Just when I thought I could start planning my life again, it came back.
My latest scan shows a small spot on my lower right lung. I am trying to look at the positives instead of drowning myself everyday in the negatives.
- It is located on my “good” lung (only one operation)
- It is not on my liver
- It is small and easily accessible
- Surgery is an option
But I guess I’ve always known that. It is the message I have been trying to communicate for months now. To all of the hopefuls who exclaimed, “You beat it!” – this is why I was still sad. With stage four cancer, you never really “beat it”. I knew there was a very high chance it would return, and I was hoping it wouldn’t be this fast. So once again I am putting my future life on hold and go back to living one day at a time. Now, it feels like I am just going through the motions. Living in this purgatory state with no direction, just a “see you in April” from my surgeons. If that scan shows minimal growth and no new friends, then operation number seven will take place this summer. There are a million different scenarios that can come into play, but like I said I am taking it day by day. I can and will drive myself crazy if I constantly think of all of the “what ifs”. I have no control over the scan, what I do have control over is my mind and diet. As long as I stick to a clean diet, and try to keep a healthy mind, I am hopeful that I can prevail.
Yes, you read it right, I have three surgeries coming up. My scan results left me again feeling uneasy. A met on my lung and a met on my liver have showed a slight growth. Not anything that is majorly alarming, however my surgeons are concerned. Since the chemo has only been out my system for three weeks, this is too fast for things to already be growing. So yet again, they are scheduling me for another CT scan. If that scan shows growth again, then all surgeries are off and I get hooked up to the lovely chemo cocktail. If they stay stable, I will be operated on starting May 2nd. This one will be for the four on my upper right lung. Thankfully this surgery can be completed laparoscopically so I will only have three small incisions. Following this surgery on May 4th, they will perform my liver surgery. Unfortunately Dr. Jay has decided not to use the same abdominal incision he has accessed twice before, but will open me up down and across the right side of my upper abdomen/lower chest. From what I have heard, recovery from this incision is much worse – so I am totally looking forward to that. If all goes well I will be in the hospital for a total of 2.5 weeks. Shortly after I will have yet another CT scan and if that again shows no new growths, they will perform the lung wedge resection on my left side in mid-June. This side is a tad trickier, so he is planning for laparoscopic however it may end up having to be a larger incision.
So the week of my 30th birthday, after my scan, I will either find out that my cancer is WAY more aggressive than anyone has imagined and my surgeries will be cancelled – or – my body is about to endure a shit ton of pain with the hope of a successful outcome.
Again, all of the same worst case scenerios have to be spoken about and signed off. Obviously as with all surgeries there is a chance of complications, infections, liver or lung failure, yadda yadda yadda. The one that always worries me more is the increased chance of reoccurance. Weakening my body will just give the cancer all the ammo it needs to get stronger and maybe multiply again. Even if everything goes as planned and nothing grows, six weeks after my third surgery I will be right back on chemo for “maintenance”. It is a never ending rollercoaster.
So to sum it up, on my 30th birthday on April 30th I will either be upset at the fact that my cancer is being a little bitch and growing, or be upset at the fact that I am about to endure a fucking awful summer of multiple surgeries. Happy Birthday?
Well this was a first that I do not welcome into my life ever again. And here I was thinking that throwing up on chemo was bad. Oh no – food poisoning is like no other. I am pretty positive that is what was wrong with me- although the doctors have no way of proving it. It started at 3:30am and was every half an hour until 4:00pm. Right around 1:00pm I realized I couldn’t take it anymore and was becoming weaker by the minute since I couldn’t even keep water down. Now that I know the hospital system so well, I knew emerg would be my best course of action. I needed an IV of fluids stat. Off we went – on Chris’s birthday too – poor guy.
I always have to be upfront with the nurses and doctors at the hospital right from the start. Let them know I do have stage 4 cancer and I just came off of chemotherapy. I know the drill. My immune system is compromised and no one can risk leaving me out with all of the sick patients for too long. We waited approximately an hour or so and then were shown into our own room.
From here I thought it was going to be easy, hook me up with some saline and then ship me off. Wrong. I always forget how much weight my disease carries. Food poisoning was their best case scenario, and they were starting at the worst – that this whole thing was cancer related. It didn’t even dawn on me once that that is what could be the issue. The doctor wanted to run multiple blood tests and a urine test to rule out any sort of infection. Even my temperature being only two degrees higher than normal had them concerned and they began monitoring that – which was super annoying because I was freezing and was only allowed a thin sheet.
After being at the hospital for 7 hours now, the tests results came back fine – and yet they were still concerned. If I wasn’t scheduled by my regular doctors for a CT scan the following week, they would have ordered one for me that night. It is fantastic that our health system cares so much for patients like myself – I guess I better start taking my disease as serious as they do. I know it is horrible, but I never think that every single time I feel sick it may be cancer related. I mean I guess I should? But who really wants to live like that. The ER doctor gave me the option to stay over night so I could be monitored. By this point I was able to keep fluids down for the past two hours. I opted to go home but promised if I was sick one more time either that night or the next day, I would come right back. Too bad they don’t have a test to prove it was food poisoning, would have been a much shorter trip.
As I have written about many times – I have body issues. My scars funny enough do not bother me in the slightest – it is more of the gained weight over the past year and nine months. By the way – how crazy is it that it is has been that long? Unbelievable. Although it feels like it has been my life forever truthfully.
I went from 155 in April ’14 to 135 in September ’14 (back to back surgeries will do that) to 180 in January ’15 – and have been that weight ever since. The swelling from the steriods went down, but I still did not feel like myself. It wasn’t until I began to eat clean and healthy that I began seeing amazing results. I was never doing it for weight loss. That is the truth. It was just a happy side effect to eating as clean as I have been. It has been 5 weeks since my healthy lifestyle started and I have lost a total of 15 pounds. Before you begin to judge – no I am not weighing myself. Before each chemo I have to weigh in so they can make sure the dose is appropriate for my weight. I don’t even care about the scale. It is the way I feel in my clothes now. The way my face looks in the mirror. Slimmer and healthy. When you start eating clean you stop watching how much you are eating. Just the other day I finished an entire container of fresh hummus and veggies in just two sittings. No regrets because it is not a bag of chips. I eat as much as I want, whenever I want. It is a glorious thing. My stomach will never be flat again due to my scar tissue build up, and I may never return to my original 155 pounds – but that’s ok. I am happy and healthy.
Here is a progress picture. Ignore that itsy bitsy bathing suit – it was a pre-cancer purchase. I’m not dumb I obviously know it no longer fits.
April ’15 – July ’15 – December ’15
Just like everyone else living in a first world country – I have accumulated a lot of stuff over my short 29 years. So now the issue is – when do I start to get rid of it? I have slowly been going through my old but good clothes that will never fit again – selling them piece by piece. I can’t say this is a cleansing experience because I am not selling to just clean out my closet. I am selling a lot of my clothes because they will either never fit again, or I will never have another use for them (dress pants for work, etc). I am starting to think about what will happen to everything once I am gone. I hate the thought of all my expensive clothes, shoes, purses, linens, antiques and others being packed up and just sent off to Value Village. Even though I shop there a lot, and do donate often, I somehow feel like my things deserve better. But why? It is just stuff. I have no control over what happens when I die, so really what should I care? For now I will continue to sell little by little in order to help fund my vacations. Long term disability is great, but it is not a lot. I would love the idea of when I pass for people in my life to take a lot of my items, but I assume they may find that strange. “Hey, where did you get that jacket?” – “Oh, my dead friend gave it to me.”
After I felt fully recovered from my lung surgery in May, I began acting like I was on the “had” side of this cancer world. Although I didn’t look like my old self, I was finally starting to feel like it. I have been enjoying my new hair styles, and was planning to keep it this short for quite some time. I began planning trips for Spring/Summer of 2016. I was purchasing new blazers, shirts and dress pants for work – telling everyone who asked that I was going back in November. When speaking with newly diagnosed people – I discovered I was the person on the other side of the table now. Helping them through the tough parts when you are first diagnosed, talking about their fears, being their inspiration because look at me and what I have endured – and I’m ok now.
Man, did I ever speak too soon.
Wednesday I was certain my scan would be clear. Maybe the doubt was a tiny 0.1% for the other way, but that is just because nothing is ever 100%. My surgeon called me in, shut the door, and wasn’t messing around.
“Jamie, it’s back and it’s bad. You have multiple tumours showing in your lung and liver. I’m sorry to come out and say this to you so fast, but I wanted to get right to it. When I saw your scans last week I wanted to phone you, but I thought that a missed call would have you worry too much. The ones in your liver are too close to the center, that I will not be able to operate. You are now what we call, a person living with disease. Chemo will start as soon as possible and you will be on it indefinitely. I’m so sorry, but I told you from the beginning your case was severe. I thought this day would come some day, but truthfully I did not think it would be this soon. Our hope is that the chemo will at least keep things at bay, and not have any more growth for now. I have had patients live up to 7 years with disease still in them. I honestly do not have a patient of your age with your severe condition, so I am not sure what to expect.”
Best word used to describe the way I feel – heartbroken.