Even if you're bald, losing your hair is a humbling experience. It is so crazy to see the hair you been shaving for 24 years be so easy to pull out. I've always joked the I can't wait for my hair to fall out so that I wouldn't have to shave. Now that the choice of having hair has been taking away... it is bittersweet. I think it is more of a loss of choice than the loss of the actual hair.
These 15 vials of blood represent hope... 6 months of hospital stays, chemo, crap load of drugs and uncertainty and it is all coming to a head. A couple of weeks ago we found out that my little sister is a half match for a bone marrow transplant! My sister is saving my life, I still don't think I've processed it completely. I don't know how to thank her... I thought this would be a easy post. I'm just now realizing the gravity of it all... she is saving more than a brother. She is saving a son, a husband and a father. My little sister is saving my life, the person I called Monkey Face Jones all through high school is saving me. I'm trying not to cry while I type this (at the dentist). I'm at a loss for words right now... but am also in a good place and can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I'll make a more cohesive post when I can gather my thoughts.
Ask not for a lighter burden but for broader shoulders. - Jewish proverb
Almost there, just have to strap in and push through.
Bone biopsies are weird, I've had 6 and don't remember a single one. I know years ago when you received a bone biopsy it was carried out with just local anesthetic. Well I'm a big baby, so they knocked me out every time and I'm very grateful for such kindness. I received a non pain medicated spinal tap once... NEVER AGAIN! I learned quickly that I don't like pain. Ha... ha.. ha...
12, 4, 8, 12, 4, 8... those are the times that I have my vitals checked. Blood pressure, pulse rate, oxygen and temperature, nothing too bad. I'm asked frequently " doesn't that get irritating?" My simple answer to that is NO. Simply put, if you had a bomb strapped to your chest and you couldn't reach it... the timer was set for detonation every four hours and five minutes wouldn't you want some one to come in everytime to disarm it? Pretty extreme way of thinking about it I know, but it hits home none the less.
When I'm out of the hospital for a week or 2 weeks I try to document my family as much as I can. They are definitely a huge part of my life.
One of the saddest things about being in a hospital for 3 weeks has nothing to do with me. It is seeing the amount of people being life flighted in everyday. I see this helicopter fly in at least 3-4 times a day... hopefully the people they fly in get to walk out.
Images I see and things I do everyday...
There are somethings you can't avoid... no matter how healthy you are. In some shape, way or form side effects from either chemotherapy or assisting drugs will be present. My side effects have been pretty mild considering what others have gone through. I've only had some appetite problems and acne (from methyl prednisone). Nothing really to complain about, but a side effect none the less. My mindset is "It can always be worse", and with cancer it most definitely can be. I've learned to deal with my ever changing body... as long as I'm alive to see it change and hopefully progress to a place where I can mold it back to where I was before.
Methotrexate is used to treat certain types of cancer or to control severe psoriasis or rheumatoid arthritis that has not responded to other treatments. It may also be used to control juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Methotrexate belongs to a class of drugs known as antimetabolites. It works by slowing or stopping the growth of cancer cells and suppressing the immune system.
Temporary hair loss may occur. Normal hair growth should return after treatment has ended. Mouth sores, diarrhea, signs of anemia (such as unusual tiredness, pale skin), signs of liver problems (such as dark urine, persistent nausea/vomiting, stomach/abdominal pain, yellowing eyes/skin), easy bruising/bleeding, black stools, enlarged glands/lymph nodes, bone pain, unusual pain and discoloration of the skin, signs of kidneyproblems (such as change in the amount of urine), dry cough, muscle weakness, weakness on one side of the body, neck stiffness, severe headache, vision changes, irregular heartbeat, mental/mood changes, seizures.
This medication may lower your ability to fight infections. This may make you more likely to get a serious (rarely fatal) infection or make any infection you have worse. Tell your doctor right away if you have any signs of infection (such as fever, chills, persistent sore throat, cough).
Reducing the toxic effects of methotrexate and certain other medicines (folic acid antagonists). It may also be used to treat other conditions as determined by your doctor.
Leucovorin is a folic acid derivative. Methotrexate and the folic acid antagonists block the body's production of folate. Leucovorin works by replacing folate in the body.
Though these are very rare, Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); fainting; seizures.
Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, headache, dizziness, and pain/swelling/redness at the injection site may occur. Nausea and vomiting can be severe. In some cases, drug therapy may be needed to prevent or relieve nausea and vomiting. Not eating before your treatment may help relieve vomiting. Changes in diet such as eating several small meals or limiting activity may help lessen some of these effects.
Temporary hair loss may occur. Normal hairgrowth should return after treatment has ended. Fever with body aches, muscle/bone pain, chest pain, eyeredness/itching/pain, painful/difficult swallowing, anal sores, signs of kidney problems (such as change in the amount of urine), painful/difficult urination, joint/side/back pain, pain/redness/swelling of the arms/legs/feet, numbness or tingling of hands/feet, freckling, big toe pain, trouble breathing, black/bloody stools, blood in the urine, vomit that looks like coffee grounds, vision problems (including blindness), mental/mood changes (e.g., confusion), unexplained drowsiness, unconsciousness, enlarged abdomen, trouble walking, muscle weakness, loss of coordination, inability to move (paralysis), seizures.
This medication can lower the body's ability to fight an infection. Notify your doctor promptly if you develop any signs of an infection such as fever, chills, unusual cough, or persistent sore throat.
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is unlikely, but get medical help right away if it occurs. Symptoms of a serious allergic reaction may include: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
I took this image on the day my life changed for ever. My doctor called me and told me to go to the nearest ER because my platelets were extremely low and I was at risk. On the way to 2nd ER (the first was a 24 hr Small ER) my lower back pain was excruciating, my one smidge of comfort came when I folded myself up and put my feet on the dashboard.
After 6 hrs and many, many vials of blood later, I had my diagnosis. Z and I cried for a minute... to be honest, as soon as I heard the words "Leukemia" Zoey popped in my head. I started to think about all the things I wouldn't be able to teach her and all the memories I'd miss. That's why I cried... I didn't give a damn about what was wrong with me. People get diagnosed with cancer everyday, I am no different.
Now this post isn't gonna be all sad and mushy, I'm happy to say I've been in remission since late May. My job is to keep that streak going and that's exactly what I will do. I will be around for a very, very long time friends.
What can I say, that you haven't already shown. This has been a hard journey for both of us, one day you had a husband there to help raise our sweet (and stupid energetic) Zoey... then the next you didn't. I'm sorry, I'm so, so, sorry... I know it is out of our hands but I want to be there. I miss ya'll something terrible and can't wait for that FaceTime at the end of the day. We've cried on each others shoulders (I kinda had to stoop for yours) but I am certain this is just a temporary learning block. We've argued about your need for rest and you not making the trek over here. We aren't perfect but when we make it through this, we'll be able to make it through anything thrown our way. Thank you and I'm honored to be your husband. I love you Zenaida Campbell.
Ahhhh old ole shower time! Hold up, not so quick... gotta wrap that pic line. You don't want to get it wet since that can cause the growth of bacteria and all kinds of fun stuff. Slide your arm in a two ended plastic bag then put Coban on top and bottom with a little tape to seal it up and you're all set!
Home sweet home! After 29 days (round one chemo) of being away from Z, Zoey and my home... I just wanted to relax with them. You never truly know how blessed you are until it is taken away. Hold everyone you hold dear tight... very tight, for they could be taken away as soon as they step outside the door.
The title says it all... at the beginning it took me more time to get "in" the restroom than it took to "go" to the restroom. Since this is my 4th round here, I'm a damn pro at maneuvering my IV stand in such a small space. Gotta remember to put that down in my resume.
While I'm at the hospital about to start my 4th round of chemo this image marks the end of my first round of chemo. Going home for a week, the nurses had to remove my pic line. If you don't know what a pic line is, it is basically a direct line to the heart when inserted.Going home for a week, the nurses had to remove my pic line. If you don't know what a pic line is, it is basically a direct line to the heart when inserted.
It is where they gave me the chemo, where they withdrew blood and where they gave me infusions if need be. I thought that since this thing has been inserted in my arm for a better part of a month, that it will hurt like hell coming out. To my surprise, it didn't... it felt like string being dragged over my chest and on to my shoulder. Very weird sensation. All images after this will be from my 2nd and 3rd rounds of chemo.
This self portrait thing is hard, I mean... just sitting in front of the camera is easy. Making it meaningful is the hard part. Documenting yourself is hard as well, I'm constantly reminding myself to shoot everything... even the mundane. This is my first time turning the camera on myself and it is very eye opening. Self portraits seem to be helping me find out more of who I am and what I can achieve.
Let's face it, there is a possibility that Leukemia can take me. I'm not being negative, that is my reality. Of course I'm doing very, very well with chemo therapy and I feel fantastic... but the reality of things is no matter how awesome I feel, I have cancer. I'm not sad, I'm not depressed... I feel redirected and decisively more purposeful. Just because I realize I can die from Leukemia doesn't mean I'm going to go into the night peacefully... because I won't.