Saturday, July 11, 2009

My story so far....

Well, I am not new to the blogging era, as I have been part of the Xanga, Myspace and now the Facebook generation. I refuse to Tweet ;) I am usually the reader of several blogs that have blessed me or intrigued me into trusting our God, no matter what comes our way. These blogs have pressed me to look at God and faith more deeply, however you never know faith and true trust in God until you are faced with a challenge.

I am an ordinary girl, who grew up in a small town in NJ. I went to a private Christian School and College. I got my Bachelor's Degree in Music and thought my life would consist of a job, family and just being normal.

I have been blessed with a beautiful son, who is 4 1/2 and a wonderful family. I have a great job and a great life. I have a great church and great friends who support me and love me for who I am.

However 7 months my journey down an unknown road began:

It all began December 2008 and I was enjoying the festivities of Christmas with my family. I was coming back from a friend's home and notice my son had fallen asleep. I really did not want to wake him up- and if you know Josh you know he is not a small kid (at the time he was almost 4 and weighed a good 65lbs and stands at 3'9") I made the decision to pick him up. I immediately heard and felt a pop and thought to myself, did I do it this time? Did I give myself that hernia my mom always told me I would get from picking him up? I ignored it but felt a bump the next day. It wasn't painful and I really thought it was a hernia or pulled muscle. In February 2009, I decided to finally have it looked at. The doctor decided to send me for a CT scan and this is where my journey began.

The CT scan came back and the results pointed to a large cyst on my left ovary and a left pelvic mass. My doctor told me well it isn't a hernia. Right away I was given the names of Oncologists. I was numb and all I could do was cry because in my mind at the time Oncology = Cancer= Death. I went to my PCP who sent me for a large amount of blood work. To my surprise everything came back fine except for two tests that were associated with inflammatory disease. I went to see the Gyn Surgical Oncologist who was very nice. He did the exam and suggested that I have a fine needle biopsy of the mass. It wasn't so bad and the results that came back a week later said that it was normal. However, the surgeon stated that since I had the large cysts and the mass it would be wise to have a laprotomy and have the ovary removed and a lymph node removed for biopsy. I was hesitant, but felt that since it was for my health and for the future of my son it was wise to just proceed.

My laprotomy was on April 23rd, 2009. I arrived at Cooper Hospital and was completely nervous. I have never had surgery before, in fact I have never had any type of injury such as a broken bone, stitches etc. I was brought to the room and told to not be nervous- but I couldn't help it. I think I cried all the way from the assessment room to the pre-op room. I kept trying to sing to myself all the songs that I had sang in church and that automatically brought a peace that by the time I reached the OR I was at peace- and that was before the sedative. My surgery lasted 2 hours and resulted in a series of no answers. First, the cysts that were on my ovary had disappeared (which I would find out later would mean that they never existed) and the lymph node on my pelvis was unable to be reached for removal and all that was removed were tissue samples because the mass was embedded. I hoped that some answer would come from the tissue samples- but that came back normal too. So here I was with a stomach full of staples and pain and no answers. I was then sent to another surgeon, to address the lump and he wanted to do another surgery for a dissection of the lymph node. This would be another big surgery with another 4-6 weeks of recovery and possible side effects such as nerve damage and lymphadema. I was hesitant about this. He sent me to have a repeat CT scan, this CT scan discovered that the lymph node had grew larger and was now threatening my kidney, it also pointed to that dreaded word, Cancer. I was concerned and not to happy of how this surgeon handled the whole thing. My dear sister in law's mom took my results to an oncologist she knew and he was concerned about kidney and thought I should have this taken care of right away. I decided to seek a third opinion with a doctor here in Delaware. He was wonderful and wondered why I was opened up in the first place. He did an outpatient incision biopsy on June 23rd, that left me sore but OK. I was back to work a few days after, however the news was not good. The initial pathologist though Lymphoma but wanted a second look. My slides were sent to the Mayo Clinic. On Wednesday July 1st, I was given the news that I had T-Cell Lymphoma. The first thing I did was cry, cry for grief but also cry for relief- it was finally refreshing to know what it was and know now how to treat it. I was told that this type of lymphoma is rare and not too much information is available- but the one thing they did know is that it's treatable and curable.

I had my first appointment with my oncologist on Tuesday July 7th. I was so nervous, I had so many questions and so much in my mind. The doctor met with me and told me that I would need several tests and chemotherapy. One of those tests was a Bone Marrow biopsy, which was so painful that if I had to rate it on the most painful moments in my life I would have to rate it next to Labor (giving birth). The resident held my hand for what felt like forever- but I got through and was even praised on how good I did. The next test is a PET scan scheduled for Monday July 13. My doctor decided the best thing was to begin Chemo right away because it had been way to long.

I began Chemotherapy on Thursday July 9. It must have been the most nerve wracking days of my life. I was up early and got my son to school. I decided to treat myself to a DD coolata because I knew I wouldn't be able to eat anything later on in the day. I arrived at the doctor's office unknown of what was going to happen or how I was going to feel- but I knew that there was a purpose that I was going through this and if I did not know it now it would be shown to me somehow, somewhere through the journey. The medication was injected through an IV, 4 different medications- on top of the 6 other oral medications that I have to take to stay healthy and fight off different diseases. One of the chemo drugs will make me lose hair and others that will leave me fatigued and sick, but in the end will allow me to beat cancer. I didn't know what I was getting in to. The treatment took about 30 minutes- which seemed long for me but was fast to the staff. They were very kind.

I came home and felt so bad. Chills, headaches, and fevers. I thought oh my is this how it's going to be. It felt like days but was only hours of pain and fever. The next day I was super tired and slept for half the day. By the time day 3 came around (today) I was up at 3 am ready to begin my day, although I think everyone around me is not ready to being their day just yet.

I have a long road ahead of me and know it will be filled with tears, fears, and lots of hurting- but I know out of it will come healing, trusting and knowing that God has brought me through and brought me closer. I have decided to write this blog to not just remember where I have been but where I am going and who I will become. Please keep me and my family in your prayers as I we go through this journey and we will keep you updated!


  1. my new favorite blog! :) i'm so proud of you- your faith is inspiring and so is your honesty. you are strong and just growing stronger.

  2. Hey, Sandra. This is Becca Gettel. I didn't have any idea you were going through this! I'm so glad you decided to blog about it! It's not only going to be healing for you and will help you give things to the Lord (in my opinion) but it will keep me and people like me informed so we can keep you in our prayers.

  3. Thank You! Thank you for being brave enough to admit your fears, your weaknesses and your triumphs and more! Thank you for showing me how I need to recognize the blessings in my life; the many ABUNDANT blessings in my life!! I'm praying for you! God Bless, Kari Roy :)

  4. Kate- I knew you would enjoy a new blog to read- this time you know the person- personally- I love you sis and I am glad I have you on my side.

  5. Becca- Thank you so much for your prayers and support! Those prayers are helping everyday!

  6. Kari- Thank you for praying girl! Yes I even thank God more for my blessings- even my son's tantrums so I can have another day to hear them :)