The scary word that isn’t cancer

Cancer, cancer, cancer…. remission, remission, remission… RELAPSE.

The seven letter word that some would argue is worse than cancer. (I think I happen to be one of them.)

As I sit by the fire and drink my green tea those little thoughts sneak in unexpectedly without me noticing & I’m suddenly thinking about relapsing.

All these stories about people, especially children, that relapse shortly after they’re claimed “cancer free” seem to hit me most when I’m alone. Although I find comfort in reading stories about children relapsing multiple times and still having the same love for life.

They seem to be resilient to the mental stress adult oncology patients carry.

Life never seems to lose its sparkle.


I asked my best friend what we would do if I relapsed again and he simply replied: “We’ll fight it just like we did last time & just like we’ll do next time… no fight is too hard or too long if you’ll make it to the other side. ”

I couldn’t have said it better myself: “The strength of those with illness is measured by the support of those around them.”

Cancer, remission & relapsing is all part of the journey.

I guess you learn to love the good, the bad and the awful.

If I relapse and still have the people I love beside me perhaps life will continue to sparkle in my eyes.

Xo Anyse

Accepting death

I’ve recently been asked by multiple people how I stay so positive while going through something so difficult and challenging. If I’m being completely honest, the answer is quite simple- accepting that death may come a little sooner than you had once anticipated.

I know death is a difficult subject. The majority of people have a hard time accepting the death of a loved one or dear friend, let alone their own death. It is too often seen as the worst possible outcome.

Perhaps if it was seen in a more positive light those who suffer/suffered from a physical illness could live a happier and more fulfilling life.

I’m not saying it’s an easy pill to swallow. It’s not like I woke up one morning and decided that I was okay with my life ending at such a young age. It took a few months, and much thought but I have finally come to the realization that:

DEATH is okay

DEATH is unavoidable

DEATH is a part of life

Sure I’m young and sure I have a million things I would like to accomplish before my time here is up, but if tomorrow were to be my last day I am content with the things I’ve done, the people I’ve met and the love I have felt.

“A life with love is a life that’s been lived.”

For those of you going through the same thing (or for those who want to appreciate their lives a little extra) – take a deep breath every time you wake up, hug the ones you love a little extra and conquer the day as if it were your last.

You don’t need to live a long life to live a complete life.
Continue reading

6 letters- 6 months ago

June marks 6 months…

CANCER.

The inevitable 6 letter word that was like vomit from my oncologists mouth. The day the life I was currently living was no longer going to be anywhere close to ordinary.

Everything I knew as normal came to a halting STOP.

I’ve been riding this roller coaster for a few months now and if I’m being completely honest it was easier to fight than I thought it would be. I would be lying if I said there weren’t days where the world felt dark and awful but somehow through this midst of it all life seemed to shine through TWICE as bright as it did before.

Planning summer adventures & trips between chemo… cute coffee dates & weeks spent with old friends…

School will await me when I’m ready- LIFE will be there for me to take on when I am well & ready.

Here’s to another 6 months of ups and downs- here’s to accepting everything life throws my way.

Xo

 

My Good Old Friend Chemo

Let me start with sorry for the time in-between posts… It has been a busy few weeks!

If I’m being totally honest I haven’t posted because I’ve been trying to forget my first chemo experience. It started off fine, a little stressful with accessing the port but nevertheless it was going pretty well.

Somewhere between receiving the chemo and my first night at the hospital I began to feel the effects. The nausea started slowly till I inevitably ended up over a bucket in the bathroom with tears running down my face because lets be honest: puking SUCKS- especially when you know it’s induced. (Puking with a healthy body sucks, let alone when your body consists of cancer cells.)

I made my way back to bed and the nurse offered another nausea medicine to help relieve my symptoms. She gave me these little white pills you put under your tongue. Shortly after they began to melt, my eyes began to close and my brain felt like it was incapable of processing anything. I’ve never felt anything like it.

I don’t drink but I think that’s the closest I’ve ever been to drunk.

Ingesting the little white pills is the last thing I remember. The few days after ingesting the pills are a blur. I don’t even have any recollection of leaving the hospital; I haven’t decided if that’s a good thing or not. I think that’s why I’ve been so scared to write about it because so much was forgotten.

Once home the initial days are still a bit of a blur. I was on 2 nausea medicines and sent home with those famous little white pills (that I had NO intention of using). I was on home hydration which means my port was hooked up to an IV for 12 hours every night. Every time the doorbell rang I knew it was time; theres something about having my port used that turns my stomach.

I initially was so nauseous I couldn’t even sit up. I laid in bed while someone fed me little pieces of watermelon and cheese. Those were the only things I could stomach. As the days went on the nausea seemed to subside but I had to take things slowly or it would creep up on me once again.

My body had been poisoned and I was slowly learning how to cope with it.

Xo

 

The 6 Letter Word that Kills

DID YOU KNOW… There are more than 100 types of cancer. On average, 555 Canadians will be diagnosed with Cancer every day.

In addition to that, 2 out of 5 Canadians are expected to develop cancer during their lifetime. [Canada’s current population is 36,626,083 those statistic estimate that 14,650,433 of Canada’s civilians will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.]

I have not only been diagnosed with cancer once in my lifetime, but twice. I was first diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma a malignant brain tumour. The second diagnosis was osteosarcoma in simpler words- bone cancer [& yes, this is the cancer Terry Fox passed away from.]

Osteosarcoma is most commonly found in fast growing areas of the bone (knees, elbows, etc.) Some Osteosarcoma patients undergo surgery, while others must undergo both surgery and vigorous chemotherapy treatments. The choice of treatment is dependent on the severity, as well as the location, of the cancer.

My diagnoses of osteosarcoma is linked to both the radiation I received as a child AND the mutation in my gene (P53.) My left jaw lit up like a christmas when I had a bone scan done. The tumour was measured in cm (this generally means the tumour is of a large size.)

The board of oncologists at Sick Kids discussed my specific case and decided I should under go surgery before starting chemotherapy. They wanted the tumour to be removed before it caused further damage (specifically nerve damage.)

The surgery whom was done by Doctor Gilbert, the head and neck specialist at the Toronto General Hospital, planned on:

  • Removing the jaw joint (leads to permanent complications chewing & numbness)
  • Removing a small lower part of the skull (this was to be done by a neurosurgeon)
  • Reconstruction of the left mandible (jaw)
  • Free tissue transplant from the left leg (used to reconstruct the left mandible/jaw)

The morning of surgery was long; it consisted mostly of waiting around. Once I changed into my dressing gown the surgery was quick to follow. The surgeon, as well as his fellow, brought me into a massive operating room (exactly like the ones in movies.) The few minutes between being brought in by the doctors and being put to sleep, seemed to last forever. I’ve been put to sleep sooooooo many times that it doesn’t scare me anymore.

If you close your eyes and start counting….1…2….you’re asleep!

Xo

Cancer

Everyones past helped shape who they are today so it’s inevitable that cancer helped shaped me.                                                                                                                                                            

I was diagnosed with cancer for the first time at the age of 2; it was a brain tumour situated  behind my left eye. I underwent treatment for months, with little results. My family was devastated by the idea of losing a loved one at such a young age. My mom insisted they keep treating me until my little fragile body couldn’t take anymore. After 12 weeks of radiation, and week long chemo treatments my tumour began to shrink. Eventually my oncologist was able to shrink the tumour, to ruffly the size of a loony, as well as eliminate the cancer cells. Years of fighting finally payed off- It created a miracle… ME

In addition to having underwent a childhood cancer, I was born with the P53 gene. This gene is essentially an error in my DNA that creates masses of cancer. Because of this gene the odds of me having cancer again were high- much much higher than the average person. In all honesty though, I never worried about it. I always told myself it’s pointless to worry about something that was out of my control. Weather I worried about cancer or not, if my biology insisted I get it- there was nothing I could do to change that.

January 6th 2017, shortly after my 18th birthday, the inevitable happened- I was diagnosed with cancer for the second time. I had been sleeping more and frequent headaches during the night began to affect the quality of my sleep. Th0se around me believed it was the lack of routine in my busy university lifestyle but something inside of me knew there was an underlying issue. I procrastinated going to the doctor during the holidays until I realized that my health was in my own hands. No one was going to advocate for me anymore; if I wanted an answer it was my responsibility to ask the questions.

After reaching out to my new oncologist nurse a few times, I realized she didn’t believe my symptoms were associated to anything major. She repeatedly encouraged me to go see my family doctor; however, something about her reaction was too calming. I decided to contact my old oncologist nurse whom assumed another role at the hospital. I explained my symptoms and that my current nurse was disregarding the importance of me seeing my oncologist. She contacted my current oncologist nurse and explained to her the importance of me being seen by my doctor. [I later found out, by my oncologist, that I only received an appointment because I spoke with my old nurse.]

The weeks to follow are a little bit of a blur. Everyone was in shock that this healthy young girl could possibly have such an awful disease growing inside of her AGAIN. By the end of January I underwent a massive surgery to remove the tumour, as well as reconstruct the left mandible with bone and tissue taken from my leg. The surgery was roughly 12 hours. The recovery time was estimated at 12-13 days but I was out in 6. I slowly began to recover.

XO