Currently I’m in the waiting room “sipping” my banana barium solution for my third CT scan. The good news is, they were able to schedule my scan for the morning, which means I don’t have to die of thirst or starvation this time. I mean, I still haven’t had anything to eat or drink yet today but it’s only coffee and breakfast. I’m merely postponing it. I’ll pretend I’m having a disgusting banana chalk chemical smoothie for breakfast instead. I checked in, got my patient ID band, signed the consent forms, and now I’m waiting. The Price is Right is blaring on the TV in the corner of the room. The artwork on the walls is multicultural and obnoxious. But I can tune that all out.Yum. Contrast.

I’m kind of excited. What will my scans show? In my mind these are turning point scans. They have the potential to show that the masses in my liver are small enough to be taken out and next stop is to schedule a follow up appointment with the surgeon to see what he thinks about them.

I’ve met the initial goal of three months of chemo. Because of avastin, the fifth chemo drug they added three rounds ago, I’m going in Tuesday, January 2nd, to start the new year right with my seventh round of chemo. After that, depending on what the scans and surgeons say, I might get a break to let my body recover for surgery.

I’m sick of chemo. My head is still ready to take it on but I’m finding my body is over it! I get these involuntary visceral reactions like Pavlov’s dogs. I was watching a movie with a hospital scene where the character was dancing with an IV pole and I got super nauseous. When I think about chemo I get nauseous. When I think about my doctors office I get nauseous. The nausea this last time felt worse, more constant and harder to control with my medications. Chemo is like a flu with a hangover that doesn’t get better as the day goes on, in fact, it gets worse and even more, it gets worse as the week goes on. My mind is like, “Let’s do this! Beat this cancer!! Whatever it takes we’re down!” And my body is like “Wait. Wait. Give me a minute. Wait. I just remembered we don’t want this.” Kinda like when you get a pedicure and they’re scrubbing the bottom of your feet and you have your leg stretched out for them but at the same time your pulling away, almost involuntarily, from the tickling pressure. I hate visceral irrational reactions to things. I want to tell my body to get a grip but then my heart feels so sorry for me and I get an emotional dread. My heart says “Oh Im so sorry! Things in your life are supposed to be so different! How disappointing and sad this is! Let’s just cry.” It’s like my mind alone understands what needs to be done here and my heart and body are teaming up against it. Every week my body and my heart get stronger and louder. This is an example of where being stubborn is a good quality. Not to mention the three years of crossfit training my mind to push past my perceived limits and push my body to do more than it feels it’s able. (Ugh I love CrossFit!!) Mindset is huge but I’m convinced it’s people’s prayers that keep me strong and able to stand against how I “feel”.

Faith is tough. My definition of faith is taking as fact that which is unperceived by the senses. Also know as, believing the invisible is as real as the visible, and believing in things that are even contradicted by what we see, touch, taste, smell, hear and feel. That takes mindset!

Currently the facts are these:

-My tumor markers are maybe somewhere below 100 (the last lab draw before my last round of chemo they were at 110). The surgeon said he wouldn’t even consider surgery for me till it was below 50.

-The masses in my liver are too big to be surgically resected and will most likely require a two staged surgery to prevent me from liver failure and death.

Where I’m challenged is to stand in faith on some things I feel are true despite the current facts. I’m believing my scans will say things are ready for surgery. I’m believing that my tumor markers will be within range for the surgeon to say I’m ready for surgery. I’m believing I’ll have one surgery, not two, in mid to late February (even though part of me wants two surgeries cause that’s way more badass). The thing that’s scary is that faith requires hope, and where there’s hope there’s room for disappointment. I hate disappointment. I structure a lot of things in my life to prevent disappointment. I’ve looked at treatment of this cancer as work to be done. There is no disappointment in work, it’s just a measured effort. But to hope for, even bank on, things outside of my control, placing my heart in a position to be disappointed is scary. Even more, to not just believe these things in my secret heart but put them out there where other people can see my disappointment is scary for me.

These are things that tune out bad artwork and “The Price is Right” and banana chalk chemical smoothie. These are things bigger than me and I’m so glad I am surrounded by people who hold me up in prayer and hope with me.


Currently, very few things in my life are regular. The main exception is my new life’s rhythm of chemo, recover, chemo, recover… you get the idea. I love being prepared for things and anticipating and ready for what’s next. Now I get to be prepared to be unprepared and be ready for absolutely anything. It doesn’t really work out well. I don’t really have the most energy for that and certainly don’t have any reserves to tap into. But I’m adjusting. As this whole chemo thing continues to repeat itself I’m getting used to the constant nausea and lightheaded fatigue. I’m creeping closer and closer to what I call normal. Not missing work or dinners or coffees or parties or weddings, because what’s the worst that could happen? Let’s just see how tired I get, and let’s see how crampy my intestines get, and let’s see how exhausted I am at the end of the day, or how hard it is to wake up in the morning. I just have to stay in a functional zone. I’m learning.Chemo day four Christmas party

The previous two rounds of chemo were challenging because they took the one regular thing of chemo, Mondays, and mixed that up on me too. Tuesday for round four and Wednesday for round five. This is tough because it screws up my projected “how I’m going to feel” meter. Normally I start crawling out of my chemo hole on Friday, day five, then progressively feel better and can tolerate more activity by the weekend. Well thanksgiving week I got it on Tuesday so instead of feeling great for that Saturdays wedding it was only day five and I was just beginning to feel better. Turns out mind over matter kinda works and I get a second wind if I push myself hard enough. (I think… I don’t really want to put that to the test or bank on a second wind as a normal occurrence though.) The following round of chemo wasn’t given to me till Wednesday and I had Christmas parties to go to on day four and lots of people I needed to see on day five so I just pretended it was a normal weekend and pushed through. It was ok. My body is doing ok!

A lot of the effects of chemo are cumulative, meaning the more chemo you get the more side effects you experience. For example I’m starting to get tingling in my hands and feet. But overall I would say I’m recovering better instead of worse. My work week was pretty exhausting without those two extra recovery days.

I’m now six rounds into chemo. The plan is to repeat my CT scan in two weeks then see what the surgeons think. My tumor markers have continued to go down, from 193 to 140 to 120 to 110. I started yet another chemo med, three rounds ago, so I’m getting five chemo drugs now. If I didn’t recover so well I’d say they were hammering my body to a pulp with all this chemo. But I am recovering well. My creatinine is great, I’m hydrating enough. My LFT are still within normal limits, my liver is still functioning normally, (hello holiday cocktails). My WBCs are staying within normal to low limits so I’m not getting sick and I’m still able to work and go to the gym.

Workouts have been frustrating. When I first started treatment it was “don’t make yourself too tired”. Now it’s “let’s go slow and see if I can still get through the workout”. My body generally quits before my mind, so my mental toughness is useless. By quit, I mean I almost pass out, it’s not something I can push through, but I still try anyway. I’ve shifted a lot of my workouts and training to Olympic weightlifting instead of workouts with intensity. It’s easier to rest between sets and I feel like even if I’m getting weaker I can still get my technique better.

I’m still mentally in a good place. I’m clinging to hope and focusing on the work to be done now, not drifting into fearful thoughts. For those of you that like to read the Bible I’ve been hanging out in Isaiah 45, especially verses 2-3, but the whole chapter has lots of interesting things to wrestle with. I was inspired to check it out after reading a passage in Streams in the Desert. I mean, He’s mysterious and powerful and so so much bigger than we ever admit to ourselves. I think if I’d have been challenged to conceptualize how powerful and mysterious and big He really is before this, it would have made me uncomfortable. But just now, it’s very comforting to think about.

I have started dreading chemo. Initially I was geared up to take it on but it’s wearing me down. It’s been a war with the pity party every time lately! This is where the people I have been surrounded with are so clutch! I still feel like I’m being held, in a bubble anchored to the side of that cliff that drops into that fearful abyss, by prayers. It’s as though just when things start to drift towards dismal I’m buoyed up amazing people or situations or beverages or a heavy barbell. I get to go out for pre chemo margaritas with my friends. I get to lift heavy weights. Realistically, I’m in super good shape going down the road ahead.