In my last post, I talked about expecting the unexpected. Thing is, when the unexpected happens, you feel like you’ve been punched in the gut. You can’t breathe for a minute and your head spins a little.
That’s how my Wednesday went this week. At 9:00 I had a CT so that this surgeon could take a look at the small mass in the middle of my neck and compare it with my last PET/CT. At 2:00, I had the small spot removed on my soft palate and that went well. Only had one stitch and I’m healing up nicely.
The CT results however, were not so nice. My cancer has gotten a little more aggressive. The once tiny spot in my neck has pretty much doubled in size….and there is now another spot adjacent to it. The two lymph nodes on the left have also increased in size and the one on the right side of my neck as well.
The first surgeon I saw suggested robotic surgery…going in through my mouth and through the left side of my throat to remove the two spots that are in a pretty tough spot to get to. I don’t know why that just didn’t sit well with me. Long story short, I called to see him about this spot on my soft palate and although I have been a patient at this facility for 16 years, they could not fit me in to even look at it until late January. So, I called a place in Greenville where I had gone before, and they saw me just a few days later. I wanted a second opinion from this surgeon on what he would do – and of course, he wanted me to have the CT so he would have something current to look at.
He said he respectfully disagrees with the first surgeon because my carotid artery that goes to my brain is right there by this spot. So if something were to happen and I had a bleed, there is no way to stop it without stopping that surgery and opening my neck up and by then, I could have a stroke or worse… there are always so many risks with surgery and it scares the crap out of me every time they put me under. I hate it.
He thinks the best way to do this is to go in through my neck and remove all the larger spots that are showing on the CT (the 5 places previously mentioned). So, essentially, probably 3 incisions. There is risk of more nerve damage and I will likely have permanent lymphadema on my left side. He said that I obviously have microscopic cancer cells throughout my neck and in order to avoid another recurrence that could cause many other problems, and a 5th surgery, he believes it’s in my best interest to do radiation afterwards. There’s that punch in the gut. No. I do not want to do it. It really sucks that my body doesn’t take up the radioactive iodine any more. It sucks that this once, slow growing cancer has decided to turn aggressive. I do not want to have another surgery – especially this one. And I do not want to do radiation and put all that toxicity into my body….but I just feel I don’t have a choice at this point.
I’m tired. It’s been a long 16 years dealing with this. And I thought I knew this cancer well – yet, here I am, surprised at what has happened. I totally EXPECTED him to say it’s the same size or smaller. I totally EXPECTED to hear that I have plenty of time to wait around until later next year or maybe never! I didn’t hear what I expected to hear. And I am disappointed. And sad. And angry. And hurt and every other emotion you can think of.
So, I made the decision to move forward with surgery – but not until January 13. I want to enjoy the holidays with my family and a nice little New Year’s Eve getaway with my friend, Kim. Then, I’ll put on my game face and do this. No matter how much I do not want to. No matter how hard this is or how scared I am. I’m gonna do it – and I’ll get through this just like every other time before. This cancer is relentless. But this isn’t my first go round with this – and this cancer has no idea how persistent and stubborn I can be.
After the surgery, I’ll do the radiation and I’ll keep putting one foot in front of the other during all that too. It is what it is. I obviously can’t change the fact that it has decided to make it’s forever home in my body, but I can’t let it change me and how I live my life. I’ll keep eating organic and having my smoothies and taking my vitamins and supplements because it has made a difference in how I feel and how I think and my pain level has decreased….And I need to be healthy when all this takes place.
Listen, I know God isn’t surprised here. I honestly didn’t have the slightest clue that I would hear that it had grown and spread . But what I KNOW for sure is that the devil saw me at my best and he couldn’t stand it. So he had to throw another punch. He’s good at what he does. Distracting us from all the good and making us focus on the bad. That’s his JOB. He wants me weak and afraid. He wants this anxiety to stay with me all day long every day. He wants me to doubt that God loves me. Or that God even hears me. But I don’t. And I won’t. Because God hasn’t let me live the last 16 years of this for nothing. Something good has to come from this. And I have to remind myself all day long that He has a purpose in all this. It is not easy. All I really wanted to do this week, was go to bed and stay there for a few days. But I made myself get up and work and keep my mind busy. And I made it to Friday. And I’ll make it the next day and the next and the next. You know why? Because God is in this story. I’m not here by accident and neither are you. Whatever path you are on, trust me, it’s not a surprise to Him. He put you where you are for a reason. I get it. It’s hard and it’s not fair and you wish you could go back and just stay in that sweet spot just a little longer…. Savor that feeling of everything being right in the world for just a little while. But you’ll get back there. Have faith that there is more to this than just what you are experiencing right now. You will come out of this seeing things just a little differently than you did before. And maybe that’s part of the story.
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