My story actually started on April 13th, 2015 when I heard the words “You have Colon Cancer”. I was only 40 and had no family history of Cancer so it came as quite the shock to all of us. The surgeon did the resection and removed a lime sized mass and 32 lymph nodes. One lymph node did came back with Cancer which placed me in Stage 3. "We removed all of the Cancer and want to do chemo as a preventative measure." 9 months of chemo left me more broken down than the Cancer itself. I did fight like hell though! 2 years after originally being diagnosed, we thought we were done with the whole Cancer thingy and started the next chapter of our lives by moving to San Fransisco. Unfortunately, God had another plan for me.
I had scheduled my 6 month Oncology check-up a week before I was supposed to drive to join John in California. I did my CT-Scan and blood work like normal, and then met with my Oncologist on June 19th knowing that I would be in and out and officially pushing my scans out to just once a year. I knew something wasn’t right as soon as he walked in the room. Within 30 seconds he says “We need to talk”. I now know what people mean when they talk about having an out of body experience. He sounded like an adult on Charlie Brown. I do not even remember starting to cry, just that the tears were streaming down my face. One of my lymph nodes near the original resection site had grown rather large in the last 6 months. Two days later they took a biopsy of the lymph node and two more days after that (on my way to California), I received a message from the Doctor, not the nurse, and broke down immediately at my brother’s house in Albuquerque. I know from two years of cancer treatment that nurses call with good news, Doctor’s only call when it is bad.
We continued our drive to California the next two days with me trying to keep a smile on since Jacob, our youngest, was with us. Garrett (17) and Jacob (9) had already seen their mom go through this battle just 18 months ago. I wasn’t worried about me during this time, only them. We made it, but it took almost 2 weeks to get the PET Scan to see the damage. I drove down to the office Friday at noon to get the results. I should have never done that. I was a Recreation and Parks Major. What do I know about reading medical notes? I though it said that it was just a few nodes near the biopsied area.
It was Friday, 5:30 CDT when I heard from my Oncologist. I was with Jacob in the car, but I knew if I did not take the call, I wouldn’t know his thoughts until Monday, and I couldn’t do that. I answered, he was talking small-talk, told me what we already knew about the biopsied area, and then he started stuttering. I immediately stopped the car and got out. As I stood on the side of the freeway in Lafayette, CA, I learned that there was a much bigger issue. There was another mass of lymph nodes that surrounded my Abdominal Aorta. I heard phrases like “very serious, Stage 4, very few surgeons will operate in that area, getting into your bloodstream, and we have already started the referral process to MD Anderson” in the matter of a couple of minutes that felt like an eternity. I think I said “why” at least 15 times.
Once we hung up, I tried to pull it together because I had a sweet boy waiting for me in the car still. I got in, and he just grabbed me so tight. We just sat there holding each other. We finally got home, and I called John. He raced home to be with me. We sat there talking and crying for about an hour, and then decided that we were not going to go down like this. We were going to celebrate like the Vikings before they went out to battle. We ate, had a few drinks, and even more laughs.