DISCLAIMER: This is blog post will be long so brace yourself! 🙂
Norway is next week. I can’t believe the time is already here for this long and somewhat rocky wait to be over. This summer has been a very busy one. Between taking a summer class, working two jobs, traveling, and getting everything ready for the fall I also had something a little more serious come up.
The past few months I have been dealing with some health issues that we wanted to resolve before heading off to Europe. It started with some stomach and what seemed to be GI issues. I went through lots of blood work, check-ups, and examinations to see if the doctors could find out what was going on. One thing I had done was a CT scan. This was done after everything else had come back clear so we didn’t expect much to pop up in the scan.
When we went in for the results of the scan the doctor told us that everything in my stomach and intestines looked good, so that was a relief! She went on to say that they noticed two complex ovarian cysts on my left and right ovaries. You can imagine that my mom and I were taken back by this. We were told that a complex cyst means that it is not benign so there was a chance that my cysts were cancerous and we needed to head over to GYN to figure out how to attack this new issue. We were then told to head down to get blood work done while she set up my appointment with GYN and an ultrasound to get a better look. When my mom and I got in the elevator we looked at each other and started to tear up. We were soo overwhelmed and scared. I had blood work drawn for a CA125 test which detects early signs of cancer (later found out my levels were in the 100s and 35 is normal). After that we went up and were told to head to ultrasound later that afternoon and then see my GYN doctor the next day.
The next few hours I was just in disbelief and anxiously waiting for the next step so we could be told it was nothing. We went to ultrasound and later that afternoon we got a call from my GI doctor with the results. She said that the cysts were both the size of a baseball and that there was blood flow in the cysts, which isn’t necessarily good. I didn’t really comprehend much of what she had said but apparently she had flat out told me I had cancer. That word is so serious and pretty scary to think about. We all pray that we never have to be told we have cancer, even if it’s not bad at all.
Now if you know me, you know I am not always the most optimistic person around. I’m just more a realistic thinker… But being optimistic and high spirited was one thing I did very well at through all this. That night, I just relaxed and waited for my appointment the next day. When the GYN doctor came in the room, he wasn’t even sitting yet when he said they were sending me to Mayo Clinic. Thats when I realized this wasn’t just nothing. He said that it was either endometriosis or possibly cancer. We discussed things a little more and did a small examination and waited to hear when we would be off to Mayo.
We were told that our appointment at Mayo would be on Monday, July 25th which was less than a week later. So the rest of the week, I just tried to keep my mind off of everything and stay positive and busy. We told a few people because we were going to potentially be gone for a week or even more so we had to tell some people so they knew why we had just up and left!
Monday’s appointment was full of information and figuring out what was going to happen next. My doctor and her team talked with my parents and I about basically best case scenario and worst case scenario. There were many different potential outcomes (completely cutting me open, removing both ovaries and uterus, removing only the cysts) from the laparoscopic procedure but they wouldn’t be able to really know what they had to do until they got in there and could see more clear. After going through all of the information we were told that surgery would be on Wednesday of that week (two days later). So for the rest of the day and Tuesday we just kind of hung out in Rochester and did some shopping.
As it got closer to Wednesday, you could tell the nerves were getting worse but we continued to be as positive as possible. When Wednesday finally arrived we were ready to tackle this thing once and for all. The procedure ended up taking about 3 hours. When they finally had a better view of what was going on, they noticed that there were two cysts the size of a baseball on my left side and there was nothing on my right side. They then decided to remove my left ovary, fallopian tube, and my appendix. At this point they had classified the cysts as borderline tumors and that is why they removed the one ovary and fallopian tube. With a borderline tumor, there is a possibility of it coming back so for the next 10 to 15 years we will have to keep a close eye on it. I was shocked that they were able to remove everything laparoscopically because if I would have had to be opened up, Norway would not be happening this semester.
The days following surgery were tough. Mostly consisting of my being extremely sore and fatigued. But this whole experience was a true testament of God’s work.
PAUSE… I really want to write a whole blog post on my spiritual experience through this because it was so strong. So look for that in the near future…
When we got home from Rochester, my mom and I were talking about how she was feeling while I was in surgery. She brought up that she was just thinking about every possible outcome. “What if she can’t have kids? Then her life long dream of being a labor and delivery nurse may not happen… What if I have to tell her she can’t have kids and also that she can’t go to Norway?”
God was SO present through this whole process and it was the most reassuring and amazing feeling ever. If the surgery would have gone just a bit worse than it did, I would not be leaving for Norway in a week. God wanted me to go to Norway now. God wants me to explore the world. God wants me to have my own kids someday. God wants me to be a labor and delivery nurse. All of the things I was doubting in my life, God responded with “don’t worry, this is what I want for you and it will happen”. All my biggest worries in life were answered and you can imagine how that can change a person. It may sound cliche to some people but through this whole experience, I have grown and changed. I’ve stopped rushing through life, I’ve stopped really sweating the small stuff and enjoyed everything about life. I’m especially much more grateful for the life I have and all I am able to do.
So after alllll of that craziness its almost time to leave for Norway. One week from today, I am off! Between packing and healing from surgery, this week is going to be a crazy one. 😛
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” -Proverbs 3:5