Jill Costello's Journal
Written Jun 15, 2009 1:34amIt all started last Friday (June 5th) when my friend Adrienne and I went down to the trainer to take care of some little aches and pains after returning from NCAAs. With my two-week long tummy ache and Adrienne's sore back, our trainer Smitty made us appointments at the Tang Center. After some bagels and chai at the Coffee Spot in Bear's Lair, we headed over to see the doc. Since my sypmtoms were unclear (mainly just a bloated belly and discomfort), my doctor ordered a blood test. When the results came back just a few hours later, Smitty called to tell me that my white blood cell count was exceptionally high (meaning there was an infection somewhere in my body) and that I needed to go see my doctor in San Francisco or go to the emergency room immediately. I knew something was wrong, but I wasn't in "emergency room" kind of pain.
Reluctantly, (I was planning on going up to Sacramento to watch IRAs the next day!) I called my mom who picked me up with my Auntie Kathy in Berkeley and took me to the emergency room at CPMC in San Francisco.
After a few hours in the ER and an initial ultrasound, the main concerns were two grapefruit-sized cysts that had developed on my ovaries, explaining the protruding belly and discomfort. The plan was to have surgery Saturday to remove the cysts and save my ovaries. But the next CT scan and x-rays ordered Friday night showed a couple more masses in my lung and liver that the doctors wanted to investigate. The liver biopsy performed Saturday morning revealed clear cancer cells. The complete pathology report indictating the cancer cell type wouldn't be ready until Tuesday.
The days of waiting were long and unsettling, but my family and friends, coaches and teammates, and an amazing team of doctors and nurses at CPMC kept me calm. My Mom, Dad, Auntie Kathy, Dr. Hannon, Kathy Lorentz, and cousin Jessica (who celebrated birthday her 20th birthday in the hospital with me Monday!) are angels in human form; doing everything in their power to get me the best tests and fastest results as possible. Watching the Lakers/Magic games and playing TravelScrabble with my girlfriends and Bryce, and having my Mom snoozing on the little cot next to me in the hospital every night made things feel more normal and less like a nightmare.
On Tuesday June 9th, after another CT scan, PET scan, and PowerPort surgery, I was diagnosed with lung cancer which had metastized to my liver and a few spots in my bones. The ovarian cysts seem to be benign and were most likely caused by the hormones/toxins from the cancer cells. From what I understand, they will be on the "backburner" as we deal with the cancer and hopefully shrink away on their own.
On Wednesday, we celebrated good news that my brain MRI was clear! That night, as many of you gathered to pray at St. Brendan's Church, I received my first round of chemotherapy. I cannot explain how powerfully I could feel your prayers. I have never felt so close to God. My Mom, Dad, brother Kevin, and Auntie Kathy, and I witnessed a breath-taking sunset over the Golden Gate Bridge and prayed, as you all did, for powerful healing.
On Thursday, after some x-rays to take a closer look at the tumors in my bones, I was released from CPMC and returned home. My parents and I stopped above the Cliff House at Ocean Beach to breathe in some fresh (non-hospital!) air. Although I was outfitted in my fluffy white robe (Kappas, you know that one) and blue hospital socks with grips on the bottom, I could not have cared less. Freedom and fresh air never felt so good.
Now that I'm home things have slowed down. I am focused on resting and healing my body one day at a time. I have read EVERY SINGLE ONE of your letters, messages, wall-posts, texts, emails, and am drawing inspiration and will to fight from them.
Life is all about how we handle the challenges we are given. With help from you and God, I KNOW THAT I AM STRONG ENOUGH TO FIGHT AND WILL WIN THIS ONE.
Thank you for your love and continued support.
Ps- You'll find some pictures under the "photos" tab, click "view slideshow."