Madeline Shirey

First post: May 18, 2020 Latest post: Oct 2, 2020
Hey there! Welcome to my caringbridge site. Thanks for dropping by to check on me and show your support. It means a lot!

What’s up with me? Grab a some popcorn and a seat. 

Prior to the start of this grand adventure, our heroine(me) was an OTR(over the road)truck driver. I loved my life. Every day a new city. Every night a new sunset. Always a new adventure. Life was pretty good. 

*ominous music plays*

On the evening of January 21st, 2020, my life derailed. After a long day of driving, I presented myself to the ER in a small town in Florida, with what I presumed to be gallstones, and jaundice(which I thought was related). That evening, they admitted me to the hospital, after a c-scan and an MRI and scheduled me for two procedures. The first was an ERCP with contrast, and the second was to be the surgical removal of my gallbladder, should I need it. 

The next day, they wheeled me into the ERCP room, and put me under. When I awoke, I met the gastric doctor, who informed me that they had successfully cleared stones from my ducts, including a large one in my gallbladder... but while he was in there, they some some things that were “alarming”.  Gallbladder surgery was postponed until “more testing” was done. I was then directed to “sit tight” and they had some specialists coming to speak with me. 

Two days and a bout with pancreatitis later, I met three oncologists, who informed me that, “while they couldn’t be 100% sure until testing came back, they were confident I had pancreatic cancer”. This was a shock, but they explained treatment options and things, and that it was very survivable. I was naturally scared out of my mind, but yeah. At least it wasn’t gonna kill me. 

Two weeks and an exhausting experience later, I had to transfer to a new hospital, because the tests I needed to confirm my cancer diagnosis conclusively, weren’t available there. My sister came down and got me, and together me made the trip back to Tennessee. 

Some stupidity followed, as it always does, but eventually I got in to see the gastric doctor at Erlanger. They performed an “ERCP with spyscope” on me, and upon waking, told me I did not in fact have cancer of the pancreas, but rather the bile duct. A much rarer, and much more complicated to treat cancer, but fixable with surgery. 
Thing was, he couldn’t confirm the diagnosis until pathology got back. He was absolutely certain that’s what was wrong though, and referred me to Vanderbilt in Knoxville to get a consult for the removal surgery.  

Ok... at least we knew what was up now. Right? Wrong. 

Turns out, when I got there, they scanned me and found... well they weren’t sure. He knew it was cancer, and he knew it wasn’t bile duct. He did however see some troubling things with my stomach. Without any fanfare, we went home defeated. I was scheduled for more invasive testing later that week. 
This time, when I woke up from surgery... well they still didn’t know, but two days later I had a confirmed diagnosis. Finally. Stomach cancer. Hopefully we found it early and they could just do surgery... 

Sugar test was done. Results came back. Stage 4. Not only did I have stomach cancer, but  Mildred(yes I named her Mildred... I’m silly) had fully evolved and started branching out to other places. Namely my lyphnodes and my bones. 

Treatment was planned. Aggressive chemotherapy. To start on my birthday, March 16th. Yes, it really took THAT long to finally figure out what was wrong. Thus began my cycle of suck, which I now share with y’all. I twist in a little humor when I can because it helps me cope to laugh at things, so feel free to laugh with me when applicable. 

Thanks again for visiting :)