10 Things You Might Not Know About Cancer

inked by Julia

As we began my journey of cancer treatment, we were basically clueless. No one in our immediate family had dealt with something like this, and we asked a million questions our first week. I hope this post helps you understand what battling cancer might be like for friends and family. Here are 10 things you most likely didn’t know about cancer:

  1. Nausea is not the only side effect. When I learned I had cancer, two things came to mind: being bald and throwing up. I dreaded both terribly. For a lot of patients, nausea is an awful side effect, and fortunately for me, I haven’t been hit with the vomit bug. But, I have struggled with many other side effects that include numbness and tingling in my hands and feet, sensitivity to textures, constipation, exhaustion (severe!), weakness in my knees, crazy dreams, insomnia, headaches, the munchies, loss of appetite, sensitivity to smells, body aches, weight gain, weight loss, and probably many others that my chemo brain fails to remember at the moment. I cycle through some of them in the same day—definitely didn’t anticipate that.
  2. Chemo comes in many different drugs and forms. For my type of cancer and because I’m high risk, I’ve had seven different chemotherapies in the last 9 weeks. Most are intravenous (given through my port), some are intrathecal (7 spinal taps), and one was a pill. The pharmacy student in me can’t wait to see how many others I get!
  3. Chemo administration is much less exciting than you think. The first time I received IV chemo, all my siblings left, and a lot of my family were worried for their own safety. All the nurses reassured us its totally fine unless it gets spilled everywhere, which rarely happens. Everyone was silent as they hung the little bag up. Then the nurse said, “Ok, that’s it.” We all laughed a little– that’s it?! Chemo is usually just a bag of fluid that goes through an IV, PICC, or Port. I don’t go to a special room or do anything wild. It’s quite simple! There are some scary medicines that I get that can cause an allergic reaction, but so far I’ve had an easy time with administration.
  4. Hair loss is different for everyone. I’ve talked a lot about my hair loss on this blog, but it’s kind of crazy how different it is for everyone. I haven’t lost my eyebrows or eyelashes, but everything else is pretty much gone. Some people lose all their hair, others don’t lose anything. It’s pretty wild stuff.
  5. Hair grows back during some chemo phases. I lost my hair in induction, and right when consolidation began, I grew peach fuzz! The nurses told me this would happen. Once it grows in, it falls right back out and the cycle continues until maintenance. I always thought patients were completely bald the whole time of treatment.
  6. The schedule is super whack. Whenever I’m asked what my week holds or when I get chemo, it’s almost too confusing to fit into a text. Most people believe chemo is only once a week, but that’s not the case. In this phase, I receive IV chemo four days in a row and take a chemo pill every day. But that’s just for two weeks, because then I really do only get chemo once a week for a few weeks. It’s a complicated, confusing, and messed up schedule that is impossible to make any plans around.
  7. Energy comes and goes. I could be out and about, partying it up (you know, eating dinner at 3:30) one day, then completely down for the next three. Energy levels are very unpredictable. Take this week for example: I received IV chemo on Thursday, was completely fine Friday, and I then spent the following four straight days in bed with headaches. Last week with this same medicine, I was totally fine. I’m just glad I have at least three people in my life that take each day at a time with me and never get annoyed for my laziness.
  8. Every cancer is treated differently. I’m sure you know that liver cancer and breast cancer are treated a bit differently; but did you know that even blood cancers are treated differently? Even different forms leukemia are treated differently. There are four subtypes of leukemia: ALL (what I have), AML, CLL, and CML. All four have different treatment plans. They have different phases, different number goals, and different medication protocols.
  9. Chemo patients are limited on activities. Some patients that are not quite neutropenic (low in neutrophils) may have fewer restrictions, but mine are fairly strict. I can’t be around sick people, but I also can’t be around little kids or anyone who hasn’t had a flu shot. I’m not allowed to go to the dentist for fear of a laceration, and I’m not allowed to floss my teeth for the same reason. I can’t go “play in the dirt,” which means I can’t pick a pumpkin. I CAN go outside and enjoy the beautiful weather, though, if I have the energy. I can also take drives just to see what new buildings are going up or the leaves changing. But real talk, most days I just sit at home and watch TV. This week has been rough and I haven’t been outside in five days!
  10. No matter how much support you have, you’ll get lonely. In the beginning, I heard a lot of “we got this,” “we can get through this,” “we,” “we,” “we.” As awesome as it was to have such supportive family, and they’re intentions were good, in the back of my mind I thought, “No, I have this,” or, “I’m the one with the IV bruises.” I feel the incredible amount of emotional and spiritual support in this, but I still get lonely and pessimistic. I love having all my family around me, but for some reason I still find myself sneaking away to cry alone. There are just so many hard days where no one can take away the pain or feelings that I have. I just keep reminding myself to go to Christ when these feelings come. It brightens my own outlook of my life and helps me get through that day! Just the other day I was being so cranky and having way too much self-pity, I ended up retreating to my room to cry for a bit. When I stopped crying, my devotional book, journal, and Bible were all at my feet. I took fifteen or so minutes to just read and write about how I felt. I came out of my room smiling and ready to finish out the day.

Family Photos

View More: http://chloelukaphotography.pass.us/bealsfamily

inked by Lindsay

I interrupt your Monday afternoon to bring you super cute pictures of my baby. :) For my birthday this year, I requested a family photo session with our dear friend and fabulous photographer Chloe. Despite the fact that Ellie only smiled for maybe 3 photos, I LOVE them! If you’re looking for a photographer in the Dayton area, you must contact Chloe. We were racing against a thunderstorm on the day of our shoot, and she was able to start and finish the shoot in an hour, something extra important when you’re working with a teething 5 month old. You can see more photos from the shoot here. Have a fabulous week!

Happy 26th Birthday, Lindsay Elisabeth!

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Today you get your annual opportunity to become what you strive for on a daily basis: a princess!  It’s so crazy to think this time last year we were walking the track during your lunch break discussing my hypothetical wedding and fantasizing about your possibility of starting a family, and now here you are helping to plan my wedding while raising your beautiful three and a half-month-old daughter!  The sisters and I are so grateful for your wonderful example of a loving, godly wife, and now a strong, intelligent, sassy, and successful momma!

You constantly challenge me to stand up for my beliefs yet not take life too seriously.  You are a picture of elegance, but you still love to get down to some Luda every now and then (sorry, Chris).  I love reeking havoc with you as a fellow “middle kiddle” and learning under your wing to always accept a daddy prize!  The Neal/Beals and future “Scheels” would not be the same without you!  Now put on your best party dress and tiara and let’s go indulge on some chips and salsa at Nada!

Happy Birthday to the Baby

Jules 1 Jules 2 jules 3 Jules 4 Jules 5 Jules 6Happiest of birthdays to the baby/boss of the family!

Julia’s had quite a burden to bear, having a birthday so close to Thanksgiving and all. I distinctly remember a few years that we celebrated her birthday and Thanksgiving in Florida with our extended family. And I also distinctly remember Julia as a 4 or 5 year old crying because she didn’t want to go to Disney World for her birthday, she just wanted to stay home. Oh, Jules. :)

Julia is one determined, hardworking little lady. She’s carried herself with the grace and poise of Audrey Hepburn, even since she was a little girl, despite growing up going to work with Mom and Dad and playing in the warehouse. We lovingly refer to her as the AIM warehouse rat.

She loves to travel and has more stamps in her passport than the rest of the family combined. But, her greatest accolade might be her mad skillz as a group selfie pro.

Happy birthday, Jules! We love and treasure you!

Happy Birthday, Mama!

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Happy birthday to the woman who taught us what it means to relish birthdays and forces us to answer the phone saying, “Hello, today’s my birthday!”

You are one of the most selfless women I’ve ever encountered. Always willing to host guests, deliver meals, and offer a hug when words fail to suffice. And lest we forget the abundance of the make-up food pantry. ;)

I’ll never forget the nights you’ve woken up to pray for one (or all) of us. The way you’ve poured into your family and friends is a testament to your love for Christ, and we don’t tell you how much we appreciate you nearly enough.

Happy birthday, Mama! We love you.

Bloglovin’

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inked by Lindsay

Just a quick post to let you know that you can now follow neal ink on Bloglovin’!

If you’re not familiar with Bloglovin’, it’s a great platform to organize your favorite blogs and also find new favorites. I’ve used Bloglovin for the last few years and love being able to quickly go through unread blog posts all in one place. Try it out!

Happy weekend!