When I named this blog, I thought A Second Go had only one meaning… It was my A Second Go at life. My second chance to do things a little bit differently and live with a better perspective than I had before. To find happiness in the little things and focus on giving back to others. Little did I know A Second Go would have a whole other meaning; it’d my ‘second go’ at fighting leukemia. I really never, ever thought this would happen but that’s the thing about life, the one thing you may think is impossible you are reminded it is definitely possible. That doesn’t always have a negative connotation either. I never thought it was possible that I would one day start my own nonprofit, that I would run for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Palm Beach chapter Women of the Year.
I never thought I would make the positive changes that I did in this last year. But I never, ever thought I’d have to battle this terrible disease one final time.
I had my scheduled six month biopsy on July 8, 2016. Nothing to be worried about, just a standard follow up procedure. The pathologist came down to say hi once I got out of anesthesia and she was just as vivacious and beautiful as I remembered, in her yellow high heeled pumps (not at all what you’d expect a pathologist to be wearing.) She said my platelets were low but that everything would be fine. Sometimes, especially after all of the chemotherapy I had been through, your counts can be thrown off. No big deal. I had a nice relaxing weekend at home to recover and cuddle with my beloved dog Bumper.
I was scheduled to follow up with my oncologist on July 27 but I had gotten my period over that weekend (TMI) and since platelets are what coagulates the blood, or clots the blood, I put a call into my doctor to make sure that I wasn’t losing too much blood. I went to his office had a standard blood draw then went back to work and would wait for a call to see what I needed to do. I said to all of my girlfriends that I wasn’t worried at all about the biopsy and only would be if I got a call to see the doctor earlier. Well, Monday afternoon, I got the call that they were fitting me in the next day but ‘only because it can be nerve-wracking to wait for the results.’ Strange because I said to my co-worker Darin, ‘oh no, they’re fitting me in’, but still didn’t think much of it. Tuesday, July 12, Mom and I waited over 2 hours for the doctor and I wasn’t even nervous. I was just chatting with other people in the waiting room, sizing everyone up per usual, and reading Mindy Kahling’s new-ish book.
Dr. Schwarzberg walked in and immediately I could tell from his face, ‘it’s not good’ I said. ‘No, it’s not good.’ The cancer had returned. Immediate tears and ‘what the fucks’. I’m not quite sure how Dr. S feels about cursing but I definitely said fuck about 72 times in our 20 minute meeting.
Sorry (I’m not sorry) if that word is offensive to anyone but there really is no other way to describe the feeling.
Last month I was having anxiety that it was coming back from some hot flashes I was getting but that fear had since gone away. I really did not expect it to return. So straight into the details we went. Although the cancer was barely showing it’s face, with leukemia it’s not how much or how bad is the cancer, it’s a mere yes or no. Leukemia spreads like wildfire so there is no delay in getting treatment (yay?).
I learned I would have to do another form of induction chemotherapy, this time it would be 5 days of a treatment called MEC which is a combination of 3 chemotherapies. Fun fact: the ‘M’ in MEC turns your pee legit blue. Pretty crazy the first time you see it. I had the option to do induction at Jupiter Medical Center again but there is this promising clinical trial called GMI-1271 being lead by Dr. DeAngelo at Dana Farber, who I had met one time before in December 2014 when I was consulted for the transplant. Since I would end up in Boston regardless as the bone marrow transplant was a non-negotiable this time around, I figured I might as well be apart of research and see what this new study has to offer! In layman’s terms, aka the only way I understand it, the clinical trial is for a drug that helps the chemotherapy target the cancer cells and helps the chemo penetrate deeper into the marrow where leukemic cells can hide out. It has no added toxicity and is basically a ‘freebie’ so I felt like I had to participate. It’s only in phase 2 and I’m only the 3rd person on this floor to have it so it is pretty exciting to be apart of research that could become standard protocol in the future.
The craziest part of the whole conversation was we were told that we need to get on the next plane to Boston. Oh, ya know, just pack up your life, leave your job and board a plane for Boston for the foreseeable future. NBD. Insert: Dropkick Murphy’s ‘I’m Shipping Off to Boston’ song on repeat in my head. Quite the catchy tune.
Mom and I both agreed we needed a little more time than that to get ourselves together so agreed to leave for Boston on Thursday. This conversation was on Tuesday. Probably not the best idea, but I went back to work after seeing the doctor, pretty hysterical, but I had to say bye to the people I’d become so close with over the last year. I think I did a decent job at not making a huge scene but who the hell knows. I shoveled everything out of my desk into a bag and went to lunch with my girl Darin. Knowing I’d be unable to eat/drink anything fresh for a while we went to Christopher’s Kitchen for a vegan meal and a good glass of wine. Saying bye to everyone was just awful. I’d been here before, I’d done this before. Why did I have to do it again? I’ll never understand.
Just as last time, everyone came to be by my side. I truly have the best friends and family. Having to go through this again is shitty but we are all old pros unfortunately. We cried, we laughed, had a little going away party where I may have over indulged and we cried some more. Side note: we had a bone marrow drive through One Blood at my going away shindig and were able to get 62 people to sign up to Be The Match!! SO incredibly proud of my community for coming out.
I’ll get more into what my first week in Boston and treatment was like in my next post. Or I may just share all of the inappropriate jokes I’ve made to various medical professionals… TBD.
I’m so extremely tired, and it’s 5am, so this has taken it out of me!!
*In the interim of posting this, I did complete an update on the Gofundme page so it may be a little redundant but also doesn’t have nearly the amount of detail so I’ll TRY to get better about crossposting and/or just being a better blogger. I’ve got all the time in the world for it now but still manage to procrastinate! What I’d say to my 7th grade english teacher, Ms. English (shit you not) who always said procrastination will catch up to me…
You can click here to read the gofundme update and/or donate to help me kick this shit again!
Much love to all! Xoxo