I guess we’re doing this… I officially have cancer (read about my first experience here). Robert and I have decided we’re going to talk about our journey a bit more on my blog and if you’ve been following my social media you know that we had a successful surgery and have been recovering all week in the hospital. So thankful to God! But we want to go back a bit and talk about how we got here…
After we found out that the tumors were back, growing and rather large we met with our Gynecological surgeon who did an exam and we began discussion on doing a surgery to get out the tumors. We don’t want to use real names so we’ll call her Dr. T. Dr. T was pretty straight with us and showed us our MRI from February that was completely clear, so these tumors (and there were several) grew really rapidly… Dr. T then told us how risky this surgery potentially was and that she was hesitant about this option. There was almost a certainty that there would be a hysterectomy, a possible spleen removal, and possibly a temporary or permanent colostomy bag… WHAT?! And of course the surgery would be so invasive that it could greatly impact my future quality of life. Dr. T was so sweet and spent extra time answering all of our questions, and Robert had many, as he wrote all of the insanely long medical terms in his notebook.
We left that appointment pretty down, we were not excited about the seriousness of this surgery. It was really hard to go home right after that, we ended up grabbing a healthy dinner at a spot we like near Dr.T’s office and then we sat in the car and watched the sunset as we listened to an audio book and some music… There were definitely some tears and prayers that night.
Other posts in this series
Our next appointment was with our head Oncologist doctor, we’ll call him Dr. S. Dr. S is a leading Sarcoma expert and helped walk us through the options we have. Dr. S was telling us the treatment that would best work for this kind of tumor (we hope), called MtOR inhibitor. At this point we were hoping to jump right in to treatment and avoid surgery but the growths were far too large and growing too quickly for this to work. BLARG! After consulting with the UCLA cancer board, Dr. S very strongly recommended we pursue surgery first then follow up with treatment. This was a Tuesday July 28th…
So next we had one more doctor to talk to, we’ll call her Dr. A and she’s the lead Oncological surgeon. Dr. S told us she would call us and explain this complicated surgery Friday afternoon. She didn’t call Friday, Saturday, Sunday and it wasn’t until Monday evening that we were finally able to talk with her. THAT was a looooong weekend. It was hard to be present but we tried to spend as much time with the kids as possible and be patient.
When Dr. A finally called it was a huge relief, she said that the surgery was risky but she’s very experienced had done a lot of work like this before. She sounded very confident and put many of our fears at rest. And of course we believed her because at that point, what else is there to do? You have to trust your doctors… Lots of prayer, Bible reading, youtube cancer video watching, rabbit holes of research, conversations with family, some tears and finally the decision. Let’s do this surgery.
Now because of Covid and the unavailability of one of the surgeons we were scheduled for surgery two weeks from that Monday, August 17th. Funny enough this is the anniversary of the first date Robert and I ever went on 16 years ago. Those next two weeks seemed like months, like much of 2020 has felt.
During the lead up to the surgery we also had to have a serious conversation with the kiddos. We didn’t quite know how to do this, so Robert called one of his closest friends who’s father fought cancer throughout his childhood. His advice was to be as honest as possible, maybe leaving out some of the nit and gritty, but the kids are sharp and catch on quickly, so don’t hide anything.
So… we sat them down and told them mom’s tumor came back and it’s now officially cancer. My sweet daughter asked, “You mean like the type you lose your hair and stuff?” And Robert said, “yes, but hopefully that won’t happen, we have a great plan and team of surgeons etc etc.” I think the gravity of it all hit them throughout the conversation and there were awkward questions, tears and hugs. Robert then read some passages from the Bible. He talked with them through Daniel and the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, “If the God we serve exists, then He can rescue us from the furnace… but even if He does not rescue us, we want you as king to know we will not serve your gods…” – Daniel Chapter 3. Sometimes God saves us from the trials set before us, sometimes he doesn’t or somewhere in between but either way He is good.
The kids were really engaged during this conversation discussing how each new challenge we’re faced with can be overcome. Whether the Covid situation (which has been very difficult on the kids as well) or the recurrence of my cancer, these difficulties prepare us for the next challenge, and we can be thankful because of God’s faithfulness to our hearts through Jesus.
This has not been an easy season but we feel God’s presence. Leading up to the surgery was super scary and we really didn’t know how it would turn out. So fast forward to Monday morning, our surgery day. We have to be at the hospital at 7am, with the surgery at 9. We make our way to see our doctors and that’s when I said bye to Robert, he would wait in the lobby during the surgery.
I walked into the pre-op area and they started to get me ready for the surgery, I was a little less anxious then I thought I was going to be. At this point I strangely felt at peace with everything and I think part of it was because of all the prayers and well-wishes leading up to it. And I really believed my surgical team was amazing and could do what they said they could do.
Robert was receiving texts throughout the surgery and was sharing those with my family and close friends. At around 3pm he received a text that said the surgery was completed and a doctor will be out soon. The surgeons originally anticipated it could take 4-10 hours but it was just under 4 hours, this was either really good or really bad… About 15 minutes later Dr. A came out and told Robert the surgery was very successful! (See my social media post here).
So next it’s hospital recovery time, but that’s for another post. If you’ve read this far, thank you so much for coming on this journey with me and my family. Thanks to the entire AMAZING surgical team and Dr. A and Dr. T who are truly inspiring women who saved my life!
Thank you so much to my family for all the support. Robert has been by my side through this whole thing, My mom flew out to help with my business and around the house, my dad is taking care of the kids while I’m at the hospital and for all the rest of my family and friends that have reached out with such gracious love and support, thanks! We even received several loving calls from our pastor, and of course the out pouring on social media is truly humbling. It’s hard for me to respond to all the comments, texts, messages… so please know I’m getting them and am thankful for your thoughts and prayers.
There’s no way out of our situation, we have to just get through it the best way we can. I’m glad you are all on our ship through these stormy waters. I’m so grateful you’re here.