Thursday, July 21, 2011

20 Days

    It’s been exactly 20 days since we first learned cancer cells have again decided to take house within my body; 20 days of tests, doctors, & waiting - which is, without a doubt, the worst & most difficult part of it all. Hearing “you have cancer” is no easier or any less scary than it is the first time you hear those 3 words; it still makes your knees buckle & your stomach come up to your throat; it still makes your breath leave your body & your words escape your mind. It still turns your world upside-down & puts your future right back in limbo. Bottom still shakes you to your core.
    In the past few weeks, I’ve been referred to a new surgeon who specializes in Colorectal surgery - the only problem? He’s about 2 & ½ hrs away, which when it comes down to it, it wouldn’t matter if he was 1000 miles away - if he can help me, we would be there. We took our first trip to meet him last week; I, once again, had those little butterflies in my stomach - wondering what would be the next step in this oh-so-unpredictable journey. So far, all we know is that there is a (around) 1.0 cm tumor “somewhere” down in the rectal canal. Our new surgeon (“Dr. C”) is concerned it may be attached to bone somewhere - perhaps the tailbone or the sacrum, which could make surgery a little more risky in comparison to a “free-floating” tumor. If the tumor is attached to bone, then we move on to how high or how low it is "fixed" - that specific information is what will determine if it’s operable, because wherever it may be fixed, that portion of bone will have to be removed along with the tumor. After we decide whether it is or is not operable, then we move on to my old friend, chemotherapy. Aside from that, the only next step we know is tests, tests, & more tests!
     Yesterday, I was lucky enough to spend 2 hours under an MRI machine, enjoying the very calming & soothing sounds of the very massive, very claustrophobic piece of technology. 2 hours you ask? Well, after I spent the first 45 minutes laying as still as I could, a tech came in & told me they had made a “little” mistake - they did a complete lumbar take when, in actuality, all I needed was a sacrum take. So, lucky me, I was, again, able to lay in the overwhelmingly peaceful array of beeps, screeches, and a variety of other lovely sounds for another 45 minutes, oh, and let me add - -it felt amazing on my tailbone! (*Please note the very sarcastic tone behind this entire paragraph!) So, a big thank you to the state of WV for spending $5000 in 2 hours for my medical needs. Go Mountaineers. ;)
    As for what’s next - I have a CT (...contrast here I come!) scheduled for next week &, hopefully, after the results are sent to Dr. C, we’ll be able to set up a game plan & get started.
    I’m not going to lie - I’ve done my fair share of (daily) crying and “why me?” over the past 20 days. I’ve been mad, sad, & every other emotion in between & I’m sure that will only continue over this journey, but I’m ready. The gloves are back on & I’m back in the ring.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Round 2

     I originally started this blog to tell you the story of what my life once was: a way to look back & reflect on the past year I had spent within the cancer world. I started this blog as a “survivor” & now I will continue this blog as, once again, a cancer “warrior”. On July 01, 2011, after a CT guided biopsy of a 1.2 cm tumor that showed up on my latest PET scan a week earlier, I was again diagnosed with Stage 3 Rectal Cancer.
    It has been a little under 11 months since my first surgery where my tumor & entire rectum were removed, along with a permanent colostomy fixed to my stomach. It has been a little under 5 months since my last cycle of chemotherapy entered my veins; a little under 4 months since I was officially in remission - a short, but very much appreciated time of my life. It’s feel so surreal to find myself in this strangely familiar territory of conflicting schedules, calendar dates, & introductions to new doctors and staff. As of right now, we have a very rough, undefined game plan: I will, again, have surgery to remove my tumor - this time in Pittsburgh, PA and will, then, receive an unknown number of cycles & dosage of chemotherapy. I invite you to tag along on this journey with me - I will be updating as regularly as possible. Here we go again.