Thanksgiving

During Thanksgiving I was able to go back home and spend time with my family and I didn’t have any radiation treatments! I was so excited to eat all that good food and watch some football! 15232268_1132442366810645_6515299871617407591_n

 

After Thanksgiving I had to get on a flight to Houston, TX because I was invited to perform at The 2016 Holiday Soiree benefiting the Toys4Tots! This is a great organization that provides kids in need presents during the holiday season. We were able to donate a lot of toys to the organization and I was able to share my story with the people in the audience and let them know the appreciation of organizations like this and others that help anyone in need!

During the event we asked everyone in the audience to be a part of the #MannequinChallange and the video below is the finished product! LOL!

 

Advertisements

Starting Radiation

So I’ve moved to Boston, MA and I started Radiation Treatment on Nov.15 2016. The proton therapy team at Mass General is so nice. Everyone from secretaries to the nurses, the residents, and the radiology doctors are really great and give me all the information needed. This is a tough time for me, since I’ve always thought of myself as an intelligent and strong person since I did graduate from an Ivy League school with a Bachelors Degree and I work out 4 times/week. Some of the side effects of radiation scared me, things like headaches, short term memory loss while on radiation, fatigue, but with all these side effects I just kept telling myself that this will kill all the cancer cells and keep the healthy ones safe.

15107402_1333722866672928_4685501664216247674_n

The radiation started and the first week was the toughest for me. I had uncontrollable headaches and some vomiting. It wasn’t a pretty sight. I couldn’t keep any food down and I just wasn’t hungry for at least 3 days. This was some of the worst pain that I’ve ever had in my life but somehow I got through it. When people talk about cancer all you really see is the loss of hair but most people don’t know about the other side effects so its good to keep it real and let people know that its not a fun time.

During my second week of radiation, I started taking it better, I wasn’t getting headaches or any nausea, I was actually starting to feel like myself again!!

My Journey Continued

I’ve finished my 2 rounds of chemotherapy and now I go on to the next stage of my treatment plan.

Radiation.

I’ve had the chance to meet with a few doctors to figure out what type of radiation would be the best for my condition. There are a few different types of radiation that you can get and I chose to go with Proton Radiation. The only problem is that there are only 22 proton radiation cancer centers in the U.S. and there are none in New York. The closest one to me was in Boston, MA, so i had to go meet with the doctors at Mass General Hospital to figure out my treatment plan there.

 

proton_beam_treatment_room

Proton Radiation Maschine

 

2nd Round Of Chemo

Yesterday, September 27th, 2016 I started my second round of chemotherapy. This time I need to stay in the hospital for only 2 days. I should be able to leave today! This time the chemo hit me harder than last time. From the minute I started receiving the chemo I started feeling nausea. My stomach started feeling funny, even tho they gave me the medicine that would take care of the side effects I was still feeling terrible.

2nd ROUND OF CHEMO

As you can see from the video I look very fatigued. I’ve been sleeping all day, feeling nauseous all day. I walked around a bit in the hospital but nothing made me feel better. I tried drinking a juice with turmeric and ginger ale and nothing helped, I just told myself this is how it might be this time around. My blood levels looked good so no need for any transfusions. For right now I will just have to go home and rest.

I will be posting some more videos on my facebook page @SVETMUSIC. Follow me on there and everywhere else to see what’s coming up next for me! I will keep you all updated!

img_0123

Shaving My Hair

Since I’m doing a few rounds of chemo, I knew my hair would eventually start falling out. Most doctors say it takes 3 weeks for it to fall off, but they say it starts small and then a lot falls out at once.

To get rid of some of the anxiety of finding hair when I’m waking up I decided to shave my hair completely off. This was a big decision for me, my hair is a big part of me and my image. As a performer having a haircut as I did, people would always look it and wonder where I got the haircut from. From now I would have to get used having no hair for a few months. I didn’t dwell this moment, it took some strength but I talked myself into shaving it while performing a song on my violin and doing all of this live on Facebook.

FACEBOOK LIVE “SHAVING MY HEAD”

The video turned out great and a lot of people watched. The big reason I wanted to do this is because I wanted to take control of this, I didn’t want to wait and see what happened. I knew what would happen so I took it in my own hands and now I feel better for it

After Surgery

My surgery lasted 3 and a half hours and consisted of the doctors taking out a small piece of my skull to open up my brain and allow some space for the CF fluid to move around. Then my surgeon  dissected the tumor the size of an almond out of my cerebellum. Once they took out the tumor they stitched me back  up and let me come out of anesthesia.

All week while I was in the hospital I was playing the video game FIFA with my brother and when I was coming out of anesthesia I thought that I was still in a game and I asked the doctors if I won the game. Of course they started laughing and told me that I’m coming out of the anesthesia. Then I was sent into post-op care to make sure there weren’t any infections or problems from my surgery. From the pictures below you can see the small tumor on the picture on the right, compared to the MRI from after surgery.

IMG_0813 (1).jpg

I then had to stay in the hospital for another 3 days until the wound healed and the doctors saw that I can drop the CF fluid pressure on my own. Luckily the doctors told me that I can now walk around and even go outside for a bit. I then decided to bring out my violin and see if I still had the same skills as I did before.

PLAYING OUTSIDE OF HOSPITAL AFTER SURGERY

Then that video became viral and was picked up by the local news and also the national TV show ABC’s World News with David Muir.

ABC’s WORLD NEWS WITH DAVID MUIR INTERVIEW

I was so surprised and thankful from all of the support I was getting that I decided to create a GoFundMe page to help out with some of my expenses during my hospital stay.

GO FUND ME PAGE

All of the positive thoughts and prayers from my fans were with me! I could literally feel all of the prayers from people around the world! This is what pulled me through and helped me get better after surgery as quick as possible.

The next stage of my recovery figuring out what the tumor in my brain was, and I had another appointment with my doctor August 13th, to find out lab results. I finally got to go home and be with my dogs!

BACK HOME AFTER SURGERY WITH MY DOGS!

 

1st Round of Chemo

So I’m back in the hospital starting my treatment for my Medulloblastoma. I’m starting chemotherapy on September 5th, 2016. I have to stay in the hospital for 2-3 days so they see how I react to the chemotherapy.

Before I got my chemotherapy I had to do a spinal tap. This is a long needle that goes into the middle of your back and it has to stay there for 2 minutes until spinal fluid is released. This fluid is then taken in for lab work to see if I had any cancer cells in my spine. The doctors showed me the results of the spinal tap and full body MRI as well as my blood work. Everything looked okay, I had no other problematic areas, just my brain contained blue cells which are the medulloblastoma cells.

This was a great sign! With this treatment I’m hoping for the best! Once I started chemotherapy I started feeling drowzy right away and I felt a lot of fatigue.

IMG_1066.jpg

I was given medication for nausea and vomiting and I felt fine other than being very tired. I tried to stay up the first night to watch a movie but I just couldn’t.

FIRST ROUND OF CHEMO

The second day of chemotherapy I only had to take 1 of the 3 chemo medicines over a span of 30 minutes, which was a lot easier to take than the first day of chemo. I didn’t have too many side effects while I was in the hospital but during both of these days I made sure that I was still sticking to my diet and trying to drink as many fresh juices and as much water as possible.

Chemotherapy breaks down the immune system, and I was trying to build it up before it was going to break down so I bought a few supplements that help out with being in chemo such as

  1. Turmeric
  2. Barley Grass Extract
  3. Reishi Mushrooms
  4. Asparagus Root Extract
  5. Black Seed Oil
  6. Flax Seed

I mix some of these in my food, and in my juices and these help out my immune system as well as bringing the white blood cell count up.

The first few days when I came back home from chemo were kind of a blur, it felt like I was sleeping 18 hours per day and when I was up I wasn’t overly motivated to do anything. 5-6 days after I had chemo I started feeling a lot better and I actually went to the gym to get some exercise. I started feeling normal again!

Lab Results

I received my lab results from the tumor they removed in my head and I got some news I didn’t think I would be getting at this age of my life. I found out that the tumor was a type of CANCER called Medulloblastoma. They gene typed my cancer as the SHH Medulloblastoma which is only found in 1 out of 2 million cancers.

Medulloblastoma (/məˌdʌlblæˈstmə/) is the type of pediatric malignant primary brain tumor (cancer), originating in the part of the brain that is towards the back and the bottom, on the floor of the skull, in the cerebellum orposterior fossa.

A week ago I didn’t know what medulloblastoma was and now I have it in my brain…my mind was going so many places but I was glad this was happening to me and not to someone in my family because I don’t know how I would be able to deal with that. I never once thought ‘Why me” or “this is unfair”… I always say life is life, and things will happen that you won’t ever understand, they say “Fair is a place they judge pigs” so there is no reason to dwell on what has happened but find ways to deal with it.

struggle

I stared doing my own research on cancers and what causes it, but there are so many different opinions that you don’t know where to look. I asked my doctors how I could have gotten this disease, ‘did I eat something’ ‘is it because I hit my head?’ but all they could tell me is that ‘I was unlucky’. Either way, I changed up some of my diet. I started eating less sugars and no more red meats. I started juicing, making fresh juices with kale, apples, ginger. All these things seemed to help a bit and if anything they definitely gave me more energy.

My doctors went over my recovery plan and it consisted of

2 rounds of Chemotherapy (3 weeks apart)

followed by

30 rounds of Radiation (15 minutes every day)

Then the doctors will take another MRI of my brain to see if there is still anything visible and if there isn’t then I will not need any more rounds of chemotherapy. So in a span of 1 month, I was healthy then out of nowhere I had brain surgery, a tumor was taken out of me, and I would have to start chemo.

On top of that my 30th Birthday was on September 3rd and my chemo would be starting September 5th. I got to celebrate my Birthday with some friends before my tough road ahead.

14212054_10207054701674532_7068740398444464777_n.jpg

 

Headaches

10616732_487393328097355_243709041_n

About 6 months ago while I was on a national college tour performing, I kept getting these headaches that would not stop for hours. I’m a very active person, I go to the gym 3 times/week so I didn’t think anything of it. I thought maybe I pulled a muscle or I was working out too hard or maybe I was getting the headaches from all of the loud music from performing near big speaker systems. I just wasn’t sure what it could have been so about 4 months I decided to go to a doctor and get myself checked out.

 

headache1The first doctor I ever saw for my headaches had some of the same feelings as me. She thought that maybe I pulled a muscle in my neck or I was working out fast and blood could have been rushing to my head fast so she decided that I go home and just rest on it and not work out too hard for the next week or so.

 

After that I started getting the headaches again, even though I stopped working out. The headaches would get worse and worse and the only times I could stand it is if I put my head down in a praying position and wait for the headaches to stop. A couple of months went by and still no change. Sometimes I would feel no pain all day and then once the night kicked in, my head started pounding again. I thought to myself I just have to live with this.

original

Then we get to a day in late July, my head started hurting again and it just wouldn’t stop. I tried going to bed with the headache but I couldn’t sleep at all. Tossing and turning all night I just knew something was wrong. I never had pain like this in my life where I couldn’t think straight, and all I’m thinking about is a shooting pain every couple of seconds. I couldn’t sleep all night so in the early morning hours I decided to go to the Emergency Room at my local hospital.