Shena Friend Faith>Fear-Cancer Warrior

First post: Jan 7, 2021 Latest post: May 31, 2022
First off, I just want to say that I have the most amazing family, friends, co-workers, and boss. I don’t even want to imagine what my life could have looked like without them. Love to you all!

It has been a year since my life has completely changed and took a sharp turn. November 2019, my ob/gyn and I finally decide to a diagnostic laparoscopy to figure out why my menstrual cycles were extremely painful every time. We suspected endometriosis, which was confirmed during this surgery. I count my blessings every day because of my doctor. While she already had the camera inside my body, she decided (which is common practice for her) to take a look around. Her philosophy is that if she already has you opened, she is going to check to make sure things look normal, even if it is not the area she is working on. I would not be alive today if it was not for her. I truly owe her my life. While looking around at my organs she noticed my liver looked weird, for a lack of better terms. She told my parents, and then me at a follow up appointment that she is no liver doctor but, it does not look normal to her. She even provided me with the high-definition images to take with me to see other doctors.

She referred me to a gastroenterologist and I saw him the beginning of December. He thought it was nothing to worry about at the time. He assumed it was just like a giant mass filled with blood. He ordered two MRIs, one of my upper abdomen and one of my lower abdomen. I had the first MRI on Christmas Eve 2019; this was the most important as it would show my liver. My second MRI was in the middle of January which was completely normal. The MRI of my liver was not good. I got the results online December 26th, and read that it was suspected to be some sort of malignancy and that a biopsy should be performed right away. Well, this doctor went on vacation and none of the other doctors in this practiced ever checked my results, as I was told they would and should have done. I was so livid. My doctor finally came back from vacation in a few weeks and ordered the much-needed biopsy.

I had the biopsy preformed at the end of January. This doctor was amazing, and talked to me during the whole procedure. I loved him so much that he became the only doctor I would have do my other biopsies. He told me visually the tissue they removed looked to be normal, but they would be sent to the lab for further diagnostic testing. Preliminary results came back benign but still further tests would be done. I waited and waited for the final results. I found out later that they had to send some samples to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota to verify the results, the results that would change my entire life. The gastroenterologist’s office finally got the results in the middle of February. They called me at work to deliver my “life sentence”. I was overwhelmed with emotions, not believing what she said because this can’t be true, are you sure? She told me I had hepatocellular carcinoma, cancer of the liver. They referred me to an oncologist, as there was nothing else, they could do.

I immediately called my mom while trying to snuffle up the tears. She offered to come and get me but I declined. I put on my big girl panties and went back to work, because this still couldn’t be true, it was all a dream, right?

By the next day I already had an appointment and saw the first oncologist I had, he was the first because I never saw him again, by choice. He spent all of five minutes with my parents and I, basically saying there was not a whole lot he could do for me. He told me that I had liver cirrhosis (which we later found was not true) which caused the cancer. My liver looked like I was a 60-year-old that drank excessively their entire life, I have never had more than 1 or 2 glasses of wine a year. He said, surgery, transplant, chemo, radiation, none of it would work. I was screaming on the inside “What do you mean there is nothing we can do!?!?”. He ordered another MRI, and referred me to other doctors. Yet again, I am being passed around like a toy. I didn’t know it at the time, but this was the best decision he could have made, to give me to someone else. He would never verify my stage of cancer but one can only suspect it is not good when the doctor tells you, you have no options. Will I even make it another year? Heck, it didn’t look good to even see the end of summer. I was going to die at the age of 34. I kept asking “Why God, Why me?”.

Later in my journey that question became “Why Not Me?”, I am strong and healthy and can handle whatever they want to throw at the cancer. I would much rather it be me than anyone else I know. I would rather it would be me than a child or elderly person who cannot fight as hard as I can. Cancer wasn’t going to beat me. Cancer wasn’t going to end me. I was going to beat Cancer…. Cancer messed with the wrong person. Cancer you may have started the fight but I am going to finish it!

My next appointment was with a geneticist. It was highly unlikely that any genetic modifying or suppressing medications would work, but we wanted to see if my cancer was linked to a known gene, and if so, it would allow us to notify family to get tested for it. She was extremely nice and even told me more about my cancer than the oncologist. I learned that I am the less than 1% to get this type of cancer for my age and health. There is no reason I should have gotten a cancer.