Carolyn Bradley

First post: Jul 12, 2017 Latest post: Mar 1, 2021
Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting.

I have cancer. I didn’t ask for this. I didn’t do anything to make it happen. All my good health care didn’t prevent it. But I have it anyway. All our summer plans, fall even, are off the calendar and out the window.

It’s kind of like Tom and I went to the airport to start our vacation and found out our tickets were to another destination, not the one we’d planned for and looked forward to for weeks....another place we didn’t really want to go and for which we had not packed appropriately. But we are being forced to get on the plane and take this flight anyway. It’s going to be a bumpy ride. But there might be some enlightening things along the way. We’re going to keep an open mind that it will be for the best.

Here is my story. I apologize if it’s more than you need to know. I’ve told it so many times that I’d like to stop, so now people can read it here. Or not. At least I don’t have to keep retelling it.

I started having a cough about three weeks ago. I thought it was allergies, then when it got worse, I thought it was bronchitis. By the time I went to the doctor, I was struggling to breathe. She sent me to the ER for a chest x-ray. The x-ray showed that the left side of my chest was filled with fluid. I was admitted to the hospital. Over the next eight days, several liters of fluid was removed from my chest, first through extraction, then through a tube that continuously drained all day long. By about Day 5 it was dawning on me that something was very wrong and I was really sick. It was confirmed when I met with my new gynecological oncologist who told me what I had had a name: Stage IV High Grade Serous Carcinoma. Oops, I just remembered I’m not going to capitalize cancer any more.

I really like my doctor already. He is a straight talker, no joke and.....he plays lead guitar in a band of gynecological oncologists, seriously!  The band is N.E.D., "No Evidence of Disease." He is very hopeful that this cancer is fully treatable, even curable. Mind blowing, huh? But it’s going to take some aggressive treatment. I will start chemotherapy on Thursday, July 13. It is a 3-week cycle and there will be 3 cycles. After that, surgery. It’s called interval debulking. My oncologist is on the forefront of non-invasive surgery so they’ll do button-hole laparascopy if possible.  The next step will be another 3 cycles of chemo – 3 weeks each.

That’s it. I got all that from him in about 20 minutes in the hospital. So I don’t know much more than that so far. The fun will start for real on Thursday. I’ll know a whole lot more after 6-7 hours of chemo. I’ll know even more after I go through this first 3-week cycle of chemo.

I will lose my hair. I will be nauseous. I will have low blood counts. I will have fatigue. And I’ll also have some good days. I just need to figure out when those are.

I appreciate all the love, support and outpouring of concern that’s been coming in from everywhere. It’s a bit overwhelming to know how many people care. I feel really blessed.

My friend from Bells of the Cascades, Martha Wilson, is helping us set up this Caring Bridge site.

People keep asking how they can help. Tom and I are still trying to figure that out. For now, my deacon at church, Barbara Smith, is putting together a plan around meals. I think she’s going to be setting up Meal Train. If that happens, I’ll post that site here.

Other things you can do if you choose:

Cards are great
Emails are great – send them to either of us
Positive thoughts, prayers and vibes are extra great
An occasional visit might be great – check with Tom to see how my day’s going

Things we’d like to avoid:

Retelling my story
Responding to ‘how are you feeling today?’
Responding to many texts or emails
Hearing about your friend’s (cousin, sister, etc.) cancer or chemotherapy
Being exposed to germs, colds, etc.

So, I’m anxious to get this ball rolling. I’m ready to walk straight through the fire because I know it’s going to be beautiful on the other side.

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