Hey friends. There’s been an awkwardly long gap in between posting about my health journey and cancer diagnosis. Life has been crazy and we’ve had a major unexpected thing happen that we are trying to sort out. I know that is so dang vague and I’m sorry but until it’s sorted out I don’t want to share about it. I will say that we are all healthy, no one is in trouble, and we are striving to find joy amidst a confusing and stressful time. ANYWAY all that to say, I already feel so far removed from my cancer journey because we have this new crazy thing we are dealing with. But I definitely want to sit down and share the rest of my cancer story, so here goes part two.
I left you off last with this “It felt like YEARS waiting for 8 am to roll around so that I could call my doctor’s office to get an appointment ASAP.”
I called and they didn’t have an appointment open until a week later. I asked if they could get me in sooner and she shared they couldn’t but if they had a cancellation she would call me. God is so good and not but 10 minutes later I got a call back that someone cancelled and I could be seen in two days! My appointment day rolled around and my doctor was great. She sat and listened to me and my explanation of my odd symptoms and then did a physical exam. She touched my abdomen and immediately made a shocked face and asked if I had a family history of cancer. Wow that’s not a great question to be asked so quickly. That definitely freaked me out but as the appointment went on and she affirmed me more and more that it was so unlikely it was cancer. She sent me off to get some ultrasounds and bloodwork done and ordered STAT results so that we could find out immediately what we were dealing with. An odd thing while I was getting one of the ultrasounds is when the tech said “did you know you have a retroflexed (backwards) uterus?” I replied I didn’t because going through infertility I had a pretty good knowledge of what my uterus was like (lol) and it was not retroflexed (turns out my tumor was so big that it flipped my uterus backwards. What.). Anyway, the next morning came around and I was headed to a play date with some of my mama friends and our babies. I was just about to get out of the car when my doctor called. She shared that I had a 21×21 centimeter ovarian cyst with some concerning dark features. It did not surprise me. Something was obviously going on down there. I had what looked and felt like a pregnant belly but definitely no baby inside. We made another appointment to talk about surgery and talk options and then I nonchalantly strolled into the play date and shared the news with my friends. They were shocked that I was so chill about it but after going through all of the crazy reproductive health issues I had this seemed super unideal of course but not shocking.
The next day I went to my appointment. My husband came too because we knew it would be a big appointment with some big decisions to be made. My doctor shared all about the tiny so small eensy weensy chance that my giant ovarian tumor could be cancerous. We talked about all of my options. Seeing an oncologist, getting my surgery with an oncologist, my doctor doing the surgery but making a 12 inch incision in my abdomen so as not to rupture the tumor, or just trusting that the crazy one in a million odds of this thing being cancerous were so low that we would just do a simple laparoscopic surgery with my doctor and she would drain the cyst and cut it up inside me to get it out so that I wouldn’t have an intense multiple month recovery. She talked with the oncologist too about this and he agreed I was probably fine, had me do tumor marker blood work which all came back normal, and then left us with the decision. Ultimately we chose to do laparoscopic with her because we have a busy life and a toddler and we felt so comfortable with the incredibly low odds of cancer that it seemed overkill to do any of the other options.
Surgery day rolled around. The surgery went well and I awoke to the news that my ovarian was in fact a dermoid cyst which is so weird and rare. Y’all. It had hair, teeth, and rib cartilage in it. What. WHAT.? Fascinating but ew! Oh and we wouldn’t find this out for another week or so but it also had cancer all up in it too. I stayed in the hospital for most of the day and was finally released to go home that night.
The first 3 days of recovery were HORRIBLE. I was in so much pain and so dang nauseous. I guess when you have a 21 cm part of your body removed you don’t feel too cool for a bit. Anyway, we had amazing family and friends doing everything for us. I was on strict bed rest the first 2 weeks so I couldn’t do much of anything for myself or my family. The love we received in form of babysitting, food, gifts, and house cleaning was so beyond anything I could have ever dreamed up. People were SO kind to me and my family and I am forever grateful for that in our great time of need.
One week and one day passed. It was a Friday morning and I was lying in bed reading when I got a phone call. A phone call that changed everything and took away my naïve sense of being totally fine and healthy. It was my doctor’s nurse. She called and said “the doctor received the pathology results and she would like to see you today at 5 when her office closes.” Sucker punch to the gut. I simply said “ok” and said I would be there and hung up. I was so scared. I was too scared to ask or say or hear anything else. My doctor had assured me multiple times that I didn’t need to be seen or looked at until my two week post op appointment but now all of a sudden she is in a rush to see me on a Friday at the end of a long workday for her with my pathology results. I knew exactly what it meant. I immediately felt like I was dying. Mentally I went to the worst case scenario thinking “my daughter has already lost one mom and now she is going to lose another.”
Friday March 2 was a curveball. One of those curveballs that will forever change your life. Friday March 2 was one of the most difficult, emotional, anxiety ridden days of my life. I was alone most of the day with the knowledge that I was probably not ok but I had no idea what exactly was wrong with me other than it was something big. It felt like a lifetime waiting from 9 am when I got the call to 5 pm when I got to my doctor’s office.
After many hours of the kind of anxiety that takes away your breath and stabs your stomach I told my husband that I just wanted to have an hour with our little family. It was a gorgeous perfect spring day outside so we went to a nearby park and this was also my first time outside in over a week. I chose to block the impending doom of some unexpected diagnosis that would radically change my life just for that hour. To exist, to be a mom, a wife, a person who loves soaking up the sun and gorgeous spring days. We took that hour together and it was perfect. We needed that before all of the crazy hit.