Shannon Tompsidis

First post: Feb 21, 2019 Latest post: Feb 23, 2019
For most of my life I have thought of myself as a healthy, athletic, and "seize-the-day" type of girl. Amazing childhood, fantastic parents, great friends. Now I am an Administrative Coordinator by day, dance teacher by night, and a waitress by weekend.  I love all of my jobs, teaching especially.  Teaching allows me the joy of giving knowledge and passion to my students and while utilizing and expanding my creativity. Seeing my students improve each year makes me as proud as I'd imagine a mother is of their child.

When I first met my husband, I knew he was the man I would marry. Tall, blue-eyes, so funny, handsome, loving, you know, the whole package.  The day that we got married was the best day of our entire lives.  Nothing could have ruined that day. Surrounded by so much love, support and beautiful things. I will never forget that day: August 19th, 2017. My life felt complete, I was happy, I was whole.

Fast forward 16 months later.  That was the worst day of our lives. January 25th, 2019: a doctor says "You have cancer".  A brief moment of shock and hesitation before a flood of tears soared down our faces. Embracing each other and crying, saying "no, no".  Then the questions started: "am I dying?" The doctor responds with a shrug. "is there a cure?" The doctor again shrugs. "How long do I have to live"? The doctor again shrugs and said "that's above my pay grade". Above your pay grade?! Then why are you allowed to be delivering this awful news? My parents rush in obviously a wreck, crying, kissing me, holding me. The Doctor has the same cold exterior. My mother quivering, pleading , "there is hope, isn't there?" The doctor replied with a stern voice, "I'm not going to sit here and pretend I am giving you good news".  I will never forget his icy tone and exterior.

The next few day I met with many, many fantastic doctors and nurses. My team of doctors were knowledgeable, uplifting, and positive which was such a relief. Monday I had my biopsy which concluded that I did in fact have stage 4 pancreatic cancer.  A cancer that is so extremely rare for a female my age. The cancer has spread to my liver. The doctors unfortunately size this situation up to just bad luck.  I keep thinking, cancer can't just appear like that, can it? Yes, it can. Silent and deadly.
I refuse to read anything on the internet and only put my faith in my prestigious doctors, nurses, and God.

I traveled with my husband and my father to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center looking for clinical trials.  They offered two, both of which I would decline due to logistics.  My Dad was my travel buddy and took me directly to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX the next day. Our flight was at 3:45a.m. ZzZzZz. They had a clinical trial that seems to fit me perfectly.  My husband took me to the Mayo Clinic the next week just to try one more place. Unfortunately They had just ended a trial and a new one was not being offered until next month.  This diseases acts fast so I needed to act fast.

My parents, husband, brother and I all sat down and listed the positives and negatives about each direction of treatment we had been offered.  MD Anderson came out on top.  So hopefully by this next week, I will be in sunny Houston, TX.  Yeehaw! 

Some of the surgeries I have had done are a bile duct stent surgery that basically opens up the duct to move it away from the tumor that is crushing it so all of my toxins get removed properly.  The first time they tried it with no success. That was a huge downer for me and my family.  The second time they did a rondevous with a GI surgeon and a Radiologist.  The doctors said that it was the hardest stent placement they have ever done and I am so incredibly thankful that they did it!  The side effects were awful; extreme nausea, yellow skin, yellow eyes, itching, ugh. Now I feel so much better!  I also had a port placed.  A port lays over the right side of your breast bone and helps with drawing blood and giving fluids so I don't have to be poked every time i need blood drawn or for chemo.  I have not started chemo and am a little frightened.  However, I've tackled everything else so far. This is just another hurdle.

I really want to spend some time to thank everyone that has reached out to me. It is such a beautiful thing to see humanity at it's finest. Every gesture, big or small, has impacted my life in more ways than you know. If I haven't reached back out to you I am so sorry, but know that it doesn't fall on deaf ears. I love each and everyone of you and wish great things for you all. To my amazing husband, thank you being my rock, my strength, and my protector.  To my wonderful parents, I have no idea what I did to deserve such unbelievably selfless and caring people raise me. All of your time is spent making sure I am happy, comfortable, and at peace.  I will always be in debt and feel that guilt of putting this stress on you. I wish I had a restart button.  To my brother, in-laws, my niece, and godson, I love you all and couldn't be doing this without you.

Please remember to wake up everyday and love yourself. Love your kids. Love your parents. Love your spouse. Love your neighbor. Life is made out of love.

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