Friday, March 12, 2010

Update, Schmupdate

Are y'all still out there? I know it seems like I have given up the blog in light of the chemo thing being over, but it's more like I am just trying to keep my head above water here at school.

Things are... GOOD.

So here is a fun post-chemo update. Yes! There are changes! My weird symptoms that I had gotten so used to are slowly fading away.
-Roaming, EXTREME itches that made me want to claw off sections of skin? GONE
-Constant runny nose? BETTER
-Intense and frequent leg cramps despite my daily banana? LESS FREQUENT
-Inability to balance on one foot due to lack of feeling in my feet?--IMPROVING
-Energy level? BOOSTED. My cardiovascular system has responded well to having more red blood cells and things like riding my bike up a hill or stairmaster are easier in the sense that my pulse doesn't beat as fast to supply oxygen to my cells. Or so I believe.

My stomach and skin are both a little unsure of how to handle my boosted immune system. The initial reaction was FREAK OUT, but I think they're getting used to the extra cells. In particular I think my skin had a hard time with the adjustment and for most of February I felt like I was 17 again. Now I'm just battling dryness.

So yes, it gets better. On Monday I'm going to see a normal doctor and hear their perspective. From an oncologist point of view (which is a little warped) I'm like super healthy, but I'd like to see someone who sees relatively healthy people.

School is crazy busy and I'm trying to be focused, but with perspective. Like, I'm here to learn and not to be the best at anything (FAIL on that count) so as long as I'm learning and I'm trying I should just be happy with that. Personally I'm working on keeping my ego in check whether I'm on the yoga mat or working on an econometrics problem set. It's important to remember that I do these things because they cause JOY and satisfaction and not because I think I am going to be the "best."

Speaking of JOY I saw the Alvin Ailey dance company last night and it was fantastic. Talk about joy. The human body is constantly amazing and beautiful and it was great to watch strong, gorgeous, graceful humans DANCE to music that makes your heart feel good.

I'll be back!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010


Dude, fuck this Insurance bullshit. My COBRA was rasied to $575 this year. It kind of f-ed up my very lean grad school budget. The raise was a $100/month increase which in no way reflects real inflation. This morning I got a pleasant surprise--the deductible has gone from $500/year to $1000. WHAT THE HELL. Now my lean grad school budget is unlivable. Seriously.

Who on earth thinks that insurance companies are running themselves efficiently?

They are pure scum-money sucking-evil-disgusting-parasitic-pieces of shit.

Will now return to meditating on my good fortune to have access to this shitty piece of shit COBRA...

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Two Years

A bunch of you probably got this in email form so feel free to skip. For all my loving lurkers and other internetz budz, you are part of my gratitude:

Friends and Family:

I’ve been struggling to compose this email, but today is the 2 year anniversary of my Leukemia diagnosis and it’s unreal to think that I’m sitting in my house in Berkeley, a graduate student, exhausted from 90 minutes of power yoga and worried only about balancing school work and beer drinking. Not only has this experience opened new doors (Berkeley! Yoga!) but there were so many times when I just couldn’t imagine getting to this place. I’m happy. I’m healthy. I’m very… content.

As of Wednesday, January 13th, I am completely done with two years of chemotherapy! With clear scans and bone marrow that is “clean as a whistle” I am officially in remission. What a joy.

I just want to say again how grateful for all of you, my supportive community. Thank you so much for all the love and kindness you have sent out to me, my parents, and my sister. It is overwhelming. I hope that in the next few months I have a chance to thank those of you who made a particular impact. Of everyone though, I’d like to thank my mom who has been a source absolute and ceaseless support. When I was angry or despondent or completely manic on Prednisone, she would take my phone calls and just listen. I’d also like to thank my Seattle roommates (dinner club and Mansioneers) who provided the kind of day-to-day logistical and emotional support that made it possible for me to be a Strong Woman and look like I was handling things with grace and independence.

Finding closure for this part of my life is still a bit elusive. It has not been an unqualified bad experience: I have met so many amazing people and learned appreciation for the many, many blessings in my life. Saying goodbye to my care team at Swedish Cancer Center seems next to impossible—these are some of the most important people to have touched my life. Additionally, I dare say I am a much happier and relaxed person than I was before diagnosis.

Luck is a two-way street. While I celebrate my own health and remission it feels terrifyingly random and at times cruel that I have been given so many gifts while many suffer with disease that cannot be cured, truly difficult decisions, reduced access to care, and health insurance woes. Or for goodness sake, I could be living in Haiti so there is a certain amount of discomfort I’m experiencing with much of the rhetoric around Survivorship.

While I parse that out, just know that I’m Living Strong, and wishing you all the best.

Happy 2010,


Saturday, January 16, 2010

El Fin

Sorry to keep y'all waiting. It's over. I'm done. Final chemo is over. Final scans are clear. Final bone marrow aspiration is "clean as a whistle."

This is joyous news. It's hard to know what to say: it's anticlimactic AND overwhelming at the same time. But I'm working on that. For now, just a big big thank you to all my friends and fans. You all have been tremendous.

Internet love to you all.

Now, go give money to Haitians...