Friday, October 12, 2012

Bartender, pour me another.....

When I went into this site to create a blog, I realized that I had forgotten to post this post. Read on!

On Wednesday, December 28th, I got a mammogram. My oncologist saw something on a CT scan I got a few weeks ago, and wanted to see if it would show up again on the mammogram. This test SUCKS! There's just no other way to put it. Your boobs go through torture! Waiting to be called was torture. Did the mammogram and then got called back because the nurse felt I needed to do another mammogram on my left breast. Shit! This just made me so nervous. I just kept thinking that it would be my luck to have Lymphoma AND Breast Cancer. After the nurse did the ultra sound, she said that she was going to have a radiologist take a look at them. I just threw my hands up in the air and told her "I can't do this anymore,  just have the results sent to my Oncologist and he will go over the results with me". The nurse insisted I wait and that she would walk me down to the radiologist so that I could go home with the results right there and then. Oh, okay. Yes, it's better that I know now that I have Breast Cancer, and then drive myself to a brick wall!! Yes, I like that idea better. So, I'm waiting and as I'm sitting there I'm thinking to myself, that boobs are so overrated. I mean, really. Who needs them, I'm just cutting the darn things off and burning my bras!  Woohoo!! Bra burning party! Finally get called in to see the radiologist. I walk into the radiologist's office and she doesn't even close the door, even though  there is a patient right outside her office. She says with a smile, "it looks like you have something on your left breast...and it's pretty BIG. But I'm not worried about it, I think it's benign. I just cried and walked out mad as HELL. Got in my van and felt like driving it over a bridge. I was speeding and driving like a  crazy woman. I was mad, simply pissed off. Scared out of my mind and I needed a drink. I drove for half an hour until I got to a restaurant with a bar. I told the waiter I was hungry and needed a cocktail. I ended up ordering three appetizers and a VERY STRONG DRINK! Amadeo texted me and asked if I was okay. I told him I was very upset and that I was having a drink and needed time to cool off.  I finally cooled off. But not before I did some therapy shopping. While I was at Macy's, there was this little boy about 6 years old, running around like crazy and I just nodded my head. I was trying on hats and this kid was driving me nuts. So, I waited for him to run around me again. I took off the hat and with my bald head, looked at him and made a scary face. The poor kid saw me and he went from acting crazy to complete silence and walked over to his mom. I know, that was mean, but I was upset and figured I would put my semi bald head to good use.

I drove home and as I parked the van in the driveway and looked up at my house, I realize that things could be worst. Then my phone rings and I see that it's a friend who is recently divorced. Yes, things could be worst. I answer the phone. She goes on and on about how bad she feels that it's over and that wishes she had a child to distract her from this pain. What? Seriously? I remain calm and in my calm voice say, "you are divorced, get over it. No kids, get over it. And a distraction? Honey, I have Cancer. I am bald and I just might have breast Cancer now. How's that for a distraction?" After we broke the guilt with laughter, we both apologized for complaining about our lives and both agreed that we didn't want to be in each other's shoes. That's life, you get what you get and you don't throw a fit.

I walk in the door, and Amadeo greets me with a hug and the kids are laughing and playing and life just doesn't seem so bad.

It turns out that the lumps in my breast are not tumors. So yay for that!  Oh, and I returned everything I bought, the very next day. LOL!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The little things....

I used to run away from the sun. On beach days I made sure Amadeo packed the beach umbrella so I could veg under it the whole time while at the beach. Now, I live for that sun to just shine on me. Every morning when I wake up, I thank God (literally) for another day with my family. I stare at my children longer, I smile at my husband more often. I've become an even BIGGER hugger! I say "I love you" more often. I've been asked, "what is your secret for looking so healthy during chemo?" Honestly, it's my attitude and my diet. I have never been healthier, ironically. I eat greens every day, I laugh often and I put all the negative energy into the hamper and all the good energy I keep it stored close to my heart.

Going through this is not a walk in the park, but I also know that it can be worse. I recently visited a friend who is going through a divorce and she was sharing her story and the pain she is going through. She stopped and said that her divorce was nothing compared to what I was going through. I told her that we both were mourning....she was mourning her marriage and I was mourning my health. People don't know what to say when you are going through something like this. I often find myself reassuring friends and family that I am okay and that this will pass. I have seen people cry for me and it hurts my heart to see another human being hurting for me.

Cancer sure has shown me just how loved I am. I have made so many friends since I moved out to California and I have been amazed at how many of those friends truly care about me. I have also lost one....but it was more of an acquaintance. I made a joke about a comment she posted on her Facebook and next thing I know...she de-friended me. My comment wasn't bad, i was just being silly. Nothing offensive either, just silly. Isn't there some ethical code that you can't de-friend someone while they are going through chemo? I mean, wait at least unil I am in remission, for goodness sakes. It truly showed me that her heart was not in the right place for our friendship.

My husband has been my rock. I can't imagine going through this alone or without the support he gives me. He takes over when I can't get out of bed. He makes me laugh and he makes sure I know how much I am loved by him. I remember when I was in the hospital and he leaned over to give me a kiss and he said he wanted to hug me so so so tight but he didn't want to break me. My heart just melted. At that moment I knew just how bad he wanted his wife to be healthy again.

God has put a great Oncologist in my path as well. He is not only brilliant, but a good person. He makes sure he sees me before my chemo treatments. He never lets me wait too long in the waiting area. He returns calls pretty quickly. He is making chemo go as smoothly as chemo can go. I feel so fortunate to have been able to have him as my oncologist. Thankful for Amadeo's boss who referred us to him.

I know now more than ever that God has a plan for me. He put all these friendships in my path for a reason. I have the family I have for a reason. This Cancer is in my body for a reason. Maybe I inspire someone to laugh more often, hug more often or smile more often. Whatever it may be, I will just keep doing what I'm doing. Living.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The "C" word

Today I went in for my follow up appointment so the surgeon could make sure my incision from the biopsy was healing well. And, it is!! He also had the results. Drum roll please..........I have Primary Mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma. It's HIGHLY treatable. Very good news! At least I think it is. The treatment, Chemo.

Chemo. It sounds so daunting. I'd rather think that maybe a magic powder dust or a magical kiss from my Prince will make this mass....disappear. When I think of chemo, I think of my body becoming frail, losing my hair and being wheeled around in a wheelchair. Although I could use the "handicap" card to get prime parking at Trader Joe's :)

The next step is to meet with an Oncologist to see how aggressive the treatment will need to be and what not. I have to say, I'm pretty calm. I am staying positive and focusing on my diet and water intake. Now more than ever I need to make sure this body of mine is getting all the good nutrients it needs to kick ass!

I also need to go and find me some pretty scarves for my melon head. I think I prefer that over a wig. Hmmmm......decisions, decisons. I hope I can look as cool as Sinead O'Conner did with her bald head. Maybe it won't be so bad, I may not lose it all. Who knows, but I want to be ready. I'd hate to frighten children.

So there you have it, that's the latest. I'm feeling good. I even sneaked in a Cosmopolitan before the kids got home from school. Amadeo and I went to the local Brewery at the beach and had ourselves some drinks. We both needed it!!!

One more thing, my friend Yvonne Hall is setting up some sort of schedule for meals and school pickups and other things that may come up.  If you have expressed to me that you would like to help, I will be sending her your email or phone number so she can coordinate with you. Not sure how this Chemo is going to go down, so Amadeo and I are trying to come up with an easy game plan.

Love you guys! And remember, for Heaven sakes.....get yourself a physical, blood work and chest x-rays every 6 months, or at least yearly.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Taking Chances

On this day, 11 years ago I met my husband Amadeo. I was sitting in the waiting area of a restaurant in San Antonio, Texas. I was there to celebrate a good friend's birthday. I was annoyed and hungry! My friends (including the birthday girl) were of course VERY late. A guy walks in, smiles at me and puts his name on the list. He sits in front of me and says, "looks like there is a party".  I had baked my friend a cake and there I was with a cake next to me. I responded by saying, "yeah, it sure looks that way huh". I've never been good with small talk with guys...I get nervous and say ALL  the wrong things. But I was somewhat ANNOYED with him, maybe it's because I had managed to involve myself in the two most exhausting longterm realtionships and I was SO DONE with men...or should I say BOYS!

So a few mintues later, a woman walks in with a baby in a carrier and looks over to this guy and says, "oh HONEY, did you put our name on the list?". WTF? What a creep! He walks by me, with his hands in his pockets, and wispers, "have fun at your party". I mumbled "have fun with your wife".

So, finally some friends arrived (20 minutes late). We got seated way in the back of the restaurant, but then more friends arrived and the host had to move us to a larger table. And guess where she moved us? RIGHT next to rico suave! He kept looking my way and smiling. His WIFE got up with the baby and went to the bathroom. And rico suave took the opportunity to start talking to my friend Carolina and they are both laughing and smiling, and I'm fuming! My friend hands me a business card and says "he wants yout to know that he's with his sister and that is his nephew in the carrier". Oh.

Apparently the conversation he had with my friend went something like this: Hey, I like your friend, is that her boyfriend sitting nex to her? No, that's my brother and they are just friends. Oh good! What's her name? Gloria. Can you give her my card, I hope we can exchange numbers. I will see what I can do.

So, my friend hands me his card and I just toss it to the side. NOT INTERESTED! I am single and loving my freedom at this point. Then my friend Amelia, who's sitting on the other side of me, grabs the business card and says, "he's a lawyer!!!". My response, "oh, even worse, a liar by trade. No thank you, I will pass. But if somehow I find myself in jail.....I know who to call."

He was getting up to leave and at this point the MARIACHIS are going strong and it was pretty loud in the restaurant. He yells, "Gloria, can I have your number?" I responded by saying, "my name is Gloria Rodriguez and I'm in the book, look me up". Who says that? Really? He was confused, but went with it. I figured, if he was genuinely interested, he would go through the trouble and eventually find me. Right?

Poor guy, he went through the White Pages and looked up every Gloria Rodriguez until he found me, the next day. He called me and I agreed to have dinner with him. I figured I haven't had a date in a while and rent is due in 3 days, and I could use a free dinner. Why not? The worst that can happen is I can add this to my list of HORRIBLE dates.

The date started at a lovely restaurant in downtown San Antonio. The conversation was easy, nothing forced and lots of laughs. I was hooked! We walked the Riverwalk so many times and just laughted and had such a good connection. It was so easy to talk to this guy.

I came home that night and told my roommate that I just went on a date with my future husband. She just rolled her eyes and laughed. That night I couldn't sleep, just thinking of how nice this guy was. He was a family guy, he adored his parents and he grew up with four loving sisters, and he was the BABY! These sisters paved the way for me. He's compassionate, considerate and understood women.

We went on our second date the next day and this was the start of a great relationship indeed. He had to fly back to LA the next morning. Oh, did I mention he was in town visiting family and his home was in LA? I knew that it was going to be tough having a long distance relationship but if it was meant to be, then it was meant to be.

A few months past and he invited me to come and visit him in LA. Of course, this was a Holiday weekend and so the traffic was light and the weather was perfect. I could definitely see why he loved it here so much. The visit went great and I was even more hooked! I flew back on a Wednesday and had to work that afternoon. I went to my supervisor and gave my two weeks notice and said, "I'm moving to LA". Just like that. I was up for a major promotion and a huge bonus. This was the opportunity that I was waiting for. But none of that mattered now because my heart was in LA. I never saw myself living outside of Texas, EVER! Much less California. But love can move mountains.

I moved out here five months after we met, and he we are, 11 years, two kids later. I was never a risk taker, but I'm glad I finally let the guards down and took a chance at love. I married my best friend and great co-pilot in life. He steers me when I can't find my way. His parents have always been so good to me and I adore them! I get along with all his sisters and they have treated me like Gold! I feel so blessed to have gained four more sisters!

Here's to many more years with Amadeo Cantu! Cheers!!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sorry to meet you

Sorry to meet you. That is what the Cardio Thorasic Surgeon (Dr. McKenna) told me when he discussed my diagnoses with Amadeo and I. Yes, I would have liked to have met this genius of a man at some birthday party.

So, here we are. Cancer and I. Who the HELL do you think you are coming into my life uninvited? Well, since you're here, you might as well sit down, have a glass of wine and get to know each other and figure out the best way to part ways.

These past nine days have been such a whirlwind. What started off as me going to see my primary physician because I was experiencing a cough and chest discmofort. Not to mention I was suffering from panick and anxiety attacks. First it was the chest x-ray. "Oh, Mrs. Cantu looks like you have walking pneumonia. So, we will get you on some antibiotics and oh, wait, the RADIOLOGIST wants to take a look at your chest x ray." WTF?

Got that dreadful call three hours later, from my physician saying they found a mass near my lungs and I need to get a CT scan pronto! Now folks, here we are on Friday, October 21st and this all started on Wednesday, October 12th when I went in to see my physician.

So, next day (October 13th), I am sitting at Torrance Memorial Breast Diagnostic Center, with Amadeo and with my mind racing and all these horrible thoughts running through my head. Will I live to take that next family vacation? What about the kids? What about my husband? Who's going to take care of them if I should pass? How the HELL am I going to tell my mom, who already lost her husband to Cancer?

Focus Gloria, focus. Stay strong, keep your cool. Results came in the next day (Friday, October 14th). I was referred to a Pulmonologist, who confirmed that indeed this was a mass, the size of an orange and it was in between my lungs pressing up against my trachea and windpipe. Ah, I see. That would explain the feeling of out of breath, when I just walk up my stairs at home.

The next day I am sitting with a Cardio Thorasic Surgeon (Dr. Stoneburner). Horrible bedside manner! I really wanted to just wring his neck with his cockiness. That appointment didn't go well, I left feeling hopeless. Amadeo had a bad feeling about this doctor as well. Amadeo did most of the talking for me because I was too distraght to speak. Towards the end of our appointment, Amadeo told Dr. Stoneburner, "look I will be honest with you, I want the best for my wife and we have another appointment with another surgeon."

We did have another appointment scheduled for Thursday, October 20th with Dr. McKenna. Amadeo asked around work and I asked on my mommy networking group to see if anyone had any great referrals to a Cardio Thoracic Surgeon. And, Dr. McKenna's name kept coming up. Apparently he is the best in the State of California and based out of Cedars Sinai.

So, after this horrible expeience with Dr. Stoneburner (or Dr. Asshole), as I'd like to put it, Amadeo immediately got ont he phone and begged and pleaded with Dr. McKenna's receptionist to PLEASE squeeze us in two days early. We got in!!! Dr. McKenna diagnosed me with lymphoma, which if you are going to have Cancer, this is the one to have. I know, no canccer is ever good to have, but if this is what God has planned for me, then I'm listening.

Got a biopsy scheduled for the next day Wednesday, October 19th. I have to say I fell in love with my husband ALL over again. I couldn't have asked for a better husband. He was phenomonal when I was going through all the emotions of being scared of being put under for this procedure. He never left my side, except when they asked him to wait while the procedure was being done. I had to fast for this procedure, so the night before I ate dinner around 8pm. The procedure was supposed to start around 10am, but the procedure didn't start until around 1pm. I was startving, thirsty and just plain mad!! Amadeo didn't eat, out of respect for me and he didn't want to make me hungrier. What a guyy!!! I am so far recovering okay. The incision hurts a bit, but I'm tough, I can handle it....LOL!!! I am not a fan of pain meds, so I'm relying on Advil and Tylenol to take care of business. I labored two kids, I can certainly handle this little cut on my body.

So here we are, waiting for the results. The results will take at least a week to get in. It will probably be sometime late next week before we get any news.  In the meantime, I need to live my life and hope for the best. There is a really great Sample sale that I am DYING to go to....oh wait, I should use a better word....LOL!!!!

This is a shock, I know. And I am so fortunate to have such great friends and family that are willing to help Amadeo and I with the kids, preparing meals for us and even offering to do a grocery run. I am so so thankful for each and every one of you. Words can not express the amount of gratitude I have.

This uninvited guest has shown up, but I hope to be showing it the door soon.

Love you guys!