The Truth About Cancer: Part 3

After my “probably cancer” diagnosis

I had this brief feeling of mourning. You know that deep sadness you get when you hear that someone died? I felt like that. It was like I was mourning my own inevitable death, but then that feeling just pissed me off. I wasn’t dead yet and I wasn’t going to go without a fight. I was preparing for this battle that was happening between my mind and my body. It’s like mentally preparing for war. I knew the odds were against me but I couldn’t just lay down and die. It would be painful and it would be ugly but I had no choice. This is the Truth About Cancer: Part 3.

My dad was standing in the driveway as we pulled up. I couldn’t look him in the eye. I couldn’t look anyone in the eye. We sat everyone down and I opened my mouth to deliver the news but nothing came out. I physically could not say the word “cancer”. I didn’t want my kids to think their mommy was dying so I tried my best to protect them from that thought. In fact, they never really knew the seriousness of the situation. I didn’t know the right way to tell them. There is no manual on how to tell your children you have cancer and I didn’t have time to Google it! Maybe I should have prepared them for the worst and hoped for the best. Who knows what strategy would have been best but I didn’t have the heart to even mention the “C” word. I just held them and cried as these words kept playing in my mind:

“My babies need a mom. Why is this happening to them? God, please save their mother.”

the truth about cancer

 

Two days later, I went into the hospital for a biopsy.

I’ve never had a biopsy and I didn’t know what to expect. I assumed that I would go into surgery under General Anesthesia and wake up after it was all over. Instead, I was taken into an imaging room where more images of the mass were taken and markings were being strategically placed on my back. I was completely unaware of what was to happen next. They gave me IV medications that were (according to them) supposed to sedate me. One nurse held my hand as they took these long needles and started to jab them through my back and into the tumor. It felt like they were hammering a knife into my body. One apparatus wasn’t working sufficiently so they repeated the procedure again. It was so incredibly painful as I felt every single hammering stab. I wanted to kick and scream but I couldn’t move or they would have stabbed my liver or lung or whatever organs were nearby. So, I held my breath, I moaned and I squeezed that nurses hand as hard as I could until the brief torture was over.

I was quickly referred to the Mayo Clinic in Arizona where the real work began. There was a lot of blood work and then there was more blood work. Imaging was done from my head to my feet and everything in between. I felt like I was literally a lab rat. By the end of all these tests we discovered that I not only had the one giant tumor in my pancreas but I had one small tumor in my brain above my eyebrow, one in my neck inside the spinal cord and several smaller tumors further down my spinal cord. These are tumors that are different from the Neuroendocrine tumor in my pancreas.

the truth about cancerthe truth about cancer

So basically, I have two different types of cancer. Awesome…

as if having one type of cancer isn’t enough. Our obvious decision was to deal with one thing at a time. My abdominal surgery would be primary concern as the tumor was taking over my entire body, restricting and distorting all of my organs. The plan was to perform a Whipple Procedure to remove the tumor. This procedure would remove the tumor and the part of my pancreas that it was attached to along with removing my spleen and gallbladder. They would also remove part of my stomach and intestines, reconstruct the bile duct and portal vein which is the main vein that feeds blood to the liver. Our main goal was to leave part of my pancreas intact so I wouldn’t become an insulin-dependent diabetic from one day to the next. The surgery was was planned to take around 8 to 10 hours.

At 5 AM on October 20, 2015

I kissed my babies and their chubby cheeks as they slept so cozy in their bed. I had no idea what life had in store for me or if I would even survive the surgery so I softly touched their sweet faces and whispered into each of their ears, “Mommy loves you so much. I’m so proud of you and I will always be with you.”

I didn’t want to leave them. They were so peaceful. I wished time could have stood still forever but I wiped the tears off my face and I walked away not knowing if they would ever see me again.

the truth about cancer

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The Truth About Cancer: Part 3

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