The Outcome

I’d like to start off AGAIN for thanking all of you.. but this time for sticking with me three days in a row and listening to my husbands story.  My main goal with these 3 posts was to give mainly the events that took place. I didn’t want to get into my feelings or experiences or anyone else’s pain. I didn’t want to touch on how hard it was for Ian and Jax and how they acted out. That is an entry that I might make someday but far too depressing to tap back into right now.  This little series was meant to serve as an update and be told as positive as possible.

”When will we know if the transplant worked?” “What comes next?” Those are two questions that I have been asked almost daily. And today, ladies and gentlemen, I finally have an answer.

The first test that Joey had was a bone marrow biopsy on Day +30. This biopsy was WAY different than any biopsy he has ever had.  It was done in a procedure room at COH with NO radiology imaging to help guide the hands of the provider telling her where to dig in, literally. He had no IV set up for them to inject something to relax him or to ease the pain. And, I actually got to be in the room and watch since there was no radiation exposed.

Now I just want to say how bad ass the outpatient Nurse Practioner was. She used her hands to feel and pinpoint where to biopsy. She didn’t need a machine to tell her where to go. Plus, she was able to shut Joey’s fear and anxiety’s away and she made fun of him a little bit too. Which was super awesome (Sorry babe)!!! He was amazing & she was amazing and even though it hurt my heart seeing the size of those needles going into his iliac bone.. I was amazed by the entire experience.

So that biopsy was the first step in checking the status of the disease. It was meant to assure us that there was no disease in the bone marrow (there never had been to begin with) plus it would break down the DNA as well. The hopeful results would be that there was A) no disease and B) at least 96% of Scooter’s DNA to be found in JOEY’s bone marrow.

The results were A) clean bone marrow showing no disease and B) Scooter’s cells had taken over 99.94% !! Which means that not only has Scooters cells grown and multiplied in Joeys body but they basically have taken completely over. This was the first success in the process. GO SCOOTER! Joey will have to repeat this exact biopsy at day +100 and at day +365.

A couple weeks ago Dr. Saheebi ordered a PET scan that is usually done between days 50-60. She explained her expectation for this PET was to be completely clean or the same as his last PET prior to the transplant. She continued that she did not want us to be discouraged if this test showed a little disease because it could take up to 5 months to get the full effect from the transplant. We decided to keep this test a secret from all our family and friends. Every single PET scan Joey has had, has been bad. In the almost 2 years of fighting this disease he had never once been completely cancer free. Some treatments worked, some failed, some kept it the same but none of his treatments ever cleared him completely.

You can probably guess why he wanted to keep this to himself. It’s been bad news after bad news and it’s been heart breaking. He didn’t want to get anyone’s hopes up just for them to be brought back down. Especially if there was a chance that he just needed more time for it to work.

On Tuesday, October 17th Joey had his PET scan. It was day +48 and also Madonna’s birthday. And, if you know Madonna well enough you know the importance of a date with the #7 in it and how it represents a sign from her mom in heaven. After his test, Joey ripped off the bandage and tape from the IV injection and surprised his Mom at work with flowers and a birthday card. Then two days later we return to see Dr. Saheebi for results.

Out of all days, this was the day that Dr. Saheebi was like 2 hours behind. We waited in the waiting room for about an hour, both nervously killing time on our phones. Then once we are out in a room, we waited another hour or so for he doctor to come in the room. And what do you know, the computers were not letting Dr. Saheebi log in to the Kaiser system to retrieve the results. She even went into the doctors office and still didn’t work. She called over to the Kaiser Sunset nurses to give her the results and even they didn’t answer. As a last resort, she sent a message to Dr. Farol (he took over Joeys case and treated him at the beginning of this process but then went back to KPLA when his rotation was over).

After a hundred apologies she promised to call us with results. And right as we are about to walk out of the room, her phone goes off nice and loudly. It was Dr. Farol with the results…

”Negative.” She said out loud with the biggest smile on her face. To which Joey asks, “What does that mean?” And she shows us her phone as she opens up the link.

“COMPLETE RESOLUTION OF NODULAR DISEASE”

To which she translated…

”YOUR CANCER IS COMPLETELY GONE!”

Not a dry eye in the house I tell ya! We cried, she cried and she hugged us as we all marveled at this victory.

 

I truly believe that God put every single step in motion for this day. He made Scooter the match, he helped put the right doctors, nurses and Np’s in his path. He helped me find a home in a new church that has revamped my faith in Him and his power. God has blessed all of us with this miracle. As my Pastor says, they are passionate about the life-giving and life-changing word of God. Since I took my first steps into that church, it has been nothing but life-changing and now LIFE-GIVING! I literally can not be any more thankful for any single blessing I have received in life.

We owe so much to all of you who continue to pray for Joey and his healing. There is no way one can’t believe in the power of prayer after this. Thank you all for never leaving our side and for always keeping us in your hearts.

What comes next? We continue to pray for Joey as he recovers from the transplant and that he never experiences a major flare up of Graft vs Host disease or that no infection too big hits him during this time. He is officially CANCER FREE and hopefully that makes his recovery much easy to bare!

We spent the weekend spreading the good news to family and friends. Joey faked some out and led them to believe our news was pregnancy related. He also tortured others and gave all the crazy statistics and mortality rates and scaring everyone. It was amazing to watch Joey tell his news to the people he loves. It’s been amazing watching him read everyone’s comments since he broke the news yesterday. Here are some photos I took while I was recording. They aren’t the best quality because I was also taking a video at the same time. But amazing nonetheless!

 

 

#fightlikejoey #joeythesurvivor

 

 

 

 

 

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The Recovery

Everything leading up to this phase was the easy part. The conditioning chemo was tolerable. The transplant itself was much better this time around than it was the first time. Since the cells were fresh and not frozen, there were no preservatives mixed in and it made it a lot easier for Joey to tolerate.

Waiting for engraftment to come and go was definitely the hardest on Joey. It only took a day or two post transplant for the expected side effects to hit him. The hardest part for him physically and the hardest on Madonna and I, emotionally. Unfortunately, Joey wasn’t able to get the rest he really needed. Every time he would get into a good sleep someone would come into his room. Whether it was dietary, the nurses to administer medication, the PCA’s to check his vitals, the cleaning ladies to keep everything sanitary. Of course this was for his overall best interest. But of course it was  frustrating for Joey, nonetheless.

After a few days go by, all of Joey’s counts start to drop. His white blood cells, his platelets, hemoglobin, even his kidney function drops and potassium. Of course this is all a part of the process but it brings on nasty side effects for Joey. Then he spikes a fever in which they can not explain. It is too soon to be considered engraftment. Yet, every single blood culture they ran came back negative for infection. I want to say it was probably a solid week of low grade fevers that they could not break or keep away. Thank God it eventually meant that he was indeed engrafting sooner than expected and praise the Lord he never caught an infection.

The downside to engrafting early was that it meant he was in the hospital being monitored even though he felt so good. He was alone in that hospital room all day, everyday and started to get very homesick. It was easier for him to be away from home when he felt sicker than a dog. And harder to stay sane when you’re feeling good and would rather be at home.  Regardless of how he felt, Joey stayed active with occupational & physical therapy plus recreational therapy as well. Joey also did A LOT of walking. Every mile he walked he earned a foot to add to his collection. Most days he walked by himself but on special days, he had little helpers.

We fell in love with his main doctor and her Nurse Practioner. They were so kind and comforting and they truly cared about Joey’s well being. They always asked about the boys and how this was affecting them. They’d even check on me and make sure I was doing well too. Dr. Saheebi and RNP Korie hold such a special place in our hearts. And thank you to everyone who came to visit him while he was there and  thank you to everyone who donated blood and/or platelets to him.

Joey was allowed to come home on Day +19. Which meant that he was hospitalized for 3 weeks 1 day. And came home a few days sooner than they usually let Allo patients come home. But he was doing so well and pushing his body every day that they felt he was safe enough to come home.

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Coming home was the best thing for Joey’s spirit. After being away from the boys for so long, nothing made him happier than holding them and loving them in person versus only seeing them on FaceTime. Even though he still didn’t get all the sleep that he needed, I’m sure he would rather have Ian or Jax wake him up versus a nurse anytime.

Joey is now at Day +57. Since he has been home he has experienced very minimal complications. He had a low grade fever for a few days. Which we don’t know if it was a bug that caused it or a side effect from a trial vaccine he participated in. He takes multiple pills multiple times a day. His medications are adjusted almost every doctors visit and she adds a new medication at least once a week. The Redlands pharmacy techs pretty much know me by name now. Joey still has his Picc line in so that means I’m still flushing that bad boy every night. Joeys appetite is way better than I expected it to be. He eats at least two meals a day and has 1-2 snacks a day as well. He has lost a substantial amount of weight. But he is in no way malnourished or dehydrated. He tries to be as active as he can but fatigue and weakness are a constant battle for him.

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Unfortunately, Joey was admitted to Kaiser last night. He spiked a pretty high fever the day before and Tylenol was not bringing it down enough. We expected it to be an in and out ER visit but of course nothing is ever that easy for Joey. They have ran tons of blood cultures in his peripheral vein and in his Picc to see if the line is infected, he has an infection somewhere else or if it was simply a viral infection that got the best of him. I must say that coming to Kaiser after months of treatment at City of Hope, I was highly disappointed with the nurses that were assigned to him. I NEVER complain about Kaiser staff but last night was a joke. Please say a little prayer for Joey that he gets to come home soon.

All in all, I could not be more proud of Joey through this recovery. He has pushed his body much harder this time, he has a much more positive outlook and he has been grateful for his care and everyone involved.

Dont forget.. PART 3 coming tomorrow morning!

The Transplant

First and foremost, I would like to thank everyone for your love, support and prayers throughout every phase of this journey. Joey is such an amazing man and the quality of his character speaks volume in the support he receives.

Since our team of supporters have been there for us every step of the way, we would like to keep everyone as up to date as possible. This will be the first part of three posts detailing what we have experienced with this transplant.

As most know, Joey’s older brother, Scooter, was thankfully a 100% HLA match for Joey. Scooter went in for stem cell collection on August 29th. The collection process usually takes about 3-4 hours and we wouldn’t know until the next morning if they retrieved the 3-4 million that Joey needed. Sometimes it takes a couple days to collect cells. But Scooter was able to collect 10 freaken MILLION cells AND he was taken off the machine about an hour early because of the side effects he was experiencing. Prior to collection Joey signed a release to allow the remaining stem cells to be used for research. Little did we know that we would be sending 6 million cells, but we hope that those cells can help make breakthroughs in cancer treatment.

On Wednesday, August 30th, everyone was at City of Hope bright and early. As we didn’t know what time the transplant would take place, but we knew that we didn’t want to miss it. That morning I got to do a recreational therapy class with Joey. We did a yoga/kickboxing while sitting class with all the transplant patients on his floor. We then went for his mile walk because we were trying to kill time and wait for Scooter to be discharged. It was extremely important to Joey to have him in the room. Thankfully our nurse for the day was able to stall the blood Bank long enough for that to happen.

The nurse started prepping Joey about 12:15 pm. We had plenty of time for photos while we waited for the nurse to walk to the blood bank and pick up the cells. It was a full house in that room and we are so thankful for the COH nursing staff for being patient and allowing all of us to be in there.

Madonna, Mario, Jessica, Ashley, Sergio, Matt, Scooter, Adrian, my mom and I were all present as we watched a different version of the miracle of life. With a necklace of Joey’s Grandma Betty’s ashes in a little bullet case and our wedding ring in his hand.. we watched the cells make their way from the bag all the way down the line and into his Picc line. It was the most amazing thing I have ever experienced in my life. The love was so present in that room and the promise of new life was so motivating. Those were truly the most beautiful moments of this whole experience.

The whole process took about an hour. We literally watched every last cell make its way out of the bag. We laughed, we cried, we felt united and full of promise.

After it was done, Joey was such a champ. We finished the rest of his mile that we didn’t get to finish that morning. I ordered him dinner and then my heart broke as I had to leave him to go back home to our boys. Don’t let this picture fool you.. Joey felt great, he just loves to look miserable in pictures of us.

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To be continued.. part two will be up tomorrow around the same time! Thanks for reading everyone!

Today… is THE day

“How do I know you?”

That was literally the first thing Scooter ever said to me. Joey was living with Scooter, Alma and Adrian when we first started “talking” aka when I finally gave him a chance. It was the first time that I didn’t leave with Joey early in the morning when he left for work. He let me sleep in for once and just when I think it’s safe to sneak out of the apartment unnoticed… “How do I know you?” Scooter asks, as he is sitting in his recliner drinking a tall can of Bud Light after he got home from work at like 9am.

How in the world do I still remember that moment from over 5 years ago but I can never remember something from 5 minutes ago? Well, number one, because Scooter scared the shit out of me. Two, all I could think to respond was “I cheered for the Lions one of the year’s you played.. and you were dating my friend!” Three, it’s Scooter we are talking about here.. with his Scooter face and that’s not something you forget. I remember thinking that I totally blew my first impression with him. I was terrified and was so scared to be there while Scooter was home and Im pretty sure I started leaving at the butt crack of dawn with Joey again.

It wasn’t long after that morning that he and Alma let me move in with them as well. It wasn’t long before I was pregnant and engaged to Joey. And it wasn’t long for me to feel completely comfortable and safe with Scooter. Even though he is a tough guy with a few words, I somehow knew that I was okay in his book. You see, since that first encounter with Scooter, I knew that he reminded me of my Nino Donny. He is the man of the family, the guardian and protector. He is quiet but funny, observant but knows his place. He loves his Mama and doesn’t care to show it. Not to even mention to kind of hard working husband and father. I wish there was someone else who knew my Nino Donny and also knows Scooter that could vouch for me right about now lol! But what I’m trying to say is that even though he has that tough exterior, it was easy for me to look past it and love & respect him. Mainly because I felt like I already knew him.

Today, Scooter’s stem cells will be transplanted into Joey with the hopes of engraftment and ultimately a cure to Joey’s disease. I can’t even imagine how it feels for Madonna. Having two of her sons in the hospital at the same time. But knowing that one son’s job is to cure the other son. I also can’t imagine how insanely proud Alma is of her husband. To be so selfless and so strong through this whole ordeal. It hasn’t been easy on Scooter the last few days. The injections that help his bone marrow to create more cells have been pretty tough on his body. Alma has had to administer those injections and watch helplessly as he has dealt with the pain. And Joey… once he found out that Scooter would have to be admitted he wanted to cancel the whole thing, just because he didn’t want Scooter to have to go through that. For me personally, I feel like Scooter being the 100% match was a sign from my Nino. That he was going to help Scooter save my husband. And that Scooter really was the guardian I always knew he was for me. get overwhelming emotional when I think about his sacrifice and his love for his brother. I think about how that love between brothers is going to be the reason that I get to grow old with my husband.

We could never in a million years repay him for this. Or for the love and support that he and Alma have shown us since the day Joey was diagnosed. Well, they have always been supportive of us and Scooter has always been a great big brother.. but you know what I mean here.

Scooter, I thank you for your dedication to your family. Alma, I thank you for being supportive and active in this process. And Madonna, I thank you for raising these boys to love each other like they do. I know if it was Matt that was the full
match, we would be doing the same.

Today is the day that Scooter saves Joey’s life. Today will always be remembered and celebrated for hopefully many, many years to come.

Thank you Scooter. You are our hero!

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Blood and Platelet Donors Needed

Hi everyone!! I know I have brought it up in the past, but I didn’t have very many answers. Now that I have made a few phone calls, went to the donor center myself and talked to our family and friends that have also done the same. This is all the info I have gathered about donating blood or platelets to Joey.

First thing’s first. The number to the City of Hope donor center is 626-218-7171. You can call them directly if you have any questions that you have that I maybe did not cover today. Or call them to make your appointment. Second thing’s second. To assure that your donation goes straight to Joey. You will need his full name, Joseph Zazueta and his Date of Birth, 05/02/88.

Blood Donors:
· If you have O+ or O- blood and are willing to go down to the Duarte facility
· If you have had a tattoo in the last 12 months, it is okay to donate blood if the tattoo was done in a regulated tattoo shop (not a home) and the tattoo is fully healed.
· Blood can be stored and must be used within 30 days and anyone who qualifies can go donate at any time.
· Blood can be donated once every two weeks.
· PLEASE call 626-218-7171 and make an appointment to donate blood.

Platelet Donors:
· Anyone can donate platelets regardless of blood type
· If you are a MALE and are willing to go down to the Duarte facility
· If you are a FEMALE and have never been pregnant and are willing to go down to the Duarte facility
· If you are a FEMALE who has been PREGNANT you must be tested for an antibody, TRALI, that could be passed into your body. It takes up to 3 days for the results. If you have the Trali antibody it is no danger to you, but very unsafe to donate platelets to another person.
· Platelets are only good for up to 7 days. It is recommended that platelets be donated once Joey receives the transplant
· If you are a direct donor can give platelets every week
· PLEASE call 626-218-7171 and make an appointment to donate

Thank you all for your continued kindness and generosity during these difficult times for our family. We have people asking how they can help and this is the biggest thing we could ask of anyone right now. Also, you can still donate blood to the City of Hope even if you do not have his same blood type and it would go to other patients. During Joeys first transplant he received platelets and blood from their blood bank until people could go donate. I personally do not have his same blood type and of course I tested positive for Trali, so I plan to donate as often as I can to other patients that may not be lucky enough to have donors.

The hours for the Blood Donor Center at City of hope are as follows:
Monday & Tuesday: 9:30am -6pm
Wednesday: 8am-5pm
Thursday – Saturday 7am – 4pm
2nd Sunday of each month: 7am-4pm

Here are the basic qualifications for donating, with the exception of tattoos that I mentioned above.

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Ready or not.. Here we come!

My apologies! I know I am putting this out there way later that I promised I would. I was waiting on important details about the upcoming transplant and we finally have them.

Let’s start with Joey’s appointment with his oncologist right after the PET scan. I left you with very good news but not a lot of details. So. Here. They. Go.
Met in the spine, GONE! Mets in the liver, GONE! Mets in the axilla (underarm) and paratracheal (throat) lymph nodes and lung, almost gone! And most importantly, NO NEW DISEASE!!!!!!!

Thank you JESUS!!!!!!!!!

I bet you are all asking yourselves, “What now?” Well now we are on track for Joey’s Allogenic Stem Cell Transplant. His Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) Doctor at Kaiser Sunset activated the transplant once he received the wonderful news. He wants Joey to continue with the Nivolumab until he is admitted for his transplant. Tomorrow will mark Nivo #2 since the last pet scan, #6 total. We are very hopeful that these remaining infusions will get rid of the little cancer that is left over. He is scheduled for one more on August 17th but we are not certain if that is still necessary at this point. Joey has had a bone marrow biopsy last week, he has done an echocardiogram, ekg, a thousand blood and urine tests and basically has one thing left to do next week, a pulmonary function test.

Next, we go to City of Hope on August 16th for orientation, Allo education and clearance with our new BMT Doctor because the previous doctor has left Kaiser as of 7/31/17 and we are so sad. Then, Joey will start 5 days of outpatient conditioning chemo on August 22nd and will be admitted on August 27th for about 3-4 weeks. Somewhere in the middle of all this Scooter will also have his own orientation and Alma will attend a class that teaches her how to give Scooter the injections. (Good luck sister! Lol) Scooter will need to get the same neupogen injections that I had to give joey prior to his last treatment. These injections will help his body produce way more blood cells and it will make the collection process a lot easier. Lucky for Scooter he will not need nearly as many injections per day for as long as Joey did since he is in good health.

As of right now, we do not know the date that Scooter’s cells will be transferred. Therefore, we do not know what Joey’s new “birthday” will be. We do know that it will be a fresh transfer. So Joey will not need a Hickman catheter like he had the last time. They will be able to use a regular PICC line and he will be able to shower like normal and I won’t have to be scared and nervous cleaning and flushing the line every day. We sort of know what to expect to happen, side effect wise, but we know there will be additional challenges and risks this time.

What we do know is that Joey will ABSOLUTELY need blood transfusions and platelet transfusions. Last time, we didn’t know what to expect and by the time most people came to donate, Joey was recovering and didn’t need as much anymore. But this time I would like to ask anyone that has O Positive or O Negative blood to PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE contact the City of Hope Apheresis center and schedule an appointment to donate blood and/or platelets to him. You can call them directly at 626-218-7171 and make an appointment. It’s pretty easy to donate blood but there are a few rules involved if you want to donate platelets. All you need to make sure your donation goes to him is the full name (Joseph Michael Zazueta) and his DOB (5/2/88). If they ask for his medical record number feel free to text either one of us for that info.

I hope to be more active in keeping everyone involved in this transplant this time. Once again, thank you all for your support, love and prayers. But please keep them coming! Let’s all pray that Joey’s body accepts Scooter’s cells and that this transplant is a success.

#FIGHTLIKEJOEY

Cancer, A Baby and PPD

 

When I found out I was pregnant for the second time, I was ecstatic. I was in shock because I was ready to just give up trying. Then the happiness and excitement started to dim because I felt sick all of the time. And then the pain came and I started to question why we tried to get pregnant so soon. It’s like my body forgot about all the shitty parts about pregnancy until I was reliving them again. Only being pregnant and a mom was so much harder. My pregnancy with Ian was a dream compared to how my pregnancy was with Jax. Once the morning, aka all day, sickness subsided, I was left to suffer with the horrible pain in my joints. I refused to take any pain meds and I just complained as my only form of relief.

When I found out Joey had cancer I knew that I could no longer complain about the aches and pains that carrying a life brought me. I had to focus on my husband, my son and keeping myself healthy enough to bring a healthy baby in to this world. My worries went from what is this baby doing to me, to what am I doing to my baby? I told my OB that I was no longer concerned about my pain but about making sure everything was planned around chemotherapy and recovery times. Did I begin to suffer from antepartum anxiety and depression? You betcha! I started to feel this tremendous guilt for bringing an innocent little baby into a life full of fear and sadness. I was offered so much help from family and friends but denied a lot of it because I just wanted to withdraw myself from human interaction. If they helped me, that meant I would have to see them or talk to them. And if I had to talk to them that meant I’d have to lie about how I’m doing and or pretend to be happier than I really was.

I didn’t want to tell people or have them figure out how scared I really was. Not scared for Joeys life or that he wouldn’t survive this. But scared as to how we were going to manage it. Scared that I wouldn’t know how to take care of him the way he needed me to. Scared that I couldn’t be the mother Ian needed me to be. Scared that my fears would jeopardize the health of my baby. Scared that this would be the trial that finally broke me. Scared that I wouldn’t live up to everyone’s expectations of “strong.”

Looking back now to Joey’s first chemo, to his first experience with anaphylaxis, to his first ER visit for pneumonia, it is literally a blur. I know the reason Joey survived those hard times because he had his family, my family, his friends and even strangers rooting and praying for him. But looking back to all of that, I don’t know how I survived it. I don’t know how I woke up every morning and fell asleep every night. It’s not Joeys fault he has cancer and it’s not his fault that I am so familiar with it. And it’s not his fault that my mind and emotions have taken me to a place that I’m struggling to come back from.

I’m going to talk about something I’ve only told to a few people. We all know how open I am about my lifestyle, my decisions and my past. But this, this is huge. I have never feared judgement more than I do about this. So if you are going to be a Judge Judy, just keep those comments to yourself. I watched my Grandpa die, I spent the last 48 hours with my Nino in his tiny hospital room, I watched my Aunt Becky die and waited for hours until the funeral home came to get her, I didn’t see my Nana die but I was there with her body for hours as we waited for the funeral home to come for her too. I’ve seen death, I knew how close it was from the smell and each time it happened, it killed a piece of me. When I was pregnant it happened the most. I suppose because I was the most vulnerable. Sometimes I couldn’t tell the difference between real life and my past experiences. I would find myself doing things that I’ve done before for other people, but I was doing them for Joey. I used to wake up in the middle of the night checking to see if my Aunt Becky was still breathing because I didn’t want her to die on my watch. But then I would realize it was joeys nose that was breathing and that Becky was already gone. I would hear monitors going off and thought it was my Nino’s morphine drip and got scared to see him get aggravated again but it was just my alarm to give Joey his medication. I would re-live these moments and believe they were really happening and then all of a sudden I was back in real life. I would dream of those experiences vividly but sometimes my subconscious would make it worse. Sounds a bit like PTSD right? At least that’s what my group therapist thought. I just dont understand why it took so long to surface.

Let’s fast forward a bit to Jax’s birth. Joey was 6 days post chemo and it was his 8th infusion. So his body was taking longer and longer to recover, his fatigue was more intense, his weakness was at an all time high. Plus, the day that Jax was born, Joey had to prep for a PET scan the next day. My OR nurses, doctors and anesthesiologist were all aware of Joeys condition and they were watching him as well. He made a huge turn around when Jax was born but then he started to fade fast in the early evening. I had a c section and still had a catheter so I couldn’t get up on my own yet, I was very sore and had no abdominal strength to get through the night alone. But thanks to my nurse for the diaper changes and the snacks, I managed to get thru the entire night without having to wake Joey up to help me. The next day he was gone.. All day. Pet scans require you to stay away from pregnant women and small children for at least 8 hours. So that plus recovery time from the day before, Joey didn’t get back to me until the evening and I survived another night without having to wake him up. Let’s say the 7 days I had Joey to help me with Ian was like living in paradise. And then he went back to chemo and that’s when shit just started hitting the fan for me.

I couldn’t be the caretaker Joey needed me to be. But in a way it forced him to fight harder through the pain and suffering because he couldn’t depend on me like he used to. Jax was a little newborn life sucking vampire. He ate every hour to two hours, he cried all the time, he never slept, he was gassy, he spit up often, he was everything he needed to be to challenge my inner strength and push me to my limits. Ian, although a very sweet and affectionate big brother, craved my attention and pushed me past my limits. Joey would be asleep and Jax would be asleep and Ian would cry which would wake Jax up and Joey would stay asleep which would bring me to my knees to ask god WHY?? It was just too much for me. But somehow I survived that newborn phase just don’t ask me how.

When I was alone, I would cry and cry thinking I was not the person people thought I was and that I could not handle this. I then questioned myself again, why did we want another kid. Which then reassured me that we would not be having any other kids after this. I don’t think I have it in me. I felt guilty for not being the mother that Jax needed me to be. I felt angry that cancer was doing this to my husband and my kids. I felt scared that my weakened mental state would cause life long emotional damage to my boys. After all, I believed and still do in a way, that Jax’s cry baby, grumpy attitude is my fault because that’s how I was when I was pregnant. He will not be the happy child that Ian was because I couldn’t keep my cool while pregnant with him.

But then, we got Jax’s tongue tie revised, I took him for chiropractic adjustments to help his gassiness, I started baby wearing to calm him down and slowly things started getting better with him. Joey finished chemo and he started to feel decent again. We were getting out of the house again and starting to see people again. We were starting to put the sickness behind us and we were starting to live again. And then the phone call came. The cancer is NOT gone and now we must prepare for a transplant. Which means I was going back to a life of fear, sadness, precaution and hospitals. And then that’s when the anger hit. Was it aimed at God this time? Perhaps. Did it put me back at square one? Without a doubt. Did it bring back the memories and re experiencing certain moments? Mildly.

Now, I’m in a new playing field. One that is built from fear and anger. That grows with anxiety and panic and succeeds thanks to luck and good timing. I know people are worried about me. I see it in some people’s eyes when they look at me. I hear it in their voice when I listen to their voicemails. I read it in their texts or social media comments. But I want everyone to know that yes, my emotions and my mentality might be a little fucked up but my life is not in any danger. I am too much of a chicken to try to hurt myself and I love everyone too much to leave them with my blood on my own hands. It is very obvious that I’m dealing with ppd and anxiety but I am NOT suicidal.

With that being said I’m asking my family and friends to be patient with me. You don’t even have to be understanding, just be patient. When I don’t answer your call, its because I don’t want you to hear the sadness in my voice. If I don’t respond to your text it’s because (either my baby is sleeping and my phone is on silent or..) I read it and it reminded me that I needed to get up and do something to take my mind off what you’re asking me and then I forget to respond once I sit back down. If you offer to help me with my kids and I don’t take advantage of the opportunity, it’s not because I don’t trust you with them or want you to spend time with them or let them get out of our little apartment. It’s because I need them, my heart needs them, my soul needs them. Even though they stress me out and they push me, they also keep me sane and alive. Jax is happier now, laughs more and smiles when I walk into the room. And my sweet Ian is such a nurturer and he keeps my heart full with his constant need for hugs, kisses and I love you’s. If you wonder why I’m not back to work yet, it’s because I will LITERALLY lose my mind if I add in the stress that my job creates. You may see the life I want you to see through snapchat, Facebook or Instagram and think, she’s not depressed. She’s smiling with her kids and she’s going out of state and doing these things that depressed people don’t do. Well, I will be the first to admit that I try to showcase the good so you can’t see how bad my bad really is. I try to go to my happy places or see new places with hopes that it will lead me back to myself.

I’m not as okay as I say I am. But I finally recognize it now and I’m ready to do something about it. October will begin a long journey for my mental health and I’m eager to embrace it. This was my first step at doing so. And all I want from this blog is for people to understand that I’m finally doing something about it and that I’ll be okay.