Baby Miranda was two months old when my oncologist (Dr. B) said that surgery needed to be done in order to see exactly what is going on inside and to see where this cancer is. Remember how I said this cancer can cause false positives on pregnancy tests? During my pregnancy, I had no bloodwork done because the results would not be accurate. I’m glad I didn’t. It would have been difficult getting bad results and being pregnant. So focusing on our baby was what we did.
The week leading up to surgery, my husband and I had discussed the future and discussed if there would be more kids in the future. As much as I would have loved to have a third, it just wasn’t the best decision. We needed to get this cancer under control and stop the growth. If we would have opted to wait and see and try for a third, who knows where we would be now. So, with that decision made, we also made the decision for me to have a complete hysterectomy. If you would have told me that at the age of 32 I would have a complete hysterectomy, I would have laughed in your face. But since my ovaries were the beginning to all of this, taking out the remaining ovary, along with everything else, was the best decision. And Dr. B agreed.
I cried. Even though we were done and I knew that, it was still a hard decision to make.
After surgery, Dr B informed my husband that she saw very small spots on my diaphragm. The cells were sent off for testing and we would have to wait two weeks to get those test results back. The result of the surgery showed that the spots on my diaphragm were cancerous, meaning that the cells had found new growth and I would have to undergo chemotherapy.
This, obviously, was not what we wanted to hear. Chemo was the last thing I wanted to deal with and the first thing I now had to come face to face with. In September, I had a port put in to receive chemo. In the same month is when I started my treatment.
I had to go every three weeks for five days. As if five days weren’t bad enough, those days would be 6-10 hour days in a hospital bed. I’m thankful though I was able to go home every night.
The first week of chemo, Monday through Friday, was ok. I don’t believe I had grown tired or weak from the treatment. I was handling it pretty well. That is until Saturday came around. I got up, gave Miranda a bottle and was hanging around the living room when this feeling of tiredness, rundown, no good hit me. I climbed in bed and that is where I stayed for two days. I couldn’t eat, drink, stand up, hold a conversation. It was the worst I had ever felt and a feeling that is extremely hard to describe. In two days I had lost ten pounds.
I had scared everyone around me without even knowing it. This is not how I expected to react to the treatment. I really don’t know what I expected but this wasn’t it. I had texted my best friend and didn’t even remember doing that until we talked about it several weeks later. I was curled up into a ball in bed and all I could do was lay there. Doing the most simplest tasks seemed impossible.
When Monday came around, I felt a little bit better. I had to get bloodwork done that day so my husband drove me there. I still felt tired, weak, and run down. I called the case worker that was working with me (I was part of a trial) and talked to her about what I was experiencing and she said everything was normal. Over the next week, I would recover and get back to feeling somewhat normal. I would have a week of normalcy then be hit again with chemo and feeling rundown. The same conditions but not as severe. We all knew what to expect and we were ready and prepared.
After my third round of chemo, I had bloodwork and ct scan performed. This would show whether or not the treatment was working and if the tumors had decreased. The appointment with my oncologist (different than Dr. B) did not go as I would have liked. I was told that the tumor increased some and that the second spot had no change. I was mad. My exact thoughts were “so it’s not working.” The doctor informed me that even though the tumer increased in size, since it wasn’t a significant increase, they labeled it stable. Again, my thoughts were, it’s not working. She again told me that stable is good, since there was not any significant growth. That news did not sit well with me. My dad had come to my appointment with me and I did everything I could not to breakdown in front of him after the appointment. I held strong on the outside but was crying and breaking down on the inside. How could the three weeks of treatment that I had endured over the last two months not show any improvement? Why am I having to go through this for nothing? The answers I received that day were not as clear as I wanted them to be. My mind was muddled by heartbreak and I think everything the doctor was telling me was going in one ear and out the other. As soon as I was told that the tumor increased, I was done listening. They talked but I was tuning everything else out. I didn’t want to hear it.
So I went on to have my fourth round of chemo that day feeling defeated. I really thought that I would have received good news about the treatment. Maybe not that the tumors were gone completely but that there was some improvement. Anything would have been better than the news I received that day.
In mid January, I had another ct scan and bloodwork. To get the results this round, I went to Dr. B. This time, the tumor had decreased a little. So we basically were back to where we started. My doctor talked about three options: surgically remove the spots, put me on a pill, or do a different round/concoction of chemo. She recommended the latter. She was not ready to perform surgery. Depending on the outcome of the treatment I am on now, she may later. A pill would keep the tumors stable but she would like to see them gone or shrink. The treatment I am on now is 100 times easier than the first. I go every three weeks for 30 minutes one day. That is it!! The only side effect she told me to watch out for was high blood pressure. I have never had issues with high blood pressure so she said that I probably would not need to worry about having it now. The only symptom I do have is some numbing and tingling in my hands and feet. This however is not a symptom of the chemo I am on now. It was a symptom from my previous chemo. So, I may be having a delayed reaction. I was told to be mindful of it and to let her know if it gets any worse. I am able to walk and carry on everyday chores so my life is not impacted with this treatment like it was before. I was able to return to work. I loved spending time with my little girl while I was home, but getting back into the routine of things was nice. The support from my co-workers has been great! My family has stepped up yet again to help take care of my daughter while I work.
So now I wait. I have a ct scan scheduled for early April. My prayers are that there are some changes to the size of the tumor and there is some improvement. This type of chemo attacks the blood vessels that feed the tumor. It cuts off the supply of blood and nutrients to the tumor. If there is no improvement, I will be devastated yet again, but I am praying for better results this time. Care to pray with me?
This journey will be long, as I will probably be dealing with this for the rest of my life. From what I have learned from Dr. B, it will not affect my life. I could be put on a pill for the rest of my life. And that is okay with me. If that is what it takes to keep this cancer from growing anymore or coming back, I will take it. I have been more fortunate than others and thank God that He has allowed me to continue my life with my family and has allowed me to continue my life in a rather normal way.
So whatever journey you are on or whatever road you are going down, please don’t give up. There will be bumps in the road, mountains you have to climb, oceans you need to swim through. But you can do it. Reach for you family, your friends, your co-workers for strength. If you don’t have that, reach for someone much higher than all of us. He will get you through the gaunlet, He will be there for you when it seems like there is no one else. Live your life the best you can and do what you love to do with all you have. No one knows how long we are here on the Earth, so live every moment to the fullest.
Who do you look to during hard times? Is there someone that is always there for you? What is something that gets you through the hard days of life?