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May 14, 2017 Latest post:
Sep 17, 2017
It was February of 2001 and I was loving life. I was a Flight Attendant for a major carrier flying to Europe weekly. I had amazing friends and colleagues and the best roommates a gal could ask for - and then it all changed. I walked off the flight from Amsterdam to Dulles, bags loaded with wine, food, and flowers. It had been a great trip with the exception of a fall I took in the galley after a sharp pain in my hip. I racked it up to forgetting to change my shoes to the normal flats - I had worked the entire flight in 4" heels. On the drive home, the pain hit again. Assuming I had injured something working out, I headed to my Orthopedic doc. We were on a first name basis by this time after frequently overdoing something or the other. As I described what had happened, he said that it was probably nothing but that we should get an x-ray to be safe. He was gone for a long time, and when he returned he looked at me much differently than at the previous visits. "I don't want you to panic but does cancer run in your family?" The question floored me. He put up the x-ray and showed me a dark spot above my hip socket; it was the size of a silver dollar. From that point on it was a flurry of tests, meetings, experts, and, finally, surgery. I recall waking from the first surgery, Tumor Resection, and the surgeon looking down at me saying, "I'm sorry but it came back positive for cancer". During those agonizing days following, I awaited the call with The Number. If it was under 1.5, no more surgery was needed, and we would just monitor things for a while. The call came. It was well over that 1.5. It was high, and I needed radical surgery if I wanted to live. Of course I wanted to live! My sister was pregnant with her second child, and I had dreams of being the super cool auntie who took my nieces all over the world with me. This was never going to happen now. In May, shortly after my 38th birthday I had a high, internal hemi-pelvectomy due to a stage 3 chondrosarcoma. They internally amputated the left hemisphere of my pelvis and the top third of my femur. I spent months in hospitals and rehabilitation units learning what my new reality would be. Since the first surgery in 2001, I have had an additional 18 surgeries - all attempts to rebuild me after each previous surgery failed. On Tuesday May 16th, I will return to the U of M Riverside Hospital for an exciting and experimental "revision of the left hemipelvis." I joke that my surgical suite will resemble a marriage between the tool aisle of Home Depot and NASA, with surgeons, engineers, and a robot! Once the surgery is completed (estimates range from 8-18 hours) someone will update you on the success (I refuse to allow any other outcome) and let you know how things are going. If my previous surgeries have taught me anything, I will not write whilst under the influence of great pain meds 😜. I want to thank you in advance for your prayers, love, and support. Love you all, Jamie