Happy New Year

4 Jan

Happy 2011!  I’ve taken a little break from blogging to enjoy the holidays with the family.  After spending a relaxing Christmas with Mom visiting in Las Vegas, Nick and I ventured to St. Louis for a belated Akerberg Christmas and for the beautiful New Year’s wedding of our friends Andrew and Angela.

Needless to say, 2010 has been a year unlike any other.  It began with energy and enthusiasm – wedding planning was well underway and in addition to my full time job I was teaching three college classes with 85 students.  Soon after my classes had finished – and 82 days prior to my wedding day – I received my diagnosis of cancer.  Since then I’ve:

  • Spent 100s of hours in doctors’ offices
  • Endured 28 sessions of radiation
  • Undergone 7 rounds of chemotherapy
  • Harvested my eggs to make 10 frozen embryos
  • Had 3 colonoscopies and 1 surgery
  • Spent 24 days in the hospital (across two visits)
  • Become a VIP customer at Walgreen’s filling a record number of prescriptions

…And it’s not over yet.  There’s been some medical progress since I last posted – I finally had the drain in my butt cheek removed five days before Christmas…needless to say it certainly was a Merry Christmas after that happened.  However, as seems to be the trend, with progress comes other setbacks.  After having the drain removed, the only apparatus I’m currently sporting is my ilieostemy bag, and up until recently it has given me no problems.  That is until last week.

I was very excited to start working full days in the office, and I’ve even managed to put together some bag-friendly work outfits!  Last Tuesday I was sitting at my desk in my nice cream colored wool dress pants.  Around 11:30 I looked down only to see my bag had started to leak…ugh!  Not knowing whether to cry or laugh, I ran down the hallway to explain the situation to my amazing and incredibly understanding boss.  Within minutes I was in my car and racing down the highway to get home.  This was one time that I wasn’t really concerned about getting a speeding ticket; I was pretty confident that I had a good reason, and was sure any officer would let me off the hook at the sight of fecal matter making its way through the front of my pants as I handed them my license and registration.  Fortunately it was a non-issue and I made it home in record time.  But the drama doesn’t end there.  Fast-forward to New Year’s Eve.  We were with the Akerberg’s at the elegant Chase Park Plaza, dressed to the nines and enjoying a midnight cocktail when all of a sudden I knew I had sprung another leak.  What a way to ring in the New Year.  Nick’s mom, Nora, rushed me back to the house and assisted as I cleaned up and changed my bag.  This is by no means a glamorous process and she was the ultimate trooper!  And if that wasn’t enough, I experienced a third leak while waiting for a delayed flight in the Memphis airport on our way back to Las Vegas…not a fun flight home.  Nick continues to joke that I’m dealing with my own wiki-leaks drama!

So what’s next?  This week I go in for another imaging test to see if the new ends of my colon and rectum have fully attached together and made a secure connection.  They do this by injecting a liquid dye into the area.  If it shows up outside of the colon, it means there is a leak and more time is required to heal.  Fingers crossed there is no leak, which means I’m ready for the reversal surgery where my surgeon will tuck my protruding ileum (small bowel) back into my stomach.  End result?  Normal bowel movements and no more bags.  After all, the only bag a woman should sport is on her shoulder!

In the mean time, I’ve decided to start 2011 off with the same enthusiasm and vigor that I did 2010, in hopes that it will carry me towards a successful win over this battle with cancer.  This, however, has been much easier said than done so far as my energy levels aren’t what they used to be.  Here’s hoping that all that – and more – will be restored in this new year!

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7 Responses to “Happy New Year”

  1. Rita Hartert January 4, 2011 at 7:11 pm #

    I’m sorry you experienced those drainage issues, and hope you’ve seen the end of that. Thinking really positive for you on your tests this week. Let us know the results. Also glad you and Nick were able to get away for a few days and experience some ‘normalcy’ in your lives. You both deserve it. Love you!

  2. Suzanne Svoboda January 4, 2011 at 7:22 pm #

    Someday this all will be a distant memory. When I had my ilieostemy it leaked so many times and to top it off I developled a severe yeast infection over my entire abdominal wall which made it imposible for the adhesive to hold the bag in place. My husband had to assist me countless times with changing my bag and dressing my open abdominal wounds and as you now know there is no way of controlling what or when things flow, he was hit many times in the face and God bless him always would make a joke of it. Sounds like you have a very supportive family. Just keep your positive attitude and move forward and I will continue to keep you in my thoughts and prayers. Thank you so much for sharing your story and I will follow your progress.

  3. Stephanie Djerf January 5, 2011 at 5:42 am #

    Happy New Year to you too, Emily! I hope 2011 is YOUR year, the year to beat this and to enjoy being a cancer-free newlywed!

  4. Fabs January 6, 2011 at 3:06 pm #

    Hi Em,
    I am happy to hear that even with the issues you experienced you had a great Christmas and New years with your lovely family. I have to tell you something I did a few days ago and I thought about you. I decided to cut my hair short, really short. But, I wanted to donate my hair, so I cut 10 inches and donated to ‘’Locks of Love’’. I hope I made some little girl happy. I thought about you because you are in inspiration to me and many that know you. Anything I can do to someone that is going through such a battle I will do.
    Love Fabs.

  5. Mary Nakaki January 8, 2011 at 5:47 pm #

    Oh man! Sorry you had to have all these interruptions, but what a great mother-in-law to hang in there with you.
    You make sure you hold on to that great attitude and let Nick keep thinking up the clever jokes. The rest of us will keep praying for you girlie. We are looking forward to contributing to the Fools Five Race in April on your behalf. You’re always in my thoughts.

  6. Gloria Tri January 18, 2011 at 7:04 am #

    Emily,
    I just heard about your cancer and all you have had to endure. After reading all that you have written, I see the same spunky, determined girl that I knew in sixth grade. I am so impressed with your courage and strength of spirit. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. I truly believe that God will take care of you. Love you!

  7. Stephanie Monzon January 24, 2011 at 1:14 pm #

    Hey Emily!

    Just wanted to let you know that I think of you often and keep you in my prayers for a healthy and happy New Year. Your positive attitude is bound to beat this battle. All my best and lots of love.

    XO,
    Stephanie

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