First off, I want to thank my wonderful family and friends for all of your support so far!! This is the last thing any 25 year-old newly-wed would ever expect, and the amount of love has been amazing. It’s very touching to see people who I would never expect come out and give their well wishes and support … and it’s funny the people who haven’t (yet). Sometimes it’s hard to know what to say to some one who is sick or has been hit with a terrible tragedy; I know, I’ve been there. I sometimes felt I would rather say nothing than risk saying the wrong thing. But now I know that there is no right or wrong thing to say … any one reaching out to me just makes me feel good!
With that said, I will give a quick version of my story so far to get some of my friends updated:
I was “officially” diagnosed with cervical cancer this last Tuesday , November 29th, but I actually had my chemotherapy treatment almost 2 weeks ago on November 22nd following quick actions and recommendations from doctors. Cancer is diagnosed following a formal biopsy (an examination of tissue removed from a living body to discover cause or extent of a disease) which can take up to a week to get results, but my oncologist felt so strongly about starting treatment right away that my family and I made the decision to start chemo before the official diagnosis. My doctor put it well when he said, “If it looks like a duck, sounds like a duck, and has feathers …”.
How did this whole thing start? Well, I was having abnormal menstrual cycles for about 2 months and just blamed it on stress since I had just finished planning my wedding. Alex and I were married on September 24 and it was an amazing experience, but man it took it out of me. Then, my cycle got REALLY abnormal … the flow became very, very heavy and it just wouldn’t stop. I won’t go into details but let’s just say that the bleeding became unmanageable to the point that it brought me to tears. My family doctor recommended me to a gynecologist right away, and my gyno immediately recommended me to an oncologist who, before even meeting with me, had me scheduled for chemotherapy within 24 hours of looking at my chart. It all happened very quickly. I really have to commend my doctors and nurses at the Cancer Center at St. Vincent Hospital and the Women’s Health Center at Willamette Falls Hospital – they have been so amazing! Obviously, their instincts were right because it’s definitely cancer. My CT scan shows a tumor the size of a tennis ball right above my cervix. I will know more results in a week or two regarding what stage the cancer is at, so stay tuned. My oncologist said that chemotherapy, surgery and a little radiation should get rid of it completely and my life will be totally back to normal in about six months.
Well … almost back to normal. Unfortunately my uterus has been compromised, meaning the chances that I will ever be able to conceive a baby is slim to none. Surprisingly, this bit of news did not phase me as hard as I thought it would. Alex and I had already considered adoption even before this all started (Alex is adopted himself), and my maternal clock really has not started ticking. So the plan is to freeze some eggs that will be extracted upon surgery so that when Alex and I are ready to start a family we will have some options. Oh, and the surgery should not be too major so don’t let that freak you out!
Also, the excessive bleeding made me pretty anemic (a deficiency of red blood cells resulting in tiredness and weakness) so I underwent a blood transfusion last Thursday. Not as dramatic as it sounds. I just laid in a room for 4 hours while being hooked up to an IV full of bloooood and watched a ‘Will & Grace’ day-time TV marathon. This what blood donations are used for, so if you have donated blood: THANK YOU!!! ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
So that should get everyone caught up to where I am at! My first round of chemo wasn’t too terrible, but I understand that each treatment hits a little bit harder than the last. I will be receiving chemotherapy once every three weeks. The worst part was the second and third day after my treatment when I would get so sleepy and tired it was uncontrollable. I would fall asleep at the drop of a hat! Luckily the medications are advanced enough these days that I have very little nausea and NO vomiting. The most signifiant symptom will be the hair loss, which should be happening in about a week. I am dreading the thought of going bald and losing my eye brows AND beautiful long eye lashes … but I’m happy to pay the price if it means beating this thing! I am getting my hair cut super short on Tuesday (think Audrey Hepburn’s short ‘do). I’m not sad to chop off my long locks … in fact I have been contemplating a major hair cut for about a month but decided against it when I think about how long it took to grow it out. But I am sad at the the thought of having that physical “label” of being a cancer patient. I have already ordered some pretty fabulous wigs so I shouldn’t look too bad (wish me luck when glueing on my eyelashes though), but at the end of the night I will be bald. Sort of like if Cinderella’s head was a pumpkin instead of her stage coach. My husband says that I shouldn’t dwell on things that hasn’t happened yet, but for some reason it hit kind of hard today. It probably didn’t help that I watched the “make over” episode of the America’s Next Top Model this morning. You know, the episode where the models burst into tears at thought of their hair getting cut off or bleached? Again, it’s not the cutting that freaks me out … it’s the extreme change that’s completely out of my control.
So, how am I doing?? As you can tell I am in pretty good spirits. Mostly because my cancer is 100% curable – if it wasn’t I might be singing a different tune right now. I was already a confident, positive and healthy woman before this started and I am the same person now. I really believe that everything happens for a reason and that God is throwing this my way to make me stronger. Or maybe I’m just saying that because inside I am screaming, WHY THE F%@# WOULD A 25 YEAR-OLD GET MARRIED AND GET CANCER IN THE SAME YEAR???? WHO WOULD DO THAT TO SOME ONE?? I MEAN, COME ON!!!! … but does it really matter? 😉
Of course, having a good attitude doesn’t mean that things are hunky-dory all the time. There are times when I want to break down from the thought that this is happening to ME, but my real break down came even before I saw my gynecologist. It happened during one of my bleeding “episodes”. I just lost it while in the shower. I knew that whatever was wrong with me had to be pretty bad, and I had to convince myself to accept the worst. It was such an emotional moment, and I can’t remember ever crying that hard before. I compare it to the scene in ‘Black Swan’ when Natalie Portman realizes that she’s actually stabbed herself instead of Mila Kunis, pulls the shard of glass out of her abdomen, starts to hyperventilate and sort of goes batshit crazy. I was kind of like that! But, once I got it out of my system and was ready to accept my fate I felt really, really strong. My only other weak moment was how to tell my husband and parents that it could be (and was) cancer. That was really effing hard. I lost it a little then too, but pulled myself together more for their sake than my own. I would have to say that this is the WORST part of being diagnosed with cancer … telling your family and friends and seeing their reactions. But, like a very good friend told me once about her own cancer scare (you know who you are), “I don’t need your tears!”. Just your love and support. But it’s ok if you want to cry, too. 🙂
I knew right away that I wanted to turn this into something good. I really want to show people that even when life throws you a curve ball you still have control. Granted, I cannot control if my cancer spreads or not but I CAN control how I handle it. I hope that my “something good” starts with this blog. I love to write and I love reaching out to other people! Feel free to message or email me whenever you want. I promise to keep everyone updated, the good and the bad.
Again, thank you thank you thank you. Lots of love!!!