Just wanted to check in and say hello to my peeps:) I know some of you get a little worried if you haven't heard from me in a bit. Well, let me just say...chemo is no joke. I was riding high on Friday-feeling pretty good, looking forward to the weekend, making plans as usual....until those toxins reared their ugly head and it was immediately "game over" as far as feeling good was concerned. Saturday and Sunday were pretty rough to say the least. I felt extremely (and I mean EXTREMELY) fatigued, had flu-like body aches, and a little nausea thrown in too just to spice things up a bit. My Beauts (plus a few Beaut hubbies) came over Saturday night for a few hours- it was wonderful to see them, but I couldn't believe how much it wore me out. After that, I didn't get out of bed again until Tuesday - aside from a daily shower and trips to the restroom. No Easter with the family as I had hoped. I was very disappointed but I have quickly learned how important it is to listen to my body right now.
Sunday night, I passed out on the stairs leading up to our bedroom after a middle of the night trip to the bathroom and nearly scared Mike to death. Thankfully, I snapped out of it after a few seconds and came to, and convinced him not to call 911. It was definitely scary but I was ok - just a major drop in my blood pressure. Since then, my blood pressure has been around 80/40 or so and it has made me feel awful. I have been extremely disappointed that I can't get this stabilized because my body has felt a million times better since Monday - no aches, no back pain, no nausea - but I have felt extremely lightheaded for three straight days. I just feel like my head is in the clouds and it is just an all around crumby feeling. I can't stand loud voices, the television, the light from the computer--nothing! Everything makes my head hurt even more. Luckily, yesterday I finally got the energy to get out of my bed and go lay in the family room downstairs - yahoo! Gotta celebrate the little victories people:) And I actually stayed awake the majority of the day without a nap! Another huge success. The fatigue is still a battle-I can't believe how much my energy has been zapped. I swear, it feels like I just ran a marathon after I do something as simple as taking a shower. Today, I continue to feel better although my blood pressure is still ridiculously low and despite my best efforts to chug gallons of fluids, I can't get it to come up for the life of me. I am hoping Dr. F will be able to squeeze me in tomorrow so we can figure out what is going on.
I continue to be blessed by the most amazing caregivers ever! I seriously have the most amazing husband on the planet. Sorry to break it to all you married ladies that think you have the most amazing husband - but I really do ;) He has been leaving for work at 5:30am, working all day, coaching baseball after school, getting home late, cleaning our house, taking the dog on runs, doing laundry, and taking such incredible care of me! He walks me to the bathroom, helps me get dressed, makes me protein shakes, manages my medications, reminds me to eat and drink more, tucks me in, rubs my back....you name it, he would do it for me. He never complains, he never acts like he is exhausted or stressed out - even though I know he is. He is truly incredible and I am the luckiest wife in the world!
My step dad, Doug has been coming over during the day while Mike is at work and making me food, taking care of the dog, giving me my meds, making me laugh and keeping me company. I truly appreciate it so much Doug and love you very much! And of course my momma...she is the best. She works very long days and then comes over every night after work to check on me....take my blood pressure, give me my meds, force (and I mean FORCE) liquids and food on me, and tell me she loves me and kisses me good night. She is worried and tired and as much as I obviously want to feel better for myself, I want to feel better for her too-so it will take some of the worry and concern away from her.
We continue to be so blown away by everyone's generosity, thoughtfulness, love and support. You are all such a blessing to us and we continue to be so grateful for everything you are all doing for us! Keep the prayers and love coming!
The amazing 3 Day team continues to kick some major fundraising booty! I am so proud of them and of all their efforts. My awesome friend, Sarah has organized this fantastic fundraiser at Cold Stone Creamery in Royal Oak on Monday, May 16th. Please see the super cute and creative poster below that she designed for more details on the event. Hope to see you all there! "Fundraising never tasted so good!"....love it!
Ladies and Gentlemen...in our left corner is the creepy, sneaky, no good "C word"....and in our right corner, weighing in at...(nice try, still not going to reveal that much!) is the fierce, Irish, stubborn, red-headed Meghan Kathleen Malley!!!
Round one of chemo has been completed and I think it's safe to say, I came out on top! To catch you up to speed after the last post...Mike, my mom, Doug, and I met with Dr. F on Thursday morning to discuss the latest turn of events...the dreaded positive spinal biopsy. This is definitely a game changer since my cancer has metastasized so we needed to discuss goals, treatment options, side effects, expected outcomes...all that super fun stuff. After some discussion, we decided to continue full steam ahead with the most aggressive plan which includes some tough chemo drugs for the next 5 months, most likely followed by a double mastectomy, radiation, reconstruction, and hormone therapy. I will most likely have some radiation to my spine thrown in the mix too, depending on my symptoms and if I am in a lot of pain. This entire plan could change at any time depending on how I respond, what my imaging results look like, how I am feeling, etc. So, my first round of chemo started right away yesterday morning after talking with Dr. F.
My port was accessed successfully and my blood can now be drawn through there (I swear, I heard my veins cheer a big, "Thank You!"), and my chemo drugs can be administered through the port as well. Dr. F, the clinic nurses, and the chemo infusion nurses were all great! Super friendly, compassionate, and caring which made the entire process much easier. I am going to be seeing a lot of them from now on, so I am glad we are all on track to becoming BFF's ;)
Of course I wanted to document the day through pictures - must have looked like a huge weirdo to everyone else as I excitedly said, "oh yay chemo! take my picture!" I know it might sound bizarre, but all of us felt so relieved and truly excited to start chemo. Who would have thought a few short weeks ago, that I would be so thrilled to start pumping toxic chemicals throughout my body that will not only kill bad cells, but also a tremendous amount of my good ones! We were just so fearful that Dr. F would not want to be as aggressive as we did, and it feels so good to know that I am truly waging war on these monstrous little demon cells now!
Chemo Day #1 Posse...how can you have a bad day when you are looking at these three smiling faces? Isn't the one in the blue so handsome?....hands off ladies, he's taken!
So, my first chemo treatment went great - no complaints. I actually found out that there are four of us receiving chemo on Thursday's that are all Dr. F's patients, and all have breast cancer, and we are all under the age of 35! So crazy. One of those other women was there when I was and was willing to chat with me. It was so great to talk to her - she is awesome, optimistic, and upbeat! We talked for over a half hour or so and it felt so nice to have someone to relate to that was my age. She is receiving the same regimen of drugs that I am and she is two treatments ahead of me, so she could offer a lot of advice and heads up on how I may feel. I loved having the chance to talk to her and I immediately feel better knowing there will be a familiar face receiving chemo with me on Thursday's!
After "Chemo Land", as Dr. F jokingly calls it, we went to lunch and ran a few other errands which ultimately revealed to be a little too much for post-chemo Day 1. I have come to realize that the true Meghan fashion of running around and doing a million things at once is not always possible at this point. Needless to say, I was exhausted for the remainder of the day and stayed in bed. Today I have felt great, aside from just general fatigue.
Luckily, I have the most amazing caregiver in town..and the cutest too! I can get through ANYTHING with this guy by my side ♥
This afternoon, I met with a wonderful friend that I went to school with since we were in the first grade. Unfortunately, she has been battling cancer for 12 years. I knew right away after I was diagnosed that it would bring me great comfort and insight to talk with her. We chatted away today for 3 1/2 hours and it was just what I needed! I can't thank you enough for all of your guidance, words of wisdom, and support as I join this club with you - although no one wants to be a member, I am grateful to have you on my team as I embark on this journey!
I am looking forward to another wonderful weekend ahead - this crumby disease can't ruin my social life :) All but one of my wonderful Beauts will be home for Easter weekend (we'll miss ya Jen!) and we are all getting together tomorrow night. Sunday will be spent celebrating Easter with the fam, and I couldn't be happier to see many of my aunts, uncles, and cousins!
I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend. As always, thank you for your constant outpouring of love and support for myself, and my family! It truly means so much to all of us and we can't thank you enough!
Thank you so much for your constant flood of loving words, supporting thoughts, and countless prayers. It truly does mean so much to me. Unfortunately, I found out this morning that the results of my spine biopsy are positive. This is heart wrenching news and I am completely saddened by this. I had promised Mike I would do back flips down the street if the results were negative and I know he was really looking forward to seeing me attempt this. ;) I can't organize my thoughts very well right now and I will definitely write more later - I just wanted to get the news out there because I know there are literally hundreds of you praying for us and thinking of us. Please don't stop now - we need it more than ever. Each and every time you say a prayer for me, please do me a favor. Please make sure to also say a prayer for my incredible, amazing, handsome husband Mike, and for my beautiful, strong, and fiercely supportive mom, Jan. I am more worried about them than myself, and would feel better knowing you are all looking out for them right now as well. All I want in this life is to live long enough to grow old with Mike and stare into his baby blue eyes until we are old and wrinkly. Please Lord, let this happen. I love you all and appreciate your support more than you will ever know! Tomorrow morning we meet with Dr. F to figure out where we go from here. I will definitely update everyone after that and will feel a lot better knowing treatment has started. Thanks again for your endless support and love!!!!
Mike, Wrigley and I had the privilege of having the extremely talented, Jennifer Grant do a photoshoot with us last week. It was an absolute blast and we couldn't be happier with the pictures. Please take a look at some of them compiled in this slideshow Jennifer created. Jennifer, we are forever grateful to you for doing this for us! We will cherish the time we spent with you and the images you produced forever.
(Don't forget to turn up your volume to hear the beautiful song that accompanies the photographs)
Hi everybody! Sorry for being MIA there for a little bit. I had a crazy, busy, wonderful weekend, followed by a pretty hectic week so far. This past weekend was one of the best I have had in a long time. It is not too often that a person gets the chance to be surrounded by so many friends and family members all at once...and to be showered in so much love! Let me tell you...it's an incredible feeling. The weekend started out with the MUGA scan for my heart on Friday morning - no big whoop there. I have been through so many other tests by now that this one was a walk in the park. After the test Mike, Jeff and I headed down to the D to partake in the Tiger's Opening Day festivities. We met up with other friends and hung out at an incredibly packed bar before heading over to Comerica Park. Jeff was being so protective- making sure people weren't bumping into me- which I totally appreciated because my port was (and still is) pretty sore. The clouds parted, the sun made an appearance, and the good ole' Tigers came away with a victory. All in all, a great start to the weekend!
Great day at the ballpark with the big brother :)
Saturday was such a blast, spent with some of my very best friends. I am so incredibly blessed to have the most amazing group of girlfriends from high school. There are ten of us "Beauts" (sorry, but it's a top secret story as to how we got this nickname), and we have been best buddies since either elementary, junior high, or high school. I have always known that the Beauts are such a special and unique group. It dawned on me one day in college, that not many people still kept in touch with those they went to high school with - let alone still considered them their very best friends. My Beauts have been there for me through thick and thin for over half my life and knowing they are in my corner right now brings me so much comfort and happiness! Six of my Beauts (and one baby Beaut, Emma) came over to my house on Saturday to join me in bringing Julie's vision to life for our bedroom makeover! I warned them that I would be photographing this, so none of you are allowed to get mad at me for posting these pics. :)
Cutest painters in town! Especially little Emma who was the project manager ♥
We spent the day painting, gabbing, eating, laughing...and best of all, not thinking about cancer! It was the best distraction ever! My fabulous friend and fellow Beaut, Julie designed the most peaceful, restful, serene and stylish bedroom I have ever seen. All of my Beauts chipped in to buy this amazing headboard for Mike & I as a surprise! The room came together perfectly and Mike and I couldn't be more excited and thankful! I wish I could truly capture how gorgeous it is in my images, but you really just need to be in the space, in person, to feel how tranquil and perfect it is. Julie - Mike & I can never thank you enough for creating this special space for us. I cannot believe all the thought and effort you put into it! We are forever grateful and love you so much! To my other Beauts - thank you for the beautiful headboard and for those of you that were able to be here (especially two from Chicago!)- thank you for devoting your Saturday to helping create this spectacular retreat for us! I love you guys so much!
A few quick "before" snapshots of the old, not stylish bedroom....
"After" images of our completely PERFECT sanctuary bedroom make-over, designed by the incredible Julie Doman of A2 home+made
Isn't it gorgeous! It actually isn't even complete yet. We were waiting for this awesome console table to be delivered from West Elm and it finally arrived today! It will go to the left of the bed (if you are facing the bed) and we will be able to put our new flat screen tv on it (thank you Domans!) in addition to using it as extra storage.
As if all of this wasn't enough...Sunday was a truly fantastic day which our friend Gina dubbed a "Love Fest"! We had over 80 people arrive to our home to share their love for Mike and I and our families. It was completely overwhelming but wonderful at the same time! We were showered with so much love, so many hugs, endless amounts of food, and given the most thoughtful and meaningful cards & gifts to help keep our spirits up and positive thoughts flowing throughout this journey. Thank you, thank you, thank you to every single one of you that were able to come and for all of you that were here in spirit because you couldn't make it! Thank you so much to Gina & Nichole for putting this together - it was perfect! Another huge thank you to my wonderful friend Kyle for taking some great images which you can see here:
The only time I got my camera out the entire day was to make sure I captured a photo of my momma and I. All of you that know me, know that my mom has always been one of my very best friends. She is the most supportive and loving mom a girl could ask for. Every tear, every worry, every smile, every laugh, every ache and every pain I experience is shared equally with her. What happens to me, happens to her. It is because of her and how she raised me, that I have always faced any obstacle in my life with sheer determination and confidence that I will succeed. Battling this cancer will be no different. Love you lady!
As you can see, the weekend was unforgettable! I have tried to ride out this wave of an emotional high for as long as possible, but unfortunately the frustration with the waiting game reared it's ugly head again this week. I found out late on Monday that I have to wait until Friday morning to get the biopsy of my T12 vertebra. The results of this biopsy will be in on Wednesday morning and will finally reveal how much disease we are dealing with. Next Thursday, I am scheduled to meet with my oncologist (Dr. F) and begin chemo - but this plan is tentative depending on my biopsy results. So, until we get the results next Wednesday...we wait. We wait, but we enjoy every day and try to live life as normal as possible until then. The best thing about this so far has been that it truly teaches you how to appreciate each and every moment you are given. Sure, I let myself get upset and deal with my emotions - but I get over it and move on to enjoy the day, snuggle with my pup, and cherish every moment with Mike. So enjoy the rest of your week and make the most of it!
Thanks again for your constant love and support! It means the world to us.
ps. don't forget to support our 3 Day team by clicking here!
Sometimes I feel at a loss for words...and for those of you that know me well, you know this is a rare occurrence. ;) Today is one of those days where I am not really quite sure how I feel, what I want to say, how I want to say it. I feel like I am on a teeter totter and I am one slight move away from either falling into that dark space or lifting up into a place of sunshine and gratitude. I am having trouble sorting out the thoughts in my head and in my heart and I am desperately trying to stay in the positive, live in the moment, smile, laugh, and be thankful. Although this journey is going to be the most trying of my life, I know that there is still so much to be grateful for. I am grateful for the constant support and love from my INCREDIBLE husband, my mom & Doug, and all of our friends and relatives. You all have no idea how much of an impact you have on us right now - how your words and gestures truly can turn around a really tough day, and make it brighter again. So please keep the love coming!
This morning Mike, my mom, and I headed downtown to Karmanos in order to have minor surgery to get my port placed for chemo. A chemotherapy port is a small device inserted under the skin (below my collarbone) with a catheter that is connected to the subclavian vein, which then connects to the superior vena cava. The advantage of this pump is that the veins in my arm won't be so beat up with the constant injections from chemo, and blood can also be drawn through the port. You can read more about it here and enlarge the picture at the bottom of the link for more details.
My check-in time was 8am but the procedure didn't actually take place until after noon. The hours in between were spent getting poked for an IV and blood draw, chatting about upcoming appointments, making each other laugh, and talking about how amazing lunch at The Fly Trap would be. I was not allowed to eat or drink after midnight last night and I was starving! Because I was so hungry, I opted out of the sedation...that's some serious hunger! :) They said that I would have to wait 2 hours in recovery if I chose to be sedated, so I said "scrap it" and just had local anesthesia. The procedure took less than an hour and we were on our way. It's definitely bizarre to have this artificial device in my chest and have yet one more scar to tell the tale of this disease.
Off to lunch we went and we were all feeling good and enjoying the beautiful sunshine. We were soon reminded that we were still riding this crazy roller coaster when I got the call from Dr. F's nurse. As we feared, the MRI results of my spine are again inconclusive. They are definitely worried about the spot at T12 as well as a few other spots that the MRI showed. I also discovered that I have a herniated disc at T5, which as a PT, this surprised me because a thoracic level herniation is rare. So, now we wait...again! I will now have to get a biopsy of my T12 vertebra, which will definitely be the final answer as to whether this cancer has infiltrated my spine. If it has, this means we are looking at Stage 4 level of disease and I can't begin to tell you how terrifying this is. Needless to say, this put a little damper on our lunch, and the three of us had a very real, emotional, and difficult conversation. No matter what stage this disease is, I will battle it with everything I have - but the worry I have for those that love me the most, just about brings me to my knees. Seeing the fear and worry in their eyes is worse than any physical pain I will ever endure.
Thankfully, there is some good news mixed in there... #1 - the spots in my spine could still end up being nothing and this would be the most amazing news ever! My wonderful brother, Jeff gives me the best pep talks lately and reminded me that there is just as good of a chance that this is not cancer and that we need to stay hopeful! #2 - Surprisingly enough, I found out yesterday that most of my genetic test results are in and I am negative for the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genetic mutations! This was shocking news to the genetic counselors, and my family. We thought for sure this was genetic and so now it makes me wonder, why the heck do I have this?! The answer to this question doesn't even matter, but can't help but wonder. There is still one genetic test that we don't have the results yet for- so there is a chance it could be that genetic mutation. This negative result is actually very good news for a variety of reasons because it reduces my chance of other cancers and further complications.
Due to today's recent developments regarding the need for another biopsy, my chemo treatments have been delayed. The results of the T12 biopsy could change the course of my treatment, so we now have to wait (ugh - I hate that word!!!) to see what this test shows. We should be getting a call tomorrow to schedule the biopsy for early next week. I think we will all feel better once these tests and preliminary measures are over and treatment can finally begin! To wake up each morning and fall asleep each night knowing this cancer is inside me trying to rob me of my healthy future, is enough to drive me crazy. I cannot wait to begin treatment so I can officially start the real fight! Bring it on!
I have an absolutely incredible weekend ahead of me and I am so thankful for that. After my MUGA scan tomorrow morning for my heart, I am heading to opening day with Jeff. This is how I know he is very worried about his little sister--I teased him by saying, "look what I have to go through to get an invite to a Tiger's game!" Saturday is going to be a complete blast spent with some of my best friends as we paint and redecorate my bedroom. My extremely creative and talented friend Julie has designed an entire new bedroom for Mike and I so that we can have our own little sanctuary to help us heal. I am beyond excited to see it all come together and have this incredible space to relax and recover in! As if all of this isn't incredible enough, Sunday is what our family friend Gina calls a "love fest"! Many of our family and friends are coming over Sunday afternoon to spend some time with us and share their love before my treatment begins. I am so grateful that Gina had this wonderful idea and I know it will be a fabulous day. If you aren't busy from 2-4pm, come by and say hello :)
I hope that everyone has a wonderful weekend with the ones you love. I can't help but thank you again for your love & support. It is the best gift of all!
It was a bit of a challenge to get decent pics of the port since I was taking them myself. The port gets a little cut off in this first image but you can see the incision in the bottom of the image and that's where the port is. There is also another small incision just next to my collarbone.
Side view let's you see that I now look like I could be a member of Star Trek with this lovely, freakish protrusion sticking out from my chest.
And because pretty flowers always make me smile....some macro images of my tulips...
Spring is coming (eventually, I promise!) and it is time to dust off your walking shoes and hit the pavement. Not only is walking through your neighborhood great for your health, but how about raising money for breast cancer research at the same time?! Sounds great, right? It sure does!
We all know that my friends are amazing, and now they are demonstrating it yet again by forming a team for the Susan G. Komen 3 Day For A Cure! Brinley and Kara are the co-captains of the team, "Meghan Malley Rally"! I couldn't be more honored and grateful that they have decided to dedicate their time and efforts to this wonderful cause. This event will take place in the metro Detroit area on August 12, 13, 14 and involves walking 15-22 miles each day for a total of approximately 60 miles! Now, I know what you are thinking..."I cannot walk 60 miles!" But let me be the first to tell you - we are all capable of more than we ever give ourselves credit for! However, I do understand that the full 60 mile commitment might not be for everyone. But have no fear, you can still be involved and still help!
The link below is the "Meghan Malley Rally" team page where you can click on a team members name to make a donation - it doesn't matter which person you donate to - maybe help the one that needs it the most since each participant has to raise $2300! In addition to your generous donation, we would love for you to come walk with us in August- even as an unofficial team member! I know that I will not be able to officially join the team myself and commit to being able to walk 60 miles, but I will be there each of those incredible days to walk with the team as much as I can and support them in any way possible. I know the team members, and myself, would love for you to come out and walk too. So, even if you cannot commit to the full 60 miles, you are still more than welcome to come support them that weekend and walk as much as you like or cheer them on from the sidelines! :)
We would love for you to help out the "Meghan Malley Rally" team in any way you can. Please feel free to visit the link below to make a donation or for more information on the event. You can also contact my wonderful friends Brinley and Kara at their email addresses below.
Meghan Malley Rally 3 Day Team Site:
Brinley Johnson - firstname.lastname@example.org
Kara Carravallah - Rower815@hotmail.com
Thank you so much for you constant love and support throughout this journey.
I couldn't do it without you!
Well, it was bound to happen, and today was the day. I hit my first real low point. Everything hit me like a ton of bricks today, and I am not going to lie...it was tough - one of the toughest days of my life. I think it was a combination of a very long day(first appointment at 7:30 am and last appointment ended at 5pm with not much down time in between), lack of sleep, and the reality of it all truly setting in.
I had a bone scan this morning to further investigate my spine to see if the cancer has spread there. It was terrifying as I lay on the hard table and glanced over on the screen to see an area of my spine light up - indicating increased radioactivity - which means that something abnormal is going on there. But I tried not to worry too much and waited until Dr. F (the oncologist) explained the findings later in the afternoon. We then spent a few hours at Karmanos this afternoon meeting with Dr. F for the first time. It was great to meet him, discuss all of the test results, get all of our questions answered, and establish a treatment plan. But let me be honest and say, it was incredibly overwhelming, scary, and surreal. There are still some random moments throughout the day where I forget I have cancer for a minute - but today was a huge slap in the face and reality set in.
We met with Dr. F for a few hours so I will try to summarize the latest and greatest news of this roller coaster ride that our lives have become....
Thankfully, we continue to have the most amazing support system ever! Coming home to a porch full of groceries from a co-worker, food in my fridge from Julie, and the most incredible and thoughtful care package from Brinley, all helped me get out of my funk and smile again. Mike & I have become completely overwhelmed (in a good way!) by all of the wonderful cards, gifts, flowers and food that people have sent our way. I have realized that it is no longer possible for me to include every personal thank you on the blog because each post would go on forever. :) Please know that we sincerely appreciate every single nice word and gesture that is sent our way and it means more to us than you will ever know! I honestly don't know how I could get through this without all of your support. You all think that I am so strong - but really that strength comes from all of you lifting us up through your encouraging words, thoughts, and prayers. For all of these things, I am eternally grateful.
ps. Thank you for all of the photography love! Over the last two years, it has become a true passion of mine and I can't get enough of it :) A few days before I was diagnosed with cancer, I was accepted for an internship with an amazing professional photographer, Jennifer Grant. I was so excited to begin this journey and get the chance to soak up all the knowledge I could from Jennifer. Unfortunately, I have had to withdraw from this opportunity so that I can devote all of my time and attention to beating this cancer! For those of you that asked to see more of my photography, please check it out at Meg Malley Photography.
This journal & I have become attached at the hip. It contains all of my questions & concerns, appointments, and all that other good stuff that I would never be able to remember otherwise. It's like my own version of American Express..."can't leave home without it".
The most thoughtful, handmade bracelet and pocket angel charms with my name engraved on them. Thank you so much to my wonderful friend Katie and her mom, Barb. I will treasure these always.
My blog to keep you all