Posted on December 31, 2017
"You do not realize what I am doing, but later you will understand." John 13:7
2017... easily the worst year of my life. How many times have I caught myself staring into space - thinking “how did this happen?”… “why did this happen?” I prided myself on eating healthy, I exercised almost everyday – even through pregnancy. I’ve always been uber-conscious of how I took care of myself. For months after I was told of my diagnosis I was in total shock. I think about how everyone was shocked, everyone except God. Maybe one day I'll understand why and how this happened, then again maybe not.
I have learned so much this year. About myself, life, relationships…about adversity, hope and the power of prayer.
100+ nights in hospitals
3 major surgeries
Most of my liver and a gallbladder removed
An ilestomy on one side of my stomach and a hockey-puck-shaped metal pump on the other
13 bouts with systemic chemotherapy,
6 pump infusions with a much more potent chemotherapy drug
2017 mercifully comes to an end, the one lesson I’ve had to learn is that we really do have a choice about how we live our lives. About our attitude, outlook and perspective.
Even when we are bombarded with external circumstances that bring heartache and sorrow, we have a choice as to how we let those trials effect us …we can choose Joy. It may sound cliché’ but when you are forced to make that conscious choice daily (granted, easier said than done) it becomes a decision as real as deciding what to wear. Always remind yourself that you have a choice, to CHOOSE JOY.
ALL THE FEELS - HIGHS AND LOWS
I'll be honest, from December 14 (the day of my diagnosis) through March is all a blur. I remember feeling like this was no big deal, I don't really have cancer - I was in COMPLETE DENIAL. Sitting through my first round of chemo (Jan 13), I remember thinking this is going to be a piece of cake. Boy was I wrong! The past 12 months has brought about overwhelming feelings of sadness, confusion, disappointment, anxiousness and anger. Fred and I lost count of the number of nights we spent in emergency rooms and hospital beds. But in the midst of the trial I've also experienced great joy, encouragement and gratitude for all of life’s simple blessings.
The rollercoaster of emotions has not been easy for me to deal with, maybe even harder to watch the toll it has taken on the people that love and care for me. Your messages, phone calls, care packages, donations and prayers are a HUGE factor in what got me through everyday. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you. To my family (the Seidman's and Johansen's) your love, support and prayers are my oxygen.
- Having the most incredible caretaker who fought for me every step of the way
- Receiving a plan from the team at MSK to save my life
- HAI pump worked and shrunk my tumors enough to get me to a liver resection surgery
- Having a quick recovery after each surgery
- My girls bringing the joy of Disney to the hospital when I couldn't go to the park
- Spending extra time with Knox - watching him learn and grow
- Judging World's Perfect Pageant 1 day after chemo
- Walking in New York Fashion Week
- Feeling the prayers of love, encouragement and support from everyone
- The strength God gave me each day to get up and do life
- Being placed in the hands of the best surgeons for the ileostomy reversal, removal of my primary tumors and liver resection
- Side effects of chemo - feeling physically and mentally beat down
- So many unknowns
- Emotional feelings (denial, confusion, anger, sadness, fear, frustration, exhaustion, disappointment)
- Being away from Knox for days and sometimes weeks at a time
- Seeing the effects this has had on Fred and our family
- Having an ileostomy
MY ONE AND ONLY
This hasn't just been my journey. We've all been in this together. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank and acknowledge my husband, Fred. For who you are, and specifically all you’ve done this past year. Since the day our dreams and future plans came crashing down, you have relentlessly fought for me. You’ve been by my side every single day. I've never seen anyone research more (he carries around a binder that must weigh 10lbs to every Dr.'s appointment). You've driven me to every doctor’s appointment, and 3 days/week for fluids, spent countless nights sleeping in a chair at the hospital, you’ve taken care of me when I was sick AND you’ve taken care of our baby. You’ve been my "mule" on every trip carrying luggage, backpacks filled with medicine while wheeling me through airports... I could go on and on. I can't imagine the stress, anxiety, sadness and fear you have experienced this year. I could not have done it without you. It makes me smile to say that our relationship has never been stronger - I now know what unconditional love is.
WHO NEEDS AN ENTIRE LIVER ANYWAYS?
I'm so thankful to say, that on December 8 (only 3 shorts weeks ago) the Dream Team at MSK performed a successful resection leaving me with about 30% of my liver. With and in God's strength I was up and walking less than 24 hours after surgery, and we were discharged in only 5 days. The Doctors/Nurses said it was one of the quickest recoveries they’d ever seen. That's what we call a "God thing!"
I have experienced many victories in 2017 - but unfortunately beating Advanced Cancer like mine is no easy feat. Just before my liver resection, the surgery that we had been praying and fighting so hard to get to, I got another dose of unexpected bad news. The latest scans showed that there are some spots on my lungs that are growing. That means we're headed back to NYC for more doctor appointments, a new chemo cocktail and hopefully another surgery. Just thinking of the next few months is overwhelming and honestly a little bit ... actually a lot scary. Just when I’ve started to feel stronger and put on some weight I’m scared that chemo will knock me down and keep me there for months. And so we meet again...
- A new plan from MSK (one that will limit our trips to NYC. traveling is exhausting... and expensive)
- I will experience minimal side effects from the new chemo cocktail
- Peace, strength and wisdom
- Continuing to juggle this illness and being a parent (Knox isn't getting ANY smaller)
- Taking one day at a time - remembering that is all we are promised
- I'm asking God to do the Impossible. Praying for Full and Complete healing.
"I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13