Can-Sur-Thrive No. 2

Welcome to a segment in my blog where I’ll share podcasts, books, videos, products, etc. that (I feel) help me not just survive, but thrive along this crazy road called life.

Charged: The Eduardo Garcia Story
Feeling sorry for yourself or having a bad day, week month or year? Then you need to watch this documentary (available on iTunes, Google Play, YouTube or Amazon). ‘Charged’ tells the story of Eduardo Garcia who was electrocuted while hiking in 2011. I don’t want to spoil the film, but what the trailer below doesn’t reveal is that while recovering from being electrocuted, he was also diagnosed with cancer. So, yeah, talk about a rough go of it. Instead of wallowing and playing the victim (which no one would’ve blamed him for), he chose to do the opposite and live his best life. After watching this, it made me wanna get up and go do something. I’m also proud to share that he’s a fellow First Descents surfing alumni. And if you’re like me and can’t get enough of Eduardo, listen to him on Lance Armstrong’s Forward podcast here.

Emily McDowell cards and gifts
The perfect gift or card for someone who needs some love, but who rolls their eyes at Shakespearean sonnets, Bible passages or cliche-y-isms. I am putting several stamps of approval on Emily McDowell cards. Here is a sampling of my favorites:

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10 Regrets Too Many People Will Have in 10 Years by Marc Chernoff
I don’t know where I came across this listicle, but I saved it because it was too good not to share. You should definitely read it all, but here are the highlights:

  1. Not spending enough quality time with the right people.
  2. Not expressing your love openly and honestly with those you love.
  3. Basing a significant portion of your self-worth on other people’s opinions of you.
  4. Being too busy impressing others and forgetting about what matters to YOU.
  5. Letting uncertainty paralyse you.
  6. Focusing on failures instead of opportunities.
  7. Holding on too tight to every ideal, and then missing out on real opportunities.
  8. Playing the victim for far too long.
  9. Waiting, over analyzing, and never taking the necessary steps.
  10. Being too busy to appreciate your life.

‘Friends From College’ on Netflix
If laughter is good medicine, then ‘Friends From College’ must be the cure to cancer. It has been so long since I laughed this hard at a TV show. And just when I thought my love of Fred Savage couldn’t possibly be greater than seeing him in ‘The Wonder Years’, Friends From College made him a gay, literary agent. Swoon! There was one episode in particular (No. 5, Party Bus) that reminds me of my friends and I so much that I wondering if one of them is ghost writing the show. Anyway, if you are a 30- or 40-something, I must insist that you watch this show. I’ll wait…

89446bfb227738793bc03c7488a21fac--headspace-app-appsHeadspace App
I seriously struggle with my meditation practice. I know I should do it and that it’s good for me, but still, I always find a way to talk myself out of it. Headspace has given me some consistency. The app gives ten days of ten minute meditations for free and offers a paid upgrade to access packs addressing anxiety, stress, sleep and cancer. You may even want to check with your hospital’s patient services department, support group or a non-profit you support since they may provide a free one year subscription. I got mine through First Descents.

Previous Can-Sur-Thrives:
No. 1
Mitch Albom: The Dying Know the Secrets to a Good Life, Super Soul Podcast
Tony Robbins: Overcome Suffering and Live in a Beautiful State, Super Soul Podcast
Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
Soul Analyse
What Really Matters at the End of Life, TED Talk by BJ Miller

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PRRT Diary #3: Magic

My blog has been quiet lately. I’ve been working on other projects and enjoying fall, which I haven’t been able to do in years because of surgeries. The fun, productive days sailed by and before I could get my fill of pumpkin spice everything, it was time for my 3rd Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy (PRRT).

My pre-tests revealed normal blood counts, a falling tumor marker and no need for short acting octreotide injections. Smiles all around. Therefore, the husband and I decided a weekend of fun was in order before a week of not-fun.

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IDK, but I hardly look like a cancer patient, no?

With a late arrival in Austin, followed by a long night of sleep, we ventured downtown Saturday morning for breakfast, a walk to the Texas State capitol and a city Duck Tour. Disclaimer: we’ve never done one of these cheesey tours and I can say with 200% certainty that we never will again. OMG – it was awful. First, it was so damn cold. Second, we didn’t learn anything about the city. Third, the guide’s jokes were not funny. Fourth, they gave everyone duck kazoos, including the kid behind me who has permanently impacted my ability to hear from my left ear. Lesson learned. Newly impaired hearing aside, afterwards, we hit up a local recommended food truck (Torchys) for tacos and they did not disappoint. In fact, I think they were the best I’ve ever had and I am serious AF about tacos. The rest of the day was spent walking around South Congress and 6th Street enjoying the Halloween costumes.

Sunday was warmer and a picture perfect fall day. We rented bikes and rode around the city for hours stopping only for an hour long kayak adventure on Lady Bird Lake. In the evening we ventured outside our comfort zone to a Haunted House, which was good fun.

The following morning we took the Megabus to Houston – queue the jeers and boos.

Early Tuesday I reported to Excel Diagnostics for a full poking (port access), scanning (MRI, PET and Chest CT) and starvation test (I think exit pizza should be legally mandated if you’re forced to fast for anything over 4 hours). I even had to return Wednesday morning for a renal test.

I have to be honest – I was kind of a basket case. These tests were more lengthy than usual because my doctors thought we should do a halfway check-in. While I waited for the results my mind filled with all the worst case scenarios. Fortunately, my husband is very good at talking me off the ledge. But still, scanxiety is a real, tangible thing, people.

Wednesday afternoon we returned for the results. And with much excitement, my doctors shared that I’m tracking at 20% shrinkage. BUT, I re-did their math and it’s actually 22%, so I’m taking the Goddamn extra 2%.

Let me emphasize something, because I understand why some of you might not be impressed with 22% at the half way point – THIS IS HUGE. Medicine has never done anything but stabilize me in the past. Surgery has always been most effective on me, so it feels incredible to have found something that works and doesn’t result in cutting me open.

Later Wednesday night, the Houston Astros won the World Series, so it is with 300% certainty that I say there was some special magic floating around Houston and I am so grateful to have received some of it.

But, the celebration was fizzled because Thursday I still had to be infused and thank God some of that magic from Wednesday carried over because, finally, I avoided nausea and vomiting from the amino acids they give me to protect my kidneys.

Friday, I was back at Excel for a quick scan to reveal the medicine was in place and we headed home to Nashville that afternoon.

The only negative thing that came out of Houston this visit was a cold my husband and I both picked up during our travels. Fortunately, it wasn’t too bad. We pretty much spent the weekend watching Netflix on the couch, ordering take-out, which is probably what we would’ve done anyway.

Once Monday rolled around, we were both feeling better and the only agenda item for the day was a trip to Vanderbilt University Medical Center for my Lanreotide. I’ll admit, I was pretty tired on Monday, but in a psychic stroke of genius I planned my appointment for 6pm, which allowed me to avoid traffic, wait times and rising early, which is no bueno for me. Each day I woke up with more energy and by Thursday, I was fully back to the land of the living. So much that Friday, I went hang gliding for World NETs Day. Read about that here.

Even better, I am officially free from cancer treatment until the 2nd week of January and we are off for fun in the sun and a European holiday.

Ciao!

World NETs Day

Friday, November 10th is World Neuroendocrine Tumor (NET) Awareness Day, where those impacted by the disease take to the streets, cafes, medical facilities and, most of all, social media to raise awareness about a relatively unknown disease with an increasingly high incidence rate.

Last year, I attended a luncheon hosted by the Healing NET Foundation featuring a popular specialist, Dr. Eric Liu. Up until that point, I had only met one other person in real life with the same disease, so it was pretty neat to be in a whole room of fellow zebras*. While there, I quickly noted that myself and another girl were the youngest people in attendance, so naturally, we gravitated together and exchanged info.

Let’s just call her, “That Girl”.

Over the past year, we’ve gone on regular lunch dates and supported each other through trying times, both cancer and not cancer related. While our “cases” are completely different we share similar mindsets, aches and pains. BUT, we also have a lot of fun and are both willing to yell “YES” to things outside our comfort zone.  For example, at our first lunch, I also told her about First Descents, a group that takes young adult cancer survivors on adventure trips. The next time I saw her, she was signed up to spend a week whitewater kayaking with organization. And not only did she embrace kayaking like a badass, but she returned from the week to face some hard, life changing decisions. She’s a fellow dream chaser, giver of zero fucks and is pretty darn inspiring.

NET Cancer Day is technically our anniversary, I figured we should do more than lunch. Plus, since we are both First Descent Alumni, we needed to fulfill the “Outliving It” motto. So, with “That Girl’s” signed permission slip of, “if you do it, I will too,” I planned our day, which was a surprise to her until she showed up at my house Friday morning….to go hang gliding.

We drove two hours away to Chattanooga, talking, excited, nervous and not knowing what to expect. Upon arrival, we were both relieved I didn’t buy the “run and jump off a mountain” package. Instead a plane pulled the glider from the ground. It was a cold, but beautiful, clear day and we were lucky enough to catch the last weekend of gorgeous fall colors as we sailed through the sky from 2000 ft. above Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama. It was a lot of fun and I would love to do it again.

After a lunch of laughs, sandwiches and hot soup, we walked around downtown Chattanooga enjoying the sunshine and city before making a last stop at Pointe Park to watch the sun slide behind the mountain. With both of us content and exhausted, the two hour drive home went fast thanks to podcasts, gummy bears and one of the most gorgeous sunsets I can remember.

I hate that I even know NET Cancer Day exists, but love that I got to spend an absolutely perfect day with That Girl. We’re already planning for November 10th, 2018.

*Why zebras? “When you hear hoofbeats, sometimes it’s a zebra and not a horse.” The NET Cancer community has adopted this animal as a mascot and international symbol, because in the medical community it is universally used to reference a rare disease or condition. As a personal disclaimer, I dislike the reference but can’t quite articulate why…

To learn more about Neuroendocrine Tumors (NETs) visit www.carcinoid.org.