Please, take a few deep breaths…I have cancer. Yes, cancer. I have a malignant mass on the head of my pancreas. It’s a 2cm miniature death star called adenoma sarcoma (adenosarcoma). I will call it Addy for short. I don’t know how long Addy’s been growing inside of me. Pancreatic cancer is often a silent killer leaving the unsuspecting host feeling quite normal without specific signs or symptoms. I’m among the more fortunate hosts with an early warning system prompting me into care earlier than many.
As August 30, 2022, unfolded, I became jaundiced. I had lab work drawn and a urinalysis performed. I had high levels of bilirubin in my urine, but why? The next day I went to my assigned hospital clinicals while waiting for lab results. When I finally received the lab results, my clinical scholar walked me to the hospital emergency department. I thought maybe I was taking too many supplements or somehow picked up Hepatitis as a way to explain my jaundice and obviously angry liver.
The ED team saw me right away and drew more labs. Then I was sent for a CT scan. Thirty minutes later, while sitting alone wearing my nursing school scrubs in an ED room, my life turned upside down. The PA came in and apologetically shared the results with me. “You have a 2cm mass on the head of your pancreas.” I think she said she was sorry and other things, but I cannot clearly recall anything else. She was kind and seemed shocked by having to break the news to me.
After the Diagnosis
The first word I uttered when the PA left was a slow, emphatic f*ck. Next, I phoned my husband, Mitchell. He drove up to the hospital while I was being admitted. It was the longest 90 minutes I had ever spent waiting for him.
CANCER. BIG BAD CANCER. CANCER that kills swiftly. Me. That was inside of ME. Many reading this may wonder how I knew it was cancer without further screening. Pancreatic masses are nearly always cancer. It is so rare for them to be benign it’s not something to consider. The questions became: Is it isolated or has it spread? How bad is it? Will I even get the opportunity to fight it, or has it metastasized?
I went on to spend 3.5 days in the hospital and had two ERCP procedures to take biopsies and to place stents to allow proper flow through my biliary and pancreatic ducts.
During those 3.5 days, I made more personal phone calls than expected to share the news. I live and breathe community. This was no time to be my usually private self. Not only do I need community surrounding and supporting me, but my family also needs it too when the dark days come.
I received the results yesterday. The mass, as expected is indeed Addy. Currently, there is also one other area being infiltrated with cancer cells is the common bile duct. It is not the best worst news, and by far not the worst worst news.
I GET TO FIGHT.
I was recommended to an oncologist who specializes in pancreatic cancer. I have an appointment in 3 weeks.
That’s all I know right now.
Please check back here for updates as I chronicle my journey. And please if you text or call, know I am still in nursing school and living life for today and tomorrow. I may not respond right away.
I am in it to win it.
Please feel free to place me on your prayer lists or share with others who will pray for me. I know God is here with me. I am peaceful and without anxiety or fear. I feel the armor of God upon me.
Picture attribution Credit: JOHN BAVOSI/Science Source