Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Mesothelioma Awareness Day

Yesterday I received an awesome email from the husband of a cancer survivor that follows my blog. She is a REAL rockstar!!!!!!!!!! His wife is a rare survivor of mesothelioma. 

September 26 is Mesothelioma Awareness Day  and they have a campaign with the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance that is trying to get 7200 voices talking and sharing about this rare cancer, to represent the 7200 hours that the average mesothelioma patient has to live. 

So...let's do it! Check out this amazing woman's story here: mesothelioma.com/heather/awareness

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


After weeks of anticipation and five days of waiting and worrying (and golfing, being a yogi, masters student, and a runner to keep my mind busy), I received a CLEAN Bill of Health!!! I am cancer-free and in remission.
It is amazing to literally receive your life back in one day...in one minute, actually. 

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013 will always be one of the best days of my life. It took me 12 chemos, lots of tests, patience, and a ton of support and love to get here.  My cancer battle took almost a year, but my experience with cancer in my family consumed me for over three years. 

....My mom battled cancer for two years and lost her battle April 2012.
....My dad battled for a year and is now cancer-free!

They say "if you have your health, you have it all." You have NO idea how true that is. The last three years have taught me to celebrate life and be thankful for every moment.  I learned gratitude, faith, hope and love. I learned things I will never forget. 

I would like to share what I have learned during my experience with cancer to help fighters with their battle. I would like to help caregivers and and friends of fighters. What I learned transformed my life forever...it can transform yours too!  This blog will provide insight to help you get through cancer the positive way...please email me at ginagolfer@gmail.com if you have any questions :)

Gina Marie

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Journey is over!

My experience with cancer:
-My dad's mom died of cancer
-My dad's dad died of cancer
-My dad's brother died of cancer
-My dad's other brother beat cancer
-My dad, Ken, beat cancer in 2008.
-My mom, Marguerite, was diagnosed with cancer in 2010 and passed away in 2012.
-My good friend Gary died of cancer in 2012.
-I was diagnosed with cancer in 2012.
-I beat cancer in 2013
-If I can do it, you can too.

As most of you know, my mom was my best friend. She was my sister, golf buddy, caddie, shopping partner, secretary, therapist, running partner, kickboxing partner, cooking buddy, travel partner...she is my HERO. My mom went through chemo for terminal cancer.experienced the whole thing. 
It broke my heart. It changed me. It inspired me. 
Sure, it wasn't pleasant, but...
Did she complain? NO, she was grateful. 
Did she get sick? NO, she was too busy fighting.
Did she workout twice a day, play golf, take care of a family of 4, have fun, and celebrate being alive, and change the lives of those around her? yes.

She was an inspiration to everyone that knew her. People enjoyed being around her because of her intoxicating personality that could ONLY put a smile on your face. 

Now me....I complained, got sick, worked out a few times a week, played "chemobrain golf," could barely take care of myself at times, but I fought, won, and celebrated the life I was given. So, I was diagnosed with cancer at 25---four months after my mom died of cancer...what a story! 
How did I make it through this?  I stayed busy, I worked, surrounded myself with positive people, and took part in experiences with positive energy. I practiced yoga, performed daily practices of gratitude, consumed organic foods, took control of my mind, and prayed... a lot. I thanked God every day (and still do) that I was breathing and getting closer to beating cancer. I thanked Him for not giving me anything I couldn't handle. I thanked him for every MOMENT that I had relief from chemo side effects and was able to be myself.  Every moment that I wasn't sick in bed....I was at work, out with friends, exercising...anything to keep my busy and my mind off of the icky c-word.

After reflecting on the past 7 months treatment, here is a little of what I went through. If you are recently diagnosed with cancer, this is what you will go through. I do not want to write anything negative on this blog. Negativity breeds negativity (check out the law of attraction and the book "The Secret")...but it is only fair to let you know what will happen. I am not trying to be negative, just informative. You can get through this...I did :).

I was diagnosed. I was in shock. I was in denial. I felt betrayed by my own body. I was in great health, extremely active, eat very healthy (vegan/vegetarian), what gives? Who cares...GOD has a plan :).  Roll with it.
I racked my brain: how could this happen to me??? Since there is no answer for that (and I love answers)... I got beyond the "how" and moved to the "what." What treatment do I need? What will happen to me? Luckily, Hodgkins Lymphoma has a pretty good track record of being curable. Apparently it is the "good" cancer. I am not sure how "cancer" is good when it is trying to kill you, but I am here writing this blog entry, so I will take it!!!! ABVD chemo is what I needed. 

I got three opinions (please always get multiple opinions...my mom believed her doctor who told her she had chronic infections, but it was stage 4 cancer).  Then after the "what" comes the plan.

The first part of my plan was to finish my mom's battle. I needed to win the "Larsen Lady" fight. I knew I could do it with a positive attitude and determination. Please keep a positive outlook cancer fighters.  This will heal you. It healed me and thousands of others.  The law of attraction say a lot...look it up. And, remember there is always someone out there worse off than you, so do the best you can!

I knew I could do it with my guardian angel watching over me, my mom.  I know you have an angel watching over you!  I knew I could do it because God brought me into this world to achieve goals that I have not yet accomplished.  You are here for a reason, do it for yourself!

I turned my life turned into a matter of getting past the obstacle of cancer. I had to stay calm because "dis-ease" causes disease! I had to cut people out of my life that brought me down and surround myself with good energy. This is so important. It is hard, but you will find out who your true friends are. I had to control my mind and stay TOUGH. There was NO other option--operation beat cancer started August 2012.The next part of my plan included two surgeries, followed by 12 chemos.  

How am I am going to do this? Here is how: Surround myself with friends and family that love me...keep my eye on the prize--that's how. Never give up. Have my fighting spirit come through...

Then plan takes off! The countdown begins. 12...11..10...But what happens during the process of the plan is something no one can understand.  If you are the friend or family member of a cancer patient, they wouldn't want to you to understand how they feel. It is awful beyond words. They would want you to understand that they are not themselves--how can they be? They are FIGHTING FOR THEIR LIFE. 

So, as a ABVD chemo patient, you are hooked up to a machine twice a month for 6+ hours. How??? through your port(s). OUCH...

You need blood work. A lot. You are a pin cushion. Your blood might be bad that day, you might get rejected from chemo. Talk about an upset?!? Getting rejected from chemo?? You might have to go back for chemo in a  few days. This is because you are neutropenic. You might need to wear a mask (HOW PRETTY?) as you now have the immune system of a newborn.

You are getting pumped up with all kinds of stuff. You are bloated and in distress  from all the IVs (for me 7). Then the Prednisone (aka crazy meds, aka roids) hits...most regimens use this drug and I am sorry if you have to take it :(. You may or may not get hyper, aggressive, wild, and nuts!!! Then you leave chemo and are seeking the closest bed or comfy couch....You can't drive and you can't think. You are out for the count for about 4-6 days. Sometimes you luck out and are able to function. Those were the best days :).... 
Sometimes you are violently sick, essentially narcoleptic, and miserable. 

I slept one time for nearly three days straight, I passed out in public, got in a car accident.....But, get over it...you are about to win the battle for your life!!!!! :) This will all be in your past very soon.

What are other side effects?
Too many to list, but a few are: vomiting, upset stomach, body pains, dizziness, feeling totally out of it, fatigue, nails fall off, constipation, moon face, weight loss/gain, anxiety, moodiness, depression, numbness/neuropathy, etc...

After about a months your hair falls out. If you are like me, you shave your head. If you have awesome friends.THEY SHAVE IT FOR YOU!!! That's a major moment of liberation if you are a women. It feels like cancer is taking your femininity. Your hair, eye lashes, eye brows are gone. You are swollen. Your skin is beyond dry. You look like hell sometimes. Your sex life is affected. YOU ARE STRIPPED.

But what does a warrior do? A cancer fighter that is about to win??? PERSEVERE. You are about to change your life forever. You are about to make this all worth it. You are about to WIN THE FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE....You persevere through the awful side effects. You do it with a smile on your face because you know you will be cancer free soon. You know your attitude and mind are killing cancer.


When I finished chemo I experienced a plethora of emotions. I never felt such accomplishment. Winning a golf tournament, getting a scholarship, a job promotion---NOTHING COMPARES. NOTHING WILL EVER COMPARE. 

I felt so achieved, proud and GRATEFUL. Every day you wake up you feel like you've been reborn. You feel LIKE YOU ARE GETTING YOUR LIFE BACK. You are GETTING BACK YOUR WOMANHOOD.

But, now what? You have tons of medication and toxins leaving your body. You act a little weird. Ok really weird--"you are tripping out." 
You are like a drug addict going cold turkey.

You are a bag of emotions. Who wouldn't be emotional when little evil cancer cells came in your body trying to kill you, but instead, you killed them?

You won a battle that saved your life!!!!

Now is the follow up. That is where I am at. I'm extremely emotional--I have a crazy amount of drugs leaving my body--I'm not myself. I haven't first PET Scan Friday...I'm kinda a monster.

I asked myself the other day--"am I crazy?? I'm emotional, can't control myself, etc." Then I asked my nurse and close friend that administers PET scans. Nope, I'm normal. Every cancer victim goes throught this. Actually, I'm abnormal. I am a cancer survivor at 25. I'm a warrior. A fighter. But, I'm scared out of my mind for my PET in three days

Even though I know God placed his graceful hand on me and I'm cured of cancer, I'm on edge for my scan. I'm grateful for God, my mom, dad,  friends and family that allowed me to win the fight. Stay tuned for positive news to come!  

Love you all. THANK YOU for everything.

Food vs chemo

So I'm an Italian chick--I love yummy food! But, I'm a vegan, vegetarian, I eat fish sometimes, and gluten occasionally. I'm a flexetarian!

Anyways, when I was first diagnosed I went totally vegan, gave up sugar, and anything that seemed "bad" and not "natural." That lasted about 2-3 months. I was getting in trouble at chemo for having low protein, so I started eating fish a few times a week and it helped. Also, my taste buds changed, my cravings were strange, and I could only tolerate certain foods. I craved quesadillas, toast, grilled cheese, cereal, muffins, stir fried veggies and other things. I couldn't eat much salad because of neutropenia.

The weird thing was that at various points of treatment foods had many different affects on me. One day grilled cheese would be a life saver, a few days later it was intolerable.

Here are tips that helped me
1- eat mushy foods
2- cook veggies throughly
3- follow this diet:
4- eat when you are hungry!!!!!
5- drink a lot, especially after chemo

No more wiggin out

I've been wearing a wig since the holidays. Enough is enough. Cancer tried to strip me, but a more confident "me" powered back. Always wanted a faux hawk!!!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Shout outs

This year has been tough. I lost my mom and best friend to cancer. While grieving and four months after her death, I found a lump on my neck. It was cancer. Hodgkin's stage three. I persevered and had a great support system to get me through 6 cycles of chemo. Thank you to my boyfriend, girlfriends, dad, grandma, cancer sister, family and friends. Your support was and is priceless xoxo

Haven't posted in a while

Hi Everyone!! On March 12, 2013 I beat cancer. Sorry I haven't been posting--I've been busy celebrating and trying to get my health back. Thank you so much for all the positive vibes, prayers and hugs!