I am Ballsy

Hello beautiful people!

Sorry for the break in posts, I followed up my Irish Excursion with a brief trip to LA to see my favorite people. While I was there, I finally caught up on some work, taking advantage of opportunities and stumbling across some new ones!

I was approached by Thomas Cantley, founder of I Am Ballsy, group which strives to make men more aware of their bodies, especially as it pertains to male reproductive cancers. How does that apply to someone like me? Well, as it turns out, Thomas uses the I Am Ballsy Facebook page and Instagram to feature awesome people who have overcome crazy obstacles in life. Everyday, the page pays tribute to a different ballsy bad ass by sharing an image along with a story written by them, describing why they are ballsy. A few days ago, I was the featured person on that page and of course, I would love to share my image and story here! I urge everyone to check out the I am Ballsy website and like the Facebook page. You can also vote for Thomas to be “The Ultimate Men’s Health Guy,” here.

Without further ado, here is my “I am Ballsy” Story!

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I’ll be honest, I had to use Urban Dictionary to look up exactly what being “ballsy” means. Not because I’d never heard the term before, but because I never thought of it as a word to describe me. Not until I was approached about writing this statement. Knowing that someone thought of me as ballsy, ballsy enough to write about how ballsy I am, got me thinking about what really made me seem ballsy.

Am I ballsy because I got diagnosed with Leukemia at age 20? Is it because I traded my life in Los Angeles, living with my best friends and not having a care in the world, for the pokes, prods and pitfalls of chemotherapy in dreary Seattle? Does having more blood transfusions and hospitalizations than I can count make me ballsy? What about waking up in the morning and realizing that you can’t control you’re body aka Leukoencephalopathy via methotrexate (deathotrexate)? Or is it because I walk around with chronic pain in both of my hips from Avascular Necrosis? Am I ballsy because I will have robot hips before I’m 25?

All of these facets of my life passed through my mind while I was brainstorming what to write about how I am ballsy. But none of them really fit, none of them inspired me or made me feel.. ballsy! But why not? It took me a while to come up with a good answer for this. Those things don’t make me ballsy, they don’t make me gutsy or intense or brave or amazing, because I didn’t have a choice in any of them. They just happened to me, like they could have happened to anyone. What I did have influence over, was my response to all of these things just happening to me. And that, my friends, is what makes me ballsy. My ability to stay positive, stay motivated, stay me, through all the bull shit that, just happened. And more than that, having the ambition to spread that positivity and inspiration to as many others as I do!

Any of you feeling ballsy? Tell me about it, leave a comment below!

xoxo Kathy

AVN Update

I filmed this video last night after I got home from my appointment with the AVN specialist/surgeon. Not the best news, but not the worst news.

I got fitted for my crutches today. Other than that I’m just super stressed with all of this going on and prepping for Ireland on Friday! There’s so much to do!

xoxo Kathy

Granny Hips and College Trips

Hey peeps,

Got my MRI results on Friday and they were not exactly what I wanted to hear. I have Avascular Necrosis (AVN) in both of my hips. Not one, both. Only one of them is currently hurting due to inflammation/swelling of the joint. The cause of this, you might ask? Just another lovely perk of chemotherapy. Thank you steroids!

I’ve been pretty bummed out all weekend but am finally starting to feel back to my normal happy self. Sometimes you just have to ride out the negative feelings! I’m sad that I can’t run right now, but hopeful that I will be able to in the future. I will keep everyone updated as I continue to learn more about AVN and how severe my case is (seeing the specialist tomorrow!). In other news, I got in to my first choice college! I actually found out as I was on the way home from the doctor after finding out about my AVN. My mom and I both started hysterically laughing and crying at the same time. Crazy how life throws these curve balls at us! The video below is a little bit more of a detailed explanation of Avascular Necrosis and my feelings (hopefully tomorrow I won’t be so dead).

Thanks for reading/watching/existing,

xoxo Kathy

Post Port Removal Portlessness

***Warning, the second image is of the procedure site, therefore a little bloody***hospitalgownswagger

One year and one week later and I am now port free! The surgery went well and after a day of recovery spent sleeping off anesthesia and pain medication, I am feeling like my normal self again. The pain was much less than getting the port put in, in fact today I see no need for meds and only feel a bit of discomfort around the area.

If you watched the video I posted the other day (click here), then you know that I was feeling a little apprehensive about the whole procedure. There were two reasons for this, one being that I did not have the best team of doctors/nurses when I got the port put in, and the other being more based on superstition.

Fortunately for this procedure I had an amazing medical support team. Everyone was so kind and comforting. If I’ve learned anything through this experience, its that you have to trust your medical team. Having faith in the people who are taking care of you just makes the whole experience more tolerable. Sometimes the only thing that gets you through the pokes, prods and constant hospital visits is knowing that your going to get to see your favorite nurse/doctor, etc. Most of my nerves subsided after I met the anesthesiologists and nurses who would be with me during the surgery.

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They were definitely nothing like the surgery team I’d had the previous year who seemed grumpy and upset with me, the patient, throughout the whole process. I specifically remember feeling anxious when I entered the OR, anxiety which only increased as I could hear my heart rate steadily increasing on the monitor. Instead of some kind words from the people around me, the anesthesiologist told me to “stop freaking out.” This was the last thing I heard before I fell asleep. Things were no better when I woke up several hours later to the same man berating me for gagging as they pulled the intubation tube out of my throat. These things might not have upset me so much had this not been my first procedure after being diagnosed with cancer a few days earlier.

Having had this happen, I am so thankful that the rest of my experiences, including my removal process, have been with some of the most amazing, kind and loving medical staff on the planet.

My other fears for getting my port removed where quite silly. I was beginning to tie my port and it’s placement in my chest to my remission status. Any apprehensions that I had for getting the port taken out which stemmed from these thoughts and fears was illogical, and I knew that. This is why I went ahead and removed the port. I knew that I couldn’t make this decision out of fear. My cancer will not come back because my port is gone. If it comes back it will be because that is what is meant to be. Keeping/removing my port will not change that.

All in all, I am glad that I did not feed these fears by cancelling the procedure. I feel the same without it as I did with it, happy and healthy!

Hope you all are having a lovely start to your week!

xoxo Kathy

Friday

I’m a little bit bummed out tonight. I’ve been working so hard to get back in shape and build up my stamina and I have been seeing so much progress. So many of the goals that I had set for myself to help me get my life back on track have been achieved and I’m so happy to say that. But since my last round of steroids and vincristine I’ve been having some pain in my right hip. That was about two weeks ago. I figured initially that it was just a symptom of the chemo, but all of my other symptoms have already run there course and the pain is getting worse. Ugh. Can’t a sista catch a break?

I don’t mean to be complaining, I know that I am truly blessed. I am happy and I will continue to be happy and live my life positively no matter what happens, but sometimes you just need to let the bad feelings out. It feels crappy that I have to go through more pain, and that I might have to stop running, and that I have to limp around. It makes me feel weak and limited, a feeling that I just worked very hard to escape from.

I have yet to speak to my doctors about this as I don’t have my next visit for another week, and I was holding onto hope that the sensation would subside. There’s always something scary about presenting the doctor with a new symptom, but there is usually a huge sense of relief after doing so. It is easy to be afraid of the unknown, but once you know what you are facing you can empower yourself to fight back. I’m afraid of what the doctor will say about my hip problem right now. Because when I think about telling her I imagine the worst possible scenarios. Sometimes I let this way of thinking get me down, I let the fear swallow me up for a while. But then I remind myself that there are some things in life that I cannot change, and I need to focus on the things that I can do. Like telling my doctor the problem and getting the facts. Or telling my fear to shove it because I will not give in.

As soon as I know what the problem really is, I can start working towards eliminating it. I just wish I didn’t have one in the first place. Oi! Thanks for reading my rant. I feel a little better now… but my hip doesn’t!

Xoxo Kathy