Sunday, March 5, 2017

Step 2: Facing the Future

Journal entries:

Friday, March 18, 2016

I am not telling my family yet. My kids just lost their father, to cancer, less than two months ago. How can I now tell them their mother has it too? Too soon, too much for me emotionally. Lord help me with this, show me how to tell them. I am going to wait until we know more, possibly next Wednesday, after we have seen the surgeon. They have to realize I am different than their dad, different health, different cancer. But I have to spare them, help them. Lord, increase my love and my compassion.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Nervous about Monday's testing. And new surgeon on Wednesday. Hysterectomy soon. Beach trip with the church the end of this month will probably not happen, I was told by the doctor. We will give our spot away, hoping the church can send someone in our place. Feels good to think someone may benefit. But Lord, please give me strength for the coming days.

Moving forward...

Diagnosis received. Plans made. Preparing for and scheduling the attack on this disease. And wondering, all the time wondering, what will this be like? How will I feel? Am I going to be a brave and good patient, or will I wither up and become the proverbial crybaby? Lots of emotions, fears, and wondering.

My CT went well. I am claustrophobic, so had a bit of trepidation at first, but the two techs were both wonderful, and new how to calm me. One ran the machine, one held my hand. I did fine. But while talking to me he asked me when I was getting my port-a-cath. I must have looked like a deer in the headlights! He backed up a moment and I guess I was speechless, because all of a sudden he was apologizing, saying he had just assumed...

I had never even thought about it. Never even crossed my mind that I might need a catheter placed to receive chemotherapy. The thought shocked me. I mean, I hadn't even seen the oncology surgeon yet to even really discuss the surgery itself, let alone what was coming after! When I looked at the tech's face, I felt so bad for him! Bless his heart, he had just made a mistake. So I told him, no I had not even seen the surgeon, so I did not know any of the possibilities, the needs, the options, at that point. We kinda laughed it off, and he really did help me through the testing. All was well. Well, except that now chemotherapy was on my mind. And two days yet before I would see the surgeon and get some answers.

And get some answers I did. My husband accompanied me to my visit with the oncology surgeon. I immediately liked her. She is German, and has a delightful accent. But what I really liked was her forthrightness, her openness, her total honesty. I didn't need candy-coated responses, or speeches about the success of the fight against cancer, or anything else. I needed her to tell me what I had, what she could do about it, and what my prognosis was. I needed to know how my life would be altered, changed, something different than I have always known. And she told me, she told us. She asked for questions, and we asked them. Since I work in the medical field, I knew many questions to ask, but my husband was the one. He asked questions I never even thought about, and I could tell the doctor was impressed too!

By the time we left there, we were satisfied that this was a fight we could win. Even though we both knew that there are definite unknowns with all cancer, the doctor was well prepared for us. While she set us at ease immediately, she also explained that while uterine cancer, with surgery and post-treatment, has a very high rate of success, the type I had was 'poorly differentiated'. I have seen this wording in medical reports often, but did not really understand what that meant. It means the cells are sneaky, and like to blend in with other cells, sometimes making it hard to target and destroy them. My tumor was large, and very close to the back of the lining of my uterus. So there was a bit of concern that some cells may be able to escape into the pelvic cavity. She explained the need for a little bit of radiation. She did not sense a need for chemo and she felt I had an excellent prognosis.

When the visit was over, she took us to the nurse who scheduled the surgery right then and there. My doctor stayed until we were done, and when the date was decided, congratulated us. Yes, she did! Why? Because due to scheduling issues and preparations they would have to make, the date of the surgery would be after our beach trip! And she told me, 'You need to go and have fun!'. The surgery was scheduled for April 5th, 2016, a Tuesday, three days after we would return from the beach!

My husband immediately made a call to our connections pastor, who said we still had our reservation. God is indeed a very good God!

"For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and His faithfulness continues to each generation."  
-- Psalm 100:5


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Step 1: Knowing Something Was Wrong & Doing Something About It

Journal entries:

Saturday, March 5, 2016:
"Facing surgery next Tuesday. Results will reveal cancer or not. Feeling nervous, but also trusting God. 'My hope is in the Lord.' "

Sunday, March 6, 2016:
"Getting closer to surgery and feeling a bit more nervous. But realizing small joys will overtake the fear. Thank You, Jesus."

In the beginning...

I knew for some time that something was not quite right. I was tired more often than normal. I actually felt listless, like I just wanted to check out and off of anything that might require more than a little time, or concentration. A full day of work left me exhausted. I didn't even have the 'want to' to write, which is a total contradiction to my reality. I love to write, so when that became a chore, I really began to wonder if God was trying to tell me something.

Of course He was, but at first I was not listening to HIS voice, I was listening to that other one, the one we are warned against, the enemy, satan.  You will notice I did not capitalize his name. He does not deserve it. There ya go. I thought God was telling me that HE did not like what or how I was writing, that I really could not write at all, and that I was just trying to be a writer, but was deceiving myself all the way. So of course, it follows that I started feeling somewhat depressed, deprived, misled. By God Himself.

I was wrong, and I know it now. Once I understood I had an issue with my health, I realized He was freeing me up from my already hectic schedule, and preparing me for a journey I had not knowingly chosen, but was on partly because of my lack of wisdom in continuing the post-menopausal healthcare women should seek. We think we are past those needs simply because we are older, but I can tell you, that just is not true. More women have more serious conditions than we realize because they have bought into an untruth about menopause.

God was talking to me all the time, I was just so busy with work, and my totally crazy schedule of activities, that I was not taking the time to hear what He was saying. He did not tell me I could not write, or that He was displeased with me. He was telling me to slow down, to spend time with Him, and to put the really important things first and foremost. Which also included my health.

When my symptoms became so obvious I could no longer explain them away, I went to see a gynecologist. After some initial testing, questioning, history taking/providing, and examinations, I had a minor surgery which included a few different procedures, along with removal of a large polyp, or fibroid, and other biopsies from my uterus. And a week later I met with the surgeon and was told it was cancer.

She spent time explaining it, and what needed to be done, and what she felt my prognosis was, and the usual things a doctor will say. She stopped suddenly, looking at me and asking me if I was okay. I smiled and said yes, I was fine. So she continued on, and then stopped again, wanting to know if I wanted her to call someone for me. She had met my husband, and suggested calling him. I told her no, I was fine. I could tell she was not convinced, but I had that smile plastered on my face.

She then examined me to make sure I was healing okay, which I was. And she called another surgeon in to meet me, who I was familiar with.  He and another lady surgeon, whose name I was familiar with from my work, would be working as a team to do a total hysterectomy, robotic, with all the cancer staging and accompanying procedures that are done during these kinds of surgeries. My doctor had also already set me up for a CT scan that following week, two days before I would have a consult with the other surgeon, who is an oncology specialist. So all points were covered, all arrangements made, except for the actual date.
And I remained calm, cool, and collected. And smiling.

I walked back to work after this very revealing encounter. My eyes got a bit wet on the way, but I pulled myself together quickly. I knew about these things. I knew the reputations of all my doctors. I knew I was in good hands. More than that, I knew Whose Great Hands I was already in. But still, while calm on the outside, my inside was confused, befuddled, trying to understand and compartmentalize all the information I had just been provided with. In short, I was a mess, but just wasn't showing it.

I went back to my office, told my boss I was going home, and got in my car. I called my husband, and he came home early to meet me there. And we talked, and still I smiled, and held back the conflicting emotions going on inside. He was adamant about going with me to my appointment with the oncology surgeon. I was okay with that. He is a comfort always in difficult times. So we knew we had a problem and we knew we had a plan. We were embarking on a new kind of journey, one of many we had already completed. This one was different. This one held different kinds of obstacles, emotions, possibilities, some that could be life-changing and life-threatening. But a journey we had to take, just the same.

"Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust Him, and He will help you." 
                                                                                                           Psalm 37:5