All I can Do is Smile


The rollercoaster

The below post was written the day I received some not-so-great news in early February. I’ve been sitting on this news, sharing only with a few and as the weeks have passed, sharing more in person with what’s on the horizon, which essentially is a giant bag of shitty unknowns.

I told myself I didn’t want to burden anyone with the emotional rollercoaster that is my health. What I realized was I didn’t want to burden myself with the stress of having to repeat, over and over again, that we don’t know anything yet, that there’s nothing to be done, and that we just have to wait. And we know my feelings on waiting are: fuck that.

Thank you for giving me a space where I can be honest — I’m overwhelmingly grateful for the support you have provided. Fact is, the emotional roller coaster of living with cancer is overwhelming. The highs and lows take a toll. And, since we’re being honest, getting news I can do nothing about until I have more information made me turn inward, instead of outward.

No “RALLY THE TROOPS!” this time around. We’ve been here before, and while its devastating to consider a third round of treatment, that’s not what I’m facing. Yet. Or at all.  We just. don’t. know.

I needed the space to be alone with my thoughts and to sit with the feelings that come. Frustration. Sadness. Hope. Anger. Gratitude. Fear.

So much fear. Because the unknown IS fear and vice versa. So, before I share my news (which you may have already guessed is not the great), here’s a reminder from Elizabeth Gilbert, about allowing emotions into our lives, but not letting them control it.

” Fear: I recognize and respect that you are part of this family, and so I will never exclude you from our activities, but still — your suggestions will never be followed. You’re allowed to have a seat and you’re allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to have a vote. You’re not allowed to touch the road maps; you’re not allowed to suggest detours; you’re not allowed to fiddle with the temperature. Dude, you’re not even allowed to touch the radio. But, above all else, my dear and old familiar friend, you are absolutely forbidden to drive.”

February 13, 2018

One minute, you’re celebrating one lab result; the next, a gut punch of another. This is cancer. Hell, this this life.

Peace of mind is an illusion. It’s an imaginary space we build inside to protect ourselves from an impossibly unpredictable world.

My CA-125 levels doubled in the past month. My oncologist is concerned. The next step is a PET scan, which is scheduled March 1.

We’re hoping the PET simply confirms the accuracy of my clear CT from last month. The problem with a PET is that it shows minutia, and radiologists tend to report anything and everything they see within it.


My oncologist told me he has another patient whose CA-125 levels are over 300 (far above where mine were when I was first diagnosed) and her PETs are negative, so there are false positives. A glimmer of hope, perhaps.

As I said to my doc, it’s obviously disappointing to receive this news.

But of course, what I really mean is, this fucking sucks.

I have a follow up March 9. We will go from there.



CT Results

Because my doctor is awesome, she got the CT results for our appointment on Tuesday. Because the results weren’t what we were expecting, I wasn’t ready to share until today.

It wasn’t clear.

There’s a few cysts that have appeared since my last CT and we’re not entirely sure what’s inside them. They appear to be liquid (not solid on the CT, which is a good thing), but we won’t know for sure until they biopsy them.

Luckily, we can do a  biopsy with a needle and not another surgery. Currently trying to get scheduled with radiology and then we’ll await the results. We should know more in a week or so.


This is what is so scary about cancer. It’s hard not to think “what if” and that’s a feeling that will likely never go away. Results like these don’t help. More unknown. More waiting. Managing my anxiety these past few weeks has been difficult, but I’ve (mostly) been able to do it, with the help of Ativan (thank you, modern medicine) and physical activity.

New mantra: Worry about the things you can control, not the things you can’t.


The Last Infusion

Update 5:00pm – I’m here and ready to rock and roll. Come visit. Please!! Kaiser Sand Canyon/Alton room 411. There’s a phone on the 4th floor entrance where they will let you in. Text me to let me know if you’re coming. I’ll be here until at least 9pm.

Update 3:30pm – bed ready! I will be in room 411. I’ll update when I’m settled.

Update 2:15pm – oncology nurse called to say they’re just waiting on a discharge. She’s been over there 4 times harassing them. It’s gonna be a late night for this infusion…

Update 12:45pm – still waiting on the hospital to call with an open bed.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Of course it should happen this way.

It looks like my final infusion will be at the hospital  since the infusion center is short nurses. I was supposed to get a call at 7:30am letting me know if I should come in and that time has come and gone. (Yes, I already called them.)

So, now I’m waiting for the hospital to call me when they have an empty bed.

The benefit of the hospital is that I am not limited to a single visitor, so I’m calling this last infusion what it is: a freakin’ party!

Once I know my room number and timing I’ll post an update. I welcome any and all visitors this afternoon/evening to celebrate the final dose of this cancer killing juice they pump into me.

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Two steps forward, one step back

After the initial toot heard ’round the world, there’s been no additional passing of gas. Which presented a problem at yesterday’s meals.

Breakfast went fine, but lunch caused much discomfort. Dinner went smoother.

We’re not leaving until I have a bowel movement (that way we’re here if there are any complications) so we’re back to wishing for more gas.

Who knew that this would be the hard part of it all?

My abdomen continues to get stronger and I’m incredibly mobile — lots of walking every day. I’m still losing weight though. This morning I clocked in at 58.6kg. (I’ll let you do the math, but to compare, I was 59.6kg two days ago.)

Baby steps continues to be the name of the game.


Update #2

Well, the surgery is complete and Jessica made it through ok.

The doc found that the mass was, in fact cancerous (more specifics from pathology analysis later this week) and a full hysterectomy was performed along with the removal of the gallbladder. Turns out, the cancer had spread to and wrecked the other ovary by reaching behind the uterus. It had also spread to the intestine, but only on the surface. This was scraped away. The gallbladder was also affected and removed. Fortunately, the liver turned out to be clear. I’ll take a gallbladder over liver problems any day of the week.

Chemotherapy will begin after she’s healed up enough from this round of the fight.

Jessica is in the post surgery anesthesia care unit. I’ll be sure to post here when she is up for visitors.


Well, f*ck.

Surgery has been pushed to the week of December 21st so the liver specialist can consult during the surgery. He’s actually coming in on his day off, so that’s pretty amazing. While this is completely annoying and my ability to wait is wearing thin, my doctor assures me this is the best for my final outcome.

Turns out, the liver is sort of important.

They aim to get patients into surgery within 4 weeks of initial findings, so we are well within that timeline.

Have I mentioned yet I hate waiting?

I have a medical clearance appointment this afternoon, and I’ll have a pre-op appointment with Dr. Tierney next week. Should have the final date of surgery by tomorrow at the latest.

I’ve made the decision that even if the mass comes back as borderline I want the full hysterectomy and to forgo fertility preservation. A 2nd surgery to remove the ovary and uterus after child bearing is a guarantee, and that’s just not a risk I’m willing to take. I’m adopted. We can adopt. There’s no point in having a child if I may not be around to help raise them. My health comes first.

I know that’s the right decision for me even if it makes me sad (really, really sad). My health comes first. That’s my mantra right now.

That, and I hate fucking waiting.