After the 6th treatment of chemo I had a CT scan to see what the cancer was doing. It showed the some of the lymph nodes were smaller, which was great news, but also that the cancer had spread to my spleen, which was the bad news. My Doctor decided that now would be the best time to go in and do a complete hysterectomy and splenectomy.
On Feb 29th 2016 I went in to the hospital to have the surgery. I remember feeling very calm when they wheeled me out of the room to go to surgery. My husband was trying to hid his fear but I told him it was all going to be alright, that God had a plan, and I would see him soon.
I woke up once in the recovery room, they were having a hard time getting my blood pressure down to normal. I told the nurse that this happened every time I have surgery and it just takes a longer time for me to come out of it. I remember laughing and then I was out again.
The next thing I remember was waking up in my room with my husband there asking me how I felt. They had a scope down my throat for the first 24 hours after surgery so they kept me heavily sedated so time lost all meaning for awhile.
On the second day after surgery my doctor came in to let me know they had done several biopsies in different places during surgery and the cancer had spread to my pancreas so I would have to start back on chemo as soon as I was out of the hospital. I spent 5 days in the hospital and then was allowed to go home. I had the ‘zipper’ which is where they opened me up from top to bottom. It’s not a pretty scar but it is what I consider a battle scar in this fight for life.
A week and a half after surgery I was back on chemo every three weeks. I had taken 4 weeks off of work for the surgery but at the end of the 4 weeks I knew I was not going to be able to go back to work anytime soon. I loved my job where I worked for my primary doctor. I ran the front desk and did all the coding and billing for her. I didn’t want to give up my job but I was so tired and being back on the chemo just pulled me down even more. My doctor understood and has been there beside me through this whole cancer fight. She is like a second mom to me and I know she is a big part of why I’m still here and fighting.
The next several months I spent sleeping, going to chemo, sleeping, going to chemo. My life had boiled down to this small point where it was nothing but dealing with the cancer and I was trying so hard to stay positive and happy. Some days it was just to hard and I would bury my head in my pillow and cry and pray for God to take this from me.
My 50th birthday was coming up in September and I kept asking God to please let me be cancer free when I turned 50. A week before my birthday I went for another scan and on the day of my birthday my doctor called and told me I was in remission and there was no sign of cancer anywhere in my body. I remember crying, laughing, and dancing around my house. God had answered my prayer!
As a lot of people do I was dreading turning the big 50. But that day God answered my prayer and it was the best birthday present I could ever have.
I was so excited to be cancer free. I still had to deal with not having a lot of energy but I was determined to enjoy life. I would go for a few days at full tilt and then be bed ridden, so exhausted, for a day or two. A friend of mine who had gone through breast cancer told me that almost 2 years after she was cancer free she still had to deal with low energy levels and everyday things would make her so tired. She told me I had to learn to balance my days, to do a few things and then stop till the next day. That was a hard lesson to learn! I have always been driven to get things done right away and stopping even when I still had energy was difficult.
Christmas is my favorite holiday and the year before the only decorating I did was put up the tree with white lights. I didn’t even have the energy to decorate the tree, much less my home or any of the outside. I was determined this year to go all out. I decorated my home, put up the tree, with decorations. It was a wonderful Christmas and New Year.
I still saw my Oncologist and had labs drawn every month. In March the CA-125 came back at 26. Two points higher than it had been the previous months. I asked her if that meant the cancer was back. She said no she didn’t think so, the CA-125 is not the most stable test and it can fluctuate a point or two. She could tell I was worried so she had me go for a scan again. A week later I had the scan the the next day my doctor called… I had cancer again.
I was so upset, only 6 months in remission. I didn’t feel like I could physically go through this again. That night after getting the news I was watching the show Cooks vs Cons, on Food Network. There would be 4 contestants and 2 would be Professional Chefs and 2 would be amateurs. That night on the show there was a lady from New York that did an amazing job cooking. When it came time to tell her story, she said she had beaten cancer two times. Her attitude and outlook on live was so inspirational. I went to bed that night praying that once again God was give me that great attitude and use me to help other people. I did not want to go through this again but God had healed me once and I knew He would do it again.
My absolutely favorite verse in the bible is Isaiah 40:31
Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, the shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint.
Every time I have been down, so exhausted I could barely get out of bed, when my muscles and joints were screaming in pain I would just keep repeating this verse. One day I am going to walk and not grow weary, I will walk and not faint and I will mount up with wings like eagles and soar.
Every day is a gift from God and we have to choose how to live that day. I had spent my life racing forward to what’s next… After the cancer diagnose I begin to slow down and start looking around at the world, my family, my friends, my neighbors and I started to realize what was really worth living for. It wasn’t the job, the promotions, more money, a new car, or a big house. It was the people around me. What could I do to help someone else? I believe God gives all of us special gifts. Sometimes we know right away what that gift is and other times we have to search and wait on God to show us the gift. When you turn eyes away from yourself and start looking for ways to help other people, it is amazing how much better you feel and even how much more energy you can have in a day.
In writing this blog and working to raise the money to go to the clinic outside of the US for cancer treatment I am praying daily that God will use my story and this gift to help other people. Whether you are going through cancer now or some other kind of illness I pray that I can give you hope, inspiration, laughter, and a new day to explore.
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