Getting To Know You: Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Getting to know you,
Getting to feel free and easy
When I am with you,
Getting to know what to say (but maybe not what to show, as you'll see below...)


Well, I'm back, minus a few parts. I was planning to post yesterday but my intestines had other plans for me yesterday so I'm just now feeling up to it. I thought I'd give everyone a quick rundown on what's happened over the past several days:

First, one of my favorite little people, LEW, came over with her mommy and daddy to wish me well the night before my surgery, which happened to be on the eve of her second birthday. What does every two-year old girl need from Aunt Jennie for her second birthday? A ballerina outfit complete with a tiara, magic wand, and tutu, of course!

LEW with her pink birthday beads and magic wand. Is she contemplating whether to do good or evil with the wand, hmmm?

Here she is with her tiara, beads, and wand. We'll worry about the leotard and tutu later on!

Now for the hysterectomy...where to start? Well, let's start from the inside out, okay?

What is that, you ask? Well, folks, it's my upside down uterus and cervix. Doesn't look like the photos we all studied in 9th grade Family Life, does it? In case you're wondering, apparently, it's normal looking.

And all of this? The two fatty blobs in the cups in the first
row on the left are my omentum and the rest are perfectly normal looking lymph nodes (all of my nodes looked normal so my doctors only removed about a half dozen from right pelvis).

Okay, now for the show stopper: See that thing that kind of looks like a bloated dead mouse in the cup on the left in the second row? That would be my right ovary and fallopian tube. Pretty funky looking, huh? Now you know why more than one health care provider described my ovaries as "scary" looking over the past several months. As for the rest of it, just more omentum and lymph nodes.

Okay, enough of that. Just thought you all might want to try to get to know the diseased parts that have been troubling me for the past several months (years?) a bit better. As you can see, I did.

Here I am posing for my dad just a couple hours out of surgery. I didn't know it at the time but my thumbs up was appropriate, as you'll read in a minute.

Beautiful flowers from Christina & Andy, my mom, and Ali & Pete. Thank you!

This fortune ("Good health will be yours for a long time.") was in the second fortune cookie that came with the great noodle soup Krista brought me. Let's hope it's true!

Okay, one last rough shot for you: Here's my stomach four days post-hysterectomy. Looks like a line of railroad track, right? In case you're wondering, Dr. E is known for how cleanly he's able to remove tumors growing on the inside NOT for the straightness of his incisions. Time to line up the plastic surgeon for the tummy tuck!

So, here's where we're at right now: On Saturday morning, the Fellow with Dr. E's practice delivered some great news to me. Except for the small polyp tumor in my uterus, all of what was removed during my surgery was cancer-free, including that funky-looking ovary. The cancerous polyp in my uterus had been there from the start and we knew it probably would still be there since the chemo is not particularly great at penetrating the walls of the uterus. However, the good news is that the polyp was definitely confined to the endometrium lining and had not penetrated the myometrium (middle layer of the uterus). The other great news is that all of my lymph nodes were clear so the cancer had not spread to the lymphatic system.

I have my follow-up visit with Dr. E next Monday, July 20 and there is much business to discuss. You see, Dr. E dropped a little bomb on me in the hospital late on Friday evening: He told me that since it looks as though I might possibly have a stage 3 ovarian cancer (because it seems that the cancer had metastisized from my ovaries - definitely not my uterus - to the upper part of my colon - lower colon it would be stage 2 but upper colon is 3 - and my bladder), he wants to talk to me about doing my final "three-ish" (okay, is it three or not?) rounds of chemo via intraperitoneal chemotherapy instead of intravenous chemotherapy, which I had been having and which I knew I could handle three more rounds of. I freaked out on him when he suggested this in the hospital (during the same conversation he also said, "Let's face it we're not dealing with great odds here...) but since I've been reading National Cancer Institute clinical announcements and various studies since our conversation (thank you Kristin for bringing them to me in the hospital!), it probably makes since to try it -- even if I can only handle it for a round or two. As you might imagine, there are more complications when you insert a catheter into someone's body cavity and push poisonous drugs directly into their pelvis so some people can't tolerate the treatment.

So, that sums it up for you. If you have questions about all of this ask Kristin W. or Melissa S. because I'm tired of explaining and am just trying to get back on my feet right now.

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