Leukemia

Someone’s Hero

15... that’s how many bags of blood I’ve needed over my two  journeys with cancer. It is funny the stuff you remember. I’ve had more bags of platelets. I can only imagine how many people have given blood and/or platelets to help keep me alive. To everyone who has given blood, you don’t know this but you saved someone yesterday, today or you will save someone tomorrow. If you’ve ever thought about giving blood... do it. Be someone’s hero, even if you don’t get to meet them.

Just do it…

I shot this image for Nike Basketball at the middle of the year but I’ve used their mantra for over 20 years. JUST DO IT... I get “ALOT” of questions daily on how I can just push through and not “stress” about possibly dying from leukemia. If anything my first round with Leukemia taught me was that we are all vulnerable and to find yourself a driving force. Well, fortunately my driving force was already installed into my life... no need for upgrades. Zoey and Zenaida are my driving force... they are what gives me energy in the morning when my levels have bottomed out for days and I haven’t been home in 3 weeks.

Days like today where I’m having acid flux and every bite I swallow burns going down. It’s all good though, I KNOW I need to eat so I try and have some Maalox ready. Getting those calories in is way more important than being comfortable at the time. That’s my mindset... JUST DO IT. Whatever I have to do, JUST DO IT, JUST DO IT  for them. Is it easy? Hell no, fuck no, but to me I have no other options. It is either you do this or don’t... no two ways around it.

I know this sounds like a hard, unforgiving and messed up plan to follow but I like all cancer fighters have been given a hard, unforgiving and messed up set of circumstances. Now I don’t want anyone to feel bad for me... I’m blessed way beyond I should be.

Just a reminder when you “think” you “should” do something but you are being apprehensive... JUST DO IT. You never know it might be what you needed to get you by.  

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Back at it

Well what can I say…. I’ve been in a massive fog for about 2 1/2 weeks. Whether it be the pain meds from the back surgery or the chemo meds, not really sure. But I’m out of it and am feeling my normal self…. finally! Finished chemo last Wednesday and am waiting for my levels to raise back up so that I can get out, hopefully in time for Christmas. I’ve continued on with SEPTUA since I feel I should still be documenting this process. Hopefully when all curated and formed it will show a suitable representation of what leukiemia could be.

As of right now, I’m pushing forward and continuing to keep in contact with clients, send my normal promo emails keep them in the loop. This will not stop me, I’ve came this far and still have so much to go! I just wanted to say I have no words for the level of love and support ThAt we have received from our friends, family, clients and co workers. I love all of ya’ll and and truely feel blessed by all of you! Thank you!

New birthday

There is a joke to this picture, well more like inside joke. They say when you get a bone marrow transplant the old you dies and you are reborn. This is pretty much true... everything that make you medically you is killed. Then you receive you donor’s stem cells which in turn you share the same blood type and sex of blood. My sister was my donor... so now we share the same blood type and yes I now have female blood. No I don’t have a monthly visitor... but I do cry at cartoons now. As I go through more rolls of film from my journey I’ll be posting more images, hope to continue to bring you all with me.

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Finding Glitter

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Life ain’t always glitter and rainbows... how much you choose to be negative about directly influences how your life will end up. I will always find glitter in old soggy confetti. 

New Birthday

Today is the day... I guess I get a new birthday today along with my new immune system. I am so at a loss for words right now. Really I just wanna be with Zoey, Z, mama and sisters. I want to be with my sister while she is going through the process of harvesting the stem cells. I know that isn’t easy. So much going through my head right now... just know that I am eternally grateful to everyone! Ya’ll strength and praying has brought me here. Even if you didn’t pray your well wishes provided momentum. I love you all!  

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What matters most

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.

Side effects

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. 

Keep moving

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My chemo cocktail

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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.

Side effects: 

Nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, drowsiness, or dizziness may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacistpromptly.

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).

This medication can affect sperm production, an effect that may lower male fertility. Consult your doctor for more details.

 

Leucovorin

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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.

Side effects: 

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.

Cytarabine

 Cytarabine is used alone or with other medications to treat various types of cancer. It is a chemotherapy drug that works by slowing or stopping cancer cell growth.

Side effects: 

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: rashitching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.

In this together

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.

Wrap it up

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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!  

The contortionist box

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.

Reflections

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.

Passage of time

In 3 days I'll start my 4th round of chemo, it was really good to be home for 2 weeks! I got to spend a lot of time with Z and Zozo but it is back to reality. I shot this the first week on my first round of chemo, this construction site looks very different now. This is my clock, to show the passage of time. Hopefully I can convey a real passage of time in 7 months.

Stanzia and her mobile keyboard

On Wednesday's we have a young adults with cancer meeting. At the end of the meeting Stanzia (pretty sure I butchered her name) sings a song for the group. Now it might seem like these meetings are corny and you are better of by yourself. They aren't and you are not, now the meetings might not be everyone's cup of tea but it is good to know you have people who are fighting the same battles... sometimes the same cancer as you. Experience goes a long way in this fight.

Pee bottles

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I've sat here for a while... trying to think of a better title for this post.Ha... ha... I failed... but when the chemo or drug side effects hits you hard as hell, making it to the restroom is sometimes not a option. That little jug hanging off the trashcan has saved me more than once. 

These bottles also serve the purpose of monitoring your fluid output. That way the nurses and doctors can see if you're retaining fluid or urinating it all out.  If pee grosses you out... then you might not want to continue on with this feed, because it only gets better!