Fertility Forum follow-up

As I mentioned in a post earlier this month, I had the opportunity to speak about my oncology fertility experience at a Fertility Forum hosted by Stupid Cancer and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society- Louisiana & Mississippi Chapter in New Orleans on March 7. I happened to be in New Orleans because I was serving as a bridesmaid in my friend Meagan’s wedding, and she graciously told me I could skip the rehearsal in order to speak at the event.

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The gorgeous bride, Meagan! Ignore my bra strap hanging out please … it was corrected with some fashion tape a few minutes after this was taken.

At the fertility forum, I got to see my fellow Scotch Guard lassie and Hodgkin’s survivor Dr. Meg, who still lives in Louisiana and got me involved in the Fertility Forum.

Megan Lipe

Lassies reunite in New Orleans!

My good friend, Mary Anne, also came to (silently) cheer me on at the forum and rocked her Geaux Team Laura t-shirt. I only got to see her for about 5 seconds since I had to dash off right after my speech to make it to Meagan’s rehearsal dinner, but it was sooo awesome to feel the love and support all around me while I gave my speech.

Mary Anne

A cheering squad was definitely appreciated, since discussing my reproductive organs in front of 50 people wasn’t intimidating at all or anything. I actually got to watch myself speak since LLS very awesomely posted the Ferility Forum to YouTube. I didn’t sound quite as awful nervous as I thought, but definitely need to work on my “umm’s” and “like’s” a bit. I also like to gesture…. “like” a lot ūüėČ

I will have some more chances to work on my delivery style, however. I will¬† be part of young adult survivor panels at two upcoming conferences in Texas. I will be speaking at Seton Healthcare’s “Care Beyond Cancer” Summit for Young Adult Cancer Survivors in Austin on April 6. This summit is FREE and more information is available online. I will also be participating in a panel at the LLS’s Texas Forum on Blood Cancers in San Antonio on April 13, as well as the Keep Cancer Lame events the night before.

I admit that I had to duck out early and I haven’t had a chance to watch all three parts of the forum yet on Youtube…. however, what I have been able to watch has been extremely informative and I would recommend these videos to any oncology health professionals, caregivers, cancer survivors/fighters out there with questions about onco-fertility and preservation options.

Some of the panelists were from the LSU Health Science Centers, and it sounds like they are really striving to make increased accessible in the area a priority. I was very honored to be involved in the forum and am very excited to see how their initiative develops over the next few years.

I’ve shared the links to the videos below:

Part 1:    http://youtu.be/tZV1vvs9Yuk      (You can see/hear me speak in part 1 from about min 4 to min 20)

Part 2:  http://youtu.be/xbKPZ6R4DMg

Part 3:  http://youtu.be/UxxGI7wiMl4

 

Remembering Jay Taylor

I received this email this morning from Colin, Austin’s Team-In-Training coordinator:

“I don‚Äôt think there‚Äôs a proper word to begin this e-mail. Our dear friend,¬†Jay¬†Taylor, passed away. He was with his family in Monroe. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers through this difficult time.¬†You will be sorely missed my friend. As Dorothy says, you showed us how it was done. You lived.”

You might remember me discussing Jay from my earlier entry,¬†PT Scans & Mission Moments. Although I didn’t know Jay, I learned about him through the many friends he still has in TNT. A fellow-Louisianian from Monroe, he became involved with TNT when his mother died of cancer about 10 years ago. He just found out he had stage 4 lung cancer within the past year¬†and¬†a half or so. His father is also currently fighting cancer. Please keep Jay’s loved ones in your prayers as they struggle through their losses.

His story will continue to remind me why I’m training for my half-marathon in June– to run (or walk) for those that can’t.

Colin forwarded us some photos of Jay during his TNT days that I have shared below.

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Update: Team Hairy Shearers

As you might recall from my friend Will’s guest blog post,¬†Team Hairy Shearers, he and his teammates are planning to shave their heads on March 23 to raise money and awareness for childhood cancers,¬†benefiting¬†the¬†St. Baldrick’s Foundation. In anticipation of the event, he also dyed his hair teal to raise awareness as well.

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Will only has three more days to reach his goal of $800 and he only has $370 left to raise! Please help fund childhood cancer research, by making a donation to Team Hairy Shearer’s today!

Visit Will’s fundraising page at¬†http://www.stbaldricks.org/participants/mypage/588470/2013¬†to make your donation!

A belated birthday message to a hero

As you may have already read in my previous post, Mary and Grant, I met Grant Hebert when he was dating my cousin, Mary. He sadly passed away shortly after from leukemia. His story inspired me to become a regular blood donor and I had just signed up to receive my bone marrow registry kit when I found out I had blood cancer myself. Although I didn’t know him well, Grant made a huge impact on my family and he is one of the people I am training and fundraising in honor of for my¬†team-in-training program to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Not only was yesterday St. Patrick’s Day, but it would have been Grant’s 24th birthday. If everyone who reads this could just take a few minutes to think about Grant and his family and keep them in their prayers, I would appreciate it!

 

Also, if you are interested in becoming a bone marrow donor to help people like Grant, please visit www.marrow.org.

Most of all, I want to say, “Happy Birthday, Grant!”

 

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His mother Missy, was kind enough to write this message about Grant for my blog.

Grant Thomas Hebert was diagnosed at the age of 14 with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia. He experienced flu like symptoms and began to run a fever. He bravely endured 2  and a half years of chemotherapy. He achieved remission and went on to graduate from Berwick High School in 2007. He went on to attend Nicholls State University. He was enjoying life as always and met the girl of his dreams, Mary. He was busy  making plans for a bright future when symptoms returned and he relapsed in 2009. He began chemo again with his usual unsinkable attitude. After two different evaluations, it was determined that a stem cell transplant was his last, best hope. Though he had a twin brother, Adam, his younger sister Morgan was a perfect donor match. He underwent painful radiation treatment and heavy chemo in preparation for the transplant. Sadly, he lost his noble battle in November of 2009 at the age of 20.

Grant lived with joy and loved with all of his heart. He sang at the top of his lungs to his favorite songs and laughed and smiled through the very worst of times. He never stopped believing he would beat the cancer until the moment he entered the ICU at Children’s Hospital for the last time. He took my hand and his dad’s and brought our hands to his lips. He kissed us goodbye that night. Three years later we are still trying to learn how to live without him.

The importance of donation and bone marrow registry cannot be underestimated. Someone’s life, a child’s life, can depend on your generosity. Grant lived with cancer for over 5 years. Without treatment and most importantly donations of blood products we would not have had that precious time with our beautiful baby boy.

Six Months Cancer Free!!!

I wanted to let everyone know that I had my official follow-up with my oncologist yesterday and received the results from my PT scan, and I’m still cancer free!!! I’m so relieved, I can’t even express it. I know I seemed like a cool character last week, but I had pretty much convinced myself that every little itch/random pain was a direct result of returning cancer. Whew!

In even more good news, the PT scan detected “activity” in my left ovary that is “consistent” with ovulation. I didn’t even know PT scan could pick up on that, the more you know! As you might have read in my earlier entries, I went through fertility treatment leading up to my cancer treatment because there was concern that chemo/radiation would leave me infertile. Although we won’t know until we actually start trying to have kids how everything is operating in that department, at least there’s a good indication that things are on the right track!

Which brings me to another topic. I won’t be blogging for a a few days since I will be traveling to New Orleans for a good friend’s wedding. Coincidentally, I happened to be invited to speak at a Fertility Forum hosted by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Stupid Cancer in New Orleans on Thursday as well. I will discuss my journey through fertility and IVF treatments in order to help other young adult cancer patients, parents and healthcare providers understand some of the problems young adults face when facing these choices. I’m super excited/nervous to have this opportunity to tell my story and help educate others. Wish me luck!