Monday, December 31, 2012

Thank you.

There are not really words that can express how thankful I am for the donations made to my fundraising campaign. I had planned on raising 1K in 31 days, and have already nearly raised 3K in just a few days with your generous donations. I will keep this post short, but I wanted to quickly share a letter that I received from a 2011 grant recipient. She wrote me this thank you letter because of another online fundraising campaign that I did in the past. When I opened this letter it reminded me of the thank you letter that I wrote to Sam & Michelle when I received my grant. It's hard to put in words the gratitude you feel, but I think that this letter beautifully displays it.

Dear Kate,
My name is (I will leave this anonymous), and I was a 2011 SAMFund grant recipient. The grant I received paid my health insurance premiums for five months. I really want to thank you for all of the work you did raising funds for The Grand Plan, because your efforts directly helped me in such a meaningful way- because of The SAMFund grant I received, I was able to essentially buy myself time to qualify soon for better insurance coverage. SAMFund was essential in helping me bridge this gap, and, true to its mission statement, in helping me move forward. I am so grateful to The SAMFund and to you individually for being there and being an invaluable resource for young adults, like me, dealing with the long-term financial toll of cancer.

Again, thank you, so much. 
All the best.


Today is the last to to donate. Thank you all again for being so supportive of something that means so much to me. If you wish to make a donation or see my campaign page, you can view that here.

Have a safe and wonderful New Year.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Some bittersweet results...

My mom saved 3 binders worth of bills, results, insurance claims, temperature readings, notes, blood counts, medication, etc, while I was sick. Most of it I have to say though was bills. They are somewhere hidden in the attic at my parent's home, and I will look at them someday. They were packed away with everything else that I didn't want to remember. Funny enough, I think about it everyday.

I spoke with a client at work the other day who was having trouble keeping up with his auto policies. He confided in me that he was stressed because they found lesions on his liver, and that he had already gone through cancer treatment in the past. I felt an instant connection. You get that with other survivors, I can't explain it. Anyway, my heart sank as he was sharing his story with me. I wanted so badly to say, "I sort of know how you're feeling". I cried for my entire drive home from work that day. I haven't stopped thinking about him. Has it really come down to car insurance or CT scans? He literally had to make that choice. Is it radiation or rent? Chemo or the phone bill? Sadly, for many people, cancer makes those decisions really easy. You can't say "no, I'll skip chemo this week because At&T really needs a payment." It's not that easy. Cancer doesn't care, and as much as I love my oncologist and the nursing staff, they can't give out free treatment. Worst of all, your insurance company really doesn't care either. "Oh ma'am, that's not covered. Sorry, those shots really are 7K a piece". How can it be that hard? A cancer diagnosis is hard enough itself. What most people probably don't realize is that cancer patients and survivors are also battling it out financially. Back when I was going through treatment, I'd arrive for chemo, and they tell my mom that if we don't pay 2K today, I can't receive my treatment. It happened almost every time. It's nearly impossible to keep up with finances that come along with cancer as well as your everyday finances. To this day, I struggle with my health care finances, and I'm perfectly healthy. 

I was beyond stressed today. You know, the usual: crying at work, shaking on my ride to work, losing all color in my face, pulse racing all day, sick to my stomach. I had to go for blood work today. It's just not getting any easier for me. It's just as scary as it was the first time. I don't know if it will ever get easy. I can barely type right now as I'm trying not to tear up. Besides my anxiety about my results, I also have anxiety about my 2K balance at my oncology center. "Katherine, we really need you to start paying $700/month so you can continue to come here." "Um, don't you know I'm paying off my student loans? I have rent due... phone also... and oh yeah, groceries, gas, insurance and utilities! Can't you just let me defer it?" "No, that's not how it works, sorry." Every time I open my mailbox my heart drops because I am scared of getting more bills. I get bills from radiology centers, from the company who bought out my chemo center, from my chemo center, and for my doctors! I'm not even sick. I don't have an extra 2K lying around, and really, who does in this economy? Not a day goes by that I am not reminded how lucky i am. I am so grateful to be healthy and happy. I am also beyond grateful that I was awarded a grant in 2008 from The SAMFund. That grant really changed my life. That grant helped pay down my residual medical bills so that I could continue my post-treatment scans. That grant bought me this laptop that I am typing on right now so that I could graduate on time and have access to the programs I needed for my design degree. That grant gave me a gym membership so that I could strengthen myself after treatment. That grant did so much more than you could ever imagine. That grant gives you hope. I know you all know how involved I am with The SAMFund, but I really felt that by me sharing these intimate details about my financial worries and stress, that it might help you even better understand how important it The SAMFund is. Not only for me, but for every young adult survivor out there. I know during these holidays that it is a time for giving. I know we are all out shopping for the perfect gift. I ask that you consider making a donation to our online campaign and help me reach my goal. I am living proof of the impact that that money has on people. That money that you donate changes lives- it helps survivors pay their co-pays, their rent, their utilities, it helps with family planning options, insurance, among many other things. Survivors have gone through such a traumatic experience, let's help raise money that will in turn reduce their stress and help them move forward and take their lives back, back from cancer.

This is my campaign page. My goal is to raise 1K by New Year's Eve. Every penny counts. Please help me reach that goal.

Thank you everyone, I appreciate your support that you have always given me.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Life is Good.

I'm getting that feeling again. It's that feeling I get after a fundraiser for The SAMFund. It's excitement that I cannot contain. You probably saw my insane amount of posts for The SAMFund today for our Giving Common Challenge, and I am so thankful to absolutely everyone that donated. As you all know, I am so passionate about The SAMFund, ya know, they did change my life....  

So anyways, I stopped in to Starbucks tonight to do some work, but instead I find myself glued to writing this blog right now. I got a special email this morning from someone very close to The SAMFund- Sam's dad, Glenn. I saw it and immediately got a little emotional. He said that he was very touched by my story, which was just so nice to hear. I know some survivors may be shy about their story- and that's ok. But I know that I am here to share mine with others in hopes to inspire someone out there. But, back to Glenn... he was saying how he was so touched by my story.. and I'm thinking about how touched I am that he reached out to me. You know, he only raised and brought into this world my biggest mentor, Sam. It was just a really nice email. It made me so happy. You can obviously see where Sam got her kindness from :) I would like to quote part of the email, "Kate. Young people like you remind me daily why it is so important to help others when you can. Thank you. GLENN."

For me, it ties everything into what we've been working on for The SAMFund these past 36 hours. After getting my grant from The SAMFund, I was reminded why it is so important to give back. I don't do it because it makes me feel good inside, I do it because I know the difference it can make in someone's life. I know that because of the difference it made in my life. Am I getting a bit redundant here? Cheesy, yes? Well, I can't help it. For the past few years of my adult-hood, or I guess, those couple years I had before cancer, I always wondered what I would do with my life. I changed my mind on a weekly basis. I never knew for certain. Now, I can say that this is what I want to do. This is so fulfilling, and emails like the one I received today from Glen reassure me that I am inspiring somebody out there in this universe. To inspire somebody is such a great thing, and if I can take anything positive away from my experience with cancer, it would be that I get to help inspire others with my own story.

Glenn, your email was so kind, and made my day- actually, no, it made my week. Thank you for your kind words, and, to quote a portion of the email that I wrote: " if it wasn't for your amazing daughter, I might never have had such a life-changing experience :) ."


Monday, August 27, 2012

Results are in....

.............scans and blood work are clear!! Music to my ears. I had my scans back in mid-August, and it was really scary. I had to drink the dreaded barium, which was really hard. I did blood work, and vitals, and this and that. I was looking for Jamie over at my oncology center. Jamie was my chemo nurse, and she meant the world to me, but I couldn't find her.... Anyway... the day I had my scans was the day I left for Michigan, and it was perfect, Michigan, that is. I'll write a blog for Michigan seperate from this, ya know, to avoid a novel. So, I get back and go back in for my results last Wednesday. I get to JOHA, nervous, shaking, heart beating out of my chest... the usual. Dr. Siv's medical assistant comes to get me, and says "it's gonna be alright". She knows how I freak out... she takes my pulse and like always, it was beating like crazy. She always reassures me that it will be ok. She then leads me into the same room I've been going to for that past 6 years, and I hop on that same bed, and dangle my feet. Dr. Siv finally walks in and shakes my hand.. and the words "Katherine, you are ok, everything looks perfects", and I feel at ease. Best ever. He then went on to tell me something a little "freaky". I asked him when I would come in next, because I was under the impression that I would be coming in now once a year, instead of twice. This is when he told me no, you'll be coming in 2-3 times a year now for the next 3 years.... Um, excuse me? I'm almost at 5 years and now I have to come in more often? Well, as it turns out, apparently there was some question as to the staging of my cancer. I was originally diagnosed with stage 2- multiple tumors in multiple spots, above the abdomen. He said that throughout everything, he always had an inkling of a thought that it could be stage 4. Now I was freaked out.... this is big news, never knew this before. Apparently, when I broke my back... it might have broken from the accident, or it might have broken because I had cancer in my bones.... my heart dropped. When I had my initial scans back in 2006, Dr. Siv saw signs of cancer that were in my spine.... during my back surgery, they took a bone marrow biopsy to verify, but it came back negative. They then proceeded to do a bone marrow biopsy from my hip, negative again. Exact wording "If you want to play devil's advocate, you can saw the marrow here is clean and ok, but 2 cm away could possibly be infected"... well I didn't know that... Ok, so there was NO proof, only that little light on my PT scans showing something hanging out there....regardless, it's gone now... all the cancer, and I'm fine. And apparently if it was stage 4, they do the same exact ABDV chemo treatment for the stages, which I guess is why I'm ok? The reason he told all of that though is because now I have to seem him more regularly. Stage 4 lymphoma has a higher recurrence rate than stage 2... and he wants to monitor it more closely. Oddly enough though, after the initial freak-out in the office, I was ok. It's part of my new outlook. I'm fine now, and am looking ahead. If anything, I beat cancer even more then I thought, which makes me even more awesome, right?

 As I get ready to celebrate my 5 year official cancerversary, I'm getting really antsy. I just want it to be here. I just want to start to move on, and 5 years really makes me feel like I've accomplished a lot. At both appointments though, I didn't see Jamie. I kept asking around, and someone finally told me that she left to work at a different hospital. I was really sad- she is someone that I will NEVER forget. I was grocery shopping last night, and guess who I ran into? Jamie. She immediately recognized me (it has been almost 5 years!!!)... and ran up and gave me a hug. I was nearly in tears seeing her again. We caught up, she remembered so much about me, and it was great to see her. I felt like it was a little gift from the universe, a gift for my 5 year mark. As Jamie walked away, I said to Chris "Do you think she really knows the impact that she has had on my life?". Chris said "Yes, I know she knows that." I was nearly crying in the cleaning section of the grocery store because seeing her reminded me of how real everything was, but it also made me so much more thankful to have had a nurse who not only took care of me, but who really cared for me.


Monday, July 23, 2012

5 years... and counting.

As I begin to approach my 5 year cancerversary, I, as usual, am starting to freak out a bit. This September will be HUGE for me. September 1st will mark the 5th consecutive year that I have been cancer-free. I know all survivors count from different dates- but I count from the first day I finished treatment. Back in 2006/2007, I went through almost 9 months of chemo, + one month of radiation... or tomotherapy if you want to get fancy :) My radiation was like the home-stretch. I heard it wasn't as bad as chemo- and it wasn't. It wasn't easy either, but I counted down each day. September 1st was the first day I didn't have any more treatment ahead of me. It was the most amazing day that I had experienced at that point in my life. It's kind of bittersweet though waiting for September's arrival. I keep thinking about everything, and I've been thinking too much lately. I still have a bit of survivor's guilt- sounds crazy, but I don't get why I was ok and other people were not. I still feel like it was yesterday when I was told I had lymphoma and I can't believe all this time has flown by. Have I accomplished enough since then? Have I overworked myself? Have I not taken good enough care of myself? Those thoughts are flooding my mind all the time. As you all know, I dread my check-ups. I always assume the worst. I'm not a pessimist, by nature, only by cancer? I always think "I was a perfectly healthy 22 year old and BAM, they found it." Why couldn't I be a perfectly happy 28 year old, and BAM, it's back? I struggle everyday not to think those things, but I do it to prepare myself. Nobody understands it quite like another survivor. It's always looming. It's dark and scary and I have to keep it under control. Perhaps Chris deals with the worst of it, but I wouldn' t be able to get through it without him. But, most people don't understand.

This time though, I'm taking a new approach to this upcoming date. I always say that I'm going to do something really special to celebrate, and this year I really am. I may throw myself a party or take a last minute vacation- not sure yet. I am scheduled for my tests on August 10th- in a couple weeks. I usually get the PT Scan + blood work, but doc decided to change it up on me this time..... So I'm getting a CT Scan. I know there are big differences between the two- but in my mind- the difference is what you drink. Yeh, the cocktail. PT Scan's give me this delightful metallic lemonade. CT Scans give me this delightful berry-flavored chalk-goo that is the consistency of Elmer's glue. I obviously prefer the lemonade. Whatever. I just took the day off for that appointment. I mean, would you want to be sitting at your desk pretending not to be afraid your life is going to end while sipping on Elmer's glue??? Nahh. I took off that Friday, and we're leaving for our annual Wimbiscus Michigan trip that night.... Which is perfect timing. I see my doc for results when I get back from the trip. I made sure that that yucky in-between time where I'm freaking out, breaking out in hives, not sleeping, not eating, crying, worrying, will be spent on a gorgeous beach with my family. That way, I'm forced to have a good time. I look at it like "if the universe decided my cancer is coming back, at least I get this great vacation before the news, and I WILL enjoy it. If it does come back and I have to do treatment, I will treat myself to an even better vacation afterwards". That is just how it will be.

I don't think it will ever get easier- and believe me, I ask every survivor I meet. I've talked to people younger then me to people in their 80's. Every single survivor said that the fear never goes away, but it does get easier.

What have you done to celebrate your cancerversaries? I may need some amazing suggestions...


Saturday, June 16, 2012

The purpose of this all...

I’ve been thinking more about this blog- what is the purpose? I have been cancer-free nearly 5 years, but I’m still glued to all the cancer blogs. Back when I was diagnosed, social media was not anywhere near where it is now…. Facebook was existent, but still growing. Blogs- I didn’t even know what a blog was. Twitter wasn’t even started, that I know of, and if it was, wasn’t popular yet.  Now, every time I google Hodgkin’s, I’m given thousands of websites and blogs. While going through treatment, I wanted so badly to talk to another young person that had dealt with cancer. I wasn’t even picky, it didn’t have to be Hodgkin’s that they had, I’d take anything. At JOHA (Joliet Oncology & Hematology), I was the YOUNGEST person there, and I was 22- not even that young. I had nobody to relate to. Nobody could answer my questions except for the nurses and docs…who I loved and trusted, but they’re on the other end. “Hunny, this won’t hurt, and there is no taste or smell”, “Drink some Gatorade, it’ll make you feel better”, “Get lots of rest”. To me, those were all so generic. They didn’t really know what it felt like, and I was entering a world unknown. Now that social media is huge, it’s not hard to find someone’s story documented through various blogs and photos. In a way, it makes me regret not documenting any of my treatment. That is part of the reason I started this blog 3 years ago, to try and remember. Every time I say to Chris, oh, I wish I would have taken photos during treatment or just a photo of me bald, or kept a journal, or blogged?!? Chris always reminds me that during that time, I did not want to document anything; I didn’t want to remember what I was going through. It’s hard for me to believe that I once said that, as I’m big on photography- documenting life, and now I am big on blogging. I guess then though, I just wanted to get that year over with and move on. To this day, I still struggle to remember details of that year. I don’t know if my brain purposely blocks out certain things, or if chemo-brain made me forgetful, or the plethora of drugs I was on just totally fogged my memory. I have no idea, but for some crazy reason that I cannot really understand myself, I kind of want to remember that time. I keep reading all my little hodge blogs that I follow, and those help me remember. I’m like whoa, I remember that happening to me, and how crazy that our stories are so similar in many ways. It got me to thinking that in my own little tiny way, maybe I could help someone else out there who is going through Hodgkin’s treatment- and I know a lot has probably changed since 2007, but hey, you never know. I’m a HUGE advocate of The SAMFund, as you probably know, and the feeling I get from helping out survivors is absolutely amazing. But, I want to help more. I want to help everyone, survivors, & patients. So this is kind of crazy, but I thought I’d start sharing little cancer tips. I’m not giving medical advice by any means… just some things that I wish I would have known before starting my treatment- and as most survivors know, you’re just thrown into treatment…so here goes.

Some chemo tips, I wish someone would have told me…

·         If you have the option, get a port! While doing chemo, or anything cancer, you will be pricked & prodded everywhere possible. Getting blood drawn is a weekly, if not daily adventure. When I first had my port installed…haha….It freaked me out. I have this giant thing implanted in my  shoulder/chest area, and you’re going to stick WHAT in it?? Actually, for me, it was much less painful then getting IV’s in the arm/hand. It’s also easier to administer chemo through. The needle is big, scary looking, and hook shaped, sort of. It does have a butterfly clamp on it, but I promise, once you’ve had the first injection, you won’t be scared of the second. I used the freezy spray the first time, but never needed it again. It’s easy. The only bad thing about the port is that you can feel it inside of you, especially when you lay on your side, but really, had no other issues with it, other than psychological, post treatment, so I had it removed….

·         Eat. Eat before, during, and after chemo. Don’t pig out, but just make sure you’re eating a healthy meal. I went to my first appointment on a totally empty stomach. Nobody told me what to do, so naturally, I didn’t sleep that night before (out of fear that I would die the next day), and I certainly didn’t eat, because I kept thinking that I would be vomiting my guts out like the people do in Lifetime movies. Well, that may be true for some people, chemo does take a toll, but for my ABVD, it didn’t seem to make me so nauseous that I would puke during chemo, in fact, that never happened. I did feel nauseous though, constantly actually, but if you eat, it helps that go away. My very first chemo was hard, the nurse yelled at me for not eating, I was like hey lady, you know this didn’t come with instructions… It happened to be 3 days before Christmas, so there were plenty of holiday cookies. They actually told me to eat cookies for breakfast, so I managed to have a couple. I got home from my first chemo and slept for hours. I ate mashed potatoes once that day, and that was it. The nausea didn’t go away. I learned throughout chemo, that if you ate properly, and had good snacks throughout the day, it really helped with the nausea. My doc gave me endless refills of Compazine too, to help combat the nausea, but that only helped me in the beginning. I learned that I had to manage it on my own. Just make sure to eat!

·         METAL MOUTH. One of the symptoms that I dealt with on an hourly basis. I had the taste of metal in my mouth. Like I was sucking on pennies and dimes. Nasty. For me, the silly little candies that were out at the chemo center didn’t help. It just tasted like metal candy, yuck. I needed something more powerful. Now, eating for me did not get rid of the taste either. Eating certain things actually made me sick, because the taste was altered because of chemo and the metal taste. I mostly stuck to grape juice. Don’t know why that worked, but it was sharp enough to help out with the taste. Unfortunately though, nothing else really helped. This I guess is just more of a warning. Do not indulge in your favorite foods during chemo, because you will only end up hating them post chemo. There are certain foods I will not touch today only because I can remember that distinct taste they had during chemo, and it makes me sick. Will not touch…. So you know, be sure not to ear pirogi’s during treatment. Wouldn’t want to live without those…

·         Old man yellow fingers?? Yeh, I have no advice for that. My extremities all turned this weird golden yellow color. I looked like an alien. It’s a side effect of the ABVD, and you just have to get used to it. My fingers went back to their natural color eventually, no biggie compared to metal mouth.

·         Some tidbits to help you get through that 5 hour treatment….
·         Stock up on liquids- they want you to pee throughout treatment and flush out the poison, so make sure to bring water. I love water, but it doesn’t mask anything, so I would also stock up on grape juice, which JOHA thankfully had stocked in the chemo community fridge.

·         Bring magazines. JOHA had: WEB MD & various parenting magazines available. First, WEB MD only promotes my inner-hypochondriac, so no way am I reading that while battling cancer. And parenting?!?!? I was 22 going on 23. Bring the fun stuff, Cosmo, Glamour, Wired, People… otherwise bring a sleeping pill, jk. Also bring your iPad!! They didn’t have those back in my day, so I would bring my iPod. It was one of the first iPods to have a color screen, and it even had solitaire!! That was my life-saver.

·         Bring a pillow, or better yet, bring one of those airplane neck pillows. Chemo chairs suck, or at least mine did. Not soo comfortable, especially after 4 hours of sitting.

·         Have your mom or boyfriend or dad or whoever is joining you pick up lunch. My mom would always run out and pick up lunch for us during treatment. You will get hungry, theses a[appointments are at least 4 hours long….

·         Bring shoes that you can take off, and wear cute socks. I full on made myself at home. Um, yeh, I’ll take 2 warmed up blankets, and yes, I’m going to put my feet up and take my shoes off. I may even take my wig off. Get comfortable, I know it’s hard because you’re in a room with 30 other cancer patients, but really, who’s judging?

·         I’ve heard that this is not done as often anymore, but, if you’re getting the dreaded Nuelasta shot (the yucky one that promotes white blood cell growth), take your doc up on the pain pills. I had to get the shot every other week, the very next day after chemo. It sucked, I hated it. We tried vicodin, darvocet, and even good old ibuprofen. It’s the most painful thing I’ve experienced, minus fracturing my vertebrae, so have a good game-pain-plan. Don’t be scared to ask your doc for something to help out, I’m sure he’ll offer anyway. Just make sure you eat before, during, and of course, after taking pain pills. They take a toll on your stomach. They made me even more nauseous on top of my constant chemo nausea.

That’s all for now….. I will have some more tips later J Enjoy your weekend,


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Suds for The SAMFund: Amazing night

So, as usual, it's been a bit since my last post... but have a TON to share!

The SAMFund hosted their 3rd annual fundraiser in Chicago this past week. I was on the planning committee with some crazy talented and amazing people. This year, we did something a little different than we have in the past- we did not do the "cornhole", rather, went to Haymarket Brewery and hosted both a silent and a live auction. The committee and I gathered many different auction items, and as a side note, I have to thank my wonderful donors who donated to the auction. Shout out to:

Tracy Sieban, George Steimer, Brendan Perrin, Jen Baxter, Jan Baxter, Jen & Jake Moreland, Adam Koch, Michael Lombombard, Emily Costigan, Johnny Rivera, Amber Sievers, and Steve Sievers, who donated his live auction-ing talents! Thank you to everyone who was able to contribute to our silent auction, live auction, & raffle.

So, back to the night. As usual, I was waiting in excitement for the past couple of nights. Funny, I was talking with one of the board members, and all around amazing woman, Sharon Karsten, about how I started my blog! It was the night of our very first fundraiser, back in 2009. I love that to this day, our efforts have continued, and we've gotten even bigger. It's always a blast planning for the events, but once the event starts, you get this "high", and it's like nothing else. I got to Haymarket (a little late, thanks Lakeshore traffic), and was a bit nervous, as usual, because I was going to go up, on stage, and share my story. I'm not big on being center of attention, I actually will do all to avoid it. In the past, I usually will prepare my little speech, but every time I've gotten on stage, that little prepared speech goes out the window. This year I realized that I don't have to practice, how could I screw up my own story? So, the night starts out, and I get to see all my committee members. I then get to see Sam, who I don't get to see too often because she lives in Boston, so I was really happy to see her. I mean, she changed my life.... so it's always a pleasure getting to hang out with her in person. We had a big private room in back, which suddenly seemed so small. It seemed small because we had SO MANY PEOPLE come out for the event, which touched my heart. You had to squeeze and maneuver your way through the crowd, and I was loving every minute of it. Our silent auction was doing well, I started selling raffle tickets. It was great. It was about time for me to get up on stage, and my entire body was shaking. It wasn't that I didn't want to go up, it's just scary because everyone is looking at you. Sam got up and introduced our committee and thanked them. I then went up to share my story. Suddenly, as usual, all my nervousness went out the window, and I shared my story. It is always tough- I'm not shy about it, I'm actually proud of it, but it always gets a little emotional. I didn't want to start crying in front of 100+ people, but I made it through, and each time I get up there to share my story, I look in the crowd's eyes, and see the connection. They know exactly what their money and donations are going towards, and I would share it a million more times in front on a million more people if I had to. I guess it makes me a little selfish, because after sharing my story, I get this great feeling. I know that it helps impact people. It helps people understand. It helps other cancer survivors out there, like me, get one step closer to a grant from The SAMFund.

We then decided, impromptu, to do a live auction. Lyndsae, an amazing Hodgkin's Lymphoma survivor and past grant recipient, was donating a private yoga lesson. Even more amazing, she used her grant to help fund her training to become a yoga certified instructor, and also specializes in yoga for cancer patients. Who wouldn't want that private lesson? Steve, my father in law, was volunteered by me to get up and be our live auctioneer. He was wonderful. We ended up raising $400 for that yoga lesson, which is just incredible. We couldn't have done it without you Steve... Lyndsae was so touched, and I was standing up on the stage next to her and Sam while Steve was auctioning it off, and you could just feel the great energy in the room. Smiles all around. We then announced our raffle winners and silent auction winners, and I was starting to get sad because I knew the night was nearing its end.

People were coming up to me congratulating me on everything, telling me how touched they were with my story. Everyone was hugging me, and I met the most wonderful people. I had so much fun, and even though I'm an old lady when it comes to my sleep- meaning in bed by 10pm.... I refused to leave that event until everyone else was gone. It was hard saying bye to everyone, especially Sam! As the crowd filtered out, I knew it was time to go. Chris and I walked to the car, and I was just glowing with excitement. It's bittersweet saying goodbye to everyone, but I was waiting in anticipation to see how much money we raised.

On a HUGE side note, I wanted to thank my husband, Chris. Chris was amazing. Besides helping me gather auction items, Chris did every and anything he could during the night. He sold raffle tickets, let us borrow his father, left work in the suburbs extra early just to come out, photographed the event. He didn't even eat dinner that night because he was mingling around with me all night. I know that I could not have achieved what I have so far in my life if it wasn't for Chris. His passion for The SAMFund runs as deep as mine, and him & I will always hold a special place in our hearts for The SAMFund.

I really can't thank everyone enough for all that they have contributed. So, thank you again. I love you all. Because of your donations, we were able to blow our last fundraisers total amount raised out of the water. We raise.........

a bit over $17,000!

Simply. Amazing. Our grant cycle just opened up as well, and in the first 5 hours of it being open, we had 50 applications. 50! And there are still 5 more weeks to go... Thank you again, I cannot wait to see you all next year. I'd actually like to see you all earlier, so call me and we'll get lunch. Love you all.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

This blog entry is wayyy overdue. The past year or so has been a hectic year or so. There is a lot to update! To start, I got married! *yay* Very exciting, especially because I had been dating Chris for nearly 9 years, as of last year… Our wedding was October 2nd, 2011. It was perfect. We got married at St. Ray’s, which was really special, since I had gone to school there. We chose October because we love the fall, and we hated the idea of having to wear a tux & gown in smoldering heat… and our day turned out to be a perfect 65 degrees, and sunny I might add. I was a low-budget, non-bridezilla, and with the help of my family and friends, I had the most amazing evening without anyone going broke. I'll do a little wedding post in a bit, and share some photos from the big day ;)

Anyway- it went by so fast. It was the most amazing day, and one of the best day’s I’ve experienced as well!
Chris and I wanted to go on a honeymoon, and after a year of changing our minds on where we wanted to go, Chris surprised me one day and just booked it!! What a relief, since I couldn’t make up my mind… We left the morning after our wedding for San Francisco, at 7 am... and thankfully my sisters were so kind to drive us! When we landed we had some problems with the rental car, and then got to the hotel, and I started to feel a migraine coming on. I ended up laying in bed the whole day, I was really sick. Chris was a trooper, and scanned the streets of San Francisco for some Chicago-style pizza. He returned with some mediocre west coast pizza, but it still hit the spot. I woke up the next morning at 6 am Cali time, and Chris thought I was nuts. I felt amazing, and knew we were done with the minor honeymoon huccups. We set out on our adventure in our little Aveo (silly, you may think, but it’s my dream car!). We hit up a few spots in the city before leaving, but we were really excited to get on the coast… and it was even better than what we had imagined. Luckily, Chris drove most of the time- unfortunately, I got really car sick. The mountains are huge, no railings on the side next to the 200 foot drops- but the views were breath-taking. We spent 2 days driving, literally on the edge of the country. It was pretty much the coolest thing I’ve ever experienced! Everyone upgraded us to these gorgeous honeymoon suites, and we were very spoiled. We ended our route in Portland, and spent the rest of our honeymoon there! We explored every inch of the city, including Voodoo donuts, the many food trucks, Cannon Beach, Mt. Hood, Columbia River Gorge, Astoria, etc. Amazing. I would move out there in a heart-beat if someone offered me a job, and an Aveo. It was the best trip I’ve ever been on. I was extremely sad that we had to come home- but here we are, back in Joliet.

Chris and I have a little 2 bedroom apartment in Rockdale- a tiny town within Joliet- and it’s perfect. There is a huge park across the street, which is so pretty to look out at! It was so much fun getting settled in- and now it’s our home, and I absolutely love it. So- that is the update for Chris & I…. I have some more updates!!

I had my semi-annual check up this past February, and happy to say, I’m still cancer-free. It’s a good feeling. I had freaked out every possible moment I could up until the check-up. Everytime I go the nurses have to tell me to calm down because my pulse is out of control, although, they say that’s normal for survivors J I saw Dr. Siv, and he said everything looks good. My 5 year canceversary is coming up this September, and I will have a lot to celebrate. Dr. Siv said that after 5 years, the chances of reoccurence are so small, it makes no sense in worrying. I also am graduating to ANNUAL check-ups. That means I only have to go to my oncologist ONCE A YEAR. Amazing. I was going every 4 months, then 6, and now 12. I really feel accomplished. So, the cancer is still gone, but I did find out that my thryoid is failing.

Apparently, when you have radiation to your chest/neck, it can affect other organs and parts of your body. My radiologist did a great job of radiating (?), but she didn’t really have the best bed-side manners…. She warned me about the possibility of skin cancer, actually screamed at me when I wore a tank top one day- so I figured she’d let me know what else I have to be scared of. Nope. Never told me that my thyroid could DIE!? I was seeing every doctor you could imagine trying to get this sorted out since my numbers were always off, always fluctuating. My primary doctor finally sent me to see an endocrinologist, who specializes in the thryoid. Funny enough, she is Dr. Siv’s wife, so I knew I would LOVE her. And I do. She told me it’ll be ok, just have to take medication for the rest. Of. My. Life. Oh well, it could be worse…so I really can’t complain. Since taking the medication, I feel like a normal person again. Before I was on it, I was constantly in a “cloudy” state, extremely exhausted, it was bad. Other then then, my health has been spectacular, and I feel so blessed.

As I ramble on, I feel as though I should share the rest of my updates on another post…because this is getting way too long, and my fingers hurt! Here are some of my favorite photo from our honeymoon: