Friday is the BIG DAY

First, I want to say thank you to everyone who bought a shirt! It means so much to have such an amazing support group. #Kara’sKrew
For those of you who have followed my journey, you know how ready I am to return to Fayetteville to finish my degree at the University of Arkansas and its almost finally here. This past month has been crazy busy with appointments after appointments to get me ready for this Friday! I had my bone marrow biopsy to see if I still am cancer free, bone density test to check to see what all the steroids have done to my bones, an echo to check my heart to make sure it’s still strong, and many other things.. I also have started to get my immunization shots! Since my transplant killed basically everything in my body, all the shots I’ve ever gotten were wiped out. I have gotten my first 5 and just have 9 more to be caught up to a typical 22 year old girl. Crazy stuff! (Y’all shots freak me out more than anything. I act like a 5 year old when I find out I have to get shots. It’s so dumb and embarrassing, I know.) 
As you can imagine, waiting for the results for all these test has just made me crazy… All it would take was one thing to come back abnormal and everything I had planned would be taken from me once again.. But guess what.. EVERYTHING HAS COME BACK PERFECT AND I HAVE BEEN CLEARED TO GO! Fayetteville, it is time we are reunited! Trust and patience is something that is key for getting through times like this. I am so thankful for the trials I’ve been through to help build this part of me that I have struggled with in the past. God is so good! 
I am proud of where I am, my friends and family are proud, but what is even more special is my doctor acknowledging it, “The odds were against you, but you decided to fight and now look where you are.” Fight for what you want, it will be worth it in the end I promise you that!
This Friday, my two dogs and I will be able to call Fayetteville home again! I will be taking 15 hours this semester, and 15 hours in the spring and if everything goes as planned will be graduating with my Major in Finance and minor in accounting! Wahoo! 
Thank you for everyone’s continued prayers and support. This next year is definitely not going to be easy, but definitely something I’ve worked hard for! Updates on my “new normal” coming soon! 
-Xoxo Kara 

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ORDER YOUR SHIRT TODAY! #Karas’sKrew

I’m excited to share with you all a shirt I designed and am now selling to anyone and everyone who would like to help support Leukemia Awareness!  “No one fights alone” is something that I live by.  My cancer journey wouldn’t be the same without my “Krew”. Every single person who has prayed for me, encouraged me, visited me, loved me, and cared for me this past year has impacted my life more than anyone will ever understand. Every one of you will always be apart of “Kara’s Krew” and I would love for you to rep one of these shirts!

I am now accepting orders via EMAIL ONLY (to keep things organized) until July 21st. (I am aware there is probably a better way to do this, but as a first timer this seems to be the most reasonable, so please be patient).

In your email to me please include your name, the address you would like it to be shipped to, shirt size(s) and quantity of each, and your method of payment (venmo, cash, check). With cash or check payments, I will provide you with an address and who to make check out to after you have emailed me with your order!

July 21st I will be placing orders for ONLY people I have received payments from. I will email you immediately to confirm that I have received your payment when I do. Also, I will email you when your order has been shipped or delivered. Shirts will get to you before I leave for school mid August!

Shirts are $25 each. They are unisex shirts. Charcoal grey and pre shrunk! I hope everyone enjoys. Thanks again and always for everyone’s love and support! Y’all are the best!!

*For those of you who don’t know what Venmo is, it’s a free app you can download on your phone. You set it up with your bank info and can send/receive money to anyone else who has it with just a click of a button. Very reliable and hassle free in my opinion*

EMAIL TO PLACE ORDER OR ANY QUESTIONS YOU HAVE: kara.oneal@gmail.com

-XO Kara

It starts out as baby steps but ends with something amazing.

IMG_1294.JPG.jpegSo many exciting things to share with everyone!

To start off, I finished my class in Arkansas at the u of a last week! It was my first class I have taken in an actual class room since I got sick last year… It ended up being my favorite class I’ve ever taken in my college career so far, and I had the best professor I could ever ask for! For all of you wondering, it was called “Your money, your credit”. It was a 9 day class, 4 hours and 45 min a day Monday-Saturday… I loved every bit of it! Such a great start to being a student again. For the most part I felt great being in Arkansas without my parents, I did have a few rough nights.  Thankfully they love me enough, they made a short trip up to help get me back to feeling well enough to finish my class off strong! I truly don’t know what I would do without them…

Side Note: So this crazy nasty thing happened to my feet about two days before class started a few weeks ago….. (I would provide pics but I’m just going to do everyone a favor and NOT lol). My feet got super swollen and itchy one night and I woke up with massive blisters all over my feet.  Because I was in Arkansas I was unable to go to my oncologist, so I soaked them in epsom salt daily until I was home to see my doctor.  Flip flops have been the only thing that Ive been able to wear and I’m sure everyone who looks at my feet think I have major issues or are wanting to run to a bathroom to throw up….. THEY WERE UGLY AND NASTY I KNOW! Good new is they are mostly healed but I went to the doctor yesterday and found out what it was from.  My GVHD (Graft Vs Host Disease) which is something I got post transplant. Something just must of triggered it that day to cause the blisters.  ANYWHOOOOO…..

Tuesday I began another class, intermediate accounting… this one is online through the U of A also and is a bit longer! I’m excited to see how this one goes. I’m spending most of my summer here in Plano, but will make short trips up to Arkansas occasionally. This fall I will be back as a full time student in Arkansas! Very very exciting.  Baby steps is all it takes to get you to the big goal, and I’m on my way!

This past weekend I got to celebrate two very special people! First off… My big sister who is having twins, to TWO girls!!!!!!!!! This means I get to be an aunt to a sweet boy and two sweet girls! Being an aunt is one of my absolute favorite things, so y’all can imagine how exciting this is for me! And secondly, my best friend from forever (literally since first grade), graduated! Celebrating her and all she has accomplished was so much fun. Spending time with my second family, and friends from high school was the best!

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Happy Graduation Meg!

For the most part I’ve been feeling pretty good the past couple of weeks. I just started doing acupuncture through a cancer center here in Plano.. Today I will receive my third round! So far, I haven’t had much results but I’m hoping here soon I will.  When you deal with daily chronic pain, you are pretty much okay with trying anything for relief!

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Acupuncture in my face.. She does my whole body though head to toe (literally!)

Next week I will be going on a super fun trip, I can’t wait to share with you all!

I hope everyone enjoyed their Memorial Day weekend! God is so good.

-XO Kara

May 15th, 2017

Today brings so many emotions to my heart that I can’t explain… A year ago today I was laying in a hospital bed, Floor 12 at Medical City of Dallas finding out my cancer had worsened. What that meant, I wasn’t quite sure at the time I just knew things were not good. Within the day it was decided that I was going to need to start intense chemo to treat what was now considered AML. After a couple of rounds I would then need a bone marrow transplant… Although that was one of the most terrifying days of my life, I knew I had amazing friends and family to support me the whole way through. Ready or not, I was ready to fight what was ahead.

As many of you know, a lot of things in my life were put on hold. School was one of the most important things that I had to set aside for a little, but I was determined to get back to it as soon I was able to. Last week I finished my first class back as a student and it was one of the best feelings ever. I had taken Strategic Management online through the U of A, and finished with a passing grade. Although it was not easy, I did the best I could and it all payed off! I’m on to my next!

Right now I’m laying in my bed, with my furry children… in Fayetteville!! That’s right Fayetteville. Tomorrow I start my first class back IN CLASS at the U of A! With all of the obstacles I went through this past year, I felt like this day would never come. Although I’m extremely nervous, I’m so excited to take this huge step into becoming the “Me” I’ve been working so hard towards this past year.

With all that being said, the reason I am able to be where I am today is because of my friends and family. Most importantly my parents.. All they do for me every single day is the biggest blessing..

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My parents and I, a year ago today

Today is Mother’s Day… My mother is my hero. She gave me life over 22 years ago and last year she was the reason I was given another chance at life. No, a year ago today, I did not have any idea my mom would be my transplant donor nor did anyone else but I thank God everyday that he chose my mother to be that person for me. I’m thankful for the bond that we have built and for every part of me that is her. I’m thankful for every single second she has spent taking care of me and loving me unconditionally! Thanks for everything Mama, happy Mother’s Day!

To celebrate this semester of hard work, this past weekend I spent with my good friend Grace. It was a great way to end the semester before my next started! From the Rangers game to the Rascal Flatts concert, every second was a blast! So thankful for good friends:)

In my last post I had so many people message me about sleeping tips and recommendations… thank you all so much, I think I tried almost every single thing y’all mentioned! I have had a lot more luck with sleep which I’m extremely thankful for. I still have my nights, but improvement is all I’m looking for. Also, my joint pain is still a mystery.. I am doing better with controlling the pain, and just pray things keep going the right way. They are doing muscle enzyme test on me, results won’t come back for a while!

Well that’s about it I think… Today is just a great day, and so is all of the rest. I’m just so thankful for where I’m at today, I had to share! God is truly amazing and has filled my life with the greatest blessings. Thank you for the continued thoughts and prayers, always!

-Xo Kara

“Where Flowers Bloom, So Does Hope”

Hope is something that is found during struggles that directs us to the light. You know, struggling is ok. Lately, Ive been struggling a lot with joint pain.  Some days it is very severe, some days it’s manageable.. but when you only get maybe 2-3 hours of sleep at night and have finals to study for, it makes things a bit more difficult. No, it doesn’t stop me from doing my day to day stuff..(dog walking and puppy sitting at the moment lol). I try my best to push myself to live the life I want to be living with or without all of the post transplant obstacles I’m dealing with. I’d like to say I’m doing a pretty good job, but would love to do better (always). I’m finally learning when to stop, so I don’t overdo it all the time…. (learning the hard way like always. Because yes, I’m stubborn).

The doctors aren’t sure what is causing the pain yet, so right now they are just trying to get the pain under control. A muscle biopsy would be needed to determine exactly what’s going on but apparently they are extremely painful so I’m goin to hold off on that option until it ends up being the last resort… you will be hearing about it though, I promise!!! So right now strangely enough, anxiety medicine and Ibprofan (which I’m not suppose to take but they are allowing me to once a day) is whats helping keep my joint pain under-control.. They are thinking that eventually it will just slowly go away, so we will see. Oh and this dang sleeping problem, is still a problem. Like a really big one… SO IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO LEAVE A COMMENT ON ANY AND EVERY SLEEPING TIP YOU HAVE, I WOULD GREATLY APPRECIATE IT (tia). I feel like I’ve tried them all, but I know there’s more out there somewhere and I would love to hear what works for you! Can’t wait to see what all of you have to say… 🙂

May 15th I start class IN Fayetteville at the U of A for 2 weeks… WAHOOO! Just the beginning of my #comeback 😉 This will be the longest I’ve been away from my parents since my transplant and that just makes my stomach twist and turn…. I know I will be okay, and they are only a few hours away if I need them. I just hate that I’ve been having so many rough days lately… praying things lighten up quick!  Also, I hopefully will have my furry kids with me.. that should help big time!  I’m not lying, dogs know when something is up and can be the best nurses (if they are in the mood). Even with all that being said, I will admit I truly am very excited to start class again. It finally feels like I’m on the road to being ME again and that’s what I’ve been waiting for since last May! Cheers to that! 

So many other fun things will be going on the next few months and I can’t wait to share! 

-XO Kara

“Only Available for Believers”

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As I pulled up to Starbucks yesterday, craving something sweet, they were advertising a drink that was “only available for believers”. Yep, I had to have it. It was called the unicorn frappe, I had convinced myself they were thinking of me the whole time why creating this drink because it was making my dreams come true. Pink fruity, sparkly Starbucks drink, doesn’t get much better than that!

I thought it was unique that they chose “only available for believers” as there slogan for this drink… that pretty much describes my life. The life I live, as a cancer patient, is a life only believers can achieve. Believing in the Lord, believing in your friends and family to support you, and believing in yourself. That’s what gets you through! Believing.

After going to the doctor on Tuesday, I had a lot of medicines changed to hopefully get this body’s pain under control. This change has taking a huge toll on my body as it gets adjusted to everything.. A bunch of resting and sleeping has gone on, that’s actually where the unicorn frappe and I first met. My bed!( dreams coming true). Also, I’ve been taking baths with epson salt, hoping for some kind of relief! I don’t have much success, so if anyone has any bone ache relief tips , throw them this way PLEASE!

Something I just started doing to help keep busy is taking care of dogs! Since I have so much free time it has been perfect, a nice responsibility, that helps give me the exercises I need! Dog walks and play time everyday or whenever the owners need me. It’s been fun and I hope to be able to do more and more with this the stronger I get.

Also, I’m going to be starting a program call Star. It’s an oncology rehab/PT program to help me “get back to my normal self” again. As you all know, I’ve been ready for something like this for a while now, so I can’t wait to start! “Star’s bringing Sexy back” plays in my head when I think about being there lol.

Anyways, this was just a few things I thought you’d enjoy to hear about! Taking it easy, yet staying busy enough, to help me get back to my “normal” self. Just got to believe!

-xo Kara

6 Months Post Transplant

I’m laying in bed thinking about the past year and all it has brought me…. it’s a mixture of happy and sad tears for so many reasons I can’t even explain. I lay here 6 months post transplant in pain, wondering how much longer I will feel this way. How much longer until I feel normal again…. and there is no answer except that I know I won’t stop fighting until I get to that normal again. This could be next month and it could be in years, it’s just part of the process. It’s all just perfecting my “chapter book” that I’m beginning to call it.. aka my journey battling cancer.

What’s amazing is how far I’ve come…  Last month I was approved to travel in the US! For me, that was a huge reward. I felt like I was free again! Next thing you know, the O’Neal girls were on a flight to Washington D.C….. I had never been and let’s just say, I can’t wait to go back! I tried taking a bunch of pictures….. Now that I look back at them they are all blurry but at the time I thought they were perfect (life with a trimmer). Here are a few that turned out okay!

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The last day was rough for me… I tend to sometimes think I’m superwoman and do way more than I should do (to stubborn to learn from it). The 3 hour flight home felt like a million years and makes cringe just thinking about how miserable I felt. So miserable that we basically dropped our bags off at home and headed straight to the ER. I was admitted immediately and finally felt relief after I was put on a continuous drip of pain meds. After three days y’all, I felt like a new woman! The doctor finally let me go home, and guess who was there… My whole dang family! When you all don’t live in the same city, it’s hard to get everyone together as much we wish.. So I’m always thankful for time spent with my fam bam as it grows and grows.

The night I got home from the hospital, I realized it really probably wasn’t time. As much as I loved being home, I’m still struggling with extreme bone pain and am having to live off of pain meds… which SUCKS. Sucks so much. But just as everything else goes, “it will get better over time”. Oh, and you know that medicine “Prednisone” that made me EXTREMELY large.. I’m back on that so when you see a picture of a whale as you scroll through your Instagram or Facebook, don’t be alarmed. It’s just me 🙂 Heading to the doctor today to hopefully find an answer to whatever the heck is going on. Hoping for something that doesn’t make me fat, grumpy, or sleepy… that would be me dreaming though!

Some other super cool things have happened since the last time I posted…

I was finally able to meet Sydney, a sweet friend who also just received a bone marrow transplant. God called me into her life last fall when she was first diagnosed with AML and it has been the most special experience being able to connect with her. There is just something about having someone there who has gone through something similar that makes everything more comforting.. She is doing really well, but continue prayers for a quick recovery for her!

Also, I’ve been able to experience the rewarding feeling of being able to inspire others. It’s a feeling I can’t explain and something I hope to be able to continue to do. A good friend of mine from high school, Richard, has followed my journey since day one. We have built a special connection this past year with our journeys of “never giving up”. Although both of our journeys are completely different, we have been able to encourage each other to never stop fighting. Here is the story, from ESPN, about our relationship. I’m forever thankful for this friendship!

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Richard in his spring game! 

I always say this… but I hope to post more! (Laughing at myself, because I get worse and worse about it. Ugh) Maybe I’ll get news worth posting about today at the doctor, and you may here from me tomorrow! PRAYING

-XO Kara

friends forever.

This post is going to be short and sweet.

I recently became apart of a group chat for young adults all around the country who have been blessed with this thing called Cancer. Blessed? Yeah, I said it. It has been so much fun getting to know everyone and learning about their journeys. All of our stories are so different but we all bond over the same thing, our fight with cancer and thats what makes it so special.  I don’t know one single person personally, but feel like we all are already best friends (we are already planning our celebration trip together once we are all well lol).

This has been on of the best things for me because so many times I truly feel alone, like nobody has gone through something so crazy as what I have. Its so comforting knowing I’m not alone. We joke about all the crazy and amazing people we have come encounter with. Talk about how much life truly means to us now and all sorts of other stuff (secrets that only cancer patients know about). Anywho……….

I just wanted to share with everyone how BEAUTIFUL everyone is….

We are all fighters. We will all be survivors.

We don’t give up.

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God does amazing things with amazing people. I’m so glad he has brought us all together and I can’t wait to meet every one of you some day!

-XO Kara

The little things

This past year has really taught me to celebrate the ‘little’ things in life.  Little things such as little milestones I accomplish on a daily basis. For example being able to walk up stairs faster, getting taken off a medication, being able to eat without getting sick,  getting a good nights sleep, numbers being good at my weekly visits… The list goes on! Life is so precious, the little things really do matter.

Well today I get to celebrate something huge. I Finally got my trifusion out! This was a central line that connected near my heart. I received my transplant and transfusion/infusions through this line. Man oh man does it feel wonderful. I will not miss HAVING to take baths instead of showers… explaining it isn’t just a ‘New Tattoo’ that I have covered up… walking around, looking like I have 5 nipples… getting the dressing ripped of my skin weekly… trying to tuck it in everything I wore… getting the caps stuck in my arm pit while I slept (still have no idea how this would happen….).. and the best part about it all. It’s a huge step towards me being back to my old self.

This means my Doctors have enough confidence that I will no longer need weekly tranfusions and infusions. I will not need any more chemo through IV.  This means I am one step closer to being DONE.   I will still have to get ‘poked’ weekly to get labs drawn, but I am 110% okay with that (I’ve only been poked a million times, a few more won’t hurt).

So WAHOO TIME TO CELEBRATE

R.I.P Trifusion

September 16th- February 17th

Whoop Whoop

I hope everyone had a great Valentines Day, because I did! To me, Valentines day is a day to celebrate the love you have for one another.  This past year has really showed me what love is and I have to say it is an amazing feeling to be loved by so many.  God really blessed me with the best support system and I am thankful for every single one of you.

So I’m here to update y’all with the latest! For those of you who haven’t kept up with my blogs, I had been struggling with nausea/vomiting and severe pain for over a month. Each week I was put on something different until we found something that worked.  I had almost given up hope because I’m not kidding…. I had tried almost EVERYTHING! No relief. I don’t know about y’all but vomiting is probably one of my least favorite things. Ever.

Well about two weeks ago my doctor mentioned a medication to me called Marinol. She explained to me that it is a Marijuana based drug and the possible side affects of it to make sure I was okay with possibly taking it.  As much as I hate medication, I was okay with taking anything that could possibly “fix” me.  After deciding that was the best next option, I was off to ‘hopefully’ feeling good again.

side note: y’all would not believe how tough it is to get Marinol.  We drove all over DFW trying to find a pharmacy who carried it. After about 5 hours we finally had luck!  All I had to say after that was, it better work!

Anyways, I finally got it and added it to my grandma pill container to try the next two days. Well it now has been added to my ‘everyday’ medication because it works MIRACLES! And I mean that! Previously, I was having to take pain meds everyday just to be able to be some-what comfortable.  I haven’t had to take any since the day I started Marinol.  The nausea/vomiting is down to only like once every few days and I have an appetite again!  I really struggled there for a little bit and it was effecting me in so many ways. Everything is finally looking up for me again and I’m so thankful. We often take good health for granted because we don’t realize how good we really have it until it goes bad. Everyday we are able to get up and begin a new day, is a day to be thankful for.

So I know its been a while since I’ve posted many pictures… I couldn’t stand looking like an extra large hippo with my round steroid body.  It has gone down a ton but I’m still rounder than normal lol. Maybe y’all would enjoy the pictures but nope, not me. Well big news. I HAVE HAIR NOW. boy hair. But thats okay, its a start.

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I also have my “just incase my boy hair gets out of control” wig lol.

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Man, this whole hair growing back thing take a lot longer than hoping.. Luckily, I think it is going to grow back the same as it was before (but honestly, i’d be happy with anything but the afro my mom was hoping for). Its about to get to an awkward length (more than it already is) and I’m not going to have any idea what to do with it lol. Like why cut it, i’m going to look like a boy either way? Ugh idk oh well.

CHEERS TO MY TUMMY BEING FIXED AND MY NEW BOY HAIR

-XO Kara