Monday, April 29, 2013

Coping

***This post was written on 4/25/13***

What a day! I am drained - emotionally exhausted and am pretty certain that I am going to sleep like a rock tonight.

I wasn't nervous leading up to today. We have already talked to one oncologist and he gave us favorable news. I've already had a PET scan and the nurse said that things looked good - the cancer isn't in my lymph nodes and seems to be localized to my cervix. So...why should I be nervous?

Then we walked into the Sealy Cancer Clinic at UT Southwestern...and I was nervous. The waiting room was full. Full of people with scarves on their heads. Full of people a lot older than me. Full of people with ports and such waiting for their chemo and radiation treatments. Full of sick people...like really sick people...people with cancer. I wanted to run out the door. I sat there waiting for my name to be called and told myself over and over to just take deep breaths and relax. So much easier said than done.

Do I really have cancer? Is this all real? Seriously? As I sat there, I had anxiety fearing that this new doctor was going to tell me something different than I had already heard. I was scared she was going to tell me that the cancer was farther along than the other doctor thought...or that she felt it was more serious and needed to be treated more aggressively.

I realized in that moment that I had been hanging onto each and every piece of GOOD news...no matter the size...any and every glimmer of hope. All of the yucky stuff that doesn't necessarily sound good gets pushed aside and replaced with the better case scenario. That's how I cope. Because...it just feels better to be optimistic. So...I really hate having to replay everything over and over again. I don't want to be reminded of the worst case scenarios...I'm not going there.

So when the doctor wanted to talk about stages and the worst case scenario...I had a good old cry...ugly cry face and all and then immediately moved the conversation forward to what our next steps are. I'm having the cold knife cone next Wednesday, May 1st. I'm believing that the doctor will get all of the cancer with the procedure. I'm believing that I will be cancer free after the procedure. I'm believing that this little bump in the road will all be over and we will be back on our road to our perfect little life.

Say some prayers for my doctor - may she have steady hands and X-ray vision to successfully remove every last cell of cancer from my body on Wednesday. Say some prayers for my family - may they continue to be strong and hear the positive messages so that they may remind me of those things when I can't help but remember the negative things. Say some prayers for me - may I have peace - no anxiety - and good, plump veins so that the nurses don't have to search and dig (puke) when taking blood or putting in IVs - and may I also be strong and brave - no passing out - no complications - and a fast complete recovery. Thanks for keeping us on your prayer lists. XOXO

I saw this necklace on Instagram today and loved the message...I think I need one of these...

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Needles

I hate them. I hate giving blood. I hate IVs.

That. Is. All.



Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Lucky

Two weeks down and another step closer to being cancer free!  Wahoo! 

We met with the first oncologist last week and he told us that he thinks we've caught the cancer early - praise The Lord!  He said that the cells around my cervix look healthy and he is hopeful that he can get all of the cancer with a minimally invasive procedure called a cold knife cone.  Once he does that procedure, he will know for sure if the cancer has spread into my uterus - if it has, then I will have to have a hysterectomy.  Fingers crossed that isn't the case.  We have an appointment with a second oncologist tomorrow to hear her thoughts and opinions on what the best course is to take.

My birthday was last Thursday.  Cheers to being 32!  It started out kind of yucky as I had to have a PET scan that morning.  I had no idea what it was but figured I'd just roll into the hospital, drink some stuff, wait an hour or so and then they would roll me through a machine and I'd be on my way.  Not the case.  Turned out that I had to get a blood pregnancy test, IV and sit completely still for two hours.  I hate giving blood and despise the whole process of getting an IV.  I passed out every time I had to give blood when I was pregnant and now, when I have to do it, I have to lay down during the process because passing out is pretty much inevitable.  The nurse tried to get "the line started" at first from that spot where my arm bends (what is that called anyway???).  She missed the vein and then had to tell me all about it - which is definitely the best way to make me nauseous.  Then, she moved on to my hand and had to tell me how my veins were "rolly polly."  Pass.  Out.  Ugh...just writing about it make my stomach weak again.  She finally gave up and sent in another nurse to try.  Thankfully he was able to get the IV in on the first try.  I thought I was good to go, only to find out that they had to take blood for the pregnancy test - they had to ensure that I wasn't preggers prior to injecting me with whatever radioactive potion they use.  So, another nurse and more needles later, the pregnancy test came back negative and I was on my way to starting the two hour process of the PET scan.  I had to sit completely still while the juice of the IV ran through my veins.  I couldn't play with my phone or even listen to music.  There wasn't a TV in the room or anything to look at other than the grey cinder block walls.  So I just sat there...still...for an hour.  Then, they moved me into the scan room where they rolled me through the machine for an hour.  Again, I had to lay there and not move a muscle while they did the scan.  It was nerve racking as I feared that if I even twitched, I would screw something up and have to start all over again.  Thankfully, I didn't and was able to get out of there and start my birthday.  The day only got better from there.  How could it not?  All of that yucky stuff didn't seem nearly as bad as I was sipping margaritas and feasting on guacamole and fajitas will my faves later that night. 

The nurse called on Friday to let me know that the PET scan was good - my lymph nodes are clear of the cancer!  Two fist pumps to Jesus!  The cancer seems to be localized to my cervix..."and lower uterus."  I don't like that last part, but the nurse assured me that doesn't necessarily mean that the cancer is actually in my uterus.  She said that the cervix and uterus are "zoned together" when they read the report.  I'll be sure to question that when we meet with the other oncologist tomorrow...

I was pretty emotional Friday after the call from the nurse.  I was secretly hoping that she was going to tell me that there was some big mistake and the PET scan didn't show any cancer anywhere.  I guess that was the denial stage of this whole ordeal.  Oh well...I did my crying and have moved on.  I have cancer and the only way to get rid of it is to deal with it.  So I am.  If we decide to go with the doctor we talked to last week, the cold knife cone surgery will be next Wednesday.  I'm thrilled that they are on top of everything and working me in quickly...and nervous at the same time at the sense of urgency they have. 

And my lesson to share with you today friends, is one that was shared with me this last week from my high school English teach who beat prostate cancer a couple of years ago.  After sharing my diagnosis with him last week, he sent me an email back with the subject "Still Lucky."  He said that when he was diagnosed with his cancer, he sent an email out to his friends and family to let them know and the title of the email was "Lucky."  I'm lucky for the same reasons that he was – and is.  I have a loving and supportive network of friends and family.  I have good health care facilities in Texas, and I also have health insurance.  There are so many people who don’t have what I have.  There are so many people who have much worse cancers than I have - more aggressive and advanced ones.  I am going to live - there are many people who can't say the same.  I'm lucky!

I'm also lucky for all of your prayers - I appreciate each and every one of them - keep them coming!  XOXOXO

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Difference a Day Makes

Well, here I am...officially a week has gone by now since I was officially diagnosed with cervical cancer.  Though nothing has changed and I don't have any new information about my diagnosis or what my next steps will be to get rid of this junk, I feel like the fog has lifted for the most part and I'm seeing things a little clearer now.  I am ready to move on and be cancer free!

No one has the sense of urgency like you do when in a crisis - this has been so hard for me to digest this last week.  I woke-up last Wednesday and immediately started calling the oncologists that I wanted to meet with...immediatley...like at 7:30, only to get their answering machines saying that they don't open until 8:30.  So, I called back right at 8:30...only to find out that they can't make an appointment for you until they have received your medical records and insurance information from your diagnosing doctor.  Hang up - call my doctor - she is not in the office on Wednesdays - leave a message on the "medical records" voicemail - wait 30 minutes - nothing - call back and press the button to be connected with the nurse - get her voicemail and leave a message - wait 30 minutes - no returned phone call - call back and press the button to talk with a human.  When I was finally able to talk with someone, I explained my situation and she said that she would fax my info over to both doctors ASAP that day...and she also gave me her direct extension so that I wouldn't have to go through that bullshit again...cuz I'm pretty much a celebrity in their office now...being the first patient in 10 years to have cancer and all.  Don't be jealous.  I called both oncologists back later that afternoon to ensure that they had received everything, which they both had, only to learn that now they had to enter my information into their "system" and they would give me a call back within 24-48 hours to schedule the appointment.  I won't continue to bore you with all of the boring play-by-play, but geesh...it is a lot of freaking work to get a damn oncologist appointment! Now, a week after being diagnosed, I have three appointments scheduled - one this week and two next week, so we should have a good idea of where this all is going soon...

Ah...the difference a day makes though.  I've learned this lesson before as I'm sure many of you have too...and then you get real comfy in life and the way that things are going...when suddenly something happens that smacks you in the face and tugs at your heart only to make you realize this lesson again.  I pray that I can really grasp this lesson finally and live each and every day to its fullest rather than getting comfortable in the routine and monotony that I usually find myself in.  You just never know what is going to happen tomorrow...let alone in an hour or even in the next minute.  Take the time to do the things that you love the most and be with the people who you care about.  Be real.  Don't get caught up in the yucky drama that life brings sometimes - choose to be better, not bitter.  Cuz at the end of the day, none of that crap matters.  The laundry will still be there tomorrow.  Your life will not end because you didn't see that one person's post about their drunken Sunday on Facebook.  Put down your damn cell phone and live in the moment.  Be present - especially with those you love the most.


What Matters: Naps and Snuggles with my Angel

One of my college roommates is getting married this summer in California.  It is going to be the most amazing wedding at one of the most incredible resorts in Southern California - so amazing that the discounted room rates she was able to negotiate for those attending is $300/night.  Yes!  It's family friendly too, so we've decided to make a family vacation out of it...and now in addition to staying at the resort for three nights, we're going to fly in a day earlier than originally planned to take Reagan to Disneyland.  I am so pumped.  It will be so fun to watch her little face light up when she sees Mickey and Minnie are real...as well as Cinderella and Ariel.  Seriously...just the thought of going gives me chills and makes me want to cry.  It's kind of sad that I had to be diagnosed with cancer to lighten up and not worry so much about the budget and following Dave Ramsey's plan to become debt free.  That's still important of course (and honestly if we wouldn't have been so strict with the budget and saving money for unexpected stuff, we would probably not be going or we would've put this on a credit card and just dug ourselves deeper into the debt pit)...but when you're faced with something so crazy and unexpected, the things that really matter - like making memories with my family and friends - are a no brainer. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Bad News Never Has Good Timing...

Yep...I've decided to agree with whoever said that bad news never has good timing. It's true and I challenge whoever reads this to prove it if you feel differently...

I've often questioned God's favor over my specific life - Why all of the blessings? Why am I so lucky to have this pretty perfect life? Why this? Why that? - I've definitely been well aware of the fact that my life is pretty freaking fantastic...thus the "Too Blessed To Be Stressed" title of my blog. Amazing healthy husband, happy and healthy little girl, spunky dog, cute and comfy home, cushy job, opportunity to vacation and live life the way we want for the most part. I have always been skeptical though. I've always kind of been waiting for the fall out. I've been cautiously optimistic at every turn because, you know...things are maybe a little too perfect.

Well...the fall out finally came. Yep. Perfect isn't really the case anymore. Not after this past Tuesday. We all woke-up in our perfect little world on Tuesday with everything as fabulous as it always has been...and then a call from my doctor at 3:30 changed everything. The bad news was here and its timing couldn't have been worse. She told me, "Your pathology report came back and the results are a little more concerning than I expected - can you come in to the office so that I can over everything with you and answer any questions you may have?" Silence...not only was I speechless, I was breathless. Obviously shit is serious when your doctor can't tell you what's wrong with you over the phone, but instead need to talk to you face to face. When I finally was able to talk, I asked her when I could come - she said, "How about today at 5:00?" Really? Are you kidding me? I thought for sure that she was going to say she had an opening later in the week. Shit must be REALLY serious when your doctor wants you to come in the same day.

Kevin and I walked into her office, sat down and tried to listen and digest the words that were coming out of her mouth. "You have adenocarcinoma of the cervix....The treatment for this cancer is surgical...The specific surgery will depend on if you want to have anymore children...A hysterectomy is an option...I'm referring you to a gynecologic oncologist...In my 10 years of private practice, you're my first patient with cancer..."

Wait, what? Are you freaking kidding me? Cancer? Cervical Cancer? Me? I have cervical cancer? My stomach was in my throat. My ears were ringing. My palms were sweaty. But for some reason, I wasn't crying. I was processing. Kevin finally spoke up and said, "So, she has cancer. What's the good news?" To which my doctor replied, "You're going to be ok." Praise The Lord!!!

It wasn't until she went back and repeated the information about a decision to have more children or not, and how that would determine my treatment that I finally lost it. See, we're not certain that we want to have anymore children...but when your back is up against the wall...and someone is telling you that you have cancer and you need to make that decision ASAP...and if you do decide to have another one, you're not going to be able to deliver naturally...you think about it a lot differently. It's a choice that I want to be ours...not a choice made because of some shitty news and a cancer diagnosis.

So, here we are. Five days later. I'm still processing. Some minutes I'm totally good and ready to get this shit taken care of and move on with my perfect little life. Other times, I'm sobbing uncontrollably. Most times, the words "cervical cancer" are on repeat in my head...over and over and over and over again. I'm getting appointments with oncologists scheduled so that we can figure out how we're going to get this shit out of my body.

My cautious optimism wants to believe that there are going to be more positives to this little ditty that we're going through rather than negatives and so with that, I'm looking for the lessons to be learned and shared along the way...there have already been so many in the last five days and I hope to be able to document them here throughout this journey.

First off girlfriends - Go to the doctor!!! If you're having regular annual physicals with a gynecologist, Brav-frickin-O! Keep doing that...forever! If you're not going each and every year, stop reading this post, pick-up your phone and dial your doctor's phone number. NOW! If I weren't vigilant about going to my appointments each year...and then following up and doing each and everything that my doctor told me to do, I wouldn't know that I have cervical cancer. Honestly, nothing is physically different in my life. I don't feel sick. I don't have any symptoms. It doesn't run in my family either. This cancer is completely sporadic and the only way to find it is through a Pap smear...and the sooner you find it, the less invasive surgery is needed and the better your chances are of getting rid of it. So go to the doctor - please!

I appreciate everyone's prayers...