Saturday, April 1

I'm Back

I don't really know where to start.  It's been almost four years since I was on here.   I had another blog as well that I started, but I don't know the password.  I just need to chronicle the here and now because it's so crazy right now.

To backtrack, we moved two summers ago and bought a new house in the town I now teach. I get to bring all of the kiddos to school with me which is great.  Colby is in second grade and rocking it. The girls are in kindergarten.  Sydney continues to be my social butterfly and Zoe is my sensitive little soccer player.   They're so different in personality and it's so fun to watch.  Hunter is four already and in preschool. He loves it- although he'll tell you he hates nap time. He's our comedian.  He likes to be in to be in control of me in every way possible.

They're exhausting but perfect.  Were so busy with sports and scouts and everything else going on.

And we have a new baby due in August although he or she will make their debut in June.  We're thrilled and overwhelmed.   The pregnancy has gone pretty well so far. I'm 22 weeks and the baby is a mover and a shaker.  The kids are thrilled and can't wait to meet the new member of our family.

But things are complicated, which brings me to why I'm back.

So now to add to everything else, I have cancer.  In February I was diagnosed with a really rare, aggressive sarcoma.  I was 17 weeks pregnant when I got the news.  Suddenly the knowns of our life became so unknown- and it remains that way.

In late January I thought I had developed a sinus infection in my right maxillary sinus.  I went to the doctor and was given antibiotics and told to wait.  Over the next few weeks the swelling got worse, the pain increased, my lymphnodes got huge... I was a mess.  I was in constant pain and I was taking so much tylenol just to function.  My girls knew not to hug me too hard on my right side because I as in pain.  While all this was going on I was told by several doctors that it was just a sinus infection.

Finally, at about three and a half weeks, I went back to the doctors and they finally sent me to the ER to have a scan done.  I thought I was going to be admitted for huge doses of antibiotics.  There wasn't really a question in my mind-- I thought I just had an awful, impacted infection.  Little did I know the CT Scan in the ER would reveal a mass in my sinus, invading the one, pushing on my eye... it was bad.  It was way past the ER doctor's shift, but he stayed late that night so he could explain to me that they really didn't know, but it was likely a tumor.  I was then admitted for the night so I could have another scan done and we could figure out what to do from there.

The MRI confirmed what we already knew-- I had a mass, but the scan doesn't tell you what it is.  It could be benign, it could be cancerous, it could still be a bad infection.  A biopsy was performed and then we just had to wait.  So after 2 days I went home from the hospital just to wait.  The swelling increased, I started to get awful pain in my face and eye that was severe enough to keep me awake at night.  I thought I was losing my eye sight.  It was scary for sure.

Finally a week later I got the call from the not-so-great Eye, Nose, and Throat doctor who casually on the phone told me "So, yeah, it's looking like a malignancy.  We're going to refer you to another department..."   I knew it was coming, but he was so nonchalant about it.  I'm so glad I'm not dealing with him.  The next day the Oncologist called me and gave me the official title of the cancer.  It's long and it's scary and honestly I haven't even looked it up yet because I don't want to see what the internet says about my odds and such.

The end of February we were referred to Dana Farber Cancer Center in Boston and I met the start of my team.  At this point I was about 18 weeks pregnant and I thought for sure that my consults would end with the need to terminate the pregnancy.  We met with my Sarcoma doctor who explained everything in technical jargon and left me feeling very frazzled.  He's great, but there was just SO much information coming at us.  But that is where I learned that chemo can be "safe" while pregnant. I had no idea.  We then met with an MFM who specializes in chemo and pregnancy and she gave us the "okay" to continue.

Now I know I may be taking risks but continuing the pregnancy while doing chemo but the thought of terminating was so heartbreaking.  I couldn't lose my health and my baby in one fell swoop.  We are "switching" one chemotherapy agent (I get 5 total) for another one due to the pregnancy, so that could hurt my odds.  We're also delaying radiation by a few weeks which could hurt my odds.  And I'm on a pediatric course because there isn't an adult course for the cancer I have, which could hurt my odds.  What it comes down to is that we just don't know.

But here I am at just over 22 weeks pregnant.  I have completed two courses of chemo- 3 weeks apart.  I go on Monday and Tuesday for a four hour infusion each day.  I get a cocktail of 3 different drugs right now-- we'll add the next two in the coming rounds.  On Wednesday I get an injection to boost my white blood cell count.  So far I'm feeling pretty good.

We break my treatment into 3 weeks: Week 1 is chemo week and I feel the most nauseous, tired, and get severe bone pain due to the white blood cell booster.  That's where I am right now and I don't get out of bed or off the couch from Thursday - Sunday or so. Week 2 is my quarantine week where my white blood cells are at zero and I have to avoid sickness at all costs.   I feel good, but I can't do much.  Week 3 is my bounce back week.  My cells are finally up high enough that I can get out of the house a little bit and feel like a fully functioning mother.

So there's still so much more, but right now I'm reacting to the treatments.  I feel so much better.  My pain is gone and the swelling is gone and I feel optimistic.  At no point did I ever think I wouldn't beat this.  I don't have a choice.  I have my four kiddos (soon to be 5!) who need me there for them.

Right now I'm off of work for a year as I tackle this.  If all goes exactly to plan, I should be done with chemo, radiation, and surgery come January.  We're expecting setbacks and hospitalizations, but I'm hoping we can get through like rockstars.


Birdsandsquirrels said...

Oh wow Stacey! Congratulations on the new baby! I am so sorry to heat about your cancer diagnosis. Oh my god, I don't even know what to say. You are amazing. I will be here sending positive thoughts and prayers your way. Please keep updating your blog.

Robbie said...

Wow! So proud of you for fighting this! I hate that you have to deal with this along with a pregnancy, but I am so hopeful that you will kick it's ass. So glad to see you back in the blog world!

Leah said...

I'm SO sorry to hear about this. Happy to hear about the pregnancy, but sad and angry at the cancer diagnosis. I hate cancer! Positive thoughts for you and your family. I appreciate you updating this blog again. I've missed your family updates! :-)