You guys…you guys…you are all amazing and wonderful and I wish I could send you all a big batch of chocolate chip cookies. Thank you so much for all of your sweet well wishes, prayers, and thoughts. I didn’t write the post in an attempt to get sympathy, but to let you know where I had disappeared to, and also to let other people know that young people get the icky type of gastrointestinal cancers too, and that we can figure anything out with help, love, humour and science. Thank you all so much, you touched my heart with your kind messages. Now, we left off with the liver biopsy. Boy oh boy not fun, but a pretty interesting procedure all the same. They used ultrasound to guide the needle straight to my tumours and they got really clean, viable samples for testing. I was asleep (thank you Fentanyl and Midazolam) for most of the procedure, but woke up near the end. Man that needle was huge! I felt really bad for the surgeon because whenever I wake up from sedation I start crying (weird body reaction) – so I started sobbing and he thought he was hurting me really bad and started apologising, the nurse was stroking my hair and telling me I was doing a great job, and I started apologising for crying. What a mess! I am grateful for the true care and kindness the doctor and nurse showed me. Afterwards I rested up for a few hours, finally got something to eat (best grilled cheese and tomato sandwich and shortbread cookies I have ever tasted), and waited to go home. Chris and my Dad waited nearly the whole time to collect me – what a pair of champions.I had a day of bed rest on Thursday. Bed rest is not my idea of fun time, but I tried to make the most of it with lots of pillows, a really good book, and Miss Penny. Penny does not like when mummy has to rest because it means mummy is boring and can’t take her for a walk. Cue big puppy dog eyes and lots of disgruntled growling and grunting and toys being shoved in front of my book. Poor Miss P. My Mum made sure I didn’t get too bored and came over to work on some wedding invitation designing and took me out for an early lunch! I pretty much laid in bed the rest of the afternoon dozing and then my sweet Caroline brought our weekly sushi dinner to me! We talked and laughed for hours. I am a lucky lady to be surrounded by amazing friends and family. Friday was my last test for the week. I had an MRI on my liver to make sure there were only two tumours in there and give the doctors a better idea of their size and placement. With that one out of the way I got to enjoy a delicious Chinese dinner cooked by Caroline and her senior high school hospitality class. They run a restaurant night every semester and you can buy tickets for a three course meal served by the students. Such talented kids (and their teacher too, but I might be a little biased). On Saturday morning I was also finally liberated to go out and do some exercise. The hardest part of this journey so far has been having to rest after procedures – I miss running! Chris and Penny came along to keep me company. It was the perfect way to start our weekend – and Penny was so happy she got to have the whole dog park to herself. Very exhausted pup for the rest of Saturday!My next appointment was with a medical oncologist who specialises in my type of cancer: Neuroendocrine Tumours (or NETs for short). He was so caring and spent about half an hour with Chris and I going through the results from all of my tests so far. It was during this consultation that we also found out that the samples they had taken from my liver tumours weren’t as good as they had hoped, and that they had found a fifth tumour. This is the largest tumour in my liver (about 13mm).
Chris and I got a lot of positive answers from the medical oncologist too. NETs aren’t a well known tumour. They often aren’t diagnosed because people can go for years without major problems or with confusion over what is causing their varied symptoms. NETs are (usually) very slow growing so these tumours of mine have probably been present for years but because I have just started having aggressive investigations for my iron deficiency they were picked up. And NETs are very treatable if caught early. Even NETs like mine, which have metastasised (spread). My NETs are most likely going to be treated with a big surgery (there goes my bikini modelling career…shucks), but there are lots of other treatment options available depending on your particular NET and its placement, and the best plan as devised by your treatment team. If you or your family is affected by NETs or you would like to know more I can highly recommend The Unicorn Foundation. They are a not-for-profit focused on Neuroendocrine Tumours (the only one in Australia) who provide support and advocacy for those of us diagnosed with this unusual cancer. In honour of The Unicorn Foundation my sweet sister Jess bought me this gorgeous stuffed unicorn to take with me to hospital! Isn’t she cute! Her name is Eunice (any She’s the Man fans out there?). She is definitely coming with me for good luck when I have my operation!
I’m hoping that this weekend I will have some time and brain space to actually get baking (#selfcare), but I wanted to give you all a little update on where we are so far. Writing these posts is also very therapeutic for me. I have always been a writer and putting down my journey on the page helps me to process the whirlwind of appointments, tests, and diagnosis that we have been going through recently. It also helps me to keep cultivating gratitude and a positive attitude and keeping my eyes out for the small blessings and adventure during this strange time in our lives.
Now, get me inspired: what have you been cooking/baking/making lately? Anyone been on an amazing run or hike? Anyone else love unicorns or She’s the Man as much as I do?