Saturday, April 13, 2013

Life happens in between blog posts

Howdy! I can just imagine your eyes have bugged out in complete SHOCK to see that I have posted an update to my blog. Please blink a few times and continue reading...

6 months since my last update... Wow!

First off, I have to tell the world that I am in LOVE with our new home! I'm still in shock every time I wake up in this beautiful home. Being a homeowner had always been a dream, but I had no idea I would love it this much! The flowers that I planted in January are now starting to bloom and have made our home even more beautiful. I walk around outside just about every day to admire the blooming flowers that I planted or that the previous owner had planted and are just now showing their beauty. Once we got the essential living things unpacked, organized, and decorated, we kind of stopped cold with painting and doing all the things we had planned on doing once we moved in. It's just so nice to be able to relax in your own home and not be rushed to paint the spare bathroom, ya know?!? Another huge plus to our move is that we have made some amazing friends that just so happen to be neighbors. These two couples are so caring and generous that there have been a few times where after a bronch or when I'm just not feeling well, these couples would bring over a home cooked dinner for Benito and I. At one dinner, the couple went as far as bringing paper plates and plastic cups so we wouldn't even have to worry about clean-up afterward. We feel so blessed to have found such amazing people to call friends.

The last time I updated I had talked to my doctor about planning on getting things in order for when the need to be re-listed for transplant came to a head. Since then I have been on a roller coaster of whether or not the drop in lung function is due to chronic rejection coming back or my stenosis causing more problems than usual. Just this last Monday I had CF clinic and blew a 36% fev1 with my PFTs! So we came to the exciting conclusion that my 10% drop in lung function is purely because the stenosis gets SO closed up (literally pin sized). What a relief it was to see my PFTs back up to my previous baseline! So now as far as retransplant goes, I'm in no rush to get re-evaluated and put back on the list for a second transplant. We still need to be hyper aware of any changes, so if/when the times comes where I need to be listed quickly, I'll be ready. In the meantime, the ongoing issues with the stenosis is my main struggle. I have already had 4 bronchs this year to open up my airway and it seems that each time I go in to have it opened, it's closed off even more than the time before. I wish there was a long term solution to the problem, but for now the only thing we can do is continue to go have the airway lasered open once I feel like it's gotten too narrow.

Now, on to the latest news that I wanted to share:

A week ago I had my annual dermatology appointment where they check me head to toe for anything suspicious that could potentially turn into skin cancer. Being on the immunosuppressive drugs for 8 1/2 years now, plus the 15 months of photopheresis treatments I did has made me much more prone to cancers, especially skin cancers, so I have to be very aware of any changes in my skin. I have had about 6 or 7 pre-cancerous spots frozen off, but nothing serious has ever come up. During the visit last week I told the dermatologist that the spot they have previously frozen 3 times just comes right back every time, so she took a biopsy of it just to be on the safe side. Five days after the biopsy I got a call from the dermatologist herself saying that the biopsy tested positive for squamous cell carcinoma, the second most common forms of skin cancer. She gave me two choices, I could: A) have the skin surrounding the carcinoma cut away, then stitched up to close the large opening. This will most likely cause a large scar and because of the stitches, has a larger potential of infection. Or, I could: B) do a scrape and burn procedure where they would scrape scrape scrape, then burn the site with a 1,200* cauterizing tool, and repeat these steps over and over with the last round of scrapes being sent to pathology to make sure it was cancer cell free. I couldn't care less about the scar, but the increased risk of infection with stitches made me choose the scrape and burn method. I have the removal scheduled for next Friday, April 19th. My father and his wife had a little girl that was diagnosed with cancer at 1 year and later passed away at 5 years old, so the big C word is terrifying in my family. I made sure to try and break the news of this skin cancer gently to my family before making it public, so I could explain the best I could about the risks and treatments before they could think the worse. I'm very optimistic that I won't have to worry about this specific spot again after the removal next week. I will however be much more aware of any spots that come up and will insist that my dermatologist biopsy anything that continues to come back after two freezings.

Lastly, the most exciting news to share is that since my last update I celebrated a very important birthday... I turned 30!! Growing up with this nasty disease and watching so many of my friends pass away because of it, I never imagined I would still be here to see 30 years old, but here I am!! Happier now than I ever have been, too! :)
Here's to another 30 years!!!

Here are a few photos of the skin cancer on my arm. Everyone needs to be super diligent with their sunscreen when they are out and about! The majority of my spots I get are on my forearms and hands and I can only imagine it's because that's where I'm most exposed while driving. I'm going to be much better about applying sunscreen before driving!

Picture 1) pre-biopsy

 Picture 2) five days post biopsy. My dermatologist thinks that it's healing so much slower than even my norm because the cancer cells won't allow it. Hopefully once they remove ALL the cancer cells it will heal quickly.

Before I end this update, I want to add that I'm very excited to be leading a team at the Great Strides walk for the third time on May 18th. If you're interested in joining my team, or donating toward my walk then PLEASE visit my Great Strides page! You can find my page by clicking on the Great Strides banner link on the upper right hand side of my blog. Thank you!!

Leah's GoFundMe Transplant Fundraising Page