Saturday, July 15, 2017

3rd Surgery Post & Great News!

Hello again everyone!


I had my 3rd surgery on June 26th, and my follow-up appointment this past Thursday. Here's a little update!

Surgery went well! I was in the out-patient ambulatory center, instead of the actual surgery wing of the hospital this time. It moved a bit faster, although it was a little less private. The surgery wing puts you in a private room before and after surgery, while the out-patient center was just curtained off cubicles. But I didn't mind, since we were in and out faster than the surgery wing. I only woke up with a headache, and starving of course! haha Thankfully, I remembered to have snacks in the car so I wasn't hangry on our way to get real food. Third times the charm, I guess! lol

My follow-up appointment was scheduled for 2.5 weeks later. I had to call my nurse 2 days before, to make sure they had my pathology results before my husband and I drove 2.5 hours to the doctor's office. After a brief hold, she came back on the line and said that they did have my results, and she was happy to tell me that I AM OFFICIALLY CANCER FREE! WOOHOO! I can't begin to tell you how much happy dancing my husband and I have been doing since I found out! =)

I still had to go to my follow-up appointment, to talk to my doctor about my next steps. He told me again that I am officially in remission! It's so great to hear. We talked about the possibility of my cancer coming back, and he said that I shouldn't worry about it. It's such a slow-growing cancer that just a yearly pap smear will be able to find it early enough. He said my real problem will still be getting pregnant. He prescribed me Provera, to try to regulate my monthly periods. I'll start taking that Sept. 1st. He also prescribed Metformin, to help my body process sugar and it should also help with weight loss. I started that yesterday. I'm going to start a low carb diet and regular exercising tomorrow to help with that weight loss too! He told me that I might still have to find a ob/gyn or fertility specialist to help get me pregnant eventually, but I want to focus on losing weight first.

So, I'll go back to my oncologist in October for an ultrasound and routine check up. And again in January, I believe. Hopefully, both of those checks will be completely clear, and then I'll switch to every 6 months.

Until then, I'm celebrating being cancer free! And I'll be working on weight loss and being healthier overall. And crafting! lol I have a long list of gifts to make in the next few months. I hope my next few posts will just be about losing weight and the crafty projects I'm working on, but I'll also keep you all updated on my next appointment with my oncologist in October!

Thank you all for going on this journey with me, and my husband. All your thoughts, prayers, and well wishes were very much appreciated! All the love to you all! =)

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

National Infertility Awareness Week 2017

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week. To share and show support, I'm going to post my story. It's personal and might be a little too much information for some, so fair warning, if you don't want to keep reading.

When I hit puberty at 13 years old, I gained weight and my period was normal to start. After a few months, my period stopped being regular and I only had one every 3 or so months. My mom took me to the doctor, they ran tests and nothing was "wrong". So, after talking to my doctor about it, my mom and I decided that I should be on the pill to regulate me. I was on birth control for about 2 years and everything was normal.

Flash forward a couple years, I stopped taking birth control, gained more weight, and my period stopped completely. For 2 years I didn't have any bleeding at all. Then I met Brian. And after being with him a few months, I started randomly bleeding again. It wasn't regular by any means, but it was a period so to speak. The first time it happened, it lasted for over a two full months. Bleeding every day for over two months. Then, it went away for a few week and came back for about the same amount of time. And it would go away and come back, the periods. I don't really call them periods though, since they aren't regular and they stay for so much longer than they're supposed. I just call them bleeding.

Another couple of years later, my wonderful boyfriend became my awesome husband. And I gained a little more weight. After we got married, we decided to stop using protection. We wanted to have a baby! We weren't counting days or anything, but we were ready! We called it "Not trying, but not preventing." And my bleeding was the same. Off for a few weeks, on for a few weeks. Nonstop pretty much. And week after week, month after month - no pregnancy, no baby.

Then, around our first wedding anniversary, I decided to make a doctor's appointment. I've always been heavy/overweight/fat, whatever you want to call it. So I developed a small fear of having undiagnosed Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). I don't have a bunch of the symptoms, but I'm overweight and apparently infertile, so I wanted to get checked out. We didn't have insurance, so I found a low-cost clinic nearby. It took two months to get in, but I got an appointment. After the normal bits of blood pressure, weight and height, the doctor came in for my pelvic exam. Normal exam. After my clothes were back on, he came back in to see if I had any questions. He said everything looked normal and my swabs would be back in a couple weeks. I asked him about not being to get pregnant. He told me that it's because of my weight. He recommended I lose 100lb and then I'd be able to get pregnant no problem. That's right. He told me to lose 100lb, like it would be a magical cure-all for infertility. Now, I'm the first to admit that my weight is a problem. But I felt like he just blew off my questions and concerns. So then I asked him about the possibility of cysts on my ovaries. And he said "Oh yes, I felt cysts during your exam." What the hell? If you felt ovarian cysts during my exam why in the hell would you tell me that everything looked good?? That makes absolutely no sense to me. He pretty much just walked out after that, but not before recommended that I go out and pick up a weight loss book that he co-wrote! On top of all that, while I was walking back to the car, I started bleeding again. I went home and cried.


About two years later, we moved, so I found a new doctor. He confirmed my self-diagnosis of PCOS and prescribed me a medication to help with some of the symptoms, including inability to lose weight at a normal pace. And it really helped! I was on it for almost a year, until we moved again and I didn't refill the prescription. I lost about 30-40lb in that year, but gained it back (plus some) when I went off it.

After we moved again, I decided to try and focus on losing weight before finding another doctor. I worked at it for about a year, and didn't seem to go anywhere. Then, about a year ago, I started to get the feeling that I needed to make a doctors appointment with an ob/gyn. I don't know why, but I just felt like I needed to go. So I made an appointment, and waited the two months to go. I had my normal exam, my ob/gyn said that I didn't seem to have any cysts. Then I waited for my results. The doctor called me about a week later and asked if my husband and I could come it. We both knew that it wasn't good news then.. The ob/gyn sits down with us and tells us that I have endometrial cancer, in my uterus. She says that I'll probably have to have a hysterectomy, maybe chemo and radiation. She refers me to an oncologist in San Antonio, about 2 hours away. I actually had to find a primary care doctor to refer me first, and he said that same thing. That I'd have to have a hysterectomy. I was devastated. Before this diagnosis, I'd always had in my mind that we'd have children eventually. I never really considered that the option could be taken away from us. Brian and I had a long talk, and reassured each other that if we ended up not being about to have children, then we would have dogs and travel and just love each other. He's such a great man.

So, I go see the oncologist. And he's awesome! He tells me that a hysterectomy is absolutely the last resort, especially with how young I am and the fact that I don't have children and still want them. He deals with this type of cancer pretty often and has great results that don't end with a hysterectomy. Thankfully, all my cancer was completely located in my uterus and hadn't spread. I was still in stage one. He prescribed me what I call "cancer pills" that I take twice a day. They actually shrink the cancer cells. And then every few months, I go in for a minor surgery where he actually scrapes out the cancerous cells. I have had two surgeries so far, and I'm going in for another at the beginning of June. Before my first surgery, I had cancer. After my first surgery, I was downgraded to "pre-cancerous cells". After my second surgery, I was downgraded to "abnormal cells". My oncologist is pretty positive that this next surgery will be my last surgery and I'll officially be cancer free! After that happens, my oncologist is actually very optimistic that he'll be able to help us get pregnant. He has a couple medications that he wants to try, after I beat this cancer, that he thinks will be successful in helping us get pregnant. We'll see what happens there! My next (and hopefully last) surgery is June 8th. My follow up appointment will be about 3 weeks after that, and then we'll start taking the next steps to hopefully start having some babies!

Until then, I'm still working on losing weight. Unfortunately, the cancer pill cause increased appetite and weight gain. So, I gained about 25lb in the first few months that I was taking them, bringing me up to my highest weight ever - almost 300lb. I've lost about 17lb so far, and I'm hoping to keep it going until my next surgery, and after. Brian has been amazing through all of this, including walking with me to help with my weight loss. He's so great! I'm so grateful that he's been my partner through all of this. And this is where we're at for now! Dealing with cancer, and hopefully being able to get pregnant after all this is done. And if we still can't get pregnant, we'll have a beautiful life together anyways. We've talked about adoption, and maybe we'll save enough money to make adoption part of our story. But no matter what, we're together in love. 

Thank you for reading my infertility journey! And my husband's too, since he's been with me through it all. Spread awareness, and don't be afraid to talk and ask questions. 1 in 8 couples are struggling with infertility! PCOS affects 1 in 10 women! These are things we shouldn't be afraid to talk about. =)

Sunday, February 5, 2017

2nd Surgery Follow Up Appt

Hello again everyone!

I recently went back to my oncologist to get the pathology results from my last surgery. I actually went about two weeks ago, but I've been sick and am just now getting around to writing an update about it.

It was a very quick appointment, I spent more time in the waiting room then I did actually talking to my doctor. He told me that my results are better than they were, but they still aren't back to normal. Previously, my cells were downgraded from cancerous to pre-cancerous. This time they've been downgraded from pre-cancerous to abnormal. A great step in the right direction! However, they are still abnormal enough that my doctor wants to do one more surgery at the end of May/beginning of June. He's confident that this next surgery will be my last one, and after that we can start taking steps towards helping me get pregnant. I'm happy that my body is responding so well to my medication, but still bummed that I'll need another surgery. Especially since our deductible restarted January 1st, so that's not going to be cheap. But I'm taking this as a big sign that I need to focus on losing weight and being healthier before I get the all clear to start trying to get pregnant. Because I definitely don't want to be pregnant at this weight! So, that's what I'm going to stay focused on these next few months. Diet and exercise!

It's a short update, but still a good one. Downgraded to not even pre-cancerous cells in my body! That's awesome! Hopefully, I'll just need one last surgery and then we can finally focus on making some babies! =) Thanks again for everyone's positive thoughts and prayers! Please keep them coming, and I'll keep you all updated!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Post-Surgery Update - 2nd Surgery

Time for another update, since I had surgery again yesterday! It was the same surgery as before, a D&C - dilation and curettage. Basically, they dilate my cervix and and do a tissue scraping. That is then sent off to pathology, to see how my pre-cancerous cells are doing. I'll find out those results in about three weeks, when I go in for my follow up appointment.

I was a little worried before surgery, because I have been sick for the past few weeks, and I was afraid that my chest congestion and cough would make them cancel my surgery. Actually, I was really worried about it. The whole reason we'd scheduled this surgery for December instead of January was to get me in before my health insurance deductible starts over January 1st. Right now, I'd owe $650 for my surgery, and then I'd get a couple small bills for anesthesia and blood work. If I had surgery in January instead, I'd have to pay a $4000 deductible. Quite a price jump!

Check-In - So, we get to the hospital and check in. Everything was smooth there. Confirm who you are, sign some papers, pay for surgery. Last time, we sat and waited almost 2 hours between check-in and getting called back to pre-op. This time, we waited less than 20 minutes! We had expected to wait so much longer that when I got called back, Brian was out at the car!

Pre-Op - We go into my room, I get changed into my lovely hospital gown. You know the one, nice and breezy in the back! My pre-op nurse comes in for all my history questions. She was actually awesome! Very friendly, very personable. I think I'm going to contact the hospital and write something nice about her. She made us both feel relaxed as we were waiting. She put in my IV and gave me anti-nausea meds, since I told her the anesthesia made me nauseous last time. Next, my anesthesiologist came in to talk to me. I told him about my previous recovery after anesthesia, nausea and a migraine that lasted 3 days. He told me that the migraine isn't a common reaction, but he agreed with our thoughts that the migraine was just my body's reaction because I don't smoke, drink, do drugs, and I rarely drink caffeine. So my body just freaked out. Then I asked him about having chest congestion and being under anesthesia. He said that it wouldn't help my breathing, but it certainly wasn't going to prevent surgery. He actually just thought my cough was from being a smoker, so Brian and I think that he probably gets people in there for surgery with way worse congestion than what I had.

Pre-Op 2 - Next, my oncologist came in to check on me, right before we head back for actual surgery. I had some questions for him this time, that he was happy to answer.

- I asked how many more of these surgeries he thought I'd have to have - He said that he's pretty confident that this would be my last one! He said that with how positively my body has been reacting to the treatment so far, he doesn't think I'll have to have another surgery! He said he'll know for sure once my pathology results come back, and we can talk more about it at my follow up appointment, but he's pretty sure I won't need more surgery.

- I asked him about waiting to start trying for babies. I had been told by my ob/gyn that, in her experience, I would have to wait a full year after going into remission before I could start trying to get pregnant. I asked him if this was true, and he said NO! He said that with my type of cancer, there isn't really a risk of being pregnant and my cancer coming back at the same time. With breast cancer, if you get pregnant after being diagnosed, they usually recommend an abortion because your pregnancy hormones speed up your cancer cells. With my type of cancer, pregnancy hormones won't speed up my cancer cells, so I could be pregnant while still having this cancer, deliver a healthy baby, and then do my cancer treatment. That was a relief to hear, as I'd been worried about getting pregnant after all of this!

- Next he said that I should stop taking my cancer pills, AND stop taking birth control. He said to keep using condoms until my follow up, but that after my pathology results should be coming back pretty much clear, there isn't really a reason to continue to prevent pregnancy now. He told me to keep dieting and losing weight, because the more weight I lose, the healthier my pregnancy will be. He's going to put me back on metformin, to help with my PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome). But after my follow up, we should get the all clear to start trying to get pregnant! He said that he'll put me on a pill that will force my body to have a period each month, and it will hopefully also force my body to ovulate. I don't think it's going to be BOOM! Here's a baby for you! But I'm so excited!! So much good news so far, I'm so excited for my follow up appointment!!

Surgery - my actual surgery went really well. It was pretty quick! My recovery was so much better than last time! I woke up with a small headache and a really dry, sore throat, but no migraine and no nausea! I was actually ready to go about 45 minutes before we got to leave, because their post-op rooms were backed up. So, they let me get changed in recovery, instead of waiting for a post-op room. After that, Brian signed my release papers and we were free to go!

On The Way Home - Last time, I was in so much pain from my migraine, I feel asleep almost immediately after getting in the car and didn't wake up until about 5 minutes before we got home. 2.5 hour drive! This time, I was feeling good! We stopped at a gas station for gas and a snack for me because I was starving! I scarfed down a cinnamon roll in like 3 seconds. Next stop, Bush's Chicken! I loooooove Bush's Chicken, and the closest one to our house is almost 2 hours away. It's a really great fast food, fried chicken place. Not expensive, always fast. And they have THE BEST ROLLS! So yummy! We had planned on getting Bush's after my last surgery, but since I pretty much passed out in the car, we went straight home instead. I was so excited to be feeling good this time, and so happy to stop for Bush's. After a couple pieces of chicken in the car, I feel asleep for about 90 minutes on the way home, woke up to a very sore throat, but my headache was gone!

Recovery - So far, I'm feeling great! My throat is still a little sore, but my bleeding is minimal. Besides just being tired, I'm feeling pretty good. I have today, tomorrow, and Sunday to recover before life gets back to normal. I don't think I'll have any problems being ready to start my new diet and exercise on Monday! Going to kick this cancer away, and have myself a healthy 2017!

That's all I have so far, I know it was a long post. I want to thank everyone for their happy thoughts, prayers, and well wishes. And I'll write up another blog as soon as I see my oncologist for my follow up in about three weeks! I can't wait! =)

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thankful..

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm feeling pretty thankful today. I went to the doctor last week, and thought about writing an update. What better day to do that, than the day of being thankful. =)

First, I had more blood drawn last week.
Results -
Iron - still low, but much higher than it was.
Thyroid - still low, but higher than it was.
Sugars are great, not diabetic. Not even pre-diabetic!
Blood pressure is normal.
Cholesterol is normal.

In even better news, my heart murmur has completely resolved itself! My primary doctor was pretty sure the murmur was only a result of my extremely low iron. Now that those numbers are getting better, the heart murmur is gone!

I have to go back in the middle of February for another round of blood testing, but now it's just routine testing.

I also went to the ob/gyn for another ultrasound, so see how my body is progressing with my cancer treatment. According to the ultrasound, and talking to my oncologist, my body is responding well to treatment. The medicine I've been on has shrunk the cancerous cells, and my oncologist was able to remove all the cancerous cells during my last surgery. I've been downgraded from cancer to hyperplasia. Hyperplasia is pretty much the precursor to cancer. If I stopped my meds and treatment, it would still progress to cancer. But the fact that I'm in the pre-cancercous range and not the cancerous range, that's great progress!

My next step is to continue my medications and treatment, and I'll be having surgery again on Dec. 12th. The same surgery as before, with hopefully even better results! I'm so thankful for the good news! Thank you to everyone for your prayers, good thoughts, and well wishes. =)

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Post Surgery Follow-Up Appointment

Hello friends and family!

I just went to the oncologist in San Antonio yesterday, for my follow-up appointment after having surgery about three weeks ago, and wanted to update everyone on how it went!

It was actually a very quick appointment. My doctor said that he did remove some tissue during my surgery, and he was able to remove all the cancerous tissue/cells. However, he wasn't able to remove everything. He did downgrade what is left in my uterus to pre-cancerous cells, but left on their own they would definitely progress to cancer again. Unfortunately, that means I'm not in remission yet. I'm going back on the cancer pills today, and I'm going to have to have another surgery in about 3.5 months. It will be just like my previous surgery. Hopefully, at that time, he'll be able to remove everything and I'll officially be cancer free. My doctor is very happy with how the surgery went, and how my body is healing. He had actually said during my first appointment that it was be the best case scenario for me to only need one surgery to remove all the cancer, so as much as I wish he had been able to get everything with one surgery, needing a 2nd surgery is not surprising. Plus, I was able to tell my doctor that my body didn't react so well to anesthesia last time, and he told me that I can request the same anesthesiologist and let him know how my body reacted last time, and he can make some changes to my dosage so I have a better recovery. I really liked the anesthesiologist, so I'm happy for that. My next step now is to call on Monday to schedule my surgery. We're hoping that I'll be able to schedule that in December, before my deductible starts over at the new year, saving us $500! Plus, I'll miss less work if it's around the holidays. So, keep your fingers crossed that they'll let me schedule surgery in December, instead of January!

That's all the information I have right now! Everything is looking good and I'm making progress towards being cancer free, I'm just not there yet. Thanks to everyone for your thoughts, prayers, and well wishes. It really means a lot to me! I'll keep you updated on anything else that happens! =)

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Post Surgery Update

Hello again friends and family! And people I don't know who read this too!

I'm home after having my surgery yesterday. I figured I'd give a detailed play-by-play of the day, and everything I know so far. =)

So, I talked to my main nurse on Monday, to make sure they had all my blood and EKG test results before my surgery yesterday. She said that they had everything they needed, told me to be at the hospital at 1030am for my noon surgery. I asked her about the no food or drinks after midnight, and she told me that since my surgery was at noon, I could eat and drink after midnight, but nothing after 6am.

We dropped the dogs off at my mother-in-law's house Monday night, she and her husband are really awesome with watching the dogs for us whenever we need them! Monday morning, I woke up at 530am to eat breakfast before 6am. We left for our 2.5 drive a little early, because it was raining. We still managed to get to the hospital for registration and check-in by about 10am. The hospital was so nice! The inside was a little fancy, very comfy, and every single person we talked to was polite.

I registered, and we had about a 45 minute wait until getting put in the pre-op room. Once in that room, I got changed into a gown, with my butt on display to the world! Haha! We waited a bit. I had a nurse come in to take my blood and put in my IV. Another nurse came in to take down my medical history and all the medications I'm currently on, and I signed all my consent forms. We waited a bit longer. I had the anesthesiologist come back and talk to me about what all he was going to do. He asked when the last time I ate was, I told him (at that point) about 7 hours earlier. He was concerned, he said you should never eat or drink the day of surgery. Nothing after midnight the night before surgery. He said it changed what he'd be doing a little bit. It's a bit more invasive if you've eaten too close to surgery, because you can run the risk of throwing up food while you're under anesthesia, and then breathing that food into your lungs. So I had to have a full on breathing tube, instead of the less invasive mode. But he was actually really great, because he said some of his colleagues would've sent me home and rescheduled my surgery for another day, all because my main nurse had given me incorrect information. I'm so glad he didn't! After that, my surgical nurse came in to give the knock out juice and wheel me back for surgery. I said goodbye to Brian, got a kiss, and was wheeled away. He took my surgery time to run and get himself some food, since he'd also eaten at about 6am, and was starving by the time they wheeled me back for surgery at about 1pm.

I remember moving from the bed to the surgical table, and they put the oxygen mask on me. The next thing I remember is waking up, very groggy, with an oxygen mask on in the first recovery area. Apparently, my surgery took closer to an hour instead of 30 minutes like the doctor had told Brian. So he was little concerned as he was waiting for the doctor to come out and tell him that I was okay. And then I was in the first recovery area for a whole hour before remembering anything specific. Coming out of anesthesia is not fun! I was FREEZING! My throat was all sore and scratchy from the breathing tube, and my head hurt so much! And I was sooooo nauseous. A new nurse asked me how I was doing, I told her that I was cold, my head hurt, and I was nauseous. She immediately got me some warm blankets, and gave me something in my IV for the nausea. I slowly started to get warmer, and stopped shivering. They took the oxygen mask off, and let me breath on my own. Apparently though, my normal breathing is too shallow, as the oxygen alarm kept going off and she kept telling me to take deeper breaths. The nurse put me in some super stretchy mesh panties, for my bleeding, and after about 30 minutes, they wheeled me into a recovery room and I was able to see Brian. =) I still felt a little wobbly, I told Brian that my arms and legs felt all limp like noodles. But I ate some crackers that helped the nausea. I took a little walk down the hall to the bathroom, with a little help from Brian. I was able to get dressed, got a prescription for pain meds, and a list of what I can and can't do. No driving, no signing papers, no making major decisions, no bathing/showering for 24 hours, those kind of things. Brian signed my discharge papers, and we could leave! He went and pulled the car around, as they wheeled me to the car. And we were headed home right around 4pm!

My nausea didn't completely go away, and my headache was awful, I ended up staying awake long enough to text family and close friends that I was okay and headed home. After that, I silenced my phone and fell asleep for the entire 2.5 hour drive home! I woke up about a mile away from home, still with a pounding headache. I took some aleve, which didn't help. Brian dropped me off at home, and then went to pick up the dogs and dinner. I had a caffeinated drink in the fridge, so I drank a little of that, thinking that my headache felt more like a migraine than a regular headache. Then I fell asleep on the couch for the hour that Brian was gone. I woke up feeling a little better. No more nausea, but still with a bad headache. I ate a burger and some fries, they tasted AWESOME! I stayed up for a little longer, and then headed to bed. I had moderate bleeding and minimal cramping at the hospital, and a little bleeding once I got home. But the bleeding completely tapered off overnight.

I didn't sleep very well, between my headache and the caffeine I drank, I woke up this morning with a very sore and scratchy throat, and I felt like all my neck and shoulder muscles were sore. But I was still feeling pretty well! I called my doctor, because he hadn't stopped by to talk to me after surgery about how it went. My main nurse said she'd call me back after she talked to him. I felt pretty good throughout the day, ran errands with my hubby, and spent the rest of the day resting at home. I didn't have any bleeding or cramping all day, and no more headache!

My main nurse finally called me back around 3pm. She said that according to my surgical chart, a moderate amount of tissue was removed and sent to pathology for testing. She said that my doctor was very thorough and didn't find anymore tumor in my uterus!! According to him, it's all gone! I don't have to take to cancer pills anymore! I have a follow-up appointment in three weeks, at that point all get checked out to make sure I'm all healed from surgery, and I'll get the results from my tissue pathology. But as of right now, it's looking like the cancer is gone! Fingers crossed and all the good thoughts that it's true!

I'm doing well right now. Mostly tired. No bleeding or cramping. My nurse said that the bleeding might come and go, or I might not bleed at all until my next period. She said that they're only concerned if I start bleeding too much. My throat is still sore. Mostly I feel like I'm sick, cough and sore muscles. But I don't have to go back to work until Tuesday, so I have plenty of time to just relax and heal. But with the good news my nurse gave me today, I'm feeling pretty great! I'm so excited for my appointment in three weeks, I kind of wish it was here already!

Thank you to everyone for your thoughts, prayers, and well wishes! They're certainly coming through loud and clear! You are all great, and I can hardly wait to update you all after my follow-up appointment in three weeks!