Family picture taken 1 week after diagnoses

Family picture taken 1 week after diagnoses

Friday, February 28, 2014

How do we tell them?

   On our way home we knew that the hard part was ahead... Telling our families. This was the hardest part for me. I knew how sad they would be. I hated to be the reason for that. My mom had just lost her mom, and now I would tell her that her only daughter has cancer.
   How would the kids react. They knew the word, CANCER. It was a dirty word to them. We had prayed, and were praying for many people who were in the middle of their battle, some that had died. They knew...
   We broke the news to the kids over morning snuggles in our bed. Alton gasped, Carter wanted to know if I was going to die. We did our best to reassure them that though we didn't know, we did know that God was going take care of us, so we needn't worry. They seemed satisfied and comforted. I was sort of surprised it went so well. I knew that they didn't really get it, and that was probably best. 
     There were lots of tears and disbelief that 4th day of December. I was sad all day, but it wasn't for me, it was for everyone else. To be honest, I was relieved in a way. Relieved to finally know what  was wrong with me.
    We spent the morning giving sad news, crying with loved ones, and praying together. The day was  busy with visitors and phone calls. A welcomed distraction from the reality of the news we had received the night before. I was exhausted by the time the day had come to an end, and the last visitor was walked to the door. Exhausted. Comforted. Overwhelmed. But not by the circumstances. Overwhelmed by the mass amount of people that loved us, were sorrowing for and with us. That feeling would continue.
    Thursday morning we woke early for our drive to Stanford for the morning PET scan and then an MRI that afternoon. My mood was different this day. As we headed down 132, my heart felt heavy, and the tears started to slowly roll. Lewis misses nothing these days. He took my hand asking if I was alright. " yesterday, I was sad for everyone else... But today, I'm sad for me."
    I cried for a little while longer but then I was done. And I mean done. No more tears that day. We listened to Matt Mahor, "Lord, I need you" the entire way. It felt good to know that we would get no results today. I wasn't sure that I wanted to know the results of these tests, so it was nice that for today, I could just enjoy my husband.
    The PET scan was interesting. I didn't realize that I would be radioactive for 24 hours and not even able to be within a few feet of my kids for a prolonged period of time. Crazy! The gal comes out wearing heavy duty gloves, carrying a metal cylinder that she hooks up to my IV and pumps into me. "And I was worried about eating canned soup", I thought. It was seriously comical to me.
    When the test was over, we had a few hours before my MRI. So we headed to  P.F. Changs for lunch and and did a little shopping at the Palo Alto mall. I remember being pretty tired as we strolled hand in hand, window shopping. I still wasn't feeling well and now it made sense why.
    The day was almost like a date-day with my husband. Like a honeymoon period or calm before the storm. I remember this day fondly. It was special. Lewis and I were more in love then ever, and were cherishing each moment. Holding hands like newlyweds, and I even got public kisses. Anyone who knows Lewie knows this does not happen. But everything had changed, and it would never be the same. The things that used to be a big deal weren't anymore.
   This Thursday was definately one of my favorite days together. I think we both knew that tomorrow the news could get much worse. Today we were still in the dark, but tomorrow, knowledge would come to us. Knowledge we may not want.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

D-day! The journey begins

I've decided to revisit my blog. I think the things I'm sharing and experiencing could be meaningful and helpful to my children in the future. I started journals for each of the kids so that I can write personal things to them, but this will be a different side of things. The day to day side of things.
Here we go:
August- began coughing. A dry cough, with no fever, cold or other symptoms. I thought nothing of it.
September- cough becomes more persistent and Lewis keeps telling me to get to the doctor. I knew they would give me an allergy medicine or antibiotic, and since I was nursing I would do neither. So why bother?
October - cough is annoying me and effecting my sleep. I am now noticing back pain, as well as a pain around my heart. I make a dr. appointment by the end of the month. Was given an allergy medicine (which I didn't take) and an inhaler.
November - I'm getting worse. Cough is horrible. I can't even have a conversation now. I try the inhaler. It doesn't really make a difference. I call the dr. again and this time I asked for the chest X-ray  he had mentioned, and blood work. I get a call that same day. I have pneumonia. Can't avoid the
antibiotics. He also mentioned that both he and the radiologist thought it strange that a young healthy woman would have two occurrences of pneumonia within two years of each other, and he would like me to see a pulmonary specialist. I agreed and requested I be sent to Stanford (just in case it was something serious).
   My appointment was made for January 7th. My doctor followed up with them and told them they needed to see my NOW. I had an appointment the next day. Met with a Dr. Kahzeni. She thought I had valley fever and was wondering why I was even there. I didn't LOOK sick. So I get it, but I thought her rude and unhelpful.
    She strung me along for two weeks with tests to see if I had valley fever that all failed. Finally she said she would have to do a bronchoscopy. That didn't sound like a good time to me, but I was getting desperate to know what was wrong with me. I was feeling pretty crummy by now with very little
energy and a horrible cough. Cancer crossed my mind... Nah! That's crazy!
  Lucky for me Kahzeni doesn't do Broncs. So I was turned over to Dr. Sung. He immediately ordered a CT scan. He wondered why it had not been done before this? Then, depending on the results, he would order the bronc.
December -  Lewis and I headed to Stanford on December 3rd and started the day with a CT scan with contrast. By the time we made it to the Doctors Office he had seen the scan and ordered the bronc. When we met with him he was very nonchalant. He knew... He had to, But he didn't want to believe what he saw till he knew for sure.
    He cancelled a meeting to get me in sooner. I had the Bronchoscopy at noon. It was awful! I was coughing of course and then began gagging on the scope they had down my throat. I kept telling myself that I can breath even though it felt like I couldn't and just stay calm. The Doctors were really nice and reassuring. I still had no idea.
     While I was in recovery, Dr. Sung shared his suspicions of cancer with, Lewie. He told him that if I wasn't 34 he would say its cancer. Lewis cried and told him "you don't understand. She is the love of my life! We have four kids. She CAN'T have cancer!" The doctor cried with Lewis.
   When Lewis came in to see me I was all smiles, but he was fighting tears. "They're looking into the possibility that it's cancer." He said. I was fairly unfazed. "let's not worry about it until we know for sure."  Looking back now I would not have been so calm if I had been putting the pieces together.
   Unbeknownst to me they had put a rush on my biopsy. They said from here they wanted me to head over to get an ultrasound because there was fluid around my heart and they wanted to be sure it was functioned properly before they send us home. Then we would meet back at the office to discuss the results. I was hoping I wouldn't be hospitalized.
   One of the doctors personally escorted us to the ultrasound. I thought nothing of it but Lewis was wondering why they were being so helpful.
    When we arrived back at the doctors office things were pretty dead. It was well after 5pm now and probably getting close to 6pm.
    When the doctors came in Dr. Sung sat knee to knee with me before he said, " this isn't going to be easy to hear... It's Cancer.".
    I was aware of Lewis crying next to me as he tightly held my hand. I stoically was taking in the information:
Surgery was not an option, my treatment would be chemo.
It was also found in my lymph nodes.
My heart was functioning fine so no worries there.
There would be more tests on Thursday,  a PET scan and brain MRI.
Friday I would meet my oncologist.
Don't google anything!
   They also asked about our support system and faith, saying this helped my odds. He also mentioned the possibility of my cancer being part of a mutation that would then just be treated with a pill. Sounding promising, we would hope for that.
   They reassured us that they were there to help us with anything they could. Was there anything?
   At this point the information stopped coming. I think this is when my tears began. When the word, "Cancer" was mentioned, My immediate thought was, "Struck down, but not destroyed". It kept coming to me as if God himself was near, whispering into my ear. And he was near. As He always has been.
    I told them I would fight hard, and do whatever it took to beat this. I had four little reasons at
home ...
    Diagnoses day was dubbed D-day. But the week wasn't over. There was more to come.