Friday, July 18, 2014

Cancer Sucks!!

I haven't posted anything on this blog for seriously two years. Life just kind of got crazy with baby #3 and I was finding less and less time for uploading pictures. Originally I started this blog when we lived very far away from our family and it was my way of letting them see pictures of our family and be part of our lives despite the distance apart. Once we moved closer to them and we saw them more regularly than once or twice a year, I felt like my blog wasn't as important. Recently our life has turned upside down and I have decided that this blog can be very useful as not only a journal over the next phase of our life, but also as a way to communicate with others who are interested in Randy's progress over the next little while. I'm finding myself explaining the same things over and over to different people and by the end of the day I look back and realize I'm exhausted from talking on the phone for countless hours. As much as I love talking to friends and loved ones, the topic of conversation is not that pleasant these days. I'm going to try and keep regular updates on the blog of how Randy is doing so if you feel like calling, we can talk about more enjoyable topics!!!

If you are totally confused and not knowing what the heck I'm talking about, let me take a few minutes to explain. My husband has cancer. CANCER!!!! Just hearing that word makes me want to scream! Here is our story, sorry if it's a little TMI, but it is what it is.

So around the end of April my husband noticed that his right testicle was enlarged and painful. He told me he thought he had another hernia (he has had multiple hernias but it was years before we were married). We knew a trip to the doctor was inevitable but at this point it wasn't too painful and so he put it off because he was a pretty busy guy. I swear he thinks he is superman and nothing will ever happen to him.

Well, a few weeks went by and all of a sudden it was causing him so much pain he could barely walk. He decided to just skip the family doctor and go right to the surgeon. The visit with the surgeon left us with three or four possible solutions. The doctor didn't think it was another hernia but instead he thought it to be either a torsion (a twisted testicle), a tumor, or a hydrocele (sack of fluid). He scheduled Randy for emergency exploratory surgery the next day to find out what was wrong and fix the problem. Looking back now and knowing what I know now, I'm so wishing they would have just waited a day or two and did some tests first!! Like maybe some blood tests or even an ultrasound!!!! I don't know if we would have had a different outcome than the one we have, but it causes me to wonder.

After surgery, the Dr. told us that is was a torsion and that they removed the dead testicle. As much as he tried to prepare himself, it was a tough blow to Randy's ego. At least he still has the other one right? What a good sport he is about all of this. The recovery period wasn't too long and he was up and going to work within four days. We were so glad to have it all out of the way and I was finally get back to my regular routine. A week after surgery we got a call from the doctor. The lab results came back and it looks like it was a tumor in the testicle and it was cancerous.

What. The. Heck????

So many questions going through my head at this point. I thought the Doctor said it was a torsion? How does he get that so wrong??? Did he just assume it twisted because it was dead, or did it twist along with having a tumor? Looking back now, I wish I would've asked all these questions when my husband went back to see the dr. after we found out the news, but I was so sick and out of it that I was probably lucky to even get out of bed that day.  I forgot to mention that while all this is going on, I'm sick as a dog. I got the stomach flu just a day or two before his surgery. And I had a constant head cold, flu, and congestion practically all year!!! So of course it gets worse when our life suddenly turns upside down and I'm stressed to the max!!!

They run some blood tests and have a CT scan done and the Surgeon tells us that the cancer has spread to his blood, tissue around the groin area and possibly the lungs!!! Then he tells us that a specialist in Provo will be contacting us for more follow up. Keep in mind, we live in rural Utah in the middle of the state. The closest big city is Provo in one direction, or St. George in the other direction. And both are about 2 - 2 1/2 hrs. away. By this time we are freaking out.

You hear the word Cancer and your whole world falls out from beneath your feet. We know nothing about cancer. Everything runs through our head, from chemo, to radiation, to surgery, to extremely high medical bills, to sickness and to possible death. We are scared. We don't know what to think. So we try not to think. But we can't stop thinking. CANCER!!! AHHHHH!!!

The Longest day of my life waiting for that call from the specialist, and that's just to schedule an appointment!!! They finally call, and can't get us in for 2 weeks! TWO WEEKS!!! I can't live like this for 2 weeks!!!!! I can't live not knowing for 2 hrs!!! Luckily for us, we have AMAZING family and friends who got on the phone ASAP and got us in at Huntsman Cancer Institute for only 1 week away. I'm not happy knowing that I have to wait a week but I'll take 1 week over 2!!!

How I functioned this week of waiting I'll never know. We had some amazing neighbors who helped bring dinner, tilled our garden, and offered to take the kids and were basically there for me whenever I needed to vent. So grateful for our wonderful neighbors!!!

We finally went to the specialist and we left that first appointment actually feeling total relief! Okay, not total relief, but we slept a heck of a lot easier that night. The Oncologist explained to us that nothing alarming showed up on the CT scan and that the cancer markers (not cancer) in the blood were elevated, but that is typical since they just removed the cancerous tumor and it takes about 6 weeks for those markers to return to normal levels. Huge sigh of relief!!!! It's not cancer in the blood, it's not cancer in the's cancer markers that are elevated. We know we aren't out of the park yet, but we have huge hope that all was taken care of with the surgery!!!! The oncologist says it's Testicular cancer stage 1, which means we wait and watch.

After a couple follow up appointments and blood work, things start to look really good. His levels were going down and by the end of June the cancer markers had returned to normal. Okay now we are singing the Hallelujah Chorus!!! Life couldn't be bettter! On a plus side, I finally feel like my cold is letting up and that I actually might get to go a few days without taking cold medicine around the clock for the first time in months!!!We have about three weeks of bliss. And by bliss I mean cancer free euphoria that can only be described if you've ever been in a similar situation. You just have to have this experience to understand. It is amazing to know you don't have to do chemo or radiation. I finally felt like we were going to have an okay summer after all.

Then came the final follow up appointment after his levels normalized. It was on a Friday after I had been visiting my family in SLC for a few days while Randy was attending a conference for work. Randy had his blood drawn one last time and the plan was to go back in three months to have another CT scan and blood work just to make sure all was well. All went well at the appt. and they scheduled him for three months out as a routine check. Then Monday came, the day we got the blood test results from the previous friday. I had completely forgotten about it because our last test three weeks prior was normal, so why wouldn't they be normal again? I came home from working a few hours knowing that I had a huge day a head of me of unpacking and laundry from being gone. Randy was home and I remember thinking it was a weird time of day for him to be home. I went and talked to him and he told me the bad news. His cancer markers had gone up, but only from a 7 to an 11 (0-9 is the normal range). But still, they went up!!! The oncologist wants to see us first thing the next morning. Here we go again!!! All I can think is that maybe there was some kind of mistake. How could they go up?

I quickly scramble to find a place for my kids and we pack up again and drive back up north to where we just were less than 24 hrs. before. So exhausting!!!

We meet with the dr. first thing in the morning and the first thing he says is that he is concerned with the procedure that Randy had in Richfield to remove the testicle. Apparently it wasn't the preferred method to go into the scrotum to remove the testicle when cancer is involved. With the preferred method, they can go in above and remove the testicle as well as the tube and vessels to prevent the cancer from spreading up to the lymph nodes. Not sure if this is why his cancer has spread, but it does cause me to wonder. Either way, his levels are elevated indicating that the cancer has spread and chemo treatment is necessary.

How in the course of 24 hours has my life gone from what we thought to be cancer free bliss to chemo!!!! I just laugh because I don't know what else to do or what to think or even feel. The good news is, they tell us that if you have to have cancer, this is the one to have. It's 95% curable. But that doesn't make me feel any less scared. Okay, maybe a little less scared.

The next two days are full of tests after tests after dr. visits. I'm so exhausted that I almost fall asleep sitting up waiting for the last dr. appointment. My hip is aching from sitting in waiting room seats. Couldn't they have recliners in the waiting room??? It turns out after they do more testing that the cancer has in fact spread to his lymph nodes. Now we are in stage 2a testicular cancer. Chemo is scheduled for Monday. We have four days to prepare.

His treatment will be in three cycles, each cycle taking about 3 weeks.  The first week he has to go in for five days with 7 hr. treatments each day. The second week is just one day, 1 hr. treatment. The third week is 1 day, 1 hr. treatment. Then the cylce repeats over 2 more times. So it's about 9 weeks of treatment that we have to look forward to. After the treatment they will do more scans and blood work and if the cancer is still there they will go in and remove the lymph nodes.

Sooooo not looking forward to my life the next 3 months. I'm trying to take things one day at a time but honestly it's so overwhelming. I'm trying to stay positive as much as I can and think that things could always be worse so I need to be grateful for what i do have. We have already had so many neighbors, and friends and family help out in so many different areas. It makes me happy to know we have such a great support system.

Randy is handling everything so great and I honestly don't think he has complained once this whole journey so far. He is such an amazing guy and I know he will be a fighter!

I'll try to update the blog as often as I can. I know so many people have offered to help and honestly it's such a relief when they do because I don't know how I'll make it through this without our support system. Right now it's hard to know what kind of help we will need because it's hard to know how he will react to treatments. And it's summer and the kids are home and don't have to be to school. But I just know as the weeks go on that things will get more and more difficult. I'm asking right now for prayers for our family and for Randy as he begins these chemo treatments. Thanks all!

1 comment:

Kristen Cook said...

I'm so sorry to hear about Randy's cancer. Thanks for letting friends know. When I say my prayers, I'll include your little family in them.