I have been remiss in updating the Weebly site mostly because I think just about everyone who is on this site is also my Facebook friend. But for those of you who are not I want to let you know that I’m doing great, checkups are now spread out to every 8 weeks and this January will be my 2 year mark at which point I’ll be bothering my doc again to stretch out the time between when we see each other. I asked about 6 months ago and he still wanted to keep the checkups every 8 weeks but I’m really pushing for twice a year at the most.
To catch everyone up on the last few months, Gene and I got married on July 11th surrounded by about 100 friends and family. It was an amazing life moment and my fear of just crying the whole way down the aisle luckily didn’t happen J
Currently we are training for a 17 mile running race in Colorado. The race is called Imogene Pass and runs from the town of Ouray to Telluride. It’s very challenging so to prepare for it we have been hiking Mount Humphrey’s here in Flagstaff, running Mount Elden and just last week we hiked to the Colorado River and back in one evening (it’s still super hot so we thought a night time assault would be best).
Last year still isn’t totally behind either of us but I feel like we have gotten back into our previous stride. We are thankful for every day and for all the love, prayers and support and we celebrate each moment with a new zest for life.
I may disable this site in the next few weeks simply because I don’t want this history to be the primary way people identify me, especially people who have just met me or randomly do a ‘google search’. I welcome anyone who isn’t already on Facebook to “friend” me so you know all the shenanigans that Gene and I are up to.
Wow were already back at January again. First let me say that my check up went great this month and one thing that was great to see was that within a sub-category of my white blood cells the ones that were the highest were the monocytes which I looked up and those are essentially the vacuum cleaner cells that get old dead stuff out of your body!
With all that good news we really felt blessed and so lucky but I have to report that I am very disappointed in my mental stamina leading up to the check up.
I’m not sure if it was just because we were coming up on the anniversary of everything or what but I just kept thinking about everything that had happened and sometimes I could picture it so clearly I would start to smell the smells from my room in Tucson and my stomach would turn. This made me angry with myself because I knew I was doing it and if my imagination could give me a stomach ache why wasn’t I using it to reassure myself that everything was great and I’m healthy? Grrrrrr
I guess I just have super high expectations but after a year of meditation and great reports from my docs I really wanted to have a stronger hold on these rouge bad thoughts. I am continuing to meditate and our eating habits are still very healthy (no dairy, no sugar all organic food) but I guess this is still a process and I have to work harder at believing all the great stuff I think and hear, it apparently needs to be reinforced with steel J
What I need to do the most is work on letting go of fear- I really like the quote that says “to worry is to pay in advance for a debt you may not owe” and that is exactly what I was doing this month.
Maybe we just need more time to pass?
Another bright note from the month was Gene and I ran PF Changs Rock and Roll Half Marathon with my best friend Liz and it felt great! It was a gorgeous day, perfectly warm when we needed it and then overcast when it might have gotten too hot. We talked the whole time and it was just so amazing to be back on the course a year later.
When we crossed the finish line we all hugged and cried and I felt that I finally know what being truly thankful is. Here we were together, in the sunshine and celebrating this vibrant, loving, blessed life that we get to share.
I hope you all know how much your love means to me!
Just wanted to post a note and let all my friends know the latest. Gene and I went to the doc yesterday and I had slept super good the night before and was feeling super confidant. The computer system was down so we waited longer than normal and I started to get nervous. When the nurse finally came back to get us I was feeling pretty wound up. A small lesson I also learned yesterday was NEVER drink coffee on check up day J my blood pressure was 150/83 its usually not anywhere near this range but I think the great coffee mixed with being left in the waiting room put me on a whole different orbit. We were actually watching my heart beat in my wrist.
When the nurse was done we were left again for a while and I had time to let my imagination go where it shouldn’t and also to take Gene’s blood pressure (perfectly healthy). Then when I thought I couldn’t stand it anymore and was running small laps in the hallway, the doc finally came in and said “your blood word looks great, tell me about your Thanksgiving”
So we chatted a bit and then I pinned him down to give me actual numbers and not just “your good” everything is going in the right direction and I have been meditating on having 3100 white blood cells and that’s exactly what I had (yay, power of positive and practiced thought).
I also asked the doc how long we have to keep coming back every four weeks and he said for a couple more months and then we could go to eight weeks. He also said at that point he would be comfortable not seeing me for a year, but he knew we wouldn’t be comfortable with that.
I was just imagining what my docs in Tucson would say to the yearly checkup idea- basically HELL NO J but I would be comfortable going once every four months when were at that point. I’m so thankful to have Gene beside me and all the prayers and thoughts around me. I have been meditating on the idea of pure love filling my body and it’s so much easier to picture because of all the amazing support that surrounds me. Thank you to the army of people that give me so much, I am truly rich beyond words.
We went up to the doc yesterday and he told me everything looks good. A couple things caused me concern however, my white blood cells hadn’t gone up- they actually went down and so did my platelets- which the Doc is telling me is because of all the chemo. I guess I just have expectations of bouncing right back and I’m frustrated that things are still recovering. Another thing that came up was some immature white blood cells which shouldn’t be there- so I had the Doc call the blood lab and have them look atthe cells under a microscope.
Gene and I left the office and were like “why don’t we feel relieved” because the doctor was happy with my results but I think Gene and I are both hyper sensitive to things not being perfect.
My doctor said he would call last night or this morning with lab results and about 6pm last night he called to say no abnormal cells were found.
That was a huge relief but we still don’t feel totally good about this past appointment and I’ve sent my results down to the docs in Tucson to get their opinion. I will let you guys know what they say and really all I think we probably need is to breathe and relax J
In an attempt to keep my word about being more regular on updates….here’s the latest
My six weeks are up tomorrow and I’ll be heading in for another blood test and then meeting with the oncologist here in Flag. I feel really great but just like last time I have been obsessing over any new spots/dots or scratches on my body.
I think that is pretty normal just because this seemed to have come out of the blue, but I can’t wait until I have a few more “your fine” office visits behind me so I don’t get so wound up before each one. :)
Gene and I had a wonderful Halloween, it’s one of my favorite holidays and we had a blast party hopping with our Flagstaff friends.
We also rejoined the Athletic Club this weekend and I’m really excited to get back to working out all the time and getting my strong body back. Before you say it….I know, I know….I will go slow and not over exert myself J It’s just so nice to be able to work out and last night we went for a 3 mile run in the woods which was fantastic and surprisingly warm for this time in the year.
Last night we also asked a dear friend to be the officiant for our wedding and he said to let him think about it because he wasn’t sure he could get through the ceremony. I told him we would all be a hot mess and he seemed to feel more at ease J
That’s one of my favorite things about the friends I have in my life now, they are people that have been dear friends for 15-25 years and the friendship just keeps getting better. And the new friends I make are all so genuine and wonderful!
I feel so thankful and I’ll let you all know how tomorrows appointment goes.
Tsk…tsk…it has been WAY too long since I have updated this blog and for that I’m sorry.I’m also sorry if the length of time that has passed has caused anyone to worry.
Let’s catch up on the past three months, shall we? J
I finished chemo at the end of July. It was weird to have gotten to know the nurses and doctors so well over the past seven months and then to be at the end and having people hugging me and telling me good luck.It made me think that all of this came on without a warning and how much of the monumental stuff in our lives does just that.You go to bed one night and the next day your life is changed forever. This experience has definitely changed our lives for the better. We had made friends with the nursing staff in Tucson and now they were telling me goodbye and I was wishing I had known them under other circumstances.But at the same time I felt so lucky that they had been there to cheer me on.Both as a whole and individually the nursing staff at 3NW were so consistently caring and attentive and with two of our nurses we have planned to run future races.
I went back to work full time in July and that was challenging to get back into a schedule not so much because I was exhausted but more because I missed the long afternoon walks that we took when I only needed to work 20 hours a week.
My numbers dipped expectedly low at the beginning of August and my doc tried once again to talk me into the nupegen shot.I declined and was irritated that after so long he would still try to push something on me that I’d said no to for almost a year.
We stayed out of the public and watched lots more movies and my numbers started to come up again to a safe level.
I began to hound my doctor about getting the hickman line out and he told me that he would prefer me wait a few more weeks but that I would probably be ok by the 19th of August. So on the 19th we went into the outpatient surgical offices at Flag Medical Center.I was SUPER nervous because I hadn’t allowed myself to look at a diagram of where exactly the line went but I imagined it touching my heart and generally wound up inside of me.
Gene came with me into the room where I would have the procedure and my fight or flight reflexes were in FULL working order.I felt calmer when I met the surgeon and he seemed very competent and not sleepy J.The whole procedure took about 20 minutes and although I didn’t feel any pain, there was a lot of hard tugging that felt pretty gross.Gene sat at watched all of this, including when they clamped off my artery to remove the line. All can say about that is, childbirth will be no problem for him.I kept thinking I would have passed out and thrown up if the roles were reversed but he was so great.
We celebrated our six-year anniversary (of our first date) the next week and I was able to dress up without worrying about a dingle dangle hanging from my chest. We were both so happy and thankful to be on this side of everything.
At the end of August I also began a supplemental therapy in Cottonwood, AZ called the Life Vessel. The website is lifevesslearizona.com if anyone wants to check it out.It is essentially a non-invasive procedure which works to reset your autonomic nervous system which when working properly can keep you healthy.I was a little skeptical at first because if there is one thing this year has been, it’s invasive J so how could something non-invasive be effective at all?
One of the main reasons I decided to give it a chance was one of their testimonials was from a guy who had AML and did chemo and then their procedure and he has been healthy ever since. I asked to have this guy call me and he did, we ended up talking for about an hour and the best thing he said was “I don’t ever worry about it coming back anymore” and to my relief he seemed like a normal guy- not that, the touchy-feely types can’t have medical breakthroughs too...I can just relate SO much better to a jock who was sidelined out of the blue.
I went back to the doc here in Flag and everything looked normal enough he said I wouldn’t have to come in for six weeks! Wow! To go from twice a week since January to “see you in six weeks” felt amazing.
The time passed super quickly and about a week before I had to go back again I was inspecting my body for any signs of anything weird and getting a little nervous about going back.
We met with the doc and he said everything looks normal and my white count was a little low but that was to be expected after all the chemo I’d gotten. So then we talked about racing and he said “I’ll see you in another six weeks if that works for you”
That six-week period will be up the beginning of November and we’ll go in again to have a checkup. I haven’t heard yet how long we have to continue this schedule but even if it goes on for a year, I’m so happy to be at this point.
I also recently talked with my doc in Tucson and asked about when I should have my next biopsy.He told me I wouldn’t need to get one ever again unless the blood work starts looking screwy again.I asked to be sure that I wouldn’t have to at the six-month or year mark and he said, “only if I’m a glutton for punishment.”
So that brings us up to today, we just got back from our third round of four sessions in Cottonwood and I feel great.
I’m trying to listen more to my body and pay attention to when I feel tired. It’s hard though because I’m so damn excited to be doing the things I want to do. I have definitely been living life like a puppy lately and I can’t stop wagging.
This weekend I’ll go to Phoenix with my mom and three of my dearest friends to try on wedding dresses, I’m SO excited but I’ll try to keep the excitement to a slow boil.
I plan on updating this blog after each check up so I’ll see you all in a couple weeks, and thank you for the thoughts a prayers they are working!
It makes me really happy to report that Gene and I are down here for my last round of chemo. We got here on Friday and should be heading home Wednesday. It feels strange to be here because I am really happy to be done with this portion of everything but at the same time it was such a surprise to come down here in the first place, I have to admit I’m a little apprehensive about returning to life. Because although this is over and I’m confident that we have won and it will not return, I still have to get check ups weekly and then monthly for the next two years and then I can feel like this is really truly over in about five years. Good thing we enjoy doing endurance events for fun :)
Of course the life that we are returning to is going to be so much different than it was before; our diets are different and our focus is different. I feel like this experience has given me the courage to take opportunities when they come my way and in the past I would have analyzed every angle so much that the window of opportunity closed without me ever taking advantage of it.
It will probably come as no surprise but I have decided that at this point the BMT is not for me. Throughout this whole experience we have somehow made all the right choices that have served us best- I believe this is in part because of all the thoughts and prayers that we have been surrounded by. I feel protected by love and nourished by prayers from those closest to me as well as the strangers who have prayed for someone they have never met with open hearts and clear minds. I believe we are all WAY more connected than we think and experiences like this allow us briefly to feel this.
This choice is of course scary because I know all the stats and I know what my doctors want and I can’t explain why I think I’m right about not needing it but that is what I feel.
And I keep coming back to the fact that I have made it a common practice to listen to my body since I was very young. You cannot be a decent hiker or runner or companion unless you can listen in to your body and know what’s going on, what’s stressing you out and when it’s ok to push the envelope.
My body is telling me it’s healthy, and I just need time to heal and that I caught this silliness just as it was beginning to form and it has since been blasted out.
This next period will be the Renaissance of my life. And even as my hair slowly thickens, I will fill my time with more activities that make me happy, I will be a better friend and stronger member of my local and global community. I will say yes more often and have the courage to take the big steps that lead to the most gains- the unexplored and unknown will be mine and I will revel in it. I will say sorry more often and leave my ego at home whenever possible.
I am so excited to have my life back and have it be better than ever!
I feel so much gratitude towards the nurses at UMC, seriously I couldn’t have that job and especially not on this floor. And they just keep coming in with great attitudes and trying to make the most of a crummy situation by keeping people as comfortable as possible. Here’s to a profession that should be thanked more often!
First I want to acknowledge that it’s been too long since I wrote anything. So I am sorry for that and wanted to update everyone on the latest. On June 1st we went back to Tucson for round 3 of consolidation chemo. We had been home for 7 weeks which was the longest I’ve gone with out chemo since January. It was really nice and allowed us to do some fun things like kayak in Lake Watson over Memorial Weekend, and check out a few wedding venues for next summer’s nuptials.
I was worried headed back down to Tucson about the cumulative effects of the treatments because the seven week reprieve was due to the fact that my numbers took FOREVER to come back up, basically meaning that my immune system was lower for a longer period of time.
My oncologist told me to think about it like running marathons every weekend- eventually it takes longer to recover and while I don’t like to think about what’s actually being pumped into me…it ain’t sugar water :) I know it’s doing it’s job and the side effects come with it. The great thing is I only have one more round left!!!! Woo-hoo!
Tucson went smoothly and we were able to eat some delicious food while we were there. Gene went out and got me Indian food from this place that I totally recommend called Amrutha on the corner of Tucson and Grant- seriously go there and try the Teeka Chicken, I wanted to bathe in it.
We got home on the 6th and had a few days without doctor visits.
This week we went in to have my blood checked and my immune system is as low as it got last time. I wasn’t able to see my regular oncologist so I went in prepared to argue a few points with the one I was seeing (this sub oncologist is notoriously pompous and does not listen) but I totally lucked out, he got me an order to have platelets that night at the hospital- mine were super low and I was experiencing pain in my right leg which felt like a pulled muscle but was harsh enough that it hurt to lift my leg to put on pants- he guessed that my psoaz muscle was bleeding internally from the low platelets and asked if I wanted a cat scan. I said no and I’d watch it to see if it got worse. At this point the less drugs and radiation I receive the better- I wouldn’t mind not glowing for my wedding.
The other main thing I wanted from the sub oncologist was to have him prescribe me some antibiotics so I wouldn’t have to spend any nights in the hospital.
And without a fight he put me on one that’s for people with anthrax- that should be enough to keep my happy ass out of the hospital until the numbers start climbing up.
I also asked him to discontinue an unnecessary steroid that they give me prior to any transfusions and he didn’t question why he just did it (AWESOME!)
So after we finished, it was off to the hospital for a bag of platelets- it was 4pm and I told Gene, we’ll be home by 6pm (I was half joking because the transfusion only takes an hour. Then we met our nurse who had some sort of a speech impediment- I tried to not think this might also carry over to the rest of her nursing skills…but alas I can’t report that.
She started my drip at 5pm, and she asked how fast I wanted it and I said over an hour. She said “well this is a 55ml bag and I’ve set it at 55min.” so not thinking about it further we put on the tv and watched Cash Cab. Around 5:30 I looked at the bag and it hadn’t moved much at all, so I got up and looked at the numbers and sure enough…that darn simple arithmetic strikes again- it was a 309 ml bag in a 55ml solution, so at the current rate we would be in the hospital another 6hours. Luckily she came in and we asked her about it- she laughed about missing the “small details” and said “let’s get this party started” (not really what you want to hear in relation to blood products) and sped it up to the right speed- I feel fortunate yet again to be cognizant in the hospital and worried for those who aren’t.
I am really trying hard to not to pick on the hospital, but it seems like every time we go in we have some odd or unsanitary thing happens. Our nurse also dropped her gloves on the floor and was about to examine me with the dirty ones and Gene asked her to put on a clean pair, which she did- but seriously….you don’t want to worry about people half ass-ing their job when they work in a hospital, that’s how people get really sick!
We go back to my regular oncologist tomorrow and hopefully my numbers will start climbing back up. But until then I’ve got horse antibiotics so I’m doing great and not running a fever.
I feel really confident too that chemo and life changes have kicked this things butt and it won’t ever come back…seriously some days I feel stupidly, arrogantly, confident and I hold on to those days with all my strength for the times when I don’t.
DANIEL BERK Sports Editor | Posted: Sunday, May 23, 2010
On January 30, Cory Sheeley officially started her comeback. Stationed in the cancer ward of University Medical Center in Tucson, Sheeley got a heads up from a nurse that 16 laps around the ward was exactly one mile.
The competitive runner she is, Sheeley, who was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia two days after competing in the PF Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon in Phoenix, knocked out two miles right out of the gate.
Almost four months after she took her first stroll around the cancer ward, Sheeley completed her comeback Saturday morning at Fort Tuthill County Park in a sight that was as inspiring as it gets.
With her fiancé and other family members cheering her on, Sheeley put her running shoes back on and successfully completed the 5k race at the Run for the Mountain, the first race of the Flagstaff Summer Running Series.
"It's really good to be out here with all my friends and the Flag community," Sheeley said after the race. "We're going to do as many races in the series as we can, although I still have two more rounds of (chemotherapy). But, it's really awesome to be out here.
"It's like home."
Sheeley didn't know whether she'd be able to go "home" until just a few days before Saturday's race. Last Tuesday, Sheeley, who's currently in remission, received the good news from her doctor that she was cleared to run in the race if she felt up to it.
She took a couple of days to think about it and then on Friday, Sheeley signed up for the race less than 24 hours before it was set to start.
"I've been waiting for the OK from my doctor and on Tuesday I was told I could do it," Sheeley said. "Then, it's like 'I don't know if I'm fast enough. This is going to be humbling.' Normally, I'd be much faster. But my fiancé (Gene Roberdeau) told me to get out there and do it, so I did.
"It's definitely one of the better moments in a while."
After she finished the race, Sheeley wasn't sitting down on a bench and recovering. No, there she was standing on the side right next to the finish line, cheering on every racer that finished behind her with an ear-to-ear smile that was strong enough to light up Fort Tuthill.
"I just love the Flag community so much," Sheeley said. "Everyone cheers for everyone else and it's just so much fun to be out here with everyone. I've done races in Phoenix and other places and it's just not the same."
Sheeley is right on about that.
Her story truly represents what the summer running series is all about. It's not about who crosses the finish line first or what the top times are. It's about a large group of runners from all over Arizona that head up to Flagstaff on Saturday mornings to be with each other.
Sure, the races are a big part of it, but the "community" Sheeley constantly spoke about is the special ingredient that makes the summer running series so special.
And, you can bet that if she's up to it, Shelley will be back for the second race in the series, the Sacred Mountain Prayer Run at Thorpe Park on June 5.
"I'll probably go down to Tucson next week for chemo, so if I can, I'll do the race in two weeks," Sheeley said. "But, it gets to the point where I can't be out in public because my immune system is shot. So, anything would make me sick.
"But, as long as I'm not in that state, I'll be doing the race."
This weekend was an exciting one. On Friday afternoon Gene and I went and looked at wedding venues together and that was so exciting and romantic. We pranced around together pretending we were walking down the aisle together and imagined all the smiling faces looking at us. Then we had a delicious raw food dinner and drove back up the canyon to Flag.
Gene had been working on me to sign up for a 5k race on Saturday and I really didn’t want to because I felt like my time would be super slow. However, being my best personal advocate he wouldn’t have my excuses and we signed up for the race on Friday night.
Saturday the alarm went off earlier than I usually get up for work but it was exciting to put on my running clothes that I haven’t worn in too long, strap on my watch and lace up my shoes. Breakfast was a piece of chicken from the night before wrapped in a nori sheet and we were out the door.
We arrived at the Fair Grounds just in time to watch the “Kids kilo” take off and were at the finish line when the kids came in. It was so cute to see some of the kids who had given it their all- come across the finish line, burst into tears and be scooped up by their parents in a wave of endless praise and hugs.
10 minutes to race time…we found some dear friends and said hello and made our way to the back of the group of healthy, excited people waiting to race.
Then it was time to go and we were off and feeling great. Gene told me we were running 11 minute miles and I thought- I can do this! My hickman line was bouncing around but wasn’t too bad, and I reminded myself its under my skin and won’t just bounce out.
The course is beautiful and winds through the fairgrounds and then up a rolling hill and back to the ramada. The hill definitely worked me but I didn’t stop and walk once- although my pace was slower than I could have walked there is something very mentally fulfilling about not walking when you get tired.
I know Gene could have run MUCH faster but he stayed by my side the whole time. We rounded the corner to the finish line and I got all choked up- it was so hard to breathe while trying to finish the race, not cry and breathe normally. Somehow I kept myself from turning into a hot mess and we crossed the chalk line.
It felt so great to see everyone smiling and cheering for us and to cross our first finish line since January. We ran in holding hands and sharing smiles with the very supportive Flag community.
The next race in the series is two weeks away and I hope that my numbers are good enough I can do it. We go back to the doctor tomorrow to see what my counts are at and when we’ll be headed to Tucson again- were thinking probably this week but we don’t know.
There is just so much fun to have that I really don’t have time for this whole being “sick” thing.
I’m really thankful Gene made me run this weekend and I’m really thankful for the friends in my life that color my experience with such rich hues- here’s to celebrating this amazing life!