Updated: Feb 20, 2018
What a week this has been. Nothing like I could have ever imagined. But, let's start a few months back...
It was the end of the summer, my exercise routine had changed and I was enjoying more yoga and working with a trainer; doing a lot of weight lifting. My shoulder was giving me problems. Sharp, shooting pains up my arm and into my neck would keep me up at night and there was a constant pinching in my left shoulder during the day. I figured I had hurt it while working out. I went to the chiropractor a few times to be worked on, but that didn't seem to help.
It had been a couple of months, and I just got used to living with the pain. Then I started noticing odd little things... My left bicep was about an inch bigger than my right, I felt very fatigued all of the time, I started to lose interest in my normal activities (going to the gym, which is something I normally love), a loss in appetite, and small aches in my chest.
Fast forward a few more weeks, and on Tuesday night, November 11th, I woke up having an "attack." Sharp pains were shooting through my left shoulder blade, I had a nauseating headache, my chest was tight and I felt like I was suffocating. I was having a hard time breathing, and every time I'd try to take a breath, I would have a coughing fit.
The next morning, I still felt pains and aches, but I felt fine, nothing like I felt during the night.
Well, Wednesday night, the 12th, was really bad. All of the same symptoms, but this "attack" was a lot scarier. Jake (my amazing husband) tried to talk me into going to the ER, but I wouldn't go. "What am I going to tell them? 'My arm hurts and i'm coughing?'" After receiving a priesthood blessing, I was able to fall asleep.
Early the next morning, Thursday the 13th, I decided to email my family doctor and let him know of my little attacks. He wanted to see me. He ordered a chest x-ray and said he'd call if he saw anything.
It had been a couple of hours, I hadn't heard from my Dr. yet, and I never even had the thought that I would. I was wrong. My phone rang and as soon as I saw the number on my caller id, I knew...
Dr.- "Hi Jentrie, are you sitting down?"
Me- "Are you kidding me?" (I was shocked)
Dr.- "You have a tumor in your chest. We need to get a CT scan done to see if it's malignant. Do you know what that means?" (He spoke really fast and got right to the point. I can imagine, when you have to make a call like that, you want to get it over with as soon as possible."
Me- "I know I do, but you'll have to really explain things to me right now." (I don't even know what was going through my mind, but I could not think. I was in shock)
Dr.- "That means cancerous. If it is, we'll need to do chemo and some radiation."
I was totally overwhelmed and numb. I just had a phone conversation with the words 'cancerous' and 'chemo' in it. It was so surreal.
It was time to make the horrible call to my husband and my parents. I felt sick knowing I was going to hurt them.
It's all kind of a blur, but what I remember is shock, disbelief, worry, tears, but mostly, peace.
Just minutes later Jake and my family were by my side.
It was time to get some answers!
That same evening I had a CT scan done, to get a more clear picture of "too-ma" ;). My amazing Dr. knew how torturous it must be to play the waiting game, and followed up with me just a couple hours later (bless him!). He told me that it did in fact look cancerous. It was right in the center of my chest, just below my collar bone. It was 13 cm, which equals 5 in, which is bigger than a softball (3.8 in). Well freak!, no wonder I can't breath!
I am very lucky to live so close to one of the best cancer hospitals in the world, and was able to get a Dr. at Huntsman Cancer Institute and begin my journey.
They drew a lot of blood, did an echocardiogram (took pictures and looked at my heart), a PET scan (checked to see if the cancer has spread), and a biopsy (went in and took samples of "too-ma").
All of that took one week, and I was exhausted afterward. It was a lot to take in emotionally, and physically, it was uncomfortable and i'm starting to feel yuckier every day.
Breathing is hard, I am always running a fever, i'm tired, sore, and am constantly coughing.
Nights have been better since my parents delivered a recliner for me to sleep in, but I still have attacks. Last night was really bad, especially because another factor was added...vomiting (EWWWW I know, sorry). BUT I do not share that for your pity, I share because I am one of those "ambulance chasers", like my mother ;), and I know I would be curious to know if tables were turned.
Right now, I think i'm just anxious to talk to my Dr. tomorrow and hear all of the details from my tests, to have answers, and to get this party started. I am nervous to see how I'll react to treatments, but I am hopeful and ready to put up a fight!
Though it was overwhelming and sad for a minute, I am grateful that i'm able to be a patient at HCI and to be in such good hands. Walking in there the first day was hard. I made sure to do my hair because I knew I would be missing it soon. As I walked around, with all of my hair, and saw the many sick people around me, I felt like I was going to barf (sorry, more barfing talk). I thought to myself, "What am I doing here?" As Chase, the happy and outgoing HCI employee, checked me in as a new patient, I was trying so hard to hold back tears. I could not look at him and I had to bite my lips so they would stop doing the about-to-cry-wobbly-lip thing.
I cried a lot that day.
Here I am, the day of my first visit, sick out of my mind with nervousness and the reality of it all. But hey, at least my hair looks good #winning ;)
But, mostly, what I feel is overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with gratitude and amazed by all of you! I will never be able to thank you enough for your kindness, generosity, and uplifting words of encouragement and admiration. I am humbled.
I am one lucky girl to be surrounded by such amazing family, friends, and even strangers. Your prayers are giving me strength and your goodness gives me the desire to be better and to do more for others. You will never know what it all means to me. I love you. Thank you for loving me.