The LESSON of a Lifetime

*I think its important to first note that when I originally titled this blog post I used the word “scare” in place of “lesson” but now, I am no longer using that word because while the situation is scary, I know there is a greater purpose than just to scare me.*

I thought that I never took my health for granted. Sometimes, it’s easy to be comfortable and forget just how lucky you are to wake up and jump out of bed and into a routine. How being able to work out easily is such a gift and being able to look forward to and plan your future is one of the greatest things about life. Recently, my health was in limbo. There was a chance I was going to be diagnosed with Cancer and my world as I knew it would change.

A couple of years ago I notice a small lump formed on my rib cage. When I first discovered it I wasn’t worried about it. I figured maybe I pulled something working out or that it was just a temporary lesion. I lived my life normal for what some would say was too long without addressing it. I typically hate the doctor, I come from “healthy stock” with my great grandparents living into triple digits and my grandparents on the cusp of triple digits. There are no cancers in my family, no heart disease on either side. Nothing. But when my “bump” (which I constantly referred to it as so not to make it something more serious) grew in size, my fear overtook my logic.

I know I should have gone to the doctors sooner but hindsight is 20/20. I went and that is the good thing, and what I choose to focus on, that I went and I did address it – when I was ready to. My PCP felt it and was a little shocked at its size, and how hard to the touch it was. She was optimistic to me when she spoke and told me she wanted me to have a chest X-Ray done to see what it was, but was very clear to me that she wanted me to also have an MRI done so they could really see it better. I got my blood work done and my X-Ray and waited to be scheduled for my MRI. I never thought I would get an MRI for anything so that was unsettling to me but I put a brave face on and had the MRI done.

I took my MRI on a Saturday and my husband and I headed to our favorite place, Martha’s Vineyard, for the weekend to be with my parents and to decompress after the MRI because I was just all around a wreck at this point.

We had a wonderful night and woke up the next morning ready to go to our favorite beach on the island when my doctor called. I’ve come to learn that one of the scariest things about your health, when it’s up in the air, is that your phone can ring at any second and change your whole life.

Anyone knows that if a doctor is calling you on a Sunday, good news isn’t waiting for you through the other end of the phone. I picked up and my doctor explained to me that the head oncologist of their health group looked at my MRI and they had both decided I needed to get up to Boston to Brigham and Women’s/Dana Farber ASAP as it showed characteristics of rib cancer. In that moment, my whole world crumbled. I can’t even try to describe what its like when a medical professional says the word “cancer” when they are referring to your results. Its almost like you lose your hearing for a second and then everything goes to slow mo EXCEPT your nerves. At the same time your brain in slowing down electricity strikes through your veins and, in my case, I had a physical reaction and threw up. I was so grateful to be surrounded by my husband and mother, who were just as disturbed, but mustered up strength to keep me steady.

I was immediately scheduled to meet and consult with a physician at Brigham and Women‘s in Boston. When I met with my doctor there she instantly made me and my family feel like we were lucky to be in world class medical care just “up the road” from home. She calmly sympathized with us, reassuring us that all the awful stress and anxiety we were feeling was agonizing and warranted but was very to the point of what to expect. She explained a board of doctor’s had met to look over my MRI that morning and all agreed I would need a biopsy. When it came time to biopsy my “bump” we were all anxious but kept the faith that we would come out of this on the other side.

IMG_6219

We took this photo right after we were told there was a serious concern that I had Sarcoma. My husband HATES this photo because every time we look at it we can see how scared we were and feel the fear all over again.

Fast forward 4 agonizing, anxiety ridden days after my biopsy I got a call from my doctor at B&W’s. “Is now a good time to talk?” she said to me as I sat in my office at work. I hastily answered “sure” realizing there was really never a good time to take this particular phone call. “We received your biopsy results from the pathologists and I am happy to report your mass is not cancer.”

On Monday 3/18 I was diagnosed with a Desmoid Fibromatosis which is a benign tumor. Calling my husband and my parents to tell them I was cancer free was one of the best phone calls I’ve made to them in my life (and trust me, we are talkers, there are PLENTY of phone calls).

Desmoid Tumors are VERY rare and at this particular time there is no cure. I am truly blessed to not have cancer and while my diagnosis is still a very rare incurable condition I am convinced it is something I can handle, head on. In some cases patients go through treatments that are much like cancer patients, which is why I have an oncologist at Dana Farber who I have to meet with for the 2nd time in 3 months after my 2nd MRI but the major LESSON here is clear:

Life can change in a moments notice, your health is NEVER to be taken for granted. The people you surround yourself with are just as important as the nutrients you put into your body and life is just a series of lessons and its all about how you grow from them.

Keep up with me on my journey to health and how I plan to cure my body of something the modern medicine world tells me has no cure. I’ll show them!

 

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