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Jennifer ~ Chapter 41
4/23/2017 Latest post:
Thank you, Thank you! I am so grateful to know so many awesome, caring people that want to keep up with what's going on with me. I feel very special and loved. A special thank you to Grover (aka Michelle) for creating this page and volunteering to help keep everyone updated. I love you!
Exciting new beginnings for Chapter 41!! Wait... cancer? In January, I had an abnormal pap. An appointment that I was extremely overdue in having. PLEASE, to all of my lady friends, if you are overdue for your lady parts appointment, get that done. My results: Abnormal. Well, abnormal is normal, lots of us have abnormal test results. On to Biopsy. Results: Abnormal. Hmm, I don't really like being normal anyways. On to Colposcopy and yet another biopsy. Results: Abnormal. I'm not loving this word, Abnormal. So I'm going to have a procedure to cut out the Abnormal. A LEEP Procedure is scheduled. LEEP day, March 6, we're going to remove part of my cervix, my Abnormal, and then I'm going back to work and maybe I'll stop at the grocery store. I should feel okay, and then I'll lay around for the rest of the day. As I sat on the exam bed with only a sheet draped over me, my GYN came in and said, "I'm sorry, I'm going to step back out, go ahead and put your clothes back on. We have to talk." WHAT?!? She stepped out for what seemed like forever. And, I knew I should have been here before now. I just had to sit and wait, angry at myself for waiting so long. When she returned, she had a packet of information from the U of MN. The subject was: Gynecological cancers. Yup, cancer. Hold on, cancer? I remember her saying she could do the LEEP procedure and have it tested. However, she didn't want to waste even a week waiting on more results, she doesn't want to miss anything, and she's sending me to the Masonic Cancer Center. Wait, waste a week, do I have cancer? The answer was no, not confirmed cancer. After that, there was a lot of information. What I remembered were comments like, "they have the best survival rates" and, "I would trust them with my life." She continued to explain that the last biopsy results returned as "invasion cannot be excluded". Wait, is that Cancer? The answer, maybe. Once I got to my car I was quite overwhelmed with emotion, and when I looked down at the papers I was given it read; Newly diagnosed with a gynecologic cancer. Call to schedule a consultation. Wait, was I just diagnosed with cancer? I don't even know. So the most logical thing I could think to do was sit in that parking lot and cry. Once I recovered, I called the Cancer Center to schedule my consultation. The scheduler asked if I had been diagnosed with cancer. I said, "I don't know, the paper I have says CIN 3, Invasion cannot be excluded. Is that cancer?" She stated that that is not a cancer diagnosis. EXHALE! Then she informed me the doctor I was referred to had no availability until the end of May. The earliest appointment available with any oncologist is April 4, 2017, four weeks later... I informed the scheduler that my GYN stated we didn't want to "waste even a week" so a month seemed like a long time. She told me Dr. Mullany would review my records and call if she wanted to see me sooner. Sometime within the next few days, I received the call that my records had been reviewed and we will keep the appointment for April 4. Sweet, I'm such a spastic nerd, it must not be cancer or they'd want me in there right away, right? April 3rd, I received a call from my nurse Jennifer, a great name to have, she had some information on what to expect for my consultation. She stated it could be quite overwhelming, bring someone to take notes, be prepared to have labs and possibly an MRI. Wow, that all sounds severe, she must not know I just need someone to cut out my Abnormal that may or may not be cancer.
Finally, consultation day, let's do this. Dr. Mullany goes over my medical history and then kicks out my peeps to do a pelvic exam. She feels a mass, in and on the side of my cervix. Hmm, wonder what that is? I tell her I remember my GYN saying something about feeling something marble sized in a weird spot. Must be that weird thing. She's going to take a couple more biopsies. Seriously, I'm surprised I have anything left to take. Everyone has a piece of my Abnormal so she might as well take some too. After the exam, she stepped out and sent my Mom and Michele back in. I complain about having another biopsy. Dr. Mullany returns and says it looks and feels like cancer. Wait, actually cancer. As in, I have cancer? She says we need an MRI to confirm so we can order a PET scan. The next day I had an MRI and a few days later a PET and CAT Scan. There are a lot of people waiting on getting these scans and MRIs, so we'll get them done as soon as possible. Once we have the results we'll meet to have a treatment plan meeting. I quickly changed treatment plan to "Adventure Plan" because it sounds more fun!
I have cancer. Wow!
I had an MRI on April 5th. I received a call from Jennifer on the 6th saying the MRI and Biopsy confirm the cancer diagnosis. The MRI shows the cancer has spread past my cervix and we'll know to what extent once the PET and CAT scan results are in. Because I can't get the PET for one week, we reschedule the Adventure Plan meeting for April 18. Only a week and a half to wonder how extensive the cancer is. It's amazing how time can seem to pass in slow motion when you're not having fun.
The Friday following my PET Scan, which was done Wednesday, April 12th, Dr. Mullany calls to inform me that my PET Scan was clean. Clean meaning it is only one mass that is on my cervix and about 4mm to the side(s). My cancer is 100% curable with radiation. So, what I heard was; it's no big deal. This is exciting news that I was happy to share. The following Tuesday, April 18th, was Adventure Plan day. I was caught completely off guard. Dr. Mullany explained I have Stage IIIb cervical cancer. That sounds like a big deal. My adventure will start with a procedure on Monday, April 24th. I'm going to be under anesthesia and she will be doing an exam via inserted cameras of my bladder and other important things in the area to verify if the cancer showing in the PET is all of the cancer. Also, I don't mean to brag except I do, gold seeds are going to be implanted to serve as a map for radiation. Yup, increasing my net value is part of the adventure. This is still good news because this is still 100% curable. Now curable, that's a good word! Starting the first week in May, I will have chemo once a week and radiation five times a week for six weeks. More good news, the type of chemo I'm receiving is L'Oreal friendly and I get to keep my hair!
The first question most people ask is how am I feeling. My most consistent answer is that I'm feeling fine. Almost everyone then says, "No, really, how are you feeling?" I swear, usually I am feeling fine. Now that I know what's what and there is a plan, I feel good knowing I'm about to kick cancer's butt. It's all very surreal still because I don't feel sick, I don't look sick. I just have this cancer inside of me. Don't get me wrong, fine is a newer feeling. Two weeks ago I didn't feel fine. I faked that I did, but there have been a lot of not fine moments. The weeks of waiting, not knowing how far it spread and what my adventure would consist of was stressful, to say the least. It monopolized my thoughts morning to night. Some of you may have seen me and thought I was strange because I could refrain from talking for an entire five minutes (let's not any of us get used to that now that I have a golden va-jay-jay to brag about). Although it still didn't feel real, I was scared. I would get quite upset thinking about what my kids, my mom and everyone who loves me will have to go through seeing me fight cancer. It was a very uncomfortable roller coaster of emotions. I'm glad that part is over! So that's the story thus far. Most of you know I am a very open person. I am as comfortable talking about any of this or not talking about any of this. Please feel free to ask me anything you want or ignore the cancer altogether. I intend to keep updates on here authored by myself or Michelle Grover. Thank you again for caring, for encouraging words, prayers and thoughts. Chapter 41 sure is interesting so far, huh? ~Jennifer