When Dr. Schink arrived to share the final diagnosis, my initial response was one of shock and bewilderment because I had never heard of a cancer that sounded even remotely similar to it! Leiomyosarcoma sounded scarily serious. For now it was in my life, so I wanted to be able to at least pronounce and spell it correctly. Maybe then it wouldn't seem as intimidating, complex, or dangerous.
After explaining the basic information he felt we should know, Dr. Schink warned us to not look it up on the Internet. Honestly, hearing that made my mind effortlessly go to a dark place full of frightful images of the unknown possibilities. I forced my attention to return to my hospital room and complete the discussion, after which I felt mentally and physically exhausted, and I needed a nap. I closed my eyes and quietly recited again and again the Serenity Prayer. Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Eventually I fell into a peaceful rest, with my little acorn clenched in my hand.
We were told about the tests being run to determine if the cancer had spread to any lymph nodes or tissues around the site. It would take a few days to receive the results, so Jim, Jessica and I had many hours to fill. I was even watching soap operas and talk shows because it was mindless chatter that didn't require mental effort on my part. At that point I had the attention span of a gnat and I was beyond full in the processing department of my thoughts. Light fluffy material was what worked for me.
My husband and daughter were perfect companions that complemented each other's strengths. It was difficult for Jim to sit and chat for an extended period of time, so he was happy to be the gofer guy who ran errands and took care of all the work at home. Jessica, on the other hand, was able to be in my room day and night. Yes, she was allowed to stay with me each night. She would listen to my fears and joys, panics and plans for my future, deeply serious and abundantly silly thoughts, and all with a trusted understanding of respect.
My friends and entire family showered me with prayers and endless offers of support and encouragement. Everyone understood limiting visitors due to my need to use this time to begin the healing of my body. I was physically exhausted from the surgery and mentally challenged by the fact that my life would be forever different in unknown ways.
The test results showed the cancer had not spread to any lymph nodes or near-by tissue! Tears dripping with joy and relief flowed freely. This news meant that I may possibly be released to go home soon. Before this could happen, there were a few issues that needed to be addressed. I buckled my seat belt, preparing to receive my first transfusion, which would be followed by my first liver biopsy. This visit to UWCCC was filled with all kinds of firsts, but not everything about cancer was a first for me.
Now may be the logical time to share with you the details of my two previous cancer journeys in my life. I believe this will help you understand the cornerstone of my emotional belief system, and how this system had such a profound affect on my life.