Hello people. I’ve been wondering about what exactly to write about this beginning of my cancer journey. One thing I’ve decided is that I’m not going to give it a nickname and that is partly because my friend, Dawn, is going through her own journey with cancer and is doing that, calling it “Mr.C.” and what I came up with was just too similar. Hers is a journey that has been truly inspiring and I can’t put myself on the same plane as her. Another reason is that I’m just too serious… I find that I’m the original “straight man,” even though I do have a sense of humor. Once my mind is focused on something, it doesn’t back track and think, “joke” or something that’s off the beaten track. Sadly, I USED to be that way but now, I’m pretty much running in serious mode. This has been my life for a while, even before this cancer thing. I do miss laughing like I used to, hearty and from the gut and over nothing. Now, my humor is silently acknowledged by a knowing smirk or something like that.
So, I will start this the only way I know how and that is from the beginning. As I believe I mentioned in my first post, “Another Chapter,” originally I thought my symptoms were the onset of menopause, but that was wishful thinking… and so it comes to the forefront that one of the important purposes of my story is to impress upon you the importance of if something is not normal, does not feel normal or is out of the ordinary, just get yourself to a doctor to have it checked out, if only for peace of mind; and don’t self diagnose. Not saying that I did that, but I certainly minimized in my head what was happening with the thought it was the menopause which I was expecting and quite frankly was hoping for, for years to come on.
Let me just say that I had none of these symptoms above with any regularity. I had a little pain during urination, just a couple of times and since I was going through some incontinence issues at the time, I thought it was that. Who doesn’t experience a little passion pain, in the throes of, well, passion! Still, that was just a couple of times. You know, as you get older, your physiology changes… natural lubricant can become a scarcity sometimes. Not that I had an unmanageable problem with that,
Now I get to Pelvic pain that doesn’t ease. Unfortunately, this symptom came too late and when I did go to the doctor, I was already in the habit of taking ibuprofen for what was at first slight pain, but then became worse. At the time, things were going on at home that took my attention away, in particular, a major move for us, transplanting our home of 13 years to a whole other county in the same state, but was a tremendous undertaking. Add to that, a double job hunt for both, my husband and myself. An ongoing task that, for me, never produced a job despite some really good interviews. Thankfully, the husband is now employed full-time AND part-time, but you know, despite earning more than $20.00/hr, in total, we are still struggling with making ends meet. So this particular detail proves itself to be the worst in now trying to deal with this cancer. So, not going to dwell on this, but just want to concentrate on the cancer; though it will probably be a part of other posts.
So the aspect about the beginning of this that jumps out at me is the WAIT before something started happening as far as treatment, AND the number of doctor visits without a shred of anything happening… AND the wait BETWEEN those visits. It seemed like an eternity and I was feeling that my life was draining away with each minute that went by. The Internist sent me to the gynecologist. The Gynecologist sent me to the GYN Oncologist. The GYN Oncologist sent me to the radiologist and Medical Oncologist. I am now with the Medical Oncologist who is doing the Chemo.
On top of that, the plan of treatment kept changing. Every time I got used to the idea of one plan, it got changed and while that made me nervous, I was hopeful that something would start. For Uterine Cancer, the optimal plan of treatment is a hysterectomy. Take all that stuff out, and believe me, I wanted it out, yesterday. Then after the pathology results, they would decide if the surgery was enough or if radiation and/or chemo was still needed. Unfortunately, the cancer was too advanced and this did not make me a candidate for surgery because the surgeon was not confident she could obtain what they call a “negative margin,” meaning to get all of the cancer OUT of my body. I understood that, but still sorely wanted something to start happening. Okay, so next was the radiologist and he, I think, was pretty pissed that I was not ready to have an examination done… You know, nothing to bill for besides talk. Well, that is exactly what this visit was put to me as, a “consultation.” Examinations were pretty painful and by this time, the oncologist and this radiologist were going to do an examination under anesthesia to minimize discomfort and pain. I gathered they needed to really rummage around in there to see what was going on as my cervix on the inside doesn’t line up with my vagina… Very painful examination at the oncologist. Anyway, this radiologist was the worst as far as bedside manner. I had expressed to him that I was very concerned that so much time was passing before treatment starting. He actually told me, “the Lord gives and the Lord takes away,” presumably to let me know that there is the possibility of death, which, shit, don’t think I haven’t BEEN thinking about that. Being a Catholic and familiar with that saying, I didn’t appreciate him using it… in other words, him saying whatever happens is not MY fault. Well, whether appropriate or not, straightforward talking or not, I didn’t appreciate that and I’m freaking entitled to feel that way.
Enough of him. I just want to say here that I was told by people who experienced cancer that the amount of time that was passing from first diagnosis was not an indication that someone was dropping the ball. I can appreciate that, but still doesn’t calm me down.
Usually, Uterine Cancer is caught early and they tell you that “as cancers go, this one responds well to treatment,” BUT, is that a statement from catching it early, or is that a statement overall? My full diagnosis is Uterine Cancer, Stage III C, grade 2. This is the “staging.” A complication that effects the accuracy of this staging is the fact that my insurance company refuses to authorize any tests for cancer, and basically no imaging at all, so the MUCH needed and necessary PET scan could not be done. I did have a CT scan, but that was while I was in the ER for bleeding. Thank you, my doctor for that quick thinking. So, the CT scan gets a localized image of what’s going on in there, so only of the pelvic region. However, the PET scan shows the whole body. Without that, we have no idea if its metastasized to other parts of the body, which would make it Stage IV cancer. The CT showed that there are lymph nodes affected in the pelvic area, and so only because it’s still in the pelvis, they don’t regard it as spreading to other parts of the body… which I kind of understand but it’s not reassuring.
Getting back to radiology, I wanted to make clear that radiation treatments are localized to where in the body it’s directed. Chemo treatment affects the whole body, which is why they decided to go with chemo therapy first. Sigh. So my insurance would not approve this treatment. Why? Because it’s not covered and quite honestly, I’m appalled. I feel as if this is a scam insurance, however, Home Depot is notorious for having VERY bad insurance to protect their workers. You know the ones who take all the crap from the customers and the same ones who pretty much run the store because there are hardly any managers or benefits administrators to help their employees deal with insurance problems. I have no idea what the corporate people get, but I’m hoping and pretty much willing to bet that they are appreciated in a much better way than their troops on the ground, in the stores, are. We’ve been PAYING into this insurance for over a year but never needed to use it and now I feel duped as with a cruel joke. Okay, that’s enough for now about the insurance… there is more to say, but I’ve got to do a little research on the owner who has finagled this dismal health insurance situation for the employees who have made him rich. Seriously unless you’re the CEO’s kid, do NOT accept a job there.
I think I’d better bring this up to today. I want to get this out quick but I have a doctor’s appointment in less than an hour. So, last Tuesday I started Chemo. All in all, it wasn’t too bad of an experience, itself. It took around 6.5 hours to complete, but I was told that the first time typically takes longer than usual. Along with the chemo drugs I received medicine to fight against any allergies that may have come up, Benadryl (which made me sleepy), and something to counteract nausea. The down side is that I cannot knit or crochet while undergoing treatment, but I can read. So, treatment day and the day after, I hardly felt like I had chemo treatment. The day after THAT, however, was a different story. I was immediately fatigued and felt nauseous that night and heaved uncontrollably while brushing my teeth… Thank goodness I was at the bathroom sink! The horribly inconvenient feature of our place is that there is really nice carpeting all throughout except the kitchen and bathroom. Think “accident.”
In the following days, I recovered most of my energy and today, feel really good. Last night, however, while I was sleeping, I was aware that I was nauseous. That was weird because I didn’t get up and didn’t throw up, either. This morning, I was fine, so have no idea what that was about. Maybe it was God giving me a little foreshadowing?
There has also been a question about medication and now waiting for the nurse practitioner to get back to me. Full disclosure is that I’m a Type 2 diabetic and this complicates matters. If anyone is a diabetic, I have to share this site, Exploring Diabetes Type 2, which is chock full of information relating to diabetes, predominately Type 2.
I’m glad I did this today. Ha… almost didn’t because right in the middle of writing, a gigantic spider just slid down on its thread right in front of my face! Looked awfully like this, though it was black, stocky and fuzzy. It was so close that I didn’t even notice it right away because I didn’t focus on it, and it JUMPED! Spent a lot of time trying to catch it like 20 minutes before my doctor’s appointment. If it’s not a roach, waterbug or silverfish, I don’t like to kill, rather I seek to catch and release outside. So had to give up trying to find it and now that I’m back home, I’m in a totally different part of the house, with my slippers on. I’m not going to look for trouble.
I’ve got so many areas I’d like to talk about. The next post will be more about some positives that have come out of this. You have to always look for the positives, the silver lining and it’s there, if you just look.
I hope that how I lay things out for you is not too confusing. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments. Have a great day and night!