The day my life changed forever. The morning of April 14th 2016. I went in for a scheduled hysterectomy and was faced with so much more.
Let’s rewind a few months prior. I had a few appointments with my OBGYN doctor. I was experiencing quite a bit of abdominal bloating and intermittent bleeding. In addition I had a great deal of discomfort to my lower back. I looked and felt like I was pregnant. Ultrasound revealed some fibroids and since my symptoms were so severe a hysterectomy was discussed and agreed on. I began to prepare myself for all the challenges that I may encounter after a hysterectomy, I was ready for the hot flashes, the headaches, body changes, depression, what I was not ready for… Cancer.
The morning of surgery came, I went in as scheduled and the surgery was completed without a hitch, now recovery. I seemed to be in a great deal of pain despite all the pain meds, I usually have a pretty high tolerance for pain so I was a bit concerned about this but brushed it off. Eventually it became much worse and I felt so much pressure. I remember I kept saying, “somethings wrong, I feel so much pressure, somethings not right”. It was then that my doctor decided to order a stat CT scan.I was returned to my hospital room after the scan and loaded up with pain meds. I was awoken several hours later with a swarm of doctors around my bed. The only words I heard after that were “Cancer”, “ Roswell Park”. And that’s where my journey began.
An appointment with Roswell Park Cancer Institute led to the diagnosis of Retroperitoneal Liposarcoma. My tumor was 20cm and encompassed my right kidney, intestines, spleen and was wrapped around my inferior vena cava. I was in shock, only in my early 40s, healthy, I ate well and exercised daily. How could thus be happening! Nevertheless, the big C had found me. I began a course of radiation therapy lasting 8 weeks and then prepared myself for the knife once again.
A short 2 months after my hysterectomy, I was back on the table, only this time at a Cancer Institute. I was so scared, This was not a simple surgery by any means. My hormones were already a mess from the hysterectomy and I was trying so hard to be strong. Dr John Kane at Roswell had prepared me for the possible outcomes such as a colostomy, a feeding tube, loss of my right kidney, loss of the movement in my right leg from nerve damage, death.. so many unknowns and potentials for disaster. My family was all there, we said a prayer together and 18 hours later I was in the ICU, a few hours after that I was able to open my eyes. What I saw next, my dad, jumping up and down behind the surgeon with 2 thumbs up, it was then that I knew I would be ok.
Today, I see Dr. Kane every 3 months, I am scanned every 3 months, I have many daily challenges. I struggle with intermittent pain, swelling and numbness to my right leg. My bowels will likely never return to normal, but… I am here, I am alive and I am grateful. I have an amazing doctor and radiation oncologist Dr Salerno. I have a terrific family and boyfriend who have been by my side every step of the way. My road and journey with cancer is not over but I will continue to fight and live every day to its fullest.