It is everywhere. We all hear about it almost every day. All of us have been touched by the death of someone close or someone we know. And despite that, we assume it won’t touch us or our family. It is always unexpected.
My mother had a mastectomy to get rid of breast cancer. She also had a small piece of her colon removed to get rid of colon cancer. She was lucky. She never had to undergo chemotherapy or radiation. She is still going strong at 90. It never seemed quite real to me and the severity of it all never touched me because she lives several states away and I wasn’t there to see how it affected her. A lot of it we heard after the fact. We covered her in prayer and shared prayer requests with everyone we knew and she recovered. So, it never left a strong impression with me.
My biopsy found a cervical tumor. They recommend surgery when the tumor is 4 centimeters or less. If it is larger, it is possible that it has spread to nearby tissues and surgery wouldn’t get it all, so radiation is used instead. It is a common thing, and radiation treatments can cure this type of cancer with no problems. My tumor is 8 centimeters in size, about the size of a tennis ball. And so I will begin 5 or 6 weeks of 5 days a week radiation treatments in about 2 weeks.
But, there is more. The tumor has almost totally destroyed the cervix. It sits in the opening to the uterus and prevented the doctor from examining the uterus. When he touched it to try to move it aside to get a biopsy of uterine tissue as well, it bled a lot. He was too afraid of the bleeding to attempt the procedure in his office. My next step of treatment will be to have day surgery in the hospital to put in a port which will be used for chemotherapy. While he has me there for that procedure, he will, while I am under anesthesia, attempt to get a biopsy of the uterine tissue to make sure I don’t also have endometrial cancer as well. He will also look at the bladder and rectum to make sure it hasn’t spread beyond the uterus. I had a PET scan this week. The scan makes him think the cancer hasn’t spread outside the uterus, but the endometrium ‘lit’ up on the scan which indicates there is something abnormal going on there. The radiation treatments will begin before I get results from this other biopsy. So, despite what we find with the second biopsy, we will be working on getting rid of the cervical cancer.
I have an incredible amount of support in family and friends with a lot of prayer being offered in my behalf. That, added to my own daily prayer has kept me from ‘stewing’ or worrying. Some days I fleetingly wonder if I am in denial, but it truly doesn’t feel that way. I choose to believe I am surrounded by incredible Grace and am thankful for that and holding on to that with all that I am.
The scary part of all of this has been the worry about my mobility issues hindering or prohibiting me from leaving the house for all that I need to do. So far, that has been easier than expected as well. Getting out of the house and in and out of the car, and transfers back and forth to wheelchair have been easier. I figured out a new way to do my transfers about a month or so ago, and it has made a tremendous difference in my ability to get up by myself without hurting myself or crippling me. It is still emotionally difficult sometimes to cope with new places, new situations and not knowing ahead of time if my mobility issues will be a problem, but physically, this all has been easier than expected.
The other difficult part of this whole situation is the mood swings. That tells me that subconsciously, I am probably worrying some. I have found that my mood can change from morning to afternoon. They bring back old memories of PMS and menopause. The other day I was on the phone trying to deal with a frustrating situation and not getting any help or resolution from the other party. During the round and round conversation, I started getting so upset I started crying and had trouble talking to the person. That just made me so angry at myself that it became worse. My daughter had to ‘take over for me’ to finish the conversation and try to resolve the problem. I find that I can be calm and unconcerned and level tempered one day and feeling angry for no reason the next. I think I will assume that since all of my new problems are related to my uterus, that the mood swings are hormonal in origin. That makes perfect sense.
I am taking this one day at a time. I have had a lot of practice this past year and a half learning to live like that. I have had to cope with worrying when I couldn’t get up or out of bed by myself. I worried some days if my knees would support my weight when they buckled under me when trying to transfer. I lived with the fear that I wouldn’t be able to walk the few steps I have to walk into my bathroom because the doorway is too narrow for a walker or my chair. I have learned to use new handicap bars and lean on counter tops and sinks. In the beginning of this journey, I fell 3 separate times which meant a call to 911 so the firemen could come and pick me up off of the floor. I worried I wouldn’t be able to get up from the toilet (that needs to be taller) because I would hate for the firemen to have to pick me up from a fall with my undies around my ankles.
I have had physical therapy and have regained a lot and gained a lot of upper body strength in the process. I have lost about 60 lbs. I figured out new ways to help myself move and transfer and stand which has probably prepared me for this new adventure. But this daily focus on small things and small goals and small victories has taught me that the smaller picture is also important. There is no need to worry about possibilities we know nothing about yet.
So as this journey of mine takes this turn in the road and embarks on the new path, I will focus on one step at a time and try to rest in God’s Grace and trust in all the people praying for me.