Wednesday, June 6, 2018

I'm Back! With an update..

Hello family, friends, and random strangers!

I'm back with an update! Nothing much to say about my primary doctor and my hematologist, since I haven't seen either of them since my last update. My primary doctor only prescribes the medicine for my thyroid, and he hasn't needed to see me back yet. My hematologist has rescheduled my last 2 appointments with him, so I have no idea when I'll actually get an update on my iron levels. But I'll let you all know when it happens!

However, I did go see my oncologist this past Friday (6/1) for a check-up since my last surgery at the end of January. I had all my fingers crossed that I'd get good news and wouldn't need another surgery. He did a biopsy (OUCH!) and told me that they should have the results back in about a week. The results would tell us whether or not I would need another surgery, or if I was back in remission and once again cancer free. Exciting!!

While I was there, I told him that if I was in remission again, I wanted to really try to get pregnant by the end of the year. He told me that wasn't really his department and we both laughed. But I told him that I didn't want to be on his treatment plan and trying to get pregnant at the same time without communicating with him. He understood and agreed. He asked if I had an ob/gyn down here, and I told him I used to but wanted to get a new one. He told me that he's friends with an ob/gyn down here, and that he would see if his friend had any opening for new patients. He told me that this new ob/gyn would either be able to help get me pregnant, or he would know who can!

My oncologist actually texted the ob/gyn while I was changing, and the ob/gyn said "Sure, send her over!" Yay! So my oncologist said that he'd send my file over, and the ob/gyn's office would give me a call to schedule an appointment.

That was pretty much the end of my appointment. So the waiting for my biopsy results began..

I got the call earlier today (Wednesday 6/6) from my oncologist's main nurse. She was happy to report that I am once again CANCER FREE!! All my cells are completely normal, I don't have any cancerous or even pre-cancerous cells. I don't need another surgery, I can stop the cancer pills, and I officially have the all clear to try to really get pregnant this year!!

About 30 minutes after I hung up the phone with this great news, the new ob/gyn's office called me to schedule an appointment. I was excited, but knew that it would be a wait before I could get in. OR SO I THOUGHT! I now have an appointment with this new ob/gyn to discuss my infertility options scheduled for this Monday (6/11)!!

It's so weird, because for years now I've been telling Brian that I didn't think we'd have a baby until I was 30. I just kept having this feeling that it wouldn't happen until I was 30. I have no idea why. But now, my 30th birthday is in just over a week, I'm once again cancer free, I have an appointment to discuss getting pregnant, things are just moving right along for us!

Thank you to my amazing husband, for being my rock through all of this. And major thanks to all our family and friends who send us thoughts and prayers. I'll write another update after the ob/gyn appointment!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Checking In After Check-Ups

Hello again all!

I'm here for another check-in after both my follow-up after my 4th surgery, and my follow-up appointment with my hematologist after getting an IV iron infusion.

Surgery Follow-Up -  My oncologist's nurse called me on the Thursday morning after my surgery to give me my pathology results over the phone. My cancer hasn't come back! But it had started to progress abnormally again. Suck. So, I am back to taking the cancer pills twice a day. Not ideal, since they cause increased appetite and weight gain. But hey, it's better than cancer! Haha! The nurse told me that I could cancel my follow-up appointment, unless I had any questions for my oncologist. I told her to go ahead and cancel it, since this was my fourth surgery. I'm an old pro! She cancelled that appointment and told me that my oncologist wants to see me back in 4 months. I'm scheduled to go back on June 1st. And I'll be on the cancer pills until then, and we'll see what happens at that time.

Iron Infusion -
I had my IV iron infusion on that same Thursday after my surgery. The whole process took about 3 hours from start to finish. I got there, was checked in, and called back. They inserted my IV and gave me both aspirin and benadryl, to help my body absorb the iron and to prevent itching around my IV site. Then I had to wait about 30 minutes for the IV to arrive from the pharmacy. It took another 30 minutes for the iron to slowly drip into my body, and once it was done, I had to wait 30 minutes to make sure I didn't have an adverse reaction to the iron. I felt fine, so they let me go. I expected to feel better right away, but it took me a few days to notice a difference. I'm not as tired as I used to be, I was able to drastically cut back on my caffeine usage! I'm still sleeping an average of 9 hours a night, but I think that also comes from recovering from surgery and being back on cancer pills. But I used to take a nap almost every day, even falling asleep during nap-time at work. Now, I'm not taking naps or feeling like I'm going to drop from exhaustion right before bed. I don't crave chewing on ice anymore, which is a major sign and symptom of iron deficient anemia.

Hematologist Follow-Up -
I saw my hematologist for a follow-up yesterday. He said that some of my iron numbers are still off, but that my iron count is finally in normal range! Probably for the first time in years. My red blood cells are still too small, but he's hoping that they'll get into normal range by the next time he see me. He let me cut down to only taking iron once a day, instead of twice. That takes me total daily pill count from 13 to 11! Yay progress! He wants to see me back in 3 months for repeat blood work, to see how my levels are doing. The cancer pill actually prevent normal periods, so he expects my iron levels to be in completely normal range when I come back in the middle of May. I hope so!

So, that's where I'm at right now. I have an appointment with my primary doctor in about a month, for a normal check-up. Then another hematologist appoint in the middle of May, and an appointment with my oncologist on June 1st. I'll update here after each appointment! Thanks for following and keeping me in your thoughts and prayers! :-)

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Another Update, Another Post.. Surgery #4

Hello all! After seeing the hematologist and having another surgery, I'm here with another update!

Hematologist appointment first - I had my appointment with the blood doctor. He was great. Very friendly, and listened to everything I had to say before he talked. He figured out that one of the medications I stopped recently was causing the high white blood cell counts. Bam! One problem solved within just a couple minutes. He also said that the cancer and problems I've been having with all of that is most likely what's causing my iron to decrease, even when I'm not having periods. So he scheduled me for an iron infusion through an IV. I'll be doing that this coming Thursday! He's not super concerned about my numbers, because the iron pills are bringing up my iron levels. But it's just so slow, so the iron infusion will bring my iron counts into normal range, and then I'll continue the iron pills to keep me at a normal range. He told me that I'll feel awesome after the infusion, so I'm excited for it! :-)

Surgery update next - I had my latest (and hopefully last) surgery yesterday. I woke up at 3am, and we were on the road by 330am. We got to the hospital at about 545am, and got checked in at 6am. I was called back pretty quickly, we'd maybe been sitting down 20 minutes. I got to change into my oh-so-fashionable hospital gown and non-slip socks. My IV was inserted, and all my fancy hospital bands put on. I was styling! lol And then came the waiting.. My surgery was scheduled for 8am. The anesthesiologist came in at just after 8am, and said that he'd been told that my surgery was pushed to 830am. Nobody told us! But no big deal. My oncologist came in at 840am, to make sure we didn't have any questions. We joked that this was my 4th one of these, we're old pros now! They gave me the good drugs, and rolled me into the OR.

I woke up in recovery about an hour later. Minimal headache and nausea, mostly I just felt so tired! I was in recovery for about an hour, before getting wheeled into recovery2 and getting to see my hubby! Once I was steady enough to stand, I got dressed and we were ready to leave! I ate a banana just to tell my stomach to shut up, and once Brian was on the highway, I passed out! I slept the entire 2 hour drive home. And then ate a huge lunch! I had a bit of a headache, mostly from the lack of caffeine. And I was pretty dizzy and lightheaded, so I stayed parked on the couch for the rest of the evening. After we had dinner, I read in bed for a little while, and then feel asleep by 830pm. Woke up naturally at just after 7am, 10.5 hours of sleep later!

I'm feeling pretty good today! Minimal bleeding that comes and goes, a tiny bit of cramping. Still dizzy and lightheaded, so I'm staying parked on the couch again today. Some television, knitting, and reading. Thank goodness for my wonderful husband, he's been taking care of the dogs, the house, meals, and everything else. He's amazing!

My follow-up appointment for after surgery is on the Feb 15th, I'll get the pathology results from my surgery, and then I'll know what my next steps are going to be. Whether it's going back on the cancer pills, another surgery, different medications.. Then I'll have a follow-up appointment with the blood doctor on Feb 16th, so expect another blog update after those two appointments in a couple weeks!

Thank you to everyone for your good thoughts, prayers, and well wishes!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

6 Months Later..

Hello again family and friends! Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season!

I thought I'd write a (probably long) post about my health, and everything that's been going on lately. Be forewarned, I'm not holding anything back, so this might be too much information for some people. :-)

So, I officially went into remission for my endometrial cancer in July '17. While I was coming off the cancer pills, I started a period for the first time in about 13 months. The cancer pills actually prevented normal periods, so I hadn't had one since I started taking them in June '16. And that period was horrendous. I was in a lot of pain, and couldn't leave the house for over a week from the start. I found out that although the cancer pills prevented bleeding every month, they hadn't prevented my uterine lining from building up every month, they had just prevented my body from shedding the lining every month for a normal period. So, when my body was completely off the cancer pills, it tried to shed all that lining in one long period. I ended up bleeding for over a month. At that point, my oncologist prescribed a form of estrogen to help my body stop bleeding. Thankfully, that worked!

In September, I started a medication to regulate my periods and bleeding. Then I had a 3 month check up with my oncologist in October, and everything looked good! The period pills hadn't worked yet, but I was told to just give them a few months to start working.

In December, I had a normal blood work check-up with my primary. Everything looked great, except my iron was back to being too low. Not too concerning, except that I hadn't been having normal periods, so he couldn't figure out where my iron was going in my body. Plus, he noticed that my white count had been elevated for a few months. So he decided to refer me to a hematologist (blood doctor), for more detailed blood tests.

At the beginning of this month, I went in for another 3 month check-up with my oncologist. After a long talk about my iron and absent periods, and period pills still not working yet, he agreed with my primary's hematologist referral. He also decided to refer me to a gastroenterologist to check for an ulcer. Next, I had an ultrasound to look at my ovaries and uterus. My oncologist saw then that my uterine lining was thicker than it was supposed to be. Again. He decided right then to do a biopsy. I'll skip describing how much fun that was.. I was sent home to wait for the results. And he sent me for more blood work, to rule out any other problems for my low iron. So far, those blood tests have come back normal.

I got the results of my biopsy last week, and my cells are pre-cancerous again. So, I'm having another D&C surgery on January 29th. 2 weeks from now! Once I have this next surgery, my oncologist will decide if I need to go back on the cancer pills, based on what my pathology says after my surgery. Best case scenario, I don't have to go back on the cancer pills after this surgery, and I can be prescribed stronger period pills to help prevent my body from building up a lining and not shedding it, which is how the cells become cancerous. Then I have a post-op surgery follow up with my oncologist on February 15th, to go over the pathology results and to decide on our next steps.

I have an appointment with the hematologist this Friday, the 19th. Hopefully, we'll be able to figure out why my iron keeps dropping, even when I don't have a period, and why my white cells have been elevated, even when I'm not sick. I'm ready for some answers! And then I have an appointment with a gastroenterologist in April. Seriously, April. That was apparently the earliest they could see me. But I'm hoping that the hematologist will be able to figure out my problem without going to the gastroenterologist, and I can cancel that appointment in April.

So, that's where I'm at right now. Hematologist on Friday, another surgery in two weeks, and then a follow up appointment for surgery on February 15th.

Thank you all for your continued support, thoughts, and prayers. I really appreciate them all! <3

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!