Can you support CaringBridge during our Fall giving campaign? Generous donors like you ensure that CaringBridge remains ad-free, private and protected.
Task Force for Toni
Jul 4, 2018 Latest post:
Sep 13, 2018
Thank you for checking in to my health update page. This site was created to keep friends and family apprised of the details of my diagnosis of Ovarian cancer, May 30, 2018 and to generate support, prayers, and praise for my healing health. Keeping all my loved ones informed is priority because it is you that make my word a better place and you who affirm my faith in the power of positivity!
How did we get here? Well seems I’ve been groomed for this for some time. Recently losing my mom and younger brother from their own battles with cancer, being the mom of a childhood leukemia survivor, and not to forget helping care for my father after his stroke for 20 plus years, it seems that caring for others has been the better part of my existence.
Helping my mom, supporting my little brother Michael and being there for my kids and students has been my number one priority for years. I had never understood how to put myself first so that I could better nurture others until now…
After a long period with digestive and elimination issues, I finally decided to take my concerns to the doctor and had the dreaded, mid-life colonoscopy on May 2, 2018. While waking up from the procedure, the GI doctor told my husband Adam that I had a large pollap which she felt pretty sure was cancer! We were stunned and immediately were subordinated to follow every investigative order the doctors required. Within two days, I was driving to the colon rectal surgeon when the GI doctor called with the results of the biopsy…benign! This was great news! Nevertheless, she still wanted me to go in for an MRI of my colon and CT scan. Meanwhile the CR Surgeon, Dr. April Fox a brilliant bad-ass who is also a mother of 4, told me she couldn’t say it was nor wasn’t cancer, but it had to come out.
Then before a week had elapsed I was doing paper work late one night for Texas Oncology. This was surreal, and my hands shook on the keyboard with trepidation and denial while I tried to protect the computer from my tears. How could this be real? A week had not passed from my Colon Rectal Surgeon visit and I was worked-in to see a gynecological oncologist at Texas Oncology. Dr. Lynn Knowles met with Adam and I for over 2 hours, answering questions, examining, assessing, listening and getting to know us. She never made us feel rushed, or that any of our questions were stupid. She was realistic and very reassuring at the same time, with a sense of humor. My kinda doctor! After examination she said the same as Dr. Fox, "I can’t say that it is cancer and I can’t say that it isn’t, but it has to come out."
The next week’s results from the MRI showed the polyp was contained to the colon walls which was good news number 2, but CT found a spot on my liver and one on my ovary which they said were likely cysts. So back for another MRI of liver, to find it is in fact a cyst which is common and nothing to treat and not serious. Good news number 3! Yet the cyst on my left ovary had to come out and would be removed in tandem, first the cyst then the polyp. Two surgeries in one, saving me recovery time by two super female surgeons and a Da Vinci robot! Great news number 4!
Surgery May 30 was almost 6 hours long went and went amazingly well! That’s good news #5! The polyp was actually benign but the cyst on my ovary was in fact cancer. So a full hysterectomy and a colon resection was performed as well as all lymph nodes in my colon removed. Seems that the cantankerous cyst on my left ovary had migrated a few microbes to my right ovary and to 2 of my 44 lymph nodes in my colon. Everything was removed successfully, and they cleaned house for any sight of other cells. All looks clear and clean. That’s good news number #6!
I was sent home to heal for a month with an ileostomy bag, to protect the colon-rectal area for healing from the colon resection (polyp removal). I was strong enough to do my summer literacy camp just 2 weeks post surgery with the support of my husband Adam, my sister Robyn and a teacher colleague, Shannon Sheppard. This was great news number 7 since it brings me joy to help children love learning to read and kept my mind off things.
Chemotherapy has been planned to start the week of Fourth of July to take care of cells that are invisible to the eye and will continue weekly until Halloween! Actually treatment will be 6 -3 week rounds. Sounds like a long time, but 18 weeks is nothing compared to the 38 months of treatment our son Teo withstood! Perspective is key!!! By the time Labor Day comes we’ll be halfway home!
Big take away from this to everyone, and especially all the moms I know, when in doubt, don’t put it off. Take as much care of yourself as you give to others, so that you will be able to continue to give and enjoy the life you choose. And finally, giving all my worries up to my faith in the Lord that this dis-ease is not the end of the world, it is the beginning of a new world with a portal for major change in my life, everlasting change for a beautiful next phase of healing my heart, my family and my body in hopes of redesigning a better version of myself!