Go Fund Me Page

My sweet friend Lauren created a GoFundMe Page for donations to help with the never-ending medical expenses.  She is such a caring friend who first came into my life after my diagnosis. Some people decided it was too hard to continue a friendship with me. She jumped in and made an everlasting one. Full of laughter, motivation, and shopping. Thank you, Lauren, for being the sunshine on rainy days!

Supporting Summer- GofundMe

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Treatments 1 and 2 are done!

Hi friends,

It was a long January and a short February! Between the long and short month, I received my first two treatments. I had my first treatment on February 6, even though the computer randomly picks didn’t choose me for the new trial drug we are believing that God is in control and has big plans for me. I started taking IPI, Ipilimumab, aka Yervoy. The second treatment took place on February 27.  The infusion takes 90 minutes but the whole treatment its self takes about 3 hours. I receive this every 3 weeks. The side effects aren’t too bad. Nausea, body aches, fever, fatigue,  hot and cold flashes are the main ones. There was one ER visit due to chest pain and trouble breathing again. A CT Scan revealed tumors in the lining of my lungs pushing against my ribs causing the pain and discomfort. This was very painful and caused me to miss 4 days of work 😦 This second treatment has had the same side effects as the first with more stomach pains.

I think the treatment is working though. The tumors on my head have been shrinking. That is an amazing reassuring sign that we are headed in the right direction!!

The nurses and doctors in the ER and at Duke have had trouble finding my veins. We decided as a team to go ahead and put a Port-A-Cath in my chest to help everybody and prevent me from being stuck 6 times for one blood draw.

I am so thankful for all the people who have reached out with kinds words and support!

This journey seems long but kinds words and prayers are making it easier!

 

Super Summer or Doctor Summer?!?

YALL.

You can now call me Super Summer or Doctor Summer. Whichever your heart desires after reading this story.

After a pedicure and dinner with Mom and Scot, I decided to go get a smoothie. I sat in the car drinking my smoothie for about 15 minutes trying to clear my head of negative thoughts. I decided I should go home. Pulling into my neighborhood I see a swerve of car lights and quickly realize there’s something in the road I turn on my brights and realize there’s a man laying in the road. I run over to him and he starts ceasing, I roll him on his side and call 911 while another guy assisted me. I talk to 911 and monitor his breathing and prepare for compressions. Nobody else came up the road for 7 minutes.. once the fire truck and EMS get there they take over and take him to the ambulance. As I am talking to the other guy who pulled up right after me he said he saw the guy walking then fell to the ground. I told him I saw the car swerve, I thought he got hit by the car, he was informed me that there was no other car that swerved.

YALL there was an angel with me and this guy tonight. There are so many what ifs, what if I just went home after dinner, what if I went to Lindsey like I was going to, what if someone found him and didn’t know what to do, what if nobody came else down that road for another 7 minutes!

Thank God it was that moment and I was able to know what to do and how to handle the situation.

Thank god for CPR first aid courses, Greys Anatomy’s, and my endless medical shows addiction.

Cue: The Fray- How to Save a Life

23.

If you know me then you know 23 is my number. Not necessarily my lucky number, it’s just my number. I see it everywhere I go. It’s in my address, my month and day of my birth (9+14), and other weird little things. Growing up I would always find 23 in the world and relate it back to me somehow. I would count and manipulate numbers until I got to 23. Was it a fun past time or a creepy obsession? You can pick!

Anywho today, on January 23, I go back to Duke to have scans, doctors appointments, and more bloodwork done before my first treatment on the 6th. I have been feeling very anxious about this appointment I feel like I find a new tumor on my body once a week, that’s only what I can feel, I am scared to know what lies beneath the skin and tissue.

However, today I had all my anxiety disappear. With the help of a friend and the number 23.

The story started yesterday, I was staying late at school to prepare for my sub teacher. A dear friend was in my classroom helping me staple all of the work together and organize it. She got up to leave, then all of the sudden one of my student laptops started playing music. ** Side note: the kids shut down and close the computers everyday before they leave**

We both freeze and look at the closed computers and get a tad freaked out. Then the music stops. I know that music, it’s from a math game the kids play called Prodigy… Just remember the name Prodigy. I finish up at school and go home. I crawl in bed after an exhausting day, my phone is charging on the nightstand beside me. Laying face down in the pillows I hear my phone start playing a show, the words that were said was ”this is your destiny”. I froze and looked my phone quickly grabbed it, and closed all my apps trying to find the noise and stop it… That was the extra sprinkle of creepy, that I needed to realize someone was trying to comfort me.

But who!?!?!

This morning I sat at the kitchen table telling my mom about the 2 events from last night.

And then realized this was the time of year that Meredith got really sick and was put into hospice. I googled her name to read an article or two.

Immediately saw that on January 23, 2014 Meredith was told she only had a month left to live.

5 years apart we are both going to the doctors. Both anxious, however Meredith has made her way back to show me not to be anxious.

In my overly positive mind this is what I have taken from Merediths signs. Meredith was trying to tell me its different now and to stop comparing my diagnosis to hers.

It’s 5 years later, 5 years of new medicine, 5 years of new medical opportunities, 5 years with our awesome doctors, and 5 years to a longer survival rate.

Today 23 is in my favor. Below is the article for Meredith. I love this article and the way it’s written.

https://goheels.com/news/2014/2/24/209415803.aspx

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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