Happy Day in Virginia

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Last weekend’s photo during our roadtrip to beautiful Charlotsville in Virginia.
I have a new look now, my hair came back super curly and pitch black (like my eyebrows).
Who knew I will have curly hair!

Heather’s Story – A Story of Hope

Several months ago, I posted the story of Heather Von St. James, a mom, wife, cancer survivor, and advocate. Heather has a clear mission: to help other patients, raise awareness about Mesothelioma, and share a message of hope.

This is her story.

Love, Bea

The Calm Sea

The Calm Sea

Sometimes an image can speak by itself.

I haven’t posted in a while, but I want to share this photo I took few weeks ago in Lewes, Delaware.

I am grateful for life… I am grateful for the calm sea.

Enjoy your day!,

Abrazos,

Bea

Tears of Joy

Let a joy keep you. Reach out your hands. And take it when it runs by. -Carl Sandburg

Today I received the best news I could ever hear: I am cancer free!.

Today my tears are tears of joy; I have a second chance in life.

All your support and prayers have kept me strong and positive during this journey and I am grateful.

Thank you God!

Relax. Drink Tea

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Today I have two follow up appointments, a PET and a CT scan to find out how I am doing.

The first nurse had a hard time accessing my Power Port but luckily another nurse was able to access this device that has been under my skin for a year now. The nurse drew 9 tubes of my precious blood. If I was a vampire I will be so excited; but I am nervous.

In the last weeks I have been drinking tea all mornings and I love it. Right now I cannot drink or eat anything before my scans, so on my behalf please drink a cup of tea and relax.

I have the same nervousness when preparing for an exam. I want to hear that the lymphoma is gone and I will graduate with an A+ to join the list of Grey Zone Lymphoma amazing survivors today!

I will keep you posted and thank you for keeping me in your prayers.

God bless you!
Love,
Bea

Something Has Changed

I cannot believe that my last post was on March 15, 2013 after completing all treatment.  Time flies!

In the last 30 days, I have dedicated my time to organize things at work and at home. It feels good to have some sort of peace and normalcy in our lives. Each day I feel stronger and with more energy to the point that I started running again.

My hair is growing back, although I cannot tell whether my hair will be curly or straight; it is a mystery. Bea v2

Even though I have been busy with work and visits from my parents and friends, I have spent time thinking about what has changed in my life since I was diagnosed. Certainly, I have changed:

  • Each day I stop for a moment to say thank you to God for the gift of a healthy and fulfilled life.
  • I smile more and say good morning to other people more often.
  • I no longer wear wigs and I am happy looking like a Marine.
  • I like bold colors and designs which are now part of my wardrobe. Welcome yellow, orange, light green, and fun outfits!
  • In conversations I am now a listener.
  • I am more assertive and I don’t put up with any nonsense from crazy/negative people.
  • No more “sugar-coating” things. (Honestly, I was tired of that)
  • I am playing my piano and guitar more.

Tomorrow is April 15 and I am turning 34 years-old. I feel blessed, happy, and excited.

I am surrounded by love.

Thank you for reading. 🙂

I am Ready to Move Forward

 “Even though life can be deeply painful, it’s still a miraculous and worthwhile journey that somehow, some way, balances out. I’m not sure how or why it works that way, but I have faith that there are forces  at play that are helping and guiding me, and that things always work out.”  (Fortson, Leigh. Embrace Release Heal. Sounds True, 2011)

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Treatment Completion Diploma!

I feel better now, not only I am not in pain anymore but I have completed my treatment that started in December of 2012. A treatment that included 240 hours of chemotherapy and 5 weeks (25 days) of radiation.

Right now, my neck looks like I had a terrible sunburn, my throat is sore and still my taste is off. Luckily enough I can taste things like chocolate, ice-cream, sweets, french fries, and all things that are not the best for you. But I am enjoying it :).

During these last months of treatment I have learned the following:

  • Being bald can be a relief
  • In times of sickness love and faith keep you going
  • There is no pain that lasts forever. (Mine lasted 45 days, not so bad all things considered)
  • Great scientists and doctors do believe in alternative medicine
  • Acupuncture does work and appeases the most excruciating pain
  • Reiki is a powerful healing practice
  • Life is a precious miracle

Today was the first day I didn’t have to go to the hospital for treatment. Today, I went to the office and started organizing and planning new projects.  I can’t wait to workout and eventually start running again. A new routine sounds exciting!

Eni, Theresa and I
Eni, Theresa and I in Annapolis, MD

I feel blessed. Thank you to my wonderful husband Dave, my mother and father in law for their love and support when I needed it the most. Thank you to my lovely parents, sisters and family in Mexico for their encouragement and powerful prayers. I am grateful for my friends and co-workers who make me laugh; thank you for your thoughtfulness and positive words!!

On April 25 and 26 I have to go back to NIH for PET and CT scans, studies, and appointments with the team of doctors and nurses to confirm the Lymphoma is gone for good.

I am ready to move forward!

Love,

Bea

Love in Time of Sickness

My immune system is weak. For almost a month I have been battling a virus called BK which affected my bladder. This virus has been a real nightmare. In my entire life I haven’t experienced so much pain that even strong medicines couldn’t take away. For the last 4 weeks, I have been very sick, I haven’t slept, barely ate and sometimes I haven’t been able to walk.

Nevertheless, I kept reminding myself that difficult times shall pass…

In difficult times, love prevails and that is what keeps me going. I am grateful for the love of our families and friends specially during these challenging last weeks. I cannot thank enough the care and support I have received by my loving husband and my wonderful in-laws, I know it is not easy to see me in pain and in such bad shape.Roses

In the good side of these weeks, I was so happy to spend time with my friends Paula and Regina who stayed with us for a couple of days, it was so nice to see them and catch up.

This week my best friend Lucia is staying with us, she has been also a lot of help and has taken me to the radiation treatments that started two weeks ago.  I am so happy to spend time with her. Also, my aunt, uncle and cousin Nane are traveling for several days to see us, I can’t wait to see them, it has been such a long time since the last time I saw them.

For Valentine’s Day, my husband surprised me with a beautiful bouquet of roses and delicious chocolates. I love you David.  I am a lucky girl!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comfort Food – A Recipe for Risotto

Rosie (Robotina) One of my favorite cartoons when I was a kid was the Jetsons (Los Supersonicos) and I always thought about how the future will look like and how amazing will be to have a robot like Rosie (Robotina for the version in Spanish) to help in the house. I have to say that several days ago, I turned into a robot like Rosie.

I finished my second cycle of intense chemo two weeks ago. And yes, I am officially done with chemo!!!!!. I will start radiation on Feb 1st.  I am so grateful because my mother in-law stay with us and went with me to the hospital each day. Dave and Kathy were very patient since my mood was horrible, I didn’t want to talk, I couldn’t sleep, I was nauseous and the prednisone (steroids) made me hyperactive.  I had what I will call the “Rosie Syndrome”, I wanted to clean the apartment and organize things 24/7 non-stop, exactly like Rosie/ Robotina.

Although the chemo was super strong and sometimes I was not hungry at all, there were times I will crave for comfort food particularly pasta and rice.  I love risotto and I found an easy-to-make recipe from Cooking Light Magazine . I made it for one night and It turned out very well. Here is the recipe:

Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms and Mascarpone
Cooking Light
Level: Easy  | 4 servings
Time of preparation: 50 min
2 cups of boiling water
1 cup dried Porcini mushrooms (1 oz = 28 g)
1 can of less-sodium beef broth
cooking spray
1 cup uncooked arborio rice
3/4 cup chopped shallots
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup  grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese (Italian cream cheese)

Fresh thyme leaves (optional)

1. Combine 2 cups boiling water and mushrooms; let stand 30 minutes or until soft. Drain through a colander over a bowl. Reserve 1 1/2 cups soaking liquid; chop mushrooms.

2. Bring soaking liquid and beef broth to a simmer in a small saucepan (do not boil) Keep broth mixture warm.

3. Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add rice, shallots and garlic; sauté 5 minutes. Add wine, and cook until liquid evaporates (about 2 minutes)

4. Add 1 cup broth mixture to rice mixture, cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of the broth mixture is absorbed before adding the next (about 25 minutes).

5. Add mushrooms, grated cheese, chopped thyme, salt and pepper; stir gently until cheese melts. Spoon 1 cup risotto into each of 4 bowls. Top each serving with 1 Tblsp mascarpone and thyme leaves, if desired.

Cooking tip: I couldn’t find Porcini mushrooms and I used regular mushrooms instead. Also, if you cannot find the mascarpone cheese try 1Tblsp of sour cream or regular cream cheese on each serving to add more flavor.

Thank you to my friends Anna, Michelle and Maria for the beautiful flowers that make me smile.

Thank you for keeping me in your prayers and positive thoughts!!!!

Have a great weekend!.

New look, New Year, New Treatment

2013, a year that starts with a new look (I am bald now) and a new treatment.

Although we were very busy during the holidays, we had a great time. My parents and younger sister spent Christmas with us. We had a Mexican/American holiday dinner on December 24 that was delicious. It was great having them at home since I went through the first cycle of intense chemoteraphy during the holidays, their moral support was very important.

In a previous post, I talked about the hard decision we had to make regarding treatment. Indeed I believe in research and after doing my homework, looking for information on “Grey Zone Lymphoma”, reading blogs from patients and survivors, and having conversations with friends and family; We decided to go with the treatment proposed by the Lymphoma Team at NIH.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the US medical research agency. It is a federal government entity whose work and research benefit not only the people in the US but the world.

The new treatment proposed by the group of experienced doctors and nurses at NIH consists on two cycles of intense chemoteraphy followed by 6 weeks of radiation. Each chemo cycle lasts 5 days. The first day I had to stay in the hospital for 24 hours. The next 4 days are not so bad since I carry a fanny pack (“cangurera” in Spanish) with a pump that administers the chemo. I can go home and do my regular activities. Each day I go back to the hospital to change the chemo bag and then I go back home.

The new chemoteraphy regime includes the following medicines: Campath, EPOCH and Rituximab (DA-EPOCH-R). These medicines are extremely powerful and believe me, they work. When I asked about loosing my hair, I remember the doctor telling me that I will will lose my hair on the the third week after the first cycle. Since I didn’t lose all my hair on the first round, I thought the doctor was underestimating my “Mexican genes” (like Dave says)…. well my hair is gone and I have a new look.
New Look 1

Now I can change my look each day and I am having fun with it. It is definitely a process of finding what makes me feel comfortable and great. I can wear a wig, a scarf, a hat, or whatever I want. I can also try different colors, lenghts and styles. Certainly, on the next post, I will share some of the funny stories.

Tomorrow I start cycle 2 of my treatment and I will spend the night at the hospital so the chemo does it magic and gets rid of the cuckoo cells.

This is certainly a new start and I am looking forward to winning this battle and regaining my gNew look 2ood health.

Your prayers, positive thoughts, calls, cards, and emails mean a lot to me. But most importantly, I am grateful for feeling so loved and supported by our families and dear friends. Thank you!

I will keep you posted.

Enjoy the rest of the week!