stomachBug_cambriaOne minor but potentially interesting development is that I got sick last night with the throw-up bug that hit Maggie this past Saturday night. Shortly thereafter, Mark got sick too. (He had been sick this past weekend too, but not with this throw-up bug.) We were both up all night last night with it. Things got really real at the Montgomery house, suffice it to say.

When I told my regular doctor that I had not escaped Maggie’s bout with the bug unscathed, he responded, “So you mean to tell me that your body was fighting off a horrible virus at the same time you had your blood drawn to check your CA-125 level”? It seems that there’s a chance that this could be what caused my levels to rise yesterday. Which would mean I have some super-sensitive, Princess-And-The-Pea-like CA-125 levels.

This is just a theory, but if this proves to be the case (ie, that I’m not having a recurrence of cancer but instead my levels spiked because I caught my daughter’s stomach bug), I guess I’ll have to sue Maggs. Not for malicious fuckery, seeing as she did not pass the bug to me on purpose. But just perhaps for pain and suffering and emotional distress.

Will keep everyone posted. And thanks again, so much, by the overwhelming amount of support and well wishes. You people are amazing. I’m such a lucky girl.

 

IMG_9580Well, fuck.

Today was my second 3-month check, and it seems that my CA-125 levels are back up. Chest, pelvic and abdominal scans were ordered on an expedited basis and will take place at 7:00p tonight. I hope to then know the results in 24-48 hours. In the meantime, my oncologist said that I “should not jump to conclusions yet”, that my CA-125 may just prove to be “whacky and unreliable”. So I’m not going to panic at this point (or at least I’m going to try not to). Keep the good vibes coming. So grateful for all of the support and well wishes.

PS. When this is over, I may sue my CA-125 for emotional abuse and malicious fuckery.

It was just a little over a year ago when I heard my obstetrician say the words, “I’m so sorry … it’s cancer.” I was holding my five-day old baby at the time; and in that moment, I felt like I was in a dream. This couldn’t be happening.

poosr8vticThis top photo was taken when our little girl was just a little under two weeks old. We had planned a newborn photo shoot to take place a few days after she was born — when babies are all squishy and sleepy and pliable — but canceled it once I got my diagnosis. I didn’t feel like leaving the house at the time, much less getting my baby all dressed up and being upbeat for the camera. I had more important things to worry about.

Fortunately, our photographer friend gently suggested that I reconsider canceling the shoot. “You won’t be able to get back this time in her life,” she said. And she was right. Looking back at the photos, I’m so glad we continued with the shoot. The day ended up being a really good day, and we now have some gorgeous photographs to memorialize the way our daughter looked when she was just a couple of weeks old.

At the time I was diagnosed with cancer, I really couldn’t see more than a few weeks into the future. My viewpoint became very short-sighted. The future — including being able to witness the growth and development of my brand-new daughter — seemed iffy at best. I had no idea how long I was going to be here, and actually felt like somewhat of a fraud to think or talk about milestones down the line. My daughter taking her first steps? Saying her first word? Going to her first day of kindergarten? I couldn’t bear to even think about these things because I didn’t know if I’d be alive to experience them. It actually hurt to think about all of the things I was potentially going to miss. Read More →

po567mebcwMy husband and daughter recently went to dinner with my parents to celebrate my 45th birthday. During the meal, something was jokingly said about how my father may disapprove of certain people our little girl might choose to date in the future.

My dad immediately jumped in and said, “Oh, no. Our little Maggie can be with whomever she likes, regardless of race or gender or profession. All that matters is that she’s happy.”

What the what?

Where was this open-minded, accepting guy when I was dating?

This is the same man who turned away boys who came to our door to pick me up for dates because their hair was too long or their car too souped up. The man who had a fit when I dated a boy with an earring or someone of a different ethnic background than mine.

And let’s not even talk about the years after my divorce when I dated women. (That’s a whole other story…) Read More →

This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful like I’ve never been thankful.

I was completely honored to share my story and gratitude in this morning’s Tennessean.  Here’s a link to the article, if you’d like to read it.

A very happy day to you all.

Photo: Samuel M. Simpkins / The Tennessean

 

Oh, the relief!

Numbers are back down to where they were in July. Thank you, thank you for all of the good thoughts, positive energy and prayers.  All of you have seen me through, yet again.

I am beyond grateful. Beyond.

poyu7fjtwkNow that my husband and I are parents, we can’t imagine life without our little girl. It seems like this — her being our daughter; us being her parents — was always meant to be. And we simply adjusted our lives to fit this expansion of our family.

But this scenario didn’t always seem so natural to us.

When my husband and I were pretty new in our relationship, I got pregnant. While on birth control pills. Yep, I was one of the 0.1 percent who got pregnant on the pill. And I freaked OUT.

I was 41 years old and had given up on the idea of having children. And I felt totally okay about this. I was in a new relationship that felt pretty promising. But I was — we were — deliberately taking it slow. We had both recently gotten out of long-term relationships, and neither of us planned to jump into another one right away.

I had a history of taking relationships too quickly in the past, and I wanted to break that pattern. I wanted this one to be different. So, six months in, neither of us had told the other how we felt. No “I love you” had been exchanged. We lived apart, although we saw each other frequently. We had consciously maintained separate lives.

When I realized I was pregnant, I feared that all of this would slip away. Our relationship would immediately be put on the fast track. The fun of dating in a new relationship would be overtaken by the realities of pregnancy, and this both scared and pissed me off. WTF? I had been doing everything right, and here I was pregnant? Read More →

Satellite-image-of-hurricaneThis is a big week for me. Really big. Here’s what’s on tap:

Tomorrow is the presidential election. While I’ve never made any secret of my politics (and the fact that I’m an unapologetic, screaming bleeding heart liberal), this particular election is critical for my family and me. If Mitt Romney is elected, he has promised to repeal healthcare reform (Obamacare) on day one. As I’ve written on The Stir, this could be devastating to us financially, as my cancer will be considered a whopper of a pre-existing condition. So there’s that.

Then this Wednesday I return to Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center for my follow up testing. Last month I had my first 90-day post chemo testing and learned that my CA-125 level (the cancer marker) had quintupled in three months. Not good. My oncologist said that this was either the result of inflammation from some recent scar revision surgery, or the cancer is back. And if the cancer is back this quickly, it means that it’s platinum resistant and more chemo won’t help. I’ll be in big trouble. So there’s that.

And then on Friday, a group of women from Pennsylvania, DC, Virginia and who knows where else are going to descend on Nashville to pay us a visit. These women – who have never met me in person – have been tremendous support for me almost since the very beginning of my journey. As Kiley Lynn Thompson posted on my wall earlier today, it all started when Brad Henderson shared my blog with her last December. She asked if she could in turn share it among her community, and it snowballed from there. When she predicted I’d end up with a “tidal wave of energy” as a result, she wasn’t kidding.

At times I’ve found it hard to believe that total strangers would be so good and kind and generous to me, someone they’ve never met. But as my beautiful, amazing gift of a friend Dara Carson said to me this morning, “We all have to get to the place where we allow ourselves to be met by a hurricane of love.”

Whatever happens this week, I feel like I’ve been in the eye of the love hurricane this year, and it’s been beautiful.

poykp3j44kFor the first time in my adult life, the results of theupcoming election could have a direct, very tangible impact on my family and me. And I’m concerned.

This year I underwent extensive cancer surgery, followed by 24 rounds of chemotherapy. If I had not been covered by good insurance (thanks to my employer), my treatment would have cost us well over a million dollars. It could have bankrupted our family if we had been expected to pay these costs ourselves.

Every time I went into the infusion ward to be pumped full of costly cancer-killing poison, I was grateful to be insured. A single white blood count booster shot — something I had to have every chemo cycle — cost $8,000 alone. Even though it made me feel like shit for three days, I was grateful for that shot, and the fact that I didn’t have to pay for it out of pocket.

Read More →

poei8st28gI had another cancer scare this past week. A doozy.

When I went for my first three-month cancer check, I learned that my CA-125 levels — that’s the cancer marker — hadquintupled since they were checked just three months prior. Not good.

My oncologist immediately ordered CT scans of my chest, abdomen, and pelvis. She said there was a chance that the spike in my levels was due to inflammation from a scar revision surgery I had six weeks earlier. The only other explanation was that the cancer was back. And we all knew what that meant.

If the cancer was back this soon after stopping treatment, it meant that it was platinum-resistant and that more chemotherapy would be ineffective. And radiation or surgery would not be options, given the type and location of my cancer.

Essentially, I’d be fucked. Read More →