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.


  1. Thank you so much for the update, Terah! I'm so glad you are in such good hands. As always, you continue to be an inspiration and and encouragement to me. And yes, I agree....teal and pink do go together quite nicely.

  2. Put on your boxing gloves Terah! I have a feeling your gonna give this next "bump in the road" a one, two punch and it will be down for the count. I love how Dr. P knew your timing with him was not coincidence. God is good.

  3. Thinking of you my sweet friend! Terah's Army is praying at the U!! 💜💜💜

  4. Seet Terah - I am so grateful that our paths crossed and that you are willing to share your journey. The strength and faith you possess and display inspire me more than you now...and also help me tremendously as I face my own challenges in life. I am praying for you, and praying daily! I love you sweet teal sister!! Sarah

  5. That was supposed to say SWEET Terah! xoxo

  6. And KNOW (not "now") - I am new to this BLOG thing, can't you tell?!? I think I'll go back to FaceBook now...

  7. Oh Terah. I sure do love you. I like this Dr P. Even though this news is terrible and horrible, I am glad that God has placed the two of you together. Love and prayers your way.

  8. Terah-
    So much has happened since you left the U on your adventure. God has a plan. You have faith, strength and lots of folks praying for you! This too shall pass. Hugs!

  9. We are praying and fighting with you Terah! You go girl!
    Bless your sweet heart, bless Dr. P and all the others that will care for you.!

  10. WOW Terah you do have an army behind you and angels all around you,four of them being your grandparents!! I also love Dr P, the fact that he believes in God and miracles and he is so kind to you makes me love him!! Terah your strength is an inspiration to everyone!! I'm so happy your mom will be there, but she always has been, she's amazing like her daughter!!

  11. You all are so amazing! Thank you for your words of encouragement. I'm a lucky girl to have the support of so many good people.