Jan 27, 2021 Latest post:
Nov 29, 2021
Hello! Some of you will be learning of my illness for the first time and some of you may already know. We decided to create this site as an easy way for loved ones to keep up with how we are doing and how to specifically pray for us on this journey. This was a hard decision for me to make as I felt this is such a personal journey we are on, but as I have prayed over the last few weeks I have felt God nudging me to share our story. If even one person could be positively affected by our faith and trust in Him through this then it is worth it to put it out there. I am not a writer and do not typically keep a journal or anything so bear with me as I share bits of this journey with you. Also, my sweet mother in law. Kim, may be posting updates on how I am doing when I am not feeling up to it.
Back during the summer, we found out we are expecting a sweet baby in March of 2021. We have since found out it is a sweet baby GIRL. Alexandra Leigh Perkins already has us all wrapped around her finger. I was having a normal pregnancy and enjoyed the summer with my boys. Fast forward to October and I had started experiencing some chest pain and mild shortness of breath. I put it off for a while, but finally called my OB and let them know what was going on. Since it was the end of the day when I called they sent me straight to the ER. I did not want to go, but had to be sure myself and this sweet baby were okay, so off to Gadsden Regional Medical Center we went. I had to wait alone in the waiting room due to Covid-19. After several grueling hours I finally got to go back and they let Andrew come in and go back with me. Lots of blood work, fluids and some muscle relaxers and I was feeling a good bit better. I declined any x-rays or CTs for the safety of my baby. but they still ruled out pulmonary embolism, which is common in pregnancy, and decided maybe I had pulled a muscle lifting my toddler, Lawson. So 9 hours later we go home feeling like we had reached an answer and went on about our lives.
Several weeks later I had been feeling good and not had any more chest pain issues. I had been tired and sometimes short of breath, but I am growing a human inside me, I thought nothing of it. Then, the dreaded pain I had felt weeks before was back. A few days of rest and meds and sleeping propped up on the couch and I was well again. This time was a much shorter episode than the last so I felt like I probably just tweaked that muscle again. I had started noticing that my left arm and shoulder blade were hurting some too, especially at night, so I was very careful not to pick Lawson up and take care of those muscles.
Fast forward a few more weeks, we took a little vacay to Dahlonega, Georgia to see the Christmas lights and spend some quality time with Lawson. We stayed in the cutest little hotel right off the square and had the best time. I was struggling the entire trip though. I could not get comfortable to sleep no matter how I propped myself and I was just tired the entire trip. I felt like something was off, but I just couldn't figure out what was going on. The very next week another horrible chest pain episode started. This time it wasn't seeming to stop and I was nervous there was a blood clot or something going on in my lung. This time I knew I had to go to my OB and get checked out and see what she thought I should do.
December 16, 2020, a day I will not soon forget. My sweet MIL, Kim, picked me and Lawson up to drive us to Birmingham. She would normally keep him for me while I go to the doctor, but I was so tired and in so much pain I didn't feel I could drive myself. We took snacks and toys so they could play in the car while I went inside. Little did we know, this day was going to be way more than a quick visit to my OB. When I explained all of my symptoms to her, she truly felt most of the pain was due to acid reflux. She immediately prescribed me some Prilosec to start taking. Then she said, since you are having chest pain on the left side, I do think we should send you down to the OB emergency room just to do a quick EKG to make sure that looks good. I let Kim know they were sending me down for an EKG and she and I both felt better since we felt like something more than acid reflux was going on. The sweet nurse and doctor ran the EKG pretty quickly and came in to let me know there were some abnormalities on it. Since I was 25 weeks pregnant, with chest pain and an abnormal EKG, the doctor immediately had the nurses wheel me down to the main ER to be triaged and do more tests.
I was starving because I completely missed lunch and was stuck in the ER where they wouldn't let me eat until they knew what tests they needed to run. I had been by myself all day due to Covid-19, but overall I was okay because I had no idea of the severity of the news I would receive that night. I had been joking with my hubby and sister in law that they had better let me eat soon and my pain had gotten significantly better so I was just hanging out waiting to hear what they wanted to do. The doctor finally came in and let me know they would be doing a bunch of blood work and depending on what that showed they would arrange for some other tests. They ran three EKGs, all of which were normal. This was interesting since an abnormal EKG is what landed me here in the first place. I know God was keeping me there for a reason. The doctor came back and asked if we could go ahead and do a chest x-ray. He explained the risks and that they would shield the baby. At this point, I knew I needed answers for me and baby girl so I agreed. After the x-ray, they were gone a really long time. I was getting frustrated, but also remembering they were dealing with a pandemic so I was sure they were doing the best they could and just super busy. The nurse came in briefly, didn't say much and said they are sending me for the CT. I questioned her and she said there was an abnormality on my x-ray and didn't say much else before leaving the room. I was confused, but thought wow I may really have this pulmonary embolism so I better do this so I can take care of me and my sweet girl. They came and took me back for the CT pretty quickly and then I was right back in my room. Waiting...waiting...waiting...all of my fam blowing up my phone wondering what in the world was going on and what was taking so long. Then the 7:00 shift change came and my nurse came in introduced herself and asked if I needed anything. At this point, pregnant mama was so hangry so I pleaded for some food. She brought me a turkey sandwich and a sprite. She said she didn't have an update for me. I thought it was weird that everything was taking so long, but I was so happy for food that I brushed it off and ate my food very happily. It was not too long after that when my whole world changed....
The doctor came in and let me know I did not have a pulmonary embolism, which was great, at first. Until he kept speaking and I realized I wished I had a pulmonary embolism. His words at this point are kind of a blur to me. I heard the words "mass in your chest" and "likely lymphoma." The tears were pouring and my head was spinning I asked him something along the lines of "what do you mean?" and he said the word that will never leave my mind CANCER. Now, I'm not so okay with being alone and I have never wanted my husband and my mama so bad. Those moments after hearing those words are the craziest, realest, worst day of my life. I am young, healthy, happy and PREGNANT, there is just no way this is possible. You are wrong, I thought. You MUST be wrong. I asked about my baby and if she is okay and what do I do. He already had an oncologist that he is referring me to named Dr. Piede and he told me he will answer all of my questions. He leaves me in a sobbing mess, I could tell he wanted to hug me, but we are in a pandemic so he refrained. I immediately called Andrew. I NEEDED him more than I had ever needed him...no answer. I panicked...I call my MIL because I knew she would be waiting to come and get me. I told her the news and she was so shocked, but was ready to come get me immediately. Then I frantically called Andrew back and called my mom. I honestly don't even remember those conversations. I was so ready to leave that hospital. I couldn't be there another minute. I made it home that night and started processing all of the unknowns. I tell the story so detailed because I feel like every single part of this journey has gotten me to where I am right now. I felt so hopeless and shocked that night, but God has taken all of that away now.
Over the next several weeks there were LOTS of doctor appointments and blood draws. We celebrated Christmas as normally as we possibly could and spent time with our sweet Lawson. Dr. Piede at St. Vincent's referred me to my awesome oncologist, Dr. Goyal at UAB. Dr. Goyal got Dr. Perez with the high risk OB group on board and from there they built this awesome team to take care of me and my baby girl, Ali. My pain and discomfort were increasing and they were working diligently to get a plan together for how to best take care of us. We still needed a diagnosis. We knew I likely had cancer in my chest, but we were unsure what kind. I'll be honest, the unknown and the waiting had been the hardest part of this journey yet. I will start a new journal entry to catch you up on the last few weeks! I have run out of room here!