Tag Archives: liver cancer

Acceptance 

Even though it may seem sometimes I am a Debbie Downer, it’s actually not the case. 


This was taken in Thailand just 30 minutes after I told Chris that I wish that cancer would just kill me so this crapshoot life can be all over with. Can’t you see it in my eyes? I had a LARGE SCALE breakdown. But with a few hugs and some laughter, I was able to pick myself up off the floor and head out for dinner. I thought to myself – I don’t want to feel this was anymore – but then how do I change it? 

I’m not over here though praying to be “cancer free”. I honestly don’t know if that will ever truly happen. What I am trying to do is shift into the world of acceptance.

That is a big world to use. Accepting the fact that I have, and may always have cancer, and that’s ok. This year could be my fourth summer where I have to enjoy it from inside the hospital walls. Learning to walk again in the humid weather. Watching everyone cool off in the swimming pool while I sit on the sidelines. Struggling to find the strength to move from the couch to the kitchen. Maybe that’s ok? If I just learn to accept my disability then it will no longer have power over me. 

So today, that is what I am choosing to do. Remind myself that it is what it is, and I am who I am. And maybe there is nothing wrong with that. 

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Finding The Word

Crying has become a part of my everyday life. It is just something that happens and I am almost getting used to it. During my most recent therapy session, my therapist wanted to know why. She wanted me to seek the reason as to why I cry. It started with me describing the memories that like to pop up in my mind daily. All of the ones of me in the hospital, getting poked and pulled and crying out for help. So then the question was, why are these memories the most prominent? What was the common thread that linked these together? I couldn’t figure it out, so we moved on. She then asked, if you could use one word to describe why you cry, what would that be? I had no idea which made the tears come even harder.

Vulnerable. I cry because I feel so vulnerable now.

No, that’s not it.

Independence. I cry for my loss of independence.

No, that doesn’t work either.

Misunderstood. I cry because no one really understands me.

Nope.

Grief. I cry as I am grieving the life I once had.

Dammit that’s not it either.

Then I thought about the hospital, and the memories that haunted me the most. The ones that like to creep into my thoughts and distract me from all of the positive. What was the common link?

No one was there.

When I was having anxiety attacks on operating room tables. I was crying and begging them to stop because I was scared. They would hold me down as I struggled and I would look up the bright light and wish it would all be over.

When my blood pressure spiked and my heart felt like it was coming out of my chest. I kept fading in and out of consciousness and thought I was dying.

When I was told they had to pull my liver drain out at my bedside and they would not wait for my family to come to hold my hand.

When I was struggling to stand and I had to call the nurse to wipe me after the washroom.

When they stabbed my arms and held me down trying to insert a picc line.

Nurses and doctors were there, sure. For the most part they were so friendly and helpful, but they are not family. I also fully understand it is impossible for family to be in the hospital 24/7, so I don’t blame anybody.

So now that we have figured out the common link, is that the reason I cry so often? What is the word that I feel would best describe my feelings in general?

Alone. That’s the word.

No matter how much I explain, no matter who was there for what, no one has been there for it all. No one is in my head having to live with these thoughts, and the ones described above are just a handful of them.

Alone does not only describe those moments, but so many others. I have met a lot of wonderful people who can better understand my experiences, but no one fully can. No one I have met has had 6 surgeries. No one I have met has been told twice that they are inoperable.

So now that I have named it, I have to work on accepting it. There will never be anyone who will fully understand other than myself. So that is the next step. I am working on it, alone.

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History of Colon Cancer

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I do not remember the specifics around when my nana passed away, but I always knew it was the liver cancer that did it. I was in grade 5, and my nana was like my second mom. I was devastated when she passed, and to this day the thought of it still brings tears to my eyes.

Three days before my colonoscopy, I asked my mom to provide me with more details around how the cancer killed her. She let me know that nana let her colon get so bad (and hid it from her family), that by the end she was sitting on towels at home due to the amount of blood coming out of her bottom. Those signs were clear indicators that things were really bad, so no one was surprised with her diagnosis that it had spread to her liver. She passed away close to 6 months later.

After her diagnosis, approximately two years later my grandfather (still on my mom’s side), was also diagnosed with colon cancer. He was lucky to have caught it much sooner and his had not spread. He was a cancer survivor. I remember knowing as a young kid that grandpa had a “poo bag”, properly known as a colostomy bag. We went out for lunch one time, and half way through he said he had to leave. In the car on the drive home I realized that his bag had popped open and leaked on his sweater. That memory always stuck with me, and I knew I never wanted a “poo bag”.

Around the age of 17 I began to noticed little traces of blood myself. Since i now knew from my family history that this was the biggest sign of colon cancer, I pushed my doctor to allow me to receive a colonoscopy. It is not common at that age to have that procedure, but I am thankful I did. They discovered I had a fissure, and let me know throughout the years it will be common to see a little bit of ribboning. As the years passed I slowly began to notice it more. Being a paranoid person I would google images of bowel moments from colon cancer patients (FYI, it is disgusting so only do this if you really need to lol). Those images looked nothing like mine, so I brushed it off.

I should also note I had a horrible experience during my first colonoscopy. I was so hungry the night before during my prep I was nauseous. The day of the procedure I had a major anxiety attack on the operating table due to my fear of needles. It was bad, I truthfully I was never looking forward to ever having to do it again. This also clearly played a part as to why I didn’t repush another colonoscopy when my gut was telling me too.

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Boom

April 3rd 2014 – CT scan

I have never bonded with a stranger before like I did the day of my CT scan. Chugging back 2 large cups of contrast at 7am will do that. He was old, most likely 80+, and came with his wife. After we both had our scans I wished him the best and we parted ways. I wonder if his news was better or worse than mine?

Like deja vu the phone rang yet again no more than 2 hours after my scan. This time however, I was in my new apartment in Toronto. With no sense of urgency, I let the receptionist know I was not able to drive all the way back to the doctor’s office.

“Jamie, sorry do to this to you over the phone…..seeing multiple shadows on your liver….. when was your last Pap smear……”

“I’m sorry doctor, but what are you trying to tell me?”

“We see a shadow near your cervical area. We think you have cervical cancer that has spread to your liver. I’m setting you up an appointment with a surgeon and you should probably call your family doctor.”

“Sounds great.”

Think about a time when you had devastating news. Your dog died, your significant other is leaving you, anything at all that crushed you to your core. Now, multiply that feeling by 100 and welcome to my first breath after hanging up the phone. I honestly cannot remember the first person I called. I remember I wanted it to be my mom, but it was 2 in the afternoon and I didn’t want to bother her at work. I only made a few phone calls to friends. Some I started calling then hung up because I realized, what was I really going to say? Tell the world the doctors think I may have cancer? Put everyone through a mind fuck of pain and questions? But then what? When they tell me in the end they were wrong, and the shadows are not cancer they are something else. I would have to explain that to everyone? Forget it. Stick to only a handful of friends.

 

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