It was a good Monday!

WoooHooo!! Oh yea! Oh yea! Do a little dance! Boogie down now! My bone marrow came back clean! This makes me so happy!!! I’m ecstatic to the millionth power! The only thing better would be waking up cancer free tomorrow……..ah that would be nice wouldn’t it.

Lionel and my parents went with me to my appointment with Dr. A yesterday. When they call us in I tell the nurse “Sorry I brought my entourage with me today.” But I was glad to have my entourage there :) so very glad. Nurse Dee then takes me to the scale. As we walk to the back Dee calls Nurse Erica over to check out my shoes. My shoes are H-O-T! Erica loves them so much she escorted me personally back to the exam room where my entourage sat tensely.

My HOT shoes!

While the waiting for Dr. A we made jokes…. I don’t think Mami was too keen on the jokes though. The Exam room is adequately equipped with an 8x10 laminated page of the human body. What to do??? What to do?? What else would I do? I defaced it. I took the marker and wrote “I’m Hungry” on the stomach and “I’m constipated” over the intestines. Then I put the diagram back on the little shelf behind the tissue box and a few hand outs. Oh to be a fly on the wall when someone finds it. HA HA! They’ll never know it was me.

So after 45 minutes with Dr. A we walk away knowing that I am a stage 3B and will undergo eight BEACOPP chemo treatments. 3B means that I have the classic Hodgkin’s symptoms and affected lymph nodes are both above and bellow my diaphragm. I was so glad to hear that my bone marrow was clean. It was such a relief.

“The best way to treat this is aggressively.” Dr. A says. Great! By nature I’m not exactly an aggressive person. I better buckle up for the ride! I’ll start off this ride by taking four chemo treatments at an aggressive pace. This means weekly treatments. Hang on tight we’re going full speed ahead!

After those four treatments I’ll have another PET scan done. This pit stop will determine how well we have kicked cancer’s ass! From here we’ll fuel up and we’ll continue the drive. Yep continue chemo! Four more rounds, not so aggressively paced…..I guess we’ll drive slow then.

So anyone up for a BEACOPP Cocktail?
1 part Bleomycin
1 part Etoposide
1 part Adriamycin
1 part Cyclophosphamide
1 part Vincristine
1 part Procarbazine

I looked into these drugs through the Leukemia Lymphoma Society website.
It’s amazing what exact jobs each of the drugs in the mix does. For example the Bleomycin and Adriamycin drugs interact directly with DNA in the nucleus of cells; they prevent the DNA from functioning normally and kill the cancer cells.

I think is the Etoposide has a very specific job to do. This is a DNA-repair enzyme inhibitor. This drug attacks the cancer cell proteins (enzymes) in the cell nucleus that normally repair any damage to the DNA. Repair of DNA damage is normal and vital process in the cell. Without this repair process, the cancer cell is much more susceptible to damage and is prevented from growing.

Some of these drugs I will take through an IV, others by mouth, and maybe by injection too. OYE! I’m gonna be on quite a regiment.

Along with chemo drugs come other meds too….party favors if you will. I’ll have medication for the nausea, which I’m hoping there is not a whole lot of. I will also be taking some growth factors to my keep my blood counts up.

One thing I have learned so far is that cancer throws you curve balls. I’m glad I learned this early! First I thought I was looking at taking ABVD chemo, so I familiarized myself with those drugs. Then a curve ball comes flying in my direction changing the chemo mix to BEACOPP. Okay more drugs to research. I also prepare myself of a PICC line…a line in my arm that will be used to administer the chemo drugs through infusion. So I read about that, check out pictures, educate myself and WOOOOSH here comes another curve ball. Forget the line in the arm; we’re going to do a port in my chest. More reading and educating! I’m going to grab my softball glove and get ready for the curve balls of cancer.

Monday April 6th I’ll start chemo. I shall mark this as C-Day on my calendar.

C to the R- AZY!

The past week was C to the R- AZY!!! By Friday I was exhausted. It was a crazy week but I enjoyed every minute of it!

As a reward/gift/prize for the bullshit of the bone marrow biopsy- I got my hair cut Tuesday afternoon. I have wanted to go short for a while now but, it’s like having Hodgkin’s gave me the courage to go super short. I am so glad I did! I LOVE my new hair cut and wish I had done it sooner!! Garrett took a few pictures at the salon. He said to me “You look beautiful Mami!” This makes me melt inside. I live for this feeling!

Saturday morning there was a rosary held at my parent’s house. Friends and family came over and we prayed for those who are ill, on hard time, and in need. While we offered up our intentions it was so hard for me to speak. It was like there was a huge frog in my throat. You know the frog…the one that chokes you up. Yet some how I managed to croak out asking for courage, peace and understanding, for me and also for 2 of my friends going through cancer. I want the healing power of Christ to be with them too, as one battles Hodgkin’s and the other Breast Cancer. Saturday mornings are so incredible because of the love that is there, the healing that is taking place, and the presence of God. I live for Saturday mornings!

The Ulloa Ladies dinner Saturday night was great! My aunts, mom, cousins and I all got together to celebrate the January-March birthdays. We had good food and good laughs together. I ate as much as I could because I just don’t know how treatments are going to affect my taste buds and appetite. In the past week I have eaten so much and have had all my favorite things…besides Chicken Mole. I could go for some of Mami’s Chicken Mole. I live for time with my family and good food!

I am a bit of a planner and a scheduler, not knowing what’s going to happen past Monday makes me nervous. Monday I will go to Dr. A’s office and find out my staging and treatment. I will get more answers to my laundry list of question. But what’s going to happen after Monday? What will happen this week? Is this the week that is going to change everything? The week that I jump off the high dive into the pool of cancer sharks bellow?

Thank y’all so much for the emails and comments of encouragement, support and love. I am so blessed to have such a great group of people around me. When I’m feeling weak, I love coming to my blog and logging into my email and re-reading y’alls words. I find strength in that, and for that gift I cannot thank y’all enough.

Pictures of the week


Ahhh, not going to have to spend so much $ on hair products!

The Hair Cut


At work on Wednesday


That’s what I yelled out at my bone marrow biopsy today.

I went into the hospital today just happy go lucky and talkative as could be. I’m pretty sure I was loud too. The outpatient surgery waiting room had two seating areas. There are were the good chairs- sofas and arm chairs that are hospital comfortable. These are for the families who get here early, before 7 am. Lionel and I sat in a row of chairs, the ones that are not comfortable no matter how you contort your body to sit in them. There was a short haired older lady sitting in row of chairs perpendicular to Lionel and I. I don’t know if she heard us talking, but shortly after we sat down she came and sat right behind us. Is she hoping to catch a good story? This makes me laugh inside.

My talkativeness (is that a word?) did not end there. As I bounced into my pre-surgery cubical I joke with the tech. “Y’all are all vampires around here, all y’all want is my blood. Why do you have to take so many vials, man?” I here him to chuckle, and hope I brightened his day.

I then meet my Nurse Lisa. Best described as motherly; she is sweet and sincere. Everything with Nurse Lisa is "yes ma’am. No ma’am, please and thank you." I like her. And yep you guessed it; I talked her ear off too.

Soon Dr. A (my oncologist) comes in. He picks up the book I’m reading Cancer on a $5 day by Robert Schimmel. “What kind of economy is that in?” Dr. A says. Was that funny? Was it supposed to be a joke? I dunno but I’m dying of laughter inside.

“Dr. A, is being boney gonna be in my favor today?” I ask. He assures me being boney is to my advantage. I’m content with this. Yes, being boney was some how going to make this all better.

In the procedure room I chatter the whole time, I can’t shut up. I have a motor mouth as powerful as a Hemi. Watch out I might just say anything, and I did, everything from taxes to teaching Pilates with jokes thrown in. Dr. A hasn’t really laughed at my jokes. By the end of this journey I will have that big burly bald man rolling on the floor laughing out loud complete with tears! I think all of the chatter was really my own distraction.

The pain of the procedure was like none other. It radiated through my bones and wowwee it hurt. My mother-in-law told Lionel the other day that if I could go through child birth without any pain meds, then I could go through any kind of pain. Hey! She was right. I survived. It hurt, but I’m okay!

The procedure was a lot like giving birth to my son. When Dr. A was numbing me, the pain was bearable. I was able to breathe through it like I did with the hard core contractions during labor. Then All of a sudden (Dr. A did warn me and apologize) there was this unbelievable deep down piercing sharp pain. “HOLY SHIT!!!!!” I yelled out. With my final push during the delivery of Garrett I yelled out in pain too. Then Dr. A repeated the torture on the right side of my hips. I didn’t know I was having twins!

“Can I see the samples?” Of course I had to ask. First they showed me a piece of my bone, that was about 1/4 an inch long and reddish orange. Then I saw the bone marrow which looked like blood, the lab tech said it was thicker than blood and gritty. Eh pretty cool, but not cool enough to justify the pain.

The whole procedure felt like it took 20 minutes, I bet it didn’t take much longer. It felt like I laid in the recovery cubical way longer than 20 minutes. The after pain was like I could still feel it in my bones just more dull, annoying pain and soreness. Nurse Lisa gave me Tylenol. Yep nothing stronger, can you blieve it! Before she gave me to dose I had to pass a quiz
“What are you allergic to?” Nurse Lisa Ask
“What’s Your Name?”
“Diana Brown”
“When’s your birthday?”
“January 30th”
“What did you have done?”
“Bone marrow biopsy”
Then she silently gave me the pills…but I kept on going with the quiz
“Username? Password? Blood type? First born? Anything else?”
I’m pretty sure I got her to snicker.
Soon after that they release me to my husband.

I bounced out of the hospital all happy go lucky just like I bounced in.

Telescope Girl

Girls Night Out was a total blast! We got pedicures and drank wine at a salon and then we went to the Olive Garden. I had such a great time, and I look forward to our next get together!!

When I sat down in the pedicure spa chair, I look up and there is a cancer patient across the room in a pedicure chair. I am taken back.

She was young... A lot like me
She was tall and thin... A lot like me
She wore a blackhead scarf... Kind of like my dark hair
She was with a friend.... A lot like me
She has cancer.... A lot like me.

I wanted to yell across the room "Hey! Me too! I'm a cancer
fighter too!"
Seeing her was like a glimpse into the future. My future, a good future.

She seemed Strong… Like I am trying to be
She seemed “Normal”… Like I want to stay
She was with someone who loved her…. A lot like me.

When she left I wanted to call out "No! Don't go! We just met!" It is as if she was my telescope into the distant, yet too soon future. Where I see myself Strong, "Normal" and with friends and family that love me.

I thank God for my Telescope Girl. For showing me that the future is good and the future is now.

A few photos from Girls Night Out

Allison and I

Hilary, Bethany, Alex and Liz

My chemo cocktail?
Well maybe my friend's cocktails.

Where does that leave me?

The basics…I’m married to a devoted and loving husband, Lionel. We have a bright and funny son, Garrett who is 5 years old. Our town home is in the Westchase area of town. We are only a short distance from my parents, and I love that!

I work as a Marketing Coordinator for a construction management company. I enjoy my career, building it in the design and construction industry has been incredible. My work is so much of who I am.

In February 16th I had a head to toe physical with blood work done, as a Happy 26th birthday gift to myself. The same day Dr. B send me to Dr. Mas Cabesa (Dr. Moorhead), ENT for a feel up. February 20th I had a CT Scan, the contrast they injected into me, made me feel as if I had wet my pants. It was so strange! Somewhere between that Dr. B calls me in to discuss what my diagnosis could be. Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, I could be looking at cancer. CRAP! On March 4th I had a biopsy done of swollen lymph nodes in the left side of my collar bone. The biopsy results came back Classic Hodgkin’s Lymphoma on March 9th. On March 10th I meet my Oncologist Dr. A. March 11th I had my wisdom teeth remove (all of my dental work needs to be done before chemo) Okay breath…deep breaths…steady now…I know I’m dizzy from the whirlwind of events.

So, where does that leave me? I’m not exactly sure; I have asked myself a few times already.

It leaves me living life with cancer,
Leaves me with many questions,
Leaves me with few answers
Leaves me with lots of tears
Leaves me dependent on others,
Leaves me surrounded by people who care about me
It leaves me exactly where I’m supposed to be.