Dear Dave and Dear Kate

Dear Dave,

As the guest writer for this installment of Kate’s blog, I hope you read this post and it finds you very unwell. I volunteered to write this post for Kate because I love my sister and I think she deserves to know how I really feel about her. I also think you need another reminder how strong TEAM KATE is and just who you’re dealing with. I knew this would not be easy for me to write and I have honestly been putting together bits and pieces of it in my head over the last few weeks, sometimes even dictating emails to myself so I don’t lose thoughts. I am not as eloquent as Kate. So, I figure the best way to go about this post is to just lay it all out there, and tell you how I feel, Dave – about you, about my sister, and the shitty situation you have put her in.

I hate you Dave. Hate isn’t a word I use lightly. My mom (you know Dee Dee) taught me that word is very strong and should only be used when you really mean it. I think it is more than appropriate in this situation. You are scum of the lowest order. I hate you for all the times that you have caused Katie pain, made her miss fun times with her family and friends, made her doubt her strength, or even took a smile away from her beautiful face. I have no time for you. But alas, Dave, your end is nearing and you are not the focus of this blog post, my little sister is.

Dear Kate,

You are and always will be my little sister. That is a badge of honor I will always wear. Watching you through this horrible process has taught me more life lessons in 8 months than I have learned in the previous 36 years. I know that in a traditional family role, I, as the big brother, would be teaching you through my life lessons, but at some point our roles reversed. Your wisdom and strength put me to shame. You are beautiful, strong, courageous, and most important, loved. You are so loved by all whose path you have crossed. It is never more evident than when you look at the legions of Team Kate supporters. I know that Dave has been an incredible burden, but you have carried him with grace, dignity, and an inner strength that all who know you are in awe of. I am so proud of you and I hope you know that I would drop anything and everything at a moments notice to help you carry that bastard. I can’t tell you how helpless I feel being so far away from your struggle. I wish I could just pop in on you at home, at your apartment, at the hospital, but we are a little geographically limited. The kids adore you and you are always at the forefront of Maureen’s thoughts and prayers. Maureen and I are both so touched how you have kept the kids so connected with your wedding planning when you really should be just taking care of yourself.

I have always be an optimist and truly believe that positive can always come from negative. Positives have come from your experience. I feel we have grown closer. We were always in different places in our lives. When I started high school you were in second grade. When I was in college, you were in your tweens and low teens. When Maureen and I got married and Maddie was born you were in college. We haven’t lived within a 4 hour radius of each other in nearly 15 years. I never got the chance to appreciate you as a young adult and was never up close to see the events that have shaped your life to this point. We talk more now. We share experiences. This is something I can’t wait to continue after Dave is gone. I want our collective sibling relationship (I say collective because of course Jake, Kyle, Maureen, and Rachel are included in the plan) to get closer, stronger. We need to cherish our siblings. I want to go on trips together, hang together, and just make more of a point to see each other more than a few times a year. I want my kids to be close with their aunts, uncles, and cousins. Through the “Dave” experience – It has become easier to say “I love you.” Our family has always been loving and we always said it, but at least in my mind, it flows so much easier now. There is more appreciation in the fact that I can say those words to my family.

You are not totally done yet, but every day, your strength brings you closer. Your rocks, Dee Dee and Kyle, will be there to support you. You have Team Kate to help your spirits stay high, and I hope you know that your big brother always has your back. I’d carry you if I could.

September is approaching. We’ll celebrate, the end of Dave, the beginning of Kate and Kyle, and we’ll party not like there’s no tomorrow, but because there’s the promise of so much more tomorrow.

F%$# Off, Dave!

I love you, Kate!

Andy

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Thank you

Like most people, I am taking some time to reflect on the year past. And boyyyyy do I have a lot to reflect on. Despite what you may think, I am not (THAT) mad or angry for what has happened/ is happening to me instead I am thankful.  I am thankful to be alive, kicking Dave’s ass and experiencing the love that I have received from friends, family, acquaintances and strangers.

As the title of this post says I would like to say “Thank you” to everyone and write a little about it.

Thank you, Kyle

This guy makes me feel so loved every day. He has welcomed our new roommate, my Mom, to our one bedroom apartment,  although it is not exactly ideal. He made me feel beautiful through every stage of this shit situation: weight loss, weight gain, weight loss again, hair loss, hair shave, wig wearing, eye brow loss, pale bruised skin and every other nicety that has come along. He ALWAYS makes me smile. He has held my hand for hours during some excruciating middle of the night chemo joint pain and literally carried me when I was too weak to walk. I am crying writing this and I hope everyone is so lucky to find a partner like him.

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Thank you, Mom

For those of you who don’t know, my Mom has not left my side since Day One of this ordeal. She sleeps on my couch (often with Winnie so that I can get a good night’s sleep), stays with me in the hospital, sits next to me through every single chemo session, talks me out of my scary thoughts, grocery shops and cooks our meals and makes me laugh. I will tell ya what, it is a very humbling experience to have your Mom help you go to the bathroom at nearly 30 years old. Super Mom did not even bat an eye. I literally would not be alive right now without her and if I am even a quarter of the mother that she is one day I will be ecstatic. Crying again, love you.

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Thank you, family

Dad, Jake, Andy, Rachel, Maureen, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins and soon- to- be in-laws, you are with me every day in one way or another. If everyone else was gone and I only had my family, that would be MORE than enough. You are the most amazing and supportive people in the world. I could not do this without you. You are my forever and my motivation to keep working hard and beat this so that I can spend many, many more happy years celebrating life with you!

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Thank you to the BEST friends

You know who you are. You have lifted my spirits in the darkest of times, been my biggest supporters, made the infamous Team Kate t-shirts,  kept me occupied with visits/calls/texts/emails/cards/playlists, harassed Spike TV celebrities to get me on the show, run races, and CUT YOUR HAIR OFF to donate it.  Yes, you heard that correctly. 15 of my friends grew their hair out since the summer to donate a minimum of 8 inches to Locks for Love for me… cue the tears. I am looking forward to many more years of friendship and making memories with all of you.

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Thank you, 12 West (including the McBs!)

I could not have asked for a better group of work FRIENDS than you! Being a nurse can be a scary job and I always felt that I could turn to any one of you when I needed to. I did not think it was possible for people to be more supportive until I saw that sea of purple Team Kate” t-shirts at the party that you threw for me. That was truly one of my happiest moments.  Thanks for making me still feel included in the day to day. One last thing, who the HELL donates their vacation time to give me extra paychecks? Oh, just the most amazing group of co-workers on the planet. I am honored to work alongside each and every one of you and can’t wait to come back!

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Thank you, everyone

To all that have reached out to me in one way or another from old classmates, family friends, my Sloan nurses and new acquaintances: you have all made me feel so loved and your support has been absolutely incredible. I am blown away every single day. I KNOW that all of your prayers and love are part of the reason for my improving health. I tap into it whenever I need and it has helped beyond belief.

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Oh wait, one more…

Thank you, Dave

Thank you for teaching me all that you have, for making me truly appreciate my life and the people in it, and for showing me that I am pretty damn strong. You WILL be physically destroyed soon but the memory of you will keep me forever grateful.

(Dave doesn’t get any pics)

My dear friend from grade school, Dave (good Dave), was the author of this weeks “Team Kate” email.  By way of explanation, I receive weekly emails from a different friend every week with words of inspiration and encouragement. It is literally my FAVORITE thing and every one has made me cry. In Dave’s email, he wrote that he believes that God chose me to be the one to beat this for a reason in part so that I can share my journey. I hope my sharing (and occasional over sharing) has opened everyone’s eyes to how amazing and compassionate people are and how love can get you through most anything.

I will not remember 2014 as the year of Dave, although he was a part of it, I will instead remember it as the year the love of my life, Kyle, and I got engaged, one of my besties Sarah and her fiancé Vineet got engaged and of the weddings of the McGraths, Judges, Keibs and other good friends. I met a girl named Clarice, the adorable baby Davey (good Dave) Hogan was born, my little girl Winnie took over my heart, and I fell more in love with my family and most especially my Mom more than ever.

I have some big plans for 2015! I plan on beating cancer, marrying my guy and returning to work with my Neuro Surgery family… just to name a few.

Let me just say it again: THANK YOU!!

R.I.P Hair

                                             RIP hair April 15, 1985- October 24, 2014

        Well it finally happened… I shaved my head. When I started this blog, this was one of the topics that I thought about writing. It has been the one thing that has been haunting me since the beginning. I have read many other peoples’ stories about their hair loss and how they coped to prepare myself.  Anyone who knows me knows my hair was always pretty important to me. This sounds and is so incredibly vain. How can you care about something as silly as your hair when your life is being threatened by a real a- hole cancer spreader named Dave? But I’ll tell ya what, it is very painful to watch your appearance change so drastically. Not only do you feel like shit but now you feel like you look like shit? I gained about 15 lbs from the steroids and started going bald. I felt like I was starting to look like Peter from Family Guy. It is absolute torture to feel like you have no control over your body.

I cut my longer hair to a bob in the beginning so it wasn’t as hard when it started falling out. I actually liked the cut and it did help in the end. I started researching wigs and was pretty set on getting a real hair one. They are very expensive and I am so incredibly fortunate to have gotten the one that I did. The men that made “Clarice” (Kyle named my wig of course) were amazing and very professional. They did it in a rush anticipating my hair would be gone long before it actually was. The day I went to pick my wig up was a real mind f***. My cousin was in town and took some pictures of me during the appointment. When the wig was placed on my head I had such mixed emotions. I thought it was amazing and perfect and I was so lucky. It also hit me like a ton of bricks that the real reason I was sitting in that chair with that amazing wig on was because I had cancer, needed chemo, would be completely bald soon. My tears were both happy and sad that day. After we left, I wanted so desperately to feel normal. I felt like people could see through the shopping bag in my hand and see the wig and know I had cancer. We walked down and road and into an ice cream place where I cried in my sprinkles and then tried to switch the mood by going to Zara. I purchased a faux fur coat and black jumpsuit. Normal again. The mood was lightened and as we walked with our purchases, a nice group of young boys spit a spit ball (who does that in 2014?) and it hit me right in the neck and slid down onto my chest. I was horrified and wanted to cry. I have thought about it since and decided it was simply a reminder that the world didn’t stop because I have cancer. People can be idiots and annoying things still happen. I am not above that, I am still part of the crazy world. It was a good spit ball reminder.

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In the end, my hair lasted for almost four months, though five rounds of chemo and two and half weeks of radiation. It stayed with me for two amazing weddings, my bestie’s bang up 30th birthday and buying my own wedding dress. Speaking of the wedding dress, it officially started falling out the day I got my dress. What was such a fun day was sprinkled with a little sadness.

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     Wedding dress purchase!                                            The beginning of the hair loss

         From then it was slow and painful, literally painful. Your hair follicles actually hurt. The day we went to look at our wedding venue I noticed my first big bald spot. I stared at “Clairce” daily, tried her on a few times and cried often. I could cover the bald spots by pulling my hair back. After a while there was no covering it.

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        My biggest piece of advice to people going through this is don’t shave your head until you are completely ready. It took me a long time to feel that way. I was encouraged by a few people to just get it over with and that it might make me feel more in control. This may work for some, but I needed to feel totally ready. The day I decided to shave it, I was there, almost looking forward to it. I did not cry like I thought, I was excited to send out my picture and post my video. I feel proud to be a part of this journey. It is hard and there are many days when I cry but I am so excited for the life that I have ahead and I know that this will just be a bump in the road for me. I know the hair loss is temporary and I am grateful for what this bump is teaching me.

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         Post head shave by Kyle                      My Uncle Kurt shaved his head to let me know I wasn’t alone!

Thanks hair. Love you chemo. Shut up Dave.

-Katie

The Summer of Dave

As told by Sara J. Levy, one of the best friends & bridemaids.

When it finally stopped snowing back in May and summer appeared to be on the horizon, it looked like it was going to be a good one.   There were lots of weddings, showers, and parties ahead, and to top it off, one of my best friends Katie Hennemuth got engaged in the beginning of June.  I crashed the impromptu family celebration at Katie’s parents’ house, because being one of the few friends living “at home” always gives me the right to do that.  Over the next few weeks, lots of things changed in ways I could not imagine.  Unfortunately, in early June my grandmother passed away.  This wasn’t a tragedy by any means, just a sad season of life and it made me very sad.   Being the supportive friend she has always been, Katie made plans to come home for the funeral. They were ultimately thwarted by the cancer we refer to today as Dave.  I recall her texting me that she was on the bus coming home, but she was going to have to miss the funeral because she needed to go back to New York and see a surgeon immediately:  she had a mass on her sinuses and possibly on her brain as well- oh and, “by the way, I’m calling it Dave.”  There is no doubt that from that moment forward, I hated Dave.   I think I even hated anyone else I encountered who, by no fault of their own, had been named Dave. (Shout out to the good Daves!)

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First time seeing the patient

However, now that the summer is over and I, as any good Jesuit-educated individual would do, am able to reflect on the past three months, I feel more inclined to thank Dave.  To be clear, I do not wish him well and I do not want him to survive or thrive.  I want him to know that his existence resulted in amazing events and moments, and has forced many to grow and evolve tremendously in a short period of time.  It’s funny:  when you’re 30(ish) years old in 2014 and your best friends are spread all over the East Coast, you forget you don’t actually talk to them every day.  You communicate with them every day, via text messaging and g-chatting and social media, but you go these really long stretches of time not actually talking.  Well thank you, Dave, because that all changed really quickly.  Thank you for forcing me to be okay with not working every single day, and instead getting in the car with my #1 co-pilot Rachel Sweeney, and driving to NYC on a random weekday afternoon.   This sometimes proved more productive than being in the office anyway, since I usually talked on the phone the whole way while Rachel responded to my emails.   Thank you, Dave, for making Vonna spend more time in town than she has since college.  As Sarah Kranick said at one point, “I just want us all to be together.”  Vonna was home so she could be close to Katie if she needed anything, and there was just an immediate comfort in being together with best friends.  (I think more the latter for Vonna, since she is notorious for being afraid of vomit and germs and dirty pillow cases.) I felt the same way, even though I am admittedly not the most attentive caregiver either.  I am happy to be most supportive during naptime!

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The attentive babysitter.

 

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Celebrating being released from Sloan and America on 4th  of July!


And Dave, even when you were really wreaking havoc and it seemed like every test result came back worse than before, you were making us all that much stronger.  I was actually talking to my best friends, every day.  In the midst of one of the worst updates we got, Katie Perry (not that one) called me.  She seemed to be kind of whispering and crying at the same time.  I asked her where she was, and she told me she was on the floor in the “pumping room” at her office.  It was perfect timing because it made us both start laughing out loud.  This was also around the time the ‘God Squad’ was formed.  This little Jewish girl learned AND participated in the rosary on several occasions and almost got caught on camera attending Novena.  And, Dave, DOZENS of family, friends, and extensions thereof gathered one Sunday in July when a mass and Novena were offered in Katie’s intention.

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Some of Team Kate at the Novena

Even though this summer never should have been about you, it was.  In summary, everything has a silver lining, even a jerk like you.  You brought a family, a group of friends, and a community together in support of one of my best friends.  And this time next year, I will be proud to stand by Katie and Kyle as they get married- an event 10 years in the making.   And guess what Dave- YOU’RE NOT INVITED!

TEAM KATE!

 

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Some of the Maids with the Bride

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                                                                                                  TEAM KATE!

Dear Dave, From Rachel

Hey Dave.

 

My name is Rachel.  I’m Kate’s sister-in-law and so lucky to be married into an incredible family whose love and support for Kate blows me away on a daily basis.  I love Kate like a sister.  A little over a year from now Kate will be preparing for a very big day.  She’s going to marry the man of her dreams and love of her life.  She will also, by then, have put the final nails in your coffin.  I can’t wait for this party.  It’s going to be freaking awesome.  I plan on dancing my face off.  There’s going to be a boatload of happy things to celebrate.

 

Kate wakes up every day with the mission to destroy you.  She’s facing challenges that no one should ever have to face.  And as hard as it all is on her, she doesn’t whine or complain. She focuses on decking you. How are you going to deal with that??

 

Many people have told me that our daughter, Libby looks a lot like Kate did as a little girl.  With her blonde hair and blue eyes, she certainly doesn’t look like her mama.  Whenever someone tells me this, I take it as a giant complement.  Kate is so beautiful and strong, inside and out, I love when I hear this.  I’m in really good shape if Libby turns out anything like her Aunt Kate because… well… she’s amazing.

 

Love you Kate!

The Power of Positivity, Prayer and Love

Hi Everyone, apologies for my lack of activity. I had quite the week last week.

It was spent getting my first round of scans post treatment.  Two separate MRIs of my head, a CT scan of my pancreas and a PET scan over the course of Sunday through Tuesday. During every scan, I repeated in my head “this will show improvement” the entire time. I sang that phrase along with the banging of the MRIs and just repeated it over and over again during the four hours of PET and CT scans.  I knew Dave was struggling, I just wanted to make sure! My appointment wasn’t scheduled until Friday to review the results, so you can imagine that the days leading up to it gave me a little anxiety. Every little feeling in my body was taking me to thoughts of possibly further metastasis,  in particular to my liver and bowel and possible advancement in my pancreas. I tried to stop those thoughts, spent a lot of time praying and discussed everything with my family, Kyle and friends.

That certainly doesn’t sound like positivity does it??

I tried my hardest to switch this around by using some of my handy dandy medical knowledge.  I told myself that  any possible spread of the cancer could be handled surgically. Fun fact that I learned in nursing school: the liver can regenerate itself into a full liver even after removing 75% of it! The spot on my pancreas was what was worrying me the most. The tumor there was not primary pancreatic cancer; it was also rhabdomyosarcoma cells, but still. You don’t want to mess with the pancreas. To top it off, all week I had a pain in the upper left quadrant of my belly which I can now  chalk to a pulled muscle :).  My Mom has said from the beginning “whatever it is or whatever happens we will deal with it.” I channeled that, got my boosts from my all my #teamkate supporters and tried to relax with a little meditation (highly recommended).

The appointment on Friday was at 2:45 pm and I woke up in a bad mood. I tried to switch that around really fast, only positivity allowed! My brother Jake decided to come home from the beach early with his family to be present for the results. As my mom and I got in the cab I realized I had forgotten my cell phone… great, now I couldn’t distract myself.  In the end, it was perfect. All I could do was channel positive thoughts. They called us in and the doctor gave a big wave to us from his office as we walked, which made my heart skip. Good news? A fellow was sent in first who asked how I was feeling. Then said something along the lines of “oh and your scan results are great!” Well ya can’t just say that and not explain, guy! So we pressed him for info which he said my doctor would explain further. So in he comes and delivers the most MIRACULOUS news in the world. He explained that the PET scan from Tuesday shows NO ACTIVE CANCER in my body… ANYWHERE. The spots on my spine, hips and pancreas have essentially gone away.  The primary tumor, our good friend DAVE, also showed no active malignancy. He is a shriveled up prune, a lifeless loser. We all burst out crying/ laughing/ asking confused questions. I can imagine we looked like a group of hyenas.  The doctor explained that this was the “best result we could have hoped for” and that the treatment plan remains the same. We must get every single cancer cell.  Please refer to the “bear” story from my first post. We will continue to hammer Dave and his friends until every hidden tiny hint of cancer is GONE.

Back to that news… NO ACTIVE MALIGNANCY. How could this be? How is that even possible? After the initial shock of hearing this amazing news semi wore off. I looked at him and said “this is because of everything, the positivity and prayers not just the chemo.” He said he was sure it was also. I had had an MRI of my back after the first round of treatment because it had been hurting and it showed that the tumors on my spine were “stable” from the first PET scan. So somehow in that time in between, it went away. I am 100% positive, sure with every bit of me that it is because of the prayers, love, positivity and support that I have received from everyone.  There really is no other explanation.  It is because of the people in my life, and some that I don’t know, that I am alive and kicking Dave’s ASS!

 

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Dream Team celebrating on Friday with an awesome dinner!

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Dave can’t stop us from going to our friends’ wedding damn it!

 

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My amazing friends Dave and Alli made a donation to Cycle for Survival. It is an indoor spin event that raises money for rare underfunded cancers which includes Rhabdomyosarcoma. I can cry just thinking about it. Love you guys!

 

 

All About FUD… The Back Story

Forgive me if it is boring.

It all started when… well we actually have no clue. My oncologist said something along the lines of “well if you got in a car accident and got a CT scan a year ago maybe we would have seen it maybe not”.  My very first symptoms of note started in February, 2014. I had a cold that just never went away and I assumed turned into a sinus infection.  My fiancé, Kyle’s,  birthday is March 4th and I remember not being able to taste the amazing truffle risotto and short rib dinner that I slaved over all day because of my “stupid sinus infection.” I tried all the over the counters, saw my regular Dr. and got antibiotics, tried more over the counters and it still lingered. It didn’t affect my day to day life terribly so I kind of brushed it off.

Time went by and I started to realize I was losing my sense of smell.  I went to an Ear, Nose and Throat  doctor who is an amazing family friend while visiting my parents who put me on 14 days of antibiotics along with steroids and told me if this does not work I need a CT scan. I felt some relief at first but the day the steroids stopped I felt a “whoosh” of symptoms. (Side note:  this also happened to be the day after we got engaged and were celebrating with family in PA).

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My ears felt full my jaw was hurting and my face started to go numb. Being a nurse, I knew numbness meant nerves and this was something serious.  I scheduled an appointment with an ENT in New York who thought it was TMJ (lock jaw) asked if I had seen a dentist then semi- reluctantly said I should get a CT scan. That Monday I got the scan and continued on with my day which consisted of packing and hopping on the bus to go to PA for a week off that I planned to spend lounging at the lake and celebrating two friends’ weddings the following weekend.

And then BAM.

It was 5 PM and I had just placed my bag under the bus and taken my seat against the window. The doors closed and the bus started backing out and my phone rang. It was the ENT.  He asked if I “had a minute to talk.” My immediate first thought was BRAIN TUMOR. He said the CT showed that I had a “mass.” I responded calmly and asked if it was possibly a cyst to which he said no, that it looked solid and more imaging would be needed. He explained that he had already scheduled me for an appointment with a head and neck surgeon the next morning.  So I began a LOVELY two and a half hour bus ride having just been told I had a mass in my head. I called my people, cried a little, turned down the offer of share a bag of pretzels form the nice old lady in the seat next to me in an effort to make me feel better. This is also when the name DAVE came to me.

I don’t know why but I immediately felt the need to give this mass a name, it gave me something to be mad at and also something to lighten the situation a little. When I told my friends, it went something along the lines of “I have a mass in my head apparently and we will refer to it as Dave. Thank you.”  I asked my Dad to pick me up in the Poconos to get off the bus. We sat silently for our 30 min ride. I spent that night sleeping sitting up on the couch because my head hurt so badly. This was serious. The week that followed was a blur… MRI, biopsies, passing out, being admitted, ER visits and then finally diagnosis: RHABDOMYOSARCOMA as an adult.  I was told not to google but PLEASE, it was obviously the first thing we all did. Turns out there are only a few hundred reported cases in adults. Of course I would go get an extremely rare type, right? I like to be different 🙂

Luckily, I live in New York City, home to some of the most amazing hospitals filled with the top doctors. I met with an wonderful radiation oncologist and pediatric oncologist at NYU both of whom I was very comfortable with and discussed treatment plans. They described how my treatment would be similar to treating children and they used the same protocols as other hospitals. Because I am 29 and engaged, fertility issues were discussed. NYU discussed the option of waiting two weeks to begin treatment so that I could harvest eggs.  I agreed immediately agreed and set up calls with a fertility specialist. The issue was my symptoms seemed to be getting worse, I was feeling nauseous and weak and having worsening headaches. I was finally put on steroids to relieve some of the swelling in my brain. I did not know if I could make it the two weeks but I wanted to try if it meant I could have children.

During this week of hell, my brother Jake, who is a researcher by profession, found out that Memorial Sloan Kettering has treated numbers of the reported adult cases in the world. After finding an amazing connection we were able to get an appointment Friday of that same week. I met with Dr. William Tap whose specializes in Sarcomas. Our meeting was intense and ultimately, is hopefully saving my life. He explained that my diagnosis is life threatening and that I basically needed to started chemo “yesterday.”  There was no time to wait. He said that decision was mine to harvest eggs which after discussing with my fiance and family, I decided that there was no point if I was not going to be alive to see these future children.  I followed up with my fertility specialist and she said that there was many options these days for having children and that I will be a mother one day. I know this to be true and I cannot wait. Let me just pulverize Dave first so I can get on with it!

As I sat there looking into the doctors eyes and hearing the words “life- threatening” as he explained the gravity of the situation this feeling came over me. I looked at him right in the eye and said “ok, I know I am going to beat this.” I cannot explain this feeling. I have never felt more strongly about anything in my life. I KNOW, I am going to beat this. I WILL WIN. That is it. That is the only way. That is not to say that I am not scared about what this next year or so holds, I am. But I will not accept ANY other option than DESTROYING every single disgusting cancer cell that Dave has spread through my body.

Dr. Tap wanted to admit me that night to get everything started. He sent me into the waiting room to make some calls to set up some appointments that day with a neurosurgeon and radiation oncologist. I sat there crying with Kyle while my mom gave us a minute. That is when my mantra was born. The second Kyle heard Dr. Taps name he said “Kate that’s like Taffer” aka John Taffer from the popular Spike TV show Bar Rescue. For those who have not had the privilege of viewing this program, Jon Taffer goes into failing bars and shuts them down to redo and renovate them. During the show he often screams things along the lines of “this bar is disgusting, SHUT IT DOWN!” We have watched the show many times and always appreciated Taffer’s love of screaming that phrase.  Kyle turned to me, wiped away a tear and said “Kate, don’t worry, Dr. Tap basically just said in medical terms that he was going to shut it down.” I burst out laughing and agreed. And that is what I am doing daily, shutting Dave’s ass down.

 

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I met with the two specialists that day. The radiation oncologist was extremely positive and told me I may even blow the tumor out my nose  (which by the way, I have blown a few possible Dave chunks out of my nose).  The plan was to be admitted Sunday night  and have a PET scan, bone marrow biopsy, and lumbar puncture to determine any metastasis and begin chemo later that week. I also had a mediport placed for chemo, which I have lovingly named Miss Cleo. She is awesome and does not hurt at all! Thankfully, everyone at Sloan is amazing and those procedures were felt minimal and pain free.

751Admission picture… Let’s do this!

Wednesday July 2nd, around 9 AM I got a visit from Dr. Tap. He sat down in front of me while I sat up in my bed and told me he had the results of my tests. That bastard Dave had spread to my every level of my spine, my hips, and a nice little spot on my pancreas. STAGE 4. Dr. Tap explained that though this is not ideal, it does not necessarily change the treatment plan which is chemo for a year plus radiation in the fall. The same feeling as I had the first time I met with him came over me. Doesn’t matter, I am going to BEAT it. I WILL win. He used the analogy that if a bear is going to attack you in the woods you don’t just shoot once and let it try to get up and get you. You continue to shoot it until it is dead which is what we plan to do. Nothing against bears, this is all against Dave.

I started chemo on that night, did a dance with my Mama during and sat in the family room watching the most insane rain storm which I pictured that similar things were happening inside my body as the chemo was going after Dave. I was discharged on the 4th of July and began outpatient treatment that next Monday.

 

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CHEMO COMMENCE!!!!

 

Welp, that’s the short of it. I plan to make the remainder of the blog about the day to day of Shutting Down Dave and all the joys/ scaries/ and funnies of my journey.