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I'm Baaaaaaaaaaack!!!!

Well, after taking nearly a year and a half off from blogging here I am returning--why you might ask? Well it just so seems that I may or may not have cancer again. That's right folks, THE BIG C may be back for another visit. Strangely enough, I learned of this possibility just 3 years, 1 month, and 7 days after my previous diagnosis--which some of you may recall had been a recurrence which I found out about on exactly the 3rd anniversary of my original diagnosis. So yep, this possibly means cancer for me 3 times in just 6 years all at the age of 37. Isn't life just grand?

I'll have to backtrack a bit, but I'll tell you all about how this 'diagnosis' came to be...
I'm not 100% sure when this actually started, as I've experienced ongoing chronic pain ever since my original cancer and the chemo I endured in 2005. The pain was widespread for the most part; effecting the shins of my legs, hips, and lower back. Aside from the pain, which I was told was a result of the chemo and Neulasta injections -- I also experienced widespread tingling pain caused by nerve neuropathy, another result of chemo and from nerve damage which occurred during surgery. So for many, many years now I have been under the care of a pain management specialist. I've tried all kinds of different drug combinations that essentially weren't effective for either the pain I had, my low tolerance for it, or for my high tolerance to many of the pain medications available. Sometime after moving to New Orleans in 2006 I got in with a doctor that figured out the right combo to make the pain manageable, and not over-drug me in the process. Things had been trucking along just fine, and for a period of time it even seemed as though things had been improving. In Spring of 2009 I began a weight loss journey, that included eating 'healthier' and being more active. As I began walking, biking, and eventually some lite jogging, I noticed some slight improvements in my pain levels. So in 2010 I asked for a reduction in my short-acting pain meds, as the pain in my legs had improved. I still had issues with my back, so my doctor suggested these x-ray guided injections that would block the pain and offer a few months worth of relief. He sent me out to get an MRI done on my lower back, along with a series of x-rays to check for rheumatoid arthritis. Everything came back okay with the exception of my L4-5 showing bulging, degenerative discs. According to the doctor, these kinds of back issues typically respond well to back injections. I had my injections done the Friday before Thanksgiving, and was somewhat disappointed because I didn't feel like I was experiencing any real immediate relief. I decided to wait it out thinking it might take some time to notice. That's when I realized that my typical pain across my lower back region was better, however I was experiencing pain up a little on my right side under my shoulder blade and just a bit of pain around my left hip region. By this time it was already December, and I had thought that maybe I had been sitting funny or over-compensating in some way and that was why I was feeling this new pain. I tried to get in early to see my doctor, but he was all booked up and like an idiot I didn't press cause I didn't see how anything was related. By January my hip pain grew increasingly worse, bringing me to tears for a number of days as my sciatica nerve acted up. Finally, I had a friend take me to the ER cause I couldn't stand the pain anymore. While I was there I explained everything to them thinking that perhaps the injections had pinched a nerve or something. I was convinced at this point it was all related to the injections, and the ER doctor did some kind of rectal exam explaining they were checking for some kind of neurological symptoms or something to that effect, but everything was fine then. They gave me a shot of Kenelog and a short-acting pain killer... I say short-acting because it wore off before I ever even left the ER. They wanted to admit me for pain, but I refused since my daughter's birthday party was being held at my house the next day. Lucky for me when I woke up I was feeling 10 times better thanks to the steroid injection! However, the side effects I experienced from it was less than pleasant! I began having pain in the breast bone almost immediately, and within days my right eye socket had nearly swollen shut. I consulted with a urgent care doctor about the swelling of my eye after my dentist told me it looked like a neurological problem, but the doctor didn't really know what the cause was without further tests, just told me it would be fine and to come back if it happened again. As far as the chest pain, I was told that steroids do strange things to your body. As days passed my eye got better, as did some of my pain. I still had quite a bit of pain in my left hip region that left me limping around. I finally got in to see the doctor on 1/24 and I questioned if everything was connected to the pain injections I had gotten, and of course the answer I had gotten was a big fat no. I didn't really understand at the time why, but I'm guessing it had to do with different regions of my back and different groups of nerves. As January turned to February I continued to complain more and more about the pain as it was not improving and I was taking more of my immediate relief pain meds. My doctor referred me out to physical therapy, but after much debate I decided not to go until I found out what was actually wrong with my hip. I decided it would be in my best interest to request a follow up MRI at my March appointment, we also discussed possibly doing more pain injections, this time in several different spots in my back and into my hip. We scheduled a Lumbar MRI for the following week, with the injections to follow a few weeks later. The PA from my pain doctor's office called me shortly after my MRI with a preliminary report to let me know that my once 'bulging' discs were now torn at the L4-L5, and that it was in no way related to my previous injections because of where the tears were located at. We decided to proceed with more injections that we set up for mid-March when my pain management doctor returned to the office. Since my pain management doctor had been out of town the final MRI report had been sent to his in-box and sat until he returned. So when he returned and reviewed the report he found that the finalized report showed much more than just tears. He called me first thing Monday morning before my scheduled injection to let me know that it appeared I had metastatic disease present in my spine and wanted to refer me out ASAP to an oncologist for a biopsy and/or further testing. It was at this point my injections were cancelled and it was full steam ahead.....