THE BEAUTY IN IMPERFECTIONS

When I first found out I was having surgery, one thought that came to mind was ‘I wonder how big the scar will be?’. I assumed it would be this ittybitty incision, and that it would be easy to cover up but boy was I wrong. I woke up to find my entire stomach covered up in bandages and days later after the covering was removed, I realized how big of a scar I had. So apparent it ran down my entire stomach ending a few inches past my belly button. I was sad to say the least, but looking back at it now, I have no reason to feel ashamed. I’m proud of what it means. It means I survived something that would have certainly killed me, if it weren’t for the wonders of modern medicine, perseverance, and a whole heap of love and faith.






And now, 4 years later, I’m growing a tiny human being inside and it’s the most wonderful feeling in the world. I never thought I would get to experience this having come a long way with this battle. So now, instead of being ashamed of it, I’ve learned to embrace it. Embrace the fact that I had to fight through some bad days to earn the best days of my life. And with my due date just around the corner, I know the best days have yet to come! I thank my lucky stars that I beat cancer’s ass and I’m still standing here today to tell my story.

Special thanks to Andy Shepard for capturing these amazing photos.

IT’S NOT A MYTH, I SURVIVED THE FIFTH!!!

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High Five to Scan #5!

Since I’ve been showing great progress, instead of having MRI & CT scans every 3 months, Dr. Pillariesetty recommended MRI scans every 4 months until I reach my two year mark. And if all goes smoothly from there on, the hope is to reduce these scans to every 6 months.

Thank you to everyone for your endless support, love, and prayers.

Special thanks to my amazing team over at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. You guys rock!
L-R: Resident Dr. Val, Dr. Pillarisetty, and my personal nurse Allison

xoxo,
Cam

NATIONAL CANCER SURVIVORS DAY

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Why I started blogging…

Caringforcamille.com emerged soon after I was diagnosed with Leiomyosarcoma in the summer of 2013.

While I was recovering at Evergreen Hospital from my first surgery, my sister Diane commented that I should consider starting a journal. So I did…I wrote about my thoughts, the pain, hospital food, etc… just about anything that came to mind. It was quite comforting writing in this journal because it wasn’t always easy expressing my feelings and it certainly didn’t help with the healing process had I kept everything bottled in. Even after I got released from the hospital I continued writing – this time, I wrote about recovery, my diet, the meds, the joys of a handicap pass, my fears, and my new life.

Only my family and close friends knew about my situation, but I knew sooner or later people will eventually find out. I mean how long can I keep this cancer hidden?!? My friend Muriel was the one who thought of the idea to start a blog. It would be easier to direct friends and family to the site so that I wouldn’t feel bombarded with everyone asking questions since I was still in shock and recovering. I thought…what a GREAT idea!!! Since I already had a journal going, I just needed to transfer the material online. And so with the help of my dear friends…caringforcamille.com was born.

Gosh, I can’t begin to tell you how nerve wracking it was to make my blog public. I mean, everyone was going to know my story and I don’t think I was ready for all the talks and people feeling sorry for me. It took me about a week after the blog was ready to make it public. There were days where I felt like okay, todays the day, but for some reason I couldn’t press the send button. My friends being supportive as they were kept telling me to not be so scared – that nothing bad will come out it, that I’d have more prayers and support on my side. So when the day came when I made it “Facebook” known (cause come on now – it ain’t official till it’s on Facebook right?!?) I made sure to not be online for the next few hours.

When I finally had the courage to get back online and read all the comments – I was in complete shock! The amount of love and support that I received from everyone was overwhelming!!! I was in tears from reading all the encouraging and inspirational posts and comments! THANK YOU! All this time I thought of the bad but all I got was the good. Thank you guys for making this journey that much more easier for me!!!

Fast forward to my second surgery, I went to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance to get a second opinion on my diagnosis. I met the most amazing surgeon Dr. Pillarisetty who told me that he would be able to remove the tumor without having to go through chemo or radiation treatment. Of course, I said let’s do it! The surgery date was set – it was one month from my previous surgery. I was pretty hesitant considering I wasn’t even fully healed yet and just had my staples removed. To be opened up again was just overwhelming to say the least but I couldn’t have this tumor in me…killing me!!!

My second surgery was a success; they removed the tumor and all traces of bad cells. With that in mind, I thought that would be the end for caringforcamille. I mean, I started the blog to keep friends and family updated with my cancer journey but now that my cancer was gone, I didn’t know what else I could write about. After speaking with my sis and dear friends, they all encouraged me to keep the blog up. So I did.. writing about my fun adventures, personal life, things I love, food especially brunch, events, and the list goes on.

Well, all good things must come to an end right?!? Unfortunately my cancer came back about 8 months from my last surgery. I was devastated but remained hopeful. Luckily, I kept the blog going so I was able to keep everyone updated with my current situation. This time around, I did 5 weeks of radiation before going under the knife…again! My third surgery was scheduled at exactly a year and one day from the second surgery. Not much time has passed, but I was more ready for it than last time!

I had another successful surgery!! The recovery was a bit challenging with getting addicted to the medication and all. Since I’ve already had a recurrence, Dr. Pillarisetty wanted me to do the MRI and the CT scans every 3 months instead of every 6 months like I was initially doing before. So far, my last 3 scans have been normal and in the clear!!. Yay!!! Praise Jesus!!!

When I look back at the last couple of years, it’s quite interesting how my life has turned around. Cancer makes one aware of just how precious life, family, and friends are; that small annoyances are not worth fussing over. I’m glad that I have this blog to look back at and realize that even though you are faced with the most difficult struggles, just know that there are so many people rooting and cheering for you. I am grateful for the support I have received from people near and far; for the many new friends I have made, for people who have come back into my life.

Today I celebrate life along with my fellow cancer survivors and hope that a cure is found.

xoxo,
cam

THE DAYS AFTER SURGERY

It’s been two weeks since the operation and a lot has happened since my return home. My apologizes for not writing sooner, but my meds have really gotten the best of me these days. So lets go back to the beginning.
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August 4: Surgery Day
My surgery was set for 8:30 am with a check-in time of 7:00 am. After changing into those beautiful gowns that I’d be sporting for a couple days, I had a chance to meet the entire surgical team. From nurses, anesthesiologists, assistants, and the surgeon, I was ready for another battle. Last surgery everything was so vague because I was completely knocked out before going in, but this time I was awake when I went into the OR and I just couldn’t hold back the tears. I couldn’t help it…so Dr. Pillarisetty held my hand and comforted me while they put the gas mask on and I was off to never-never land.

I don’t quite remember waking up after surgery, my mind was a boggle. Although I do remember that I was kicking and making a fuss about pain, that the nurses had to hold me down and give me more pain meds. My sis finally arrived late in the evening, but I was pretty much out of it for the rest of the day.
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August 5: A New Scar
The next morning, a crew of doctors came by and did their usual assessment of how i was feeling, the level of pain I was in, and basically just debriefed me on the surgery. Dr. Pillarisetty came by later that day and gave me the 411 on the surgery. The tumor was 10 centimeters, and that he didn’t have to tamper or remove any other organs which was great news since I can go back to my normal diet. Also that the cells were all necrotic (thankfully, dead) which means that the radiation was effective.

He asked if I had seen my scar and at that time I hadn’t. My thinking was that he was just going to go make an incision through the existing scar, but since the tumor was located on the far left side of my abdomen, it purely made more sense to make a new incision over the tumor. Sadly, he still opened up the old scar but managed to pretty it up by suturing me up from the inside and sealing it with “kragle”. So you can say I had a mini tummy-tuck.
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August 6: Up and About
Considering how well I was recovering, Dr. Pillarisetty felt I was ready to go home the next day. So my mission today was to get out of bed, start walking around, and sitting up in the chair. Also to try and start weaning me off of the IV and start taking oral medication. I was also able to start eating normal food; so my first meal was your basic chicken noodle soup, I mostly drank all the soup away…it was delish!
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August 7: Good-bye UW Hospital
Before heading home, I met with the physical and occupational therapist about leg exercise, getting in and out bed/shower, climbing stairs and just basically moving around to avoid blood clots.
I was discharged later that afternoon.

And so far things are still a blur!

3rd TIMES A CHARM…RIGHT?!?::

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Last week Friday I went in for an MRI and CT scan. The scans revealed that the radiation therapy has been very effective in killing off the cancer cells. But now comes the part I’ve been dreading.
I really wasn’t expecting to go in for surgery for another three weeks since that’s what I was told. Since I’ve been holding up pretty well throughout my treatment, the doctor’s decided there’s no reason to wait any longer. I’m scheduled for surgery on August 4th, exactly 1 year and 1 day from my last surgery.

Truth be told, I’m really…really sad about going into surgery again. I mean I knew all along that this was going to happen and I thought I was prepared for it, but in actuality I’m not. I have become an emotional wreck but I continue to keep my head up, not just for myself but for everyone else. It just hurts to see my family emotionally distraught about my situation. It’s extremely hard for my parents because I know they want to physically be here for me, but it gets emotionally hard for me when they are here. Thankfully my sister will be here while I’m recovering. Plus all the support from my dear friends just makes things easier for me to get back on my feet.

So please pray…pray…pray that my surgery goes well, and that I continue to have amazing healing powers like Wolverine! Let’s pray no more scalpels for me!

XOXO,
cams