Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Last Scan Ever.

Last month, on Halloween to be exact, I received my LAST CT SCAN EVER. This is ten years later. Well, almost ten years. December 10 will mark ten years since I got into my accident. December 16 will mark ten years since my back surgery. December 18 will mark ten years since my port was surgically implanted in my chest. December 22 will mark ten years since my first chemotherapy treatment.

It's pretty unbelievable. 

I went in just a couple weeks ago for my check up with my oncologist following this last scan, and I am happy to say that there is still no evidence of disease, and that I am perfectly healthy. My chances of recurrence are so low at this point, ten years out. I'm finally just a regular patient, like everyone else.

Dr. Sivarajan told me that I do not ever need to come in for another CT Scan, ever again. I didn't really ever think about this day much. I guess it was in the back of my mind, but I am quite pessimistic at times regarding my health, kind of always waiting for something bad to happen, again. I am blessed. When I walked out of that appointment, I sat in my car and starting crying. I couldn't believe it. I am done being poked, scanned, I am done paying CANCER bills. I'm done with everything.

That entire experience that I went through was obviously life-changing, as I'm sure if you know me, you already know that. It really shaped me into who I am, and made me really appreciate what I have. It's also pretty amazing that this celebration of mine coincides with something else very near and dear to me, The Samfund.

I know-- you're all probably all too familiar with my talk about how much I love The Samfund, but it's the honest truth. I'm sure you all know that I received a grant back in 2008. I'm sure many of you have either been to the fundraisers that I have helped plan for the past 7 years, and I'm sure many of you have donated to my online campaigns in the past. But let's not stop it here. I am asking you for your continued support.

No donation is too small. 

I am asking you to help me celebrate ten years by making a donation my online fundraising campaign for The Samfund on Giving Tuesday. 

Please help me give back to those who are in the shoes that I was once in. My goal is to raise $1000, and The Samfund has a generous donor who will be MATCHING up to $12,500 TODAY!  How amazing is that? 

Thank you, as always


Thursday, June 30, 2016

10 Years Later.

I called my cancer center today to check in on my balance & payment plan, and see where I was at. Marissa, who helps me EVERY time, (bless her heart!), told me I had a balance of $46, and my $50 payment comes out tomorrow.

I said to her, there has to be a mistake. I'm sure I had a balance upwards of $300 or so (which isn't a lot, I guess? But, I have many many med bills, and have had for 10 years, so it adds up, trust me).

She said no, as of tomorrow, you will be at a zero dollar balance. I kid you not, I immediately started crying, ask my co-workers. I was so beyond happy. This is a bill I have been "paying off" for TEN YEARS this December. TEN YEARS. At one point, this balance was over $10k. Every year, more is added onto it for my CT/PET scans, blood-work, etc. My onco still has me seeing him for post-treatment scans, and I believe that this November might be my last one since I'll hit my 10 year diagnosis anniversary in December.

I was crying tears of joy. I couldn't believe I FINALLY paid this off. Let me tell you, cancer IS NOT free. Not even close. I'm healthy now, but still have had this following me around. This is not me being sympathetic towards myself, we all have bills, & med bills, especially. For me, it's a huge triumph. I paid this off. Finally. It took me ten years, but I am SO PROUD & SO HAPPY.

Back when I received my Samfund grant, in 2008, they negotiated my bill down and paid off a lot of it to help relieve that burden. That was a life-saver for me. I remember going in for treatment/post-treatment and they'd pull me into a side room and say "Katherine, we'd really like a $3000 payment today. We can't refuse treatment, but we strongly recommend you make that payment today". Imagine how scary that is. Who can afford that? I didn't ask for cancer, I didn't want it. It came with a price. I just can't believe that it's paid off now. Maybe I sound crazy for celebrating something so "menial", but this is huge for me.

This is purely why I chose to volunteer & fundraise for The Samfund. This is why. I can't even imagine what I would have done without them. They relieved a huge burden off of my shoulders so I could focus on my health + moving forward. Look where I am now? I hope you'll consider making a donation to my fundraising page. Today is the last day of the campaign, and like I always say, no donation is too small. I mean that. I love this organization, it's so near & dear to me. They are everything, and your donation will go on to make a CHANGE in someone's life, as it did in mine back in 2008.

If you would like to donate, you can do so by clicking here.

Monday, January 11, 2016


at first, i thought it might be weird to have my own little (public?) dedication to bowie, but then i realized that i don't really care what anyone thinks. it's my little tribute.

i woke up super early to a text from my best friend who lives in europe. she had texted me the sad news about bowie. she must have found out first thing since she's about 7 hours ahead of me. it was so early in the morning that i thought maybe i dreamt it. i woke up to a crazed morning and barely had time to even google it, let alone, watch the news, as some baby show was playing since the twins decided to get up earlier than normal this morning, and baby shows were my saving grace as i was trying to manage our tightly-packed morning routine.

i told chris when he woke up, he thought i was joking. why would i joke about bowie? i got texts/calls/emails from my friends, how sweet. as if it was someone i actually knew. but his death felt too close?

many many years ago, circa junior high?, i stumbled across a pop up video on vh1 for "china girl" and just knew i loved it from there on out. i read about bowie's relations with mick jagger and thought "how weird". weird? my favorite. i've loved his music + art ever since. man, i even remember loving the labyrinth, before i realized who bowie even was. i had to have been so young then.

bowie reminds me of everything. of college. listening to him on my shitty ipod during my all-nighters in college from my illegally ripped music, (i had ALL his albums, sigh). working at a coffee shop in college (1 of many, ha), where we gave 10 cents off coffee if people got our daily trivia right--- the trivia was always regarding bowie when i was working. being inspired by his art for my own design while in college. listening him during my 6 hour + chemo sessions. i even had gotten a brand new macbook decal of bowie as ziggy stardust as a gift, and had an interview for my current job, and needed to show my portfolio, so i sadly took it off in risk of embarrassing myself (why?). man, i've even celebrated his birthday each year, it's like i know him, so that's weird, but whatever. just constantly listening to him. i mean, he has be producing music for over 4 decades now.  i know this is all over the place.

i remember that time (not in college, embarrassingly), that i requested for the dj at this bar to please play some bowie. he thought i was nuts and wouldn't do it. i walked away (drunkenly) crying. ask julie. or don't, actually...

chris & i sing bowie to the girls when we put them to bed! is that weird? i don't care. the girls loved him from the beginning. abby & i went to see the bowie exhibit at the mca last year with liz.  we've shared a love for bowie for many many year. the exhibit? it was amazing, and of course, abs donned her baby stardust onesie. the exhibit was the best, and as liz says, bowie is "magical". he really is. how lucky were we to see his actual lyrics written on pages that were over 20 years old? seeing his actual costumes and designs. liz even got to visit berlin recently, and said it was amazing. i told her that some day soon, her & i need to visit berlin- to feel inspired like bowie did while he was there.  i know that sounds super cheesy, but it's our plan. every time i listen to heroes i can picture myself there.

maybe this is all a weird obsession, but i've found myself to be constantly inspired by bowie. every song. every album. there really is something for everyone. i really admire his ability to express himself in every artistic way, holding nothing back.

you don't even want to know if i have a life-size poster of him-- i won't even tell you if i do.

i literally listened to his black star album on repeat today at work. is it weird that i cried a little in the car this morning? i really thought that some day, i'd be able to see him perform live. it's okay.

i think he left us with an amazing album, and his music will never stop playing for me. shall i leave you with some of my favorites ? (in no particular order)

  • sorrow- one of the best
  • china girl- my very first song i think i ever remember hearing by bowie
  • black star- a new one, that i cant.stop.listening.to
  • heroes- classic one, doesn't everyone love it?
  • sound & vision- this reminds me of college- of working in the wood shop all day long, and asking this kid who was ALWAYS in there to play bowie. this was played often, and i can remember things from that time so clearly when i hear that song.
  • ashes to ashes- this reminds me of college also, but when i was sick. meg and i were roommates at the time, and we always listened to that.
  • modern love- another classic, this definitely reminds me of jr high
  • andy warhol- don't even know what to say, i love it.
  • blue jean- another classic, so 80s
  • drive-in saturday- you can NEVER tire of this one
  • oh you pretty things- again, just love
  • the stars (are out tonight)- his single from his 2013 album, so catchy.
  • john, i'm only dancing- who doesn't love it?
  • velvet goldmine- LOVE
  • golden years- LOVE LOVE
  • all the young dudes- i know he wrote it for mot the hoople, but i love his version so much
these are only a small handful of my fav's. is this the weirdest blog post ever? probably. i don't care. bowie would be proud :) haha

i'll leave you with my favorite bowie quote:

"I always had a repulsive need to be something more than human."

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


As most of you know, it's #GivingTuesday. I am starting my fundraising campaign for The Samfund, which I think you all know is very near and dear to me.

I think you all know my story, so I don't want to bore you. I just want to touch lightly upon what I'm thankful for in my life, and why this organization is so important to me.

Cancer just plain sucks, but I'm thankful to be healthy. I've dealt with a lot of loss recently- and many unfortunate diagnoses among my friends and family within this past year. It's been really hard for me-being on this side.

I was forced to grow up fast when I was diagnosed, and that taught me to be thankful for every day. Last night I looked at my daughters and said to them that we're going to have ice cream sundaes. Tomorrow is never guaranteed, so I try to celebrate each and every day, and appreciate all of the things I have in life. I probably wouldn't be on the path that I am on right now if it wasn't for The Samfund. I am so thankful to have my Samfund family in my life- and that is why I choose them for my #GivingTuesday post :)

I will get back on point though, and tell you that I am thankful for The Samfund. I received my grant over 7 years ago (wow!), but my appreciation continues to grow every day. When I was at our Chicago fundraiser just two months ago, I got to hear stories from new alums who I had just met. I cherish all of the stories that have been shared with me- and makes me so proud of what I do for The Samfund. The grant changed my life, but the organization continues to humble me. That is why I am choosing to do this- because they just mean so much to me.

To quote a blog post I did for the Huffington Post a while back,

"Looking back, as hard as it was, between the weekly treatments, the painful shots, the hair-loss, and constant worry, I ended up growing more than I ever thought I would. Going through something so bad ended up bringing me something so good. It hasn't been easy, but I found my silver lining. The people I've met will be in my life forever, and the imprint The SAMFund has left on me has shaped who I am today. We all grow from our experiences. I became a different person. When life threw me cancer, I had no choice but to take every negative thought and throw it out. I put myself out there, found somewhere that I belonged, found somewhere that made me feel complete. I found my niche in life, and I couldn't be more proud of who I've become."

If it's not super obvious right now, I'm very passionate about The Samfund. I love giving to them- whether it be through donations, or having a fundraising event, or an online campaign- I want to give back. I know exactly how the young adults feel when they get that phone call. I want to be able to help give that to someone else- and I know exactly where the funds go that I am helping raise.

So, I am asking you to consider donating to my campaign. Every penny helps, no donation is too small. You can access my page by clicking here. I want to thank everyone who has donated in the past and supported everything that I do with The Samfund. Let's make this #GivingTuesday count!

PS-- every dollar raised through TODAY will be matched, up to $25,000! How amazing is that? Your donation will essentially be doubled. I think that is so great :)
Love xoxo


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Update on Dad-- Harvesting Process

Hello All-
Just a quick update. Dad is in the hospital right now, still at NWMH. He was admitted Monday morning to being the harvest process of his stem cells. Rewind back to earlier this weekend, he never ended up experiencing any of the harsh side effects from his 88 hour long chemo induction. He was tired, but luckilly, that was it! Unfortunately, he did experience the extreme bone pain from his Nuelasta shot, but it went away within one day. I was so relieved it was gone for him.

Anyway, he had to have a PICC Line put in (see photos below). They aren't able to do the harvest process through his port since it's only a "one-way", meaning the PICC Line will allow them to remove the blood & cells through one valve, and put the blood back in through the other. Think of the harvest process like dialysis. He's hooked up on a machine for a good chunk of the day having blood taken out, stem cells removed from it, and then blood put back in. I know he's feeling pretty exhausted from this. Thank goodness for iPads...

Yesterday, they were able to extract 9 million cells. Today we're hoping they can get the rest, he needs a total of 20 million extracted. If they are able to get the remainder, he will most likely get to come home tomorrow. He will also have the PICC Line removed. The next step is the actual transplant, which is still scheduled for February 10th. We want to thank everyone for your prayers and good thoughts! I will continue to update :)


Dad's new PICC Line

Dad having the PICC Line put in, a bedside procedure

The "harvesting process"

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Update on Dad!

My dad came home from NWMH last Friday. Since then, he's been doing alright. He is mostly tired, and just resting and taking it easy. He was told that he will probably start feeling the effects of the 88 hour long chemo induction around today (or so). Meaning, he'll probably feel really lousy, exhausted, nauseous, etc. No fun- but, as of last night, he didn't feel any of that! He's hoping that since he's felt so good since then, maybe it won't get too bad. Even so, please keep him in your prayers. I remember that chemo nausea all too well, and it's not fun.

He received his Nueslasta shot a couple days ago. This is a shot that is given to him to help promote white blood cell production. White blood cells are produced in your bone marrow, therefore, he will probably get very sore (in his bones) from this. I was on Nuelasta too while I was sick, and honestly, that was the worst part for me.  The bone pain is pretty awful, fairly excruciating. I am hoping and praying that my dad doesn't have to feel any of that. So far, so good. I haven't talked to him today though, but again, please keep him in your thoughts. Starting Saturday, I believe he will have his self-administered Nuepogin shots (I think that's the drug). Again, to promote white blood cell growth. I imagine that'll cause some bone pain as well. Again though, he's been feeling pretty good despite all of this he's going through.

On a lighter note, he went to Banana Joe's (Joliet-Famous!) and got his head shaved! He's not completely bald, but I think it suits him. To me, it looks like he meant for it to be like that, not like he had to shave his head because of cancer. He thinks he needs a pork pie hat, he could slightly resemble Walter White, same initials and all. W.W. :)

I haven't gotten to see my dad yet since before he even went into the hospital. The girls and I have all been sick, so we couldn't risk it. His immune system is still recovering and he cannot be around anyone that is remotely sick. On Monday, he'll go back to NWMH to begin the "harvest" process. This can take anywhere from 1-4 days. Let's hope for one. This shouldn't be too painful, I believe it'll be a similar setup to a transfusion. They will just start harvesting his own cells in preparation for the transplant. I believe they will be harvesting enough for up to 4 transplants, but we hope that he'll only have to do this one. I will keep you all updated. Here's a pic of his new hair cut and a recent Face-Time photos.

Dad's new "do" 
Grumpa on Face-Time with his grandbabies :)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

An update on my Dad

I wanted to write this to update everyone on what's going on with my dad. He was diagnosed with smoldering myeloma in 2013. I guess you can kind of consider it a pre-cancer to multiple myeloma, which is a type of blood cancer. He was going in for routine blood work and they discovered that his m-protein levels were way too high. Thank goodness for that blood work, as he had no symptoms. It was definitely scary, but luckily his doctor decided on a prophylactic chemotherapy regimen. He has been doing chemo for about a year now in hopes that it wouldn't progress to multiple myeloma.

Fast forward to the past couple months-- my dad was put on a new drug in his regimen (revlimid) because it did progress into multiple myeloma, stage 1. He went for a second opinion at Northwestern, and quickly switched over to an oncologist there who specifically treats for myeloma, along with an amazing team. She decided that it would be best to schedule a stem-cell transplant. Now, bear with me as I am typing this all from memory, and not from his actual paperwork. I may miss a few things in here. He continued on his regular scheduled chemo with the new added in drug, which made him very tired, and took a lot of his energy away from him. He continued on, very tired, but still, so positive! He was doing this all to prepare for what's going on now.

He went into Northwestern yesterday for a 5 day in-patient chemotherapy session. I don't know what else to call it? Basically, he's hooked up on his chemo drugs for 5 days. Each cycle takes 22 hours to be administered, and after 22 hours, they'll immediately hook up the next cycle, totaling 88 hours. He should be done and be able to go home on Friday. If anyone would like to visit, email, or text him, please email me at wimbiscusk@gmail.com and I will do my best to get that information to you.

When he gets out of the hospital on Friday, he will have some follow-up drugs at home, something that will boost his white blood cell count in the form of a self-administered shot, I believe. Then  in about two weeks, he will go back to NW to have his stem cells harvested for his autologous transplant (meaning, he is his own donor). So, from what I understand, this week long chemo is to "clean everything up" so get ready for the harvest. As of now, his transplant is scheduled for February 10th at NW in Chicago. It is a very invasive procedure, but his oncologist has said that he is an ideal candidate. He can be in the hospital anywhere from 10 days to one month after the transplant. I am not sure about visitors at that point- as his immune system will be compromised. I will definitely keep you all updated as things progress.

So far though, he was doing great. My dad seemed very tired, but he was doing good when the girls & I face-timed him last night. He has an amazing view of the lake, and his room looks very nice. He is equipped with every Apple product known to man so he can immerse himself into Netflix, Reading, Writing, Face Time, Silly Apps... or he can totally relax and enjoy the view.

Thank you everyone for your support and prayers. We ask that you continue to send your positive thoughts his and my mom's way.

Here are some of my face-time photos from last night :)

xo, k
*UPDATE* I missed this, but my mom said that when my dad gets home this weekend, his immune system will be very very weakened, therefore, he cannot be around anyone who is sick.
Dad at his "work station" :)

Babies facetiming with their Grumpa :)

Some of the drugs my dad is hooked up to

my dad's "million dollar view" :)