Friday, September 20, 2013

A Close Call

My recent goals have been to make it to September 2013, HEALTHY.  September 2013 was my magic date, the one that would permanently lower my anxiety and let me worry rest.


Well, this was the date my oncologist told me my rate of cancer recurrence dropped significantly.  Two years from the last major chemo.

September 2013.

And I was ready.  I was going to OWN my date and get there and have a little celebration (wine...and me).  Summer clipped by and I had just a few weeks to go.

My physician ordered some routine blood work.  Let's check thyroid, cholesterol, tumor markers...Tumor markers?  I didn't even know those existed.  Tumor markers are not a diagnostic test for cancer but rather a way to see if elevated levels means something else should be investigated.

Not a problem.  Let's do this.

I did my blood work.  I waited for the results.

Good cholesterol - great!  (Lower than it was pre-cancer!)  Bad cholesterol - great!  Thyroid - great!  Pancreatic tumor markers - great!  Ovarian tumor markers - not great.  Not good.  Elevated 50% higher than normal.


I immediately went into Google mode.  What does an elevated CA-125 test mean?  What kind of cancer?  How high does the marker have to be to indicate cancer?  If it's elevated, does it mean cancer is caught early?  What is ovarian cancer?  Fine - just take my ovaries.  I'm so annoyed with all of this hormonal crap.

I found this out on Friday night at 6:00 pm.  Doctors are long gone.  I received an e-mail with my blood work results; love technology and getting things sooner but feel that this type of result should be delivered by phone.  Not in an e-mail to someone with no medical background and a history of lousy news.  And it was the Friday before Labor Day.  Grr.  Not only can I not call anyone, but I need to put this out of my mind and get into Happy Girl mode because I have a Bachelorette Party to attend.

Celebrating Gwen's bachelorette-hood

At this point, Brian was the only person that knew about my elevated tumor markers.  And it was wearing on both of us.

Molly, Brian, Sarah, and Gwen

A few hours spent together.  It should have been talking about how great it was to get away.  Not thinking about a cancer recurrence.

  We came home from the Bachelorette Party and it was immediate craziness to get ready for the first day of school.

While we were taking these pictures, I was thinking, "Please don't let me be sick and miss moments like this."

Evan carting his lunch box to school.  He kept saying, "It's heavy, Mommy!"

Our three kiddos: Cohen, Evan and Gavin
Once the kids were on the bus, I was able to figure out what my next steps are.

Talk with doctor.
Need ultrasound.
Must be done at hospital.
How soon can I do this?
I don't want to think about this.  I'm irritated I have to.

I run into some friends who ask me how I'm feeling.

"Fine!  Great!" is what I say.  But I can't help but wonder..."Do I have cancer again?  I will NOT BE HAPPY if I do."

The hospital calls to schedule the ultrasound.  Except, I can't do it ASAP because Gwen's getting married!  I need to be there to celebrate for her.  So I push it out to the week after the wedding.  And I wonder, "If I have cancer, are those stupid cells wreaking havoc since I'm not doing anything?"  But I put it out of my mind.

The happy couple at the rehearsal dinner.  She NEEDS me to be normal.  This is her day.

What makes me happy?  Cupcakes.

My ROCK.  He keeps telling me that no matter what happens, we will get through it together.  I'm MAD that he has to deal with a wife with dumb cells.

BRIDESMAIDS!  Molly, Claire and Gwen
Wedding Day fun.


Doing my best to be a good, strong Maid of Honor.  Because Gwen deserves nothing less.
The wedding is so fun.  It helps Brian and I escape for what is waiting for us at home.  We laugh a lot.  We enjoy seeing amazing old friends.  We dance.  We forget.  That is, I forget, until the end of the night.

One the last dance of the night, they play Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours".  I love that song.  Brian and I are over served, but I don't care.  It make me emotional.  I get tears in my eyes and squeeze him tight.  I just think, "Please let things be normal.  I don't want to go through this again, but if I have to, please let it be okay.  Let Brian and me be okay.  Let my family be okay.  We just got over the blow to the head we suffered two years ago."

We leave Chicago and head back to Grand Rapids.  We are tired and cranky and ready for our own bed.  And for some reason, I thought after a weekend of wedding-imbibing that a 10-Mile race a great idea.

So I did that on Sunday morning.

6:00 am.  Thoughts: "Will this be the last race I can do for awhile?"

Post-race with my running buddies: Ross and Cara.  My dad ran with me but the only reason I am doing these races are because Ross and Cara have dragged me along their journey!
Results.  Six-minute improvement over my Crim time three weeks prior.  Someone with cancer can't do this, right?! (I ask)

Ultrasound day.  I'm nervous.  Brian is going with me.  I don't trust going alone anymore.  Last time I had ultrasounds, they were cancer.  Breast ultrasound - cancer.  Lymph node ultrasound - cancer.  Now, I am doing a pelvic ultrasound and ovarian ultrasound.


We leave the ultrasound and have lunch together.  We are both talking about what a great place we are in.  We are back to laughing more than crying.  We relax more than we stress.  We are talking about our future and our plans.  Is it going to change?

At 6:00 pm, my doctor calls me.  The results are back.


I have cysts on my ovary...(but doesn't everyone?  I thought that was pretty common).  The cysts appear to be benign.  Nothing to indicate otherwise.  We are going to test the tumor marker again in three months to see if it has increased.  If we have to, we will do an ultrasound again to see if the cysts have changed presentation.

I'm overwhelmed.  I don't have cancer again.  I made it to SEPTEMBER 2013.  The magical mark.  It's over.

But then I realize, it's over for now.  Realistically, I know that a cancer diagnosis at 29 years old, Stage 3 at that, means something could be in my future.  I don't know what and I don't know when.  I don't want to worry and I don't want to re-live the past three weeks anytime soon.  It's draining to have that on your mind.

It's a close call.  To be honest, I took an overwhelming amount of comfort from my Young Survivor friends. They have showed such strength and grace in their recurrence battles, that I knew I could do it too.  But for now, I am going to continue to be their cheerleader and try to keep myself healthy.

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