Monday, June 30, 2014

June 30th

I can't believe this month is over! I mean, I SERIOUSLY cannot remember where the time has gone (lesson learned: even when you THINK you're lucid after surgery, you're not.  I'm still finding texts and emails sent in the 3-5 days after surgery that I have NO RECOLLECTION of ever sending/having received.)

For those of you either not in - or only semi-in - the loop of what went down this surgery, I give you the following data:

They were able to get the epidural in this time. And then they left it in. For five GLORIOUS days.

Best. Pain. Control. Ever.

I woke up lucid, asking for ice chips, after surgery (and then they GAVE them to me!), I was able to have actual, real, conversations with the family still on site when I came out. It was awesome!

Now, keep in mind, we THOUGHT I was lucid. ... Erm. Not so much. It turns out my friend Rhonda came to visit. Twice. And the only way Judy could get me to believe it was to use my multi-braided bun as proof that Rhonda had been in the house. I took phone calls I have no recollection of, sent emails that I am STILL discovering. Oh, it's been a delight.

Which brings me to... some of you may have heard (quite possibly from my own self,) that there were three little friends removed when G went in: Omar, Thing 1 and Thing 2.

We're still unsure of the natures Things 1 and 2. As G said himself, "It could have been part of a hernia that had broken free and was floating loose. But I saw them, so I took them, and I will have them tested."

My surgical-one-week-post-hospital-release appointment is tomorrow. Fingers crossed, the path report will be back and we'll know more about the two new dudes.

For curious minds, in the 14 days of Omar's siting to Omar's removal, dude went from the size of a golf ball to that of an orange (filling the palm of a man's hand).

Who's the fastest tumor grower in the West? ... Cancer Girl! (Insert theme music here.)

The hernia repair went as planned. The only constant/lingering pain that I have (and YES, I'm still on narcotics, thanksforasking) is on the right side of what used to be my belly button. I found that curious, since Omar and the Henries were living on my left side, so I asked around and was told by multiple medical professionals who were in the OR that the pain in my right side is due to scarred tissue from prior surgeries that was on the right side of the bb. When the hernia repair was done, a large section of skin was pulled from my right side over to the left, and the scar tissue is what's causing the pain in that area. I'm not sure if that pain will go away, but I'm hoping it'll ease as the tissue heals in its new configuration.

Listen, I live on hope. Hope that the scar tissue pain won't be the death of me. Hope that the cancer never comes back. Hope that Dr. H will give up and give in...

Feel free to jump on in and hope along with me, anywhere and in any way you'd like.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Today

Is the day.

The day we get rid of Henry, his siamese twin Henry... and his OTHER twin Henry. (Yeah, there are three of them, which I know SHOULD = triplets, but since two of them seem to be conjoined, I'm hesitant to call them full trips.)



And it's about dang time, because he/they have grown flat out of control.

I'm pretty sure that Omar isn't factoring into the belly bulge (my little friends grow fast, but not usually THIS fast), but only time'll tell.

By 8:00 tonight, I should be cancer free. Again. Wahoo!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Tonight

Have I mentioned that they're having me do a colon cleanse before this surgery?

Which surprised me, since I've had the same incision three times before, and I've never had to do this before, but... then I thought about it, and the reality is that I've never had sections of my small intestine mashed up against my skin before, either. There's a much higher risk that my actual intestine will be sliced when they're opening me up tomorrow, so I guess it makes sense that they want to make sure my guts are clean on the insides.

You know, so the shit doesn't hit the proverbial fan.

(Sorry for the swear, Judy. But it was too good not to say. ...  And Dad'll be proud of the pun, if not the language.)

Anyhoo...

So, I'm sitting here at home, having drunk half a bottle of this stuff:



And I'm waiting.


(And yeah, it feels pretty ominous around here. Thanks for asking.)

While I wait, I'm writing thank you cards and playing THIS stupid game on my phone:



I know. I'm pretty much CRAP at this game, but I'm addicted to it, anyway. (I feel a little bit like I'm flashing back to the fall of 1991, as I fall asleep thinking about these stupid numbers falling. It's a problem. ... Tetris was my NEMESIS my senior year in high school.)

The good news is that all my heels (all four paper boxes full of them) are packed up and hidden away from me. My oven is clean (thanks, Jo!), my carpets are vacuumed (again, thanks, Jo!), my dishwasher is empty and my bathroom is clean. My pantry is full. I have all my comfy clothes at the front of my closet. My hospital bag is packed.

And I'm ready.

It's kind of weird, how NOT nervous I am.

I mean... it's not like I'm looking forward to this. It's a known hell. ... But I know it. Which means that I know I can do it. And, now that I'm at this point in the game, I can look back on impressions and thoughts I've had over the past few months and I know that it was the Lord preparing me for this, because while I didn't know this is what I'd be doing this summer... He sure did.

I can do this.

I don't want to.

But I also don't want to grow another malignant watermelon in my belly... so I'll let them take it out while it's a lime.

I can do hard things.

And I'm so grateful that I know that about myself.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Taking a break from surgery prep

So, I've been cleaning. (Of course, I haven't vacuumed. Have you met me? But at least my bathroom's clean!) And I've been organizing. And I've been washing every piece of clothing I can lay my hands on. And I've been stocking my pantry.

And I've been moving clothes around, so I have easy access to all the most comfortable things I own. (Soft fabric, full skirts, no structured waistlines.) 

It's like I've done this before or something...

And one of the things I know is that any shoe with even a smidge of a heel will be impossible for the next 4-6 months.

So I'm boxing them up. It'll get rid of some (read: most of) the clutter in my room. ... And, I'm hoping that out of sight will = out of mind, so I don't miss them as badly as I did last time. (Who loves her 4 inch heels? THIS GIRL!)

But before I put the lids on these boxes, I thought it would be fun to show you...

All the shoes I own that I've never worn:



All of the shoes that I've worn one time:



And exactly how many pairs of black heels does one woman need?!



(Answer: more than this. ALWAYS. I always need another pair of black heels. ... Obviously.)

Okay... back to work.

Happy Father's Day, Dad!

My dad's the best!

He taught me:

How to read
That it's possible to eat a carton of ice cream in one sitting
How to make enchiladas
How to make caramel popcorn
That I am a princess, and deserve to be treated as such by any/every man in my life.

I am who I am, in large part, because of the awesome people who raised me.

Thanks, Dad. For everything.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

This one's all about Dr. G...

It's true.

I talk more about H than I do about G.

It's because H is single, and I'm trying to convince him - by telling the www that he would love me - that he should just give in already. (So far it hasn't worked. But you'll note that I keep on truckin'. A quitter, I am not.)

But G is also a good time. Below, I offer you proof in the form of (part of) an email that I sent him earlier this week (his responses are in italics):

Dr. G,

Here's the thing... You and H sprung that surgery on me on Friday, and I didn't have time to think of (much less ask) all my questions.

I'll list what I've thought of here... If you'd rather that I come in and see you to discuss, let me know and I'll call and make an appointment. Otherwise, if you can email me back with answers, that would be swell.

Q: Will there be any follow-up treatment after surgery? I'm assuming no chemo (as per the usual), but as I recall, there was a conversation around/just after my last surgery that if I had another recurrence, you/H may try a different form of radiation. In my head, I was remembering "bracci" - or something that sounded like that - but I just looked up types of radiation and the closest thing I can find is "brachytherapy", which looks like radiation at the surgery site during surgery. Is this happening? Is there a possibility of any other type of treatment that would/could be related to this new little friend?

A: As long as I can get it out, there shouldn't need to be any further treatment. Your recurrences are in different locations so there is no real rationale to give you radiation (which prevents local recurrences). Plus, it becomes quite problematic if the intestines get radiation - can be a long lasting problem - thus, we would only use radiation if there were not other options.

(Please allow me to break in to this email and say WHERE WAS THIS DOCTOR FOUR YEARS AGO, WHEN MY INTESTINES HAD 6 SOLID WEEKS OF RADIATION SHOT THROUGH THEM?! ... On the upside, I'm glad they won't further compromise my guts, unnecessarily. I heart these doctors. Big time. A lot. For real.)

Q: I know that you don't love the abdominal binders, but as someone who's been cut open about a million (or three) times, I'm here to tell you... I need that thing to be any kind of mobile. Is there any chance that I could wake up with the binder on this time? Getting into that thing, post-surgery, is hell. I understand there will probably be blood and other dna matter all over it if it's put on before I'm coherent. I don't care. ... Anything I can do to avoid the pain of having to get that thing on the day after surgery.

A: You can have as many abdominal binders as you would like. Remind me on day of surgery that is what you want and we will put it on in the operating room.

Q: Any idea how long the incision will be? With you having to fix the hernias, I'm assuming you'll open me back up along the same incision... but I didn't think to ask.

A: The incision will be as long as it needs to be to get to the mass (in the lower abdomen) and to fix the hernias (extending to the upper abdomen.). You may have trouble with getting back into a bikini.

Q: You'd mentioned that you didn't want me to do any exercising for 6 weeks. I'm assuming that walking will be okay (I need to walk to be able to poop... I know you love it when I share these intimate details), but I wanted to make sure.

A: I would prefer if you would crawl, but walking will be fine.

How hilarious is Dr. G? Dude slays me. I love that he runs the gamut of super doctory, efficient, professional (surgeon-like) to talking about my bikini body (uh... right) and how he'd prefer I'd crawl, post-surgery, but he'll accept walking.

He sent his answers at about 11:00 last night. I read them right away, and responded with a "Thank you!". I woke up this morning to a response from him. Three words, "Go to bed."

I love my doctors. I love that they know medicine, and I also love that they know how to just be... people.

I'm glad I can joke with them AND be totally serious with them. They're awesome. They BOTH are. And I'm so grateful that they're my doctors.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

It's a Thank You Note kind of day around here

Today.
Was.
Hard.

I mean... Really. Hard.

We had an Evans Family Gathering at Spence & Brea's house last night that put me home around 11:00. (I've been down by 8:00 and asleep by 9:00 for weeks.) Once I got home, I fell into bed... only to not be able to fall asleep until well after midnight.

And then I woke up at 3:30 and couldn't get back to sleep.

This hasn't been the easiest week of my life so far, but doing today on so little sleep was hard. I've been a little bit grumpy. And super emotional. (Because, let's be honest. I'm an emotional girl when I'm NOT starved for sleep. When I'm tired, I'm flat-out ridiculous.)

So, I thought it would be a good day to put some Thank You cards in the mail. (I read once, on a bio of someone who is a motivational speaker, that she "writes a Thank You card every day". Isn't that lovely? If I was ever truly inspirational/motivational, maybe I'd cultivate that habit. But instead, I just send them out when I've had a bad day. ... It's not quite the same.)

One of my favorite parts of posting mail is the stamps.

I heart stamps.

Esp the weird/seasonal ones.

Kind of a lot.



And this isn't all of them. (I KNOW I have some Santa/sleigh stamps, and some pink flowery ones, and some trees.)

I'm telling you, I am one of those suckers who the post office ladies ALWAYS hook when they ask "Do you need stamps today?" ... Obviously.

Anyway, today I sent out Thank You cards. And it was good for my soul.

A quick shout out to those *readers who've clicked the donation button at the top right: THANK YOU. I LOVE YOU. (And your card is on its way!)

*For those of you who find this data as fascinating as I do (I feel like my life is an experiment in sociology sometimes), I must tell you that 40% of the Thank You cards I sent were to people I've never met. Just over half of the people who've donated are my friends in real life. The other 40+% were pushed here, I am assuming, by FB or a Google search for "Cancer Girl" or "Fiber One Endorsements" or something of the like.

Isn't that incredible? ... The Kindness of Strangers is a real thing.

People are amazing, and I am grateful.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Weekend

In case you were wondering if I've been sitting at home, sulking in my recent-return-to-Cancer-land, the answer is NO!

No, I have not been.

Truth is, moments after Dr. H left the exam room to go in search of Dr. G, I was texting my friend, Christian, asking if we could move our SunSplash day from June 21st to June 7th. (Christian and I heart the lazy river at SunSplash. We could ride the lazy river ALL DAY LONG. ... We have, in fact.) Lucky for me, Christian was free on Saturday.

WIN!

Which meant that we got to A) start the day with a heck of a lotta food at our favorite breakfast joint - Cracker Barrel (sourdough french toast AND bacon? yes, I think I will!) and B) spend the rest of the morning and most of the afternoon at the SunSplash.

I'm telling you, I love that place. (Which is weird, because I don't generally love large (or large-ish) bodies of water, and I sort of HATE being in a crowd.) But there's something so... other-wordly... about just floating along, feet in the water, talking with one of my best friends. It's so relaxing. It's fabulous.

And yesterday, we discovered the shallow end of the wave pool. LOVE. (Until the waves start, anyway. Once the waves start, you get the heck out of the two foot deep section, because your life may or may not be in danger. ... I'm serious, folks.)

Saturday was a fabulous, relaxing, happy day - full of my favorite things, and spent with one of my favorite people.

Today was a little less stellar, mostly because I tried to make rolls for Sunday dinner. (FAIL! ... I somehow burnt the rolls, my right index finger AND my left arm. ... Don't even ask how I did that. I don't have an answer.)

But, even for a roll-burning Sunday, today was still a good day. I finished cleaning out my closet and mended a top I've been putting off doing anything about for months now. I made some of the best mashed potatoes Of. My. Life. and had a fabulous dinner with the Woods, complete with the little girls crawling all over me. (I can't bear to tell them they can't both sit on my lap at the same time, because I know that time is short, and I won't be able to hold them for much longer.)

All in all, it was a fabulous weekend. Very minimal crying. All kinds of crazy back pain (possibly related to when the wave pool tried to drown me - but maybe it has something to do with this morning, when I was bent over to get the rolls out of the oven and came up at a weird angle... I'm not sure). Henry's been pretty decent today, and I haven't taken an Ativan since Thursday afternoon. I am blessed.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Omar

This morning, I hopped on over to MD Anderson, bright and early, to get the results of yesterday's scan.

I went through the typical two nurses, one to weigh me and slap me with the blood pressure cuff, and the other to ask me all kinds of awkward questions about my bowel functions, (good news: I have zero qualms about talking 'poop'), and then my dreamy doctor came in.

AKA: The Future Mr. Laurie Evans.
AKA: The #1 Oncologist of All Time
AKA: Dr. H

So, Dr. H came in, sat down on his rolly chair and asked how I was feeling. "Fine", I told him. "Really?", he asked. "Yeah", I answered,  "But you want to know what would make me even better? ... Tell me there's something on that stupid CT that is going to merit further testing, so my insurance company will have to suck it up and pay out. Big."

"Seriously?", he asked.

"Seriously!", I answered.

Leaning back in his chair, Dr. H smiled wide and said, "In that case... Good news."

At which point, I threw my head back and laughed. Maniacally.

Because isn't that what a girl's supposed to do when she learns she's unwittingly grown tumor #5?

Anyhoo... it appears that I have a new little friend. (Again.) He's roughly the size of a golf ball and is located in my lower left quadrant. (Not quite in the same place as my first three tumors, but close.) I've named him Omar the Tu-mar. (Because I am hilarious. ... Also, maybe a little bit insane.)

Meet Omar. 


He's the 41.59 mm growth along the far right side in this pic.

Dr. G wants to do surgery on June 19th. (I argued for mid-July so I could go home for the 4th and follow the anvil around town, but no dice. Something about how it appears that Omar is wrapped up in my small intestine, and with the rate two of my four prior tumors have grown.... well, it could get messy. Messier than it already is, if you could imagine that. So, surgery is sooner, rather than later.)

While G's in there, retrieving Omar, he's going to also deal with the Henries. (Plural, because that fool went ahead and multiplied. In my body. Without my consent.) What was once ONE hernia near my belly button is now three fairly large hernias along my surgical line, and a few more weak spots in my belly. Per Dr. G, I now have what is called "Swiss Cheese". Awesome. Thanks, for that, Hen.

And speaking of *Henri


All that floating white matter? Bowels. That's right. BOWELS. That are (barely) being held in by my skin. - They should be behind a muscle wall (if I had such a thing), where all my other organs live.

Dr. G's going to attempt a mesh patch separately with the three big hernias. I'm not entirely sure how that's going to work, but the man has already saved my life once, so I'm gonna let him do it again, and if he wants to throw some mesh in there while he's at it... Go crazy, dude!

A lot of people are asking how I'm feeling (and how in the world  I'm smiling). I'm feeling alright. Tired, as per the usual. But also grateful that now I have an answer as to why I've been so tired the last few months. (Growing cancer wears a girl out. For real!)

I'll be out of work for 4-6 weeks, with no income whatsoever. (Do I have short-term disability insurance? Yes. Will it cover the cancer? No, because I've been on a treatment plan - they call semi-annual scans a treatment plan - so the cancer is excluded as a pre-existing condition.) 

I'm so grateful that I have no debt. Still, I pay so much for my routine medical stuff that I have no savings. I'm not sure how I'm going to pay my rent, let alone my medical costs. (Ha!) That being said, the Cancer Girl Donation Button is still at the top right corner of the blog. (If you're on a phone and can't see the PayPal button, scroll down and select "view web version". It'll pop right up.) If you have $2, $20, $200, or $2,000 you can spare, I promise to tear up in gratitude upon receipt of the email notification, and then send you a hand-written Thank You card the likes of which you've never seen. 

Here we go again. I'm tired of this surgical routine, but I'm also resigned to it. (I mean, when the alternative of surgery is growing a watermelon-sized tumor that will eventually choke the life out of you, you wrap your head around major surgery. Real quick.) I am grateful that I got almost two whole years between surgeries this time. 

As always, I am grateful for all of the amazing people in my life. I don't know what I ever did to deserve, like, seven of you... but it turns out I have hundreds of people out there who have been reading this silly blog and supporting me through my Cancer Girl Struggles since 2010. Thank you. To each and every person reading this, thank you.

While I'm not sure how I'm going to be able to do this, I know that I will be able to do this. And I know that, in large part, I'll be able to do this because so many of YOU are out there are praying and pulling for me. From the bottom of my overflowing heart, and with so much love that I can hardly breathe, I thank you.

*Henri is the French spelling of Henry. As the Swiss speak French, I thought it was only appropriate to change the spelling of that fool hernia's name, since he's gone all "Swiss Cheese" on me.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

You may or may not have noticed...

...that my little corner of the www has been dark for the last, oh... month or so.

It's because I'm a slacker.

It's true. I am.

Also, in my defense, Judy came down for, like, ten days. It was glorious. We read books and watched movies. (Have YOU ever seen Mary Poppins with pop-ups? If not, you MUST get a hold of a 50th anniversary edition of the movie so you can get the extras!) We sat around and chatted, and made ourselves laugh out loud. For hours on end. Mom made rolls - twice, and I made chocolate chip cookies from a mix that weren't very good, but we ate them all anyway.

But mostly, I've just been a slacker.

It's because my internet connection is spotty and I have to unplug/replug my router every time I have to get online. And I have to bend over - almost to the ground - to do that. And Henry does NOT like it when I bend over.

So I've been neglecting the blog. Because I don't want to bend over and hurt my belly.

I live such a glamorous life, I know.

Anyhoo... here's the update: There isn't much to know, other than it's Scan Week, which means I've been on-again-off-again crying my eyes out and/or going off on RANTS about tiny, little, things that have been setting me off, both of which are pretty par for the course when I'm on the final, five-day, countdown.

As of now, the scan is set for tomorrow (I say, "as of now", because there has been some negotiating between my beloved Dr. H and my not-so-beloved insurance company... again), and I'll get the results Friday morning. Stay tuned for news on how much Henry and the Tootsie Roll have grown. (I'm hoping I'll be able to get some sweet pics of my guts on Friday. ... Not to be sacrilegious, but ... maybe if we all join in prayer together, I'll get a look at the films this time? It's worth a shot, I figure.)