Take a breath.. or at least keep trying

I apologize for the delay in updates from Duke. In the last week, I have become so fatigued. I feel like a zombie throughout the day and at night I toss and turn trying to fall asleep. I am either freezing or boiling hot.

I have scheduled my treatment to be every Wednesday, the treatment will being on February 6th.

We did learn with this clinical trial I either get one of two drugs. Option 1 is the new drug, option 2 is IPI, which is what they would have given if the trial did not exist. We have to wait as the computer will pick who gets the trial drug and who does not. I have a 2/3 chance for the trial drug but if I don’t get it I still will be given the best drug that has been approved recently.

Today we had another scare as I began having difficulty breathing while at school. The doctors at Duke were concerned that it could be a blood clot in my lungs as that’s common with Melanoma. Luckily, it was not a blood clot. We aren’t sure what is causing the shallow breath. We go back to Duke next week and see if they can give any more guidance or solutions to the matter.

As if today wasn’t hard enough, I had to share with my classroom parents about my diagnosis. The support within my classroom and school has been completely overwhelming. The gratitude does not go unnoticed. I am simply in shock at the constant kindness.

Travel Buddies, 2019 Goals, and updates

Hi awesome readers! I hope you had an amazing New Years! I hate to brag… BUT I had an ✨INCREDIBLE New Years! ✨I was able to cross off one of my top things on my bucket list! My best friend and I went to Disney’s Epcot to bring in the New Year’s!! I urge everybody to go at least once in their life! It was a blessing to go witness this amazing event. We started the day by relaxing by the pool, enjoying the 80-degree weather. ☀️ We grabbed some lunch before heading to the park. The park was so much and we met some great people! While waiting for our table at dinner in Japan, we started planning a trip back to explore more parks! The firework show was breathtaking. It was amazing how memorized the entire park was, pure silence. It was a wonderful experience! We are pondering about Cancun or San Francisco next year for 2020. Comment below your favorite places!

🧐🤔😇 Now let’s reflect on 2018 and my goals for 2019…

2018 taught me that life can be kind. That it isn’t something I have to outsmart, that it isn’t something I have to control at all times. It taught me that life can be soft, even when it is not, even when it’s edges are rough and it’s messy all over — it can still hold a lesson, can still grow me from the inside. See, last year taught me that life doesn’t always have to be cruel, that circumstance can kick you down, but it can never hold you down if you choose to rise.

2019 I am choosing to rise and soar. 💫🎉

💥💥My new year resolution are :

🔸Travel More

🔹Stress Less

🔸Volunteer Often

🔹 No Red Meat

🔸 Less Sugar

🔹Wake up with a purpose

🔸Live, Enjoy, and Love each day I am given

💉💊🧬 Many of you have been asking when I start my weekly treatment at Duke.. I don’t have an exact date yet. I know have to have another set of MRIs to see if my five little tumors are big enough. I also have to do more blood work. Hopefully, we can start in the next couple of weeks! I will keep y’all updated on the details.

💗💗I would like to thank everyone for the constant love and support. All the gift cards are being saved. My family and I will use them on our rough days during treatment, and to help us travel to and from Durham. Whoever thought of gas and UberEats gift cards deserves a double high five! ✋🏻🤚🏻

Merry Christmas!

I hope you all had an amazing Christmas and enjoyed time with your family, friends, and loved ones. I have been on the go since last week! After arriving from home from Philadelphia I repacked my bags to head to West Virginia to have Christmas with my dad! We even got some snow! I returned home to North Carolina to unpack and repack for Charleston, South Carolina. Later this weekend I will be flying out to Disney to spend New Years at Epcot! If you work with me you know I’ve had this urge to travel.. well the urge has been fulfilled. I am exhausted! However, I just received a boost of excitement! I just got off the phone with Dr. Orloff and she gave me a late Christmas gift this morning! I got approved for the IMCgp100 clinical trial at Duke! This will be a weekly trial, with less travel. I should have more test in the next week or so! Thank you for all the prayers and kind words! Keep them coming!

Making lemonade cupcakes out of lemons

Yesterday I had my liver biopsy done. Hands down the most painful procedure yet, I would rather have 10 eye injections back to back. My liver sits high in my abdomen, so the doctor actually had to go in between the ribs to get the 3 samples. Each sample would knock the wind out of me. Recovery felt like I had a truck sitting on my chest for the first hour. It later eased off. Today it’s very sore. It hurts to take deep breaths, cough, or hiccup. Certain movements or positions also cause discomfort. I should get those results back in 2-3 days…

While in recovery on bed rest my oncologist came in. We talked about treatment options and identified our 1st choice, 2nd choice, and so on.

During the conversation, she threw a curveball at us. Last Sunday I had an MRI on my pelvic area, for a pain that has been on and off for 2 months. The MRI showed there were many tumors in my pelvic bone, and that cancer has spread into the bones. I have also had these random knots appear all over my head in the past 2 months, she said those were tumors as well.

It’s been a lot for my family and I to take in.

With that being said here are the positives…

1. The bones won’t cause any harm, just some aches.

2. The treatments for the liver will also help the bones, it’s a 2 for 1 special.

3. It’s all caught really early.

4. I can still live a normal life.

With the positives outweighing the negatives I am feeling pretty good. I am back home in sunny Carolina, resting with my fur babies and flowers by my bed.

I’ll be back to work on Thursday for our classroom Christmas party!

Chapter 2

It took 5 years for me to become cancer free. However, it only took 5 months after that to learn that my cancer is possibly back. On November 29th I learned that my MRI showed a few lesions on my liver. It’s still so strange. In July I thought I closed this chapter of my life. I didn’t realize the sequel was being written… as I sit in Philadelphia anxiously waiting to see my oncologist in the morning for a biopsy, test, and discuss treatment options. I’ve decided to continue my blog.. so coming soon to your mobile device Cupcake v Cancer, chapter 2. Come read the highs, lows, and comedies in between! This blog will be featuring how I will manage my treatments, teaching, and traveling in between.

5 Year Mile Marker!

Today marks 5 years! In my five-year treatment program since being diagnosed July 1, 2013 with ocular melanoma. I’ve now reached the five-year mark, and my oncologist has declared me cancer-free!

And now I start to adjust.. I release all the anxiety, stress, anger, and depression that has been carried around for the past 5 years. However, whenever I was first diagnosed all I wanted was to have my “normal” life back. I need to make it clear that having our old life is not always possible and I need to adapt … so I am considering this new lease on life an opportunity to recreate a new, exciting life after cancer.
• • • Thank you Caitlyn 
for my shirt 💙🖤💙• • •

#TheNextChapter #OfficiallyCancerFree #OcularMelanoma

 

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Laser treatment #2 ✔️

I had a laser treatment today to stop the hemorrhaging in they eye, for the past 5 months I was receiving an avastin injection to the eye. The next stop was the laser. I am now at home resting waiting for some pain meds to kick in… So today didn’t go as I wanted the Valium they gave me didn’t really kick in, so unfortunately I felt all 5 of the shots that they gave me in between my cheek bone and eye socket. Probably the worse pain I have ever felt, but the laser wasn’t bad! Now I am home resting with the best puppy nurse around! Thanks for all the prayers! #OcularMelanoma #CancerSucks #CupcakeVCancer