Sunday, March 17, 2013

Lucky Life List: Thirty Three

Today I turn 33.

It is by far the most uneventful birthday ever...and I'm actually pretty grateful for that fact!

The weekend has been pretty quiet and I have dinner with good friends scheduled for later tonight. But I wanted to take a moment to list some things that I am grateful for today.

33 Things to be exact.

So, here we go:

1. My family - we are far flung and only see each other a couple times a year. But nontheless, they are mine and I love them all dearly.

2. My girls - Melanie, Alida, Jill - I am my best self when I am with you three. I love you!

3. My bonus families - specifically the Christians and the Thanepohns. I am so very very luck to have extra Moms, Dads, sisters, not to mention extra nieces and nephews!

4. All of the other wonderful people that make up my "best friend tier". People that fill in all those wonderful niches in my life. You make me more well rounded - and occasionally validate my crazy.  ;)

5. My Godkiddos - Ava and Noah. I couldn't love you more if you were my own.

6. My job - I'm sorry to anyone who doesn't love what they are doing every day. Its exhausting and frustrating and sometimes I shake my head at the insanity. But I can't imagine doing anything else.

7. My team - I work with the best people ever. From my supervisor to the staff I supervise. I just wouldn't want to do it without you guys.

8. My home - I've officially lived in my little apartment longer than anywhere since high school. And it is truly a home. I love coming back to it every night.

9. My puppies - crazy, cuddly, my constant companions.

10. My health - it seems a little strange that I got to number 10 without mentioning it given this last year. But in truth, what good is health if you don't have something to live for? I have so much!

11. My medical team - who would have guessed that a girl who didn't even HAVE a primary doctor two years ago would have a whole team to thank? A mixed blessing, but a blessing nontheless!

12. My fellow survivors - I'm so very grateful for those women for reaching out to me. Kathleen and Lorelei - this means you!

13. My church - its been a long time since I had a home church (this is what happens when you move yearly). But I am very grateful for the community I have here.

14. Old friends - I might as well just say I'm thankful for Facebook! Its brought many old friends back into my life and I am so very grateful!

Ok, that was all the serious stuff - here are the rest of the things that I'm grateful for, its the little things right?

15. My camera - I love capturing memories and moments.

16. Books - I wish I had more time to read!

17. Running - I can't even believe I just wrote that one. But its true. I love it. (And I still kinda hate it.)

18. My car - I know, kinda lame. But its taken me so many places, mostly to visit loved ones. So, I am very grateful for it!

19. Good food - having been a picky eater for my first 23 years of life was such a waste! And now that I'm actually learning to make it for myself, the possiblities of yummy and healthy food are endless.

20. Blogs and Twitter - remember when you only knew people you had met? I'm so glad those days are over...

21. Spring - it is coming right? Soon? And then Summer?

22. Netflix - I got rid of cable recently and discovered that I don't need new TV shows, because all my old favorites are right at my fingertips!

23. Pinterest - can you tell I love social media?

24. Soda - I gave it up for Lent. I really miss it right now. I know people claim that once they give it up, they don't crave it anymore. They are liars.

25. Sleep - oh how I love sleep.

26. Movies - seen any good ones lately?

27. Music - I love singing along in my car...and also occasionally in the shower.

28. Lazy weekends - just hanging out with my dogs, maybe lunch with a friend, cleaning my apartment. I love a good lazy weekend.

29. Coconut Oil and Baking soda - I'll explain more later, but remember how the Dad in My Big Fat Greek Wedding was about Windex? That's me and Coconut oil and/or Baking soda. Its the solution to everything.

30. My cell phone. Everyone and everything I need in the palm of my hand. ;)

31. Chicago - best city ever.

32. Sangria - I'm totally having some with my birthday dinner tonight.

33.  Anticipation - I'm so excited for what is to come. I think 33 is going to be my best year yet!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

New Study on OVCA

In the last week I've seen a number of articles and the news clip below posted on twitter and other sites. Apparently someone is finally taking notice of the fact that many women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer are not getting the care they deserve.

According to a New York Times report, only about a third of women who are diagnosed are recieveing treatment from a specialist and are only seen by general surgeons who are not experienced in treating ovarian cancer.

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Its also interesting to me that this study focused on women who are diagnosed with advanced stages, and how not getting aggressive treatment is reducing their chance at survival. But for me, it was exactly the opposite. My original doctor wanted to treat me aggressively - hysterectomy, chemotherapy, etc. All of that without even knowing how extensive my cancer was already!

But when I got to a specialist, the fantastic Dr. R, he knew immediately that it wasn't the appropriate treatment for me. I suspect he knew pretty early on that my cancer wasn't likely to be advanced - but of course he couldn't actually tell me that until he knew for sure. He also understood, before I ever mentioned it, that having a hysterectomy wasn't the best course of treatment. Even though it might be the "safest", I'm forever grateful that he wasn't just thinking about my survival. He was considering my actual quality of life. He knew that at 31, with no kids, that having a hysterectomy would have been devestating. Especially if they learned afterwards that the cancer had not spread.

He has always been very honest and forthright that if it ever IS found to have spread, those organs will have to come out. But he wasn't going to jump to conclusions based on what is "usual" in ovarian cancer. He has seen enough cases to know that each woman, and each cancer is different. This was obviously something that my first doctor lacked - she based her treatment recommendations on what is "typical". She assumed my cancer would be advanced and that being aggressive was the way to go. Oh how glad I am that she was wrong and I didn't have to find out the hard way.

I was also struck by a quote from the study, that echoed something I'd heard another survivor say at a recent meeting with my local chapter of the NOCC.

"If this was breast cancer, and two-thirds of women were not getting guideline care that improves survival, you know what kind of hue and cry there would be,” said Dr. Armstrong, who was not involved in the study. But in ovarian cancer, she said: “There’s not as big an advocacy community. The women are a little older, sicker and less prone to be activists.”

I've struggled with how best to advocate for the ovarian cancer cause. Part of me wants nothing to do with it honestly! I mean, I didn't exactly sign up voluntarily to be part of this group, did I? But after my initial experience, I've been trying to figure out how to reach out to women who are like me. Young, diagnosed in early stages, the ones who don't fit to usual "type" of woman with ovarian cancer.

So, I've started with the NOCC 5K - awareness is obviously very important! The more people who know the symptoms, the more women who might be diagnosed early. And if more women get the right treatment, hopefully those terrifying survival statistics will change. It's not the end all be all, but everyone has to start somewhere.

Thanks again to everyone who has donated or signed up to walk/run with me. (Click the link above if you still want to donate!) I'm so excited to celebrate how far I've come and how lucky blessed I have been.