One down! 

I read that if you paint your nails black before chemo, they won’t fall off. Not sure if it’s true, but man, I feel pretty cool! 

Infusion day had a rough start in getting an IV placed (I’m used to that with my teeny tiny veins) but once everything was up and running, I sat back and “froze” my mouth with delicious homemade popsicles. 

Then we got a surprise visit from my childhood friend who just so happened to be visiting from Texas and in the neighborhood! We passed the time making inappropriate jokes and trying to keep our giggling to a minimum as to not upset anyone around us 😬 After chemo, we went out for lunch and then parted ways. Such a lovely surprise! 


I got home in time to help make one of Joaquin’s favorite veggies…broccoli! I was still feeling great and enjoyed the evening with my munchkin. 

His shirt says “mom is my hero” 😭 Todat, the day after chemo, I’m feeling good! No symptoms so far! My doc is on board with me continuing all my supplements, and if you mix that with all the wonderful food that is pouring into our lives, I have no doubt that supporting my body through this will help me come out stronger! Big thanks to my amazing community that continues to support us in miraculous ways! ✨✨✨✨✨✨

So much love,

Vivian 

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I’ll do it for him…them…us

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I’m just numb enough to write this post.  I keep changing gears from numb, angry, scared, sad, and then, of course, determined.  I have to fight again….for him this time. I have to fight like hell.  I don’t mind fighting.  I think I’m pretty good at it by now. But this is different now.  My body has been compromised and I’m already weaker than I used to be and I have a super loving, needy, wild child speeding into his “terrible twos” to care for.  I don’t know how my body will react or what my physical capabilities will be, so I will most definitely be leaning on my community more than ever in the next few months.  But I have to fight.  For him. For me. For us.

I’m starting chemo on Tuesday, May 23rd.  Because the cancer seems to be progressing rapidly (it’s in my liver, bones and lymph now) my oncologist wants to do 2-3 rounds (possibly more) of chemo every three weeks to shrink the tumors before switching to hormone therapy. Since chemo will be wreaking havoc on my immune system and all other good things in my body, I’ll have to be simultaneously building up my body through nutrition.

Ways you can help:

  • Meals – Healthy food we can pop out of the freezer for dinner.  Or something fresh you can drop off at our doorstep.  or Juice. Even daycare lunches for Joaquin would be a fantastic help!
  • Playtime – Come over and play with Joaquin! He loves walks or going to an indoor or outdoor playground.  Have kids? Bring them over and play in the backyard! Ideally, you can set up the same time and day to come by every week, but we’ll take whatever we can get!
  • House – I doubt anyone ever says “I feel like cleaning someone else’s toilet today!” but hey, if that’s you, come on over! or maybe someone lost a bet to you… ha. ok. if toilets aren’t your thing, perhaps you can help with laundry or gardening etc
  • Financial – I’ve had to quit working and Sasha’s had a couple of gigs fall through recently, so things have been pretty tight recently.  Aside from basic medical bills that I am still paying from 2 years ago, the supportive care I will need while undergoing chemo adds up quick….and a new wig!  Supplements, acupuncture, therapies, juicing, etc are all part of the supportive care I will be taking to keep my body in fighting shape.  But also, continuing childcare for Joaquin is going to be crucial to let my body rest as much as possible.
  • Sasha – Take this guy out for a drink! or coffee. give him a call. send him a text. let him know he’s not alone. come over and hang.
  • Me – Good company and laughs.  Movies.  Gardening. Arts & Crafts. or just laying around and chatting about life 🙂

Donations:

GoFundMe-Viva Vivian

Paypal – Viva Vivian

Here We Go Again…2017

Hello sweet friends,

It was in March of 2015 when I received the news of my recurrence while pregnant with Joaquin.  We all went on this crazy journey together.  It played out like a sad and beautiful, heartfelt drama with a happy ending.  I eventually stopped writing because things became wonderfully boring.  IT WAS GREAT! I’ll take boring any day compared to the how scary life can get.

We have spent the last couple of years honing our parenting skills (still with plenty to learn!), experiencing the rapid ups and downs of parenthood, and enjoying the life changing and often overwhelming love that comes with it all.  Joaquin has been such a beautiful addition to our lives and I’m grateful for every day we get together.

It seemed as if cancer was moving further and further away from us.  But a few months ago, my oncologist started noticing an upward trend in my tumor markers.  They were still in normal range, just higher than they had been over the last couple of years.  We decided to get an MRI of my chest and ended up finding two new affected lymph nodes and two small spots on my liver.  Like the two times we’ve found cancer before this, we are finding this early and taking action cautiously.  The next steps for me will be a CT/PET scan and a liver biopsy.

Sasha and I were devastated with this news.  How could this be happening again?  We spent a solid week living with the most morbid thoughts running circles in our heads.  Songs that usually filled us with love brought us into sobbing fits of sorrow.  Now that the dust has settled and the tears are all cried out, we are able to stand tall again and look directly down the path we are heading.  We don’t know what’s ahead, but we are ready to go there with strength, grace, hope, faith and, most importantly , love.

Thank you for being our unwavering support during these times we’ve needed you most.

Much love,

Vivian

Hero Joaquin – 3 Month Update/Catch Up/Recap!

As you can all imagine, the last few months have been incredibly intense.  I won’t even get into the hospital trauma where I almost died (that’s for another time).  Instead, I just want to jump forward past all the horrendous stuff and adjust my focus on the good – Joaquin!

Here’s a fun journey of his life, thus far, through pictures!

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Proud mama bird.  Every pound I gained was a victory with chemo keeping me from any serious appetite.

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At 20 weeks. The same week we started chemo

Just after delivery. Even though he was only 1.5 lbs, we never had any doubt that he'd make it home

Just after delivery 7/8/2015. Even though he was only 1.5 lbs, we never had any doubt that he’d make it home

Little Fighter

Little Fighter

First time I got to hold him

First time I got to hold him.  I was in so much pain from the spinal headaches but none of it mattered when I got to hold him

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Sasha’s first time holding him

When I was too sick to be with him, we found ways to be together

A few days after delivery, I ended up in the ICU with a blood pressure related brain damage that resolved itself 6 weeks later.  During that time, it was almost impossible for me to get to the NICU, so when I was too sick to be with him, we found ways to be together

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                 Either the nurses would send me     photographs, or I’d get to FaceTime with him. It made me feel so much better just getting to see him

Together again

Together again.  When I had the strength, this was the ideal way to be with Joaquin.

Hero Joaquin two weeks old

Hero Joaquin two weeks old

Sasha's wedding band around his wrist

Sasha’s wedding band around his wrist.  This image really reminds us of just how small he was

Three Weeks Old

 Three Weeks Old.  This was around the time I found out I had C. Diff (a very contagious stomach bacteria) so I wouldn’t be allowed to visit him until it was gone

One month old

               One month old.  This photo broke my heart.           For not being there, and b/c he looks miserable and I wish I could hold him.

FaceTime with him always saved me from whatever health nonsense I went through

FaceTime with him always saved me from whatever health nonsense I went through

Back Together after two weeks apart

Back Together after two weeks apart.  I missed him so much!!!! 

Beautiful art given to Joaquin

Beautiful art given to Joaquin to spruce up his lodgings at the NICU.  We didn’t know how much longer he’d have to be there.

6 weeks old

6 weeks old.  

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8 weeks old and almost ready to come home!

8 weeks old and almost ready to come home!

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On our way to pick up Joaquin from his last day at the NICU

On our way to pick up Joaquin from his last day at the NICU

First time in his car seat

First time in his car seat

His NICU nurses

His NICU nurses on the day he left.  Everyone was so helpful and loving.  It was such an emotional day

Home Day 1.  Sept 6th 2015

Home Day 1. Sept 6th 2015

This was taken on Sept 7th, the day he was originally supposed to be born. Just over 4 lbs and not quite fitting into any of his clothes

This was taken on Sept 7th, the day he was originally supposed to be born. Just over 4 lbs and not quite fitting into any of his clothes

He received a welcome letter from the Obamas!!

He received a welcome letter from the Obamas!!

Our first walk around the neighborhood

Our first walk around the neighborhood

One week home

One week home and getting comfy

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Starting to learn all his cute faces

3 months old

3 months old and he lost the top part of his hair 🙂

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3 months old. 1 month home. It’s slowly getting easier. We had such a difficult transition into parenthood. I was still struggling with my health, Sasha caught a flu, our A/c went out during a heat wave, I didn’t get more than an hour of sleep at a time for a couple of weeks until my mom came to the rescue and stayed with us for 3 weeks. But his little face always gave me strength to keep going.              It still does.  

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Play time

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Slowly getting used to this parenthood thing!

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We’re tired, but we’re making it work.  As I prep for a surgery next month, we’ve had to hire some help to assist us with Joaquin.  This is a huge financial sacrifice for us, but it gives me the opportunity to rest and strengthen up before surgery.  It’s a small surgery where they will remove roughly 10 lymph nodes from under my right arm to check for any remnants of cancer that may have survived the chemo. It means I won’t be able to use my arm for around 3 – 6 weeks.  Impossible to think of when it seems I need 5 arms to care for Joaquin! But we’re making it work with the help of some incredibly generous friends and family.  We’ve been blown away by the amount of  support we’ve been receiving from so many.  It is especially meaningful to see our busiest friends and family take time out of their hectic lives to help us out when we need it most.

Thank you for checking in!

So much love,

vivian

10 Days Home and reunited with my sweet boy!

After a total of 19 days in the hospital, I’ve been home for 10 days and I’m still feeling good!  I have a long way to go…but overall on the up.

My main objective during this time has been resting, eating, and rebuilding.  I feel so blessed to have my loving mom and the amazing Sasha by my side taking care of me and holding me up 24hrs a day.  They have been amazing and I know I wouldn’t be doing as well as I am if I didn’t have them in my lives.

The biggest news this week was that I successfully kicked C. Diff out of my body, tested negative, and finally got to see Joaquin!  After many bouts of crying over the 2.5 weeks we had been apart, I prayed and prayed for this moment, and it finally happened.

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He’s doing so well now!  And so much bigger/plumper!  He’s 5 weeks old and up to 2 lbs 11 oz (he started at 1lb 8 oz).  The nurses say he’s super feisty, but every time I hold him, he’s the calmest, sweetest, baby boy.

I really hope this is the beginning of many more days of bliss.

Thank you for all the love and prayers that have been sent our way from all over the world.  It has made such a difference in my recovery and I feel that love on a daily basis.

Vivian

Back home and missing Joaquin

It’s now the 4th day in a row where I haven’t felt like I need to be in a hospital! YIPEE!!!

It’s so very nice being home and feeling well, but I feel such a huge void without Joaquin here.  My current challenge is how emotional I am about not seeing being able to see him  Since I was so sick while in the hospital, I’ve probably only held him a handful of times.  It’s now been about two weeks since I’ve even set eyes on him in person and it’s taking so much strength to get through this.  I’m praying with all my might that my test on Thursday comes back negative for c.diff and I can race over and see him, love him, hold him, read/sing/recite sonnets to him etc.  All I want is to bond with him and let him know he’s not alone.  It breaks my heart knowing he’s alone in his incubator listening to constant beeping and crying of other babies.  It’s not exactly how I imagined his first month of life to be.  I at least thought I could be spending more time with him in the NICU.  So….big prayers for negative test results!

Until then, I’m playing with ideas on how to turn his NICU incubator into a more personal place filled with love! Art, blankets, pictures and eventually some preemie clothes (he has to gain another pound or so before they let him wear clothes). Any other fun ideas for NICU personalization?

Much love,

vivian

17 Days in the Hospital – A Summary

A week ago, I started to write one of my more detailed blog posts about my journey in the hospital that started on July 6th.  But as I was writing it, I started feeling worse and worse and ended up back in the hospital.  I’ve been updating a bit on Facebook, because that shorter format is easier for me, but I never could get back here until today.  I won’t do my big detailed post…but i can at least give you some bullet points.

July 6th – Admitted to hospital for observation of Joaquin.  Had Preeclampsia.

July 8th – C – Section (Joaquin is doing great, so in love with him!).  Began suffering from Spinal Headaches from Epidural injury (blood in the brain).  Also had trouble stabilizing High Blood Pressure from eclampsia.

July 10th – 16th – Ended up in ICU with swelling in the brain from high blood pressure.  Lost all cognitive skills….don’t remember much of that night. CAT scan.  MRI.  Stayed in ICU for two nights.  The remaining days I stayed in the Stroke risk ward while I stabilized.  I was diagnosed with P.R.E.S. Syndrome (swelling in the brain that is already showing great signs of resolving itself).  It could’ve been fatal if Sasha and I hadn’t intervened (more on that another time)

July 16th – Released from the hospital with blood pressure medications and anti-seizure meds.

July 21st – Still feeling good and went to my first audition since chemo started!!!  It was a great empowering experience

July 22nd – Woke up feeling like I got hit by a truck.  Started having a low fever.

July 25th – Still having a fever.  Losing ability to read, make decisions, focus etc.  We went to the E.R. and they found I had very low sodium in my blood (which can lead to stroke).  Stayed a few nights in the Heart and Telemetry ward.  Renal Doctors on the case for the sodium.  Infectious Disease on the fever (no signs of infection in blood or urine).  Put me on Saline IV to boost my sodium

July 26th – Feeling so much better with the Sodium!!

July 27th – Had diarrhea, which was a quick sign to check for C. Diff. and put into Isolation.

July 28th – Tested positive for C. Diff and moved to the oncology floor.  Still in Isolation. Started antibiotics.  Also found out I booked the commercial I went out for!!!

July 29th – Already showing signs of improvement.  Lower blood pressure.  no more fever.  better poop 🙂

July 30th – Sent home!  Feeling better than I have in a month!  Just gonna rest for a while.  Finally.  So looking forward to working on this commercial, too!  It will help pass the time while I can’t see Joaquin ❤

Joaquin is doing so well!  Everyone in the NICU loves him and taking such good care of him.  It drives me crazy that I can’t see him while I go through this C. Diff stuff, but I know he’s in good hands.

I don’t have the energy to post photos right now….but there are some good ones of Joaquin and this whole experience on Instagram.  my account name is vivavivian.

looking forward to posting more in the future….things just got a bit hairy over here!

Things are looking up.  Focusing on healing body and mind.

So much love,

Vivian