July; My Journey Begins….
My dear friends and readers, I am at the beginning of a Journey that I am wanting to share with you!
I’ve always told you I am keeping it real…and folks it don’t get any “real-er” than this.
This may be more information than you care to know…skip over what you will. 🙂 as this is going to be lengthy!
About a month ago, (in June) I started having a pain in my belly. Nothing severe like appendicitis or side ache, but a dull pain that just did not feel quite right….plus, it did not go away….but it did skip around. It was underneath my breastbone most of the time, but sometimes slipped around to my lower back.
Of course I went to my GP Doctor and she told me I was so healthy in all my previous blood tests, etc and she wished all her patients looked and felt as good as I did.
However, when I mentioned the pain in my belly…she poked around a bit, shrugged her shoulders and said it was most likely a UTI. She asked the usual questions about urination and I told her I “always” had to go……all I needed to see was running water and I was off to the bathroom as fast as a racehorse left the gate. LOL
She gave me an antibiotic prescription, said the urinalysis was not conclusive, so she would send it off to a lab, but perhaps I should also go to a lab (Quest) for outside testing. And so I went to Quest the next day.
I received a call from the Doctor’s office a few days later saying the urinalysis came back negative, so I should quit taking the antibiotic.
I told the nurse on the phone that I was still having pain in my stomach. She said I should make another appointment and I said “No, I was just in the office 4 days ago and NOTHING had changed….couldn’t the doctor just order some tests like more blood work, a Cat Scan …etc. because I was concerned about cancer, particularly Pancreatic.” The nurse said she would discuss it with the doctor.
About 4 days later (week-end in between)…another nurse calls me and says If I am still having pain, I should call the appointment desk and make another appointment, that the doctor will not order any testing without seeing me again.
So I said…I am not going to make another office visit when I have already discussed all of this and been prodded and poked by the doctor.
I also reminded her I was concerned about pancreatic cancer, that I had two friends die with that disease and they started with stomach pain and within 4 months, (last year) they both passed away.
Granted, they both had “stage 4 pancreatic cancer, which is almost always a quick death sentence”!
I asked for a Cat scan, anything. I also said, “if you won’t prescribe further testing, I would change doctors.”
A day later, as I was literally checking out new doctors on-line, a nurse called and said she really wanted me to come back to the office and there was an opening in late August.
I said “No. thank you, I want something done much sooner”.
Now, to give you a reference in time, this was the end of the work day on the 3rd of July and the Captain and I had planned on going to a local hotel on the water to watch the 4th fireworks from our hotel room.
Then something strange happened.
I got bit by an insect, most likely a spider. I had packed an overnight bag and was walking through the garage when I walked into a spider web and brushed it away with my hand. (I assume that is when I got bit on my left hand forefinger.)
There had not been a spider web there before… as I walk through the garage all the time.
By the time we got to the hotel room about 3 p.m. on the 4th of July, my finger had started swelling and itched like crazy.
The Captain said when we leave here tomorrow morning (about 9 a.m.) if your finger hasn’t gotten any better, we are going to stop at Urgent Care.
I said…good idea and I will mention my stomach pain to them too.
I KNOW this insect bite was God’s way of providing me an answer to my health questions/issues.
We walked into the urgent care room and the PA…yes, I said a PA, A Physician’s Assistant, glanced at my finger, said we would use an antibiotic… but he seemed more concerned about the pain I was describing in my belly.
He said “let’s do a Cat Scan. I will order the Cat Scan and you can go next door and have it done and we will know what we are dealing with.”
Let me tell you, I was thrilled that someone was actually listening to me.
Also, the PA personally called over to get me an appointment and he had some pull because they would squeeze me in at 3 pm giving me time to: 1. Not eat and 2. Drink that nasty contrast stuff.
The PA said we should come back to the Urgent Care when we were done with the Cat Scan and he could tell us results right away. Yay!
Remember, this is the Friday, the 5th of July.
After the Cat Scan, I went back to the Urgent Care (The Captain was a little slower than me as he was parking thee car) and they ushered me right in and asked “Where is your husband?”
I knew the news was not good by that question.
Of course my husband came in shortly there after.
The PA said there was a two centimeter “mass” of something growing on my pancreas.
Talk about a punch in the gut.
He said not to jump to conclusions….it could be anything, but he wanted to order an MRI as it could not be ignored.
While we were still in his office, he called around to find an opening for me and the soonest we could get in was Monday, at 8:30a.m. the 8th of July, over in Fort Myers.
Early Monday morning, the Captain took me for the MRI.
As the tech was putting a needle in my arm, I flinched a bit and said that was the same arm they used on Friday. He commented that he couldn’t believe I got in for the MRI so fast.
He just didn’t know that God’s divine orchestration of all my healthcare professionals was just beginning.
Again, the results came back to the PA later that day (so soon? unheard of I have been told) and the conclusion was “most likely Pancreatic Cancer, but not conclusive” and the PA said next step is to get an Oncologist…that now we were out of his league. But God bless James Perry, PA at urgent care!
The Captain got on-line and started making phone calls…Meanwhile our church family was not only praying for us, two of our good friends recommended Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. So we had two recommendations and we are glad we took their advice.
After a phone consultation with our new oncologist in Tampa, she was thankful for the CAT Scan and the MRI Scan, but she also wanted a PET Scan. (I was beginning to wonder if I should bring my dog since all these scans seemed animal oriented. LOL)
The Captain was right on it and with the help of the Cancer doctor and PA again…I had a PET Scan on Friday the 12th of July….Plus an appointment with the Oncologist at Moffitt on the 15th of July.
Just to recap here….My journey began around the first of July.
Friday, July 5th First CAT SCAN by PA in Cape Coral.
Sunday, July 7th Church Family recommends Moffitt Cancer Center
Monday, July 8th MRI SCAN by PA in Cape Coral
Tuesday July 9th The Captain contacts Moffitt and engages Oncologist
Wednesday July 10th Oncologist receives, reviews text results of CAT and MRI Scans.
Thursday July 11th Oncologist at Moffitt orders PET Scan in Cape Coral
Friday July 12th PET SCAN in Ft Myers (Only immediate appointment)
Monday July 15th Oncologist appointment at Moffitt in Tampa,… Pancreatic Cancer confirmed/more bloodwork/new Cat Scan
Tuesday July 16th Endoscopy/Sonigram/Biopsy under anesthesia at Moffitt…Dr. reports 2 centimeter malignant growth laying on important blood vessel.
Thursday July 18th Special Oncologist(s) consultations with other Moffitt Cancer Doctors
Monday July 22nd Radiation Oncologist appointment at Moffitt
Monday July 22nd Chemo Oncologist appointment at Moffitt
Wednesday July 24th our new Oncologist in Cape Coral (referral from Chemo doctor in Tampa) to discuss the Port implant (to make it easier than driving two hours to Tampa)
Friday July 26th the surgery for the port implant at HealthPark Hospital
Monday July 29th Started Chemo treatment with 4 hour Chemo drip at Florida Cancer Specialists and sent home with Chemo drip to last 46 hours ( I go back on July 31 to remove the needle & drip)
Wednesday July 31 More blood work and removal of drip
The Chemo journey will be for 3 months, after the first two months…on Sept 12th, we Trek back to Moffitt in Tampa for more bloodwork, another Cat Scan and the continuation of Chemo Treatments.
At the end of 3 months Chemo treatment, the Radiation Doctor in Tampa will do 5 straight days of radiation with a new special machine. (Only 9 in the whole country)
Then our Oncologist in Tampa will do surgery called the “Whipple Procedure” which is an 8-10 hour operation to remove cancer, part of stomach, part of pancreas, part of small intestine, part of bile duct and gall bladder.
Probable stay in Hospital, 14 days.
The reason the surgery will be the last on the agenda is the Doctor is hoping the cancer will shrink enough with the Chemo and Radiation to loosen it from the blood vessel so it is easier to remove.
In case you are interested, the pancreas lies behind the stomach in a hub of veins and arteries and It is about 6 inches long.
My cancer is a little over 3/4 of an inch long…about the size of a peanut and it is estimated to be between stage one and two.
Meanwhile my wonderful church family has been praying constantly.
And I have faith that God”s Will Be Done.
I have a peace that passes all understanding.
I KNOW God used the Captain to carry out all the appointments in a record amount of time.
But wait there is more.
The only appointment we could get to see an Oncologist in Cape Coral was at 2 pm on July 24th.
I received a phone call asking me to come in at 1:45 that the original scheduled doctor could not see me, but there was a cancellation for another doctor.
I didn’t care who I saw because I knew they would be consulting with my Moffitt Oncologist, Chemo doctor and my radiation doctor.
When the oncologist entered the room, I felt I liked her immediately and when she opened my file…she said “I went to medical school with your Chemo doctor. We are good friends, be sure and tell him I said Hi..”
(Now we could have had the port put in at Tampa on Friday (no later, said the Chemo Doctor in Tampa) but by contacting an oncologist in the Cape, it would save us a two hour drive up and a two hour drive back.)
My new additional Cape Oncologist was able to schedule the port implant surgery on Friday with Chemo treatments starting on Monday July 29th….AND she informed me that I would not have to go over to Fort Myers (which is where I saw her)…. that she visited the Cancer specialist two blocks from my house every Monday and Friday.
I don’t know if you know what a port is but I will explain.
If you don’t want details, skip this part.
It is about the diameter of a quarter and the depth is 3/4 of an inch.
This disk is attached to a “tail” that resembles my IPhone charger cord…and it is about 8 inches long.
During the surgery, the doctor (yet another doctor) makes an incision below the clavicle to insert the cord and then he makes another incision 6 inches below that to insert the disk just under the skin.
This Power Port is used to draw blood and insert the needle for the chemo drip. (No poking of needles in arms or legs)
I was told I would need a numbing cream for the port when inserting the needle and I would need two nausea pills an hour ahead of the Monday chemo treatment.
The numbing cream would come from my pharmacist and the nausea pills would be delivered by Fed Ex and these would be available to me on Thursday, July 25th.
But they were not there.
I called my pharmacist and they said there were NO orders for any medication…and Fed Ex said they delivered the pills on Friday, the 26th…but they were not there.
So after my port implant Friday morning, I lay down to take a nap and I prayed.
I said I was not worried…that God was in control and I was sure everything would fall into place.
At 6 pm Walgreen’s called and said they had a prescription ready!
Then on Saturday, July 27th, Fed Ex arrived.
And I praised God.
My friends, I am praying for and I am willing to accept God’s will and I will give Him the Glory.
This reminds me of the footprints in the sand… where you see two sets of footprints and then you see only one set of footprints.
Folks, this is where Jesus is carrying me.
Below are a few Bible verses that I am saying daily.
” Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the Peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand”
Ephesians 3: 20,21
Now to Him who is able to do immeasurable more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the Glory.”
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
1 Corinthians 10:13
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it”
1 Thessalonians 5:18
“Give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
Be Strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”
I will continue to post, maybe not as often as before this journey began, but I will definitely keep you informed.
I know there are a few in our blogging world who just recently became aware of what is going on and they are being so supportive and saying prayers which is much appreciated.
Until we meet again…
And the Journey has begun!