It has been a while

In less than three months I will celebrate my 32nd birthday.  Grateful, I am.  This also means that in just shy of five months I will mark my one year anniversary of being diagnosed with endometrial cancer.  I dread it and applaud it at the same time. 
Strange,  I know.  As I explained in my first post,  just getting a diagnosis was a challenge.  The challenge now is figuring out what’s next. 
Not much has happened since my diagnosis.  There’s been a lot of wait and see. Initially,  my fear was that I would have to have a hysterectomy right away; however,  my oncologist helped calm that fear by giving me the option of undergoing hormone treatment. 
See, Endometrial Cancer (in most cases,  I guess) is estrogen driven.  Too much estrogen causes things to go wa ca doodle (not a medical term). My oncologist suggested we try battling the cancer with progesterone.  We both preferred the Mirena IUD option,  but found my insurance wouldn’t cover it.  So we went with Megestrol Acetate in tablet form.   I was hopeful.
In late October/early November,  I had a follow-up D&C with hysteroscopy to pull new tissue samples.  A change in jobs and insurance coverage delayed my followup for my results,  but when I finally met with my oncologist I got the news the cancer is still there. 
Ugh, next up is a pelvic MRI on January 16th. This will help determine if the cancer has spread outside of my uterus. Praying all goes well.   

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The Diagnosis

On June 10th, 2014, one week after undergoing a D&C with hysteroscopy, I sat patiently in my gyno’s office, waiting for him to come in and give me my brief post-op check-up. As I waited, I reflected on what had brought me to this moment.

Currently 31 years old, I have struggled with irregular periods, odd cramping, hair growth, and weight gain since I was 19 years old. I knew then that something wasn’t right, and I was very vocal with my doctors. I had always been met with the same response that my cycles would work themselves out, I shouldn’t  worry because I wasn’t trying to have a baby, and I needed to lose the weight. I was given countless prescriptions for birth control pills, and prescriptions for Provera to force a period when my body wouldn’t respond naturally. I tried to explain that although I could be more active, my weight gain seemed to happen in large spurts and I couldn’t get a handle on it. Still, I was given text book responses. That is until I turned 26. I began seeing a new doctor who seemed to have some understanding of my condition. He ran a battery of blood tests, checking hormone, cholesterol, blood sugar, and vitamin D levels. He reviewed my history and diagnosed my with PCOS (Polycystic Ovaries Syndrome). He too prescribed more birth control pills, and suggested weight loss (although he acknowledged it would be difficult because of my hormones). After a year and a half under his care, I began having fairly regular periods but they were extremely heavy. This continued off and on until March of 2013, when my body went completely crazy and I would bleed heavy for 16-17 days at a time. Each time I became more anemic and needed more hormones to stop the bleeding.  I was weak,  scared, and frustrated.

  In July of last year, after another ER visit, I sought the  care of a new doctor at a women’s care center.  He listened to me,  but noted that treatment options were limited.  A woman my age didn’t fit the bill for much more than hormone treatment.  We tried everything!  Following my last ER visit in Spring 2014, where I passed out from blood loss, I was taking three birth control pills a day to keep from bleeding.  It didn’t work. 

By late April,  my doctor agreed a D&C with Hysteroscopy was needed.  Previous ultrasounds had already revealed a thickened uterine lining, so he wanted to test the tissue. On June 3rd, I checked in for the procedure.   The procedure went well.  My recovery was easy.  I stopped bleeding the same night!  I was so happy.  My post op followup  was scheduled for one week later. 

And there I was sitting in the exam room,  waiting.  My doctor came in, asked me how I had been feeling, and then he got really close.  I knew. I knew he didn’t have good news.  He said the my uterine tissue confirmed cancer cells.  My head was spinning,  the words bouncing around.  I felt an instant pain.  I don’t have children yet, and I’ve always wanted children.  The weight of the moment made my head hurt.
He’d already sent my information to gynecological oncologist. 

My appointment was less than a week later. She was great; warm and informative.  More tests were scheduled,  and a followup for July 21st. Until then, I wait.

 That’s what I’m doing now, waiting.  July 21st can’t get here soon enough.  We’ll talk more about a hysterectomy and next steps.  Waiting is not easy,  but I refuse to be consumed by the heaviness of cancer.   For now,  everyday has been normal. I’ve shed a few tears,  but not too many.

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