Wednesday, April 23, 2014

15 years since cancer diagnosis

This weekend marked an important milestone - 15 years since I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Wow - it's been a long time! And I am so grateful to be here still. And even more grateful than that to now be a mom too. When I was diagnosed in my mid-twenties, back in 1999, I remember the world shrinking seemingly immediately leaving only two priorities: (1) I wanted to survive; (2) I realized  that the most important hope for me beyond survival itself was to bear a child.

Within five years of diagnosis, I knew I had seemingly lucked out on the survival front. But as you know, the bearing a child...well, that proved to be much more elusive for a long, long time.

At the 10 year mark, I wrote blog post about my cancer story. I was four IVFs deep in infertility treatment at that point. I thought of myself as a veteran but was still hopeful. Who knew it would be another three years and three more IVFs (and descent into the most hopeless place I've ever been in) before I would amazingly squeak out the other side with beautiful Magpie squirming in my arms.

I was recently in the position to talk to two women more recently diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma (also both now moms) and talking to them both made me realize what "old news" my cancer experience was - my fairly awful treatment experience, the complete lack of attention to the medical treatment's potential effects on my fertility (both of them were told to freeze eggs and/or embryos), the survival stats themselves. Things in all these arenas have thankfully come a long way.

It was one of those - Oh! - experiences when I realized that this April 19 marked the 15 year mark. Somehow it feels like a significant one. I don't typically do anything special to honor the day, but this year Will and I raised a toast just to mark it for a moment.

I also realize that now that I'm a "long-term" survivor, I should probably pay attention to some of the late effects research, or at least drop in to see my oncologist to see if there's anything extra I should be doing in that regard. I know cardiovascular issues and pulmonary issues are more common (and mortality higher), and there is also the niggling fact that something like 25% of us long-term Hodgkin's survivors get a secondary primary malignancy. I hate contemplating that, but given Magpie's existence especially, I should see if there's anything additional I should do regarding screening in that arena.

But for now...another moment of gratitude. Another milestone of survival.

I feel so extraordinarily lucky on so many levels.

Mo

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Bottle and pacifier weaning advice needed!


Magpie will be 18 months old at the end of April. Wow - how and when did that happen?

And she's doing great on pretty much every level - she's starting to talk in English and Spanish. She runs around like a maniac. She's even started announcing "poopy" when she's about to poop in her diaper, which I would imagine is inching us closer to the day she'll be ready to try out the potty (you know, should I ever get around to getting one).

She has a lovey she is very fond of and she sleeps through the night almost always (are we lucky or what?!). She is also very fond of her pacifiers and of her bottles (we allow no bottles in the crib, but she has a few bottles of milk a day). Pacifiers are used only during naps and at bedtime in the crib, not during the day (except on the Middle East flights!). But in any case, Will and I have thought that maybe it's time to start the weaning process on both the bottle and/or pacifier fronts.

This morning, I tried just giving the milk in her sippy cup when she asked for her "bottle." Magpie wasn't having any of it. She looked at the sippy cup and said, "agua?" even though it was obviously filled with milk. Obvious major mommy error here. It made me realize that historically, we have always given water in the sippy cup and always given milk in the bottle. In Magpie's mind, each of those beverages belong only in each of those drinking delivery devices. We spent a long time this morning with her lovey "Lambie" "drinking" milk noisily out of the sippy cup. Which Magpie thought was hilarious. But did not inspire her to try it herself. By the time I left for work, Magpie was still with the milk cup sippy but not even willing to try it that way. I told her caregiver to wait another hour or so to see if Magpie would give it a go, but at that point quietly put some milk in a bottle and put it down where she could reach it. Perhaps we should also start offering agua in a bottle occasionally? Except that we're hoping to cut out the bottles. Geesh, I don't know!

It's very unlike me, but I haven't done any research on this bottle and pacifier weaning thing. I wanted to ask you guys instead. In my book, those of you who have been through this already are the real experts.

For those that used a bottle - when did you phase these out? And how? Any tips?

And for pacifiers, same thing... in particular - what age did you do this and what was napping/sleeping like without them and how did everyone survive the transition?

On both fronts, anything you'd do differently now that you've been there done that?

I think we'd like to move in the direction of no pacifiers, and at least fewer bottles, but I'm in no super hurry about it. I also definitely want to be respectful and mindful that these are two things that bring Magpie comfort and soothing. So I'd like to find a way to do it that is as least traumatic as possible.

So, please, bring on the advice!

Most gratefully yours,

Mo (and Will, even if he doesn't know about this post yet!)

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Friday, April 11, 2014

A note to make a mama proud

Magpie attends a music class once a week where there is a three-piece band (guitar, keyboard, and drums), where the musicians pass out tambourines, etc., and at the end of class let the kids practice singing into the microphone. Magpie and her class "sing" along to songs ranging from those of the Beatles to Roy Orbison to the ABC song. It's really a lovely class (if a bit over the top), and she is enthralled by it.

This week, the night after the class, I received the following email from the grandmother of one of Magpie's friends in class:

"[Magpie] was the star of music class - the most delighted, joyful, enthusiastic, and ardent participant! She was awesome, not to mention adorable."

My heart about split wide open. That's my girl in a nutshell! Joyful, ardent, intense. There is so much personality in her little being. She is so present. She is so happy. She is so energetic.

I have no idea where she came from, but she is so herself, and I am so so proud and thrilled to be her mama.

Mo

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Weekly weight loss: week 18


Not much to say about weight loss stuff except that I'm staying on track, adding in more home cooked foods instead of packaged foods (oh, this is so nice and has been so missed!), and am now having an occasional dessert (fine as long as I plan for it, in my book). I'm still eating some Jenny Craig food - mostly just a few of my favorites at this point as I work to slowly figure out easy replacements that I can make or purchase that are simple, healthy, low cal, and lowish in sodium. I imagine myself as some kind of plane gliding in for a soft landing at the end of a long journey. We are beginning our descent! 


I am also starting to try adding in some occasional eating out with Will (date night!) every couple of weeks or so, but finding reliable sitters has been a challenge. We had our first of hopefully many date nights last night. Yay for sushi! Yay for an adult night out!


I had planned to start exercising this past week but had PRK eye surgery Friday and part of my post-op instructions are no sweating into my eyes, so...not doing anything sweat-inducing as of yet. But soon! I've signed up for a 10K in mid-June as a new goal, so I will need to get going if I have any hope of completing that without walking along the way (which would be fine if needed, but I'm going to shoot for jogging throughout). Scale continues to head downward. This week, I lost 2 pounds. Pretty awesome at this stage of the game.


I'm still hoping to better understand weight maintenance. Over and over again I've read that it's nearly impossible to keep lost weight off, which is kind of demoralizing, and sort of makes one want to just give up. But obviously some people manage it, so I want to try to follow their lead and learn what has worked for those who have succeeded at maintenance.

Here's the weight loss summary to date:

Weekly Weight Loss
Starting BMI just after Thanksgiving = 25.2 (officially overweight)
Week 1:     - 4.4 pounds (back into normal BMI territory, less than 25!)
Week 2:     - 0.8 pounds
Week 3:     - 3.6 pounds
Week 4:     out of town so no Jenny food and no weigh-in (Christmas travel madness!)
Week 5:     - 4.4 pounds since last weigh-in
Week 6:     - 2 pounds
Week 7:     - 1.6 pounds
Week 8:     - 1.4 pounds
Week 9:     + 0.4  pounds
Week 10:    - 4.2 pounds  
Week 11:    - 0.2 pounds  
Week 12:    - 3.0 pounds 
Week 13:    + 1.2 pounds
Week 14:     away in the Middle East
Week 15:     away in the Middle East
Week 16:    - 4.8 pounds
Week 17:    - 0.4 pounds
Week 18:    - 2.0 pounds
Grand Total: 31.2 pounds lost (BMI = 20.1)

At this point I am 2.4 pounds away from what I weighed in high school. Yowza. Who ever would have thought THAT would be possible?

And the other thing I never would have predicted? This actually has not been that difficult. I think the structure of the Jenny Craig program has really worked for me at this stage of my life. I've had some difficult moments, but overall, not really so rough to do this. I wish I'd realized that a few years ago! But better now than later!

Mo

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Weekly weight-loss: week 17


Plugging along over here in weight-loss land, staying on track and trying to figure out the exact place to stop and begin the transition to maintenance. I was originally thinking I would stop dieting 5 pounds ago, but now I am here and am wondering about just continuing until I lose another 4.4 pounds (which will take me to a nice even number, a thin, but still healthy, BMI of 19.7), and weight equal to what I weighed in high school.

My goal all along has been to pick a stopping point where I have a "buffer" zone of 3-5 pounds, a range of weight I commit to remain within. So right now I'm thinking that where I'm at now can be the "upperish" limit and a few pounds below this the "lowerish" limit. But we'll see. It's all gravy at this point, so if I start to feel overly restricted or hungry, I can always opt to decide that where I'm at currently will be the stopping point.

Now that I'm so close to my goal (or have I arrived?) I'm starting to cook more, re-making dishes that Will and I love and haven't had since I started the Jenny Craig plan, but this time measuring everything out so I can figure out portions and calories. Once I've done that a few times I'll know and can stop the measuring of every ingredient - which is good, because it's tedious. So this weekend I made two of our favorite dishes and learned that I can eat as much of a gluten-free goat cheese, asparagus pizza (with fresh basil!) as I always have. I also learned, sadly, that a penne pasta, lean turkey sausage, peppers, arugula, and parmesan cheese dish I love will now include significantly less penne pasta than it used to (sigh). Honestly, although the portion looks small to me, it tasted delicious and was plenty filling. It was more of a visual shock to see the smaller amount than anything else.

Numbers-wise on the scale, things are continuing to trend slowly downward. Which fits well with the plan to just go slow and be consistent, and just see what my body does. This week, my body lost 0.4 pounds. Fine by me.

Next on my goal list is to try to start adding in some exercise consistently and to read up on the research on maintenance and implement what has been shown to help people keep the weight off. God knows I want to learn to make this a permanent change in my life, not the beginning of a yo-yo situation.

So here's the summary of the weight results to date:

Weekly Weight Loss
Starting BMI just after Thanksgiving = 25.2 (officially overweight)
Week 1:     - 4.4 pounds (back into normal BMI territory, less than 25!)
Week 2:     - 0.8 pounds
Week 3:     - 3.6 pounds
Week 4:     out of town so no Jenny food and no weigh-in (Christmas travel madness!)
Week 5:     - 4.4 pounds since last weigh-in
Week 6:     - 2 pounds
Week 7:     - 1.6 pounds
Week 8:     - 1.4 pounds
Week 9:     + 0.4  pounds
Week 10:    - 4.2 pounds  
Week 11:    - 0.2 pounds  
Week 12:    - 3.0 pounds 
Week 13:    + 1.2 pounds
Week 14:     away in the Middle East
Week 15:     away in the Middle East
Week 16:    - 4.8 pounds
Week 17:    - 0.4 pounds
Grand Total: 29.2 pounds lost (BMI = 20.4)

Feeling good! Feeling on track! Feeling open to seeing what seems like the right next step.

Mo

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