Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Narcissism takes hold and cryptic messages help no one..

I have forever held the belief that if you're going to post publicly (blogging being one such format) you should have something interesting to say and do so frequently. No sense in generating interest and then just leaving people to wonder what the heck happened to you. Also, there's no sense in writing the way some people fill a diary, one major lifetime event separated by months (if not years) at a time. So, this blog is sort of a chronicle and sort a massive email update for people who shouldn't be getting their sole source of information via phone calls and veiled facebook updates. I can't make any promises that it will be entertaining, reassuring, or even remotely interesting. However, it will be personal for me - so read at your own risk.

So, anyone who is reading this should know that my major lifetime event that I'm grappling with is cancer. Cervical to start; throw in a metastasis to the ovaries; a few little stray cells that moved to the lymph nodes and now we're in business.

Brief time-line:

Feb 5th 2010 - regular well woman exam

Feb 24th - uh-oh abnormal cells - you just won a follow-up trip for further investigation. Do not pass go, come in on the 26th for a $40 copay and have some biopsies

March 3rd - Doctor: "Are you driving? Pull over; it's cancer. Come see me tomorrow to discuss" Me: "I'm totally fine" (denial anyone?)

March 4th - Doctor: "we're not kidding - it's cancer; you'll probably have to have a hysterectomy". Me: "gulp" (still in denial)

March 5th - First visit with the oncologist - it's still cancer. Cervical Adenocarcinoma CRAP! Did you say CANCER? I'm still in denial... Outlook good; it doesn't seem to have spread - but that's based on external view, and some fancy guess work by a very qualified doctor. His guess is good enough for me right now. Stage 1B1 (had to wait til I get home to look up all the cryptic doctor jargon - but one thing was clear 85%-90% success with someone at this stage) Hysterectomy recommended and we'll get you in ASAP (i.e. about 3 weeks), but we'll have to wait until after surgery before we know more. (Did I mention I HATE waiting?). Me: shut down and just wait - close eyes and assume all will be fine after surgery. If it hasn't spread I'm "aok" - so that's what I've emotionally planned for (with a dash of panic and fear that I suppressed)

March 30th - The anticipated 3 hour surgery dragged on for over 6 hours... bad news. there was a tumor on one of the ovaries. So, one cervix, one uterus, two ovaries and 16 lymph nodes were sent off to pathology to see how much further things spread. Remember when we were hoping it didn't spread...? Do not pass go, do not collect hope; just sit and wait for over a week until the pathology report comes back. (I still HATE waiting)

April 7th - Got the pathology report back - good news and bad news. Bad news first: cervical cancer had spread to the ovaries and there was one lymph node (of the 16 that were removed and sent to pathology) that had very few cancerous cells. Good news: the cervix and the ovaries had "clear margins" and the lymph node really was just a few cells - so we were crossing fingers that it's all microscopic. More tests ordered.

April 13th - Went in for a PET scan, which is an injection of radioactive glucose. Since cancer is hypermetabolic it would show up as more radioactive. Also got a "power port" (unfortunately not the dessert wine kind!) Todd is convinced that I should now be well on my way to having superpowers. Still more waiting until the PET scan results come back. A few bad jokes along the way about "how does scanning my dog tell me if the cancer is spread?" (get it PET = dog)

April 14th - more good news / bad news. This time the good news first: the PET scan came back with nothing that was too interesting. Few spots worth monitoring - slightly enlarged lymph node and slightly hypermetabolic area that appeared to be post-operative hyper-active cellular activity (my English interpretation of the report). Bad news: recommended 6 cycles of chemotherapy every three weeks requiring at least 36 hours of IV in the hospital. If there are no delays I'll be done with Chemo the first week in August and then have 5-6 weeks of daily radiation treatment. More scans will follow to see if there are any signs of this thing growing.

April 19th - The day to start chemo. Checked in to the hospital at 9 am. Lots of pre-work, waiting and then steroids, anti-nausea, benadryl, sedatives, etc. Once that pre-work was out of the way I got a 24 hour drip of taxol (Paclitaxol) followed by 3 hours of saline, 1 hour of cisplatin, followed by 4 hours of saline. More anti-nausea, pain killers for my headache, etc. Checked out of Wednesday 4/21 around 10:30 am... home again showered and just feeling a bit tired. That brings you up to date. Picture below - me home and showered...


  1. Michelle, You are an incredibly brave and strong woman! Don't forget to give yourself a break every now and then...I know you have a "power" port and all, but you don't have to be superwoman all the time :)
    Hugs, Astrid

  2. Hi Michelle from Eric and Megan,

    Chemo doesn't sound like much fun, but hopefully you'll get ripped from all those steroids, and then your super powers will be complete! (For those who don't already know, Michelle's super power of choice is telekinesis!) Our thoughts our with you and Todd, and we look forward to seeing you guys soon!