About Me

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2 time ovarian cancer Survivor, Advocate for ovarian cancer awareness & research, Teacher of Zen Method Tai Chi, Blogger, sharing the wonderment and power of essential oils, proud fan of Cathe Friedrich's workouts, Reiki practitoner, A Course in Miracles student, paper crafter

The Second Cancer

My second cancer story begins in September of 2009. I did a self breast check and had found 2 hard lumps. I was concerned, but decided to keep checking it for a week or so before doing anything else. After two weeks nothing had changed and I was getting scared so I made an appointment with my primary care doctor. She felt the lumps and thought it would be a good idea for me to have a mammogram since I had a history of cancer. It happened to be time for another CT scan for my post-cancer follow up so she ordered that also. My appointment for both was on October 7th. I was most nervous about the lumps in my breast, and felt quite confident that my pelvic CT scan would be normal.

Thankfully, I got the results of the mammogram right away. Great news, I just have fibrocystic breasts!! I was beyond relieved, and cried out some stress in the dressing room. I was so thankful that I didn’t have to deal with cancer again! I had my CT scan and went on my merry way.

My doctor's office called a few days later and asked me to come in to discuss the results. All my confidence melted away. Again, waiting was agonizing!! There was a mass near my bladder where my uterus used to be and, of course, the doctor was concerned. So I was referred to a Gyn. My health insurance had changed in 2009 so I had to see a new Gyn. I hated that I had to start over with a new Gyn, it felt like such a waste of time and energy.

Of course, I had to wait a couple weeks for an appointment. The new Gyn discussed my history, did an exam, ordered some blood tests, and then referred me to a Gyn Oncologist. I did NOT want to go to an oncologist of any kind! I knew I had to go, though. So I begrudgingly called and made an appointment. I had to wait a couple more weeks to get in, and I remember feeling very good about being able to set the whole issue aside for a little while.  

I don’t remember the date exactly, but I know it was November when the appointment day finally came. I was very anxious. I felt defeated and scared going into a building that said “Regional Cancer Center” in huge letters on it. Walking into that building made me feel like I was accepting that I had cancer again and I desperately wanted to NOT have to deal with cancer ever again. Even now, as I write, those feelings flood back in and make me cry as I remember that day. The Gyn Onc came in, talked about my history, then did an exam, ordered a PET scan to further investigate the ‘tumor’ and that was it. I had to wait another week or so before I could get in for the  FDG PET scan. This whole process of finding out if that tumor was cancerous or not was getting very frustrating and stressful as it got more and more drawn out.

The worst part of having a FDG PET scan for me is not eating ANY carbs or caffeine the day before the scan. I would never do well on any low-carb diets! It’s pure torture for me, but I did my best to get through it by staying busy at work, eating lots of eggs and veggies, and paper-crafting after work.

A couple days after the scan the Gyn Onc’s nurse called me, while I was at work, with some results. Honestly, I don’t remember all of this conversation. What I do remember is that the PET scan showed that the tumor was slightly smaller than the CT scan showed from October. That felt like a huge victory to me! I asked the nurse if the PET scan showed any other areas of concern, and she said there was interval development in my sacrum and lumbar spine, but it hadn’t metastasized to the bone according to the pathologist report. WHAT?!?! The nurse tried to reassure me that since my Gyn Onc hadn’t commented on that part of the PET report that it was probably nothing to worry about. Somehow that didn’t reassure me at all!! The Gyn Onc did want me to have a CT scan Guided Biopsy of my pelvic tumor. It was sooo frustrating to hear that I had to go through yet ANOTHER test before my problem could be ‘fixed’. The biopsy was scheduled for December 17th which happened to be right before I was travelling home for the holidays. I needed the comfort and love of my family so badly!

The CT scan guided biopsy was painful and scary. The doctor performing the biopsy came in and rudely told me that I was there because my doctor thought I probably had cancer and that was the reason for this procedure. He had a very poor bedside manner that day, and I sincerely hope he doesn’t treat all of his patients that way. The team of nurses got me hooked up to various machines and started an IV. Surprisingly, I stayed completely dressed for the whole procedure. I only had to pull down my pants and panties to past my hips! It was so weird! A nurse gave me something to help me relax and then II was sent through the CT scanner once and then had to lie perfectly still so the doctor could find the exact right spot to biopsy. Honestly, I’ve never had a hard time laying still thanks to my skills in guided imagery and relaxation that I learned from my mentor and dear friend, Curt. The doctor came in and partially inserted an extremely long thin needle into me, and then I went through the scanner again. The doctor double checked that the needle was in the right position and then he pushed it into the tumor. Feeling a needle move through your body is very bizarre and unsettling! Thankfully, everything was lined up correctly and the doctor was able to get a good sample on the first try. A nurse put a Band-aid over the insertion point and I was brought to a recovery room for observation. I slept for awhile, then ate a sandwich and then I was discharged.

A few days later I was home with my family. I remember feeling so comforted being home surrounded by my loving Mom, sisters, toddler nieces and baby nephew. We were all on pins and needles waiting to hear the results of the biopsy. I didn’t get those results, however, until I was back in Florida after the holidays.

I got the call on January 4 while I was at work, once again. I had cancer, again. Initially it was called recurrent gynecological cancer. The nurse couldn’t tell me anymore than that, but we set an appointment for January 7. I was devastated and near hysterical, but there was a Board meeting going on so I wasn’t able to go home right away. I did my best to hold myself together. The very sweet Assistant Manager got back to the resort as quickly as he could so I could go home a little early. Once I was safely in the car on the way home I let it all out- tears, screaming, whining, anger came roaring out of me. I was extremely thankful to have Curt there to comfort me and help me mentally and emotionally process this news.

On the evening of January 4 to keep a Caring Bridge journal of my cancer treatment journey. If you’d like to read excerpts, please go the Home page and click on the appropriate Page. I’ve broken down the excerpts into three pages: Diagnosis- Surgery, Radiation and Chemo.