Posted in True Story, Inspirational

The Dreaded “C” Word (Part 8)

cancer

I got the same nurse Lyn Lee at CCU.  She was rather surprised to see me again.  But this time around the vomiting was very minimal. The doctor explained that they removed the rest of the thyroid, parathyroid and few lymph nodes and has been sent to the pathology for testing. I was recovering quite well.  It was day four.  The doctor walked in looking chuffed.  He was very happy.  The results were back and the cancer thankfully had not spread anywhere.  So, I think we got to it before it spread anywhere.  I am one lucky girl.

 

i beat cancer

This was the best outcome we could have had.  Still I had to go through more tests to make sure that it was not popping up anywhere else.  But for the moment it was GREAT news.

We had a chat to the boys and mum and explained what has been happening for the last couple of years.  And that I am now cancer free.  Mum was over the moon.  Hari was quiet for a moment and then he said, “mum is only 5ft tall but she is tough, she will be fine”.  Arj went quiet.  Afterwards, he said almost tearful “mum, some say that they have got rid of cancer, but it comes back after five years or so, will that come back for you too, what if it comes back?” I explained that yes it could come back.  Once you get cancer, there is no guarantee that it won’t come back again.

I went on to explain further, yes, I have escaped cancer now, but I could get hit by a car around the corner and die too.  In life there are no guarantees.  But just because there are uncertainties in life we don’t stop living.  If I get the cancer again, I just have to pick up where I left off the first time and this time I have some experience.  Arj was happy with that answer.

I had to go for monthly tests and then they became less frequent, 3 monthly, 6 monthly and now only annually. I still had to go for the annual endoscopy and colonoscopy because of a little inflammation/cyst of some sort near in the intestines.  Once again my fitness level had dipped. So I met Damien my personal trainer again.  He was excellent. For me it’s not just about losing weight to look pretty.  It is more to do with being able to move my body and use my body effectively.  To feel fit and healthy.  And that is exactly what Damien is all about.  Especially when you are after an injury or surgery, it is paramount that you are careful and that you don’t make things worse.

Hari got selected to enter University of NSW.  I was so proud of him.  He worked damn hard to get there.  From a very young age he was determined to become a Robotics Engineer and now he is at the door steps of his dream.  We were looking for accommodation etc for him in Sydney.  I decided that I will accompany him to show him the ropes and help him settle in.  For the rest of the world he is an adult.  But for me the mother he is still my baby. I am going to miss my baby, but I am going to hide those tears so he can achieve his dreams.

We were busy buying and organising things for his new apartment when I received a call from my Gastrointestinal Surgeon. He wanted to see me when I returned to Adelaide.   I had a feeling that this was for another surgery.  He wouldn’t be calling to say that I’ve won a million dollars now would he, it’s more like “I am running low on cash, can I open you up?” Yep, the small inflammation/cyst thing had suddenly grown into a massive lump.  This was sitting on the junction of the intestine/ oesophagus.  Being on that junction it was like on the corner of an S bend, was going to be a tricky operation.  And essentially Dr. Bessell was trying to avoid opening me up fully as that would be a rather big surgery.  His team of doctors believed they could do a laparoscopic surgery.  This would mean easier recovery etc.  He explained that they will try their hardest to do it that way, but sometimes they might have to change course and open me up.

My friend Sally worked in this hospital as a nurse and she came to see me before I was wheeled in.  Wish she was there to see my reaction, when I woke up. I woke up to find that I was opened from top to toe.  I stroked my stomach area to see where the laparoscopic holes were.  But I felt my whole chest feel really heavy and then yes, a big cut from the top of the rib cage up to the belly button.  They’ve cut me up like I was a piece of fish, gutted and filleted, okay maybe not filleted.

This was by far the worst of the surgeries.  As the oesophagus is in the back (inside the rib cage) behind heart and other organs.  So it’s similar to a bypass surgery where they have to open the rib cage up to get to this spot. The lump was benign after all that.  But I guess considering the size of the lump and my history they couldn’t take a chance and leave it there.

Recovery was slow, but steady.  I was in a lot of pain though.  By this time we had a new addition to the family.  Galileo our little pugalier pup.  We called him Leo for short.  Leo was a major part of my recovery.  Once everyone is off to school and work, it was just me, Leo and the TV.  He knew, he could sense it, that I was in a lot of pain.  He followed me everywhere and slept on the edge of my foot.  Keeping watch and keeping company.

In time I was now back to normal.  However, with these repeated surgeries, my body had taken beating.  Also a few months after this surgery I also managed to break my ribs a couple of times.  I felt like an old woman.  Walk was very slow.  My back hurt, my shoulder hurt and I had gained weight.  I was still my positive self, happy and chirpy. Everyone around me was happy to give the excuse that I have been through a lot and carrying a bit weight was the least of my worries.  They were not wrong, and I was happy to accept the same.

However, I was now convinced that I had to meet Damien again. If I am going to live, I am going to live well I thought.  I wanted to be able to everything I did when I was 21. I had cancelled my gym membership by this stage as the gym was not willing to put a stop on the payments when I go in for the surgeries.  I had whole heap gym equipment at home.  But I was worried again, if I was safe to use them.  Damien had left the gym.  But I managed to track him down.  He had opened his own gym.  A small boutique gym.  I started with him just on single personal lessons.  Back to Square one, or more like go backwards after each surgery.  One step forward and two steps backwards I thought.  Still I was prepared for the hard work.  Slowly I got the confidence to join his group class.  First class was just pure murder. But slowly I could feel my fitness improve, lose weight and feel great. I am probably still one of the weakest members, in the group. But it doesn’t matter.  I am not holding the gauge against the others, this gauge is a personal gauge.  The race is mine, and I am still winning the race.

18th September 2015.  With Damien’s encouragement I decided to take part in the City to Bay fun run.  As the day grew closer I felt very emotional.  Just an year ago I couldn’t walk 1k, now I am preparing to run 6k.  I wasn’t sure if I could really do it.  But I was going to try. I was going to give it a real go.

city to bay

I was very emotional that day.  When I saw the finish line, I realised this was really a start line or could say restart line.  My life starts again.

 

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Posted in True Story, Inspirational

The dreaded “C” Word cont… (part 4)

 

cancer

The Dreaded C Word

The dreaded “C” word cont….

The dreaded “C” word cont…. (3rd lot)

 

As I said before I am a very practical person.  My method of parenting was also very practical.  I had much to do, minimum amount of disruption was vital.  “Mum he started it” was dealt with “I don’t care who started it, I can finish it” punishment was for both of them, my theory was one of them escaped the dreaded wooden spoon one time or another, so it was all even at the end of a long week.  I wish I had a similar method for my mum and husband. Their relationship was straining.  In turn, it was affecting me as well.  I usually keep my peace with mum; as when she erupts it’s a few days of misery.  But after continuous prodding by the GP and the Gyno, my stomach was in all sorts.  Pain was in its absolute peak.  Unfortunately my mum was not privy to any of this information.  So she kept pushing everyone’s buttons.  I made a slip. So the day I went for the first of the scans, I was not entirely thinking about the scan or the dreaded tumour marker.  Hubby and I were mostly discussing the eruption we had the night before.  It was a very good distraction.

My reasoning for bringing this part of the laundry into the lime light is not to discredit my mum, my husband, father in law or anyone else.  This is to point out, that just because you are going through cancer, the rest of world doesn’t stop to lay you that red carpet, not always anyway. Life goes on as normal for the rest of the world.  Your closest and dearest are forced to change their routine a little bit, the bit where they were reliant on you, is now on them to carry on, on their own.  It’s not like when you have the flu, where the inconvenience is just for a week, but with something like cancer, it’s a long road.  A long bumpy road, with many potholes. The driver is going to try and avoid those potholes and the passenger hopes the same.  But unfortunately the wheels are going to hit those darn potholes once in a while anyway.  Pain is experienced by all.  You have to just keep driving.  Driver fatigue is very possible in this journey as well.  It’s important that you involve the passenger to take on the wheel at times.

Friends became co-drivers in terms of school drop offs.  We headed to the doctors for an 8.30 AM appointment.  This Gynaecologist was recommended by a nurse friend of mine. She told me he was thorough. This man takes thoroughness to another level. What we learnt later is that this blood test that flagged the tumour marker, is not usually a test that Gyno’s worry about.  It’s not a conclusive test, it’s something used as an indicator on advanced cancer patients to see if the cancer was returning, rising etc.  Not sure of his thinking why he asked me to have it done.  Anyway, that inconclusive test is the main reason why I am still around to tell my story.

Dr. Munday went on to explain that the tumour marker count on a normal person should be around 0-10, and mine was around 175.  Quite high I guess.  But at the same time this is an indicator, in laymen’s term, (this is how I convinced myself that it was not that serious) it’s like saying if you have a headache it could mean you have brain tumour, or it could even mean that you just have a migraine.  He had already looked at the results of the tests performed the day before.  Lungs were clear.  The liver had some white masses, so he had discussed it with the liver specialist before my arrival and the opinion was that it is rather a normal feature in women of my age.  The intestines/ oesophagus had a small area that they wanted to have another closer look at.  So he had already made an appointment for me with a Gastroenterologist. Dr Munday went on to explain that until we explore the possibility of the cancer and if I had cancer that had to be dealt with first before the hysterectomy.  Three days later I was going for an endoscopy and a colonoscopy.  Fasting, jelly and the rest of the glory began.  Mum thought that was all part of the hysterectomy. I didn’t see a reason to correct her.  I needed support and strength, someone who would say and feel it was going to be okay. Not the other way around.  I didn’t have the energy to console my mum.  It would be hard for any parent to not fall apart.  Let alone for one who has lost her husband and this was her only child.  Not telling my mum the whole story meant she didn’t see a reason to let go of the fight that started 3 days ago.  Hubby may be domestically challenged but when it came to the mental strength that I needed, he was like a rock for me.

I had taken on a new client. This meant their books were an utter mess and years behind in reconciliation. The Tax department was breathing down their neck and so were the creditors. The added trips to the doctors and specialists meant I was behind in my work.  So, before going in for the scopes the next day I promised that I will have all reports emailed to them that night.  I was working till midnight with the jelly and toilet trips.  I was like a woman before labour.  Nesting instincts had clicked in.  I was doing it all, cleaning, ironing uniforms, helping with homework and profit and loss statements all tackled.

Scopes were done and the results drew blank. So Dr. Munday decided to go ahead with the surgery. The cancer cloud had not completely cleared.  The possibility that the endometriosis was giving an elevated reading was talked about. Still no real answers to why it was high. Dr. Munday was going to have an oncologist on site, so if he saw anything untoward, then they will stop the surgery, close me up for that day, take actions for the cancer and so forth.

With all the tests and doctor’s appointments completed until September for the surgery, life was back to the same old.  Reality was starting to sink in. I could have cancer.  I talked to a selected few of my friends and to one of my cousins who lived in Adelaide.  Other than that we didn’t want to alarm any one before we knew the exact story ourselves.

Moments of sadness crept in.  I lost my dad at the age of 19.  He was only 53.  My life completely changed after his passing.  I lost my whole identity.  From a girl who was full confidence and conviction, I became withdrawn and almost very insecure. Not that I lost interest in my studies, but I was not firing with all cylinders.  I knew it would be the same for my kids. They were much younger than I was when I lost my dad. Not that I had lacked confidence in Ganesh to be a good dad, but I knew, without me the house would turn into Capt. Von Trap  and his two sons on two minute noodles.

Hari had just moved to high school and was slowly finding his feet.  It always takes a bit of time for Hari to make friends and accept a new place.  He already had his challenges with his hearing and the issues that brings on.  I feel somehow responsible for his hearing loss and then on top of that to lose his mother at a young age would just make things worse.  He had an amazing final year in his primary school, winning scholarships, chess tournaments, Maths Olympiad and South Australian Champ for Robotics.  He showed so much promise. Arj was just blossoming as a young actor, orator and debater.  He had Midsummer Night’s Dream under his belt.  He was just nine years old and a star already.  I was going to derail everything.

Cont…

Posted in True Story, Inspirational

The dreaded “C” word cont…. (3rd lot)

 

 

cancer

 

 

The Dreaded C Word

The dreaded “C” word cont….

Read the above two before you tackle this …

My journey begins. For years, I suffered from endometriosis.  Medical explanation to this is a tissue that lines the inside of the uterus starts to grow out side.  I also had a few fibroids in my ovaries.   I just like growing things inside my body.  If I had done so much growing on the outside of my body I could be six feet tall instead of 5ft. This meant for years I had suffered from bleeding and severe stomach cramps.  Naprogesic (a pain killer) was my ever loving friend. I was anaemic at most times. It was unbearable pain and discomfort.  However as a working mother of two over energetic boys and a wife of a domestically under contributing husband, I had no choice but to soldier on.  The GP’s were shying away from a hysterectomy as I was under the age of 40.  Damn hormones, you can’t live with them and you can’t live without them.

With a busy lifestyle my visits to the doctor was not that frequent.  I turned 40, but we also moved states and yes there was so much else happening.  So, no trips to the doctor, just trips to the chemist to get more Naprogesic.  I was 41, I could feel that things were getting really bad; a job got cancelled last minute.  That day was no different, I was in a lot of pain, I was already in the car when the client declined, so decided to drive to the doctors and get this pain sorted out once and for all.

My reasoning was that I had two kids, not planning on another, I had enough, I want the whole thing out.  Well, did I open the Pandora’s Box or what?  Ultra sound confirmed that I had plenty of rubbish in one of my ovaries, and the endometriosis was well cooked. Next stop, the Gynaecologist.  Met the Gyno, nice man, apparently his dad was a Gyno too, and his sister was a midwife.  Hope they were not talking shop at the dinner table.

Didn’t, realise that this would be the start of all tests.  At this stage, things were rather simple, decision was made to remove one of my ovaries, so that the other could produce enough hormones and we could avoid hormone replacement therapy.   This was around June/July. I was told that I will need two months minimum to recover.  I am a very practical person.  I thought well I will have to do it in one month.  We set the date for the surgery one week before the school holidays in September.  I had endured this for so long I couldn’t see the urgency.  I had so much to plan before the surgery.  Two months gave me enough time to cook and freeze food for the domestically challenged and his kids.  School holidays meant no school drops offs, and sports drop offs, no chess clubs and no debating.

I started cooking. My surgeon had given me scripts for a few more scans and blood tests to be done before the surgery to assist him with the surgery.  Blood test completed.  Two weeks went past and my life remained the same. I was still yelling at kids to get up in the morning, and the husband to get out of the toilet.

I was at work, it was 11: 30 am.  Just had a coffee and biscuits, too late to feel guilty about that chocolate bikky that I downed.  Yep, it’s Lyn, my surgeons’ nurse on the phone asking when I had something to eat.  I said just now, thinking “Christ I am only going for a hysterectomy not a lap band surgery”  She said politely, “Can you not drink or eat anything anymore and can you please come in for some scans at 4.00pm?” My blood test revealed that my CEA count was high.  That was a  Pauline Hanson moment – Please explain.  Carcinoembryonic Antigen.  She said “best if the doctor explains it, he will see you tomorrow after the tests”.  She said it’s a type of tumour marker. I am still in the dark. But I realised, that there were some alarm bells going off, at the doctors. I didn’t have much time to ponder if it was a false alarm or not as I had to organise school pick up and everything else.  It did stun me for a bit though.  Talked to the girls at work, they were nurses before they started their own business doing physio therapy, they had some idea but I was probably not in the right head space to take in all the information. Went outside to get some fresh air, and to call hubby, ask a friend to pick up the boys.  Time passed very quickly.  Had a CT scan of my lungs and a MRI of the stomach.

Little did I realise that this was the beginning of radiology cocktails.  Most of them were white, some of them had slight pink tinge, some pale yellow. It didn’t’ matter what colour it was, they had one common component.  They all tasted rotten.  Anyway, I was asked to come the next day to meet the Doc.

cont …. Continue reading “The dreaded “C” word cont…. (3rd lot)”