At the beginning of May, I had an extremely rare day - a day off from school because I was not feeling well I can't remember the last time I was out sick ....it just doesn't happen. I have taken days off for my kiddos, and even to take my mom to appointments, but not for myself. Bottom line - I don't get sick. Maybe I have a high resistance of bacteria and other germs. I don't remember eating dirt as a kid, but who's to say it didn't happen, right? Either way, I have a tough immune system and have been pretty healthy over the years. This particular day was different. I was tired, week, and nauseous - big time! If you're eating at the same time you are reading this, I apologize - but I puked more in that one day than I think I have in my whole lifetime. I was miserable - but something told me that this wasn't just a 24 hour bug or flu. It felt different - and when I added it to some other FEMALE symptoms I had been experiencing the 2 - 3 months prior, I knew I needed to see a doctor. I scheduled an appointment to see a midwife the following week. I never got to see this midwife, as a young expectant mother went into pre-term labor just before my scheduled time, but the gynecologist in charge provided orders for me to have get two ultrasounds done while I was there. The ultrasounds revealed that there was a thickness in the lining of my uterus. The doctor then ordered a biopsy to see what was causing this thickness. This was done on an outpatient basis on May 18th. Like many people, I "googled" my symptoms. I went to three websites that I had great respect for and trust in. I started with the Mayo Clinic site. I typed in my symptoms and hit the return button on my computer. The words Endometrial Cancer came back at the top of the list. I went to the next website.....did the same thing.....came up with the same answer. Finally the third - a Trifecta! So, the following Monday when the doctor called me with the results, I was not at all surprised when she said "You have Endometrial Cancer."
The next step: a hysterectomy. Hmm.....when is a good time for a teacher to have this done? You guessed it! The first day of summer vacation! Nothing says it's time to relax more than being homebound for a few weeks. So, on Thursday, June 7th, I had s a complete hysterectomy. Now - the neat thing for me as a teacher - is how evident that the STEM practices we are teaching our kiddos today can be used in the future. The doctor performed my surgery not only laparoscopically, but with the assistance of robots! How cool is that!?! She did the surgery BEHIND GLASS using computerized robot controls and a virtual reality headset. I would have LOVED to have seen it - but, alas, I was asleep through the entire thing!
When dealing with Endometrial Cancer, the "rule of thumb" (my terms - not borrowed from the medical world) is that if the cancerous tumor removed is 2cm or less, they "call it good" and your treatment is complete. Unfortunately, my tumor was 7.5 cm and so they had to grab some lymph nodes, etc., before they stitched me up to "Stage" it. My "Girl Parts" plus 25 lymph nodes were sent to a Pathologist to be read. There was concern that the cancer had spread to one of my ovaries as well as one or more lymph nodes. And so I waited.....and waited.....and waited for the results. Finally, I got a call. Ovaries - clear! (YES!!), Lymph nodes - clear! (THANK YOU GOD!!) HOWEVER, the cancer had spread to my left fallopian tube and there was evidence of cancer cells in the fatty tissue in that area as well. (The Oncology Surgeon did explain that the cancer cells in the tissue could have "fallen" off from the fallopian tubes during the removal.....but there is no way to tell.)
Next up: A treatment plan! I will go through the standard treatment plan, as there are no clinical trials in place at this time. My treatment will include 6 cycles of Chemotherapy - once every 3 weeks. I will get a combination of carboplatin and pacitaxel. The good news is the carboplatin does not make your hair fall out. The bad news is that the pacitaxel does. And so, I will be sporting a hat (no wigs, please) covered chrome dome for awhile. Perhaps another way to keep cool on these warm summer days?! Once I have completed the chemo, I will be receiving two types of radiation therapy. I will have 5 - 6 weeks of daily radiation (external beam) and then a type that is implanted (brachytherapy), which sounds like a barrel of fun. The good news is that I can do MOST of my treatment locally - right in the Monticello Cancer Center, which is only about a 25 minute drive from home. The implanted radiation needs to be done in the Cities, but the other can be done locally.
I know that this is a lot of information......and I will try not to be too long winded with my journal, but I was trying to be as transparent and thorough as I can. I have a rock solid and strong faith and know that Jesus will be with me every step of the way. It was fitting one day, as I walked through a gift shop, I saw a sign that said, "Let go and let God." At this point.....I think that's a good idea! Please keep Jim and the kids in your prayers......they have been so wonderful throughout this, but I know it is difficult for them. Oh yes, please keep me in your prayers, too! Thanks!