Natalia's journey

In reality our entire family news will be shared through this blog as our baby grows and as we fight cancer.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Update # 3

This letter was sent on March 22, 2006:

Dear friends,

We received so many calls and replies back to my last message that I feel the need to write again and give you the latest scoop.

Yesterday was the spring equinox and the Baha'i New Year. I felt the need to make changes with the New Year so we started it off meeting my oncologist again to find some new strategy for faster recovery (you know I don't have much patience!).

So here are my New Year resolutions:

1. I will go back to MD Anderson to see if I qualify for any trials or non standard treatment options. My onc still feels positive that we will knock it off with 4 more cycles but does not eliminate the possibility of SCT (stem cell transplant along with higher dose of chemo).

2. I will take more medications to help me get through the side effects and pain. Up until now I've been tolerating most of it and took very few additional meds because I already get steroids and all the prescriptions I've tried really made me groggy and hazy and I felt I could not take them with Andryusha in my hands. So we'll keep trying until we find the ones that keep me awake and in touch with reality.

3. I will work on getting fit again. I will walk more, I will not skip yoga (especially since my favorite teacher tested positive on her mammogram) and I will resume swimming. Honestly, the bone pain made me slack a whole lot and I just always feel exhausted and tired. But I've been reading Lance Armstrong's book and I see that he kept walking through the whole treatment, no matter what. So hopefully with a little help from drugs I'll be able to do just that. :)

4. I will eat better ... with mom gone we've been skipping meals all the time and the nausea and mouth sores, and tongue blisters contributed to it a great deal (and every time it takes longer for them to go away even with medicines). Also, I read Lance Am strong was advised to eat more organic food and include more broccoli and berries, and use organic dairy and free range chicken instead of regular. So even though it's much more expensive to eat organic I will do my best to make the switch for the 4 months of chemo ahead.

5. I will take more homeopathic remedies to help deal with the insomnia and stomach burns I've been having. It kind of goes along with eating consistently.

6. And of course, I will keep praying and keep my faith up. Someone read my palm the other day ... It does not look like it' my time to die yet (though there is a sidetrack along the way). I hope you'll keep praying for me too and together we will survive it! I keep playing this movie every time I want to quit and die.

And here is small gift for New Year -- pro pics from when Andryusha turned 4 months.

Peace and Love,


More history

Letter #2 from March 11, 2006:

Dear family and friends,

Well, since I promised an update last time – here it is … and it is going to be short and sour … we received the scan results yesterday and while I am still responding to the treatment, the progress has slowed down. My mass only reduced from 4.6 x 4.4 to 2.9 x 3.0 cm. And the cancerous activity is now at 4.4 (from 5.8); where as we have hoped it would be at 2.5 or less. So this means that I may now be considered at higher risk than before and I definitely need to extend the treatment for another 4 months plus radiation. I don’t know how I am going to do it… I am both physically and mentally worn out and now I feel tortured. One side of me says to just let it go (there are too many ifs and lots of hope with not much supporting facts) and another one says - keep trying (don’t give up as you are responsible for your baby and husband). I am so confused … why it is going this way?

Only Andryusha is doing great, keeping up in the top 10 percent. Here are some pics to enjoy.


Natalia, Andryusha and Raymond

A bit of history

Since this blog is in the middle of the chemo we'll go ahead and provide a bit of history.

Letter #1 from January 4, 2006:

Dear family, friends and co-workers,

2005 has been quiet a year for us and it's about time to give you an update. As most of you know, we were blessed with a sweet baby boy on October 3, 2005. Today, Andryusha is 3 months old and is really amazing: he has more than doubled his weight (born at 7.2 lbs and now at 16+ lbs), has a great appetite, loves outdoors and traveling; he is very sociable and loves to cuddle up. All in all, his sweet disposition and good character enamors us all day long and we are growing more and more attached to him - we never thought parenting would be so great and that we could fall in love so very much! Since so many of you asked for pictures, here are just a few of the pearls - from the first month to 2.5 months. We promise to share more as time allows.

These are our good news. The not so good news (some of you know and some don't) is that 3 weeks after Andryusha's birth we got the biggest heart break: I was diagnosed with cancer - stage 2 Hodgkin's lymphoma cancer. The story of how it happened is long - to make it short, I noticed a swollen node while in India but doctors said it was just an inflammation that happens sometimes during pregnancy -- so not to worry much. But once we got back to U.S. and it didn't go away my midwife wanted to check it further. So from then on it's been a rough journey and hence the biggest reason for not sending any pictures or communicating much. I had a few scans, surgeries and biopsy and now I am going through chemo treatment and just completed the 2nd cycle with 4 more to go (plus radiation later on). I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason and for the best. And bad as it is, there are good things that are coming out of this as well: I never realized how many people care for me - I really didn't want to fight at first (it is so tiring to be strong all the time!) but seeing how many folks want me to stick around I could not let them down. I am now confirmed I have the greatest neighbors and amazing friends and co-workers. It is a very humbling experience to not be so independent and let people help you and I am truly thankful for it. Many of you have helped us in so many ways - with baby's milk, cute books to read at night, gorgeous crib, sweet 'get well' cards, e-mails/phone calls, and just plain food and groceries. You are all so amazing and we are so ever grateful to each and every one of you.

By the way, did you ever feel sad that Superman died? Well, let me tell you that he is very much alive and is acting under cover - being my husband :) I am amazed how he is handling me and the baby (I really don't deserve such a great man). My mom came from Moldova and has been of help as well - we will miss her cooking once she goes back home. Even the nurses at the cancer center are kind to me - they really want to make sure I am comfortable at all times and well taken care ! of. When tears come to my eyes - it is from mixed emotions of pain, sorrow and joy. I am growing up and getting wiser... So these are the greatest discoveries and confirmations for me - cancer allowed me to see the best sides of all of you. Please stay in touch and forgive if we don't reply right away. We love you all and think of all of you all the time.

Wishing you all health, love and blissful happiness in the new year and life ahead,

Natalia and the family -- RayAndNat