Thursday, December 29, 2011

Change of Plans

My surgery is not tomorrow!

Sorry for the last minute notification to many of you who have been following along. I learned about this change in schedule about a week and a half ago, but I was initially so frustrated about it that I honestly didn't want to accept it. I did get over it within a few days, but then the holidays came and went and I didn't have time to update anyone but those who were directly affected. (By the way, Christmas was GREAT! I went to visit my mom and Mawmaw in New Orleans - and ate enough seafood to last through all the gross hospital food to come. ) Now, I'm actually pretty grateful for a few extra days to finish up some last minute work and visit with a few friends.

Anyways, due to overbooking in the OR, my surgery has been pushed back to January 3rd.

Happy New Year to me! ;)

My mom is already in town, she will be staying for 2-3 weeks after surgery. We are busy getting things ready and I'm very grateful that she is here to help me prepare and then recover. And she brought her cat, so my dogs are grateful for a new friend to play with - okay, mostly just bark at from the other side of the doggy gate.

And of course, I am still recieving support from friends near and far. Melanie is setting up another calendar for bringing by meals - so feel free to contact her if you'd like to pitch in. (Her email is on the sidebar.) It was appreciated it so much those first few weeks after my last operation! For those of you who are too far to drop off the meal yourself, there are a couple options for having meals delivered. Its one of the perks of living in the big city.

But of course, if you are close enough to hand deliver or even if you aren't bringing food, I really did like having visitors last time. Sitting around doing nothing would have driven me nuts if not for the regular interuption of friends (and the occassional cute baby). So, please feel free to stop by anytime really. I'll be in the hospital for three days - shoot me a message and I'll let you know which one. Otherwise, I'll just be hanging out at home and watching a lot of television. :)

But most of all, I'd appreciate your continued positive thoughts, crossed fingers, breath holding and of course your prayers.

Specific Prayer requests for 12/28/11:

1. Prayers of Thanksgiving for a holiday spent with family and for the feelings of peace and joy that come with this blessed time of year. Also, for few extra days to do some fun things before surgery.
2. Pray for continued peace as surgery approaches. I am feeling pretty calm about whatever happens next week right now, please pray that this continues.

XOXO,
Rachel

Friday, December 9, 2011

Almost a Convert

If you know me well, you know I don't really like doctors. I rarely go to them (unless I have strep throat, in which case I am standing at the door when they open). I'm not scared of doctors, needles, or blood - I just don't care for going to the doctor myself. I don't like that they are quick to prescribe medication when we could accomplish the same thing with lifestyle changes. I don't care for waiting when I made an appointment. I believe most things can be cured by my chiropractor and my Neti-pot. But mostly, I've just never really needed to spend much time with a doctor. I only get sick about twice a year - and rarely need medicine to get over it.

But I just might be converted.

I met my new Internal Medicine doctor - we'll call her Dr. Grey, cause she actually has the same name as one of the doctors on Grey's Anatomy. I was referred to Dr. Grey by Dr. R, which should have been my first clue that I would like her. I had to see her so that I could be cleared for surgery.

She is awesome. She spent a lot of time understanding how I got here - not just my medical history, but my experience for the last month. I really appreciated that she didn't just come in and jump right into an exam.

Then she tracked down all my labs and tests - CT scan, EKG, bloodwork, etc. And she gave me some more good news!

She read my CT scan results to me - "normal", "free of any metastatic disease".

Which means there was no sign of any tumors or cancerous masses!

I am sure that these results went into Dr. R's positive report last Friday, but it was still really nice to hear out loud! It doesn't mean for sure that the cancer hasn't spread at all - but it is still a very good sign.

One more positive sign.

Every little bit helps.

A few more appointments with good news like this and they may convert me to loving doctors yet! :)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Thanks and Praise

Relief. That is literally all I can feel right now.

To back up, I met with my first surgeon on Wednesday so that she could clear me for work. During that appointment she asked about my 2nd opinion and plans for treatment. When I told her that Dr. R had given me some hope and promised to "be conservative" about the issue of a hysterectomy, she said "there is no being conservative - he will take it out". She didn't say it meanly, just matter of fact. As if there was no other option - which has been her stance all along.

Needless to say, I left that appointmnet feeling very discouraged.

Many prayers and deep breaths have been taken for the past two days. But I still went into this appointment completely unsure of what to expect. It was almost an hour of waiting, which was excructiating.

But as soon as Dr. R walked back into the room, I felt reassured. He pulled up his stool close to my chair and reached out to hold my hand. He looked me in the eyes and spoke quietly and calmly. My mom was on the phone and he tried to make sure she could hear all he was saying.

The cancer is currently labeled Stage 1 Ovarian caner.

He said he could not make me any promises, but said, "you may be one of the lucky ones". There will still be a second surgery, so that more difinitive staging can be done. But he was sounding more hopeful that a hysterectomy will not be neccesary. He didn't even want to discuss chemo, because I may not even need it.

We did talk briefly about fertility options, but before I explain what he said, I want to share my decision about it.

- If there will not be any chance that I can get pregnant - aka hysterectomy - then I do not want my eggs harvested. I have worked in foster care and adoption for many years now. I have no doubts about being able to love a child who is not biologically related to me. I always expected to adopt at some point. I am not attached to the idea of a biological child. I will have to grieve not being able to experience pregnancy, but not being a parent.
- If I may be able to experience pregnancy, but there is a chance my eggs may not survive chemotherapy - then I will further investigate having them harvested. But I didn't want to go down that road until we know whether I will have the option to use them myself.

I am at peace with this decision. I have always wanted to be a mother - but that is not the issue I need to face right now. There are many ways of being a mother. The doctor will decide if I ever get to be pregnant. While it will be sad if that option is difinitively taken away now, it was never guaranteed to me anyways. Whether or not I ever to get to be pregnant was and will always be in God's hands - hysterectomy or not.

But I do have every confidence that Dr. R will make that choice wisely based on what he can actually see - not just what the other doctors assumed. I have every hope that I will come out of my next surgery with that option. And I have faith that God is in control either way.

Dr. R said that if, during the staging surgery, cancer is found on my ovary they would not be able to harvest any eggs from it. But he also said that he didn't even want me to think about that, because "if there is no cancer, then you'll get to use them yourself". (Said very positively!) So, thankfully my decision and reality are right on target. Praise God!

All in all, this appointment was very positive and I have a lot of hope and peace about what is to come.

So, here is where we stand now:

1. Staging surgery is scheduled for December 29th - I'll be called with the exact time the day before.
2. *IF* I have to have chemo, it will not start for 4-6 weeks afterwards (mid Feb).
3. In the next few weeks I get to have every kind of test and scan in the book - EKG, blood work, another CAT, and get medically cleared for surgery.
4. I still get to go back to work on Monday! (Half days at first)

I can not tell you all how much I appreciate and believe your prayers have helped me. I know that not everyone in my position has the kind of support that I have gotten over the last three weeks - I don't take a single email, text, Facebook message, meal or visit for granted. I ask you all to keep praying and I will keep updating to give you specific requests as this process goes along.

Specific Prayer Request for 12/2/11:
1. Thanks and Praise to God for a positive doctor appointment and reassuring news! For today, that is all I want to focus on!

Big Day Today

Today is the big day - well, the first of many big days. Today is my appointment with Dr. R, where I will hopefully get some difinitive answers and when my next surgery will be scheduled.

Some of the things I hope to learn:

- What kind of cancer? The first docs were calling it "Endometrial" but since then there has been some question about it being "Ovarian".
- When will surgery happen?
- What are my chances at NOT having to have a full hysterectomy?
- What are my fertility options if a hysterectomy looks likely?
- How soon after surgery will chemo start?

I have about a thousand other questions too - but those are the big ones. I'm really ready for all the questions that have been swirling around in my head to be answered.

My appointment is at 2:45pm, I will try to update everyone as soon as possible.

Specific Prayer Requests for 12/2/11:

1. For Dr. R - for wisdom, discernment, and gentleness as he presents information and options.
2. That the labs, films, and CT scan will give Dr. R enough information to be prepared and prepare me for what lays ahead.
3. That the labs, films and CT scan results will reveal best case scenarios and not worst.
4. That I will have peace in the information given and decisions that need to be made.

Thank you all so, so much for all the support - I truly feel it every day!

Love,
Rachel

Psalm 91
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;

they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

“Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”


{Emphasis mine}