Hey friends! So have you heard? I’ve been diagnosed with cancer. Sounds awful, right?! It definitely hasn’t been ideal. Cancer is a total bully.
Our cancer adventure began on September 30th . The week prior, we traveled to Lake Powell for an end-of-summer celebration and I was shocked, appalled and horrified when I looked at our pictures. I looked at least six months pregnant! Oh joy. Throughout the trip, I kept grabbing Jack’s hand and forcing him to feel how hard my abdomen felt. I assumed that if it was the result of fries and cookies, it wouldn’t feel like I’d swallowed a watermelon. I somehow survived three days of wave running, boating and sleeping on a foam pad before we headed home. Sitting was quite impossible–I had a weird pain in my upper abdomen near my ribs. I brushed it off as an unfortunate result of our road trip diet.
Once we got home and the pain intensified, I started piecing everything together. We had been exercising frequently throughout the summer and had stopped eating sugar and fries, but my belly was still getting bigger. I just continued to live my life assuming my metabolism was dying a slow, age-induced death. I also noticed that I hadn’t been able to eat more than 5-10 bites of food per meal for the past 3 weeks. I had an appetite and was hungry, but when I ate I felt bloated and full really quickly.
The next day, I was at work and could hardly walk or stand up straight. The pain was terrible. I was in the break room with two of my friends discussing what was happening and getting their advice: primary care physician the next day or Instacare immediately? While we were discussing, another co-worker came in and asked if we were okay. We gave her a brief summary and she said, “If you were my daughter, we’d already be there.” That was enough. I headed to Instacare and told them the problem. The doctor said that he was honestly hoping it was a gallbladder infection or a surprise baby. The tests ruled out both. He suggested I meet with my doctor as soon as possible.
The next day I had an appointment and was planning on using my lunch break to see the doctor. I was fully anticipating a prescription for an antibiotic or some other routine fix. My hopes were quickly dashed after I showed my doctor my adorable (sarcasm—get it?) pot belly. He pressed around and said, “I think you need to get a CAT scan today.” In a short, single sentence, everything I had most feared was becoming my new reality.
I got the doctor’s written order and was told to head next door for the scan. I staggered to the registration office with tears in my eyes while texting Jack, “I think I have a tumor.” I silently handed over my paper that read “abdominal mass” to the kind lady that gave me the first of many sympathetic looks.
My doctor told me to come back to his office after the test. They brought Jack and I to a room and we waited. And waited. They told us the images were taking a bit longer than expected. After maybe 45 minutes of stress and more abdominal pain, the doctor came in and said, “I talked to the oncologist and…” The oncologist?! I immediately stopped listening for the next ten seconds. How was this even real? He gently informed us that I had a massive tumor that definitely wasn’t supposed to be living inside me. It was taking up nearly all of the right side of my abdominal cavity. We both stared at the screen as he pointed out the reasons for all my symptoms: the tumor had compressed my bladder basically in half, my shortness of breath was the result of the beast pushing against my lungs. My lower back pain? The gigantic tumor was sitting on my lower vertebrae.
He gave us the name of the very best oncologist who had recommended we get the tumor out as soon as possible. We agreed. We left the office holding hands and silently absorbing everything we had just been told. How will we tell our families? Would I get fired? Will I make it to Christmas? Will Bella remember me if I die? Who will Jack’s new wife be? All highly important questions. Obviously.
The very next night, I was doubled over and crying like I’ve never cried before. We rushed to the emergency room and they gave me pain killers to make it through the night. I pride myself on my pain tolerance and yet, this was unbelievable. There was nothing to be done except whisper constant prayers and stay as still as possible. The next morning (Wednesday) I was flat on my back. The oncologist had scheduled me for surgery on Monday and I was supposed to be taking it easy while awaiting my surgery. Where did we end up that night? Back in the ER! #lucky.
On Thursday afternoon, the doctor came in to discuss the surgery. I was so overwhelmed, but grateful the pain would be alleviated. When I woke up from surgery (14 pounds lighter! Take that diet + exercise), I started yelling and thrashing. The pain coming from my abdomen was the worst thing ever. And I thought it couldn’t get any worse! The nurse rushed over and loosened the abdominal binder and gave me a pain killer. We stayed in the hospital for 5 days then made the painful journey home.
The next two and a half months were hard. Like really, really hard. Walking was next to impossible and part of my incision didn’t heal. Awesome, huh? Although every single day was a major battle, I realized every minute that I have the best people in my life. I’ve never been more grateful for my family, friends, coworkers and of course, my incredible husband. This experience is far from over, but I’m grateful for the progress I’ve made and that I no longer have a 14 pound tumor living inside me. Gross.
Stay tuned for updates! My bed-ridden self is the most overjoyed when I get uplifting texts, links to cat videos or emails of my favorite things. And if you’d like to see videos of me on hospital drugs, let me know. I apparently entertained a great many patients and hospital staff with a hobbling, semi-conscious version of the Whip/Nae Nae. #GoMe