My cancer journey has been filled with milestones. Reaching them never means anything concrete, but doing so is usually associated with something positive. Last month (June 2019) marks 5 years since I finished my chemotherapy treatment. With non Hodgkin's lymphoma, the 2 year mark and the 5 year mark are significant indicators. I'll quote my oncologist and say that I'm not willing to "tempt the fates" by making any bold statements about it, but at this point any recurrence is highly unlikely (statistically speaking). I'm incredibly lucky to get to spend my summer days hiking, paddling and berry picking with my family. I'm also lucky to have all of you who helped support us through the crazy days. I hope never to have to return this particular favor for any of you, but please consider me one of your people. [...]
Jessica Clarke - Journal
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This morning I dug up an OLD comment that had never been approved on my site. When I approved it, you who follow my page were notified. I'm sorry for any confusion it caused. I am kicking off the new year perfectly happy and healthy. I wish you all a fantastic 2019 and appreciate it if you're still following my life! We never know when we will need our community to help us through things.[...]
Our family is busy scurrying around trying to get everything in for the holidays. You too? I know, it can feel crazy but it is usually worth it. I was just reading a post from someone going through a very tough treatment for a cancer diagnosis similar to mine. They have had different results than I did, but thankfully have some good treatment options ahead of them. [...]
The photos are in from my FD photographer. There were a couple shots of me catching waves so I thought I'd send them along! Some of them are from Cowell's Beach and others from Capitola. The waves were definitely bigger at Capitola and the surfers there were a bit more territorial. Luckily, I wasn't one of the participants that got scolded for "dropping in" when someone else had the right-of-way! Thanks for all of your support and for encouraging me to take this great adventure. [...]
I made it back. What an amazing experience my FD trip was! There is so much to say, I certainly can't cover it all here. We stayed at Pigeon Point hostel - not to be confused with a luxury accommodation - but a really cool spot with an unbeatable view on the coast. We were packed 6 to a room on 3 sets of bunk beds. I met so many cool people. The participants ranged from a 20 year old guy from South Dakota to a couple of ladies who were friends in their late 30s with kids and families in Denver who had fought their battles together and lost a 3rd woman along the way. They were in Santa Cruz to spread the ashes of their courageous friend who had also planned to be on the trip. We laughed until we cried, we cried over the overwhelming experiences we have all had or are currently having, and we bonded. Sometimes it was while we sat around the coffee table coloring (see gallery wall above) and other times it was while we were having a sunset dance party. We ate like kings and queens. The food was AMAZING thanks to our FD chefs. The day started with cold breakfast and coffee and was followed by hot breakfast prior to departure for the beach. A lunch bar with ingredients for wraps and salads was spread out for us to pack lunches every day. When we arrived back "home" there was always a counter full of appetizers to welcome us (tapenade, spinach artichoke dip, veggies and hummus, pitas and soups). It was incredible. Dinners were hearty and delicious. Many of the meals were gluten free or had vegan components but all of them were show stopping. If you're interested, the FD Cookbook contains many of them! [...]
Tomorrow I leave for a week long trip with First Descents. First Descents provides life-changing outdoor adventures for young adults (age 18-39) impacted by cancer. The program that I have selected to participate in is their surf camp in Santa Cruz CA. I am REALLY excited to go. I hope that I will meet some great people and make lifelong connections. In the event that this doesn't happen, who cares - I'M GOING TO SURF CAMP IN CALIFORNIA FOR A WEEK! They hire a real deal local outfitter to work with us and I'll be staying in a converted lighthouse right on the coast. [...]
This week is the two year mark. I ended my last chemo cycle June 9, 2014. There are SO many great things to report.
- The two year mark is a big milestone for the cancer and treatment that I had. Recurrence of disease is even less likely (than the initial 4% chance) after you make it two years. They will keep monitoring me closely through the 5 year mark, but making it to here is significant.
- I finally feel like I'm over the hump with the anxiety I was experiencing regarding my health. I certainly still have my moments, but they are not running my life any longer. I've been able to feel "off" in some way or another over the last two years and then prove with my healthy scans that it is not cancer. My Cancer Patient Support therapist told me that it was all about ruling things out for the first year or two. It seems she was right!
- I'm pretty darn close to having a normal haircut. The shortest pieces which have been growing out for two years are almost as long as my cut. It's close enough to say that it has finally grown back. While having lots of short styles was fun, they require some work. I'm going to hang on to the bob for now so that I can fall back on a ponytail when I need to!
I read back through my posts occasionally. I'm so happy to have the record of events. Sharing with all of you helped me to write a way better journal than I could have in a book that was just for me. I am so grateful for all of the love and support that you gave to my family and I. We really couldn't have done it without you all. The people who came out of the woodwork from a former life of mine just to say "go get em" and the closest friends and family who were here every day ALL made a difference. THANK YOU isn't enough, but it's all I have. [...]
Seems like we've been here before. A yummy breakfast consisting of 40oz of contrast material. Isn't that a sublime song? Anyway... Another CT scan is happening today, it's been about two years since her first clean scan. We're feeling pretty good about it but will be feeling even better come 4:40 tonight. Thanks to all of you for the well wishes. We really couldn't do it without you. [...]