One week

It’s hard to believe how much has happened and how much we accomplished in such a short amount of time. 

Wednesday, February 15th, I was told it was time. I had fought a good fight, but I’m not the problem, the medical knowledge just isn’t there yet. I’ve had tumors related to the Leukemia growing in random places under my skin, but we have hope because there was still no cancer in my bones. Once it was back in the bones, it was just too aggressive. My counts were doubling every day, but we were going to try to control them, to give me the longest possible time here. 

I take these chemo pills that are keeping my white blood cells and cancer cells down, but it’s also making me need a lot of blood product transfusions.

February 15th…..I was told to get my affairs in order. I don’t have time to waste anymore, so I started planning a wedding to my soul mate. We picked the closest possible date to ensure that I’m still feeling well and able to really enjoy myself. 

So many people have come together for me, but I’m also absolutely not surprised. The generosity that’s been shown to us throughout this entire journey has been overwhelming. I don’t know if I would just survived as long as I have without the amazing support team I’ve had along the way. 

We received so many generous donations that I feel like I’m going to have the wedding of the decade. There’s literally nothing for me to worry about any more, and that makes me a very happy girl. Tonight, I had two of my friends come over and I basically went over everything with them, and they’re going to take care of the rest for me so that I can relax and enjoy the next few days. 

Especially since my NJ family and friends are going to by arriving in the next coming days and it’s very important for me to spend time with them. 

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Do you want to rest? Or do you have more fight in you?

In my last blog post, I told you about the inpatient Chemotherapy I was going to do. November 13th, Paul and I drove up to Kansas City to do my chemo session. I  did three doses every other days. Something that they’ve never done before, instead of waiting for my counts to go up to be released, they actually decided to release me to the Hope Lodge.

My parents came down a week or two after that. I had intended to cook Thanksgiving dinner this year for Paul’s family and my family if they wanted to come. Hope Lodge ended up having breakfast for us and a really nice Thanksgiving dinner. I was really impressed and the food was soooo good. It almost tasted as good as if I was eating at home. Eventually my dad left, and my mom stayed. She was going to stay with me until we had the all clear I was in remission.

Unfortunately this chemo never brought me into remission. One of the days I was at the clinic. I was feeling really tired and I had a fever when I went to the clinic. They immediately did cultures on me and sent me over to the hospital. I can’t stress how sick I was at this point. They ended up finding that I had MRSA in my blood but they had  caught it early enough that it wasn’t going to an issue. The issue was my white blood cells were at 100 percent blasts (cancer cells). If my body wasn’t responding to chemotherapy anymore, there isn’t much more they can do. They said if they sent me home, I wouldn’t even have three weeks to live.

My mom was in Joplin, waiting for us to go home, came back up to the city and Paul called my dad because we didn’t know how much time I would have. Before I knew it, my mom, dad, Chastity, Amanda, and little Autumn was here.

One of the mornings when I was up and starting to feel better, the doctors came in. This was a particular doctor I’ve never met before, but I trust my team so I had no reason not to trust her.She asked me if I wanted to rest, or if I wanted to keep fighting.

I’m 26 years old. OF COURSE, I want to keep fighting. I’m too young to die. They informed me that there was an option for people who basically had no other options left. It was a drug called Mylotarg. Apparently it didn’t prove safer than chemo so it was pulled from clinical trials. Recently they’ve opened it up that you can try it if you have no other options left.

 

And this is where I leave you tonight.

 

My Aunt Barbie

My Aunt Barbie

Well, I’ve had an interesting couple of weeks to say the least.

September 21st I had planned to travel to Metropolis to visit my aunt. The day before I was leaving she called me to tell me she really needed me there. She sounded fine, so I didn’t think much of it. I took my time getting there, little did I know, It was almost the end for her.

That night I got there and visited with her, she woke right up and talked to me for an hour or so, they said she had been sleeping most of the day. We talked a bit and after she fell asleep I went back to our hotel for the night. Around 6 am I received the call that she had passed.

My aunt Barbie, I would definitely consider her my best friend. After my bone marrow transplant she made a facebook account and we were able to reconnect. We talked almost every day. She was one of the few people I felt like I could be completely honest with, because through her own trials, she understood my pain. Every day since then, there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t miss her or think about her. I so desperately wish I could tell her what’s going on with me right now. I wish I could tell her how much I miss her, how my days feel empty without her. She always called me her soul sister, I was her niece after her own heart. She even told me that the night before she passed. I don’t know why God decides to take some people so young, and I don’t suspect I will ever know. She was only 54. Much older than I, but surely not old enough to be so sick.

The days after were difficult. I drove home that Thursday and Daniel and I decided since we couldn’t afford a proper funeral that we would have a memorial service in the park. I set everything in motion on facebook and her friends truly came through for her. It was very beautiful to see how many people truly loved and cared for my aunt. Many people brought food for us all to share, another person brought their laptop to be able to play the song she wanted. Dust in the Wind by Kansas. I got up and shared some memories of her, and about 7 or 8 people did the same. We probably had about 40 to 50 people there. It was really beautiful and I can only imagine if she was able to look down and watch us that day how happy it must have made her heart.

 

http://www.aikinsfarmer-millerfh.com/obituaries/Barbara-Mcduffee/

Music

Music

In the last year since I’ve gotten sick, I’m finding that some music really just hits me hard. 

Love songs, songs about fighting and being strong. They hit me like a ton of bricks. I feel like the older I get the more emotional I become. Or maybe just through this I’ve gained the ability to feel and experience life more fully. 

I find myself not even be able to sing the words anymore, because they bring tears to my eyes. Songs about love just remind me how much I love Paul and how much he truly loves me. He makes every day more meaningful and even after all the scars I have all over my body he still tells me every day how beautiful I am. I am truly blessed. I found myself singing that Paramore song “Still into You” while we were playing Rockband, and I had to stop. I had to stop because it was making me tear up, and it would be very embarrassing to admit to my friend that I was crying just because I loved Paul so much. I can’t listen and sing along to the “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten because it just reminds me so much of what a fight this has all been. I had to fight long and hard to live. To just live like an “almost” normal 26 year old. 

I guess I won’t ever feel normal again. I will always have the physical and emotional scars of my journey in this life. I’ve even crying writing this. Sometimes I feel like it’s hard to cope with the sadness and happiness that I’ve experienced in the last year and a half. I feel like even though my physical pain is (almost) over, my emotional pain worsens. 

You learn so much going through cancer, but that leaves you empty when everything is over. They don’t prepare you for how different your life will be after cancer. There’s all these plans for “curing” and treatment but theres no plan for when it’s all over. I’m not sure how they’ll be able to prepare you though, and I’m not sure I’d want to hear about the emotional pain I’d go through after this while going through the physical pain of treatment. 

I might be able to go back to work soon. But I’m not quite sure I can emotionally and physically handle it at this point. The extra money would be great but moving on is hard. My joints still hurt every day. I have to take medication to help me function like somewhat normal human being. I always imagined when I was young, the older I got, the easier life would be. I’ve been so proven wrong by this. My heart aches for boys and girls that also have to go through similar experiences as me. It’s painful. Life has so many beautiful moments, but so many hard and painful moments too. I guess sometimes though, that’s what you really need to appreciate how fragile and beautiful our lives are. 

For anyone who gotten this far reading, please don’t worry about me. I’m still just trying to figure this all out and figuring out how to feel. I’m not sad, I’m just trying to cope and sometimes I just don’t know how. I feel like this helps though, it helps me at least get my feelings out and makes it easier to process. I think I’m going to email my therapist and show her my blog, I enjoy our sessions but maybe this would help make them even more meaningful.

I think I need to vent…

I was just talking to an old friend today about when I first got sick. I feel like I still have so much emotional damage still, even with the help of my therapist. We haven’t even broke the crust of my damage.

Everything happened so fast in the beginning. I didn’t even have time to process what was happening to me. It truly was one of the scariest feelings of my life. I often think back to a conversation with my dad when I first started truly started feeling the effects of my chemo. I told him I was tired, I didn’t want to do this anymore and he just looked me in the face and said “Mel, you’ll die. you’re going to die” Sometimes when you’re going to die you don’t actually feel like you’re going to die. Sometimes you just feel like you’ll always exist and that’s not really the case. I think back to all the people back then who kept me strong and kept me going. Mom, Dad, and Paul are the most obvious, but so many people reached out to me at a time when I really needed them the most. I needed their strength and many of my friends were happy to give it. I have people still reach out to me and their strength continues to keep me going.

I feel like so many positive things have happened to me since I got sick and I really can say my mom and I’s relationship really is what changed the most. I thought I was going to die having to live with her again and really it was the best thing that ever happened to us. Everyday I miss her so much and I know Paul does too. Many not living with us, but it would be so nice if we were closer but I can say I have any plans to move back to New Jersey anytime soon. Paul has such a good job and we have this beautiful house here, I just don’t think our quality of life would be the same of we were there. I can only hope that maybe one day my family will come to me. Even if it’s it a couple hours away. I’d take it.

A lot of my days I’m home alone and it’s pretty lonely. I have Yuna that helps me so much but she’s not the same as having a person here with me. But if I did have a person with me all the time I probably would want to be by myself. The good thing about having my mom here is we were together but seperate. She was here, but we didn’t have to constantly interact like I would need to if I had friends over. I feel like I’ve really become super anti-social lately. I just really don’t have an interest in interaction right now for some reason. My therapist says I need to fight that as much as I can. It’s not good to be anti-social. We need to draw from the strength of our friends and family. We need to have friends we can talk to and support us and our relationship doesn’t revolve around cancer. I think I have a lot of friends that are like that and would do that for me but I’m the problem, not them.

I watched a lot of episodes of Catfish today. Watching that show makes me so thankful that neither Paul or I was Catfishing each other. For those of you that do not know, Paul and I met on an online video game in 2007. So we’ve known each other for 9 years. I couldn’t imagine being with anyone else. Paul is truly the perfect person for me. My only wish is that we could have been together soon, but I believe that everything works it’s way out for a reason and maybe we wouldn’t be where we are now if I moved down here sooner. Cancer changed a lot in our relationship, I guess it really solidified things for him. Yo u know the moment I got sick he had to figure out if he was gonna be in or not. In this type of situation it’s not like you can be half in. It’s all or nothing.

I could probably write more but I think I’m done for the night. Stay tuned.

Pokemon Pokeball Crochet Pattern

Pokemon Pokeball Crochet Pattern

Today I’m going to share with you my pattern for my pokeballs. I’m going to write out the pattern and hopefully the next time I make one, I plan on taking pictures of the process. I do not work in the round like some people might when making something like this. I think it looks more seamless that way, but that’s just my option.

Materials Needed:

  • Worst Weight Yarn in White, Black, and Red. (I just used Red Heart Super Saver)
  • A few ounces of Polyfil
  • Size 4.0 crochet hook
  • Yarn needle

 

First I start with making the button.

Starting with white Yarn.

Start with a magic circle. ch 1, 7 sc in the round, FO leaving a long tail. I usually just cut off the tail from the magic circle because typically it’s able to hold it’s own.

With Black Yarn:

Start with the magic circle. ch 1, 7 sc in the circle, sl st to ch 1

Ch 1, 2 sc in each sc, slst to ch 1, FO leaving a long tail.

 

Sew white circle on to the black circle and sit aside.

 

Now for the ball!

 

Starting with the red yarn.

Round 1: Start with the magic circle, ch 1, 6 sc in the circle, sl st into ch 1. (6)

Round 2: ch 1, 2 sc in each sc, sl st into ch 1 (12)

Round 3: ch 1, *sc in next sc, 2 sc in next sc* around, sl st into ch 1 (18)

Round 4: ch 1, *sc in next 2 sc, 2 sc in next sc* around sl st into ch 1 (24)

Round 5: ch 1, *sc in next 3 sc, 2 sc in next sc* around sl st into ch 1 (30)

Round 6: ch 1, *sc in next 4 sc, 2 sc in next sc* around, sl st into ch 1 (36)

Round 7: ch 1, *sc in next 5 sc, 2 sc in next sc* around, sl st into ch 1 (42)

Round 8: ch 1, sc in each st around, sl st into ch 1 (42)

Round 9: ch 1, sc in each st around, sl st into ch 1, FO (42)

 

Change to black yarn

Round 10 and 11: ch 1, sc in each st around, sl st into ch 1, FO (42)

 

Change to white yarn

Round 12 and 13: ch 1, sc in each st around, sl st into ch 1 (42)

Round 14: ch 1, *sc in next 5 sc, dec in next 2 st* around, sl st into ch 1 (36)

Round 15: ch 1, *sc in next 4 sc, dec in next 2 st* around, sl st into ch 1 (30)

 

This is when I sew in the button, usually right on the seam.

 

Round 16: ch 1, *sc in next 3 sc, dec in next 2 st* around, sl st into ch 1 (24)

Round 17: ch 1, *sc in next 2 sc, dec in next 2 st* around, sl st into ch 1 (18)

Round 18: ch 1, *sc in next st, dec in next 2 st* around, sl st into ch 1 (12)

 

This is where I begin stuffing my pokeball. I like to make my pokeballs pretty firm but it’s up to you how firm or soft you’d like your pokeball to be.

 

Round 19: ch 1, *dec in next 2 st* around, sl st into ch 1, FO leaving a long tail (6)

 

I use the tail to sew the top of the pokeball closed.

 

Now if you don’t want to make your own pokeball, I actually have a listing on Etsy that you can own your own without going through all the work of making one!

 

https://www.etsy.com/listing/467797465/

 

September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month

September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you the importance of this to me. 🙂

There is one thing I’d have to share with you all though.

Have you heard of the website http://www.bethematch.org ?

My Leukemia caused me to need a bone marrow transplant, but they could not find a donor for me. There are plenty of people out in the world in the exact same situation as me but maybe they don’t have a family member that is able to be there donor.

I’d beg everyone to please take a look through the information on this site and consider signing up to be a bone marrow donor. You might never get chosen, but you also might have the opportunity to save someones life. Sometimes a bone marrow transplant is the only thing that can help keep their cancer at bay and cure them.

Paul recently signed up to join the registry. All it takes is a short questionnaire, then they mail you a swab kit. You swab your cheek and mail it back. Within a few weeks you’re listed on the national registry, so what are you waiting for??! Go sign up!