The beginning of my journey with cancer
At the beginning of April 2018, I noticed a mild pain on the inside of the back of my right leg. It wasn't constant and I could only feel it when I hit on a certain spot. "Huh, that's weird.", I thought.
JT and I frequently visit the chiropractor, and after a few visits there and to a massage therapist, I had some x-rays done. No one could quite figure out what was causing the pain. We were thinking it might be a strain on my sciatic nerve or something with a tendon, ligament, or muscle.
The pain is basically where your glute, hamstring, hip, and sciatic nerve are all located. There's a lot in that area, so it could've been caused by a number of different things. I was officially on a journey to figure out what was causing the pain.
At the end of April, I went to see an orthopedic surgeon and he thought it might be something with my sciatic nerve, so he gave me some stretches to do at home and said, "if this doesn't calm down in 3-4 weeks, come back and we'll do an MRI". In the weeks following, my pain would be better some days and worse others. I was so frustrated that I couldn't figure out what would bring relief.
On Monday, May 14th, my pain was increasing to the point that I couldn't walk without a limp and providentially, I ran into a good friend who is a PT and she said, "come see me tomorrow". After an exam and some therapy the following day, she highly suggested I get back in touch with my doctor to get an MRI and possibly a steroid. That Friday, May 18th, was my first MRI. It was scheduled at the end of the day, so the results wouldn't be reviewed until the following Monday morning.
That weekend, my pain only increased and worry started to set in. It was clear my nerves were really agitated and my leg began swelling and was hot to the touch. By Saturday night, I was in so much pain I knew I needed to go to urgent care first thing the next day. Urgent care ran blood work and they ruled out a blood clot and thought I might have an infection in my leg. They gave me an antibiotic shot and sent me home with some mild pain medication so that I could get through the night and talk with my doctor the next day about my MRI results.
Monday morning came and the doctor called me with news that he saw a mass and I needed to get another MRI to determine if it was a liquid mass or solid mass. He scheduled another MRI for me that same day and also put me on the calendar of one of the best orthopedic surgeons in DFW, who is highly specialized in cases like these, later in the week.
Mass. That's the word no one wants to hear. You hear that word and your mind automatically goes to worst case scenario.
I quickly called JT at work and he headed home to take me to get another MRI. That afternoon, they processed my results, gave the report to the doctor, and he called me to confirm the news I didn't want to hear: the mass was solid and I did in fact need that appointment with the specialist on Friday.
Friday? That seemed like an eternity away. Come to find out, that's moving quick in the medical world and we were told to be encouraged I was able to get in so quickly.
Those next four days were the first long stretch of waiting. We were incredibly hopeful and confident that this mass was benign.
Friday afternoon came and my doctor walked in and confirmed our worst fears. “I’m concerned and I don’t like what I see. I’m confident that this is a Soft Tissue Sarcoma and it’s likely high grade. We need to get a biopsy ASAP.” We saw the MRI images for the first time and it took our breath away. The tumor was there and it was bright white.
My biopsy was scheduled for Tuesday, May 29th, which essentially was next business day, but we had a long, Memorial Day weekend ahead of us of waiting till then.
Waiting. Turns out this journey is going to be filled with a lot of that.
Patience. That's been my main prayer request. That God would build and establish in me his character of patience while I wait for answers, relief from pain, and ultimate healing.
The weekend was filled with family time, fun in the sun, laughter, prayer, and so much joy. That was balm to our souls as there were also many moments of worry, fear, anguish, tears, and sorrow as the reality of the road ahead started to set in.
Tuesday morning came early, we headed to the hospital before the sun came up, and the medical staff prepped me for a biopsy that would give us preliminary results of whether or not the tumor was cancerous.
I came out of anesthesia and JT gave me the news that we had been waiting 4 days to hear. The tumor was in fact cancerous, but the good news was that it might not be as high grade as they were thinking (the higher the grade the greater the chances of it spreading). A full pathology report will give us more detail and that will come in the next week or so. In the meantime, I needed to get a Whole Body Bone Scan, PET scan, meet with a Radiology Oncologist as well as a Medical Oncologist.
A few of those appointments have already taken place, but the appointment we're most eager for is a follow-up with my doctor where he'll go over the results of those scans and tell us what the treatment plan looks like. Most likely, it'll include 4-6 weeks of radiation every weekday, then a few weeks off for my body to rest, and then surgery to remove the tumor.
And so it begins. My journey with cancer. It almost doesn't feel real. Like this is all just a bad dream.
Other than this massive pain in my leg, I feel great. My mind works great. I can laugh and cry and carry on conversation. And yet, something is still very wrong inside me. I plead everyday for the Lord to heal me and fully believe he will in his time. And until he heals me, I wait. Wait for God to do only what he can do.
We are praying Psalm 46 every day. For God to be our mighty fortress. For us to be still and know that he is God. Will you join us in that?
Psalm 46 : God is our Fortress
1 God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
8 Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah