, and then my natural, boxy side. Just one of those weird things that happen in my life!

So if you want to listen to my radio interview, go to http://www.capradio.org/ and search for my name (Lauren McCullough) it will be under news or something I believe.

Also, here are some organizations to donate to for childhood cancer research!

http://www.stbaldricks.org/

http://www.stjude.org/stjude/

http://esarcoma.com/

http://www.sunbeamfoundation.org/cms/index.php

http://www.childrenscancer.org/

And of course, you can follow me on my social networking sites!

https://www.facebook.com/thenotdyinggirl

twitter: swimchickLM

instagram: swimchicklauren

email: shashimi1992@yahoo.com

Lazy Days

I haven’t really been doing much since my last blog post, I have just been resting up because I am going to have a busy week next week! So tomorrow, I am going to be going to my grandma’s house in the Bay Area for our Early Christmas. We normally have our Early Christmas about a week from now, but with my schedule and the schedules of my other family members, this is the best possible day for our get together. Since our actual Christmas is full of driving from one relative’s house to another, we would be stretching out time too thin to spend any quality time with each family. This Early Christmas is at my grandma’s house on my mom’s side, where we have it every year. It has been a while since I have been to visit my grandma Leone and grandpa Joe, so that will be nice. I love looking at the pictures that they have on the walls that show my cousins, Mark, and I at many different stages of life. We always have to look at the village that is propped out in the backyard, named Riceville. I am sad that the jacuzzi that I had spent so much time in is now gone. That is where I got my nickname “Sashimi” which means raw fish. I would swim in the hot tub for so long and would basically be a fish. I guess that is partially where I got my love of being in the water and being a swimmer. Just the smell of chlorine is amazing! 

And speaking of swimming, I plan on getting back in the water on my own on Monday. I NEED to get back in the pool. It has been months since I have fully emerged myself in the pool and I just miss it. I won’t be doing any soaking because of my tattoo, but I will get in for about twenty minutes and do some backstroke. My lungs are better than they have been in a long while, so that is no longer an issue with me getting active. I have nowhere near the lung capacity that I used to have and can inhale less than the average person, but that won’t stop me from swimming. I won’t push myself to exhaustion and won’t be timing myself anytime soon, but I need to exercise. Just being in the water puts me in a better mood, even though the weather leaves much to be desired. I figure that putting a few laps behind me will be good for both my physical and mental health- so what do I have to lose? I need to strengthen up my muscles a little bit because I have been sedentary for too long. My lower back ends up getting weak because I sit on the couch too much. Just yesterday I pulled my lower back and both of my hips by swinging myself out of bed. That was pretty much my wake up moment that I need to exercise again just to keep myself in decent shape. When I am active, I look and feel better, which is definitely why I have stuck with swimming for all of these years. I need to keep up my broad shoulders, keep my stomach tight, and keep my arms from being too “weenie”. 

I just forgot that I will probably have to go in for a platelet transfusion on Monday, so depending on what time my appointment is, that will see if I am going to be able to swim or not. I can tell that my platelets are low because I am bruising and bleeding after my nighttime shot to get my immune system a boost. Speaking of my immune system, my counts are definitely low, as my white blood cell count was less than normal on Wednesday and I know it has not changed that much since then. This has also kept me inside to I can stay away from big groups of people because I really would rather not be sick. Out of everything that is going on, I do not need to get the flu or anything else that could get me in the hospital!

On Tuesday I am going to be on a radio program talking about my story and to further raise awareness for pediatric cancer. I will be speaking with Beth Ruyak of Capital Public Radio (90.9 FM, 90.5 FM, 91.3 FM, 88.1 FM) and I am looking forward to it! I also believe that my nurse practitioner, Tamara, will also be interviewed to speak from more of the medical perspective. It is perfect timing as she is moving to Oregon soon! I am finally getting the word out that childhood cancer is real and is closer to home than what most people wish it were. So I am hoping that this is only the start to a wildfire of pediatric cancer awareness!

On Wednesday, I will be interviewed for KCRA. So this will be my first television debut! I do not know the details behind it yet, but I have been in contact with someone from the news station. Exciting, isn’t it? This makes me so relieved that I do not have a fear of public speaking and that I kind of like to talk sometimes. This is also the perfect timing for being on the news because I am tapering off of my steroids. Why does this have anything with being on TV? Well, I was put on the steroids to see if it could help my heart and breathing two weeks ago. The steroids have given me the awful side effect of acne on my head and on the right side of my chest. Not my face, just my head and the right side of my chest. It is so bizarre! Luckily, since I am going down on the steroids, the acne has been clearing up nicely. It has made me upset because if I am going to be bald, I at least want a nice looking head. I don’t want to feel insecure when taking off a hat in public when my head gets too hot. So thank goodness with this timing and that my heart and lungs are strong enough so that I can be taken off of the steroids! Trust me, this acne was so bad that I thought it was hives at first. Yay that it is going away! I have dealt with having acne since I was probably twelve, so I think I have had enough of my skin tormenting me.

Speaking of Wednesday, that is also my birthday! I will finally be 21! Legal to drink! I will be buying and drinking a fruity cocktail on my birthday for sure. I will not be getting drunk, I can assure you on that! My stomach does not need to be upset by something that I am in control of. I will be spending the evening with friends and family and will be having a blast at a restaurant/bar. What I am more excited about is just having the possibility of ordering a drink that sounds like it will taste good. I like having the choice of ordering a drink and not having to worry about my age. I am mentally so much older than 21 that it never really occurs to me that I am still young. I am not going to abuse the fact that I will be able to buy alcohol- it will be nice just to be able to do it and bring it to a party.

On Friday, I will be going to the UFC weigh ins for the fights that will be going on in Sacramento on the 14th. One of the vice presidents of the UFC was made aware of my blog by his brother and read that I have been enjoying watching MMA. So he reached out to me and offered me VIP, floor seats for the UFC fight night on Saturday. Needless to say, I am stoked! I have never seen a fight live before and am so looking forward to it. I will be taking my buddy Job with me because he enjoys MMA as much as I do and he knows more about it than I do. He was just saying that we should go to a fight, and this opportunity jumped into my lap so I gladly accepted it. Right after my birthday, on a free day for me, how much better can it get? I will be seeing all of the fights, even though they will go late, I am just so interested in the different styles and how variable the matches can be. I also want to learn as much about it as I possibly can, I have a thirst for knowledge when it comes to certain subjects (including food). I already have a wrestling background behind me so I get a little bit of what is going on, but I want to know more. I wasn’t a very good wrestler, but I know a bit about it and have been around it for many years, so this will be a night that I will not forget!

I have been doing a lot of thinking, as usual, and I have to say that I have changed a lot over the past year, and even the past few months. When I was in high school, I was so OCD about planning and timing things and would get annoyed when people would try to make last minute plans with me. Now, that is what I rely on. Since my health can change at any time, the spontaneous moments work out the best for me. I often have to change my plans because my counts are low, my stomach acts up, or if I just am too drained. I feel like my friends don’t really understand (because you really cannot unless you are going through what I am) but they fully accept it. I wish that I could stick with my plans a whole lot more, but the reality is that I cannot, but I do as much as I can. I am grateful that I am able to follow through with the plans that I do make. At least with my friends, they know that it is nothing personal if I cannot hang out or go out. I think that is a key point in any sort of relationship, the trust that nothing is meant or done to purposefully hurt one another. When plans are broken, it isn’t personal, it is just that a situation has come up. So now when people call me up or text me asking to hang out or go out to dinner, whatever, last minute, if I am feeling good I accept. No day is given to us, nothing is promised, so I might as well live it up while I can!

Something that I have noticed lately is that people aren’t giving themselves enough credit. Sounds a little odd, but it is true. We are all so quick to point out our personal flaws that we often do not notice the good things about ourselves. Instead of thinking about all of the problems that you possess, think about all of the good traits that you have. Maybe your flaws are seen as positives by someone else. I know for a fact that I am brutally honest, for some that is a positive trait and for others it is seen as a negative one. I count it as positive because I think everyone needs a friend who can say, “Hey, that outfit looks awkward,” or “You seem to be gaining weight,” or even “You have a booger in your nose.” Because if I do not say anything, maybe my friend truly has not noticed and would be much more embarrassed if I were to stay silent. I figure it is better if I say something rather than for a stranger to say something. Maybe that is just me! If I seem fake and too smiley, too happy, that is because it makes me happy to think happy thoughts. That is a positive trait that I possess. I know friends who can make me smile and laugh during the hardest moments, that is such a great trait to have. Other people are such great listeners. Others are supportive no matter what. Just think about the positives that you have to offer in a relationship (whichever kind!) and don’t be as insecure. Different friends and different people possess different positive traits, so there is no “better” person. No replacement friends. I have multiple people who I consider “best friends” and they all are so different and fall into different categories that there is no ranking system. I have newer friends who have been there for me since I have met them, old friends who have been there forever, and so on. Those are my two cents for the evening!

So please continue on sharing this blog, keep spreading the word that childhood cancer is a huge issue that needs to be addressed, and keep being positive! I am terrible at answering my messages, so do not be offended if I do not answer or if I take forever, that is all too normal for me, again, its nothing personal!

https://www.facebook.com/thenotdyinggirl

twitter: swimchickLM

instagram: swimchicklauren

email: shashimi1992@yahoo.com

Here are some organizations that I have looked into and support childhood cancer research and sorts!

http://www.childrenscancer.org/

http://www.stjude.org/stjude/

http://www.stbaldricks.org/

http://esarcoma.com/

And it makes me incredibly happy that http://www.marycrowley.org/ has a promising vaccine trial for Ewing’s that they will be starting soon! I am not eligible for the study, but I am very glad that something is being done!

 

 

 

I Have a Voice (and an Audience!)

All I can say is wow. My story was published across newspapers in the Bay Area and has been shared so many times that I have lost count. The sudden influx was huge! I have been getting tons of friend requests and messages, prayers and people who are wishing me well. I am so glad that I have so many on my side to support me through this journey and to raise awareness of childhood cancer. It DOES exist and is right here in front of everyone. I have had so many people supporting me, from Laguna Creek High School (where I went to school), Diablo Valley College (and the various sports teams, including my swim teammates), people who have stumbled across my blog, friends, family, people who I have come in contact with, and so many who I do not know. I have to thank everyone for being there for me throughout this hard process, and I wish I could get back to every single person, but that is pretty darn impossible. So I will thank you guys here!!!!

So on Monday I had my CT scan to check out what is going on with my swollen and numb left hip/side. Well, they did not see anything out of the ordinary. It is not a tumor (which I did figure because it is not painful at all). Nothing even showed up on the scan, so your guess is as good as mine is as to what it is. As my doctors and caregivers have always said, “You never know, it is Lauren!” This is so true of me. My body is so unpredictable and kind of marches to its own beat. I get problems that most people could not even imagine and have side effects that are unheard of, but my body keeps on ticking and chugging along. No matter how bad my health has gotten, my body has come through in the end and prevailed over whatever has ailed me. As much as my body hates me, it does work really hard. My side is still swollen and numb, but it has not gotten any bigger and is still not painful, so there is nothing to worry about. Again, no reason to worry about something that I cannot control. I would also like to report that it has been a full day since I have used my norco pills for pain. Before, it would be two in the morning and two in the evening. I did not use any last night, as I forgot to because the pain in my back is just not there anymore. So I decided that I would not take them this morning and have not needed them. This is such a relief to me! As much as my side has a weird sensation to it when walking and in general, it is not painful. I feel like I have a bit of a lean to me and that my body is out of balance, but no pain. I cannot complain! Monday was also my nurse practitioner’s last day. As sad as it is, she has a great opportunity for her in Oregon that just cannot be looked over. She has been so fantastic with my case and getting to know how I work, both physically and mentally. She will be missed, but she will do a great job in Oregon and will have those patients love her as well! So after my appointment, my mom and I picked up my Thai food and went home. I was so relieved to hear about the good news that my side is nothing to worry about at this point (and hopefully ever) that I was in a very good mood.

Yesterday I spent the day with my best friend Kevin. We have been neighbors and friends since kindergarten or first grade, I am not sure which one exactly. We have gone through our ups and downs, as do most friendships, but we are on a permanent high. We get each other and joke around about the weirdest things that most would judge us on. We can act like fools and sing in public and not care. Luckily, it was Kevin’s day off from work and school so we got to spend a good amount of time together. I decided that I wanted to explore this Vietnamese market/sandwich shop/ food place so it was just perfect that I would have company. I had done my research on the place, named Huong Lan, and looked at every single item that they showed on the menu. I was so intrigued, even though I had no idea what most of the food was, I could look at the pictures and tell that the food was going to be good. I picked out a Banh Mi sandwich- and going all out, I got one with headcheese, ham, and pate. Kevin got a chicken teriyaki sandwich and I got my mom a bbq pork banh mi. We also picked out numerous hot entrees that were already boxed up (they all looked so good), two Thai teas (which were surprisingly sweet), a few Vietnamese desserts, two boba teas, and a pastry filled with purple yam. You could say that Kevin and I were in food comas by the end of it, and I ended up having leftovers which I ate today. All of the food was so good and authentic, it was a culinary experience for me. It was definitely a bang-for-your-buck trip too, so you just cannot go wrong with that. So Kevin and I got to hang out and watch Jerry Springer, eat, and talk about feelings. 

So I guess I need to talk about what the talk about feelings was. It kind of got me thinking about the emotions that I feel on a daily basis and the ones that I do not allow myself to feel. We discussed love. Now, I have never been in love. This feeling is completely alien to me. However, I do know what love is. I have so much love for my friends, family, supporters, caregivers, pets. You could say that my heart is full of love. I think that more people need to own up to their warm and fuzzy feelings and show that they love people more. You may not have to say the words, “I love you,” but you need to act on them. It may not mean that much to one person, but sometimes hearing it or acknowledging the feeling makes the other person soar. Everyone likes to feel appreciated, so a little compliment or a “thanks” goes a long way in my book. I guess I am spoiled because I come from a family where we openly say, “I love you,” but my two cents are that people need to hear that word more often. Just saying!

So today I got my blood drawn and my counts are good, so nothing new is really going on right at this moment. It has been a pretty darn lazy day for me, and I could say that boring days are good days because that means that crazy things are not happening in my life at this moment. I am getting another echocardiogram tomorrow to check on my heart again. I can tell that my heart is going strong and that the gallop is not there, my heart is not racing for no reason. I am also going to be filling out some paperwork and getting my disability placard. I had one briefly in 2011 when my leg was bad, but it really does come in handy. On my days when my blood counts are really low and walking even two steps tires me, to the days where my lungs are not up to par, to when I am not feeling good, this will help me out. As my social worker put it, “Spend less effort doing hospital things so you can put more effort into the fun things.” So that is what I plan on doing!

So with my story becoming so public and getting so much attention, I have been asked, “What can I do to help?” Well, I have an answer to that! First, spread the awareness that childhood cancer exists and does not discriminate. Accept the uncomfortable fact that children get diagnosed with cancer. Tell others and discuss the problem that so many children (I will lump myself into this list) are losing years of their lives (and losing their battles) and live with lifelong problems after cancer treatment. 

Another thing that you can do is donate to organizations for childhood cancer research. This is the biggest gap in funding and where most of the work needs to be done. Here are a few organizations that I looked up and approve of:

http://ewings-sarcoma.org.uk/     This is specifically for my cancer.

http://www.stbaldricks.org/

http://www.stjude.org/

http://www.childrenscancer.org/

Just making pediatric cancer an issue that is spoken about is a huge issue. This way we can hopefully get politicians behind the cause and elect those who are working to fund the research! If the research is done and the funding is there, people like myself and children who are younger than I am can have a better chance at survival. That is what I ask!

Oh, and I have been getting a lot of “tips” from people regarding holistic medicine and other kinds of therapies that “cure cancer”. Chances are, I have done the research behind the tip and it is probably something that I have already heard of and looked up. I am very proactive in my diagnosis and ask a lot of questions. My team of doctors are also very proactive and are constantly looking into new treatments and protocols and studies. Trust me, I am not overlooking anything. Take into account the time that I have in my day to do the research and the fact that I am one of those people who fully looks into things. I am the girl who searches who my friends are dating and can find anything out about anyone. I am very thorough in my research and fully engross myself into my studies. I know that those who give me the tips and messages have great intentions, but it makes me feel like they think I am uneducated about my disease. Every cancer is different too. Different cancer reacts to different drugs and treatments. My cancer is incredibly rare and is considered as one of those cancers that you are very unlucky to get. What I mean is, if you were to be diagnosed with cancer, this is one that the treatment is very vigorous and the survival rate is very low. Ewing’s sarcoma is one hell of a cancer, and we need more research done so that the cancer does not get a chance to take more lives. 

So please help me and spread my story, my blog, and childhood cancer awareness!

I also ask for those who have been adding me on my personal facebook to please add my “The Not Dying Girl” facebook page instead, it makes things a whole lot easier for me.

https://www.facebook.com/thenotdyinggirl

twitter: swimchickLM

instagram: swimchicklauren

email: shashimi1992@yahoo.com

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Less Pain, More Worries

I will start by saying that I was discharged from my week long stay in the hospital on Friday afternoon. I did not have any fevers and my pain was put under control to the point where I did not have to ask for my injection of delotted. Surprisingly, I was not bored at all with my hospital stay, so it was one of my better times in the hospital where I did not freak out and cry that I wanted to go home.

The numbness on my left side/hip area is still there. What alarms me is that it is also more swollen in that spot and there is a noticeable size difference between the right and left side. It looks like I have more of a womanly curve to my left side (not quite a love handle, but there is more of an hourglass shape on my funky side) while my right side looks like my normal, non-hippy self. I will be getting a CT scan to check out what is going on, because I think it might be serious. One of my doctors did not seemed too alarmed by it and kind of brushed it off, I don’t think it is something that should be put off to the side. So I will get one scheduled sometime next week, along with an echocardiogram to make sure that my heart is still going okay. Knowing how strong and in shape my heart is, it can handle working harder than the average heart. My resting heart rate is incredibly fast, so I guess I am starting to get used to that. I have always had a faster heartbeat than the average person, and now it is just personified by the pressure put on my heart. Again, thank you sports for making my whole body able to withstand so much more!

I would also like to report that my breathing is just fine! It stays within the 98% level and is not anywhere near dangerous. So at this point, my lung isn’t as big of a worry as my heart is or the weird thing on my side. If I am not worrying about not getting enough oxygen, then you should not either! I am on a higher dose of methadone and am taking some norcos on top of that, but every medication that I am on, the dose can be raised higher in case I get in more pain.

I guess I need to answer the question that is on everyone’s mind: am I going to beat this cancer? I can honestly say that I don’t believe I will be able to. Will I be able to stretch things out and prolong my life as long as possible? Yes. But in all honesty, it would take more than a miracle for me to be able to see my 22nd birthday. So that is in another year. I have not been given any specific time details, but I guess I do know my body best and unless there is a breakthrough in Ewing’s Sarcoma research very soon, I do not know if I will be able to receive that help that is so needed. This is tough for me to write, so I am sure it is tough for others to read. But I strive to give as much information as I know, whether the news is good or bad. People need to be aware of what is going on, no matter how much it hurts. None of this means that I am giving up, but I am being realistic. I will never stop fighting, it will just be a matter of the cancer taking over my body or not.

I may have been given incredibly unfair cards in life, but these are the ones that I have been dealt and these are the ones that I need to make the most of. I guess some people take a whole lifetime to not even make a dent on society. I am utilizing all of my time to make a huge difference in people’s lives. Maybe I do not need that whole lifetime to impact people, I sure would like one, but sometimes the ones who are here the least amount of time leave the biggest impression. If I can somehow stay positive throughout facing my mortality at such a young age, then I believe others should stay positive too. We are all given difficult cards in life, in one way or another, but we must survive and adapt to them. Part of adapting is taking change in stride and keeping a smile on your face. Since my life will most likely be cut very short, there is no reason for me to waste my time feeling bad. I am going to focus on things that I can accomplish and knock things off of my bucket list, which has not been updated in quite a while. I just take whatever opportunities are given to me and have fun. I am going to be trying different food and restaurants to broaden my palette, I know a lot about food but I have yet to taste many of the dishes that I have grown to love.

Okay, now I will go on with what happened during the rest of my time in the hospital!

I think I was not feeling very good on Tuesday so I asked for no visitors, I just watched TV all during that day. On Wednesday, one of my new friends, Sarah, came to visit me. We both share the same cancer, except she had hers in the lower arm and is now in remission. It was really nice to talk to someone who has gone through the same treatment and had the same cancer. It is a very unusual cancer for someone to have, so I got to tell her how it was like for me getting my “new normal” back and how much better college is than high school. We shared our woes about our high schools deciding to start supporting breast cancer awareness around campus rather than supporting our cancer. That was probably one of the biggest shockers that happened to me in 2011. Everyone at my school knew that I had been diagnosed with a rare cancer, and suddenly they decided to put up pink ribbons on campus and participating in breast cancer awareness month. Not childhood cancer awareness month. Which happens to be in September. The color is gold. This is probably one of my biggest pet peeves which I would have loved to speak to whomever was in charge of the decorations at either of our high schools. It is supposed to be about supporting the students and alumni right? I also got to try some Thai food for the first time on Wednesday. I sent my dad across the street to this good Thai place and got some duck curry soup. It was sooooo good! The place is called Ruen Thai. I highly recommend it if you are ever in the Roseville area.

Thanksgiving was a very long day for me, but it was a great day. I woke up decently early because I knew I would have guests coming in at around 9-10. Tyler and Troy from wrestling and swim came by and brought me a peppermint mocha frap, which was perfect! We all talked and got to catch up about school and what we all have been up to since we graduated. Not long after the boys arrived, Andrew’s friend from prayer group, Michelle, came by again. She brought me an iced chai tea, which was put in my cooler until I was done with the frap. Yeah, I was quite spoiled that day! I felt so good that my friends would take the time out of their Thanksgivings to come and see me, and I am pretty darn out of the way when I am inpatient. My mom, Mark, and Carl came by at around lunchtime with the food they had prepared at home. I ate the stuffing but much preferred the green bean casserole- yum! A few hours later, Egor, his mom, and Job came by to see me. Boy, was I happy to see them! I had just seen Egor when I went down to San Diego to get my badass tattoo, but I had not seen his mom or Job in quite a while. Thankfully, Job is back from his training month or so and is back in the area, it was so weird not having him here all the time! Egor’s mom brought some awesome Russian potstickers, aka pelmini, and a few others. I ended up eating all of the pelmini and my leftover curry for a later Thanksgiving dinner. I get hungry at night, so having these at my fingertips was perfect! We all got to hang out and catch up, have a lot of small talk, and just enjoy each other’s company for a while. After they left, I got to relax a little, and I knew that I still had other visitors coming to see me. At about 6pm (I think, everything is pretty relative in the hospital) Claire and Adam Pinson from my year round team came by. To my surprise, they brought my first ever year round coach, Coach Junior, with them. I was floored! And just a few minutes before I was pondering if I should send a text asking for just a quick visit from the siblings, but once they all arrived, my exhaustion was gone and I was pumped. Junior is the coach who pushed me to my absolute limit because he knew how strong I was. I used that to fuel myself during chemo and the tough treatments, as well as the rehabbing back into sports. I always felt that if I could survive the 3 hour long, Saturday of Hell Week practice, along with the hardcore summer training, that I could get through anything. He is the reason why I never cheated myself by hugging the wall and coming up with excuses to not swim and to take breaks. The thing about me was, that even though I did not go to the morning practices, when I did go to the afternoon practices or the Saturday practices, I gave them my all. This is my strategy for fighting cancer- give it all my effort and just attack it. Did I have panic attacks and freakouts during the hard sets of swim? Yes. I got kicked out of practice because I freaked myself out during a killer treadmill workout. I cried, and the next day I came back and was able to accomplish an even harder treadmill workout. That goes to show just how mental the swimming game is, as well as this cancer game. When you give anything your all, you get a better result. So Claire, Adam, and Coach Junior stayed for probably two hours because I was enjoying their company so much. I haven’t seen them in such a long time, and it felt good to be reunited with the teammates who I had worked so hard with. They put me in such a great mood despite the fact that some other close friends were supposed to come up but I ended up not hearing from them. So I definitely went to bed happy, getting my blood transfusions so that I would be able to get out without a problem on Friday.

So on Friday afternoon I got home, watched TV for about an hour, then decided that I was absolutely exhausted from waking up early for a whole week. By early, I mean any time from 6-8. And I also stayed up probably til midnight every night due to my late chemo start. That was quite an annoyance. So it finally caught up with me. I went to bed at around 3pm I would say, and stayed in bed until 1:30am. I kind of had a freakout and was crying to my mom. The truth is that I am terrified with what my future has in store and it really got to me. At around 3pm we both went back to bed. On Saturday, I got a visit from Egor and Job. Egor offered for me to come over for their Thanksgiving (yes, on a Saturday) but I decided it would be best to just relax at home and kind of feel everything out. I did just go through some really harsh chemo, so I think my body needs a bit of a break. But we got to hang out and catch up some more before Egor had to leave back to San Diego. Job stayed for a while longer and we just watched tv and funny videos, the normal for us! And discussing why people are the way that they are, it is all interesting stuff!

Today, my grandpa came over and hung out, I just lazed around because I am still recovering from everything! I ate some good food and leftovers, and I am glad that I have some leftovers to eat for tomorrow, I am pretty much the leftover queen. I took a nap, then I woke up and watched some tv, and then started writing again. I am a little distracted as I am watching UFC fighting, it is one of my guilty pleasures. What is really ironic and cool about the one I am watching, is that there is this guy from Sacramento in the final, and he fights on the same team as this fighter from my high school class. Talk about a small world! So go Chris Holdsworth!

I will post updates about my condition as they go, but for now I am stable, worried, but stable.

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So these are some of the pictures that I took while in the hospital! Sometimes I forget certain details of what happens in the hospital, but at least pictures show what I was doing. As you can tell, my body was freakishly bloated on Thanksgiving thanks to the steroids and fluid combination. I am no longer bloated now, as you can tell by the last picture. That is just to show the difference in hip size! Weird, right?

Attack on Cancer!

As many of you know, I opted and qualified to go through yet another hard round of ICE chemo. I want to hurt my tumors and make them as mad as possible to make them shrink and to just die. I figure that with hardcore chemo, the tumors will hardly be having a vacation in my body. As sick as chemo makes me feel, I know that in the long run it is so worth the countless hours spent on the bathroom floor to keep my head near the toilet. No matter how tired chemo gets me or how draining it is on me both mentally and physically, the results are worth it. As long as these tumors are unhappy with me getting sick, then I can deal with it. The cancer cells aren’t supposed to be in me to begin with, so I think of them as an unwanted guest whom I am trying to kick out as quickly as possible.Cancer is NOT a part of me, it is a part of my daily existence but I will not acknowledge it as being a part of me.

On Saturday, November 23rd the Diablo Valley College lacrosse team held a benefit game against Santa Rosa Junior College in order to raise awareness for childhood cancer and of course, to back up their fellow Viking. I would like to start off by thanking everyone who participated in that because it truly moved me. All of these strangers were taking the time and energy out of their day (and Saturday night) to support me. I was in shock that this event could be all perfectly planned in just a few weeks. That kind of reminded me of the wedding, but this was even more impromptu so I was scared, but excited.

The whole Diablo Valley College football stadium was covered in yellow streamers, balloons, posters- all representing Sarcomas. The American Cancer Society was represented there too, as that is where all of the profit from the game would go to. I got kind of an overwhelming feeling inside, just in awe I guess you could say. All of these people were here to support me (and of course watch the lacrosse game) and I just felt an awesome sense of community that I have never felt before. When I arrived (a little late for my appointment with the photographer because Thor 2 had just came out and my swim buds Blake, Dom, and Steven took me there and to yummy sushi!) I was greeted by so many people who knew about me and my little situation, I felt like a celebrity. I met up with the photographer so I showed off my little bald head which had been concealed by a cute, wool hat. If I am supposed to be sharing awareness of what it is like for me (and possibly other young adults) to go cancer, then there was no reason for me to hide my head, even though it needs a tan. After taking some quick pictures with the Contra Costa Times photographer, I was whisked away to the middle of the field and in front of a microphone. I had a good feeling that I would be speaking ahead of time, so I had practiced what points I needed to get across rather than have notecards to read off of. I got introduced to the referees of the lacrosse game as well as all of the coaches on either side, then it was my turn for the floor. I said something along the lines that “Cancer does not discriminate based on age, race, social class, etc” and “if we talk about pediatric cancer more often, no matter how uncomfortable, that can lead to more funding to the research that needs to be done on childhood cancers of all sorts.” I also threw in a little joke about being bald and talked about my blog. I also told the audience why athletics are such an important part in my life and how I am sure that I would not be here today if I had not worked so hard in sports.

Once I was done talking, Terry Armstrong, the club adviser, kept me right near the microphone as one of the captains from Diablo Valley College spoke to me. His name is Devon Bahary and he presented me with words of encouragement, support, and gave me three different T-shirts as well as a framed picture of the whole lacrosse team. It was the sweetest thing, that all of these guys are supporting a fellow athlete who they did not know. Bahary was choking back tears when he was speaking to me, so I just felt the power of awareness and the power of being proud of your school. After the speech, I was escorted to the first part of the field where EVERY single lacrosse player, from both teams, introduced themselves to me. It was a lot of “Hi” and “thank you for being here” and “you are an inspiration” and other things along those lines. I would say “Hi” back, “thanks for having me”, and “aw thanks”. We all shook hands, the players in their dirtied up jerseys and baldy Lauren with the #1 DVC lacrosse jersey over a sweater, leggings, and boots. As much as I could just about taste how competitive these two teams were about each other, they all gathered together to meet me. At one point, I thought one of the players was going to give me a hug, and that was not his intention at first, until I said, “Aw I thought I was going to get a hug there for a second!” to which he, of course, turned back around to give me a hug. That was the start to the hug fest! Instead of just shaking hands with the lacrosse players, everyone who was still in line hugged me. That really made my day. They care so much about some girl who they have never met, only heard/read about.

The National Anthem was played live, and I believe right after that I went back to the middle of the field and I was named an honorary captain for the evening. I was stoked, as I have never been an “honorary”, “official”, or any other sort of captain position, even when I had earned it. The DVC lacrosse team decided that based on my effort and about how hard I am fighting this cancer off, that I could be a captain for this benefit game. To be honest, being considered a captain has been on my bucket list for a long while, and I can finally say that I got it. I got the captain spot, even if it was for one night. I did not have to do anything in particular when I was captain, other than shake the other captains’ hands (well I hugged them) and to call for a specific position if the coin landed on tails. It did not, so I just got to leave the field and watch the game.

I must say, I need to watch more lacrosse games! Being a former wrestler myself, I am so into the violent nature and talent needed for the game. For me, lacrosse looks like a mixture between soccer and water polo. The players can hit each other with their lacrosse sticks, run into each other, and just be aggressive. I was amazed by how fast everyone moved along with the fact that they had to carry their sticks with them everywhere they went as well. That game really got my adrenaline pumping, which is always really cool. While Diablo Valley College did win by around 10 points, it was still a great game. No one got too cocky and messed up the whole game, no one gave up- they were always checking each other and making sure that everyone was working hard no matter what the score was. I think that is how sports should be played.

During halftime, I was ushered up into the press box to do an interview. Of course I was game to do an interview, I mean I do have all the time in the world (in a sense) to think about what words I use and what to say. I have always loved debates and speeches, so I knew this would not be difficult because the conversation can never get boring as long as there are plenty of interview questions to rely on. I sat next to the announcer of the game and we shared a microphone that we handed back and forth between each other. We talked about athletics, about me having to deal with cancer, about being a top athlete with cancer, and other such things. I really believe I got the word out that pediatric cancer is here and affects everyone, and that word still needs to go even further. When I was done with the interview, I walked back downstairs and got to meet the DVC women’s basketball team and their coaches. I swear I still can’t get over how many students from different sports are supporting me, I guess being a college athlete automatically makes us all bonded together. We had the Music Industry Club played live (jazz) music during the halftime game (I did not really get to hear it as I was getting interviewed) and right before the 4th quarter commenced a dance team from our school performed. That was about it! The game was really entertaining, everyone was so generous and friendly, everything was perfect! There is nothing more that I could have wanted from the day.

So I am going to flash forward to me being in the hospital! I was admitted at 9AM on Monday to make sure that my chemo would not be starting too late. They were expecting me, so apparently the pharmacists were not put “in the know” to create my chemo, so instead of starting at 1PM, 3PM at the latest, I started at around 7PM. I have to get all of my premeds for chemo to help protect my organs and to make sure that I am hydrated enough to start the chemo. Trust me, I was ready. It was hectic in the 4th floor building for whatever reason, but I still had Coach Brenda and her daughter Emily stop by for an hour or so before they were off to the Roseville Galleria. I absolutely loved our talks, trust me our families have a lot in common and we are into the same sport, so that is an automatic plus whenever hanging out with someone. A little while after they left, my shoulder area- all the way to my elbow and neck hurt like crazy. I have a high pain tolerance and this was unbearable. My pain pills had not been changed from oral to intravenous and there was no order in for delotted (an IV pain med that actually works, also known as hydrocodone). So I had to sit very uncomfortably, icing my shoulder but to no relief. Finally I was given the order and was given my pain meds and was much better. I was really drugged up at that point because I did have a prescription ready for Ativan, I had needed something to help me possibly be in less pain. About thirty minutes after I got my pain medicine, Julie and Katie Rundle came by to say hi to me. I am so comfortable around them, so I did not care that they saw me feeling less than my best. They did not stay for too long, but Tamara and Shelly also stopped by to see how I was doing. They all brought me donuts and a Jamba Juice, so I guess you could say that I am a little bit spoiled.

So today, a family friend of Andrew’s, Michelle Bigelow, came to visit me and to just hang out. She gave me a pedicure while we watched Brave. It is really nice having people to talk to here in the hospital! I mean I love having my parents here, but sometimes I just need to have someone who is kinda new or who I haven’t heard from in a while. Maybe that is just me, but I love a little variety here and there. That way I can tell stories that I know I had not told them and have told other people.

With regards to my health, I am not sure exactly what is going on with me. I wish that I could give really good news, but I can’t. With my weird pain that suddenly attacked my shoulder (which has gone away) to the pain along my side, like right under my left lung. It is also numb, so I have a feeling that something with my nerves are not very happy with me. I can only hope that I can get the results that I want after these next two days of chemo. Put a pain on those tumors and make them leave me alone! I hate not having all of the answers that I strive so hard to find. I am very thankful that I am in the hospital so we can figure out exactly what is wrong with me, well hopefully we can figure it out. Oh, and I have hives on my head, only my head, not face or body, head. This would be from the steroids that I was on for about a week. Can’t wait until it is over!

Oh, and I turn 21 on December 11! So for my birthday weekend, my mom, Kathryn (who is a day younger than I am), her mom, and I are going to Vegas!!! I am not going to get drunk or anything because my stomach is just too sensitive now, however, I will take one shot and sip slowly on a fruity, sweet, drink. I am more into the whole experience of Vegas, mostly the food and the shows. I will be sporting a long, brightly covered wig (probably red or blue) just to add to the whole party element to it!

I will leave you guys now, so remember to have fun, do what makes yourself happy, be productive.

Lauren McCullough

shashimi1992@yahoo.com

IG: swimchicklauren

FB: laurenmccullough2

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