Thursday, February 28, 2013

My McDonald's Story!........part 1

LH x2 - we miss our fountain sodas!!
Back in the good 'ol days at CHOP, we were once blessed to have a McDonald's right inside our hospital.

Now... growing up in a large family of five girls, i always dreamed of having a family of my own. We would always play house, pretend our dog was our baby, and dress him up in little girl clothes.

So when i was ten and first diagnosed with cancer, i remember my doctor saying that i would never  conceive... because of all the chemotherapy and radiation treatments. I was devastated. I was pissed.

Well getting back to the McDonald's part of it. St Eleanor and i went to McDonald's that day, and as she stood in line, i spotted the disposable baby bibs on the counter (with the napkins, etc).  I took one, folded it up quickly, and put it in my pocket before anyone could see.  I said to myself: I'll show them!

Well little did I know, 2 more cancers later and 25 years later, I would show them. (Now sing- like the McDonald's commercial... BA DA BA BA BA ....

Rylan Cruz Dorantes Haffner

Side note:
In the Latino culture, children have 2 last names. The first one is their father's, and the second one is from the mommy. :o)

Well my boyfriend and I had met back in '97. At this point we had been together for 13 years. We were astonished to learn that i was pregnant.  Even more astonishing though, was that i was 19 weeks pregnant.  It was almost like the tv show: I didn't know I was pregnant. If you haven't seen the show, it essentially goes like this.... woman experiences pain, woman goes to the hospital or woman goes to take a dump,  woman has a baby, and then woman says, "OMG, I didn't know I was pregnant!" And we all think: What an idiot! How could she not know that she was pregnant. Well, I officially became one of those idiots, and I was glad to be one.

At first, my gynecologist/endocrinologist didn't believe it. Even after I had the blood work, and my HCG level was 57,051.  So she brought us in to do the ultrasound (vajayjay) -which is the standard. She must have been looking at his little noggin because she started talking to us about ovarian cancer and false positive hormone levels.  But just to be safe, she decided to do an abdominal ultrasound.

   And this is what she saw....

   And this is what she said....

   And this... was the happiest moment of my life!

   Next: McDonald's story part deux

   until then... lots of love... little lisa lollipop

   P.S. I held on to that bib for the longest time. I'm talking years.
   But that may also be because I have a small case of hoarding.
   I guess that'll have to be another post.

Jimmy John's

Shout out to Curt & Kim's favorite: Jimmy John's

Last Friday after meeting with my awesome new Doctor T, we were forced to go to Jimmy John's because of smoke/fire in the parking garage. Who knew one would find such inspirational words hanging on their wall.

Realized this morning when i woke up at 9:15 am :o) that i hadn't really updated you after the BIG conference. My ears were ringing all day... but that could have been the tinnitus from my cisplatin* years ago. (*Cisplatin is a chemotherapy drug that causes hearing loss and ringing in the ears).

So... a final decision wasn't made about which Team I am on, but the consensus was for me to start chemo. Evaluate after a few rounds to see if surgery is an option. So the surgery door isn't closed just yet. Yay!

So keep praying. And then pray harder. lol
I've included one of my favorite prayers that i received from my beloved Nonny S who always lifts me up.

PORT placement tomorrow morning. And outpatient chemotherapy in the afternoon. Fingers crossed.

Here's me getting ready for the chemo.
Trying on a hat.
Bring It! (said like they do in that teen movie)

lots of love...  little lisa lollipop

P.S. Another picture below for Sean F. below who called me Rain Man when it comes to sudoku.

Sorry, Jimmy F. Peggy F. stole your old trophy to give to me when I beat Sean F.

find a penny, pick it up...

...all day long you'll have good luck!
My lucky penny!
Found today while doing errands. It was just sitting next to my foot.

Who said that? Ben Franklin?
No, he said a penny saved is a penny earned. It must have been one of the pink ladies from Grease. Quick footnote regarding Ben Franklin -it is said that he discovered electricity with his kite and key on the street where i grew up.

Anyways, i hope it's a sign. I've always been superstitious when it comes to good luck. Perhaps it's the Irish in me. I also read into signs. (*There's a pix of a sign below). I'll lift my one leg while driving and crossing railroad tracks... to make a wish, and I'll make wishes on the clock when it says 11:11, 12:21 (my birthday), and 10:23 (my anniversary date).  My alarm is set for 9:15 am, and the alarm title is: la hora que dios me trajo al mundo - the time/hour that God brought me into the world.  But i always hit snooze since i'm not a morning person. Most of the time, i'll hit it twice.  Have always been a night owl. My mother, Saint Eleanor, says as a baby i would always cry -to be picked up and taken out of my crib once Johnny Carson would start. Heeeerrreeee's Johnny! Hence some late night posts too.  P.S. I have a whole bunch of great Latino traditions/ superstitions that i do for New Years! Maybe on another post.  Gracias, Patricia, por el consejo de los chones amarillos.

My man, Ben

There's something liberating about facing your own mortality. You can speak frankly about all your thoughts and not care if everyone finds out what you've known all along: you're a dork. ha ha ha.

With that being said, I'll let you in on my other theory.  It may be about the numbers since I'm also a math geek at heart.  Did i mention that i'm also a sudoku champion. Evidence included below. Well whatever it may be, I'll be picking up every penny that I see in the meantime.
But not the ones on tails :o).

lots of love...little lisa lollipop

P.S. My father just called.  He noticed a typo on my last post: Team Edward or Team Jacob?  He was born in Austria (of German decent), and he came to the States when he was twelve.  While growing up, we were required to go to German school on Saturdays.  And on Sunday, Saint Eleanor sent us to Sunday school. So there were no breaks for us Haffner girls. Anyways, the correct spelling is dankeschon,
but i still can't get the umlauet on the O. I'm not that tech savvy.
* The big noodle: the sign i saw today

Driving thru the city today, i discovered this huge mac and cheese noodle in Love Park. Had never seen it before. To me this is a sign... since i had referenced mac and cheese in my first post! That's how my crazy brain works. 

How do you like them apples, Sean F?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Team Edward or Team Jacob?

The Chicken or the Egg? To Be or Not to Be?
That is the question.
And my question is still metastatic cholangiocarcinoma or  metastatic pancreatic cancer?

There's a big conference today with different doctors at Penn Medicine to ultimately decide my fate. The diagnosis of cholangio yada yada yada would bring surgery as a possible option. Nip Tuck, Snip Snip... I hope. So I'm Team Cholangio! Never want to root for cancer, but perhaps this may be the lesser of two evils. Fingers still crossed.

St John Newmann
So I don't have any new information just yet, but hopefully today will bring some good news. Keep the prayers coming. Yesterday I visited a nearby shrine to Saint John Newmann on 5th and Girard. I went there many years ago as a child when I was first diagnosed with cancer.  I have been so lucky and blessed so far, so I keep praying for a good outcome again. Of course, I also prayed for world peace - like Miss America would. :o)

Thank you all so much for your prayers and for spreading my story. The more prayers, the merrier!!  Forgot to also mention that I have been a pediatric oncology nurse for almost 15 years. I love all those beautiful little bald headed children/warriors. Shout out to all of them and my CHOP peops. HOLLAA!!!  So needless to say, I  have a team of angels in heaven too. Una banda de angeles or a gang of angels as they would say in Spanish. And this gang has a notorious gang leader. More details to come in my McDonald's story. Coming soon to a post near you.

Portrait of me. Art work done by my favorite niece last year.
I didn't have the heart to tell her that she drew the wrong leg!

Muchas Gracias for all your love and support.  Danke Schon (umlaut on that o) for your kind words, inspiring comments, the emails, the texts, the cards, and especially for all the prayers... whether spoken out loud or in silence.  Sorry I have not been able to personally thank each and everyone of you.  But know that you are all loved right back.

Lots of love.... little lisa lollipop

Lost & Found in my mailbox- no return address & found empty. :o( But thank you.

apologies :o(

my chubby puppy dog face - '99

See... no mean bones!
Sooooo... apparently somebody knows how to find a blog online. Whoops! I should have known that I would be writing a retraction and/or apology at some point.  Just didn’t expect it to be on Day #2. Lol. I want to formally apologize to my wonderful mother. She is the most genuine, sweet, kind hearted person I know. And she really doesn’t have a mean bone in her body.

She is a sweet dedicated woman, and she is a devoted Catholic. She attends mass every Sunday... even if we are on vacation. She thinks she's going to Hell if she eats meat on Fridays during Lent.  She has been a volunteer Sunday school teacher for over 25 years, and she is a retired elementary school teacher.  She is a loving mother! I could speak volumes about her character.

Sweet Church going woman (mommy), little lisa lollipop, & my almost Irish twin (Marita)
Statements made in my 1st post were in no shape or form meant to embarrass, mortify, or hurt anyone’s feelings :o(  For the record,  any statements made in the past by my mother were made sarcastically AND under duress while raising not just one, but five nasty little girls. Sorry... too soon? And in her defense, can you imagine five preteen/teenage girls menstruating at the same time living under one roof.  And if you like, you can hold it over my head for the rest of my life, as I hold things over yours. I'm sorry, mommy.

I love her to pieces!! 
Please consider this my formal apology and retraction.

Until my next post…love you lots - especially you, Ellie O.
little lisa lollipop

P.S. keep praying. I'll update you in the a.m.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

my crazy cancer story in a nutshell

That's Nuts!! Cancer Sucks! Lol.

My cancer story is a little complicated, so I’ll just bring you back to the beginning.  At ten I was diagnosed with bone cancer of the right leg (femur). Ewing’s Sarcoma to be specific. I was told that it is usually more prevalent among big boned males- guess I had to represent, ladies. HOLLAAAAA!!!

Age 10- that striped sofa rocks!

Treatment included chemotherapy, radiation to the right femur, and an autologous bone marrow transplant that included total body radiation (or TBI to keep it short and sweet). Truthfully though, there’s nothing sweet about it.  After a long, intense year of treatment, we did what most families do –we went to Disney! Hilarious picture attached of my sisters and I at Epcot Center 1986.

Lisa, Mommy, Marita, Karin, Susan, and Andrea 

Afterwards, life continues on and brings milestones like high school graduation and attending college. While in nursing school at West Chester University, I was diagnosed with osteosarcoma of the right leg.  A different type of bone cancer caused by my previous radiation treatments 9 years earlier. I took a semester off from school for chemo and surgery. And as a woman, this was the easiest 12 pounds* I ever lost...

but not recommended for everyone. 
* Footnote 12 lbs. = 1 right leg. Lol. 
So without hair and without a leg, I returned to school in the Fall of 1994.  My homecare nurse arrived at my dorm room on Thursday evenings to access my port and start iv fluid hydration in the form of a backpack.  That backpack would then accompany me to my classes on Friday.  Friday nights, while most students went out to parties, I would receive my own cocktail of chemo in the dorms. Followed by a weekend full of fun and hydration – in the form of a backpack. Lol

Party hard dude! Go Rams! ...I'm such a dork 

Third times a charm (only since this one wasn’t too bad). At 32, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer- caused by that darn TBI from 21 years earlier.
Surgical resection -check þ
Radioactive iodine treatment -check, check þþ
More surgery the following year for residual metastic disease  –check, check, check þþþ
Can you tell I’m a checklist kind of gal. Lol

Age 38 was going to be a milestone year for me, only because it marks the official halfway point in my life. Half of my life with one leg... and half without. Well that brings me to now. I was just diagnosed with either (since the doctors haven’t officially come to an agreement) metastatic pancreatic cancer or metastatic cholangiocarcinoma. Not good though, regardless of what they decide.  Best case scenario would be surgery. Fingers crossed :o) Chemotherapy is a definite. But I am told that with this aggressive form of cancer, chemo is just for control -not for cure.  Most people will live for 6 months. One year if they’re lucky. Man, this sucks a*#.  

So... many prayers needed. Not to micro manage your prays, but please pray that I qualify for surgery. Now, await further instructions. Lol. Attaching a picture of Saint Peregrine, the Patron Saint for the Cancer Afflicted which includes a prayer.

Prayer to Saint Peregrine

Pray Hard. And then Pray Harder. Lol. 
I have a big important meeting with the doctors... T minus 12 hours and 30 minutes.
Until next time, lots of love, little lisa lollipop :o)

Monday, February 25, 2013

little lisa lollipop aka Lisa Joan Haffner

It’s official!!  No, I’m not engaged (just yet). Lol. But that’s another story. My blog is up and running :o) Sorry it took so long -just deciding a site name took some debating. And for those who know me well, I am a perfectionist at heart. I considered using my rap name, Li’l Haf, given to me by a beloved CHOP doctor M-Dawg. :o)  In the end, little lisa lollipop won. It may be a little cheesy, but it’s the good kind of cheese. You know, the kind that goes with mac and cheese or wine and cheese (for all you wine lovers out there :o). But that was what my mom would call me years ago when I was a little girl. Of course, that is before I acquired her teenage nicknames of nasty little girl and rotten little b*#ch. My mom’s going to be mortified that I posted that. Whoops -but she can’t even work the remote control, let alone find my blog. But I am sure it was well deserved at the time.

My boyfriend always says that they should make a movie about my life. I always reply that it’ll have to be a Lifetime movie- they’re just so bad, yet sooo good. And you can’t help watching them. For the record, my blog is a real story; it’s my story. It’s not an outrageous story written from another country in broken English to scam you :o) But, when I think of my story, it is a little nuts and incredulous.  So in a nutshell – (ha ha ha- I’m so clever) and not to bore you with all the details...just yet, I'll share my crazy cancer story in my next post.

Until then, lots of love, little lisa lollipop :o)