Jan. 14, 2014
Two months ago, my CEA levels (tumor markers) doubled, so
I'm going to get follow-up blood work this morning. As a reminder,
a pre-cancerous polyp was found last year at the site where my
colon was rejoined (anastomosis), so my oncologist is being precautious.
After a wonderful day of interviewing two local colon cancer
survivors for a colon cancer awareness video I'm producing with
EnFocus Media, I get a voice mail from Mayo Clinic. I have more
blood work and a chest CT scheduled on Jan. 23 to rule out metastasis
to my lungs.
I thought I'd be able to handle going to my appointment alone
this morning, but I've been so anxious these past few days! My
sister was kind enough to go with me. The chest CT is negative.
In order to find out the cause to my rising CEA levels, my next
step is a colonoscopy and then a PET scan. Cheers to no metastasis!
Prep day today via fasting and cleansing! You'd think I'd
be used to colon preps after 9 years of undergoing annual colonoscopies!
*NOT* It's the worst part of getting a scope, but at least I'll
have a flat tummy in the morning. Feeling confident about tomorrow's
The gastroenterologist found several polyps and obtained biopsies
for lab diagnosis. Colonoscopy was incomplete due to a blockage.
May have to re-do procedure. Feeling disappointed. Follow-up meeting
with oncologist on Valentine's morning.
Polyps are benign! I'll still have to re-do the colonoscopy
as the prep was "inadequate." So, instead of a one-day
prep, I'll have to prep two days out with clear liquids only and
on the morning of the scope, nothing to eat or drink except for
the final 1/3 gallon of oral GoLytely for a final cleanse. Colonoscopy
scheduled for March 6.
Very excited! My Be a Blue
Buddy colon cancer awareness campaign goes LIVE on the
crowdfunding website this
Mon., Feb. 17! My mission is to educate others about colon cancer,
the importance of screening and early detection. I've garnered
both FL Governor Rick Scott and City of Jacksonville, FL Mayor
Alvin Brown's support! Both proclaimed "Dress in Blue Day"
on March 7. It's the first time for our city! Governor Scott also
recognized March as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month,
making FL a Blue Star State for the first time in at least two
Blue Buddy" colon cancer awareness campaign is now LIVE!
Please visit and SHARE
the link http://igg.me/at/beabluebuddy
"Like" the Be A Blue Buddy Facebook page!
Removed a few polyps during last month's colonoscopy and CEA levels
are finally decreasing again.
Happy to donate
$1,500 to Colon Cancer Alliance's Blue Note Fund from my fundraising
campaign...PLUS a $1,000 gift from the Lion's Club!
delivering colon cancer awareness presentations for the next two
As I write
my keynote speech and organize my Powerpoint presentation for
the upcoming National Cancer Survivors Day/Walk On Cancer Support
event on June 1st, I find myself reliving and feeling all of the
emotions I felt during some of my darkest moments while undergoing
chemo treatments. Whew! I've come a long way!
blessed to be a part of National Cancer Survivors Day today for
Walk On: Cancer Support
Grace De La Rosa, CKay Streight of Walk
On Cancer Support and my daughter Armani
to Knights of Columbus Council 5535, Jacksonville Beach, FL for
their charitable contribution my colon cancer awareness campaign
which was donated to CKay Streight's Walk On Cancer Support.
Just had an
MRI of my lower back and hips. This is my third or fourth attempt
at getting answers since 2009, when I first tripped and fell during
a run. A band of back pain radiating from hip to hip, coupled
with a loss of sensation in my feet and my left foot in particular
having a mind of its own, is making every day walking, much less
running, frustrating for fear of tripping or falling. Disheartened
that my main oncologist doesn't think it's chemo-related. I cry
"BS". Too many in my colon cancer Facebook groups have
mentioned similiar pains and loss of sensation.
a neurologist, physiatrist (not psychiatrist), an orthopedist,
a sports orthopedist, and gone through physical therapy all at
Mayo Clinic where I go for all my post-chemo checkups. Hoping
this particular orthopedist at the Jacksonville Orthopedic Institute
will find answers. If not...I've got an appointment lined up in
Oct. with Mayo Clinic's Spine Center (several months wait!). **
Is there ANYONE in the country who specializes in post-chemo side
effects, i.e. degenerative arthritis pain in neck, lower back,
hips and leg; and tripping/falling due to neuropathy? ** And despite
these issues, I realize 'tis a small price to pay for having a
second chance at living life.
lower back disc degeneration of L3 and L5, and spinal stenosis.
This is nothing new from my last scan sometime in 2010 by a Mayo
Clinic physiatrist. And with this, my current orthopedist suggested
that my pain is not coming from my lower back, but instead may
be stemming from the sacroiliac (SI)
joint. Our next step is to try a steroid injection in the
SI joint. A new symptom popped up several days ago--both of my
lower arms have been going numb, and the orthopedist put me on
a six-day treatment of MethylPrednisolone, a corticosteroid to
help reduce any possible inflammation in my neck area. We'll re-analyze
when I go back in for my post-injection checkup.
visiting with my good friend Connie who lives up in Cherry Valley,
IL for the next few days! Flew in yesterday. Gorgeous temps--in
the low 80s. Nice relief from the 107 heat index in Jacksonville,
was scary...soon after eating dinner at a fish camp, I started
feeling like I do when I've eaten shellfish, like I'm about to
undergo anaphylactic shock. Perhaps they cooked my fish in the
same oil or pot as their crab or shrimp? I dunno. Now, the tip
of my tongue is numb. What the heck is going on?
Today, I checked
into my the office for my SI injection, with an initial 8 on a
pain scale of 1-10. All I can say is "WOW!"--the local
anesthetic was extremely painful, and I thought I'd pass out!
I could imagine the needle going deep, deep down into my bones,
and I thought I was going to pass out! The SI injection itself
was probably only painful because the injection site was the same
area of my pain. By the time I started noticing lots of pressure
from the shot, the procedure was done--maybe 3 minutes total.
After a 10-minute "rest" in the recovery room, I was
able to walk with minimal pain, minus the pain from the injection
site. I was given a log book to record my pain levels for one
week. Restrictions include no physical activity for the next 48
hours. Follow-up with orthopedist in two weeks. Of course, I'll
keep you apprised on the appointment results. Thank you all for
your positive energy!
I'm so honored
and pleased to win Runner-Up (second place) in the 2014 National
Colorectal Cancer Round Table (NCCRT) Blue Star Challenge!
I will be donating all $3,000 of the proceeds to Colon Cancer
Alliance (CCA)'s Blue
Hope Prevention Award, a financial assistance program
for individuals and family members in need of colorectal cancer
Be a Blue Buddy
logo design by Bernardo Santana III, EnFocus
My sister shared a
wonderful quote with me; a quote that truly tugs at my heart strings
and reflects how I feel each and every time I can be of service
to the colorectal cancer community, whether it's by corresponding
with newly diagnosed patients or their family members through
my online cancer journal, social media, or CCA's Buddy volunteer
program...OR by speaking with groups and organizations to help
raise awareness and educate the public about colon cancer, the
importance of screening and early detection.
The quote below inspires
me to continue doing what I thought was a one-time event this
past March 2014 (National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month)--advocating,
raising funds for CCA, and spreading the word. Giving hope. Saving
lives. Because Screenings Save Lives.
I am so proud
of my sister Grace De La Rosa's accomplishments!
- Gina V.
really want to make a difference in the world usually do it,
in one way or another. And I've noticed something about people
who make a difference in the world: They hold the unshakable
conviction that individuals are extremely important, that
every life matters. They get excited over one smile. They
are willing to feed one stomach, educate one mind, & treat
one wound. They aren't determined to revolutionize the world
all at once; they're satisfied with small changes. Over time,
though, the small changes add up. Sometimes they even transform
cities and nations, and yes, the world."
- Beth Clark, Author
Rough day yesterday! Thank goodness my sis was with me when my
tongue, face, arms, and legs started going numb on me! She called
911, and it took less than 5 min for paramedics/EMTs to rule out
a stroke! Just got back from dr.'s office and concluded the "episode"
was an allergic reaction to a six-day treatment of MethylPrednisolone
(corticosteroids) followed by my SI injection all in nine days'
I'm leaning more toward a delayed allergic reaction to the MethylPrednisolane
which I started on 08/28. Because the following day, after dinner
with friends up in IL, I wasn't feeling well and thought it might
be due to my fish dinner being cooked in the same oil or pot as
some shellfish...AND my tongue started going numb on 08/29.
MRI of the neck will be scheduled just as soon as health insurance
approves procedure. I'd like to know the cause of the numbness
in my arms. Perhaps it's related to all of my lower back/SI and
left foot issues. Connecting the dots...let's do it!