Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Our First Cancer Charity to receive proceeds from Get The Bean is the Melanoma Research Foundation in memory of Stephanie Aleong. Those of you who follow my personal blog know who Stephanie was. For those for you who do not let me introduce you.
Stephanie Aleong was an absolutely amazing woman, professor, family member and friend. She was also a woman battling melanoma. Stephanie was very passionate about fighting melanoma! Not just hers but all melanoma because that was her, selfless and determined. To know her was to love her and to fight her, well that would be a long difficult road for you because she was a fighter. Thats why I was so shocked when she died suddenly last week.
Many of us wandered around the law school after we got the terrible news. Not knowing what to do, say or feel we just stood there in absolute shock. I have thought a lot about what I can do to help keep a part of her here, a part of us! This world was a better, safer, kinder place with her in it and I just don't have the heart to let that go. So this is my little contribution to keeping Stephanie, the fighter, her with us.
For as long as I have Get The Bean it will be donating a portion of the proceeds from ALL purchases of the Mexican Coetepec to the Melanoma Research Foundation in memory of Stephanie Aleong. At the end of the year I will be sure to let you know how much we were able to raise!
Saturday, October 25, 2008
This Blog is connected to our coffee website which IS OPEN AND READY FOR ORDERS. We are going to be giving back by donating $$$ to various cancer charities. Read below to find out WHY we are doing this. To find out how you can get $$ for the charity of your choice keep on reading. If you participate you could raise tons of money for the charity of YOUR choice!
To Buy Coffee CLICK HERE
WE ARE TAKING STORIES NOW SO MAKE SURE YOU READ AND ENTER YOUR STORY!
Why We Care:
Meaghan was a young, healthy vibrant 28 year old attending law school in the winter of 2006. During her second year of classes she began feeling ill. She went to numerous doctors looking for help. Each doctor suggested it was all in Meaghan’s head; maybe she was depressed, mentally ill or over-stressed. Because she had always been healthy and was young the doctors assumed nothing serious could be wrong. Enduring extreme pain, bleeding and exhaustion Meaghan kept returning to her doctors looking for help. Still no one did anything to address any of her health issues. Meaghan’s symptoms became worse with each passing day. No one believed she was ill and so she continued to attend classes and tried to live a normal life. Eventually the pain became unbearable so she drove herself to the ER.
The doctors at the Emergency Room also suggested Meaghan’s pain was all in her head. However, they were required to give a CT scan due to the symptoms she complained of. The CT scan showed Meaghan’s pain was not in her head. She had a large tumor on her cervix. The tumor had grown so large it crushed her ureters causing her kidneys to rip open. In February 2007 Meaghan was finally diagnosed with advanced cervical cancer, stage 3b. The same doctors that had told her she was fine were now telling her and her family that Meaghan would not survive this.
Meaghan decided not to give up but rather to fight. After two weeks of hospitalization and blood transfusions Meaghan was flown to Dana Farber Cancer Institute in
Although she won her fight Meaghan continues to struggle against the secondary effects of her treatments. Cancer has changed her life forever. Meaghan returned to law school and is set to graduate in December 2008.
Without the love, care and attention Meaghan received at Dana Farber Cancer Institute she would not have survived. Because of this Meaghan has dedicated herself to raising awareness and supporting Cancer Institutes. To learn more about Meaghan and her story visit her blog at www.cancerlost.blogspot.com
We at G.T.B understand Meaghan’s story is not unique. There are many men and women fighting battles against cancer. Get The Bean wants to do what we can to help fight cancer. We have decided to donate a portion of our proceeds to various cancer charities.
This is how it works:
- Tell us about yours or a loved ones battle against cancer
- We will then post your story on G.T.B Fights Cancer Blog
- Each month we will pick one story to feature
- If we pick your story you get to pick your favorite G.T.B coffee flavor
- Next you must pick a Cancer Charity you want G.T.B to donate proceeds to.
- For the next year we will donate .50 for every bag purchased of your chosen flavor to your chosen charity.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
myself that God has given me. so, at the young age of 35, i had my first mamogram. ladies, let me tell you that as a woman who has a lot to be scanned, this was not the most pleasant experience. my mammogram came back clean. i do monthly exams and will continue to do so. i don't have cancer and i'm going to do what i can to make sure i take care of myself. i cannot
prevent cancer but i can put myself in a position that gives me hope for a healthy future with my children and my children's children.
carolina van luvender
Monday, October 20, 2008
This is my moms 3rd battle with cancer in 8 years, 8 years ago she was diagnosed with breast cancer, they did a lumpectomy, took 10 lymph nodes out which where not cancer, she had chemo and radiation, 6 years later she was diagnosed with reoccurrence breast to her neck, no surgery because it was too close to her blood vessels, she underwent extremely harsh chemo and radiation once again, than about 4 months ago she got a horrible cough that wouldn’t go away with no medicines, she was hospitalized for 2 weeks and they still found nothing, so one day I asked her Doctor to do a chest ct because I was worried because she has had cancer 2 times, so he did, it showed something on her lungs, so her cancer doctor ordered a pet scan, which confirmed it, than she had a bronchoscope which concluded that it is lung cancer. Her cancer doctor had them to run more tests it is breast to lung and lymph nodes, the cough is from a lymph node blocking her bronchial tubes, so we are doing chemo and radiation once again, they say there’s no cure just a prolonging with chemo. She has been through so much, I hope she can continue to fight it because I don’t know what I would do without mom, and she is my world, my everything, my best friend. I love her so much. Please pray for her, her name is Margaret Fowler.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Here are a few links for you to see our story:
Saturday, October 18, 2008
I hate going to see the gynecologist, like most women do. I’d gotten lazy since the birth of my last child because I’d had my tubes tied, an ablation done the year before, and I didn’t depend on the yearly birth control prescription, so if I didn’t make it every year, that was just fine because *I* didn’t need to. There’s never been a history of anything being wrong with me or any woman in my family.
In the fall of 2007 I began figuring when the last time I’d had my pap smear done. It had only been a little over a year so normally I’d just forget about it for a few more months. But this time was different. It’s hard to explain but I kept having this great sense of urgency to go get it taken care of. This was my first red flag. I fought it for a couple months before breaking down and deciding to go see a doctor. The one I’d had after having my daughter had moved as had the one that saw me before the ablation the year before. So I went to a nurse practitioner/midwife. She is the one who discovered the problem.
Fast forward a week. I’m sitting in the parking lot, killing time for a few minutes waiting for class to start and my phone rings. It’s the nurse practitioner/midwife’s nurse. She tells me what the pap results said and that I need to go see a doctor. I have HPV and my cells are suspicious. That’s all I got. The word cancer was brought up but she said to not worry yet, to wait and talk with the doctor. It’s not time to panic, but don’t put it off, either. If I had a penny for every time someone said not to panic, I’d be rich. They were able to get me in to see the doctor in a couple days. That was my second red flag. You never get in that quick.
He performed another pap smear and decided to biopsy. I think I lost 5 pounds that week from all the worry. They put a rush on the results and it still took almost a week to get them back. Another red flag was waived when they didn’t wait for the card to come in the mail, they called and said I needed to come in to have a colposcopy done and talk about the results. My mom took off work to go with me to the doctor on the day I went to get the results. I didn’t want her with me, but she wanted to go, so she sat patiently out in the waiting room while I went back and fought one of the biggest emotional battles yet. It was cancer.
Ya’ know how in the movies when someone receives bad news, the camera shows them sitting still while everything moves slowly away, like they’re moving through an emotional tunnel backwards and all the sounds get muffled and their eyes look dazed? That was me. One half of my brain was telling the other half to focus and listen because I know myself, I’ll walk away stunned and an hour later wonder what he said. The other half of my brain pictured my children, my future husband Chris, my mom, my sister and brothers, my dad, the rest of my family and friends. I saw myself sick, having to break the news to them, wondering what would happen if it spread. My clarity came and went. I would go between being able to listen attentively and understand what he was saying to thinking of what would happen if this goes bad.
I picked up my jacket and purse and walked out of his office in stunned disbelief. I scheduled the freezing like he said to. I went out to the waiting room and all I am aware of at that moment is looking at my mom and being sad that I had to tell her the news no parent wants to hear. At that moment, the fear and sadness shifted from myself to her as I whispered, “It’s cancer.” She quickly grabs her stuff, not even taking the time to put on her coat, and said, “Let’s go out to the car.” We get in the car and I work hard to recall all that the doctor had said, knowing I’d missed a lot. My mom is a deeply religious person, but not the hell-fire-and brimstone type. She sweetly took my hand and said she wanted to pray with me, so she did. It was the sweetest, most heartfelt prayer I had ever heard in my life and it brought me to tears. Seeing my mom begin to cry made me hurt for her even more.
I called my boss, barely able to hold it together, and asked if I could have the rest of the day off and told her what the diagnosis was. It was no problem. I then called Chris. He was very quiet and asked if I was okay. Yes, I was. Then mom drove me home. The next couple hours are a blur. I know I looked things up on the internet, shocked at what I read. Shocked at the mortality rate.
That afternoon my middle son had a doctor’s appointment. During this appointment, they found an irregular heartbeat and wanted blood work done. Again, his was expedited. Within 24 hours, our healthy home turned upside down. We get a call the following Monday that his liver wasn’t functioning properly and he’s anemic. I was just a few days away from having the freezing done and now we didn’t know what would happen with Will, they needed more blood work and some tests run. I looked at Chris and told him that if he wants to leave, now is his chance. He didn’t take the out I handed to him (which I’m very thankful for!). I didn’t know how severe my cancer was and now my son was sick. I could handle myself being sick. I can’t handle the thought of something serious being wrong with my child.
They say you’re never given more in life than you can handle. I no longer believe that to be true. At that moment, it was too much. I had never been lower in my life. But at the same time, I now looked at everything through a different mental and emotional lens. I appreciated everything more. I no longer cared about things such as if I have the best clothes, perfect nails, the latest gadgets. Things no longer mattered, the people in my life did. And my life did.
The freezing seemed to be a success and they ended up finding nothing wrong with my son. We got the latest results from both right before Christmas. It was the only present I needed. I didn’t need or want anything else, I had it all. I had struggled through the Thanksgiving holiday but now I was able to enjoy Christmas and what a good Christmas it was! Some say things just work out. Some attribute it to the prayers people said for us. I think it’s both. I’m not a deeply religious person, but I am spiritual and I believe that prayer worked this time.
At the end of March I went back for the 3 month checkup and pap smear. The nurse called and said things were suspicious and he wanted to try another kind of pap smear, so he did. Again I was asked to come in, had a colposcopy done, another biopsy, and asked me to meet him in his office. He said I fell into the roughly 15% recurrence rate. It appears as though it had come back but we needed to wait for the biopsy results to know for sure. We talked about the next course of action. I walked out of there being told the cancer had returned. A week later I get the call saying that it was all clear. So I grilled the nurse asking how it could look like cancer is back but then suddenly there’s nothing wrong? The pap smear wasn’t normal and he saw something on the colposcopy. None of it made sense but she insisted it was fine and I didn’t need to come back until October (it was April by this point, so he put me off for 6 months). I hope she’s right, but I’m not confident.
So here I sit. Seventeen days away from my next appointment, wondering if I shouldn’t find a new doctor, nervous about what will happen, almost convinced that they screwed up the last time. It’s not uncommon for labs to mix up results and specimens. I have yet to make good on the decision to make this my life’s mission, raising awareness of cervical cancer. Everything may not happen for a reason, but I do think that everything that happens should teach us lessons and we should never come out the same. We should never take what we’ve learned and keep it to ourselves.
One thing this experience has done is help me narrow my focus in education. I’m a psychology student. When I started down this path, I wanted to be your typical psychologist. The more I deal with people and read and see what’s going on around me, the more I know my life’s purpose is to help those that are hurting. I want to help others as they go through the most painful and terrifying times of their lives. Everyone should attempt to leave the world in a better place than when they were brought into it. My life will matter. One day my day for being a cancer advocate will come. For now, I’ve come to realize that I must wait my turn. There is simply not enough of me to spread around; but during this time, I am educating myself and finding that my passion for others and for cancer is far deeper than I would have ever guessed. It’s on a small scale now, educating and informing those I know. One day, it will be on a much broader scale.
Friday, October 17, 2008
In the fall/winter of 2006/ 2007 I started to have frequent UTI's and had never had them before. I had 3 different ER visits for extreme pain and bleeding. My primary doctor decided it would be a good idea to do some further testing to rule out some things. I had a CT of my kidneys, a test for bladder cancer and finally, an ultrasound to look at my bladder and ureters. Well nothing serious was found to be causing my UTI's, but something totally unrelated was found on my ultrasound, which probably saved my life. I had a tumor the size of a baseball sitting on my psoas muscle deep in my abdomen.
That led me to Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY. Where I met my fantastic surgeon who told me I had Alveolar Soft Part Sarcoma. I had a cancer that made up 1% of all cancers, and I had just turned 19. This cancer also has not had the research other cancer's have, and it was and still is needed. I had radiation, inter-operative radiation, my tumor, psoas muscle, and a bundle of nerves removed, along with my right kidney. It took me a year to fully recover, and I still have nerve pain, numbness, and have lost strength and flexibility in my abdomen. I am currently on a clinical-trial for an anti-angiogenic pill called Sutent. I am still fighting the spots on my lungs, and the 50/50 chance a tumor could recur in my abdomen.
Sarcoma's tend to hit a young population, and be chemo-resistant. This cancer desperately needs more funding and research. I donated my tumor to research, but want to do more!
But right now I feel good, and I am thankful for that. Roswell, along with Memorial Sloan Kettering in NYC have made it so I am still here today.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
My name is Stephanie and I am a 36 yr old mother of three and wife to a super sexy 38 year old man. My hubby is a very healthy guy. He was a competitive body builder in college. He is as strong as an ox to this day and enjoys exercising and eating right as a way of life. You can only
imagine the shock and surprise when he was diagnosed in August with lymphoma (btw..that does not deserve to be capitalized!). He is currently undergoing treatment and will be until February of next year.
We both went through the usual "why, how" questions, but quickly learned to lean more on our faith and trust God. The six months of chemo treatment will be long and rough, as
will the five week of radiation that will follow. But, we know in the end, he will emerge with a clean bill of health. This is an inconvenience, and *not* something that will kick us down.
I am so grateful to have found Meaghan's blog and this site. I am proud to do whatever I can to help raise awareness. I will be a regular customer.
If you are interested, you can see my post
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Here is our first Cancer Fighter story entry! Hope you all enjoy:
Why am I so tired all the time?? I exercise every day, eat pretty well, am aware of everything that I put into my body. It must be stress. I work too much, try to do to much, that’s what it is. Ater all, I’m 33, not as young as I once was. I just need to slow down.
Why do I have this blood in my stool? Well, it’s only happened a couple times, it’s probably nothing. Oh, it’s probably just an internal hemorrhoid. I’m only 34 it’s not like I would have cancer or anything.
Why do I feel this urge to go to the bathroom? Geez, the toilet is filled with blood. I don’t have any belly pain, I don’t even have any rectal pain, and my stools seem fine, I probably ate something that didn’t agree with my intestines….yes, that’s it, it was something I ate. I’m only 35 it’s not like I would have cancer or anything. I’m a nurse, I think I would know if I had cancer.
What is going on? Why are my stools becoming pencil thin? Why am I having these gushes of blood and why is my back hurting so badly that I cannot get any relief no matter what I do? Why do I want to sleep all the time and where has my energy gone? Why am I so thin? There is something wrong, I’m sure it’s stress related, after all I’m starting my own business, building a new building, going through a divorce and I’m only 36, it’s not like I could have cancer or anything………..I need to at least get a colonoscopy to see what’s causing this.
Groggy from the Versed and sedation I hear, “draw a CEA stat, get a CBC stat”……what? What? CEA? You think I have cancer don’t you?? She wouldn’t answer me, she said “I will talk to you in my office on Tuesday.” Tuesday? It’s Friday, I can’t wait until Tuesday, “you know I have cancer don’t you?”. She still wouldn’t answer me, and the last thing I told her was, “Don’t waste my time please.”
That was my colonscopy March 9, 2007. The longest weekend ever followed. I knew what was happening to me, I knew it was cancer. I went shopping on Saturday and bought clothes that I would take with me to the hospital for my surgery. I knew the drill. I was a nurse. I was educated and knew the symptoms yet completely avoided reality for at least 4 years……I was my own worst enemy.
The days that followed were like living in another world. How was I going to tell my family? My friends? How would anyone ever love me again in a sexual way after this surgery? How would I even let anyone? What was I going to do living all alone, going through chemo, radiation, and this surgery that I would have to have? I’m too pretty to have cancer, I’m too happy, too healthy, to physically fit, nobody in my family has ever had this. Why me? What did I do wrong?
Tuesday, March 13th I got the official diagnosis. “Rectal Cancer.” “Very large tumor that will require extensive treatment.” “You need to start looking for a surgeon, I can recommend one but you are more than welcome to find one also”. “You will see the oncologist tomorrow, I have set it up for you.” What is happening? This cannot be real, it must be a dream. I have to tell my dad.
I drove myself back to my company office where my dad was. He took one look at my face and knew it was bad. I couldn’t even speak I just cried and he held me and all I could udder was “I do not want to die”, “I’m not ready to die”…..he just held me and cried with me…..this was indeed one of the worst days of my life and honestly everything after this day was not as bad as uttering the words to my dad, “I have cancer.” No child should ever have to tell a parent these words, ever.
I felt like an animal being herded through gates and given commands as to what to do next. I was told where to be, when to be there, and how to go about it. I was never good at being told what to do, I am a natural leader, not a follower so none of this came easy for me. Giving up control over my life was not going to come easy for me, I needed to have some sort of choices, some type of control, just a little, but…..cancer took that from me, at least for the time being.
I was to report on Mondays at 8 AM for my 5FU hookup and wear that for 24 hours a day until Friday morning at 8. Also on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays I would go for my radiation treatments which only take a few minutes but eventually will wreak havoc on your body…… nobody can prepare you for what will happen during these 5 weeks. Although they try during those ‘mock-up’ radiation sessions where they get you ready for the actual radiation, you are never really ready for the outcome. I did pretty good up until week #4 when the burning got very bad, I could barely pee and having bowel movements was like passing razor blades, the burning from urination was so terrible I asked the doctor to prescribe for me some xylocaine jelly to put on the areas just so I could urinate without crying. I spent more time in the tub than any human being should in an entire lifetime……the cool water seemed to help the burned skin and also help with healing…….
If I just get through this I can get through anything. The 5 week course was over, I got a nice certificate of completion from the staff and I was a free woman for a few weeks until I was okayed for surgery. I found my surgeon, she was at U of M and she was who I wanted to do my surgery. I couldn’t get in to see her so my radiation oncologist made some calls and go me in……..she was going to do it. I had to meet with the ENT nurse prior to my surgery to discuss ostomy placement. I cried and cried during this visit, I couldn’t even look at the appliances and all she kept saying was ‘you are so tiny, where can we place this on your little belly?’ She was trying to be nice but I was so devastated and then she mentioned irrigation. I had no idea of what this was, I am a nurse and have never heard of such a thing. What is this? Will it get rid of the bag? When can I do it? How long after surgery?? I was excited that there was an option out there, finally, something, some hope…….up until this moment I have had no choices and everything that this cancer had done was so devastating and it never got better, at least not until today………
“I will never be able to sit again”…….that was my first thought after surgery. How can this possibly be done to a human being. My butt was sewed shut. She told me she was removing the rectum but I didn’t know my butt would literally be sewn shut. Are you kidding me? When does it end? When will this be over? Did she think because I was a nurse that I knew this? Because I didn’t. Right then and there I knew that patients were never properly educated, we assume they know certain things and patients are afraid to ask questions…..I am living proof. I never asked, mostly because I wasn’t aware I needed to ask……..I will never be the same again.
I cannot lay on my back, I cannot sit on my bed, I can barely walk and I definitely cannot take a shower alone and now I have this huge bag hanging from my belly that I find completely repulsive. Surgeons, residents, nurses, everyone wants to see it and I can barely look at it. How am I going to live the rest of my life with this ‘thing’ on my belly? My clothes are never going to fit right and everyone is going to know I have this……I must stink from it, I know I do. Why has cancer done this? It never ends.
Five days later and I’m ready to go home. I still cannot sit on my butt but I can walk okay and with the pain meds I can do most things. I need to start moving around, doing things, getting better. I was to have a home health nurse visit me, I would be fine. I need to start taking care of this ostomy on my own and I had a personal goal to find the smallest, lowest profile bags that I can find. The post operative ones were not going to cut it for me for very long. My home health nurse had no idea of how to help me with this appliance problem, she simply had not the training or expertise I needed right now and I was frustrated. I was also feeling sicker and sicker over the course of a few days. She assured me I was fine, the incision looked fine that I was still in ‘recovery’ mode. No, I knew something was wrong, I started to have huge amounts of drainage from the wound so I called my surgeon and she instructed me to immediately come back. This was a 3 hour ride. My sister in law came to take me back to
Abscess. Rectal Abscess. Okay, what? Why? I was very very ill but with a common result of these types of surgeries. Especially in an area that received large amounts of radiation. The tissue is mush.
I went home with a drain in place for about 5 weeks. Finally after what seemed like eternity it healed and I could start my second round of chemo. I had a 6 month course yet to do before my treatment was officially done. I started that in October of 2007 and finished in Febuary of 2008. The second round was every other week for 3 days in a row. In contrast to the first regimen this regimen made me gain about 30 lbs of weight so I was ‘bloated’ as I like to call it. It was a combo of two different drugs and the goal was to destroy the smallest cell that may be floating around……good, kick it’s ass!!
Fast forward to today. I am 8 months post chemo as I write this bio. I am running a 5k next month for charity. I am irrigating my ostomy now and loving it. I can wear a tiny patch on my stoma and wear all my tight clothing and nobody knows. I have more energy than I have had in years and am happily dating and doing all the things that a single, sexy chick should be doing!! My newest goal is to wear a bikini again once I get my muscle tone back! It was a long hard road, one that I don’t care to walk again but along with it came many new lessons. I learned how much strength one can actually muster when you have to. I learned who my real friends were and how much people really do care and how they will rally around when someone is in need. I learned that a person can adapt to many situations and you do it without thinking, just as a natural reflex…..human beings are really amazing creatures and we don’t know what we have, who we are until we are really challenged and I think something like this, a real crisis brought out the best in me!! But I think the biggest lesson I learned was to listen to my body, when it’s calling for help I need to take care of it, this is all I get and I need to make it last until I’m good and ready to let it go!!
Cancer is not a death sentence but it is an order to fight, fight for your life, do not give up without the biggest fight. It’s also a lesson to everyone around you of how precious every day is and what a gift it is….it wasn’t my time and I knew it……I look at every single day as a gift and I will until my time is up, I cherish the little things, the smells, the sunshine and the rain, it’s all amazing to me now and I will never wish away another minute, another hour or another day. What a great feeling to be ALIVE!!