Saturday, January 25, 2014

reMission Possible

Happy ( albeit belated) New Year! 

     My-oh-my, what a CRAZY 2014 it has already been for the Johnson family. We're not even a month in & I have oh-so-much to tell you! Before I start talking all-sorts of "me, me, me" I wanted to say I hope all of you had a super-rad holiday season & were able to celebrate the new year in whichever way happens to float your boat. I hope there were hugs & laughs & smiles & an overabundance of love surrounding you wherever you may have been. 
C'mon, bring it it...BLOG HUG!!!

     As for me, I'm not going to lie, I'm a pretty low-key, (aka lame) 29-year-old who "rang-in" NYE at home, lounging around in leggings, cozy aloe-socks, & my favorite Beatles sweatshirt while sipping on some sweet-tea. However, in my defense (for this particular situation at least), the last few days of 2013 were full of hospitals, scans, surgeries, anxiety, stress, cuticle picking, & lots of waiting - which, come to find out, is not one of my best abilities. 
     By some strange twist of fate my mom's colon/tumor resection surgery (for her Stage 1 Colon Cancer diagnosis from a few weeks prior) & my 3-month rectal cancer PET/CT scan (to follow up September's liver lesion concerns) ended up being on the same day but at times & at different hospitals which, luckily, are maybe a 5-ish minute drive apart (depending on traffic -it's a college town, to which I say: Go Mountaineers!), so Chad & I were able to immediately go over after finished with my appointment. 
     The PET scan process is strangely comfortable for me; maybe it's the familiarity of knowing what to expect. As I've said before, cancer is one big, unpredictable pain-in-the-ass (literally for us colorectal folks); so when it comes to something I've experienced countless times before, it's a welcomed occasion. I know what is going to happen first, then second, then third, & so on; it allows me to let my guard down for the hour & 1/2 that I am one with the radioactive dye. Needless to say, my insomnia was in full-gear pre-scan night so sleep was definitely not on my radar - this, my friends, is where the 45 minute "you must lay & remain extremely still(they always put an emphasis on the extremely, btw) PET scan rules work to my benefit. The vibrations of the massive machine put my anxiously-exhausted muscles at ease & sadly enough, the propelling sound of the scanner orbiting my body, which in reality is looking for any presence of a possible recurrent disease, lulls me to sleep like a newborn baby. 
     After having myself quite a refreshing power-nap, we made our way over to my mom's hospital, grabbed some much-needed coffee, & took a seat in the all-too-familiar "living room" with my dad to pass time until Dr. B came out to update us. This is where the waiting begins...& seemingly NEVER ends. How do you guys do it?! It's the most frustrating, nerve-wrecking, what-the-hell-is-going-on experience. I can say, with 100% certainty, that I do not have the patience to not be the patient; I'm absolutely not emotionally-capable of it. PERIOD. So what's an impatient, nervous, worried-about-her-mama girl to do? You got it, I made like Dora & got my EXPLORER on! :)

Hospital Exploration - Roof access! 

     Eventually Dr. B did come out & tell us my mom's surgery was a success. I immediately felt the weight of the world lift off my body. I didn't care about the outcome of my scan but I needed my mom to be ok, all of us needed her to be ok, & most of all - SHE deserved to be ok. He told us he removed her small tumor (which was about the size of a pea), her ovaries, a few lymph nodes (which, come to find out, a "few" meant 16 which ALL came back cancer-free after biopsy!) & her appendix to be safe & in his words: "because it was in the way". "You had no clue you hit the jackpot when I walked into your office 3 years ago, did you? I feel like I should be getting commission" I said through a smile. He laughed as he took of his scrub hat & joked back, "you guys can never just give me something simple, can you?!" In all seriousness, Dr. B is an amazing doctor. He's one of the factors that truly makes me believe in fate because I whole-heartedly believe he was the one meant to save my life & he did & now he had also just saved my mother's life as well. Not that I ever feared for her life, at least not from this disease - it just physically made me ache to now this amazing, selfless woman was going to have to endure things that no human should ever have to. However, being the strongest person I know - emotionally, mentally, everything-ally - my mom's surgery, recovery, & even the pain was far less than what we had expected it. I always knew she was a warrior. My mom & I have always been close; we've had a "secret handshake" since I was little & we have always had this unspoken connection & now, we are forever connected by Blue.
     There were 3 days between the time when my mom came home from the hospital & my results day. Those days were filled with lots of Netflix, FRIENDS, insomnia, YouTube & phenergan for stress-induced nausea. Finally my day came & to be honest I was probably as prepared to be re-diagnosed as a person could be. Tragically, that is how my brain has trained itself over the past 10 years: plan for the worst but still expect for a not-so-great outcome regardless. Aside from my survival, good things have rarely happened to my family the past decade. However, knock on the metaphorical wood, it looks like things might be a'changing. My PET/CT scan came back COMPLETELY clear! The lesion that was on my liver 3 months ago is gone & "no abnormal hypermetabolic activity to suggest recurrence of tumor" was detected. Craziness! My CEA level (tumor marker) has been steady at 0.5 for a little over a year which is so, so sweet to hear. So, now what? I'm cancer-center free for 6 months until it's time for my next scan, if that 1 is clear, most likely my scans will move to the 1 year mark. Hells to the yes!
     There has been a lot of smiles & laughter & hugs & love for the Johnson family thus far in 2014, & yes - I know there is still lots more of the year to come but you know what...for now, we'll expect the best & prepare for the better. 

love & lyrics,
PS - 19 months REMISSION! 

Oh! Since it's a new year, I wanted to add a new section to GDHC - letting you guys know what I'm listening to, products that I love or shove, books, movies - really anything that I am into at the moment & want to share with you. I hope to be posting much more frequently than I have been, so if you have post ideas or questions - just lemme know. <3

What am I'm absolutely loving right now?
"American Dreamer" by my girl , Alexz Johnson.
{from her new EP: Heart}

"...and always believe with a dream up your sleeve..."

Friday, January 24, 2014

#tbt: was, am, will

"reMission Possible" to be posted soon...
See you then. 

Oops! I forget to post my #tbt (throwbackthursday). 
Better later than never.

#tbt to the person I was & looking at the person I am, & the person I will continue to become. I used to dream of changing the world through do & now my dream is to chance a world full of cancer. Millions of dreamers just like me are out there fighting the beast everyday. We need a cure & we need it now.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

#tbt: Capeside Adventures

I absolutely promise a new post is on it's away. I've been working on it for quite some time &, in my opinion, it is my most personal entry ever. A lot has happened in the Johnson household & we're only 16 days into 2014!

See you soon!
- LISA -

...til then...

Visiting Dawson Leery's house from "Dawson's Creek in "Capeside, MA" which is really in Wilmington, NC. If you don't know, DC, along with FRIENDS, is my ALL-TIME favorite show. During our visit we were able to meet the owners, chat on the porch for about 45 minutes (learning so much super-rad DC info), & then took our time absorbing the most stunning surroundings. It was a dream come true.

This was 13 months before my diagnosis & I can't even begin to explain how the fictitious lives of Dawson, Joey, Pacey, Jack, & Jen allowed me to escape my own reality during my battle. 
I'm forever a Creeker. 

Let's be buds!
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