It was December of 2010 and as with most of my life, I was battling Degenerative Disc Disease and bulging discs… and it was flared up good this time. I called and made an appointment to see my family physician. Because I had not had an MRI in some time, she ordered one. I went in at 4:30 in the afternoon, on Tuesday, January 4th, 2011. It’s amazing the details that you can remember when your life is suddenly thrown into a spiral. Of course I was back at work the next day by 7:00AM. My phone rang at about 8:30 AM, the caller ID letting me know that it was a local call. Typically anyone calling me directly at work would be from out of state, or my husband, and I would recognize his number. Of course I answered it and was surprised that it was my doctor. She said that she had already received the results of my MRI and asked if I was able to discuss them. I found this odd as I have had so many MRI’s in my life due to my back and they have NEVER called the next day…usually we just schedule a follow up visit a week or two later. So of course I knew something was not right. She went on to tell me that my spine had shown progress in its degeneration but that we would have to wait on treating it. The main concern at this point was the growth that they found on my right kidney. I almost fell over at the same time calling out, in tears, to my friend. The doctor advised that I would need to be seen immediately. After a week and a half of testing, needle sticks, laying in tubes, being rubbed on the shoulder and told I was going to be okay, the results were finally in…my Urologist walked into the room, introduced himself while shaking my hand and my husbands and then he just said it, “I am sorry to have to tell someone so young this news, but you have cancer.”
My Urologist walked into the room, introduced himself while shaking my hand and my husbands and then he just said it, “I am sorry to have to tell someone so young this news, but you have cancer.” My husband and I were in shock. Surgery was scheduled that day for a nephrectomy. While standing in the waiting room waiting for the scheduler to call us to get everything rolling, I crumpled into my husband’s arms…tears uncontrollably streaming down my face. At that point they put me back in a room so I could have some privacy. The next couple of weeks waiting for surgery were long…knowing I had a cancerous tumor inside of me. I kept wondering if each passing minute was my “point of no return” and the cancer was spreading. The day of surgery, January 21st, finally arrived. So many people came to “see me off” before surgery..even my previous supervisor and her husband came to say some prayers, all of this at 5:00 in the morning. This made me cry…well, let’s face it, about everything made me cry that day. When I was wheeled into the operating room a fear came over me. I did my best to not let anyone see, but of course it was plain as day to anyone looking at me. One of the OR nurses covered me with warm blankets and noticed the tears. He asked if I was scared, then laid his hand on my shoulder and promised me that I was going to be okay and that he was going to take good care of me. I lost it. He then leaned down and hugged me. That is the last thing I remember. What an angel.
Originally they thought that I had a small tumor and that it was confined only to the kidney. After surgery though, they did advise that the tumor had been “upgraded” (I think the term should be more like downgraded) as it was larger than originally thought and it had invaded the artery leading to my heart. They said it was now a T3a tumor – but the good news is that it was removed successfully.
Here we are…3 years later…and onJanuary 30, 2014 I went in for another round of CT scans and blood tests. The one thing that I do look forward to with this testing every six months is seeing my Oncologist, Dr. Mark Menge and the staff at the Frauenshuh Cancer Center at Methodist Hospital. My doctor is amazing! The staff and volunteers there are hands down, THE BEST. I have changed my life for the better, I have lost a ton of weight (ok not a TON – but over 100 pounds) and feel good! My back still hurts, but you know what, if it weren’t for my bad back, I may not be here today to tell my story. I have never been so grateful for the gift given to me by my father and grandfather – Degenerative Disc Disease!
Although my cancer has an approximate 50% chance of coming back…it also has a 50% chance of staying gone…and that is the 50% I am putting my money on.
And to my husband and son, thank you. I could not have done it without either of you. I love you both so, so much.