Friday, June 29, 2007

Well, I did it better this time!

It seems like I am back to my old bad self. I am doing fine except for the head cold. I slept for 11 hours last night and Nolan only got up once for a 20 minute feed, so life is good. Today, I met with the famous Anton, a wig maker, that will make a wig for me from my own hair. What an emotionally tugging experience. They were so nice and so accommodating. I was doing fine until he said, "Let's not take your hair yet. You have beautiful hair and maybe you will be lucky." It was the beautiful hair part that got me. It is strange to be in a salon where this is all they do. No more than one customer at a time, mirrors are easily covered so the customer doesn't have to watch, and hair isn't swept away. It is measured, calculated, graded, saved, and made into a forever piece. On a funny note is that Robin, Grant's best friend from TO, has asked me to make him a wig with any left overs that I have. Does he really want to be color #91 or is he that desperate???? I'll let you decide! Have a great weekend - I will, Ang

Thursday, June 28, 2007

My boys are home....

Tired from all the fun at the Grandparents house, they are home and sleeping. I missed the smell of the back of Mason's neck so much. I have more energy simply because they are here. We will do an art project this afternoon and maybe play with the new bubble machine some friends brought over!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Well, one bad day isn't so bad

Today is a bad day. It started at 4:30pm yesterday. Fatigue, nausea, etc. Plus, I got a head cold. I suspect it was from Mason. It has reeked havoc on me. I woke up okay, but it went downhill fast. Maybe it was that I missed Nolan's first tooth while he has been at my parents, or maybe it was that I did too much research yesterday trying to answer the question of why did this happened to me and where is the awareness that this can happen to people under 50. How did I miss this? What did I do wrong? And then, I get a package on my porch from a stamping consultant friend of mine. It was an order on items that were going to be discontinued I was going to place, but never did because of the cancer frenzy. She remembered. She enclosed the most beautiful card that reminded me that I have a lot to be thankful for. And then there was Mint Julep Body Wash from my neighbor that I got on my porch after the Mint Julep post, the card I got from a family friend that told me to keep up my stamina and that she thinks of me often, the funny emails, or the post from friends I haven't seen in a while but love so much, "the Brown Ribbon campaign", my phone conversation with Mason about the remote control cars he plays with Grandpa, and finally my im conversation with my college buddy that made me laugh and sob at the same time. In the end, I know that I am so lucky. Today will melt away under the "Cancer Sucks" category. My friends won't, my children won't, my family won't. One thing is for darn sure - no more research and no more questions today. There is some good news - I get unhooked from my cancer stick today so I can have my kids back tomorrow - that makes me happy.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Ports are cool, side effects stronger

Well, anyone that does this should have a port. They are cool! You feel nothing and they can pull anything out and put anything in without a bit of pain. PORTS are cool! Today, I am doing pretty well. The side effects are stronger this time (i.e. cold sensitivity). It feels like needles going into my finger tips and toes. Also, if I drink something cooler that luke warm it feels like needles in the back of my throat. My hands cramp a bit but that tells me I need to drink more water - nice signal. Something I learned yesterday is that a "round" of chemo is actually two treatments. So, I will be going through two rounds before we test again for next step (more chemo, add radiation, surgery, etc). The nice part about that is I know what I am doing through July (chemo on the 9th and chemo on the 23rd - completing the second round) and can plan according. It is a beautiful day, and the kids are with my mom and Jane, so I am going to try to do all my recommended activities today (friend recommendations). I have managed to do at least one each day, but today I will do all of them. I will post on how that goes. I think it will be pretty funny because I am not so good at one of the yoga poses. I keep falling over which I think is not conducive to the desired result!!!!! Enjoy your day - I will side effects and all - Ang

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Beaver Landed

Fifteen years ago I met Grant and fifteen years ago I was introduced to some of the finest people that I know - his friends. They included me and accepted me without question. Being from Seattle that was flat out WEIRD, but it sure felt nice. Fifteen years later, they still there - unwavering and steady. They asked to visit and I, of course, said absolutely. They came on Saturday morning - five adults and four children. They brought food for the day, evening, and for the next month. I am not kidding. The light in the freezer has been rendered useless because it is buried with food. I mentioned something about the food calendar and I was flatly told, "That is not what I signed up for." This from a small build of a women that physically looks up at me but with a manner of "mess with me and I will have no choice but to hurt you". I didn't chance it - I didn't dare! While I am tired from the visit, it was great to feel them here, laugh with them, and just be with them. Tomorrow I am back at chemo and my kids go back to my mom's with Jane. While part of me dreads tomorrow (because of the nausea and missing my boys), a greater part is thankful for the medicine, doctors, my family, and my friends who are all there for me. One step closer to being cancer free.

Friday, June 22, 2007

My "Spot(s)"

When this first happened, people didn't know what to do for me, so they sent me stuff. I felt a little like Princess Diana because the porch was filled with flowers, donuts, food, cards, and packages. The mail had more cards than bills and junk mail. My email box was overflowing. I was having trouble dealing with the diagnosis and my feelings so I turned to a trusted friend. My friend told me that I needed a spot in the house that I could have to feel my feelings, put my things, etc. You know, isolate it to one area so that I could focus, feel, release, etc. I agreed and I told her that I would make a spot. When asked about the progress, I told her I was in the process of making my spot. By the third inquiry, she knew I hadn't made anything. And, then, there she was on my porch with a mission - MAKE SPOT! She took more time than I know she had and helped me. We placed special things there for me to process, feel, and release. Then, she sat there with me for a bit. Those moments meant the world to me. I had my spot. The first night it worked so well when I woke up and couldn't sleep the sheer thought of getting up and going to my spot made me so tired I went back to sleep. WOW - that is WAY effective! Okay, fast forward a few weeks. Now, my spot is filled with wonderful things, sayings, tokens, T-shirts that say "My mommy is a superhero" and "Stronger than Cancer", and candles. There are a few items that haven't made it to the spot....chocolate (not enough time before it is consumed) and three rubber ducks (interesting choice of gifts - Mason took those.) I now also have another spot. It is for all the cards and notes I get. It is in my entry of my house. I call it my power spot. I just look at all the cards and realize that I have so much support that I feel empowered to get through the day. It is the last thing I see when I leave the house and the first thing I see when I get home. I pass by it several times a day. It does move or faulter, it only gets bigger and I thank all of you for that. I wouldn't have the power spot without you.....


So, Jane has been here for exactly two and a half days and she knows the ropes already! The first day was awful. Mason didn't nap because he was so excited to see her. Nolan was snacking all day and did not sleep at all! Wednesday was a bit better, and Thursday was perfect. She has fit in perfectly and has already calculated the fabric we need to cover the dining room chairs, Classic Jane. She helps with everything - dishes, laundry, kids, sweeping, etc. It is amazing that she offered her summer to do this.....not the most exciting summer she will ever have, but probably the most messy one! Mason has already learned how to say, "Auntie Jane" and gives sloppy kisses every night before she leaves for the night. She is staying at my parents guest house - thank goodness for the guest house so she can get a break.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Dreaming is good.

Yesterday, I was talking with a friend on my back porch. I shared with her that I always wanted to go to the German Christmas Markets and, on a separate trip of course, eat white asparagus (German specialty) when it was in season. I actually made plans with her to go. This was beyond Kauai, beyond my treatment, beyond my cancer. I didn't forget that I had cancer, but I really felt that I was going to have life after cancer. Logically, I know that may not be, but for the moment, for the day, for the dream, it was real. Then, I went nuts and made plans with my aunt (and mom, but she doesn't know it yet) about going to the Kentucky Bourbon Festival. It may sound odd, but a mint julep sound mighty appealin' right now!!!!!

I get to shower today!!!!

Today is the first day of the rest of my life! I get to shower without wrapping myself in sticky saran wrap over my port! I am so exicted you cannot even imagine!!!! Of course, Grant wants to inspect everything before he gives me clearance. He is the one that made me wait 10 days instead of 7. I am not mad, I am just crossing my eyes because he is such a rule follower sometimes! :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Today I am exhausted, but it was worth it

Yesterday was the most normal day I have had. I tear up just thinking about it. I had a great morning, afternoon, and evening. Sarah L. played with Mason all morning while I took care of Nolan. When the boys were down for nap, I explained all the ins and outs of "All My Children" to Sarah who was laughing and shaking her head. Then, I went down for nap too. I woke up raring to go. I drove a car in the first time in weeks. How freeing! I went to scrapbooking. On the way, the sun was just setting and the light was so beautiful. I could see the water and just smell the start of summer. I scrapbook with my cousin and her friends, now my friends too, from her church. It was great to sit next to my cousin and give her the normal crap that I give her. She didn't miss a beat and cut me no slack which was perfect. We are so related it is scary. Afterward, I went to the grocery store to pick up an avocado for Mason, and then went by the airport to pick up Jane (my sister in law). I felt normal waiting at baggage claim. I watched all the people and thought about where they were going, who they were meeting, and what adventures they had had. Then, I saw Jane and exhaled. She is here.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Two creatures that love the new normal

My cats....espeically Africa....she sleeps with me on the bed and Kokanne is my couch kitty......they love it.....

Almost normal

I met with a social worker last week and she said that I should try and discover my new "normal" which I took to mean "living my life with cancer". This weekend was probably a good example of that. Friday morning was bad, Friday afternoon was good, Friday evening was great. Friday afternoon, Grant and I were out with Mason and Nolan playing in the front yard, talking to our neighbors, watching kids playing basketball, badminton, etc. The sun was out, Nolan was eating his bottle and spitting up on my neighbor. You know, just a regular afternoon. Grant and I watched half of a movie that night, "Failure to Launch". We laughed hard together. That was great. Saturday morning was okay. My family went for a walk. Sarah S. came over to help with housework which turned out to be vacuuming, bathing Nolan, and going to the store to get pickled ginger (nausea). My neighbor mowed the grass and Grant's coworker brought over amazing Chinese food. But the real feat of the day was that I went to West Side Story with my Mom and my Aunt. See, we have season tickets to the 5th Ave and I had not been anywhere except the Cancer Institute in weeks. So, I got myself together (taped up so I could shower), put makeup on, dressed up, got a 7up for the road, and went. I wasn't doing so good on the way, but the walk to the theater was good. Before we went in, I saw an old coworker of mine. When we said hello, I asked if she had heard. She said yes. When she said it there was no pity in her eyes and I was thankful for that. So, I replied, "Well you know how I am then, what the heck happened to your foot?!?!?!?" She broke it in Italy...FUN! We had a great conversation and for a moment I felt normal. It was wonderful. After the show, we came straight home, I was so tired I went to bed at 6:30pm and slept until 8:00am the next day. Apparently, part of the new normal. Father's Day was not what I had pictured, but I did manage to get Grant out for golf and relieved of kid duties for the evening with the help of Sarah L. (not to be confused with Sarah S. from Saturday). We watched a couple episodes of Scrubs from Netflix and we laughed which was the best part.

Friday, June 15, 2007

"Cancer Free"

Today is a bit better than yesterday. My body is healing nicely around the port in my chest and the bruising is going away. The nausea is going away slowly but is compounded by other things that I don't have the energy to go into. So, without those complications and a bit of luck, the next round of chemo should be better. Thought of the of my neighbors that I work with on neighborhood stuff mentioned a couple times during meetings, "Oh, that must have been when I was sick." regarding a time period about seven years ago. I always meant to ask her about it, but it never seemed appropriate, or there were other neighbors around. Well, she emailed me right after my diagnosis and told me it was cancer. In her email, she used the words, "cancer free for seven years". I can't get "cancer free" out of my mind and during my worst bouts I think of those words, that email, her, and say, "cancer free."

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Today and yesterday

weren't so good. I am so nauseous I want my eyeballs to pop out. But, my boys are home. Nolan sleeping in the pack n' play at the foot of my bed and Mason playing with my Aunt Donna outside. The beauty of their noise.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A word on food.....

Many people are asking what food I like to eat. Well, I like and eat anything, but what I have learned is that there are thing that go best with cancer. So, while I am not sure what my exact needs will be, here are the general cancer guidelines. I will know more as my treatment goes on, what my side effects are, etc. I plan to meet with a nutritionist as I understand my response to chemo and radiation. General Guidelines:
  • Focus on eating more higher calorie foods with emphasis on protein.
  • Include more dairy products including eggs (hard with the temperature issue, but okay)
  • Include more things with sauces and gravies (make things easier to go down with mouth sores)
  • Include more butter and oil (make things easier to go down)
  • Sometimes you have to eat less of certain high fiber foods because of diarrhea and sore mouth. Remember, I have a butt tumor!
  • Lots of fruits and vegetables
  • Reduce sugar, alcohol, and salt (dehydration)

So, here is an idea especially for those who live close. If you are at the market and see a yummy piece of fruit, pick it up and put in on my porch. I will come to the door if I am up for it. Or a bag of salad or whatever.....thank you! Right now, I need to get to the couch.

My first day of chemo...June 11th

Mom and I showed up on time, of course, and checked in with all the others for surgery. I didn't have to remind my mom too much about pixy dust and stars although there were a couple moments before the surgery. One funny thing she said was, "I am not sure how you could have caught this earlier, Ang. I mean, where would you go? You have been surrounded by doctor's for seven years (with infertility and childbirth) and then when we went to the Colon/Rectal Surgeon, he said, I found something, but we will find out what it is and fix it. No big deal." It was so true and ironic. Then she went on with sometime like, " never did do anything half assed anyway..." I just started cracking up and I couldn't stop. I was crying I was laughing so hard. I felt a lot better after that. All the nervousness gone and very glad that I had on waterproof mascara. Insertion of the port-a-cath went very well. As usual, the prep hurt more than the surgery which I was awake for. People have started to remember me like Sam that transports you from Prep to Radiology, Sheila, my lung biospy nurse, that asked how the kids were, Dr. Omdal that said, "Yes, Ms. Grace Kelly Clarno" and Connie that said, after inserting my IV twice, "You are the tough one. I remember..." We all talked about Kauai next March and all the friends that I am going with. We all talked about two year olds. We all talked about happy things. It was like another day at the office, but without the bad stuff. Pixy dust and stars! Happy Happy Joy Joy! Funny point - Mom has been to a few waiting rooms these days and has started "grading" them. You see, when I had my first colonoscopy they told her there was a more "spacious" waiting room down the hall. First mistake. When my mom arrived to the "spacious" waiting room it was a circle of chairs all looking at one another with no windows and a TV crammed in the corner. So now, when anyone says, "I can show you where the waiting room is." She replies with something like, "Please tell me it is spacious!" and looks at me laughing. In recovery, I did well. I was still a little groggy, but they released me in mom's care because I only had 20 minutes to get to Starbucks before my oncology appointment. MUY IMPORTANTE! Oncology went well. Grant met us there. My mom got to meet Dr. Kaplan and, now, she too is a fan. I got an x-ray to be sure the port was in the right place, got my cocktail recipe, and headed upstairs to start. Since it was my first time (and I had an entourage), I got my own private room. Maura, my nurse, oriented my family to everything while I settled in. By 12:00, my meds were started, Grant got me two teas, juice, water, a sack lunch, and a custard. I am not kidding. There is some method to this. One of the most severe side effects of the lung chemo is that I cannot drink or hold anything below room temperature. If I do, I can have mild to severe tremors in my esophagus and/or hands for up to two days. This means all food and drink, not touching anything out of the fridge, washing hands, showers, breathing cold air, etc. etc. etc. The time went quickly, I took a nap, read, ate, watched a little TV, talked to the nurse a lot, paid some bills on my cell (always working!), and smiled with my mom. At the end, they hooked up at two day drip to me that works on my body's temperature to pump. This was slighting in conflict with the icing regimen for my surgery, so I tossed the ice pack (on the recommendation from my doc) and am crossing my fingers. The pump is emptying into my system, so I guess it is working. Sad point - with all the tubes, drip, and the port still healing, it became very apparent that I could not take care of my kids until at least the chemo drip is taken off of me on Wednesday. So, for the first time in Nolan's life, he was away from me last night. I woke up several times looking for him or thinking I would check on Mason. I know that they are in good hands - mom and aunt - but it is just so hard the first time. I will visit them today with all my tubes safely tucked away under a couple shirts. Thank God for nursing bras - they work great for this! :) Happy point - Exactly, one month from my first appointment (for hemorrhoids remember!), I have a full diagnosis and I am beginning treatment - THANK YOU SWEDISH - what a truly amazing and efficient place you are. Last point for today - When I left Radiology after my port insertion, Sheila said to me, "Okay, the next time we see you is when we take this thing out because you are all better, right?" And, with all the doctors and nurses looking at me for an answer, I looked her straight in the eye and said, "RIGHT." Enjoy today, I will. Love, the loving, stubborn, strong-willed mule, very much loved BADASS, (all your words - not mine!) Ang

Sunday, June 10, 2007

And so I go....

And so I go.....before 6:00am, I will have checked into Swedish Hospital. First, to surgery to get my port-a-cath and recovery. Then, up to my oncologist's office for blood work, and finally arrive for my five hour chemo cocktail. And so I go...with my books of inspiration, books for book club, my laptop my mom got me just for this, pixy dust and stars.... And so I go....with my heart clear, humor in my voice, and lightness in my step. Oh, I am scared, but not fearful for I am in the hollow of God's hand. And so I husband on one side, my mom on the other, my aunt caring for my children and all my loved ones cheering me on with every step. And so I go.......

Help Calendar

Okay, I have finally figured it out! Sarah S. will be putting together a calendar for help for me this summer and fall. Let's focus on this summer....I will have the help of my sister-in-law Jane who is coming on the 19th of June and my girls, Caitlin and Sarah L., for the kid help this summer. So, for that I am well covered for now. What I do need help with is food (dinner types that can be put in the freezer), light housework (laundry, vacuum, and dust), and yard work (maybe once a month group thing). So, if you can contact Sarah S. at 206-244-3566 (work) or email (email will change in one week, so keep the phone number!). She will set up the help schedule. She will need to know what you would like to do, what days you can do it, and your contact info.

Thank you....a bit overwhelmed, but more so blessed

Thank you for all of your support. The postings on the blog, emails, voicemails, calls and comments to my family, etc. have been amazing. I am so sorry that I cannot respond to each communication, but know that I am keeping all the cards, emails, and posts. I read through many of them - over and over again. With your support, this will be a much easier path for me.

Friday, June 8, 2007

June 8th - I ate a whole bowl of cereal today

I haven't eaten anything really since the evening of June 6th, but today was different. Yesterday, my aunt came to the house. My mom was here. They cleaned my floors, took Nolan for a walk and helped with Mason. I got countless visitors and lots of food. Yesterday, I realized what Karma was. Karma is what you put out there and what comes back. I was thinking that I must have wished this on myself, that maybe I didn't eat right, or that maybe I was given this because of something bad I had done. I don't believe that anymore - or at least not today. Today, I believe this was all supposed to happen this way. Colon/rectal cancer is usually asymptomatic (meaning there are no symptoms). I did have symptoms in November right before Thanksgiving. I made an appointment my doctor, and then, for whatever reason ALL of my symptoms disappeared. Thinking that all of this was just hemorrhoids, I canceled the appointment. Here is why I believe that this happened. I have probably had this cancer for a while, maybe as much as a few years. If I had known I had it, I would have NEVER pursued fertility. While my body was growing two beautiful babies, it was killing itself at the same time.....okay stay with, if I had known, I would not have had Mason and Nolan. If I had known in November, I would have just had the goal to birth Nolan. But see, now I have Nolan and now he smiles at me and now he talks to me everyday. And everyday, I look forward to that. So, if I would have known, I would have died. If the symptoms would have continued in November, I would not be here today. And, despite the diagnosis, the doctors have not given he a death sentence. I am treatable and we are treating it. I have very good friend who told me (a few years ago now) that he wanted to do the weather on national television, but he thought the odds of doing it were too small. I told him, "Somebody's got to report on the weather, it might as well be you." I had to say it a few times, but he got it and now he does report the weather on national television. Despite the odds. So, my cancer is treatable and there are survivors, so with a little luck, a lot of hard work, a lot of prayers from you, and Mason's and Nolan's smiles everyday, I will persevere. The stats say that there are survivors, IT MIGHT AS WELL BE ME. Please have a great weekend because today is a great day and I am positive - be positive with me. See the sun, smell the flowers on the way home from work, kiss your kids (and your cats) and love your life. Sincerely, Ang THE BADASS (as beautifully put by my lovely Caitlin)

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

June 6th - The Diagnosis

I have Stage 4 rectal cancer. The biospy was positive. The same cancer in my rectum is in my lung. This is not the worse case my doctor has ever seen, but not the best. My doctor has told me that the odds are against me, but he has seen people come out of this and be in remission for a number of years - 15 and counting in one case. We are not going to do radiation first. We are doing Chemo starting next week. After about three rounds of that (six weeks), we may add radiation if my body can handle it or go straight to surgery. One surgery for my lung; one for my rectum. The plan all depends on how I respond to Chemo. I may loose my hair....I may be nauseous....I may loose feeling in my fingers and toes, I may have tremors that last for two days from touching things too cold (like my son's milk), I may be tired, the list goes on... How am I? Not good, but determined. I have my moments of both. I will be sad for a couple of days. I plan on enjoying the weekend with my family and getting ready for the fight of my life. Then, next week, they put in a port-a-cath and start chemo. Again, I am determined that this will not be my end. As for help, I will get that together this weekend and talk to Sarah S. who is helping me with that. Stay tuned.

Monday, June 4, 2007

How can you help?

For now pray. Things are too fast and furious to know what to have help for. Soon, when chemo/radiation begins, I have been told I will have a "regular schedule". At that point, I will post what I need help with. I think it will include food for my family, mowing the lawn, taking the kids one day on the weekend from 9-1 and/or light housework. Again, I will post what I need. Luckily, Caitlin and Sarah are not doing too much this summer and will work for me when they can, so that will take a load off. So, please stay tunned - I will ask. I have to ask - I don't have a choice becuase I can't do this alone.

June 4th - The Lung Biopsy

Well, that was this side of hell. They poke a hole in my chest, kept asking me to breath and hold it and then scrape in inside of my lung. It wasn't until I coughed up blood several times, that I really decided that the rectal ultrasound was MUCH better than this. My doc was amazing, and the nurse even more amazing. I had to stay longer in recovery because air had gotten between my lung and my chest wall. I did stablize and was released home. Finally now, I am able to sit up without pain, but I can't laugh, cry, breath deeply, etc. without pain. Hopefully, the pain will be gone by tomorrow. Results of the biopsy will be in Wednesday. I have an apppointment with my oncologist at 4:40pm. I have Tuesday off - thank God.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

June 3rd - The day after my birthday

So, my birthday came and went with little notice from me. Many people were determined to have me notice it. My bookclub had cake, Bethany brought me cookies and "The Secret", Trina brought me flowers (thanks John) and watched my boys, my mom cooked a wonderful meal, and my aunt came down with a key lime pie (one of my favorites). You may ask how I am doing. Well, I have been better. I wake up at night and wonder if it was all just a bad dream and then I realize I am living the bad dream. I have let the housework go, I don't have the energy to cook, and I cry at the drop of the hat. Although I try to cry in the shower so Mason doesn't see. This literally wasn't suppose to happen to me. I do not fit ANY of the makers for it - not one. The onogologist said, "Never in a million years, would I think this would happen to you." But it did. Okay, so now what? I am positive that I will get through this even though I ask Grant a few times a day, "We will get through this, right?" He always says, "Yes." He is also making me laugh with things like after the fungus discussion with the oncologist, the doctor left and he said, there was a band in the 80's named "Fungus Amungus." Not helpful, but very funny...... Thank God I married him.

June 1st - My fate - or so I thought....

At 9:00am, Grant and I met with my original doctor, the surgeon, and found out that the tumor, while not large, had gone through the rectal wall and possibly into the lymph nodes. We also found out that I had a spot on my lungs. He explained that they already decided to do chemo/radiation first and then do surgery on the rectum or the lung after the first round of chemo and radiation. He would then see me, at the soonest in 10 weeks (six weeks of chemo/radiation and four weeks of recovery). He looked at me and said, "Do whatever Dr. Kaplan tells you to do this afternoon." Dr. Kaplan is my oncologist. I thanked him for helping me get into all these doctors so quickly and he said, "I want to make this go away for you." At 9:15, I was sobbing in my husbands arms. The cancer had spread to my lungs. When I got myself together, I went to the resource center in the basement, checked out a book and got a lot of pamphlets. Rachel, a coordinator at the resource center, saw me, and told me all sorts of resources, survivor stories, and options. "Cancer is a manageable disease." And, with a hug, I felt well enough to go home and tell my mom. At 3:30, we finally met with the onocolgist. He was amazing. He has amazing bedside manner, really listened to me, and then told me that he wasn't sure the spot on my lung was cancer. He asked me if I ever lived in the Mississippi Valley or California. I said, no. He explained that there is a fungus there that shows up on people's lungs during these scans. So, I told him about all the traveling I did as I child. He wanted to know all of it, in detail. With that information, he decided that he wanted to know what this mass is BEFORE we treated it as cancer. He told me that cancer typically doesn't jump from your rectum to your lungs - it leaves a trail on your other organs up to the lungs - like a ladder. So, with all the information - my traveling as a young child, the cancer "jumping" odds, and the autoimmune issues that I tested positive for in fertiltiy, he decided to do a biopsy of my lung mass. That happens June 4th at 7:30am. He said, "Let's hope it is a fungus or even TB." I never wanted a fungus or TB so badly......

May 30th & 31st - The Scans

May 30th - I had a 12:40 appointment for my CT/PET scan. I hadn't eaten anything since 3:30 that morning. I stepped out of the elevator and I wanted to run. There was a man sleeping from exhaustion on the couch, there were old people, young people, women, and men. The waiting room was packed. Grant was with me. He helped me with the paperwork and then left to go to an insurance renewal meeting. Imagine the luck of changing insurance companies in the middle of this.... I almost cried and asked him to take me with him, but I didn't. I had to know if the cancer had spread and the only way to know was to face it like I did with infertility. The difference was with infertility I was mad and confused. With cancer, I was just plain scared. After a short wait, a nice young woman took me back to prep me. She could tell I was overwhelmed and asked me a lot of ice breaker questions. She showed me a scan, explained all the steps, and, all in all, was VERY nice. Forty minutes after being shot up with a radioactive dye, I did the scan. Toward the end, I started feeling like I was going to throw up. When the CT scan people came in for their part, they asked how I was doing. I said, "Let's hurry and get this done so I don't throw up on the machine." I didn't, but it took a good hour to have the feeling go away. I went outside trying to get the nausea under control and I was surrounded by sick people. Everyone I saw was sick, everyone I saw felt sick, and now I was one of them. After another set of food rescritions, I did the rectal ultrasound on the 31st. When I checked in, the nurses said, "You look really familiar...." When I told them what I was in for, they said, "Well, you have the BEST doctor team, and if you were going to choose a cancer - rectal is the best." O-K-A-Y..... Obviously, didn't remember that I was the girl that couldn't fart after the colonoscopy. Seriously - they put you in a room with EVERYONE else and tell you to fart.....are you kidding me????? I am not a public farter.....but I digress..... Anyway, they started talking to me a lot about all of this and I actually felt better. I had to wait for the doctor to perform the ultrasound and they kept bringing me warm blankets and magazines. I finally said, "You know, I am going to think this is a spa pretty quick!" They decided I should be on the next colon/rectal video saying that..... So, I get transported to my room for the ultrasound and, of course, they asked me if I minded if a couple of Renton Voc Tech students observed. I don't know, but I must have this written on my forehead, "PLEASE INVITE AS MANY PEOPLE INTO THE ROOM AS POSSIBLE." This happened with fertiltiy, my goiter, Nolan's delievery, and now my RECTAL ULTRASOUND. I was like, "Sure, whoever you want...." Then, the doctor comes in. He introduces himself and asks me if they gave me barium yesterday at the CT/PET scan. I proudly said, "Yep." He got this discussed look on his face. Obviously, I answered incorrectly. He said, "I moved heaven and earth to make them NOT give you barium and they can't follow simple directions." He asked, "So, how was the prep for this exam?" I replied, "Like fire coming out of my butt. I cried through some of it and I didn't finish the "drink" becuase I thougth I was going to puke." He said, "Well, that was the barium and it also can cloud my picture so we may not be able to do this today." I was like, no, we are doing this. He replied, "Cross your fingers. I am not going to put you completely out and see if we can do this." I said okay. So, soon I was in my very happy place. I didn't care that a scope is up my butt, I don't care that Voc Tech students were observing, I didn't care about much of anything. But, I did contribute.....I was looking at the screen and I said, "It that the tumor?" He replied, "Yes, that is." And then a little piece of something went by and I said, "Is that corn????" Everyone laughed and he said, "Yes, that is corn." I remember NOTHING after that. I woke up and finally ate a sandwich that Grant brought me. It had been 46 hours without solid foods. That sandwich was amazing. I was told that the doctor had already spoken to my surgeon and the onocologist and I was to meet with them for my treatment plan. The wait goes on......

May 25th - You have rectal cancer.

9:00am - My doctor explained to me that I had a tumor in my rectum and that it was cancer. He told me that he wanted to make the problem go away and "get it fixed". He told me that I was going to be seen by the best. He acknowledged that I had two young sons and that I needed to raise them. He assured me that we were going to make this go away. He arranged for a CT/PET scan for the following week, followed by a rectal ultrasound, a followup appointment with him on Friday 1st of June and then, an Oncologist, Friday afternoon. The rest of the day was spent faxing insurance cards, getting instructions, making sure I could do one screen right after the next etc. At 4:30 on the 25th, I looked at my shcedule for the next week. Four appointments in three days. Two fasts and one prep (just like the colonoscopy) in three days. But then, my fate would be known. The waiting was the hardest part - nope wait, saying the work "cancer" was the hardest part.

The day my life changed forever

May 24th at 10:00pm, my husband got to tell me that I had cancer. I had just gotten back from a trip with my aunt to her cabin in Plain, Washington. We had just gotten everything unpacked, the kids in bed, and I was exhausted. Traveling with two kids is busy enough, but when one is three months old it is twice as taxing. So, let me back up.... In early May, I made an appointment with a colon/rectal doctor. I had bad hemorrhoids with both pregnancies and they just weren't going away. In fact it was getting worse, and I couldn't ignore them anymore. The last thing I needed to do is go in and then have hemorrhoid surgery. First, who wants to do that? Second, who wants to do that??? I went in on May 11th. My doctor wanted to do an colonoscopy on the 18th. I was like, "Why?" and the nurse said it was just a precaution. So, May 18th I went for a colonoscopy. Not a bad procedure but the public farting proved to be a bit of a challenge for me. They found something and took a biopsy. He told me he wasn't sure what it was, but wanted to know where I would be the next week. I told him I was out of town, but that my parents, and my husband were on my release form so that he could give the results to them. On May 23rd, my doctor called my parents and Grant. My parents ended up telling Grant late on the 23rd and Grant told me on the 24th. When he told me, I walked away from him, I tried to go downstairs, in the bathroom, etc. My first question was, "Am I going to die?" The second was, "What about my boys?" I settled into the master bathroom with my back leaning on the cabinets on the floor. I cried, and I told Grant that if anything happens to me that he had to promise me that the boy would know how fiercely I love them. Both of us crying, he promised. That night I was up for most of it. I watched my boys sleep. It was a strangely calm night and they were peaceful. I prayed to see them go to the 1st grade, I prayed to see them graduate from High School, and then I prayed that if I didn't that the path their father would have to take with them (without me) would be easy. The next morning we had a meeting with the doctor at 9:00. My mom came to take care of the boys and we were in the car by 8:00am. Everything had been arranged for me. This was hard. I am the one that does any family arranging. I am the one that coordinates health care, social events, family events, birthdays, etc. It was like my world stopped.