Surgery, Recovery, Healing

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These past 3 months have been nutty!

April- arrive in Punta Cana for Heather’s Wedding.  Come home 5 days later feeling sick.  Parasites or virus from Punta Cana started to shut down my immune system and attack my organs.  Liver, kidneys, pancreas and gallbladder were all being attacked.

May-still sick from Punta Cana. Getting worse by the week and start losing the ability to walk.  Severe vomiting daily.  Issues breathing.  Good times.  Admitted to ER with pancreatitis and severe jaundice and during my 5 day stay at the hospital I have an emergency surgery called an ERCP (place a stent in my pancreas bile duct because of a blockage from an enlarged lymph node pushing on the bile duct).  Surgery created pancreatitis again, discharged when symptoms subsided and blood levels decreased to more of a normal level.

June- recovering from surgery.  Attempting to walk on my own again, which was not easy.  A trip up the stairs in my house (13 steps to be exact) left me unable to move for a half hour.  Taking a shower and standing for 10 minutes in the shower left me unable to move for a half hour.  My body was so weak it literally could not function normally.

July-healing.  Learning the tricks of dealing with the after effects of pancreatitis.  That I can not eat anything with a dash of oil in it without landing back in bed with pancreatitis for 2 days again and severe pain and vomiting.  Living for the past few months on mainly a liquid diet (smoothies, juices, water).  My focus for July is to regain my strength back.

Once again, I am finding the joy in simple things.  The ability to walk.  The ability to breath.  The fact that I was so very sick and so very scared that my body was shutting down…I am grateful to be alive.

So there is my update!  These past 4 days I have felt the best I have felt in 3 months.  So I know I am on the mend now.  I am taking it slow and listening to my body.  Resting when I need too.  There are simple things I just started doing again.  Like cooking.  That is a first for me because I couldn’t even stand to make the dinners for the last 2 months.   Hubby and kids and parents have of course been amazing as usual and helping out daily so that our family still functions as normally as possible.

Here a few pics for you!  Check out the sexy yellow eyes.  🙂  They are yellow from the blockage in my pancreas.  This pic was taken 2 days before I was admitted to ER.  I was so sick and didn’t feel well, but smiled for the picture so you could see the difference of my teeth to eye color.  The second pic is recent pic of me now. Not the best pic of me but I love the fact that a yellow wall is behind me and I no longer match it! 🙂

IMG_1655   IMG_1960

Stay healthy my friends.

xoxo,

Rach

Jaundice

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Where do I begin?

4 weeks ago I arrived in Punta Cana for Heather’s wedding.  I started to feel sick the last day there.  Nausea, fatigue, weakness…just like I was coming down with a virus.  Then the occasional vomiting and no appetite and some weight loss.  Hooray for weightloss!

Fast forward 4 weeks, I am jaundice – eyes and body yellow, something is wrong with my liver (a big, scary, OMG since the cancer is in my liver)!  And I can barely move, beyond fatigued and very, very weak.

Last week was a series of emergency blood work, ultrasound on my liver, kidney’s, etc and a CT Scan of my chest, abdomen and pelvis to figure out what is affecting my liver like this.  My ALT and AST  and alkaline phosphate (liver enzymes they use to track the cancer) are 400-500 points higher than they have ever been.  And my billirubin is normally a 0.6 and is now a 9.9

The CT Scan and ultrasound still needs to be re-read by Yale and compared to my previous scan so I don’t have details on that one yet.

After a week of no answers I feel like we are finally getting somewhere.  Blood tests ruled out Hepatitis, which is common to get from eating contaminated food from a third world country.  Thank goodness those are negative.  Saturday my Dr. determined I have contracted parasites from Punta Cana.  Grossness!!!!  You can get parasites from eating something contaminated or by water or even by touching things such as door handles, etc that are contaminated.  So gross!  And since 6 of my other friends were extremely ill since coming back from Punta Cana I have told them they should get their liver enzymes (simple blood test)  checked as well.  We have all had the same if not similar symptoms (which I thought was a gastro virus).

Saturday I stared medication to kill the parasites.  I don’t feel better yet, but I am hoping in a week or so I will start to feel more energy and be able to function properly.  As it is now, I sleep 12 hours a day and it takes all the energy I have to walk to the kids bus stop and back.  I feel so weak, as weak as when I had my 8th round of chemo 3 years ago.

I am off all cancer medications right now because my body is too weak to handle them.  😦   So positive thoughts for my body to quickly heal and I can restart my path to cancer free again!

Here is a pic of me on my way to Kalena’s preschool Mother’s Day tea party at school.  Notice the yellow eyes.  This was a few days before my skin turned yellow.  Just wanted to update everyone (especially if you live local and run into me) as to why I am glowing like a lemon!  Or if I seem very weak…now you know.

jaundic

xoxo,

Rach

Avon 39 Miles, 2 Days Breast Cancer Fundraising Walk 2015

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Hi All!

I am excited to say that I am walking a new event this year.  Last year I did the Komen 3 Day, 60 Mile walk in Philadelphia.  It was an amazing experience!

This year I have joined the Avon, 2 Day, 39 Mile walk in New York City. I decided on this walk based off of schedule and travel restraints.  The walk is in October and we are already getting a great team put together!

More information to follow as the event get’s closer!

If you would like to make a donation (I need to raise $1800.00 in order to walk) the link is below.  Feel free to share the link.  The more donations the better!  We can each make a difference.  And the best part about this walk?  The money raised goes LOCALLY to families living with breast cancer and to the Cancer Center Hospitals.

Thank you in advance for your support!  This walk is so important to me because it is my goal to once again break barriers expected to be there for a girl with Stage 4 cancer.  I am strong, I know I can do this and I know I can make a difference.

I walk for my daughter, in hopes that as she grows older, she doesn’t have to walk for a cure.  I walk for me.  I walk for you.  And I walk for the friends I have lost to this disease.

http://http://info.avonfoundation.org/goto/rachaelgagnon

2014 AVON WALK FUNDRAISING BENEFICIARIES INCLUDED

CancerCare
The Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Center at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center
Mount Sinai School of Medicine
God’s Love We Deliver
Nanometics
NYU Cancer Center and Bellevue Collaborative
Metropolitan Hospital Center
Newark Beth Israel Hospital
You Can Thrive!

xoxo,

Rach

No Limitations

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Nothing can hold you back.  Nothing.

Ever.

No limitations.  The limits you see are only in your mind.

I have been dealing with a whole lot of crazy emotions this past week.  I feel like my eyes have been forced open once again.  To see things in a new perspective.

And what a blessing that has been, and how heart-breaking that has been, all at once.

I have yet another friend that is passing from this disease.  No, not breast cancer this time.  But cancer none the less.  And it is a horrible, heart wrenching feeling watching those that have inspired you to have to move onto a world of no more pain, no more treatments, no more surgeries…it is still so hard to because there are absolutely no words to tell them how much they mean to you, how much you look up to them.

I cried.  Actually I have been crying ever since finding out.  And I feel guilty.  How the hell do I get to celebrate one of my closest friends wedding in beautiful Punta Cana when a beautiful friend is trying to say her goodbye’s?

I just can’t wrap my head around it.

My Mom found a picture on her Facebook.  It was from last April. April 7th, 2014.  I was on my way to Sloan Kettering to get a second opinion on the 24 months life expectancy I was given.  I walked away from that appointment not only pissed but fueled with fire… I WILL find the right team to keep me here as long as possible. Yale and Sloan Kettering were NOT the right team.  And eventually, I found my team.

And I know, based off of my reactions to Yale’s and Sloan Kettering’s medication recommendations and their side effects I had, I would not be as I am today if I blindly followed them.

April 7th, 2015…I celebrated Heather and Josh’s wedding day.  I was THERE.  I could walk.  I could dance.  I could breath.  I tried to tell Heather how hard it was to get here, but I couldn’t do it without tears so I just gave up.  But it has been hard.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I have worked hard to fight for my health. To fight the Dr.’s on what I know my body needs, on what doesn’t feel right and what does feel right. I have fought to get the OK to travel outside of the United States with their blessing. I have fought my way to find a way around a suppressed immune system.

And in all of that.  I have once again found that the core of family and friends that got me through the first year of chemo and surgeries and radiation have once again carried me through a new year of celebrating happier times.  Weddings. Friendship. Fun.

I swore that when I was re-diagnosed I wanted quality of life over quantity.  And so far, it is working!  My parents, Daren, our kids, Katie, Heather, Jen and Jerry….all of our loved one’s….I am literally breaking down barriers that were there way before I believed I could beat them.

This past week I have been able to relax ocean side (thank you to Daren and Joan and Dad for watching the kids).  I have been able to spend time with friends I don’t get to see as often as I like (Katie, Heather, Jen, Lindsey).

And most of all, the down time I allowed myself on vacation, I came back a much happier Mommy.  I was actually happy when the kids came in to go potty (even though we have more than one toilet in the house) when I was showering.  I loved peeking out of the curtain and seeing their smiling faces as they washed their hands.  If you remember previous posts, all I wanted was to pee by myself!

And those moments, I knew how blessed I was.

I loved seeing my hubby smile and hearing his jokes again.  I missed him so much.

And I know…as I watch friends prepare to move on to a pain-free world, that I am blessed to be here still.

Life is sometimes sad.  Life is sometimes hard.  But life is always beautiful.

It is always beautiful.

We are surrounded by beautiful moments.  We can choose to look at the bad.  Or we can choose to acknowledge and live in the best.

It is constant work, and our family is probably the perfect example of this, like today as I try to help our son choose to find the best.

xoxo,

Rach

The Truth About Cancer – FREE

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I truly feel every single person and Oncologist in the entire world should watch this series.  It discusses both conventional treatments (chemo, radiation, surgeries) all of which I have done and also discusses holistic treatments, the effects of diet, etc (all of which I am adding to my daily regime slowly but surely).  It is worth watching.  If you have cancer now, or would like to prevent it, please watch this series.

http://http://thetruthaboutcancer.com/fall_quest1.php

xoxo,

Rach

2014 In Review. Reached 83 Countries Last Year!!!

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 34,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 13 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Cheers to 2015!

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A few years ago, Rachael would have looked at 2014 and been horrified!  She would have been trying to control her life so much, and based her worth so much on success, that she would have felt like a failure.  Financially, physically, health and success….a failure.

I am happy to see that Rachael departed years ago and it has been exciting to see a new Rachael emerge.  I have worked so hard this year to make big changes in myself, which in turn created big changes not only in my life, but that of my husband and children too.

This year we started off with a bang!  In the first 7 months of 2014 we got all the bad out of the way!  2 Surgeries for me and finding out cancer once again entered our lives, a heart attack and triple bypass (open heart) surgery for my 37-year-old hubby, and a Dr. telling me I had 24 months to live.

Thank goodness that is over and done with.  And not only is it over and done with, but it is history!  We have successfully moved past all that had happened and we are making major strides to optimum health once again!

I said a big FU to cancer sometime in March.  I was so infuriated that it had come back and that my Oncologist did not believe I could change my health by changing my life….I found a new medical team that I pieced together one by one and I swore I would change my diagnosis.

And I did.

This girl has a lot more than 24 months to live.  By walking away from conventional treatment and going with my gut on every single decision that was best for MY body…I have stopped the cancer.  The Dr’s can’t explain why all of a sudden the cancer has stabilized, why it hasn’t moved a centimeter in over 10 months.  But I can.

So many people have asked me what I have changed in my life, which in turn stopped cancer.  I firmly believe that anyone can change their life.  You just need to be open to it. And you need to work at it, 200%, and then more when that stops working.  And you need to not only want it, but envision it, imagine your life when you are cancer free.

But the most amazing thing about all of this?  What I am going to share with you can change your life, even if you don’t have cancer.  If you have anxiety, depression, financial issues, issues parenting your children…the list goes on.  Basically, if you have an issue, it can be fixed.  And the tool is you. YOU.  Change YOU and the issue will change.  I promise you.

1.  It is only an issue because you allow it be.  Harsh to read, I know.  Your first reaction is going to be, “What?  That is not true!  I didn’t make this happen to me!   I didn’t make my car break down and my checks to bounce.  Or, I didn’t make my child not listen to me.  Or, I didn’t make myself get cancer!”

Yes.  Yes you did.  It starts first with your thought and moves to your emotion.  If you start thinking about one small thing, that one small thought creates a vibration.  And each time you think about that one small thought, it creates more and more vibrations, and these vibrations go out to the world, the universe, and the universe will always respond to those vibrations by “gifting” you what you are sending out there.  Hence, the car breaking down, or your child not listening to you, or disease.  By focusing on one small thought, which normally starts as an irritation, you are sending your energy to that negative thought/feeling/emotion and in turn it creates your “gift.”  So by focusing on that little sound in your car that might sound broken, or the constant moments of your child not listening, or the constant fear of you not being your healthy self, it sends those message out and when they come back to you, it becomes a larger issue.  But you asked for it.  By focusing your attention on negative OR positive, you will always receive a gift.  Always.

2. Intention.  What you give your attention to, you will receive.  In my case it was cancer.  I feared cancer for almost 2 years after finishing my last cancer treatment.  I was petrified of its return.  And lo and behold, it returned.  When I started doing work with energy and life coaching, I started to understand that my thoughts were so much bigger than what I thought they were.  I feared so much that I created it.  When I realized this, I changed my thoughts.  It was hard.  And the hardest part for me was to admit that I created this in my life.  Once I did, I started to move forward. It was constant work throughout the day.  But by changing my thoughts, I changed my health.  It can be done.  I have a ton of CAT Scans and MRI’s to prove it.  🙂

There is a basic exercise you can do.  Anytime you notice a thought that is not positive, that creates anything other than happiness (ex. anxious or anger or whatever) you can use this tool to stop yourself, stop that vibration and create a new one.  You will always receive a “gift” from the universe regardless, let’s make it a good one.

Exercise: Stop. Repeat your thought to yourself.  Now change it.  Flip it into a positive.

A book I have been reading on this subject is: The Power of Intention by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

Since starting this process, I have made tremendous changes in my life, that have now traveled through to my husband and our children’s lives too.  It has been so amazing to watch it all unfold.  Sometimes it takes a life changing event to realize there needs to be some serious change in your life.  For me it was cancer.  For my husband it was his heart attack. And for you it can be anything (it doesn’t have to be a big event like our’s). When you let your thoughts continue as you have for most of your life, it creates a bigger issue, sometimes medical, sometimes financial, sometimes issues with your family.  And it will continue to happen your entire life if you do not stop it now.

Each thought you put out there will attract what you are thinking about.  I highly recommend listening to the teachings of Abraham Hicks.  Once you can get past the unusual part of how Abraham came to be, then you can really learn a lot from her lectures.

http://www.abraham-hicks.com  and you can also go to http://www.youtube.com and find Abraham Hicks video’s there.  She has some great one’s on stress, disease and weight loss too!

3. Codependency.  I am still working on this one.  I have done this my whole life and I didn’t even realize it until it was pointed out to me last month.  I strive to smooth the waters, to make other’s happy, to appease a stressful situation, to take control of a situation, make it better and then move on.  And these are all from codependency.  And codependency will wreak havoc on your health. At the time I thought I was doing a good thing, that I was being helpful and a good person. What I did not realize was I was sabotaging my own health by focusing all of my energy to make other’s happy. What I am learning is to move away from codependency, you need to “detach.”  Detach from the craziness, detach from the conversation that is upsetting you, detach a little from that moment or that person that is making you feel like you need to save them, detach from the negativity.

I was given a book that is well-known regarding this subject: Beyond Codependency by Melody Beattie

4. Visualization.  The fastest way to make a change in your life is to visualize it.  For me, it is picturing myself healthy, vibrant, fit and fabulous  🙂   And I picture myself years from now, playing on the beach with the kids and my hubby.  I imagine the details, how the wind feels in my hair, the sand between my toes, the splash of cold water from the ocean, the bright blue sky, the kids laughter as we build sand castles, my Husband’s huge grin and I imagine my face, my body, my smile like I am watching it all as a bystander.  And it feels amazing.

Not only does this change your mood instantly, but it also changes your vibrations.  It changes the vibration you are putting out to the world, and you will attract positive “gifts” coming back to you.  And they do come!  Tenfold!   For me it has been positive scan results, a decrease in medication, more energy, glowing skin, a happy mindset and so much more. And the more you change, and you pay attention to the positive things coming your way, you will start to see the little things start to happen!

5. Keep a DAILY journal of your gratitude and positive experiences happening in your life.  The more you notice, the more you are aware, the more great things will come to you.  My journal from the last month looked something like this: I met with my Oncologist and he said (happily and awe-struck) to, “keep doing what I was doing” (even though he originally wanted me to take one of his horrific drugs which I declined), a parking spot opened up for me twice the same day when there were literally no spots for miles, I found a $50 gift card in my purse that I had for a year and it worked!

Find gratitude for all this is offered to you.  In this world, we are all so busy, running from event to event that we miss most of what we are experiencing.  This is more than just living in the moment.  No.  You need to stop. And experience the moment.  This is a constant battle for me and I get wrapped up in this life as the rest of us do.  That is why your awareness will help to slow you down a bit, and experience all the wonder of your every day life that is happening.

One of the best phrases my friend and life coach, Lucinda Smith of the Un-Learning Center, shared with me was, “I have all the time I need.”  I was constantly rushing, always reaching some sort of deadline, or rushing to get to an appointment and each time I would get anxious and feel like life was just crazy hectic.  All I have to do is say that to myself in my head, “I have all the time I need.”  And it instantly takes that stress away, the need to rush is gone, and I stay calm.  Try it!!!!  It really does work!

http://www.lucindasmith.com

6. Stay true to yourself.  With everything.  For me it was believing in myself and knowing what my body needed.  It was letting go of fear and focusing on how to heal myself and how to stop cancer from spreading.  And it was standing up for myself when the entire medical community didn’t believe in what I was doing regarding treatments.  But I just knew that this was the path I needed to take.  And it is working.  For other’s it may be knowing that you are stronger than those that try to tear you down with their words, or paving your own way through life because it feels right.

7. Each day is a new day, create your goal, work towards that goal, revise that goal…you are a work in progress and constantly evolving.  This act has kept me on track.  Months ago I created a goal.  Every day I thought about that goal first thing in the morning. And my actions and choices during the day were based on that goal. And I felt great!  After a while, that goal didn’t feel quite right any longer, so I revised it. And that felt great too! And then, that goal no longer felt right, so I changed that goal completely, and that felt awesome!  As we grow, as we become more aware, we may grow out of our first goal or it may need a little tweaking.  That is good.  That is life.  That is what we are meant to do.  Keep growing.  Keep expanding.

I know I am blessed to be here today and to be living the life I am living. I know that you are blessed and that you are surrounded by love and every day “gifts” that are abundant!  What better time to start working on changing our lives for the better than January 1st?!!!

Cheers to a wonderous 2015!

Life is beautiful.

xoxo,

Rach

Cancer is Stabilized!!!

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Yes.  You read that right!  The cancer is stabilized!!!

I am so happy. I feel like I am in a dream.

Switched it up a bit and took little video’s in the past few days leading up to my 6 month scans.  Wanted to give you a look into the types of things that go through my head during that time.

Here is a little background though.  I had a CAT Scan with and without contrast of the chest, abdomen and pelvis.  I also had a follow-up Brain MRI with and without contrast to see how successful the Gamma Knife procedure was.

The results are: Legions on brain are significantly smaller, 1 lymph node in chest that is slightly larger but of no concern, cancer in the liver and bone have not grown in the past 6 months.  Hence being stabilized!!!

The best part about all of this?   That I am not taking the conventional medicine they suggested, Femara.  This month my Oncologist was going to combine the Femara with the Affinitor (the drug I did not want to go on in the first places because it drops your immune system).  I was honest and told my Oncologist last night that I have not taken his drug since the spring.  I have been only taking natropathic medicines.  He was shocked!  And then he said we need to document every single thing I am taking or have done and get it out to other Oncologist’s because this is huge.  This doesn’t happen.  The Oncology community believes you can only stop this cancer from spreading by taking a hormone suppressing drug like Femara.   I am proving them wrong!

So happy to have an Oncologist that is on board with what I am doing and supportive.

I just kicked that little expiration date to the curb!  🙂

The Night Before Scans: http://youtu.be/NGgmB-Om_Z0

Scan Day and Results: http://youtu.be/11njS4LUaYg

xoxo,

Rach

Memorial Diamond

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If this is true, this is what I want when I leave this world!

It is an interesting concept, where they take your cremated ashes and put it through a scientific process and literally turn your ashes into a diamond.  Then your family can keep you near and make it into a piece of jewelry (like a ring) or just keep you in a little box.

I absolutely love this idea!  What better way to be remembered than as a fabulous looking diamond?

Here is the link to the article.  It is a big thing in the UK right now.  http://www.viralnova.com/memorial-diamonds/

xoxo,

Rach