Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Be Positive

My cancer is a fluke. There is nothing that I did that made me more prone to getting Leukemia than any of you. I don't mean to scare you, but it could be anyone. I was a vegetarian for 5 years, and all my life I have generally eaten a very healthy diet of organic things, wild game, and home cooked meals. I would not consider myself overweight, in fact, I always classified myself as an athlete even if I hadn't competed in a sport for months. I have never smoked a cigarette in my life, and months before my diagnosis I had stopped drinking alcohol all together. I always took my vitamins. I didn't even have a primary care physician, because I hadn't needed once since I had a pediatrician. When I went to the hospital on the day I got diagnosed, I was secretly afraid that I had diabetes, or anemia. Cancer never crossed my mind, because I thought cancer had a root cause, something that a person did that caused them to get cancer.

On a side note; now that I have (or had, however you look at it) cancer, when I see people doing things that are known to cause cancer, I'm not going to lie. It makes me mad. We all have our vices, but remember: Cancer sucks, it's expensive, it can make you infertile, and in order to stop it they have to pump your body full of wonderful drugs that also happen to be carcinogens. So if you're going to do things that cause cancer, I hope it's worth it for you!

I know that many people struggle to have a positive outlook on life when things don't go their way. I know that many people struggle to have a positive outlook, even when things ARE going their way. So when you see what I'm going through it might be surprising that I am able to stay generally positive. I am not always all smiles, you don't see me when I feel like crud, or on the days when I spend the whole day on the couch (today). But generally, I am happy and positive and looking on the bright side.

This is punny, because B+ is my blood type. So you could say... Being positive is in my blood :)

What do I physically do to help myself stay positive, even when it's very easy to not be?

I talk to my dog like he's a human, because if I didn't there would be many days where I wouldn't have a conversation with anyone until after 5:00. 

If it's not pouring down rain I go outside at least once. If the sun is out, I sit in the sun even though I'm not supposed to because of the chemo drugs and antibiotics. 

I remain thankful for my support system, and if someone offers to hang out with me, I take them up on it. It helps that all of these people happen to be experts on being positive. 

I try to manage my symptoms, and when I'm successful in that, I count it as just that: A success. 

I allow myself a small amount of trashy TV each week, and other than that I try and avoid it. No Kardashians for me. 

I have never stopped thinking of the future: In the next 3 years (thats 2 years of maintenance chemo and 1 year of being DONE) we will build a house and try and fill it with kids that may or may not be biologically mine. 

I get enough sleep, but not too much. 

I try not to be too hard on myself. I've always tried to eat healthy, but for the 4 days after I get Vincristine I crave fried and fast foods. Sometimes I give in to the cravings.

If I am moping around, or haven't done what I need to do to take care of myself, my wonderful husband always seems to know exactly what to do. Sometimes I need to get out of the house, sometimes I need an inflatable mattress in the living room, and sometimes I need good food, or to get hydrated. He can read my mind though, so he always know what I need before I know what I need. 

I still find joy in my daily life, and how could I not stay positive when my life has so much joy in it. Also, If I'm able to find joy in my daily life now of all times, I can only imagine how great my life is going to be when this is behind me. I can't wait for that, and that helps me stay positive.

But as you can imagine, there are times when I can't stay positive ... Why me? ... I try not to ask that question.

A quick update: I started phase 3 on January 4th, and got a lumbar puncture that day. The procedure went really well, the doctor used more lidocaine than they usually do, so I didn't feel a thing. I thought I was in the clear. I was wrong. I spent 2 weeks with a headache this time, as well as a feeling in my back and neck that is hard to explain, sort of similar to spasms. It was pretty terrible. Last Thursday I went into my doctor appointment skeptical, because I didn't know how the new chemo had affected my blood counts, so I was wearing a dreadful procedure mask. I met with the doctor, and he looked at my labs and let out a "Woohoo!" -- My ANC was over 1,000 (which is almost as high as before my diagnosis). That means that my body is actually capable of fighting off some bugs on its own right now! On Friday we celebrated by going out to dinner, one of my first times out in public since September, and it was great. Right now my appointments in Eugene are only every 10 days, so while I still feel absolutely terrible for a few days after chemo, I do have enough time to recover a bit and enjoy myself.

I asked Facebook what I should blog about, and this post came about because of a comment about my positivity. I've already got another post in the works, talking about the other things that were mentioned. If you want to ask something, or want me to write about something specific, let me know!

Also, what do you do to stay positive?


  1. Thanks for posting this, McKenzie. Your positive energy is inspiring.

    1. Thank you, Bill! I'm just doing my best :)

  2. Saw your post today on a leukemia Facebook group! I liked the title & thought I would check it out. I am a little over a year in remission, on maintenance chemo now- ALL diagnosis, thought I was anemic & had a Cbc by my gynecologist to see what was going on. Your story sounds a lot like my journey did. Attitude is everything!!! ☺️ I hope everything goes smoothly for you. I'm just a few states away in Montana & guessing by your pic that we are close to the same age. Reach out of you ever want to talk! My motto was always...keep it light & lovely & don't borrow trouble.
    Big love! -Hailey

    1. Wow, super similar, you're right! Thanks for checking out my blog! I love the motto! Are you on the pediatric protocol?

  3. Hi McKenzie,

    My son was diagnosed in October with T Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma/leukemia. He has had just about any complication you could imagine. I am praying that he has a positive attitude like you do. Right now we are just happy because since he was diagnosed on October 30, he has spent the majority of the two months in the hospital. He has now been outpatient for 2 weeks and we are SO THANKFUL. He transferred to Hopkins 2 weeks ago and we think they are going to save his life :). He was on the pediatric protocol but it literally almost killed him. He is now moved to adult and going on from here.