Richard always told me I was a planner. I just feel so much better when there is a good solid plan in place. I have been frustrated at times by the unknowable nature that is the cancer experience. But, after many appointments and testing, we have a plan! (The plan is explained in the final paragraph in the event you want to skip the inbetween part of the story)
On Friday the 22nd, the anniversary of Richard's death, Annalina and I went down to Salt Lake City to the Huntsman Cancer Institute for a second opinion. It was a long difficult drive because I have been so anemic that I tire very easily and Jeep, bless her little battery, does not have cruise control. But Annalina kept me awake and we had a fun drive there. She also navigated me through the city to the institute which sits up on the base of the mountain. It was beautiful with a glass front overlooking downtown Salt Lake.
We pulled up and they offer free valet parking, so Annalina hopped out and I had enough brainpower to grab my purse really quick. But after they drove away to park(or go off-roading, after all, the mountain was just right there), we realized we had left Annalina's things to keep her busy inside Jeep. I wasn't about to ask them to bring Jeep back so we went exploring. I got tired quickly and we went to the gift shop where we found a fun adult coloring book, but I am not so comfortable with that name, so at Adrienne's suggestion, we now refer to them as advanced coloring books! heehee
Annalina had fun coloring and waited very patiently with me. She cheered me up when I got a little blue and I was so grateful to have her there with me.
I met with an oncologist who was very kind and very thorough with her explanations. She spent a couple hours with me walking me through everything from the beginning and all possible treatments. She told me my first opinion was sound and sent me on my way. It was good and I felt empowered with knowledge.
We drove to the hotel that I had booked with the hospital discount. The desk clerk asked for a note signed by my doctor and I lost it, I just started sobbing right there in the hotel lobby. Somewhat embarrassing, I can tell you. I had spent so much energy keeping it together all day that the dam just broke and I couldn't contain my emotions anymore. Annalina helped me pull it together and the clerk said it was okay, I could have them fax something over. I cried some more as Annalina helped us find our room and got me settled down. I did get the social worker at the hospital to fax over proof of our appointment. Later when it was dinner time Annalina went down to the lobby to ask for delivery menus, I was too embarassed. She was such a wonderful companion to me on such a difficult day.
The Monday after we got home I learned that my cancer is moderately aggressive. My local oncologist recommended chemo, radiation and anti-estrogen treatment. The very next day Adrienne took me to the local day surgery place and I had a port installed in my chest for treatment. Adrienne was so good to go along, even though it was early. She got a little woozy when they tried to put in my IV, so she got carted away in a wheelchair to enjoy the rest of the morning with juice and string cheese!
This surgery was the quickest and easiest for me, about 3 hours total, but the recovery has been really rough. The port is very painful and even something as simple as rolling over at night causes a lot of pain. I have struggled with controlling the pain while trying to have a life. I get up, pain med free, go run errands or do things around the house for a very short while, feel enough pain to stop and take something, then I sleep for a while. I never feel rested. Not a fun cycle. I don't recommend three surgeries within 5 weeks, my poor hair is falling out like crazy and I haven't even started chemo yet!
Insurance has been an issue, they did not okay the chemo last week when I thought I would be starting, and they will not cover the IV iron I need to overcome this anemia, so I will be getting a blood transfusion tomorrow and will meet with the PA who will teach me all there is to know about chemo. Then Wednesday morning, at 8:45 I have my first chemo treatment. I am not entirely sure how this will affect me, but I am prepared to find out. It is a good feeling that things are getting going again and that I am one step closer to being done with this chapter in my life.
That We Might Have Joy: Jennifer's Story
1 week ago