This is my story, really our story. Our family and friends have walked this journey of APPENDIX CANCER alongside me. It is also His story. God has been seen in the details and miracles along the way. To God be all glory and honor. God is good; all the time; all the time, He is good. Its been a humbling and growing journey. We appreciate all the love and support and PRAYERS! Phil 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! (even this...)
* January 21, 2008: Found ovarian mass (17 cm) via ultrasound at OMC. No real symptoms of problems; just a routine check for a fibroid. Next step: CT and referral to Mayo. Good thing we live within a few miles of Mayo.
* February 1, 2008: 7 hr Surgery at Mayo to remove the tumor on the ovary. But more than that tumor was found. Diagnosed with a rare abdominal cancer that originated in the appendix. Mucinous Adenocarcinoma, Pseudomyxoma Peritonei. Appendix cancer is very rare--about 2 in 1 million persons. Unfortunately, when found later (like mine) it is often not curative. But they gave it go. They scraped all organs and got out any visible tumors (there were "numerous" per pathology report). I had intra-peritoneal chemotherapy and intra-peritoneal radiation treatment the week following surgery while still at the hospital. Not a good candidate for traditional chemo therapy as there is not a direct blood supply to these type of tiny tumor plants all inside. Treatment route instead is surgical removal. Sometimes they can do a chemo wash to try to eliminate any tiny cells remaining. I went home 15 days later! I was blessed with support from family and friends who helped me mend and took care of our family in the process. 3 months later, finally returned to work. At this point in our journey, our girls are only 6 and 4 years old. We had so much help from everyone. Thank you!
* January 2009: CT scans show recurrence of tiny cancers and mucin widespread again in abdomen. No immediate treatment plan--wait and see approach. They do not want to go in and perform surgery before it is necessary to avoid further scarring and places for cancer to hide/grow.
* During 2009: Several trips to ER and hospital stays for bowel obstructions. Scarring can do this as well as the growing cancer.
* January 2010: Surgery again. This time for bowel resection and to remove as much cancer and mucin as possible. Not able to safely remove all cancer. No chemotherapy option this time. Difficult recovery in hospital with an additional emergency surgery needed to repair a bowel fistula. But I came through! Home 21 days alter! Again--thanks to many meals and care from family and friends!
* January 2011: No surgery this past year! CT scans show cancer is STABLE which is great! Yeah--I made it through this January and February without need for surgery or hospital stay. It humbles me deeply the number of people all over the U.S. (and world) who are praying for me regularly! Thank you. Please continue to pray for wisdom in decisions (ours and the medical staff), for those who care for me (nurses, MDs/PAs, technicians, radiologists, and of course the lab techs who draw my blood! )
* August 2012: Bowel resection due to bowel obstruction. Not a complete reduction--just a "get in and get what is needed one). God was very involved in this surgery with placement of special people I know. Dr. Jack Kehl was head resident with Dr. Donohue. Jack also was the God-appointed resident on call in the ER when I was admitted with a complete obstruction. Jack was also the husband four wonderful sitter in past years, Taylor (a sweet spirited, Godly woman). I also had a beautifully-souled nurse anesthetist I knew (Barb Jerobek). We were in great hands with Dr. Jack and staff. The hospital stay was short: 1 week after surgery! Recovery was good at home.
* October 2013: Big surgery. 14-hour surgery to remove lots of tumor plants and resection my small bowels that had turned into a "ball". The surgeon used her miraculous skills to stick back 5 different small intestines into something that works well. The colon is now 1/3 of typical length; the small intestines are now 1/4 of original length. I know have a colostomy that acts more like an ileostomy with frequent output. Vitamin absorption will by a challenge and still need to follow low-residue (low fiber) diet. Need to watch electrolytes and get plenty. Back to work after 3 months.
* July 2015: Small bowel obstruction and visit to ER. No visible changes in tumors--so out the door and back home.
* October 2016: No surgery in 3 whole years!! Routine CT scans though show tumors in abdominal wall have grown. A few other tumors in the ab here or there as well. Oncology and surgical consults say basically: 1. either chemo therapy now (5FU every 2 weeks) with plan for surgery in future when abdominal wall tumor is shrunk somewhat. 2. Consult with plastic surgery is needed before any plans are made to see what options are for the muscle and to properly close the wound.
* November 2016 to January 2017: Chemotherapy. I had a total of 4 chemo treatments during this time. The chemo combo proved to be "ineffective" on CT in January 2017, in that the tumors did not shrink. : / So surgical plans were made.
* March 13, 2017: This was surgery number 6 (technically 5 for the "official count" but I count it when they had to go back in and repair a fistula one time). for this in 9 years!! This surgery to remove 3 tumors from right abdominal area. The surgery was under 5 hours and the hospital stay was a miraculous, record-breaker at only 5 days (including surgery day).
* February, 2019: Plans coming in March for surgery #6 (or #7 depending on how I count them). It will be a re-routing of the exit pylorus area of my stomach due to tumors (on the outside) blocking food from going into the intestines.
* March 2019: Surgery was done again for Bilioth II, repositioning of my stomach "exit" into the intestines; gastrojujenostomy with gastric wedge. Not all tumor could be removed once more due to more complications that it would cause than improvements.
* June 2019: Recovery has been going well but fatigue remains. All in all, doing OK, just continue to need lots of naps and not carry a thing up the stairs or I'll be short of breath.
* September 2019: Medical leave, long-term-disability approved. Time to retire. Officially retired on October 7, 2019.
*. March 2020: tumor blocking biliary duct from liver. Long term biliary drain placed on right side, draining to pouch. Three days later, stomach vent (PEG vent) placed on left side. Goal is to only drain when needed for bowel obstructions.
*. April 2020: tumors blocking stoma and squeezing several places in bowel. Time for TPN (liquid vitamins, minerals, etc through central port overnight at home).
* July 2020: Time for comfort care and Hospice support to begin. Still hanging in there strong, but TPN needed to stop due to fluid retention.
PRAYER REQUESTS: (see individual journal entries for specifics for current situations). Pray that I will show the LIGHT and LOVE and HOPE of Jesus to all I meet. If I am not healed here physically on earth, I know my Lord will heal me in heaven. It is by His love and mercy (grace) that He saves me from eternal death...Not because I did anything to deserve it--it is a free gift. I just unwrapped it with the faith given to me by the Holy Spirit. He accepts me just as I am... He wants to give you that gift too--just receive it. -mm