I didn’t realize that I never posted a blog update about my last scans! I posted an Instagram “story” but not an actual post….so I promise to get to all of that! I also have some really fun non-medical news to share!
First up, the scans. My last scans showed 3mm of “growth” on my largest liver lesion….NOT the news I was wanting to hear by any means. (For those just tuning in, I have 9 lesions total but two larger target lesions the doctors are measuring and tracking). After speaking with a couple of my doctors, they do not want to change my treatment at this time, because there is a chance it isn’t real growth since it “might” be the way the scan is positioned/etc.
Moreover, there weren’t any changes anywhere else. Amen to that. My next scans are July 27th and we will definitely know something by then (real growth or not). We need LOTS of prayers for the July 27th scans! If it is real growth I believe we will need to change my chemo regimen because that means what I’m on has stopped working like they want it to. I don’t know what that means for me regarding the clinical trial and my geographical location for chemo going forward. However, I’m trying not to spend a ton of time worrying about those details because 1.) God doesn’t want me to worry about things that haven’t happened (which is also a waste of time) and 2.) there isn’t a thing I can do about it right now except wait for the next scans, take care of my body, and pray. As a matter of fact, LET’S ALL PRAY, shall we?!😊
Full disclosure, I started writing this blog the day before my last scans, but later decided it was taking dark turn. I didn’t want that in the universe and I also probably wasn’t ready to share. Believe it or not, blogging/writing is a vulnerable experience when you put your raw thoughts on display. SO….here is the original blog slightly edited, completed (and updated). I tried not to edit the original TOO much because I always want to share my feelings and be authentic, but I also don’t want my blog to be a huge downer either! It’s a balancing act.
With those disclaimers in mind, here you go😊
We’ve all heard the term FOMO (fear of missing out). I think anyone going through chemo has experienced this at some point. We’re human after all. You check social media and there’s a birthday party or a dinner that NORMALLY you’d be part of, but instead, you’re attached to a pole getting poison (granted, it’s life saving poison, but poison nonetheless). Lovely! 😉 COVID amplified the situation and added a special layer to FOMO for a lot of cancer patients….myself included. I had to wait a little longer to get the vaccine since I’m on an experimental treatment, so going to a party unvaccinated AND with a weakened immune system would have been “asking for trouble” as my parents would say. (I’m happy to report that I am now vaccinated and so are all of my friends, thank you sweet Lord!)
I KNOW comparison is the thief of joy. I know that’s not what God wants for my heart or for my life. Yet, I found myself falling into the FOMO trap the last time I was home. I was soaking up my last night in my house in MY bed (I knew I wouldn’t be home for at least 12-13 days because of my treatment schedule). Anyway, I was in my bed snuggling with Mrs. Maisel, my new rescued street cat. My husband was beside me, and I was watching the original Beverly Hills 90210. It doesn’t get much better than that, right? Well, at least for me it doesn’t.
Anyway, I was perfectly content but then I received a notification on my phone and opened Instagram….. and BAM. FOMO. Questions immediately started flooding my mind….. (including, but not limited to):
1. “Why do I have to leave home AGAIN?” 2. “Why is everyone my age planning vacations and parties and their OUTFITS for crying out loud…..yet I’m trying so hard just to be alive?” 3. “Why do I have to listen to complaints about things that don’t matter in the grand scheme of life?” 4. “How is all of this even REMOTELY fair?” 5. “What in the WORLD have I done to get myself into this predicament?” (Edited perspective: I do NOT recommend this line of questioning….it’s not productive).
So many questions swirled in my head (in record time) and I had to stop and give myself a reality check. First of all, I didn’t do (or fail to do) anything to get myself here. I was reminded of one of my devotionals from the week that said “the sun is going to rise in the morning, and set in the evening, it’s up to you how I want to spend the hours in between.” The choice is mine. Do I want to be grateful or negative? Do I want to question everything that isn’t going right, or do I want to live close to God and trust that he will provide for me? Do I want to cry and feel sorry for myself or or do I want to fight? I chose the later, closed social media, put on my (high waisted) big girl panties, and had a lovely evening. (If anyone reading is a RHOBH fan….you’ll get the high waisted joke). Anyway, I didn’t have to edit this section of of the blog either, so at least I know that in my irrational and fearful moments I can pull myself out of the mental quicksand with the right line of thinking.
However, the whole experience made me wonder…why does this type of thinking (rapid fire questioning and paralyzing fear) happen more often right before scans? I think (for me) the answer isn’t FOMO….it’s FOMO(F). Fear of Missing Out…..FOREVER. Scans are a reminder that with my illness, everything can change in the blink of an eye. I can take care of my body, have the right attitude and confidence in myself, listen to my doctors, and live close to God….but there are still certain aspects about my illness I simply can’t control. Let me tell you, that “lack of control” and this whole cancer predicament is a control freak’s worst nightmare. But more than that, the whole situation actually hurts my feelings if that makes sense?
I’m hurt by the idea that the world could just GO ON SPINNING without me. (I can’t help but laugh as I type this because of how ridiculous it is when I think about it….the WORLD doesn’t revolve around me!? RUDE. 😉) Despite knowing that the world doesn’t revolve around me (cough, cough) it still bothers me that I could be somewhere else (still trying to get a concrete handle on what heaven entails) and Mark could be ordering my favorite sushi roll or attending a wedding ….(and omg- some woman could be chatting it up with my husband?!) Shit. I also think about my best friends having fun without me. Double shit. (They really are so fun, I’m not kidding).
It’s worth noting that Mark NEVER makes me feel jealous or insecure about our relationship. (I realize that insecurity comes from within for the most part). However, Mark honestly never gives me a reason to wonder. The connection we have along with the way he’s so open and honest…I just don’t worry about that kind of thing. That’s one of the many qualities I love about him. (Fun fact, he said his motto in life regarding infidelity is that “no sex is worth moving all of your shit”. (If you know Mark Stars, this statement is VERY on brand for him…the man HATES moving haha). Full disclosure, in a weak moment I actually asked Mark once “if I die are you going to date?” His answer: “Holly, I seriously doubt I’ll be interested in dating when I’m 85.” CORRECT ANSWER SIR 😉
Anyway, this point while I was writing the first blog I started questioning why in the WORLD I chose to write about this subject. It’s dark and not a good time to revisit mentally. For the sake of authenticity, what I originally wrote here was: “I’m on the plane and my throat is burning and I’m pushing down tears. That’s the kind of raw reaction I get when I think about not being on earth anymore. But again, when I start thinking this way, it’s time for a reset. I have to remind myself that NO ONE will be on earth forever and that God promises us that forever is in heaven. I need to remember that heaven will be more magical and amazing than any party or vacation or favorite sushi roll.”
I don’t have the magic answer to this dilemma….because we are all temporary and we have to accept that at some point our time on earth will be up. (But let me be clear, I do NOT accept that my time is now….or anytime soon.) Regardless of that resolve, my mind can still feel like a ticking time bomb when I close my eyes at night. I’ll get to this a little later, but I recently read the book W1NNING by Tim Grover and Shari Wenk which compares our minds to a “battlefield” and discusses the idea that the “the biggest war is inside your own head.” That concept resonated with me because it’s so true and something I’m constantly struggling with (especially when it’s time to sleep and the world is quiet). The book explains that our minds are a battlefield and that battlefield is filled with fear and anxiety-loaded bombs. Until we learn to work our way through battlefield our minds, we can’t win.
When think about the “battlefield” as I go to sleep, I need to remind myself that the devil places doubt and anxiety in my mind and I’m allowing it to take up residence ….and I simply don’t time for that. So in that case, doubt (and the devil) can kindly take a hike.
Speaking of doubt, it’s a THING when you have cancer and it’s so unproductive. Right after starting this blog, I finished reading the New York Times Bestseller W1NNING by Tim Grover and Shari Wenk. The book really shed some light on the concepts of fear and doubt and the difference between the two. Fear and doubt are two things that I’ve dealt with SO much over the last 3 years, so it was refreshing to finally read something I could connect with.
You need to read the whole chapter for it to fully make sense, but a few quotes in the book about fear and doubt that spoke to me were: “Everyone experiences fear. Fear shows up on its own. Doubt has to be invited. Fear heightens your awareness; it makes you alert. Doubt is the opposite; it slows you down and paralyzes your thinking. Fear is about playing to win. Doubt it’s about playing not to lose. Fear is about the threat, whatever you have to face. Doubt is about you.” #MicDrop
If you read my blog “The Cancer Club’s Book Club” you might remember Tim and Shari’s book Relentless being on my “must read” list. I need to update that list and include their new book. I assume W1NNING wasn’t written specifically for people going through cancer…but oh boy…it’s SO applicable. As I was reading the book, I felt heard and understood. In addition, so many concepts in the book were specifically applicable to my situation and just made sense.
I will say that my definition of “winning” has certainly evolved since my diagnosis. Right now, winning is beating this disease. Period. I don’t want to spoil the book…..but whether you’re going through cancer or not, it is absolutely worth reading (and this is not an ad). Considering how impressive the book is….AND its authors….you can imagine my shock when I found out I’m in the book. No seriously…. I’M IN THE BOOK. I’m in a New York Times Bestseller…excuse me??? I wish someone could have recorded my reaction when I found out. #PinchMe
I can honestly say that seeing my name in print is the LAST thing I expected when I started reading W1NNING. This is a prime example of cancer being so terrible…..but at the same time, it gives you an opportunity to persevere and show the world what you’re made of. And while you’re on the journey, amazing people will come into your life as a result. Tim and Shari have become not only close friends….but they are honestly like family to me. (Something I would have never expected, that happened organically over the last couple of years). They are the kind of people that don’t shy away from uncomfortable conversations. They always want to know how I’m doing and what’s going on regardless of the answer. They exemplify the term “ride or die” ….and since that term overused by some, let me give you an example of a “ride or die” person in your life:
From Shari: “Tim says if you need blood, plasma, body parts, yes, body parts, they are yours. Personally, I don’t think you want our body parts, but we are happy to do whatever it takes. And, he says, we have connections….I have no idea what that means, but it probably means something.” I hope you’re laughing because I certainly was when I received that text. Despite it being funny, I know they would do ANYTHING for me….how lucky am I? That’s Shari and Tim in a nutshell. Another example, out of ALL of the countries in the world, we only have about 45 left for my prayer map…which is amazing!! When I posted the countries I had left this was their response:
Just for context, if you didn’t know, Tim trained iconic athletes like Michael Jordan, Dwyane Wade, the late Kobe Bryant, Scottie Pippen, and Charles Barkley just to name a few….CASUAL right? (For accuracy, Tim’s official title was “Sports Enhancement Specialist”). Tim was also featured in ESPN’s documentary The Last Dance about Micheal Jordan while he played for the Chicago Bulls. I watched it on Netflix and I’m not just saying this, whether you’re a sports fan or not, it’s a GREAT documentary. So much nostalgia and inspiration. In fact, after watching the first episode (despite being sick from chemo) I burst into the room and told Mark “I want a pair of Air Jordan’s NOW!” (I dare you to watch it and NOT want a pair).
I digress. Let me tell you about Shari, the co-author of W1NNING really quick….
One of the first women to dominate the sports marketing industry…also super casual. Shari, if you’re reading this….it’s time to update your bio and add “co-author of the book W1NNING, a New York Times Bestseller!” 😍
Anyway, I can’t say enough good things about this book. Seriously, read it now and you can thank me later. (I also like to listen to the audio book version at the beginning of a walk or a workout when I don’t FEEL like working out).
That’s a great place to end….on a high note. If you’re still reading, thank you for making to the end of this incredibly long blog!
For those asking, I keep forgetting to put in the blog that I do still have my Amazon Wish List going. I can’t tell you how amazing and generous people have been with this. I promise I get every single thing and I’m so grateful. P.S. If the mystery Cindy T. Is reading…..please message me here or on Instagram. I’d like to thank you for the massage gun! (Also, if anyone sent something from my wish list and I haven’t thanked you personally PLEASE send me a message….I really try to thank every single person and don’t want to miss anyone).
As always, thank you for following along, and for all of the prayers and love 💕
⭐️Holly Hollis Stars⭐️