Monday, March 30, 2015

...brb...

Working on a pretty rad post for you! 
See you soon.

love&lyrics,
- LISA -

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

2 Years, 9 Months, & 7 Days.

     2 years, 9 months, & 7 days...that's how long I've been in remission round #2.
     2 beautiful years, 9 glorious months, & 7 wonderful cancer-free days have been given to me to live on this Earth. Some days were better than others, some hurt like hell {inside & out}, & some felt too good to be true...but all were very much appreciated; much more than I can make palpable with my words that's for sure. I don't think you can ever get too comfortable before a scan or a blood test; how could you?...you entire life & the lives of those around you, are all resting on the results. That's pressure!!! Thankfully, my CEA (tumor-marker level in my blood labs) dropped from around 2.6 to 1.3 which is AWESOME!
     In between my first surgery in August 2010 & my 2nd chemo regimen that would follow, we made the decision to switch oncologists from FGH to The Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center in Morgantown, WV. I can honestly say that is the 1, no-doubt-about-it reason why I am still alive. Although not a colorectal specialist (because apparently, we don't have those in WV...yet), Dr K. completely took me & my family under her wing. She made me feel comfortable in the most uncomfortable of life situations. When my recurrence happened in mid-2011, you could see the disappointment on her face but she was also quick to reassure me that we would also win this round...& we did just that. She's been the most proactive,  let's stay one-step-ahead of another possible recurrence, kick-ass doctor & I'm so thankful to have her in my cancer-free life. ❤
     With good news comes a little sad news...our family said a final goodbye to our beloved pug-mix "Buddy" on March 9, 2015. He was 13-years-old (91-years-young in dog-years) & had been battling diabetes & occasional seizures for the past 7 months. He had been with us through our highest of high's & lowest of low's & was truly an integral part of our family. He is already incredibly, incredibly missed & will never be forgotten.
We'll love you forever, Budman.
Buddy Johnson
September 04. 2001 - March 09, 2015
"We give dogs time we can spare, space we can spare, & love we can spare. In return, dogs give us their all...it's the best deal man has ever made."

love&lyrics,
- LISA -


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Colorectal Awareness Month!

March is here, which means it's officially COLORECTAL AWARENESS MONTH!
All month long I will be participating in #31daysofstrength, which is a daily photo challenge created by fightcolorectalcancer.org


Today's theme is a quote & I chose one by Cassandra Clare & it's one that is very dear to my heart & I was able to breakout my warpaint, which is always a plus.
Day #1:

See you tomorrow!

love&lyrics,
- LISA -

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Time For Change

     My friend & fellow Colorectal Cancer Warrior, Dawn Eicher, has started an online petition to present to Congress in hopes of lowering the screening age for CRC; currently the "recommended" age is 50...this is entirely TOO late. Below are 2 excerpts from Dawn's petition, which already has over 50,000 signatures.


  • "The facts are that colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the U.S., and every year approximately 140,000 people are diagnosed. Of those, the current stats show that between 10-20% are under the age of 40, but the screening age remains 50 years old. Colorectal cancer incidence and mortality rates continue to rise in the population under 50. It is also a misnomer that colorectal cancer is mostly genetic. Current data shows approximately 5% of all cases are genetic in nature. With appropriate screening, colorectal cancer is one of the few 100% preventable cancers. This fact is so very important it bears repeating: COLORECTAL CANCER IS 100% PREVENTABLE WITH EARLY DETECTION! Unfortunately, insurance companies refuse to cover diagnostic tests for those under 50."
  • "According to the latest stats, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 2 men will face cancer in their lifetime. Let’s take colorectal cancer out of the equation NOW and save people today. We have enough to worry about; colorectal cancer shouldn’t be one of them. This is not an “old man’s disease” and 1 in 20 is the average risk factor. There are currently more than ONE MILLION colon cancer survivors."

Please, if you haven't already, click the link & sign the petition. We whole-heartedly thank you for your time.


love&lyrics,
- LISA -


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

31, Here I Come!

Sunday was a big day...like a big, big day. Sunday I turned 31-years-young & I couldn't be more EXCITED! Perhaps 31 doesn't sound like an age that you want to - metaphorically - "shout from the rooftops", but I do! Almost 5 years ago, I was diagnosed 2 months & 6 days after I turned 26 (whoa - just noticed the strange repetition of the 2's & 6's there) so I was very much facing the potential of being what I call "forever 26". Is my life anywhere near where I ever "thought" it would be?...hell no, but I'm alive, I'm loved, I'm healthy (fingers-crossed for low tumor-markers on Friday) & I'm surrounded by incredible people who I love so very much. Those incredible people helped me celebrate being able to live & learn another year in the crazy, chaotic, wouldn't-trade-it-for-anything world. 

Birthday snapshots with ❤ MY LOVE ❤

Celebrating with my lady-love & bffff, Franki! LY! ☮

     Along with my excitement about my birthday, I'm also pretty pumped for next month because March is officially Colorectal Cancer Awareness month! Unfortunately you won't see blue ribbons displayed as prominently around as pink ribbons in October (believe me, the emotional-struggle is REAL) however we are still doing our damnedest to spread the word about prevention, detection, and the reality of this disease. We - I can't do this alone so I need your help & this easiest way to show your support is participating in National Dress In Blue Day on Friday, March 06, 2015. What does that mean exactly? It's seriously incredibly easy...by simply wearing something blue you are supporting me, the CCA, & the thousands of other CRC Warrriors & their families who fight the fight everyday. Easy peasy, right? If you can, take a minute to help us spread the word. Share your pictures& join us while we raise awareness & save some butts! ;)


Please feel free to take & pass this along! 

Also, be on the lookout for lots of "GDHC" blog lovin' in March...here's hopin' you won't get sick of me!


See you soon!
love&lyrics,
- LISA -







Monday, February 9, 2015

Back on the Horse

     Happy Belated 2015. Like a lot of things in my life, "blogmas" didn't go quite as planned but I hope you did enjoy the few posts I did manage to get put-up.
     I'm sorry it's been so long since I've posted but I decided to take a little time away from the web; I needed to work through some things in my head & in my heart before I felt "ready" enough to get back on the horse, or in this case...back on the blog.
      From now on, "Goodbye Dancer, Hello Cancer" will be in honor of my fellow colorectal warrior & "butt-y", Mrs. Amanda Stewart. Amanda was a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a hero, an inspiration, & an amazing friend. She fought a fight no one should have to fathom, let alone experience but she did it with a smile & her famous "thumb's up" attitude. She became an angel on December 31, 2014 at the much-too-young age of 28. My promise to her was to continue to share our stories about CRC, colostomys, the importance of colonscopies, & most importantly - debunking the age myth that accompanies colorectal cancer. I was diagnosed 2 months after I turned 26; Amanda was diagnosed at only 22-years-old. It's time for change & I am going to do everything I can to make that a reality.

...forever in our hearts...
     I've also been in touch with the Colon Cancer Alliance to become part of their "Never Too Young" Campaign so I will be updating you on that progression as it becomes more available to me. 
:)

thank you for your patience,
talk to you very soon.

love & lyrics,
- LISA -
   

Friday, December 12, 2014

Blogmas #3 - Carpe Diem

     Cancer is a something that is ever-present in my world; even when I'm doing something not-at-all related to this disease, ultimately,  I can {most likely} somehow trace it back to cancer. There are remnants of my disease & it's aftermath everywhere; when I look in the mirror & see the royal-blue streaks in my hair, a sense of pride reverberates throughout my entire body. I was lucky enough to beat cancer not only once, but twice. When I have a new, unexplained pain or ache anywhere in my body, a pulse of fear instantaneously runs through my veins. Could it be another recurrence? When I look around at the people who are - or in some cases, who aren't - regulars in my everyday life, the circumstances of those relationships are inevitably traced back to my cancer in one way or another. I think it's safe to say that cancer affects every single aspect of your life & the lives of those around you. It doesn't matter if you are newly diagnosed or years-out in remission, you are forever changed as a person after your introduction to this stupid, selfish disease. I pride myself on the person I am now in comparison to who I was literally the day before my diagnosis. I'm also consider myself incredibly blessed to have an unspoken kinship with other cancer warriors facing various other kinds of this unrelenting disease. We are family; inevitably connected with what I like to call an "unfortunate fortunate" understanding of one another. I've been lucky enough to personally connect with some incredibly amazing people who continuously awe me with their courage & tenacity. I've also found inspiration, strength, & pride in warriors whom I've watched from afar.
     Diem Brown first danced her way into my world like many others: on MTV's "The Challege: Fresh Meat". She decided to make her battles with ovarian cancer public; documenting pivotal moments that we as a society think we "know" about but are rarely experienced so personally. She shared videos of her hair loss & even blogged for People magazine after she suffered a recurrence with OC. She took her experience of being an insider of the "cancerverse" & created an online registry called MedGift to give other patients a place to organize their wants & needs. She became an advocate for young-adult cancer warriors & even shared a little advice with me on Instagram about dealing with early-onset menopause & post-battle health.

     Diem was diagnosed with cancer for a third time over the summer; this time it had metastasized to her colon & stomach. I remember being all-sort-of-emotional when she first spoke-out about her emergency colostomy, hysterectomy, & how it made her feel like less of a woman. I'm extremely open about my surgeries, which included a complete hysterectomy  & complete vaginectomy (which is the removal of the entire vaginal canal; don't worry, I honestly didn't even know it existed until it became a part of my reality by the time I was 27). I think because I'm so far from my my initial emotions & reactions that I sometimes forget how much of a struggle both of those were for me in the beginning (& they still can be a touchy subject depending on my mood). It took me a moment to step-back & realize that her battle had just taken a major, unexpected pivotal point & she was experiencing it all in front of the world. I then found myself following her story on a daily basis. Her cancer continued to spread to her liver & lymph nodes & she ultimately danced her way into heaven on November 14, 2014. Her death affected me much more than I ever expected it to; perhaps because of our close age or because it's yet another reminder that you can never get too comfortable in life after cancer...or maybe it's just the fact that I am SO sick of this disease taking people away from their friends & families. Bottom line: we need a cure & we need it now.
     Like so many others, I am still inspired by Diem's spirit & outlook on life, love, cancer, & everything in between. I wanted to share a few of my favorite, what I like to call "Diemisms" with you.

  • "I want people to know that the fight is worth it & that's something that's so important for me." - People
  • "Being in charge of who you are, regardless of outward appearances, is beautiful." - Makers
  • "It's my personal perspective that you live as hard & as vigourously as you can." - People
  • "We celebrate the birth of a child with a baby registry. We celebrate the joining of two lives with a wedding registry. But when someone gets sick, the only celebration is when you’re getting better. There’s really no celebration when your’e fighting to get better. I realized how isolating that is for the patient, and even for the people who want to help out. A registry takes the pride out of [the equation when] asking for help, and my goal was to make it as commonplace as it is for weddings or as it is for baby showers to ask for help when you’re undergoing medical treatments." - Hudson Mod (talking about her motivation for MedGift)
  • "I love Mondays bc it feels like a fresh start. So give people you have known a fresh set of eyes, as we all learn & grow from our experiences & mistakes." - Diem Brown
lastly, here is a video from Diem's YouTube channel, which I have watched nuuuuuumerous times & will continue to watch to remind myself that I'm forever stronger.


May you forever dance with the angels.