Surgery #2

Thank you for the continued well-wishes. It has been exactly 11 weeks since my diagnosis and I am still feeling the love. It’s hard to believe how much I have experienced in 11 short weeks (it has felt more like 11 long years). Every day has had ups and downs and with your support I have been able to keep moving forward.

My week started out great because I was able to go back to work for three full days. I was so thrilled to be back in my office with my co-workers and especially interacting with students. Three days of pure joy.

Yesterday I had another surgery to insert a port into my abdomen. Basically this is a small flexible tube inserted under the skin under the right side of my rib cage. This will serve as a better means to deliver the chemo drugs. The needle will still puncture the skin but they won’t have to look for a “good” vein as it goes right into the port. I will start this new chemo regime next week on valentines day.

So I underestimated how horrible this surgery would be. So much in fact, I was planning on working today. When I told my director I’m pretty sure he thought I was insane and told me to stay home. So Aaron, if you’re reading this- you were right. There! I said it. It worked out well because the university is closed for snow today but I honestly have no idea how I would have worked today. I am in an incredible amount of pain.

I have two incisions from the port and a third unexpected incision. My stomach was getting distended again (like it did prior to my diagnosis but not quite as large). My oncologist said she would go in there and look. She made an incision through my belly button and drained fluid that had accumulated in my abdomen. This fluid is typically produced by tumors but she said she was unable to see any. This is both encouraging and alarming. I’m glad she didn’t see any new tumor but I still don’t know why I’m filling with fluid again. It is going to be a “wait and see” kind of thing for now. We will have to keep monitoring my CA125 levels and I’ll worry if the levels aren’t going down or even worse- if they go up (who am I kidding? I’m going to worry no matter what).

I’m glad that I have great care here in Providence but I owe it to you and especially to myself to be honest in these emails. I’m pretty angry at my circumstances today. All of these physical hurdles are still so emotionally draining. It’s one of those “why me? I don’t deserve this” kind of days. The physical pain tends to bring out these feelings more. It’s hard to put on a good face all the time. I’m not losing faith by any means, I’m just frustrated and tired of not feeling and looking like myself.

I want to end with a little story about yesterday that furthers my trust in my new oncologist. Prior to my surgery they had to take more blood and couldn’t find a good vein so they were digging in both arms. After that the anesthesiologist couldn’t find a good vein so they too were digging, digging, digging until they ultimately put the needle in my hand. I was already stressed about the surgery and by the time this was all over my nerves were shot. When my oncologist showed up I was a mess- completely bawling. She stopped everything, sat down on the stretcher, threw her arms around me and just hugged and reassured me in such a tender almost mom-like way. Her level of bedside manner is unmatched. I later found out from a nurse that my oncologist has been through her own life challenges. Last year she lost her 3 year old daughter to cancer. Her commitment to aggressively treating cancer shines through in her planning and especially through her interactions with both myself and my parents. I am sure that I am in the best hands.

For all of you in the north east- stay safe in the blizzard.