Friday, March 18, 2016

health scare

I think most people probably know about the health scare we've had this past week. I've already started getting questions and I know there will be many more (in addition to those who want to ask but are afraid to.) I had a really hard time 14 years ago talking about my health. But I'm finding it so much easier to be open and talk about it this time around.
While part of the goal with this post is just to fill everyone in with the details and how we're doing, I also think it'll be a really good post to have in the archives, for me to look back on. 

So of course I'll start with the fact, for anyone who doesn't know my history, that I had cancer when I was 14 years old. Rhabdomyosarcoma. The type I had was rare and aggressive. It came close to taking my life. But after chemo and radiation, I was diagnosed cancer free in 2004! That is obviously a super summed up story, but I wrote about it more in detail on this post.

This past Sunday evening, I noticed my right arm was bulging out more than my left. Over the years I've found many things to be paranoid about. But this time was different because Don noticed the size difference as well. I tried not to panic. I knew I probably should see a doctor eventually but I also know that I tend to make excuses and procrastinate when it comes to making phone calls and setting up appointments. I don't have a primary care physician or an oncologist so I wasn't sure who I'd call anyway.


a really attractive visual


That night I had nightmares and woke up many times worried about what was wrong. By the next morning, I knew I needed to get some answers that day. I called my OBGYN. He was out of town but they told me to either find a primary care physician (they referred me to a few) or go to urgent care. I ended up at urgent care but I was told that I would not be able to get answers there so they suggested ER. So that's where we ended up Monday night.

After a long wait in a full waiting room, they finally did an xray on my arm. The bone looked good but the doctor could see some swelling in the muscle. He said it could be scar tissue, but they can't be sure without getting a better look. They gave me the number of an oncologist. The next morning I called the oncologist and they were actually able to get me in that day. A new patient appointment had been cancelled for that afternoon and apparently that "never happens." So I felt like that was already an answer to prayer. 

The difference with this spot and the lump I found 14 years ago is that that one was a hard lump; I assumed a knot in my muscle. And it hurt. This time, I don't feel any mass/lump. The only way to describe the way it feels is that it feels bigger than the other arm (and this time it doesn't hurt.) After the oncologist looked at it, he said that it's likely that if it is anything to be concerned about, it looks like it was probably caught early. He ordered an MRI for asap but because I'm in the first trimester, it has to wait until next week. I'll admit that I was pretty discouraged about that, but I also want my baby to be safe and want to take those precautions as well. So now we wait.

I'll admit that those first few days I had many thoughts of me dying. My children are going to grow up without a mother. My husband is going to have to work and take on the responsibility of raising 5 children without me. I also thought a lot about having to do chemo again. After the first time, I swore I would never do it again. I never wanted to go through something so hard again. But I have my little family to think about, and if that's what it took, I would definitely go through it. But I could barely function the first time around, how am I supposed to also take care of a family? 

But then I reached out to friends and family through email, facebook, and instagram. I was immediately flooded with messages, comments, texts, emails, etc.--just filled with encouragement, love, and lots of prayers. And by Wednesday, Don and I both felt so much less worried. I think it was a definite answer to prayer. The day before, I had been terrified and (secretly) had broken down crying multiple times. (This will be news to Don because I didn't want him to worry even more about me.) But by the next day, I was so encouraged and at peace. And each day since then has been just as easy.

So yes, we're still scared. And there are still numerous "what ifs." Especially during pregnancy. If the MRI shows something to be concerned about, they will be performing a biopsy. And that could mean that I (someone with a needle phobia) may have to have surgery while I'm awake. But we are trusting that whatever happens was already in God's plan. We aren't spending our days worrying about what might be. We're just trying to get through one day at a time. 

Thank you all so much for your prayers and encouragement! We feel so so so loved and cared for. And I am so thankful I decided to reach out. So many people (even many that we haven't even met) have been so kind, and it's just humbling. 
I want to be open about our journey because you never know who it could help, or who could come along and potentially be able to help me. Yes, I'm being selfish. But if there's anyone else who has been through a similar situation, it's always comforting to have someone to talk to.

So I hope that answers some questions about what has happened this past week. It's a bit of a wordy post. But if you have any other questions, don't hesitate to ask!
Thank you again for your love and prayers during this scary time!

EDITED TO ADD: Although I updated in a later blog post, I thought it would be good to come back to this specific post and update the outcome of the MRI. It was clear! We will be following up with another MRI after the baby arrives. Such amazing news!

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