07 September 2013

I'm an Overcomer!

I have had a hard time making myself sit down and write.  I met with Dr. Lee two weeks ago for the first time since the day of my surgery.  I had been anticipating with anxiety meeting with her, because I knew she was going to be straight up honest with me about what the future holds for me.

Dr. Lee came into the examination room where Doug and I had been waiting.  She checked my incision and was pleased with the healing, generally.  I had a small pocket of infection at the bottom of the incision, but it was where the dissolvable staple tip had penetrated the skin. 

She took out the pathology report and began to review it with us.  Most of what she said was just a more detailed version of what Dr. Lopez told me on the day I was released from the hospital.  She, however, clarified one thing.  The report did indeed indicate that the cancer began in the Fallopian Tube and that technically, it is a Fallopian Tube cancer, like Dr. Lopez explained.  But, there are certain “definitions” that have been established in diagnosing cancers.  There is something called the “tumor burden”.   Dr. Lee explained that because the size of the tumors were larger on the ovaries than in the fallopian tubes that the “tumor burden” definition requires the cancer to be classified as a Primary Ovarian Cancer.  I looked confused.  She said “it doesn’t matter, it’s the *same cancer and the treatment is the same and the prognosis is the same.”   

But, then she took a breath and got really serious.

She told us that she didn’t believe in “candy coating” the seriousness of this disease.  She started by acknowledging that everyone is different and that she can’t tell me about how I will, personally, respond to the treatments.  And then she told us that only 20% of the women who had the same level of late stage cancer as I have were still alive in 5 years.  Additionally, she said, it is a hard five years, with recurrences and more chemotherapy and potentially more surgeries.   Truth is, most women only get about 2 years.

Doug and I sat silent.  I couldn’t even look over at him, because I didn’t want to begin sobbing.  We were both numb.  These statistics were worse than anything I had read online.

We had a good cry together later that evening.  We talked a lot about miracles and faith.  My faith is really being tested. 

Interestingly enough, the next day, Doug was preparing to teach his lesson for church on Sunday.  We  read together, since I am not able to attend church yet.  We started reading talks from April’s General Conference.  They were on faith.  Of particular interest was Elder Eyring’s talk.  He used the expression “integrity of faith”.  We stopped and talked about what that meant.  I had the thought that it means that we can’t go to our Father in prayer and tell him that we know that he has the power to heal but then in our thoughts and quiet times, begin worrying about the “what ifs”.   We sometimes define integrity as acting the same regardless of the situation we are in - Being true to ourselves and our beliefs, always.  It means the same thing in this application.  Faith - nothing wavering. (James 1:6)

We learned the next morning that he accidentally read October’s lesson and not August's.  Doug said it was no accident – that he really needed to hear that message now. I did too.

I’m sad to say that in the last two weeks, Doug’s faith has been greater than mine.  I find my mind thinking about only 2 years, or even only 5 and becoming so scared about that as a possibility.

Then, one morning last week I happened to turn on Good Morning America while I was trying to wake up.  They had a musical guest named Mandisa.  She is a gospel singer/songwriter with a contemporary flair.  She sang this song on the show.

It really moved me.  I laid in my bed and cried.  I don’t know what is ahead, and I am still scared.  But I am going to do everything I can to believe that with enough faith and prayer that my life will be extended longer, MUCH longer than 2 or 5 years.  Heck, that’s not even good enough.   I want to be here for the birth of all my future grandchildren and their baptisms and graduations and missions and marriages.  

This one line from  an Aerosmith song, that was from Armageddon, keeps going through my mind these last two weeks.

“… I don’t want to miss a thing”

I'm am an overcomer.

*Remember my earlier post:  Ovarian, Primary Peritoneal and Fallopian Tube Cancers are all epithelial cancers.  They only differ on where the cancer starts.  The tumor burden rule is the only reason why, once again, the name of the cancer has “changed”.


A Woman of a Certain Age said...

It doesn't matter whether you have 2 years left or 5 or 10 or 100. I know you will fully live and treasure each moment you have with your sweet family.


Michelle Ishihara said...

I love you, Sally...
I am so unsure of what to say that would really help, I have no words.. I am so grateful for the gospel plan and eternal families (and friends) and know that that will carry you through this ordeal. I found this scripture tonight and it is a perfect thought to grab hold of, even if only moment to moment.
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you..." (Deuteronomy 31:6)
I know that is true. I know He will be with you and your family as you walk this path... I hope I can somehow help carry the burden it will be for you.

Heather Carter said...

Ms. Sally- I feel honored that you have allowed me to read your blog. I can't imagine what you and your family are feeling. I definitely know that you are a survivor, an overcomer and a very strong individual. I remember when you first told me about your health situation when Sarah started lessons with you. I was impressed (not sure if this is the right word, but can't really think of a better one at the moment) by your poise, your directness and your very apparent positive outlook. I believe that you will overcome this and any other obstacles that come your way. Best, Heather

Jordan Smith said...

Sister Plautz you inspire me! I wanted to share with you a quote that actually comes from The Lord of the Rings :) I don't know if you ever read the books or have seen the movies but for this it doesn't really mater if you have or have not. This is the quote, Frodo-"I wish the ring had never came to me. I wish none of this had happened."
Gandalf-"So do all who live to see such times...but that is not for them to decide. All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is give to you." (substitute "ring" with a burden that you might have.)
I know it might sound funny but it helped me to think of what's most important in life and it helped me to move on in life with so much uncertainty of what was to come.

spragues5 said...

I love you so much! I am grateful for eternal friends as well as eternal families. I love the song. I love the idea of being 'Overcomers'. Our prayers are with you always and especially at this time.

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