Monday, June 11, 2007

This is a story all about how...

... my life got flipped turned upside down...-- Fresh Prince of Bel Air Theme Song

So... You may be asking yourself, who is this person? Whats her story? Why is she blogging? Why should we care? etc, etc, etc. This is my attempt at answering such questions.

The Personal Spiel:

I am one the millions of 20somethings that currently exist in the world today. I am also one of the ones in that number divided in half that is female. I am quite proud to write that I am fairly well educated, having just spent the last 21 years in school. The last 8 of which were spent at the University of Pittsburgh, where I got a B.A. in Political Science and History (economic minor), my M.A. in Public and International Affairs, and my J.D. (Law). [If anyone out there is hiring,please let me know] I am currently living back at home in Virginia Beach, studying for the Bar Exam and job searching. I am a travel junkie, having lived in 7 countries, and roamed around a total of 43 all together. Otherwise, I'm pretty "normal"... I have friends; I'm an only child; I love scuba diving and playing volleyball; I can't spell to save my life; and, I love the beach.

The Cancer Spiel(just the basic time line, details left for blog posts):
Back when I was 21 I was all minding my own business, living my life, and working on plans to change the world via friendly takeover, when quite suddenly everything got flipped around. There was a massive lump on my neck. Next thing I know, my senior year was abruptly interrupted by, ultrasounds, blood work, and surgery. In March 2005, I had a total thyroidectomy, along with lymphnodes removed (due to the moving process, I have no idea where any of my paperwork is on numbers, sizes, etc... when I finally settle in again in about another year, I'll update this section). During surgery, a vocal nerve was nicked, paralyzing it. I did the full withdraw and low iodine diet starting the week of my graduation in May 2005.

In January 2006, I had a lypo injection surgery on my vocal nerve so that I could have a real voice again. In February or March, I was told that I had had recurrence. I started prepping for another large dose of I-131 during my last week of exams) and had a neck dissection on the left side of my neck in May 2006. I did the full round of radiation in June. The next year, I appeared to be in the clear. Still had to go radioactive, but only to do a full body scan; I believe they used thyrogen shots this time around. Things changed in the spring of 2008 w/ blood work, and a pet/ct that showed something was in my neck. Too small to do surgery on, so they decided to radioactive dosimetry. Then changed their minds at the last minute about giving me the maximum radiation I could have, out of fear that I may need it again, and instead pumped me w/ 222 milicurries of I-131.

2008/9 has been full of tests, scans and blood work. In the fall, I was told everything looked the way it should. In December 2008, I had tear duct surgery to fix a tear duct that was essentially dried out and collapsed due to the radiation. On February 16, I was told that my cancer markers were in fact, positive. An ultrasound indicated there was once again, something small in my neck... smaller than last year but still there. An MRI confirmed this. My doctors believe that I am now resistant to the I-131, and may have never been actually cancer free since my diagnosis.

Rather than treatment at this point, I just have to be monitored. My doctor told me it may be likely that I will always have positive cancer markers; I will always have cancer. And so, I've sort of just embraced this fact, and really jumped into the cancer culture, and advocacy, and society that has been building throughout the world. I believe in young adult cancer advocacy and networking and socializing. I believe in raising the quality of life for young adults with cancer, and using money and efforts to do such things. And I believe in finding cures, because after a while, treatment just doesn't cut it anymore.

And that's my story. Life goes on.