Michelle B. on April 23, 2015
I was Diagnosed with:
Clear Cell Renal Cell Carcinoma, IPMN Cancer, Puestow with Adenocarcinoma of Pancreas, Thyroid Cancer
Type and Description of Treatments:
In October 2008 I was Diagnosed with Stage 2 Kidney Cancer to that I had a partial Nephrectomy of left kidney surgery done in Feb. 5th, 2009. In June 2009 I began to get extremely ill so Stanford did an MRI and found three cysts in my Pancreas. In October 2010 I had a Whipple done on the head of my Pancreas and removed the first cyst; at that time the other "2" cysts were in no where to be seen while in the surgery room; so I was then closed up from the Whipple Procedure. Then six months later I had a incisonal hernia repair done on my abdomen in April 21, 2011; by that time I was tired, sick trying to see what I still could eat and very uncomfortable in all the surgeries I had already encountered. So life is good and my other two pancreas cysts began to shrink my tail of my pancreas causing other major digestion issues. So in October 2012 I had a Puestow Pancreas surgical procedure done and while inside to unblock my scar tissue and see why I was having problems the MRI/CT scan's all show more Cancer....I had Stage 1-2 of Adenocarcinoma of my Pancreas. OMG was I shocked to find that out after the surgery was finished. I was then having problems after my second Pancreas surgery to where I was Air-lifted out to Stanford Hospitals where all my medical records are at...I woke up 4.5 days later on life support. I was given 45 minutes to live as what my local doctors told the Air Life Flight to the on board doctors/nurses' and my family in the ER in Eureka, California. So I'm at home and feeling my throat has some issues in swallowing food and laughing and signing sounds weird. So after months passed (9 months) I have a ultra-sound done by my family doctor and they find tumors on my thyroid. I then get an appointment at Stanford Endocrinology doctor and they do all the blood tests, and have me see a DNA doctor Specialist as I've had three cancers' each cell different to this one that I'm having done. They find that my thyroid cancer has spread to my lymph nodes on the right side of my neck and that the DNA doc's say I have all the "different cancers" from genetics. Wow, now that was an eye opener to say the least.
How do you feel today?
Today as of April 22, 2015 Earth Day ..I feel wonderful. I just had my surgery done for the incisional hernia I had on my tummy "abdomen" and just this past October 2014 I had my first round of Radiation Treatments as the Thyroid Cells they took out was Stage 3 in the Thyroid gland, but Stage 4 in my Lymph Nodes.....otherwise Life is good.
Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your life?
Since my first diagnosis I was so scared I was a mess...a basket case! But as of today April 22, 2015 I'm so much more focused as to 'who' I am and 'where' my future will take me. I feel the need to tell and share my story with those newly diagnosed in the waiting room to see my oncologists'...yes I have four of them. But these doctors are the best in the U.S.A. and I'm so lucky to have gotten them to save my life...four times now. Not too many people can say that. I feel that this entire up and down of good and bad has changed me to be an even stronger woman than I've ever been before.
What is going well for you right now?
I'm healing after my last surgery....at least in my mind, heart, soul, and spirit its my last one...I feel very positive in that regard of NOT having any more surgeries. I'm praying that as I heal I can work on my resume to get a job at a part-time level to see what I can handle and how long I can work on a weekly basis. All these surgeries do take it out of your body physically but spiritually I"m a very strong woman.
What is not going well for you right now?
I've been told I still have to have do my Thyroid no salt, no dairy diet this - I-131 Treatment in October to make sure the Radiation Treatments worked to clear up all the cancer cells in my lymph nodes. So far the blood tests show it did work the first treatment, but from my DNA tests anything could happen. I just give my soul, mind, body to the Big Spirit in the line of life...and know that I will beat anything that comes my way.....at least I'll give it the biggest try of my life.
What has been the most challenging thing about having cancer?
The most challenging thing about having cancer...first was hearing the words, "you have cancer". To me that was the most challenging to have to face and hear. But with a good support system, great doctors that listen to you and of course a positive outlook and good diet I have accomplished what most call 'impossible'. I have found that writing a journal about my daily needs, wants, complaints help me to see the big picture and the outcome that I look forward to in beating all the odds and coming out ahead in knowledge being my most powerful aspect of all these fights against cancer(s). Worst of all is having the financial support system, my family isn't well off but living over 300 miles one way to see all of my oncologist I made it work ...yard sales, making jewelry and having plant sales to help off set my costs.
When difficulties overwhelm you, where do you go for support?
I go to my family, friends, and my journal to see how far I have come in all these cancer(s) that I've beat and that this too shall pass. I will win....hands down....I will win!! But, when there are way too many problems even my family, friends can't help me with I go to my counselor and to ACS meetings monthly to share my difficulties. I know I'm not alone...but seeing and hearing others sure helps me see and hear that my journey will be difficult but I will win!
How have your long-term goals or life goals changed since diagnosis?
Well since my diagnosis I've had to turn down some very fine career/jobs that were and have been offered to me as a Paralegal. I've had to come to the realization that I will beat all these cancer(s) and I will get that "one job interview" I've been longing for...but when the time is right. I believe we are all giving bad with good and visa versa...we are all given challenges in life either cancer, or other bad things...but the mind and body most always rise above that challenge and we then become stronger and better in the long run. NOT to say cancer makes anyone better...I've found that it has made me a stronger woman that I would've never have dreamt of being that strong of a woman. My current life goal is to get back to the working class life and have that home I'd like to buy in my future to share this story with my seven grand children on my front porch...someday.
What is your work arrangement right now? What are your hours?
I've not worked since September 2010. I was working full-time Monday thru Friday in a Federal Law Firm with an Attorney to that note ....I so miss working. But since that time I've managed to get my Paralegal Certificate and was offered a chance to volunteer with the District Attorneys' office when I'm rested up after this surgery to help me get a possible part-time job and to help me get my Certificate in Victim Witness Specialist to that I'm very excited to achieve. I'm also will be volunteering at my local ACS office to 'give back' to all they've given me over these years.
Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your work life?
It was every time I'd be free of one cancer and ready to go back to work..the doctors would find another cancer and well I was still out of work.
But since that time I've managed to get my Paralegal Certificate and was offered a chance to volunteer with the District Attorneys' office when I'm rested up after this surgery to help me get a possible part-time job and to help me get my Certificate in Victim Witness Specialist to that I'm very excited to achieve. I'm also will be volunteering at my local ACS office to 'give back' to all they've given me over these years.
What has helped you continue to work the most?
I've began writing a cook book for Pancreatic Cancer Patients to that there are no such books in the market so I figured this should help keep me busy till I'm done with fighting the cancer(s) and then hopefully I'll be back at work...if I can find and get a job interview.
What advice do you have for others trying to work through treatment?
Be Positive no mater what. I figure most all doctors say we only use 10% of our brains on a daily basis. So why then use the other 90% of our brains to being Positive to kick cancers butt and get in out of our bodies and to force our minds to heal ourselves...daily.
How have you dealt with any side effects of treatment?
The side effects of Radiation Treatments haven't been too bad to me, my salivary glands in my cheeks are the worst...even today they get tingle and hurt if I eat any sour/bitter foods. My memory tends to be weird at times; its like I can see the item and know the word of that item but for the life of me I can't make my mouth say it out load..very weird side effect. I have zero appetite since this treatments but this too shall pass. Also my vision is weird but the doctors say all this shall pass as time goes on. I remain POSITIVE DAILY.
If "today's you" could give advice to "day-of-diagnosis you," what would you say?
Take a deep breath..its ok to cry, and be angry and fearful...but my goodness that's' normal. Second, do your homework, find out everything you can on your diagnosis of the type of cancer you have. Get all your blood tests, research the blood tests, learn what those names are, what they mean, what they do in your body and your type of cancer too. Take control over your disease....YOU ARE THE BOSS to your LIFE! Do not try to diagnose yourself, but make a note/journal of your symptoms of food, meds, how your feeling in general and the foods you eat. My greatest gift to give you all is just this; IF YOU CAN NOT PRONOUNCE THE NAMES ON THE FOOD LABELS YOUR EATING...THEN DO NOT EAT THAT FOOD!!! Don't eat processed foods, eat only farm to table foods "organic", see a counselor monthly for your overall helplessness and anxiety needs....but make a list of issues you have in-between doctors appointments....and always ask questions, never take no for an answer and keep your questions to ask the doctors with you for all appointments. I currently eat by my 10 ingredient rule and so far I've beaten (4) Four Different Cancer(s) because of my rule. So you can beat this "UGLY MONSTER" and live to share your story with your grand children and others for years to come. You are the Boss of your body..so take charge!