Thursday, 7 November 2013

How Our Crisis Began

About a year ago, I felt like my family was on the brink of big changes....I didn't know what it was but I had this feeling that we were going to experience something huge.  I thought maybe an adventure to some exotic place.  Little did I know our adventure would take place in Winnipeg and would present us with the toughest challenges we have ever faced:  Cancer and a Craniotomy

Here's our story:
For about 6 months prior to May, 2013, Darryl (my husband) started experiencing bad headaches sporadically.  Near the end of May, the headaches turned into a sharp pain behind his eye.  After visiting the ER, we were told that he had a tumour behind his right eye.  We were shocked.  At the time, we came to understand that removing it would be a risky surgery, so he should manage it with pain meds and live with it.  A follow up apt with a neuro surgeon would take place in 2-3 months.   Aug. 15, Darryl sat in his surgeon's office and was told "the tumour needs to go."  Details of a serious and scary surgery were outlined.  We were sad, but ready to face our challenge.

About this same time, I started experiencing some "abnormal" woman issues.  I was visiting my gynaecologist on a regular basis after abnormal cells had been discovered after a Pap test a year and a half earlier.  But so far results were good, and I was hopeful. So I was in denial when I started experiencing "symptoms."  Finally I called my Dr -just to be sure.  More tests were done.  On Sept. 19, I had an appt to get results.  My Dr told me I needed to have a cone biopsy done - to rule out the possibility of having cancer.  This minor surgery took place on Oct.18.  It was a fairly simple procedure - day surgery.  I went home and slept a lot.  2 days after surgery I woke up with severe pain in my left calf.  I waited until the following day to have it looked at.  I limped my way back to my Dr's office.  Before sending me for an ultra sound, she gave me the news that changed my life:  "Your surgery went well, but I'm fairly certain your results will come back positive".   Seeking clarification, I responded, "You mean you think I have cancer?"  Unfortunately she responded with a nod.   I often wondered what would I do when I heard those words?  I phoned Darryl.  My parents were with me.  We sat on a bench in HSC and stared out of a window for a long time.  When Darryl came, so did the tears.   An hour later, I was told I had a deep vein clot in my calf (after an ultra sound).  My dr. was very concerned about the clot and felt it needed immediate attention.  I was admitted into the hospital, I didn't get to go home and process all that I had learned.  I spent a long, lonely, sleepless night in the hospital trying to convince myself that I had cancer - I couldn't even say the c-word.   The following day, I had lots of visitors which helped my morning fly by.  Then a haematologist came to see me regarding my blood clot.  He solemnly told me this clot in my leg was more then likely a result of cancer existing in my body.  He was confirming what my Dr had already predicted.  I was put on blood thinners to get rid of the clot and discharged after 26 hours of being observed.  I was happy to be at home.  I enjoyed tucking my girls into bed that night.  We laughed and read felt normal, except the looming cloud hanging over my head - which I would not let my girls see.  At 2 am I woke up in a pool of blood (literally).  Darryl and I were both panicking. We had to make quick decisions as the blood ran out of me.  We probably made the wrong decision -Darryl drove me to the ER at a very high speed!  They were prepared for my arrival.  They whisked me into a private room and tried to stop the bleeding.    After being examined by several dr's the bleeding did slow down.  They concluded that I had too much blood thinning medicine in me.  They worked on finding a balance: getting rid of a clot and not causing excessive bleeding.  After 8 hours they sent me home.  Needless to say, I slept with one eye open for the next several nights.  I spent the next 8 days waiting for the phone to ring....I needed pathology to confirm what all the doctors suspected.  Waiting was painful.  I thought of all the responsibilities I needed to take care of, but didn't want to in case the doctors were wrong.  People make mistakes, right?  Oct. 29, 5:30 pm my diagnosis was confirmed.  "You do have cervical cancer" came through the lines.  Now I had to tell my kids, my work, my students, my family.  I experienced a deep sadness I had never felt before.

In the midst of all of my hospital drama, Darryl got his surgery date:  Dec. 17.    The pressure behind his eye was increasing, but he knew in light of all that lay ahead for our family, he couldn't not ask for an earlier date.

I have started coming to terms with my new identity:  a cancer patient.  I am waiting to get my fight into action.  I need to have an MRI done in the next few days to determine what stage of cancer I have.  Then a treatment plan will be put into place.  My best scenario is a full hysterectomy and I'm cancer free.  Next best:  surgery followed by radiation.  My worst option:  the cancer has spread or grown too large for surgery and I need chemo/radiation before surgery.   I'm back to waiting and praying for the best scenario.

There is so much more to tell, but it needs to come in segments.  This is the facts; thoughts and insights are soon to follow.

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