Welcome, my name is Autumn.

IMG_0037Hello there,

Somehow you have stumbled upon my blog and I welcome you to take on this adventure with me.I wanted to try to break out of my shell a little and learn to have a new hobby.

A little about myself; I am a graduate student at the University of West Georgia studying Biology. I will gratefully be graduating this fall semester! I am  married to my High School sweetheart, Daniel. I could not have asked for a better man to spend my life with. God really out did himself with putting Daniel into my life! With that being said, I am a Christian and have full faith in God’s timing and in Him in general.

October of 2016 I started to get really sick. I began to hardly be able to get out of bed from pure exhaustion and lost my appetite. In December all the testing began. I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in February 2017. I had my TT on March 22, 2017 and I am currently going through RAI treatment to get rid of the rest of the cancer in me.

With this blog I hope to be able to take my readers on my (almost) day-to-day adventures of beating cancer, my thoughts, trials, obstacles, and hopefully travels. We shall see where this blog goes!

Thank you for stopping by and beginning this journey with me!


Becoming More Aware: A Lifestyle Change

I am going to start this post out with a disclaimer; I by no means, have any experience in sustainability. With that being said, I’ll move on.

Over the last three semesters in my grad program our grad seminars have been heavily filled with discussions on critical topics. Everything that you see on your newsfeed nonstop is what we talk about but from a scientific perspective. As a group we discuss how we would like to change things to better help the world and the people in it. 

Over my summer semester, I was given the opportunity to replace one of my graduate seminars by joining in on a senior seminar. Here in this class with a bunch of undergrads is where one concept finally hit and stuck with me. 

We spent the whole summer in groups creating artsy picnic tables with a message. My group did The Sneeze, all about the spread of bacteria and viruses. 

All through undergrad I studied microbiology. This table was right up my alley. I stayed within my comfort zone… I cannot stress enough how debilitating that can be.

A group that worked next to us did their table on conservation. Here is where everything clicked. The main center piece of their table has just stayed with me. It made me want to do better for our planet, for the people on it, and the people that come after me. Sometimes it only takes one little thing to make you understand and this was it for me.

Picture Belongs to Dr. Tabit

The quote reads “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children” just think about it… 

As the weeks went by I started thinking more and more about how careless I’ve been with the things I do. Now is the time to change my habits to reduce my footprint. 

My voice may be small and I may only be one person but that is one less person destroying borrowed land. 

In the weeks to come we will be making small changes in our household. Of course, I’ll be sharing the adventure with our successes and our failures. 

It’s definitely going to be interesting! 

Getting Your Feathers Back

In that moment you feel like you’re so happy that you could fly! Only to find that you are only human and look like you’re drowning in the air around you. 

That is me today. 

I may not have wings but I’ve got my feathers back and I’m learning how to fly again. 

This morning I found out that I have to get shots for the next four weeks to help with my body’s uptake of my thyroid medication. I was really upset because I thought this meant that I was not moving forward. That I was once again staying stagnant and potentially having to go through treatment again. 

It’s been a long weekend waiting on my results from my last scan. The scan that told us whether or not I’d be sleeping on a blow up matteress again. 

Needless to say the matteress is officially deflated!

I got the call just after 4. I am officially CANCER FREE. 

I still have to get shots for a month and be on some medications (moonface needs to hurry up and go away) but I’m free! I can spread my wings again. 

The hardest journey of my life thus far is officially a chapter in my book that I can now move away from. 

Now here are some bloopers for your entertainment of trying to get a jump shot. 

It’s a lot harder than you’d think it would be. Have a blessed day everyone. 

The Problems with Fighting. 

Getting sick has definitely shifted my mindset on a bunch of things. One in practical is how much it costs to be able to live. To be able to be healthy, and to be able to not feel like your body is failing you.
It’s no surprise to all of you that my body decided it wanted to fail me. Hey, I got cancer after all! Immediately after the crying was all over and I calmed down for the most that I could; Daniel looked at me and said “we will get through this and you will be okay.” Every day since then he asks me “how is my little trooper doing?”. Some days, I’m not doing so well. Other days I feel like me again.  (Picture below from March 8th; spending our two year wedding anniversary in the hospital because well you know).

Today is one of those days where I just want to SCREAM at the pharmaceutical companies because of things like THIS.

Each one of these bills is for ONLY one shot. One infusion on a Tuesday and a Wednesday. They each took 20 minutes. That’s just over $153 a minute.
These shots were not an option for me. These shots were prepping me to ingest radiation. These shots were a part of saving my life.
Don’t you find it funny that it costs so much money to just ensure that you can live? There is something wrong with this picture. Something very very wrong.

Adventures in Budgeting Part 1

Over the last few weeks I’ve decided that our little family was going to go on a pretty strict budget. When I first had my surgery I got into a bad habit of seeing something that I wanted and then just buying it. No reasons other than “I want it.” I was talking to my husband about this and I told him that I think it was because I was so anxious about my own life that I had a void and just tried to fill it with things.

I can honestly tell you that “things” do not make you happy. I tried. Trust me… it doesn’t work. Each week I would have package after package sent to the house but it was never enough.

While recovering from my radiation treatment, I was in a room in our house that literally had a blow up mattress, my old tv from when I was in undergrad, and a package of water bottles. For an entire week I sat in this empty room. I was miserable because I felt horrible. I wasn’t miserable because I didn’t have anything in that room with me. My life felt uncluttered at the moment and that’s how I liked it. It felt less chaotic.

So over the weekend Daniel and I went through a mass purge. I cleaned out our pantry and donated a bunch of food that we would never eat. We cleaned out our closests and donated a whole CX 5 with the back seats folded down TRUNK FULL of clothes (winter jackets, business wear, casual clothes, shoes purses, and bags) to A Better Way. As well as a bunch of books, DVDs, and kitchen stuff. It felt good to lessen the load.

I can’t help thinking of how I got into the mindset of things over experiences. Things over enjoying life. Things to create happiness.

This begins our journey into budgeting so we can experience LIFE rather than having a closet full of things.

One of my friends added me into a Dave Ramsey group and I’ve already been learning a lot and I’ve realized new ways to cut costs.
We have started a $50 dollar a week amount for grocery shopping which we managed to go UNDER this week. If you haven’t tried Click List out by Kroger then you really should. It makes it super easy to stay within your limits as you see the amount you’re spending in your cart.
Last week was also the first week that we didn’t have any food waste! Before I was buying so much that every Saturday we would clean the fridge out and just throw away food that went bad. Talk about a complete waste of money…
I had two gym memberships? I made sure the cancel the one that I never use because I hate the gym. Like, seriously… you have a membership that you’re not even using!
I buy $70 worth of contacts EVERY month because I wear dailies (yay for calcium build up). I invested in a pair of frames that are lightweight and don’t bother the bridge of my nose so that I can extend the one pack out for two months. This saves $35! 
I’ve also started packing my breakfast AND my lunch. I was spending about $8 for breakfast and the same for lunch which is around $20 a day on something that you could have brought from home.
It’s amazing how much you spend when you don’t pay attention to what you’re spending. It’s almost fusterating in a sense that you want to just shake yourself for spending $8 on a smoothie! To see what I was spending, I printed out all my transaction history and highlighted in different colors to what I was spending. Pink for food, green for clothes, yellow for gas, etc etc. You’ll be completely amazed at how much money you just waste!

What are some tips you’ve been doing?

Post Treatment: Recovery 

It’s finally time to wrap up the journey of my treatment in June! Buckle your seat belts kids because you’re going on a bumpy ride.

During the consult meeting the doctors said that most of the time people don’t get any huge side effects. On the rare occasion side effects hit but go away within a few days. Nothing has been particularly easy about this and treatment was exactly the same.

My mom brought me to get my big dose Thursday the 22nd. I took my antinausa medication as directed. I followed all the instructions. We drove all the way home and I felt fine. I was just really hot. 

Fast forward to 6 hours later and all hell broke loose. For the next three days all I did was vomit. The stomach pills did not help at all. I couldn’t keep water down. I couldn’t look at food. I had to unfollow a bunch of people on Instagram because as soon as I saw food I was running to the toilet. 

I felt like I had a permeant case of motion sickness that would not go away. So all I did was sleep and watch cartoons. Daniel couldn’t come close to me so he would sit on the stairs and talk. (Flattering picture of him sticking his tongue out). 

Sunday afternoon I was finally able to eat 4 pizza rolls. Which was the start to recovery. 

RAI was really hard on my body. The doctor’s said it was because I have a weak stomach and IBS which caused the medication for nausea to not work as effectively. I ended up losing 6 pounds within a 4 day time period which is awful for your body. My skin started to break out really bad too. 

On Wednesday I was finally able to eat solid food without feeling sick AND I was able to return back to work. Of course I immediately wanted Mexican. 

Thursday I had my follow up appointment. Daniel and I had to be at Emory main campus at 8 am. Which meant we had to leave our house at 6:15. I hardly slept the night before because I was so nervous. Also, sleeping on a twin blow up matteress sucks.

The first part of this appointment was doing a full body CT-scan. It took about 50 minutes to complete. You had to lay completely still. I ended up having an anxiety attack and all I could hear was my therapist in my head telling me to breathe and think about something else. 50 minutes later I was done. Well, I thought I was.

I had my gielger scan done and my radioactive self was officially safe to be around other people. As well as going back to sleeping in my bed again! Yay for no blow up mattress. We were put in a waiting room.

About 20 minutes later a nurse came out and told us we found something so a doctor needs to speak with you. Full on panic set in again. I kept saying to Daniel “last week they said I was fine and the was precautionary!!!”. 

It turns out that it was very good that we took this precaution. I ended up having to have another CT-Scan; this one focuses heavily on my face and neck area. When the scan first started it felt like EVERY nerve in my face was being tickled. It was awful. Another 50 minutes later and I was done with that scan. Then moved to a cat scan. This one felt like you were in a tunnel of wind and all you could hear was an engine swooping around you. 

Then back to the waiting game. I felt like I was going to throw up because of fear. I DID not want to go through the treatment again.

Finally, one of my 8 doctors came out and talked to us. He was wearing a bright pink and green paisley tie. He told us that one lymph node took up the radiation which means it was cancerous. He said that at this point in time they are taking it as a good thing and considering me CURED. 

So even though I have cancer in me still, the radiation is supposed to be working to take care of it. 

I have another follow up appointment on July 21st to see the results of this one lymph node. 

Thank you for the continuous prayers. You guys are amazing. 

Here is a picture of my first day out into the world after being cooped up. 

Treatment Day 3

Last night I didn’t have a very good night… a few hours after my thyrogen injection I got really sick and I felt like I had a constant case of motion sickness. Which in turn pushed me into a deep pity party where I lost it for a bit and just broke down. 
I woke up feeling a lot better today. Patty came and picked me up this morning to go to my appointments!
Construction at Emory main campus sucks. Yes, I know it has to be done but oh my goodness it makes getting into the clinic very difficult. 
I got my second round of thyrogen injections today. I cannot explain enough how much these infusions burn when they go in. The one yesterday was injected on the left hip and the one today was on the right hip. It feels like someone is just stabbing my pelvic bone. 
I took my nausea medicine before we got there today so I haven’t been experiencing much nausea. Thank the Lord for that! 
After we were released from my infusion we went and got my blood taken. Then we went to get my first micro dose of RAI. This dose was done so that in the morning when I go in I will be able to do a full body scan to see what type of dose the need and also where the cancer spread (if it did). 
The dose today was so small that I don’t have any chance of spreading the radiation to anyone. So I can still sleep in my own bed tonight! Yay! 
All in all today went smoothly. I messed up and ate grapes when I shouldn’t have but it turned out to not be that big of a deal. They just didn’t want me throwing up (I didn’t!). My body just feels very heavy… almost like I am made of lead. Here is a picture of me with my little microdose of RAI. Tomorrow I’m not allowed to take a picture though since the dose is high and could effect others in the room. 
Things will get better. Tomorrow is my big day so I’m really nervous about it but it’s also the last day of being poked! So yay!! 
Thank you everyone for the sweet messages and the prayers. You guys are the best.

My Journey: Day One and Two

In December when I first started going through all the testing I knew that something was seriously wrong. I knew my body was not well. I knew it was more than just a cold. It took three doctors for one to finally listen to me and run all the tests I needed done. Thank you, Coral. You are an absolute blessing and you saved my life. 

I got the phone call on December 23 that there was a possibility that I had cancer. I remember the phone call. The doctor said “it might not be but we need to run more tests”. I hung up and just cried because sometimes you just know and this time… I knew.

My biopsy results came back abnormal (go figure). I was referred to an amazing team of doctors at Emory in Atlanta who confirmed that I indeed had thyroid cancer. We scheduled my surgery to remove my total thyroid, a handful of lymph nodes, some little tumors, and tissue. I insisted that we waited until my spring break the third week of March. 

Since we got positive results in my lymph nodes I was ushered onto the next step of treatment which is RAI. 

I had to prepare for this treatment by eating a low iodine diet for two weeks before my RAI ingestion. That means mainly fruits and veggies, only 6 oz of meat a day, hardly any processed foods, and no dairy. What this does is it allows the cancer cells to starve since they thrive off of iodine. Then the doctors give you a dose of radioactive iodine to have the cancer cells gobble up and then they die. So that’s the plan! Kill the cancer.

Day One: 

Daniel and I got to Emory main campus around 8:30 am. We got to valet park (I always feel special when I get to do that) and walked right now. Day one was just the consult to tell us exactly what was going on for the week, what they expect to happen, and answer any questions. 

Day Two:

Today was the first day of infusions. We got to use Valet again! I found out we get to use it all week for free. Yay! 

We went to a different part of the hospital today called the Emory Clinic. We had to go to the 3rd floor where the infusion clinic is. By the time we got there I was super nervous and scared. I had no idea what to expect. We walked into the big room where infusions take place and got our little “room”. 

The nurse gave us snacks and apple juice! We had our own little tv and everything. I had to get a thyrogen shot in my butt that helps my body prepare for the RAI treatment. It burned like something was put in My that was on fire. We had to sit ther for 15 minutes until we were allowed to go home. 

I feel fine today… the infusion just made me really sleepy and of course sore in the area that I got it. 

Here is a picture my husband snapped of my while waiting to be let go! 

And here is a picture of the city on the way home.

Hopefully tomorrow will go as smoothly as today. There is a lot more to do tomorrow than there was today though. 

Each day is one day closer to being cancer free. Thank the Lord.