Showing posts from 2008

The list/La lista

Chemotherapy killed my fingernails…back when the fingernails you see (right hand…left hand was left unscathed…crazy shit) were hidden under the skin, there was a break in their growth caused by the chemicals that also took my hair, eyelashes, eyebrows, and soul, and now they are being pushed out by the new healthy nails. This is a painful process. The old nails are (were) still stuck to the skin, but not attached to the new nail growth…so they crack, and any pressure on them feels like they are being pulled off with pliers. It has basically rendered my right hand almost completely useless for most fine-motor skill functions – opening things, writing, scratching, picking, etc, etc, etc. Thankfully, over the past couple of weeks, the nails on my pointer, middle, and ring fingers have managed to catch themselves on something – blanket, carpet, clothes, dog’s fur – and be wincingly pulled off unexpectedly. Though each one caused a significant outcry of obscenities, and even a tear o


Yesterday I had my post-transplant PET scan – and to save you the suspense…it’s clean…no sign of cancer. This is good, very very good…it means that the transplant has worked thus far, and I am cancer-free. I’ll have another set of scans in October, and then every six months after that for the next several years. I am not yet out of the woods – the first year is the sketchiest, and the fear and anxiety of a relapse will lay heavy on my shoulders for some time - but this victory is huge, and I will celebrate accordingly. Mmm hmm. Ayer me hicieron los estudios pos-trasplante – y para ahorrarles el suspenso…todo salió completamente limpio…no hay rasgos de cáncer. Esto es excelente – significa que el trasplante ha funcionado hasta ahora, y que estoy libre de cáncer. Me harán estudios de nuevo en octubre, y de ahí en adelante cada seis meses por los siguientes varios años. Aunque no quisiera, esta noticia todavía no significa el fin de esto – el primer año es el más difícil, y el miedo y

I am from Troutdale, from me.

I went to my first class last night, and out of a 'getting to know you' writing activity the following poem was born. I kinda liked may not be good, I'm not really a poet, but it is what it is and I suppose I too am what I am. Fui a mi primer clase de la maestría ayer, y de una actividad de 'conociéndonos' nació el siguiente poema. Me gustó un poco...puede ser que no sea bueno, ya que bien sé que no soy poeta, pero es lo que es, y supongo que yo tambien soy lo que soy. Empecé a hacer una traducción, pero se pierde demasiado...perdónenme esta vez pero a veces hay cosas que no se vale traducirlas porque pierden su esencia...y su rima también. I am from Troutdale, from me. I am from smelt runs and blackberry jam and pie; I am from a sea of women who taught me to live right. I am from braces and glasses and too many fat girl jokes; I am from rebirth and renewal and contact lenses and diet coke. I am from Mexico, at least most recently, from t


I have spent the last two months wearing either pajamas, jeans and t-shirts, or any other comfort wear with little concern for looking presentable, so when I went out to lunch today with my mom I decided to step it up a notch and put on a cute little black dress and my favorite black heels – I even made an effort to carefully brush mascara onto my seven or eight eyelashes and powder my nose. The dress, my favorite hand-me-down from my grandmother, falls just at the knee when I’m standing, and shrinks up to mid thigh while I’m seated, and on the way home I was lazily driving one-handed, resting the other on my knee, when I noticed that if I ran my hand up my leg I could feel the slightest hint of stubble growing. At a stoplight I quickly checked under both arms – stubble. What a thrill…I remembered that the last time I shaved was in April just before my second round of ICE. So, I decided to get some coffee, and when I parked the car at the coffee shop, I carefully examined my face in t

In the news/En las noticias

This ad featuring me and my old super great hair will be coming out in this Sunday's Oregonian, so be sure to buy one, or steal your neighbor's, clip out my ad, and save it for all time. The text reads: "One year after my first diagnosis of stage four Hodgkin’s lymphoma, I was feeling good. I was just getting my hair back, and then I got sick again. When you have cancer, everything is overwhelming. Providence Cancer Center surrounds you with people who help you through it. My patient advocate helped me get financial assistance through Providence. My doctors created a state-of-the-art treatment plan, and my oncologist worked with fertility specialists to make sure children would still be an option for me in the future. I’m a realist. I know that the rest of my treatment won’t be easy, but I want to make it through this, and I don’t want to forget who I was before. I was an English teacher. I am a wife. Someday, I want to be a mom. Right now, I’m a patient at Providen

My Pillow/Mi Almohada

I'm home from the hospital, and things are going really well. I’m feeling pretty good, my blood counts are good, I’m eating better, I’m trying to get a little exercise everyday…overall things are good. I get tired really easily, which is very frustrating, because I’d really like to do things with all this spare time I have, but I have to sort of limit things to like one or two tasks per day….I swear after dishes and laundry I’m super exhausted and I have to sit and watch bad cable tv and rest. One day at a time I guess. After I got home, I got a call from the hospital to tell me I had left one of my pillows there – they said to just come by any time to pick it up. So on Monday when I went to see my oncologist for a check-up, I went over to the cancer center. I walked in, crossed the sky bridge, and stood by the elevators…waiting to push the button. The smell of hand sanitizer was overwhelming, and I turned around and walked back over the sky bridge to the exit…”can’t do it…I’ll

Still here/Aun estoy aquí

Still here in the hospital, just kicking around being EXTREMELY bored but trying to get by. Tomorrow will be my reinfusion of stem cells, and my "re-birthday", and then we'll see how long it takes me to recover and get out of the hospital. I don't want to jinx it, so let's not even discuss dates. Big hugs Todavia estoy aquí en el hospital, aquí estando SUPER aburridisima, pero haciendo lo posible para pasar el tiempo. Mañana me van a regresar las células madre y será mi re-cumpleaños, y ya veremos cuanto me tardo en recuperarme y salir de aquí. Mejor ni quiero hablar de fechas y esperaremos que sea lo antes posible. Abrazotes

The Sparrow and the Hawk/El gorrión y el halcón

The Sparrow and the Hawk by LFD – aka mom Running errands this morning, the sun is shining and feels good. The price of gas made me actually plan the trip - fewest miles for what I needed. High above the hill that is Glisan west to Fred Meyer, A red-tailed hawk is being pursued by a tiny sparrow. The sparrow is pecking at the hawk's tail, then a wing. The hawk seems hardly aware that it is the prey, not the predator. The sparrow is fierce and unrelenting. I stopped to watch. Nature is so fascinating. I usually think of it as something to be observed, not something I am a part of. I was impressed with the little bird's courage. What would motivate the tiny sparrow to take on the hawk. Her nest, of course, her babies, tucked somewhere in the trees. I got all teary. I was no longer an observer, I was the sparrow attacking the hawk, that is cancer. Stay away from my nest, leave by baby alone. This is a fight you will not win. Unlike the sparrow, I am not alone. Doctors, nur

One Week/Una Semana

Long story short, the docs in Seattle agreed with my doc here, and we're good to go for June 2, 2008 to begin high dose chemo, and the Auto Stem Cell Transplant to follow. I feel pretty ok about it...there is still nothing in this world that I want to do less than go through this treatment, but I feel confident that it is the right step to take, and that I am doing what I need to do. The countdown begins...I'll be admitted next Monday. Para no hacerles largo el cuento, les platico que los doctores en Seattle revisaron todo y estan de acuerdo con el doc de aquí, y estoy ya lista para el 2 de junio, 2008 para empezar la quimio de dosis alta, y el trasplante de células madre que sigue. Me siento más o menos bien con esto...aun no hay otra cosa que menos quiera hacer, pero me siento segura y ya sé definitivamente que esto es lo que necesito hacer. Y empieza el internan de hoy en ocho días.


My mom and I are heading up tonight to Seattle to Fred Hutchinson/Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) for a second opinion appointment on Thursday. I decided that before I undergo this huge transplant treatment and procedure, I wanted to get a second opinion....just to be absolutely sure that this is what I need to be doing right now...that this is the absolute best thing to do for the best outcome. Though that’s such an odd thing to say…like what’s really the best outcome? Honestly, I can’t think of any outcome short of “100% cured forever” or “Cancer? Get outta here” (Seinfeld reference anyone?), that is really acceptable, let alone “the best”…I just can’t believe I have to do this. It’s so hard to imagine that this is really where I am in life…waiting, wishing these last few days were longer, to go through a grueling treatment that will really only give me a little over a 50% shot at living longer than 10 years without disease. That’s really fucked up. There’s no other way I know

On TV/En la tele

That's right...and I'm naked! Ok, not really naked, but for all you know I am. That's me on the massage table. Stupid cute curly short hair, I miss you. This starts running today here in the Portland area on the major network channels, as well as some select cable channels. It was really fun to be a part of this's like 2 seconds or less of me in the commercial, but it was fun and they gave me a gift certificate for a free massage! Oh, and this is me too: It's not my favorite picture of me, but it's ok...the camera guy was making me laugh. That's a genuine laugh, no acting. Sipi, estoy saliendo en un comercial del hospital Providence en la tele....desnuda! Bueno, en realidad no estoy desnuda, pero eso no lo sabes tú...jeje. Esa del masaje soy yo, ¿cómo la ven? Pinche cabello ya me estaba creciendo bien bonito, míralo no más...chale, lo extraño un chingo. Este comercial

Thank you/Gracias

Last Wednesday night was the benefit my super great friends organized for me, and it was not only a financial success, but also a rockin’ good time. As you can see from the photo, I had pink hair for the night, and decided that my drink of choice would be the cosmopolitan ‘cause they are pretty tasty and matched the hue perfectly. Unfortunately, I had such a good time that I had more cosmopolitans than I can remember, and suffered an unfortunately severe hangover that precluded my attendance at work the following day, and involved an absurd amount of puking of all liquids from my poor, undeserving body. A word to the wise (and to the unfortunate enough to need this advice): chemotherapy does not, contrary to what I thought was infallible logic, prepare your body to better process other poisons…I have learned my lesson, and in the future will employ ginger caution with the booze. The benefit was a huge success, and I’m so blown away by everyone’s generosity that I don’t really know w

9 million/9 millones

After just two days of stem cell collection I got a total of 9-point-something million stem cells that are now sitting in an American Red Cross freezer somewhere, just waiting for me to need them for my stem cell transplant. Yeah! 9 million is a lot – in fact, it’s almost enough for 2 transplants (I needed to get at least 5 million for mine), so we’re very happy to have gotten so many without any real troubles. It was a kind of boring and gross process, but I’m totally fine and feeling good now. Now I have until the first week of June to recover from ICE and relax, and get ready for the big nasty chemo and the transplant. I’ll be having a PET scan in May, but other than that I’ll be free from treatment and doctors for a bit….yeah. Después de sólo dos días de colección de células madre, tengo un total de nueve-punto-algo millones de células madre que ahora están en algún congelador de la Cruz Roja Americana esperando que las necesite para mi trasplante. 9 millones son muchas – de hec

That girl/Esa chica

I was released today from round #2 of ice…um, that really sucked. I won’t spend three paragraphs detailing the unfortunate series of events, but rather will give you the Reader’s Digest version. I was admitted on Thursday; started getting chemo; got really sick with a high fever Friday night and suffered only mildly lucidly through that until Sunday; Monday the fever broke and I got antibiotics; Tuesday they finally let me go home. I supercalifragiwhatever hate being in the hospital to the nth degree…June looks like it’s going to be a fun month. Hoy me dieron de alta de la segunda ronda de la quimio ICE, y dejenme decirles que estuvo del nabo. Pero decidi no durar tres párrafos detallando la muy desafortunadamente desagradable serie de eventos, sino darles la versión cortita pa’ que no se me aburren. Me internaron el jueves y me empezaron a dar la quimio; el viernes en la tarde me enfermé con una fiebre de más de cuarenta grados, la cual sufri con muy poca lucidez y cordura hasta el

After the shave/Después de la rapada

When I read other peoples' blogs, I'm always looking for pictures of them, I love it when people post pictures 'cause then you have a face to put with the words. So, here are some photos... Cuando yo leo los blog de otras personas, siempre estoy buscando fotos porque me encanta que la gente ponga fotos....asi puedes imaginar a la persona mientras leas sus palabras. Así que ahí les van unas fotos mias... Before the shave during my first treatment of ICE - with a pillow that a lovely friend made especially for me./Esto es antes de la rapada durante mi primer tratamiento de ICE - con una almohada que hizo una muy buena amiga especialmente para mi: After the shave, with my removeable hair #1 and the cutest puppy in the world/Después de la rapada, con mi pelo removible #1 y el cachorro más lindo del planeta: After the shave, with my removeable hair #2 and a weird look on my face/Después de la rapada, con mi pelo removible #2 y una jeta extraña: After the shave, with

The Hair Fairy/El Hada del Cabello

The hair fairy visited me, stole a bunch of hair, and left a big mess on my pillow, in the shower, all over my clothes, on the carpet, etc. It’s so gross…there’s hair everywhere. I’m shaving the rest of it tonight…damned mediocre fairy can’t even finish the job properly. I really thought it wouldn’t be such a big deal to me this time….but it totally is. It’s not much hair, but it was growing out all wavy and super cute, and I was finally starting to feel like it didn’t look like a cancer grow out…finally starting to think I looked pretty in my new skin. It happened a lot faster this time, in a couple of days really - I noticed a few hairs on Monday, and today, Friday, it’s coming out in clumps. I feel like what’s left is sort of just sitting there on the top of my head, and if I move too fast it’ll fall off. So, tonight we’ll just get rid of it, and by tomorrow I’ll either be sporting the scarf look or the blonde bob. It seems like since I’ve already done this once, it shoul

Reporting Back/Reportándome

This is a little overdue...I'm reporting back now that I'm on the other side of the first round of ICE. I'm ok, in fact, ever since about Monday I feel almost back to normal....which makes me just really super happy. I remember this feeling from last year when I was in's a feeling that just makes you so happy you want to cry all the time and smile from ear to ear and celebrate every single second that you're not sick....and enjoy every second because you know the sick is coming back. Last week was pretty awful...just really terrible. I had underestimated the impact chemo was going to have on me...underestimated its persistent, tough fight, and overestimated my ability to fight back. Instead, and not the slightest bit slowed by my defense, it rolled over me and won round one. Everything thing went reasonably well in the hospital, there were a few problems, but the nice thing about being in the hospital is that they get on that stuff fast, a


Home and resting today after ICE. That's all for now. Thank you for your well wishes and hugs. En Casa Ya estoy en casa y descansando despues del tratamiento. Eso es todo por ahorita, luego cuento mas. Gracias por sus buen deseos y abrazos.

The Plan/El Plan

It's Ice, get it? Right? ICE...hilarious. The Plan So, after my appointment with the oncologist this morning, the following is the treatment plan for my recurrent Hodgkin's: 1. ICE Chemotherapy ICE stands for Ifosfamide, carboplatin, and etoposide, which are just a bunch of poisons that you can google at your leisure...but they basically cause all the same old side effects of chemo - nausea, vomitting, hair loss, fatigue, yuck, yuck, yuck. Plus, the Ifosfamide can cause bladder problems, so they keep you on lots of fluids to try to prevent or minimize that. This chemo will be administered over three days, during which I'll be staying in the hospital (Providence - new cancer center...holla). Then, I'll have some recovery - depending on how fast my blood counts recover to an acceptable level, this may be anywhere from 18-25 days. Then back to the hospital for 3 days for another round of ICE. According to Drs, we will probably only do two rounds of ICE, but wil

3 Buns in the Freezer

Update: On Thursday, we finished the embryo-freezing process…which, by the way, is a completely fascinating process - the science is amazing, and my fertility doctor, Dr. Matteri, is absolutely the best, my nurse clinician, Andrea Speck-Zulack, is amazingly supportive and knowledgeable and helpful, and their office, Oregon Reproductive Medicine, in conjunction with Fertile Hope ( are helping make the whole thing more affordable, and therefore possible for me. Anyway, I thought I would post at least the short version of how it goes, since it’s so crazy and cool to me. They started out explaining everything, etc, etc, and checking with my oncologist to make sure it was ok to put treatment on hold for a month to get this done. Then, they did blood work on Luis and me, did an ultrasound (from the inside…never had that experience before…), and taught us how to administer the injections. Then, on day 2 of my cycle I started giving myself injections of Menopur and Repro

Another cancer birthday…

…and I wonder how many more there’ll be. I wonder how many more I’ll spend with cancer, and how many birthdays total I’ll get to celebrate. I wonder if I’ll finish this treatment, achieve the ever-illusive remission, and go on to bear my test-tube children and pay off debt for the next 60 years in familial bliss, or if it will just be my lot that this "good cancer" will screw me over again, and I’ll spend the next few years in treatments, experimental drug trials, cancer centers – complete with laundry facilities and spas, no less – only to ultimately lose the battle. I know you don’t want to hear that...I’m sure it sounds just as morbid to you as it does to me. I’m also sure that as you read this, many of you are thinking "No, think positively, this will just be a blip on the radar, you’re going to be fine." I know, I know. BUT even though it’s not socially acceptable, and nobody wants to hear about it, these thoughts come into my mind…and I don’t know what to

So, this is my blog...ever since I was first diagnosed with cancer last year people have been suggesting that I start a blog to post information on my health, vent, or whatever, and I have been resistant to do so. I think mostly because I just wanted to get through the whole cancer thing without it affecting my life forever, or without making a permanent record of it, or something like that. I realize now, however, after being diagnosed with a relapse...that this will undoubtedly affect me forever, and become a part of who I am, and I think that's ok now. The title of the blog is "con limón y sal"....a throw back to my life in Mexico for several reasons....1) In Mexico you put lime and salt on nearly everything you eat...salad, fruit, chips, tacos....and it's delicious and tart and very Mexican...2) If lime and salt get into a cut or a wound you might have (ie - first diagnosis, treatment, recovery) it hurts a lot...kinda like relapse does... 3) Julieta Venegas ha