Sunday, June 28, 2015

Mountains To Climb and Storms to Wither

This talk and video by President Henry B. Eyring have brought me such peace and comfort this week.

I especially love these quotes:

"I cannot promise an end to your adversity in this life. I cannot assure you that your trials will seem to you to be only for a moment. One of the characteristics of trials in life is that they seem to make clocks slow down and then appear almost to stop."

"There are reasons for that. Knowing those reasons may not give much comfort, but it can give you a feeling of patience. Those reasons come from this one fact: in Their perfect love for you, Heavenly Father and the Savior want you fitted to be with Them to live in families forever. Only those washed perfectly clean through the Atonement of Jesus Christ can be there."
"If we have faith in Jesus Christ, the hardest as well as the easiest times in life can be a blessing. In all conditions, we can choose the right with the guidance of the Spirit. We have the gospel of Jesus Christ to shape and guide our lives if we choose it. And with prophets revealing to us our place in the plan of salvation, we can live with perfect hope and a feeling of peace. We never need to feel that we are alone or unloved in the Lord’s service because we never are. We can feel the love of God. The Savior has promised angels on our left and our right to bear us up.  And He always keeps His word."

Over the past few weeks I've questioned over and over in my mind, WHY hasn't Heavenly Father answered mine and my families prayers that the cancer won't come back and now I'm questioning WHY I have to go through this illness again.  I may never know the answer to my WHY questions, but I do know that I have a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Though I may be facing this trial, my testimony isn't shaken in the least bit.  I know that there are angels all around me seen and unseen, who are bearing me up.  I testify that the Atonement is more than just for sin, but is for my physical and emotional pains, my heartaches and my disappointments.  I'm promised that if I have faith in Jesus Christ this hard time that I'm going through will be a blessing.  I see those blessings all around me.  I believe whole heartily that Heavenly Father is intricately involved in my life and in my care.

From the time I went to bed last night until well into this morning we had hurricane like winds.  I literally thought my house was going to blow over.  However, as I layed in bed safe and sound from the elements outside,  I thought of how the winds outside of my home were similar to the winds I'm experiencing in my life.  I felt peace and comfort in my home while the storm whipped up all around me.  Similarly, I feel peace and comfort in my life, even amongst the trials I am facing.  I recalled the Scriptures in Helamen 5:12:

And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.

From the time I was a small child, through Young Womens, into my college years and now my career, I've built my life upon faith and on my Savior.  It is because of this foundation that I can conquer this Goliath that I have to face.  Yes, it's difficult and yes I wish I didn't have to be tried and tested in this way again, but I also know that my faith and prayers will carry my through.  I know that when I get to the other side of this trial I will look back and see how much more I've become like my Savior.  
In my scripture reading this morning I noticed 2 quotes that I had written down when I attended a religion class this past Spring.  They gave me some kind of clarification to my question WHY.
Heavenly Father has calmed me.  I have such peace, even amongst the storm that I'm facing.  I heard today that my Primary children back in Phoenix are praying for me and I know so many other children are praying for me.  Kids have great faith and are so close to Heavenly Father.  I'm grateful for the many children in my life and for their heartfelt, tender and simple prayers.

The other quote was from Mother Teresa:  "I'm a little pencil in the hands of God.  Sometimes I need sharpening."

I'm pretty sure that Heavenly Father is not only sharpening me at this time, but also polishing my rough edges.  I'm not sure what the future will hold, but I know that again I will be better because of what I am experiencing.

Elder Holland said, "Believe in miracles. I have seen so many of them come when every other indication would say that hope was lost. Hope is never lost. If those miracles do not come soon or fully or seemingly at all, remember the Savior’s own anguished example: if the bitter cup does not pass, drink it and be strong, trusting in happier days ahead."

I have hope.  I believe in miracles.   I have seen miracles in my life and in others and I look forward to seeing another miracle in the coming months.  I don't know why I'm going through this trial, but I know that I have to have faith and keep moving forward.  And so I will.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

A Visit to the Surgeon Dr. G

I met Dr. G the GYN Oncology Surgeon for the first time yesterday.  He was so kind, gentle and showed great concern for me.  Dr. G doesn't actually see patients on Fridays, but he fit me into his schedule, away from the lab which typically takes up his time on Friday's.  I can't say we have a definite plan yet, but I did get some answers.  I am beyond amazed again at this physician. We spent nearly 2 hours discussing my case.  Earlier in the week I asked the nurse if Dr. G was good.  Her response was, "If he wasn't good he wouldn't be here."  I liked that response.

Ultimately the treatment I have won't be what they want or what I want but we will decide on what is best for me and what we as a group feel will help eradicate or at least keep the cancer stationary.  Dr. G told me to stop reading statistics on the Internet, because I'm not one.  The statistics that are out there are people who aren't like me.  Just like Dr. P said, I'm young, my cancer is low grade serous cell and he thinks that me being healthy is the best thing that is going for me, that I eat well and that I exercise make this an even better case.

Dr. G told me that we need to think outside the box on my care.  Typically in OVC they only do 1 surgery and then treat recurrences with other means, unless it is only in one area do they typically do surgery.  Mine is in 3.  But he said because I am healthy he would consider doing the surgery.  This is the issue...the main area of concern which was thought to be on the bowel, is actually on the anal sphincter which couldn't be in a worse spot.  Just saying the word gives me the chills and explains why my tailbone hurts so bad to sit or lay on my back.  For those of you who haven't been following me until now, when I was initially diagnosed the Ovarian Cancer was also on the sigmoid colon.  The cancer now is at the base of where the initial surgery was stapled off.  Dr. G discussed with me that everything that took place with my initial surgery and treatment is exactly what he would have done.  But this cancer is difficult to treat and is usually chemo resistant.

Dr. G said that if I do surgery it will involve another bowel resection which isn't easy and that I will have to have an ileostomy for 8 weeks.  I could probably handle an ileostomy for 8 weeks, but that's it.  Dr. G thinks the mass is 1-2 cm even though on CT it looked to be about 3 cm.  The other areas of concern will be easy to get to and given my lymph nodes were removed on the previous surgery, he isn't totally convinced the one area that was once thought to be a lymph node really is such.

The other option which sounds hopeful is the MEK Inhibitor which is a pill I would take twice a day for the next several years or unless it doesn't work and we have to resort to surgery.  This study that I would be in isn't a blind study so Dr. G could make it so that I get this drug, which is the only way I would do it.  I don't want to have to go through chemo again, which would be another option to do the same chemo regimen or a different one.  I really don't know if I could handle the intense bone pain that came from the same chemo regimen.  It's funny that Dr. Dan said they would only do IP (intraperitoneal)chemo once, but Dr. G said that because I'm healthy and was able to handle all the treatments we could try it again.

The MEK Inhibitor does have side effects like rashes, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and it lightens your hair color (interesting).  With being on the MEK Inhibitor in the beginning, I would need to stay close to Boston for a few months to have my blood drawn on a very regular basis and to monitor how I'm reacting to it.  They would do a CT scan every 3 months to see how the tumors are responding.

Another option which is rare and again thinking outside the box would be to do radiation.  Of course this has side effects too.  Dr. G told me that he has been taking care of someone who has a similar case as I for 10 years.  That brought me hope. 

I will know more on Monday when the Tumor Board discusses my case.  Its crazy to think that nearly 20 of the best Oncologists and Radiologists in the country will be focusing on me and what is best for my treatment.  Dr. G will call me on Monday to discuss our options and what the board feels will ultimately be best for me.  There is no doubt in my mind that Heavenly Father has had His hand in my life directing me to this very point for many years so that I could have the best care.  I know that Heavenly Father will direct these physicians and me when we ultimately decide on what the best treatment will be.  I cringe a little thinking that as I sit here typing that I have cancer in me.  I'm a cancer patient, but I'm still a survivor.  It is my hope and prayer that the treatment I'm directed to have will give me many more years to watch my sweet nieces and nephews grow up, to experience all the joy and happiness around me and to be an instrument in Gods hands in helping others.
My initial plans are back on.  I'll work 3 shifts this week and then head back to Phoenix to work my 9 shifts for July, go to Idaho for my 20th Class Reunion and to eat snow cones and play in the pool with my nieces and nephews.  I'll be back to MVY July 21 and will start some type of treatment then.  I've decided to postpone my boards so that I can focus on getting well, even though I would like to have them behind me.

I had a call this week from EMP's VP (my Phoenix employer).  She was so understanding and let me know that my job will not be at jeopardy, that I have short and long term disability to use, that I will still have all my benefits and that they will support me in anyway they can.  This gave me some relief and more love for the amazing company I work for.

Friday, June 26, 2015

A Beachy FF

1.  I had a lot of beachy accidents this week in the ER including fish hooks in legs, mopeds crushing ankles, stitching up wounds from bike injuries and of course multiple tick bits.  I only worked 3 days this week which was awesome as it gave me plenty of time to enjoy the beach myself.  One of my favorite things from this week was the fabulous rainstorm that we had on Sunday.  This was what the road looked like on my way to church
2.  On Sunday I met a lady who had a really awesome throw with her.  I mentioned to her how beautiful it was and it was so soft.  Somehow in our conversation I told her that I had ovarian cancer and going through treatment I always had a blanket on me.  She told me about her friend Jeanette Farrier and the story behind these throws.  Here is the story from her website:

Travelling in India at the end of the 1990s, costume designer Jeanette Farrier discovered the magical textiles that the women of West Bengal create from recycled cotton saris. Exponents of the traditional art known as ‘Kantha’, these expert seamstresses fold and stitch the soft cloth into an ultra-fine quilted fabric which is warm, durable and, with its myriad patterns and colours, of great beauty.
The ethos behind Jeanette’s work is that just as these wonderful textiles are valued and precious, so are the women: they are paid well and are able to work in their own homes. Today there are two villages outside Kolkata whose livelihood has been transformed through sewing Jeanette Farrier’s Kantha cloth. 
  • Each throw is 5 layers of recycled cotton sari fabric hand stitched in 3 contrasting coloured threads.
  • Some throws have small patches enhancing their vintage quality and charm.

This sweet lady invited me to her beautiful home to pick out my very own throw from India.  There were so many to choose from, because they are going to be having a Trunk Show in August and these will be for sale.  She told to pick one out that spoke to me.  As soon as I saw the one I picked I knew it spoke to me.  I wonder about the women who wore pieces of this blanket and their stories and am grateful for the talents of these women in a far off country.  I will treasure this beautiful throw for years to come and especially as I go through this cancer recurrence.
 3.  I did get some beach time in on Monday which was so relaxing.  There is just something about the wind and sun on your skin, the sound of the waves and good book in your hands.  This weeks book is Princess of the Midnight Ball.  I'm totally loving this one.  It's been so fun to get lost in this fantasy.
I thought this was a funny sight at a beach that doesn't have clear water.
 4.  I visited the light house in Aquinnah on Monday after receiving my throw since I was already out that way.  And because I have to pass the Chilmark General Store I had to stop in for a slice of tomato and bacon pizza.  It's so yummy!
5.  My medical assistant from last summer, Judy came to visit this week.  She isn't working here this year because she graduated from nursing school and got a job in the ER where she lives in NH.  This sweet girl is fun and has so much spunk.  She came to visit me in the ER on Wednesday.  We have kept in touch throughout the year and I was delighted to see her.  Her twin sister is on the Island working.  On Thursday we took her sisters jeep, deflated the tires (because that is what you have to do so you don't get stuck in the sand) and then drove up to Nortons Point straight onto the beach.  It was so awesome.  Thursday was the most beautiful beach day since I've been here.
6.  I have so much enjoyed my morning jogs and nightly walks this week.  The sunset even with the cloud coverage is so amazing.
7.  This week I had a telephone conversation with The Italian Stallion AKA Kirt who I dated when I was in Grad School.  For those who don't know him he is Italian and from New Orleans.  He has the most gorgeous southern accent.  This guy has a very special place in my heart.  I'm excited to see him in October when he will visit Phoenix.
8.  Of course I visited Boston today.  I'll blog all about my visit with the surgeon tomorrow.  Tony's friend's Chris and Rachel who we visited in Hawaii nearly 4 years ago were visiting Boston this week.  Chris' brother lives near Boston and Christ grew up in Boston.  We met up for lunch today and I got to meet their adorable 8 month old twins.  We had lunch at a little pub by Mass General.  It was so fun to visit with them and have someone from home in my presence.  I had a delicious Cubano sandwich which had BBQ pork instead of the normal grilled pork.  I'd go back again, it was that delicious.
9.  After my visit with the surgeon I spent at least an hour in Talbots doing some retail therapy.  I bought 5 pieces for only $105; 2 skirts and 3 shirts.  I've been watching one of the skirts to come down in price and I know it will become one of my favorites.  I don't know about you, but it seems like every Summer I have to buy a bunch of new shirts as the ones from the previous year just seem to wear out, especially living in Phoenix where we wear short sleeves almost all year.
10.  I've continued to feel so much love and support from all of you over the past week.  Thank You doesn't even do it justice.  I'm still sad and mad and downright frustrated that I have to go through a recurrence of cancer.  I had so hoped to be the one who it didn't come back in.
Aunt Leslie I saw these today and thought of you.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


Dr. P called yesterday to let me know that he received my CT scan from October and that he had reviewed it.  The lymph node and cancer areas in the pelvis were not on the previous scan.  He did notice that the mass between the rectal wall and vaginal wall was there, but small.  Basically the mass is on the bowel which is devistating to me.  He said they would do all they could to not have to give me another ileostomy.  Remember that was the worst part of the entire ordeal last time.  If you are praying for me can you pray specifically that the surgeon will be able to do surgery without having to perform an ileostomy? 

Dr. P also said that I could wait to have surgery until mid August when my assignment here is finished.  Of course I won't know this for sure until Friday when I meet with the surgeon, but this would be so helpful for me to get somethings in order.  He also informed me that I will have to be out of work for 6-8 weeks; I was thinking maybe 2 weeks.  I guess I thought wrong.

After talking with Dr. P I felt mad, a feeling that I never felt even when I was initially diagnosed.  I was sad, but not mad.  It is just so hard for me to understand why.  I did have a tender mercy tonight as one of my patients was an oncologist at a very pretigious medical center.  I talked with him about what I was going through and he informed me that they are finding as Dr. P said, that Mek inhibitors are working better on low grade serous ovarian cancer.  This is promising.  They are also finding that low grade is chemo resistant.  Did you know that only 10 percent of OVC is low grade and slow growing, typically occuring in women less than 40?  I read a study today that said, "Low grade OVC is characterized by young age at diagnosis, relative chemo resistant and prolonged overall survival."  That's promising! 

Last night after I poured my heart out to my Heavenly Father I got up and read my scriptures, opening up to where I had left off in Luke 1:37 I read, "For with God nothing shall be impossible."  That was the answer to my prayers.  I have great confidence that with God I can overcome this challenge. 

My dear friend Pamela shared this on FB today, "Trials and tribulations tend to squeeze the artificiality out of us, leaving the essence of what we really are and clarifying what we really yearn for." (Neal A. Maxwell, Things As They Really Are, 1978)  If that doesn't say it all, I don't know what does.

I received a sweet email from my Bishop today.  It meant so much to me given he was just put in a few weeks ago and I haven't even met him.  I know that he was called by God at this time to preside over our ward.  I've been a little bummed at the fact that people have to be burdened by my trial, but he included a scripture that helped me realize that we are all here to help each other along when we have trials.   James 5:16 “…pray for one another, that ye may be healed.  The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

I have been overwhelmed at the love, support, emails, phone calls and messages I've had over the past week. I truly have been blessed to be surrounded by so many people who love me.  I feel so much love for my Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, my family and friends.  I know that Heavenly Father hears my prayers and your prayers and that together I will be able to not only endure this trial, but also overcome it.   

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Daddy-O Happy Fathers Day

My dad is quite the man!  Here are just a few reason why my dad is so amazing:
*When we were little he would pile us into his pickup truck on Saturday mornings and take us to the hardware store and the livestock sale.
*One time before I could drive,  I started his stick shift truck running the truck into the house; I don't even remember him raising his voice, he was just grateful no one was hurt.
*When I was in the second grade my dad coached my first soccer team.  He taught me to be a good sport even if I didn't always win.
*It doesn't have to be the holiday season for my dad to serve those who are less fortunate.  However, I remember every holiday season dad would make sure we were Secret Santa's to many.
*My dad makes the best breakfast, namely french toast, waffles and pancakes.  His homemade syrup is by far the best:
1 Cup Water
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Cup White Sugar
Bring to boil and then add 1 cap of vanilla and 1 cap of maple flavoring
 *My dad seriously can build anything.  Our home is so beautiful because of his talents.
*When I was diagnosed with cancer he prayed that if I wasn't going to make it to take me before I had to go through chemo.  He felt peace knowing I would be fine, so every time I cried he would remind me that I was going to be fine.
*Dad can grow the biggest, most delicious tomato's ever.  His secret?  A scoop of cow poop.
*My Dad is so tender and isn't afraid of losing his man card by shedding a few tears.
*Dad has a testimony of the gospel.  He studies his scriptures EVERY morning, even on vacation.
*My dad loves my mom and has the highest respect for her.
*Dad can fix anything, except cars.
*My dad is the best horsey, he was when we were kids and continues to be for the grandkids.
*He gives his 100% from sun up to sun down, but typically falls asleep before the weather even though that is why he turns the news on.
*When I was in grad school dad secretly left on my piano 10, 100 dollar bills.  Because dad taught me how to manage my money, that 1000 dollars lasted me over 2 years.  That kind gesture will never be forgotten.  With some of the money I bought my first stethoscope.
*My dad survived Melanoma.
*Dad has given me so much support in all that I have ever done and always tells me, "Don't worry, you can do it," whether it was getting through grad school or cancer he has always been by my side.
*Dad has rescued me more times than I can remember, even driving many miles, packing me up and unpacking me again.
*He is the most patient person I know (especially when he travels with his girls).
*I've never known a person who uses his time more wisely than my dad.
I love you so much dad. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Super Saturday MVY

Because I had to inform you of the big C word yesterday I didn't get my Fabulous Friday post in so you get a Super Saturday post.  Just because I had some disappointment this week, doesn't mean I didn't find at least 10 fabulous things about my week; so here goes.
1.  Sunday I surprised Aunt Leslie by arriving at her ward just before she gave her lesson in Relief Society.  I wish I would have had a camera.  Her surprised face was classic.  I also loved being able to see and hug my dear friend Ofa.  I had dinner with Leslie and Gordon, picked my last grapefruit of the season and then returned home in time to squeeze the juice from those grapefruit before my VT picked me up and took me to the airport for my Red Eye to Boston.
2.  It literally rained from the time I touched down in Boston until I went to bed that night, but it was so welcoming since we don't have rainstorms too often in Phoenix.  On my way to the Cape I kept hearing my Grandpa Swensens voice telling me not to speed.  When Tenielle and I met up with him just after I graduated from college he gave us that warning because police often catch vacationers speeding.  I found myself thinking of how much fun we had that 4th of July and the 1 horse parade, on my entire drive to the Cape.
 3.  First things first:  A stop for lobster rolls at the Seafood Shanty, supposedly one of the best places to get a lobster roll on the Cape.  It was pretty delicious.
4.  As soon as I got off the ferry I stopped by the ER to get my key.  It was so fun to see so many of the great people that I worked with last Summer.  That night I had dinner with friends from work.  It was so fun to catch up.
5.  From my bedroom window I have a gorgeous view of the ocean and the sunrise.  Friday morning I woke at 445 and decided since I was awake I might as well watch the sunrise, unfortunately it was cloudy but for a few minutes the clouds broke through and I saw the beautiful ray of sunshine.  It was almost like Heavenly Father was showing me a little light and letting me know that there will be light at the end of the tunnel and that I will make it through this bump in the road.
6.  I went on a wonderful run down by the beach and the golf course Friday morning.  I'm so grateful that I can run without pain.  I feel like I need to do everything I can to become as healthy as I can in the next few weeks before surgery.  The one thing I hate about surgery is that it messes with my working out schedule.  I am determined to walk every day by the beach, fast or not I'm going to do it.
7.  Remember how much I love my Oak Bluffs Library?  I renewed my library card and checked out some books and DVDs on Friday.
8.  Of course I had to get my First Friday's Grace Church Lobster roll.  Yummy.
 9.  I love the simple things about this island and how much I feel like home here.
 10.  I loved my visit to Boston, even under the circumstances.  Thursday afternoon I enjoyed some time at the Medical Museum, including time on their rooftop garden.  I then walked down Charles Street.  I loved having some me time as I browsed the quaint shops on this beautiful street.  I bought the cutest and most comfortable dress that I know I'll be putting to good use once I have surgery.  I went into a cute chocolate shop where this cute older lady asked me how I was doing.  I told her of my cancer diagnosis.  She was so sweet and kept hugging me.  She gave me a bag of the most delicious salted carmels.  I will definitely be visiting her each time I have to go to MGH.  I walked down to Boston Commons and enjoyed the beautiful park that it is, while I gave updates to friends over the phone.
I love the story about these ducks in Boston Commons.
I love how peaceful the street looks here.
I'm not a dog person, but this picture turned out so cute.
11.  I had to capture how funny this was when I saw a lady in the waiting room open her suitcase of medications.
12.  I had such an enjoyable walk last night as the sun was going down.  This was one of my views.
13.  I'm in awe again at the outpouring of love that I am receiving from my friends and family.  I feel so at peace because of your prayers.  I was talking to my friend Melanie today, updating her about the events of this week.  She made the comment that she couldn't believe I could talk about it without shedding a tear.  It's because of your prayers and my faith that I know things are going to be okay. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Blasted Cancer Returns

This was at the Medical Museum that I visited yesterday.  I think it is fitting.
I don't even know where to start or how to start this blog post, so I will just start from the beginning...

Last Wednesday I did my spinning class which I typically do twice a week.  My butt that is typically use to the bike seat felt like I had gotten on it for the first time.  Half way through the class I got nauseated and decided 40 minutes was enough and so for the first time ever I left class early.  I worked Thursday, Friday and Saturday and felt uncomfortable each time I sat down.  It felt like I had fallen on my tail bone with the pain extending midway up my lumbar spine.

Sunday as I was sitting in church the discomfort was similar to when I was diagnosed with OVC.  I flew to Boston on the Red Eye Sunday night and by the time I got to Boston Monday morning I was extremely uncomfortable.  I picked up my rental car, drove to Costco and slept in the car until Costco opened because we all know there isn't a Costco on MVY and I love my Costco.  At this point I had the hardest time getting comfortable evening laying down, but I thought it was probably from flying and carrying my back pack with my computer in it.

Tuesday at work I was most uncomfortable so I called Dr. C my GYN Oncologist in Boise and told her that I was feeling the same way as when I was diagnosed 2 years ago.  She ordered a CT scan and a CA 125.  I continued seeing patients and then completed the CT scan at 10pm, after seeing patients for 10 hours in the ER.  Around 11 the physician I was working with called with the results letting me know that there was concern for opacity's but that they needed to compare it to previous CT's from Boise.

Wednesday morning I arrived to work at 9 and immediately got my hot little hands on the CT report. Read the report dry eyed and then it hit me and I bawled my eyes out as I read the words "questionable liver metastasis and multiple nodules in the pelvis concerning for metastasis."  The radiologist recommended an MRI of the liver and so at 330 I had an MRI. The images definitely showed a liver mass the size of a quarter.

Dr. C went on vacation this day, so I communicated with her nurse throughout the day.  I tried getting a hold of Dr. Dan my Chemo Oncologist but couldn't get through to him.  I received the results of my CA 125 around 4.  After seeing that it went from 13 to 69.4 in 2 1/2 months I decided it was time for me to go home, of course not before I stopped off at Scottish Bakehouse for a cookie and some delicious black bean sweet pork soup since I hadn't eaten all day. 

Around 440 I called the MVY oncology department which is tiny.  An Oncologist usually comes a few times a month, but they have a Nurse Practitioner there all the time.  The lady I spoke with said she was leaving soon, but that she would put an email into the system at Mass General Hospital.  Our hospital on MVY is connected with Mass General, which is one of the best hospitals in the country, maybe in the world.  A little after 6 I got a call from a nurse at MGH telling me that Dr. Penson wanted to see me on Thursday.  Yes, that was very quick and totally unexpected.

I met Dr. Penson last Summer when he stayed on the same property as I was staying on in MVY.  We had a nice conversation that day and then because my ride forgot to pick me up, he ended up taking me to the airport.  In our conversation I found out that Dr. Dan did his Fellowship under Dr. Penson and that day Dr. Penson told me that the cancer wasn't going to come back and that I was going to live a long life.  Dr. Penson is not just a doctor, he is the guru of GYN Oncology and the Clinical Director of Medical GYN Oncolcogy at MGH, Dana Farber and Harvard Medical School.  He also wrote the chapter in Harrisons (the book that medical providers turn to often) on ovarian cancer.

So while I'm on the phone with the nurse, I told her the little story of our meeting.  As we spoke she emailed Dr. P about this.  An hour later she called me to say that Dr. P remembered me and that he had looked at the Liver MRI which didn't look like metastasis, but a hemangioma which is benign.  That was a little relief for sure.

The branch president who is my dear friend Melanie's husband and his counselor came over and gave me a blessing that night which brought me so much comfort and peace.

I spent the rest of the night on the phone with family and friends crying.

One of the sweetest conversations was with my brother Troy telling me that a month ago he was out on their property and the thought came to him, "A trial is coming."  He told me that when he gathered his 4 young kids around him on Tuesday night they told the kids that they needed to include Auntie Terah in their prayers.  He said those kids knew immediately why; he could see it in their eyes.  Gavin looked at him and said, "Does she have cancer?"  Broke my heart.  I'm so sad that these sweet little ones have to know the word Cancer.

I actually was so tired that I slept rather well that night.  6am came early though.  My friend Tina picked me up and took me to catch the 7am ferry.  Thank You Vineyard Colors for this amazing photo of the ferry!
 I then caught the Peter Pan Bus, which took me to South Station in Boston.  I hopped on the Subway and 3 stops later I walked across the street to Massachusetts General Hospital.  Talk about an easy and convenient way to get from MVY to MGH!
This is the view from the GYN Oncology floor which was as big as the entire cancer unit in Boise:
At 1130 Dr. P saw me.  He is the most wonderful man.  Dr. Dan and Dr. C are amazing and I feel so blessed to now have 3 of the best oncologists taking care of me.  Dr. P was dressed in a suit and I was impressed which I voiced.  He told me there were 2 kinds of providers, the ones who wear suits and the ones who wear white jackets and I added the ones who wear skinny jeans like Dr. Dan.  By the way Dr. P has an awesome English accent.

Dr. P took a history and talked to me for a bit before he went to look at the CT scan with the Radiologists. While I'm sitting in the room reading my SELF magazine, Dr. Dan calls and proceeds to tell me how sorry he is that I have to go through this again.  He was quite surprised when I told him that I was sitting in Dr. P's office.  I talked to Dr. Dan about having treatment at MGH and he told me it's the best place to have treatment.  Dr. P came back and informed me that Dr. Dan had just emailed him.  Kind of funny.

Dr. P then showed me all the aspects of the CT scan.  What it boils down to is there is a lymph node in the right pelvis that is cancerous.  There are also 2 areas with a few nodules in the pelvis that show cancer.  Disclaimer:  I'm a medical provider so this might be TMI for you so skip to the next paragraph if so.....The area of concern however is in between the vaginal wall and the rectal wall where there is a 3 cm mass which is what is likely causing my pain when I sit.

He then examined me and told me that my abdomen looked like a train wreck from my previous surgeries, yes I already knew that.  We then sat down in his office and he laid out the plan.  It looks like this:

His drawings is where the areas of concern are.

Basically he is telling me the good things which number one is that I'm healthy and I look healthy, my CA 125 is less than 500, the nodules are less than 5 cm and there is no fluid in the abdomen.

He outlines the strategies that we could take medical being chemo or Surgical.

So I think we are going to go with surgery, which he highly recommended as you can see by his check marks.  I will likely wait and see if the cancer comes back in 6 months and if so I can either participate in a clinical trial or repeat my chemo regimen that was awful and gave me the worst bone pain ever.  I don't know if I can go through that again, ugh. 

At the end of my visit I asked Dr. P if he thought I should go home for the surgery or have it here.  His reply went like this which was my favorite part of our visit:

Dr. P:  Do you believe in God?
Me:  Yes
Dr. P:  So do I.  And I don't believe this is a coincidence or a chance meeting.  God had a hand in us meeting and everything coming together so that you were here when you needed to be here to have the treatment that you will have here. 

I was suppose to see Dr. Dan 2 weeks ago when I was home to have my CA 125 repeated, but he had to cancel.  If he hadn't of canceled, the CA 125 would have been elevated at that visit and I wouldn't be in MVY today.

So What's Next?

The CT scan from October, which was supposedly normal, should have arrived in Boston today and on Monday the Radiology Board and Dr. P will sit down and compare them.  Dr. P thinks this may have been on the previous CT and that it may have gotten missed or was super small.  The surgeon is waiting to see me until he receives tissue samples from my previous surgery, but those should arrive early next week.  Dr. P will call me on Monday and then I will likely meet with the Surgeon next Thursday. Thinking surgery will be the week of or after the 4th of July.  I'm so not looking forward to another surgery, but I know that I have the best of the best in the country attending to my needs. 

Yes, my mom will be coming out for the surgery and yes I will be working up until then and hopefully 3 weeks later I'll be back to work.  I told Dr. P that I had patients to take care of just like he did.  He set me straight by telling me that I was the patient and that someone else could take care of my patients for now.

When I talked to my attending Dr. Z today after he said a choice word, he told me that Dr. P is one of the most amazing doctors that he knows and there isn't a better place to receive treatment than MGM.

I want you to know that I'm doing great.  I just have a little cancer.  I have no intentions of dying anytime soon.  This is just another bump in the road of life where my faith is going to be tested.  Any prayers, fasting and thoughts are welcomed.  I will try to keep you all informed through my blog, so check back frequently.

Yesterday I saw this sign in the window of a store and I took it as a little message from Heavenly Father, of just who I really am and what I can accomplish.  I believe in miracles and I believe in being strong and I will be strong and I truly believe I will see miracles; I already have.  (Kissing isn't bad either!)
Of course I believe in teal more than I believe in pink, but pink and teal actually go rather well together.

For now I'm going to make the Fight Song that you can view HERE (mom you have to double click on "here" to view the video) my theme song, because we all know I've still got a lot of fight left in me.

Monday, June 15, 2015

OVC Public Service Announcement

The first public service announcement for Collen's Dream is HERE.  I'm so excited to be a part of this project.  This was played at the Indoor Football League game this weekend and apparently well taken.  It will also be played at the Mercury WNBA game in August, which I will be able to attend where they will honor survivors.  Disclaimer: I don't look super great, but so glad to be a part of this.

Friday, June 12, 2015

A Short Visit Home FF

1.  Last Friday I flew home for a very short, but very full visit.  Mom, Tristen, Tony, Tenielle, Aidree and Bridgett picked me up from the airport.  We ran some errands and got empanadas from the only Argentine Restaurant in Boise.  Someone had a little fun with my phone and in the tree:
That evening mom and dads stake had a luau.  It was ok.  We talked to friends from High School which was fun.  I should have gotten a picture of our friend Ricky.
2.  Saturday morning we enjoyed the beautiful cool morning on a walk where I got blisters on both of my feet from wearing shoes that I typically don't wear and without socks.  Dad, Tenielle and I went to Grandma and Grandpa Youngs for likely the last time to help clean out and get rid of everything.  Of course I did gain a few treasures!
 I'm pretty sure that my grandma has had this wall paper in their house for over 60 years.  I love how vintage and cool it is.  Get a good look at this.
Of course we also had to have a little fun
And mom made cinnamon rolls that we all thought were to die for with maple frosting which reminds us all of grandma's.  My mouth is watering just typing this.  My mom makes the best cinnamon rolls ever; just saying.
3.  Mom picked me up from the grandparents and took me with her to a reunion with her hip Dr.  It was actually a nice luncheon with some entertainment.  That afternoon we attended the event we all came home for, Gavins baptism.  He was so cute and so were the children as they watched him be baptized.  Funny that Karston thought he was going to baptized twice, because Kadyn didn't go all the way under so he had to be dunked twice.
4. After the baptism everyone came to mom and dads where we had a delicious, very simple dinner of salads, fruit and bbq pork.  The kids swam in the cold pool for hours, while the rest of us chatted.  Becky has a friend Karra whose husband is in PA school.  They also came over and we talked PA stuff.  He also gave me his sign in so that I can practice my tests.  It has been very helpful this week in letting me know how much I really don't know, which is giving me even more anxiety about taking my test in a month.
5.  Sunday we went to church, cooked breakfast for lunch and then everyone left including mom, who went back with Tristen to Spokane.  Doesn't my sister Tenielle look amazing?  She has lost 22 pounds.  I wish I could lose 22 pounds.
I visited my childhood friends Kimmie and Carrie who were at their parents.  Kimmie is moving from Phoenix to Portland.  Funny that I've only seen her once since I've lived in Phoenix.  Dad and I then went to Troy and Becky's to see their new home which they will be moving into in the next few weeks.  I love their huge island in the kitchen.  I told Troy to smile, he doesn't smile, but tries to look cool.  Look what I captured out the window; only in Idaho will you take a Sunday drive in a tractor.
 I then flew back to the heat of Phoenix.  So sad to leave my peeps.
6.  Monday, Thursday, and Today I worked.  It has been rather slow this week, which I'm not complaining about in the least bit.
7.  Tuesday I had a dentist appointment and then went to do a public service announcement for Colleens Dream about ovarian cancer. I can't wait to see the finished product.  I'm sure it will be so awesome. I visited Laura and then Deborah and then went to the hospital with Laura and Aunt Leslie to see the new twins.  They are so tiny and adorable.  I stayed up way to late studying for boards, which is never good because you totally don't take it all in like you should.
 The nurse wrapped Kate up, I don't think she wanted to be bundled so tightly:
And Luke, well he was just happy to sleep.  I love the names that Laura chose.  If I was to name a boy and a girl these would have been the names I would have chosen for my own children.  I'm so very grateful that Heavenly Father has placed so many children in my life for me to love and adore, especially my nieces and nephews and my cousins children. 
8.  Wednesday I cleaned my house, got a massage, helped Laura organize her nursery, cooked dinner of Quinoa Bowls which is my new favorite dinner and what I will be eating 4 days in a row, unpacked from last weekends getaway and repacked for Martha's Vineyard, bought raspberries which were on sale for 87 cents, studied and went to bed earlier than I have in a long time.  I've been so tired lately, not sure why.
9.  My A/C was not working last night.  It was 82, which is too hot for me and for my chocolate chips.  Glad I had an icepack to keep my feet cool.  Thankfully the repair guys came in just as I was leaving for work this morning to fix the problem.  It looks like they also fixed my ant problem.
10.  I went to TJ Maxx this week to return a skirt that I decided I didn't like.  I always browse the shoe isle because having 5 1/2 size feet means it's hard to find shoes.  I totally lucked out and found a pair of flip flops that have an arch and are better on my feet than J Crew's, which are my favorite flip flops.  These new ones were regularly 110 dollars, but I got them at TJ's for 34.  I also found another pair of sandals that I love and have some height to them.  I'm now good for the Summer and rest of the year on footwear, although I'm almost in need of another pair of running shoes.
11.  I finished the book The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter And Sweet today.  It was pretty good.  I also finished another chick beachy book which wasn't worth reading, so I won't recommend it.
12. This time next week, it will be Fabulous Friday from you guessed it, Martha's Vineyard! Can't wait to leave Sunday night.